Wednesday, August 31, 2011

FAQ for Beginning Writers

FAQ for Beginning Writers

Frequently Asked Questions and Answered for Beginning Writers

Q: How do I keep from looking like an amateur when I submit a story?
A: By acting like a professional.

Do your homework. Find out what the editor you are submitting to wants. Let the story speak for itself. Be willing to work with the editor on requested changes. Learn what you can do to make the editor’s job easier. Pay attention to the following:

Do not put extra spaces between the paragraphs (set them off by indenting at the beginning of each paragraph instead). Do not put the creation date on the manuscript, a rights-offered statement, or the Copyright notice. Do not end the story with -30- (this used to be a telegraphic signal for the end of a message when the message was long, and was later used by journalists–it has no place in fiction).

Do not bind or staple your manuscript. Do not use ring binders, clamp binders, comb binders, brads, string, or any other thing that cannot be easily removed. Paper clips or rubber bands are OK.
Always include a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) that is large enough and has enough postage. Do not send a letter-sized envelope if you expect to get your manuscript back.

Do not attempt to draw attention to your manuscript by using colored paper or colored ink. Do not use specialty typefaces. Do not put each page of the manuscript in sheet protectors. Do not try to write a “memorable” submission letter. Don’t be cute. Although your manuscript may be funny, its surroundings should not. Gifts for the editor, tie-dyed envelopes, and the like mark your submission as unprofessional.

Making your manuscript appear to be a thing of intrinsic value is a ploy much beloved of unpublished writers. That’s why editors get submissions in safe-deposit boxes, or couriered envelopes, or wrapped in fancy paper, etc. That’s why people worry about the effect of saying that a manuscript is disposable. However, a moment’s consideration will tell you that people like editors, who handle thousands of manuscripts a year, writing on them, copying them, sending them here and there, generally treating them like the pieces of paper they are–don’t place much value on physical manuscripts. The first thing an editor must learn to do is read the =text= and not the packaging. The words and story are the thing, not the frills.

Do not paste pages together, or turn a page upside down, or use any other clever device to find out if the editor has read the manuscript all the way through. Editors have seen these things over and over again.

Don’t ever miss your deadlines, even if the editor says it’s okay. Publishing seems to run on a slower clock some of the time, but when an editor gives you a deadline, that means there’s money involved. People don’t like it very much when you cost them money. If you are going to miss a deadline, please give them at least two months notice.

Don’t be afraid to call your editor or agent to talk about questions or problems concerning business. That’s what they’re there for. They won’t thank you if you don’t tell them about something vital because you didn’t want to bother them.

Remember that editors try to be nice and gentle and may understate things. Don’t take advantage of that. If an editor goes to the trouble of saying something to you, take it very seriously.

Q: Will it really hurt my manuscript’s chances if I don’t format it exactly right?A: Probably not.

The bare-bones basics of manuscript preparation– double-spaced, right unjustified, margins of about an inch–really covers 99% of getting it right. Many aspiring writers can become a bit obsessive about the minutiae, as if submitting a letter-perfect manuscript format can supplement their stories’ uncertain merits. A perfect manuscript will not save a poor story.

Q: What’s the preferred format for a manuscript?

A: Paper: White 8 1/2″ x 11″ bond. At least 20-pound. Not erasable.

Type face: 10 pitch (12-point) Courier monospace, or other clearly readable face. Not proportionate. Do not use specialty typefaces. If you simply can’t abide Courier, use some other monospaced font. (See question on pitch versus point for clarification.)

Printer: In order of preference, 1) laser printer with fresh toner cartridge, 2) inkjet printer with fresh toner, 3) typewriter with a new carbon ribbon, 4) 24-pin dot matrix printer in near-letter-quality mode with a fresh ribbon. Not draft-quality dot matrix printers with faded ribbons, or anything else that makes the editor’s eyes hurt.

Page format: Double spaced. Indent first lines of paragraphs 3-5 spaces. Do not add an extra line space after paragraphs. Type the manuscript on one side of the page only.

Margins: 1″ to 1.5″ on all sides.

Character and line count: 65-72 characters per line. 25-27 lines per page. Do not justify your lines. Justified left, ragged right is what’s required.

Headers: About an inch from the top. Include your name, the title (or a few words from the title), and the page number on all pages–the page number should go in the upper right corner and nowhere else, but the rest of the format for the header is up to you as long as you have everything there somehow. (Putting the page number anywhere but in the upper right corner makes unnecessary trouble for editorial staff who have to make sure all the pages are there, refer to specific pages in notes and correspondence, etc.)

First page: Include your name, address, phone number, and an approximate word count (but do not put “approximate” by your word count number), on the first page. (See question on how editors count words.) Do not print/type the creation date on the manuscript. There’s no point in telling an editor how long a story has been circulating. SF/F practice is not to put a rights-offered statement on the first page of a manuscript, as in “First North American Serial Rights” in spite of standard writers’-manual advice.

Q: So I should put that in the cover letter instead?

A: No. Don’t put it anywhere. It is not needed. If the editor accepts your work, the contract she offers will tell you what rights she wants to buy. You can negotiate at that time.

Do not include a Copyright notice unless you have specific market information which suggests that such a notice may be appropriate. If the manuscript is disposable, you may put that on the first page. Center the title 10 or 15 lines from the top, put “by” and your name beneath the title, also centered. (Use the name you wish it published under, if different from your legal name.) If this is a title page (a title page is optional but recommended, especially for longer works), start the text on the next page. If this is the first page of the story, skip a line and start the text below your name. This should give you about 13 lines of story text on your first page.

Special characters: Avoid italic typefaces (use underlines instead), bold-face, and other special formats. If you have a long passage that you want printed in italics, you don’t need to underline the whole thing. It’s enough to mark the passage with a vertical line in the margin, write “set in italic” next to the line, and circle the phrase. (Please reconsider having a long passage in italics, though.) Foreign characters are okay, if your printer can do them right. If not, hand-correct them in black ink. Dashes can be indicated by a pair of hyphens. (Do =not= put spaces before and after them. Do it–like this, rather than — this –) Don’t break words at the ends of lines with a hyphen, even hyphenated words. To indicate a line break, you may type the character “#” centered, on a line by itself (or the character “*” or three of them, or you may just leave an extra space–this isn’t crucial to perfect manuscript format). Be sure your punctuation is correct–get a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style or Words Into Type and study it often.

Endings: If you want to let the reader know your story or novel is ended, just center the word “END” in capital letters two lines below the last line of the work. You don’t need to do this, though, since the story should be written so it is clear to the readers when they have reached the end.

Q: What about formatting electronic submissions?

A: For the most part formatting it as a print submission works well, but the preferences vary market by market.

Start by reading the guidelines, some markets don’t allow e-subs at all. Others want them in the body of an email, some attached as a .doc or .rtf, and some have special webforms. The bottom line is that, as with any market, reading the guidelines is extremely important.

Q: Is 12 POINT Courier the same as 10 PITCH Courier?

A: Yes, it works out that way. What the Mac calls “12-point Courier” (measuring by height of character) is 10 pitch, meaning there are ten letters and/or spaces in an inch.

Point describes the vertical height of typefaces in 1/72nds of an inch.

Pitch defines typefaces horizontally, by the number of characters that can fit in an inch. “Point up, pitch across.”

One problem with pitch vs. point is that, if you have a PostScript printer, the fonts on your menu are defined by point size – Courier 10 point, Courier 12 point. But the HP PCL fonts for your laserjet will be given in cpi–characters per inch (=pitch). So if you change the printer selection on your PC from the HP Laserjet III with the Post Script option on, you select Courier 12 point. If you decide to use THE VERY SAME PRINTER BUT WITHOUT POST SCRIPT, you have to choose Courier 10 cpi.

So, pitch = cpi.

It doesn’t help that 12 cpi/pitch = 10 point and 10 cpi/pitch = 12 point, more or less.
Q: How do you correctly package a novel manuscript?

I’m using a box that bond paper came in, but how do I handle the postage and label and wrapping for the return trip? I plan on putting the postage and label in a separate envelope. Will the publishing house use their own wrapping paper, or am I expected to provide a large envelope or something?
A: For the return of your novel, provide a envelope big enough to hold the box your manuscript is in. Put an address label on the envelope, along with the postage.

If you sent your manuscript in one of those heavy-duty manuscript mailing boxes, you can include a return label and postage inside. The publisher will tape the box shut, and apply the label and new postage. Nobody wraps manuscript boxes.

Don’t send the manuscript in a box that is twenty times the size of the manuscript. And make sure the box is easy to open. If you want the editor to use the box to return the manuscript, make sure the box is also easy to seal.

Bubble-pak envelopes are a good choice if you use an envelope.

Jiffy Paks are a royal pain to open (especially when sealed with fifteen heavy-duty staples and five yards of strapping tape) and they tend to cover the innocent editor with clinging gray fluff.

Tyvek envelopes seem to result in very battered manuscripts which are harder to page through. Particularly when a 250-page manuscript is left loose in a Tyvek envelope the size of a small desktop, as seems to happen constantly.

Office Depot (and probably lots of other places) has quite inexpensive manuscript boxes that you fold up, nice and sturdy and easy to use; all the editor has to do to return the ms is paste on a new label which you can provide. (Return postage could be included in a labeled envelope taped inside the top). No gray fluff, easy to stack on a desk, and a nice neat manuscript both ways if such should be the writer’s fate.

Another possibility is to use those corrugated cardboard manuscript boxes. Affix the return postage and address on the box, then wrap it in brown postal wrapping paper and address the whole thing to the publisher. That way, all the publisher has to do to return it is pop it back in the box, seal it up and drop it in the outgoing mail. Keeps the manuscript presentable enough to go out again, as well.

Do NOT submit your only copy.

Do NOT send by mail formats that require the recipient to sign for delivery (such as registered or certified mail or return receipt).

Do NOT use metered postage for your return postage. Use stamps. The post office will not accept outdated metered postage, and you won’t get your manuscript back.
Q: Do you need to include a cover letter when you send in a manuscript?
A: There are several reasons why an editor would want a cover letter:

It has the author’s name, address and phone number on it, along with the name of the story. It’s a good place to make notes about the story and the editor’s reaction to it. If the editor decides to acquire the story, it is also a good place for notes about the offer. And it is used to draft a rejection letter if the editor doesn’t buy the story. A cover letter just makes it easier to keep things straight when an editor is dealing with dozens of manuscripts.

You definitely need a cover letter to tell the editor if you are making a simultaneous submission, or if the manuscript is disposable (in which case, the SASE only needs to be a standard letter-sized envelope).

This material was developed as a service to writers by members of GEnie’s Science Fiction Roundtable, many of them professional writers and editors. Contributors include James Brunet, John C. Bunnell, Gregory Feeley, Larry Hammer, David M. Harris, Glenn Hauman, John E. Johnston III, Tappan King, Damon Knight, James D. Macdonald, Beth Meacham, Kevin O’Donnell Jr., Elizabeth Perry, Susan Shwartz, Martha Soukup, Judith Tarr and Mitch Wagner.

It was compiled by Kathleen Dalton-Woodbury. Copyright © 1994 by GEnie Information Service. All rights reserved.

New Facebook Fan Page

I decided to make separate Facebook pages for each of my blogs. This way it's not so confusing. Please check out the new page here.

Thanks for all the follows. Much Love!!

Attention: Looking for Authors

I'm looking for Authors that would like to promote their book on my blog. Meanwhile, they only have to answer a few questions or write a quest blog for me to post on my blog. If you're interested, feel free to comment or email me at

I've gotten several authors who are in the editing phase of their novels to do some interviews. Keep your eyes posted for the Author Post of The Week.

Thanks for reading.

Free eBooks

I came across this awesome blog the other day. It's very helpful. They post links to Barnes and Noble and other various websites that offer FREE books for the ebook reader. I felt that I should share this with other readers who can enjoy it too.

Free eBooks Daily Blog

Check it out and pass it on to those who you think will enjoy it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Photo Taken By RaeBeth McGee
I do know that this post has nothing to do with writing. Though my heart breaks when I took a look at these photos I found posted on my facebook. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone who has been affected by the destruction of this hurricane.

To check out the photo's for yourself visit: Hurricane Irene Photo's

Monday, August 29, 2011

How To Make a Blog Button

I have gotten several people asking me how I made my button. Well, here are the steps you can take to make one of your very own.

1. Find the backgroud you want to use. (Google, Yahoo Search, your own pics)

3. Upload the photo (for free) and edit to your taste.

4. Resize the photo to the needed size for your blog.

5. Save to computer.

7. Either sign in or create an account.

8. Upload the new picture you just saved to photobucket.

9. Set that aside for now.

10. Go to your blog (for blogger users) and choose design.

11. Add Widget

12. HTML Code

13. Type in the title you want on top of your button. (Example: Share my Button or Grab my Button)

14. Use the code at the bottom of this post in the lower part of the box.

15. Get your web address for your blog and replace the http://YOUR WEB ADDRESS with your actual address. There are two spots within the code.

16. Remove the words: Blog title with your actual title of your blog. There are two here as well.

17. Go back to photobuck. Put your mouse over your picture and a list appears below it. Click on the direct link to the photo and copy it.

18. Paste the image address in the code where it says image web address... there are two here as well.

19. Once you're done, save and preview your blog to ensure the code works.

20. When you see the new button on your blog, save the updated blog.

21. You can move the button anywhere on your blog that you like. Then, let others know about your button so they can add it to their own websites. (If they want)

<center><a href="http://YOUR WEB ADDRESS/" target="_blank" title="BLOG TITLE"><img alt="BLOG TITLE" src="http://IMAGE WEB ADDRESS"/></a> <center>
<center><textarea id="code-source" rows="3" cols="13" name="code-source"><center><a href="http://YOUR WEB ADDRESS/"><img border="0" src="http://IMAGE WEB ADDRESS"/></a></center></textarea></center>

My New Button

After weeks of searching, I finally figured out how to make a button. So, here it is:

What do you think?

Friday, August 26, 2011

My FIRST Nephew is HERE!!!!

This past Monday, my sister gave birth to her son. He's the first boy within the family. His name is Kurtis Gene. He was 7lbs 10 oz. & 19 1/2 inches long. Though it was a long and trying delivery, both mommy and baby are doing well. I'd like to introduce my nephew, Kurt.

Once the excitement is over, I will resume writing and editing my novel. I'm trying to help my sister out as much as I can. Kurtis is her first child. Therefore, all mothers know how scary it is when you gave birth to your first.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guest Author / Interview- Nicky Charles

I'm sure there are many reader's out there who have read the works of this wonderful author. I've taken the time to talk to Nicky Charles and had her answer some basic questions. Check it out:

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t think I ever had a conscience moment when I thought ‘Hey, I want to be a writer.”  (I still don’t consider myself a writer – I think of myself as a hobbyist, lol!)  I know I always did well writing in school and even had bouts of ‘pretending’ to be an author, scribbling down tales based on favourite books I’d read such as the “Little House” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder or The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley.  In Gr. 8 a teacher actually told me if I ever wanted to publish something he’d help me but writing always took a back seat to more important things such as studying and work.  Then in 2009 I sat down one Saturday and penned a quick fanfiction and the writing bug came alive again.  I wrote constantly after that and eventually was inspired to try an original story by Jan Gordon (my friend and editor) when she wrote Black Silk.  I wrote my first book shortly after that and, as they say, the rest is history!

How long does it take you to write a book?

Writing a book can take me almost a year from the time I first think of a possible plot up to the final moment I push the ‘publish’ button.  My stories are usually around 100,000 words.  Shorter stories would, of course, take me less time I suppose.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I work full time at a job that involves a lot of overtime so my chances to write are limited.  I have to squeeze it in around ‘real life’ but try to work in a few hours of writing each night.  It doesn’t always happen of course.  I love vacations and holidays when I can have large blocks of free time and will write for several hours a day then.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Confession time.  I’m basically a lazy author.  I hate research and try to write what I know or can create in my head.  When I do need to research I use Google or ask friends who I know have information on certain topics. 

Ideas for writing come from the strangest places.  It might be a song, a book I’m reading, a TV show or movie, something someone says or something I see.  Just the other day I was in a restaurant and noticed the waitress leaning against the counter.  She was filling out some type of daily log and then just stood there looking around with this bored expression.  It suddenly made me think of writing a story about a waitress who possibly had a werewolf as a regular customer.  I don’t know if it will ever become part of a book but as soon as I got home, I added it to my ‘ideas’ file.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first original, Forever in Time, in 2009.  Age is a state of mind and irrelevant – lol!

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

When I’m not writing, I read.  I also like to garden, paint, take nature walks, go on day trips, eat out with friends.  Nothing special just ‘regular’ stuff. 

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

The editing process – I never realized how long and drawn out it is.  I hate it and am so thankful Jan Gordon helps me with it.  When I write a story and get to the ‘happily ever after’ bit, I’m done.  I want to move on.  I don’t have a lot of patience for rereading and checking commas and spacing etc.  By time I’ve written the story, I’ve already reread it dozens of times checking content, the flow of sentences, looking for plot holes etc.  By that point I’m not even fond of the story anymore and having to read it word by word is painful.  However as an independent writer/publisher I have to do it.  It costs around 5 cents a word to hire someone to edit your books and at over 100,000 words per book...well, you do the math!  I just don’t have that kind of money to spend on something that is basically my hobby.

How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?

I’ve written 4 original stories and am working on my 5th presently.  If I had to choose a favourite I’d be torn between Forever in Time because it was my first and The Keeping because I love the characters and the setting (Stump River.)

Do you hear from your readers much?  What kinds of things do they say?

I get (in my opinion) lots of fan mail.  There are usually five or six emails every day, sometimes more if it’s been a holiday and people had time to read.  Mostly they say they like my books, discuss favourite characters and express opinions about what story line they’d like me to develop next.  A lot say they have read the books late into the night, have neglected family or snuck reading devices into work so they could keep reading – apparently my stories are quite addictive!  Some share experiences about their lives, for example if they’ve been going through a rough patch they’ll say they enjoyed the escape my stories provided.  A few point out errors they’ve found or things they think need improving and I always consider those points, even if at first I might not agree.  As an author, you are always refining your craft so suggestions are appreciated - as long as they are worded nicely, that is!

What do you think makes a good story?

To me a good story has to have characters you care about or that grab your imagination in one way or another.  Then of course you need a good plot, which for me means it includes some suspense and lots of steamy romance.

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

My first piece of advice would be to write a lot and read a lot because you learn from other authors.  Secondly, choose to write about something you are passionate about or that grabs your imagination because if you love the topic, you’ll spend more time working on it.  Thirdly, read about writing.  I’ve had no formal ‘writing’ training and am constantly discovering things I should or shouldn’t do.  There are lots of great websites that offer advice.  Check them out and try to use one or two of their ideas in your next piece.  For example, I recently read that you should search your work for ‘ly’ adverbs and try to eliminate as many as possible so I’m working on that in my next book.  Finally, find someone you trust and have them give you an honest opinion about your work and then really reflect on what they say.  No one likes to have their work criticized but if someone mentions something consider it.  It might not be a valid point but perhaps there is a grain of truth.

Don’t get discouraged. Remember there are a wide variety of people in the world, all with different tastes in books.  Not everyone will love your stories but keep working on your craft and eventually you will find your niche audience.

Thank you for your time and I've enjoyed having you as a guest on my blog. : )
If anyone is interested in reading some of Nicky's work, you can find it listed on

New *Facebook Fan Page*

If you enjoy reading my blogs and are interested in my books.... Come on over and check it out. I just started it today. Let's see how many likes we can get. All are welcome.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Writing Like Crazy

Whoa, where to even begin? I'm still in the process of editing Silenced with my critique group. We've made it up to Chapters 5-6. We are taking a break next week so I can go through the first 6 chapters and make the changes that are needed. As for The Miracle, my short story.... I've decided to take it off the market. I've found ways to better it. So, there will be the second edition of it coming back as well. For those of you that supported me and downloaded the book, thank you. As for those that didn't get the chance, don't worry. I will have it back up as soon as possible.

Right now, I've got like a million things going on. My daughter started summer school last week which is new for us. She's starting Kindergarten in a week. I'm in the process of finishing Silenced: The Overtaking and I've started another book, The Tainted Diary. When the idea hits me, it's best I go with my "writers" gut and get it on paper.

I'm also looking through a list of my favorite books on Smashwords with the thought in mind to interview the author and perhaps even have them be a guest here on the blog. Keep your eyes open for more information on this in the future.

So, there's the update. Thanks for reading. Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Letter To The One I Love

To The One I love,

I've started this letter at least five times before actually deciding what to write. You don't realize how hard it is to write down ways to express love until you try it. As I am writing this letter, I'm remembering all the great times we've had. I must say, we are one blessed couple to make it though everything we've been through.

I love you for being my friend, my sweet heart, and my partner. You're always there to support me as a friend would. You've shown me love like a sweet heart could. You've stood beside me to raise our daughter as a partner should.

It seems that no matter how bad my day is going, just seeing your smile, feeling your touch, and hearing your voice makes every thing better. You know how to make me laugh. You know how to dry my tears. I can't say it enough, I love you my dear.

I must admit your one of a kind. In my eyes, you are the most amazing person. You understand me and care about me more than others in my past. You haven't turned your back on me because of the lack of understanding. You do every thing you can to understand me and what I am going through.

I have to say, I'm honored you asked me to be your wife. I can not wait until the day I walk down that isle and officially we become one. One team that faces the world head on and lets nothing get in our way. I love you so much. You're my world, my everything.

Yours Always and Forever,


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