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Friday, December 23, 2011

Double Finalist in the 2011 Wallflower Contest!

The results are in for the preliminary round of the 2011 Wallflower Contest. I am a double finalist again this year. Here are my titles and categories:

The Loving of Lord Loxley ~ Finalist, The Rose Division (prior first place manuscripts only)

Royal Prince, Reluctant Princess ~ Finalist, Genres Division: Series Category

Congratulations to all finalists!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Interview of Author Lorraine Nelson

I'm thrilled to post an interview of author Lorraine Nelson following the recent release of her newest book, Covert Mission: Undercover Cop, Book Two in her Thunder Creek Ranch series. I met Lorraine a few years ago, and since then, I've discovered beyond all other things her kindness toward others and her passion for writing. Here is what she has to say about her life and writing:

Hi, Lorraine, please tell us about your background.

I’m a Cancer sign and therefore, pretty much a homebody. I have three terrific sons, four wonderful grandsons and a precious granddaughter, with another grandbaby due next month. When my children were younger, I wrote for their age group, now I write for adults.

Did you always want to be an author?

Yes, I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing stories or poetry.

Which authors did you read while growing up?

My babysitting money always went toward Hardy Boys books. I was a great fan. I also read all of the Anne of Green Gables books. At age 14 or so, I discovered Mary Higgins-Clark and Harlequin.

Why Hardy Boys, not Nancy Drew?

 LOL, I was very much a tomboy and Nancy Drew was too tame for me.

Which Harlequin lines captured your interest?

All of them! I read everything I could get my hands on…still do. :) They used to have a line called Shadows, Intrigue now, I think, and Temptation. Those were my favorites back then.

What authors have influenced your writing?

I’d have to say Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel and Mary Higgins-Clark. Love their books.

When did you begin to write romance novels? Why? What is it about the genre that appeals to you?

I had stopped writing for several years. As a single parent, the kids and the full-time job had to come first. I began writing seriously in 2009 after having my left thumb amputated. Typing helped regain the flexibility in that hand. Even though I’m a two-time divorcee, I believe in the possibilities of love and a happy ever after. I enjoy reading a good mystery and romance, so putting them both together to craft stories of romantic suspense seems natural.

Do you consider yourself a contemporary western romantic suspense author?

Mostly, yes, although I have written novels in other genres. This is my only series featuring cowboys, though. I’ve also written and self-published two Christmas stories, His Christmas Wish, a sweet novella, and Mistletoe & Mr. Hoe, a full-length involving some suspense. In addition to these, I’ve written seven other novels in the past 2 ½ years.

What was your first sale?

My first sale was Zakia and the Cowboy, Book 1 in my Thunder Creek Ranch series. It was released by Evernight Publishing on October 5th, 2011.

How did your first sale come about?

I’d heard about Evernight through Facebook friends and loved their covers, so I submitted.

How has being a published author changed your life so far?

It’s very rewarding. I’ve received some excellent reader reviews and it’s thrilling to know my work entertains other people besides my family and friends, who may or may not be prejudiced in my favor. The fact that quite a number of them have been asking for the sequel, makes my heart thump with delight

I’m busier than I used to be, for sure. Editing and promoting take up a lot of time, but I’m loving it. Writing and promo is something I can do from home, which is a real bonus, given our cold Canadian winters.

Tell us about your newest release.

While writing Zakia’s story, Sam and Blake became such memorable characters that I knew I’d have to tell their story. That’s when the idea of a series came to me. Covert Mission: Undercover Cop became Book Two in the Thunder Creek Ranch series.

Sam is ex-military, released on a medical discharge after losing her right arm. She’s feisty, independent and adorable, has overcome her physical disabilities, but past memories haunt her. Blake is a perfect match for Sam. He’s a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and owns a horse ranch. He’s strong, caring, patient and protective, although the latter irks Sam to no end.

The following is the basis for their story:

Two cops have been murdered, two convicts escape. Samantha Muldoon and Blake Northrup pair up to protect their friends. Will their attraction to each other hinder their effectiveness or distract them from their job? Can it grow into something lasting, or will previous hurt keep them apart?

Can you give us an excerpt of Covert Mission: Undercover Cop?

Sure! This is the beginning of Chapter One:

“What on Earth have you packed in this one?” Blake said as he hefted a box to go to the truck.

“If I can pack it and stack it, you’ve got nothing worth complaining about,” said Samantha in that brusque “don’t mess with me” tone she used around most people. Since losing her arm and receiving a medical discharge from the army, Sam fought harder than ever to prove her self-sufficiency, especially around men.

“I’m not, but a word of warning wouldn’t come amiss.”

“So sorry, Blake. I’ll be sure to label the heavy ones as ‘women weight only’ from now on.”

“Huh! I don’t believe you could lift it yourself, let alone carry it all the way to the truck.”

That did it! “What’s your wager?” She thrived on their little wagers. Blake was so much fun to tease and a good loser to boot.

“Dinner, Friday night. Loser pays.”

“Throw in a movie and you’ve got a deal.” This was a sure bet. She’d enjoy his company and not have to spend Friday night alone.

“Dinner and a movie it is,” he smirked, handing the box off to Sam.

“Great! I’ll look forward to a relaxing evening since it seems I have to handle all the heavy work around here.” Smiling, she waltzed out through the kitchen door and met Luke, Blake’s friend, on his way back in. She’d been introduced to both men through her friend, Zakia. Luke and Zakia had recently remarried after an estrangement of several years and she and Blake had offered to help her move.

“Here, Sam. I can take that for you.”

“Not on your life, cowboy. This box in the truck gets me dinner and a movie.”

“You and Blake at it again?”

“Of course!” She chuckled.

“Why don’t you cut him a little slack? He’s only trying to be a gentleman.”

“That may well be, but I get a rise out of him so easy I can’t resist.”

“What would you do if he asked you out on a real date?”

“What?” she shrieked. “He wouldn’t. Blake knows I don’t date.”

“Uh, huh. Ain’t that the truth.”

“Well, he does.”

“I know, Sam. Far be it from me to thwart your ‘no dating’ scene.”

“What do you mean by that?” she called back as she set the box down on the tailgate of Luke’s truck.

“Nothing much, but for two people who aren’t dating, you sure seem to go out a lot.” He chuckled, walking inside and letting the door swing shut behind him.

Sam stood and stared after him for a moment, thinking about what he’d said. He was right. She did accompany Blake on a lot of outings, but they were friends. Why shouldn’t they attend functions and things together? It beat going alone. And he was good company.

Still, if people were starting to talk—classifying them as a couple—she shuddered, maybe it was time to back off. She didn’t want him to get the wrong idea. Didn’t want to have to explain…nope! Not going there. The past was right where it belonged, in the past. She’d dealt with it and made her choice. There was no turning back but still, she couldn’t ward off a niggling doubt.

Blake came out of the house then carrying another carton of Zakia’s things. Her gaze tracked his movements. He sure was a handsome devil.

He greeted her with a disarming grin. “So you made it to the truck, I see.”

“Yes, I did, but then, you knew I would,” she said, suddenly realizing it as the truth when Blake’s face turned red.

“How could I know? That box was damned heavy.” He turned to load his box on the truck. “I do like the way you rise to a challenge though.”

“Is that so?”

He straightened to face her, his smile bordering on a smirk. “Yep, so we’re on for Friday night?”

“Nope. At least, not this Friday. I’m busy.”

Blake scowled, his expression stating that he was not pleased with her reply. “Doing what?”

She thought fast. “The shop needs painting, so when I close for the weekend, I’ll need to get at it.”

“I can help.”

“If I needed your help, I’d ask for it. Haven’t you figured that out by now?”

“Well, excuse me if I’m trying to be neighborly.”

“That’s another thing.” His eyes flared—with anger? Something else? She softened her tone, not wanting to appear ungrateful. “We’re not exactly neighbors. For someone who lives an hour away, you seem to be in Calgary a lot these days. What gives?”

“You know I’m collaborating on Grayson’s case. Why do you ask?”

“Every Friday?” she asked, a skeptical tone in her voice.

“Yeah, it gets me out of the office. Why all the questions?”

Could that really be all there was to it? “Just that I don’t want you going out of your way to help me. I don’t like owing anybody anything.”

He walked closer, close enough to touch, but he didn’t. She waited, knowing he had something to say and wished he’d just get it over with.

“You don’t owe me anything. Is it so hard for you to accept that I enjoy spending time with you?”

Yes! No! She schooled her features into a polite mask. “I don’t know.”

“I thought we were friends.”

“We are, but people are starting to talk.”

“About us? Is that so bad?” he asked in that low, sexy voice of his.

“Blake, you know I don’t date. I don’t do relationships and commitment. Friendship is all I can handle. All I’ll ever have to offer.” She fought to keep her eyes from tearing up. No way would she cry in front of this man or anyone else for that matter. Zakia wasn’t even privy to her darkest secrets. She was a rough, tough, independent woman and intended to keep it that way.

“I think you’re cutting yourself short, Sam. Life is for living.”

“And I’m living it my way. I thought you understood.” She started to walk away then turned and looked back, catching his concerned yet puzzled expression. “Come on. Get your ass in gear, Northrup. We have more boxes to pack and lug.”

“Yes, ma’am!” He saluted her then caught up in time to open the door for her.

She accepted the gesture gracefully for once, knowing she’d already spouted off enough for one day.

What are you working on now?

Book 3, Trouble at Thunder Creek, my NaNo project, is almost complete. From there, I’ll be diving straight into Book 4, Leah’s Child. Then edit and sub in December, after NaNo.

When you begin writing a book, do you have the story all outlined in your mind or do you wait and see where the characters take you?

The characters definitely lead the story. I do up character sheets with all the specifics, then a brief outline covering the GMC and location, and start writing. Quite often the characters veer off, but that’s the fun of writing. I never fully know where they’re going to take me or how the book will end.

What would you like readers to know about you?

I’m a romantic at heart! I love baking and gardening. My favorite movies of all time are Gone With the Wind and Dirty Dancing. Favorite book, The Proud Breed, a three generational saga written by Celeste De Blasis.

How can readers get in touch with you?

I love hearing from my readers! It’s important to know what works and doesn’t work for them as I continue to craft stories of love and mystery.!/lornelca

Thank you for having me here today, Madeline. It’s been fun.

One commenter will receive a free download, their choice, Thunder Creek Ranch Book 1, Zakia and the Cowboy, or Book 2, Covert Mission: Undercover Cop (releasing Nov 28th). The winner will be announced on December 3rd. You must be a follower of both blogs, Madeline’s and mine. So leave your comments and/or questions. I’ll do my best to answer. :)

Lorraine, thanks for stopping by my blog, and best of luck with your newest release!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Winner of the 2011 Golden Gateway Contest!

The results are in for the final round of the 2011 Golden Gateway Contest. Here are my title, category, and placement:

Beneath the Veil ~ First Place, Single Title Romance Category (FULL MANUSCRIPT REQUESTED BY GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING)

You might think I'd be used to all the excitement of contest finals by now, especially as this was my 28th contest final during the past three years, but in truth, I find each one more precious than the last.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Finalist in the 2011 Golden Gateway Contest!

The results are in for the preliminary round of the 2011 Golden Gateway Contest. I have an entry that is a finalist. Here are the title and category:

Beyond the Veil ~ Finalist, Single Title Romance Category

Congratulations to all finalists!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Writing and the Law, Part III: Pen Names, Copyrights, and Business Entities

I belong to several writing loops. During my travels, from time to time, I see statements of the law that are inaccurate. The other day, I came across a discussion about pen names, copyright notices, and business entities on one of my loops. My primary area of expertise is business law (corporate and securities), and my secondary area is intellectual property (copyright and trademark). So these posts couldn’t help but catch my attention.

While I was glad to see that some of the statements were accurate, I was troubled to see that some weren’t. For example, I read statements to this effect: (1) an author’s legal name has to be used in the copyright notice; (2) a corporation or LLC is no big deal to form; (3) an author can use a DBA to establish a pen name; (4) a corporation or LLC can use a pen name without consequence; (5) a LLC provides better protection from personal liability than a corporation; (6) a business entity can protect an author’s privacy; and (7) an agent can advise an author on legal matters.

The above seven statements are all false.

Let’s take a twirl around some of the concepts.


An author's work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form.

When an author uses a copyright notice on her ms, or includes one at the bottom of a post on her blog, she gives notice to the readers that she claims a copyright for that writing. Here’s some general information about the copyright notice on the U.S. Copyright Office's website:

"Use of the notice may be important because it informs the public that the work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication. Furthermore, in the event that a work is infringed, if a proper notice of copyright appears on the published copy or copies to which a defendant in a copyright infringement suit had access, then no weight shall be given to such a defendant’s interposition of a defense based on innocent infringement in mitigation of actual or statutory damages, except as provided in section 504(c)(2) of the copyright law. Innocent infringement occurs when the infringer did not realize that the work was protected. The use of the copyright notice is the responsibility of the copyright owner and does not require advance permission from, or registration with, the Copyright Office."

For more general info on copyrights, see

However, print publishers register (in the name of the author) every work they'll publish in the U.S. by filing an application with the U.S. Copyright Office. In fact, those same publishers will take advantage of the protections of the law afforded by every country in which they'll publish the work (think Harlequin). But let's focus on U.S. law.

The U.S. Copyright Office has some wonderful circulars about copyright. Here is a statement from the above-referenced circular on the advantages of registration of a work:

"Even though registration is not a requirement for protection, the copyright law provides several inducements or advantages to encourage copyright owners to make registration.

Among these advantages are the following:

• Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.

• Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U. S. origin.

• If made before or within five years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.

• If registration is made within three months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney's fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.

• Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U. S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies."

So, no, a publisher doesn't just include a copyright notice on a page inside the book. If they're a print publisher, they'll have put their dollars behind the editing, production, distribution and perhaps even promotion of a book. They'll want to afford themselves, or place the author in a position to afford herself/himself, of the maximum protection under the law.

I wonder, though, how many e-publishers are filing copyright applications on behalf of their authors. This isn't to say that an e-published author doesn't have the same reason for wanting her work registered as a print published author, just that an e-publisher mightn't have the same incentive to expend the time and money to register a work as a print publisher has. [Note: See postscript below for follow-up information on this question.]

Moving on, contrary to what someone said, an author isn't required to use her/his legal name in a copyright notice. Likewise, an author isn’t required to register a work with the U.S. Copyright Office in her/his legal name. Here’s part of the instructions for filling in the author's name on Form TX (literary copyright application):

“If the work is “pseudonymous” you may: (1) leave the line blank; or (2) give the pseudonym and identify it as such (for example: “Huntley Haverstock, pseudonym”); or (3) reveal the author’s name, making clear which is the real name and which is the pseudonym (for example, “Judith Barton, whose pseudonym is Madeline Elster”).”

For more on Form TX, see

The best example I can give you off the top of my head is Penny Jordan. Penny writes for Harlequin Presents. Her copyright notice is in the name of Penny Jordan, but her legal name is Penny Halsall. Penny uses the third choice on the application—“Penny Jordan, pseud. of Penny Halsall.” To see the info on one of her recent copyright applications, click on 


A DBA isn’t a form of business entity. The primary purpose of a DBA is to provide the public with the names of the owners behind a fictitious name being used by a business. In New York, any sole proprietor, corporation, LLC, or other business entity that uses a fictitious name in connection with a business must file, or cause to be filed, via the Secretary of State, a certificate of assumed name in the clerk's office of every county in which they do business. There are 63 counties in New York.

Someone suggested that an author could form a corporation or LLC, then use a pen name (which would be the "product" of the corporation or LLC) on the cover of books so that the author's real name would show up nowhere. The pen name wouldn’t be the “product” of the corporation or LLC. The pen name would be a fictitious name used by the corporation or LLC. So, the corporation or LLC would have to file a certificate of assumed name to use the pen name, once again in every county in which it does business.

And that’s the most important point of this section. A corporation and LLC (as well as a sole proprietor) must file, or cause to be filed, a certificate of assumed name in every county in which it does business under a fictitious name. More, as you'll see in the next section, an author's legal name will always show up somewhere.


The formation and use of corporations and LLCs by authors isn't all that common. There are certain requirements for, and inherent costs to, the formation and continuing operation of business entities as well as limitations to their possible benefit to an author.

Let’s take a cursory look at some of them (and I do mean cursory because I could write/talk at length about each of them). My comments will be skewed toward New York because, although I’m admitted to practice in three jurisdictions, I currently practice in New York. However, I’d be surprised to discover that most, if not all, other states don’t have similar provisions.

1. Business Corporation

For this section, let’s assume we’re talking a Subchapter S corporation, not a C corporation such as IBM.

The formation of a corporation isn’t that costly (in terms of filing fee payable to the secretary of state), but there are many post-formation requirements. Someone suggested that an author could just use an incorporation service, and someone else suggested that an author shouldn't do this. There are on-line companies that charge as little as $99 for the filing of a certificate of incorporation. The bottom line on this is that you get what you pay for because this filing is only the birth of a legal entity. Think of what comes after the birth of a child. A service company doesn't even give you a diaper and blanket in which to bring the baby home.

The filing of a certificate of incorporation is just the first in a lifetime of documents for a corporation. Following the incorporation, the corporation must adopt initial authorizing resolutions (the ratification of all actions by the incorporator, the election of the first board of directors, the election of officers, the authorization of the treasurer to open a bank account and apply with the IRS for a taxpayer identification number, the authorization of the president and secretary to issue stock, the adoption of by-laws, the procurement of checks and other items, etc.). After the adoption of the authorizing resolutions, the appropriate individual(s) must carry out the acts authorized.

In addition, after the initial resolutions, anytime a corporation is to undertake certain actions, the director(s) and/or officer(s) must adopt a resolution. So, for example, if the corporation is going to enter into a significant contract, the director(s) will have to authorize the president to execute that contract. These formalities are required even if only one person is involved in the corporation.

Moving on, there are external filings as well as internal actions.

New York corporations have to file annual franchise tax reports and pay franchise taxes even if the corporation doesn’t do business or loses money that year.

A corporation has to file a biennial statement.

A corporation has to file a federal and state corporate tax return. The corporation files a corporate tax return on Form 1120S, then each shareholder's share of the profit or loss of the corporation is recorded on a Schedule K-1, then the K-1 information for each shareholder is reported on Line 17 of the shareholder's Form 1040. This applies even to a corporation with just one shareholder. Of course, the state has a similar set up. So, are you willing to file a subchapter S federal and state tax return as well as a federal and state individual tax return every year?

Keep in mind that the primary reason for incorporation (i.e. protection from personal liability) requires that a corporation comply with all legal requirements in order to have this shield of protection.

Lastly, an author who incorporates might think they’ve shielded their true identity from their readers. But consider this scenario: Romance Reader happens to notice Riante, Inc. (a company formed by an author) in the copyright notice in a novel, and curious about the author, does a quick on-line search. To see what Romance Reader can discover in about a minute, click on, type Riante, Inc. into the name box, and once the next pages opens, click on Riante, Inc. Sorry I can't give you a direct link, but as the Arkansas Secretary of State adds corporations, the links change.

By the way, I see that Riante, Inc. has no fictitious name filings in its state. So Riante, Inc. may use only its legal name in connection with all matters.

And just by typing the words “in its state,” I’ve thought of yet something else. If a corporation does business in any state other than its state of incorporation (and the definition of “doing business” is often loosely construed), it must file an application for a certificate of authority to do business as a foreign corporation in those other states.

And what if you don't want to have the corporation any longer? Well, you have to dissolve it in accordance with the requirements of the law. Yes, think of the effort and cost of a funeral and burial.

2. Limited Liability Company (LLC)

To form an LLC in New York, there's a publication requirement (i.e. the notice of formation) in addition to a filing requirement, which can add substantially to the cost of formation. In New York, the county clerk(s) must designate the two newspapers in which the notice must run. If she/he/they choose a larger newspaper, an author could be looking at several hundred dollars and up just to fulfill the notice requirement.

After the filing of the formation papers, the LLC must adopt an operating agreement (just to give you an idea, the operating agreement for most of my clients has ranged 35 to 40 pages), apply for a TIN (taxpayer ID number), open a bank account, order checks, issue member certificates, etc. It isn’t unlike the initial work for a corporation.

Unlike the corporation, the LLC is a little looser in terms of internal operation.

As with a corporation, though, there are external filings. For tax purposes, a single member LLC (SMLLC) can be treated as either a corporation or a single member “disregarded entity.” To be treated under federal law as a corporation, the SMLLC has to file Form 8832 and elect to be classified as a corporation. An SMLLC that does not elect to be a corporation will be classified by the existing federal guidance as a “disregarded entity” which is taxed as a sole proprietor for income tax purposes. If the LLC is a sole proprietor for federal tax purposes, the entity will most likely have to file Form 1040 Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business (Sole Proprietorship). If the business has net income over $400, it may be required to file Schedule SE, Self-Employment Tax.

Contrary to what someone said, the LLC doesn’t afford better protection from personal liability than a corporation. As with corporations, a LLC must follow all legal requirements to afford its member(s) protection from personal liability. By the way, in my experience, accountants tend to push their clients toward forming a LLC...and not necessarily because it's a better form of business entity.

As with a corporation, if you don't want to have an LLC any longer, you'll have to trudge down a similar path to the graveyard.

3. General Partnership

By law, a partnership requires two or more partners. Contrary to what someone said, it isn’t that a person “can’t easily form” a partnership with one person...but rather that a person can’t form a partnership at all without a second person. Based on my experience, the use of partnerships started to fall out of favor in the late 1980s. Today, investors prefer a corporation or LLC. Doctors often use a PC (a professional services corporation) or a PLLC (a professional services limited liability company). Lawyers are about the only ones who still use the partnership model, but even so, they now form LLPs (limited liability partnerships).

4. Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)

Someone asked me to cover the LLP as a possible entity for authors.

First, two or more persons must form a partnership under state partnership law.

Second, in some states, only certain partnerships may register to become limited liability partnerships. For example, in New York, LLPs can be formed only by law, accounting, engineering, and architectural firms. In fact, under the law, each of the partners of the partnership must be a professional authorized by law to render the professional service, such as a lawyer licensed to practice by the New York State Bar.

So now you know why I didn’t cover LLPs in my first post.

However, for those still interested, I’ll give a little more basic information.

Again, I'll skewer this toward New York, but other states (those that have enacted LLP statutes) may have a similar set-up.

In New York, the formation of an LLP is accomplished by the filing of a certificate of registration with the Division of Corporations. As with the LLC, there is a publication requirement, which can add to the costs of the creation of this type of business entity. Upon completion of the publication requirement, the LLP must file affidavits of publication with the Division of Corporations.

In addition, an LLP must make additional periodic filings with the Division of Corporations. For example, an LLP must file an LLP Statement within sixty days prior to the fifth anniversary of the effective date of their registration or notice of registration, and every five years thereafter as required by New York Partnership Law.

As to tax filings, just as with a corporation and LLC, an LLP has to file an annual federal and state tax return. The LLP files a partnership tax return on Form 1065, then each partner’s share of the profit or loss of the partnership is recorded on a Schedule K-1, then the K-1 information for each partner is reported on the partner’s individual Form 1040. The state has a similar set-up.

Of course, as with any business entity, an LLP may need to make other tax-related filings which depend on a host of factors.

So, why do partners of a law, accounting, engineering, or architectural firm in New York elect to register as a LLP?

In the old days, if one partner was sued for malpractice and the plaintiff got a judgment, the other partners were personally liable for the satisfaction of that judgment. But the partners of an LLP aren’t personally liable for the actions or omissions of their partners if they are sued. For example, if one partner has a malpractice lawsuit brought against him, the other partners won’t be personally liable for any judgment made against that partner. This is what makes the LLP so attractive to professionals.

Of course, all partners are responsible for the general obligations of the partnership, such as bills and expenses.

5. Overall

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen single member LLCs and single shareholder corporations run afoul of the legal requirements, probably because the single member/shareholder thought all she/he had to do was file a certificate of incorporation (corporation) or articles of organization (LLC). No, there's more to it than that...and more to it than an author might want or need.

So, if you comply with all legal requirements, what do you get for incorporation or formation? Yes, you get protection from personal liability (provided you comply with all requirements), but ask yourselves whether you're running the kind of business where the need for protection from personal liability outweighs the costs inherent in formation and operation (for this question, think company that puts products into play such as Gerber or Graco, or company that invites the public onto its premises such as a department store, or company that has employees, trucks, and planes in motion such as Federal Express). On the other hand, for an author who'll generate money from film merchandising, etc. (think J.K. Rowling), I could definitely see the benefit of forming a corporation or LLC.


Now, let’s move away from corporate and tax law and back over to copyright law. As a final thought, I’d like to point out that an author’s choice of name vis-à-vis legal or pseudonymous, and an author’s choice of business entity, can have an impact on the duration of the copyright. Here’s the actual law on duration:

"§ 302. Duration of copyright: Works created on or after January 1, 1978

(a) In General. — Copyright in a work created on or after January 1, 1978, subsists from its creation and, except as provided by the following subsections, endures for a term consisting of the life of the author and 70 years after the author's death.

(b) Joint Works. — In the case of a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire, the copyright endures for a term consisting of the life of the last surviving author and 70 years after such last surviving author's death.

(c) Anonymous Works, Pseudonymous Works, and Works Made for Hire. — In the case of an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication, or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. If, before the end of such term, the identity of one or more of the authors of an anonymous or pseudonymous work is revealed in the records of a registration made for that work under subsections (a) or (d) of section 408, or in the records provided by this subsection, the copyright in the work endures for the term specified by subsection (a) or (b), based on the life of the author or authors whose identity has been revealed. Any person having an interest in the copyright in an anonymous or pseudonymous work may at any time record, in records to be maintained by the Copyright Office for that purpose, a statement identifying one or more authors of the work; the statement shall also identify the person filing it, the nature of that person's interest, the source of the information recorded, and the particular work affected, and shall comply in form and content with requirements that the Register of Copyrights shall prescribe by regulation."

Let’s consider an example:

Annie Author was born in 1970, wrote the great American novel in 1999, had that novel published in 2000, and will die at the age of 85 in 2055.

If she took the copyright in her legal name, her estate will hold that copyright until 2125.

If she took the copyright in a pseudonymous name, her estate will hold that copyright until 2095, unless the author/estate reveals her identity before the end of the term, in which event the estate will hold the copyright until 2125.

If her corporation took the copyright, the corporation will hold the copyright until 2095. With these set of facts, the author has denied her/his heirs 30 years of potential royalties.

I think the point I'd like to make is that, if you're going to make a legal decision, you should consult with an attorney (one versed in intellectual property law for copyright issues, and one versed in business law for corporate and LLC matters, not Uncle Johnny who handles divorce cases or Aunt Millie who tries criminal cases).


Let me say that I think non-lawyers should be very careful with what they say about legal concepts because other non-lawyers might assume their words are an accurate statement of the law. I don’t mean to quiet discussion, which is always a positive thing. However, I think non-lawyers need to start or end their posts with a statement that they’re not lawyers and that others should seek legal advice (from a lawyer, of course). Some members of loops do that...but some don't.

Please note that, among other things, the law changes rapidly, differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and is subject to the on-going interpretation of federal and state courts. More, legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each matter. So, nothing that you read in this post (or in any self-help book or on any on-line site) should be used as a substitute for the advice of legal counsel.

Happy Writing!

P.S. I've done a search of copyright applications for books filed with the U.S. Copyright Office during 2010 (I used 2010 instead of 2011 because it takes a few months for registrations to show up) by several publishers (ones that came to me off the top of my head). Here are the results:

Ellora's Cave 0
Grand Central 1,405
Harlequin 932
Liquid Silver Books 0
Little, Brown 1,340
Loose Id 0
Penguin 1,599
Samhain 0

Image © 2008 By User: Anonymous101 and authors of the images at [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

All Other Content © 2011 Madeline Smyth

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Finalist in the 2011 Fabulous Five Contest!

The results are in for the preliminary round of the 2011 Fabulous Five Contest. I have an entry that is a finalist. Here are the title and category:

Royal Prince, Reluctant Princess~Finalist, Series Contemporary (L/S) Category

Congratulations to all finalists!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Finalist in the 2011 Stroke of Midnight Contest!

The results are in for the preliminary round of the 2011 Stroke of Midnight Contest. I have an entry that is a finalist. Here are the title and category:

The Loving of Lord Loxley ~ Finalist, Historical Category

Congratulations to all finalists!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Friend, Kelli Scott, Has a New Release

My friend, Kelli Scott, has a new release from Ellora's Cave.

Here's the blurb from

Rachel McAllister tried to dissuade Rory Callahan’s interest, she’d been hurt by love too many times before, but Rory had been as relentless as a dog after a bone. She gave in, but made one thing perfectly clear from the start—no sex until she said, “I do.” If Rachel knew one thing about men, it was that you gave them what they wanted—sex—and they’d be out the door before the sun came up. Rory has passed all her tests and jumped through her hoops to prove his love. They’re ready to say, “I do”, and Rachel’s ready to erase any of Rory’s lingering regrets about waiting to have sex. Rory fell head over heels for Rachel at first sight. Getting her to date him was another matter altogether. He’d followed all her rules and has barely complained about her strict moral code. Now he’s going to marry her for better or worse. He’s about to find out his goody-two-shoes bride-to-be is a fiery vixen who’s too hot to handle.

Check it out HERE.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Let Me Introduce You to Author and Friend Helen Scott Taylor

Do you know Helen Scott Taylor?

Let me introduce you, if you don't happen to already know her.

Helen Scott Taylor is the author of The Magic Knot (American Title IV winner and 2008 Golden Heart® finalist) and The Phoenix Charm.

To me, though, Helen Scott Taylor is not only a talented author, but also a dear friend.

In late 2008, as the published author judge in the preliminary round of a contest, and before she had ever heard of me, she recognized the promise of Aliya Arabesque, my contemporary single title that has since become a finalist in seven more contests, including Writing with the Stars I (the successor to American Title).

More, as the mentorship program coordinator of FTHRW, she introduced me to my mentor, Janice Lynn, American Title I winner, 2003 Golden Heart® finalist, and multi-published author.

More, for five months from September of last year through January of this year, she encouraged her family, friends, and fans to vote for me, and otherwise held my hand, during Writing with the Stars I.

I have been so fortunate in, and if truth be told, a bit awed by, Helen Scott Taylor's support.

Now I need my family and friends to support her.

A Midwinter Fantasy, the anthology in which Helen Scott Taylor's A Crystal Crib appears, is a finalist for Romance Anthology at The Romance Reviews.

Here is an interview from the Border's Blog:

Title: “The Crystal Crib” by Helen Scott Taylor (Magic Knott Fairies series #2.5)

Setting: Contemporary Iceland and the Norse gods’ Kingdom of Asgard.

Subgenre: Contemporary Fantasy Romance

Hero: Vidar, son of the Norse god Odin.

Heroine: Sonja.

One sentence summary: In the frosty North, in the ice palace of Valhalla, Sonja’s life depends upon unraveling the mystery of the Crystal Crib—and upon winning the love of Odin’s son.

Scene you like most and would never cut: I love the juxtaposition of the normal world and the fantasy world so my favorite scene is where Vidar takes Sonja to the Norse gods’ kingdom for the first time.

Thing your heroine would never be caught dead doing/saying: After her experiences in Iceland, she will be sticking to sun and sand vacations and staying away from snow and ice.

What is your heroine’s occupation, or if unemployed, what should she be doing: Sonja works for her aunt’s travel business.

What is your hero’s occupation, or if unemployed, what should he be doing: Vidar owns a theme park in Iceland called ‘Santa’s Magical Wonderland’. This keeps him busy when he isn’t doing Odin’s bidding.

What do you think readers will like best about this book: For me the most magical part of the story is Sonja’s journey of discovery as she meets her extraordinary father Troy and discovers her heritage. I hope readers will enjoy sharing Sonja’s revelations.

The person that readers want you to write about but you haven’t yet: I’m guessing the heroine’s father Troy. He has been in the other Magic Knot Fairies books and I know readers want his story as I have many emails asking me when it will come out.

What’s next: The third in The Magic Knot Fairies series will be released as an e-book in July 2011. This book features Nightshade, the winged vampiric fairy. His story takes him to Scotland where he clashes with both the Seelie and Unseelie Scottish fairy courts before he wins his feisty Scottish heroine.


I love anthologies, not only when they give me the chance to discover the writing of an unknown author, but also when they give me the chance to have a little more of the storytelling of a favorite author who has spun out a novella in between novels.

All three of the stories in this Christmas anthology appeal to me.

I love the Victorian England setting of A Christmas Carroll, not to mention the possibilities of a repressed passion between a vicar and his true love.

And The Worth of a Sylph gives me a world of which I know very little, but of which I would like to know more after having read the author’s summary.

But The Crystal Crib is brilliant. The fantasy world is in the frosty North, in the ice palace of Valhalla. Vidar is Odin’s son. Sonja is Troy’s daughter. There is a mystery involving a crystal crib. Wow, I’ve been hooked. But wait, there is more.

In the normal world, Sonja works for her aunt’s travel business, and Vidar owns a theme park in Iceland called ‘Santa’s Magical Wonderland’. Wow, now I’ve not only been hooked, but reeled in.

In the interview, Helen Scott Taylor said: “I love the juxtaposition of the normal world and the fantasy world…” That is what she has done rather brilliantly, and for me, that is what makes this a must read.

It takes only a moment to register and vote.


Support Helen Scott Taylor now as her family, friends, and fans supported me then.

Thank you.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Winner of the 2010 Wallflower Contest!

The Wallflower Contest is my favorite writing contest, no doubt because I had both my first final and my first win in this contest in 2008.

Last October, when the 2010 Wallflower rolled around, I wanted to enter, but most of my stories had already taken first place in other contests, which precluded them from entry (except for in The Rose Division, a first place only category, but I had already finaled in this division during the 2009 Wallflower).

So, for the 2010 Wallflower, I pulled out two contemporary stories. In October, I entered them in the preliminary round, and the following month, I learned that both were finalists. I made a few tweaks and submitted them to the final round.

Since then, I'd forgotten about the 2010 Wallflower, probably because so much has happened to me during the past couple of months. Anyway, I received news today of the final rankings by the Harlequin editors. Here are my results:

The Playboy's Fake Fiancée ~ First Place, 2010 Wallflower Contest, Scenes Division: Opening Hook Category (PARTIAL REQUESTED BY EDITOR).

Royal Prince, Reluctant Princess ~ Second Place, 2010 Wallflower Contest, Genres Division: Series Contemporary Category.

Oh yes, I love the Wallflower Contest!

Monday, January 31, 2011

So You Think You Can Write (SYTYCW)?

So You Think You Can Write?

From early summer through early winter, I was caught up in Kensington's Writing with the Stars Contest (successor to American Title). My novel, Aliya Arabesque, was a finalist. On December 15, a couple of days after the start of Round 3 of WWTS, a Facebook friend mentioned Harlequin's So You Think You Can Write Challenge. I hadn't heard about this before that moment. Around 4:00 PM, I dropped by the website and read:

"Does your imagination run wild with vivid characters? Have you ever dreamed of becoming a USA TODAY bestselling author? Well, our editors want to make those dreams come true. We are hungry to find talented new writers for Harlequin Books. Through podcasts, blogs, and discussions with our expert editors and current authors, we’re going to help you understand the appeal of the romance genre. And there’s a special daily challenge with feedback that will give some great insights into crafting the perfect story. So for the next week, come by to hone your skills and get started on the path to publication. So you think you can write? Here’s your chance to show us!


If you’ve decided to participate in our final writing challenge to submit a synopsis and first chapter of your manuscript, please send it to Make sure to add “SYTYCW First Chapter & Synopsis” to the subject line and submit it by 6:00pm EDT on December 15th. All of the submissions received by then will receive a response from our editorial team by January 31st! Only one submission per person, please (if we receive more than one, only the first will be evaluated)."

Two hours! TWO HOURS!

Why am I always the last to know about everything? I learned about Kensington's Writing with the Stars Contest only a few hours before the opening. With Harlequin's So You Think You Can Write Challenge, I learned about the entire event only two hours before the final challenge submission deadline.

I had so much on my plate at the time, but I wanted some editorial feedback. So, I threw together a submission for my novel titled The Loving of Lord Loxley. I didn't have enough to time to put together a proper query letter. In my e-mail, I wrote only, "Attached is my entry, The Loving of Lord Loxley, which is targeted at Harlequin Spice." How unprofessional of me. But off it went, for better or worse.

I forgot about the SYTYCW Challenge.

Then, last week, I got an e-mail from an executive editor at Harlequin. She wrote, "I really enjoyed your first chapter and thought the story was suitable for Spice. I wasn't clear if you had finished the book. If not, you should consider submitting to Spice once it is completed. Please let me know the status of your story." Wow, that's certainly music to an author's ears.

Of course, I should have sent a proper query letter with the submission, giving the details, such as whether I had completed the novel. I was lucky that an editor responded to my submission at all. I wrote back, filling her in. Alas, no, it isn't finished because until recently I was busy with Kensington's Writing with the Stars Contest, but now I'm back on the job, laboring in love.

And you know what?

I'm happy.


I'm laboring in love.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Grand Prize Winner of the 2010 Golden Gateway Contest!

During the past three weeks, I prepared for and celebrated Christmas, campaigned for votes in Round Three of the Writing with the Stars Contest, and lost a dear friend after a lengthy illness. At some point during all of that, I got news of this:

The Loving of Lord Loxley ~ Grand Prize Winner, 2010 Golden Gateway Contest (Last month, I heard that it had taken First Place in the Historical Category).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Writing with the Stars - End of Round Three: Best Back Cover Blurb

The voting poll has closed for Round Three of the Writing with the Stars Contest. RT Book Reviews will announce the results just before the start of Round Four on January 17th. Thank you to all who voted for me in Round Three.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

February Issue of RT Book Reviews Magazine Covers Round Three of the Writing with the Stars Contest

February's issue of RT Book Reviews Magazine covers Round Three (Best Back Cover Blurb) of the Writing with the Stars Contest, which runs from December 13th through January 2nd. The back cover blurb for my novel, Aliya Arabesque, appears on page 26.