Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The New Normal

Let me say that after getting hit by an emotional truck last week, I am trying to get back to work. I am always so enthusiastic about everything and love my life -- but John's passing just took the wind out of my sails in an unexpected way. I just feel like someone walked by and forgot to pick up the brick they dropped on my head. Unfortunately, now I know how families feel when a member dies and the cause of death is a mystery. I guess that is the piece of closure we all need. Of course, the unexpected nature of the situation is also difficult since it came out of nowhere. Then my sweetheart of a husband noted that the Alaskan State Trooper reality show was involved in the search, and he did a pre-emptive strike to ensure my family's tragedy does not end up a segment on a reality TV show. I had an even bigger pit in my stomach when I realized the graphic nature of that show. It seems to me privacy should be respected, especially when asked. Well, I will slowly get back to feeling like my old energetic self. Actually, lessons are to be learned for authors who write true stories and here are some pointers.

1. If you write about your family, make sure you get sign off and I don't mean verbal. Use a release form and have the people mentioned in the story sign off. You never know when family members will be upset and sue. You don't want a lawsuit. The book business is hard enough.

2. If you use photos, make sure you have credited the photographer and had a release form signed from all of the people's images used. Another layer of paperwork, yes -- and another layer of prevention.

3. If you cannot get sign off, then you need to change the names and make sure the person cannot identify that person as being him or herself. If they can clearly draw a line back to their identity and the events happened to them, you have a potential lawsuit on your hands.

4. If you cannot get sign off, then change it to a novel and make sure you change the story enough so that it cannot be identified as your family's story. You've heard the message before on shows like Law and Order where they say the story is fictitious. Change your story enough to make it fiction.

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