The Writers Network News, March 2013 Issue http://ezezine.com
The Writers Network News, March 2013
In This Issue
One: From the editor's desk - Astrology: myth or fact?
Two: Ask the Book Doctor about Formatting Apostrophes, Bindings, and
Three: This Month's Easy Editing Tip from Bobbie Christmas - All
Together or Altogether?
Four: Subjects of Interest to Writers
Five: Contests, Agents, and Markets
Six: Got Muse? - Winds of Change
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
More than twenty years in the business of editing books (We must be
doing something right.)
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
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Writer's quote of the month
"One day while studying a Yeats poem I decided to write poetry the rest
of my life. I recognized that a single short poem has room for history,
music, psychology, religious thought, mood, occult speculation,
character, and events of one's own life." --Robert Bly
One: From the editor's desk - Astrology: myth or fact?
One of my clients sent his manuscript last month and insisted that I
return the edited version before Mercury went retrograde February 23.
Thankfully for him, I knew what he was talking about, and I believed it
enough to comply with his request.
For the astrology newbies, I'll do the best to explain as best I
understand it. Astrologers say that the planet Mercury is retrograde
after it reaches a pinnacle and then appears to be going backward in
the sky. It's an illusion to the eye; however, the results, astrologers
say, are far from an illusion. Things related to communication and
transportation, they say, go wonky when Mercury is retrograde. Because
writers deal with communication, perhaps we should pay attention.
When I first heard of the concept twenty years ago, I laughed. What a
silly notion! My education began when a friend chastised me for
installing a new sound system in my car during Mercury retrograde. She
said I would have a double whammy, considering that Mercury retrograde
affects both communication (radio/stereo) and transportation (car). I
shrugged and said I didn't believe in that silly stuff. The next thing
I knew, one of my brand-new speakers blew, and before I could have the
speaker repaired, the radio stopped working altogether. Humbled, I
waited until Mercury went direct, returned to the audio shop, had an
all-new system installed, and it's still working today, twenty years
later, in a car that is twenty-three years old.
After the car radio incident, I paid more attention to Mercury
retrogrades. Have you ever mailed a letter that never arrived? Failed
to receive an e-mail someone said he sent you? Worse, have you ever
shipped off a query letter, proposal, or manuscript and never heard
from the recipient? These sorts of things happen during Mercury
retrograde. To be sure, they also happen at other times of the year,
but the one thing I follow to the letter is that I never submit work
during Mercury retrograde. I believe it is more likely to get lost or
rejected during that period.
Mercury goes retrograde several times a year, and writers especially
would do well to be aware that our writing could be affected. It's a
great time to produce, to write from the heart, but not a good time to
communicate information to someone else. We must be more meticulous
about communication during that time.
Here's what The Old Farmer's Almanac (and who can argue with that
authority, I ask with a smile) says on the subject:
"Sometimes planets appear to be traveling backward through the zodiac;
this is an illusion. We can this illusion retrograde motion.
"Mercury's retrograde periods can cause our plans to go awry; however,
this is an excellent time to reflect on the past. Intuition is high
during these periods, and coincidences can be extraordinary."
If you'd like to be more aware of Mercury retrograde and see how (and
if) it affects your communications and transportation, Mercury will be
retrograde during the following dates:
February 23 - March 17
June 26 - July 20
October 21 - November 10
For more information, see
Once you become familiar with Mercury retrograde, or if you are already
familiar with it, send me an e-mail relating your retrograde
experiences related to writing.
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 Formatting Apostrophes, Bindings, and
By Bobbie Christmas
Q: The children's book I wrote was composed in MS PowerPoint. The text
font is Ariel and the font size is twenty-four. I drew the
illustrations myself, scanned them as separate documents, and
copy/pasted them into the PowerPoint page containing the text. I may
have violated a style/format rule by doing what I did, so I need to
know if I have to reformat the document to meet the criteria for
editing. Must I submit my electronic document as a Microsoft Word
document? Is Word the same prerequisite for other editors?
A: First, do not panic! Yes, Microsoft Word is the software program I
prefer to accept when I edit electronically, and I will not edit in
PowerPoint; however, you still have several alternatives. While I
cannot speak for other editors and their requirements, I will accept
files several ways. First, you can print out the pages and mail them to
me. I will edit the hard copy with red ink and mail them back to you.
There is a small fee to cover shipping and handling.
Your next alternative is to turn the file into a PDF document, e-mail
it, and I will print it out, edit the printed copy with red ink, and
return it to you by mail. In this case, there will be a small fee to
cover the printout as well as the shipping and handling fee.
You can also copy the text and paste it into a Word file and e-mail it,
to have me electronically edit it and return it with no extra charge
for shipping and handling, and you can then copy and paste the edited
text into the PowerPoint document to replace the unedited text.
In short, it's always better and easier to write and have an editor
edit in Microsoft Word before putting the story into a design program,
but all is not lost if you reverse the order in error. Folks like me
are here to teach you the best way to handle each step of the process,
and all of us had to learn as we went along.
Q: I just got my edited manuscript back, and on the electronic file,
you changed the way some of my apostrophes were turned. Why?
A: Because apostrophes turn only one way. The bottom of an apostrophe
always--repeat, always--should point to the left. The apostrophe key,
however, is also the same key for an opening single quotation mark.
When an apostrophe is typed at the beginning of a word, Microsoft Word
mistakes the apostrophe for a single opening quotation mark, which has
its tail pointing to the right. Most apostrophes at the beginning of a
word indicate that the author is writing dialect, so if the issue
occurs, consider avoiding dialect, which is not recommended anyway.
(Use "Because" instead of 'Cause) If I must have an apostrophe at the
beginning of a word, I trick the computer by hitting the key for
apostrophes two times. The first mark will be an open quote, with the
bottom pointing to the right. The second will be a close quote or
apostrophe. I then delete the first mark and leave the second one.
You can also set your default in Microsoft Word so that it will not use
curly quotes, which will avoid the issue in some cases.
Q: I know that most manuscripts submitted should not be bound in any
way other than a paperclip, but when submitting a novel (approx. 85,000
words), how should I bind my manuscript?
A: You said it yourself; authors should not bind their manuscripts in
any way other than a paperclip. If a paperclip will not fit on the
manuscript, you can use a bulldog clip or put a rubber band around the
manuscript. Why bother, though? Put the manuscript in a box that is the
right size, and the manuscript will be contained by the box. Remember
the reason for unbound manuscripts: binding gets in the way of reading,
so agents and editors must remove the binding, which can be a hassle.
If the pages are formatted correctly, each page will have the name of
the manuscript, the author's name, and the page number, so no binding
Q: When I do a word count, I was told to multiply 250 by the number of
pages. Does that mean even the dedication page?
A: First, understand the reason for a word count. Manuscript editors
use the word count for purposes of estimating the cost of editing the
manuscript. If you want your dedication page edited (and you should),
include the word count of the dedication page. Publishers use the word
count to estimate the number of pages in the published book. They want
to be sure the manuscript is the right length for the intended market
and that their cost of printing will be reasonable.
The old formula of 250 times the page count comes from the typewriter
era, though, and it is often grossly inaccurate, especially with
computers that can print manuscripts in almost any size or style of
font. Forget the math. Almost any word processing program will give you
a quick accounting of the word count. In the end, for most purposes,
the word count should cover every word in the manuscript, including the
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 --
Altogether: (adverb) Entirely; completely. He stopped smoking
All Together: (adj. + adverb) All in a group. He gathered the reports
Four: Subjects of interest to writers
Where is Bobbie speaking next?
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, FLORIDA—on April 20, Bobbie Christmas will present a
workshop at the Florida Writers Association's second annual "Birds
Nest" mini-conference in Altamonte Springs, Florida, along with other
notable speakers. She will be teaching a seminar based on her book,
Purge Your Prose of Problems, and you will walk away with a solid list
of words and phrases that can make or break your writing. Other
workshops will cover mystery writing, poetry, memoir writing,
e-publishing, pitching agents, and more. You may also pitch your work
to an agent. Lunch is included. For more information and to sign up,
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
or contact me directly at Bobbie@zebraeditor.com for more information.
The Wall Street Journal is giving personal finance the glossy treatment
with a new magazine insert, WSJ. Money.
WSJ. Money is a spinoff of WSJ. Magazine, the newspaper's luxury
lifestyle insert. The title is slated to make its debut March 9 and
publish four times this year. It'll be distributed in the Journal's
weekend edition in the U.S., which has a circulation of 2.3 million.
The goal is for 50 pages per issue, including 30 editorial.
TASTE OF HOME CANADA will be launched June 3 by Reader's Digest Canada.
It will be published quarterly and, like the US version of the
magazine, will feature reader recipes, but by Canadian home cooks and
tested in Canadian kitchens. It will be published in English and in
From The Chicago Manual of Style Website Q & A This Month
Q. I am now happily retired from a career in estate planning. Over the
years, both clients and other practitioners have consistently used the
word gift as a verb, as in "I want to gift my house to my daughter."
This seems awfully stilted. Is there something wrong with the word
Q. A number of my friends and colleagues now use invite as a noun, as
in "send him an invite." I think it's pretty lazy usage when the
perfectly good word invitation is available. Am I just an old crank who
doesn't like change?
A. In both cases, the usages you frown on have been around for
centuries, according to Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary.
Language fluctuates; words come in and out of favor; regionalisms
spread quickly. When a wording strikes you as strange or trendy, take a
moment to investigate its credentials; even if you choose not to adopt
the usage yourself, maybe it will help you be more accepting when
others use it.
Q. According to The Chicago Manual of Style, Wikipedia should be
italicized, but YouTube shouldn't. Because Wikipedia is classier?
A. If it is, that's not the reasoning behind the style. CMOS considers
Wikipedia to be an encyclopedia, and encyclopedia titles, online or
print, are italic.
Q. I'm taking a popular online copyediting course. One of my answers to
a quiz was marked wrong because I failed to identify "early-warning
system" as an instance of incorrect hyphen usage. According to the
answer key, this is incorrect because adverbs ending in -ly should not
be followed with hyphens. I think early is used as an adjective in this
example and should therefore take a hyphen.
A. You're right. A hyphen after early may also be needed to prevent
ambiguity: early voting statistics aren't necessarily early-voting
Q. Here is the first sentence of the two-sentence rule at 6.29: "A
comma is not normally used between the parts of a compound
predicate--that is, two or more verbs having the same subject, as
distinct from two independent clauses." The problem here is that though
the rule acknowledges that a compound predicate can consist of more
than two verbs, it's formulated for a two-verb compound predicate only.
Here's a three-verb compound predicate: John got up, went to the
kitchen and made coffee. A better way to phrase the rule might be: "A
comma should not be used between the final two parts of a compound
predicate, unless using a comma would prevent a misreading."
A. To clarify, CMOS 6.29 addresses compound predicates joined by a
conjunction, not whether to use a serial comma in a series of actions
expressed by verbs. A three-verb (or more) sentence with an additional
conjunction would likewise have no commas: John got up and went to the
kitchen and made coffee. If you eliminate a conjunction, however, you
are then faced with a series of actions, and in Chicago style, that
calls for the serial comma: John got up, went to the kitchen, and made
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
The humorous misuse of a word by confusing it with a similar-sounding
For example, "pineapple of perfection" for "pinnacle of perfection."
After Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Sheridan's play, The Rivals
(1775), who confused words in this manner. Earliest documented use:
"Mayor Thomas Menino is sometimes made fun of for his malapropisms; he
once said the city's parking shortage was 'an Alcatraz* around my
neck.'" --Katharine Q. Seelye; Ailing Mayor of Boston Says He's Still
Up to the Job; The New York Times; Dec 17, 2012.
(correct word, albatross)
This information comes from A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg, wordsmith.org.
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.
PUBLISHING PROJECTS RAISED $15 MILLION ON KICKSTARTER LAST YEAR --Jason
Boog, Galley Cat
Publishing projects raised $15,311,251 on Kickstarter last year, but
only 30 percent of projects succeeded. More than 5,600
publishing projects launched, but only 1,666 of those projects
actually got funded. For more see
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.
Tip from Dan Poynter, self-publishing guru: Do not START a blog.
You will begin with ZERO readers. Instead, find blogs on your subject
and contribute to them. Be a "guest blogger." You will reach a
multitude of readers who are already sold on your subject.
Free Book Reviewer
log/website name: Top of the Heap Reviews
Main blog URL: www.topoftheheapreviews.com
Main reviewer's name: Joe Hempel
Best method of contact: email - email@example.com
Do you accept independent and small press books? Yes
Genres that you accept: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror,
Thriller/suspense, Comedy, Short Stories, Crime, Mystery, Children's
Do you accept nonfiction? Yes. Sports, Movies, Hollywood Type
Do you accept e-books? Yes, ePub is preferable but can accept Mobi or
Approximate turn-around time for reviews: 2-3 weeks
What are your "pet peeves" when authors or publishers contact you for a
review? Not understanding why I won't accept a book to review
Other than your own website, where else do you post your book reviews?
Amazon, Goodreads, also tweet about the link as well as put it on the
Facebook page at facebook.com/topoftheheapreviews
Do you accept fees for any type of promotion or service? Yes, but the
terms have to be clear beforehand, I will NOT accept payment for a good
"I'm an avid reader who loves the writing and publishing industry. I
have a steady stream of content on my blog and have very high profile
names that are being interviewed."
This listing comes from Christy Pinheiro of PassKey Publications. If
you want to purchase extended free reviewer listings, purchase The
Indie Book Reviewer Yellow Pages at
Kindles, Nooks, and other e-readers were a popular gift this past
Christmas. Some statistics show that 33% of Americans now own
e-readers, up from 18% the year before. To help those owners,
FreebookSifter makes it easy to peruse all 35,000 of the free books
available for e-readers. http://freebooksifter.com
Become Bobbie's friend on Facebook:
Like Zebra Communications on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/7vcxaxu.
Five: Contests, Agents, and Markets
HUB City New Southern Voices Poetry Contest
Deadline of April 1, 2013; prize of $1000 and publication by HUB City
Press in 2014. For more information and submission guidelines, please
visit HUB City Writer's Project at
The Writers' Workshop 24th Annual Poetry Contest: Entries must be
postmarked by March 30, 2013. For more information, a complete list of
prizes, and submission guidelines, please visit The Writers' Workshop
of Ashville, NC at www.twwoa.org.
Black Lawrence Publishing offers Hudson Prize for unpublished
collections of poetry or short stories
Black Lawrence Publishing
326 Bigham Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15211
Each year Black Lawrence Press will award The Hudson Prize for an
unpublished collection of poems or short stories. The winner of this
contest will receive book publication, a $1,000 cash award, and ten
copies of the book. Past winners include Jo Neace Krause, Daniel
Chacón, Abayomi Animashaun, Patrick Michael Finn, Sarah Suzor, B.C.
Edwards, and Jacob M. Appel.
The annual deadline is March 31, and submissions are open now.
For more information and to submit your manuscript, follow this link:
Looking for a literary agent? Check out the free resource at
http://aaronline.org/MAgents. It lists members of AAR, the most trusted
organization for ethical, experienced agents. For best results, look
for agents with websites, go to those websites, and carefully follow
each agent's preferred methods for receiving submissions. Many will not
take unsolicited submissions, but they may consider a query letter.
Others are not accepting any submissions, so you will know not to waste
your time with those.
Do you need a literary agent? If you answer yes to either of the
following questions, you probably do:
Do you write fiction and want to sell your manuscript to a medium-sized
or large publisher?
Do you write nonfiction and want to sell to a large publisher?
Six: Got Muse? Winds of Change
March is here, and with it will come changes in the weather, often
accompanied by high winds. We've all heard the cliché, "winds of
change." In any good story, something changes. If everything stayed the
same, no story would exist. Think about your favorite stories and how
the characters changed over the course of the story. Next think about
something you wish were different in your life. Perhaps you wish you
could be wealthy or wish you could live in another state or country.
Perhaps you wish you could find a job you love or a relationship that
Now think about what you would have to do to make that change. Write a
story about a character who wants the same change in his or her life
and then show the problems and setbacks the character faces in an
effort to bring about that change. In the end, perhaps your character
will succeed or not; the ending is up to you.
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!