Monday, January 31, 2011
The photo of Robin on the left is from her website.
I've known Robin for almost a decade, from when we both served on the board of the Missouri Writers' Guild, and I've always been impressed by her intelligence, candor, and enthusiasm.
Robin is a visionary. She is a writer who thinks big and backs up her thoughts with actions.
Robin's work background is as COO of the largest midwestern managed health care corporation, where her writing focused on corporate publications, such as strategic plans, reports, manuals, technical documents, and other correspondence. She retired to pursue her writing career, and after her retirement, managers sought her out to develop corporate publications.
She has never looked back. Her workload is so large that she now hires other freelancers. Robin also assists with editing and selecting works for the literary magazine published by St. Louis University, Boulevard magazine.
On Saturday she shared some tips for writers who want to pursue a career as an editor or a freelance writer. More than 50 people attended her presentation. I arrived a bit tardy, but I got to hear her entire presentation. She ran out of handouts before the stack got to me, but I did manage to jot down a few notes. Here they are:
* The purpose of editing is to improve the quality of the written work.
* Everyone is an editor. If you belong to a critique group, read books critically, notice mistakes in publications, or correct grammar or spelling on the job, you are an editor.
*Some qualities of a good editor are: love of language, proficiency in grammar and punctuation, attention to detail, and clarity of thought.
* An ethical editor doesn't change a writer's work. While an editor may correct spelling and grammar and make recommendations, the work ultimately belongs to the writer.
* When editing, question all assumptions. As well as focusing on what is there, also ask about what is missing. Look at the white space on the page.
* One way to break in to freelance writing for businesses is to offer your services initially for free. Some corporations are looking for writing help with brochures, newsletters, speeches, and the like. She cautioned about about taking on newsletters because you are dependent on others for content, which can cause missed deadlines.
* Know your audience. If you're writing for a corporate audience, your words will reach both the most informed and the least informed.
* Do your research. Learn about the company before you approach them for a job.
* Have a working knowledge of graphics programs and page layouts.
* Know how to use programs that can find/replace/track changes to documents.
* Know what you know. If you have an area of expertise, capitalize on that to market yourself.
In addition to being a freelance writer and an editor, Robin also has a book selling business, stlbooks.com , a place for new, used, rare, out-of print, signed, and first-edition books. She is looking for writers to do book reviewers, interviews, and blog posts. Contact Robin if you have questions.
Robin's presentation was informative and inspiring. She also gave away several gifts from her book site, including tee-shirts and sweatshirts with book covers on the front. Oh, and don't forget the set of brightly colored, retro book ends, which I won and have just the spot for in my office.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Hey, Dorothy, you're not in Kansas anymore. This submission call-out is for southern writers. And forget about lions and tigers and bears. These editors want stories with ghosts and monsters and dreams, Oh my!
Submissions for Press 53's Surreal South '11 anthology need to be from writers associated in some way with the South--as in south of the Mason-Dixon line. (Border states like Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Maryland are sometimes included South of the line; others show them above the line.)
Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the editors of Press 53 have specific requirements on what they're looking for in submissions.
The submissions for Surreal South '11: Ghosts and Monsters should be surreal stories: "dream stories, horror stories, monster stories, insanity, magical realism, the distorted, the impossible, the irrational."
Story must have surreal elements
Word limit: 1,000-7,000 words
Author bio: up to 250 words
Deadline: March 15
Payment: One contributor copy and other goodies.
So, instead of clicking your ruby red slippers, click on this link for complete Press 53 submission guidelines.
And good luck, y'all.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
I have mixed feelings on this subject. Like most people, I enjoy reading about famous people (some of them, at least), yet I believe huge advances to celebrities limits the amount of money available to talented writers who struggle to get published. Okay. Enough whining. On to the celebrity deals.
* "How does it feel?" We'll have to wait to find out. Bob Dylan repotedly has signed a six-book deal with Simon & Schuster.
* Brady Bunch mom Florence Henderson is dancing with the literary stars after landing a deal with Hatchette to write her memoir.
* I love the tentative title of Sissy Spacek's memoir--"Barefoot Stories"--with Hyperion. Even more than liking the tentative title, I love this quote attributed to Sissy in Galleycat.
"I'm thrilled to be writing this book. I just wish I had studied harder in English class."
Don't we all, Sissy, don't we all.
Monday, January 24, 2011
LF: The first writing contest I ever entered was at our local bookstore and I won first place. That gave me confidence to enter other contests. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to enter contest through writing groups—Ozarks Writers League, Columbia Chapter of the Missouri Writers’ Guild, and the Missouri Writers Guild—and won prizes from each of them. I was thrilled to win the 2010 Best Book of the Year Award from Ozark Writers League for Early Onset Blog: Essays From an Online Journal. I accepted the other awards I won that night with dignity, but I jumped, hopped, and skipped forward to accept the Book of the Year award! Winning contests is not about the money for me, it’s about validation, especially on those days when my writing doesn’t measure up to my vision of the story.
DV: Wow! Winning Best Book of the Year is an impressive accomplish. Now, a question about publishing: With all the changes in the publishing industry, what inspired you to start Mozark Press?
LF: Not every author can find an agent or sign a contract with a major publishing company. The Shaker anthologies give authors a place to submit short stories for publication. I hope that Mozark Press opens doors for talented authors to see their work in print.
DV: That is so generous of you. I was fortunate enough to have one of my short stories included in Shaker of Margaritas: Hot Flash Mommas. The cover is wonderful and all the stories are great. What has been the response to this anthology?
LF: I’m pleased with the response to Hot Flash Mommas, especially since it was Mozark Press’s first anthology. My expectations were to break even and (yay!) we actually made a small profit. Some of the authors turned out to be fantastic at promotion and sales. Their enthusiasm was contagious. Everything worked for the book—attractive cover, great stories, and promotion from authors, bloggers, and the authors’ local media.
DV: It's wonderful that your first anthology was so successful. You have a submission call-out for a new anthology with a deadline of March 1--Shaker of Margaritas: Cougars on the Prowl. What is the focus of the anthology, and what kind of submissions are you hoping to receive? Where can writers find specific submission guidelines for Cougars on the Prowl?
LF: Cougars on the Prowl will be a fun anthology geared toward “women of a certain age.” I want submissions to tell a great story with a boomer aged protagonist and a younger man. I would recommend that writers don’t go for the obvious, but dig deep to pull off the unusual. The “cougar” portion of the story might be peripheral rather than the focus of the story. The complete guidelines can be found at http://www.mozarkpress.com/.
DV: I imagine you receive tons of submissions for your anthologies. What are some common mistakes you see in submissions?
LF: Among the common mistakes: stilted dialog, not enough dialog, too many characters for a short story, and sentences and paragraphs that do not flow. A lot of errors can be caught when the writer reads the story aloud. I appreciate authors who use one space at the end of sentences (not two) and paragraph indentions rather than tabs. The less time I spend formatting, the more time I have to edit.
DV: Thanks for that advice. Any other tips for writers who submit to Mozark Press?
LF: First, make sure you follow the guidelines. Have another author give you an honest critique of your story. Don’t send me your rough draft—write, re-write, and edit. One of the judges asked me to tell the writers to proofread, proofread, proofread. Here’s a clue—I don’t edit before I send the stories to the judges.
DV: I agree that getting another writer's opinion is so helpful. Beyond your most recent call for submissions, do you have any plans for more anthologies?
LF: I plan to have more Shaker anthologies in the future. They are a lot of fun and it is a pleasure to work with the authors.
DV: That's good news! As an author with a story in your first anthology, I have to say it was a pleasure to work with you. How can readers and writers contact you for more information?
Thanks again, Linda, for taking time from your busy schedule to visit Donna's Book Pub. I hope you get lots of wonderful submissions for your future anthologies.
Shaker of Margaritas: Hot Flash Mommas is available from Amazon and Mozark Press.
Friday, January 21, 2011
So, please join me in extending a warm WELCOME TO DONNA'S BOOK PUB to all these wonderful people who've joined since December 14:
Louella Turner, Dangerous with a pen, Beautiful Dress, Holly, umdmaurer, Liz Davis, Katie Gates, Melissa Ann Goodwin, Stephen Baird, and Walt M.
If you get a chance, click on their photos and visit their blogs or websites. They have lots of great stories to tell and information to share.
Speaking of sharing, if you're looking for another blog chock full of info, check out the contest going on at Cathy C's Hall of Fame She's giving away a $20 Barnes & Noble gift card to one lucky new follower. Cathy's goal is to have 100 followers, and she's almost there. So, if you want to help a fellow-writer reach her goal, just hop on over and follow her. * Leave a comment. * Tell her Donna from Donna's Book Pub sent you. * Be sure to leave your contact information so she can contact you if you're the winner. One lucky NEW follower will win a $20 gift card and if I'm the one who sent you, I'll also win a $20 gift card. Yay! But act fast, Cathy's contest ends on Jan 24th.
Here's another deadline you might be able to make. The First Line Literary Journal has a call for submissions. Stories should be between 300 and 3,000 words. For the spring call-out, your story must start with the first line: "Sam was a loyal employee." Deadline is Feb 1. I've already started a first draft of a story.
Short story payment is $20 and a copy of the issue in which your story appears, if it is accepted for publication. The magazine also pays $10 for non-fiction essays about your favorite first line from a literary work. For details, check out the submission guidelines on The First Line website.
Welcome to my new followers, thanks to my loyal followers, and good luck to all in the contest and call for submissions.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
"Nice day today," I said. "But we might get snow tonight."
"Yep," Tracy said. "Are you a risk taker?"
"Sometimes," I said while thinking, not much.
"I'm betting on a snow day tomorrow. Think Michael would want to spend the night and go sledding with Caleb?"
"Sounds good to me."
Although the skies were clear, Tracy and I made plans to have Michael pack a bag and bring his overnight clothes to the boys' basketball practice later that evening. After Michael got in the van I told him what was going on. He was excited and told me his science teacher said a big snow storm was headed our way.
"I know we won't have school tomorrow," he said.
"We'll see," I said.
As soon as we got home, Michael began packing his stuff.
"Can I bring my sled?" he asked.
"How about my X-Box?"
"No, just your play clothes and sled. And don't forget your school clothes and bookbag, just in case school isn't cancelled."
I'm a bit of a risk taker, but I still like to be prepared.
There was a nip in the air, but no snowflakes yet when my husband Walt and Michael left for basketball practice a little after seven.
"Did you pack your school clothes?" I asked on his way out the door.
"Yes," he said.
"What about your sled?"
"It's already in the truck."
I kissed him goodbye and told him to have fun.
Half an hour later, by the time my granddaughter Cari and I left for her high school volleyball practice, flakes were flying and filling the streets.
The drive home almost two hours later was dicey. Roads were slick and snow-packed, but we made it back safely.
When we walked in the door, Walt said, "Cari's high school just called. Snow day tomorrow."
"Yes!" Cari chanted as danced down the hall to her room.
"Did All Saints call? Michael will be upset if Cari's off school but he isn't."
"Not yet," Walt said.
Walt was already in bed, Cari was in her room, and I was watching the late-night news when the call came from All Saints announcing school would be closed on Thursday.
Michael was right, and I knew he would be happy to spend a snow day sledding with Caleb.
I had to admit it was fun and a bit exciting taking the risk on a snow day in the middle of the week, but the worrier in me was still glad Michael had his school clothes and bookbag in case school hadn't been cancelled.
As I turned off the television and headed towards the bedroom, I noticed Michael's bookbag sitting near the front door.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
If you're looking for a helpful writing resource, Poets & Writers on-line magazine is an excellent one to check out.
One useful feature is the database of contest deadlines. This latest database includes contests for poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and nonfiction. Deadlines shown on the link above land between January 25 and February 11. Entry fees range from None to $50. Some contests have specific residency requirements, but most are open to all. A few contest entry fees include magazine subscriptions to contest entrants.
So, if you're looking for a home for your poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or nonfiction, check out Poets & Writers.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
This Saturday's challenge is to write a fact, fiction or poetry piece of no more than 25 words.
The prompt is "the lottery ticket." I read several of the entries. They're unique and interesting, so I thought I'd give it a go.
Here's my flash fiction piece, which is exactly 25 words (excluding the title).
In the crowded hospital, Maria squeezed her daughter's hand. A new kidney. Perfect match. The nurse announced, "The lottery ticket number is 228." Maria wept.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Today is also "The Feast of the Ass, anciently celebrated in the French town of Beauvis every year on the 14th of January to commemorate the flight of the Virgin into Egypt with the Infant Jesus. . . Parts of the service were terminated by imitation of the braying of an ass and hymns were sung in praise of the Ass." Who knew?
"gone to Texas" - An American expression for one who has decamped, leaving debts behind. It was not unusual for a man to display this notice "G.T.T." on his door after he had absconded.
So, don't be "married all o'er" when "assishness" neighbors come calling unexpectedly. Instead of "scurryfunging," around, just put up a note: "G.T.T. Gone to Texas" and maybe your caller will go away and celebrate the Feast of the Ass.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
The Blood Red Pencil contains advice from Patricia and several other professional writers and editors who take turns giving "sharp and pinted oservations about good writing."
The caption above a photo of a pencil advises writers to "kill your darlings." Writers know this means to be ruthless when editing and get rid of words that don't help your work but are there because you love them.
In today's post, writer/editor Helen Ginger answers the question: "What are editors for?" She offers some helpful suggestions on what to do -- and one controversial suggestion on what not to do.
Another recent post comes from editor and former English teacher and librarian, Jodie Renner, on "Style Blunders in Fiction." Some of Jodie's useful suggestions are: #1, Avoid wishy-washy qualifiers; #3 Avoid overused, colorless words; and #8, Describe the stimulus, then the response-- or what we in our critique group call "putting the cart before the horse. " Click on the above link to read them all.
So, if you're looking for a site with fresh content about writing from some experts, I recommend the Blood Red Pencil.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
One of my goals this year is to write more fiction, so this challenge got my attention. I'm #80 on the list, which is still growing.
The idea is to write and submit one story each month. Some folks signed up for the weekly challenge, but once a month should be enough for me with my other writing assignments. The Write1/Sub 1 guidelines don't have a specific word limit, which makes it less overwhelming. I can write stories of any length.
To make it worth my while, I'm searching for fiction markets that pay, or contests with a money prize.
I found a call-out for an anthology from Whortle Berry Press called Strange Mysteries 3. It's a paying market--$10 per story--with a 4,000 word limit. The deadline is February 1, so it's something I could accomplish. Maybe I'll try that one.
How about you? Do you have any writing-related goals for the new year? Or, do you have any short fiction markets to suggest?
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The first automated call came at 4:30 from Cari's school district. Her high school is closed due to the snow. Michael's school called around 5:40. Same announcement, different voice.
Harley, our black lab, woke up early, but he put the skids on when I opened the back door to let him outside. He's no fool. When Walt opened the door, he listened and trotted outside. Why is that? It's the same way with the kids.
When I went in their bedrooms to tell them there was no school, Cari said, "Good. I can sleep in." Michael said, "Good. I can sled." Then they both went back to sleep.
So, this morning instead of making breakfasts and lunches, double-checking homework, and rushing around getting the kids out the door in time for school, I'm sipping a cup of tea, reading, and writing. Life is good.
While I'm warm and cozy inside, not everyone is. Last night and earlier this morning the city trucks have been by clearing the streets.
Today the mail carriers have their work cut out for them. Thinking about mail carriers, I found this article on readersdigest.com. "Thirteen Things Your Mail Carrier Won't Tell You." After reading the list, I appreciate #4, the advice about Media Mail (I use it when mailing books) and #10 about using ball point pens. I shudder when I think about the stories mail carriers can tell with #11.
Hope you can enjoy your day today, no matter what kind of weather you're having.
Monday, January 10, 2011
The writer in me wants to focus my questions on her writing process: where she gets her ideas, how she develops her characters, does she outline or plunge ahead, how does she research the technical parts of the book, and the like. My editor wants the focus to be on the author's present book. Generally, I try to do both; weave in writing-related questions while bringing out highlights of the current novel. That's not always easy.
Without mentioning the author's name, I'd like your opinion:
1. If you were interviewing a romantic suspense writer, what questions would you ask?
2. Now for the big question: If you could interview any writer (living or dead), who would it be, and what would you ask them?
One dead writer I would like to interview is Mark Twain. I'd want to know what he thinks about the rewrite of Huck Finn to make it more politically correct. I bet he would come up with a zinger of an answer.
Friday, January 7, 2011
The contest theme is "Winter Wind," and there's a story prompt to get you started. Here are some highlights:
* No entry fee
* Grand prize $100
* Winning story published in The Verb
* Receive a story opinion.
* Word limit 1,500.
* Contest details can be found here.
* Deadline is January 15, so you still have time, but not much.
While you're there, check out past contest winners and opinions. I found the editor's analysis of what works in a winning story extremely helpful.
Hope you have a great weekend, and stay warm!
Thursday, January 6, 2011
The feast is celebrated in many parts of Europe, where gifts are exchanged. In our home, it's the day we take down our Christmas tree, box up the lights, put away the ornaments, and hope we can remember where we put everything so we can find it next year. Having a good memory is a blessing, and a gift.
Speaking of gifts, Cathy C. Hall, one of my blogger buddies, is in a gift-giving mood. Cathy is a wise and witty writer with a good and generous heart. To celebrate the new year, she is giving away a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card to a new follower. To win the gift card, sign up to be one of her followers and leave a comment on her blog between now and January 24th. Be sure to mention you heard about her contest here, on Donna's Book Pub. If you win, I can win, too!
Cathy will pick the winner's name from her new followers. If you're already one of her followers, you can also win. Check out her Jan 3 post for details.
While you're visiting Cathy's blog, check out her posts about submission opportunities, contests, and other cool writing stuff. I love reading her posts. She is always so upbeat and funny--and did I mention--generous?
One word of caution: After reading Cathy's posts you might start saying Y'all a lot and craving grits and fried green tomatoes. That's cause Cathy is a Southern belle from Georgia.
Good luck, y'all!
Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Today she gave me a copy of this blog post from Colleen Sell, who has been the Cup of Comfort editor for the past ten years.
Effective January 1, the Cup of Comfort website became inactive and Colleen retired from her tenure as editor. (Two books scheduled for publication this year will be the last of the series. )
It's an honor to have had three of my true stories in Cup of Comfort books (Cup of Comfort for Women, Cup of Comfort for Christmas, and Cup of Comfort for Military Families). I'm sad, but I guess all good things must come to an end.
So, tonight I'll drink a cup of tea and with a greatful heart re-read "Julie's Gift" about my daughter, "Santa Wore Cowboy Boots" about my son, and "Welcome Home" about my husband, my stories that all part of the Cup of Comfort stories.
Monday, January 3, 2011
I'm always excited around this time of year. It's a time of back and forth.
Time to look back at the old year while looking forward to the new. Time for a fresh start and maybe a change in direction.
Last year was my most prolific and profitable as a writer, and I'm hoping 2011 will be even more prolific. Here's a recap of what kept me busy writing in 2010:
* My essays and short stories were included in six publications, including two Chicken Soup for the Soul books, and I had one acceptance late in the year for anthology to be published this spring.
* I won a few awards--and a bit of cash.
* Dozens of my reviews and author interviews were published on Bookreporter, Kidsreads and Teenreads.
What's neat about being able to interview authors is that I get paid to ask questions of other writers and learn from them. Here's a sampling of some of my 2010 interviews:
In this Jan 2010 interview, award-winning author Kathryn Lasky talks about her writing process and the important of research.
My May 2010 interview with Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author and illustrator of the Lunch Lady series, is one of my favorites. He talks about the influence his grandparents had on him and shares the exciting information about Lunch Lady being made into a movie staring Amy Poehler.
Here's some great advice from Cynthia Lord about first drafts--"dare to be bad" and "get it done." I love her book Touch Blue. Read the entire October 2010 interview here.
If you've ever wondered how to make your characters come alive on the page, here's a tip from a November 2010 interview with bestselling and award-winning author, Walter Dean Myers.
Hope you enjoy reading the writing advice from these experts.
Wishing you all many joys and blessings and a healthy, happy, and holy 2011.