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From the President
Welcome to all the new members and subscribers who have discovered SPAWN this month!
The other day, we had a huge wind storm, which caused a 20-hour power outage for me and a major leaf exodus for the trees. After dealing with an absurd amount of activities this fall, I’m looking forward to some more writing time this winter.
Although I don’t think I’ll participate in NaNoWriMo officially, I do plan return to the next novel in my series. My grand plans of getting started in October didn’t happen when our Web server became flaky, necessitating a mass migration and consolidation of our Web sites. Thankfully I think that project is almost finished, so I can finally focus on my book again.
For those of you who are participating in NaNoWriMo, write on! May you meet all your writing goals 😉
This month, we have a review of another of Karen Weisner’s books: how to write a series. With the information in the last two newsletters about how to make fiction writing easier (in honor of NaNoWriMo this month), this is the ideal follow-up. A series makes a bigger impression on a publisher than a stand-alone book. So start typing!
We’re also talking about pen names: who needs one (or more than one?), how to promote when you’re a split personality, the pros and cons of it all. This idea came from a discussion with fellow St. Louis writer, Cindy Fehmel. A movie trailer for her screenplay, The Doctor is Out, can be seen at http://vimeo.com/69041135. It’s very well done and funny; take a look. If you’d like to see an issue of the SPAWNews devoted to screenplays, drop me an e-mail. I’ll be working on the 2014 editorial calendar and as always, suggestions are not only welcome but needed.
I have several pen names. Magazines don’t like to have multiple articles by the same writer in an issue. They don’t want to use the same writer in every issue, either. On the other hand, they do want to have a writer who knows the style and the reader, is reliable enough to turn in copy on time and warn if there’s a problem, can do a quick turn-around in an emergency, and let’s face it—we all like to work with someone we know. As Sandra Murphy, I write fiction short stories and non-fiction articles about pets, exercise, and quirky topics, and act as hunter/gatherer of articles for SPAWNews each month. As Avery Mack, I write about environmentally friendly topics—from teaching green practices in school to eating out while eating green. I have two back-up pen names waiting in the wings, just in case.
What’s your name?
— Sandy, Editor, SPAWNews, email@example.com
LA Times Festival of Books
Date: April 12-13, 2014.
Place: University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California.
The majority of the SPAWN board voted to participate in the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books again next year—it’s the Festival’s 18th year. SPAWN has participated every year but one.
We’ll start taking reservations in December from members who want to sell their books from the SPAWN booth. Learn more about the festival here: http://events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks.
Read about SPAWN’s 2013 participation in the festival in the January, February, and March 2013 issues of SPAWNews at www.spawn.org. Click on “blog” and then on the hyperlink SPAWNews. The details for 2014 participation will not change much, if at all, from 2013. Let me know if you are interested in selling or displaying your books in the booth. As always, it’s first-come, first-served.
Do we sell many books at the festival? Some members do not. Others sell boxes of books. Almost everyone makes valuable contacts that lead to future sales (gigs on radio talk shows, invitations to do book signings or presentations, educators who get their children’s books into schools, publishers for the next project, distributors for specific types of books, and more.) One member connected with someone who filmed a documentary based on his military book. The documentary still plays on the Military Channel.
The festival attracts an estimated 140,000 people. I can tell you from experience that the SPAWN booth attracts a lot more people than an author or group of authors sharing a booth of their own.
Contact me if you are interested. Be sure to read the upcoming December issue of SPAWNews for the details and sign-up instructions.
Patricia Fry, Executive Director SPAWN (firstname.lastname@example.org)
SPAWN Market Update
by Patricia Fry
The November issue of the SPAWN Market Update is bursting with resources and opportunities for every writer and author. You’ll find dozens of outlets for your articles and stories, five brand-new publishers seeking good manuscripts, two sites to help authors publish, ten unexpected opportunities for promoting books, and a directory of around 350 book reviewers. If, after studying this issue of the SPAWN Market Update, you can’t land numerous reviews, get your fiction published, and discover new ways to promote your book, you aren’t even trying. Be sure to take a look at the plethora of resources and opportunities in our Market Update archives, as well. (http://www.spawn.org) Members can use their username and password to access the SPAWN Market Update.
To join SPAWN and receive all of the benefits go to www.spawn.org and click on Join/Renew.
Ask the Book Doctor:
Ask the Book Doctor: About Indents, Undefined Pronouns, and Heading Formats
By Bobbie Christmas
Q: When you explain standard manuscript format, you say, “Every paragraph is indented, not using the tab key, but by using the First-Line Indent function on the ruler in Microsoft Word.” Where is this MS Word function, and how does it work?
A: I wish I understood the technology clearly so I could explain it in better words, but I will do my best. Although you can set indents several ways, the easiest is this way: at the top of the word-processing area in Word is a Ruler. At the left end of the ruler are two triangles that point at each other. If, when you open a new document, you put your cursor on only the top triangle and slide it over five spaces, it sets an automatic indent, so that every time you hit the Return key to begin a new paragraph, the new paragraph automatically indents five spaces. If your manuscript is already created, then first Select All (Control + A) and then slide the top triangle over five spaces. If you have already used the Tab key or spacebar to create indents, you must delete them, or the indents will be deeper than they should be. If the ruler is not visible, go to View, then click in the Ruler checkbox.
Q: What are the rules for undefined pronouns in self-help writings?
A: Rather than thinking of rules, think of the following advice as a guideline.
First, an undefined pronoun is exactly what it sounds like: a pronoun, often “their” or “it,” that does not refer to a noun. Examples: There are three things to avoid when looking for a job. It was a dark and stormy night. There were two people waiting in the wings. It was midnight when we left.
Strong writers avoid using undefined pronouns, but few of us can avoid them entirely. Nonfiction books, such as self-help books, may have more undefined pronouns than fiction, because avoiding them sometimes makes a sentence complicated or awkward.
The problems with undefined pronouns are threefold. One: they rely on weak nouns (forms of “to be”). Two: they sometimes lead to unclear or mistaken communication. Three: they often become repetitious. Notice that nothing says undefined pronouns are bad grammar, only that strong writers avoid using them, when possible.
In the first draft of a book go ahead and write any way you wish, but when working on the later drafts, look for undefined pronouns and consider ways to recast sentences.
Instead of “There are three things to avoid when looking for a job,” consider this rewrite: “Job seekers should avoid three things.” Instead of “It was a dark and stormy night,” consider showing, rather than telling, this way: “The sky grew dark, and rain poured down in torrents.” Instead of “There were two people waiting in the wings,” recast this way, perhaps: “Two people waited in the wings.” Instead of this sentence: “It was midnight when we left,” recast this way: “We left at midnight.” Notice that in the recasts, all those sentences look completely different from each other, whereas in their original form with undefined pronouns, they seemed similar in form. Strong writers avoid patterns and unintentional repetition.
I hope this information explains undefined pronouns and why and how to avoid them, but sometimes a sentence begs for one. If within three to five pages we writers have one undefined pronoun, it won’t stick out as much as when we have two or more on a page.
Q: I am experiencing difficulty understanding Chicago Style for headings in book chapters. Most illustrations are for articles.
A: I can understand your confusion, because book chapters in a manuscript usually have one title (always in all caps and centered) and maybe one heading style, to show subsections throughout. If you decide to have a variety of levels and therefore more than one type of heading, the design is up to you, as long as it is clear and consistent.
If you use Word 2010, it offers an easy and obvious list of headings to choose from, too.
Here’s a tip: when The Chicago Manual of Style does not address a specific issue, it usually means that a dictionary could resolve the issue or, as it is in the case of headings, it is an issue left up to the author to decide.
To read more questions and answers, order the book Ask the Book Doctor: How to Beat the Competition and Sell Your Writing at http://zebraeditor.com/book_ask_the_book_doctor.shtml. Bobbie Christmas, book editor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more "Ask the Book Doctor" questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com.
by Patricia Fry
Writing the Fiction Series: The Complete Guide for Novels and Novellas
by Karen S. Wiesner
Writer’s Digest Books (2013) 978-1-59963-690-0 Paperback, 345 pages ($19.95)
I introduced Karen Wiesner in August (2013) when we reviewed her book From First Draft to Finished Novel in SPAWNews. I committed an unforgivable sin in so doing. I relied on the author information published in the book and it was outdated. Here’s what Karen told me recently. She has just published her 101st book and she has won or has been nominated for 126 awards in the last 15 years. What writer of fiction wouldn’t be interested in reading what this professional has to say on the subject?
As the author says, “Writers and readers have caught series fever.” Most fiction authors I know are writing series. Publishers are interested in authors who have more than one excellent book in them. Wiesner says there are some things you should consider before launching out in that direction. For example, you need to have a strong focus for your series and strong, recognizable characters. You must be consistent throughout the series. You need to know how to effectively market a series of books.
As every writer of fiction knows, keeping track of the details in your story can be difficult. Multiply that by three or more stories, and an author could become very confused. Wiesner provides downloadable worksheets to help you sort out the details of your stories and keep them straight. I found her section on story arcs versus series arcs fascinating and useful. I’ll definitely use her ideas, and in fact this entire book, as I create the third book in my fiction series. If you’re contemplating a series, I recommend that you reference her book, as well. Not only does Wiesner draw from her own knowledge and experiences, but she has invited other successful authors to provide tips and share their techniques. Included are Marilyn Meredith, Carl Brookins, Rowena Cherry, Joanne Hall, and others.
Wiesner also devotes several pages in this book to case studies that any thinking novelist will appreciate. If you have a series in mind or in the works, you really should take a close look at this book.
Bonus Book Review
Freelance Survival, Keys to Thrive and Prosper
A free compilation of interviews on freelance writing, featuring eleven contributors.
Dana K. Cassell (Editor) Order your copy here: http://danasuggests.info/survival.
Dana Cassell is the editor of Freelance Writer’s Report. (http://www.writers-editors.com) Herein, she has published questions pertinent to freelance writers and responses from professionals in the field. Cassell has included writers who are not only surviving, but are prospering: Kelly James-Enger (full-time freelance writer and author for 16 years), Roberta Sandler (travel writer), David Geer (technology-content writer), Jacquelyn Lynn (business writer and ghostwriter), Mark Battersby (financial and tax writer), Debra Wood (health writer) and others. Cassell asks such questions as: “What steps can a freelancer take to survive today?” “What if the writer is timid about cold-calling businesses for work?” “What does the future look like for freelance writers/editors?”
Here are just a few of the key responses from the professional contributors:
Debra Wood suggests: “Find a niche and become very, very knowledgeable about it.” She also says that the future looks bright for freelance writers, as “the world craves more information, not less.” Jacquelyn Lynn agrees and says, “there are more opportunities than ever for good freelance writers.”
David Geer recommends that freelancers “look (for work) outside traditional magazine markets.”
Ashley Cisneros (freelance writer in Florida) believes that “the key to success in freelancing is definitely networking.”
Reviewer’s note: Where to network? SPAWN members will find a plethora of resources, opportunities, and information for freelance writers in the monthly SPAWN Market Update, posted in the member area of the SPAWN website. (http://www.spawn.org) Use your member ID and password.
Canada’s Celebrity Cat
by Barbara Florio Graham
In 1981, after my cat Simon Teakettle was mentioned on several CBC radio network programs (almost every week), was asked to review a book on cats for the Ottawa Citizen, and posed for a calendar, I realized it might be wise to name my company after him.
I had already run into problems with acquaintances forgetting my name. Both Barbara and Graham are so forgettable that people would sometimes come up to me and think my first name was Margaret or my last name was Grant. As for Florio, it was often misspelled as Floria or Florida.
So I registered the name Simon Teakettle Ink for my company, and never looked back.
Simon is now in his third incarnation. Simon Teakettle III (Terzo) is no longer heard on the radio, but he and his predecessors wrote a column for our local paper, wrote several back-page humor articles for CATS Magazine, co-authored an award-winning book with me, and has been quoted in so many books and articles that his list of credits is almost as long as mine.
I don’t have to worry about anyone finding me or my website. Put my name into a search engine and SimonTeakettle.com comes up.
The initial advantage of writing under Simon’s name was that it allowed me to write humor without diluting my byline as a serious journalist. It was also fun to write in a different voice, and to take a satirical look at human foibles.
Terzo now has a popular blog (on the website we share), and a huge, growing fan club, with 165 cats, 78 dogs, three parrots, a ferret, four alpacas, a llama, a horse, two rabbits, two beta fish, four hens, a parakeet, a robin, two ducks, a pig, a goat, a koala, and two kangaroos, from 14 countries on five continents!
Barbara (Bobbi) Florio Graham is an author and publishing consultant, whose website contains a great deal of free information about writing, publishing, and cats! (http://SimonTeakettle.com)
Should You Use a Pseudonym?
by Moira Allen
As a writer, you naturally want to make a name for yourself. But what if that name isn’t the one you were born with? Writing under pseudonyms or pen names is a fine and honored tradition; many of the greatest names in literature were invented, and many of today’s best-selling authors use pseudonyms as well. Should you?
The answer may depend on why you wish to do so. As with any writing decision, there are good reasons and bad reasons to use a pen name. Let’s start with some of the bad reasons.
“I’d like something more exotic.” This often involves an assumption that editors (or readers) will be more impressed by a more interesting name. They won’t be. Let your writing impress them, and soon your name will be considered impressive in its own right.
“I’d like a name that reflects my inner self.” This depends on who your inner self happens to be. While a name like Merlin Firecat or Lady Starshine may reflect something deep within you, it is likely to convey an impression of amateurism to an editor. If you want a pseudonym, keep it professional.
“I don’t want anyone to know that I’m the author.” Most editors have little tolerance for writers who want to hide behind a false name. If you’re presenting a controversial opinion, you should be willing to defend it. If you’re writing in a genre you fear others won’t respect, keep in mind that this is their problem, not yours. And finally, if you’re writing material that you feel ashamed of, it’s probably better to change the material than to change your name.
“I don’t want my relatives/friends/co-workers to know that I’m writing about them.” A pseudonym won’t protect you from the legal repercussions of writing about other people; e.g., from charges of slander or libel. Rather than disguise your own identity, it would be wiser to thoroughly disguise the identity of your subjects, so they won’t think you are writing about them in the first place.
“No one will respect me because I’m a _____ (fill in the blank).” The days of having to write under a male pseudonym simply because you’re a woman are long past. Today, there is no need to call yourself George Sand when Aurore Dupin will do just as well. Nor, theoretically, should you feel it necessary to conceal your race, ethnicity, or culture behind a pseudonym. However, your own experience may be the best determinant in this regard.
There are also a number of very good reasons to use a pseudonym:
Your writing could interfere with other aspects of your career. Sadly, some careers don’t mix well with the writing life. If you’re a well-respected literature teacher by day and a writer of what your colleagues (and supervisors) might consider decidedly non-literary fiction by night, you may have good reason to use a pseudonym. Many writers find a pen name to be an excellent—and necessary—way to separate their writing career from their day job.
You write in more than one genre or field. Writers who have tried to cross genres often find the results disappointing. Agents and publishers also may prefer that a writer use different names for different genres; Dean Koontz, for example, has used several pseudonyms in the past (but no longer does so). Rather than confusing your readership, it may be better to develop separate and distinct followings.
You write in a genre that has expectations about its authors. When was the last time you saw a romance novel by Jake Hammersmith or a hard-core thriller by Felicity Valentine? In certain genres, writers often prefer to conform to reader expectations (or may be required to do so by their publisher).
You have a history of failure. More than one writer has penned a series of flops (or even a single less-than-successful novel), and gone on to write best-sellers under a different name. If an editor or agent is likely to associate your name with a previous failure, it might be wise to try a different moniker. Just don’t try to reissue those flops after your new name becomes successful!
You have the same name as an existing author. If your name is Stephen King, Anne Rice, or J. D. Salinger, your publisher may require you to change it to avoid confusion. Sometimes you can get away with a variation on your name; for example, by writing as S. B. King or A. Gloria Rice.
You are writing a collaborative work. Often, collaborative authors invent a pseudonym to convey the impression that a book was written by a single author. For example, Robert Silverberg and Randall Garrett collaborated under the name Robert Randall.
You are using a publisher’s house name. Some pseudonyms, such as V. C. Andrews, are owned by the publisher. In this case, the pseudonym is generally a trademark. Authors who write under such house names are usually creating works-for-hire (i.e., you won’t be able to claim such a work under your own name at a later time).
You hate your name. Under some circumstances, having a rotten name can be reason enough to use a pseudonym. For example, if your name is Lila Latrine or Barnaby Backhouse, you might want a more literary nom de plume. The same might apply if your name is difficult to pronounce or to spell (and therefore difficult for readers to remember or ask for at the bookstore); for example, Dennis Max Cornelius Woodruffe-Peacock sensibly chose to write as Max Peacock.
You write for competing publications. After reading this article in Inklings, Carolee Boyles points out that another good reason for using a pen name is when writing for competing publications in the same field. “I’m well-known in a very small industry, and the trade magazines in this industry are very competitive. I write for one magazine under my own name. About a year ago, another approached me about writing for them, but because my name was on the masthead of the first magazine, I had to turn them down. They went to my original editor and asked if it would be okay for me to write for them under another name. So I’m Carolee Boyles (myself) at one magazine, Marjorie Sessions at another, and I’m about to become Max MacKenzie at a third. The editors all know what I’m doing, but I don’t mix topics among the magazines, and I keep the names separate. It all works out to everyone’s benefit.”
The Logistics of Pseudonyms
Often, writing under a pseudonym is as easy as putting the phrase “writing as” on your manuscript. For articles, short stories, and poetry, you can simply put your real name in the upper left corner of your manuscript (or on the cover page), and list your pen name as your byline beneath the title. However, to ensure that your editor publishes the work under the correct name, you may want to remind the editor in your cover letter that you are “writing as” your pseudonym.
The U.S. Copyright Office offers several ways to register pseudonymous works. The first, and safest, is to record your legal name under “name of author,” followed by your pseudonym (e.g., “Mary Smith, writing as Marianne Carmichael”). You should also check “yes” to the question: “Was this author’s contribution to the work pseudonymous?” If you don’t wish to reveal your identity, you can either provide your pseudonym only and identify it as such (e.g., “Marianne Carmichael, pseudonym”) or leave the author space blank. You can also use your pseudonym in the “copyright claimant” line, though the Copyright Office warns that using a fictitious name here could raise legal problems regarding ownership of the copyright and suggests that you consult a lawyer first.
Unfortunately, it is no longer easy to keep your real name a secret from your publishers. In the past, one could often use a pseudonym for all editorial correspondence, and simply make an arrangement with one’s bank to have checks deposited under one’s pen name. Now, however, publishers are required to inform the IRS (via Form 1099) of payments made to writers, which means that they must have your social security number and your real name. However, if you are using an agent, you may be able to handle such payments through your agent and not reveal your identity to publishers.
The final thing to keep in mind when using a pseudonym is that it will not protect you from any legal action that might result from your writing. A pseudonym has no existence as a legal entity; no matter what name you put on your work, the ultimate responsibility for that work always rests on you.
Copyright © 2001 Moira Allen. Reprinted with permission.
Moira Allen is the editor of Writing-World.com, and has written nearly 400 articles, serving as a columnist and regular contributor for such publications as The Writer, Entrepreneur, Writer’s Digest, and Byline. An award-winning writer, Allen is the author of eight books, including Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer, The Writer’s Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals, and Writing to Win: The Colossal Guide to Writing Contests. In addition to Writing-World.com, Allen hosts Mostly-Victorian.com, a growing archive of articles from Victorian periodicals, and The Pet Loss Support Page, a resource for grieving pet owners. She lives in Maryland with her husband and the obligatory writer’s cat. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
Patricia Fry has produced the second in her Klepto Cat Mystery series. Catnapped was her first novel, produced in June of this year. Cat-Eye Witness is the latest one, published in early October. Both novels are available at Amazon for Kindle only at this time. Catnapped is here: http://amzn.to/14OCk0W. Order Cat-Eye Witness here: http://amzn.to/1bJiq0x. Bernadette Kazmarski is the cover artist. (www.bernadette-k.com)
Barbara (Bobbi) Florio Graham has put her famous cat to work again on a new project—greeting cards. Pictures of five different real cats—all members of Simon Teakettle’s MEWSical Society—including Simon Teakettle III (Terzo) himself, are now available. Full color, heavy stock, blank inside so you can use them for any occasion, at less than $2 per card. Order full sets from Ottawa Photo http://OttawaPhoto.com or order in quantity, without envelopes, from http://SimonTeakettle.com.
Terzo is also featured in a new perpetual calendar. This type of calendar is common in Europe, to provide a permanent reminder of birthdays, anniversaries, and other special events. The ideal gift, the calendar can be hung on the wall or placed on a desk to remind everyone of important occasions. Featuring Simon Teakettle III (Terzo) in six adorable poses—one for each two-month page—the calendars can be ordered from Ottawa Photo: http://OttawaPhoto.com.
Find Barbara Florio Graham on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Check her website: http://SimonTeakettle.com for lots of free information about publishing (and cats) and for the popular blog by Simon Teakettle III (Terzo), who has a fan club your pet can join.
Doug Snelson’s second children’s book, The Fable of the Snake Named Slim, received a Mom’s Choice Award for Children’s Picture Books-Growing Up/Personal Growth, Ages 5-9. Slim won a second award from the North American Bookdealers Exchange as the Pinnacle Achievement Award winner for Best Book in the Category of Children’s Personal Growth.
Slim is a wobbler who wants to become a wiggler. The Fable of the Snake Named Slim is a tale of courage, individuality, acceptance, and self-worth. The book is written in a rhyming format to support comprehension and reading skills. The book supports core concepts of social awareness, social-emotional learning, interpersonal skills, and character education programs to establish and maintain positive relationships. It also offers a platform for anti-bullying theme discussion.
Sharon Cathcart has published her first collection of short fiction. Brief Interludes is a collection of short stories, an award-nominated novelette, and a novella, all of which have previously been available only in e-book format. Particulars here:
Arlene Uslander reminds readers that books make great holiday gifts, especially for hard-to-buy-for grandparents. Take a look at her website: www.thatswhatgrandparentsarefor.com/ and e-mail her about how to get a personally autographed book. Her six-year-old grandson said, “Grandparents are for loving,” but there are a few other things in the book besides that!
Contests, Events and Opportunities
SPAWN is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. SPAWNews advises “caveat emptor” when dealing with venues, contests or promotions unknown to you. SPAWNews was proofread by Bonnie Myhrum, Professional Secretary, LLC (734-455-0987).
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