The Writers Network News, August 2014 Issue http://ezezine.com
The Writers Network News, August 2014
In This Issue
One: From the editor's desk: The Fire Within
Two: Ask the Book Doctor about Verbicide, Capitals, and the Rules for
Three: This Month's Easy Editing Tip from Bobbie Christmas: Sheer/Shear
Four: Subjects of Interest to Writers
Five: Contest, Agents, and Markets
Six: Got Muse? The Key to Happiness--and Good Fiction
The Writers Network News
No Rules; Just Write!
Editor: Bobbie Christmas
Contents copyright 2014, 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. We are a
top-rated Better Business Bureau Accredited Business.
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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
SPECIAL NOTICE TO LOCAL WRITERS
Bobbie speaks out of town more often than in Atlanta, so take advantage
of her rare local appearance. Bobbie will be speaking at the Sisters in
Crime meeting, November 8.
The meeting begins at 10:30 and runs roughly two hours. It meets at the
Smyrna Public Library (100 Village Green in Smyrna Village off Atlanta
Road). Come hear Bobbie speak about "successful book doctor operations"
and how to avoid "ailing" manuscripts. She will give clear examples and
tips on how to cure some potentially fatal manuscript "diseases." She
will concentrate on creative ways to avoid potential chronic fatigue in
readers by applying stronger creative writing styles to a book.
Note: I have shortened some links in this newsletter with the help of
www.tinyurl.com, a free service that takes long web addresses and
converts them to short ones.
Writer's Quote of the Month
John Fowles, author of The Collector (1963), said, "Passion destroys
passion; we want what puts an end to wanting what we want."
One: From the editor's desk: The Fire Within
Dear Fellow Writers:
As I write this, I am about to pack my bags for a trip north to Bangor
and Bar Harbor, Maine; New Brunswick, Canada; Prince Edward Island;
Nova Scotia; and many other places I have never visited. Oh, how I love
to travel and learn about people, places, and things.
Last week I toured the Georgia Capitol and learned a great deal about
the gold-domed building built in the 1800s for the fifth city to become
the capital of Georgia. Our tour guide, a doorman for the House of
Representatives, gave us lengthy information on Georgia history and the
people who molded the laws of Georgia.
In the past few weeks I've also met with friends to eat dim sum at a
Chinese restaurant; goat curry, saag paneer, and naan at an Indian
restaurant; oyakodon, literally "parent-and-child donburi," a Japanese
rice bowl dish, and agadashi tofu at a Japanese restaurant; and the
usual south-of-the-border fare at a Mexican restaurant.
I wonder about the folks who never try foods from other countries or
never stray far from home. Some do not even take time to tour places
nearby. A few folks have told me they never had the money or never had
the time to travel, or they say they simply don't like any foreign
foods. Okay, I respect those who truly have money, health, or mobility
issues, but I wonder about those who have no restrictions except those
they put on themselves. Well, I don't wonder for long. I know what is
probably going on.
I suspect that folks who do not step outside their comfort zones have
never had the incentive to do so. They did not have the passion or the
desire to travel, learn new things about their environment, or taste
new foods. If they did have such a craving, their ache to experience
new things would have spurred them on.
I have no statistics to prove what I am about to say, but I would still
put good money on a bet that readers of this newsletter do not fit into
the category I mentioned. Writers are adventurers. We crave new
experiences. We are filled with curiosity, excitement, and originality.
We love to try newfangled things. We embrace new words and new worlds
as we would a newborn baby. Every experience is fuel for the fire that
glows within us.
Is it any wonder that writers are my favorite people? When I count my
friends, I quickly see they all are writers, even if they write only
for friends and family members. They have the need to absorb new
experiences and record them for themselves and others to enjoy forever.
As a result, they are vibrant, interesting, expansive people who never
fail to hold my attention. It comes as no surprise, then, that whenever
I go to any gathering for writers I become embroiled in fascinating
discussions, even if we do not talk about writing itself. Writers are
the most well-rounded people I know, and I love them all.
Let's hear it for writers. Go, team!
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 Verbicide, Capitals, and the Rules for
By Bobbie Christmas
Q: Today's "word of the day" was "verbicide," but the definition left
much to be desired. Will you give us some examples?
A: Verbicide refers to the killing of a word, the distortion of a word
in a way that obliterates the original definition. A word that comes to
mind is "awesome," which originally had a religious implication,
something that struck awe, fear, and wonder in a person. Today we use
the word "awesome" to mean almost anything good, pretty, interesting,
or even expensive. Examples: We went out on an awesome date. He took me
to an awesome restaurant. We spent an awesome amount of money. I told
him that he's awesome. As you can see from the examples, the word has
lost its original power.
Along the same lines, the word "heavenly" once had a religious
connotation, but through misuse, today it can mean anything that is
tasty, delightful, or pleasing; for example, We ate a heavenly dessert.
Another victim of verbicide is "decimate." It originally meant "cut
down by one-tenth," as in "The first attack decimated the battalion of
one hundred men, leaving only ninety to fight the second attack."
Through misuse, the word has come to mean obliterated, annihilated, or
Q: Which is correct, Mile Marker or mile marker? Several government
Internet sites show the two words to be capitalized; several do not (no
Here are some examples from our writer's novel, though:
At mile marker 333, the truck began a steep descent.
A mile marker showing zero indicated the state line.
Jackson's city limit sign was in front of mile marker 029.
Is this correct?
A: Chicago style capitalizes brand names and proper nouns, but mile
markers do not fall into those categories. The government can follow
any style it wishes, but novels should follow Chicago style, so all the
examples from the writer's novel are correct as written.
Q: Last week at a critique group someone had "the black actor." A newer
member asked about capping when it comes to black, caucasion, etc.
I think it should be black, caucasion, hispanic, and latino, because
they aren't proper nouns, such as Native American and African-American.
Am I right?
Because hispanic and latino aren't nationalities or proper nouns, just
descriptions, I think they should not be capitalized, but my
spell-checker keeps wanting to capitalize them. Please let me know if
I've learned the rule correctly.
A: At times our computer spell-checkers give you a chance to rethink
your choices, but such spell-checkers do not necessarily follow Chicago
style. You are correct when it comes to using black and white in
lowercase to refer to nicknames for races; however, races--not
nicknames for the races--are capitalized.
Chicago style dictates that except in titles, we do not capitalize the
term "black" when it refers to dark-skinned groups of people; however,
Negro, which is the proper noun for a race, is capitalized. Similarly,
"white" is not capitalized as the term of light-skinned people, whereas
Caucasian is. Other groups capitalized (and note the lack of
hyphenation, unless used as an adjective modifying a noun) include the
following: Aborigines, African Americans, American Indians, Arabs,
Asians, the British, Chicanos, European Americans, the French, French
Canadians, Hispanics, Hopis, Inuits, Italian Americans, Jews, Latinos,
Native Americans, New Zealanders, Pygmies, and Romanies. Let's also not
forget the natives in Canada, which are called First Peoples and First
Q: Can you please refresh my memory about the official rule for using
"your" in the following example? "I don't understand why your going
makes a difference."
A: Here's the explanation from my Purge Your Prose of Problems desk
Gerunds take possessive modifiers. If this declaration confuses you,
you’re not alone. Most speakers and few writers understand this oddball
rule. Gerunds create nouns from verbs and end in -ing, for example,
using, having, needing, and dancing.
Let’s examine the following sentence with a gerund and a modifier: "My
going depends on your being there." Some writers and speakers have the
urge to say "depends on you being there," but the preferred style is
the possessive: "depends on your being there."
Other correct examples: Rather than my repeating the information, read
it for yourself (not "Rather than me repeating the information"). He
asked if I objected to his borrowing my book (not "He asked if I
objected to him borrowing my book").
Bobbie Christmas, book editor 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
For more questions, answers, and comments, order the book, Ask the Book
Doctor: How to Beat the Competition and Sell Your Writing. Go to
Three: This Month's Easy Editing Tip from Bobbie Christmas: Sheer/Shear
Sheer: (adj.) transparent, thin or undiluted; unqualified (sheer
ignorance); steep (intr. & tr. verb) (sheer drop off)
Shear: (intr. v.) to remove fleece; (noun) a pair of scissors (a pair
of shears); an applied force or system of forces that produce a
shearing strain (wind shear)
For more editing and creative writing tips, order Purge Your Prose of
Problems here: http://tinyurl.com/4ptjnr.
Four: Subjects of interest to writers
If you like this newsletter, so will your friends. Tell them to
subscribe to The Writers Network News by going to www.zebraeditor.com
and clicking on the yellow box at the top.
Romance novels stretch far to come up with a plethora of euphemisms for
body parts. This blog post ranks the euphemisms with a little humor
thrown in. See http://tinyurl.com/mf682aj.
A good friend of mine recently had his laptop computer stolen out of a
car. He lost his computer as well as many years of data and business
information. What if your computer were stolen? Would your data, your
novels, and all your business information be lost? Not if you have
Carbonite to back up your computer regularly, without any effort from
you. I swear by Carbonite, or I wouldn't promote it. It saved me twice,
so far, with files that corrupted or simply disappeared, but they were
easily accessible again on the Carbonite website. If you follow this
link and sign up for Carbonite, you and I both get a $20 gift card, but
if you don't, please, be sure your computer is always backed up to a
safe place separate from your computer. http://tinyurl.com/k9mb8r9.
Poets Beware, says Authors Publish
See the warning from Authors Publish about a poetry chapbook publisher:
Rx from the Book Doctor: Did You Say What You Mean?
The last few paragraphs were cut off, so be sure to read the following,
but only after you read my blog:
He took a set of keys from his desk drawer and led them from his
office. [I'll let you figure out this one. See? You have already become
an expert at spotting incorrect pronouns.]
Folks familiar with my seminars and books know that I call these
bloopers "manuslips." We all make them, but I get paid to find and
repair them. Forgive me if I get a little chuckle from them now and
then, but they also make great examples when I am trying to explain a
concept to writers. I would have difficulty making up such examples
myself, but I don't have to. Even the most accomplished writers mess up
occasionally when working with pronouns.
The first job of a writer is to get the words down. Don't worry too
much about pronouns while you write. Let your creativity flow. After
the first draft is finished, though, it is time to read and revise.
During the revision phase, you have plenty of time to look for errors
and repair them.
Now that you have become more aware of the rule of pronouns--that they
modify the last stated noun--I trust you'll scrutinize every pronoun in
your manuscript during the revision phase and be sure that every
sentence says what you meant it to say.
Yours in writing,
Terminology Writers Should Know: Back Matter
Back matter refers to the items to be placed at the back of a book.
Back matter can include an appendix, a chronology (a chronological list
of events), endnotes (which usually follow an appendix and precede a
bibliography or reference list), a glossary, a bibliography or
reference list, a list of contributors, an index, and/or a colophon
(the last page of a specially designed and produced book that reveals
the facts of production, such as who or what company provided the
typesetting, printing, binding, and distribution).
Cell Phone Information
Concerned about security? Before you buy the new Amazon Fire phone, you
may want to consider the warnings in this post from ComputerWorld:
http://tinyurl.com/lb926s5. Concerned about brain tumors? For a list
of phones with the highest and lowest radiation levels, see
How to Perform Subtle Self-Promotion
If you are too shy to mention your book to others, promote your book by
wearing a pin that reads "Ask me about my book." Others will ask you,
and you can give a brief pitch and offer to sell them a copy. For pins
that say "Ask me about my book" and other great gifts for writers, go
A Reader Program to Aid Self-Editing
This website offers a way cool program that reads your text to you, not
in a monotone drone voice, but a voice with emphasis. You can get the
program for free, or if you want more voices, you can pay about $70. I
tell clients to read their manuscripts aloud during one of the draft
revisions, to catch errors. It's even better to have someone read your
manuscript to you. Follow along with the printed text, and you'll catch
even more errors and inconsistencies in your manuscript. If nothing
else, go to the website and type in a sentence or two and listen to it
back, just for fun. I typed in this: "Bobbie, I love you and think you
are the most sincere person in the world." It made me feel great to
hear it said, so I listened to it twice. Try it for fun, use the free
version to hear your manuscript read back to you, or buy the program.
It could be a great extra step in self-editing your manuscript.
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
Cute and Educational Blog on Grammar
The Naughty Grammarian, http://tinyurl.com/pykpemv.
Writer's Digest Books Divests Itself of Vanity Publisher with Bad
David Gaughan's blog gives his opinion about the split between Writer's
Digest Books (F + W Publications) and Author Solutions/Abbott Press, a
vanity press he earlier said "resembles a two-bit Internet scam, except
on a colossal scale." Among other deceptive practices, he claims Author
Solutions set up a whole string of misleading websites that purport to
offer independent self-publishing advice, but which actually recommend
only Author Solutions companies, such as iUniverse, Xlibris,
AuthorHouse, and Trafford. He also claims that Author Solutions set up
fake social media profiles of people claiming to be independent
publishing consultants who recommend only Author Solutions companies.
For the entire article, see http://tinyurl.com/kzq57zc.
Writer's Digest, in my own opinion, shot itself in the foot many other
times and lost my subscription, interest, and advertising dollars more
than fifteen years ago. I was therefore not even aware that it had
partnered with Author Solutions until I read that it has now split from
Every Writer and Editor Will Fall in Love with Weird Al's latest video.
See what Standard Manuscript Format for a short story looks like here:
See what Standard Manuscript Format for a novel looks like here:
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.
More on Elusive Pronouns
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 will save almost $10 by buying
the e-book! To order either, go to http://tinyurl.com/lexp7n.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Reveals Groups with Most, Least Readers
According to the recent BLS survey, ages sixty-four and up read the
most minutes a day, while ages fifty-five to sixty-four constitute the
third most avid readers, with an average daily read of 26.4 minutes a
The American Time Use Survey reveals that teens aged fifteen to
nineteen read for only around four minutes a day, a sad finding, in my
Americans ages twenty-five to thirty-four spend about eight minutes a
day on weekends and holidays reading, while ages twenty to twenty-four
spend about ten.
These figures are good to know if you are putting together a book
proposal that appeals to the age groups that read the most.
Become my friend on Facebook and follow my adventures, opinions, and
Like Zebra Communications on Facebook: http://tinyurl.com/7vcxaxu.
Five: Contests, Agents, and Markets
Tallahassee Writers Association Literary and Poetry Competitions
Win cash, publication, and recognition in the Seven Hills Literary and
the Penumbra Poetry and Haiku Contests sponsored by the Tallahassee
Writers Association. Hurry! Deadline for entries is Aug. 30. The
contest is open to all. Previously published work is not accepted.
Categories include short story, children’s chapter book excerpt, young
adult novel excerpt, flash fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and
haiku. All work must be submitted electronically through
Independent Publisher Book Awards
The Independent Publisher Book Awards are intended to bring increased
recognition to the thousands of exemplary independent, university, and
self-published titles published each year. Celebrating our 19th
anniversary this year, we are now accepting entries for books released
between January 1, 2013, and March 10, 2015. For information, see
10 Bloomsbury Street
London, WC1B 3SR
+44 (0) 207 307 8900
We have always brought an international approach to our publishing,
reflecting the global society in which we live. We work with authors,
literary agents and publishing partners throughout the world, and
achieve effective international distribution through a comprehensive
network of distributors and representatives.
We aim to respond to as many submissions as possible; however, due to
the sheer number we receive each day, we cannot always guarantee that
we will be able to reply to each one. Many proposals are rejected
because they do not contain enough information, or because they do not
give the right sort of information; in order to give your project the
greatest chance of being considered for publication, please read the
notes of guidance on the Submission page carefully and use them to
structure what you write.
Call for Submissions: The Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fourth Meal of
The Killer is back!
We had so much fun with The Killer Wore Cranberry back in 2010, The
Killer Wore Cranberry: A Second Helping in 2012, and The Killer Wore
Cranberry: Room for Thirds in 2013, it's time to celebrate with The
Killer Wore Cranberry: A Fourth Meal of Mayhem.
As in the previous anthologies, all the stories contained within must
be about murder and mayhem happening at Thanksgiving, and must feature
a typical Thanksgiving dish as a vital part of the story (i.e.: turkey,
mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie). Most importantly…it must be funny! This
anthology is all about making people laugh while enjoying a great
mystery short at the same time. The anthology will be edited by Untreed
Reads Editor-in-Chief Jay Hartman.
For full; information, see http://tinyurl.com/pht4ljn. .
Shimmer Open to Short Story Submissions
Shimmer aspires to publish excellent fiction across lines of race,
income, nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ages,
geography, and cultures, and therefore encourages submissions of
diverse stories from diverse authors. This includes, but is not limited
to: people of color, LBGTQIA, women, the impoverished, the elderly, and
those with disabilities. We are not interested in acquiring fiction
that denigrates or perpetuates stereotypes of the above groups; we are
unlikely to be interested in rape stories, and encourage writers to
find other dimensions to explore with their female characters.
We encourage authors of all backgrounds to write stories that include
characters and settings as diverse and wondrous as the people and
places of the world we live in. Every story sent to us should be
well-researched, respectful, and conscientious.
What to send us:
Unusual and beautifully written speculative fiction stories with full
plots and strong characters. The best way to understand what we are
looking for is to read an issue of the magazine. We’re most drawn to
contemporary fantasy, and seek out stories with a strong emotional
core. We like unusual stories with a fluid and distinctive voice, with
specific and original images. Send us your odd unclassifiable stories,
although we prefer traditional storytelling mechanics to experimental
approaches. We’re less likely to be interested in sword and sorcery,
hard SF, space opera, paranormal romance, and slasher horror.
We will consider stories up to 7,500 words (preferred length 4,000
words). If your story is longer than 7,500 words (and yes, 7,501 words
is longer than 7,500 words) but you believe we would love it, please
send us a query briefly describing the story along with the first page
of the story.
Payment and Rights:
We pay five cents per word, with a minimum of $50. We are purchasing
the right to display your story on our website and publish it in our
annual print anthology. Four months after publication, most rights
revert to the author, but we retain the right to continue selling
digital back issues of the magazine, and the right to archive your
How to submit:
Send your manuscript as an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf only) in
standard manuscript format to email@example.com. Make sure the
subject line begins with Submission and has the title of your story.
Example: “Submission: Attack of the Evil Robot Monkeys.” If you don’t
use the correct subject line, your story may end up in our spam filter
and not get read. Please ensure that our response to you won’t go in
your spam folder.
Six: Got Muse? The Key to Happiness--and Good Fiction
Writer Joseph Addison (1672-1719) said, "Three grand essentials to
happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and
something to hope for." I've heard the saying skewed a little and said,
"To be happy, people need only three things in life: something to do,
someone to love, and something to look forward to." Either way, the
adage is true that those things bring people happiness. Good novels are
also written on the premise that someone hopes for something and looks
forward to acquiring, completing, or accomplishing it, but something or
someone keeps getting in the way. If nothing got in the way, the story
would not make readers keep reading.
For this exercise, think of something wildly difficult to accomplish or
acquire. Think about the obstacles a character would have to face and
overcome, to reach that goal. Write a story that shows a character's
desire and the challenges the character overcomes to achieve or even
miss a goal.
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!