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Beyond All Price--Synopsis and Review
"A Scratch with the Rebels" -- A Recipe or Two
"A Scratch with the Rebels" -- Battle Accounts
"A Scratch with the Rebels" -- The Inspiration
"A Scratch with the Rebels" -- a Photographic Record

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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

Pinterest and copyrights

Writing Is Not Just about Words. Pictures Matter Too.

I have an on-again, off-again relationship with Pinterest. Several years ago, I decided to take down all my Pinterest boards because of concerns about copyright issues. I was bothered by a requirement to list the source of each pin, which often turned out to be impossible.  I was reluctant to accept the idea that I was giving Pinterest exclusive rights over everything I pinned.  I was nervous about being sued by someone whose copyright had been infringed, no matter how unintentionally. And it seemed to me that Pinterest was encouraging people to ignore copyright laws; as a writer I had to oppose that.

On the other side of the argument, came these facts.   Pinterest has grown at a phenomenal speed, catching up with the other social media sites.  And it attracts the very demographic that I want to attract to my books. So, somewhat hesitantly and reluctantly, I dipped a toe back into these copyright-threatening waters.

I started out with a promise to myself -- to limit my pins to pictures I have taken myself, or to those that come from websites like the Library of Congress, which clearly states that their pictures can be used without permission. For many people, that would be impossible, but for someone who wants to pin about the Civil War, it's fairly easy.  The pictures that tell my stories were usually taken 150 years ago.

I have to admit that there is something very addictive about those "boards."  I started with a board for each of my published books, and then expanded them as new collections arrived — like the people and the places of “A Scratch with the Rebels,”  Others were more touristy -- my own photographs taken on St. Helena Island and at Fort Donelson, Charleston and Beauford.  A few others deal with "Who I Am" by showing some of my community-service oriented activities, and eventually, a board dedicated to the cats of Katzenhaus Books.

Here are a few other book-related ideas you might want to try on your own Pinterest boards:

    ▪    Quotes about reading and books, especially by other authors
    ▪    Your own favorite books — those that changed you in some way
    ▪    Books written by people you know. You and your fellow authors can really help one another by sharing each other’s works.
    ▪    Unusual bookstores, bookshelves, or libraries
    ▪    Images that provide information about your particular niche, whether it’s a time period or a do-it-yourself topic.
    ▪    Images connected to a work-in-progress. These might be clothing from a time period, the settings for the story, maps, or even timelines.

Whatever you as an author choose to do with Pinterest boards, the subjects matter should be designed to help both you and your readers get more out of the reading experience. For example, my most recent efforts included Book Club Ideas for each of my books: recipes for suitable refreshments taken from the book or at least the period of the book; discussion questions, and a short bibliography of related books.  

For more ideas, or to see how I use the various types of boards, please enjoy your visits to: http://www.pinterest.com/roundheadlady/

All the News That Will Fit in a Tiny Blog Post

Today's been a crazy busy day.  I've spent most of it coordinating a project among three or four people in each of four states. The details don't matter.  Just imagine emails that keep overlapping and a phone that won't stop ringing and you'll have the general idea.  So all I have time for tonight is to call  your attention to a couple of new content items available today.

Over on Pinterest, I added lots of new pictures to my "When I'm Not Writing, I'm a Lion" Board.  There are also some new pictures and maps on "Story of a Marriage, "and a couple of new pictures on "Nellie Chase."  Find them all at http://www.pinterest.com/roundheadlady/
The most important news, however, came in the form of an extended article about self-publishing.  I linked to it at the suggestion of Joanna Penn's newsletter and was blown away by the content.  If you have ever wondered if self-publishing was a huge mistake -- if you've ever been tempted to go after one of the big five publishers -- if you've ever envied the big-name authors -- you owe it to yourself to get the facts in this article. I "scooped" the article onto my curated page on self-publishing -- http://www.scoop.it/t/self-publisher,  but you can also find the original article at jakonrath.blogspot.co.uk 



She Loves It; She Loves It Not



I have an on-again, off-again relationship with Pinterest. A while back, I decided to take down all my Pinterest boards because of concerns about copyright issues. I was bothered by a requirement to list the source of each pin, which often turned out to be impossible.  I was reluctant to accept the idea that I was giving Pinterest exclusive rights over everything I pinned.  I was nervous about being sued by someone whose copyright had been infringed, no matter how unintentionally. And it seemed to me that Pinterest was encouraging people to ignore copyright laws; as a writer I had to oppose that.

On the other side of the argument, came these facts.  Pinterest seem to be relaxing their source requirements.  The little URL box has disappeared. Pinterest is growing a phenomenal speed, catching up with the other social media sites.  And it attracts the very demographic that I want to attract to my books. So, somewhat hesitantly and reluctantly, I am dipping a toe back into these copyright-threatening waters.

I'm starting out with a promise to myself -- to limit my pins to pictures I have taken myself, or to those that come from websites like the Library of Congress, which clearly states that their pictures can be used without permission. For many people, that would be impossible, but for someone who wants to pin about the Civil War, it's fairly easy.  The pictures that tell my stories were usually taken 150 years ago.

I have to admit that there is something very addictive about those "boards."  I've already posted 10 of them.  Four are designated to illustrate the four books in my series on "The Civil War in South Carolina's Low Country." Two others -- one dealing with 19th-century medicine and the other with 19th-century foods -- are based on two little e-books that I myself published and eventually took down from active availability.  One deals with articles about SC in the CW -- based on my ScoopIt page -- and allowing for full source information.

Two others are touristy -- my own photographs taken on St. Helena Island and at Fort Donelson, with places like Charleston and Beauford still to come. And the final section will deal with the rest of "Who I Am" by showing some of my community-service oriented activities, and eventually, I suppose, a board dedicated to the cats of Katzenhaus Books.

My hope for this new effort is two-fold.  First, I realize that a period of history some 150 years old is unfamiliar ground for most readers, and I want to share as much knowledge about the period as I can. I hope that pictures of the people, the places, and the events that occur in my books will make the stories come alive.  And second, I want my readers to feel that they know at least a little about me.  I really enjoy those moments when I can get out and talk to a group of readers, answering their questions and sharing my enthusiasm for the Civil War.  But since those opportunities are limited, this business of "pinning boards" offers another way we can communicate between reader and writer.

If there's an area you'd like me to cover, be sure to let me know.  Enjoy your visits to: http://www.pinterest.com/roundheadlady/


Why I'm No Longer on Pinterest.

I've been asked (sometimes politely, sometimes not) to explain my objections to Pinterest. I've also been ridiculed by those who think that Pinterest is poised to become the next great Social Media Network. So roughly, here are my reasons, boiled down to a bullet list.

  •    Pinterest says that it requires every image to contain full information about its origins.  That's true, insofar as every pin asks for a URL that takes the viewer to the source of the image. But unlike the "Description" box, which you must fill in, (although you can fill it with something as absurd as LOL) the URL box can be left blank entirely, and usually is. I found I couldn't find out who owned more than a handful of the images I had posted because I thought they were clever or pretty.

  •    Every member of Pinterest agrees, just by checking the "Terms of Use" box, that every image they post is their legal property. By pinning something you like, you are stating that you hold all rights to that image. How often do you think that's true?

  •    The next part of that agreement you accepted says that since you "own" whatever you pin, you are now assigning all rights to the company that created Pinterest. The actual statement says that you grant to "Cold Brew Labs a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free license, with the right to sublicense, to use, copy, adapt, modify, distribute, license, SELL, transfer, publicly display, publicly perform, transmit, stream, broadcast, access, view, and otherwise exploit such Member Content only on, through or by means of the Site, Application or Services." 

  •     Got that? By pinning an image, you give the company the right to sell that image. But what if you don't hold the rights to that image? Then you have infringed upon someone else's copyright, and there are strict laws against doing so.

  •     So what happens if you pin a copyrighted image, and Pinterest sells it? Well both you and Pinterest can be sued for damages by the lawful copyright holder. The site's terms and conditions, however, are designed to ensure the users take the blame - not the company itself. You acknowledge and agree that 'the entire risk… remains with you,’ says the site's legal documents. "You acknowledge sole responsibility for and assume all risk arising from your use of any such website or resource."  Yep, if someone sues Pinterest, you are liable for all their costs as well as your own.

  •     The counter-argument is that having an image out there is "good publicity", and no one is going to sue you for making their work more visible. No? What about the websites that offer stock photos for a price, limiting their use to the person who makes the purchase? If you buy a photo, or re-pin an image that used to be for sale and then put it on Pinterest, you have effectively stolen it from the original photographer, who cannot make any further profit from that photo because you have made it available for free. Moreover, if you don't know the source of an image, you cannot assume that the creator is willing to have his intellectual property  used without permission.

  •    I'm a big fan of the internet, but I also recognize that it moves too fast for most of us to keep up with all of its ramifications. Just because you CAN do something does not mean that it is RIGHT to do it. I'm afraid Pinterest is one of those ideas which seems so good--and is so much fun--that we have failed to see the moral and legal implications.

So there I stand. I am a creator myself, and I hold legal copyrights to my work.  I would not tolerate people stealing my book and putting it on their websites just because they like it. Therefore, I will not do that to other creative individuals, whether their work is a piece of music, a photograph, a painting, a poem, a line drawing, or a clever sign.

U.S. Copyright laws serve a purpose--they are the only protection artist have for their intellectual property. Pinterest encourages its users to violate those laws.  Simple as that. What part of illegal don't you understand?