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Using Pics on Your Blog Can Get You Sued

I’ve been blogging for a couple years now. And I know the value of a cute pic and caption. I like ‘em. They’re pretty and funny and add an extra punch to the post. I like punch :) So, I did what other bloggers did. I went to Google Images and searched for a little something to accessorize the post. Turns out, that move coulda cost me a bunch of stress, time and money. I had no idea. Sadly, ignorance does not a law suit end. Heck, if pleading ignorance could get me outta trouble, I’d be in a lot less trouble because I do a lot of ignorant things — unbeknownst to me. Until someone points it out. Then, I’m all “Oopsie.” And I stop.

Imagine my surprise last night while tweeting when I saw a link coming up over and over again about this. The agent tweeting is one I’ve followed for some time and I respect. Then, I saw the author and my eyeballs fell onto my keyboard. It took me forever to find them. A cyber friend of mine, and oh-so-sexy author, Roni Loren, was sued. SUED. For use of a pic on her blog. She drafted a thorough and clear cut explanation of what is and is not legal- based on her real life findings…the hard way kinda findings.

So, today’s post isn’t as much for aspiring writers as it is for bloggers. She says it so much better, so I hope you’ll pop over to her site, read the post and change your ways if needed.

It took me until almost 2am to remove google images from my more than 500 posts. That’s a whole heck of a lot of posts. Save yourself the trouble. Roni gives examples of wonderful ways to get pics you CAN use without worry. She’s great. Check her out. Meanwhile, you’ll be noticing weird pics in my posts. I’ve decided to use pics I’ve taken – whether or not they match the posts until I have time to check out and find a creative commons site I love.

Happy blogging :)

Sisters in Crime

In honor of the completion of my first cozy mystery manuscript, I joined Sisters in Crime. This is a fabulous organization for women writers who love mysteries. I first heard about them at a library book fair earlier this year – yeah, I wrote form under a rock LOL. I’d never taken an interest in national writing organizations. I knew about RWA Romance Writers of America from all my romance writer friends and conferences, but SinC was new to me. I thought I’d blog about the group today. Maybe one of you would enjoy this group too. Here’s how their website described the organization:

“Sisters in Crime (SinC) is an international organization founded in 1986 to promote the professional development and advancement of women writing crime fiction.
Today, SinC is made up of more than 3,000 members in 48 chapters worldwide — authors, readers, publishers, agents, booksellers, librarians, and others who love mysteries.
Dues are $35 and $40 to be a part of this community. There are chapters, a listserv and member discounts for writing workshops and events. We offer custom Sisters in Crime Author searches -take a look – find a new Sisters in Crime Author, find his/her web site or look for a speaker at your library or bookstore. Pick “all” and see the entire list of Sisters in Crime Authors. Enjoy!”

That sums it up well. There are a couple local chapters here in Ohio. You can log into the site and keep watch on contests and upcoming events for the organization as well as conferences and shows where there will be a SinC presence. Writing tips for mystery writers, promotional help and lots more. It’s also nice to tell agents and editors you belong to a national organization like this. And SinC is one of the least expensive ones I’ve seen.

Contact your local chapter if you think this might be for you. I bet you won’t regret it!

Do any of you belong to Sinc or another national organization? How have they helped? I’d love to hear from those with real stories of their involvement in groups like this.



Writer Wednesday Welcomes: Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

I’m excited to welcome Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg today as part of her Wow! Women on Writing blog tour. She’s absolutely delightful and a writer we should get to know. Caryn graciously agreed to blog today on a subject she knows plenty about. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do! Here she is!

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Divorce Girl: Humor As A Tool For Resiliency

Okay, I confess that during moments of writing this novel, I cracked myself up, which I know is somewhat pathetic, but sometimes a writer lands on something so outlandish that she falls out of her chair, laughing. When one of my characters, a petite, feminine woman, lifted a bowling ball high and threw it overhand so that it hit the signs over the bowling alley instead of the bowling pins, I starting laughing so hard that I burst into tears.

“Are you okay?” a man nursing a latte at the next table asked me when he saw I was actually crying.

“I’m fine,” I reassured him, wiping my eyes. “Someone in my novel just did something very funny.” He leaned back and raised his eyebrows, shaking his head.

Yet these moments, when the unexpected happens, are what I live for as a writer and as a reader. There are such things in life too — the kind of humor you can’t make up — that mirror themselves in fiction, except that we writers have the illusion of making up the un-make-up-able. Actually, such humor comes from the strange confluence of our characters’ trajectories with the unfolding of the plot and, most of all, the magic of writing. Few writers think ahead of time, “I will have Joe dressed as a Vegas showgirl when he picks up his mother-in-law from the airport and then……” Most of us, as we’re writing, notice the Vegas showgirl costume Joe’s new wife wore to a costume party, left strewn on the sofa, realize Joe wants out of this marriage he only entered into when drunk and confused, and then write our way to seeing how Joe is the type of guy who might do something outlandish, yet passive-aggressive. The next thing we know, we’re having Joe shave his legs and apply mascara.

When writing The Divorce Girl, the humorous passages had another purpose: they lifted up the more painful unfurlings of the plot. It wasn’t like I thought to myself, “Whoa, I just described my main character getting kicked by her father. I better write something funny now.” It was more like I watched my main character, her life possibilities, and simply aimed her just a bit into a situation that would help her see her life from another angle. For example, the chapter I think is the funniest is when Deborah, my 16-year-old protagonist, goes to her first youth group meeting at her synagogue, only to arrive on sex education night. Take a bunch of teenagers, a hippy rabbi (my novel is set in the 1970s), a small room, and a discussion of intercourse, anal and oral sex. Then toss in a break when the kids can “process” what they’ve just heard while eating graham crackers and juice in the same building where they learned about Moses and the parting of the Red Sea when they were six, and well, humor drives the scene.

Laughter helps us navigate the hard stuff of life. When I was going through six months of intensive chemotherapy a decade ago for breast cancer, I watched every stupid, funny movie I could during my long stretches of not being able to function well. If I could laugh, at least, life had more meaning, hope and inspiration.

It’s the same thing for fictional characters, but even more so for those of us reading their stories.  When I think of some of my favorite novels — such as Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone – I remember being undone in laughter when I read how the main character became a superb Etch-a-Sketch artist, and this detail helped me connect even more deeply with this character when she went through overwhelming grief and depression. For Deborah in the The Divorce Girl, moments such as sex ed at the synagogue gave her a wider view of her life and strengthen her resiliency skills — her ability to face great grief, pain, rage, loss and loss of control, and find the wherewithal to bounce back.

And humor is all about the bounce and the bouncing back — in our lives as we try to find our feet after loss, fear or anger knock us over, or in fiction as our characters model for us ways to persevere, be true to themselves, and along the way, crack themselves up laughing at their own foibles.

The Divorce Girl

Meet Deborah Shapiro, a New Jersey teenage photographer whose parents’ outrageous divorce lands her in the biggest flea market in the free world, a Greek diner with immigration issues, a New York City taxi company, a radical suburban synagogue, a hippie-owned boutique, and bowling alleys, beaches and bagel shops. As her home explodes apart, a first love, a series of almost-mothers, and a comical collection of eccentric mentors show Deborah how to make art out of life, and life from the wreckage of a broken home. This debut novel of Kansas Poet Laureate Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg travels through wild loss, untended grief and bad behavior with humor and imagination. Reminiscent of the works of Wally Lamb, Stephanie Kallos, and Kaye Gibbons, this coming of age story illuminates how a daring heart can turn a broken girl into a woman strong enough to craft a life of art, soul and beauty.

About the Author:

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the Poet Laureate of Kansas, and the author of 14 books, including a novel, The Divorce Girl (Ice Cube Books), a non-fiction book, Needle in the Bone: How a Holocaust Survivor and Polish Resistance Fighter Beat the Odds and Found Each Other (Potomac Books); The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community & Coming Home to the Body (Ice Cube Books); the anthologies An Endless Skyway: Poetry from the State Poets Laureate (co-editor, Ice Cube Books) and Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems (editor, Woodley Press); and four collections of poetry. Founder of Transformative Language Arts – a master’s program in social and personal transformation through the written, spoken and sung word – at Goddard College where she teaches, Mirriam-Goldberg also leads writing workshops widely. With singer Kelley Hunt, she co-writes songs, offers collaborative performances, and leads writing and singing Brave Voice retreats. She blogs at

Author’s Websites:


Decisions, Decisions…

There’s no more glorious feeling to a writer than typing those precious words THE END. I love it. I thrill over it. For me, putting those 80K down are the hardest. After that, the polishing and perfecting is the fun part.

Then, I have downtime. I marvel over my accomplishment, continue to pick at the work, preening it…but eventually, it’s done-done. And I’m here. The thrill of victory has passed. My house is clean after a couple days of no writing. My TBR pile is strikingly smaller. And my mind is craving. My fingers itching. I *neeeeeeds* to write again.

But what shall I write? I have an exciting new premise. I’ve sketched the outline. Ran the rough concept past a few people I go to for these things. Even began the research. But, should I start something new-new? Should I begin a sequel for something I have on submissions? Do I work edits on something my editor needs in a few months? Seems too soon for the last option…but it is under contract and feels more weighty. But it won’t take longer than a few days….I hate to start sequels on something still on subs, what if the press I adore doesn’t adore the first manuscript? Then I’ll have two. LOL.

So, I’m back to “Start the new project, Julie!” Problem with that is I know how all-encompassing it is to begin a new work. It’s hard, sleepless work. My personality is begging me to dive in, tell a new story, design a new romance. But my realistic mind is sounding a lot like my mother. Am I really ready for all that again so soon?

No. Probably not. But I have writing. The mental illness wherein I am word obsessed and won’t be able to resist for long. One more reason I love my blog. I get to think out loud and process the crazy. Yep. Looks like time to turn that new outline into an official WIP!


Thanks for helping me with that :)

Happy Birthday to ME!

Today is my birthday. My favorite day of the summer. On this day every year, I take stock of my life. I ask myself how last year went for me, what will I change this year and what do I want to hold on to. This year, like so many other years since I met my husband, I’m feeling devilishly lucky. My life isn’t *perfect*…but for me, it’s pretty close. I married my best friend, who puts up with my many Julieisms. He makes me laugh, calms me down (often necessary) and he funds my life of writing and book buying and infinite cute shoes and dresses while I pursue my dream of being an author, raise our kids and type blog posts like this with lots of smileys and exclams!!!. (Sure, that’s totally what it all boils down too *not even close*). But a good summary of the highlights.

This year I was thankful to be forever finished with babies. My youngest just turned four and is officially a preshcooler. I will never again be pregnant, endure the “well baby” visits, invasive body checks, stretchmarks and self-loathing I associate with the process of gaining 80 pounds in 9 months over and over again. No more breast feeding and dealing with the idiots who find it offensive. No more diapers or potty training or 50 pound carseat/baby carriers or even five-point harnesses. Hey, they’re all potty trained and I don’t even gotta wipe any more tushies. I’m living the good life over here. LOL

I’ve made it to my late thirties, passed the mid point, and I’m feeling wonderful. (In my early twenties there were moments where making it this far seemed impossible. I was *cough* a little wild.) Anyway, here I am and I have a cool blog :) Awesome international friends, amazing Mid-Western family,home,  church and life. I want for absolutely nothing, aside from maybe a few things I can’t afford and wouldn’t likely spend the cash on if I had it in my hand anyway. Because I’m frugal like that. :)

This year, I hope to repeat a lot of last year. Spending time with the people I love. Making new friends. Going new places. And learning. I’m an insatiable learner. I don’t  even care what I learn as long as I didn’t know it yesterday and now I do. Honestly, I’m excited to see what this year holds. I’m certain it’s all wonderful, unicorns and rainbows. If it’s not, I’ll pretend. I like pretending. When you pretend, nothing ever goes wrong. If things go wrong while you’re pretending, then you’re doing it wrong. Contact me, I’ll help.

I hope this year will be another year of exciting manuscripts and contracts and new friends, new favorite books and authors. I hope my kids get on fire for words the way I am. I hope I help someone starting out on their path to publication in some way, encouragement, experience, anything. I want to see every dreamer reach their goal. I’m like that. People should smile more.

Well, that’s it for me. I’m writing this late on the 14th. I have a hot date with the Hubsy, a long morning of sleeping in tomorrow, breakfast in bed, shopping, hair doing, and a whole day filled with friends and cake and barbecue.

I’ll see you guys again on Monday :) !


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