Copyright and ISBN – simplified

Copyright and ISBN (International Standard Book Number)*

In the simplest terms, copyright means ‘the right to copy’. In general it means the sole right to produce or reproduce work, or a substantial part of it. If it is unpublished, copyright includes the right to publish the work or any substantial part of it. By defining it by ‘substantial’ it is electing to leave out reproduction of minor parts of a work, as quotes are often used in reviews or discussions.

What is covered by copyright law? A work must be original and can include literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works or compilations. Copyright is granted the moment the work, whether professional or amateur, is created. There is no distinction between production of work for profit or hobby. Literary work includes anything that is written, such as speeches, essays and books and may be in any form. Dramatic works include the characters, scenes, relationship between characters, dialogue and dramatic expression. That’s interesting because I didn’t realize the characters we create as novelists would also be protected.

How do you obtain copyright in Canada? All powers to legislate copyright law are in the jurisdiction of the Parliament of Canada, by virtue of the Constitution Act 1867. Yet, copyright exists at the moment of creation of a work in Canada.

Some have promoted the ‘kitchen sink’ method of copyright. This was obtained by mailing a copy of the written work to yourself and once received, leaving it sealed in the envelope. You now had a copy of the work with a date and time provided by the post mark, proving your possession prior to any possible publication by someone else. My mother preferred that method, and had me mail her poems to her before she put them out to the public to give herself some assurance she could prove ownership.

The Canadian government offers a formal way to obtain copyright but it is not free. Currently, if the work and fee are submitted online, the cost is $50. If it is done other than online, such as by mail, the cost is $65 per work. Go to the official website to learn more –

How long does copyright last? Generally in Canada it lasts for the life of the author, plus 50 years. Therefore protection expires on December 31 of the 50th year after the author of the work dies. However, if the original author assigns ownership to another, either personal or corporate, it only lasts for 25 years after the author’s death.

The ISBN is different. It is a system of numerical identification, again provided by the federal government, for books, pamphlets, educational kits, microforms, CD-ROMs and other digital and electronic publications. Assigning a unique number to each published title provides that title with its own, unduplicated, internationally recognized identifier. Each different format of an electronic publication (e.g., Kindle, Kobo, EPUB, MOBI, PDF) that is published and made separately available shall be given a separate ISBN.

I didn’t know this. I was aware the print book had one ISBN and the ebook had a separate one, but this says each type of ebook requires its own number.

How is the ISBN used? Publishers, booksellers, libraries and others in the book industry use ISBNs to identify publications and determine the publishing country. An ISBN is required for the sale and distribution of a publication. Originally the numbers in Canada were 10 digits in length, but changed to a 13-digit number as of January 1, 2007. To learn more or apply for ISBN numbers, go to the government website –

Luckily, these numbers are free in Canada. The Library and Archives Canada assigns 10 numbers upon application. When they have been used, another 10 are assigned for your exclusive use.

*Information courtesy of Wikipedia and Library and Archives Canada

Pen name – yes or no?

Should you use a nom de plume, or pseudonym as it’s more often called? As an author there are a number of reasons why you would want to use your own name. You are already known to a circle of people and can capitalize on that with your first publications. However, using a different name can be useful as well. We can all think of reasons why we might choose a new name:

  1. You have another life as a pediatrician and you want to write a crime novel
  2. Your name has always been awkward – Mr Stalker or Ms Bludgeon
  3. Your name can only be written in a foreign alphabet

Seriously, there are many reasons why you might consider a different name for your publications. See what they say on Write To Done for suggestions to consider –

Either way, I think it’s important to make the decision early in your career. Changing names mid-stream can create an uphill climb to make a new name known to your audience, a climb that you’ve already committed to for your first choice. There’s no point doing all that work twice, so pick your best name, be it your own or an invented one, and put it out there for all to become acquainted with right from the start.

Happy New Year! Out with the old, In with the new

IMG_0647Frost on the rocks this morning

When I got home from work today, I dove into my closet with a laundry hamper, a wastebasket and some large plastic bags. Does that sound like fun? 🙂 Probably not, but I’d been wanting to get something done about all the stuff that had accumulated. Even a tiny step, just to get started.

Besides there are bigger issues looking at me and I don’t have the time or the energy to make those decisions. But I could do this.

I was going to get a head start on junking out my clothes. First I emptied my dresser drawers and put back only what fits, what I use. It’s very surprising, what can end up in my sock drawer!

Then I started on the shelves in my closet. I did the purses. I did the belts. I did the sweaters. I must have been getting tired by then because suddenly I was having trouble making decisions. Throw the sweater out? My sister gave it to me. Keep it? I haven’t worn it in three years.

I thought perhaps it was time to quit for the night, but it seemed like I’d just gotten started. So I pulled out my scarves and shawls. OMG. I didn’t know I had that many. Twice as much as I thought possible. So many, I divided them into piles of different shapes, then by colour. I should have quit while I was ahead, because almost all of them went back into the closet. I’ll deal with them next time.

Thank you to all you readers and bloggers. I hope you have a good start on the new year of 2016. Make those plans and believe in them. They can happen, just don’t give up. Like they say – Failure isn’t the last step, it’s the first step toward success.


Merry Christmas, wreaths, garlands, swags


Do you make your own Christmas wreaths and garlands? I went out to cut branches for my Christmas swags for either side of the door, and came back with the following –

  • red cedar (you can tell by the colour of the stems and bark)
  • balsam fir, with the delightful light green tips to the branches
  • fir, with fuzzier needle formation
  • salal, which gives great berries but stays green all year
  • hawthorne, for the beautiful red berries
  • broom, which is a weed, but adds a lovely straight sweeping component

This is what I came up with for my front door. What do you do for your Christmas greenery? Merry Christmas everyone!


Liebster Award for blogging

I have been nominated for the Leibster Award, it’s all about finding new blogs to visit and enjoy.

I am thrilled to have been nominated for this award by Jacquie Biggar, blogger and author extraordinaire. You can check out her blog at I’ve followed her blog since she first began posting to it, and I love to keep current on what she’s writing. I always learn something as well as get entertained when I visit there.

She asked me a few questions that I’ll do my best to answer 🙂

1 – What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?

I have a lot of fun with it. I started my blog for my writing and my books, but I also love gardening, travel and a ton of other stuff. I can talk about whatever I want!

2- What is your favorite book and why?

I have a lot of favourite books, but one that comes to mind often is ‘Cryptonomicon’ by Neal Stephenson. This book has a lot going for it – indescribably nerdy characters, story in the present and the past, story in the future, real war encounters and fantasy war encounters, history and imagination. I have really enjoyed reading it each time.

3- If you could be any literary character, who would you be and why?

Not sure. One character who intrigues me, Winston Churchill, is perhaps not seen as a literary character, but I have several books on him that might put the lie to that. Here are some of his comments – Too often the strong silent man is silent because he does not know what to say, and is reputed strong only because he has remained silent – or this one – Of this I am quite sure, that if we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find we have lost the future. Lots of wisdom in those words.

4- Where is your favorite place to write?

I really like peace and quiet. I sometimes take everything into the living room, but if there are others in the house I might take my laptop upstairs to the spare bedroom. If there is still too much going on, I take it to the office.

5- What’s your ideal vacation?

I have to leave to have a vacation. Too many phone calls, drops ins and demands. We love to go to Tofino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island even for a few days. There is nothing to do but walk on that wonderful beach, chase the storms and relax. My husband swims, (shudder) I do not. 🙂

6- If you could give any advice to a novice blogger, what would it be?

Don’t be too demanding on yourself. The advice others will give you probably includes blog at least three times a week, research your audience and speak to their interests, make sure you have them sign up for a newsletter, organize giveaways to encourage commitment. Those things are all true. But how much fun will you have? Why not write about what you love, things that interest you? When you write about what you love, that shines through the words. Then your followers will be those who are interested in the same things, and will be people you’d like to interact with.

7- Who inspires you and why?

Those who act on their convictions. There are always opportunities to be open hearted or willing to listen, but we don’t always respond the way we could. As the kids say – what would Jesus do?

8- What do you do to blow off steam?

I ride my bike. I don’t always ride it very fast, but I love to ride it. I was going down one of the trails here in Victoria the other day and a couple were walking their dog ahead of me. I called out, ‘coming through.’ They startled and the young man grabbed his girl’s arm to pull her out of the way as if a train were coming. As I drew even with them, I said, ‘I may not be fast, but I’m still riding through.’ We had a laugh together about that.

9- If you could choose anyone (real or imagined) to have dinner with, who would it be and why?

I would have dinner with General Paulo Regiment from ‘The Last War: Book One, Khandarken Rising’. This is the first book of a series of mine coming out this month and I’ve been really thrilled with the characters. Regiment fought with the Emperor at the beginning of the Last War, but ended up on the side of the freedom fighters by the finish of the long fight. I’d want to know how he decided to switch sides, and what led him to that decision. You might think I should know this, having written the books, but that would involve a whole other set of books dealing with the prequel – kind of like Star Wars.

10- What’s your favorite food?

Watermelon. Hazelnuts. Almond Roca (is that a food?). Flattened chicken. I can’t have just one favourite, right?

I hope you enjoyed getting to know a little more about me, and thank you Jacquie Biggar for the great questions. 🙂

I have a few favorite blogs that I follow all the time, including Jacquie Biggar at

I’m nominating the following bloggers for this wonderful award:

LizAnn Carson at

Donna Hole at

Alice Valdal

Kathleen Lawless

Reggi Allder

Marlene Moss

Susan Swiderski at

Here are the rules:

  1. Once you are nominated, make a post thanking and linking the person who nominated you.
  2. Include the Liebster award sticker in the post.
  3. Nominate up to 10 other bloggers who you think are worthy of this award.
  4. Let them know they have been nominated by commenting on one of their posts.
  5. Answer the ten questions asked to you by the person who nominated you.
  6. Think of ten questions you would like your nominees to answer.
  7. Lastly, copy these rules in the post.

My questions for you are as follows –

  1. I know you’re a writer (you do a blog), what’s your favourite thing to write?
  2. Do you like surprises? Tell us about the last one you remember.
  3. How old were you when you started writing?
  4. Do you love writing or hate it, and why.
  5. What would be your dream job?
  6. What was your favourite childhood story?
  7. Where in the world do you consider home?
  8. What is your favourite book, favourite movie?
  9. What is your greatest pleasure in life?
  10. Name your favourite food.