I’m Alive!

I'm Alive

General Life Update

Since I didn’t post anything last week, I’ll start with a general update. Why didn’t I post anything? I felt…horrible. Physically, I was just exhausted. It felt like day 4,591 of allergy season. I was adjusting to new allergy medication. I couldn’t think, much less write, anything. So, I apologize. It was the first scheduled post I’d missed since December, and missing it made me feel even worse. I haven’t even been on social media much.

I woke one morning and I felt fabulous. I can’t explain it. I’m no spring chicken, so I don’t normally feel fabulous upon waking. Most days I feel okay. Better after a stretch. Better still after a cup of coffee or two, and as the day progresses I might even feel good…but this one morning I woke up, I felt sixteen again. It was weird, and it hasn’t happened since. Nothing remarkable even came of that day, but it was such an anomaly, I feel the need to share it.

So, what was I up to during my convalescence? Watching Doctor Who and eating all the spicy things. I re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-restarted with No. 9, and I’ve just about finished up Amy and Rory’s first series, so for you Whovians that are calculating…that’s a lotta Who in a short time! But don’t worry, I brought a bunch of bananas to the party. 😉

Carrying on…

Both of my nephews and my niece are hitting some major milestones all at the same time, which contributes to my feeling ancient:

My oldest nephew just turned 21.
My youngest nephew just registered for kindergarten.
My niece is going off to college in two weeks.

THIS MAKES AUNTIE AILA FEEL SO OLD. Old, proud, and excited to see their futures unfold.

In other life news, my father’s physical health remains about the same (which isn’t good, but will never get better, so the same is better than the alternative) but his mental health seems to be in a steep decline. So, I know I don’t talk about him often because his privacy is so important to him, but if you are a prayerful person, a love-and-light person, a chanting person, a good vibes person…anything, please send him/me/us a little something.

Wonderful World of Writing

When, not if, when I finish Alabama Rain, it will be a joyous occasion. I am thoroughly enjoying writing the book, but it’s not been easy by any stretch of the imagination. I am behind in this book. I’m not too worried at the moment, because I’m about to take a nice vacation from work which will give me time to catch up. (When I’m not at work, I can easily bang out 6k words per day, if not more) Since my allergy medications are doing their thing now, I’m back away plucking out as many words as I can during the work week. I know this will be out-of-context, but I really enjoyed writing these last few scenes and thought I’d share a little something, something. Remember, it’s raw:

Capture

And:

Tizzy

Corrie is such an interesting character to write. In the sections of the book where she’s a teenager/young adult, she’s a little naive and totally smitten at first, but life in the 1930s was tough, and it’s heartbreaking to write the things that harden her. The research I’ve done into the psychological problems people went through during The Great Depression has been hard to digest sometimes. A lot of the time. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I have to mentally check out of it for a few hours and watch or read something light and fluffy after researching something for this book. Don’t fret, I am writing in some moments of levity because I must.

In other writing news, my local writing group disbanded about a year and a half ago when the group leaders either got married, moved out of state, or started new jobs—someone is picking it back up, though! It appears they want to meet on Mondays, which may cause me to rework my schedule some over the next few weeks, but if these first couple of meetings prove beneficial, I’ll make it work. Cross your fingers! [I just came back from the first meeting, and it was amazing! More on that Thursday!]

That Thing Happening on Twitter aka #ByeFaleena

So, of course I grew up being taught that if you have nothing nice to say you should say nothing at all. I try, at least publicly, to live that way.

But not today.

If you haven’t checked out #ByeFaleena, let me just sum up what’s happened here the best way I can without interjecting my thoughts just yet. A romance author by the name of Faleena Hopkins applied for and was granted a trademark for the word cocky. This pertains to a series of books she has written called The Cocker Brothers of Atlanta, where each book’s title starts with the word Cocky. Therefore she now (as of April) has two series titles for this series. 1.) The Cocker Brothers of Atlanta, and 2.) The Cocky Series.

She began sending her own cease and desist letters to authors with the word Cocky in their titles, going so far as to say if they did not change the titles of their books that she would sue them (and would win) all of the monies they had made on those titles.

Look, I understand wanting to protect your work. And if Ms. Hopkins had created the word Cocky, or even just wanted to prevent people from having their own series of books called The Cocky Series, I might’ve been alright with that. But, this sort of thing happens when you use certain words, especially within certain genres.

Common words in Romance titles: Love, Lust, Billionaire, Sexy, Kiss, Cocky

Common words in Sci-Fi titles: Odyssey, Space, Mission, Battle, Star(s)

Common words in Mystery titles: Murder, Killer, Blood, Detective

Common words in Fantasy titles: Land, Magic, Dragon, Wand, Crown, Sword

What I am getting at is the precedent that’s been set here. Ms. Hopkins’s trademark hasn’t affected me, nor anyone that I know personally. But, the ramifications might. What would happen if someone decided to one day write a series of books with Secrets in the title and my lovely friend Vania receives a cease and desist letter for her Summer Secrets books? Or someone else decides to write a series about witches and tries to strong-arm my friend Jewel out of her own series about witches? Or if someone decides to trademark the word Rain and decides I can no longer have my title? It’s the precedent that’s being set which gets to me.

Ms. Hopkins alleges that authors which she insists re-title their books will not be impacted further than a day’s worth of effort into changing their covers, but that isn’t so. It’s a huge financial undertaking for some authors. Perhaps not all, but definitely for some. For me it would mean reassigning an ISBN because those are not transferable. One title can have multiple ISBNs! eBook, paperback, hardback, audio–those little strings of numbers are not cheap! Then, there’s having to edit the interior of books where you’ve listed your now-unusable title in the back. For those of us who use IngramSpark, that’s $25 to edit each interior where the offending title exists. There’s marketing materials that need to be trashed, and the loss of our own brand recognition for the sake of someone else who also decided to use a common word.

And to a degree, Ms. Hopkins understands this. In an apology she included in the back of her book Cocky Soldier she stated she had no clue that Marines never refer to themselves as anything other than Marines but it was too late to change the title because when she learned of this, Cocky Soldier was already up for pre-sale and she had already printed bookmarks. There’s a lot of speculation about Ms. Hopkin’s net-worth, and frankly, I don’t particularly care, but if it would’ve been too much of an inconvenience or expense for her, then how can she, with a straight face, claim it won’t be so for another indie author? We aren’t well-known for our abundance of wealth.

I have other suspicions about Ms. Hopkins, but I only want to acknowledge things on this blog that are rooted in fact, so I will keep them to myself. All of that said, however, let me say something to her opposition:

Don’t give her undue 1-star reviews.

Don’t stop voicing your opinions on this frankly baffling display of cockiness, either. Don’t stop signing petitions. Don’t stop spreading the word that what she is doing is at the very least morally wrong—but don’t leave her undue 1-star reviews. Be better than that. Believe me, I want you to win this fight. I want her to lose the trademark on this very common word, but I don’t want you to give up your own reputation in the process. Is she a 5-star writer? Not from what I’ve read in the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon. But, I haven’t, and won’t, buy her books, therefore I will not review them 1-star or otherwise.

Just as I do not like the precedent she’s set by trademarking a word that shouldn’t be trademarked, I do not like the precedent set of 1-starring authors we do not agree with.

Call for boycotts. If you’ve legitimately read and reviewed her work before and now in this light you’ve decided you don’t want to support her because she doesn’t support others, fine. Erase your review, but don’t change it to a 1-star just because. 

I am keen on watching this story unfold in the next few days. I’ve never seen someone seem so content on throwing gas on their own dumpster fire, what with talking about sitting back with popcorn and watching the hate spew, down to issuing not an apology, but a statement of forgiveness to those who are wronging her. This will definitely get more interesting as the RWA steps in with an IP lawyer, and with all the parody books being published astonishingly quickly on Amazon.

I still find her trademark of choice ironic as hell.

But let’s set this negativity aside!

There are only a few days left to enter my giveaway!

img_3242

That is all I have for you today, my friends! May your muse be kind this week! ❤


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6 thoughts on “I’m Alive!

  1. Vania Margene Rheault says:

    Well said, Aila! Thank you for being a voice of reason. Unfortunately, it’s not just #byefaleena haters doing this. I also think any writer who would slander a book with a poor review for personal reasons gets whatever karma they deserve. Reviews are not personal, nor should they ever be. Thanks again for a great blog post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aila Stephens says:

      So true. It’s baffling to me that many of the people who are 1-starring Faleena’s work are other writers. We, as a collective, should hold the book reviewing process to a higher standard. There will come a time when each and every one of us upsets someone, whether purposefully or not…issuing negative reviews as a means of retribution undermines the process for us all.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. alfageeek says:

    I have to respectfully disagree about this trademark issue. First, there is no precedent being set. The trademark rules for series titles are old and well-established. The only thing that’s new is the existence of social media to dump gasoline on what should have been a minor legal tussle. Should she have been granted that trademark? That’s up to the examiner at the USPTO. If you don’t think it’s a good mark, there’s a process you can use to ask that they review it.

    However, the fact is she was granted it. And she ABSOLUTELY HAD TO send out those cease and desist letters. Trademarks aren’t like patents. If you don’t vigorously defend them, you lose them. There would be no point in getting the trademark if you weren’t prepared to sue over it.

    If someone has an existing work and they want to keep using that word in their title, they have to call her bluff. She’s incorrect that they would lose any money they already made on the title, since they were using it before the mark existed. It would only be revenue made after the trademark was issued that would be at risk. (And probably only revenue made after they got the letter.) So the bottom line is they have almost nothing to lose calling her bluff. Trademark litigation is only expensive if you want to win. If you don’t care, and you are just fighting it on principle then you can be a pain in the ass at little or no cost.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aila Stephens says:

      While I understand the why behind her actions, the precedent I am referring to is how she trademarked the singular word, which wasn’t even the series title. Had she only trademarked The Cocker Brothers of Atlanta, which was the official series title until recently, then I, and I doubt many people, would’ve had an issue.

      As far as my limited understanding goes, she also shouldn’t be allowed to keep someone from using the word in a one-off title, only from using it as a series title, which isn’t what’s been happening.

      So, if those two points hold true, then that is the precedent I reference.

      Liked by 2 people

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