"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Why Do You Write?

I fell in love with writing at the age of ten when my cousin and I were playing school. I was the student and she was the teacher – that time. My writing assignment for her became the first of many. I was hooked, in love with the writing process.
I’ve written a lot of fiction and poetry, but (until recently and with the exception of one poem) I’ve only tried to publish my newspaper articles. I suppose in many ways my writing is a personal experience. I was writing for me, for my enjoyment, for my personal expression. Some of my pieces are similar to diary entries since they express emotions or circumstances I experienced at the time.
When asking others, I usually hear two answers to the question “Why do you write?” The “It’s-in-my-soul type” (which I have always been a part) claim they write to express themselves and enjoy the creative process. That’s honest and to-the-point. These writers can be happy journaling for themselves or just to share with friends.

The second group says “I want to be published or paid to write” (which I am now a part – I figure if I enjoy writing so much, why not get paid for it?). If this is you, it’s not that tough. Modern technology allows easy publication with blogs, websites, or self-publishing your books.
However, if you want a legitimate or well-known publisher to pick up your work, you may have to write about topics that bore you. I’ve done this before. Some will tell you it’s a sell out, but hey, it’s a paycheck and a credit on your resume’. Unless you’re very lucky, you’ll never make millions of dollars writing, but many can make a decent living doing so.
If money is more important to you than the byline or author credit, or if you are the shy writer who doesn’t want the attention, consider ghost writing. Many authors will actually pay you more than they get for the piece to write it for them. They do this because they don’t have time or the inclination to write the required pieces for their editor. The reason the author will offer to pay you more than they will get for the piece (and believe me, you will have to sign a confidentiality clause contract) is because they are protecting their name and credibility. You might be surprised how many “popular” authors today employ ghost writers.

During this time of making resolutions, I see many writers committing to write, submit or publish a specific amount of their work. They are so worried about the quantity, I wonder if they will lose quality and I can’t help but ask them “Why do you write?”

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Celebrating Christmas

The presents have been opened, leftovers stored in the icebox, family and friends are heading home, and my kids are snuggled in bed. It’s Christmas, a time to celebrate the birth of our Lord and the greatest gift ever given. This has always been my favorite time of year. The nostalgia of family traditions and joy of beginning new ones made this year truly special.
My twenty-month-old is starting to get it. She loves the lights and ornaments (mostly because her big sister loves them) and she had no trouble figuring out how to open her gifts. She loves to see Santa, or Cause as she calls him since she doesn’t say the “L” sound, but she has no interest in sitting in his lap. She loves the baby dolls, stuffed animals and books she received.
 My three-year-old is a girly girl. She painted her own nails with the new polish her aunt gave her (she actually did a very good job) and then she took turns wearing her new jewelry, clothes and shoes – many wardrobe changes take place in this house.  The new kitchenette from her Grandmother was a huge favorite.
The girls took turns on the new slide we bought them. They must have spent several hours on that one present alone. Celebrating Christmas through the eyes of small children is such a wonder. I feel so very blessed to have my husband and daughters. I can’t imagine life without them. The gift of many special moments warmed my heart this weekend.
I hope you enjoyed a wonderful day filled with love, family and friendship. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 17, 2010

What Rights Should You Offer?

In my November 28 post, I talked about copyright issues and I promised to blog about selling rights to your work.

Children’s book Editor Harold Underdown, Kensington Publishing Editor Gary Goldstein and President of Bayou Writers’ Guild Jessica Ferguson have all given me some great advice about writer’s selling their rights. Here are some brief descriptions of the rights most commonly offered by publishers.  

First Serial Rights or First North American Serial Rights: When a writer sells first serial rights, or First North American Serial Rights (abbreviated as FNASR), the publisher, newspaper or magazine is granted rights to first-time publication of your work. You retain all other rights and may resell them accordingly.
Gary Goldstein says you should be offered approximately $3500 for your first novel. Take it, it’s a good chance. You can always make more from royalties when your sales skyrocket!
First Word English Rights: Similar to FNASR, First Word English rights give the publisher not only the right to publish your work first in North America, but in any English-speaking country. If you sell First Word English, you can't turn around and sell First British Rights or First Australian Rights because those are all English-speaking countries. It is usually better to sell FNASR rather than First Word English because FNASR gives you the right to sell your work to other countries as a First.
Translation Rights or Language Rights: This is the right to publish your written work in other languages, such as Spanish or Japanese. This is a popular form of rights for books, as they are often distributed in foreign countries where English is not the primary language. Magazines also sometimes purchase Translation Rights if their distribution is international.
Excerpt Rights: This is one of the least-common types of rights sold, but is often used for educational purposes. For example, if a company compiling a textbook were to run across an article that might fit well in the book, they may contact the author for Excerpt Rights so that they may include a portion of the work in their textbook. Remember, however, that the concept of "Fair Use" allows other publications to quote small portions of published works as long as proper attribution is given.
Archival Rights: This means that you are giving a publication the right to archive your written work forever. The work will always be available in its medium and it is almost impossible to sell any other rights while your work is archived.

Simultaneous or One-time Rights: The right is given to publish the work on a one-time basis. These rights are NOT exclusive. So you may sell your work to other publications at the same time. Most publications do not care for this arrangement because they want to have exclusive rights to your work.

Second Serial or Reprint Rights: The publication has the right to print an article or other piece of work which has already been printed in another publication. Exclusive rights are not granted in this case; you, as the author, have the freedom to resell your work.
Anthology Rights: Even if you sell FNASR they will have to purchase Anthology Rights if they want to publish your article or story again in a collective work. Anthology Rights can be purchased by the original publisher of the piece or by another publisher who has seen your work, but you must make sure that Anthology Rights do not infringe on any previous rights sold on the work.

All Rights: If you should agree to sell all rights, you will never be able to use that work again. Once sold, the written piece is no longer yours. You might want to do this if you have an opportunity to sell a piece to a very prestigious magazine. You could gain recognition and coverage from having your work in that publication and it might afford you more high-paying assignments.
Harold Underdown suggests if you are giving away all rights for a book, make sure you’re getting 50% of all sales, subsidiaries and royalties. Also, be sure you specify what their minimum sales requirements are to get your rights back. In other words, if they don’t sell X number of books after X amount of time, the rights revert back to you.
Work-For-Hire: This agreement usually exists between a writer and a business or individual to compose a piece of written work. When you write under a Work-For-Hire contract, you relinquish all rights to the work you perform, unless stipulated otherwise in your contract or agreement. This means that you can never claim copyright to the work you perform and you can never attempt to sell the work elsewhere. The owner can publish the work under his or her own name. 
Electronic Publishing: Because of the opening up of electronic markets, writers now have more opportunity to see their work displayed in e-zines. Unfortunately, electronic rights are still somewhat of a gray area as the law struggles to catch up to modern technology. Electronic rights give the publisher permission to use your work in any electronic form - on the Internet, through e-mail, on CD-ROM and other venues. It is sometimes best to sell Internet Rights to reserve the right to publish your work later on CD-ROM, but you must be careful here.
Jessica Ferguson says some print magazines purchase your article and then assume they also have the right to put it in their Webzine for no additional payment. The Association of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and National Writers Union (NWU) are working to secure the rightful payments for writers in this regard. For more details, visit www.nwu.org or www.asja.org

Exclusive Rights/Non-Exclusive Rights: Any of the types of rights listed above can also contain the words "Exclusive" or "Non-Exclusive".

When you sell Exclusive Rights, you are granting the purchaser full rights to your work as long as he or she keeps the work in print. For example, if you sell Exclusive Rights to Associated Content, you are saying that they will be the only ones to publish your work while they intend to keep your work available. Sometimes, a publisher will attach a time frame to Exclusive Rights, and sometimes they won't.

Non-Exclusive Rights, on the other hand, means that you have the right to sell your work to as many people as you want as long as they are all purchasing Non-Exclusive Rights.

As you can tell by the long list above, there are many types of rights you can sell to your work. Make sure you know exactly what you're selling and that you speak to an attorney if you are at all confused. For information about contacting a pro bono lawyer, see my November 28 post.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

2010 Bestselling Books For Writers

It's not too late to order a great Christmas gift for the book lover and writer in your family.

According to the Gotham Writers Workshop the 20 bestselling books on craft from the Writer's Bookshelf in 2010 were:
  1. Writing Fiction: The Practical Guide by Gotham Writers' Workshop
  2. Fiction Gallery edited by Alex Steele and Thom Didato
  3. Writing Movies: The Practical Guide by Gotham Writers' Workshop
  4. It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences: A Writer's Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences by June Casagrande
  5. Is Life Like This? A Guide to Writing Your Fist Novel in Six Months by John Dufresne
  6. Naked, Drunk, and Writing: Shed Your Inhibitions and Craft a Compelling
    Memoir or Personal Essay
    by Adair Lara
  7. Writers and Their Notebooks edited by Diane Raab
  8. Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver
  9. On Writing: A Memoir on Craft (10th Anniversary Edition) by Stephen King
  10. Portable MFA in Creative Writing by New York Writers Workshop
  11. The Weekend Novelist Rewrites the Novel: A Step-by-Step Guide to
    Perfecting Your Work
    by Robert J. Ray
  12. The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English by Roy Peter Clark
  13. 179 Ways to Save a Novel: Matters of Vital Concern to Fiction Writers by Peter Selgin
  14. Architecture of the Novel: A Writer's Handbook by Jane Vandenburgh
  15. Fiction Writer's Workshop by Josip Novakovich
  16. The Secret Miracle: The Novelist's Handbook by Daniel Alarcon
  17. Accidents of Style: Good Advice on How Not to Write Badly by Charles Harrington Elster
  18. Woe is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English by Patricia T. O'Conner
  19. The Yahoo! Style Guide: The Ultimate Sourcebook for Writing, Editing, and Creating Content for the Digital World edited by Yahoo!
  20. How to Write a Damn Good Thriller: A Step-by-Step Guide for Novelists
    and Screenwriters
    by James N. Frey

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Product Announcement

Just in time for Christmas:

Announcing the new Built-in Orderly Organized Knowledge device, otherwise known as the BOOK.

It's a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It's so easy to use even a child can operate it. Just lift its cover. Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere -- even sitting in an armchair by the fire -- yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disk.

Here's how it works: each BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. These pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence. By using both sides of each sheet, manufacturers are able to cut costs in half.

Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet. The BOOK may be taken up at any time and used by merely opening it. The "Browse" feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish. Most come with an "index" feature, which pinpoints the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval.

An optional "BOOKmark" accessory allows you to open the BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session -- even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus a single BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers.

Portable, durable and affordable, the BOOK is the entertainment wave of the future, and many new titles are expected soon, due to the surge in popularity of its programming tool, the Portable Erasable-Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language stylus [PENCIL].

I came across this on several joke sites a few months ago. In all seriousness, nothing against Kindle, NOOK and the others, but I'll always prefer a real book. While I enjoy technology and many of the capabilities it gives us, sometimes I just want to curl up with a hardcover, chocolate and snuggle into my favorite blanket.

Happy Holidays, Happy Reading and Happy Writing everyone!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Last Chance for 2010 Submissions

All of these writing opportunities have a December 2010 deadline:

The Words Are The Same
Write a poem that uses the words listed in the contest announcement. Cash prize for the winner. Deadline: December 13th

Picked Apart...And Rightly So!
This is a topic based contest. Write a poem based on the topic provided in the announcement. Deadline: Dec 15th

THE SUBVERSIVE HUMANhttps://sites.google.com/site/thesubversivehuman/current-contests
A new online journal looking for provocative and exciting poetry from emerging writers. Themes vary month-to-month. Prize is $25 USD. Deadline is by the 15th of each month.
Notification of winner is the 25th of each month. Submit no more than (5) poems. Poets from all over are welcome to submit. Look at the current contest tab, the future contests
tab and the submission guidelines tab. December's Theme:
Bertrand Russell wrote, "Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth -- more than ruin -- more even than death.... Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid."
What do you fear? New things? Ideas? Doing things outside of your normal, everyday routines? December's theme touches on thought, fear, the everyday normal and/or revolutions.  Deadline is December 15th.

Poem of the Month
Each month one poem is selected to be the Poem of the Month. A public vote determines the winner. All poems posted during the month are automatically considered. Deadline: Dec 16th.

An Anonymous Christmas Gift
Choose a random act of kindness and inspire the Fanstory Community.
This is a non-fiction category. Please give with your heart and generousity. Give or
do something that you can afford and change the life of someone, for a moment or forever.
Deadline: Dec 19th
In my world...
This contest challenged writers to start a fictional story with a specific sentence. View the announcement and create a story that uses this sentence. Deadline: Dec 20th

TAILBAIT'S GET HOOKED WRITE AWAY CONTESThttp://talebait.blogspot.com/
Hook your readers in the first few lines. Your hook, or opener, sets up the tale and pulls your readers in. TaleBait's Get Hooked Write Away Contest challenges you to write a hook, 100 word maximum, that will get readers reading and writers writing. Sharpen your craft and increase your creativity. Winners receive a critique of 30 pages by a literary agent or a publisher/editor! You may submit pages of your manuscript for professional review. Skipper will critique the winning hooks. Deadline December 20, 2010.
1st place - $25, first choice of critique,
and byline on a new story in Hooks & Storylines
2nd place -$15, second choice of critique, and
byline on a new story in Hooks & Storylines
3rd place - $10, critique, and byline on a new
story in Hooks & Storylines
A Snowstorm On Christmas Eve
This is a topic based contest. Write a poem based on the topic provided in the announcement. Deadline: Dec 21st
Acrostic Poetry
Write an acrostic poem. An acrostic poem is a poem where the first letter of each line spells out a word. View an example in the announcement. This is a contest for poets with a cash prize. Deadline: Dec 22nd
Writing Off the Page in 1965
This is a topic based contest. Write a story based on the topic provided in the announcement. Deadline: Dec 24th
Reference Letter
Write a reference letter for an employee. But there is a twist.
Deadline: Dec 24th
Christmas Poetry
For our holiday poetry contest we are looking for poems that somehow capture the experiences of this time of the year. Cash prize for the winner of this contest for poets. Deadline: Dec 25th
Christmas Story
For our holiday story contest we are looking for stories that are holiday oriented. Creative approaches are welcomed. Cash prize for the winner of this writing contest.
Deadline: Dec 25th
Book of the Month
Each month one book chapter is selected to be the Book of the Month. A public vote determines the winner. All books posted during the month are automatically considered for this contest. Deadline: Dec 26th
An animal's point of view
This is a topic based contest. Write a story based on the topic provided in the announcement. Deadline: Dec 30th
Ode to a Muslim
This is a contest in which one writes an ode praising someone in early Islamic history. Deadline: Dec 31st
For this contest you are challenged to write a Naani poem. Naani is a form of poetry with a specific syllable count. See the announcement for an example. Cash prize for the winner of this poetry contest. Deadline: Dec 31st

Chicken Soup for the Soul Submissions due December 31, 2010: http://www.chickensoup.com/form.asp?cid=possible_books
Mothers and Daughters, Teens, Young at Heart

Pill Hill Press is a small, independent publisher based in Nebraska. They have anthology call outs for romantic suspense short stories, The ePocalypse, How the West was Wicked, and some extreme horror as well as others. Stories are to be between 1500 and 15,000 words. They prefer stories in the 4000 to 6000 word range; any setting, any time period. Deadline December 31, 2010.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Writer's Heaven or Hell?

A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell. She decided to check out each place first.

As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.

"Oh my," said the writer. "Let me see heaven now."

A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.

"Wait a minute," said the writer. "This is just as bad as hell!"

"Oh no, it's not," replied an unseen voice. "Here, your work gets published."

Several friends and I have recently received rejections from various publishers. I remembered this old joke and thought it might cheer some of you.

My tally for the last three months:

Short Story Submissions: 4
Poetry Submissions: 2
Nonfiction Submissions: 3
Rejections: 5
Publications: 1

Happy Holidays, Happy Writing and Hoping for Happy Publication!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Book Challenge

I recently came across a list of books I wanted to read. I made this list of more than 100 stories several years ago and I'm surprised how many I did not finish or even begin. I could use the excuse that I had two children and moved several times in the last few years as well as lost most of my possessions in a flood due to a hurricane, but that seems pretty lame considering how many things I've read that are not on this list. Below is my list. I put the books I finished in bold and italicized the ones I started, but did not finish.

So, here is my challenge for you: Copy this list and bold the ones you have completed and italicize the ones you did not finish (no, you can't count movies you have seen). Then make your own list of books to read. I'm also looking for suggestions for my new book list. Are there any you recommend?

1984 - George Orwell
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
Animal Farm - George Orwell
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
Artemis Fowl - Eoin Colfer  
Black Beauty - Anna Sewell
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de Bernieres
Catch 22 - Joseph L Heller
The Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexander Dumas
Crime and Punishment - Fyoder Dostoyevsky
David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
The DaVinci Code – Dan Brown
Don Quixote de la Mancha - Cervantes
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Dune - Frank Herbert
Emma - Jane Austen
Far From the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
The God of Small Things - Arundhati Roy
The Godfather - Mario Puzo
Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
Guards! Guards! - Terry Pratchett
Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift
Hamlet – William Shakespeare
Harry Potter Series (7 books) - JK Rowling
His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
Holes - Louis Sacher
The Host – Stephenie Meyer
I Capture the Castle - Dodie Smith
I, Claudius – Robert Graves
The King James Bible
The Left Behind Series (first five books) – Lahaye/Jenkins
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
Macbeth – William Shakespeare
Mansfield Park – Jane Austen
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – William Shakespeare
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
Moll Flanders – Daniel Defoe
The Odyssey - Homer
Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
Othello – William Shakespeare
Persuasion - Jane Austen                   
The Phantom of the Opera- Gaston Leroux
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
The Princess Diaries - Meg Cabot
The Puppet Masters – Robert Heinlen
Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier
Romeo and Juliet – William Shakespeare
The Scarlett Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner – Stephenie Meyer
The Stand - Stephen King
A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
The Tales of Beedle the Bard – J K Rowling
The Tales of Edgar Alan Poe
The Taming of the Shrew – William Shakespeare
Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson
Twilight Series (4 books) – Stephenie Meyer
The Vampire Diaries (6 books) – L.J. Smith
War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

My new list will contain the ones I did not finish. What do you suggest I add?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December Goals

Wow, it’s already December. As you can tell, I did not complete my NaNoWriMo project. I haven’t even touched it in the last few weeks. Several trips to the doctor and hospital for my youngest daughter and the last thing I felt like doing was staring at the computer screen. Luckily, she is doing much better. She was released from the hospital in time to spend Thanksgiving at the lake with family. We were both thankful to be sleeping in our own beds again. God bless the inventor of the modern day mattress!
The Christmas season is upon us now and I’m looking forward to spending more time with my family. I just wish I knew what to buy everyone.  Once upon a time I did all of my holiday shopping before Thanksgiving because I hated to be in the stores at this time of year. However, now that I’m a stay-at-home mom, I can do my shopping in the early mornings before the crowds are out.
I’m not planning to start any new writing projects this month. I have too many waiting to be dusted off and completed.  In December, I just want to enjoy God’s blessings, spend more time with family and finish things left undone for too long.
What do you want to finish by the end of the year?