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WTFery: Trademark on the word "Cocky" in romance

Well, here we go.

Authors, publishers, cover designers, and really, anyone in the…world should care about this.

The Story:

Many of you already know this, but a romance author has trademarked the word “cocky,” both as its specialized font, but also the word itself (i.e. a wordmark).

Please don't tell me she can't: she has. It's a done deal, was approved May 1.

Although titles cannot usually be trademarked (or copyrighted), one author who contacted the USPTO was told that a “likelihood of confusion clause” would probably apply, allowing them to not only apply the trademark to a SERIES titles, but BOOK titles too. 

This is an incredibly unsettling precedent, that someone can be granted the exclusive right to a COMMON USE word. Additionally, a word already used on a plethora existing book titles in the genre. 

This is insane. If other authors begin trademarking common use words–oh, say, “warrior” or “duke”–we will be left with nothing but prepositions in our titles. 

Equally important: this does not seem like a move designed to protect her own brand. 

It feels like a move to suppress competition.

That's not what trademarks are for.

She is in the process of issuing cease & desist letters to other romance authors, claiming they must change their titles, or they will be sued and they will owe her all their earnings.

She has indicated that this is “no big deal,” and should only take the authors “one day” to do.

Um…no.

We'll see what happens.

 

For your continued reading pleasure: 

http://www.pajiba.com/think_pieces/cocky-writer-romance-author-faleena-hopkins-trademarks-cocky-and-tries-to-shut-down-others-using-the-word.php

http://legalinspiration.com/?p=503

And/or, you can follow #cockygate, #freecocky, and similar threads on Twitter.

 

Medieval Women-Ælfgifu, Queen Regent of Norway (for awhile)

Reading An Annotated Index of Medieval Woman.  I really dig having these little snippets of history, that I can sail through, or pause and dream a little…maybe do a little extra research because…  

💎Story ideas! 💎

Viktoria, by artist Eve Ventrue

My most recent fire was lit by the tidbits I got about Aelfgifu (Ælfgifu) of Northampton. 

→ This picture is not Aelfgifu.  This is from artist/designer Eve Ventrue and OMG! →

Aelfgifu lived 1000-1040.

She was the daughter of a powerful family in the North, Wulfrun & Earl Ælfhelm of Northampton.

Her father the earl was killed, probably on orders  of the English king Æthelred the Unready. Her two brothers were blinded by the Unready king as well.

The Danish king didn't like trust the family much either, and when Swein Forkbeard, King of Denmark, invaded England in 1013/14, even more of Aelfgifu's family members were killed.

Then Forkbeard married Aelfgifu to his son, Cnut II of Denmark, as one does.

I cannot imagine how she felt about this.  Truthfully.  Maybe she was resigned, because this is the way politics happened.

Maybe she was happy, at being married to the man who could one day be king.

Grateful at not being killed herself.

Furious at being wed into the family that had murdered some of her family.

Forkbeard died soon after and Æthelred the Unready decided to try his luck at being king again. He forced Cnut back to Denmark. By some accounts, Cnut left his wife and baby behind with her family.

Ouch.

The family had no intention of turning their daughter and her son over to be killed, so they sent Aelfgifu, the baby, and the body of Cnut's father back to Denmark.  She got pregnant again and gave birth to Harold Harefoot, who would become King of England.

Cnut rolled back into England, took it over, became king…and promptly married Emma of Normandy, the widow of King Æthelred the Unready.

Hoo boy.

This was fine with the English Church, as they didn't recognize the first marriage. It was likely acceptable in Aelfgifu's world as well. Still…it's gotta hurt.

Turns out Cnut's other wife, Emma of Normandy, really didn't like Aelfgifu.

About 1030, Cnut sent Aelfgifu and their young son Sweyn back to Norway to rule for him as Queen Regent.

Her rule was extremely harsh, and Norwegians finally rebelled, forcing Aelfgifu to flee, but a lot of historians believe her most unpopular decisions and heavy taxation were probably ordered by far-away Cnut.

Then Cnut died.

Wife #2, Emma, wanted her son Harthacnut to be king of England.

Aelfgifu wanted her son Harold to be king.

You see where this is going?

There are rumors of murder and other intrigue, but none substantiated. 

In the end, Harold Harefoot did rule England. For about 5 years. Then he died.

Harthacnut rolled back into town (lots of rolling here) and took over of kingdom pretty peacefully, although he apparently still had some bad feelings toward his step-brother, because he unearthed Harold's body from where it was buried in Westminster, threw it into a fen, then dumped it in the River Thames. It was picked up by a fisherman who took it to the Danes, and Harold was once again given a decent burial in London.

The last time Aelfgifu is mentioned is in 1036. It is not known how she died.

This doesn't seem right.  Daughter of a great family stripped down by two kings, wife of a king, mother of a king, Queen Regent, and we don't even know about the end of her life. 

I'm not saying she was a paragon of ideals we'd aspire to today…although maybe she was.  And honestly, I'm fed up with people anyhow, and find our aspirations pretty low & base a lot of the time.

But Aelfgifu was clearly a strong, vital, powerful women who lived in a brutal time and she persevered to marry a king, father a king, and rule a kingdom.  That takes moxie.

(Postscript: I did a search for “moxie woman,” looking for a nice image to wrap things up for us here.  I…didn't find one. I  found a lot of pictures of small dolls, a surprising number of full-sized naked women who didn't appear to be doing anything that required ‘moxie,' and one happy woman holding a big-ass check in the amount of $16,423.69.  Perhaps she was a moxie award winner.  In any event, nothing quite captured what I was going for, so we're signing off bare of pictures.  Let me know if you have any!)

Weekly-ish Wrap-up: Feb 10

The past couple weeks have been filled with productive but unexciting events of me with my head down, writing. This will undoubtedly result in die-hard readers of this blog turning to one another, if they could turn to one another, and muttering, “Why are we standing here peering through this window when all she's doing is cursing at a computer screen?”  A fair question.

Rebranding Continues

The rebranding of the historicals continues apace.  And when I saw ‘rebranding,' I  mean “branding for the first time ever.”  (Full disclosure: you're in the presence of the worst marketer ever born.)  A couple covers and titles are being revamped, and the entire Renegades & Outlaws series is being renamed, along w/ a new logo.

Gee, I wonder what the new series title is…?  🤔  Okay, actually, I know.   Anyone want to take a guess, comment section is below!

I'll announce & post pictures when all is done.

King's Warrior (formerly The King's Outlaw) off to edits!

Closing in on release date of Feb 28th…. 

You can check it out at Amazon & iBooks and soon, on GooglePlay!  The old title remains on booksellers for now, until the new cover is finished.

Knighting ceremony & Medieval Custard Pie

In the ‘If It's Medieval, It Counts' department…at my children's school, they've been studying the middle ages, which includes a “Knight's Challenge.” This involves the kids setting personal goals related to physical and character improvement (including a 3 hour stint of silence one day!)  and working it on for a month. They also had to do community activity, some service to others.

It's all wrapped up now, and they're ready for the solemn occasion of a knighting ceremony & feast to follow!  :rubs hands together:  The kids each make a medieval dish and the parents eat it all.

My child committed to making & bringing apple crisps, which involved very expensive saffron threads (!!) and a deep frying experience none of us will ever forget. Think ‘traumatic.'  It was difficult not to say “I told you so,” but I resisted.

A hasty conference ensued, and the new menu item is a Custard Pie.  Should be easier. And filled with more fat, so it's a win-win.

A 15th c recipe for fruit daryoles (custard pie) which is NOT the one we used. And aren't you glad romance writers don't write in authentic period language??

 

If you're interested, here's the amount-adjusted recipe we're using (God save us, I helped do the math to reduce the original recipe from 2 pies to 1. Will check in after and let you know how it went):

Ingredients FOR ONE PIE

• 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts
• 1/4 cup blanched almonds
• ½ c + 1/8 cup cold water
• ½ cup half-and-half cream
• ½ pinch saffron powder
• ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 2 ½ eggs
• 3/8 cup white sugar (= 6 TBSP ?)
• ½ teaspoon rose water (NOTE: we may skip because I already bought saffron threads)
• Add all ingredients to list

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Press pie crusts into the bottom and up the sides of two 9 inch pie pans. Prick with a fork all over to keep them from bubbling up. Bake pie crusts for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, until set but not browned. Set aside to cool.

Make an almond milk by placing almonds in the container of a food processor. Process until finely ground, then add water, and pulse just to blend. 

Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes, then strain through a cheesecloth. Measure out 1 cup of the almond milk, and mix with half and half. Stir in the saffron and cinnamon, and set aside.

Place the eggs and sugar in a saucepan, and mix until well blended. Place the pan over low heat, and gradually stir in the almond milk mixture and cinnamon. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to thicken.

When the mixture is thick enough to evenly coat the back of a metal spoon, stir in rose water and remove from heat. Pour into the cooled pie shells.

Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the center is set, but the top is not browned. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until serving.

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