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Writer to Writer - May 25th, 2005

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Hi Writers,

People often tell me I'm crazy. Nothing new in that. But sometimes I just know I have to take a risk to move onto better things.

This week I was offered the opportunity to attend a short seminar on Internet marketing. I gotta tell you, I really didn't have the time nor the inclination to go. And I had only two days notice. It was held in the CBD (central business district) which is approx one hour by car from my home.

It would be a tight squeeze to get back home in time to collect my grandson from school, but with strategic planning it was possible.

So I accepted. And I am so glad I did. The seminar went for around 90 minutes, but just being there opened the door to attend an all day in-depth seminar on the same subject. This one will give training on Internet strategies - that is, getting your site and yourself noticed - including getting listed high in search engines, ppc (pay per click) programs, and much more.

I'm looking forward to the seminar - although I have no doubt it will be a long and tiring day - and eventually using my newfound knowledge.

This month marks the second anniversary for the Writer to Writer ezine. If someone had told me two years ago that this ezine would have over 1400 subscribers two years down the track, I would have laughed.

To celebrate this milestone, I decided to run a special offer for "I Wanna Win! - Tips for Becoming an Award Winning Writer".

I've knocked US$4 off the price, PLUS added some very valuable bonuses. Not rubbish, not stuff you'll never use, but products that we, as writers, will get a lot of use from. I use some of these products myself, and the others will be getting some serious use as soon as I can free up some time.

Here's the link.

This special will be available to anyone who visits the website, BUT subscribers will also receive some additional unadvertised bonuses. Again, these are products that will assist you with your writing career.

So how do you claim your bonuses? Once you have purchased, send your receipt to me with "I'm a subscriber" in the subject line. I will then send you the links to your bonuses. I am limiting this offer to the first 200 people, so don't delay.

*Please allow up to 36 hours for these to be emailed to you, as this will be done manually.

The offer will finish June 30 or when 200 have purchased - whichever comes first. Here's the link again.

I haven't written an article this month as I'm in the midst of organising a wedding - my mother's wedding! It all happens on Friday, then hopefully things will be back to normal. Well, as normal as they get in the Wright household. lol

I'm sure you will all forgive me. (Please? Pretty please? Aw, go on.. I said please!)

As to my accomplishments this month, they are few and far between - due to organising the wedding. However I have been asked by a local poet to edit her upcoming book of poetry. Of course I accepted. I was also asked (by another local lady) to ghost write her book of memoirs, but turned the offer down. Why? Because there was way too much work required, and I would prefer to work on my novels.

Oh, and I finally got around to adding those additional bonuses to the subscriber's area, so don't forgot to collect them.

Now onto this issue: This issue marks the beginning of a series of articles. Andrew John has written a number of 'nuts and bolts' articles, which will not only inform, but also challenge writers. The first one deals with style, an issue that affects all writers, novice or experienced.

Robyn Opie talks about what publishers want. An eye opening article.

Last weekend Robyn Opie (author of 55 children's books) and Lee Masterson (Fiction Factor) came to Melbourne. We organised to meet for coffee and a chat. We did a ton of brainstorming, not to mention eating and drinking. Five and a half hours later we parted company, none of us wanting to do so. It was a pleasure to talk with these wonderful ladies, and I look forward to the next time we can get together.

Time to sit back, grab a cuppa and a box full of chokkies. Til next time....


Cheryl

p.s. Apologies for the lateness of this issue - it was partly due to a major technical issue with my autoresponder. But it's fixed now, and that's the main thing.

 
 

 

 

'Show, Don't Tell' Mastercourse

Click here for details

 

From the Editor’s Desk

In the first of a short series of articles dealing with the nuts and bolts of writing—grammar and punctuation—author and freelance editor Andrew John asks why writers should please their intended publishers by aiming for consistency.

Putting On the Style

Andrew John – All Rights Reserved

Why style preferences? Why consistency? Why do in-house editors send out a huge wad of paper to would-be authors and freelance copy editors containing editorial preferences, rules, niggles? Is it not the quality of the writing that counts?

Well, the answer to the last question is a resounding yes. Quality does count. It counts for a lot. But the people who may decide whether or not to accept your proposal will learn an awful lot about you from the style choices in your writing and your attention to detail. If it’s sloppy, they may say, is this writer going to cause us a lot of hassle? Will there have to be numerous revisions before we get a manuscript we can send out to a copy editor? And will that freelance copy editor take twice as long as usual, thereby doubling the fee we have to pay?

So that wad of paper will usually contain an alphabetical list of examples of The Way We Like Things To Be Done. It’s usually called a publisher’s style guide (or something similar).

Publishers have what they call a house style. So do many newspapers. There is no reason why a company that produces a lot of text-heavy documents such as reports and training materials should not do the same. So this applies to all kinds of writing, and therefore applies to you.

Casting the spell

What sorts of things are we talking about? Well, the English language can be infuriating at times, and, just to confuse us, tends to give us various spellings and treatments of words.

Ideally, your writing should reflect consistency—whichever variant of a word you choose to use. Let’s take a look at just a few examples.

Where there are variants of spelling (such as collectable and collectible, drily and dryly, downmarket and down-market, coordinate and co-ordinate), which does your potential publisher prefer? It will be in the style guide. Take a look.

Quote, unquote

Do your publishers use double quotation marks ("like this") for your primary quotations, with single quotation marks (‘like this’) for quotations within quotations (favored by the USA in both books and newspapers and by many British newspapers)? Or do they prefer to have them the other way around, using doubles within singles (favored by British book publishers, many British magazines and some British newspapers)?

Contrary to what you may see in many—mostly tabloid and in regional or local—newspapers, they should not be mixed willy-nilly: the distinction between doubles and singles is a useful one to preserve, because it tells your reader whether this is the main quote or a secondary quote within.

Book editors are generally more careful than editors on newspapers, and so your book manuscript—if that is what you’re planning—will pass through a pair of dedicated hands. All this quotes business will be taken care of. But you can make that copy-editor’s job easier—and cost the publisher less—if you know these nuts and bolts and apply them.

The numbers game

How does your publisher like numbers to be treated? To have one to nine as words, with figures thereafter? That is the style of many newspapers and is a workable option. Another is to use words for numbers up to nineteen or twenty, and figures for anything higher (this may be to avoid longer, hyphenated words such as twenty-one). Some publishers also like to use words for, say, approximate or round numbers ("It took about thirty days"), but use figures for strictly statistical material at all times ("It is 3 meters long and weighs 8 kilos").

How about dates? In the UK, dates are usually (in books, less so in newspapers) in the form "2 January 2006", which is logical, in that it puts the date before the next one up, the month, before the one after that, the year. Americans mostly write "January 2, 2006" or "January 2nd, 2006". Which does your publisher prefer? Look in the style guide.

You won’t wish to pay much attention to all of this while the white heat of creativity is burning through your fingertips to that keyboard, of course. As an editor, I do tend to write and pay attention to the style both at the same time. But I’m a nerd. I get paid to think that way. I’m very boring at parties.

You, on the other hand, may wish to get the creative stuff down first, and then don a different hat and think about consistency while you’re doing your first or second edit. Many people do it this way. If you have received that wad of paper—the publisher’s style guide—have a good read of it before you begin editing your work. You’ll be surprised at how may words and phrases have two or more ways of being presented.

In the short series of articles for Writer to Writer that this article introduces, I’ll be looking at various aspects of style: more on quoting, for instance; an article on some of the major aspects of punctuation; an article devoted to when to use which and when to use that (they are words that often get confused, which can be vexing); and an article on possessives (or genitives, if you prefer).

All of these—and the other aspects of the nuts and bolts of writing that I’ll be covering—are more fraught with potential difficulties than many people think. But they needn’t have you tearing out your hair. Language is a very logical thing in many respects (oh, yes, there are some infuriating exceptions and irregularities), and, once you get the hang of how words relate to each other and how the punctuation helps to preserve meaning, you begin to do things automatically.

So what can you take away from this first article? Well, think of all the words and phrases you know that could be expressed differently, that have variants. Then decide which you prefer (or which your potential publisher prefers). Make notes. Keep a page or two handy as a file in your word processor with a link on the toolbar, so you can call it up quickly to add new words and constructions, or refresh your memory on those you’ve already added.

Soon, these words and phrases will become ingrained and you won’t need to look them up. You’ll just remember instantly that this publisher (American) prefers -ize endings, while that publisher (British) likes -ise endings; that this publisher prefers "15 December 2005" and that publisher likes it as "December 15, 2005"; that this publisher (British) likes short punctuation (commas and full points) inside closing quote marks of short quoted fragments, while that publisher (British) likes them outside (don’t worry: I’ll be covering that one).

Being consistent in your writing—right from the approach letter to the finished manuscript—sends a message to your intended publisher: this writer is a professional; this writer knows the nuts and bolts of English; this writer takes care.

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.

 

 

Quote of the Month:

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Albert Einstein

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

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

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Announcements:

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 it 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!

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‘Think Outside the Square’ Fiction Workshops - Starts June 1.

Conducted by award-winning, multi-published Australian author Cheryl Wright, this workshop will change your whole mindset when it comes to writing short stories and novels.

The workshops are totally interactive, and each participant will receive individual feedback on their assignments. As you work your way through this unorthodox workshop, you will discover new ways of writing, and techniques you didn’t know existed. You will soon find yourself ‘thinking outside the square’. Cost: US$40 per person (less if you already own a copy of "Think Outside the Square")

For full details please go here.

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Change your entire mindset about writing short stories…

If you're serious about writing short stories - and making money from them - "Think Outside the Square: Writing Publishable (Short) Stories" is for you. Written by award-winning Australian author Cheryl Wright, this best selling ebook will guide you toward publication.

For full details and immediate download, go to

http://www.writer2writer.com/book.htm

*Bonus included

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

mailto:cheryl@writer2writer.com?subject=AdSwap

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What Do Publishers Want?

Robyn Opie - All Rights Reserved.

I was sitting in a room with fifty or so writers and three publishers, when someone asked the question: what do publishers want?

Silence. Every head was turned toward the three publishers.

The publishers looked at each other, blank expressions on their faces. No one spoke at first. Each publisher was probably waiting for the other to speak.

Finally, one of the publishers said that she didn’t know what she wanted until it landed on her desk.

Great. That was a lot of help!

We kept at them, like a pack of dogs gnawing at three bones.

The publisher went on to say that she wanted sparkle.

Terrific. All we had to do was paste sparkles to our manuscript.

If only it were that simple.

The publishers saw no escape. They had to answer the question, to ward off the pack of ravenous dogs. So they went on to explain.

What it came down to was this. Publishers want a writer who can:

* write well,

* write more than one story, and

* be professional.

They are also looking for that extra something. Sparkle. Freshness. Originality.

My publisher said the same thing. He was looking for sparkle. Freshness. Originality. And a surprise ending. He loves surprise endings.

Okay. But what does this mean?

When pressed, the publishers defined sparkle, freshness and originality as YOU. You bring a special element to a story that is unique. Your experience. Your personality. Your emotions.

No two people write the same story. We come at the same topic from different backgrounds, experience and personalities.

Pour yourself, your soul, into a story because that is what makes it special. You.

As an author of 49 published children’s books, I will explain this further using my experience as an example. But it doesn’t matter what genre you write, publishers want that extra sparkle in a manuscript – you.

The idea for my novel Backstage Betrayal originated from a personal fear and my high school memories of catty female behaviour. It was impossible for me to write from my personal experience without putting a lot of me – my soul and my fear – into the story.

Laura is rehearsing for the school play in an old theatre. She goes to the toilet and, while inside, the lights go out. Everyone goes home and Laura finds herself locked in the theatre.

Excerpts from Backstage Betrayal:

Darkness swirls around her – thick darkness, like black fog.

She hates staring into the darkness. It is so black and unknown. She closes her eyes – it makes her feel a little better. What should she do? What can she do?

A floorboard creaks. This time it isn’t coming from her feet. It’s further away, behind her, to the right. Laura stops, holds her breath and listens. Everything seems still … except for the pounding of her heart and the trembling of her hands. Slowly turning around and squinting into the darkness, Laura sees shadows. Some shapes she recognises and some she doesn’t. Is someone there?

All of the emotions that Laura feels are drawn from my own experience and feelings of being alone in the dark. I put myself in her place and vividly imagined every scene. I felt her emotion.

It’s fun exploring your fears through characters. You get to experience the anxiety and insecurity from the safety of your home. You get to do things to characters that you wouldn’t want happening to you.

Experienced writers often tell newcomers to write about what they know. One of the reasons is because you can put so much more of yourself into a story. I don’t know what it’s like to be locked in a dark theatre. But I do know how the darkness, night, strange environment and unfamiliar noises can effect your imagination and composure. I’ve experienced the feelings of being alone in the dark and can draw on them to give my story that extra sparkle.

However, it isn’t easy pouring so much of yourself into a story. You’re bearing your soul to the world and it can be an uncomfortable experience having others read about something so personal. You feel vulnerable. Exposed. But it’s the difference between writing a good book and a great book. You must learn how to let go once the story is finished.

If you want to be published submit what publishers want – the unique sparkle that is you.


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

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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

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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

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How do I?


Last month was a drought, but this month three questions came in!

BW asks: If a character has a history that must be explained to understand present actions--How do I impart backstory effectively without bogging down the story with a lengthy narration -- ? Does a dream work to do this?

A: Dreams can be used to implement backstory, but in my experience it can work better using 'flashbacks'. That's where your character will simply remember something from his or her past. This is generally triggered by an action or something that happens to the character. Backstory should be sprinkled sparcely thoughtout the story, and is rarely given in big chunks. This can make the story rather boring for the reader.

Here's a quick example of using flashbacks:

Janice was on the verge of panic as the cut on Pete's hand continued to bleed. The situation reminded her of the day her father shot and killed her mother.

(Not perfect, just a quick example.)

Lynn wrote: I was wondering if it is better when sending samples of my writing with a query to send photocopies of published piece or my own computer version which is available on email.  (Or scanned into computer version which I haven't done.)

A: Lynn, if you have copies of the published work it is better to send those. But you really need to scan them if querying by email. I scan all my published pieces then convert them to pdf. This way you are almost guaranteed an editor will read them. Because of the risks of viruses, many editors simply aren't opening attachments these days, whereas they will open pdf's as they cannot contain viruses. (If you don't have a pdf converter - you can pick one up in the subscribers area.)

Kim wants to know: How do I break into the greeting card market?

A: Kim, unfortunately that is not my area of expertise, and I cannot advise you. However, I did go to Amazon.com and found they have a number of books on the subject. If you click on the link (below) it will take you to the correct area and you can see what is available.

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

mailto:cheryl@writer2writer.com?subject=How_Do_I

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Subscriber News:

Karolina Blaha-Black has recently had her work published in a book called Quotable Texas Women by Susie K. Flatau. "Besides my own quote about writing," Karolina writes "the book is a wonderful collection of quotes from Texas women and a real treasure to own. Read about it here: Quotable Texas Women

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

mailto:cheryl@writer2writer.com

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

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Contests:

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.

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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!"

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Attention Ezine and Website Owners:

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

http://www.writer2writer.com/autoresponder.htm

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

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FEEDBACK:

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

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Submissions:

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.

Disclaimer:

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!

Advertising:

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.

Legal stuff:

This ezine is commercial in nature, and by subscribing you consent to receiving the advertisements contained herein, and any additional 'solo' advertisements that may be forwarded to you.

You are receiving this newsletter because you subscribed - it is never sent unsolicited.

My privacy statement:

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

All portions of this newsletter are copyrighted, but should you wish to reproduce any article/s, please contact the appropriate author/s for details.

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This ezine is commercial in nature. If you do not wish to be subscribed, please use the unsubscribe link that can be found below this contact box.

Please note: Inclusion of a product, 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!

Contact details:

mailto:cheryl@writer2writer.com

http://www.writer2writer.com

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