The Writers Network News, October 2015 issue
The Writers Network News, October 2015
In This Issue
One: From the editor's desk: Unsure of the Market?
Two: Ask the Book Doctor about Bits and Pieces
Three: This Month's Easy Editing Tip from Bobbie Christmas: Thoughts
Four: Subjects of Interest to Writers
Five: Contests, Agents, and Markets
Six: Got Muse? Insults versus Stones
The Writers Network News
No Rules; Just Write!
Editor: Bobbie Christmas
Contents copyright 2015, 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.
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Writer's Quote of the Month
"To create a work of art that the critic cannot even begin to talk about ought to be the artist's chief concern." --John Ashbery, poet
According to Poetry Foundation, John Ashbery, born in 1927, is one of the greatest twentieth-century American poets. He has won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Yale Younger Poets Prize, the Bollingen Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Griffin International Award, and a MacArthur “Genius” Grant. For more details on his style of writing, which has been a major influence on poets, see http://tinyurl.com/pcvvvep.
One: From the editor's desk: Unsure of the Market?
Dear Fellow Writers:
I’ve been writing my relationship memoirs for several years, putting on paper dozens of funny, embarrassing, interesting, or weird stories about my attempts to form a long-term relationship. Some stories are short encounters with the opposite sex, and some entries tell of relationships that failed for one reason or another. I named my book Neurotica: One Woman’s Lifetime of Lust, Love, and Letting Go. I wrote a book proposal and submitted it to several publishers and agents. I’ve received what seems to be the mandatory rejections in this era, but one of the latest commented that the publisher was not sure there was a market for such a book.
How do you prove there’s a market for your book?
I turned to electronic and social media and started a blog called Neurotica: Stories of Lust, Love, and Letting Go. I hope you will read it and follow it as I add more stories about my encounters with the opposite sex. If you like it, share the link on Facebook with your friends, so I can get many followers and prove there is a market for my book.
My plan is to put shorter stories in the blog and longer ones in the book, so the blog will not be a substitute for the book but a teaser that will make people want to buy the book. Will my plan work? Only if you help me. Go to www.neuroticastories.blogspot.com, read my entries, leave comments, sign up to follow the blog as I add more stories, and share the link on Google+ or Facebook. Send the web address to your friends by e-mail and tell them to follow the posts, too. If I can prove there’s a market for my stories, I can sell my book. If nothing else, I promise to entertain you.
Yes, my life has been great material for a book, and I hope you think so too. Please go to www.neuroticastories.blogspot.com, read the entries, post comments, share the blog with others, and sign up to follow it for future entries. It costs you nothing, and at the very least, you will be amused.
Yours in writing,
Bobbie Christmas (Bobbie@zebraeditor.com or email@example.com )
Author of two editions 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 Bits and Pieces
Ask the Book Doctor about Bits and Pieces
By Bobbie Christmas
Q: Will you tell my writing group if there is a better way to punctuate the following?
“Oh. Right. I remember.”
A: If the purpose of the line is to show that the speaker pauses after each of the first two words, then use "Oh. Right. I remember.”
It could also be written as "Oh, right. I remember," if the author does not want a pause after "Oh."
Q: Are my commas grammatically correct in the sentence that follows?
I often think of you and what your life was like before you spiraled downhill; and still, some nights, I pray for you—wherever you may be.
A: The sentence should be punctuated this way:
I often think of you and what your life was like before you spiraled downhill, and still some nights I pray for you, wherever you may be.
The reason a semicolon would be incorrect is that "and still some nights I pray for you—wherever you may be" is not an independent clause. It is an incomplete sentence, because of the “and” at the beginning. If the semicolon stays (not recommended), the correct sentence would be this:
“I often think of you and what your life was like before you spiraled downhill; still some nights I pray for you, wherever you may be.”
Could "some nights" be set off by commas? Yes, if the writer wants to emphasize a pause before and after the statement. Some writers might be tempted to use ellipses to indicate the pauses, but commas would do it in this case. Because Chicago style avoids unnecessary commas, though, I suggest my first rewrite: “I often think of you and what your life was like before you spiraled downhill, and still some nights I pray for you, wherever you may be.
Note that an em dash is not necessary in any of these cases. Em dashes must be used sparingly and never when other punctuation would work.
Q: Do you know of any instance where it is not necessary to capitalize the
first word of a complete sentence?
A: In poetry, yes. For example, ee cummings used lowercase style in his poetry. In prose, though, I cannot think of a single time a complete sentence should begin with a lowercased word. If you ever find a time when such a style is acceptable in prose, let me know.
Q: In dialogue, is it St. Louis, or is it Saint Louis?
A: I could not find the issue specifically addressed in The Chicago Manual of Style, but CMOS in general does not recommend the use of abbreviations. In addition, considering that when people speak they do not say "St.," they say "Saint," I recommend spelling out Saint Louis in dialogue.
Q: I've seen a state name used as an adjective, but it seems odd to me. For example, I've seen "red Georgia clay." Is this use common, instead of using an adjectival or possessive form, which would be "Georgian red clay" or "Georgia's red clay?"
A: English gives us many options. All the selections you mention are acceptable in most circles; however, some sticklers—and I’m one of them—take exception to the possessive form, Georgia’s clay, because inanimate objects cannot own anything. Georgia does not own the clay, so I don’t advise using the last of the three choices.
Bobbie Christmas, author of Write In Style: Use Your Computer to Improve Your Writing, 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 www.zebraeditor.com.
News of note: Publishers say they are looking for a fresh voice. What on earth is a fresh voice? The second edition of Write In Style, my book on how to use any computer to help you uncover your fresh voice, has been updated, upgraded, expanded, and improved and is now available. Order your copy today at http://tinyurl.com/o4trud2 or http://tinyurl.com/pnq5y5s, or order a signed copy at http://tinyurl.com/nm84p3k.
Send your questions to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Bobbie Christmas, book editor and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions quickly. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com.
For even more questions, answers, and comments, order the book, Ask the Book Doctor: How to Beat the Competition and Sell Your Writing. Go to http://tinyurl.com/lexp7n.
Three: This Month's Easy Editing Tip from Bobbie Christmas: Thoughts
Sticklers remind us that thoughts always tell, rather than show, because in reality we cannot read someone’s thoughts. For that reason strong writers avoid revealing a character’s thoughts and instead show what characters are thinking through their self-talk or dialogue with another character.
If using thoughts in a novel, however, here are some important things to know. Please note, however, that in italics rarely show up in this e-mail newsletter, so I cannot use italics in the examples, even when I think they are called for.
Direct thoughts (internal dialogue) must be distinguishable from narrative. My preference is to use italics for direct thought, when the character is speaking in his or her head.
Direct thoughts are always in first person and are usually in present tense, such as this example: Should I go to the meeting or stay home with Brenda?
Indirect thoughts often include that, even though it may only be understood. Example: Bill thought the rain would never stop. (That is understood.)
A writer’s job is to train the reader to understand when characters speak and when they merely think.
The Chicago Manual of Style allows authors to decide how they prefer to format direct thoughts. Some writers put quotation marks around thoughts. Others use italics. Others add attribution, such as this: Eric thought, I’ll be damned if I’ll go along with that. Be sure thoughts are clearly distinctive from narrative, and be consistent. Pick one style and stick to it throughout the manuscript.
Indirect thoughts do not call for italics or quotation marks.
Instead of complicating a manuscript with italics or repetitions of he thought/she thought, many authors show, rather than tell, that characters are thinking using their body language. When people think, they usually perform actions that show they are thinking, as in the following examples:
Ray blinked. She was the sexiest woman ever to walk through his door. Was she married?
Was four dollars a good price for the barrel of flour? Sam rubbed his chin. He’d never had to buy supplies, before.
Mary pushed her hair behind one ear. Did the interviewer have any idea she had lied on her résumé?
For more editing and creative writing tips, order Purge Your Prose of Problems here: http://tinyurl.com/4ptjnr.
Four: Subjects of interest to writers
Member Ed Gruber’s newest novel, Seeking Intimacy, tells a current and intriguing story.
Alan and his wife can no longer have intimate relations. On her suggestion, he places an Internet ad. Dozens of e-mails follow that reveal intimate histories, tales of love lost, uncertain and broken relationships, anxieties, and heartaches, along with secret and not-so-secret sexual desires. Unfulfilled women and even a lonely gay florist offer a riveting array of intriguing propositions while divulging insights into assorted lifestyles, cultures, fantasies, and desires. Alan has a secret of his own, though.
Seeking Intimacy, ISBN 978-1-941165-96-6, is available on Amazon.com, the Deeds Publishing website, Ingram, and elsewhere. If you would like a signed copy, e-mail Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Member John Chaplick announced his newest books. In The Rivergrass Legacy, a Harvard University bookworm becomes the target of a vicious Colombian drug cartel when he discovers a money-laundering plot in South Florida. In Bridge of the Paper Tiger, a mild-mannered accountant teams up with a tough, maverick FBI agent to thwart a foreign coalition's plan to destroy the Golden Gate Bridge. In Forbidden Chronicles of a Roman Centurion, an archaeological dig under the streets of London uncovers a Roman soldier's two-thousand-year-old letter that proves that the New Testament is a forgery promulgated by the Catholic Church. All the books are available at www.EngagingBooksBlog.com.
Indie Publisher Becomes Nonprofit Publisher
Terminology Writers Should Know: Point of View
While point of view, viewpoint, or POV may seem basic to accomplished novelists, folks who are new to writing novels may not be aware of POV and how to handle it correctly. Most publishers, and therefore readers, expect that each scene in a novel will come from the point of view of only the main character in that scene, but how can you tell whether you are using point of view correctly? Here is the information as laid out in Purge Your Prose of Problems, my reference book for writers and editors:
Point of view, POV, or viewpoint: the vantage point from which a particular scene or a piece of information is presented. POV refers to the person or thing that observes the action or thinks about it.
Once a point of view is set in a scene, things cannot be told to readers that the point-of-view-character cannot or does not see. For example, the narrative cannot say something such as this of the POV character: He did not hear the car pulling up behind him.
Although a story or book can have several points of view, publishers strongly recommend that each scene be from only one viewpoint, usually of the main character in the scene. As you write each scene, decide whose point of view is most important to that scene, and if any information comes through thoughts or perceptions of one of the characters, it should be only from the POV character for that scene.
Usually the first character mentioned in a new scene is the point of view character for the scene. If the scene is to be in the point of view of someone other than the first character mentioned, rearrange the opening sentence to put the POV character first. Here are some examples of opening sentences to scenes that set the point of view:
Sandy flicked on the lights and glanced around the room. (Sets POV with Sandy)
“Where are we going?” Evelyn asked Harry. (Sets POV with Evelyn)
The class formed a long line. “I could eat a horse,” Butch murmured. (Sets POV with Butch)
Terry, Sally, Rosalyn, and Jill plopped on the sofa. (Sets POV with Terry)
Point of view may confuse writers, so here are some subtle examples of how POV sneaks into manuscripts.
John looked around and saw only two women, Mary and Tina, in a room full of men. (John’s POV)
Tina, conscious of John’s dilemma, walked over. “Hello,” she drawled. (Tina’s POV)
Mary, afraid of what Tina might tell John, joined the couple. (Mary’s POV)
If the above sentences all appeared in one scene, the POV would be seriously flawed. To fix the flaw, the writer would have to rewrite the scene in only one point of view, such as John’s:
John looked around and saw only two women, Mary and Tina, in the entire room of men.
He caught Tina’s attention, and to his delight, she walked over. “Hello,” she drawled.
Soon after, Mary joined the couple.
What if the scene were in Tina’s POV? It might come out like this:
Tina noticed John walk into the room and glance around at all the men. She strolled over to him. “Hello,” she drawled.
To Tina’s disgust, Mary soon wheedled her way into the conversation, too.
To indicate a change in point of view, start a new scene by using a scene break. A scene break that has little or no time passage can be handled by adding an extra space between the end of one scene and the opening of a new one. Here’s an example:
Mary watched Harry leave the room. (end of one scene in Mary’s POV)
Harry stormed out of the house and hopped into his car, fuming at his argument with Mary. (beginning of next scene in Harry‘s POV)
Note that in standard manuscript format, the paragraphs would be double-spaced and the spacing between them would be four spaces (two hard returns).
For scene breaks that show a longer passage of time, use three asterisks (* * *) centered, with a blank line (hard return) before and after the asterisks.
Once viewpoint is established in a scene, not every action has to be clearly relayed through the viewpoint character, because the writing could get wordy. Look at these sentences to see the difference, assuming the point of view has already been established in the scene:
Tom watched while Mary ran a comb through her hair.
Mary ran a comb through her hair.
The second sentence is much tighter and to the point, and if the viewpoint of the scene was already Tom’s, then we know Tom saw the action as it happened and do not need to be reminded.
Let me point out that point of view is a creative-writing issue, and creative writing has guidelines, but no absolute rules. Many successful writers today pay no attention to point of view and have many a scene that reflects the points of view of several characters in the scene. John Grisham comes to mind, as an example. Grisham, however, like several other successful authors who pay no attention to point of view, are known for being good storytellers, not good writers. Good writers pay attention to details such as point of view.
Writing teachers and writers begged me to re-release Write In Style, my triple-award-winning book on how to use a computer to improve your writing. The second edition, upgraded and expanded from the award-winning first edition, is at last available. Buy it through Amazon or get a signed copy by ordering directly from me here: http://tinyurl.com/nm84p3k.
Excellent article on the most common mistakes in manuscripts: http://blog.reedsy.com/six-common-writing-mistakes.
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.
Things Not to Say to a Writer
How many of these things have been said to you? Would you like to add more? Read Ten Things Not to Say to a Writer here: http://tinyurl.com/phffh3d.
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.
It’s time to think about the novel you plan to write during National Novel Writing Month. It starts November 1. For more information see http://nanowrimo.org/.
A highly successful writer and member of The Writers Network, Patricia Fry writes, “So you want to write a book, get it published, and achieve a measure of success. Do you know why over eighty-one percent of authors fail? It’s for the same reason that businesses fail; there is no viable plan. In business, it would be a business plan. In publishing we write a book proposal.
“You are the CEO of your book and it’s vital that you take charge. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can enter the fiercely competitive publishing arena as a hobby. It’s essential that you look at publishing as a business, and the book proposal is a crucial element to your ultimate publishing success.
“Before you start writing that book, read my brand-new book: Propose Your Book, How to Craft Persuasive Proposals for Nonfiction, Fiction, and Children’s Books (Allworth Press). See http://tinyurl.com/qcvqgm4 or or http://tinyurl.com/pp8apln
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.
In 1966, UNESCO proclaimed September 8 International Literacy Day. In honor of Literacy Day, Interesting Literature, a website that originates in the UK, put together a few facts about literacy, some of which are disheartening, all of which are interesting, and a few of which are funny. Here’s one: On days when Charles Dickens gave public readings from his novels, he had two tablespoons of rum with fresh cream for breakfast and a pint of champagne at teatime. For more interesting facts, see http://tinyurl.com/pcv7bn4.
Where Writers Win says, “If you are self-publishing, your book has to be clean, combed, and polished for its audience. Here are four things you need to do to produce a good-looking book.” See http://tinyurl.com/or3meno.
Last month The Writers Network News quoted an article that compared pricing for a few self-publishing companies. Member Darlene Pitts, author of Discover Your Intuition and Let's Talk Intuition, wrote to add a few more to the list, although there are too many to list every one. Still she related the following good information:
Two websites in which self-publishing authors can have their books reasonably printed are Lightning Source at https://www.lightningsource.com/default.aspx and Ingram Spark at https://ingramspark.com/. They will also list the paperback (setup fee appx. $125) and e-book (setup fee appx. $50) on Amazon and other websites. They handle distribution and pay you when your sales reach a certain amount, usually $25. You don't have to buy copies of the paperback unless you want to, for local events. If so, you can buy the books at the printer’s price plus shipping, so you can sell it at the retail price and make a profit.
Also check out Amazon's self-publishing offerings for paperbacks and e-books on its website. In both cases, the author retains the copyright and creative control.
The key is that self-publishing authors must have their books completely finished, including the cover (front and back). The text and cover are to be sent separately as PDF files for Lightning Source and Ingram Spark. They may provide some assistance (e.g., ISBN, e-book conversion) for an additional cost. The guidelines are included on the websites.
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Five: Contests, Agents, and Markets
PrimeTime is a new imprint of AcuteByDesign, but aimed at the opposite end of readers’ age spectrum. While AbyD publishes books for children, PrimeTime will be publishing books for people ages 50 and up. Our first season, spring of 2016, will see us publish four print books and an as-yet-unspecfied number of e-books. We arewilling to work with previously unpublished writers and do not require that you submit through an agent. We will consider queries or complete manuscripts. We are most interested in books in the 20,000-60,000-word range. For this first season, we are not considering any novels or short story anthos—NONFICTION ONLY at this time, please.
Today’s Boomers and Seniors (the 50-and-up demographic who will make up our audience) encompass a wide range of activity levels and interests. The majority are active and reasonably healthy. Some are retired and some not. Please do not envision our readers as being planted in rocking chairs. Only a small portion of our readers will fit that image.
We are NOT a vanity, co-op, self-pub, or hybrid publisher. We are a royalty-paying traditional publisher.
Our website is www.primetimebookshelf.com. Please send submissions and queries to: Submissions@primetimebookshelf.com.
National Punctuation Day announces 2015 writing contest
National Punctuation Day celebrated its eleventh anniversary September 24 with an homage to one of America's greatest comedians and talk-show hosts—David Letterman.
This year we depart from our usual 250-word essay contest. Instead, we offer this Top 10 list as our National Punctuation Day contest:
WHAT ARE THE TOP 10 WAYS PROPER PUNCTUATION HAS AFFECTED YOUR LIFE?
Entries will be accepted through October 31 at Jeff@NationalPunctuationDay.com Be clever! Also see http://www.nationalpunctuationday.com/.
1572 Blue Lupine Ln.
Victor MT 59875
Encante Press LLC publishes nonfiction books in the following categories:
As an eco-friendly publishing company, we accept queries and sample chapters only via e-mail (in a PDF file attachment). Make sure whatever you send us is free of spelling and punctuation errors. Poorly proofed correspondence and/or manuscripts will be quickly rejected. Although queries are accepted, authors are welcome to skip that step and just send two sample chapters. Your cover letter must include the elevator pitch for your book, a brief description of your book’s potential market, and what you will do to help promote your book.
Our submission email address is: Books@EncantePress.com
Six: Got Muse? Insults versus Stones
"The first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization," said Sigmund Freud, neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis.
Create two characters that get into a shouting match, an argument of some kind, or some other confrontation. What insults might they hurl at one another? Will the comments or accusations turn out to be funny, hurtful, intelligent, or frivolous? Will they reveal backstory or character? Create a scene peppered with plenty of dialogue, body language, and other action, but without physical violence.
Arguments pump up any story. They create tension and raise conflict. Such heated discussions can also reveal character, backstory and more. Disagreements add many important elements to a short story or novel. The argument you write for this exercise may go on to become a full story, if you let it.
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.
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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.
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