Advice Writers Can Bank On

Beth Fowler headshot Beginning writers know that they’ll get bylines without bucks from time to time, free copies of magazines in which their works appear, and a few dollars here and there. No pay and low pay are typical during the apprenticeship phase of writing.

Following the advice of paid writers representing nearly 200 years’ experience can advance your career and compensation to the next phase.

Q: What separates paid, published writers from wanna-bes?

A: Discipline, persistence, hard work and the ability to “get back up on the horse” were common responses from the interviewed writers. Francesca Kelly, Tales from a Small Planet editor (www.talesmag.com), says, “You don’t have to have brilliant talent to be published, but you DO have to have incredible persistence.”

Lucy Clark, prolific medical romance writer for Harlequin Mills & Boon (http://www.eharlequin.com.au), is the personification of persistence. “I received the contract for my first book the same day I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. Life happens! It’s hectic. It’s busy, but if we don’t make time for the things that are important to us, we might have regrets later on. I now have two adorable children who commandeer most of my time. I don’t have time for writers’ block. I don’t have time to waste. My stories have to be planned, the research done, so when I sit down, I can build up word count. There’s no such thing as writer’s block – just lack of planning.”

Q.What rumor about the business of writing turned out to be false?

A. Arlene Uslander, editor of The Simple Touch of Fate (www.uslander.net) which has one of my stories in it, discovered three falsehoods on the road to publication. “Once you have a book published, it’s easier to have the next book published and that when you send out a manuscript, no news is good news. And that having an agent accept your work means you’re going to get published.” Not true. Not true. Not true.

Karen Rose Smith (www.karenrosesmith.com) is a fulltime author with about 40 books to her credit. She sold her first book in 1991. “I thought after I sold the first few books, life would become easier! That’s not necessarily true.  After ten books, I remember being stalled and not selling for about ten months.”

Francesca believed that editors were unapproachable. “They’re usually really nice people who are just overworked.” She should know. She’s an approachable and no doubt overworked editor.

Q. What advice do you wish you’d received (or heeded) sooner?

A. Karen Rose Smith learned to “Write to the market. Study the line you want to write for.”

Studying the magazine she wanted to write for had a lot to do with an editor accepting one of Francesca’s articles. Being published in Redbook was a “sudden breakthrough” for her.

“It’s not enough that you have something to say,” is freelance editor and author Karen Schmitt’s advice. “You have to make yourself understood – connect.”

“Rejection isn’t personal,” counsels Megan Hart, an author whose been paid to write for decades. “They’re not rejecting you, they’re rejecting the work.”

“ ‘To be a successful writer, you must write every day,’ ” recalls editor, Dan Case. “I heard this a lot, but really didn’t believe it. When I read Stephen King’s book, On Writing, and he said ‘write everyday,’ I believed it. (Hey, if the King of all writers says it, it must be true.)”

Q. What would you tell a beginner about writing for pay?

A. Writers’ answers ranged from “Don’t write for pay. Write because you love it,” to “Don’t write for FREE!”

Lynn Wasnak, a freelance writer for 25 years, explains that fulltime freelancers urge beginners not to write for free or too cheaply because it allows editors to lower the going rate. Go to https://www.writersmarket.com/assets/pdf/How_Much_Should_I_Charge.pdf.

As for me, I do the writing because I love it. I donate some works to organizations where I volunteer. Otherwise, I sell my work for dollars.

   ***

Article by Beth Fowler, author of the beloved coming-of-age novel “Ken’s War.”

Visit https://www.facebook.com/kenswar.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQjZBjqFNzs&feature=youtu.be

 ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.

 

 

 

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Tools for Breaking into the Freelance Market

Beth Fowler headshot

If I can do it, you can. Here’s how I’ve broken into the world of getting published & paid.

Freelance writers are not employed on a publication’s staff. Freelancers work on a job-by-job basis and get paid for each project.

Below are writers’ tools and advice from editors to help you open the doors to the freelance market.

 

Contents:

  • Analyzing Magazine and Newspaper “House Style”
  • Submission Guidelines
  • Query Letter    
  • Query Letter Checklist
  • Manuscript Checklist
  • Publishing Business Terms
  • Editors’ Advice for Writers

 Analyzing Magazine and Newspaper “House Style”

 Look at a publication’s table of contents, illustrations and advertisements to determine the targeted readers’:

 

  1. Gender and age range
  2. Marital status
  3. Occupations and income levels
  4. Education levels
  5. Social group
  6. Moral, political, religious outlooks
  7. Main likes and dislikes

Look at several articles in one magazine, or several articles in several issues of the same magazine, to determine:

 

  1. Technique used in most opening paragraphs.
  2. Average number of words per article.
  3. Average number of words per sentence.
  4. Average length of paragraphs.
  5. Vocabulary – informal, academic, slang, jargon, colloquial
  6. Simple or complex sentences.
  7. The extent adjectives and adverbs are used.
  8. The extent of descriptive passages.
  9. Proportion of narrative and quotes.
  10. Proportion of subjective passages (feelings/emotions) and objective passages (facts/data).
  11. Technique used in most concluding paragraphs.
  12. What is the mission of most articles? (educate, entertain, titillate, amuse, persuade, etc.)

****

Submission Guidelines

Always study the submission (or writers’) guidelines before sending a query or article to an editor. Here is an example of guidelines.

THE SATURDAY EVENING POST Guidelines for Submitting Work Writers & Cartoonists

Before submitting work to The Saturday Evening Post, please take the time to read our guidelines for writers

Before sending us a manuscript or query, we hope you will look over past issues of the Post to get an idea of the range and style of articles we publish. You will discover that our main emphasis is health and fitness. Although there are many specialty publications in this field, the Post‘s goal is to remain unique by presenting not only cutting-edge news but by combining this with information of practical use to our readers.

Major freelance contributions in recent years include: “Hats On For Health: A Skin-Cancer Warning from Down Under,” about the advanced skin-cancer-prevention program in Australia, and “Munchausen by Proxy: The Deadly Game,” about a little-understood but prevalent psychological disorder that can be devastating to children.

In addition to health-related articles, the Post buys humor and anecdotes suitable for “Post Scripts,” as well as cartoons, illustrations, and photos. Payment ranges from $15 for Post Scripts to $25-$400 for most feature articles.

Our nonfiction needs include how-to, useful articles on gardening, pet care and training, financial planning, and subjects of interest to a family-oriented readership. For nonfiction articles, indicate any special qualifications you have for writing about the subject, especially for technical or scientific material. Include one or two published clips with your query. We prefer typed manuscripts between 2,500 and 3,000 words in length. We generally buy all rights.

Although we seldom publish new fiction, our readers enjoy upbeat stories that stress traditional relationships and family values. A light, humorous touch is appreciated. We are also always in need of straight humor articles. Make us laugh and we’ll buy it.

We respond quickly to queries, normally within three weeks. If you do send the whole manuscript, either (1) include a sufficiently stamped and sized SASE for its return should we decide not to use it; or (2) indicate you do not want the material returned and include an SASE with appropriate postage for a reply. Please send typed, double-spaced copy. We normally respond to manuscript submissions within six weeks. You are free to submit the article simultaneously elsewhere.

Feature articles average about 2,000 words. We like positive, fresh angles to Post articles, and we ask that they be thoroughly researched.

Please submit all medical/fitness articles to Cory SerVaas M.D.; travel queries and articles to Holly Miller, Travel Editor; fiction to Fiction Editor; and Post Scripts to Steve Pettinga.

1100 Waterway Blvd. Indianapolis, IN 46202 (317) 634-1100

***

Query Letter

 

Note: This emailed query letter was successful. You may use it as model for your projects. Snail mailed queries should include your telephone number, email address and a pre-addressed, stamped return envelope.

Dear Jean Ann Duckworth:

I benefit from reading Simple Joy and was especially happy to see an article by my friend Rekha. I believe that an article about breathing would support Simple Joy’s purpose.

We all breathe, but do we breathe properly?

Once we’re aware of our breathing patterns, we can improve them instantly.ghuū Women who breathe properly report that they feel “calm, poised, energized, a general well-being, centered, alert, relaxed, open” and similar positive sensations.

Does that sound like a miracle? Because God is in every breath, the benefits of proper breathing are miraculous.

I’d like to share what I’ve learned about breathing with Simple Joy readers. This proposed 1500- to 2000-word feature article (one time rights) will:

 

  • Explain physical and emotional hindrances to proper breathing
  • Guide readers through a breath awareness questionnaire
  • Review the breath’s path through the body
  • Include several easy, effective breathing exercises
  • List hobbies and sports that improve one’s breathing as a side benefiProvide surprising facts and additional resources.

I can write the article for the general interest issues or slant it as a December (holidays) stress buster. Earning an instructor’s diploma to teach Qi Gong (or Chi Kung, it’s Chinese for “skill with breath”), speaking to women’s groups on “Better Breathing Means Better Living,” my research on the topic and my firsthand experience in improving my breathing give me the background I need to write credibly and convincingly.Magazines that have published my works dealing with improving the quality of one’s life include, but aren’t limited to Daily Meditations, Evolving Woman, The Phoenix, New Vegetarian and Natural Health (Australia), Woman at Work (Malaysia), and Her Business (New Zealand).

Sincerely,

Beth Fowler

 

 

Query Letter Checklist

__ Return address – your name, address, phone number, fax and email address.

__ Address to proper editor, spell name correctly.

__ One-page letter (two if absolutely necessary) of 3 – 4 paragraphs.

__ Letter is concise, polished, courteous, written in business format, yet “human”.

__ Check spelling and grammar. (Donut really on word processor’s spill chick.)

__ SASE large enough with postage for reply or a contract!

__ Queries – business-size SASE for agent’s or editor’s response.

Manuscript Checklist

__ Follow writers/submission guidelines.

­­__ 12p font, Times New Roman, double spaced on 8 ½ x 11, one side only.

__ Proofread for spelling and grammar. (Due note rely on computer spell Chuck.)

__ Capitalize first letter of first word, and rest of words unless small (to, of, in) in chapt titles.

__ Approx 1 inch margins all around.

__ No italics. Underline instead.

__ No handwritten corrections.

__ Mag/newspaper manuscripts: Top left corner – 1st p single-space name, address, tel, fax, mobile, email. Mr/Miss/Mrs if first name is unisex. Top right corner – word count, rights offered, dept or column if applies. Drop down ½ way. Center title, By and name. Every p thereafter: Top left corners – last name & keyword of title. Top right corners – p number. Follow the submission guidelines if they differ from this.

­­__ Book ms: Title p with title, address, wc. Every p thereafter: Top left corners – last name & keyword of title. Top right corners – p number. New p for new chapt, drop down 1/3 –1/4.

­­__ End at end.

__ No                                                                                                  “widows”.
***

Publishing Business Terms

ADVANCE: $ pub pays author for book under contract, i.e. ½ paid at signing, ½ at delivery of final ms. Author doesn’t receive more $ until proceeds ($ales) exceed amount of advance.

BACKLIST: books from previous seasons still in print.

COMMISSION: advance payment from publisher to author asked (commissioned) to write something

COPYRIGHT: designates ownership of work. Most pubs © in author’s name, so when work goes out of print rights revert to author who may resell ms to another publisher.

COVER LETTER: accompanies solicited ms sent to agent or publisher.

FLAT FEE: “work-for-hire.” Lump sum for work. No royalties.

FRONTLIST: books published in current season and in publisher’s current catalogue.

INSTITUTIONAL SALES: books sold to schools/libraries, roughly 25% of kids lit is bought by libraries.

MASS MARKET: “rack-sized”, paperbacks smaller than trade paperbacks, usually different cover than hardcover edition, and cheaper.

MASS MARKET PUBLISHERS: companies that produce large quantities of paperbacks inexpensively, titles follow trends that fit markets – tie-ins with movies, TV characters and toys. Sell high volume in short time.

NET PRICE: “wholesale price”, $ pub receives from each book sale after discounts given to bookstores/buyers. Some pubs base author’s royalty on net price.

PROPOSAL: document author sends to agent/pub describing proposed book, length, audience, table of contents, chapt outline, first 3 chapts, competing titles, ways to market book, author’s credentials.

QUERY LETTER: letter author writes seeking permission to send ms to agent/pub.

RETAIL PRICE: cover price on book. Most big pubs pay royalties based on cover price.

ROYALTIES: 3-15% of proceeds from the sale of each copy of book.

SASE: self-addressed stamped envelope

SELF PUBLISH: Author pays for publication. Companies offer different levels of service. Authors must do a lot of marketing themselves.

SUBSIDIARY RIGHTS: pub/agent sells book to foreign pubs, mags, movie studios. If pub sells rights, $ split with author (usually 50/50). If agent sells rights, author keeps proceeds minus agent’s commission.

SUBSIDY PUBLISHER: “vanity publisher”, pubs that charge authors $$$$$ to publish ms. Avoid.

TRADE PAPERBACK: bound with heavy paper, usually same size and cover art as hardback, cheaper.

TRIM SIZE: outer dimensions of book.

UNSOLICITED MANUSCRIPTS: ms sent to pubs who didn’t request them. Often rejected, languish in “slush pile”.

***

Editors’ Advice for Writers

 

 

Beginning writers know that they’ll get bylines without bucks from time to time, free copies of magazines in which their works appear, and a few dollars here and there. No pay and low pay are typical during the apprenticeship phase of writing.

 

Following the advice of paid writers representing nearly 200 years’ experience can advance your career and compensation to the next phase.

 

Q: What separates paid, published writers from wanna-bes?

 

A: Discipline, persistence, hard work and the ability to “get back up on the horse” were common responses from the interviewed writers. Francesca Kelly, Tales from a Small Planet editor (www.talesmag.com), says, “You don’t have to have brilliant talent to be published, but you DO have to have incredible persistence.”

 

Lucy Clark, prolific medical romance writer for Harlequin Mills & Boon (http://www.eharlequin.com.au), is the personification of persistence. “I received the contract for my first book the same day I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. Life happens! It’s hectic. It’s busy, but if we don’t make time for the things that are important to us, we might have regrets later on. I now have two adorable children who commandeer most of my time. I don’t have time for writers’ block. I don’t have time to waste. My stories have to be planned, the research done, so when I sit down, I can build up word count. There’s no such thing as writer’s block – just lack of planning.”

 

  1. What rumor about the business of writing turned out to be false?

 

  1. Arlene Uslander, editor of The Simple Touch of Fate (www.uslander.net) which has one of my stories in it, discovered three falsehoods on the road to publication. “Once you have a book published, it’s easier to have the next book published and that when you send out a manuscript, no news is good news. And that having an agent accept your work means you’re going to get published.” Not true. Not true. Not true.

 

Karen Rose Smith (www.karenrosesmith.com) is a fulltime author with about 40 books to her credit. She sold her first book in 1991. “I thought after I sold the first few books, life would become easier! That’s not necessarily true.  After ten books, I remember being stalled and not selling for about ten months.”

 

Francesca believed that editors were unapproachable. “They’re usually really nice people who are just overworked.” She should know. She’s an approachable and no doubt overworked editor.

 

  1. What advice do you wish you’d received (or heeded) sooner?

 

Karen Rose Smith learned to “Write to the market. Study the line you want to write for.”

 

Studying the magazine she wanted to write for had a lot to do with an editor accepting one of Francesca’s articles. Being published in Redbook was a “sudden breakthrough” for her.

 

“It’s not enough that you have something to say,” is freelance editor and author Karen Schmitt’s advice. “You have to make yourself understood – connect.”

 

“Rejection isn’t personal,” counsels Megan Hart, an author whose been paid to write for decades. “They’re not rejecting you, they’re rejecting the work.”

 

“ ‘To be a successful writer, you must write every day,’ ” recalls editor, Dan Case. “I heard this a lot, but really didn’t believe it. When I read Stephen King’s book, On Writing, and he said ‘write every day,’ I believed it. (Hey, if the King of all writers says it, it must be true.)”

 

  1. What would you tell a beginner about writing for pay?

 

  1. Writers’ answers ranged from “Don’t write for pay. Write because you love it,” to “Don’t write for FREE!”

 

Lynn Wasnak, a freelance writer for 25 years, explains that fulltime freelancers urge beginners not to write for free or too cheaply because it allows editors to lower the going rate. Go to https://www.writersmarket.com/assets/pdf/How_Much_Should_I_Charge.pdf.

 

As for me, I do the writing because I love it. I donate some works to organizations where I volunteer. Otherwise, I sell my work for dollars.

 

And so can you!

 

***

By Beth Fowler, author of the beloved coming-of-age novel “Ken’s War.”

Visit https://www.facebook.com/kenswar.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQjZBjqFNzs&feature=youtu.be

 ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.

 

 

 

How to Get a “YES” to Your Query Letter

Beth Fowler headshot Before sending query letters to hardcopy and online publications, use the Analyzing Magazine and Newspaper “House Style” guide to raise your odds of getting eager, favorable replies from editors.

 

Look at a publication’s table of contents, illustrations and advertisements to determine the targeted readers’:

 

 

  1. Gender and age range
  2. Marital status
  3. Occupations and income levels
  4. Education levels
  5. Social group
  6. Moral, political, religious outlooks
  7. Main likes and dislikes

 

Scan several articles in one magazine, or several articles in several issues of the same magazine, to determine:

 

  1. Technique used in most opening paragraphs.
  2. Average number of words per article.
  3. Average number of words per sentence.
  4. Average length of paragraphs.
  5. Vocabulary – informal, academic, slang, jargon, colloquial
  6. Simple or complex sentences.
  7. The extent adjectives and adverbs are used.
  8. The extent of descriptive passages.
  9. Proportion of narrative and quotes.
  10. Proportion of subjective passages (feelings/emotions) and objective passages (facts/data).
  11. Technique used in most concluding paragraphs.
  12. What is the mission of most articles? (educate, entertain, titillate, amuse, persuade, etc.)

***

Article by Beth Fowler, author of the beloved coming-of-age novel “Ken’s War.”

Visit https://www.facebook.com/kenswar.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQjZBjqFNzs&feature=youtu.be

 ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.

 

 

 

Tips for Writers Working at Home, But Not Alone: Part 2

Interruptions!

Interruptions!

 

 

 

Blog readers sent heartfelt comments about Tips for Writers Working at Home, But Not Alone: Part 1….it seems carving out writing time is a challenge, especially during the summer and for  writers who have kids, spouses, houses and a life.

  1. Write to write. Beginning writers spend more money than they earn from writing. This economic fact can be a source of guilt. Comments like, “You spent how much for ‘Writer’s Marketplace’?” weigh heavily. Invite your family to discuss their feelings. Does your writing really strain the budget, or is something else bugging your family? Meanwhile, keep writing.
  2. Write about it. Writers experience heavy demands on their time and emotions from family members. In an ideal world you might be spared this, but if you were, would you have as much to write about? Every experience is an idea for writing.
  3. Be honest. Some writers use outside circumstances as excuses to not write. This is dishonest. Putting the burden on others with comments like, “You trim the hedge so I can write,” is unfair. Hedges need trimmed, regardless. Say, “It’s your turn to trim the hedge,” and then go write. (You did trim the hedge last time, didn’t you?)
  4. Streamline and economize. Writing takes time and money, so I’ve streamlined and economized. I moved to a smaller house near two libraries and sometimes serve stir-fried rice instead of complicated meals. I swap magazines with writers’ circle members and buy used books.
  5. Search for nuggets. Angela Raeburn, a beginning freelancer, has two sons, a part-time job and a home to run. “I search for nuggets of time for my writing in between the school run, play group duty, taking the dog to the vet and delivering hubby’s suits to the cleaners,” Angela said. She added that she doesn’t feel guilty when ironing piles up because “I get paid for writing, I don’t get paid for housework.”
  6. Manage time. Susan Wilson, another freelancer, shared her time management technique. “Time mismanagement can be turned into positive control by actively noting daily what you do, when you do it and how long it takes over a period, say two weeks. Draw up a chart showing the chunks of time and concentrate the activity into that time.” Susan is partially paralyzed, but her determination takes her from England to Asia gathering ideas and material for writing.
  7. Divide and write. Horror writer Mark Morris shares domestic chores with his wife Nel, an artist who also works from home. “I work in the mornings and look after our one-year-old son in the afternoons, and Nel does it the other way around.” While one parent bathes and beds their son, the other cooks supper. Evenings and weekends are free for relaxing and socializing.

Making adjustments and finding solutions to meet each other’s needs—that’s what living and working together is all about.

“They lived happily ever after” is not a trite story ending. It’s the beginning of your story.

 

ken's war coverWhen teen rebellion & culture shock collide. Shop here: Ken’s War

Ken’s War is vibrant with authority … Fowler’s elegantly written novel risks exploring the full range of teenage behavior and emotion.” Nancy Springer, award- winning author of YA books.

 

 

 

TURNING BACK TIME by Tara Fox Hall

The struggle for enough time in any standard day of a successful, proven author is a given. Yet it pales in comparison to the frenzy of a new, yet-to-be proven author. There is advertizing, promotion, reviews, deadlines, book covers, links, blog posts, and a million other details that need to be at your fingertips with a few clicks. You’d need a Time Turner from the Harry Potter Books to get it all done. But Time Turners that really work seem to be in short supply. So how does a struggling author handle the stress?

Answer: get very, very organized.

First off, you’ll need to make friends with spreadsheets, either Excel or another type. Spreadsheets are not just for accountants; they are very a useful, necessary tool you will need to keep track of a minimum of things, such as the publishers and agents where you have submitted your book. If you’re past that stage, and have been published, you’ll still need spreadsheets to successfully promote your work, which is expected of all authors, both famous and not-so-famous. Even if you’ve published only one book, and you’re not sure if there will be a next one, this is important to do. If you plan on being a writer, there will be other books in your future at some point. Copying an existing spreadsheet of places to submit, complete with emails and feedback from your last round of submissions, is much easier than sorting through a ton of emails in your sent box to compile a fresh list of possible places to submit. If you have more than one book a year coming out, you’ll need to have multiple tabs on the spreadsheet, one for each book.

If you are asking for book reviews, you’ll have to keep track of who you asked, what they said, when this happened, and whether or not the book actually got reviewed. Trust me, this is very useful, especially when you last send out requests six months ago, and are wondering if you should bother submitting a new book to a review site that sounds familiar. You’ll want to know if they reviewed your last book, or never replied to a query you spent an hour or two crafting.

All promotiom—whether ads, blogging, interviews, or giveaways—also need to be tracked, the last just so that you don’t miss sending out a prize to a winner on time. Nothing alienates a fan like a coveted prize that never materializes. Have a file for all your frequently used files, such as book covers, so when one is needed quickly, you don’t have to try to pull it off the internet, or look through email. Customize your organization as needed when you discover what works best for you and what needs more organization.

At first, this will seem daunting. But when you’re rushed to finish a blog, hours from your deadline with your publisher, and you get that emergency email asking some random bit of information, like the word count of your second book, you’ll have it at your fingertips. Sometimes something small makes the difference between publishing and not publishing. Being organized will give you more time to write. And it’s far more reliable than trying to mystically turn back time.

Blurb: Grieving Krys Markman has come to lose herself in family memories at Letchworth State Park, and try to figure out her next step. Yet the unearthly beautiful music she hears each night stirs her soul to romance. Can its creator, the attractive vampire David Helm, heal her broken heart?

 

Excerpt: Krys sipped her wine flight, while looking around at her setting, marveling that so much was still the same, and still so beautiful. She’d been in these same surroundings so many times, yet they were still magical to her, even as their familiarity soothed her…

“Will you want dinner?” her waiter asked delicately. “Or would you like to try one of the wines you sampled?”

Where had the time gone? Krys had finished all three samples already. While another flight and more reminiscing sounded wonderful, it was better not to tempt fate, not when she had a hell of a climb in the dark to reach her rented house. “Yes.” She chose an entrée at random from the menu, then one of the wines she’d sampled.

As the waiter walked away, Krys noticed a tall man sitting by himself off in the corner. He was writing something by the light of the table candle. What was compelling was he was doing it in longhand in a small paper book instead of via electronic device. The act was so uncommon that she stared at him. Within a few seconds, the man raised his eyes and caught her staring, his dark eyes meeting hers. Krys immediately looked down, flushing. By the time she gathered enough courage to look up again, the man was gone, his seat empty.

The waiter came back, her wine on a tray. “We’re all out of the salmon, Ma’am,” he said apologetically. “Would you like to choose something else?”

The only craving Krys had was to find out who that handsome man had been. Food could wait. “There was a man sitting out here. Do you know who he was?”

The waiter shifted uneasily. “We’re not allowed to give out information on guests, Ma’am. Sorry.”

“So he is staying here?” Krys said hopefully. “Will he be here a few more days?”

The waited leaned down slightly, his expression secretive. “Aren’t you staying for a few days in Caroline’s Cottage?”

“Yes,” she answered conspiratorially.

“Then I’d advise you to get to know your neighbor during your stay,” the waiter said meaningfully.

Krys looked at him in puzzlement. “What?”

The waiter straightened, then set down her glass of wine. “Will you have another entrée, Ma’am?”

Comprehension dawned. “No,” Krys said, hastily grabbing her purse. “Put my drinks on my bill.”

 

 

Buy Links:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/445178

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Night-Music-Tara-Fox-Hall-ebook/dp/B00KRTHDVS

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Night-Music-Tara-Fox-Hall-ebook/dp/B00KRTHDVS

Melange Books: http://www.satinromance.com/authors/tarafoxhall/nightmusic.html

 

Author Links:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/TaraFH

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/tara-fox-hall

Melange Books: http://www.melange-books.com/authors/tarafoxhall/index.html

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5286654.Tara_Fox_Hall

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Tara-Fox-Hall/e/B005YPAA4W/

Website: www.tarafoxhall.com

Email: tarafoxhallATgmail.com

 

Blog: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5286654.Tara_Fox_Hall/blog

 

Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tara-Fox-Hall/151813374904903

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/TerrorFoxHall

NightMusic

Fantasy Well-Crafted for Middle-Grade Readers

Co-authors Anne Rothman-Hicks and Kenneth Hicks launch into “Things Are Not What They Seem” without wasting time on background and descriptive junk readers of any age group dislike.The authors masterfully set the fantasy in present-day New York City, featuring regular, relatable kids.

 

This middle-grade fantasy adventure starts with, “When the pigeon first spoke to Jennifer that morning in the playground, she responded by pretending to examine something absolutely fascinating at the top of a nearby tree.” The pigeon speaks in precise British English, which adds humor to the situation, at least for my inner tween who found something grin-worthy on nearly every page.

 

Jennifer, who’s almost 13, is smart but not smart-alecky. She has a sense of humor, but never makes others the butt of her wit. She can be sarcastic, yet possesses a strong sense of right and wrong, compassion and a well-developed altruism. Like girls her age, she’s concerned about her appearance and what peers think of her. Being trustworthy is important to the tween. She’s a likeable and engaging protagonist. Her brother, James, provides some of the comic relief, often while bantering with the pigeon. Then there’s Sleepy, the sidekick with allergies. And of course, there are bad guys.

 

(Sometimes young characters use phrases – “come down on them like a ton of bricks,” – that I have trouble picturing anyone other than adults saying.) Chapter ends are written with page-turning finesse. The story keeps adults in their place, that is, the kids shine in the limelight. They face challenges, push the plot arc to the climax and back down to the satisfying and appropriate end.

 

Jennifer learns that the pigeon is actually a man named Arthur Whitehair, a 19th-century Englishman who’d been turned into a pigeon that will live forever by misreading an ancient spell meant to give him eternal life as a human. Likewise, an devious colleague of his, Malman, had been turned into a hawk by Whitehair’s mis-incantation. Jennifer, et al search for the manuscript of the spell so they can reverse it, turning Whitehair the pigeon back into a man.

 

Without becoming pedantic, the authors weave in Shakespearean quotes and Latin phrases, and there’s a nod to the Harry Potter stories, too. One senses a depth of history and tradition, without the burden of boredom.

 

Some scenes are reminiscent of classic Disney antics. Others remind us that the stakes are high. What young fantasy reader doesn’t love sentences like this one spoken by the aptly named Malman? “Mind me! I’ll rip out your throats and peck the eyeballs from your heads—dainty morsels that they are. Even your mothers won’t recognize you.”

 

With more than 63,000 words, “Things Are Not What They Seem” is longer than typical middle-grade books. Even though every scene has its purpose, I wonder if some could have been written more economically.

 

Things Are Not What They Seem unobtrusively incorporates important values, while never losing sight of the plot and always maintaining readers’ trust and interest. It’s a well-crafted fantasy for younger readers and their adult cohort.

Review by the author of Ken’s War.

 

 

 

 

How to Impress Editors & Get Published: Part 1

By Beth Fowler

Editors acquire, improve and publish manuscripts. Although I had only 50 manuscripts to work on during my two-week stint as an editor, I developed sympathy for editors who’d rejected my work in the past. (Contact me for your free copy of Travelers’ Tales, the anthology I edited.)

While wielding the red pen, I learned how to make the best impression on editors. Here’s the scoop.

FOLLOW GUIDELINES (Yes, that again!)

When H.L. Mencken received a batch of Thomas Wolfe’s short stories, the critic yelled, “Take them out! They’re not even sanitary.” The future novelist had submitted dog-eared, greasy manuscripts.

That anecdote reminds us that good writing alone didn’t guarantee publication in the past, and it doesn’t now. During my stretch in the editor’s chair, otherwise talented authors submitted handwritten manuscripts without contact information, without margins, with pages secured by pins and with word counts too high by half. Standards for capitalization, spacing and punctuation fell by the wayside.

In addition to word count and format, guidelines provide other information if read closely. A magazine’s articles that are “highly referenced” means writers better quote big cheeses, if they want to see their bylines in this mag.

Deviations from guidelines sabotage or even kill your chance for publication and leave a sour taste in editors’ mouths. The editors at one large publishing house say, “We’re linear. Very linear.” Translation: If your submission doesn’t follow their guidelines, they’ll reject it.

Guidelines are provided so incoming manuscript formats and conventions are standardized, allowing editors to do their real job, discover and publish writers’ work.

CRAWL INTO THEIR HEADS

Paul McCarthy, author of Editing and the Ideal Editor, believes “It’s only by understanding totally your editor’s thinking that you make the best creative decisions about your manuscript.”

Understanding an editor’s thinking isn’t difficult if writers remember that an editor’s greatest dream is to publish crucial information and riveting entertainment that readers need and want. And then readers crave more! Editors need writers to turn the dream into reality.

Crawl into editorial heads by “reading the writer’s guidelines and back issues of the publication,” longtime e-zine editor Dan Case said. Scrutinize letters from the editor in magazines and newspapers, and dig into books the editor wrote or had a hand in. Study written communications (acceptance letters, contracts, suggestions, short e-mails and the like) from the editor.

In the early stages of works-in-progress, make sure you understand the editor’s ultimate vision for the piece. For example, does she envision the book splayed on coffee tables or shelved in university libraries? Does he envision illustrations, lists and sidebars or a dense article? The Better Homes & Gardens editorial team says that most of their articles undergo a lengthy development process involving both editor and writer. This “lengthy development process” gives authors opportunities to see the world through the editors’ eyes and revise along the way.

QUERY WITH STYLE

Let’s say you’ve studied Gentleman’s Quarterly guidelines and editorial vision. You have an idea for an article about custom-made shoes. A query to “Dear Editor” screams “Amateur!” So you flip GQ open and see 28 editors listed. Six handle fashion. To which editor should you pitch your bespoke shoes idea? Aim for the editor-in-chief, and you risk annoying this VIP who’d delegated portions of his editorial tasks to lighten his load, and you risk snubbing a fashion editor. Call, write or e-mail and ask who gets a shoe query. Staff might’ve departed since the magazine was last published, so verifying the recipient is a good idea in any case.

Submitting queries “on topics that are over-discussed, entirely general in nature or don’t apply to our targeted readership” is one of the most irritating thing writers do, according to Francesca Kelly, who edited Tales from a Small Planet.

Francesca’s colleague added, “Don’t think that because you’re submitting or querying by e-mail, you don’t have to be polite. ‘Hi! Thought you might like to read this!’ with a link to an essay on the writer’s website doesn’t inspire me to use my limited time to follow up. Even though I correspond with people by e-mail, I expect writers to present the same information they would in a written query letter: who they are, what they’ve written and why they think their work fits our publication.”

In her book The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers, Betsy Lerner wrote, “Nothing is more refreshing for an editor than to…read a query letter that takes him completely by surprise.”

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ken's war coverIf you were to judge a book by its cover, what do you suppose Ken’s War is about? (I approved the cover art a few days ago. . . pub date getting closer…)