NWUsletterNational Writers Union
FROM YOUR EDITOR
Welcome to the new year. This month Larry Goldbetter looks back to give us his highlights of 2013 as four activists across the country spell out their NWU resolutions. We have reports from chapters of parties and events.
I'd like to suggest a resolution for all of NWUsletter's readers: please keep your contributions of photos, articles, kudos, and upcoming events coming. If you haven't publicized all your writing, publishing, and organizing news in NWUs, resolve to do so in 2014. Just write me at sue.katz @yahoo.com.
Metaphors Be With You! Happy New Year.
From President Larry Goldbetter
At the start of a very challenging new year, we can point with pride to these highlights from 2013:
- The Boston Book Party and the LA Chapter meeting with a writers' delegation from China.
- The Chicago Black Authors and Womanist Readings.
- The springtime activities in DC around both Copyright Reform and a federal Shield Bill that covers freelancers.
- The Fathers' Day march in NYC to stop NYPD Stop and Frisk racial profiling.
- The Bay Area Chapter representing NWU at Netroots Nation last summer.
- The many members participating in the 50thAnniversary of the March on Washington in August and in rallies across the country for Trayvon Martin.
- Our spirited Delegate Assembly in Chicago, with 50 percent of the delegates being first-timers, and the training of a dozen new Grievance Officers and Contract Advisors.
- The NY Chapter's Annual Writers Conference, where 14 new members joined the NWU.
- The Detroit Chapter's partnership with the Motown Writers Network.
- Our participation in the International Federation of Journalists World Congress in Dublin.
- The successful resolution of the Natural Solutions mass grievance (a dozen members receiving over $20,000) and the ongoing struggle at Heart and Soul (where 12 members received over $60,000 before payments stalled).
- The election of an At-Large steering committee and the first steps of building new chapters in Madison, Atlanta, and Des Moines.
And so much more.
A toast to our union and to 2014! Here's to a year of progress, unity and struggle.
A Toast by Julius Le Blanc Stewart
National Writers Union
256 West 38th Street, Suite 703
New York, NY 10018
Sue.Katz @ yahoo.com
Barry Hock reports that the archives of past NWUsletters can now be accessed on the NWU website here.
NOW YOU CAN PAY MONTHLY UNION DUES
You can now pay your NWU dues on a monthly basis. You will find the new monthly rates on the downloadable and online membership applications. If you are paying at the $120/year level, you can authorize a monthly deduction from your credit card for $10/month, and your membership will never lapse until and if you choose. For more info, write us email@example.com, or call the National Office at212.254.0279. Here's to no more folks unintentionally letting their membership lapse!
RESOLUTIONS FOR 2014
In the order in which I received them, here are the
New Year Resolutions of some of NWU's activists.
BARBARA BECKWITH, CO-CHAIR BOSTON
As Co-chairs Charles Coe and I will "step up our game" in 2014, with an emphasis on money, membership, and member activism. We hope to expand our Steering Committee from six to nine, the limit set by NWU by-laws. We are planning to hold a series of income-raising professional programs (such as workshops on memoir, public speaking, social media to promote your writing, meet the agent, preparing for a book launch), and we will do whatever it takes to get our chapter's membership back up over 200.
ERIC A. GORDON, CHAIR SoCAL
For 2014 I am really looking forward to our SoCal Steering Committee pulling together to accomplish great things: programming to help writers, meetings in some new venues, a speaker series, social activism, growth in numbers, and our new chapter website www.nwuSoCal.org!
EDWARD HASBROUCK, CO-CHAIR, BOOK DIVISION
My goal for 2014 is for the NWU to give working writers a voice in the ongoing Congressional debate on "reform" of copyright law, and to get as many as possible of the copyright law priorities we agreed upon at the 2013 Delegate Assembly translated into Congressional action.
TIM SHEARD, CO-CHAIR NYThe NY Chapter has ambitious plans for building the union in 2014: a first time Indy Press Book Fair showcasing our members; a second, bigger International Writers Conference; our Fourth Annual Writers Conference, workshops and monthly speakers, free web pages, and more. We are on the move.
A Toast - Jean Arthur (actor)
PRESIDENT LARRY GOLDBETTER COLUMN
I hope everyone had a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season. These are times where you have to run to stand still, and run harder to make some progress. If you stop running, you slip backward. We closed 2013 just as we started it: fighting for freelancers and struggling to build a better and stronger union.
On December 4, an NWU delegation met with staffers from Rep. Ann Chu's office (D-CA). She is the co-chair of the Creative Caucus, which consists of 45 Congresspeople who support creators in the current copyright reform. UAW Legislative Director Josh Nassar arranged this briefing for Chu's staff on what we want and don't want in a new copyright law. NWU member Amanda Wilson (DC) was in the room with Josh and Science Fiction Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) former president Michael Capobianco. Book Division co-chair Susan Davis and I joined by phone. Our objective was to give Rep. Chu's office a better understanding of our concerns on copyright reform, and hopefully both to set the stage to brief the entire Creative Caucus and to testify before the House Judiciary subcommittee holding the hearings.
On December 17, we co-hosted an event in NY with NYC CAP and our sister UAW locals for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), who is on the subcommittee. We met with him in Washington, DC, last November, and he is very supportive. About 30 people participated, including a delegation of six from the NWU.
Copyright is a major issue around the world; and in order to maintain our international outreach, the National Executive Committee (NEC) agreed to have the NWU join the International Authors Forum (IAF) (http://www.internationalauthors.org/). We've asked Book Division co-chair Edward Hasbrouck to be our representative. The IAF had its formal launch on Monday, December 16, at the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva. Edward attended the IAF meeting in 2011 and I attended in 2012. These meetings are held the day after the IFFRO World Congress. It's not entirely clear whether IAF will represent the best interests of all authors or only those who have the best relationships with major publishers. But it is important we be as engaged as possible in order to make a better evaluation. You'll be hearing more on this.
I want to announce that Amanda Wilson is our new social media coordinator. Amanda is a Marketing and Communications Manager at UPI NEXT, the international media development division of United Press International. She has been making a growing contribution to the DC Chapter and the NWU nationally. Amanda replaces Barry Hock, who has been in this position for about two years and has been our go-to guy for updating and posting new content on our website. Barry also started our FB page and played a big part in getting it to the almost 1,400 "Likes" we enjoy today. Thanks to Barry and good luck to Amanda. Remember, members can add to our success by Liking, Commenting, and Sharing our FB posts, and visiting our web page atnwu.org.
NWUSO - FAST FOOD WORKER/WRITERS
On December 5, I joined at least a dozen other NWU members and hundreds of others on the fast food workers' Day of Action. A high point for me was the leaflet produced by the fast food workers' writing class, which has been meeting with NWU member Esther Cohen and NWUSO Board member Terry Schwadron. They wrote, illustrated, produced, and distributed about 1,000 fliers of a multi-panel comic, featuring the "Unionizer" super hero. They are also working on a Fast Food Workers' Justice Menu to be distributed at the next action. The Workers Development Institute (NYS AFL-CIO), SEIU, and NY Communities for Change are all very excited about our project of having fast food workers tell their stories, and, in 2014 we will be expanding it, at least in the NY area.
WRITERS BORN IN JANUARY
Isaac Asimov 1920 - 1992"When asked what he would do if he only had six months to live: Type faster."
Zora Neal Hurston 1891-1960 "Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose."
NWU PARTNERSHIP WITH THE
INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF JOURNALISTS
By Alexandria Faiz (NY)
In December, the NWU expanded its partnership with the International Federation of Journalists by representing IFJ at the United Nations in New York. IFJ is a non-governmental organization that has been associated with the United Nations since 1953. Mostly active in Geneva, IFJ has served as an expert on freedom of the press issues, presenting field data from its 180 global affiliates. It has influenced UN resolutions and helps to monitor current international agreements. Both Larry Goldbetter and I will now support this work at briefings in New York.
On December 18, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a draft resolution markingNovember 2 as the annual International Day Against Impunity. "The establishment of the UN Day will be a recognition at the highest level of the UN of the safety crisis in media we have been highlighting for all these years," said IFJ President Jim Boumelha.HOW YOU CAN HELP
Much outreach and advocacy work is still needed both in Geneva and New York to raise awareness about the risks -- often deadly - that journalists face every day.
There will be a civil society forum at the UN in New York on February 10, 2014, where you can directly observe how NGOs work with various international agencies. Even if you can't travel to Manhattan, we can use members' help in taking notes of online briefings, contacting other organizations to help publicize the issue of impunity, or assisting with written reports for UN briefings.
If you are interested in working on these UN-related efforts, please contact Alexandria firstname.lastname@example.org or (203) 947-2497.
INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ELIMINATION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has launched a global campaign to denounce violence against women journalists and alert public authorities on the need to end impunity for these crimes. Read more here.
©©©©©©©©©©©©A GOVERNMENT WEBSITE THAT WORKS
by Barbara Mende, Grievance and Contract Division Coordinator
Too bad the designers of www.healthcare.gov didn't consult with the management ofwww.copyright.gov. It may not be Amazon or eBay, but it has huge quantities of information that people can access easily.
You can get answers to just about every copyright question, in readable language, in the Frequently Asked Questions segment (http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/). You can ask such questions as "Can I register a diary I found in my grandmother's attic?" (yes, if you own it), "How do I get permission to use someone else's work?" (ask for it), and "How do I copyright a name, title, slogan, or logo?" (you can't, but maybe you can trademark them). If you strike out, put your question into "Search Our Site" and you'll get lots of info in manageable form. If there's an answer you don't understand, contact the GCD at email@example.com. Chances are that someone has asked us that question before.
Record search (http://www.copyright.gov/records/) is invaluable if Stephen King says you stole his work or you claim that he stole yours, or if you're afraid a second edition of your work has been published without your consent. You can find out who registered what and when.
Registration is a bit more difficult, but fairly straightforward throughhttp://www.copyright.gov/eco/. If you have trouble, you can call for help and someone will actually answer. Registering everything you submit for publication protects you against plagiarism, and one small fee can cover several submissions.
Try it. Don't you wish you could choose a health plan through this site? Well, maybe next year.
HOW I WON IN ARBITRATION
INTRO by Amy Rose, National Grievance Officer
We in the Grievance and Contract Divisiondo not often recommend that writers go to arbitration to settle their disputes with publishers. All too often, you end up spending a lot of money without getting the results you seek. We are delighted, however, to share this good news from Debra Lynne Katz, one of our grievants.
HOW I WON IN ARBITRATION
by Debra Lynne Katz
After months of failed negotiations with Llewellyn Worldwide, publisher of my three books, NWU advocates agreed I should proceed with arbitration.
Llewellyn was paying only 10 percent for e-books although my contract indicated e-books "licensed to third parties" would pay 50 percent. Llewellyn erroneously argued that their deal with booksellers was for sales, not licensing.
Due to constant late payments, subsequent contracts stipulated payment within 60 days for secondary rights. This wasn't honored. I conducted a partial audit that became too expensive to complete. Late payments continued; royalty statements became even more vague. By the time I sought help from the NWU, Llewellyn had not only "forgotten" their oral promises to do better; they denied the 60-day clauses even existed.
Thanks to the American Arbitration Association's fast-track program, and since I represented myself, my case cost less than $3,000, and took only four months. The arbitrator ruled I should have been paid 50 percent for e-books, awarded $7,435 in restitution, and returned e-book rights to me. For the late payments and lack of clear reporting, I was awarded $2,300 reimbursement for the audit and $25,000 in punitive damages.
Soon after the ruling, Llewellyn offered to return all rights. I accepted.
BOSTON MEMOIR WORKSHOP WITH RICHARD HOFFMAN
By Barbara Beckwith, Boston Co-chair
The Boston Chapter's December memoir workshop, led by Richard Hoffman, acclaimed author ofHalf the House, gave 15 participants a chance to delve into their own memories, guided by Hoffman's thought-provoking perspectives on the genre. Here are just a couple of his more arresting points:
"We don't care what happened to you per se," said Hoffman. "A memoir is not just about recounting life experiences. It's about an encounter with memory. You're not a historian. Memoir is rooted in subjectivity: it starts with stories you've been telling yourself that aren't sufficient anymore. It's a quest for knowledge, an inquiry into what you don't understand about your life. In fact, sharing your doubts and hesitations reassures your reader of your honesty. You're not an historian. Memoir writing is more like a painting than a photograph. It's inquiring about what you don't understand about your life."
Workshop participants raised the issue of whether to disguise characters who might object to your depiction. Hoffman replied, "Writing and publishing are two different things. First write your book; then, on the way to publishing it, change names or identities, and say you've done so." Throughout, Hoffman's emphasis was on honesty. His second memoir, Love & Fury, will come out June 2014.
SE MICHIGAN JOINS THE ESSENCE OF MOTOWN LITERARY CONF & JAMBy Alecia Goodlow-Young, SEM Chair
The Southeast Michigan chapter of the National Writers Union collaborated with the Motown Writers Network to host the annual Essence of Motown Conference and Literary Jam on November 8-9, 2013. The theme for the weekend event was celebrating literacy through writing. This event has occurred for the last 10 years throughout many locations within the city of Detroit.
Founder and NWU member Sylvia Hubbard worked together with the Southeast Michigan Chair Alecia Goodlow-Young, Treasurer Tom Schram, and new members Aleah Barley and Janet Andrew at the literary event which had over 100 visitors.
The featured workshops focused on writing, print, and electronic publishing, as well as business and marketing for authors. There was also a keynote luncheon, a poetry panel discussion on the roots of poetry in Detroit, and an all-male literacy panel discussion.
The all-male panel's theme was "real men read and real men write!" This panel's purpose was to raise awareness of the issues surrounding literacy and the ways to increase literacy throughout the city of Detroit.
SEM Holiday Cake
SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN CELEBRATES THE HOLIDAYS
By Alecia Goodlow-Young, SEM Chair
On Sunday, December 15, 2013, the Southeast Michigan Chapter of NWU had its Holiday Celebration. The festival party was held at a local bar called Trippple BBB's. The participating NWU members endured a major snowstorm to come out and celebrate the year's end.
The menu for this event included fabulous appetizers, full main courses that included Trippple BBB's famous fried whole chicken wings, and desserts that were sweet enough for all who chose to indulge. There were Christmas sugar cookies and a buttery yellow festive holiday cake that was personalized for the NWU. The meal was followed with eggnog and tropical fruit punch. There was also a cash bar for those who wanted a stronger drink.
The 13 NWU members fellowshipped with each other. There was even discussion of a small amount of NWU business, before we danced to famous Christmas songs. As the event was held from 2:00 - 7:00 pm, NWU members got to experience a good live performance when the house band came on at 6:00.
SEM Holiday Party
BOSTON'S ANNUAL BOOK PARTY
WHAT: The Boston Chapter's biggest event of the year and one of the literary highlights of the New England calendar. Join the crowds at our annual celebration of our members' books published in the past 12 months. Members and non-members are welcome. Pass the word.
WHEN: Sunday, January 26, 2014, from 2:00 to 5:00 pm
WHERE: Durrell Hall, Cambridge YMCA, 820 Mass Ave., Central Sq.
KEYNOTER: Jimmy Tingle, the popular political humorist
FEATURING: Silent auction. Networking with writers. Six short readings from our chapter's 2013 authors. Books to peruse and buy.
REFRESHMENTS: Catered refreshments, but feel free to bring (non-alcoholic) drinks and desserts
SUGGESTED DONATION: $10
Eric A. Gordon(SoCal) was active this month in online journalism. Here are a couple of his most recent articles: "American Latino Museum could be beacon for the planet'" and "'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' is stunning must-see."
Rudy Acuna's (SoCal) campus analysis is titled "'Educating Harry' About the Little Brown Brothers" and was published on laprogressive.com. In another piece, Acuna asked whether "we have progressed since the nineteenth century in terms of ideas" in his piece called "When Billionaires Roamed the Earth."
Edward Hasbrouckwas the only journalist to provide detailed coverage of the first trial in a lawsuit challenging a U.S. government "no-fly" order, Read it here. In addition, Hasbrouck's20,000-word series on the week-long trial was relied on as the primary source for articles everywhere from Boing Boing ("Edward Hasbrouck is doing a fantastic job of reporting on-site") and Slashdot to an editorial on the case in The New York Times.
David Hill's (NY) article "The Union Forever" in Grantland made Business Week's "Jealousy List,"a compilation of the great pieces of journalism in 2013 that left Bloomberg Businessweek's staff sick with resentment. "
Dr. Katherine Butler Jones' (Boston) Deeper Roots: An American Odyssey (CreateSpace) reflects on her life, from her Harlem childhood with W.E.B. Du Bois and Thurgood Marshall as neighbors, to academia and civil rights frontlines, to her ancestry quest (NY, Africa, Europe, Jamaica). A PEN Discovery Award Winner, Jones highlights the importance of knowing one's history and connecting with the larger world.
Sue Katz's (Boston) article about the competitive world of same-sex ballroom and Latin American dance and its historic venue "Blackpool Same-Sex Dance Festival" appears this month in Z Magazine, in both the print and digital versions. Read it here.
Brian King's(Pacific Northwest) So Long, Vietnam is a compelling story about Brian and his buddies' experiences from 1969 to 1971. What if a group of soldiers on the verge of invading Cambodia refused to fight? This is an odyssey filled with adventure, danger, and humor that could lead to the end of the war.
WISHING US ALL A RIGHTEOUS AND PRODUCTIVE NEW YEAR!
SEND ME YOUR KUDOS
and your Upcoming Events
Anytime of the month
from NWUsletter Editor, Sue Katz
We include a publication, appearance, prize or other writing achievement that has already happened/been published. (If it's an event (not a publication) that's going to happen in the future, we'll place it in Upcoming Events. That might be a reading, a writing course you're offering, or a panel on publishing that you are chairing.)
Wordcount maximum is 50 words (not including your name or that of your publication, the url, or your chapter). Note that this is an increased word limit.Include a url if the piece can be accessed or the book can be purchased.
Include your NWU chapter affiliation.
Send your copy-ready KUDOS in the third-person, past-tense to NWUs editorsue.katz @ yahoo.com (without the spaces) any time of the month.
Deadline: the 25th of the previous month.
The Editor would like to thank Larry Goldbetter and
copyeditor/fact-checker Barbara Mende for their help on this issue.
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The Literary World of Sylvia Hubbard