To Register or Not to Register?

Drear Jim,

I hope this finds you in good spirits! I was hoping you could help me out a little bit here. I’ve heard a lot of people talking about registering a work for copyright. There doesn’t seem to be a consensus as to whether or not you need to do it. Should I register my work or not?

Thanks,
Alex


Hello Alex,

Good question. There are actually a few schools of thought on this one. We’ll look at them in some detail and then we can decide whether or not you actually need to. First off, we’re going to assume you’re self-publishing. This is really a non-issue otherwise as your publisher will take care of this in most cases for you unless you’ve worked out a deal where you retain the full rights to your book. (very rare in traditional circumstances)

The primary arguments against doing it have always centered around if someone wants to buy the rights to your work. They argue that your work is copyrighted the moment it’s put on paper and that’s literally all you should need until/unless you need to file a copyright claim and go to litigation. They argue that if you register your work for a copyright, it takes a lot of time and money to transfer that registration to another party if you sell the rights. Most companies tend to shy away at that point, so if you’re looking to sell the rights to your book, or you’re attempting to shop the book to a traditional publisher, then it makes sense to avoid registering your work.
In choosing not to register your work prior to publication when you send it off to publishers/publishing agents, there is a small risk that someone will steal your story and publish it themselves. However, most of the agencies lifeblood is on their reputation, an accusation and litigation of theft would be extremely damaging to their business. So be aware, there is a chance, but it’s relatively small.

Those in favor argue that it’s a way to protect yourself and your work from the above. They also stress that if you’re already publishing your book by yourself, the ISBN will cover some things, but not everything. So in cases where you’re already published, it makes sense, but again, if a traditional publisher wants to pick you up, this will complicate the process.

So what do I think?

Well honestly, both sides have a good argument and I think it largely depends on your circumstances. If you are self-publishing and/or retaining your rights, then I think it’s a good idea to register your work. You absolutely don’t need to, but keep in mind, if you need to file a copyright claim later, you’re going to need to register at that point. Given how long it takes to register a work, you’ll need to request an expedited registration, at which point, the price goes from $35-$55, well into the hundreds… and not the low hundreds either. At the same time, what’s the stop the thief from registering it on their end?

But what if a publisher comes to me and decides he wants to buy the work?

You’re talking about an incredibly rare situation, typically rarer than actually getting a traditional publisher to pick you up in the first place. If it does happen where a publisher is that interested, you’d think they would be willing to do the extra work, or I’m sure you could work out something with them to transfer the rights. I wouldn’t worry about this too much.

Now, if you’re shopping around for a traditional publisher, that is a different story altogether. Do not register your work, because a traditional publisher likely will not go through that headache right off the bat, especially if you’re new to the field. To them, it shows a lack of trust on your part and makes extra work for them. They’re already going to be taking a gamble on you, don’t increase it.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the whole ordeal. Readers, do you have experience dealing with this situation? Let us know your thoughts in the comments and we’ll keep the conversation going!

 



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

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Time Travel and Why You Shouldn’t Write About It!

I’m going to start off by saying that I’m aware that a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this one, but I find the idea of writing about time travel daunting.

Why, you may ask? Because it’s a headache. Think about it, literally thousands of books addressing the problems of time travel in stories have been written. Some really good, others really bad.

They all seem to focus on the same idea… “Say you build a time machine to go back and kill Hitler. You make it back to 1935 and assassinate him before he can do any damage… well now he doesn’t exist, so why’d you build the time machine? Since you didn’t build the time machine, how is Hitler now dead?”

It’s a cyclical problem that no one has ever really been able to aptly answer. Recently, there’s been a theory that I actually kind of like that does -sort of- fix the problem of paradoxes. I call it divergent timelines. What does this involve?

The idea is that if you go back in time and kill Hitler, you’re not changing history, you’re altering reality and creating a new timeline. The old ‘prime’ timeline still exists and is still ongoing, but now the person who traveled back to kill Hitler can never get back to his own reality. In this theory, the stories we see where someone goes back in time, undoes a historical event, and comes back to his time where virtually nothing is different and his loved ones are still waiting for him, is pure fantasy.  The traveler is now trapped in the reality he created with no way to truly get home again. Thus, does this really count as time travel? I would be more inclined to put this in the trans-dimension category.

There have been other stories that address this problem by creating some kind of… temporal vortex that allows the time traveler to remember who was and be exempt from the laws of quantum physics, but this is pure absurdity in my eyes.

A third theory I’ve seen literally has time rip itself apart when someone creates a time paradox. I don’t subscribe to that idea either because I’d have a hard time believing that the universe is that poorly built. That’s my suspension of disbelief though, so chalk it up as an anecdote.

So have a lost you yet?

All right, now, with all that said, why am I against people writing about it? Or why do I avoid any stories that attempt to seriously tackle the idea? Because it’s next to impossible to not create a ton of plot flaws!

The divergent timelines theory is a way around it, but again, I don’t consider that legitimate time travel.

Every time I’ve seen a time travel story created, there’s always a million comments about ‘well if you had a time machine, why didn’t you just go back in time and do this?’
‘Why didn’t you go back and resolve this issue before it happened instead of trying to deal with it after?’

Let’s look at one of the more famous movies, Back to the Future.

In all three movies, the lead characters altered the present. Yet somehow the time machine, the characters, and their memories all seem to remain the same. In theory, none of them should be able to remember the original timeline and they never really explain why it would be so disastrous if they meet their past selves. The mechanics behind that remains a mystery.

Now I know what a lot of people are probably saying at this point;

“It’s just a fun little 80s romp, you’re taking it way too seriously.”

Fine, fair enough. Then let’s move onto a series that is meant to be taken seriously, Star Trek. Specifically, Star Trek Generations.

In that movie, we see a galactic terrorist named Sauron going around destroying stars in order to move a dimensional doorway closer to a planet where he can then enter a paradise dimension. In that dimension, time has no meaning. Both Jean Luc Picard and James Kirk end up there. Picard convinces Kirk to leave the Nexus with him in order to stop Sauron, as Picard failed to do so and his entire crew was killed as a result.

So together, they return to the planet and fight Sauron, minutes before Sauron can launch the missile into the star, destroying everything.

A few questions right off the bat…

“Why didn’t you tell Kirk to go back to the Enterprise B where he came from and kill Sauron who was unconscious in sickbay? Preventing this whole thing in the first place?”

“Why didn’t Picard want to go back and prevent his brother and nephew from dying in the fire at their home while Kirk did this?”

“Why not go back in time far enough to save the Enterprise?”

Okay… we can keep going with these questions, but I think I’ll stop there. This is an example of the problems with plot that inevitably pop up whenever you write about time travel.
Irritatingly enough, I’ve seen some stories actually recognize and mention these problems, but then stop short of attempting to explain them away. People, having characters recognize a plot flaw in your story doesn’t count as resolving it.

I tried to write a story about time travel a while back… and wound up dealing with the same problem. Eventually, I found myself with a book where 140 pages were the story while the rest was me trying to explain why my characters did C, while A, B, D, E, F, and G won’t work.

So this is really just my opinion of why I don’t think it’s a good idea, maybe you’ve had other experiences, but I’ve found it to be a really good way of pissing your audience off in short order.

However, let me know your thoughts down in the comments.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

The ‘What-if’ scenarios

Hi Jim,

As a fellow writer, I was wondering if you’ve ever reread your books and wished you could go back and change something. Like maybe the direction of a story or something like that. I’ve had a book published for a few years, and now that it’s done, I look back on it and have come up with a few different scenarios that I think could have worked better. How do you handle that, if so?

Thanks,
Harry


Hi Harry,

The simplest answer is to not do that. Hindsight is always 20/20. Just relish the fact that you wrote a good book that made it to print. That’s the best you can do.

Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s focus on how an actual author handles that. In truth, yes. There have been a few times where I’ve felt that way. I handle it by writing out the various scenarios. In fact, I have a few ‘What if’ books in my library that part of me has always been tempted to publish. Marvel, I think, does a pretty good job of exploring several alternate realities with their stories. Some of their ‘What If’s’ I’d actually be interested to see as a full series.

There are ways to enter those into the primary canon of your story, either by having the alternate reality take place and then have some kind of time travel to go back and change history so that the original events can still take place.

I’ve never done that and probably never will because… well to be honest, Time Travel opens the door for WAY too many plotholes, even in the most experienced writers and the idea of bringing quantum mechanics into the mix is a little too far over my head. I literally spent a 15-hour car ride arguing with a friend of mine over whether time travel was actually possible and how it would work if it was.

A bigger waste of time, I’ve not seen…

So if you want to give it a shot, that’s certainly an option, though I’d really have someone you know who can nitpick the story go through it and try to pick out time travel plot holes. At the very least, you can keep the stories to yourself and just reflect on them from time to time.

In fact… I think I’m going to do another post on this.

Stay tunned!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Opinion: Fantasy Romance is One-Sided.

I think a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this one, and that’s fine. I don’t mind, in fact, I’d love to hear from you. However, in my view, fantasy romance stories are incredibly one-sided. What do I mean by that? Well simply that in romantic stories that involve a human and either supernatural elements or fantastic creatures (Elves, Dwarves, Fae, Warlocks, Witches, Wizards, etc.), the human is almost always female.

I could list off an example, but instead, I’d say, just go to Goodreads and run a search for fantasy romance and see what comes up.

It’s usually a very typical scenario:

Human/Part Human female works in a field that exposes her to the supernatural. That person becomes aware of another world or the existence of fantasy creatures, at which point, she meets up with one who becomes her guide to the world. The two become enthralled with each other while the plot unfolds.

So why is that? Why is it that most of those romances place the female in the role of the human and/or the character that we’re supposed to relate to? There could be a few reasons for this… let’s look into them a little bit. Keep in mind, I’m not suggesting that there is some conspiracy among fantasy authors, or that the system is sexist, or any sort of wild tin-foil theories. I think it’s simply a product of circumstance. However, the fact remains… if you’re looking for a story where your main human character is male and the elf/fae/etc. is female… outside of Lord of the Rings and one or two other titles, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find anything.

I think the biggest reason is the author. Yes, let’s just get this out of the way. When it comes to fantasy, a lot of people see themselves in the main character. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just what typically happens. I’ve done this, and I’m sure plenty others have as well… this is often the source of some interesting fanfics and ships from established titles. However, that’s a conversation for another day. So given that, it makes sense that the gender of the author would play into what character takes on what role. Given that the majority of fantasy writers in areas of romance are female… the overwhelming majority of stories like this are going to feature a human or part-human female protagonist.

Other reasons could also be the dynamic of the relationship between the characters, the atmosphere, and scenario, but that seems to be the biggest thing.

So what do you think? Could there be other reasons? Let me know in the comments, and let me know if you’ve seen/read stories that break this chain.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Divergence In Storylines, Where to Go?

Hi Jim,
How do you handle situations where you have two different ways a character can go? Right now, I’m sitting on a plot line where one of my characters is sitting at a crossroad. He can either choose to help the people he cares about or leave them to their own devices in order to save the bigger group. I’m not sure where to go. Every time I write one way, I wind up getting frustrated and turning back to that one point. What should I do?

Thanks,
Holly


Hi Holly

I think this might be a good opportunity for you in your writing. You’re standing at the edge and the path you choose will change the course of your characters’ lives and reality permanently. Write down how you feel. Jot down notes as you try to weigh out the pros and cons. Talk about how conflicted you feel and be specific. When you’re done, write those notes into your story. I’m not kidding. How you’re feeling right now is exactly how your character should be feeling and it is an incredibly relatable.
Now, about how to handle this particular situation. I can’t help you there. How you choose to write your story is your own. Ask yourself, which would you choose? What would you do and what would the consequences be? Would that be as interesting as the alternative?
Probably the best thing you can do is write out what would happen in both cases. Write two divergent stories and pick the one that looks better. I’ve had to do this a few times. In fact, my library is full of divergent stories where characters didn’t save someone or chose a path that led them into darkness.
(SPOILER ALERT!!!!)
In Magnfica, I actually have another follow up novel to ‘Tears of the Fallen’. It was an alternate to Gravestalker. In the book, Lia’na didn’t sacrifice herself to save Toby. She watched him die and wasn’t able to stop the bad guy from gaining ultimate power. As a result, the cult that had infiltrated the highest branches of world government were never exposed, and the bad guys essentially won.
Lia’na and her friends escaped, but were constantly on the run, seeking shelter with whatever friendly resistance groups they could. Eventually, they were able to recover the Magnifica and discovered an enchantment that would allow them to relive one moment in time. However, each enchanter could only use this once.
Lia’na then set out to find someone… anyone with enchanter attributes that she could teach how to use the Magnifica. Eventually they find someone, rescue them, and after several struggles to keep that person safe and teach them how to create the enchantment, Lia’na is able to go back and possess her previous form to do what she’d previously been unable to.
Obviously, none of this actually happened. Lia’na sacrificed herself to prevent the bad guy from achieving the power he wanted. Toby survived and spent the next book trying to discover a way to revive Lia’na.

I’ve thought about releasing it from time to time, but it wouldn’t make much sense now. So it sits in my library, perhaps for future reference.

Back on topic, I really think that would help you. Write out a couple of different scenarios and choose the one that makes the most sense for you. Who knows, you may wind up with more than one story to publish!

Readers, what do you think? Have you ever been in a similar situation? How did you handle it? Leave a comment and let’s keep the conversation going!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Age Compatability in Characters (MAGNIFICA SPOILER WARNING!!)

Hi Jim,

I wanted to ask you about one of your characters. I’m working on my own YA series and finished reading Magnifica a while ago. You mention in the book that Lia’na doesn’t age as fast as Toby. If they survive, she’ll roughly be the elven equivalent of a human’s late 40s when he dies.

I really think that if you leave the option open for one of your characters to remarry after the hero dies of old age. I was hoping to get your thoughts on this one. Would Lia’na remarry after Toby dies or would she remain celibate? I’m writing about an Elven/Human relationship where a guy meets an elven woman, so I’m in a similar boat.

Thanks,
Liam


Hi Liam,

I see we have a traditionalist in our midst. Well, truth be told, I agree with you. It becomes especially more difficult if you believe in an afterlife, which I established the existence of in Magnifica. This is probably why some religions only recognize the first marriage. After all parties have passed on to the next life, what happens?

Okay, I’m going to just say this before proceeding further… There will be spoilers for Magnifica, so if you’re planning on reading it, skipping over this post might not be a bad idea. I’m going to keep it minimal but consider yourselves warned. 

If Lia’na did remarry, who would she go to after she died? Technically you could argue that she could do whatever she wanted because ’till death do us part’. However, I always got the impression that most people tend to ignore that part. My wife and I never said anything of the sort when we were married.

So she’s married to two different souls, now what, three-way? Are we to believe that all three live together in harmony? I guess if you’re into that, that’s fine, but what if not? Then Lia’na would have to choose; Toby or the other guy.

I’ve known widows who have remarried and basically said that, ‘I’m with you here, but when we die, that’s it (no, I’m not kidding).’ I guess that’s part of the reason why I never dated a widow. Their heart always partially belonged elsewhere.

I think Lord of the Rings kind of came up with a clever way out for elves in that they can die of grief, though it may take time. So while Arwen would outlive Aragorn, it wouldn’t be forever.
However, to answer your question, I’ve been trying to piece together a distant sequel to the Magnifica series for a long time, and while so far none are anywhere near anything I want to publish, they all have a similar theme; Lia’na lived to a ripe old age, happy but lonely, and when death came, she welcomed it. The main characters always remember her saying, “I’m coming ta arshana…” (my love)

I mean personally, I don’t see an issue with someone seeking companionship after their loved one dies. When you’ve lived with someone for so long, the idea of going back to being on your own again can be daunting and, in some cases, near impossible. However, at least IMHO, when an elf and a human married, the understanding was that when the human passed, the elf would either live on celibacy, or could seek out another mate, but their heart and soul belonged forever bound to the first one.

At least that’s how I look at it.

However, that’s just me. Readers, how would you handle this? Also… is there any good elf/human romance stories out there? I’ve been looking for a good long time, but never found any that weren’t from the perspective of a human woman. I’d be interested in it from a human male and elven female, but Lord of the Rings seems to be the only one. Kind of strange. Leave your recommendations below!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Rooting for the Bad Guy

Hi Jim,

I was hoping you could give me a little advice on how to write perspective. The main character in my story is going to be a bad guy. When I say bad, I mean the story is going to revolve around the villain. I’m just really not sure how I can write that effectively. I mean typically you try to get people to relate to your main character and I don’t know about getting them to relate to a villain. Any thoughts?

Mike


Hi Mike,

Believe it or not, people tend to gravitate quite a bit to villains these days. Darth Vader, Maleficent, James Hook, and even Saruman of Many Colors, are all bad guys that often get rooted for by audiences.

It’s not hard to fathom, or in some cases find, stories where they are the primary character. Maleficent and Hook have their own movies, Darth Vader get’s as much screen time as anyone else in Star Wars and he has a full library of his own comics and books.

A lot of people do relate to the struggles of the villain. Why, because it’s not a huge stretch to see yourself being put into a difficult situation and either making the wrong decision or becoming the devil himself in order to protect something you care about. That’s just life sometimes.

I would just advise you to give your villain a good backstory, make them likeable in their own way, give them good vices, and then go from there. As long as you write a good character, people will love or love to hate that person. There really isn’t much more I can tell you without going into greater detail into your story.

Good luck! Readers, what do you think? Leave a comment and let’s keep the conversation going!



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim