The Writers Network News, November 2016 issue
The Writers Network News, November 2016
In This Issue
One: From the Editor's Desk: National Novel Writing Month
Two: Ask the Book Doctor about Colons and Semicolons, Organization and Tables of Contents, and Breaking the Rules of Point of View
Three: This Month's Easy Editing Tip from Bobbie Christmas: That/Which
Four: Subjects of Interest to Writers
Five: Contests, Agents, and Markets
Six: Got Muse? Catfish
THE WRITERS NETWORK NEWS
No Rules; Just Write!
Editor: Bobbie Christmas
Contents copyright 2016, Bobbie Christmas
No portion of this newsletter can be used without permission; however, you may forward the newsletter in its entirety to people in your network.
Excellent editing for maximum marketability
Improving books for writers and publishers since 1992
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WRITER'S QUOTE OF THE MONTH
"Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs. The adjective hasn't been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place." ~William Strunk and E. B. White in THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE.
Strunk was an American professor of English at Cornell University and author of the THE ELEMENTS OF S STYLE (1918). After his former student E. B. White (author of CHARLOTTE’S WEB) revised and enlarged the book, it became a highly influential guide to English usage and is commonly called Strunk & White.
ONE: FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK: NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH
Dear Fellow Writers:
You’ve heard about National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, which encourages writers to write 50,000 words during the month of November, but how much do you know about NaNoWriMo? Out of curiosity, I looked into it, to see if it was a gimmick to raise money for a brilliant but starving writer in Nigeria or something, but it turns out to be completely legitimate.
National Novel Writing Month began in 1999. In 2005, National Novel Writing Month became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Sure, its site sells bracelets that remind you to write as well as things like posters, mugs, and T-shirts, and it even accepts donations, but the organization also offers educational programs.
As a result of inspiring writers to dig in and get a first draft completed in one month, more than 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include books such as Sara Gruen’s WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, which became a movie, as well.
Last year almost 432,000 people officially participated. Even more writers may have participated without signing up on the website. In addition, more than a thousand libraries participated in Come Write In programs.
If 50,000 words in a month sounds overwhelming, you’d be surprised how much easier it sounds when you break it down. November has thirty days. If you write 1,700 words a day, you’ll have 51,000 words completed in a month. Oh, does 1,700 words sound intimidating? At an average of 250 words a double-spaced page, that’s a paltry 6.8 pages a day. Wow! Now the project sounds easy. You could even take weekends off and make up for it on weekdays.
To ensure writers meet the minimum number of pages a day or words in the month, they must not stop writing or back up to review, edit, or revise what they have written. They must keep going forward, every day, never looking back. Such behavior is good practice, because it teaches writers to stay in the creative mode, rather than stopping to backtrack, rethink, and revise. When writers backtrack, they are no longer in the creative mode; they are in a linear, pragmatic, uncreative mode. Even if participants don’t meet the 50,000-word minimum in the month, they have, perhaps, learned how to stay in the creative flow to get that first draft written. If they do reach 50,000 words, they have a solid foundation for a novel. After typing “the end,” they can go back and revise, rewrite, and edit their work.
Will I participate in NaNoWriMo? Here’s the thing: I’m a nonfiction writer, not a novelist. I greatly admire how novelists can pull entire stories out of thin air; embellish them; layer them; add dialogue, action, and interesting characters; and ensure a gripping beginning, a compelling middle, and a satisfying end. I have the training to spot when a novel isn’t working and explain to clients how to repair flaws or build better characters or a stronger plot, but by golly, I can’t do it myself. “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” That’s me.
If you’re a novelist, a story idea or strong character has probably been playing around in your head, begging for attention. NaNoWriMo is a good time to hunker down and get those ideas out of your head and into your computer. Sign up today at https://nanowrimo.org/sign_up. Everyone who completes 50,000 words in the allotted time is considered a winner. I encourage you to be a winner.
Let me know how NaNoWriMo works for you, too. Stay in touch!
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 Colons and Semicolons, Organization and Tables of Contents, and Breaking the Rules of Point of View
By Bobbie Christmas
Q: I liked the way you addressed commas in a prior column. Have you addressed colons and semicolons in depth, as well?
A: I haven't addressed colons and semicolons in my "Ask the Book Doctor" column, but those details (along with hundreds of other details) are in my book doctor reference book, Purge Your Prose of Problems. I will say this, though: (note the colon) If a manuscript uses colons and semicolons frequently, chances are the sentences are too long. It's something worth examining.
Q: I am a poet/writer in the process of writing a book. It is unique in the sense that it is a series of life events with my poetry interwoven into it. Essentially I will tell the back stories to my poetry by going in depth as to how each piece was inspired. I am having trouble understanding how to break the book into chapters. For example, many pieces are about my upbringing (father, mother, brother, etc.), some pieces are about love, and others about adversity. How do I break this combination into chapters?
I also need to know how to handle the table of contents. Please assist.
A: No rules exist for breaking books into chapters. The only thing that applies is that information should flow in a logical manner. Does it have to be chronological? No. It sounds to me that you have the following overall topics: father, mother, brother, love, and adversity. There may be more than you listed, but we’ll use these as examples. You may want to think in terms of sections, rather than chapters, with each section labeled by topic.
If it were me, I would list the sections in the table of contents and then under each section list the titles of each item that appears in that section and the page numbers that start those items.
Even though the format may go a little wonky in this column, the table of contents might look something like this:
Section I: Mother
Back Story …………….3
Nurture versus Nature…4
Where Were You?..........5
Section II: Father
Back Story ……………10
Section III: Brother
Back Story …………….21
Section IV: Adversity
Back Story …………….25
Mountains to Climb…….27
Q: Does a reprint of a book that has no changes in content require it to be labeled Second Edition? I would like to leave it as is, first edition, but want to follow protocol.
A: A reprinted book in its original form would be called the second printing, third printing, and so forth. A new printing does not constitute a new edition.
When the book differs from the original but is also similar, it is a new edition. With my book, Write In Style, for example, when my publisher decided not to go into a second printing and returned the rights to me, I changed the subtitle, updated the information, and greatly expanded the book. Because of all the upgrades and changes, the new printing is considered a second edition.
Q: I have a client whose manuscript has a limited omniscient point of view, but the author gets into the perspective of only two characters: a woman and then her boyfriend. These perspectives are not in separate scenes, but within one scene, all through the book. Can an author do that? I'm thinking it will be a deal breaker with a publisher, but the author is quite determined to keep it. What do you think?
A: Creative writing tends to have guidelines, rather than rules. The guidelines say to use only one point of view per scene, and that each scene should be in the point of view of the most important character in that scene. New writers hoping to sell to a publisher are wise to follow that rule of thumb, because not following it could be a deal breaker with many a publisher. If an agent spots something that would be a deal breaker with a publisher, the agent has no incentive to handle the book either.
I recall reading a wonderful book with two perspectives of each scene, but the author handled it brilliantly by putting the scene in separate chapters, first in the woman’s point of view, and then in the next chapter, the same scene from the man’s point of view. The points of view differed in hilarious ways. The book rocked!
Has anyone ever succeeded while disregarding the current one-point-of-view-per-scene recommendation? John Grisham comes to mind. He tells great stories, but in the one book that I read, the POV was often in three or more characters within the same scene. It drove me crazy. As a result I will never read another of his books. Anyway, if a writer has a reputation and readership as strong as John Grisham’s, it's fine to ignore the basic tenets of strong creative writing, but I would never advise an unpublished writer to disregard those tenets.
Although we editors must give advice, the author makes the final decisions, until and unless an agent or publisher gets involved. Will an agent or publisher even get involved with a book that breaks away from the standards of creative writing? Grisham’s success says yes, but how many of us are as well-known as Grisham? I didn’t read his first published book, so I don’t know if it followed the standard guidelines for point of view. I suspect it did, and after he met with success, he could write any way he wanted. If anyone knows differently, I’m open to hearing more information.
For much more information on these subjects and hundreds of others of vital importance to writers, order PURGE YOUR PROSE OF PROBLEMS , a Book Doctor’s Desk Reference Book at http://tinyurl.com/4ptjnr.
Send your questions to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Bobbie Christmas, book doctor and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions quickly. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com.
Bobbie Christmas’s award-winning second edition of WRITE IN STYLE: How to Use Your Computer to Improve Your Writing is available at http://tinyurl.com/pnq5y5s.
THREE: THIS MONTH'S EASY EDITING TIP FROM BOBBIE CHRISTMAS: THAT/WHICH
The following information comes from THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE by Strunk and White: "That” is the defining, or restrictive pronoun, “which” the non-defining, or nonrestrictive.
The lawnmower that is broken is in the garage. (Tells which one)
The lawn mower, which is broken, is in the garage. (Adds a fact about the only mower in question)"
As an easy editing tip, if the word can be eliminated, but the information that follows cannot, you probably mean “that.” Example: I told Jan that I liked fish. I told Jan I liked fish. If any word can be eliminated, eliminate it and write tight.
If the word cannot be eliminated, if it is (or should be) preceded by a comma, and if the information that follows is not essential to the sentence, you probably mean “which.” Example: The motel room, which cost us dearly, overlooked the Rhine.
Careful writers go on a “which hunt” and remove the defining, restrictive uses of “which.” By so doing, they improve their work.
Use my Find and Refine Method and go on a “which hunt” through your own manuscripts. In this case you will search your manuscript for the word “which.” To do so in Microsoft Word, use the Find function (Ctrl + F on a PC and Command + F on a Mac) and search for every use of the pronoun “which” to be sure you used it correctly.
This lesson teaches you how to use the Find and Replace function to catch opportunities to write stronger, more stylistically correct prose. For more editing and creative writing tips, order PURGE YOUR PROSE OF PROBLEMS here: http://tinyurl.com/4ptjnr.
Four: Subjects of interest to writers
REGARDING THE USE OF “THEY” AS SINGULAR
New member Lolly de Jonge wrote, “A colleague sent me a link to your e-zine today. I really enjoyed it and have signed up for it. I thought you might be interested in this article on the use of the word “they” as a singular pronoun after it was chosen as 2015 word of the year by the American Dialect Society http://www.americandialect.org/2015-word-of-the-year-is-singular-they. I became interested in this topic as an LGBTQ ally after some of my friends started identifying as “they.” I was always a stickler on the proper use of “they,” but this article caused me to question it. I thought it might interest you.”
Yes, the article interested me. I welcome such discussions; however, until editorial boards and The Chicago Manual of Style approve such usage, the singular "they" is fine in conversation, but not acceptable in books—at least not in the books that I edit.
Member Robert Gilbert reports that his latest romance book is now available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle Select.
DESIRE: THREE SENSUAL LADIES is a collection of playful and seductive adventures told by three women. Within Desire, the three stories are: Desire between Two Lovers, which finds attractive attorney Erin Hunter in a situation when two handsome gentlemen slip back into her life. Casual Persuasion takes place in England during World War I, where you meet sophisticated Emma Sullivan, invited to a formal ball with young soldiers and falling for Peter McClaire. The third story is Our First Hour, introducing you to Laurel Terry, in the gay publishing business, meeting Chad Amboy, a superstar in evening television.
SAVE THOUSANDS ON EDITING
PURGE YOUR PROSE OF PROBLEMS, A Book Doctor's Desk Reference, will save you thousands of dollars when you use it to edit your own book. It’s the resource editors use to edit book-length manuscripts.
Order the book-doctor desk reference book at http://tinyurl.com/4ptjnr. Available spiral bound, so it stays open easily next to your computer, or as a PDF to store on your computer, ready to search electronically.
PURGE YOUR PROSE OF PROBLEMS covers all you need to revise and edit fiction and nonfiction. Get information on grammar, punctuation, word choices, creative writing, plot, pace, characterization, point of view, dialogue, Chicago style, format, and hundreds of other subjects.
Order PURGE YOUR PROSE OF PROBLEMS today at http://tinyurl.com/4ptjnr.
DO COMMAS STILL MATTER?
See what Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post has to say: http://wapo.st/2dcW0HS.
CMOS ONLINE Q & A
This month’s Chicago Manual of Style Online answers the following good question:
Q. Can you use ’80s when referring to the 1880s?
To read the answer to this question and many more, go to http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/qanda/latest.html
SALE PRICED! ASK THE BOOK DOCTOR, THE BOOK
ASK THE BOOK DOCTOR: HOW TO BEAT THE COMPETITION AND SELL YOUR WRITING answers questions you wish you could ask an editing expert. E-book: $8.95. Paperback is usually $14.95 plus $4.99 S & H (total: $19.94 US), but read on. To pay the full price or to order the e-book, go to http://tinyurl.com/lexp7n.
Order ASK THE BOOK DOCTOR: HOW TO BEAT THE COMPETITION AND SELL YOUR WRITING directly from me. Send me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) to ask me how.
NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH IS HERE
November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, for short. Commit to writing 50,000 first-draft words of your next novel between November 1 and the end of November here: http://nanowrimo.org/how-it-works
You may also want to check out the following blog entry for some tips on completing NaNoWriMo. https://blog.reedsy.com/38-tips-for-nanowrimo
EXTENDED POPULAR OFFER: AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF WRITE IN STYLE PLUS FREE SHPPING!
Save money! Buy the award-winning second edition of WRITE IN STYLE: How to Use Your Computer to Improve Your Writing for yourself or buy several copies for gifts for your fellow writers. For a short time, when you order my award-winning book WRITE IN STYLE: directly from me—not through bookstores or the publisher—I’ll sign it and even pay for postage.
Here’s how it works: Send me $14.95 per book. No limit! Order as many as you want. You can mail me a check or send payment through PayPal.com. Be sure to include your mailing address, the number of copies you want, and whether you want me to flat sign the books(s) (my name only) or sign the book(s) to specific people.
This offer ends soon, so act today!
WRITE IN STYLE shows writers how to produce compelling prose and uncover their fresh voice, the type of voice publishers and readers demand. This book is not about grammar; it's an easy-to-read yet instructional book that improves any type of writing.
Mail your order and your check to
230 Deerchase Drive
Woodstock, GA 30188
Visit www.PayPal.com and send your order and payment to the following address email@example.com.
If for some reason you’d rather pay for postage, order the book from the publisher. Here’s the link:
HOW TO FAIL AS A WRITER
This funny blog entry from BookBaby packs a powerful punch for writers.
FREELANCE WRITERS GET HELP IN NEW YORK
Freelance writers and editors around the globe have been getting stiffed by clients for years. Clients often do not pay or pay so slowly that it has an impact on a freelancer’s income. As a result many of us require full payment in advance, so we don’t have to become bill collectors as well as freelancers. Well, at least New York City has recognized the problem and come to the rescue (perhaps) in a bill before City Council. Read more on the Crain’s New York Business blog: http://tinyurl.com/hcr5s9p.
MANUSCRIPT MISTAKES TO FIX BEFORE EDITING
I found great advice in a Book Baby blog, and I wish all my clients followed the advice before sending a manuscript to me for editing. See http://tinyurl.com/zyvhxuq.
BECOME MY FRIEND ON FACEBOOK
Follow my adventures, opinions, and observations: http://www.facebook.com/bobbie.christmas
FOLLOW ZEBRA COMMUNICATIONS ON FACEBOOK
News, information, immediate updates, and other things writers can put to use.
Like Zebra Communications at http://tinyurl.com/7vcxaxu.
FREE WRITING PROMPTS
Barefoot Writer.com offers thirty-one free writing prompts to get your creativity flowing. See http://tinyurl.com/gpde2vm.
I haven’t checked it out, but Scrivener claims its free mini-course will make writing stress free. See http://learnscrivenerfast.com/scrivener-secrets-03
I NEED YOUR REVIEWS!
Many people have reviewed WRITE IN STYLE on Amazon, and the reviews are great, but no one has written a review on the website of the publisher of WRITE IN STYLE. If you’ve read the latest edition of WRITE IN STYLE, please write a review at http://shop.booklogix.com/Write-In-Style-Second-Edition-6295.htm?categoryId=-1
FIVE: CONTESTS, AGENTS, AND MARKETS
BLACK ROSE WRITING
Black Rose Writing
P.O. Box 1540
Castroville TX 78009
Accepts all fiction and nonfiction
Accepts children’s books with full illustrations only
Please send a query letter prior to sending your completed manuscript. (Query letters should be in the e-mail text area, with synopsis for proposed book and author bio, and include the word count.)
Our query response is typically 1-2 weeks, but the review process is much longer than if you submit via Authors.me. If your query letter is accepted, your manuscript will be requested as a basic word document (.doc).
Do not forward or reply queries to Black Rose Writing, please write a personal e-mail directed to Black Rose Writing.
Submissions should be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Simultaneous submissions are acceptable.
We do not return material for mailed submissions. Thank you for understanding our efforts to stay green and eliminate paper waste.
Remember...Always Spellcheck! Nothing insults a publisher more than multiple misspelled words in your query or author bio.
STELLA KUPFERBERG MEMORIAL SHORT STORY PRIZE—2017
The Stella Kupferberg Memorial Short Story Prize is a writing competition sponsored by the stage and radio series Selected Shorts. This long-running series at Symphony Space in New York City celebrates the art of the short story by having stars of stage and screen read aloud the works of established and emerging writers. Selected Shorts is recorded for Public Radio and heard nationally. See complete details here: http://tinyurl.com/j6avj42.
HAL LEONARD PERFORMING ARTS PUBLISHING GROUP
Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group welcomes submissions pertaining to music and the performing arts. Its imprint, Backbeat Books, offers a diverse range of books, from biographies and memoirs, critical examinations and histories, to authoritative volumes on musical instruments and instruction, covering all areas of rock 'n' roll, jazz, and beyond.
AUTUMN HOUSE PRESS OFFERS COMPETITIONS FOR POETRY, FICTION, AND NONFICTION
Autumn House Press
87½ Westwood St.
Pittsburgh PA 15211
The Rising Writer Contest is for a first full-length book of poetry by an author 33 years old or younger. In addition to publication the winner also receives $1,000 ($500 advance against royalties and a $500 travel/publicity grant to promote the book). The submission period opens November 1, 2016 and the postmark deadline is January 31, 2017. To submit online please visit our online submission manager.
The annual Autumn House Press Contests award publication of full-length manuscripts in Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction. Each winner also receives $2,500 ($1,000 advance against royalties and a $1,500 travel/publicity grant to promote the book). The submission period opens January 1, 2017 and the postmark deadline for entries is June 30, 2017. To submit online, please visit our online submission manager. Please note that, at this time, Autumn House accepts unsolicited manuscripts only through these contests.
"We are a non-profit literary press specializing in high-quality poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Our editions are beautifully designed and printed, and they are distributed nationally. Approximately one-third of our sales are to college literature and creative writing classes." Member CLMP and Academy of American Poets. "We distribute our own titles. We do extensive national promotion through ads, web-marketing, reading tours, book fairs and conferences. We are open to all genres. The quality of writing concerns us, not the genre. You can also learn about our annual Fiction Prize, Poetry Prize, Nonfiction Prize, and Chapbook Award competitions, as well as our online journal, Coal Hill Review. (Please note that Autumn House accepts unsolicited mss only through these competitions.)"
For more information see http://www.autumnhouse.org/contest-submissions/.
VENTURA COUNTY WRITERS CLUB SHORT STORY CONTEST
The Ventura County Writers Club is proud to announce the opening of its seventeenth annual short story contest. The fiction contest is open to all writers, and winners receive cash prizes. Adult first place prize award is $500, second place is $250, and third place is $125. In the high school category, first place award is $100, second place is $75, and third place is $50. Winners are published in the club’s biennial anthology. The contest closes at midnight on November 15, 2016.
Entries must be family friendly, original, and previously unpublished—not appearing in any newspaper, magazine, or book, whether or not the author received compensation. Authors may enter multiple stories. Entrants may receive only one cash prize. Entries are accepted through submittable.com.
Stories are limited to 2,500 words or fewer. The submission fee for each story submitted: $15 U.S. for adult VCWC members; $25 U.S. for adult non-members; and $10 for high school students. Winners will be notified in early January 2017. Award Ceremony is January 10, 2017. Go to http://venturacountywriters.com/contests/short-story for more information or call Sheli Ellsworth at 805.499.3490.
SIX: GOT MUSE? CATFISH
I learned a new term the other day: catfish. Apparently it describes when people misrepresent themselves on the Internet and make the receiver think they are someone or something else. For example, many a scammer of lovelorn women represents himself as an attractive single man seeking a relationship, only to end up asking for money to help out an ailing mother or pay for a plane ticket to visit or some other excuse. Of course the visit never happens and the mother isn’t sick. The scammer could be a married man in Nigeria or a teenage girl in Hoboken, New Jersey.
For this exercise you will write about someone who deceives another person for whatever reason. The deception could happen in the flesh or over the Internet, but deception makes for good conflict, and conflict makes a good story.
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 enter a competition, pitch or accept an assignment, spend money, or sell your work.
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The Writers Network News: a newsletter for writers everywhere. No Rules; Just Write!