In Other News: My Thoughts on #cockygate

In case you didn’t know, there’s an indie Romance author named Faleena Hopkins who holds a trademark on the word “COCKY.”

I know, right?!?!

Two trademarks actually, one for the word  “COCKY” in reference to her romance series based on the Cocker brothers, and one for the word in a stylized script logo. These were approved on April 17 and May 1 of this year.

With her new certificates of ownership hot off the presses, she allegedly commenced to send threatening letters to other romance authors who have used the word “Cocky” in their titles, informing them that she’s already lawyered up and if they don’t change the title of their books she’s going to take all their profits and their little dogs too.

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Now, I’m no lawyer, but I was still dubious of the legality of her claims. If authors can run around trademarking to prevent others from using words whose etymology goes back to the 1500’s then basically the industry is screwed. I mean, what will we name the books? NYT Bestselling author Christopher Rice tweeted, “I’m sorry, but if it’s actually legal to trademark a SINGLE WORD in relation to the title of a work of fiction, or a series of fictional works, then there are going to be three possible titles of novels left, and each one will be composed entirely of contractions.”

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I mention his NYT Bestselling status to show that this is not just making waves in the indie community among authors who don’t have the financial means to keep a lawyer on retainer.

Further research led me to a legal post by lawyer Marc Whipple which gives credence to my credulity. I also discovered that the owner of the font she used for her trademark said she had no legal right to do so. Regardless, I just can’t stop asking myself why.

By trademark bullying other authors you alienate yourself from your peers in a community that tends to be endlessly supportive and protective of its own. Like other artists in their fields, writers bolster and encourage each other, even biggies like Neil Gaiman and Maggie Stiefvater send personalized encouragement to newbies. I’ve watched authors tirelessly promote one another on all forms of social media. They read and buy each others books, review, blog, assist one another. Why would she not want to be a part of that? Is she so frightened that her art can’t stand on its own two feet that she feels the need to bash in the knees of her competitors to win her place on the podium?

And if you thought authors were tight-knit, it’s a whole new world of Gordian knot proportions when you get to Romance authors. Their followers too. Romance is a very specific genre with very loyal readership. Why would you want to make waves in that pool? And those waves managed to wet the Romance Writes of America, an organization that supports big names in Romance like multi award-winning author Nora Roberts. RWA leadership has posted on twitter, as well as their website, that any Romance writer (member or not) is to contact them if they have been threatened with legal action for the use of the word “cocky.”

If I were her that would scare me quite a bit.

I went onto her social media to look for her side of the story. The first thing I found on Twitter was her author description which unfortunately makes her seem callous.

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I gave her the benefit of the doubt again, that her response to this deluge of negative online attention was to be brazenly confident, and moved on to her Facebook page. I found several posts there where she claimed that she had obtained the trademark because people were pirating her work, trying to tack themselves onto her success with similar titles and book covers. But, let’s be honest, if you stack a hundred romances written by a hundred different authors in a row, they’re all going to have similarities in titles and covers (I know this from working at a library shelving fiction books). The inside is what matters. The outside is just par for the genre course, and most authors roll with it. (This article address this better, and also mentions several other authors allegedly affected by her cease and desist letters.)

Romance books are not really a genre I read, but the idea of all this happening just makes me sad, both for the authors attacked and for the instigator as well. There’s no good end for this. Hopkins is now being personally attacked and bullied by people online. That’s never okay. I don’t care who you are or what you’ve done. Nor do I think it fair that I’ve seen multiple people on twitter saying she should just vanish or never write again. Why don’t we ever discuss forgiveness anymore, or the fact that humans make mistakes? I mean, am I the only one here who’s ever had to learn a lesson the hard way? Regardless, either Hopkins is right and she’ll open the floodgates to a myriad of legal issues for artists everywhere (which is scary), or she’s wrong and she’s just outed herself as a bully to the national organization that supports her genre. Basically, she’s just one tribal council away from being voted off the island.

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And for what? Greed maybe? Fear?

…and possibly some bad legal advice.

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“The Essence of Romance…”

The Essence of romance is Uncertainty.” ~ Oscar Wilde

IMG_4877We were driving on the highway to Ikea. It snowed during the night, just enough to dust the brown landscape of winter with a layer of pure white. Timothy and I oooed and ahhed over it all the way to the store. While we shopped, I kept gazing out the windows to the trees below and moaning with delight.

“I wish it didn’t cost so much to park in the city,” I said. “Because I bet Central Park is beautiful.”

Tim nodded. “Yeah, it’s a shame.”

Before we checked out, we grabbed lunch at the Ikea cafeteria. I was nibbling at my chicken fingers (No, I didn’t get the meatballs. Yes, I know that’s sacrilege.) when I noticed my husband was playing on his phone. It irks me when we’re out together and he piddles our alone time on twitter. I cleared my throat. “Buppy?” He looked up. “Whacha doin’?”

He smiled. “I found us parking in the city for only $9.”

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Thus with a narrowly avoided scolding, my husband bequeathed me a $9 date which is now climbing the hit chart of Svendsen date history. IMG_4996We left Ikea and parked in the city a little after noon. The morning was overcast with thick clouds, but the sun chased behind us. We stepped into Central Park just in time for the snow to still be sleeping lazily on the branches. As we walked, clods of ice plopped from the branches and beaned us on the head. We laughed at each other as the water dripped down our faces into our eyes. We held hands, took pictures, and loved on New York City.

 

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He’s adorable, my husband, but not very spontaneous. Neither of us are really, but every now and again he’ll turn flip the switch and do something I absolutely don’t expect. It was a perfect date. The high point of which was when we reached a pond, where I grabbed onto the railing to look out over the sunlight reflecting in the water and the buildings beyond it reaching into the blue sky. I felt him behind me, slowly shuffling round to the front. When I turned and saw him taking pictures of me I made a face at him.

“What?” he said. “You see beautiful things and you take pictures. I see beautiful things and I take pictures.”

Why is he so perfect? ❤

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© Rachel Svendsen 2016

Odd Forms of Romance

My husband is not poetic. He’s sincerely romantic, by that I mean he buys flowers, lights candles, and takes me on impromptu date nights. His sincerity is invaluable to me. What I’m trying to say is that, he doesn’t SAY romantic things. Usually it’s just, “I love you” or “I love you more than anything”. The look of devotion in his eyes says the rest. But he’s not the guy who takes your hand and says, “Oh my beloved angel I adore you! Your brown locks are silk. Your lips are the food of my being…blah blah blah”. You know, that kinda slop. The slop that most women like to hear on occasion. The occasions for Tim are rare, but every now and again he will throw out something or other that will melt me like an ice cube in a microwave.

We have a little game we play with each other that I call “I love you more than…”. We throw the phrase back and forth to each other. Example:

Tim: Guess what?
Me: What?
Tim: I love you.
Me: I love you more.
Tim: More than what?
Me: More than hummus.
Tim: Well I love you more than chocolate.
Me: Well I love you more than Mr. Bean.
Tim: Well I love you more than…

…and so on and so forth until we decide to knock it off or someone says something stupid and we both bust out laughing. One of the times it went like this…

Me: Guess what?
Tim: What?
Me: I love you.
Tim: I love you more.
Me: More than what?
Tim: More than I did yesterday, but not as much as I will tomorrow.

My heart sang, my eyes got all soft and mushy, and my lips curled into a dreamy smile. I’m pretty sure just typing that story out made me stare at my laptop in such a way as to make it think I’m finally noticing its new haircut.

The other night I had another one of those experiences, but it took on a form that I never would have expected. We were visiting our neighbors and by the time we got home I had a terrific migraine. Usually my migraines are super treatable for which I am excessively thankful. If I take a hot shower they usually drop down to a dull thud. If the thud is dull enough for me to fall asleep I wake up 100% in an hour or so. Because we were out, this one went too long unattended and I ended up vomiting from the horrendous pain. Timmy’s a darling. He held my hair and hugged me. Then tucked me into bed with a fuzzy blanket, a cup of tea, and a heating pad on my forehead. I’m such a baby when I’m sick. I put on his tee shirt and buried my face in his chest while he read to me. My stomach was still churning.

Me: Bubby? (That’s his nickname.)
Tim: What’s wrong babe?
Me: I’m gonna try not to throw up on you.
He stroked my head and whispered in a gentle completely sincere voice: I don’t mind if you throw up on me.

Those words are slightly comical and by no means poetry, but for some reason my heart sang, my eyes got all soft and mushy, and my lips curled into a dreamy smile.