Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fiction Book Contest for Children’s Writers

Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers announced their The Twenty-Sixth Annual Delacorte Press Contest for a First Young Adult Novel for ages 12–18.

The prize of a book contract (on the publisher’s standard form) covering world rights for a hardcover and a paperback edition, including an advance and royalties, will be awarded annually to encourage the writing of contemporary young adult fiction.

The award consists of $1,500 in cash and a $7,500 advance against royalties. This contest is open to U.S. and Canadian writers who have not previously published a young adult novel. Employees of Random House, Inc. and its subsidiaries and affiliates, and members of their families and households are not eligible.

Manuscripts must be postmarked after October 1, 2008, but no later than December 31, 2008. Writers will be notified between January and April as the editors evaluate submissions. Final contest results will be announced on their web site on or around April 30, 2009.

For eligibility requirements, manuscript submission details, multiple submissions, mailing address, and judging, click here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

King Story Adapted as Made-for-Mobile Video

Publishers Weekly reported last week that Scribner, S&S Digital, CBS Mobile and Marvel Entertainment have teamed up to create “N,” a series of made-for-mobile-phone video episodes adapted from a story in Stephen King’s forthcoming story collection Just After Sunset, which is due out in November.
The two minute episodes, drawn by a team from Marvel and adapted by TV show creator Marc Guggenheim with King, featuring a full cast of voice actors. Episodes will be released one per weekday beginning today and ending August 29.
The episodes will be available to mobile phone users at no extra charge through CBS Mobile; on the Web through CBS Audience Network and its partners, including AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo; and at www.NisHere.com.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tools Poets Can Use: Poetry Markets

“There’s no money in poetry, but then there’s no poetry in money, either.”—Robert Graves

Getting Published
These websites list writing markets for poets. Enjoy!

Duotrope's Digest includes a free submissions tracker, plus a database of more than 2,500 markets for short fiction, poetry and novels/collections. Search functions include medium, pay scale, accepts reprints, and more.

Rob Parnell’s Easy Way to Write lists poetry markets.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tools Poets Can Use: Poetry Contests

Ink runs from the corners of my mouth
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.
—Mark Strand, “Eating Poetry,” Reasons for Moving, 1968

Are you interested in entering poetry contests? Winning Writers provides a free e-newletter that provides information on 150 of The Best Free Poetry Contests. If interested, you can enter its famous Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest, which searches for the “best humor poem that has been sent to a ‘vanity poetry contest’ as a joke.”

If you enjoy using The Best Free Poetry Contests, you can upgrade to Poetry Contest Insider. The $7.95 quarterly membership fee gives you access to their online database that reviews over 750 quality poetry contests. The detailed contest profiles tell you how to enter, who’s judging and who’s winning. The database is updated nearly every day with new contests and contest changes. You can search and sort contests by name, deadline, prize, fee, genre and more

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tools Poets Can Use: Support and Feedback

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash."—Leonard Cohen

I’m often asked, “Where can I publish my poetry?” Many publishing houses do not publish poetry. It doesn’t sell well. When someone asks me to critique their poetry, I freak. I have no clue how to provide any feedback to improve a poem. This week I will include websites that provide encouragement and critique feedback for poets. A former post lists rhyming dictionaries. On Wednesday, July 23, I’ll cover poetry contests. On Friday, July 25, I’ll list sites providing markets that publish poetry.

Find Support
Resources for Poets provides links to free resources for poets who want to work on the “craft” of their poetry. It includes free online lectures, articles and interviews.
Li-Bo's text inspector (formerly known as cyborg penguins) provides a syllable counter and rhyme finder. It distinguishes between different poetic styles such as haiku, sonnets and others.
Wild Poetry Forum is an extremely active online, interactive community of writers and poets 13 and older striving to improve their writing skills and to share their creative thoughts with others. Workshop your poems and receive valuable and constructive critiques in a supportive atmosphere.
Every Poet includes a haiku generator, the all-poetry dictionary, an archive of world poetry, and a poetry free-for-all where you can share your poetry.

Receive Feedback
W.B. Yeats observed, “Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.” A critique is not a quarrel. It is simply feedback that you the final editor evaluate. If the feedback applies, use it. If the critique doesn’t, don’t change your work.

Moontown Cafe features all types of poetry & writing, including: love poems, free poetry contests, teen, haikus, rhyming poetry, myth, humor, children's, love stories, tanka, free verse, structure & more. Post your poetry for feedback—all they ask is that you rate two poems for each poem you post.
The Poetry in Color forum encourages quality peer-to-peer feedback on members’ writings. Please note: This site is uncensored, so some of the poetry may be colorful.
Canadian Poets Workshop & Forum (CPWF) was created to welcome Canadian poets to share their work, critique other writers' works, enjoy the opportunity to get immediate feedback about their work and encourage interest in reading and writing poetry. Although they focus on Canadian poets, CPWF welcomes participation from any poets wishing to participate. They cover these poetry topics: acrostic poetry, African-American poetry, best friends, class and traditional poetry.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Planning a Detour Off the Writing Road

I'm sitting in a smaller than average hotel room enjoying a bit of vacation. It's work for my husband and vacation for me and my two daughters.
Except I brought my writing along with me.
So it doesn't feel exactly like a vacation.
So far today I've plotted out my Work in Progress, letting my twentysomething daughter get in on the process. She's good at it. Of course, I don't know how the book's going to end: happily ever after or mostly-happily ever after? And I'm okay with that little plot question for now.
I've also worked on my assignments doled out by my mentor who is helping me build my author platform. (Rob, if you are reading this post, I hope my work ethic impresses you.) So I've drafted out three online articles and read three chapters in a book.
I updated my late-in-life mom blog and visited a few others to research this post.
And in the midst of this vacation-work, I have come to a conclusion:
I am ready for a real vacation.
I'm traveling the Writing Road and I'm looking for an off-ramp. Not in a desperate "I hate my life" way. No. I just realize it's time for a little R&R.
I'll be a better writer for it.
Writing is too much work and not enough relaxed creativity right now. I am writing and editing because I must, not because I want to.
Sometimes it is more fun to write just because I want to.
In a couple of weeks, I am blessed with a real vacation. Just me, my husband and a beach. I will take no writing assignments with me. No have-tos. I will abandon the Writing Road--for a season--and be a better writer for it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Throw Overused Words Under the Bus

“Genius is an overused word. The world has known only about a half dozen geniuses. I got only fairly near.”—Fritz Kreisler

Every year Michigan's Lake Superior State University releases an annual list of overused words and phrases. Author/authored and wordsmith/wordsmithing made 2008’s 33rd annual List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.

Check out why they suggest retiring these words:
Post 9/11
Give back
Black Friday.
Back in the day
It is what it is.
Under the bus

Nominate an overused idiom for 2009's list.

Ten Not-So-Genius Ways to Banish Overused Words
There are two types of overused words pet words and phrases and words that are repeated too often. How do you stop repeating overused words?
1. First, find out which words you tend to overuse. This website lists how many times each word is written in a manuscript.
2. Make a list of your pet words or phrases. When I was working on a film series, the talking head repeatedly said, “As you will.” The editor edited it out, then and made a hilarious “As you will” video.
3. Avoid using those words at all.
4. Avoid using lingo that dates your writing.
5. Rewrite or rephrase the sentence.
6. Listen to fresh words or phrases people say that catches your ears.
7. Write down words or phrases that you read.
8. Expand your vocabulary.
9. Find a better word using the thesaurus.
10. Coin a new phrase.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Borders Audiobook Downloads

Borders has added a new audiobook download service, called Borders Audiobook Downloads, to its remade Borders.com Web site.
The service offers 15,000 titles, including fiction and nonfiction bestsellers, classics, self-help and children’s books. Borders will add hundreds of new titles each week. More than 5,000 of the listed titles are available in MP3 format, making the titles compatible with all MP3 players, including iPods. Audiobooks can also be downloaded at the company's concept stoers through self-serve computer stations.
To launch the service, Borders is offering 15 titles for $9.95 through July 22.
Go here for more information.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Your Writing Platform: The Heart of Your Writing

“The power of the pen does not reside in the ink but in the character of the person doing the writing.” —Aaron Fruh, The Decree of Esther

Over the past six years, Beth’s writing tagline, Writing Honestly, has pushed our critique group members to reveal stuff we wish we did not have to confess. As Beth calls them, “Not our shining moments.” When Tiffany comments, “Tell me more,” I know she wants me to dig deeper. Ouch!

When I was an editor for Harvest House Publishers, I said, “I know which Christian authors love Christ and write honestly.” Right or wrong, how did I come to this conclusion? By the motives they expressed to me or how they treated their editor and publisher.

Recently, Beth Vogt contracted with Rob Eager of Wildfire Marketing to draw out her writing platform, value statements, tagline, branding, etc., for Baby Changes Everything: Embracing and Preparing for Motherhood After 35. And Rob is awesome! As we discuss her weekly assignments, it motivates my thinking. What is my brand? My writing platform? My passion?

From Here to Eternity
I’m all over the map when it comes to my writing interests. I create Bible studies and write about sex, solo parenting, gossip, home improvement, Bible animals, archeology, identity—to name a few. I actually took FIVE book proposals to Writing for the Soul. Someone advised, “You have to focus, Scoti.” When my creativity feels forced into a one-dimensional branding platform, it screams, “Let me outta here.”

I expressed my frustration to Gloria Rose, a friend, mentor and awesome life coach. If I were to describe Gloria’s passion, it’s all about drawing out your heart. So, together we explored my heart.

When Christians Don’t Make Sense—God Does—But I’m Still Working on That
One of my pet peeves is when a ministry, a writer or an individual says or writes something for public consumption and acts differently privately. I struggle with people who call themselves Christians—but aren’t. Now I’m not talking about perfection, religious expectations or real battles to overcome character flaws.

It’s about the disconnect between what they say and how they behave and treat others. Christ identified words versus actions as hypocrisy. I come by this spiritual wrestling match honestly. As a child, I embarrassed my ministerial parents by blurting out childlike observations about church members, which usually proved far too accurate.

Things I Never Learned in Sunday School
In my former life, I was a pastor’s wife and was privy to the inner workings of churches—gossip, immorality, divorces, church splits, incest. Even my minister husband was unfaithful. You name, I probably grieved it.

The worst parts of my experience were the downers—people who nurse grudges, refuse to forgive, malign others, misjudge others’ hearts, crucify the pastor, and rebuff reconciliation. Their head knowledge and know-it-all pet theologies control, shame and judge others' thoughts, actions and beliefs—all in the name of Jesus. To me, that feels like Christian jihadism.

I had the fortune or misfortune to be involved with media ministries power-driven by mega-personalities. It was humbling and an honor to minister and encourage thousands of people whose letters described every kind of struggle or wrongdoing.

However, when my trust in the integrity of one ministry was betrayed by the disconnect between their public persona and internal politics, it proved more devastating than the discovery of my husband’s adulterous relationship with a friend.

My faith in Christ—not God—faltered.

Instead of rejecting hypocrisy, I rejected “their” Christ. The name of Christ physically repulsed me. I clung to God. A devotional written by an Orthodox Rabbi became my lifeline to God. When I sang praise and worship songs at church, I changed the name of Jesus or Christ to Lord or God. I could not say Jesus’s name without feeling nauseous. Sometimes I sat in the pew wishing pastors would tell me more about God instead of only going on and on about his son.

How could someone who had dearly loved Christ since she was five and believed he had a special purpose for her life think these thoughts? Because of the character of people who call themselves Christians. Before it gained popularity, I no longer referred to myself as a Christian. I am a follower of God and student of Christ.

Connecting the Dots
Which brings me back to my writing platform. I want to thank every ministry where I worked for the skills and insights developed under their tutelages. Everything I write underscores one underlying theme: Connecting the Dots.

Today, I maintain a healthy skepticism about magnetic personalities, individuals or ministries who want me to support their passion or agenda at the expense of my integrity, God's calling and purpose for my life, and my personal examination of the Bible. God desires that I pursue the spiritual DNA that he encoded in my heart—not theirs.

Are all my dots connected? Nope. I wish. It’s my desire. I confess…it will be my lifelong struggle and pursuit. I hope I can truthfully document how God’s ongoing changes of my frailties better reflect him and his son. Hopefully, my journey will affirm and encourage others.

Writers…what or whose passion are you pursuing?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Have Fun With Words--I Mean, Wordle!

Most writers I know like words. We like playing with words. Finding the right words. Crafting just the right sentence or paragraph or scene in or novel.

Wordle provides a whole new way for writers to have fun with words. The Web site bills itself as "a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes."

I visited a few times and made a few preliminary Wordles before settling on the one above. It's a quote by author Ursula K. Le Guin:

As a writer, you are free. You are about the freest person that ever was. Your freedom is what you have bought with your solitude.

Wordle is a bit addicting--changing fonts, colors, layouts. But it's also quite satisfying to take a quote or piece of text and turn it into a piece of art.

Go ahead! Have some fun with Wordle!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Avoid Clichés Like the Plague

“Our writers are full of clichés just as old barns are full of bats. There is obviously no rule about this, except that anything that you suspect of being a cliché undoubtedly is one and had better be removed.”—Wolcott Gibbs

It was a dark and stormy night, and my back was against the wall. I couldn’t think of one sentence to write. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. So I decided to shake things up a bit. I decided to take the plunge to shatter my writer’s block. No matter how hard I tried, I could not put my best writing foot forward.

Moral of This Story?
Avoid the same-old, same-old. Never use a cliché, metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech that you’ve repeatedly heard or read.

The dictionary at answers.com defines cliché [klee sháy] as, “A trite or overused expression or idea. Cliché is the [French, past participle of clicher, to stereotype (imitative of the sound made when the matrix is dropped into molten metal to make a stereotype plate).]”

How Do You Recognize a Cliché?
It is a phrase that has or is—
Lost its originality or original effectiveness or power from overuse
Overly familiar
A once-original thought that has become a truism, an obvious truth.

From Soup to Nuts
Avoid cacosyntheton (cak-o-SIN-the-ton), which from the Greek means “badly composed.” If you suspect a phrase is worn out, check out these websites listing “tired old clichés.”

Gardening Clichés
Everyday Shakespearean Clichés
Movie Clichés
Clichés: Avoid Them Like the Plague

So there you have it.
It is what it is.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Book Review: Wiser Than Serpents by Susan May Warren

**Contest for Mission Russia Series at Susan May Warren's blog**

First, a confession: I've read a lot of Susan May Warren's books. Translation: just about all of them. But The Mission:Russia series is the only series I've read backwards--meaning, last book first, then second book . . .
And, you know what? I still loved Wiser Than Serpents. It's got Susan's trademark fast-moving plot, well-developed characters and--as always--a few surprises along the way. But writing this book was more than just writing a good book.

A note from Susan:
Did you know that there are 27 million people around the globe held as slaves today – more thank 80% of them women and children, and up to 50% minors. In fact, there are MORE slaves today than were in the time of William Wilberforce. That leaves me horrified, and it was those stats that compelled me to write a story with a human trafficking plotline.

Wiser than Serpents is a continuation of the Mission:Russia series, a thriller about Yanna, whose sister is snatched through a Russian dating service, and disappears. Yanna enlists the help of Delta Force Captain, David Curtiss to find and rescue her. Readers who’ve read, In Sheep’s Clothing and Sands of Time will recognize Yanna as the tech expert, and David as the solid Christian of the group. (Read the 5-Rose Review here!)

The book is written from the point of views of the rescuers, not the victims, and offers hope and empowerment, instead of feelings of helplessness. It raises awareness without lowering the standards of Christian fiction.
However, the world is real, and the need to get involved is great. I so greatly admire people who take their beliefs and put action to them –hence why a portion of the proceeds of Wiser than Serpents is going to help the International Justice Mission, (www.ijm.org), an organization dedicated to rescuing victims and fighting the scourge of slavery.

Contest Info! Susan will be giving away 3 SIGNED sets of the Mission: Russia (In Sheep’s Clothing, Sands of Time, and Wiser Than Serpents) series. To enter the contest: click on over to Susan’s blog tour post here and tell us which ministries/charities you support and why. Susan will randomly select three winners.
To visit other blogs involved with Susan's book tour go here

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Do Writer’s Need to Copyright Their Writing?

“Only one thing is impossible for God: to find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.”—Mark Twain

I’m often asked, “Should I copyright my writing? How do I do it?”

You own the copyright to your original writing. Besides securing peace of mind, registering your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office entitles you to monetary damages in cases of infringement.

Some authors wait until their work is contracted for publication. Usually a book publisher applies for the copyright. Ask for the copyright to be in your name, not the publisher's name. If your book goes out of print, then you don’t have to go through the hassle of transferring the copyright back to you.

There are exceptions to owning your writing. These include:
* Writing as an employee
* Creating works made for hire.
* Selling or transferring the copyright.

Understanding Copyrights
Filling out a copyright form is pretty straightforward. However, before registering your intellectual property with the U.S. Copyright Office, visit these two sites to brush up on the ins and outs of obtaining a copyright.

FindLaw provides articles regarding copyright ownership, the rights of copyright owners, how to put a copyright notice on your creation, when copying is okay—the fair use rule, how trademarks differ from patents and copyrights, and the top ten reasons you should claim and register your copyright.

Nolo supplies information regarding how to get maximum protection from the federal copyright laws, and frequently asked questions that explain what a copyright is and what exactly it protects.

The United States Copyright Office is the original everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-copyrights-but-were-afraid-to-ask source. It states current fees, details regarding registering literary works, visual arts, performing arts, sound recordings, and serials/periodicals, and transferring copyright ownership. You can obtain copyright forms here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Writers' Contest: Clarity of Night

Jason Evans will be hosting his 9th Clarity of Night short fiction contest. Here's a brief glimpse at what's involved:

  • A picture prompt--a photograph by Jason
  • Cash prizes (Amazon gift certificates)
  • Lots of fun and community spirit

Check in with Clarity of Night this Wednesday for complete details.

**Anna J won the copy of Act Two. Contact me with your snail mail addy and I'll drop it in the mail to you. And thanks for the pig story!**

Monday, July 7, 2008

Tools You Can Use: Rhyming Dictionaries

“It is neither rhyme nor reason.” —A Proverb

No Rhyme, No Reason

Rhyming, the pattern of words containing similar sounds, aids memory. I wondered if I could find some words that rhyme to make a memorable point. When inspiration turned into perspiration, I decided to find help online.

Rhyming Dictionary and Thesaurus
The Rhyme Generator
Online Rhyming Dictionary for Poetry and Songwriting

Neither rhyme, reason nor a rhyming generator found the turn of phrase I so desired. Alas, I could find no rhyme for my reason.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Fourth of July!

Scoti and I wish you you a happy Fourth of July!
And we thank our men and women in the military--and their families--for their service to our country.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

What Do You Call a Group of Critters?

Confused about how to describe a bunch of animals? Is it a swarm, herd, troop, bevy, or flock? www.askoxford.com has a comprehensive list of collective terms for animals. Some are familiar. Others are unheard of, archaic or erroneous. It also includes terms for pairs of animals and groups of three animals.

You’ve probably heard of a pride of lions. What about a bale of turtles, a charm of goldfinches, a drift of swine, a gam of whales, a mob of kangaroos, a parliament of owls, a murder of crows, or a crash of rhinos? To find collective nouns for animals, click on the links below.


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Build Your Author Platform: Wildfire Marketing

If you've traveled the writing road for any amount of time, you've heard this maxim: If you're an author, you need a platform.
Meaning: You need to be writing about something that attracts an audience.
The question is: How do you build an author platform?
Rob Eagar has the answer--or rather answers--to that most important question. Rob is the founder of WildFire Marketing. He helps authors, speakers, and publishers spread their message and sell more books through innovative marketing strategies.
For the past three weeks, Rob's been working with me as part of the six month Wildfire Marketing Mentoring Program. Let me tell you, Rob knows his stuff. Every week during our one hour phone call, I'm typing madly taking lots and lots and lots of notes. And every week I tell Rob, "You know your stuff."
He laughs.
But he knows I mean it.
I've learned more about marketing and building my author platform in three weeks than I've learned in all the books or articles I've ever read on marketing. And, even more important, I'm believing I can do this--with Rob's guidance.

Rob's just launched an updated Web site--and he's celebrating by giving away a portable GPS navigation system.

Here's how to win the prize: Visit the new WildFire Marketing home page at: www.StartaWildFire.com and signup to receive the free email newsletter. Register today, because the winner of the GPS navigator will be selected on Tuesday, July 22nd.

Plus, everyone who signs up will also receive an exclusive article by Rob Eagar called: "Marketing Mistakes Authors & Speakers Make."

While you're at the new website, be sure to check out these cool features:
Over 15 articles to improve your book marketing and speaking skills.
Author success stories and client testimonials.
Helpful links and resources for authors and speakers.
Descriptions about new services.
Updated blog with useful posts from Rob Eagar.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Write Tight: One Secret of Impressive Writing

“Any one who wishes to become a good writer should endeavor, before he allows himself to be tempted by the more showy qualities, to be direct, simple, brief, vigorous, and lucid.”—H. W. Fowler

How to Write in Plain English
Long words can be difficult to read, spell or understand. Don’t use long words when short substitutes will do. Several simple words may be clearer than a single long word. Write words your readers are likely to understand. Replace unusual words or phrases with plainer alternatives.

Practical Vocabulary Rules
In the first chapter of The King’s English, British lexicographer H.W. Fowler wrote:

Prefer the familiar word to the far-fetched.
Prefer the concrete word to the abstract.
Prefer the single word to the circumlocution.
Prefer the short word to the long.
Prefer the Saxon word to the Romance (languages descended from Latin).

Omit Needless Words
This subtitle sums up what William Strunk wrote in the first edition of The Elements of Style: “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”

Longest Words in the Dictionary
For those who struggle to read, writing with long words may seem as difficult to read and understand, as the longest words in the dictionary are to pronounce and define.

otorhinolaryngological (22 letters)
immunoelectrophoretically (25 letters)
psychophysicotherapeutics (25 letters)
thyroparathyroidectomized (25 letters)
pneumoencephalographically (26 letters)
radioimmunoelectrophoresis (26 letters)
psychoneuroendocrinological (27 letters)
hepaticocholangiogastrostomy (28 letters)
spectrophotofluorometrically (28 letters)
antidisestablishmentarianism (28 letters)
floccinaucinihilipilification (29 letters)
pseudopseudohypoparathyroidism (30 letters).
metaphysico-theologo-cosmonigology (34 letters)
praetertranssubstantiationalistically (37 letters)
osteosarchaematosplanchnochondroneuromuelous (44 letters)
pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (45 letters)
aequeosalinocalcalinoceraceoaluminosocupreovitriolic (52 letters)
osseocarnisanguineoviscericartilaginonervomedullary (51 letters). Rough translation? As 'of bone, flesh, blood, organs, gristle, nerve, and marrow'.

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