The Writers Network News, April 2013 Issue http://ezezine.com
The Writers Network News, April 2013
In This Issue
One: From the editor's desk - Caveat Emptor, and a Feel-Good Note
Two: Ask the Book Doctor about Awkward Sentences that Need
Three: This Month's Easy Editing Tip from Bobbie Christmas -
Four: Subjects of Interest to Writers
Five: Contests, Agents, and Markets
Six: Got Muse? - Poems of Passion
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.
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Writer's quote of the month
Nicholas Sparks, author of The Notebook and other bestselling novels,
said, "Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable
moment in writing. It's one of the most enjoyable moments in life,
One: From the editor's desk – Caveat Emptor, and a Feel-Good Note
Dear Fellow Writers:
Caveat emptor! Buyer beware! Oh, I know, writers are sellers, not
buyers, but we also do buy services to help us get published or to help
us market our books. Whether we are buyers are sellers, though, we must
perform our due diligence.
Recently I received the following e-mail from a member of The Writers
Network: You once mentioned in your newsletter that Tell-Tale
Publishing was looking for novels of historical fiction. My third book
is called 'Mate!, a contraction of Checkmate!, what chess players say
when an opponent's king is toppled, thus ending the game. It's a story
about how the assassination of Lincoln is tied to Stonewall Jackson's
untimely demise from (supposedly) friendly fire.
In any event, I sent the manuscript off to Tell-Tale Publishing, and it
was accepted back in 2010. Its CEO, Elizabeth Fortin, sent me an
advance of $25 and handed the book over to an editor. After two years
of silence, I wrote to her and suggested she forget it. I returned the
I am writing to you because I think this is something you should know
and should not hype companies like Tell-Tale Publishing. My first
novel, The Better Angels, was publishd in 2000. It was a delightful
I wrote back to Bob and said I can't and don't perform due diligence on
every lead I put in my newsletter. I get many leads from
WritersMarket.com, for example, and it supposedly checks out its
sources, but who knows? At the bottom of every one of my newsletters, I
have the following warning: "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
It's always the writer's job to check out sources, publishers, agents,
editors, and others, but even after thoroughly checking these things,
stuff sometimes happens to disappoint us. About ten years ago, for
example, a respectable publisher in California bought two books from
people I knew in Georgia. One author had a rewarding experience, won
many prestigious awards with her book, and sold many copies. The other
author had complaint after complaint about the publisher. His book
never won anything, and sales were slow. He finally demanded and
received his rights back. I might note that I read both books, and the
first author's book was considerably better than the second author's
book. In my opinion, author number two was fortunate to find a
publisher at all, but obviously the publisher originally had faith in
the book. How odd, though, that two authors had completely differing
experiences with the same publisher!
In our world, it's always essential that we investigate the people who
make us offers on our books, and then we have to be patient, compliant,
helpful, and kind. In the end, we have to be a little lucky, too.
On a better note, Chrissy Jackson, president of the Florida Writers
Association, sent me the following, with a note that said, "Thought
you'd like to see this. It's a Writers Group Leader monthly meeting
report." It came from Claudia J. Caporale.
"The Mount Dora critique group met yesterday. We distribute stories via
e-mail prior to our meetings and are prepared to give a comprehensive
critique at the meeting. Within the year, everyone's writing has
improved, in part credited to Write In Style by Bobbie Christmas. The
book has helped us write tighter, leaving 'only the sleek, appealing
essence.' Thanks, Bobbie."
Notes like that one make my heart swell with joy. My life's mission is
to help writers.
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 Awkward Sentences that Need
By Bobbie Christmas
Q: I'm writing a short story, and I need help with a sentence. Are any
of the following versions I wrote okay?
1. That resulted in a fall in which she fractured her pelvis.
2. That resulted in a fall in which her pelvis was fractured.
3. That resulted in a fall that fractured her pelvis.
Here is the sentence that comes before the other sentence, in case you
need to see that one too: She hesitantly took the pills, but they made
her very dizzy.
A: I'm glad you sent the prior sentence, because my answer will not be
as straightforward as you may have hoped. The word "that," when used as
a pronoun, should refer to a noun, rather than a concept, so all the
examples are incorrect. The full statement would be more understandable
if the preceding sentence were linked with one of the example
sentences, but the result would be awkward, such as this compound
sentence: She hesitantly took the pills, but they made her very dizzy,
which resulted in a fall in which she fractured her pelvis. Okay,
obviously that sentence is not only cumbersome, but it also contains
two uses of "which," and repetition is not recommended in creative
writing. Obviously it's time to look for a more creative approach, but
before we do so, let me point out that example number two, "her pelvis
was fractured," is passive, and strong writers avoid using passive
Instead of trying to find the right words for the same sentence
structure, recast the entire statement in a clearer, more creative way.
Consider, for example, the following rewrite:
She hesitantly took the pills, but she grew dizzy, fell, and fractured
The rewrite uses active voice and is clear, direct, and tight. You may
think of an even better way to recast the two sentences, but they
definitely need restructuring.
Q: Understanding that a pronoun refers to the noun before the pronoun,
I want the pronoun "their" to refer to "doctor," not "specialist," in
the following sentence:
Has your doctor suggested you see the specialist who comes into their
I tried rewording the sentence, but I run into the same issue. Any
A: One problem is that "their" is a plural pronoun, whereas "doctor"
and "specialist" are both singular nouns, so my response will not have
"their" in it. I would also break it into two sentences. Here's how I
would reword the passage for clarity:
Sometimes specialists come into a second doctor's office to see the
second doctor's patients. Has your doctor suggested you see such a
Q: Is there a question mark after the following sentence? "If you did,
will you let me know, because I will be waiting to hear from you."
A: Because the sentence is both a statement and a question, it is a
good sentence to recast, rather than attempt to fix with punctuation.
Recast it to something like this, and there's no problem: "If you did,
please let me know, because I will be waiting to hear from you." Here's
another alternative: "If you did, will you let me know? I'll be waiting
to hear from you."
Q: If I wanted to use the plural of "yes" in a book title, how should
it look? "Yeses" looks likes a foreign word. HELP!
A: Your question about the plural of "yes" is a prime example of a time
when it's better to rewrite the sentence than to use odd words. Instead
of this sentence: "All the yeses added up to one hundred," consider
this one: "The yes votes added up to one hundred." Recast the book
title and see if "yes" can stand alone without making it plural.
Q: Where do you stand on split infinitives or ending sentences with
A: Editors have relaxed their stand on those issues, because the
"rules" were leftovers from Latin and do not always apply to English.
As a source, I point to Winston Churchill. Supposedly an editor had
clumsily rearranged one of Churchill's sentences to avoid ending it
with a preposition, and the prime minister scribbled the following note
in reply: "That is the sort of editing up with which I will not put."
I would be remiss, however, if I did not point out that strong writers
recast awkward sentences to avoid split infinitives or ending sentences
with a preposition. Doing so almost always improves the writing style.
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 -
Alternate: (adjective) Choice between two things. Let’s form an
Alternate: (verb) to keep changing between two things. Let’s alternate
between white and red. The class will meet on alternate Tuesdays.
Alternative: (noun) another possible choice. Let’s think of an
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 stifle creativity. Perk up your prose with
tips from this seminar. 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, see
April is National Poetry Month! How will you celebrate it?
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.
Member Kevin Shipp got a great review on his book titled The Company of
Shadows about the CIA. Check it out at
The book was published in 2012 by Ascent Publishing and can be
purchased on Amazon.
Free information kits, free book layout and cover templates, and
e-books from Dan Poynter on book researching, writing, publishing, and
promoting. For a list and sources in PDF, go to
From The Chicago Manual of Style Website Q & A This Month
Q. I have a question about using a comma with the word and. I am an
editorial intern for an art journal, and the most recent piece I am
editing has a sentence written thus: "Henry Darger is both illuminating
and, at times, frustrating." The question we have been debating in the
office for a significant amount of time today is whether or not there
should be a comma inserted after the word illuminating to offset the
A. Since you would not put a comma after illuminating if you omitted
the parenthetical "at times" (Henry Darger is both illuminating and
frustrating), there's no reason to add one just because the
parenthetical is there. Please see CMOS 6.32 for a related comma issue
(which I can imagine your office also debating for a significant amount
Q. We are in a quandary over the surname Humphries. Per Chicago, all
proper names ending in s form the plural by adding es. Thus
Humphrieses. I argue that Humphries is the same whether it's one
Humphries or many—that is how most of us say it, and this conforms to
the way we treat other nouns ending in ies. This name is used hundreds
of times in this particular novel, usually in dialogue, and often in
the possessive, both singular and plural. Should the plural forms be
Humphries and Humphries', or Humphrieses and Humphrieses'? Help!
A. There are always exceptions to a rule, and hundreds of Humphrieses
would weary any reader. Break the rule in the spirit of the exceptions
at CMOS 7.10, or ask the author if the name can be changed to one more
Q. Do I need to put a comma here: fresh, local produce?
A. The comma is optional, depending on what you mean. Fresh local
produce = local produce that is fresh. Fresh, local produce = produce
that is fresh and local. In this case, there is almost no difference in
meaning, but sometimes a comma is significant: for instance, a heavy
wet blanket is not necessarily a heavy, wet blanket.
Q. In my journalism days, I was taught that the following type of
sentence is a non sequitur. I see it more and more these days. What do
you think? "A software developer with fifteen years of experience,
Sally's passion is creating quality products."
A. In my apprentice days, I was taught that such a sentence contains a
"dangler." Unless Sally has a passion for an experienced software
developer who is creating quality products, it would be better to
eliminate the dangler and clarify.
The Chicago Manual of Style is the reference that book editors use. For
more CMOS Q & A, see http://tinyurl.com/2xscwn.
First-Ever Sale! Get a $10 discount! Read to the bottom, to get full
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.
Want a $10 discount on the price of Purge Your Prose of Problems? I
have five printed copies of the fourth edition, still cram-packed with
excellent information, but a little older than the fifth edition. To
acquire a discounted copy of the fourth edition, e-mail me to be sure I
still have a copy available, and if so, instead of $29.95, you will pay
only $19.95 plus $3.99 shipping and handling. Interested? Write to me
Terminology Writers Should Know
In fiction, the word "crisis" refers to part of the plot that
represents the turning point. A crisis arises from a conflict, the
forces of which take action to effect a turning point. The result of a
crisis is a climax, which refers to the degree of emotion elicited from
A novel can contain a series of crises, but a short story typically
contains only one. In a short story, the major character experiences a
crisis in two steps: the dark moment/black moment, and the moment of
revelation, the latter of which results in a change in the character.
The above information comes from Writer's Encyclopedia, third edition,
Writer's Digest Books.
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.
Become Bobbie's friend on Facebook:
Like Zebra Communications on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/7vcxaxu.
Five: Contests, Agents, and Markets
Another good source for finding literary agents:
How I Survived: Personal Stories Wanted for Gloria Gaynor's New Book
Deadline April 20
Have you survived an illness, personal tragedy, abusive relationship,
financial ruin, or other life experience that brought you to your
knees? Did the disco-era song “I Will Survive,” by Grammy Award-winning
songstress Gloria Gaynor, inspire you to rise and thrive? If so, we’d
love to share your story in a new book of personal narrative essays
that tell the story of how you survived the experience and how the song
influenced your life. We’re looking for real-life stories that read
like fiction—similar to the stories in the Cup of Comfort book series,
compiled and edited by Colleen Sell. The book will include 50 stories
of 1,000-1,500 words each. For each essay selected for publication in
the book, the author will receive $75, a complimentary copy of the book
signed by Gloria Gaynor, and a signed photo of Ms. Gaynor. Submit by
April 20, 2013, to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Untreed Reads Calls for Short Story Submissions
Moon Shot: Murder and Mayhem on the Edge of Space will be a short-story
anthology showcasing mystery and crime stories that combine the genres
of science fiction and mystery/crime/suspense. We're looking for great
stories that take these genres into new territory, whether on our
planet or another.
Please note that we have already accepted a story that takes place on
the International Space Station, therefore we are not looking for any
other stories that do (it was the inspiration for this call).
This anthology is expected to be published in August of 2013. This
anthology will be edited by J. Alan Hartman, Editor-in-Chief of Untreed
Reads and the editor of the bestselling anthologies The Killer Wore
Cranberry, The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping, and Year's End.
1. All stories must be between 1500-5000 words.
2. Deadline for submission for consideration is May 30, 2012. This is a
firm date; no submissions after this date will be considered.
3. All submissions should be sent to Jay Hartman at
email@example.com with the words MOON SHOT in the subject line.
4. Stories may take place in the past, present or future of our galaxy,
but may not introduce aliens or undiscovered planets. Stories may take
place on Earth, but must be somehow related to the space program if
5. Stories should lean more towards mystery/suspense/thriller than the
science fiction side.
6. Submissions must be in DOC, RTF or ODT format.
7. We will not be publishing the stories individually. Only the
anthology will be available.
8. Authors will receive royalty, but not upfront payment. Authors will
each receive a share of royalties of 50% of net (net = cover price -
vendor commission) based on the number of authors in the final
9. Characters appearing in other Untreed Reads series or other series
not published by us are strongly encouraged. Please check your contract
with your publisher to make sure you may legally do so.
10. Stories not used for the anthology may be resubmitted for future
11. Previously published works are fine providing that electronic
rights have reverted to the author.
12. Stories currently published through a self-publishing venue (i.e.:
Smashwords, Amazon KDP, etc.). will not be accepted.
13. There are no restrictions whatsoever on age, race, sex, sexual
orientation, etc in the work.
Second Annual California Book Contest now seeing submissions.
Winners receive reading by agents and consultations by publishing/book
promotion professionals. Deadline March 31, 2013.
New Imprint Seeing Romance Stories with Heat
Untreed Reads is pleased to announce a brand-new imprint to expand our
catalog of offerings. Untreed After Dark is our new line for romance
stories that take the heat level up a few notches from our sweet
stories. Even though there is a lot of romance on the market today, we
feel that there are still niches to fill. That's the ultimate goal of
our new line.
We do have some rules for this new line:
1. Every sexual orientation is welcome.
2. We would especially love to see romance stories about people of
various ethnic backgrounds, people in their fifties or older, people
with disabilities, 19th and 20th century historical (1800-2000), etc.
If you have looked around and said, "I don't see another story out
there remotely like mine," you're probably what we're looking for.
3. Works need to be believable and real. No genies, werewolves,
vampires, bodyswitchers, witches, aliens, etc. Real people in real
4. Sorry, but no works that take place before 1800. We feel that market
has plenty of material already.
5. Only works 25,000 words or more will be considered. Short story
collections, however, would be fine.
6. Cross-genre stories are especially welcome (romantic mysteries, for
7. As we are not specifically looking for erotica, the heat level is
currently limited to "NC-17." Sex doesn't have to be in the story, but
if it's appropriate for the work, that's fine.
8. The overall story is infinitely more important to us than a couple
of hot scenes. We prefer to think of this as "literary romance/literary
erotica." We want engaging characters with real romantic struggles and
9. HEA (Happily Ever After) is NOT a requirement. Sometimes romance
doesn't end with the two people ending up together, and that's
perfectly OK. That's real.
10. Absolutely, positively NO: rape, bestiality, sex with underage
people, or all the other things you would expect to be forbidden.
11. Previously published works are definitely acceptable, providing
electronic rights have reverted to the author.
12. Works that have been published through a self-publishing venture
(i.e.: Smashwords, Kindle Direct/Kindle Prime) will not be accepted.
13. Agents and current Untreed Reads authors may submit directly to Jay
Hartman. All others need to send works to firstname.lastname@example.org
14. All submissions need to be sent in their entirety in RTF, DOC or
ODP formats, Times New Roman, 12 pt. This rule does not necessarily
apply to current Untreed Reads authors or agents.
If you are unsure if a work would be appropriate for us, please do feel
free to query Jay Hartman at email@example.com .
Six: Got Muse?
Poems of Passion
April is National Poetry Month. Poetry is literary works written in
verse, in particular verse writing of high quality, great beauty,
emotional sincerity or intensity, or profound insight. While poems do
not have to rhyme, they should have an inherent rhythm that resonates
without overpowering the message. To honor National Poetry Month, think
about something you feel intensely about, whether it is a purpose, a
person, a political issue, or an object. Write at least six lines of
poetry honoring the thing that stimulates a passionate response in 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!