Hi! Today I’m going to just talk a little bit about copyright. When you create something, when you create a book, write a book or a screenplay or anything, it’s copyrightable and actually the copyright technically attaches from the moment you put it in a written, a fixed form. I don’t remember the exact legal language, but once you write it down, it’s technically copyrighted.
However, to protect yourself in the event that somebody were to infringe on your copyright, what you want to do is register the work—at least in the U.S., this is what we do—register it with the Library of Congress Copyright Office. And this is a really easy process and it only costs $35 per fictional work that is written by one author. And I’ll walk you through that process quickly, because I just figure people should know about this. If you’re going to self-publish, put your work out there, you should register your copyright. The reason for doing this, even though your copyright technically attaches at the moment you create the work is to be able to sue for statutory damages as specified in the Copyright Act. You just go to copyright.gov and you’ll see where it comes up. I’ll show you.
And I’m just going to take you briefly through the registration process. You see up at the top, it says start registration? Here, I filled in that it was a literary work. I can save it or I can continue. I chose to continue, then it asks for the title. So I filled in the title of my upcoming novella, Damaged Goods, and I can continue. So I do. I put yes to “published” even though it’s not published yet because I want to prep it for when it is published. So there are some things I could fill out here and one, as it turned out, I couldn’t fill out and that was the date of publication. The copyright office won’t let you use a future date of publication. So when I reach that stage, I will be unable to go forward. However, I have saved what I’ve done so far, so I can save that for later and come back to it after the book is published and finish the registration process.
So really, it’s very simple to file and then you send in the best copy, whether that copy is digital or print. Incidentally, the copyright office prefers you provide copies in print rather than ebook, in cases where the book is published in both formats. So I hope that’s helped.
By the way, in case you’re interested, here’s the book description and prologue for Damaged Goods, which can be pre-ordered all over the Internet! 🙂
Surviving a war requires grit. But can a female Marine manage the challenges of a private eye’s life at home?
Unlicensed private eye and Marine veteran Erica Jensen works as a “researcher”, who performs background checks, conducts surveillance, and takes on other dubious assignments, while battling post-traumatic stress and an opioid addiction. However, when a wealthy man hires her to find his missing daughter, Erica ends up with more work than she bargained for.
While trying to find the daughter, Erica stumbles across a murder victim, along with evidence that raises even more questions. Did the missing daughter know the victim? Could the dead man have been connected with an artifacts smuggling ring? Where does a threatening letter written in a Cyrillic script fit? As Erica continues to probe, she attracts the attention of people willing to kill to keep their secrets.
Erica may have survived in combat, but will she survive this case?
Advance word on Damaged Goods!
“Best private eye novel I’ve read in ages. Pitch perfect pace and plot with a well-drawn protagonist.”
— M. Ruth Myers, Shamus Award winning author of the Maggie Sullivan mystery series
“Ex-Marine turned unlicensed PI Erica Jensen is a flawed and intriguing heroine in this meticulous mystery. Charlie Fox would work alongside her any day!”
— Zoë Sharp, author of Bad Turn
Afghanistan, November 2011
Ten minutes. It was only supposed to take ten minutes to reach our ride home.
Perkins drove. I rode in the vehicle commander’s seat. An electric jolt ran up my back as our allegedly mine-resistant vehicle bounced down the dusty road. If you could dignify the narrow strip of packed sand as such. The same relentless beige as its surroundings.
Corporal Perkins spat out an oath behind a keffiyeh tied across his nose and mouth. My face was also half-encased with cloth. The idea was to keep sand from blasting down your throat. But the grit could work its way behind our makeshift filters. My face itched with the stuff. Under the desert sun, I squinted behind dark eyepro strapped tight to my head. The goggles reduced the glare and kept moon dust from blinding me.
Perkins’ oath was swallowed by the roar of the vehicle and the howling wind.
“Copy that,” I shouted, though he could no likelier hear me than I had him. I scanned the surroundings, gripping my M16-A4 rifle.
Perkins, a red-haired, freckle-faced 20-year-old, said something else. I motioned for a restatement, pointing to my ears and shaking my head. The muffled response was, “Erica, are … okay?”
Perkins was one of the good guys. He saw and acknowledged that women were a military asset. Women have aided combat troops for years—unofficially, of course—as far back as the American Revolution. Back in ’04 or ’05, the Marines led the way for women to become more officially involved. When I deployed, they assigned me to the Female Engagement Teams or FETs. This was a highly select group of women who performed valuable back-up to the ground troops and intel gathering duties. The type men couldn’t perform due to cultural niceties.
“Erica?” Perkins’ voice. The name sliced a knife-edge of worry through my mind.
He’d been asking after my health. I’d sustained a concussion while riding at the tail end of a convoy. My concentration still suffered, even after spending weeks in a hospital. I tried to conjure a response, but the wind seemed to blow thoughts straight out of my head. “I’m fine,” I yelled.
I checked my watch. Seven minutes to go.
Perkins was hell-bent on returning to his hometown in Nebraska or Kansas or some other big-ass state full of fields, small towns, and DQs. I think his family raised hogs. Me, I could think of no other place to go except the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., where I’d lived all 20 years of my life. With the exception of the last two, which I’d spent in Afghanistan.
Perkins had an advantage on me, in that he had a family he wished to go home to. My parents had thought me insane to join the Marines. Maybe they were right. But their alternative was to go to college and marry well. Not my idea of a life plan.
I’d miss the people here. My comrades in arms and the ones we’d served. Even men who’d greeted the FET as skeptics had eventually been won over by our ability to connect with the locals, gather intel, and watch the men’s backs. Despite everything, I actually felt like we were a force for good. When we weren’t being blown to bits.
I wouldn’t miss the Vietnam War-era equipment the Army had abused and foisted on us, the whipping, grit-filled wind, the inedible food, scorching summer temps, freezing nights, or playing target for madmen.
The barren desert wasteland stretched for miles around us. I searched for signs of movement. My watch now indicated five minutes until we reached our ticket out of here.
Then, clear as a bell, as if Perkins’ voice were a stiletto blade piercing the noise, I heard him say, “First thing I do when I get home is have a cheeseburger. And a bottle of beer.”
I opened my mouth to reply. Then I heard the blast. Day turned to night. Is this death? I thought, before slipping into the void.