Copyright Info for Canadians

copyrightA number of visitors to my WIR office have asked me about copyrighting their work. Sometimes, I get nail-biting writers who fear someone may “steal” their beautiful words. So I thought I’d share some information today on Canadian copyright.

Here’s what John Degen, Executive Director of the Writers’ Union of Canada has to say on the subject:

While it is always a good idea to take some basic steps to indicate ownership of an original work, please note that registration of copyright is not required in Canada, and instances of ownership challenge are relatively rare. Your ownership of a work attaches to that work at the moment of creation. Steps such as keeping signed and dated drafts of a work, and using sealed registered mail to record ownership of a work are often advised if there are concerns about a potential challenge, but a paid registration is not necessary. You are advised to always indicate ownership by using the © symbol, and to not sign away or assign your copyright in a contract.

This well-produced video from the Intellectual Property Office in the UK, while concerned with British law, contains excellent information for Canadian authors as well. (Please note one important difference between UK and Canadian copyright – British law protects copyright for the life of the author plus 70 years; in Canada, for the time being, the term is the life of the author plus 50 years.)

If you are a published writer, you should also consider visiting these sites on copyright information:

Access Copyright

Canadian Intellectual Property Office

And if you’re a songwriter, check out SOCAN.

Here is an interesting article on blogging and copyright by Lesley Ellen Harris.

Writing Quote:  “My problem isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity” – Cory Doctorow, Canadian author (b. 1973).
Writing Tip: The Guardian’s “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction.” (Part One)

Writing Prompt:  Just after he died, he sat up…


More Marketing Info for Writers

This is an update on my January 27th marketing post.

And a wee note: Gail will not be in her office on Thursday, May 28th.

As a follow-up to my workshop of last week, I thought I’d share some additional resources  about markets.

Strong recommendations:  mood-writing

  • always check out any website (a dead link likely means a defunct journal)
  • always check out the backlist to ensure that your piece is aligned with the sort of work the journal/ magazine/ e-zine publishes
  • READ the journal and consider subscribing (supporting literary mags is good karma!)
  • more generally, you should be READING all the time, especially in your chosen genre
  • check out this site (and Google others like it) for advice on some disreputable publishers:  “Contests and Services to Avoid” or this from Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

General Manuscript Submission Tips:

Beware of any publisher who offers to publish your poem or story for money.  Can you smell the stink?  Something is rotten!  Publishers pay you for your work, not the other way around.

  1. That said, modest entry fees for a competition are not unusual, and may range from $5 to $50, depending on the calibre of the competition and the prizes offered.
  2. Always check out the website of any publisher, magazine, or journal.  Make sure that what you’ve written truly fits the “call for submission” requirements before you submit.  READ the magazine or journal first to see if your work matches the style and content.
  3. Follow submission guidelines meticulously.  Editors are busy people.  If your manuscript is messy, error-ridden, or incorrectly formatted, it’s likely to be filed in “recycle” also known as “rejected.”
  4. Use an easily readable font.  Size 12 – no bigger, no smaller. Double space.  Use 1 to 1.5 inch margins on all four sides of the page.  Print single-sided on white paper.
  5. Don’t send an electronic copy to a journal that ONLY accepts snailmail.
  6. If you send via snailmail, you may be asked to include a SASE (stamped and self-addressed envelope) or International Reply Coupon (IRC) for return of your manuscript.
  7. For Pete’s sake, for the love of Mike, PROOFREAD!!!
  8. Don’t pester the editors.  Read the submission guidelines for response times.  Many publishers, unfortunately, only reply to those writers whose work they are intending to publish.
  9. Never send original work or artwork.  Make a copy or keep your originals in a cloud storage like Dropbox.  Keep your originals safe at home, both electronic and hard copies!

If your work is rejected, take heart.  There are other publishers out there. Do consider editorial suggestions, but remember you are the author of your own story.  In the end, you are the arbiter of your own words.  Tinker or rework and send out your manuscript again.  And again.  And again.

TEN (Markets and Resources): 

  1. Places for Writers:  “[places for writers] helps writers find homes for their work. Our goal is to help you write more and get your writing published. Since 1997 [places for writers] has featured submission calls and contests for publications in Canada and around the world: from independent presses to large well-established journals, from blogs and web journals to print magazines with wide distribution.”
  2. Quick Brown Fox: “Brian Henry’s Quick Brown Fox – Creative Writing Courses and Workshops and other great stuff for writers.”
  3. Broken Pencil:  “Since 1995, we have been a mega-zine dedicated exclusively to exploring independent creative action. Published four times a year, each issue of Broken Pencil features reviews of hundreds of zines and small press books, plus comics, excerpts from the best of the underground press, interviews, original fiction and commentary on all aspects of the indie arts. From the hilarious to the perverse, Broken Pencil challenges conformity and demands attention.”
  4. The Puritan: “The Puritan: Frontiers of New English is an online, quarterly publication based in Toronto, Ontario, committed to publishing the best in new fiction, poetry, interviews, essays, and reviews. The Puritan seeks, above all, a pioneering literature—work that pushes boundaries, or sees boundaries as unstable, or lines to be re-drawn.”
  5. paperplates: “a literary quarterly published in Toronto….[that publishes] short personal essays, reminiscences, and travel accounts…. short stories, one-act plays, musical scores, poems short and long, extended travel pieces, formal essays, interviews, and reminiscences…. reviews, mostly of books.”
  6. forget magazine:  “What we are really after: what we are really after in this publication is the publishing of material that is ignored in the mainstream press and the even the independent news. Anything that has reason and passion. And more stuff that is Canadian than not.”
  7. Joyland: “is a literary magazine that selects fiction and essays regionally. Our editors work with stories and excerpts by authors connected to locales across North America.”
  8. Stone Soup: “the print magazine written and illustrated by young writers and artists. It is the leading publisher of creative writing by children ages 8 to 13.”
  9. “is a community of young writers, both new and experienced, dedicated to improving our writing.”
  10. Predators and Editors: “was founded in July 1997 by Dave Kuzminski as a resource and a simple compendium for the serious writer, composer, game designer, or artist to consult for information, regardless of genre.”

TEN More: 

  1. Room Magazine:  “Canada’s oldest literary journal by and about women…. showcases fiction, poetry, reviews, art work, interviews and profiles about the female experience. Many of our contributors are at the beginning of their writing careers, looking for an opportunity to get published for the first time. Some later go on to great acclaim. Room is a space where women can speak, connect, and showcase their creativity. Each quarter we publish original, thought-provoking works that reflect women’s strength, sensuality, vulnerability, and wit.”
  2. Glass Buffalo:  is a literary magazine in search of mythic power. We’re collecting the words and stories of emerging writers at the University of Alberta in order to cultivate a creative literary community.”
  3. Whetstone Magazine: “is a biannual literary magazine managed by student-enthusiasts at the University of Lethbridge with occasional help from members of the English Department. Originally established in 1971, Whetstone was revived in September 2009 and aims to attract writers from southern Alberta and the prairies. Whetstone accepts original works of prose, poetry, photography, and graphic design from students, scholars, and members of the general public.”
  4. The Fiddlehead: “is Canada’s longest living literary journal — now in its 70th year of publication, The Fiddlehead is published four times a year at the University of New Brunswick….[and] is known as a WHO’S WHO in Can. Lit. Many — now well-known — writers have found their first home in our pages, and they, as well as some of our editors and assistants, have gone on to win awards and prizes across the country and around the world. Do not look at this journal as old! It is experienced; wise enough to recognize excellence; always looking for freshness and surprise.
  5. Antigonish Review: “is a quarterly literary journal published by St. Francis Xavier University. The Review features poetry, fiction, reviews and critical articles from all parts of Canada, the US and overseas, using original graphics to enliven the format. For forty years, The Antigonish Review has consistently published fine poetry and prose by emerging — and established — writers. Their writing would not have been as readily available had it not been for the efforts of this review. Many young writers have been given a start here.
  6. The Capilano Review: “has a long history of publishing new and established Canadian writers and artists who are experimenting with or expanding the boundaries of conventional forms and contexts. International writers and artists appear in our pages too. Founded in North Vancouver in 1972 by Pierre Coupey, the magazine continues its original mandate to publish the literary and visual arts side by side.The print edition of TCR is published three times a year. A pdf version is available for purchase simultaneously. Our website features a free e-magazine called ti-TCR | a web folio, also published three times a year.”
  7. The Malahat Review“established in 1967 by University of Victoria English, is among Canada’s leading literary journals. Published quarterly, it features contemporary Canadian and international works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction as well as reviews of recently published Canadian poetry, fiction, and literary nonfiction. On occasion, it also publishes interviews, essays, and issues on a single theme or author.”
  8. Event: “in its 42nd year of publication, is an award-winning, internationally recognized literary magazine that publishes fiction, poetry, non-fiction and book reviews by emerging and established writers three times a year…our pages strive to reflect the diversity of the reading and writing communities we serve. Our publication acts as a stepping-stone for writers, many of whom go on to win literary prizes, receive artist grants, and get published elsewhere after having been first published in our pages. We have published many of Canada’s most distinguished writers both before and after they gained national or international recognition, and continue to support gifted new and emerging writers. The majority of our content remains unsolicited and we consistently provide advice and critique to emerging writers. It is our goal to support and encourage a thriving literary community locally, provincially and nationally, while maintaining our presence in North America and abroad.”
  9. Grain Magazine: “the journal of eclectic writing, is a literary quarterly that publishes engaging, diverse, and challenging writing and art by some of the best Canadian and international writers and artists. Every issue features superb new writing from both developing and established writers. Each issue also highlights the unique artwork of a different visual artist. Grain has garnered national and international recognition for its distinctive, cutting-edge content and design.”
  10. Prism International: “is a quarterly magazine out of Vancouver, British Columbia, whose mandate is to publish the best in contemporary writing and translation from Canada and around the world. The mandate of the magazine’s website is to provide a supplement to the print edition that connects readers with the literary community through author interviews, book reviews, news about Canadian writing and publishing events, and other information of interest to our readers, many of whom are writers themselves.Though best known for its fiction and poetry, PRISM does not neglect the other literary arts. Creative non-fiction, drama and translation are regular features.”

And for more helpful info, visit Magazine Awards.

Writing Quotes:

“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.”—Philip Roth, American novelist (b. 1933)

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”—Stephen King, American author (b. 1947)

Writing Tip:
  “Don’t panic. Midway through writing a novel, I have regularly experienced moments of bowel-curdling terror, as I contemplate the drivel on the screen before me and see beyond it, in quick succession, the derisive reviews, the friends’ embarrassment, the failing career, the dwindling income, the repossessed house, the divorce . . . Working doggedly on through crises like these, however, has always got me there in the end. Leaving the desk for a while can help. Talking the problem through can help me recall what I was trying to achieve before I got stuck. Going for a long walk almost always gets me thinking about my manuscript in a slightly new way. And if all else fails, there’s prayer. St Francis de Sales, the patron saint of writers, has often helped me out in a crisis. If you want to spread your net more widely, you could try appealing to Calliope, the muse of epic poetry, too.” — Sarah Waters, Welsh novelist (b. 1966)

Writing Prompt:  Put on a favourite or a random piece of music (preferably with no words or in a language you do not understand) and allow your pen to play or your fingers to click away freely and with abandon.  Explore the unexpected places the music takes you. If one piece of music doesn’t work, try another.

Have fun!  There are no rules here.  Treat this as an exercise or a beginning or a departure.

Come for coffee!

Join Gail Sidonie Sobat for Java Jive!

Saturday, May 9th at the Fort Saskatchewan Public Library from 1 pm – 3 pm.

Have a chin wag over a cuppa.  Feel free to ask Gail questions about the writing craft, her work, writing markets, the industry…even your fortune or help with your love life!

Looking forward to meeting and connecting. And drinking coffee (as a coffee addict).



I love coffee; I love tea

I love the java jive, and it loves me!

(“Java Jive” by Milton Drake and Ben Oakland)

Hear it performed here by  Manhattan Transfer

Drawing by Gary S. Bennett

Writing Quote:  “I don’t really like coffee…but I don’t really like it when my head hits my desk when I fall asleep, either.” – Brian Andreas, American writer, painter, sculptor, publisher (b. 1956)
Writing Tip: “What is it about coffee shops that kick start a writer’s muse? I first tried hauling my laptop to my local java hut after reading Natalie Goldberg’s books…. Usually, I need absolute quiet to write, but oddly, I’ve discovered I love to write in coffee shops. I think the reason is that there is always a drama taking place. Not just one drama, but many tiny scenes from many different lives….Try to pick a new coffee shop every time. Different venues offer different clientele and different clientele are involved in different dramas. People and drama are what we write about.” – Nancy Warren, Canadian romance writer (b. 1959)

Writing Prompt:  Go to your favourite coffee shop or café.  Subtly eavesdrop on a conversation while waiting in line or listening to people at another table. Use one of the lines as your story/poem starter.

Writing-Related Article: “Did Balzac Really Drink 50 Cups of Coffee?”