Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Google Chrome Browser and Your Rights to Your Work

Screenshot by DaniellaNicole under Fair Use

Some reports and comments have been published regarding the fine print associated with the new Google Chrome Browser. These reports may be troubling to writers, photographers, artists, and other freelancers who use the internet for the submission of their work.

Fox News – September 4, 2008

(which led me to:)

CNET news – September 2, 2008

The wording being reported is, “By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any content which you submit, post or display on or through, the services.”

This wording certainly does imply Google Chrome usage while submitting or creating your written works, photographs, music, art, and more gives Google a right to such works.

HOWEVER, when I checked the Google Chrome Privacy Policy and Terms of Service (on September 11, 2008), I did not find such wording, but did find clear wording that your rights to your work are yours and in no way belong to or are claimed by Google/Google Chrome.

Google Chrome Terms of Service (see sections 9 and 11) – not dated

Google Chrome Privacy Policy
– Dated September 3, 2008

In all fairness, Google may have changed the wording (terms of use) for Chrome since the reports came out. I am assuming they did. Regardless, this is clear evidence as to the importance of verifying facts before reporting or putting information into print. Had I relied upon those two reports (which were probably correct at the time of print) rather than checking and reading the current version of the fine print for myself, I would have been reporting and printing false information.

The second lesson
to be learned from this is the importance of reading all of the fine print before you sign or agree to anything. I have been involved in contract negotiations in which the other side slipped in last minute changes that were discovered on the day of signing, and I have refused to sign other contracts which were completely one-sided - giving me no rights or protection.

There are many honest employers and contractors out there, and there are others who will only protect their interests. Reading the fine print will help you discern between the two.

Back to the theme of this post, if you are interested in checking out or downloading Google Chrome, you may do so here:

Google Chrome

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Book Review Templates

Photo © Sarah Sturtevant Whether by assignment or choice, writing book reviews can be a fun way to earn some income as a freelance writer. The site or company you are writing for may have their own template or format for your review. If so, their template trumps any other you may be using.

If there is no template, or if you are writing a book review you will try to sell, there are places that offer free book review template advice.

It is important to note that a book review is very different from a book report. Though I have read some reviews of books and other media that contain spoilers and give away endings, unless requested or noted in the beginning of the review, it is best to avoid giving away the ending or revealing the entire plot line in a book review.

Below I have linked to a few places with templates and advice for writing book reviews. Please review them and use the one you like best, or create your own from the information you find:
Writing with Writers offers a step-by-step approach from an experienced book reviewer.
Tips for writing a book review - From Los Angeles Valley College Library
Book review structure guide from University of Washington at Tacoma
The OWL at Purdue guide for writing a book review
Quick Tips from for how to write a book review
Suggested elements to be included in a book review
10 Step Process for Writing a Book Review Classic Literature Guide's steps for writing a literary review
Writing a book review with SEO in mind

For more information and ideas, read some book reviews online and in print. Use the ones you like best as your template for how to format a review and what to cover.

Online book reviews from
New York Times Book Reviews

Finally, I cannot remember or locate where I got the information or from what sources I compiled it, but the template I personally use is shown below.
Book Review Template Used by Daniella Nicole

Place Published:
Publication Date:
Special Features:


Body of the Review

Rating/impression and why

Author background


Have a template you prefer or would like to share? Please tell us about it in the comment section.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sensationalist Journalism

Location of the United StatesImage via Wikipedia Yet another sensationalist piece in the news prompted me to write this post. I am from the ‘old school’ journalism sect. I was taught to stick with facts that are carefully checked out. I was taught that truth was imperative, and any misleading or false statement would not only open the door for a lawsuit due to libel, but it would lead to a prompt dismissal.

Things have changed dramatically. With the inception of the internet came an onslaught of competitors to the world of print and broadcast media. Also with the internet came the increasingly difficult challenge to beat the competitors to the punch with headlines – leaving little or no time to check facts. The ‘be first’ fever spread, and now it is virtually impossible to find one news outlet of any kind that does not indulge in sensationalism.

Headlines that are misleading or downright false are the mainstay in American journalism. It is all about getting the clicks – getting the readers, with no regard for fact or truth. This is just one aspect of sensationalist journalism.

Another aspect of sensationalist journalism is including ‘dirt’ in stories that has no relevance to the main subject of the story. Again, the point is to get the clicks – to get the readers – to be ‘first’ to reveal some juicy tidbit, no matter how irrelevant or damaging to others.

There is no respect shown for anyone in America. No longer are celebrities and politicians the only ones subject to having reporters camped outside their home, being followed (i.e. stalked), being photographed at will, and having sensitive private information publicly revealed in print or broadcast online.

No longer is sensationalist journalism limited to tabloids - many once respectable news sources are now guilty of it as well. A BBC, Reuters,and Media Center sponsored 10-country poll taken in 2006 shows that the American public overwhelmingly does not trust the media. The lines between fictional creative writing and news reporting have become increasingly blurred.

Want to read more articles and polls about the distrust of the media? Try Mondo Times.

Enticing headlines and articles take real talent to create. However, they can be created without lowering oneself into the murky world of sensationalism. Fact checking and ethics in journalism are the true mark of a professional.

It is up to you which road you choose.

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Freedom of Speech and the First Amendment

19th century Photo of O. W. Holmes Jr.Image via Wikipedia As a writer, one of the first things I was taught in journalism was the First Amendment. Many people misunderstand it, but as a writer, your job, your credibility, and your finances depend upon knowing it well.

The First Amendment reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Though it is commonly known as the ‘free speech’ amendment, with great freedom comes great responsibility, and not all speech is equal. A very famous quote about free speech comes from US Supreme Court Associate Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841 – 1935, pictured above), “ You are not free to yell ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater.”

In accordance with this, several types of speech are NOT protected under the first amendment, and in my opinion, nor should they be. They include:

Libel (defamation of character in writing)
Slander (defamation of character orally)
Hate speech (defamation of a particular race, religion, group, etc)
The Heckler’s Veto (a ‘heckler’ drowning out the speech of someone with their heckling to the point of disrupting the meeting)
Fighting Words (speech that inflames listeners to violence)
Obscenity (the legal definition of obscenity is still a bit of a gray area that is hotly debated, but generally is understood to be ‘adult’ material that when taken as a whole has no redeeming social features)

*Please note I am not an attorney, nor a constitutional expert. I have explained these concepts and legalities as I understand them as a writer, and as brief research into my understanding of these issues has confirmed them to be true. I welcome any additions or clarifications from anyone with a more in-depth knowledge of these matters.

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Welcome Back to Beginning Write!

Photo © Chance Agrella

After a hiatus, Beginning Write is back with a new look and new information. I can't guarantee regular posts, but I promise to blog about and list the best information I can find to help freelance writers. I will share personal experiences, thoughts, and opinions related to my life as a freelance writer as well.

This blog is not a daily newsflash kind of blog. This is a reference source for writers kind of blog. The information in this blog will be evergreen as much as possible, and I will be updating information as needed.

A few things I will be adding to Beginning Write will be sources of additional great freelancing info, job lead sites, and a compilation of 'content mills' that are legit. I will also be adding information about SEO, how to set your rates, taxes, contracts, monetizing your sites/blogs, grammar, punctuation, style guides, spelling, writing tips, and much more.

So, please pour yourself a tasty beverage, kick back, and enjoy! Your comments, thoughts, opinions, and questions are always welcome - unless they are inappropriate, spam, rude, or otherwise deemed crap not fit for print. ;-)

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Copyright © 2008 - 2010 Daniella Nicole. All rights reserved.