Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Women Who Run With the Werewolves: My BBB Video Interview

Here she be. The Dreaded Webcam Interview. Worked out pretty well, all in all. If you look carefully you will see a hand-made clay pot in the background. I did that! With a little help from Persimmon Blackbridge, many long year ago. It's a copy of a neolithic owl goddess pot.

If you want to read the comments and questions post-interview, they're at:


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chat & Interview a Raving Success! (Or am I Just Raving 'Cause I'm Tired???)

Who'da thunk typing for 14 hours could be so FUN?

OK, I was a wreck afterward, but I had a wonderful time talking with the people who came to my chat. We racked up over a hundred comments, and the conversation ranged over some really interesting stuff. I suppose it will remain up there on the Bitten By Books site - it's rather too long to post here! - so if you are curious you can pop over to Interview, Chat and Contest with Author C. June Wolf and leaf through the comments.

I find I am on tenterhooks, waiting to see who won the contest and what I will be writing for them. It's neat to be as eager about the prize as the particpants were!

I'm grateful to everyone who came and participated, and to Rachel for making the whole thing possible. And now I think I'll sleep for a thousand years.



Review: Bones Become Flowers, by Jess Mowry

Bones Become Flowers

by Jess Mowry

Windstorm Creative (2001)

Paperback, 392 pages


ISBN 1883573912

Author of Way Past Cool, Phat Acceptance, Voodu Dawgz, When All Goes Bright, and Skeleton Key as well as other novels for and about black kids and teens, such as Six Out Seven, Babylon Boyz, Rats In The Trees, Ghost Train, Tyger Tales, and Children Of The Night. His novel Way Past Cool also available in film version.

After over thirty years of working with kids and raising four of my own, along with a few strays -- none of whom are in prison or collecting Welfare -- not to mention almost twenty years of writing books and stories for and about kids, I've found that it's a lot easier for people to be "pro-child" about some kids than it is for them to care about and champion "other" kids. Perhaps, like the animals in George Orwell's Animal Farm, some kids are more equal than others?

Jess Mowry

The quote above is from Jess’s LibraryThing profile. I might never have heard of him, or of Bones Become Flowers, if he hadn’t set up that account.

I’ve written of my fondness for LibraryThing. An important tool available there is the tag. Tag a book “social justice”, and when anyone in the vast LibraryThing system looks for books on that topic, the book you tagged will be among them.

I was glancing over my Tag Zeitgeist one day and noticed that my most common tag was Haiti. Clicking on it to see if there were any “Haiti” books I might want to read, I found Bones Become Flowers.

When I first received Bones Become Flowers, I entered the book in my catalogue and tagged it Haiti, Vodou, Voodoo. Now I’ve finished it I’ve expanded the list: Haiti, Vodou, Voodoo, religion, culture, social justice, social structure, history, children, boys, poverty, African-American.

Almost all my stories and books are for and about black kids, who are not always cute and cuddly. My characters often spit, sweat and swear, as well as occasionally smoke or drink. Just like their real-world counterparts some are "overweight" and have no desire to get skinny, or they may look "too black," or are otherwise unacceptable by superficial American values... including some AFRICAN-American values. Like on-the-real kids, they often live in dirty, violent environments and are forced into sometimes unpleasant lifestyles.

“I have devoted my career, such as it is, to writing positive but realistic books and stories, not only for and about black kids, but also for "white" kids so they will understand that the negative stereotypes aren't true... that most black kids have other interests besides guns, gangs, drugs, violence, becoming rap stars, or playing basketball.”

Bones Become Flowers certainly falls into this category. No simple romp, it depicts dense and vivid cultures, both African-American and Haitian, reflects on mores and prejudice, plays on literary passages, and examines the politics of gender and sex. It is multi-layered, exciting, brutal, and kind.

Mowry knows well Haiti’s painful and provocative truths. He delivers a ground-level view of history in meaty, candid prose. Yet this history is not over-simplified; many sides of issues are represented, creating an ethical tension that only increases the truthfulness of the book.

Tracy Carter, a black American woman with some cash behind her and a lot of compassion for kids, travels to Haiti with the intention of donating a sum of money to an orphanage in the mountains near Jérèmie. She is a tough, impatient, self-aware woman who is critically aware of oppression, particularly the oppression of children. Yet her character is leavened with wry humour and gentle affection. Her resolute insistence on following the truth, however elusive or uncomfortable, makes her an uncompromising and merciful protagonist.

From start to finish her journey is anything but clear-cut. She encounters a horrifying ritual on a beach en route to Jérèmie, uncovers a painful mystery connected to the orphanage, and sets out to find a talented ex-resident of that institution, to encourage his art and bring him, perhaps, to America, where he could truly flower.

The story is carried by well drawn characters whose motivations are refreshingly free from stereotype. The children are scarred and insolent, reeking and scheming, playful and beautiful, greedy and tender. Tracy is determined, impulsive, and passionately caring. Her heart goes out to children many would deplore and fear; she sees beauty in ugliness, and cherishes all. If your aim is to aid humanity, her actions seem to say, you can’t stop with the people who please you. The shy, clean, obedient, and well-spoken. Mowry draws our attention to the children society turns away from, and puts our noses in their stink, holding us there long enough, perhaps, for us to stop reacting against what we dislike and fear and see who is really there. He offers us a chance to be more human than we were before.

Some of Tracy’s reactions seem strange to me, not because they are strange, but because they’re not my own. But in the main I’m able to follow where her thoughts lead, and even when I am disagreeing with a particular aim (such as bringing the young artist to America) or action, I am wholeheartedly in support of her underlying intentions and am rooting for her to see clearly and decide well.

There is much detail in this book about Haiti, about Tracy, and about the characters she comes to know – Father Avery, Remy the artist, his brain-damaged friends, Jingo and Jango, and the people of Cayes Squellette. There is never a risk of forgetting where you are. Each place becomes real, its textures and smells and nuances defined and heady. Not every detailed jived with my own experience of Haiti, but enough did that I could say, yes, I am there.

“The stream grew swifter and deeper as they descended through the twisting ravine. The water now looked like frothing chocolate. Other small streams were joining it, fed by the rain on the mountains above and leaping down rocks and through branches and vines. A muddy cascade poured over the Jeep from an outcropping, flooding the windshield with yellowish foam and roaring on the roof as they passed underneath. The rushing brook rattled like hail on the hood whenever a patch of gray sky showed through the leaves.” pg.162

Much of the book is inner dialogue. Tracy’s reflections on her own young life and the realities faced by black American youths are every bit as striking as her thoughts about Haiti’s children. She ponders issues at length, many and important issues, and her thoughts are irreverent, frank, and informed with a lack of prettiness and pretension that could in other writers’ hands devolve into stereotype and easy answers.

Mowry doesn’t allow himself or his protagonist easy answers. In a book so concerned with oppression, with a protagonist so aware of it, there is the danger that she will be portrayed as flawless, always noble, always right, a hero against the forces of evil. But Tracy is not free from oppressor patterns herself; she is not always able to see clearly between her First World certainties and Third World truths. Nor, as readers, are we certain what is right and what is wrong, anymore than she is. Is the priest, who we meet in the early part of the book, correct in his beliefs about what the children need and what they have to sacrifice? Is Tracy correct in her disagreement with him? Is her acquisition of a carving that serves a religious function in its community only selfish arrogance, or is it a thoughtful and caring act? Are the people of Cayes Squellette unnecessarily cruel or uncannily wise? One of the great values of Bones Become Flowers is the opportunities it offers to question our own assumptions and reactions, and to open ourselves to other possibilities.

At times I wished there was a little less detail or reflection, but it never became a problem. If I had my editor’s knife, I would have cut a bit here and there, would have suggested that a word or two (seminal being the major one) were used over-much and might be alternated with other words. But these are thin complaints for a book that has fearless vision and a relentless valuing of human beings, whatever their apparent value or role in society, and however they may screw up or simply not appeal.

Bones Become Flowers took me places I would never have guessed it would. Some of those places are not for the squeamish. The positive light that Vodou is cast in will alienate some readers, but for me it was a relief. After the plethora of fear-soaked depictions of zombies and houngans, it’s refreshing to be given a different angle on this religion.

The bit that made me squirm was the attention paid to the corpulence and sexuality of a number of the adolescent boys. Why did it make me squirm?

Partly because I hadn’t finished the book and was not trusting the writer’s ultimate understanding of those themes. Early descriptions of the fat children were unflattering, and fat oppression is an issue I feel strongly about. With my editor’s knife I would have suggested a word change or two. But would that have been necessary? Was I just reacting? I’m not sure. Because in fact the fatness of the children was never seen by the characters as a bad thing. In fact, it was seen as highly positive. I rubbed my mental eyes at not one, but several fat children in the book because I never once saw a fat child in Haiti, except one youngster visiting from Miami.

I was missing the point.

The young god Esu appears in conjunction with the Undertaker in Bones Become Flowers. The gaunt, tall Undertaker receives the dead, and the impish, hedonistic Esu inspires life. His huge tummy is a symbol of his good fortune and the love and care which the people bestow on him. The fat children in the book are linked to him.

The sexuality. It makes complete sense in terms of the story. It just comes up so darned often! These youngsters are randy as heck. And this is a problem why?

I don’t think it actually is. There’s nothing pornographic about the book. My discomfort arises when adults speak of children’s sexuality in any but the most scientific way. I fear they’ll fall into, or will be accused of, using it to pleasure themselves, that rather than a dispassionate depiction of the kids themselves, it could veer into pedophilia. I get nervous in the same way that elementary school teachers get nervous when unknown adults wander into a school. In a world where we’ve seen so much sexual abuse of children, we’ve become flighty at the mere thought of children’s own sexuality, let alone adults referring to it in a book. Nevertheless, however much I cringe when Mowry refers to kids having sex, I never experience it as titillation. Whether it always works completely with the plot – I am thinking of one scene of sex between two boys out on the street, something I can’t even imagine in the Haiti I know – is another matter. In the main, I think it does, and indeed adds something important to our understanding of the characters.

Bones Become Flowers is a fascinating, appealing, and encouraging story. Kudos to Mowry for gathering so many disparate strands of life in difficult lands, and for lifting the whole from sociology to self-awareness and art.

I’m grateful to have met Tracy, and travelled with her to a Haiti I can never encounter, myself. Mowry’s dream is a demonstration of his great thoughtfulness. To have followed Tracy from Jérèmie to Father Avery’s orphanage, to the rusty old Enfant Vagabond, to the island community of Cayes Squellette and their gods, was a pleasure and a gift.

“…a tiny, gentle, and isolated culture that loved its children as it loved itself…” pg. 366

Well done, Jess Mowry. And thanks.

Casey Wolf

Vancouver BC

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

We're Live!

Wow. What an interesting experience this interview, chat, & contest at Bitten By Books is turning out to be! Rachel (our bitten leader) knows what she is doing, and offers so many ways for readers and writers to connect. I'm just blown away.

If you are around between now and 11 or so tonight, come on-site and leave a comment, ask a question. I look forward to writing the prizes!


Interview, Chat and Contest with Author C. June Wolf

Posted under Contests, Interviews, Videos, Vlogs by Site Hostess on Wednesday 23 September 2009 at 8:33 am

A big welcome to our readers today! Be sure to read to the end of the interview to find out how to WIN the fabulous prizes being offered up.

PLEASE NOTE: This is not a fixed time event, the post just goes live at 10:30 am CDT. You can stop by any time during the day or evening and leave your questions and chat.

PLEASE KEEP SPOILERS TO A MINIMUM. Not all of the readers today have read Casey’s book.


Hi Casey!

Welcome to Bitten by Books, we are excited to have you here today!

I would like to thank you taking the time to join us for the question and answer session with our readers. It has been very interesting to get to know more about you and what makes you tick as a writer! Readers, if you haven’t done so already please stop by and get your copy of Casey’s book Finding Creatures & Other Stories.

Please Note: For best results in watching the video. Hit play and let the video load completely. Sometimes it takes a few minutes to load depending on your internet service.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

RSVP for extra chances to win AND See Me Make a Fool of Myself on Video!

I just got wind that anyone hoping to be there for the interview, chat, and contest on the 23rd will get 50 extra entries into the draw if you RSVP ahead of time. Here is the link:
You still need to show up for the online event, write a comment and ask a question to be entered into the draw. To my delight there are already 20 people signed up, each eager for a story written for her. I'm so psyched! This has got to be the most fun promotion I've done. See you there!

(Oh, and I've acquired a webcam and am making bad but friendly videos for the event.. See the bottom of this post.)

Toodles, Casey

The Full Poop:

RSVP For: 9/23 Interview, Chat and Contest with Author C. June Wolf

Posted under Contests, Site News by Site Hostess on Saturday 19 September 2009 at 7:42 pm

UPCOMING EVENT: 9/23 Interview and Contest with Author C. June Wolf. Event starts at 10:30 am Central on 9/23. Contest runs until 11:59 pm PDT on 9/27.

Description: Join us with author C. June Wolf for an interview, chat and contest at She is also giving away some amazing prizes to THREE lucky readers! Contest is open to readers worldwide except where noted.

Prize 1: A story written for You. You choose the genre and the time period. Tell me up to three things about the protagonist (a name, an ability, something she hates or something she likes – it’s up to you) and I will do the rest. Or you can choose a theme - say, art and the paranormal or alien shopping or whatever you’re curious about, and I’ll come up with the character, etc. Or you can leave it all up to me. In any case, tell me a little about yourself and what you like or what is important to you, and I will bear that in mind as I write. The publishing rights remain with me, but the story is dedicated to you and you see it first. I’ll send you a signed printout when it’s done. Heck, if you like I’ll call and read it to you. Plus you will receive a personalized signed copy of Finding Creatures & Other Stories. (Note: writing a story takes time! This won’t come instantly but it’ll get there soon enough.)

Prize 2: A personalized signed copy of Finding Creatures & Other Stories plus a poem in the genre of your choice. Choose one element of the poem and I’ll do the rest. See Prize 1 above for details.

Prize 3: An Amazon gift card worth $40.00 CDN at the Amazon that serves your area (.ca, .com, .uk).

RSVP below and get 50 entries to the contest when you show up on the day of the event. If you don’t show up and mention your RSVP AND ask a question, you won’t be entered into the contest.

Check out Casey’s website here and get your questions ready for Wednesday.


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
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  1. Comment by Lexie — September 19, 2009 @ 9:27 pm


  2. Comment by Shaine K. — September 19, 2009 @ 9:28 pm

    WoW what great prizes!! RSVP!!
    Can’t wait to find out more about this Author =)

  3. Comment by Melanie Schultz — September 19, 2009 @ 9:30 pm

    I love the idea for this contest.

  4. Comment by Raonaid Luckwell — September 19, 2009 @ 9:33 pm

    That is actually sort of neat, prize 1, though I really doubt I have the luck for that.. But RSVP!

  5. Comment by Alejandra — September 19, 2009 @ 9:42 pm

    RSVP! It sounds so exciting!

  6. Comment by Rose G. — September 19, 2009 @ 11:54 pm

    Oh my God, the prizes are amazing!!!!!! This is will be awesome! Thank you so much for doing this!

  7. Comment by LouLou — September 20, 2009 @ 4:12 am

    Love the idea to help another good author write in the genre I love.
    would love to win the 1st prize as it would make my sister green with envy lol

  8. Comment by Cyd J — September 20, 2009 @ 4:46 am


  9. Comment by Cyd J — September 20, 2009 @ 4:48 am

    RSVP Those are some wonderful prizes.

  10. Comment by Tracey (bl0226) — September 20, 2009 @ 5:48 am


  11. Comment by Dina — September 20, 2009 @ 6:58 am

    sounds like fun, I’ll be there.

  12. Comment by Elie N — September 20, 2009 @ 8:06 am


  13. Comment by Patricia Barraclough — September 20, 2009 @ 8:44 am

    This is my RSVP. Will be there.

  14. Comment by Bridget H. — September 20, 2009 @ 10:37 am

    I’ll be here

  15. Comment by Candy Gorcsi — September 20, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

    RSVP!!! Awesome prizes, would love to win!

  16. Comment by Kate Boardman — September 20, 2009 @ 1:08 pm

    I really like this competition idea…how bloody marvellous. Count me in.
    *Kate is sending her RSVP loud and clear* :-)

  17. Comment by Sharon K — September 20, 2009 @ 1:51 pm

    I’ll be here for sure

  18. Comment by Heather C — September 20, 2009 @ 3:18 pm


  19. Comment by Michele H — September 20, 2009 @ 5:49 pm

    RSVP :)

  20. Comment by Lisa Richards — September 20, 2009 @ 6:10 pm


  21. Comment by M.A. — September 20, 2009 @ 6:41 pm


  22. Comment by C. June Wolf — September 20, 2009 @ 7:06 pm

    Wow! So cool! Actual people! I look forward to talking with you all on Wednesday.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Want Me to Write You a Story? Come to My Interview & Chat

It's true. If you enter, and win, I will write you a poem or a story (after consultation with you), and send you a copy of my book. Heck, I'll even phone you up and read you what I wrote, if you like. Or you may win a gift certificate for the Amazon of your choice. (You don't even have to tell me her name.)

So, Casey, tell me more.

On 23 September I'll be doing an interactive interview with Rachel at Bitten By Books, then settling down to answer questions and chat with whoever logs in to talk with me that day. If you have some spare time I'd love to have you stop in for a blab.

When it came time to decide what treasures to give away for the contest part of the event, I thought, why not do something fun? I could give a gift bag or gift certificate - but with a gift bag, what's fun for me might be ho hum for someone else. Could I be sure I wasn't the only one who'd enjoy an Insects of the World shower curtain???

I discovered some time ago that I like writing to themes. Normally I sit down and just write. But sometimes there is a theme that attracts my attention and I decide to write a story for it. I end up in places I might never have gotten to otherwise. (No, not the St. John's jail. That was something else altogether.) I like that.

So here is what I'm offering:

One Prize: A story written for You. You choose the genre and the time period. Tell me up to three things about the protagonist (a name, an ability, something she hates or something she likes – it’s up to you) and I will do the rest. Or you can choose a theme - say, art and the paranormal or alien shopping or whatever you’re curious about, and I’ll come up with the character, etc. Or you can leave it all up to me. In any case, tell me a little about yourself and what you like or what is important to you, and I will bear that in mind as I write. The publishing rights remain with me, but the story is dedicated to you and you see it first. I’ll send you a signed printout when it’s done. Heck, if you like I’ll call and read it to you. Plus you will receive a personalized signed copy of Finding Creatures & Other Stories. (Note: writing a story takes time! This won’t come instantly but it’ll get there soon enough.)

Another Prize: A personalized signed copy of Finding Creatures & Other Stories plus a poem in the genre of your choice. Choose one element of the poem and I’ll do the rest. See One Prize above for details.

And Another Prize: An Amazon gift card worth $40 CDN at the Amazon that serves your area (.ca, .com, .uk…).

There are a number of ways you can enter the contest - I don't recall them all but they'll be posted on the day. They involve things like buying a copy of my book, blogging or tweeting about it, asking me a question - nothing too painful.

So think about it. What genre would you like to test me on? Want to be in your own story? Want to hear about Giant Pandas on the moon? Whatever. Ask, and you shall receive.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Making a Case-Bound Book

I stumbled across the term "Case-Bound Book" and thought, "Eh?"

What could I do but look it up? And there on the vastness of the internet I found a wonderfully detailed site which demonstrates, with clear and seemingly endless photographs, how to make a case-bound book.

Curious? Come with me:

Making a Book

Images and text by Garry Harrison,
Head, Circulating Collections Conservation,
Indiana University Libraries
Web design by Jake Nadal,
former Head, Preservation Department,
Indiana University Libraries

(Click on this image to begin slide show.)

One of the best ways to illustrate book construction is to make one from raw materials. So that is what we will do in this section of the manual. We use some special shop tools, but since obviously not everyone has them, every attempt has been made to offer instructions for doing this with hand tools everyone is likely to have at home or can obtain without difficulty.

Our text block will be of what is called sewn-on-tapes construction. This is one of many different text block structures that work well. Our book will be what is called a casebound book, which refers to the fact that the case will be covered before it is adjoined with the text block, as opposed to after, as in, e.g., fine binding.

Tools and materials used in this treatment


board shear
job backer
backing hammer
glue brush
bone folder
ruler or straight edge
finishing press
flat boards, weights, and 1/8" dia. rods/dowels, or
standing press


binders board
book cloth
PVA mixture
text weight paper
newsprint or similar scrap paper
linen thread
linen tape
cotton twine
waxed paper
cotton backliner or other acceptable super cloth
hinge cloth

Using the Manual

To facilitate convenient navigation and use, the procedural parts of this manual are presented in slide show form. As you can see above, clicking on the image shown on each treatment's front page begins the slide show.

Here are the navigational options within each slide. To view this information in illustrated form see the map image below.

Each slide offers the following capabilities:

* Thumbnail images of the entire treatment procedure are in a vertical column to the left. The progression is downward, beginning at the top and ending at the bottom. By clicking on any of these images, you can go to that point in the procedure.

* Clicking on any page's main image opens a larger version of the image in a separate window.

* Button links are provided to return to this page, to go to the next and previous slides in the series, and to go to the complete table of contents for the entire manual.

* The text is dotted with links to tools, materials, glossary terms, and other treatments. Linked text is gray in color and turns red when the pointer encounters it.

Map Image

Table of

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Casey and Finnegan

Okay. It has nothing to do with writing, but it has a BIT to do with Mr. Dressup.

This is me with my aunt's dog, Finnegan, during our weekend together in Steveston, BC. Looks cute but boy can
he dig in his heels. And before you ask: Brussels Griffon.

Photo by Mary Bragg. Thanks, Mare!

The Original Casey, Mr. D, and Finnegan

Friday, September 04, 2009

Did You Opt Out of The Google Book Settlement Today? Last Chance!

Finally made a decision on this, the last day. I opted out. What a headache this whole thing has been. So very confusing and...unnatural...

Below you'll find two writings on the topic, the first from Access Copyright, which looks out for authors in Canada, and the second from a South African news and technology site, ITWeb.

Google Settlement Opt-Out Deadline is Today

September 4, the deadline to opt-out of the Google Book Settlement, is here. If you were wishing to opt-out of the settlement, please click here


By opting-out of the settlement, you will forego any revenue that may be owing to you through the settlement but you will continue to have control over your works and have the right to sue Google for any infringement of your copyright.

Please note as well that the deadline to formally object to the settlement has been extended to Tuesday, September 8 at 10:00 a.m. eastern time.

The Google Settlement is a proposed landmark settlement to lawsuits brought against Google separately by the Authors Guild and representatives of the Association of American Publishers alleging that the digitization of books for the Google Book Search program infringed copyright in the United States. The settlement will likely affect all Canadian authors, illustrators or publishers of books.

For rightsholders who don’t opt-out, you can claim a cash payment for works already digitized by Google by completing a claim form available online here

. The deadline to complete the form is January 5, 2010.

Please click here
for more information on the settlement.

Access Copyright staff are also available to help if you have any questions on the settlement or need assistance with navigating the official Google Settlement website. Please give us a call anytime at 416-868-1620 (toll-free 1-800-893-5777) or send us an email.

Google Book Settlement

D-Day for Google Book opt-out
[ Johannesburg, 4 September 2009 ] - Today marks the cut-off date for publishers and authors worldwide to opt in or out of the Google Book Settlement, effectively determining whether they will retain the rights over books the Internet giant plans to scan and digitise.

According to local attorney and digital publishing consultant Bertus Preller, the proposed Google Book Settlement “seeks to grant Google the valuable right to digitally exploit, forever, every non-public domain book ever published, virtually anywhere in the world”.

Bye Bye Google!
The settlement follows Google's announcement of its Book Search project in 2004, which would see the company scan and digitise millions of books worldwide to make them searchable on the Web. In 2005, the Authors Guild of America, as well as the Association of American Publishers (AAP), filed a class action suit against Google for copyright infringement. Google defended its actions as fair use.

Preller explains that, in response to the lawsuit, Google entered into a tentative interim settlement agreement, whereby it would pay more than $125 million (R945.5 million) in future royalties into a Books Rights Registry, to be distributed to the rights holders. In return, Google would obtain the right to digitise and make millions of books available online. Rights owners have until today to opt out of the proposed settlement, or opt in and submit an objection.

If the courts approve the settlement, Google will be able to scan and index millions of books without fear of being prosecuted for copyright infringement. The final fairness hearing in the US District court is scheduled for 7 October.

In a statement released after the settlement was reached last year, the AAP said: “The agreement promises to benefit readers and researchers, and enhance the ability of authors and publishers to distribute their content in digital form, by significantly expanding online access to works through Google Book Search...”

Preller believes the impacts are more far-reaching. “The settlement would dramatically impact copyright owners around the world, SA included, as it would give Google a licence to use nearly every foreign book ever published, even books that have never been published in the US.”

According to Preller, US law means the settlement not only affects the parties who filed the original suit, but also binds non-parties who the courts certify will be affected in the same way.

“In the US, once approved, the settlement will, therefore, mean that unless an author or publisher has reserved their rights by formally opting out of the settlement, they will not be able to make any claim that Google is infringing upon the copyright in their books.”

Reading between the digital lines

Eloise Wessels, CEO of NB Publishers, one of several book publishing houses within the Media24 group, and publishing under the imprints of Tafelberg, Human & Rousseau, Kwela and Pharos, says the group is against the settlement.

“Media24 is opposed to the Google Settlement and has in this context submitted formal objections requesting the court that will handle the fairness hearing to reject the settlement, or to decline to certify the class with respect to foreign rights holders.”

She adds that the group believes the settlement, if proceeded with in its current form, will negatively impact the book business and fundamentally change the rights of publishers and authors under copyright.

“There are very many other reasons why Media24 is opposed to the settlement,” says Wessels. ”For example, Google's definition of 'commercially available' is limited to works being available through predominantly US sales channels and not necessarily through local sales channels, such as Kalahari. This will allow Google to obtain extensive exploitation rights over our books, which by the definition in the settlement, will not be 'commercially available'.”

NB is one of several book publishing houses within the Media24 group, which also includes Jonathan Ball Publishers, Lux Verbi-BM, Van Schaik Publishers, NVA and Stimela.

Wessels explains these book divisions all produce locally-developed texts, of which few (less than 1%) would be “commercially available” in the US, according to the Google definition.

“The settlement, therefore, poses a real risk for the book publishers and authors in the Media24 group and we are acting to limit that risk.”

If a publisher or author opts in and lodges a claim in respect of a book before 5 January 2010, it will receive a share of the $45 million (R343.5 million) that Google has put aside to pay rights holders. They will also receive 63% of any revenue received by Google, for example, from advertising, or if it is made available on subscription to a library, explains Preller.

Earlier this week, the deadline for filing objections to the settlement was extended to 8 September, because of issues with the court's electronic filing system, but the opt-out deadline remains unchanged.

The full statement can be viewed at Google Book Settlement.

Related stories:
Digital rights take centre stage

Digital books gain momentum

Comment on this

Thursday, September 03, 2009

"Dreamcatcher" and Roomies

Well, it's out. The second ever speculative fiction issue of Room Magazine* I'm happy to say that my story "Dreamcatcher" is in there with works by many others. Those whose names are most familiar to me are Patricia Monaghan, Élisabeth Vonarburg, Mary E. Choo, and Candas Jane Dorsey. Editor Fiona Lehn interviewed Ursula LeGuin for the issue - Ursula's thoughts are always interesting - and there is a mini-interview of two authors who appeared in the 1981 SF issue, Eileen Kernaghan and Debbie Notkin. Oh, yes! Scanning the Table of Contents I'm reminded that there is a review of my book Finding Creatures & Other Stories by Bronwen Welch. I will include that in a separate post.

In My Living Room
by Tania Alexis Clarke, 2007
Digital photo manipulation—giclée on canvas, 45.7x34.3cm (18x13.5")

Interview with Ursula K. Le Guin

Sample of Fiction from 32.2
Le Musée de l'impermanence
(The Museum of Impermanence)

by Élisabeth Vonarburg

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Room Volume 32.2

Fiona Lehn

Women have been creating speculative stories for centuries. Long before 1818, when Mary Shelley published what is now hailed as the novel upon which science fiction was founded, women looked to the stars and dreamed of other worlds, shared tales of creatures and spirits they could not see, inexplicable phenomena, and parallel universes. In many ways, Shelley’s Frankenstein merely started the modern ball rolling for women’s speculative works, soon followed as it was by Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s fantastic story “The Yellow Wallpaper” in 1892 and in 1915 by her utopia “Herland”. Men, holding the power of the press, flooded the fantasy and science fiction genres with male-centered works, but in the latter half of the twentieth century, women burst onto the speculative scene in great number:

...True to the speculative tradition, this issue breaks some turf, starting with our commissioned writers, Élisabeth Vonarburg and Candas Jane Dorsey, two of Canada’s premier feminist science fiction writers. Ms. Vonarburg’s “The Museum of Impermanence” appears in its original French and in translation by Room’s Clélie Rich, marking the first time that Room has published a story in both of Canada’s official languages. Meanwhile, Candas Jane Dorsey’s “First Contact” explores the alien via a sexual encounter, going where no Room issue has gone before. In addition, we are thrilled to present a conversation with one of the most accomplished science fiction and fantasy writers of all time, Ursula K. Le Guin, in which she shares her thoughts on speculation, writing, and women.

...In 1981, Room magazine (then Room of One’s Own) published an issue dedicated to science fiction and fantasy, edited by Susan Wood. Wood received three submissions each day, significantly more than I, nearly thirty years later, received. Does this mean our need for speculation has decreased? Has speculative literature been subsumed into mainstream literature? Perhaps neither, perhaps some of both; nevertheless, I see a need for literature that pushes beyond the constraints of our reality, our culture, and which creates new realities, different cultures, other worlds—literature that questions and liberates, poses solutions and provides an escape, for women, for the marginalized, the colonized. Kind of sounds like feminism, doesn’t it? And not unlike feminism, speculative literature has always given me a sense of hope and a feeling of belonging. And that’s what Room is all about. To those of you who may be embarking upon your first speculative experience and to those who know your way around the speculative universe, I say, Welcome, be unafraid, this is where you belong.


Tania Alexis Clarke is a Vancouver-based visual artist and owner of Side B Design Studio ( Her digital work focuses on photo manipulation. As a painter, she uses various media on canvas such as acrylic paints, ink, linocut, and textiles. Her work often depicts relationships between mechanical and organic elements.
“In 2007 I created a series of photo manipulations using the liquify tool in Photoshop. In My Living Room is the first image in this series. I use pixel information like a painter’s palette to transform bland photographs into energized, dreamlike images. I approach all my work with a meditative process and strive to create impulsive images which tap into my subconscious. I create every piece in one sitting to avoid breaking momentum.”

Candas Jane Dorsey lives in Edmonton and writes speculative fiction, mainstream fiction, and poetry, earning awards such as the Tiptree and Aurora. She has co-edited four collections of speculative fiction, the latest being Land/Space: an Anthology of Prairie Speculative Fiction. Dorsey recently received the prestigious Alberta Centennial Medal for achievements in arts and culture.

As of 2009, Ursula K. Le Guin has published twenty-one novels, eleven volumes of short stories, three collections of essays, twelve books for children, six volumes of poetry, and four of translation, and has received many awards: Hugo, Nebula, National Book Award, PEN-Malamud, etc. Her recent publications include a volume of poetry, Incredible Good Fortune, and the novel Lavinia.

Vancouver writer, editor, and musician Fiona Lehn has volunteered with Room magazine since 2007. Her first novella, The Assignment of Runner ETI, won third place in the 2008 Writers of the Future international speculative fiction contest. When time allows, she sits on the beach or works on her website

Élisabeth Vonarburg’s most recent work includes The House of Justice (Book Five of her award-winning Queen of Memory series), and a translation of Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay. She will be the French-speaking Guest of Honour at Anticipation, the 67th World Science Fiction Convention, to be held in Montreal in August this year.

*(Room Magazine, formerly Room of One's Own), named for Virginia Woolf's essay of the same name. "The title comes from Woolf's conception that, 'a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction' (page 4). It also refers to any author's need for poetic license and the personal liberty to create art." Wikipedia)