October 16, 2017

Buy My Books and Stop Digital Piracy!

One of the great ways I get a charge out of my day is when I see a Google Alert in my e-mail. As a published pulp writer, I'm always glad to see my name in print...especially since it means that I've either published a new blog post or have had a book published.

However, this past weekend I received an e-mail that my books had been featured on a site....and well, let's just say that I was not happy...especially since I have ranted about online piracy in the past.

(I'm including screen captures of the site in question as there is no way I would ever encourage traffic).

So I'm looking at this particular site, which is advertising that my books are "free to read" through this particular location. It's obvious that they've aggregated information from Goodreads, and I'm surprised that they are offering my books for free for the following reasons:
  • The only publisher that offers my work for free is "Out There in the Night" for Les Vamps, which I knew going in (I entered a contest), and which you can freely download via http://bit.ly/LesVamps
  • My past contracts for Pro Se Productions and Airship 27 Productions both include royalties...and both publishing houses are run by people with integrity and honor. 
  • When I clicked on a link on this site which was to link to their DMCA policy...a site geared primarily to males over 18 years old popped up. (Think that "p" word that rhymes with "scorn". I don't need that kind of traffic).
Yes, that's right - once again, I'm being pirated. And why shouldn't you use any of these sites, you may ask.

Ironically, not linked to
DMCA on their site
First, unless you're purchasing from a site like Amazon, many of these "free book" sites aren't about selling books - they're about taking your money. (One such site actually had a scam where it was free to join, but the site had a $1.00 "termination fee"...and of course (thanks to an additional Google search, and not through trial-and-error), this site also would have a glitch meaning you would have to terminate again...for $1.00.

But when you pirate books...or music...or any other media, you're screwing over creators who put in a ton of hard work and should get paid for it.

Many of my friends are what you would call "Working Class Creatives" - they're creating cool stuff (like videos, music, writing, art) while working side gigs. (Or, like me, trying to find enough freelance work to make a living).  They're plugging away to create great things for people to enjoy...and some people have to earn a dollar by stealing from others.

And before you make a counterargument in favor of piracy, I'll provide my standard retorts:

  • Libraries buy books, CDs, etc. So the person creating them gets royalties.
  • Patreon is no substitute for a paycheck. And even I have a Patreon, but it's for the Chicago Doctor Who Meetup...and it covers a Britbox subscription and some other supplies. That's it.
  • Congratulations! Piracy also diminishes sales - and visibility - for writers of color, LGTBQIA, and other marginalized authors. So yes, you are hurting them by promoting their book free of charge. 
  • Public domain books are freely available via sites like Gutenberg, Manybooks, and Librivox....but public domain materials are without copyright. Meaning that they're free to distribute within certain limitations. 
  • Public domain characters are free to use, but if I use a character in a story, I have full rights to that story, not that character. And yes, I should get paid for my written work
  • When you distribute our work freely (via sites like the above or torrenting), you're not lending us a helping hand to get the word out...you're giving us the finger and telling us that what we do is worthless. 
So the best thing I can encourage all of you to do is to support your local artist. If you can purchase their work, do it. If you want to follow them on Facebook (like my Facebook author page) and forward their posts, do that. For musicians...pay to attend their shows, and purchase their CDs/officially released MP3s. 

Because let's face it, the only people who really can justify piracy might have never known the struggle to express an idea. It's easy to dismiss creative types are having our "heads in the clouds", but I can admit (and I hope many of my fellow creators will agree) that we are more likely to have focused on working to get it right, to get it honest, and to get it done.

All we want is to be paid for our work like any other worker. And pirating our work is not the way to do it. 

October 6, 2017

Donate An Item to the Chicago TARDIS Charity Auction

(Photo by Gordon Dymowski)
Yes, it's that time of year again...I'm running the Chicago TARDIS Charity Auction, and I'm looking for donations! Two of my friends have already made their intentions clear (and they know who they are), so I thought that as a public service I would highlight (via my personal blog) exactly what you need to do!

So in other words, here are the donor guidelines for the Chicago TARDIS charity auction:



Note: Chicago TARDIS will no longer collect canned or non-perishable food items during the convention. If you wish to make a monetary donation, please donate directly to Northern Illinois Food Bank via http://bit.ly/ChiTARDISAuction and send the receipt to auction@chicagotardis.com

  • Chicago TARDIS must receive notification of donations by November 18th, 2017 at 11:59 pm. Walk-in donations without prior registration will not be accepted
  • Arrangements for delivery of donated items must be made by November 23rd, 2017. Incomplete items will not be listed or displayed.
  • Donations may be delivered to the convention site starting the evening of November 23rd at the Auction Director’s discretion.
  • When registering donations online, please clearly list any restrictions, such as expiration and blackout dates as well as total retail value.
  • Tax information will be mailed to all donors following Chicago TARDIS upon request. 
  • Items that meet a minimum retail value under $200 will be included in the silent auction, and those over $200 will be included in the live auction. 
  • Some items under $15 retail value may be categorized as “Buy Now” by Chicago TARDIS Auction staff. 
  • All displays included with donations will be kept by Chicago TARDIS (and/or the high bidder) unless the donor notifies Chicago TARDIS in writing that they wish to have the display returned. If the donor wishes to have the display returned, they must pick up the display onsite after the close of the silent auction 
Photo by Gordon


To maximize your exposure and bidding, below are a few tips and types of donations that have been popular in the past: 

  • Items related to Doctor Who, related media from cast and crew, spin-off media, and British science fiction (Blake’s 7, Red Dwarf). Memorabilia from other science fiction franchises like Star Trek may also be considered.
  • Tangible items that a bidder can touch, feel or smell can market themselves and are good ideas to include with gift certificates.
  • Handcrafted items: Paintings, sketch art, knit scarves, and other fan-created crafts. 
  • Collectible Items such as action figures, books, audio dramas, DVD boxed sets, etc. However, we have found that some practices work best: 
    • One-of-a-kind handcrafted items (like paintings, fan art, and knitted items) always bring in major donations; 
    • We know that carrying items when traveling can be a challenge; if you are thinking of purchasing items specifically for the auction, it may be easier to simply make a cash donation; 
    • Our ability to authenticate specific items is limited, so we ask that you keep this in mind when donating. (We can authenticate signed photographs, though)
 All proceeds benefit Northern Illinois Food Bank whose mission is to lead the northern Illinois community in solving hunger by providing nutritious meals to those in need through innovative programs and partnerships. Northern Illinois Food Bank is the source of nutritious food, innovative feeding programs, and hope for more than 71,000 people each week. If you have questions regarding the silent or live auction, please contact Gordon Dymowski at auction@chicagotardis.com or use this personal contact form