If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.
Salut, mes amis. Today I’m saving your writing career from ruinous rapscallions. No big deal. But first, the data is in, mmm, data, and I am pleased to share that this show is being listened to in 15 different countries. In order to celebrate with our friends around the world, we are going international with our independent bookstore visits beginning this week. Pack your bags, and remember to bring an empty bag for all the books you’ll want to bring home.
The Writing Break flight crew is readying the plane. There’s still time for a drink before we depart. We’ll catch up on publishing news once we’ve reached cruising altitude.
The US Copyright Office refused to register AI-generated work, finding that "human authorship is a prerequisite to copyright protection."es it does. It all started in:
In 2019, the Copyright Office rejected the application, claiming that human authorship is necessary to support a copyright claim. Thaler said this was unconstitutional and requested a reconsideration of the decision. The Copyright Office reviewed the case and denied the application again. Hm.
Thaler then submitted a second request for reconsideration and stated that the Copyright Office “is currently relying upon non-binding judicial opinions from the Gilded Age to answer the question of whether [computer-generated works] can be protected.”
Has the US Copyright Office heard the last of Stephen L. Thaler, PhD? I doubt it. I don’t believe Thaler is the villain of this story, and I don't think the Copyright Office is either. I guess that just leaves the Creativity Machine.
Disney Publishing Worldwide and ESPN, which are both part of the Walt Disney Company, have teamed up to create a new imprint called Andscape Books. Andscape Books will “explore themes of race, culture, and identity intersecting with sports, fashion, the arts, health and wellness, popular culture, and social issues.”
Andscape Books plans to publish children’s and young adult titles. The first book under the imprint, releasing August 2nd, is Rise of the Black Quarterback: What it Means for America by NFL journalist Jason Reid.
University of Wales Press also has a new trade imprint. This one is called Calon, which is Welsh for heart. Calon will focus on nonfiction about Welsh life and culture. Publisher Amy Feldman said: “Our ambition is that these books will help give Welsh writers and publishing the same prominence as those from, for example, Scotland and Ireland. While all Calon’s books have a uniquely Welsh flavour, the stories within them resonate regardless of whether you have an existing connection to or knowledge of the country–if you like music and art, food and nature (and much more) then Calon’s books are for you.”
Another fun CookiePitch event is upon us! A #cookiepitch is a wonderful Twitter pitch for a terrible children’s picture book idea. In short, Cookie Pitch is a real event for fake picture book pitches. Some of my past favorites include a scratch-and-sniff book to teach kids personal hygiene and 101 Places to Hide Your Food, a children’s guide on places where you can hide your unfinished meal.
The pitch with the most likes on Twitter wins $1.19 for a cookie, plus other prizes. Past prizes have included query critiques, books, and custom artwork. There is an illustration category and awards for adults and kids alike.
The next Cookie Pitch is happening April 1st on Twitter. Use the hashtag #cookiepitch to participate.
Links to these articles can be found in the show notes of this episode and on writingbreak.com.
Time to get our heads out of the clouds and prepare for landing.
“There are only two places in the world where we can live happy—at home and in Paris.” At least, that’s what Ernest Hemingway wrote in A Moveable Feast.
Since we’re in Paris, you might think I’m taking us to Shakespeare and Company, a famous independent bookstore and one that I visit every time I’m in Paris. But, I have a brighter, more vibrant place in mind for our first international bookstore, and that is, The Red Wheelbarrow in the Latin Quarter, just across the street from the Luxembourg Gardens.
Despite its name, The Red Wheelbarrow has a blue storefront. This independent bookstore has books in French and English. It is named The Red Wheelbarrow after the William Carlos William poem of the same name. You know the one:
so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
Let’s do some book browsing in this sunny space, and we can take turns gliding on the rolling ladders.
Since Cookie Pitch is just around the corner, I thought we should feature a children’s author today. Children’s books are the most important books on the market, and Crystal Swain-Bates has written some pretty terrific ones. Swain-Bates is the author of several positive, self-affirming picture books and coloring books featuring characters of African descent. Her titles include Big Hair, Don't Care, Naturally Me, and Brown Girls Club. Swain-Bates is the owner of Goldest Karat Publishing, which she founded in order to address the lack of diversity in children’s literature.
Let’s get enough books for all the kids in our lives and take them to the register. Then we can scoot across the street and explore the Luxembourg Gardens. I bet there’s a bench in just the right spot that we can use as today’s Overthinking Couch.
I apologize in advance for today's overthinking topic. It's the kind of thing that once it's pointed out, you'll hear everywhere. And that is the phrase, limited budget. As in, "this project has a limited budget." A budget already indicates a limit. It's built into the definition. You could have a small budget. You could have a big budget. It's not necessary to say limited budget. There is no such thing as an unlimited budget. You either have a budget or you don't. And now we'll be scoffing at this phrase together for the rest of our days.
I have a confession to make. I brought you here, to Paris in springtime, to deliver an important piece of writing advice that is always hard for me to say and might be hard for you to hear. I invite you to stroll the gardens with me while I figure out the gentlest way to say it.
OK, here goes, and I mean this with every editorial fiber of my being: do not show your unpublished work to non-readers. It doesn’t matter if it’s family or your lifelong friends. If they are not avid readers, don’t show them your unpublished work. Don’t even show it to people who used to read a lot but can’t seem to find the time anymore. Whether you write books, articles, scripts, fiction, nonfiction, whatever, your works-in-progress need actual readers who can remain focused on what they’re reading and imagine things correctly. You need people who have a deep familiarity with books, both classics and new releases. People might be familiar with storytelling because they watch TV or movies, but avid readers are a special breed.
Too many wonderful works get sidelined because of well-meaning non-readers having no idea how to critique literature, or they just regurgitate grammar rules and call it constructive criticism. It can be especially hard to push past rudimentary and unrefined assessments that come from people who care about you. Avoid the whole rickety roller coaster by finding sophisticated beta readers familiar with your genre. More on beta readers next week.
We’ll also visit a different country next week. Until then, you deserved this break.
If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.
Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at writingbreak.com or contact us at email@example.com.