Go, Simon & Schuster!

Also from The Authors Guild:

“On August 13, for the second time this year, President Trump’s counsel sent a letter demanding that a publisher cease publication of a book criticizing his presidency. Simon & Schuster, the publisher of Omarosa Manigault-Newman’s book Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House, refused to be cowed by the unsupported allegations that the book contains “confidential information and disparaging statements.” The publisher stated that it “will not be silenced by legal threats grounded in vague allusions.” In January, Henry Holt/Macmillan similarly refused to submit to a cease and desist letter alleging that Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury defamed Trump and instead moved the publication date up. We know how that went—the publicity around Trump’s attempt to quash the book quickly propelled sales and the book went on to become the top best-selling book of the year to date.

“So it is surprising and indeed shocking that the White House has thrown out another baseless threat of litigation. Not only is it unseemly for a sitting president to threaten a lawsuit to prevent criticism, but it is a clear violation of the First Amendment. As we said when Trump’s lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to block Fire and Fury, “The ability to criticize the government and its leaders lies at the essence of the First Amendment’s protection of free speech; and threats of libel lawsuits are one of the de facto primary means of curtailing free speech in this country today.”

“The Authors Guild firmly stands against the use of frivolous and baseless threats of legal action to prevent publication of a book or to insist that material should be deleted. It is an intimidation tactic of wealthy bullies who think they can use money to silence authors and publishers by cornering them into lawsuits—however baseless—which the authors and publishers may lack the means to defend. To stop this unwarranted attack on speech and defend the right of authors and journalists to write freely and without fear, the Authors Guild has lobbied and litigated against the expansion of invasion of privacy and rights of publicity claims to journalism and books on topics that concern the public, and we have supported anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) laws recently introduced in a number of states to stop the practice of misusing the legal system to muzzle criticism. The Guild’s legal department also regularly counsels members on First Amendment issues and educates authors on their rights with respect to libel laws so they will not be cowed into self-censorship.

“While it is bad enough for celebrities and other wealthy individuals to use threats of defamation and related lawsuits to restrain speech, when this kind of stunt emanates from the President, who has a duty to protect the Constitution—and not just once, but twice in one year—it is truly shameful. As Authors Guild President James Gleick has said, “This president cannot stand criticism, and he continues to lash out—against the free press, against his own intelligence community, and now against the publication of a book. He is behaving like a petty despot. This is the second time he has used the power of his office in an attempt to intimidate a book publisher, and we repeat what we said the first time: This isn’t a country where we quash books that the leader finds unpleasant. That’s what tyrants do.”

“We applaud Simon & Schuster for proceeding with publication despite the threats.”

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An Important Letter from Writer Richard Russo

To my mind, writers should always support one another. I’ve seen a lot of that, but I’ve also seen some of the other–jealousy, back-stabbing, etc. With the idea of support in mind, and in light of these rapidly-changing times in the publishing field, please take a moment to read this appeal from Richard Russo.

Thanks.

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Writers supporting other writers. From left to right: Dan Foley, Melissa Crandall, John Valeri, Terry George, Stacey Longo, and Kristi Petersen Schoonover.

NEA Funding Cut is DEFEATED

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The face of satisfaction

I was away when this became news, but received this email from Mary E. Rasenberger, Executive Director of the The Authors Guild:

Thanks to the outcry of our members, artists, and supporters of the arts around the country, the Grothman Amendment to slash NEA and NEH funding was soundly defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday by a vote of 297 to 114. Representative Grothman (R-WI) introduced the amendment Tuesday night, saying “I thought I would take just one little bit of this spending and kind of come down a little more on Donald Trump’s side.” He voiced support for Trump’s plan to completely defund the organizations, arguing that it isn’t the federal government’s responsibility to provide arts funding; rather, the arts should be supported by private organizations or local government. During the floor debate, Representatives on both sides of the aisle spoke out in support of the NEA. Representative Calvert (R-CA), who chairs the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, argued for the importance of NEA funding, describing an art therapy program for military veterans that has helped them recover from PTSD.

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year 2019 Interior Appropriations Bill, and in it approved $155 million for the NEA, an increase of $2.2 million over the current funding level. While artists can breathe a (temporary) sigh of relief, the fact that this amendment was brought to the House floor after the organizations’ funding had been approved is a sign that we must all remain vigilant to ensure that these important cultural institutions, and the arts in general, continue to be supported by our government.

 

Sexism Pisses Me Off

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“We are not amused.”

Okay, so it’s no secret that I have a problem with blogging. I don’t mind it as a means of communication, but the idea of doing it regularly when I really don’t have anything worthwhile to say just seems like a waste of not only my time, but my readers’ time as well. So I don’t do it, and I’ll likely never have a slew of followers because of it, but I’d rather go for content than quantity.

This article from The Authors Guild makes me angry. The gist is that if a woman wants to earn more at her writing, she should publish under a male name. This nonsense has been going on for years, and I’m horrified (but not surprised) that it still stands.

Okay, so we all want to make money. But my sister-writers, if you give in to this, you are part of the problem. We need to help women writers be recognized on their own merits, not hidden behind a male name.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let me know.

Article Published in JEMA

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I’m very pleased to announce that my article “Return of the Elephant Man,” appears in the most recent JEMA,  Journal of the Elephant Managers Association, Volume 29, Number 1. The article is based on a portion of my book The Man Who Loved Elephantswhich tells the story of Roger Henneous and his 30 years working with elephants at Oregon’s Washington Park Zoo (now the Oregon Zoo).