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Showing posts from June, 2010

Freelance Writing Rights Part 2

Yesterday, we explained several kinds of legal rights authors might encounter in their writing careers. Today we continue that discussion with more possible scenarios. Syndication Rights you give up: • Syndication means selling one article (or a series of articles) to multiple sources at the same time. Typically publications will not want you to sell the same piece to a competing market. • Because you are selling to multiple markets, the price garnered per publication is less than with first or sole rights. Rights you keep: • Authorship (byline) • Rights to resell or reprint in another format. • Right to limit or prohibit editing or revising of your piece. Why a writer would choose syndication: For many writers, getting paid multiple times for the same article is an appealing concept. Having an article printed in numerous publications means a greater number of readers. Increased readership is another appealing concept. Finally, syndicated writers often have their artic

Freelance Writing Rights

As a freelance writer, your words are your bread and butter. So, it’s important to have them work for you. The rights you keep – or give up – vary, depending on the type of contract you enter into. Because there are numerous variables, this can be confusing – even for the seasoned writer. Here’s a listing of common ways that contracts describe rights to written pieces. As a freelancer, I’ve entered into contracts for just about every listing here. I tell you this to let you know that there are no magic answers when it comes to keeping or giving up rights. It depends on your specific situation and the writing in question. All rights, or sole rights Rights you give up: • When a publication asks for all rights to your work, you are, in essence, signing it over to them. They then have the ability to publish it wherever and whenever they choose. • You cannot publish the article with another print or online publication. You cannot post it on your website or use it publicly in any way

Self-syndication Options and Benefits

Many writers think of syndication as a specialized niche meant for just a few Erma or Abby-type writers. I’d like to change that line of thinking. Self-syndication is a flexible means to sell your work to multiple sources and cash multiple paychecks. If you let yourself get creative, there are lots of different paths syndication can lead you on. Often, syndicated work in done in the form of a column. The column might be written daily or weekly. This is only one example of syndication. Think outside the column and I’m sure you can come up with more. Group like articles together to make a self-syndicated series. Offer your services to a glossy magazine not as a freelancer, but as a self-syndicated columnist. Are you a blogger? With a little work, it’s likely that your blog could become a self-syndicated column. Offer to ghostwrite self-syndicated articles for someone who would benefit from a column, but doesn’t have the time or skills to do the work herself. Self-syndication brings n

Don't Tell Me- Show Me

Most writers seem to get the broad concept of show don't tell. They know about creating scenes and keeping the reader grounded  in the scene. But some writers still do not get the difference between telling a reader what is going on in a scene and showing them. Consider: The party was in full swing Vs Heavy metal music bounced from wall to wall. People strained to talk above the pounding noise, or simply gave up and joined those dancing…… Some writers also don't seem to get the little "tells" in a manuscript that can weaken an otherwise decent book. The pizza smelled so good I felt my mouth water. Vs The sweet aroma of tomato and basil riding the steam from the top of the pizza made me touch the side of my face to make sure the drool was not running out of my mouth. Okay, I'll admit, that example could use some professional help, but I think you get what I am suggesting. I felt myself blush Vs The heat of a blush crawled up my neck. He looked al

The Catharsis of Writing

Why do we writers write? For as many of us as there are, there could be an equal number of reasons. However, we would likely find some interesting “overlaps” that, while tinged with a degree of uniqueness, bind us together. What might those be? Personal experiences, of course, and, by extension, experiences of others around us. It has been said that we should write about the things we know. Why? Our works will then come across as credible, authoritative. In other words, our readers will believe that what we say is probable . . . or at least possible. This is as true in fiction as it is in nonfiction. As an editor, I’ve worked with writers to “fix” impossible situations such as fight scenes, escapes, time frames, and a host of others that couldn’t happen unless at least one of the characters is a clone of Superman. How can we translate “what we know” into a great storyline? And what will make our experiences interesting, believable, and perhaps even helpful to others? Honesty. Emot

Writing in 140: Up Close & Personal with POV

Many of my clients use first-person POV. When asked why they decide to use it, most claim the POV makes them feel closer to the main character, like they are inside of the MC's head. I often counter that a close third-person POV can be just as intimate as first person. The problem that often arises in many of these first-person stories is writers want to write in first person, but they want a story told in third-person omniscient, meaning they still want to tell what all the other characters are thinking and doing when that's pretty hard to do when stuck in one person’s mind—unless MC is clairvoyant. If you're going to use first-person POV, be mindful of the limitations that can arise in writing the story. What say you? ----- Writing in 140 is my attempt to say something somewhat relevant about writing in 140 words or less. ----------------------------- Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically, and her debut

Character Bible

Before beginning the writing of your novel, you can save time and frustration by creating a Character Bible for your lead characters. Since you create these characters, you may feel you know them so well that they are alive in your head. Often, though, by the time you’re halfway through the book, you’re wondering if Jackie likes coffee or tea in the mornings. Then you have to thumb back through the pages or do a search-and-find to get the answer. If you have to do this with your leads, you’ll for sure end up doing it with your incidental or supporting characters. That’s a time suck. Avoid wasting your time. Create a Character Bible for your main characters and a shorter listing for your lesser characters. You can find lists of character questions on the Internet. I suggest you create your own. Some standard things you’ll want to include are: Full Name Age Hair Color Race Height Body Type Eye Color Work Family Background General Personality Events that Changed or Cemented

EPIC, the Electronic Publishing Organization

I recently was given the honor of winning an EPIC award for my novel, Cowgirl Dreams. The first question I usually get is, “What is EPIC?” EPIC, the Electronic Publishing Internet Connection, is a professional organization for published and contracted e-book and print authors. It was established in 1997 to provide a strong voice for electronic publishing. Even though E-Publishing is a relatively new venue, many readers, writers, and traditionally published authors believe this is one of the major marketplaces of the future. EPIC was designed to help professional writers learn more about the best publishing opportunities on the Internet and to provide networking opportunities for information about promotion and market growth. The award contest (formerly known as the EPPIE) was established in 2000, the year of the first national conference, and now includes 30 categories, from poetry, non-fiction and anthologies to fiction, which includes children’s and YA, fantasy & sci-fi, an

Book Review: A Bad Day for Pretty

A Bad Day for Pretty by Sophie Littlefield Mystery Minotaur Books, An Imprint of St. Martin’s Publishing Group ©2010 ISBN 978-0-312-55975-5 Hardcover 292 pages, $24.99 US Reviewed by Patricia Stoltey When Stella Hardesty had taken all the abuse she could handle from her no-good husband, she took him out with a wrench. It was self defense, plain and simple, and Stella was acquitted. Nowadays she owns Hardesty Sewing Machine Repair & Sales and runs a little vigilante attitude adjustment service on the side. Word gets around, whispered from woman to woman. When a wife or girlfriend needs protection from the jerk she hooked up with in a moment of stupidity, she’s likely to hire badass Stella to pay the jerk a not-so-friendly visit. Since her marriage was abruptly terminated, Stella has kept a tight rein on her emotions and a lock on her heart. But wouldn’t you know it? She’s gone all mushy-kneed over Sheriff Goat Jones. He cooks, cleans, would never hurt a woman, and he h

Too Cliché or Not Too Cliché? - That is the Question

One of the problems of writing in any genre is that editors, publishers, and long-term readers have seen it all before. Experienced writers worry about keeping their ideas fresh and vaguely unique, while newbies often fall into the dreaded cliché trap. But is the cliché really such a dire fictional faux pas? Parody writers make a lot of money out of clichés and stereotypes, but we wouldn’t find their work nearly as funny without the existence of clichéd material in the first place. It was while I was reading the excellently tongue-in-cheek Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones that I really began to think about the positive side of clichés in fiction, and in fantasy in particular. Orson Scott Card summed up a fundamental tenet of magic use in fantasy: that magic should always have a price or consequence. It’s a cliché, yes, but I don’t think many writers would ditch such a valuable principle if it will prove detrimental to the story. If you’re going to drop an establis

Deep POV: Three mistakes and how to fix them, Part II

Story can be defined many ways, but one of my favorites is “internal conflict made external.” This definition informs the fixes to two additional problems writers might face while trying to adopt a deep point of view. (Click here for Part I of this topic). 2. The mistake: Point of view breach. A POV breach occurs when a character knows something he or she shouldn’t reasonably know given the limitations of the POV choice. Moving forward in our example from the last post to the confrontation between our POV character and the husband she suspects of having an affair—and switching POV to show the technique works equally as well in third person limited—such a mistake would manifest itself like this: How long had this been going on? She skewered him with a hate that only years of mistaken adoration could produce. She couldn’t speak. Didn’t have to—he read it all over her face. The reader is left wondering—um, how does she know he read it all over her face? The fix: Translate internal

Deep POV: Three mistakes and how to fix them, Part I

If established in the opening pages of your book, readers will adopt a convincingly developed point of view (POV) without reservation. If your world is lavender, we readers will become lavender rather than see it everywhere. If your character is bigoted, we will taste the bitterness of his words on our own tongues. If your character is nervous, we will sense it in the very way he speaks. In a previous post I offered up examples of literary artists who have made brilliant use of deep point of view, and taken the results all the way to the bank. The perspective of an interesting, well-motivated character gives a work of fiction depth, humor, layers of meaning, and points you in the direction of plot. Deep POV delivers what readers seek: exemption from the limitations of their own perspectives so they can see the world anew. As you attempt to wrestle down this technique, here are a few of the writing missteps that can reduce its effectiveness. 1. The mistake: Creating annoying filt

Writing in 140: Finding Desire to Write

What do you do when it seems as if you've lost the desire to write? Every writer, at some point of the writing journey, will ask this question. The writing seems to flow like water from a faucet and then one day, it doesn't. Then days later, there's still no mojo. What to do? Read . A really good book makes me remember why I love to write and often makes me want to write. Live life . You have to spend time living life in order to write about lives. Study self . Go back and read some of your writing. Perhaps doing so will ignite the urge to write. Don't worry . This is normal. Use the time to recharge yourself in other ways. What do YOU do? ----- Writing in 140 is my attempt to say something somewhat relevant about writing in 140 words or less. ----------------------------- Shon Bacon is an author, editor, and educator. She has published both creatively and academically, and her debut solo novel, Death at the Double Inkwell is now available for purchase.

Genre - Magical Realism

Recently, my fourteen year old daughter was, as usual, sitting in the back seat of the car texting to a friend. “Hey, Mom, how do you spell genre?” My husband and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows. What fourteen year old uses the word “genre” in a text to a friend? I’m not sure I’d even heard the word until I was a librarian. Readers today are much more aware of the genres of books they read. They are much more likely to stick with one genre and not read others. Go into most modern bookstores and you’ll find the books organized, not by author, size, or color, but by genre. We at the Blood Red Pencil are going to use a few posts over the next weeks to define and discuss genres. The market may be better for some genres than others. There may be different marketing approaches for different genres. You may find that some agents specialize in handling one genre over others. We’ll discuss those all these points in upcoming posts. I’m going to begin the discussion with a relati

Writing as an Art —Words That Dance

Last month, we discussed “words that sing,” and a number of you transformed a mundane paragraph into a powerful dissonant melody. How did you do this? You awakened the lackluster scene and infused it with chords of pain and despair and negativity. Well done, all who participated in this writing exercise. Now let’s venture a bit farther into the musical element of writing. Without question, well-chosen words bring melodic harmony, agonizing discord, and dramatic crescendos and decrescendos to the printed page. Interestingly, the medium that delivers this compelling symphony is . . . dance. Dance? Think about it. What is dance? Action. Expression. Power. Whether the smooth flow of a waltz, the seething emotions of a tango, the gymnastics of break dancing, the happy conclusion of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty , or the poignant sadness of his Swan Lake , action creates the dynamic of the scene. Without action, without expression, without power, there can be no dance. Without action, w

Help! Word is Spacey!

On May 13th, I posted a How To . In that case, it was a How To: Remove Section Breaks . We ended up with a great discussion in the Comments Section on deleting those sometimes pesky breaks, as well as quite a few other How To questions and answers. Today, I thought I’d follow up on one of those questions. This one was from Karen Walker: Okay, here's my issue. I have Windows Vista and use Word for my writing. If I manually hit enter to go to the next line, it automatically skips a space as if it's a new paragraph. I have not been able to figure out how to change this. Help!!! Karen Walker Elizabeth Spann Craig, aka Riley Adams, answered Karen’s question with: Karen, what I do with the Word line-spacing issue is to hold down the control key and press enter at the same time. Then it'll just single space that one line. This, of course, is a great answer. Thank you Elizabeth. On the off chance that Karen’s question about Word skipping a space was referring to Word automat

Exploring: Web Resources for Writers

Surfing the web is like hunting for buried treasure. There is so much information, but much of it goes unused and undiscovered because the site is not actively promoted, or because we simply don’t know where to look. This time I began my search with broad terms such as “writing” and “grammar.” There was buried treasure, lots of it. I hope you find something of value in this list. Sol Stein (author, editor, publisher, lecturer, software creator, and more) I was pleased to discover Sol Stein has a new book due out in November, 2010 from St. Martin’s Griffin. The book is available for pre-order now: Sol Stein's A-Z Guide to Writing Success and Publishing Know-How: Quick Solutions, Smart Techniques for Fiction and Nonfiction Professionals and Beginners . Stein is the author of two books on the craft of writing, books I frequently recommend: Stein On Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of Our Century Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies How

Word Play Tuesday

Word Play Tuesday - The Second Tuesday of Each Month For the uninitiated, Here's How Word Play works - Today, and every second Tuesday of the month, we play with a chosen word or string of words. I make a choice, offer some uses, then invite you to comment below with a sentence using the word(s) we’re playing with. You can use one of my phrases and expand on it or make up a fresh sentence or paragraph from scratch, but the only rule is to use the monthly word(s). When you comment, if you have a website or blogspot, be sure to include it along with your name, in case someone really likes what you've written and wants to visit you. For June, let's play with triplets . I have two sets in mind. See if you can use some or all of them. Here they are: Do - action verb - Do what you want. Dew - wet stuff on the grass - The dew made the grass slippery. Due - adjective denoting owing - My library book is due. To - preposition - I went to the gym. Two - the number af

A Dog's Ghost

As a ghostwriter, I write books for other people who don’t have time to write, or think they don’t have the talent to write, or just plain hate to write – some people would rather clean the bathroom than write. Nevertheless, they have a story, or an idea, or a cause – and they want the world to know about it. So they hire me to write their books. So far I’ve written over thirty books for other people, and life is good. One big challenge about ghostwriting is that you must become someone else. I am invited into another person’s head, and allowed to poke around. I mine the data and the passion I find there, and bring it to the surface so I can play with it. This isn’t easy. Another person’s brain doesn’t work just like mine. In order to find the information and the emotion that I need to write like them, first I have to think like them. Actually, this is impossible. So have I figured out how to do the impossible? No, I’ve just learned to pretend really, really well. I pretend to thin

Busted: Authors caught using deep point of view effectively

Point of view is arguably one of the most important aspects of craft in the writer’s tool kit. Memoirs and essays would be pointless without it. Point of view pervades a journalist’s best quotes, energizes speeches, builds character and conflict in fiction, and makes history worth reading about. If I didn’t have a point of view worth considering, you wouldn’t bother reading this post. Unlike the musician, choreographer, painter, or cinematographer, the author has the tools to allow the reader full access to the inside of his character’s experience: the wounds to his soul, the yearnings of his heart, the quaking of his muscles, the contents of his stomach. All of this contributes to the way the world of your story looks through his eyes. Perspective sunk deep into the experience of a colorful or unusual individual can create the difference between an average reading experience and one that is pure delight. Best-sellers in very modern genre make good use of it. Consider Jennifer We

Time Out For a Laugh or Two

How to Tell Your Writing is not C-R-A-P by Tracy Farr Let's be honest -- you are not Ernest Hemingway, I am not Charles Dickens, and your next door neighbor is not Stephen King (unless your next door neighbor IS Stephen King, then good for you!). Of course, we all dream that our names will one day be mentioned in the same breath as these masters, but it won't happen unless we do the one thing they all did (or doing -- sorry Mr. King): Revise, Revise, Revise. Everything you first write down is C-R-A-P! Nothing comes out great the first time. That's why you edit, revise, copy, paste, destroy, give mouth to mouth, slap, jab, throw down, pick up, edit again, realize it's still C-R-A-P and start all over again. And you keep doing that until it's NOT C-R-A-P! Do you think the great writers of our time just sit down at their computers and type heavenly-blessed stories without revising the crap out of them? Heavens no! And if you think you can, then someone needs to k

Ask the Editor Free-For-All Tuesday

Last month reaped a whopping 101 comments here at the Ask the Editor Free-For-All. That record will be hard to beat, but let's give it a try, gang. Our Editors, as always, are standing by to answer your questions. For those new to the game, today is when you get to ask whatever writing question you want. No question is too basic or silly. How it works: Today, and Every First Tuesday of the Month, The Blood-Red Pencil sponsors what we call the Ask the Editor Free-For-All. I send out e-mail blasts to my e-groups, post on Facebook and other hot spots putting out a call for brave people to step up to the plate and try to stump our Editors. Even if you don't belong to any of the groups I contact, you're still invited to participate. Confess that you don't know everything. Get your answer now before you send in your submission. That way you'll shine, instead of coming off as an amateur. Or, maybe you haven't reached the submission stage. You still may have a