Ask The Expert

Internet Connection Through Cell Phone?

Wow, your article last week was really inspiring. I'd love to know more about how you got an Internet connection through your cell phone and how much it costs. My lack of knowledge on this has prevented me from traveling sometimes. I bought a laptop, but I'm forever chained to my desktop. Even if you don't have the time to tell me the details, maybe you can point in the right direction? Also, I'd love for you to keep us posted about your travels. I'm sure you'll do that. Thank you, Darla Bruno Richard answering here... We went with T-Mobile after reading this article, which reviewed all the cellular data services: http://www.jiwire.com/cellular-data-introduction.htm It is not the fastest, nor even the best coverage, but it was unlimited access for a flat monthly rate. Most of the other services charge you if you go over a certain quota. We're on so much that I was afraid we would hit the quotas and get stuck with extra charges (hefty ones, in some cases). Overall, it worked well. I wouldn't do any heavy surfing on it, but the connection was good enough to do email and to access the administration pages on our sites (which are fairly small in size). Though there was some signal drop in certain areas, generally it held steady as we tooled down the road. T-Mobile's coverage is pretty decent, especially along the major US highways. The big plus is it allowed us to work while in transit. Usually when we go on these road trips, everything piles up until we stop for the night. Cellular data service lets us keep on top of stuff during that normally "dead time" while on the road. It is currently the only reliable option for Internet access while in transit on the highway. It costs $29.99 per month for the service, and you have to buy a special card for $350 that fits into your laptop. (It is basically a cell phone without the "phone" part.) Details are on the T-Mobile site here: http://www.t-mobile.com/plans/default.asp?tab=internet

Did I Plagiarize?

I use the Internet as well as books and magazines for my research. However, a publisher recently accused me of plagiarism. He pointed me to websites that contained information very similar to mine. Either my notes were too similar to the original articles, or maybe I retained too much of the research material in my memory before sitting down to write. I'm not sure if I plagiarized the works or not. Can you tell me what is and is not plagiarism? …

How to Obtain Items in the Public Record

I want to learn more about what is "public record" so that I will have the confidence to walk into city hall or the court house and ask for records. Often times, small town folks who work in these offices don't even know what the law is and I find myself not educated enough on this matter to push the issue or know where exactly to look for information. I don't really want to take a law class. Surely there is some place the information is available for writers. …

Can You Quote Speeches?

Thanks for the info on the songs. How about quotes from speeches? Does the same rule apply if I use a famous quote from a person who is still alive? Thank you. Karen You can quote people briefly (note how the newspapers quote speeches liberally). However, you may encounter trouble if you use someone's quotes to make a point in your article that is NOT about the speech itself. If you make it appear the person is somehow endorsing your ideas in your article, that could get you into trouble if they have not given their permission for you to use their words in that context. …

He’s Threatening to Sue Me, But I Told The Truth!

I posted a complaint about a publisher on a website and it was all true. But, the publisher is now threatening to sue me for libel. I'm not willing to remove the story and offer a "public apology" as he demands. I was all true, but I'm still afraid. I can't afford a lawyer. What should I do? …

I Need to Hire a Marketing/PR Person…

Dear Angela, I am in the process of getting my second book published. Nine publishing houses now have it in their hot hands. I am patiently awaiting responses. In the meantime I am looking to hire someone who is "genius" with on-line marketing. Can you lend your expertise to lead me in the right direction? Many blessings and thank you in advance. Maureen Moss Author of The Nature of Bliss: Balance, Love, Integrity, Sexuality, Soul http://www.TheNatureofBliss.com Please contact http://www.patronsaintpr.com. We know the owner, Steve O'Keefe, for years, and he's a super guy. …

Four Years to Publish a Book?!

I signed a book contract in November of 2001. My book is still not out. Supposedly it's in cover design and I haven't seen it or seen blue lines. So I know we still have quite a ways to go. Also, and more concerning, is now that I understand publishing contracts more, I see there is no publication date listed on the contract. There is no clause that says when it will be published or how long before I can pull out because she does not publish it. It only indicates what will occur if it NEVER gets published. But there is alot of time between November 2001 and NEVER. Another writer with them says she's on four years. Customary and reasonable amounts of time listed in the Writers Digest says one to two years. What in the world can I do? SL Brown, MA One year is average; two years is pushing it. Three to four years? Holy cow! I'd be furious! Authors should always add a "publication date no later than xx, or rights revert back to author..." clause to their contracts. Otherwise, they may wait forever. You can try threatening the publisher with exposure about their horrible contract and slow operations if they don't return your rights. If other authors and agents knew it takes that long to publish with that firm, nobody would submit to them and the quality of their inventory would suffer greatly. They may even go out of business. Unfortunately, with no dates promised in the contract, you will probably need to hire an attorney to try to get out of the deal. Or, the publisher may be in financial trouble and may welcome an offer to terminate that contract. It can't hurt to ask. I'd really like to know the name of that publisher. We may already have complaints about them on file. …

Home Office Tax Issues

I'm trying to make freelance writing a larger part of my income this year but my head is already spinning thinking about the tax issues having a part-time, at-home business will cause. Can you suggest a good book or website that can answer my questions (as to what's deductable as a business expense if you have a part-time business, what legally you have to do to establish yourself as a business, etc.)? …

Two Different Rates For The Same Words

I have written for a national publication and was told by the senior editor that the pay per article was $50. I received that amount for my first article for them. I have two more deadlines to write for this magazine --two articles that I pitched. This magazine had a listing on another website and I contacted that person, who is the deputy editor, to inquire on what they were looking for and what they paid. She emailed me back saying they pay a flat rate of $350 for the same amount of words I am supposed to write for the next two articles. …

“Can My Family Sue Me?”

I have a million story ideas, many of them based upon my own wonderful (and dysfunctional) family or my wonderful (and dysfunctional) friends and relationships. I am scared to use this material, as I suspect the origin of my ideas will be obvious. How do you use this incredibly valuable and fascinating material without offending everyone you love? …

Where can I find a good editor?; Should I pay an agent?; Selling essays now hurt future book?

Where can I find an editor? I am currently writing a book and need to find someone to edit it. Do you have any suggestions? Please click above for a list of freelance editors we recommend. Should I pay an agent? Hi Angela, I have a question. A literary agent is interested in representing my books, but charges a fee. Is this a normal practice? They have a listing on editors and predators as a bad agency... Will selling my essays as a column hurt future book possibility? I hate to bug you like this, but you really are the only person in the world who seems to have answers to some of the thornier questions we blossoming freelancers sometimes face... …

Q&A

Due to the short holiday week, this issue is abbreviated. Ask the Expert will return to this spot next week. You can read last week's Q&A at HERE. …

How to protect children’s privacy in stories

I've enjoyed your magazine for the past couple of years, both informative and entertaining. I've seen the columns where you "give advice" and I could use a little help myself. I write fiction and my wife has just caught the "writing bug" and has decided to write about her adventures with our two kids and six foster kids. In this day and age, legalities abound, so can you tell me if we can we use the children's real names in her stories? …

Becoming a Correspondent / Book Proposal Help

~Becoming a "Correspondent"~ I've been a subscriber to your newsletter for quite some time. I was in California writing primarily for local/regional pubs, but we are now in Las Vegas, NV. I'm trying to get some work with local pubs, but the going is slow. I also have a 17 month old at home, so finding time to make contacts, put together clips, etc., is rather difficult. ~Book Proposal Help~ I've completed a Biography/Memoir and need to know is where (online, bookstore, library) I can find market statistics on the book sales of similar books and/or competitors? …

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