Friday, December 31, 2010
All of us at Fictionistas wish you a very happy, fulfilling new year. And happy reading, too.
Monday, December 27, 2010
Yeah. Wait a bit.
We are in the midst of a N'oreaster. In local terms, that's "a wickid stawm offa tha wattah."
This morning I got up, cleaned off the car, and went to the post office. Locals (townies like me) were out and about. The transplanted people were absolutely wigging. Some of them in their driveways acting like snow is nuclear fallout. Some attempting to drive gigantic 4 wheel drive SUVs that are really good at GOING in bad weather, but absolutely dismal at STOPPING in bad weather. And, unfortunately, they don't come with a "fix the jerkwad's driving" button.
I drove around them in my normal-drive Nissan. Picked up my mail, sent out some mail, got dog food and bread, and visited Starbucks. I'm fine.
Most of them are in snowbanks or ditches... and the snowbanks are pretty wimpy. I'm hoping against all past experience that these people have realized that Green Harbor is "quaint" in the summer, but she's a bit of a nasty harpy in the winter. She's... well, she's like me. I, too, can be a harsh mistress. It's easy in the good times. Not so much in the midst of a N'oreaster.
Batten down the hatches, folks.
Friday, December 24, 2010
This year, we'll be celebrating another Christmas Eve tradition, The Feast of the Seven Fishes, an Italian-American meal of many seafood courses that celebrates the midnight birth of the baby Jesus. We're not hosting this magnificent dinner, we're strictly guests, thanks to the generosity of another family who is opening their home to us. I am providing my world famous tiramisu, however.
What Christmas Eve traditions does your family observe?
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
On a side note, I planned my 2011 goals out, both personal and career. What about you--anyone else a goal-oriented person?
Monday, December 20, 2010
Best. Tree. Ever. I may never do another tree again.
Are y'all ready for the holidays? Try anything new this year (like a Charlie Brown tree?) or are you a stickler for old traditions?
Hope you all have a very Charlie Brown Holiday with friends, family and a pet you love. ;)
Friday, December 17, 2010
I also love giving things away.
Whatever you celebrate...or don't...please enjoy this short story that is very dear to my heart. Beth and Lucky's story made me laugh and cry while writing it...I hope it's the same for you while reading it.
The ebook is available at Smashwords. Please enter the coupon code ZR99E at checkout. Coupon expires 12/26/2010. Smashwords has a variety of formats for most ereaders--or you can read it right on your PC.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Except this year. This year, I'm a HOT MESS. I have, like, half my presents purchased. The other half I still have noooo idea what to get them. LOL. No Christmas tree up yet. No decorations. My mom is going to poop a chicken if I don't get on that. Uh, don't tell her I said that.
Anyone else in the OMG-I-HAVE-SO-MUCH-LEFT-TO-DO haze like I am? Or am I going to be super-envious of you this year?
Monday, December 13, 2010
I have a confession to make.
I love wrapping presents. Like… I absolutely ADORE wrapping presents and every year one of the big holiday productions for me is picking out my coordinating gift wrap for the season.
It has to match. It has to be in a minimum of three different gift wraps with ribbons and tags that coordinate within the theme. I tend to like patterns, plaids, or stripes with bold colors.
This year I kind of robbed myself the joy on that since I am giving almost everyone money or gift cards. I’ve been both a little under the weather and incredibly busy. But I’m seriously thinking about going “all out dude” and doing the guys’ stuff in brown paper bags and duct tape ribbon.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Pets are really something and an incident like this (Sam went into ketoacidosis, an often fatal-for-cats diabetic shock and is actually still in the hospital as I type this, making a remarkable recovery) makes you conscious of how much company they really are. When I'm at my desk, so is Sam, sprawled next to my lap top, his watchful eyes occasionally opening to see if I'm working or just shopping online.
Animals are a comfort. They are a source of unconditional love. They don't care if you're having a bad hair or you haven't brushed your teeth after eating garlic or that you're still wearing your pajamas at 3 o'clock in the afternoon. They love us the way we should love each other. Except I don't think jumping on someone when they walk through your front door to see if they're carrying food will ever catch on.
I can't imagine not having pets. No matter how many litter boxes I have to clean or vet bills I have to pay. They're just great additions to life. Do you have pets? I'd love to hear about them.
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
What is a TLD? A top-level domain is the last segment of a domain name. The TLD for our blog is .com.
How many TLDs are there currently? Here's a visual, courtesy of ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, of the world's TLDS...all 280 of them. (I think it's a little bit out of date, because I believe there are actually 21 gTLDs (generic top level domains) currently, but close enough.)
Most of the current TLDs are country codes (.us, .mx .ca, .cn, .ru, .uk, etc).
But see that medium-sized dot that shows 20 "g"s? Right now there are 20, but under a plan that will be voted on at an important ICANN meeting in Cartagena, Colombia on FRIDAY, DECEMBER 10 (2 days from now!), the "g" domains will explode in number. ICANN has not placed an actual number of how many new TLDs will be created, but has said it could potentially be 1000s of new TLDs per year.
No, that is not 1000s of new URLs per year. I mean 1000s of new top-level domains. Come May, we could see .coke, .canon, .fashion, .book, .author, .paris, .xxx, .food, and on and on and on and on.
Rather than expanding to one or two new2 TLDs at a time like they've done in the past, ICANN has proposed an UNLIMITED expansion. This poses significan problems for trademark owners because of the possibility of additional consumer confusion and the great costs that will be involved in brand owners protecting their brands.
So what exactly does this mean for the Fictionistas and our readers?
I'm going put on a quasi-legal hat today and do something I rarely do on here or in the greater writing community...give advice. Sure, I frequently dispense legal info, but I generally am pretty careful to steer clear of giving advice, for ethical reasons.
But I'm breaking with the mold here. Today I'm going to talk in an advocacy capacity, but not as "Amanda Brice, Author and Attorney", but rather as "Amanda Brice, Author and Stakeholder."
Sure, I may not have a registered trademark for my pen name, but I have established common law trademark rights in my pen name, nonetheless. I've been promoting myself online for years under this name, and have created a brand, so to speak.
As authors, our names are our brands. It's how readers know how to find our books. It can also serve as shorthand for reader expectations. When you pick up a Nora Roberts book, you have a pretty good idea what type of experience you'll get. Or if you pick up a JD Robb -- which as we all know is written by Nora Roberts -- you'll get a completely different experience.
So what the heck does pen names have to do with ICANN's expansion of TLDs?
A lot, actually. As we all know, having a website can be a crucial tool for an author. And more important than merely having a website is having the right website. In other words, you want YourName.Com because that's where most people look.
But many authors have found that although they use the Dot.Com of their name as their primary website, defensive registration of other variations is important as well.
Take for example, my good buddy, Rhonda. She has not only http://www.rhondastapleton.com/ but also http://www.rhondastapleton.net/ which points back to the DotCom. She doesn't want to leave the .net one hanging out there in cyberspace for anyone to take, so she snapped it up when it was available. This way she avoids infringers or cybersquatters. (A cybersquatter is someone who goes around registering domain names in the hopes that whoever actually wants it will pay them money to buy it back from the cybersquatter.)
ICANN's proposal to allow a potentially unlimited number of new TLDs will create an open season for potential infringers and cybersquatters. Now we don't have to worry about policing just a few potential domains, but possibly 1000s.
One of the proposed new TLDs that has been bandied about is .book, which would be a pretty sweet one in our field. And you can buy this TLD and become a registrar for domain names if you have a mere $185,000 to spare, and $2 million over the next 10 years.
Will someone actually buy the .book TLD and create a register? Maybe not, since it's an expensive undertaking. But if the .book TLD does get off the ground, then every author is definitely going to want to snap up their domain name in that register as well, before an infringer or a cybersquatter does.
Right about now, you're thinking, "But I'm a midlister" or "I'm a debut" or "I'm unpublished." Why would someone want to infringe you? How would you even get on a cybersquatter's radar screen?
I'm going to break with convention again, and do something I rarely do...embarass myself publicly.
Go to http://www.amandabrice.com/
Go ahead...take your time. Read some of it. Now click on "about".
It doesn't make a lot of sense, does it? In case you haven't figured it out yet, this is NOT my website.
Sure, I used to own this domain, but due to my own stupidity, I lost it. I thought that I'd renewed for a 2-year period that would come up for renewal in January 2011, but in reality, it was only a 1-year period. I had the January 2010 date calendared on my Outlook at work, so had I actually been there to get the reminders, I would have realized my mistake, renewed it in a timely manner, and all would be well.
But I never went into the office during the month of January. In fact, exactly one year ago today was my last day in the office for several months...rather unexpectedly. My daughter was born 6 weeks early a year ago TOMORROW, so I suddenly went on maternity leave without taking care of anything.
Including renewing my domain name.
A few weeks back, I decided to be all proactive and do my renewal early. Um, wrong. I was about 10 months too late. I couldn't renew and couldn't even register, because after my domain went back for sale on the register, someone bought it.
In checking the details, it seems someone bought it within a few days of my losing it, but they didn't do anything with it for several months. Best I can tell, this someone was hoping I'd contact them and offer to buy it back, and then once I didn't do so, they decided to just put up a blog. A rather haphazard and random blog, I might add. Completely erratic, with no rhyme or reason, although the high heels at the top of the screen are a clear attempt to make it look at first glance like it belonged to me, since I write Chick Lit. If you read enough of it, you can find some references to Duke and UNC...so I think this is intentional.
Yup. They're cybersquatting.
But I ain't biting. Had I noticed this months back, I would lawyer up but I'm just going to sit back and wait for now. The 1-year period ends in January, so I'll revisit this issue then.
So if I, an unpublished nobody, can get cybersquatted, then bigger names definitely can and will. Once there are 1000s of new gTLDS, it is going to be next to impossible to police your brand everywhere at all times, so tons of opportunity for infringers and cybersquatters.
ICANN does have a procedure whereby trademark owners (both registered and common law) can get their domains back, but this is costly and time-consuming, and frankly, small businesses and individuals just won't be able to handle it.
If you agree with me that the risks outweigh the advantages of these new TLDS, then please make your voices heard. I do not believe that a business or public interest case for new gTLDs had been made. No launch of new gTLDs should occure before a meaningful study of the economics of the domain name marketplace has been completed and reviewed. Such a study is necessary so that if a launch does occur, it will benefit consumers rather than create risks to trademark holders. As it stands, nobody even knows the scope of this launch.
ICANN is meeting in Cartagena this week, and will be voting on the proposal ON FRIDAY. Please let them know that as a stakeholder, you do not want 1000s of new TLDs created without careful study and without creating protections for those who are likely to be infringed.
At a meeting the other day, a representative from IPO (the Intellectual Property Owners Association, a trade assosication involved in advocacy for owners of patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets) indicated that the large corporations and lobbying groups have all weighed in, but ICANN hasn't really heard from small business or from individuals. So here's your chance!
Submit your comments by December 10, 2010:
Monday, December 06, 2010
I'm not ready for them yet. I know, there are only 18 days between now and Christmas Eve. I know that halls are being decked, sweet treats are being baked, and stockings are being hung...and yet, the Christmas Spirit is eluding me.
Maybe it's because I can't have a tree this year. My
Maybe it's because this holiday will be a weird one for me. It's the first post-divorce holiday. It will definitely feel strange. The good news is, I will actually get a gift this year! I guess I've finally been a good girl.
Or maybe it's because I just haven't heard the right song yet. There is one song that always makes me happy, even though it's not technically a Christmas song, it is always played around this time of the year and it works wonders for my spirit.
Today I shall listen to it over and over again until I'm no longer feeling the ba humbug.
Baby It's Cold Outside
Do you have a specific holiday song that always gets you in the spirit?