The Writers Network News - February 2013 http://ezezine.com
The Writers Network News, February 2013
In This Issue
One: From the editor's desk - Happy Complaint
Two: Ask the Book Doctor about Staying Organized with Manuscript
Three: This Month's Easy Editing Tip from Bobbie Christmas - OK, O.K.,
Four: Subjects of Interest to Writers
Five: Contests, Agents, and Markets
Six: Got Muse? - Watch TV
The Writers Network News
No Rules; Just Write!
Editor: Bobbie Christmas
Contents copyright 2013, Bobbie Christmas
No portion of this newsletter can be used without permission; however,
you may forward the newsletter in its entirety to anyone who may be
interested in subscribing.
Excellent editing for maximum marketability
Twenty-plus years in the business of editing books (We must be doing
As book doctors, we write, edit, and evaluate fiction and nonfiction
manuscripts, book proposals, query letters, and synopses. As book
shepherds, we guide writers through the process of self-publishing. We
are a top-rated Better Business Bureau Accredited Business.
230 Deerchase Drive
Woodstock, GA 30188
Follow my Write In Style creative-writing blog at
Meet Fellow Writers
Do you live in or visit metro Atlanta? Sign up for local meeting
notices today! Send your name and e-mail address to
Some links in this newsletter have been shortened with the help of
www.tinyurl.com, which takes long web addresses and converts them to
Writer's quote of the month
Joseph Conrad said the task of the writer is "to make you hear, to make
you feel--it is, before all, to make you see. That--and no more, and it
One: From the editor's desk - Happy Complaint
Today I have a happy complaint. I'm happy to have a new computer and
upgraded systems and software, but I'm complaining because
reconfiguring the systems and getting used to new methods of working
has slowed me down and required several days of my time. The potential
for lost time is one of the reasons I usually wait to upgrade until my
computer is on its last leg. In one case, I waited too long and the
computer died, which was not a good situation.
My fear of losing data, however, is another reason why I wait so long.
That fear turned out to be unfounded this time, however, thanks to
Carbonite.com. For a small annual fee, Carbonite.com automatically
backs up my files to its website. I no longer have to remember to back
up my files. When I wanted to download those files to my new computer,
the transfer went quite easily.
What did happen, though, were other unexpected glitches. For example,
when I tried to mail a package, the U.S. Post Office label would not
print, because I had not yet installed Adobe Reader on my new computer.
Two steps forward, one step back. Sigh.
In upgrading, I also bought a wireless keyboard, which reduced the
number of cables threading throughout my office; however, the keys on
the new board are not exactly the same as my prior one. Specifically,
the Backspace key is farther to the right, so I keep typing a virgule
(/) when I want to hit the Backspace key. Oh, a few days of practice,
and I'll adjust, but combined with the other little things I have to
learn, I get frustrated.
This too shall pass. Within days I will have everything running as it
should, and I'll take the new speed, upgraded software, better monitor,
and wireless keyboard and mouse all for granted and wonder why I waited
so long to upgrade.
Even after all is going smoothly and I take it all for granted, though,
what will always make this new computer special to me is the fact that
my dear brother built it. Barry heard that my old computer was getting
cranky, and he jumped in and offered to build me a super-fast computer
with more memory than I'll ever need for far less than I would spend at
a retail store. He not only did what he said he would do, but he also
delivered the computer, installed it, and took me to lunch--and would
not let me pay for lunch.
Oh, yes, you can envy me. I not only have a great new computer, but I
also have the best brother in the world.
Yours in writing,
Bobbie Christmas (Bobbie@zebraeditor.com or firstname.lastname@example.org )
Author of Write In Style, owner of Zebra Communications, director of
The Writers Network, and coordinator of the Florida Writers Association
Editors Helping Writers service.
If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, please sign up to get your
own copy. Simply go to www.zebraeditor.com, click on Free Newsletter,
and follow the prompts. I never share your address or send out spam.
Two: Ask the Book Doctor about Staying Organized with Manuscript
By Bobbie Christmas
For this column, I depart from the usual Q & A and revert to a story I
told in my book titled Ask the Book Doctor. Here goes:
Many years ago, I was asked to read and evaluate submissions to a
fledgling literary agency that needed help with its volume of mail.
Each week I picked up a loaded box of that week's submissions,
sometimes as many as sixty in a week, and I was not the only evaluator.
I was told my job was to find any reason whatsoever to reject each
submission. If I could find no reason to reject it, or if I had a
reason to recommend it, I could then pass it along to the agent in
charge. The sad news is that I often found reason to reject submissions
from the moment I opened the envelope. For example, if the submission
did not follow standard manuscript format, I rejected it without
Think about it. I was not an agent, just a reader/evaluator. The agent
saw only a small percentage of the submissions, and she accepted an
even smaller percentage of those. We both looked for reasons to reject,
before looking for reasons to accept each submission.
One day I opened a letter to the agency that said, "Please place this
critically revised synopsis with my materials and disregard my earlier
summary. Apologies for the inconvenience." I shook my head in wonder. I
looked at the huge box of materials before me and thought about all the
materials I had already evaluated and either rejected or passed on to
the agent. How on earth could I find a specific submission and put
missing or revised parts together?
Please, never make the same error. It marks you as disorganized and
unpredictable and puts agents and readers in an impossible bind. Here
is the response I prepared to send:
"The volume of mail that comes into [agency name deleted] is
overwhelming. The agency uses several first readers. I am but one of
them, and I received your note requesting that we place your revised
synopsis with your materials and disregard the earlier summary. We
cannot go through hundreds of submissions on the desks of several first
readers to put a revised synopsis together with earlier materials. It
would take hours to find a specific submission after it was received,
and it could be in any number of locations. It also could have already
been evaluated and could be with the agent or in the mail back to you.
"My advice: Always be sure you send all the materials at the same time
and that they are as ready as they can be, before you send them.
"If you would like to resubmit your materials, along with your revised
synopsis, perhaps one of the readers will like the newer version well
enough to recommend it to the agency.
"I hope this information helps you with your submission to [name of
agency] as well as future agencies."
Before I sent that note, however, I was interrupted and had to do
something else. When I returned to my editing desk, guess what I found
was the very next submission I was supposed to evaluate. You guessed
it. I was able to do as the writer requested and put the new synopsis
in with the submission. The writer was lucky. I hope he or she bought a
lottery ticket, too.
Writers have to do so much more than write. We have to write, rewrite,
edit, revise, submit or self-publish, and we must keep track of all our
files, processes, and materials. I can't begin to list all the things
we must keep organized, but I will say this: If you plan to submit
manuscripts to agents or publishers, do your research carefully. Find
out exactly what the agent or publisher wants in a submission. Each one
has different guidelines.
Here are some of the things that various agents and publishers may
want: your brief bio; your full resume; the reason why you are the best
person to write the book; your list of publishing credits; a brief
synopsis; a two-page synopsis; a chapter-by-chapter outline; a book
proposal; the first chapter; a sample chapter other than the first
chapter; three sample chapters; the completed manuscript; a query
letter; a cover letter; total word count; a photo of yourself; a
self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE); a self-addressed, stamped
postcard; and more. Some receive submissions only through their
websites or through e-mail addresses; others want submissions only
through the post office.
Once you gather all the guidelines and details for each of your chosen
potential agents or publishers, print them out or save them to a file.
When you are ready to submit to a specific agent or publisher, go down
that agent or publisher's list and check off each item, to be sure you
have included it, before you hit Send or seal the envelope.
Those same lists of guidelines also act as your tracking sheet. Add the
date that you made your submission, so you can stay organized and know
when and to whom you submitted your book. You can also write down the
result of each submission, if indeed you hear back from anyone.
What? You might not hear back? I found it to be true. It appears that
courtesy has gone by the wayside, as the volume of submissions
increase. Fewer publishers or agents take the time to respond anymore,
if not in the positive. If any person or company does give you any
encouragement or feedback, even if it is a rejection, save the
information. It's a rarity.
To order Ask the Book Doctor: How to Beat the Competition and Sell Your
Writing, go to http://zebraeditor.com/book_ask_the_book_doctor.shtml.
Bobbie Christmas, book editor, author of Write In Style (Union Square
Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your
questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more Ask the
Book Doctor questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com.
Would you like to read, save, or share the Ask the Book Doctor column
as a PDF file? At http://zebraeditor.com/files/ask_the_book_doctor.pdf,
the newest column is posted around the first of each month.
Three: This Month's Easy Editing Tip from Bobbie Christmas - - OK,
O.K., or Okay?
OK, O.K., or okay are all acceptable, but be consistent within the
manuscript. Don't use OK in one place and then O.K. in another. By the
way, ok and o.k. are not okay. My personal preference is okay, written
out, because it blends in with the other words without drawing
attention to itself.
Four: Subjects of interest to writers
Where is Bobbie speaking next?
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, FLORIDA--Bobbie Christmas will be presenting a
workshop at the Florida Writers Association's second annual "Birds
Nest" mini-conference in Altamonte Springs, Florida, along with other
notable speakers. Spring into an exciting year and take advantage of a
bevy of workshops on such topics as mystery writing, poetry, memoir
writing, e-publishing, editing, pitching agents, and more. You may also
pitch your work to an agent. Lunch is included. For more information
and to sign up, see
Write Like A Pro is a free e-book that Dr. Marcia Riley has jam-packed
with manual and online techniques to improve your writing, editing, and
proofreading skills. She is an expert in writing business materials;
however, much of her information will help writers of any materials.
For your free copy go to
Converting Automatic Numbering to Typed Numbers
The information below is lifted from The Subversive Copy Editor blog by
Carol Saller, a senior manuscript editor at the University of Chicago
Press, an editor of The Chicago Manual of Style, editor of the Chicago
Manual of Style Online's Q&A, and author of several children's books.
Like field codes, automatic numbering can save lifetimes of word
processing. This feature allows you to add or delete an item near the
top of a numbered list and watch all the numbers below it neatly
increase or decrease by one. However, when the auto-feature isn't
needed or welcome, simply removing the numbered formatting in Microsoft
Word leaves the text without any numbers at all.
Fortunately, there's an easy way to save yourself keying in all the
missing numbers. It involves putting a toe into the waters of Visual
Basic, but don't be frightened.* I promise: you can do it. I did it,
and I'm here to tell the tale. Back up your document and go for it:
1. Highlight the chunk of text that contains the automatic numbering
you want to convert to typed numbers. (Don't worry about automatically
numbered footnotes and endnotes; they'll survive.)
2. Click Alt-F11. A Microsoft Visual Basic screen will open.
3. Under the View tab, choose Immediate Window. A little window will
open across the bottom of the Visual Basic screen.
4. Type the following or paste it in:
5. Hit Enter.
6. Close the Visual Basic screen.
That's it. Your numbering should now be typed instead of automatic.
*Here Carol Saller confesses that she never works in Visual Basic and
has no idea what it is. She says, "My level of understanding is like
that of a rat running a maze to get a hit of cocaine: I do the steps; I
get what I want. I'm telling you this so you don't come back to me if
it goes wrong. You did back up your work, right?"
For this and more tech tips from Carol Saller,
Free History from The New York Times
Do you need to find some history to flesh out or ground your book? The
New York Times allows you to browse seventy years of issues, from
September 18, 1851, through December 30, 1922. Flip through virtual
editions of the pages and click on any to read the article that
interests you. http://timesmachine.nytimes.com
Write In Style No Longer In Stock
Write In Style is the first book to teach how to write tighter,
stronger, and more creatively, PLUS how to speed through your editing
phase using tricks available in the software you're already using.
Write In Style won the Royal Palm Literary Award for education, Best in
Division (Georgia Author of the Year Awards), and was a finalist in
USABookNews Best Books.
I warned everyone to buy from me, while I had a few copies on hand, but
there are only a few water-damaged copies plus a couple of new ones
left, now, and they are all selling on Amazon.com.
To order, go to
To order a used or slightly water-damaged copy, click on the Used tab.
From The Chicago Manual of Style Website Q & A This Month
Q: If I cannot avoid splitting the word biology at the end of a line,
do I really split it between syllables as all the online dictionaries
suggest, biol-ogy, and not according to its etymology, bio-logy?
A: That's right. Words are divided by pronunciation, not etymology. To
learn about word division, please see CMOS 7.31-43.
Q: Do footnotes have to be double-spaced and the same size font as the
text? It just does not look right!
A: In Chicago style, yes. Remember that traditionally manuscripts are
prepared for someone to edit on paper, if necessary. Manuscripts are
not meant to "look right" if that means looking like a published
article or book. The type should be large enough for easy reading, and
there should be enough space between the lines for copyediting. (If the
manuscript will be edited electronically, the editor can easily change
the format, of course, and none of this matters.) When material is
typeset in a book or journal, the notes are usually reduced in size and
printed single-space, and then they will look right to you.
Q: I am editing an article for publication. The author is discussing a
Yiddish tale titled Simkhe Plakhte. The title is also the name of the
central character in this tale, and the author also uses it as a genre,
as in "the basic narrative elements of the Simkhe Plakhte tale." Should
"Simkhe Plakhte" be treated as a title and italicized, or is it used as
a general term? In general, if a writer uses the title of a folktale as
a genre, does it need to be treated as a title?
A: It's usual to use italics for a title but roman for a genre or
character. There are times when it doesn't matter which you choose: you
can read the Harry Potter (set in italics) books or the Harry Potter
(set in roman) books. For these gray areas, pick a default style and
note it in your style sheet.
The Chicago Manual of Style is the reference that book editors use. For
more CMOS Q & A, see http://tinyurl.com/2xscwn.
Purge Your Prose of Problems
A Book Doctor's Desk Reference, Fifth Edition
Save thousands of dollars and edit your own book! Order my proprietary
book-doctor desk reference book online at http://tinyurl.com/4ptjnr.
In alphabetical order and in easy-to-understand language, Purge Your
Prose of Problems covers all you need to know to revise and edit
fiction and nonfiction books, including grammar, punctuation, word
choices, creative writing, plot, pace, characterization, point of view,
dialogue, Chicago style, format, and much more. The spiral binder lets
the book lie flat in front of your computer, for easy use. Available
printed or as a PDF e-book that allows you to keep all this vital
information on your computer for ready reference.
The e-book is the best deal, because you get it immediately and pay no
shipping, and it then resides on your computer for the speediest
reference, whenever you need it.
To save thousands of dollars by editing your own book, order Purge Your
Prose of Problems today at http://tinyurl.com/4ptjnr.
Terminology Writers Should Know
When modifying--descriptive--words, phrases, or clauses are not near
the word they describe, confusion and sometimes unintentional humor can
be the result. Here's an example: I watched the sun as it set below the
horizon and wished for a margarita. In this example, as written, the
sun wished for a margarita. Here's one way to revise the sentence to
avoid a misplaced modifier: While I watched the sun set below the
horizon, I wished for a margarita. Here's another: I wished for a
margarita while I watched the sun set below the horizon.
Free Tools for Writers from Bobbie Christmas and Zebra Communications
Order PDF reports on writing-related subjects, including correct
manuscript format, how to form and run a critique circle, how to
identify weak writing and repair it, self-publishing versus traditional
publishing, and much more. Go to
http://zebraeditor.com/free_reports.shtml. Newest report: Genre: A
Slippery Subject Essential to Fiction: Learn about genre fiction
categories and the benefits of complying with genre specifications.
Attention Writers! Try Before You Buy: A New Way to Find a Qualified
Editor for Your Book
The Florida Writers Association offers a unique service to members
through its Editors Helping Writers service, plus you have the
reassurance that you are dealing with fully vetted professional editors
who are overseen by a coordinator of the service as well as the strong
Florida Writers Association itself.
To learn all the rules and regulations for the Editors Helping Writers,
go to http://tinyurl.com/96eklu5. To participate in the service, you
will have to be a member of FWA, but the membership fee is low, the
advantages of membership are many, and you don't have to live in the
state or even in the country.
Ask the Book Doctor: How to Beat the Competition and Sell Your Writing
answers many of the questions you wish you could ask an editing expert.
Whether you write books, short stories, articles, reports, or anything
else, learn more about how to write, edit, and sell your work.
Paperback: $14.95 plus $4.99 S & H (total: $19.94 US) E-book: $8.95, no
S & H, with almost instant delivery. You'll save almost $10 by buying
the e-book! To order either, go to http://tinyurl.com/lexp7n.
Free Book Reviewer
Blog/website name: Bella's Bookshelf
Main blog URL: www.bellasshelf.com ;
Main reviewer's name: Fran C.
Best method of contact: e-mail: email@example.com
Accepts books these categories:
Dystopian (e.g. Divergent/Hunger Games, etc.)
Contemp: (e.g. Fault in our Stars/13 Reasons Why, etc.)
Horror: (e.g. Unwind/Rot and Ruin/Vampire, etc.)
Mystery: (e.g. Dark Place Gillian Flynn)
Si-Fi: (e.g. Maze Runner/Enclave, Mortal Instruments, etc.)
Romance: (mild, historical fiction, teen, YA)
Fiction: (e.g. The Lying Games, Every Day)
Does not accept nonfiction.
Accept e-books in epub, Smashwords and/or Amazon coupons
What are your "pet peeves" when authors or publishers contact you for a
review? Mass mailings that are not even geared toward my genre
interests. Cold mailing me e-books and expecting a review, Asking for
ultra-quick turnaround time, asking for a review to be ONLY positive,
despite my true feelings for the book.
Posts book reviews on her own site and on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes &
Noble, and wherever else requested
"I love the YA genre. The most recent books I read that I adored were
by Lili Peloquin, Darynda Jones, Francine Pascal, VC Andrews, Gillian
Flynn, Cassandra Clare, and Andrew Fukuda."
For more free reviewers, go to
Become Bobbie's friend on Facebook:
Like Zebra Communications on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/7vcxaxu.
Five: Contests, Agents, and Markets
2013 National Indie Excellence Awards Open for Submissions
"We created the National Indie Excellence Awards because we believed in
you, the heroes of indie and self-publishing. You have revolutionized
the publishing industry. It is YOUR involvement that has supported the
constant improvement and cost effectiveness of new printing/publishing
processes. It is YOUR involvement that has invented new methods of
promotion and marketing using social media, and it is YOUR involvement
that has laid the foundation for indie and self-publishers to make a
real business out of their endeavors. For complete information on how
to enter, see the website listed above."
Absey & Co.
23011 Northcrest Drive
Spring TX 77389
Edward Wilson, editor-in-chief
Do you write poetry?
For almost ten years, Absey and Co. has contributed to the literary
marketplace with award-winning titles in the areas of poetry and
language arts. In 1998, two Absey books, Poetry After Lunch and Just
People: Paper/Pen/Poem were named to the American Library Association's
Best Books for Young Adults as well as The New York Public Library's
Books for the Teen Age. In 1999, Absey title Where I'm From was
nominated for the highest honor in young adult literature: the American
Library Association's Michael Printz Award, the young adult equivalent
of ALA's Newberry Award. It was also named to The New York Public
Library's 1999 Books for the Teen Age. Absey and Co. has made a place
for itself in the world of publishing with strong, literary works in
the genres of fiction, poetry, and language arts.
"We accept mainstream fiction and nonfiction, poetry, educational
books, especially those dealing in language arts. We do not accept
e-mail submissions of manuscripts. Submit: A brief cover letter, a
chapter-by-chapter outline, an author's information sheet (please focus
on relevant qualifications and previous publishing experience), two or
three sample chapters, and a SASE."
Responds to mss in six to nine months.
Absey publishes a few titles every year. We like the author and the
illustrator working together to create something magical. Authors and
illustrators have input into every phase of production."
Beverly Hills Book Awards Deadline Approaching
The Beverly Hills Book Awards is open to all English language print
books published from 2008 to 2013 available for sale in the United
States. The Beverly Hills Book Awards is now accepting submissions for
the 2013 contest. Deadline for submissions is February 28, 2013, and
winners and finalists will be announced in April 2013.
We consider cover and interior design, promotional text, aesthetic
components and other factors that demonstrate outstanding presentation.
We accept fiction and non-fiction books in a wide range of topics and
categories including mystery, romance, business, self-help, memoirs,
inspirational and many others. We welcome print books from all
publishers and authors. See website for complete information.
1760-F Airline Hwy, #203
Hollister CA 95023
Submission E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Betty Leaver, managing editor (foreign language, humanities,
MSI Press is a small, friendly press that is dedicated to bringing to
- cutting-edge information in foreign language education & cultural
- unique general interest books in the areas of education, psychology,
We publish unique books in the areas of learning and teaching, second
and foreign languages, foreign culture, cross-cultural information,
religion, spirituality, inspiration, memoirs that are either spiritual
or cross-cultural (or preferably, both), popular psychology and general
interest (especially humor). Books fall into three lines of endeavor:
a. Language and culture
b. Religion & spirituality
c. General interest
(mail or e-mail in Word format. No faxes or phone calls, please.)
Send SASE if you want your manuscript returned.
Please wait three weeks before querying.
Six: Got Muse? Watch TV
Oh, yes, you're going to love this project. First you have to watch TV,
because I want you to pay attention to the commercials. If you are one
of the rare people without a TV, then go to the Internet and watch a
few commercials. Pay attention. Many of them tell a mini story that
features a person with a problem, and then a specific product or
service offers a solution to the problem. Watch several commercials,
and you'll see what I mean. A woman is tired and frustrated with
dusting, but a new type of duster speeds her cleaning. Kids are messy,
but a paper towel cleans all the mess. A person needs cash, but a loan
company will give him a loan on his car title. A person isn't sure he
got the best tax refund, but a tax preparation company promises to get
him the biggest refund possible. A fellow's feet hurt, but he finds
shoe inserts that make his feet feel great. A man feels old, but a
hair-dye product covers his gray hair and makes him look young again.
Over and over, you'll find commercials that present a problem and a
product that provides the solution.
Use the same concept to create a story. You may even get some ideas
from the commercials themselves. For example, perhaps you will write
about a struggling woman who feels obligated to keep her house and
children immaculate while she also holds down a full-time job. Show her
finding a solution or coming to a compromise that makes her life
All good fiction is based on the same premise: a person has a problem
or a desire and sets about to solve the problem or get whatever he or
she wants to obtain. Sometimes the ending is happy, as in commercials,
but in fiction, as in life, sometimes the results are not completely
satisfying. The struggle itself, however, is what makes stories
Do YOU have news for The Writers Network News? Please send it in the
body copy, not an attachment, to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Deadline: The
15th of each month.
Send a copy of this newsletter to all your writing friends. Tell them
to join The Writers Network F-R-E-E by visiting www.zebraeditor.com and
clicking on Free Newsletter.
With the exception of Zebra Communications, information in this
newsletter is not to be construed as an endorsement. Be sure to
research all information and study every stipulation before you accept
assignments, spend money, or sell your work.
The Writers Network News: a newsletter for writers everywhere. No fees.
No officers. No Rules; Just Write!