Thursday, June 25, 2015

Trademark Etiquette

As I mentioned in my April post, writers can use brand names in their fiction without worrying about copyright infringement. If your character wants to drink 7-Up, let her. You don’t have to call it lemon-lime soda if you don’t want to.

When someone uses a trademark to identify the actual product, that is called a nominative use. The trademark law doesn’t impose any requirements on writers and others who use trademarks this way. Still, a respectful author will honor the trademark owner’s rights as much as possible.

Several years ago, I saw a Formica® advertisement asking writers to “circle their Rs.” (The ® indicates that what precedes it is a registered trademark.) A registered trademark can lose its protection if consumers use it generically to refer to other brands of competitive products. After people started calling all facial tissues “kleenex” and all photocopies “xeroxes,” the owners of those trademarks spent a lot of money educating consumers on the proper use of the terms. Formica is trying to prevent the same thing from happening to it.

Unfortunately, Formica’s solution has its own problems. Although word-processing programs include the ® among the available symbols, its absence from the keyboard means that inserting it slows down the writing process. More importantly, the ® interrupts the story for the reader, so most publishers don’t use it. The ® is not legally required, and there are other ways to help trademark owners protect their property. One is to use generic terms. Or if you think “the real thing” will add authenticity, just capitalize Coke.

When trademarks are mentioned in fiction, it is normally a nominative use. A careful writer will also make it a respectful one.


Kathryn Page Camp is a licensed attorney and full-time writer. Her most recent book, Writers in Wonderland: Keeping Your Words Legal (KP/PK Publishing 2013), is a Kirkus’ Indie Books of the Month Selection. Kathryn is also the author of In God We Trust: How the Supreme Court’s First Amendment Decisions Affect Organized Religion (FaithWalk Publishing 2006) and numerous articles. You can learn more about Kathryn at

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Playing with Peripety

from Fotolia by Mr Doomits
I love the word “peripety.” Not only is it a literary tool, it’s just so fun to say - \pə-ˈri-pə-tē\

I can just say it over and over in my mind. It makes me happy for some reason.

I first learned the term “peripety” during a Beth Moore Bible study on the book of Esther. For those who know they know this word but can’t place exactly what it means, peripety is the English form of the Greek word “peripeteia” and means “a sudden or unexpected reversal of circumstances or situation especially in a literary work.”

Back in Aristotle’s day peripeteia was used more in tragedies. Greek tragedies frustrate the dickens out of me. I know those stories were used to teach people what is and is not appropriate behavior, but come on! Can people really be that obtuse? I guess history proves they can.

I like the way God used peripety in the Bible. When Haman is exposed for the really, really bad guy he was, and favor fell on the Jews to defend themselves in the face of annihilation – that’s just awesome storytelling.

And Saul, so determined to wipe the earth clean for God of those new followers of The Way who were blaspheming everything he “knew” to be true, was changed in a brilliant flash of light into who would become the Apostle Paul.

Now that’s peripety.

Peripety is so well orchestrated in the scriptures. Leave it to God to do it right. If you read through the two stories I mention above, you’ll notice these sudden turns of events are very organic to the core stories themselves. There are no unknown or surprise characters, simply changes of heart.

And quite frankly, the coolest part about peripety in both these stories is that it wasn’t just a literary tool – it’s history. Let’s not forget that what is words for us was reality for those who believed in God and His Sovereignty. And because God is the same yesterday, today and forever, peripety on the upswing can be our reality, too.

I know I can never master anything as well as God, but perhaps with His help I, too, can play with peripety in my stories and show in a memorable way the kind of change in a heart only God can make, and make it resonate with my readers. So let it be.

Humbly submitted by H.T. Lord

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What Frances Hodgson Burnett Means to Me

By Kelly Bridgewater

From Barnes and Nobles website
Continuing with my theme of authors that have helped shape who I am today as a writer and an avid reader, today I’m going to discuss Frances Hodgson Burnett. If you missed any of the other five entries that encompass 2015, please visit my past posts. I have talked about C.S. Lewis, J.R. R. Tolkien, J. K. Rowling, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Alexandre Dumas.

Frances Hodgson Burnett is an English writer who wrote books for young adults. The Lost Prince, The Secret Garden, and The Little Princess are among the three most popular ones, and the ones I loved as a little child.

The stories appeared simple on the surface, but as you delve deeper, they were masterfully written with lessons for the young readers to unbury.

While reading The Secret Garden, I love traveling around the Misselthwaite Manor with Mary as she uncovered a hidden key in an abandoned part of the huge house. She used the key to open and bring life back to a hidden garden. Along the way, she learned to love and be loved by her cousin, Colin, and her uncle, Mr. Craven.

From the Barnes and Nobles Website
The Little Princess showed the hardship of the lower class among the wealthy. Poor Sarah believed in stories such much that even when her father was announced dead, she still captivated the servant girl, Becky, with stories to pass the horrible, cold nights while they were both trapped in the attic as a curiosity from Ms. Minchin.

I loved these stories as a child and still read them to my boys and my niece. My father also purchased the leather bound editions from Barnes and Nobles for me. They sit next to my edition of Sherlock Holmes and The Count of Monte Cristo.

Frances Hodgson Burnett taught me that if a child’s story is written well then it can be read by any age. Like C. S. Lewis states, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” This is proven by J. K. Rowling with her Harry Potter masterpieces that have been enjoyed by young adults and adults alike. I completely agree with C.S. Lewis, if an adult can’t return to the books they enjoyed as a child, then the story wasn’t well-written to begin with. Being a parent of three small boys, I want my children to return to the stories that have captured their heart when they were innocent and young. A simple written story can capture the imagination and steal the hearts of the readers, which any great story should do.

Have you ever read any of the books mentioned by Frances Hodgson Burnett? What books do you return to that you read as a child?

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Recommendation for Alien Authors from Mars

by Jean Kavich Bloom

Have you seen those questionnaires for book lovers? My answer is always the same. “If you were forever stranded on a desert island, what book would you want with you besides the Bible?” Anne of Green Gables. “What work of fiction would you save from an indiscriminate tornado?” Uh, Anne of Green Gables. Here’s the best one: “If you had to recommend only one English-language novel to visiting alien authors from Mars, what would it be?” 

Not even every earthling understands what the big deal is about this novel published in 1908. The prose is beyond flowery, and author Lucy Maud Montgomery might never have heard of the principles of POV—or if she did, she charmingly chose to ignore them. And for Pete’s sake, its central character is an eleven-year-old orphan girl who longs for puffed sleeves, without question considers being born with red hair her greatest burden, and whose imagination is well beyond anything most of us have ever encountered in a single person. 

So why does this book remain a favorite for so many twenty-first century readers well into adulthood? Here are only three of the many reasons I think that is, and what I think all novelists—male, female, and Martian—can learn from Ms. Montgomery’s beloved bestseller.

1.       The character of Anne authentically captures the spirit and vulnerability of the human heart. Anne’s heart is open and tender from beginning to end, with a spirit I think the author subtly portrays as God-protected before arriving at Green Gables. Anne's story also reflects some of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s personal experiences, hopes, and dreams, as well as a developing faith we instinctively know is the author's own. When novelists infuse their characters' lives with some of their own life-shaping events, emotions, and deepest beliefs, readers relate and respond. 

2.       The characters of Matthew and Marilla authentically capture the life-affirming gifts of compassion and acceptance. The Cuthberts are an older, never-married brother and sister pair, mistakenly sent a scrawny orphan girl to help them run their farm instead of the boy they requested. Even though Anne’s charm as a “real interesting little thing” has much to do with their decision to keep her, their compassion toward a little girl who has never been shown real love is unforgettable. When an author portrays genuine acceptance and love in their stories, readers often feel inspired to live out acceptance and love in their own lives. 

3.       The character of Avonlea authentically captures the importance of growth in community. Fictional Avonlea in the real Prince Edward Island is the beautiful, Canadian setting for this and most of Ms. Montgomery’s books. Anne loves her new home and its many places that have "scope for imagination." But it is the island's cast of characters that provides her real-life, character-building and faith-building interaction as over the course of the book she becomes an admired young woman of sixteen. When today’s novelists create community that allows their characters to belong and grow, they encourage modern readers to appreciate, or if necessary seek, the life-giving life-sharing everyone needs.

Now, excuse me, please. I have to read Anne of Green Gables one more time. Those Martian authors could arrive at any moment, and I must prepare to point out all the best parts. 

After twenty-four years with publishing house Zondervan in Grand Rapids, Michigan, most recently as an executive managing editor, Jean Bloom returned to Central Indiana to be near family and take her freelance editorial business full-time (Bloom in Words Editorial Services). Her personal blog is Bloom in Words too, where she often posts articles about the writing life. She and her husband, Cal, have three children and five grandchildren.


Saturday, June 6, 2015

20 Things You Can Do about Writing Today

20.  Read about writing.
19.  Attend a workshop about writing.
18.  Talk/text with a friend about writing.
17.  Daydream about writing.
16.  Pray about writing.
15.  Schedule a time for writing.
14.  Reschedule a time for writing.
13.  Watch a documentary about writing.
12.  Hear an NPR interview about writing.
11.  Surf blogs about writing.
10.  Lurk in a crit group about writing.
9.  Ask a writer for an autograph and finagle a conversation about writing.
8.  Describe on Facebook your frustrations about writing.
7.  Attend an ACFW meeting to hear others talk about writing.
6.  Test a highly recommended piece of software for writing.
5.  Spend weeks mastering the writing software.
4.  Post a YouTube video of tips and tricks for the writing software.
3.  Research carpal tunnel syndrome so you can find the best chair, wrist pad, and desk lamp for writing.
2.  Post a blog on "Hoosier Ink" to inspire others to write.
1.  Write.

Joe Allison and his wife, Judy, live in Anderson IN, where Joe serves as Editorial Director of Discipleship Resources & Curriculum for Warner Press, Inc. Joe has several nonfiction books in print, including Swords and Whetstones: A Guide to Christian Bible Study Resources. He's currently writing a trilogy of Christian historical novels set in the Great Depression.

Visit Joe's blog at