Issue 224May 7, 2009
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In This Issue:
1. This Week
I spent this week preparing for Patchwork Path to do its first Craft Fair booth. If you'll be in the Las Vegas area this weekend, stop by and see us at the Fiesta Henderson Hotel & Casino on Saturday (5/9) from 10am-8pm.
2. Fabulist Flash Recommends
BN Members save an additional 15% off one item with coupon code: P4W3B4A
3. 10 Tips for Better Writing
by Tim North
As a proofreader of business writing, I see many of the same errors made again and again. Errors in your writing (be they in advertising copy, correspondence, or a web site) are more serious, I believe, than most people realize.
Why? Well, the standard of your writing has always been important. Today, though, more than ever before, FIRST IMPRESSIONS COUNT. We are bombarded by the written word in its many forms -- books, pamphlets, magazines, signs, e-mail, web sites and many other media.
We are all suffering from information overload and are forced to find ways of screening out as much as we can. We thus tend to make quick decisions on what to read and what not to. First impressions increasingly determine what we read and what we don't, and poor writing leads to a poor first impression.
The following list of tips should help you to avoid some of the most common slip-ups.
1. Capitals: Avoid the temptation to capitalize words in the middle of a sentence Just To Provide Emphasis Like This. If you want to be more emphatic, consider using bold face, italics, color or larger text.
2. Commas: The most common use of the comma is to join together short sentences to make a single longer sentence. We do this with one of the following small joining words: and, or, but, yet, for, nor, or so. For example:
We have finished the work, and we are looking forward to the weekend.
Notice that the two halves of this sentence could each be sentences in their own right. They thus need to be separated with a comma and joining word. In the next example, though, we don't need a comma:
We have finished the work and are looking forward to the weekend.
The halves of that sentence could not stand alone, so no comma was used.
3. Ellipsis: The ellipsis is a series of three -- and ONLY THREE -- full stops used to mark missing words, an uncertain pause, or an abrupt interruption. Avoid the temptation to use six or seven dots -- it looks amateurish. For example, we write:
Niles: But Miss Fine's age is only ...
Fran: Young! Miss Fine's age is only young!
4. Excessive punctuation: Only one exclamation mark or question mark should be used at a time. Consider the following over-punctuated examples:
Excessive punctuation looks too much like hysteria and detracts from your credibility. Avoid it.
5. Headings: For long works, establish a clear hierarchy of headings. Microsoft Word's heading styles are great for this. (They also allow you to automatically create a table of contents.)
6. Hyphenating prefixes: Most prefixes don't need a hyphen; i.e. we write "coexist", not "co-exist". There are exceptions, though. The prefixes "self-" and "ex-" are almost always hyphenated.
7. Numbers: Numbers of ten or less are normally written as words.
8. Quotation marks: Users of American English should use double quotes (" "). Users of British English should choose either single quotes (' ') or double quotes and stick with them for the whole document. Incidentally, British English usage is increasingly moving towards single quotes.
9. Spaces: Modern style is to use a single space at the end of a sentence, not two. Also, most punctuation marks (e.g. commas, full stops, question marks) are not preceded by a space.
10.Tables: Set table text one or two points smaller than the main body text and in a sans-serif font such as Arial or Verdana. Avoid vertical lines as they tend to add unnecessary clutter.
Armed with these simple guidelines, your writing should be well received every time. Good luck!
About the Author
You'll find over 200 tips like this in Tim North's much applauded e-book BETTER WRITING SKILLS. It's just $19.95 and comes with a 90-day, money-back guarantee. Download a sample chapter here: http://www.betterwritingskills.com
Patchwork Path: Wedding Bouquet
Choice Publishing Group is seeking stories and essays about weddings.
Submission Deadline: August 31, 2009.
Submission Guidelines: PatchworkPath.com
Patchwork Path: Christmas Stocking
Choice Publishing Group is seeking stories and essays about Christmas memories.
Submission Deadline: December 31, 2009.
Submission Guidelines: PatchworkPath.com
Presenters & Programs 2010
Advertise to 30,000 meeting and event planners in this full-color, glossy catalog from Fabulist Flash Publishing and Turning Point International.
Deadline: October 31, 2009
5. Beth Andrews takes the 18Q
1. Did you choose the writing profession or did it choose you?
Would anyone in their right mind choose to be a writer? Writing is a gift, or maybe a curse. It’s an addiction . .. . an obsession. It’s part of who and what I am.
2. What is your background? (education, work, etc.)
I have a high-school education, plus certificates in accounting and in novel writing, earned in night school and by correspondence. I’ve worked in a furniture store, music store, alternative health clinic, and now part-time in a health food store. My first job, however, was probably the most valuable for my writing. I worked as sub-editor at a local newspaper, where I learned how to cut stories to the bone without killing the patient.
3. When did you ‘know’ you were a writer?
I always had a fairly active imagination, and as a child I used to entertain my friends by telling ghost stories. Once I learned to read, writing just seemed the next logical step.
4. How would you describe your style of writing?
It depends on what I’m writing, but generally I’d say it’s terse, somewhat old-fashioned (possibly because much of what I write is historical fiction) and with a large dose of ironic humor.
5. What is your writing process?
I’m someone who plays with an idea in my head for months before I ever put a line on paper. By the time I do, I generally have a pretty good idea of exactly where the story is going—though it’s definitely not carved in stone. I make a list of characters and their basic traits, write a brief synopsis, and then sit down at my keyboard and get busy. I do only two or three re-writes, mainly because I’m lazy, but also because I usually have another book in mind and want to get on with it.
6. What was your path to publication?
I had no problem publishing a few poems early on. Getting short stories published was harder. It took about six years—and several false starts--before my first novel made it into print with a small but established royalty-paying publisher in London , England . I still have several completed manuscripts which nobody will publish, either for love or money!
7. What is your favorite self-marketing idea?
I don’t like marketing myself. I’d much rather just market my books, but that seems to be impossible. Since my books are hardbacks geared toward the library trade, I send postcards to libraries (and a few bookstores) in the areas where a particular novel is set.. Usually they’re eager to promote anything with a local angle. Beyond that, I just try to get as many reviews as I can muster, and hope that most of them will be positive.
8. What are the biggest surprises you’ve encountered as a writer?
I think what surprised me most was how little most published writers actually earn; and also, how important Word Count is in getting published! Every publisher has a fairly narrow range, and if you write more or fewer words, don’t even bother.
9. How do you inspire yourself? What are your sources of creativity?
My greatest inspiration usually comes from reading, though I try to avoid too much fiction—especially in the genre in which I’m currently working. It may sound trite, but The Bible is a great prod for the imagination, as well as inspiring a few titles. I also find music (especially classical music) helps to get me in the mood for certain scenes.
10. What is your proudest writer moment?
Receiving my first (and, thus far, only) fan letter—from a “housebound” (i.e. shut-in) lady in England who wanted to thank my publisher for the pleasure one of my books had brought her. It was humbling to think that this total stranger on the other side of the Atlantic had been so affected by something I wrote.
11. What’s the best advice you were given about writing?
Write what you LOVE!
12. What is your most embarrassing writer moment?
There’s so much to choose from . . . . Probably when I interviewed a well-known mystery writer in the hope of selling the piece to a magazine. The writer responded to my question with a series of somewhat flippant one-line answers which would never have been enough for the magazine’s word requirements. Treating the matter as a joke, I told her that I’d try to “make something” out of such a terse interview. Needless to say, that was a Big Mistake. The writer was offended, and broke off all communication. The mutual friend who had introduced us was equally offended, and I haven’t heard from her since! It was a hard lesson to learn, and I’m still trying to scrape the egg off my face.
13. What business challenges have you faced as a writer?
How to actually make money from writing! Most of us would starve if writing was our only source of income.
14. What is your writer life philosophy?
I endorse Samuel Johnson’s view that the chief end of literature is to help the reader “better to enjoy life or better to endure it.” That’s what I strive to do. I also assume that if I don’t enjoy writing a book, few people will enjoy reading it. If I ever stop enjoying my work, I’ll probably just stop writing.
15. When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
Of course I love to read, enjoy music, the beach (I live in the Bahamas, after all), water gardening. I travel whenever I can, though it's not so much fun these days.
16. Who do you like to read?
My favorite authors are Jane Austen (to whom my writing is often compared), C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, Georgette Heyer, and Agatha Christie.
17. What’s your advice for new writers?
Write because you truly want to—even because you HAVE to. Don’t expect to be another Stephen King or J. K. Rowling. If you achieve financial success, be thankful; but don’t count on it. If possible, find an agent with a proven track record. (I’m still looking).
18. What are you currently working on?
I’m in the planning stage of my third historical mystery novel; but I’m also contemplating a screenplay, if I can ever get up the courage to give it a shot.
THE MARPLOT MARRIAGE (1999), Regency Press
A SCANDALOUS SECRET (2004), Robert Hale Limited
ST. GEORGE AND THE DRAGON (2005), Robert Hale Limited
STOLEN WATERS (2005), Robert Hale Limited
HIDDEN IN THE HEART (2006), Robert Hale Limited
THE UNFORGIVING EYE (2008), Robert Hale Limited
Read more 18Q interviews
6. Upcoming Events
Patchwork Path on Tour
We'll be at the Pre-Mother's Day Craft Show at Fiesta Henderson, Henderson, NV, 9am-6pm
Writer's Pen & Grill
A social evening for writers in Las Vegas, NV
May 28, 29 & 30
Patchwork Path on Tour
We'll be at the Craft Show at the Sports Center, Las Vegas, NV, 9am-6pm
Release of Patchwork Path: Dad's Bowtie
Las Vegas Writer's Group
Gregory presents 21 Elements of an Author Media Kit
Patchwork Path on Tour
We'll be at the Pre-Father's Day Craft Show at Fiesta Henderson, Henderson, NV, 9am-6pm
Meet the Authors
(Clark County Library, NV)
Gregory and the production/publishing team for the Patchwork Path anthology series host a Q&A panel on getting published in anthologies
7. Don't Wait--Associate!
by Amy Brozio-Andrews
Most writers have probably thought about joining a writers' association at one time or another. Hesitant about what you’d actually get out of it in return for your hard-earned money, you’ve probably put it off more than once. Numerous organizations have been created to serve writers of every genre, and while most offer the usual perks (newsletters, directories, member-only web sites), the practical benefits some offer could change your life. (Health insurance, anyone?)
Almost all writers' associations have annual conferences. Workshops, lectures and networking opportunities abound at these gatherings. In addition to these national events, most organizations have local or regional chapters that sponsor smaller workshops and networking opportunities. Writer’s associations also offer many members-only benefits, including: freelance job listings, exclusive web pages featuring advice and articles related to the craft of writing, web hosting, member directories, newsletters, listings of agents and publishers, critique services, mentoring programs, and email chats. These member-only benefits can more than justify the cost of yearly membership. According to Bob Finn, cybrarian at the National Association of Science Writers, the most important benefits to be gained by joining a professional organization are fellowship and networking with other writers, the discussion of professional issues, and the job board.
Some writers' associations offer additional professional services in addition to the usual newsletters and workshops. For example, members of the National Association of Science Writers are eligible to participate in their group health/dental insurance, and prepaid legal assistance programs. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. offers its members a grievance committee and contract alerts to warn writers of unscrupulous publishers. The National Writers Union offers a host of free publications for freelancers to assist them in negotiating the legal and technical waters of freelance writing. The NWU also offers grievance assistance and contract advice.
In deciding which writers' association to join, it’s most important to consider the focus of the organization. Are you looking for a non-judgmental environment in which to explore creative writing? Do you publish non-fiction articles and need more nuts and bolts advice about contracts and libel? For example, the International Women’s Writing Guild has a more holistic approach to the craft of writing. The website makes it clear that this is a place women can come to feel empowered and craft their writing in a supportive environment. The National Writers Union, on the other hand, take a more practical, professional approach toward its members, focusing on contracts, grievances, legal advice and professional development for writers. Depending on your writing style, your audience and your writing experience, the general benefits like newsletters and networking may not be as important as the association’s "culture" and professional development opportunities.
Most writers' associations have been created to serve all writers of a particular genre, field or gender. While the advantage of joining a genre-oriented writers' association may be clear, it’s important to highlight the potential benefits women may gain from joining a women’s writing organization. Sheri L. McConnell, founder of the National Association of Women Writers, believes it’s important for women writers to work together. "By joining an organization where the individuals share the same struggles, they are more likely to be inspired. If other women can attain their dream, then they will feel like they can also," she says. "Since these women share the same struggles, dreams and pressures, I think their support is genuine and it is really helping a lot of women feel like they can become better writers and published writers."
While the general benefits among most writers' associations are comparable, it pays to "shop around," as some organizations offer significant benefits above and beyond networking and job listings. Brief descriptions of several of the most popular writer’s associations are included below, including yearly dues information. However if, you don’t find what you're looking for here, try checking with an Internet search engine, or talk to you local librarian.
Horror Writers Association (www.horror.org)
This worldwide organization was founded in 1980, and includes writers and publishers. Benefits include: bimonthly newsletter, e-mail bulletins, lists of agents, bookstores and reviewers, members-only website, members-only networking opportunities online, marketing assistance, and mentoring.
Individual membership: $55 (North America)/$65 (International)
Affiliate members must prove an interest in horror, the occult and dark fantasy; Active members must satisfy publishing prerequisites, and receive voting rights for the Bram Stoker award.
Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (www.sfwa.org)
According to its website, the SFWA is the only writers' group to demand and conduct audits of publishers. The work of this association has brought about changes in contract language for its members.
Benefits include: quarterly bulletin, members-only directory, handbook, model contracts, grievance committee, legal assistance, writer’s resources, ergonomic advice, contract alerts, reading lists, and an author’s Bill of Rights.
Individual membership: $50
Both Active and Associate memberships have publishing prerequisites for membership. Junior memberships (under 21) are available. New memberships also have a $10 installation fee.
Romance Writers of America (www.rwanational.com)
Founded in 1980, this writer’s association boasts 8400 members and provides a wealth of information for romance writers, including sub-genre information, statistics about romance novels and the romance industry.
Benefits include: marketing assistance, book signing information, conferences and workshops, advice on contracts and royalties, monthly journal, networking opportunities, and local chapter meetings.
Individual memberships: $100 (1st year only, then $75)
General membership for those published in the romance genre, associate memberships available for those unpublished, or published in another genre.
National Association of Women Writers (www.naww.org)
A writers' organization exclusively for women, the NAWW has no publishing prerequisites because as founder Sheri L. McConnell says, "I wanted NAWW to be an association that provides a forum WHERE WOMEN can UNITE TO WRITE-- where they could encourage, teach, motivate, and inspire each other. To restrict those individuals who have not yet reached certain achievements seemed to defeat the purpose of NAWW."
Benefits include: member portfolio available online, lists of agents, critique services, quarterly writers guide, eligible for participation in the members’ publication page, online writers’ resources, publisher information, and regional meetings.
Individual membership: $40 (if paid by check), $45 (if paid by credit card)
There are no publishing prerequisites for membership.
National Association of Science Writers (www.nasw.org)
Founded in 1934, this organization advocates the free flow of science news. Members include freelancers and science writers from most major media outlets.
Benefits include: a "Just for Freelances" section on the web site, quarterly publication, job opportunities, directories, email aliases, personal web space, eligibility for group medical insurance, prepaid legal assistance, annual conferences and mentoring.
Individual membership: $60 ($15 student)/$65 (Canada)
American Screenwriters Association (www.asascreenwriters.com)
A non-profit organization, the ASA works to support the advancement of screenwriters around the world.
Benefits include: competitions, monthly networking meetings, newsletters, advice for novices, selling tips, and low cost critique services. Online areas reserved to members include how to pitch scripts, consultants, and job listings.
Individual membership: $40/$50 (Canada)
There are no publishing prerequisites indicated for membership.
International Women’s Writing Guild (www.iwwg.com)
This international women’s writing association provides an supportive environment for women to feel empowered and explore the process and craft of writing. Benefits include: bimonthly newsletter, local/regional meetings and workshops, lists of literary agents, publishers and writers’ resources, group health insurance, and mentoring opportunities.
Individual membership: $45 (US and International)
There are no publishing prerequisites indicated for membership.
National Writers Union (www.nwu.org)
This union of freelance writers boasts 6500 members and can provide significant practical assistance to those working with American publishers.
Benefits include: professional development seminars, grievance assistance, legal assistance, eligibility for group health insurance, libel insurance, press passes, quarterly magazines and free writer’s resources.
Individual membership: sliding scale based on income-- see website for details.
Publishing prerequisites do apply; however, members will be accepted if they have written an equal amount of unpublished material and are actively seeking publication. See website for further details.
American Society of Journalists and Authors (www.asja.org)
Founded in 1948, the ASJA focuses on professional support for freelance non-fiction writers.
Benefits include: newsletter, industry reports and information, access to jobs through ASJA’s referral services, online resources, members-only networking opportunities, and professional development activities.
Individual membership: $195 (plus $25 application fee)
Publishing prerequisites do apply; see web site for details.
Canadian Authors Association (www.canauthors.org)
Devoted exclusively to Canadian authors, this group promotes Canadian writing and has regional as well as national activities.
Benefits include: networking, mentoring, conferences, newsletters, industry information, grievances and contract assistance, and personal web space.
Individual membership: $125
Published and unpublished writers are welcome to join. See website for details.
About the Author
Amy Brozio-Andrews is a freelance writer and book reviewer. She brings more than five years' experience as a readers' advisory librarian to her work, which is regularly published by Library Journal, The Imperfect Parent, and Absolute Write. Her reviews have also been published by The Absinthe Literary Review, ForeWord Magazine, January Magazine, and Melt Magazine. Amy is also the managing editor and an international markets columnist for Absolute Write. Visit her online at http://www.amyba.com.
8. About the Editor
Gregory A. Kompes
Gregory A. Kompes (www.kompes.com), The Writerpreneur, is the author of the bestselling 50 Fabulous Gay-Friendly Places to Live, and the Writer’s Series that includes Endorsement Quest, Your Online Media Kit and Should You Write an eBook. He is also a contributor to The Complete Writer’s Journal, Writer’s Bloc I, Writer’s Bloc II, Chopped Liver for the Gentle Spirit, and Chopped Liver for the Kindred Spirit. Gregory speaks frequently on internet marketing and publishing at writer and speaker events and conferences. He also teaches an interactive, ten-week, online course: Internet ACE: Online Self Promotion. The author is a monthly columnist for Writers on the Rise, Production Director for Presenters & Programs, and editor of The Fabulist Flash, an informative newsletter for writers, and the award winning Eighteen Questions, a Q&A series that collects and shares the experiences of published authors. Gregory is co-founder of the Patchwork Path anthology series, Presenters & Programs (the Premier Catalog of Speakers), and the Writer’s Pen & Grill, a writer’s social evening held monthly in Las Vegas, NV. Gregory holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Columbia University, New York, a Certificate in Online Teaching and Learning, and a Masters of Science in Education from California State University, East Bay.
9. About The Fabulist Flash
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