Writer to Writer - June 22nd, 2005

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Knock Their Socks Off! A Freelance Writer's Guide to Query Letters That Sell

Hi Writers,

The past month has been rather traumatic.

In just over three weeks two dear friends have died, my mother remarried (photos here)then three weeks later was rushed to hospital, sent home and rushed to hospital again, and my daughter has given birth to my sixth grandchild.

I don’t want to go through all that again in such a short space of time! (In the midst of all this, I’m teaching online.)

As you can imagine, I haven’t done much in the way of writing. I have worked on some sample chapters for a non-fiction proposal, but that’s about it. But I have done some work on the Writer2Writer.com website, so I guess that’s a bonus.

I had hoped to have one of my novels completed by now, but it obviously wasn’t meant to be. I haven’t given up though, far from it, and will continue to try and meet my goal of two completed novels this year.

Some months ago I mentioned that I was a contributor to an anthology about cancer. The book Cancer, A Personal Challenge was released this week.As you may be aware, my father died from cancer six years ago; this is his story. The book will be available from my personal website shortly, and all proceeds from my sales will be donated to the Anti-Cancer Council in Victoria (Australia).

Also this month, I had an essay accepted for another anthology. More details will be forthcoming soon!

I’ve done two interviews this month; one is yet to be published, and the other is up on the internet. Norm Goldman, who happens to be a subscriber, contacted me last month requesting an interview. Click here to read the interview.

(The interview has actually been posted on three different websites!)

This interview made me really think about things, and helped put a number of issues into perspective. As a result I’ll be making a few changes to my long-term goals. Thanks Norm!

Quite a number of subscribers have taken advantage of the "I Wanna Win!" special, and I’ve had excellent feedback. If this package interests you, make sure you don’t delay on securing your copy. The special finishes at the end of the month or when 200 copies have sold. (With up to eight packages per day being sold, I don’t know when that 200 mark will be reached.)

I am also offering a new workshop this time around. "This Little Writer Went to Market" promises to be a popular workshop. It’s only been available for a few days, but is already attracting a lot of interest. The workshop begins July 11.

Now for this month's issue: Andrew John again offers an informative article, this one delving into the intricacies of punctuation. And Robyn Opie brings yet another great article about writing children’s books.

Next month multi-published romance author Cynthia VanRooy will begin a series of articles about writing romance. This is a very popular genre, (55% of all fiction sold worldwide are romances) and I’ve had a number of requests for a column of this sort.

It’s time to put your feet up, crack open the chocolate, and read this month’s issue.

Til next month,


p.s. Saving Emma is currently the #7 best seller at Whiskey Creek Press!



New Workshop Added!

"This Little Writer went to Market" starts July 11.

Click here for full details



From the Editor’s Desk

Below is the second article in a series of articles dealing with the nuts and bolts of writing—grammar and punctuation—by author and freelance editor Andrew John.

If you missed the first article, read it here

The Tadpole's Tale

Andrew John – All Rights Reserved

You would think something as small as an apostrophe-that thing that looks like a tadpole and often sits between a word and the letter s-could not cause as many problems as it does. But it does.

You see it used when it shouldn't be used; you see it not used when it should be there. You rarely see it used correctly on store signs, hence the term you sometimes hear, "greengrocer's apostrophe."

The apostrophe's main use is as I used it at the beginning of this sentence. It signals possession. The construction in which it is used is called the possessive, or sometimes genitive (in grammatical terms both words mean the same). So let us take a look at this use of it first.

Most of us know that, in a simple case of a possessive, it comes before the s in such words phrases as "the girl's hat" and "the car's hood." What if you have two or more men or two or more cars? Well, it's easy: you just pluralize the words by adding an s and put the apostrophe after it: "the girls' hats"; "the cars' hoods."

So far, so good.

But what if the plural of a word is not formed by the addition of an s? The plural of "woman", for instance is not "womans", but "women"; and the plural of "sheep" is just like the singular. Well, it's not as complicated as it sounds. You simply do what you did for the singular: add the apostrophe and the s: "the women's hats"; "the sheep's heads"; "the children's school," "the men's coats." If you can remember that in the main you put the apostrophe before the s, and that the exception is when the s forms the plural, you won't go far wrong.

Now you'll have seen the apostrophe creeping into other words in this article already-words that clearly are not possessives. Another use for the apostrophe is to indicate missing letters: "it's" is short for "it is" or "it has"; "hasn't" is short for "it has not"; "the car's out of gas" is short for "the car is out of gas"; "let's go" is short for "let us go."

You may have come across the phrase "the greengrocer's apostrophe"-I mentioned it briefly above. The greengrocer's apostrophe is used a lot-and incorrectly-in phrases such as "fresh pea's" and "baby carrot's." I find myself boiling with anger and mentally asking, "Fresh pea's what? What is possessed or owned by that fresh pea?" It's not only these admirable sellers of fruit and fresh vegetables who use them, of course, as you may find when you see that "video's" are for rent or you can buy "CD's" here, but the term "greengrocer's apostrophe"-which I believe began in the UK-is now to be found in articles such as this and books on grammar and punctuation.

You will have noticed the example above of "CD's." Some people who otherwise use the apostrophe in an acceptable way will nonetheless put it in such abbreviations: "SUV's" or "PA's" (for public-address systems), for instance. Unless you're saying "the CD's case," "my SUV's tires," or "the PA's gone on the fritz," leave the apostrophe out of it, as most careful writers these days do.

It's interesting to note that the use of the apostrophe in plurals has not always been frowned upon. From the seventeenth century it was to be found in plurals of words that ended with vowels: opera's, toga's, and, yes, I guess our friend pea's. But there is clearly no need for it, because the plural works very nicely with just an s.

It eventually came to be frowned upon by grammarians, but what we now consider its erroneous use may, according to some writers on grammar, be the reason for its survival. My own view is that it is not. (Do you remember back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? I certainly don't!) We all learned how to use the apostrophe at school. I guess some people simply forgot and, because they don't write much and have little need to know grammar and punctuation, when they're reading they simply see that an added s makes a plural, then see that an added s also makes a possessive, and, without thinking about it, see them as just the same construction. So both get blessed with an apostrophe.

I don't know whether an errant apostrophe or the lack of one that should be there is the more annoying. I see store after store, company after company, with names such as Smiths, Woolworths, or Wilsons. If there are two or three people called Smith, Woolworth and Wilson and you're saying so by using the plural, then OK: here are three Joe Smiths. But, if Joe Smith wants to show that this is Joe Smith's hardware store and paints a sign to tell us so, why on earth doesn't Joe Smith say so instead of making us think there are more Smiths than one? The same goes for F. W. Woolworth and Betty Wilson, who runs the little store on the corner of the block. That is, or should be, Wilson's.

These businesses belong to the people after whom they're named, but for some reason best known to them they don't put the apostrophe before the s. However, you can bet that, if one of them is selling greengrocery, he or she will have that sign on the sidewalk saying "fresh pea's" and "new potato's."

Now I did say that it's hard to think that this little tadpole could cause so many problems. We've seen that it can. There's one more use of the apostrophe, though, that we should look at before I close.

Many writers still make an exception for single letters and numbers: "four number 2's" and "there are two t's in butter." There's a good reason for the latter use: if you get a plural of a vowel, you might misread it: for instance, as meant as the plural of the letter a could be read as the conjunction as; is meant as two occurrences of the letter i could be read as the verb is. You can get around this by italicizing the letter you're dealing with, and having the following s as roman, so you'd get as. Looks ungainly, though, doesn't it? However, with these borderline cases, I'd advise choosing your style and sticking to it-and no one's going to quibble about your using an apostrophe for the sake of clarity. Be consistent, though. And, if your intended publisher has a style preference, use that.

A final word of warning where the apostrophe is concerned: whose is a possessive, to be found in "Whose is this coat?" and "Whose turn is it?"; whereas who's is a shortening of "who is" or "who has" and is to be found in "Who's on next?" and "Who's left the engine running?" Don't mix them. Beware also of it's and its. The former is short for "it is" or "it has." The apostrophe is there to indicate a missing letter or letters. The latter is the possessive: "The automobile was without its wheels"; "The sun has got its hat on and it's coming out to play" (that latter example shows the use of both). Then there's something called the absolute possessive: hers and theirs, for instance. They don't take an apostrophe, either: "The coat was hers"; "The glory was theirs, all theirs"; "The fault is ours."

If you can just remember that these last three don't appear in the language at all with apostrophes before their final s, you'll always use the correct forms. In fact, if you use a word processor with a spellchecker that, like Microsoft Word, flags spelling errors, you'll see that, if you try to spell any of these three with an apostrophe, you'll be alerted.

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 are 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.

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.


New Releases!



Quote of the Month:

There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is the definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.

Napoleon Hill


Resource of the Month:


yWriter is a free novel writing program for authors. It allows you to break your novel into chapters and scenes within chapters. You can reorder scenes using drag & drop, and you can print out a number of reports (summary, synopsis, scene list, work schedule). Gives you a running word count per scene and chapter, and the built-in editor auto-saves your work.



Incorporating Your Blog and Podcasts into your Website with Expert, James Hathaway

Wednesday, June 22nd
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM Eastern
(10:00 AM PT, 11:00 AM MT, 12N CT)
Sign up link below

As blogs become more and more prevalent and the technology that runs them becomes more powerful, does your web communications strategy take advantage of all that blogging has to offer?

All too often, a blog is hosted offsite away from a company or individuals web site.

Learn the benefits of building a website that is BLOG-CENTRIC. Not only will it make all portions of your website easier to update, but you can offer your podcasts, your weblog and your "store" all at one URL.

James Hathaway is the co-founder of, and webmaster for Clear Path International, www.cpi.org. Clear Path's blog-based web site was recently recognized for excellence by blog pioneer and MovableType founder Mena Trott at the Nonprofit Technology Conference in March.

James has developed internal websites for Microsoft and Compaq and has been a technical writer in the network security and data encryption field. He consults in communications to non-profits and for-profits alike and is a contributor to In Search of Excellence author Tom Peter's blog at www.tompeters.com.

He is currently working on converting Annie Jennings into a blogger and podcaster!

Sign up at http://www.anniejenningspr.com/teleseminars.htm

*Note: this is NOT a paid advertisment. I have included it as an item of interest to writers.


Purchasing through affiliate links and advertisements in this newsletter assist in keeping it free.


Please note: Language is set as "English - Australia" - words are not spelled incorrectly. (Not intentionally, anyway!)



Writer's Digest magazine is once again putting together its list of the '101 Best Websites for Writers'! If Writer2Writer.com has helped you in any way, I’d be very appreciative if you could take a moment to write to Writer's Digest and nominate Writer2Writer.com for their 2005 list. Nominations should be emailed to mailto:writersdig@fwpubs.com  with your nomination and any comments you have about the site. The subject line should be "101 Sites".

Thank you for your support!


Dorothy Thompson has launched a new blog for writers!  If you are a serious writer and want to learn the best way to promote and successfully sell your book or you just want to learn from the pros, visit The Writer's Life Blog (www.thewriterslife.blogspot.com ) for writing tips, industry news, author interviews and a special guest column about promoting by Francine Silverman! 


EU Writers group:

Hungarian writer Ilona Hegedus has started a group for writers of the EU. Writers from both from present and prospective member states are welcome.
The aim of the group is to provide a place for discussion and getting to know each other.

Writers are welcome to post news about their successes. Editors and publishers are welcome to join and/or send their guidelines (including the language of submissions).
The idea for the group came as Ilona was looking for groups for European writers, but she did not find any, and she still thought there is a need for one.
Group home page: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/euwriters
Subscribe:  euwriters-subscribe@yahoogroups.com


Think Outside the Square: Writing Publishable (Short) Stories

If you're serious about writing short stories - and making money from them - this book is for you.

Written by award-winning Australian author Cheryl Wright, this best selling ebook will guide you toward publication.

For full details go to


*Bonus included


If you are an ezine owner looking to do an ad swap (or two, or three), feel free to contact me:



Become an Award Winning Writer!

Whether you want to win contests or just want to hone your skills, you need "I Wanna Win! - Tips for Becoming an Award Winning Writer" written by Cheryl Wright; award winning author of Think Outside the Square: Writing Publishable (Short) Stories.

In a recent twelve month period, Cheryl entered eight writing contests, short listing in six, and placing second in three. So can you!

Now available! Full details can be found here: http://www.writer2writer.com/win.htm

*Additional Bonus Products included.

Writer to Writer subscribers receive even more bonuses - but only til June 30, or when 200 packages are sold.


Writing Easy Readers

Robyn Opie - All Rights Reserved.

Easy readers are children's books that fall between picture books and early chapter books. They vary in length depending on the publisher but as a guide work on 1,000 to 2,500 words. This limited word length means these books have fewer pages than early chapter books. Easy readers are aimed at children who are beginning to read, aged from 6 to 8.

Easy readers are always soft cover and highly illustrated. The illustrations can be colour or black and white. These books have a grown-up look to them, making a child feel like they are reading books like their parents. They often have chapters.

A picture book story doesn't work without the illustrations - the illustrations are as important as the words. The two work together to tell the story. What appears in the illustration is usually left out of the text.

Easy readers work without illustrations. The story stands alone. The illustrations are included because of the age of the reader, to make the book appear more attractive and less daunting to the emergent reader.

Due to the age of your reader, easy readers are grammatically simple. Sentences are short and the language is familiar to this age group. It is appropriate to use a few difficult, unfamiliar words to challenge your reader. But, for the most part, the words you use should be easy to read and understand for ages 6 to 8.

The characters, settings, themes and conflicts of easy readers must be relevant to your readers. Think of the experiences a child this age has and what they care about. Here are some ideas to consider: family, friends, pets, animals, school, holidays, sports, losing something, finding something, being left out, being different etc.

Easy readers have simple plots. It is best to stick to one idea or conflict. There is no room for subplots due to the word length and age of your audience.

There is also no room for unnecessary words, going off on tangents or waffling. Every word should be necessary to the plot. These books are fast-paced and action-packed. It is important that you hook your child reader or adult publisher in the first few lines. It is important that you keep them hooked with tight writing, fresh ideas and page-turning action.

Keep description to a minimum. Only include character or setting description if it is necessary to the plot. Otherwise you slow your story down and risk losing your reader. Remember your settings should be familiar to your reader. You don't need to describe a house or school etc.

It is preferable to keep your characters and settings to a minimum or you risk confusing these very young readers. Avoid character names that are too similar. For example, Mick and Nick. It is also wise to avoid names that begin with the same letter. For example, John and Jim.

I've heard it said that easy readers should have predictable storylines, so that your reader feels a sense of importance and maturity by being able to anticipate what is coming next. Your storyline should definitely be logical, so that what happens next seems like the only possible outcome.

I always write stories that the child in me would enjoy reading. I love humour and surprise endings. The most important thing to remember is that the surprise ending makes sense and seems totally plausible given all that has come before it.

Visiting a good book store or library is invaluable. You need to see what is being published and by whom. You need to familiarize yourself with the language and structure of easy readers. The more you learn, the more you write, the better you become as a writer and thereby improve your chances of being published.

Publishers are looking for original, fun stories that will appeal to this age group. I'm sure that's what you want to write. So go for it!

About the author: Robyn Opie is the author of 55 children’s books. Her books are published all over the world. She lives in Adelaide, South Australia, with her husband, two dogs (who think they are children) and thousands of books. Robyn is the Managing Editor of Children’s Fiction Factor and the author of a comprehensive e-book for children's writers called
How to Write a GREAT Children’s Book


Ad Swaps:

Carolyn Howard-Johnson's e-zine "Sharing with Writers" includes promotion and writing tips and lots of opportunities for subscribers to promote their own writing-related news.  Sign by sending an e-mail with "Subscribe" in the subject line to mailto:HoJoNews@aol.com

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You've done it! You've finally finished that book or story or article that you always promised yourself you'd write. But what do you do now? Subscribe to The Back End and get advice on editing, publishing and marketing your work. Don't let all your good work go to waste, get The Back End under control too! www.yourbestwork.com/ezine/index.asp

Belinda's Writing News

FRE*E new weekly writers' ezine. Jobs, markets, interviews and more


Refreshing waterfall subscription desk...


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


How do I?

No questions this month!

If you have writing related question you would like answered, send it to:



Subscriber News:

Two poems by the young Hungarian writer, Ilona Hegedus have appeared in the June issue of Between Kisses.

While the first poem 'Clarissa' is more thought-provoking, the other one, 'Lover' is a humorous one. You can read them here: http://www.samsdotpublishing.com/betweenkisses/main.htm

Ilona is writing sci-fi, fantasy and horror, mainly poems. More free reads can be found on her website: http://ilonahegedus.topcities.com

**If you have any news, please send it along. (Don’t be shy – we won’t bite!)


# Subscriber news can be very inspiring for your writing colleagues.



Writer2Writer No Fee Contest:

Your assignment is to write the opening line and one paragraph (maximum 205 words) plus a snazzy title.

(Title will not be included in the word count) It can be the beginning of a short story or novel, or if you’d rather, may be a complete story.

Closing date for entries: 12 midnight, 10th July 2005 (wherever in the world you live)

All details and rules for the current contest can be found here. Description for vision impaired are also supplied. Access from above link.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Earn money as an affiliate:

If you're interested in becoming an affiliate for either (or both) of my ebooks, please go to:

http://www.writer2writer.com/affiliates.htm - For "Think Outside the Square"

http://www.writer2writer.com/affiliates2.htm - For "I Wanna Win!"


Attention Ezine and Website Owners:

I have available a cache of articles that you may freely use. Go to:


There is a form on the above page where you can be added to an autoresponder to be notified on the latest additions.



If you have any feedback about this newsletter; comments, criticisms, (praise!) sections you'd like to see added, tell me - mailto:cheryl@writer2writer.com?subject=Feedback



The majority of articles will be written by me, but should you wish to submit an article, you need to be aware that I do not pay for reprints. I pay a (low) fee for unpublished articles, but they must be related to the craft of writing. Check out our guidelines. In all cases your bio and links will be included.


Inclusion of a market, contest, anthology or similar is not necessarily an endorsement. It is strongly suggested that you do your own legwork in checking out any markets etc you decide to approach. If you feel wary or uncomfortable, there's probably a reason!


I am very meticulous about the advertisements I accept. First of all, they must relate to writers in some way; software for writers, books, ebooks etc. So if your product has no relationship whatsoever to writers, I simply won't accept it.

Secondly, I won't advertise scams or products that are rip-offs. So if your product is target toward writers but is not worth the money, again, I won't advertise it. As you can see, I'm pretty selective about what I will advertise. If you've gotten this far, and believe you have a product that will pass the test, Email me with your advertising submissions. If I accept your submission, I will then advise 'method of payment' details.

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I will never, ever, (even under torture, threat of eating seafood or having my chocolate supply revoked) give-away, sell or divulge your details.

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Cheryl Wright, P O Box 913, Springvale South 3172 AUSTRALIA