Thursday, April 24, 2014

One of the top five entries from the Go Teen Writers 1,000 word contest

We posted the winning entry on Tuesday, and today we're highlighting one of our finalists, Deborah Rocheleau:

I never went boating when upset. At least, that’s what I told myself as my boat’s prow sliced the water, skimming over the frothing waves. After all the sea turtles I’d treated with Gramps, all the torn flippers and split shells from collisions with careless boaters, I swore I’d never put one in danger myself. But some days, the best life philosophies and most sincere promises can’t keep you away from the ocean. Especially when it’s the only place your nagging sister won’t follow you.
So when the boat’s hull clunked against something hard in the water, the propeller hiccupping a beat, it knocked the bold thoughts right out of my head and out to sea.
I cut the motor, letting the boat coast to a stop in the water. Rushing to the stern, I leaned out the back and scanned the waves behind the slowing propeller. A mushroom of red blossomed below. It hovered a moment, then began to sink.
That did not just happen.
I pulled my cellphone out of my pocket, racing through my contacts. George was an hour away in Grace Port, and Dad was out of the question. So, swallowing a lump, I scrolled down the list and speed-dialed Anna.
She answered in three seconds.
“Anna, meet me at the beach. By the old boat access.” I didn’t elaborate. Snapping the phone shut, I plunged into the water, shoes and all.
My mouth filled with the taste of saltwater and blood. In the murk under the surface, I felt rather than saw the barnacled shell of a turtle, wide as a steering wheel and slick with algae. I braced myself for the beat of flippers, the struggle of a frantic turtle, but none came. No thrashing head, no gnawing beak. Instead, I did my best to kick upward and shove her toward the light.
I broke the surface with the turtle. She was heavy, but she bobbed out of the water easily enough—must be suffering from floating syndrome. I lifted her—or maybe him, I couldn’t tell—out of the water, glancing over her shell to assess her condition. Bad idea. My hands trembled when I saw the gash, her carapace cracked in two by the propeller, the wound awash in blood and waves. I saw the damage I’d done, a sight so brutal it made me sick. I’d killed her, I knew it. It didn’t take an expert in turtles to tell that.
But as I brought her toward the boat, desperate to save at least her dead body, I felt a rush of hope as her flipper slapped against me.
Glancing toward the shore, I scanned for Anna. There, in the lot by the beach, I saw her standing in front of her car as if she’d been waiting for me this whole time. Sometimes her quick reactions scared me. Propelling myself out of the water, I waved my arms over my head and yelled until she spotted me.
I wasn’t far out, only a brisk swim’s distance from shore. Upon seeing me, Anna kicked off her shoes and charged into the waves, starting freestyle when it got deep, eyes locked on me. A trained lifeguard, she reached me in no time.
“What should I do?” she asked when she reached the boat, flipping the hair out of her eyes. She stared at the bloody turtle, seeing one up close and critical for the first time.
“Help me get her into the boat,” I shouted, reaching for the ladder hanging over the port side. Scrambling up, I found the net Gramps kept onboard for emergencies and unfolded it. Throwing it to Anna, I leaned over the side of the boat, so close to the waves they stung my face as I stroked the turtle’s flipper.
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“Stop being sorry and help me,” Anna said. The turtle had stopped moving again, and I wondered if I’d imagined the slap. Anna tucked the net under the turtle, tossing the corner back to me. I held tight as she climbed into the boat, then helped me lift the two-hundred pound animal up over the side to safety. We never could have done it, if the turtle weren’t so sickly thin.
“Aren’t you supposed to call somebody?” Anna asked as I draped a damp towel over the turtle to keep her wet. Staring at the animal, still as death and headed that way, I knew I should call wildlife control. She needed help. She needed a doctor. But what would the authorities say when they realized I was the one who’d hit her?
“Never mind.” Anna snatched the phone from me. “I’ll do it. You drive.”
Stumbling to the steering wheel, I started the motor and sped away.
Wildlife control was waiting for us by the time we reached the boat access. I smashed the side of the dock as I steered into port, jumping out as the rescuers in their uniforms hopped into the boat and began to unload the turtle. They took their time in checking her condition, assessing the damage even as she bled before them. On deck, Anna talked to the rescuer with the clipboard, filling him in on what few details she knew. She didn’t mention I was the one driving (mistake number one) or that I’d jumped into the water (mistake number two) or that I’d handled a member of a threatened species, tried to save her myself when I knew I ought to leave it to the professionals. If that didn’t spell negligence, I didn’t know what did.
“We’ll take it from here,” the lead rescuer said. He opened the metal doors of the rescue van as members of his team loaded the turtle. She still wasn’t moving. I watched, motionless, as the uniformed rescuers climbed into the van. As they reached to pull the doors closed, I snapped into action.
“Take her to Grace Port University,” I yelled. “They have an operating room.”

What our judges had to say:

There is a maturity to the way you tell a story that is very appealing. And, the scene with the turtle…I haven’t read anything like it. So major points for originality.

Beautifully written! This one stayed in my mind as one of my favorites from the start. It's not the fastest paced story in the world, but the writing is beautiful and descriptive. The author did a great job of layering the piece with a lot of emotion without being manipulative.

This excerpt has a lovely pace and your mc's panic was palpable. Good job.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Is There More Than One Plot Type?

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

Everywhere you look, it feels like it's more of the same. Hero saves the day. Boy gets girl, loses girl, gets girl back. Rebels expose corrupt government. Action hero saves the world and doesn't get a scratch. There is a protagonist, maybe two, if it's a romance. And all these stories fit into nifty three-act structures.

But is that the only way to tell a story? What if your story doesn't have a disaster? What if you have four acts instead of three? What if you have five protagonists? What if your story is all narration and you like it that way? Does that mean you are doing things wrong?

Not necessarily.

The three-act structure is, indeed, the most popular model for storytelling today. It's been around a really long time, too. Greek philosopher Aristotle gets credit for the idea since he said in his Poetics, "A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end." And Hollywood has perfected this structure, as have novelists. The thing works. Readers and viewers like it. But sometimes it feels wrong for your story idea. Sometimes you want to do something different. But what?

I once wrote a post on Georges Polti's 36 Plot Structures. And that list might get your brain thinking of new ideas. But I recently stumbled upon another list of plot types that enthralled me, and I wanted to share them with you. Dr. Charles Ramírez Berg has written numerous articles on film and is currently a professor of film history, screenwriting, and criticism. He created a list of alternative plot types for filmmakers, but I think that we can learn much from his analysis of films. I've listed several of them below.

The Daisy Chain Plot
This type of story has no main protagonist. One character's entire story leads right into the next character's entire story, and so on. Sometimes the story will come back to the first protagonist. Sometimes not. But this is a fun way to tell a story. My husband had an idea for a Daisy Chain Plot once. He wanted to tell a story that followed a one dollar bill.

The Ensemble Plot
In this type of plot, there are many protagonists. No one character is more important than another. The stories may intertwine. Or they might not. But each protagonist has his or her own story to tell. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a good literary example of an ensemble plot.

The Multiple Personality Plot
Here the main character plays more than one role. Maybe one person is living two lives. Or maybe he's schizophrenic. Or maybe he's been cloned. Or maybe he's a time traveler, so there is two of the him in the story at once. Or maybe he's George Bailey, getting to see what life would be like if he were never born, though, I suppose, there is only ever one George in the story at a time, so maybe that doesn't count.

The Subjective/Internal Plot
In this type of story, the plot is all inside the main character's mind. It's personal, emotional, internal. And it's very subjective or one-sided. We only get the perspective of once character. You might argue that all first person stories are this way. But a Subjective Plot is different. The story happens more in the characters thoughts than in his actions. This type of storytelling requires a unique voice and lots of narration.

The Backwards Plot 
This story is told backwards. Best example I can think of is the movie Memento. If you haven't seen it, it's pretty cool. Warning: it's scary. But these types of stories are told in reverse. There was an episode of Seinfeld told this way once. It was pretty entertaining.

The Repeated Action Plot
Ever seen the movie Groundhog's Day? How about 50 First Dates? Both are examples of the Repeated Action Plot in which the hero re-lives the same event over and over and over until he, somehow, manages to break the cycle. I saw one last Christmas called 12 Dates of Christmas. You can probably see the whole movie in your head just from that title.

The Repeated Event Plot
Picture a police detective trying to get the facts at a crime scene. He might hear over and over, "That's not how it happened." That's the gist of this plot type in which we have one event happening over and over, each time seen through a different character's eyes.

The Jumbled Plot
Here you have a number of scenes that appear to make no sense at all. But the story is like a puzzle. A nonlinear sequence of events. Out of order. Confusing at first. But each time a scene is added, the story will make more sense until it all comes together in the end. Quentin Tarantino really seems to like this style of storytelling.

The Existential Plot
In this type of story, the goal is often simply "stay alive." Many war stories fit into this category, and the reader/viewer experiences the action first hand. We often don't have a clue what is going on. At all. But we'll figure it out eventually. This type of story is meant to be honest and immerse you into the existence of the main character. You experience life as is, and it might not be pretty in the beginning, middle, or end.

So what do you think? Ever thought of writing a story that didn't fit the typical three-act structure or didn't have a main character and a happy ending? Which one of these plot types most interests you? Share in the comments.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The winner of the 1,000 word Go Teen Writers contest

Congratulations to Anastasia Elizabeth K. who won the Go Teen Writers 1,000 word contest!

We are extremely grateful to literary agent Amanda Luedeke who took time out of her very busy agenting, writing, dog-owning schedule to provide feedback for our five talented finalists. We're also grateful to authors Laura Anderson Kurk and Shannon Dittemore who gave so much time and energy to selecting the top five and providing feedback for those in the top twenty.

The top five entries are all so amazing that we want you to have a chance to read all of them. Today we'll post Anastasia's and we'll post the others on the following Tuesdays and Thursdays:

Anastasia Elizabeth's winning entry:


LAW 1.1: Any sort of progress relating to standard improvement, whether it be scientific, technical, medical, or mechanical, is forbidden.
Minors under sixteen subject to ten years in prison; adults subject to death.


I’ve been here long enough, I know.
I know when rush hour is heaviest. I know how long it takes the lights to switch. I see that display in the lingerie store that never changes, even though all of us wish it would. Off to the right is a coffee shop that is open at ungodly hours like four and serves mostly bagels, no coffee.
I know to walk on the pavement closest to the cars because it’s the least crowded and the blue curb is wide enough I don’t lose my balance. People pass by on my left, all the students who don’t have cars to get them to their jobs on time. I don’t have a job, and probably never will, but I snatched a jacket from Charlie’s closet a while back and I found sixty-five cents in the sleeve pocket. It’s enough to buy a coffee-shop bagel.
I know what I’ll see if I look up. I’ll see a long, straight road with more silver cars than blue and every so often a bike. I’ll see red-brick buildings. I’ll see trees, and against those trees, I’ll see the contaminated.
So I don’t want to look up.
But, as always, I do, right when I’m passing one. Right when I’m passing him. He’s eight, maybe nine, and has knees hugged to his chest and eyes caving in on themselves. He begs for food but of course nobody gives it to him, since he’ll throw it right back up again and the faster he dies, the better off the rest of us will be.
We mill a good three yards away from him, an arc of limbs and faces nailed to ground, a mass determined not to die. Even our breath smells of fear, of hesitation, of don’t breathe in don’t breathe in.
The stretch of pavement around him is starch white, blown with leaves and debris. I sure don’t want to die, either, but I remember when I was eight and go over to him.
“Here.” I press my bagel into his hand and force myself not to hold my breath.
Breakfast, as they say, is the most important meal of the day, and this is why I never eat it.
I peel away from the crowd and duck into an alley. It’s a tight one—spread your arms and both elbows brush brick. Usually I walk this barefoot or in old flip flops, but Charlie gave me these sneakers for my birthday a few months ago and I swiped the jacket too. You’d think the adoption agency would make sure I have these, but we have a system. I keep out of their hair if they pretend I don’t exist.
Sidestep garbage bag, oil puddle from drain pipe, and a few loose cement blocks, and I crawl out into open air. This is where the stretch of buildings ends and the trees begin. Look behind both ways, and it’s brick wall after brick wall, differing heights like jagged teeth. Smoke pours from a few chimneys jutting up and through sky. I inhale deep as I cut my way to a stretch of dirt weaving through the woods.
Sunlight peeks through leaves, littering little yellow spotlights all over hard-packed earth. The smell is cleaner than the contagion we breathe in town. I trudge along the path, my foot landing in mud every few steps. Half a mile through, my hunger sets in and he’s probably puked by now, but I just shrug off the stomach ache; it’s easy enough because there’s more important things to think about. Today is the day Charlie and I worked out to set the machine. Even if we haven’t spoken in a while, I’m going to keep my word.
Another climb and I’m at the warehouse. The gray paint is chipped like claw marks and the roof is caving in. It’d look like a regular barn if it wasn’t for the bomb shell a couple yards off.
We agreed to meet here, Charlie and I. Three days from now is when we decided we'd finally do it, so talking today is kind of important.
My fingertips have just touched the door knob when I hear my mom’s name.
"Well, if it isn't Cassidy Levine."
My bones go rigid. I whip around, both hands locked on the handle.
The man steps forward, laughs, his hands jammed in pockets. Jedidiah. And who else was I expecting, really? He searches me out almost once a month. Nobody else ever bothers.
Jedidiah looks the same as I've always known him. In his twenties with blond hair, broad shoulders, and charcoal gray eyes. Gray like the whales that died out centuries ago. And like the gun strapped to his hip.
"Can't get over it. Damn, girl, you look just like her."
"What are you doing here?"
There he goes, laughing again. Something hot presses against my chest like an iron or maybe hate. "I could ask you the same thing. It's a bit too dangerous out in these woods for a li'l sap, din'cha know?" A smile curves at the edge of his mouth all lopsided. "Wonder if you remember last time."
I force out a laugh, and I hate myself for it, hate how stupid I seem doing it. My hand clutches my shoulder, skin tingling. "Don't think I could forget," I say. My voice reeks calm and everything else spills fear and an aching urge to run. "What do you want?"
Idly his finger traces the shotgun at his waist. It's no rifle and the caliber isn't so big but it's a gun nonetheless, a real one in the flesh. Wonder if it's the same one he killed her with.

What our judges thought:

Amanda: This sample provides a fresh look at the dytopian genre, told in a wonderfully stylistic voice. Two years ago, at the height of the dystopian frenzy, I have no doubt this manuscript would have been considered for publication. 

Our authors:

I didn't expect to like this one as much as I did, but the main character's empathy in the midst of barrenness won me over. I think the author is onto something with this character and I'd like to see where it goes from here. Also has grasp of convention and form.

Love this so much. The writing is effortless. The characters compelling. I would love to see this on a bookshelf.

Congratulations to Anastasia!

Monday, April 21, 2014

When is it okay to tell rather than show in my story?

by Stephanie Morrill

Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and the Ellie Sweet books (Playlist). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website including the free novella, Throwing Stones.

A week ago I posted on how to show your story rather than tell it. The trick we learnedcourtesy of Jeff Gerkeis to ask ourselves, "Could the camera see this? Could the microphone pick this up?" And if not, we should ask how to make it visible or audible.

This trick keeps us from writing phrases like, "Piper felt angry." Though a sentence like, "Piper smiled," isn't telling because it's something the audience can see.

After reading last Monday's post, you might have been tempted to rip from your novel every phrase that can't be put on a stage. But let's consider this sentence:
If he didn’t know it already, Jeremiah Crane is about to learn that I’m not the type of girl to be pushed around.
This is the first line of my manuscript. You can make a case that it's telling. After all, you can't see or hear that on a stage, can you?

But this falls in the quirky category of internal monologue. We're tuned in to Piper's thoughts as she prepares to engage in a battle to defend her friend. And if we had a microphone in her head, we would be able to hear this. When you're checking your internal monologue to see if you've crossed over to telling, that's a good test to run. Because it would be telling if I instead used one of these:

I'm angry with Jeremiah Crane and intend to teach him I'm not the type of girl to be pushed around.
When Jeremiah takes the seat my friend is about to sit in, I decide to teach him I'm not the type of girl to be pushed around.

These cross a subtle line into telling because they are sentences that seek to explain to the reader what is happening and which emotion the character is feeling.

And that's what telling primarily isexplaining something to the reader rather than letting them interpret details for themselves.

So when can you explain something to your reader?

You have to make sure it's a question your reader has been asking.

A common issue among new fantasy writers is to open with a prologue that details the history of their country. But on page one, your reader is not asking about the history of the country. They don't care yet because you haven't given them a reason to.

And almost all new writers (and some not-so-new writers) struggle with dumping too much character backstory into the first few chapters. We do this because we desperately want our readers to understand everything. We don't want them to be confused, so we pause the story to explain.

Let's look at something on page one in my manuscript. This is still Jeremiah and my main character, Piper.

Jeremiah glances at my hand. “I see you haven’t changed.”
I push my bruised hand into my pocket.
Jeremiah’s gaze flicks beyond me. “I believe your friend has found another place to wait. If talking to me offends you so, perhaps you should join her.”

Now what if I had instead written:

He glances at my hand. “I see you haven’t changed.”
I push my bruised hand into my pocket. Sister Alice had beaten me with the ruler again when my sewing stitches weren't even.Jeremiah’s gaze flicks beyond me. “I believe your friend has found another place to wait. If talking to me offends you so, perhaps you should join her.”

The first example is more intriguing. Why is Piper's had bruised? What kind of girl is this? But in the second example, I raise the question in one sentence and answer it in the next. That won't build intrigue and keep readers turning pages.

How do you know if the reader is asking the question? You should be dropping in teasers, same as you would as you're pacing a big reveal in your story. For something like Piper's hand, which isn't a big part of the story, I'll maybe make one more mention of it before we find out what happened. Even then, I'm going to do my best to tell as much as I can in dialogue rather than outright pausing the story.

For something bigger, you may require a flashback or a brief here's-what-happened summary. You can get away with doing this only once or twice during a novel, so make sure you pick wisely, that you've placed your hints well, and that you don't dawdle your way through the explanation.

Here's another fine time to tell rather than show - in the first draft.

My first drafts are full of telling. It didn't take me long to pull a few examples out of my manuscript. (These are pulled from different sections and are unrelated to each other.)

I lean back in my seat, deflated
I laugh and feel strangely embarrassed as I touched my bobbed hair. 
“Piper, I’m going to give up baseball.”
Give up baseball? Walter has been obsessed with baseball his entire life. And he’s so good. “How can you even think that? Did training not go well?”

Those are all moments that I crossed into explaining to my readers rather than letting them interpret. When I do my micro-edit (my second round of edits) I'll be looking for ways to convert this telling to showing.

Are there any questions I can help answer about this?

Friday, April 18, 2014

What should writers worry about when they're in high school?

By Sarah Blinco

Sarah Blinco is editor of (, and creator of Media Bootcamp ( which is a digital training tool designed to get you on the fast-track to your dream career. She's worked in publishing and radio and is always happy to answer questions - you'll find her at or Tweet @sarahblinco

‘What should I do with my life’? It's a question we all ponder, and it's a tough one! It’s hard enough being in school, completing the final years of senior and trying to work out what you want to do with your life, but how do you discover all the options? Often mentors are not on hand who are able to answer such industry-specific questions – wouldn’t it be nice if they were!

I was chatting to an author friend about this recently and we both absolutely wish there’d been someone to help us out with more answers when we were in high school. Doing my bit to impart some wisdom then, this post is with particular reference to those of you who love things like media,  writing and English, even drama and the arts. In school you’re usually only exposed to a few job types:

radio personality

The really obvious ones, but did you know there’s a whole array of wonderful jobs out there where you can apply your love of writing and communications?

Let’s try an exercise.

Aside from media, writing or performing, what are you most interested in, or what do you love? E.g. your dog, red carpet fashion, astronomy, music, blogging, technology, movies, traveling?

Write it down on a piece of paper. Now consider, whatever you have written down, there’s a communications role associated with it! If you love your dog – or more widely, animals – you could end up in a communications role with an organization that protects and campaigns for animals. You might end up managing their magazine or website. Or perhaps you’ll be in their public relations department, or devise advertising campaigns? For those who perhaps said technology, well, where should we start? There’s a million tech start-ups who need writers and content creators, or you may end up managing their publicity and writing for a related blog! These are just a couple of examples, but I hope you understand my drift.

Of course, there’s the traditional media stream that you may dwell in too, and that’s great – television news, radio presenting, writing for a magazine, newspaper or digital media, or maybe you’ll talk your way into high places as part of a funky PR team.

The aim of this little spiel is to get you thinking. To get the juices flowing. Don’t get stuck in the mundane or feel like you’re limited, or even that you have to work it all out right now (because you don’t). Just know there’s amazing opportunities out there where you can combine your talents with your passions in life – keep surrounding yourself the things you enjoy, and it will fall into place.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Images, Animated Gifs, and Copyright Law for Bloggers

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

For Bloggers everywhere, copyright infringement is a concern that often lingers in our minds as we post images and wonder if we are breaking the law. I've wondered this many times myself before. And several of you have asked about this. So I consulted James Scott Bell for help on those gray areas I wasn't sure of (Thanks, Jim!) and managed to put together this post. I hope it helps.

Copyright law is designed to protect the creator of a work from people using that work without paying or obtaining permission. (For a more information on copyright law, click here.) Copyright law is sometimes a very gray area, and it can be difficult to know when you've crossed the line. Here are some things I can tell you are blatantly illegal:

-Downloading pirated ebooks, music, TV shows, or movies.
-Using pirated images to make book covers, T-shirts, or any product that you sell or helps you profit (which would include advertising images).
-Putting song lyrics into your book without gaining permission and paying the appropriate fees. (The fees are not a set amount. Each owner decides whether or not to grant permission and how much to charge.)

So what does pirated mean?



1. a person who robs or commits illegal violence at sea or on the shores of the sea.
2. a ship used by such persons.
3. any plunderer, predator, etc.: confidence men, slumlords, and other pirates.
4. a person who uses or reproduces the work or invention of another without authorization.
5. Also called pirate stream. Geology. a stream that diverts into its own flow the headwaters of another stream, river, etc.

verb (used with object), pi·rat·ed, pi·rat·ing.
6. to commit piracy upon; plunder; rob.
7. to take by piracy: to pirate gold.
8. to use or reproduce (a book, an invention, etc.) without authorization or legal right: to pirate hit records.
9. to take or entice away for one's own use: Our competitor is trying to pirate our best salesman.

verb (used without object), pi·rat·ed, pi·rat·ing.
10. to commit or practice piracy.

I highlighted the definitions of pirate that applied to our discussion. But basically, it's stealing. If you copy and paste an image or download it from online without paying for it, you pirated it.

So what can you do, then? What's legal?

First, you need to understand fair use. The fair use law is designed to defend the user against a claim of copyright infringement when the subject matter was used to teach, offer criticism, or parody. (For a longer definition of fair use law, click here.) But you can use certain materials when you are teaching, critiquing, or mocking (in a kind way).

Teaching ( Give Commentary)
When I write blog posts, I often use images from movies in my posts. This falls in line with fair use laws. In the Go Teen Writers book, Stephanie and I were able to quote many passages from published novels without obtaining written permission from the publishers of those book because of the fair use law. We were very careful not to abuse this by:

-Using passages of 300 words or less.
-Using each passage as an example of something the author did well. (We never used a quote to say something negative.)
-Using only one example per novel.
-Citing the author's name and book title with each quote.

In doing this, we kept everything in line with the fair use law.

A writer or blogger offers critique when they write a review of something. This is most done in our industry in book reviews. You legally can post an image of a book cover for a book you are writing a review for. And you can legally quote a few lines from the book as well.

This is when you make fun of something. And here, you should be careful. Weird Al writes parodies of famous songs. But, if I'm not mistaken, he gets permission first to keep himself out of trouble. Some people just don't have his sense of humor.

If you are posing images or animated gifs on your blog that come from movies or television, you do not need to get permission. A production studio could see it and decide to make an issue out of it. But they probably would never see it, and even if they did, they probably wouldn't take issue with it. Prosecuting such things is not worth their time and money. Plus, most these blogs only help spread the word about their book or movie. It's free advertising.

I made a series of flyers for an event for our youth group once that used famous movie posters. I took photos of my husband and me and re-made the posters. This is another an example of using copyrighted material to make fun of or parody. Altering an image or video that is copyrighted falls under fair use law as long as you are not using the image for profit and as long as the image does not convey the idea that the original creator is endorsing you. Both those things are deceitful on your part and break copyright law.

Un-famous Images
For pictures that don't fall under fair use law, things get trickier. There are a lot of artists out there---photographers and graphic artists---who are looking to build careers. They put their images online, often on royalty photo sites like iStock Photo or Shutterstock. These are places where they can sell their images. It is illegal for you to copy and paste these and use them for any reason. It is illegal for you to open the image in Photoshop and erase the watermark. These images are for sale, and taking them without paying is stealing.

People download pirated ebooks, movies, TV shows, and songs all the time. And it's illegal. And as authors, we should understand what this means to other artists. When it happens, the musician, author, or artist doesn't get paid.

It can be difficult to know for certain whether or not an image is copyright protected. The only way to know for certain is to purchase images or to use images that have a Creative Commons license. To learn more about Creative Commons, click here.

It's not worth my time to bother searching for Creative Commons images to use. But there are some sites out there in which you can find free images quickly.

Getty Images offers a wide variety of images that can be used for blogging without charge, and they make it easy for users as well. Simply let your cursor hover over the image and click on the embed icon.

Here are some other image sites to consider. Just make sure you read the Terms of Use for each site:

Any questions about copyright infringement?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top 5 Finalists in the Go Teen Writers 1,000 Word Writing contest

Congratulations to the writers whose entries were chosen for the top five in our 1,000 word contest: (Listed alphabetically)

Ajax Cochrane
Anastasia Elizabeth K.
Elizabeth Liberty Lewis
Deborah Rocheleau 
The Russian Pianist

Their entries have been passed on to super stud agent, Amanda Luedeke. Congratulations!