Legal Issues for Writers with Mike Farris

Legal Issues For Writers

Sunday, December 16, 2018 - 3:00PM TO 6:00PM

Doesn't matter if you write books, articles, or screenplays, every writer must negotiate a minefield of legal issues on the road to publication or production.  Attorney Mike Farris, an expert in this field, will guide you through that minefield, addressing common questions that all writers have, plus some you may never have thought of.  Topics will include:

  • How, and why, to register your copyright

  • What is copyright infringement?

  • What is the “public domain”?

  • Defamation, invasion of privacy, and the right of publicity

  • The agency agreement

  • The publishing contract

  • How to obtain life rights

  • The option/purchase agreement for film rights/screenplays

  • How to protect your work when pitching to film producers

  • Collaboration agreements and works-for-hire

About Attorney Mike Farris: Mike was lead attorney in the Fifty Shades of Grey litigation in Fort Worth that resulted in a $13.25 million judgment in favor of his client.  He negotiated the sale of film rights to The Free State of Jones for his client The University of North Carolina Press, which was made into a major motion picture starring Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey and directed by multi-time Oscar nominee Gary Ross. Film rights to Mike's Hawaiian true crime book, A Death in the Islands: The Unwritten Law and the Last Trial of Clarence Darrow, have been optioned by Aaron and Jordan Kandell, two of the writers on the Disney hit Moana. Mike's next true crime book, Poor Innocent Lad: The Tragic Death of Gill Jamieson and the Execution of Myles Fukunaga, set in the Territory of Hawaii in 1928-1929, is set for release later this year. Mike is also the author of seven published novels, including thrillers such as The Bequest and Manifest Intent, and the Hawaiian historical fiction Isle of Broken Dreams.

Fee: $60 or $45 for former/current students | Live Stream Available!

  • Mike Farris, Presenter

  • Sunday, December 16, 2018 - 3:00PM to 6:00PM

  • Seminar meets at The Drawing Board at 75 & Campbell: 1900 Jay Ell Dr / Richardson, TX / 75081

  • Live Stream is available for students who live outside of Dallas. Just let us know when you register.

Click the button below to register for the seminar. Contact us HERE if you have any questions about this seminar.

Memoir or Fiction: Exploring Voice and Vision in Different Genres by Eden Elieff

Let’s say you have a story that only you can tell—you’ve witnessed or experienced events and circumstances no one else has. Or maybe, you have a perspective and passion that give you a singular understanding of those events.

And yet, these unique stories that shape our lives are often the most challenging to write about. Their enormity and multifaceted nature can overwhelm us. It’s like trying to find entry into a castle that has no visible doors. 

I speak from experience.

When my family moved to Chicago’s northern suburbs from the city’s south side in 1970, we lived across the street from a family whose primary vehicle was a hearse. They always parked it in their driveway, in plain sight, never in the garage.

This was weird. And unusual. To say the least.

And at the age of fourteen, the least was all I could say. I was too young to make sense of it. Yet as I saw the hearse every day, familiarity diminished its shock value. The vehicle, along with Lake Michigan, the buzzcut lawns and old-growth elms, blended into my daily scenery.

Three years later, during which time my mother evicted my father and initiated divorce proceedings, an anti-Semitic neighbor vandalized our home on the Jewish New Year, our car was stolen, I was beset with social anxiety—for starters—I went off to college and forgot about the hearse. Good riddance. To everything.

For years, it never even occurred to me to write about our move. Its transformative impact was too immense, too bright to look at. Yet one day, some fifteen years later, the image of the hearse came to me, seemingly out of the blue.

With the distance years bring, I could instantly see that the metaphor gods had just served me up a big fat one, and damn if I was going to let it go by without taking a swing at it—speaking of metaphors. This sudden insight told me: the hearse was my vehicle now, my way into this foundational story that had always been just a swirling succession of traumatic events, one without form or clear meaning. Yet once I grasped that the hearse was actually the key feature of the scenery, that it had symbolic resonance as both an omen and expression of our family’s demise, I could connect and interpret the various events of my experience and thus tell a coherent story. The essay I could finally write, “White Flight,” became my first published piece.

So, let’s say you discover an iconic image that’s always been woven into the fabric of your life, hiding in plain sight, and you feel a sudden urgency to write the story it embodies. And yet…you stop. You’re not sure which genre or form might best manifest its power.

My class Exploring Voice and Vision in Different Genres will consider both fiction and memoir as potential platforms from which to tell your story. Which genre might offer the perspectives, techniques and formal possibilities to best realize your intentions? We’ll read both essays and stories and look at the recent phenomenon of autofiction, a hybrid genre which blends both autobiography and fiction. We’ll consider the boundaries and qualities that define each domain and develop a sense of how and when the line separating them might be blurred—and when such blurring undermines the integrity of each.

Ultimately, we’ll aim to discover where you might find your most authentic, expansive, and persuasive voice on the page. Philip Roth described his work as a fiction writer as that of “undermining experience, embellishing experience, rearranging and enlarging experience into a species of mythology.” Maybe your story will bloom with such imaginative freedom, or maybe memoir, as a direct account of your experience, will “unlock meanings that fictionalizing has obscured...and can drive home some sharp emotional nails,” as Roth said about his transition to his autobiography, The Facts.

You’ll have two opportunities to present your work during the eight weeks of the class. Come join us. Just click on the button below to learn more!

Promptapalooza: a Free, Fun Night of Writing Prompts with WWD


a Free, Fun Night of Writing Prompts with WWD 

Sunday, August 26, 2018 - 6:30PM TO 8:30PM

Join us for an evening of linguistic invention. Choose from a huge array of creating writing prompts supplied by facilitator Joe Milazzo and start writing. The prompts span multiple genres — poetry, fiction and nonfiction (essay) — and cover topics such as sound, figurative language, theme, character, setting, collaborative writing and even interdisciplinary approaches (ekphrasis, hybrid texts, etc.). Participants will have an opportunity to share their original work and receive feedback on it during this session.

Instructor Joe Milazzo is a writer, editor, educator, and designer. He is the author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie (Jaded Ibis Press) and The Habiliments (Apostrophe Books), a volume of poetry. His writings have appeared in Black ClockBlack Warrior ReviewBOMBThe CollagistDrunken Boat and elsewhere. He has taught creative writing at Southern Methodist University, The University of Texas at Dallas, and The Writer's Garret. He co-edits the online interdisciplinary arts journal [out of nothing], is a Contributing Editor at Entropy, curates the Other People’s Poetry reading series, and is also the proprietor of Imipolex Press..


  • Joe Milazzo, Presenter
  • Sunday, August 26, 2018 - 6:30PM to 8:30PM
  • Seminar meets at The Foundry Club at Mockingbird Station: 5307 E. Mockingbird Ln / Dallas, TX / 75206
  • Live Stream is available for students who live outside of Dallas. Just let us know when you register.

Click the button below to register for this FREE seminar. Contact us HERE if you have any questions about this seminar.

What Business Do We Have Being Writers? - Guest Post by Blake Atwood

In “What I Earned (and How) During My First Year of Full-Time Freelancing,” publishing guru and writing expert Jane Friedman shares her exact income breakdown from her first full year of working for herself as a writer.

It’s a fascinating glimpse into the reality of what’s required of many working writers today: we can’t just rely on that one huge advance from a traditional publisher. (Even when we could, you still had to be one of the lucky chosen few.)

So, what’s a writer to do these days if they want to make a career out of their calling?

What business do we have being writers in the twenty-first century?

The Business of Being a Writer

Thankfully, Jane has compiled her decades of experience into The Business of Being a Writer, an accessible and overarching book that looks at the many avenues and possibilities that exist for today’s working writers.

In many ways, we live in a Golden Age of Publishing. You can self-publish online in seconds. But just because technology makes publishing easier doesn’t mean it’s made the business of being a writer any less so.

In fact, with so many voices wanting to be heard (and often for free), how can we ask—even demand—that we be paid for a commodity that’s become as plentiful as air?

Although we should always strive to become better writers, your writing skill won’t necessarily result in a writing career. (I’m sure there are thousands of stellar blog posts that have never led to paid writing work.) But, when you’re able to marry your writing talent to your business sense, that’s when a world of possibilities opens before you.

Jane wrote The Business of Being a Writer to address what she saw as a fundamental flaw in our system of producing writers, from MFAs to self-published authors. We lack a knack for business. We may know how to spot a dangling participle or critique others’ work, but we generally don’t know how to turn that hard-won knowledge and experience into something that produces income.

My Business of Being a Writer

Maybe it’s stereotypical—I certainly live down to it—but our artistic sensibilities tend to trump our business sense. It wasn’t until I took The Creative Class that I learned how to run a freelance business. It wasn’t until I joined a couple of close-knit online groups for editors that I learned how to garner leads. It wasn’t until I spoke to my CPA wife about what I charged that I learned I was devaluing what I offered.

In other words, it wasn’t until I admitted to myself that I was not a business-minded writer that I finally found myself incorporating BA Writing Solutions LLC—a business run by a writer.

I had (too much) confidence in my writing and editing, but I didn’t want to admit my ignorance on the business side. However, once I realized how much I had to learn, and how much I could gain, from getting real about my severe lack of business knowledge, that’s when my creative calling became my career.

I’m four years, dozens of books, and seventy-plus authors into my freelance work. Though my numbers aren’t quite like Jane’s (yet!), my pie chart breaks down in similar ways, through editing, writing, ghostwriting, book sales, affiliate sales, course sales, and teaching. In the last year, I’ve also added speaking to that assortment.

I’ve come to learn that Jane is right: “Despite ongoing transformations in the publishing industry, there are fundamental business principles that underlie writing and publishing success, and those principles are this book’s primary focus. Writers who learn to recognize the models behind successful authorship and publication will feel more empowered and confident to navigate a changing field, to build their own plans for long-term career development.”

I still doubt myself from time to time. I’m a writer, after all. But, after amassing paid experience across multiple avenues that all have writing as their foundation, I do “feel more empowered and confident” to keep doing this crazy thing we all love to do and secretly—or not so secretly—hope to get paid, and paid well, for doing.

If you want to get into the business of being a writer, join me for eight weeks every Wednesday from May 30 to July 25, 2018 (excepting July 4) from 7–9:30 p.m in my class The Business of Being a Writer. We’re going to work through Jane’s new book, and I can’t wait to learn even more about what’s possible.

Blake Atwood is an author, editor, and ghostwriter. He leads seminars and classes for Writing Workshops Dallas, co-leads the Dallas Nonfiction Authors Association, and hosts All Apprentices: Quick Editing Tips, a short podcast for writers seeking to become better self-editors.