Writer to Writer - July 21, 2005

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Hello Writers,

It’s been a very busy month once again. Mainly because my mother has been in and out of hospital. She’s now been in hospital three times in around four weeks. Finally, finally, they are starting to sort out her problems – most of which stem from being prescribed the wrong medications. (Yes, we’ve changed her doctor!)

During the last month I’ve had a novel requested, an article requested and published (and I didn't even submit a query!), and had a rejection for a non-fiction book. It was a nice rejection though – in fact, it wasn’t really a rejection. The publisher has asked me to resubmit it early next year; he’s interested (very interested!) but his publishing schedule is full up until 2008.

I was also asked to submit a proposal to present a workshop to a writer’s conference. That was a nice bolt out of the blue. No decision on that one yet.

I’ve done a lot of work on the Writer2Writer website, including adding a lot of new articles. Make sure you check them out – I’m sure you’ll find something of interest.

Oh, and I’ve recently purchased a new course that you can access at no charge. The Ebook Marketing Secrets Course has some excellent information, which I’m sure will help immensely. But don’t be fooled by the title; this course will actually assist in writing your ebook! For more information and/or registration, click here. Everyone who completes the course will receive a surprise (and valuable) gift.

In a few days time, the This Little Writer went to Market Workshop (presented by Dorry C. Pease) will begin. There are just a handful of slots left. The workshop runs for five weeks, and costs just US$40. Check out the full details here. At this stage, it is a one-off workshop, with no plans for another.

John Andrew joins us again with "From the Editor's Desk" - his article this time around is all about squiggles. As promised, Cynthia VanRooy’s Romance column ‘Romance with a Passion’ begins today, and I’m sure you’ll find her article about point of view insightful. Beth Morrow’s column debuts this month also. Beth is now our official book reviewer. This month she has reviewed ‘The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Success’. I want this book!

And last, but certainly not least, Roy A. Barnes gives some terrific information regarding email addresses. (Yep, I’m still on that marketing bandwagon!)

Sit back, relax, and enjoy this bumper issue of Writer to Writer!


Til next month,




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"This Little Writer went to Market" starts in a few days.

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From the Editor’s Desk

In my last article, I wrote about one particular piece of punctuation: the apostrophe. It can cause so many problems that it deserves an article to itself. This time I look at some of the more general aspects of punctuation.

If you missed the last article, read it here


My World of Squiggles

Andrew John – All Rights Reserved


This article can also be read online - click here


When friends ask me what I’ve been doing all day I’ll often say that I’ve been agonizing over squiggles. That’s how it feels, believe me.

Apart from the way words hang together to produce meaning in a sentence—the syntax—an ocean of meaning can be conveyed by the use, or absence, of a squiggle. Yes, I’m talking here about punctuation.

Many writers are slapdash about punctuation. They probably feel it’s just furniture, something that makes their prose look pretty. More likely, they don’t know that much about how to make punctuation work for them, but they do their best. Unfortunately, their best is often not good enough.

OK, much of the time, the absence of a comma doesn’t alter the meaning. It just makes discerning readers say "tut, tut" or cast their eyes to the sky. I would argue that this reaction in itself is not a good thing for you the writer, because those readers just may not feel that they can trust the rest of your article, chapter, or book, and may continue reading (if they bother) with a degree of suspicion and some annoyance.

But the big reason why getting to grips with the squiggles is a Good Thing is that you’ll rule out ambiguity at a stroke (or the absence of one!).


Let me give you an obvious example. It highlights one particular abuse of punctuation very well, and, once you think about it, you realize it’s very obvious, and won’t repeat the error. But it is a construction that is so often abused.

Some time ago, I saw the following in an article (the words aren’t the same, but the construction—the way they’re used—is): "The rewards should go to the workers who are the backbone of this country’s economy."

Now, to whom should these rewards go? Just the workers who are the backbone of the economy? Or is the writer saying that workers in general—i.e. all workers—are the backbone of the economy? If it is a trade unionist writing, you might assume the latter. He has the workers’ interests at heart, and will praise them whenever he can. If it is, say, an economist or politician, she may mean that the rewards should go only to the workers who form the backbone of the economy (all other workers being a bunch of wasters who deserve no reward).

And how do we distinguish between those two meanings with a simple piece of punctuation? I guess you’re ahead of me: it just needs a comma before who.

The absence of that comma means that what follows who is what is known as a restrictive clause: it restricts our definition to that of a particular type of worker, i.e. the type that is the backbone of the economy. The implication is that there are workers who aren’t. The presence of a comma, however, makes it into what is known as a nonrestrictive clause, telling us that all that follows who is a little extra information that isn’t absolutely necessary to the meaning the sentence seeks to convey. It’s called nonrestrictive because its definition isn’t restricted to certain workers. (I’ll be dealing with restrictive and nonrestrictive clauses, and the choice of that or which as the pronoun preceding them, in my next article, "Which ‘Which’ is ‘Which’?".)

With nonpersonal pronouns (that and which), you would do just the same, preferably using that with no comma before it to introduce a restrictive clause and which preceded by a comma to introduce a nonrestrictive clause.

Oh, well, we can tell from the context what the writer means, you might say. Sure, we often can. However, what if we can’t? What if we’ve discerned earlier in the article that the writer is a bit lax on this? So far we’ve managed to tell from context what is meant. Then we reach a sentence that really needs that comma before who in order to be unambiguous. Oh, dear! We can’t trust this writer, because we’ve seen some errors earlier in the article. How can we trust this sentence? We’re left not knowing what it means—does it mean all workers or just those who are the backbone of the economy?

What we’ve discussed above isn’t the only concern careful writers should have for the comma. But it’s a prime example of how misuse can alter a meaning—or at best leave a statement ambiguous and give your reader pause.

Commas also separate words in lists (for instance, "Punctuation marks include commas, dashes, colons, semicolons, and brackets"). Commas split a complex sentence into its distinguishable clauses, and this is such a sentence. Commas can also perform the role of weaker parentheses, like this, and as such they are known as bracketing commas.

Colons and semicolons

Colons and semicolons are a niggle for many people. It is the semicolon that is the more misused in my experience. I see sentences such as, "They didn’t get to the meeting; they both developed headaches." Often, the writer is trying to say that the reason they didn’t get to the meeting was that they had headaches. However, what it is literally saying by the use of that semicolon is that these two events have no causal link. They didn’t get to the meeting, and, by the way, they were additionally irritated by the fact that they both suffered headaches. You might say they’re two parallel statements.

So, assuming the writer really wanted to say that their headaches were the reason for their not attending the meeting, how do we correct this? We use a colon. Different meanings are conveyed, depending on whether you use a colon or semicolon. We should think of a colon as something that introduces something else. These people didn’t get to the meeting? Why didn’t they get there? Was it because they felt pretty lousy with thick heads? Yes. OK, so the one follows from the other, and there’s a causal link. "They didn’t get to the meeting: they both developed headaches." The result, and the cause of the result.

If, on the other hand, you have two parallel statements (and let us stay with the example of the meeting and the headaches), you use the semicolon, as that sentence did. The two events—failure to get to the meeting and the onset of cranial pains—are linked only in that they occurred to the same people. But there’s no causal link, and you could have stated the one without the other. The semicolon merely tells you that they are parallel statements—two statements of equal importance, but not causing or being caused by each other.

More often than not in these days of shorter sentences, you can substitute a period for the semicolon and simply begin what would have been the next clause with a capital letter: "They didn’t get to the meeting. They both developed headaches. To top it all their cell phones gave out." Separate thoughts. Separate sentences. Equally, you could use semicolons instead of the first two periods in the example just given. It’s up to you. The longer the clauses, the more likely I am to use periods and begin new sentences. It makes reading that much easier.

Let’s say, though, that two clauses are so inextricably linked (but not causally so) that you need to keep them in the same sentence for the sake of effect: "He had pride in his company; he had pride in himself." You could use and instead of the semicolon, but there’s a certain drama achieved by stating them in this way, and you can, if reading the words aloud, have an effective pause there.

Colons, in addition to the use I illustrated above, are also used to introduce a list. "There are three things I want to say: one is this, one is that, and one is the other." It’s the same with a "list" of just one item when you say, "After years of struggle their country achieved what it set out to achieve: independence." Think of introducing the next part of the sentence with what comes before the colon, or ushering it in if you like.

Let’s return to semicolons. These little critters are also handy, apart from the example of the two parallel statements above, in lists that are a little more complicated than single words or very short phrases. They may, for example, have lists within the list, with the inner items separated by commas. You can help your reader’s understanding with the practical use of the semicolon. Here’s an example: "He saw several dozen vehicles: cars and trucks that had been through the checkpoint; trucks and vans, along with some SUVs, that hadn’t been through the checkpoint; vans, cars and motorbikes that were queuing at the checkpoint; buses that were painted in bright colors whose owners had no intention of going through the checkpoint …"

In that example, you saw the colon, semicolon, and commas working in harmony in the one sentence.

A dash of meaning

Finally in this article about squiggles, let’s look at the dash (—) and the hyphen (-)—first, their length. A more popular dash these days, especially among British writers, is the shorter one—the en dash. It’s used with space at each end – like this. Americans tend to use the longer dash—the em dash. This is closed up to the letters before and after it.

With that out of the way, let’s look at the difference between a dash and a hyphen. They are not the same. A hyphen joins two elements of a word (re-education) to avoid having two vowels sitting together while being pronounced two different ways). It also links two or more words so that they collectively form an adjective (or an adjectival phrase, to be more precise): "He was a trigger-happy cowboy"; "In the day-to-day running of things …"; "Risk-averse people don’t take gambles"; "Back-office staff are very important."

Dashes have several uses. You can use one to introduce a sort of coda at the end of a sentence, a little flourish that adds another, often small, piece of information that isn’t always absolutely necessary: "That day, he collected three golds, one silver, and two bronzes—and received a mountain of fan mail." The more important information in this sentence is what this athlete has won.

Sometimes a dash is used instead of a colon in the way we saw above with the example of the country’s independence. With a dash, it would read, "After years of struggle their country achieved what it set out to achieve—independence." A colon is a little more formal in this type of sentence, and you shouldn’t use a dash in every place you could use a colon; but it’s all right in less formal writing.

One of the handiest uses of dashes is instead of parentheses. Parentheses are the round brackets (such as the ones holding these eight words) you see for inserting a little extra information that may not be absolutely necessary—and indeed may be somewhat removed from your core subject—but that you wish to add, anyway. And you’ve just seen an example in the last sentence.

A word of warning: if you use dashes in this way—let’s called them bracketing dashes—you ought to restrict their use to two in any one sentence. Because they’re bracketing information in the way parentheses might, you could—if there are four or six or eight of them in there—have your reader wondering which is the bracketed information and which belongs in the sentence’s core narrative. With parentheses there’s no ambiguity, because of their shape; with dashes you might run into problems.

So why use them at all? Why not just use commas? After all, there are such things as bracketing commas, too, such as the ones that hold the word too in this sentence. But a combination of commas and dashes gives your sentence a visual structure, and makes the chunks of information it contains easier to hold together and be apprehended by the reader’s eye.

Before we leave dashes, let’s look briefly at the use of the en dash (the shorter one) as a linking device, suggesting relationship or range. Whether you’re using the British-favored en or the American-favored em for all other purposes, you’ll use only the en for this—and it will be closed up to the letters before and after. You see it in such phrases as "the LAX–New York flight was late," "the French–German alliance," "the Bush–Blair relationship," and "the Black–Scholes model" (that’s one you’ll find in finance literature, and indicates that the model was not devised by Mr. Larry Black-Scholes, but by two gentlemen—economists, I believe—called Mr. Black and Mr. Scholes).

So don’t be tempted, as are so many newspapers (books are more careful), to use a hyphen instead of a dash. That’s sloppy.

Being square—or not

Finally, since we mentioned parentheses above, let me get this niggle off my chest. Some people scatter square brackets all over their prose when they are simply not appropriate, and that can be very confusing. While they do have certain technical uses in linguistics, dictionary listings, and the like, in ordinary prose use them only when you’re in the middle of a quotation but wish to add something of your own—an interpolation: Mrs. Simpson said, "You know, Homer, I can’t do anything with that boy [Bart] when he’s in this mood." Mrs. Simpson didn’t need to use the name Bart, because Homer knew whom she was talking about. But, because the sentence might have been used out of context, we the readers did not know (although fans of The Simpsons could quite easily guess!), and that one-word bit of information helped. Because Marge Simpson didn’t actually say it (and the same goes for all inserted—or interpolated—pieces of information), you tell your reader this by using square brackets.

On the day I wrote this article, I read fragments of a politician’s speech in a newspaper, and began to notice parentheses—sometimes called round brackets—that were clearly not necessary and introduced words that just didn’t seem to belong in the sentence, words that spoiled the flow. I realized they contained interpolated information, and the writer reporting this speech should have used square brackets. It makes a difference, because, if the writer uses only parentheses, how are you the reader going to know which words were interpolated by the reporter/writer and which were the original words of the speaker? This was in a quality newspaper, too, which was doing its readers a disservice through the reporter/writer’s ignorance.

We’ve covered just a few examples—but important examples—of how those squiggles can make you say what you want to say, without making your reader have to work too hard to understand you.


You’ll find more grammar tips in the book I’ve produced with Stephen Blake (http://www.youcanwritebooks.com/). It’s about how easy it is to get published and break through the brick wall of rejection—and it does have some writing and research tips, too. You’ll find it useful. We’re both published authors (our fourteen or so print titles are listed on the website) and professional freelance editors, so we know what we’re talking about, and for just a few dollars you could be on the way to being a published author before you know it.



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 C. Hope Clark of FundsforWriters.com fame and Elisabeth Wilhelm, published teen writer and editor of Absynthemuse.com, have teamed up to fill a void. Their mentor program gives young people ages 13 to 22 a chance to be taken seriously. This is their way of giving back to the writing community. Using their own adult/teen combo, they set the example for what mentoring can do for young people. Currently, they have 80 willing mentors and 30 eager teens having a ball.

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  “Queries” to be Topic of Freelancers’ Discussion Group  

This month’s topic for the discussion group for freelance writers meeting at the Writers’ Center of Indiana is “queries.” The group will meet August 9 from 6-8 p.m. at the Writers’ Center in Indianapolis to talk about the art of good queries. Need help with your queries? Feel free to bring a few copies of one or more of your own queries for discussion.   Not just another how-to-write-a-story type of gathering, this group acts as a support network for examining the ins and outs of freelance writing. There are useful discussions and something to learn for everyone, from those who are just getting started in freelancing to those who have been working at it for years.  

Meetings are held 6-8 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month at the Writers’ Center of Indiana. They are hosted as informal roundtable discussions so that everyone has a chance to participate. Each meeting features a different discussion topic. Topics for discussion during our fall meetings will be planned during the August meeting, so bring your ideas.   The group is open to all Writers’ Center of Indiana members, including freelance writers who want support, advice, feedback, and discussion; editors who want to learn to better work with freelancers; writers (and nonwriters) who are interested in freelancing; and poets, journalists, copywriters, PR and marketing folks, fiction writers, nonfiction writers, essayists, and anyone who has ever wanted to put words on paper. Membership to the Writers’ Center of Indiana is $45 a year and includes discounts on workshops and events, advance notice of literary arts events and news, and contact with an active, creative community of writers and artists.  

For more information on the group and for directions to the Writers’ Center of Indiana, contact the group coordinator, Lisa Munniksma, at 765-258-3913 or munniksmal@geetel.net, or Writers’ Center of Indiana Executive Director Emily Watson at 317-255-0710 or mail@indianawriters.org.  




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POV or Whose head am I in, anyway?

Cynthia VanRooy - All Rights Reserved.


This article can also be read online - click here


Fiction writing is about people. Romance fiction is about two people in particular, your hero and heroine. The story is told from their point of view, so understanding and effectively using point of view is basic to romance writing. Given that fact, I thought point of view would be a good place to launch this column.

POV or Point Of View can sound technical to a new writer, but it simply refers to the character whose perspective the story events are told through. Readers see, hear, feel and experience events as that character would—and only those things that character would experience. In a romance this is usually the hero or heroine, with possible occasional side trips into the POV of a secondary character.

In other words, if you’re in the heroine’s POV you’re not going to mention her creamy skin or silky hair unless she’s looking at herself in a mirror—and is an incredibly vain person. You’re seeing the world through her eyes, so you see only what she would see. Describe the hero’s coffee brown eyes and broad shoulders. J That’s what your heroine sees.

In the short scene below from my book BLUE SKIES our couple is at a formal dinner dance. It’s written from the heroine’s POV. There’s a slight problem. Can you find it?

She felt a small flash of annoyance. "What have you got against dancing?"

"Nothing. Let’s do it." He drew her back into his arms and stepped out as the music began again.

A tiny line appeared between her brows at the resignation she heard in his voice, but at least he was holding her.

Got it? It’s the tiny line between her brows. She wouldn’t be able to see this. The hero could, but . . . we’re not in his POV. I didn’t write this, it’s something the copy-editor inserted. I about went ballistic when I saw it, but c’est la vie. This one is a simple fix. Replacing a tiny line appeared between her brows with she frowned with concern brings the POV fluctuation back into line.

POV congruency also means that you the writer describe those things a particular character would experience in a vocabulary that character would use. You’re in his or her thoughts. If your character is a high school dropout, you wouldn’t use language more appropriate to a Ph. D. An unfortunate example of this mistake turned up in the first scene of an unpublished (it still is) manuscript I was asked to critique. In the scene, the only two characters are a belly-scratching, beer-guzzling, good-old-boy deer hunter and his dog. They are alone in the back country, the hunter leaning against the fender of his truck congratulating himself on the buck he has just illegally bagged. Suddenly there is the observation of dust motes dancing like ballerinas in the beam of sunlight slanting through the trees.

Huh? Who is supposed to be having these thoughts—the good old boy or his dog? In an effort to sound literary, the writer managed only to sound silly. Being disciplined about POV will help you avoid embarrassing lapses, like this one, into purple prose.

Some new writers think they must change POV every time a different character speaks. Not only is this not necessary, it’s not even desirable. However, writers fall into one of two POV camps. There are the purists who prefer to write in one character’s POV for the duration of a scene, and sluts who change POV so often the reader’s head spins. I started out a slut, head hopping so frequently my characters had no chance to become individuals. I gradually developed into a purist because I discovered I wrote more powerful books that way.

If you’re in the heroine’s POV and the hero is angry, you don’t need to leap into his perspective to show the reader this. Have your heroine recognize the hero’s anger through his expression, body language, and manner of speaking. Granted, this is a little trickier than just saying, John was furious, but handling the tricky stuff well is what makes better writers better. The following paragraph in the hero’s POV is also from BLUE SKIES. Note that the scene never waivers from this POV. The heroine has just said something unfairly insulting to the hero.

"I don’t deserve that remark, Gina."

He watched her wrestle with her conscience, saw the guilt come and go on her face. Her gaze veered away from his and he waited to see if she had the guts to acknowledge the truth of his words.

At her continued silence his mouth twisted in disgust.

Yada, yada, yada (I’m sparing you unnecessary story detail J )

He got as far as the kitchen door when Gina stopped him.


He turned impatiently She stood in the middle of the room gnawing on her bottom lip, her fingers knotting and unknotting in front of her, then dropped her chin. "I’m sorry," she said quietly.

"For . . .?"

She raised her head and the pain in her eyes was so real he almost let her off the hook.

How does Gina feel in this scene? Guilty, ashamed, regretful?

How do you know? You were never in her head to hear her think. You know by what the hero observes about her body language and manner, the look in her eyes.

You can stay in the same character’s POV for an entire chapter and yet the reader can be perfectly aware of how every other character in that chapter feels. Through your point of view character, you will be able to convey the emotions and thoughts of all your other characters if you can pinpoint the physical actions that give away those thoughts and feelings.

Become a student of body language. Watch television with a notebook and pen and make note of how the performers portray sadness, surprise, happiness, and anger. Have you ever been in the mall and seen two people arguing. You couldn’t hear them, but you knew what was going on, didn’t you? Analyze why.

You aren’t committed to staying in one character’s head for the whole book. That would be frustrating and boring for you and the reader both. Just don’t change POV randomly.

Why not ? What’s wrong with changing?

I’m glad you asked.J When a reader becomes emotionally engaged in a book, he or she enters into the story. The writer has hypnotized the reader into participating in the illusion of the fictional world. The reader understands the book world isn’t real, but in order to fully enjoy the story, he or she chooses to temporarily pretend otherwise, or to suspend their disbelief, as this state is referred to in book-writing circles. (See, you just learned something else.J )

Every time you shift the reader from one character to another, they are jarred out of their suspension of disbelief and reminded they aren’t actually living in the fictional world you’ve created, they’re only reading a story. Do that often enough and they’ll stop reading your story. Scene changes or new chapters are the best and least disruptive places to change POV.

Settling into a character’s head and staying there awhile will also prevent you from writing generic heroes and heroines. Deep POV gives the reader a chance to really identify with a character, something you aim for as an author. Even Nora Roberts, famous for her frequent changes in POV, lets the reader stay in one character long enough to become thoroughly hooked.

Here’s a quick way to check how well you’re staying true to your characters’ POV. In your current WIP (work in progress) use pink and blue highlighters—all right, I’m a sexist—to highlight things in a couple of your scenes that are unique to your hero or heroine’s POV. You should have nice, long runs of one color or the other. If your pages look more like checkerboards, you’ll know you have some work to do!


About the author: Cynthia VanRooy is a romance novelist with eight books published by both print and epublishers. Her books have been published by Kensington Publishing, Five Star, Thorndike, and Sands Publishing . Her ninth romance will be released later this year by New Age Dimensions. Cynthia is a three-time finalist for the San Diego Book Award for Romance, a finalist for the PASIC Book of Your Heart judged by booksellers, and a finalist for the Independent eBook Award for Romance. She is also the author of the etips booklet The Secrets to Query Letters That Work. Additional details can be found at Cynthia's website.


Fact: 55% of all fiction sold world-wide is romance!


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The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Success

Written by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell - Marion Street Press, 2003

Reviewed by Beth Morrow All Rights Reserved.


This article can also be read online - click here


From guidelines and deadlines to interviews and editors, there's only one thing is missing from The Renegade Writer: a necessary disclaimer warning against reading the book before bedtime.

I speak from experience. After finishing the "No Fear Querying" section of The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Success, the thrill of being a rule-breaking writer kept me awake with anticipation. I finally gave up on sleeping and dragged myself out of bed to scribble a query for an old idea I didn't think had a shot at publication.

In their own conversational and entertaining way, Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell will show you why these freelancing rules were meant to be broken--and how to become a Renegade Writer yourself. From brainstorming to signing the contract, these veteran writers offer a wealth of advice on every aspect of your freelancing career.

The main topics of The Renegade Writer include:

Breaking in By Breaking the Rules (Getting Started);

Cranking Up the Idea Factory;

No-Fear Querying;

Signing On the Dotted Line (Contracts);

Mining for Information (Sources);

Talking the Talk (Interviews);

Putting Pen to Paper (Grammar);

Getting the Green (Payment);

Thriving, Not Just Surviving (Top Jobs)

Formichelli and Burrell aren't satisfied in just presenting the rules to be broken, however. Each renegade rule is accompanied by advice and illustrated by stories from other successful freelancers who challenged the myths and lived to tell about it.

With that said, The Renegade Writer might be most useful to freelancers with some knowledge of the rules--but the wealth of humor and real-world advice will appeal to the newer freelancer as well.

If you've ever wondered about asking for a better contract, the perfect formula for a query or if you should be friends with your editor, it's worth your time to pick up The Renegade Writer for fresh insight and guidance in your freelancing life.

Just don't read it before bed. Then again, it can't hurt. My editor loved my late-night query and gave me the assignment--courtesy of The Renegade Writer.


About the author: Beth Morrow is a freelance writer who earned her two last assignments in true Renegade style: by approaching the editor directly. In addition to both national and regional writing credits, she authors a daily blog of writing resources at www.writers-loft.blogspot.com, compiles a monthly column on small press and independent publishers and is working on her first nonfiction book on writer's retreats. Visit Beth's website for more information.



Calls for Submissions:

Have you ever had an angel protect you from harm or illness? Has an angel appeared to you in various forms to help you through a difficult or dangerous time in your life?   The goodness of angels happens to people everyday in one form or another and we would like to share your experiences through our Angels At Work book.   Winning submissions will receive a byline on their story, a 3-4 line bio at the back of the book and one free copy of the book.   For printed guidelines:   send SASE to P.O.Box 450683  Kissimmee, FL. 34745-0683 Email: angels_at_work_stories@yahoo.com Website: www.angelsatworkstories.com



Let Your Email Address Snag Some Paying Assignments!

Roy A. Barnes - All Rights Reserved


This article can also be read online - click here


One of the best decisions I ever made concerning my fledgling writing career occurred in late 2004. I made the decision to create a new email address from which I would submit the brunt of my queries and finished works to editors from, wherever online queries and submissions were allowed. When I began getting more serious about my freelance writing during the summer of 2004, I was submitting and querying from an email address that could be best described as cute. I realized that I needed to create an email address which would reflect what I was striving to do in my career. So I picked "travelwriteroy", because it alluded to the primary activities I was now engaging in to help pay the rent, utilities, and food bills; that is, traveling, and then writing about those travels when I wasn’t crafting poetry, personal experience essays, or articles on a variety of other subjects.

In December 2004, I submitted an article on constructive ways for writers to deal with rejection by editors to an online writing publication called The Fabulist Flash (www.fabulistflash.com). Gregory Kompes, the editor, didn’t wish to use my article in the near future, but he noticed my "travelwriteroy" email address. He wanted to know if I was a travel writer, as he needed some articles on getting started in travel writing. Well, I had just received my first pay check ever as a freelancer for a travel article by Transitions Abroad (www.transitionsabroad.com ) on a piece I did about a unique volunteer holiday in Spain, which appeared in their March/April 2005 print edition, as well as online. In addition, I had previous work experience in the travel agent and airline industries, which afforded me further opportunities to be able to travel on four continents in my lifetime. I let Gregory know about my credentials, and he asked me to send him an article. It was accepted and published in the March 24, 2005 online issue of The Fabulist Flash.

Had it not been for my new email address, I strongly suspect that Mr. Kompes wouldn’t have even brought up the subject about travel writing when he passed on using my article about dealing with rejection. My email address lets editors know that travel is a part of my writing forte, even if I am submitting a query or work that isn’t travel-related.

In addition to having a business-like email to submit queries and finished works from, listing some of our publication credits in different categories other than the category we are submitting to or querying about may lead to some unexpected surprises. It’s because an editor is going to know more about the scope of the work we do as writers. Email addresses and published clips can provide some free, indirect advertising which showcases a writer’s abilities. Don’t forgo those opportunities to, as my father used to say, "brag about yourself". If you have truly done something, it isn’t bragging!


About the author: Roy A. Barnes is a freelance writer who lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming USA. His travel-themed works have been featured in such publications as Transitions Abroad and GoNOMAD.com. His articles on writing issues have appeared in such online E-zines as The Fabulist Flash, Writingfordollars.com, and The Inkspotter News.



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Theme: “They Actually Paid Me to Write.”  Up to 700 words in essay form. Deadline October 31, 2005. Two categories open to applicants.  $5 entry fee makes entrant eligible for the $150 first prize. No entry fee makes entrant eligible for the $50 first prize. In both categories second prize is $30 and third prize is a copy of the book The Shy Writer: An Introvert’s Guide to Writing Success. No limit to the number of submissions. Essays must be unpublished, original, and in English. Winners announced December 1, 2005. See website for guidelines and details.


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