Saturday, March 31, 2012

Weekend Worship—Letter of Love

Spring is here, and with it come the flurry of Easter activities. Spring break falls during this time for us, and we have extra services at church. And, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m frequently involved with my church’s Easter musical. This year is no different, and it would be easy to get lost in the business of the season and forget the reason behind it.

But instead, I’ve spent time studying that last week Jesus spent on the earth and I’m once again struck by the way God turned the world upside down in His loving pursuit of us…of me.

The thing that stood out for me this year, is the difference between the way the world views our short-comings and the way God sees us.

Once again, the words have come to me, begging to be placed a certain way. So I’ve written this version of a palindrome called, Letter of Love. A special thank you goes out to my friend, Cindy Sproles, creator of Tinkertime Productions for bringing it to life on YouTube.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Copyright 101 for Bloggers, Part Three

Today I want to finish up my series on copyright. If you missed the copyright quiz or Copyright 101 for Bloggers, Part One, these links will take you there.
I'm no lawyer!
First, I want to state right up front that I am NOT a lawyer and none of what I’ve said or will say constitutes any kind of legal advice. All I’m trying to do is learn how to be responsible online and share that knowledge with you. 
That said, at the end of this post I’m going to give you some links to the places where I found my information so you can go check out the specifics for yourself.
Now, onto the remaining answer of the quiz.
More Copyright Information
Number Seven—FALSE—Fair Use. We are all used to being able to quote passages from books and not get into any kind of copyright infringement. I am here to tell you, that is NOT the case with a song. The only part of a song you may quote is the title. 
If you’ve seen songs quoted in published books either someone paid a use fee or the author wrote the song himself. I’ve known of two authors who self-published books and had to pull the books because of songs quoted without permission.
Number Eight—FALSE—Copyright Symbol (c). Copyright symbols are visual REMINDERS that what you’re reading belongs to someone. Just because there isn’t one doesn’t affect the status of what you see in print or online. If someone wrote it, it’s copyrighted. 
SPECIAL NOTE: You do not have to apply for a copyright for your work...EVER. You can register your copyright, but it’s expensive and cumbersome to do. And it’s rarely necessary.
Number Nine—TRUE—Facebook Use. This is another trick question I snuck in. Because of the user agreement you signed when you registered for a Facebook account you agreed that your photos were able to be used by them for different online purposes. This makes it VERY difficult to prove in a court of law that you don’t mean that permission for everyone else on Facebook. So, if I post my Niagara Falls vacation photos on Facebook, I can’t complain if you borrow them.
Now, it’s always good manners to ask permission, but it’s probably not going to get you in any legal trouble.
ANOTHER SPECIAL NOTE: If the person posting the photo did so illegally, and you repost it, then you are just as guilty and can also be charged with copyright infringement.
I Pinterest, do you?
Number Ten—FALSE—Pinterest. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE Pinterest! I guess I’m just a visual kind of girl. But there are a lot of folks getting into trouble on Pinterest right now. We have to follow ALL the copyright rules when we’re pinning, just like when we’re posting on our blogs. And, if you violate a copyright with one of your Pinterest boards you, and you ONLY, are liable for any fines or charges. You agreed to this when you opened your Pinterest account and accepted their terms of use. If you want to read them again, here is the direct link:
But there is one slight loophole. If someone or some business has a Pinterest button on their website, you can assume they want their stuff to be pinned and you should be okay.
Number Eleven—TRUE—Book Reviews/Recommendations. This is an instance of Fair Use. As long as you’re not saying the book in question is written by you (if it’s not) you can legally post a review and use the cover.
Number Twelve—FALSE—Copyright Expiration. A lot of folks have heard that copyrights expire after 70 years. In some cases that’s true...but not all. There are some instances when copyright expires 70 years after the author/creators death. There are also times when copyrights are renewed. Beyond that, there are other exceptions, so while the 70 year rule is a good place to start—it’s not the place to end. 
No need to Fear
This series of posts was NOT generated to scare you, but to give you confidence in what you’re doing and doing well. Being a writer would give me a reason to be passionate about this, but I also come from a creative family. My mother is Monita Mahoney, an internationally known artist and my dad is a classical musician, as well as a landscape photographer. Believe me when I say, I cut my teeth on this stuff. Back in the day, I’ve known my mother to correct complete strangers standing in front of copying machines with art books. 
Now it’s your turn, feel free to use the comments section to let me clarify any thing that wasn’t clear or anything I didn’t cover.
Don’t forget to join the Conversation!

Resources (thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you!)
Good explanations of copyright
Public Domain Info
YouTube Info:

Be sure to read the rest of the series on copyright here:
Copyright Quiz
Copyright Part One

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Copyright 101 for Bloggers—the Basics about What You Can and Can’t LEGALLY Post Online (Part Two)

First, let me announce the winner of The Christian Writers Market Guide 2012. 
The Christian Writers Market Guide 2012
Drumroll please.....Sally Matheny, please contact me (ediegmelson (at) gmail (dot) come) and I’ll get your book in the mail right away!
Now on to the fun...uh...hard stuff.
There is so much information I want to share with you I’m going to divide this up into two posts.  The first today, and the second on Thursday.
So I’m reprinting the quiz here—with the answers—to get us started. Then I’ll go through the issues question by question, giving you the pertinent information.
True or False:
  1. I can legally post any picture on my blog if I link back to the place I got it. FALSE
  2. I can legally use a song’s title in a post, article or book. TRUE
  3. I can legally use someone’s blog post as long as I give them credit and don’t change anything. FALSE
  4. I can legally use music or a song as background for an original video as long as I credit the source. FALSE
  5. I can legally post YouTube videos on my blog or website. TRUE
  6. If I don’t make money off of it, it’s legal for me to use. FALSE
  7. I can legally quote a small percentage of the words to a song in a post, article or book. FALSE
  8. If I don’t have a copyright symbol on my work it’s not covered by copyright law. FALSE
  9. I can legally download photos from Facebook to use on my own site. TRUE (fooled you!)
  10. I can legally pin anything to one of my Pinterest Boards. FALSE
  11. I can legally post a picture of a book cover I recommend or am reviewing. TRUE
  12. Copyright on written works expires 70 years after it was first published. FALSE
Art, ALL art, is copyrighted
Number One: Pictures—photos, sketches, graphics, any kind—are covered by the same copyright law as our written words.

Unfortunately, there is lots of sharing going on over the Internet and it’s not legal. When we borrow photos without permission, even when we acknowledge where we got it, we are stealing. I truly believe that’s not the intent, but we need to educate ourselves on what’s right and what’s not and then lead by example. 
Number Two: Song Titles. Song titles are the ONLY part of a song we may use legally. There is something in the copyright law called fair use. Without boring you by quoting the law, it means that you can refer to part of a work without being sued. Contrary to what some think, there is no set number of words or percentage that makes up fair use. Instead, there are four factors used to define it.
  • the purpose and character of your use.
  • the nature of the copyrighted work.
  • what amount and proportion of the whole work was taken.
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Because of the small size of a song, say compared to a book, the courts have decided that quoting ANY portion of a song, except the title is a copyright infringement. The reason you can quote a title? Titles cannot be copyrighted.
Number Three—Blog Posts. You cannot legally borrow someone’s blog post without their permission, even if you give them credit or link back to it. Now, there are some sites that post guidelines for you to follow to be able to use their posts. But this doesn’t mean it’s legal to do so for another site.
Number Four—Music or Songs. I imagine many of you got this one correct. There has been so much written and so many fines leveed in regard to stolen music, it’s almost common knowledge that you cannot borrow a song or music for your own purposes.
Number Five—YouTube Videos. This one was a little tricky. You can legally post YouTube videos on your site, because what you’re doing is linking, not reposting. Even when you embed videos, they are still linked to YouTube.
Number Six—Profit. Whether you profit from borrowing someone else’s work has no bearing on the legality. 
Bloggers are a Fault
I have an opinion about all the borrowing that is happening around the Internet. I may be an optimist, but this is my personal opinion. 
I think a lot of bloggers are generous a fault. They frequently offer their own work to others for free. With this mindset as a foundation, it doesn’t always occur to them to think of what they’re doing as stealing—they don’t see other’s borrowing as stealing, after all. 
That said, I applaud the generosity with our own work. But, we should also be willing to guard the uniqueness and value of the work of others. 
Now it’s your turn to weigh in. Do you have any thoughts—or questions—about copyright issues?
Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Be sure to read the rest of the series here:
Copyright Part Two

Monday, March 26, 2012

Clash of the Titles Fiction Flash Clash

*guest post by Michelle Massaro and April Gardner Last week, COTT posted a "Flash Clash" in which readers had just 2 days to cast their votes between two 100-word excerpts. It was a fast one! But not so fast that voters didn't have time for their say. To add to the tension, the winner took the clash by a margin of one vote. That’s right. ONE vote difference. Both excerpts were so good, readers were split almost exactly down the middle. I love clashes that are this close!
The winner of our Flash Clash First Hundred is…
Rebecca Carey Lyle’s Winds of Wyoming.
Winds of Wyoming clashed against Tom Blubaugh’s Night of the Cossack. It was a pleasure getting to know both authors during this fun, super-speedy clash. We wish many blessings on their writing paths!
Here's what readers had to say about both books:
*Great excerpts...both caught my interest immediately! *Wow - two really great flashes that sound like amazing stories! Love it! *Keep writing and don't give up! *Both excerpts were great, especially given the short time to convey what was happening in the story. Keep up the good work!
COTT is taking a spring break starting immediately. We will begin clashing again on April 2, 2012 when hostess Gail Pallotta brings us a brand new clash--Comparable Covers!
In the meantime, check out these other Splashdown Books…

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thursday Review: A Copyright Quiz—Do You Know Your Rights? (Part One)

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of discussion about copyright issues. Specifically, what is legal to use on a blog, website or in a book. 
Today, instead of giving you all the facts, I thought we’d have some fun and take a little quiz. 

And to sweeten the pot, I’m offering a copy of the Christian Writer’s Market Guide 2012. Everyone who leaves a comment BEFORE 5pm EST Saturday, March 24, will be entered in a drawing for the book.
And don’t worry, I WILL post the answers next week, in a follow-up post.
True or False:
  1. I can legally post any picture on my blog if I link back to the place I got it.
  2. I can legally use a song’s title in a post, article or book.
  3. I can legally use someone’s blog post as long as I give them credit and don’t change anything.
  4. I can legally use music or a song as background for an original video as long as I credit the source.
  5. I can legally post YouTube videos on my blog or website.
  6. If I don’t make money off of it, it’s legal for me to use.
  7. I can legally quote a small percentage of the words to a song in a post, article or book.
  8. If I don’t have a copyright symbol on my work it’s not covered by copyright law.
  9. I can legally download photos from Facebook to use on my own site.
  10. I can legally pin anything to one of my Pinterest Boards.
  11. I can legally post a picture of a book cover I recommend or an reviewing.
  12. Copyright on written works expires 70 years after it was first published.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Be sure to read the answers in the follow-up posts: 
Copyright 101 for Bloggers, Part One
Copyright 101 for Bloggers, Part Two

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Twitter FAQs

Many of the questions I get about Twitter involve etiquette issues. Today I want to go over some of the basics. If you have a question that doesn’t get addressed be sure to leave a comment and I’ll answer it there.
Which Should I Do, Reply or Retweet?
A REPLY is used when you answer a comment, or thank someone for mentioning you. 
It’s good form to reply to someone who retweets something you said. 
A RETWEET is used when you want to repeat someone else’s Tweet.
It’s poor form to retweet a tweet that mentions you. It’s not an unforgivable error, we’ve all accidentally hit the retweet button instead of reply, just try not to make it a habit.
Is There a Rule about How Often I Should or Shouldn’t Tweet?
Twitter has a 140 character limit for a reason and it’s considered bad form to Tweet 3 or more times right in a row. Doing this is called Hogging the Stream or Hijacking the Stream. When I schedule my tweets I try not to schedule them for closer than ten minute increments.
What’s Up With All Those @ Lists People Tweet?
There are several times you may see this. 
First, it’s polite to thank new followers, and some people group them together in lists. This isn’t a bad thing, if you don’t hog the Twitter stream doing it.
Second, there are certain designations for days of the week. For example, Friday is often designated as #FF. This stand for FOLLOW FRIDAY. It’s a time for people to recommend others as valuable people to follow. I’ve actually found some really cool folks to follow through this. And once again, it’s not a bad thing, if the person doing it doesn’t Hijack the Twitter stream with multiple #FF posts in a row.
Do I have to Follow Everyone Who Follows Me?
No, absolutely not. I try to follow the people I believe have something valuable to say. I DON’T follow those who look like spammers or sketchy accounts. Often times you can tell because they don’t have a picture, only that irritating egg avatar. Another way I check is to look at the description they give for themselves. If they don’t have a description, I’m always skeptical. 
What Does RT, MM, OH, HT Mean?
MM—is MUSIC MONDAY, similar to Follow Friday.
Now it’s your turn. Be sure to post your questions in the comments section. And...
Don’t forget to join the conversation!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Clash of the Titles

Guest blogger: Jennifer Slattery
Sometimes Clash of the Titles highlights great talent. Other times we get to "discover it." This is exactly what happened with our speculative fiction unpub'bed clash. 

Join me in welcoming Chawna Schroeder to the COTT family! There's nothing like discovering great talent before it goes to print! And I have a feeling we're going to see our latest COTT champion's books on bookshelves very soon. When we do, we can all say, "We saw her on COTT first!" And this clash--a battle for best speculative fiction unpub'bed--was even more exciting because the winner has been invited to submit a full proposal to Asraea Press for immediate review! 

Her winning excerpt was pulled from the pages of Metamorphosis, a gripping tale of a Beast and her master: Once upon a time there lived a Beast… Not in a shining castle, but among a pack of dogs. For as long as Beast can remember she has lived among her master’s dogs. With them she sleeps. With them she eats. With them she fights and struggles to survive. But through hunger and cold, she dreams of one day becoming Master’s favorite, earning bones with meat and a place beside the fire. Then strangers attack. Her pack scatters. Fire eats the village. And Beast knows: Master is no more. Alone and unprotected, Beast tries to defend herself against slavers scavenging for any leftovers. But she is only one, and they are strong. Tracked by men, sold as a monster, is Beast only prey to be hunted… …or something more?

A few comments from readers: "I enjoyed both excerpts! I am curious about the world created in A, but B really got me in the gut." "Great job! Keep writing!" "God has given you a gift. Your TRUE fans will always be there for you!! Never give up and follow your dreams!!! I am sending up a prayer for you and your family!!!" Join us March 19-23 for a fun Flash Clash!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thursday Review—A Checklist for Blogs and Websites

One of the services I offer as a social media coach, is a blog or website evaluation. Now don’t panic, I’m not selling you my services. Quite the contrary, today I’m giving you the checklist I use to evaluate online sites. 
Why am I giving it away? Because it’s not the only thing I do as a coach, and because I think this checklist can help you improve your site. 
So I challenge you to go over your site and let us know what you find out! Be sure to post your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section.
Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Edie's Blog Critique Checklist

  • Size 
  • Consistency
  • Color Choice

Color Choices:
  • Background
  • Headers
  • Footers
  • Comments
  • Date
  • Tabs
  • Misc

  • Does the order of gadgets make sense?
  • Are the Lists/Links explained?
  • Is the Blog easy to view on mobile/tablet devices?
  • Is the Blog too busy or too stark to be effective?

Included Gadgets
  • About Me
  • Follow on Email
  • Follow through RSS
  • Facebook Link
  • Twitter Link
  • Pages/Pages Tabs
  • Contact Me.

Individual Posts
  • Do they catch the reader’s attention? 
  • Are they keyword rich?

Text Format:
  • Length of Paragraphs
  • Bullet Points and Lists
  • Use of Photographs/Visual Images
  • Use of Video
  • Spacing in and around posts
  • Open ended questions/application
  • Labels used effectively
  • Commenting
  • Hyperlinks

Misc Thoughts & Suggestions

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Learn How to Navigate Feedburner

A lot of people don’t realize they have a valuable service attached to their blogs. It’s Feedburner and it’s most commonly used feature is as a gadget to let people sign up to follow your blog through email. But there’s so much more to Feedburner and today I want to give you a guided tour.
In Blogger, Feedburner is default service for email subscriptions, since both are owned by Google. But it’s frequently used with other blogging platforms like WordPress and Typepad. 
Normally, when you want information about your blog, you begin by going to your dashboard. 
NOT this time. 
To access your Feedburner account you have to start on the front side of your blog. That’s the side that visitors see. This is also where you can access your Feedburner stats. Go to the Sign Up With Email gadget and click on the words, FEEDBURNER. 

NOTE: if you don't have a clickable FEEDBURNER link on the front side of your blog, type in to your search engine. Don't type www before it. Google owns this service and they're messing around with access to it and it's finicky to get to it. Once there, click on the blog signups you want to access.
This will take you to the Feedburner site. Once there, you’ll see all your blogs listed. Click on the one you want to work with. This will take you to a page with lots of different menus--some at the top and some down the side. 
Across the top is:
TROUBLESHOOTIZE (I think they got a little carried away here)
Most of the things you’ll want to do will be accessed from the PUBLICIZE tab. Click on that and you’ll see a new menu appear on the left side of the screen. Click on Email Subscriptions first. 

NOTE: if you want your subscriber details, scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on SUBSCRIBER DETAILS.

Now you’ll see even more options appear. Before you click on one, look at the bottom center of the screen and you’ll see the number of email subscribers you currently have for your blog. This is also where you’ll see the HTML codes to plug into websites and blogs (if you don’t use Blogger). 
A lot of people ask me if it’s possible to set the time when their blog is emailed to people. It definitely is and this is the menu that allows you to do that. Look back on the left side of the screen and click on Delivery Options. 
The first thing you’ll want to do here is select your timezone. After that, you can schedule email delivery of your blog updates. Your options are in two hour increments. This is good to know about if you ever happen to post your blog a couple of hours late. You can come here, change your delivery time and then change it back after your subscribers have been notified. Just be sure to click SAVE after you’ve made any changes. 
I recommend you take some time and get acquainted with all the different things you can do through Feedburner. Also be sre to post any questions or comments you have in the comments section below.
And don’t forget to join the conversation!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Clash of the Titles

*guest post by COTT Sr. Editor, April W Gardner
This week, it was my privilege to spend a few extra minutes with author Gail Pollatto. Gail is one of the blog alliance correspondents at Clash of the Titles.
Her husband, Rick, says she’s the only person he knows who can go in the grocery for a loaf of bread and come out with someone’s life story. That’s probably because she inherited her mother’s love of people and enjoys talking to them. Working as an editor and freelance writer, Gail published a couple hundred articles. While some of them are in anthologies, two ended up in museums. In 2004, the American Christian Writers Association named Gail a regional writer of the year. She recently published her first romance, Love Turns the Tide. When she isn’t writing she likes reading, swimming, and getting together with friends and family. Gail wants to write books of faith that show God’s love. She and Rick live in Georgia. Just a couple hours north of me, actually! We’re practically neighbors. :-) Every COTT staff member is a professed child of God. Gail, can you tell us about your relationship with Christ? I can’t remember when I didn’t love Jesus. My father’s father was a minister, so I grew up listening to Bible verses and references to Jesus. But my mother played a huge part in helping me establish a relationship with Christ. At bedtime she said prayers with me and told me stories from the Bible. First, she taught me “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep,” but even then I had a copy of “The Lord’s Prayer” hanging on the wall above the headboard of my bed. She taught it to me a few lines at a time. We soon started saying it instead of “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.” She also told me about the Crucifixion in her own words, explaining how much Jesus had to love me to die for me. She taught me to talk to Jesus, to say the things I was thankful for, to praise Him, and ask for things I needed. I did the same with my daughter. I’m so grateful for the many blessings Jesus has given me and that He’s always there for me. I don’t always get the answers I want to my prayers, but I get the answers I need to fulfill God’s plan for my life. Whenever I’ve needed a miracle, Jesus has supplied one. There are several hymns that touch on how I feel about my relationship with Christ. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” and “He Leadeth Me” are two. My daughter recently gave me a CD, Elvis, An Evening Prayer. The first song on it, “His Hand in Mine,” conveys how I feel about my relationship with Christ. It’s an old gospel song written by Mossie Lister. It’s on YouTube. The URL is Beautiful testimony! A mother’s faith is essential in a child’s life, and you’re proof of that! None of us are perfect though, so what’s the craziest thing you did as a teenager? 
Gail Pallotta
I grew up at the foothills of the mountains. At a reunion a few years ago, many of us told our beloved biology teacher how much she meant to us. She replied, “Well, I had to teach biology. There was no one else in town that could.” Teachers were scarce. We had a very old algebra teacher. He couldn’t stay awake during class. Nope. He took the roll and told us to turn to the next chapter and work the problems. Then he pushed back his seat and propped his feet on the trash can. We’d give him about ten minutes, and he was out like a light. His classroom was in the basement with a window level to the ground. In the spring as soon as he started snoring, we went out the window, got in my friend’s convertible (she had the only car) and went to the lake. No way! That’s so funny!! How long were you gone? What is something else people would be surprised to know about you?  At age twenty-two when I graduated from college, I packed my clothes in a medium-sized suitcase and moved to a large city with eighty dollars in my pocket. Had no car, no job, and nowhere to live.  Wow! You can’t leave us hanging, lol! How did that work out for you? On a slightly more serious note, what is the nearest book to where you’re sitting?  I love to read anything, non-fiction, fiction, any genre, Christian and many secular. But the book closest to me, probably because I also write as well as read, is Essentials of English. I’d imagine that covers grammar? Forms of writing? Sounds like a must-have for every writer! What are three things you can’t live without?    Faith, family, fun Three very important f’s! Makes me wonder though, when I say the word “fun,” what’s the first thing to pop into your mind? What is the message you most want to convey to readers with your writing? God loves you. Accept His love and let the greatness of it overcome the imperfections of this world.  That brings to mind. John 16:33 "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." NAS (©1995) Anything else you’d like to add?  I was honored when asked to be part of the Clash of the Titles Staff. I love helping to promote Christian books and writers. And we love having you!! *** Get to know Gail better by visiting her website or her blog.