Sunday, November 30, 2008

New York Times: How to Publish Without Perishing
Click here

Are you looking for a writing job? Check out this must-see list!

(Disclaimer: I only recommend these sites as interesting ones to check out. If you decide to purchase any products or services, or become a paid member of a site or apply for a posted job, you do so at your own risk. Please use your discretion and common sense.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Writing Away Retreats/May 1-5/Taos, New Mexico

Writing Away Retreats is a destination vacation for you and your muse. Aiming to serve writer’s who need to get away and focus on their projects, we offer maximum feedback with minimal interruptions. Providing ample time to write, discuss your goals, dreams and projects with like minded creative individuals is what we do best.

During your (May 1-5th, 2009 (Taos, NM) or June 12th-16th, 2009 (Vail, CO) ) stay you will experience an all-inclusive retreat for four nights and four days in a luxurious yet, isolated lodge. MS consultation with the author, editor and agent are included in your package. For those attending the poetry retreat, your chap book MS or poems up to 20 pages will be included with your cost. A 90 minute consultation with Lisa Gates is also available at no additional cost. Delicious organic meals will be prepared three times per day and snacks, coffee, tea, wine and linen service will be provided throughout the day and into the night. During the evenings we will host optional discussions on trends in literature, books* and movies that have come from the literary greats and have readings with a roaring fire, cozy furniture and fantastic company.
Click here

Time Interviews Tom Wolfe

Monday, November 3, 2008

Looking for a gift for that spiritual friend?

Looking for a gift for that spiritual friend?
Click here

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Studs Terkel Dead at 96

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author Studs Terkel Dies (AP)

Studs Terkel, the ageless master of listening and speaking, a broadcaster, activist, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author whose best-selling oral histories celebrated the common people he liked to call the "non-celebrated," died Friday.

He was 96.

He was an old rebel who never mellowed, never retired, never forgot, and "never met a picket line or petition I didn't like."

New York Times: The voice is unforgettable, as if each phrase scraped the ear with a scoopful of gravel. What remains in the memory too is the earnestness that could turn both fervent and sentimental.

USA Today: Terkel had the listening skills of a psychologist, the timing of a comic, the curiosity of a scholar, and the gravelly voice of a boxing promoter.

Christian Science Monitor: If you can imagine Walt Whitman hosting a Midwest radio talk show, wearing a checkered shirt and drawling like a movie gangster, you've conjured up America's greatest oral historian.

Times of London: Terkel's political sympathies almost killed his career during Senator Joseph McCarthy's anticommunist crackdown of the 1950s. He was dumped from an early radio show when he refused to distance himself from liberal causes.

Chicago Tribune: He took the obscure academic exercise known as oral history and turned it into literature.

In transcribing the words and hopes of ordinary people, he gave voice to the voiceless. WaPo: Reporters and priests and psychologists know it takes a certain kind of personality to get a certain kind of person to speak honestly. Terkel's gift -- displayed on his syndicated radio program for decades, as well as in print -- was just this.

Mike's Writing Newsletter/Nov. Issue!

Vol 1, Issue 11 Nov. 5, 2008

Editor in Chief: Michael P. Geffner
Layout & Design: Bailey-Shropshire Professional Writing Services
Logo Designer: Jennifer L. Miller
Staff Writers: Jeanne Lyet Gassman, Bev Walton-Porter, Kim McDougall, Marilyn L. Taylor, Barbara Crooker, Patricia Fry, Whitney Lakin, Forman Lauren, Mark Terence Chapman, Angela Wilson, Joshua James, Lea Schizas, Dee Power, Hugh Rosen, Julie Ann Shapiro, Sheila Bender, Sandy Z. Poneleit, Krysten Lindsay Hager, Ruth Folit, Rachel V. Olivier
Copy Editor: Joan Migton

A Word from Mike

Dear Newsletter Subscribers,
Let me say, first off: I don’t consider myself by any stretch a poet.

When I was 16, right after my mother died of breast cancer at the too young age of 52, I did write a slew of desperately dark poems about death and cancer and losing a mother, but, in all my years, that was the total extent of it. Nothing but a singular burst of expression to deal with something so terribly painful—a bridge with which I could walk to another place.

To move on.

I never felt compelled to do such a thing again.

In my current incarnation as a journalist, however, I do at least try—God knows if I’m successful or not—to be poetic. I try to make the words sing and create crystal-clear images and bring into sharp focus simple meaning from between life’s complicated lines.

And as far back as 30 years ago, during my training years as a writer, I did my best to gobble up all the great poets through history. For some reason, I felt at the time to do so was important to my artistic growth. In retrospect, I’m convinced I was right.

So I read Blake and Yeats, Ginsburg and Bukowski, Plath and Sexton, Whitman and Wordsworth, Gary Snyder and A.R. Ammons, T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, and many others, including a lot of the French, because my literary idol, Faulkner, often wrote and spoke about how much the French poets influenced his work.

I mention all this because I’m happy to announce a new contributor to our newsletter, Amy King (Poetry Tip of the Month), the moderator of WOMPO (Women's Poetry Listserv), the former editor of the online literary magazine MiPOesias, and whose name is well known—and highly respected—throughout the poetry community.

Welcome, Amy! We’re honored to add you to our family.

Best always and stay positive,
Mike, Editor-in-Chief

Writing Podcast

Insights on the Craft and Business of Writing
Listen to The Writing Show, where authors, screenwriters, playwrights, poets, and other writers in all stages of their careers reveal:
• How they work
• What they worry about
• How they make their writing sparkle
• How they deal with obstacles
• How they market
• Why they write
• Interviews, reality shows, contests, writing makeovers, and more from Paula B. and the gang!

The Writing Show, where writing is always the story.
Information and inspiration for writers.


New and established markets. Submission guidelines/leads.

You'll receive today via email Newsflash. Best for poetry, short prose, book projects. Writer's Relief, Inc. (866) 405-3003

We'll share our know-how with you.
In our 15th Year!


Award-winning author/editor: Lea Schizas Editing Services
My commitment is to help you tighten your manuscript before it’s submitted to agents or publishers. I offer you quality service at competitive rates. We'll work together until we both agree the manuscript is ready to go out to publishers.
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More Senior Moments—A Book For Seniors
More Senior Moments is a companion book to David W. Silva's Senior Moments. It was a finalist in the National Best Books 2007 Award. It contains strategies and stories that help seniors deal with the problems of aging such as depression, loneliness, loss of independence, self identity and chronic illness. The book contains well thought out and simple advice to help seniors accept aging as a challenge instead of a negative burden.

More details can be found at:


How will the words you write today influence the events of tomorrow?

THE LAST WHALE - Narrative Nonfiction

Creative nonfiction book to be published October 2008 by Fremantle Press.

The true story, written by Chris Pash, gets inside the heads of Australia's last whalers and a group of people who planned and executed a campaign to stop them. The campaign was Greenpeace's first direct action in Australia.


Dars Corrections
"...the right word for the right occasion"
Reasonable/negotiable rates for full line-by-line edits and basic proofreading available for:
- short stories
- articles
- book length manuscripts & novellas
I provide all this in a friendly, teachable way designed to help you perfect your words.
For more details, contact Darlene Oakley at:
Or visit:


1 The Spotlight Interview: Marcela Landres
2 Jeanne’s Writing Desk by Jeanne Lyet Gassman
3 Journaling by Ruth Folit
4 Guest Column: Moira Allen
5 Affirmations to Write By
6 Looking for a Writing Job?
7 Find Out What’s Going On Inside the Publishing Business
8 The Language by Mark Terence Chapman
9 Writer Beware
10 On the Writing Business by Patricia L. Fry
11 Writing Quotes of the Month
12 A Bevy of Writing Knowledge by Bev Walton-Porter
13 Writing Promptly
14 Marketing by Angela Wilson
15 Tip of the Month
16 Poetry Tip of the Month
17 Gold Member Sponsors

Writing It Real No-Contest Contest

Deadline December 31, 2008
Sheila Bender’s Writing It Real (, an online magazine and resource center on writing from personal experience, announces its first no-contest personal essay and poetry contest. Visit our website ( for information regarding online classes including Personal and Lyric Essay, Poetry Writing, Writing from Healthy Starts, Short Stories from Life and more.
In this current contest everyone’s an honorable mention and will receive not only a one-year subscription to Writing It Real, but also a detailed response to their work from Sheila (by email).
1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners will be asked permission to publish their work in Writing It Real and will receive a half-hour phone consult on writing and publishing with Sheila.
Submit up to six double-spaced pages of prose or three poems. Please number your pages. Sheila will respond to your work within two weeks of receiving it. A cover sheet that contains the author’s name, title of work(s), phone number, address and email address must accompany your submitted work. For an online submission form go to, Reading fee may be paid electronically using a credit card or through PayPal. Mailed entries must include a check for $45.00 (dollars) US. If you are sending funds from overseas, be sure the amount is in US dollars, officially typed by a bank, not handwritten. Checks should be made payable to: Writing It Real.
Mail your submission to:
Writing It Real No-Contest Contest
394 Colman Drive
Port Townsend, WA 98368
No SASE required. Entries will not be returned.

Poetic Expressions: Personalized Poetry for All Occasions
For personalized gifts of special intent, let us make your dreams come true. Let us help give the gift of a lifetime. A memory that lasts forever!
Visit us at:

Words to Write By
Compiled by Robin Bayne
Join a variety of well-known authors as they share the Scripture or quotations they find inspiring to their writing. The devotionals they’ve contributed reflect all aspects of the writing life: basic motivation, rejection, publishing and succeeding. Spend some time with the writers you love and discover what words they write by.

Writing Journeys in Guatemala and Jamaica
Don’t give in to the winter blues. Write in the most places on earth.
Join Celia Jeffries, MFA and Jacqueline Sheehan, bestselling author, for inspiring writing and yoga retreats.
1. Guatemala February 7-14, 2009 in the Mayan Highlands on Lake Atitlan.
2. Jamaica March 28 – April 4, 2009 in Bromley, Jamaica.
For more information, go to and


The Spotlight Interview

Marcela Landres, Author, Book Editor/Writing Teacher & Consultant/Motivational Speaker

Before starting her own business as a freelance editorial consultant, both guiding aspiring writers through the publishing process and helping them develop winning career strategies, Marcela Landres worked for seven years as an acquisitions editor for Simon & Schuster.

During her tenure at S&S, in which she was one of the scant few Latino editors in major book publishing, Ms. Landres acquired and edited the likes of best-selling authors Karen Rauch Carter and Dora Levy Mossanen, as well as oversaw the award-winning Spanish language division Libros en Español.

She’s on the Literature Panel for the New York State Council on the Arts; a judge for the Beyond Margins Award for PEN, the Latino Book Awards, and The Scholastic Art & Writing Award; and a member of the Women's Media Group, New York Women in Communications, and Las Comadres.

In addition to her consulting business, Landres has authored the book, “How Editors Think: The Real Reason They Rejected You” and runs a popular workshop called “How to Write a Knockout Book Proposal,” speaks before such organizations as The Learning Annex, Columbia University, the National Writers Union and the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, and publishes Latinidad, a newsletter for Latino writers.

Please check out her Web site at:

And her Yahoo group at:

And feel free to contact her at:

Here is my exclusive newsletter interview with Ms. Landres:

Mike: What was your childhood like? Were you born to be in book publishing?

Landres: No, far from it. I grew up the daughter of Ecuadorian immigrants in the projects of Long Island City, Queens in New York City. My dad was a fireman and my mom was a schoolteacher, and neither of them were readers. In fact, we didn’t have any books in our home while I was growing up.

Mike: So, where did your love of books come from?

Landres: When you’re the child of a schoolteacher you must be a straight-A student—that’s the expectation—and my mother went about that by teaching me how to read at a very young age. I don’t think her intention was to make me a book lover, but learning to read very early certainly struck something inside me.

Plus, we lived across the street from a small public library and by the time I was 10 I was coming home with stacks of books. I started reading books written by authors whose last names began with the letter “A” and worked my way from there.

In addition, my father is an old-school Latino, so my sisters and I couldn’t date until we were 18. We couldn’t go to parties. We couldn’t throw parties. We couldn’t go to friends’ houses and play. We lead very sheltered lives. All I had was TV and books, and, although I watched a lot of TV, I was mostly a book nerd—and proud of it. Books like Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby and Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn—these were my first best friends. Writers were my heroes because their stories opened up my otherwise circumscribed world.

I had no desire to hang out on the streets with the other kids. I was a loner and painfully shy. My mother used to snatch books out of my hands in the summer, and order me to go outside. And she’d come into my room at nighttime, when I was supposed to be asleep, and order me to stop reading by moonlight. Needless to say, it didn’t work!

Mike: Did you study publishing or literature in college?

Landres: Not right away. Originally, I was on the pre-med track, because I was supposed to become the first doctor in my family. But that ended once I got to organic chemistry lab. I quickly switched to English Lit and never looked back.

Mike: What was your route to Simon & Schuster?

Landres: I’d done some book publishing internships while in college. But I’d heard that magazines promoted faster and paid more, so I gave magazines a chance and worked for The American Lawyer for a year-and-a-half as the assistant to the editor and publisher. But my heart wasn’t in magazines. I didn’t love them nearly as much as I did books. So I left there to join Simon & Schuster.

Mike: What was your job at S&S exactly?

Landres: My main function was to read proposals and manuscripts and to separate them into two piles: “reject” and “pursue.” The fact is I put almost all of them into the rejection pile. The very few I didn’t I did my best to put under contract.

In essence, I was the gateway to a book being published.

I did very little reading in the office. Most of it was done at home, on the weekends, or on the subway ride to and from work. In fact, my decision to accept or reject something was often made on the subway.

Mike: Did you read unrepresented submissions?

Landres: Yes, but that made me very unusual among my editing colleagues. I was very open and accepting of those submissions, mostly because I became an editor to help Latino writers get published and most Latino writers didn’t have agents. The reason for that is, most agents aren’t Latino, and to ask them to find Latino writers is an exercise in futility.

Mike: How many manuscripts would you receive daily?

Landres: From around a half-dozen to dozens.

Mike: And how many of those would you publish in a good year?

Landres: On average, around 15.

Mike: Wow! So the numbers are pretty bad?

Landres: Yes, it’s a very low percentage. The odds are heavily against you.

Mike: So, what do you suggest to writers to increase the numbers in their favor?

Landres: It’s all about your reputation and your Rolodex. Who you know is your Rolodex. Who knows you is your reputation. The person that once said, “It’s all about who you know,” was half-right. The two combined make your platform. And platform is what’s most in demand in book publishing these days.

Most editors and most agents are not primarily looking for talented writers. What we’re looking for are people with a strong platform. Look at Dr. Phil. He had a best-selling weight-loss book, yet he’s hardly a great writer, hardly a fitness expert, and hardly looks like someone who should be writing about weight loss. But he has a great platform. He’s a friend of Oprah and has a top-rated TV show. He’s a perfect example of platform meaning much more than writing talent.

Mike: What are the five best pieces of advice for aspiring writers to build a strong platform?

Landres: 1) Spend no more than 50 percent of your time being the best writer you can be and no less than 50 percent of your time learning the business of publishing. Although writing can be a hobby, a vocation, a calling, a form of artistic expression, if you expect to be published, that means you expect to be paid, so at the end of the day writing is a job. Writers who treat writing as a job have a much better chance of being successful.

2) Attend writing conferences. Specifically, choose conferences that focus on the genre in which you write. In other words, if you write horror, go to a horror writers conference. It’s a wonderful way to not only meet successful horror writers, but also to network with agents and editors who specialize in horror.

3) Get your short pieces (e.g. poems, short stories, and essays) published in literary journals, magazines, newspapers, and reputable Web sites before seeking to publish a book-length work. It’s very difficult to get a book-length work published if you haven’t had short pieces published first. You need to start developing a readership that extends well beyond your mom, best friend, and significant other.

4) Make new friends. Most unpublished writers make the mistake of only hanging out with other unpublished writers. Hanging out with other unpublished writers all the time won’t get you very far in your writing career. I’m not suggesting that you get rid of all your old friends. Keep and cherish your old friends, as you’ll need them on the way up, as well as on the way down. But you should carefully seek out new friends who are successfully published writers, and try to make them your mentors.

5) Read the author bios printed on book covers. Notice how bios invariably list highlights of a writer’s platform. How do you think they got that book deal in the first place?

Mike: What do you think of self-publishing?

Landres: I sing the praises of self-publishing. For the right writer and right kind of book, it’s been a time-proven method of launching a successful traditional writing career. All kinds of writers have done it, though it’s worked best for authors of commercial women’s fiction. African-American writers in particular have benefited from self-publishing.

E. Lynn Harris started out self-publishing and is now a huge best-selling author at Random House. Zane, a best-selling erotica author published by Simon & Schuster, also began as a self-published author. James Redfield self-published The Celestine Prophecy before it became a huge mainstream hit. And Karen E. Quinones Miller and M.J. Rose are also examples of best-selling authors who built their platforms via self-publishing. If all these people can do it, so can you.

Mike: But aren’t a lot of self-published books just plain horrible?

Landres: Sure. But most of the stuff published by traditional publishing houses is crap. So why should self-publishing be different?

Mike: Do you write yourself?

Landres: No. Just for my newsletter and Web site, though I wouldn’t even call that writing. I’m an educator, not a writer. But I’m unusual among editors that way. In my experience, most editors are repressed writers.

Mike: What do you do in your consulting business?

Landres: I work one-on-one with writers, editing their manuscript or critiquing their proposals. I tell them what’s wrong and how to fix it. But that’s just part of what I do. The other part is educating them about the business of publishing, which is as important as the craft of writing. About half of my clients have agents, and half don’t. Some write fiction, some write non-fiction. About 40% are Latino, which means 60% are not. But the one thing they pretty much all have in common is they’ve gotten really nice rejection letters from publishing companies telling them their writing or book idea is good but needs polishing. That’s where I step in. I teach them craft, and then empower them to make informed choices in their writing careers.

Mike: Could you recommend a Web site for writers other than your own?

Landres: Yes, it’s called Backspace—The Writers Place, at:

Mike: Any book recommendations?

Landres: Two, actually. First, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published by Sheree Bykofsky & Jennifer Bayse Sander. The greatest value of this book is that it includes a real live book proposal that resulted in a book deal. And the other is Publicize Your Book! An Insider’s Guide to Getting Your Book the Attention It Deserves by Jacqueline Deval. It’s a fabulous book. In fact, let me read you these first two sentences:

“The reality of book publishing is that there are too few resources to support every book. This means that some books will get publicity campaigns and budgets, while others will go without.”

That’s exactly right. This goes contrary to what most authors believe. They simply assume that their publishing company will automatically spend money promoting their book just because they published it. The reality is that’s not always the case.

Mike: Who are some of your heroes in the literary world?

Landres: Oh, god, I have so many. Toni Morrison. Terry McMillan. Charles Dickens. Annie Dillard. And a Dominican-American writer named Angie Cruz, who grew up in Washington Heights.

Mike: What inspires you?

Landres: People’s stories, either reading them or hearing them. I love storytellers.

Mike: Do you have a favorite quote?

Landres: I have a motto I live by:

If you are in a position to help someone, it is your honor and your obligation to do so.

I believe that knowledge is power only when shared. I tell my clients and everyone who attends my workshops that now that I’ve shared my knowledge with them, they better get off their butt and do something with it. I think it’s my duty to crush unrealistic expectations and replace them with achievable goals.

Mike: Any lasting thoughts?

Landres: Yes. Always remember that, whether you are published or not, we all have stories to tell, and we’re the only ones who are qualified to tell them. All of us are storytellers. Some of us simply have a greater need to share our stories and attract an audience.

Inspiration for Writers

First prize: Gift package worth over $500, including a professional edit and critique of up to 15,000 words, books on the craft of writing, and more.
Entry fee: $40. ALL ENTRIES receive a complimentary edit of the first 500 words, a detailed critique of the submission package, and an electronic copy of the Inspiration for Writers Tips and Techniques Workbook.
Entry Deadline: January 15, 2009. Inspiration for Writers will announce the winners on or before March 31, 2009.
Submit a one-page synopsis and first three chapters. Additional information at or call Sandy Tritt at 304-428-1218.

The time to write your book is…now!

Poetic Expressions’ $10 Poetry E-Books!

Check out the new POETRY E-BOOKS we're offering at Poetic Expressions for only $10. And $4 of every sale goes toward the church where I preach. You'll even get a receipt for tax purposes! So, check it out at Poetic Expressions!

Looking for a gift for that spiritual friend?

Authors write magical words to dream by…

The Ride
By Jane Kennedy Sutton

Recipe for Suburban Surprise:

Take one deeply depressed housewife.
Add an unexpected windfall.
Carefully fold in one very handsome, very clever charmer.
Separate and discard one totally self-centered, slightly abusive husband.
Place remaining ingredients into red-hot convertible cruising on Route 66 and see what happens!

The Ride


By Marcela Landres
"I read How Editors Think in one sitting and was engaged from beginning to end. It is well written, highly informative, and humorous—I found myself laughing out-loud in a few spots! Thanks for sharing the secrets of the trade."—Maryra Lazara Dole, author of Down to the Bone
Inspired by my experience as a former Simon & Schuster editor, How Editors Think: The Real Reason They Rejected You reveals what it really takes to get published. For more information, visit:

Writers Helping Writers on Facebook!

Jeanne’s Writing Desk

Finding Affirmation
By Jeanne Lyet Gassman

The writer’s life is not an easy one. It requires long hours of working alone on projects that may never leave your desk. It demands patience and persistence. Rejections appear more often than acceptances, praise, or paychecks. Yet, most of us who have been writing for years desire to do nothing else. What gives us the strength—the energy—to sit at a keyboard day after day spinning out our words with no guarantee of success? The secret is finding positive affirmation.

Positive affirmation confirms that your efforts are worthy and your goals are valid. By focusing on the positive, the negative becomes insignificant.

Some ways to find positive affirmation in your writing life and career:

Find One True Believer. Every person needs someone who believes in him without question or doubt. I have been fortunate to have several true believers in my life. My parents encouraged my interest in writing and praised my efforts. Later, my husband assumed that role. Your true believer is your personal cheerleader, the one who tells you, “I think it’s wonderful you’re a writer. I’m proud of you and what you do.”

Find One True Reader. A true reader is willing to critique your writing and offer suggestions for improvement. Your true reader should give you honest opinions on your work. The true reader wants you to do your best work—always. She should recognize both your strengths and your weaknesses and push you to reach higher. True readers are seldom relatives, however. You can find true readers from your colleagues, mentors, teachers, critique group, and sometimes, your friends. Just remember that the true reader is NOT your cheerleader but your audience. And your job is to make the audience happy they bought the ticket to the show.

Believe in You. This may sound trite, but it is true. You must believe at some level that you have the ability to write well. You need to believe enough in yourself to take risks. These risks include: submitting your work for publication; exposing it to criticism and feedback; and starting over with revisions and edits even when you thought you were finished.

Take Positive Steps. This comes from setting goals and developing a plan to accomplish those goals. Do you want to improve your craft? Then read books on writing, take a writing class, or join a critique group. Do you want to be published? Then research the markets, read and follow the guidelines, and submit your work. Do you want to make money from your writing? Then put in the hours, learn the craft, find the right markets, and don’t give away your writing to blogs, Websites, or other “freebies.”

Learn More, Know Less. Interestingly enough, the most successful writers are those who keep asking the questions. They have an innate curiosity about the world around them. Every time you learn a new skill or study a new topic, you open yourself up to new writing possibilities. For example, I am finishing up a novel set during the First Century A.D. Through my research and study, I have learned how to buy a camel at auction, how to perform a haruspication (look it up), and how to race a chariot. None of these are skills I would need today, but they’ve expanded my imagination and become the catalyst for stories beyond the scope of my novel. When you feel that you know everything, you set yourself up to fail.

Enjoy the Journey. Beginning writers are sometimes so eager to be published that they forget why they started to write in the first place. Whenever you sit down to the keyboard, take a moment to remind yourself that you do this because you love it. Yes, it is wonderful to see your writing published and/or to be paid for it, but your first happiness should come from creating the work itself. The process is just as important as the final product. Take pleasure in the doing, not just in the “having done it.”

Beware the Toxic. Writers can be so hungry for strokes that they will accept the most brutal of critiques. A couple of years ago, I discovered that I was guilty of this very sin. I was a member of a critique group that had become vicious and cruel, with each member trying to outdo the other in finding fault. I came home from these meetings angry and frustrated and strangely determined to “show them.” What I did not recognize was that I no longer trusted my instincts. Instead, I was listening to naysayers, to people who had no desire to see me do well, and my writing suffered as a result. After I left this group, my craft and my outlook improved. A single negative critique can be discouraging, and that’s normal. But if you belong to a critique group and discover that you feel discouraged every time you receive feedback, then it’s time to find a new group and new readers.

Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters. A writer’s career is built upon the shoulders of others. I have received help in my career from friends, teachers, editors, mentors, publishers, and most importantly, my family. My success is a gift from others, and I have a debt to give back what I’ve been given. Share your knowledge, your expertise, and your talents, and your rewards will be tenfold. The person you helped yesterday may be the person who holds the key to your success tomorrow.

Happy writing!

Newsletter contributing columnist Jeanne Lyet Gassman is an award-winning author whose fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry has been published in magazines, newspapers (including The Arizona Republic and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), and anthologies. In 2002, Ms. Gassman was the recipient of an Encouragement Award in Creative Writing from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and in the 2005 Preditors & Editors Reader’s poll her story, '”Healing Arts,'” was ranked among the Top 10 in the nonfiction category. She also teaches writing classes and conducts workshops in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Please visit her Web site at:


Keep a Journal and Learn How to Talk Back to Your Internal Critic
By Ruth Folit

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, describes "the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it." Author Susan Perry has taken Csikszentmihalyi's work and examined the "flow" state within the context of writers and their writing. Perry's Writing in Flow: Keys to Enhanced Creativity specifically looks at how writers can get into a flow state while writing. In her book she states: "The optimal conditions for creativity (and thus for flow entry) include a condition of psychological safety from external evaluation. When you feel (and fear) your efforts are going to be judged, you quickly lose the ability to marshal all your mental and emotional resources in the quest for a new way to express yourself. No one wants to fail or look foolish for writing something that others (or you yourself) will judge to be bad, stupid, or silly."

Journal writing creates a safe haven. When I write a journal entry I write with no intended audience. I have the opportunity to write without being judged by some unwelcome, sneering being, breathing over my shoulder. I have the freedom and space to think, to express, to be as I please. It's not easy to find that in the everyday world.

However, even within the confines of "no audience" journal writing, I can sometimes find myself being both writer and audience. This inner and sometimes negative inner voice has been dubbed by many as the "Internal Critic." Sometimes the Internal Critic can be as cruel and damaging as an external audience. The Internal Critic seems to be universal. Everyone has heard that nagging internal voice saying something akin to "What are you thinking? This is horrible! You think you can write?"

To make journal writing psychologically safer (and hence increase your creativity) you may want to learn to tame your Internal Critic. Here are some thoughts about working with the Internal Critic:
1. Acknowledge that everyone has Internal Critics of some kind. Get to know yours. Usually, people incorporate parts of their parents, teachers, siblings, or others that may have been critical when they were younger to create their Internal Critics. Bring those Inner Critics out of hiding, into the light of day, and learn everything you can about them. You may even want to have dialog with your Internal Critics. Write down what your Internal Critic is saying: It may be an eye-opener. Respond to your Internal Critic, and see what ensues. After engaging in this back and forth, you’ll have a better tuned ear for this kind of internal chatter. After a while you will be able to identify the voices of the Internal Critics. Identifying them is half of the battle.
2. Recognize that Internal Critics have both beneficial and damaging qualities. At times your Internal Critics may be protecting you from external criticism. They may motivate you to edit your writing one more time and improve it.
3. Discriminate when it's a good time to listen to your critics and when to dismiss them. When you are first gathering your thoughts and putting them into words, the Internal Critics may limit your thinking and confine the range of ways to express yourself. In the early phases of writing, keep your critics distant. They will never really go away, so consider different ways to detach from or ignore them.

You may temporarily turn a deaf ear, like when a neighbor's dog is barking loudly: sometimes you confront your neighbor and his dog, and other times you choose to turn the din into benign background noise. You may choose to talk to your Internal Critics directly--perhaps kindly and firmly, or harshly and bluntly--and let them know that you know that they are there, but you'll interact with them later. Or you may work with them proactively at the start of the day, as Julia Cameron suggests in The Artist's Way. Cameron writes "morning pages," the daily routine first thing in the morning of writing three pages about whatever you want as a way to clear out, clean out, and prepare for a day of creativity. Within your morning pages you may want to have a conversation with your critics, letting them know how you will interact with them that day.

The more you acknowledge your Internal Critics, the more you'll be able to make them smaller than life.
4. Stay committed to staying in control of your Internal Critics. With time and patience and practice, you'll figure out the best way to use these interior characters to your advantage.
Ruth Folit is the designer and producer of the journal software LifeJournal for Writers (, an innovative, inspiring and interactive program that runs on Windows operating systems. You can learn more about journal writing by reading the monthly newsletters ( or enrolling in a webinar ( ).

Guest Column

What to Do if You Don’t Have Clips
By Moira Allen

Few things evoke as much dread in beginning writers as the request, “Query with clips.” No clips doesn’t necessarily mean no assignments, however. You may have something even better: Credentials.

In many cases, editors value “real” experience over “writing” experience. If you want to write for a hiking magazine, for example, your backpacking expertise will interest an editor far more than your ability to put commas in all the right places. Indeed, some editors would rather receive a poorly written article with good content than a brilliantly written piece by a writer who doesn't understand the subject area.

Here are some things editors look for that can be more important than "clips:"

1) Education. Do you have a degree, or some other form of educational qualifications, in the field you wish to write about? If you wanted to write for a parenting magazine, for example, a degree in child development might be enough to convince an editor to take a chance on you. Educational credits needn't always be formal degrees, but should be sufficient to establish you as an “expert.”

2) Work experience. One of my writing students planned to write an article on gardening from the perspective of avoiding safety hazards (and possible liabilities). His edge: He was a lawyer, and knew exactly what advice to offer do-it-yourself landscapers to help them avoid lawsuits.

3) Personal expertise. Your hobbies may also give you the edge you need to impress an editor. Another student sold her first article—a lovely piece on forget-me-nots—based entirely on her own gardening experience. That piece also gained her a second assignment from the editor.

4) Personal experience. Don’t overlook “what you did on your summer vacation” as a source of article ideas. Experiences from your everyday life can provide the foundation for an assignment-winning query. Sometimes, simply having "been there, done that" is enough to make you an “expert.” (Just make sure that your “experience” is sufficient to set you apart from the crowd; offering a parenting article simply on the basis of “being a parent” isn't likely to impress many editors.)

5) Access to experts. Even if you're not an expert yourself, you may be able to sell an article based on your ability to contact an expert for an interview. Be sure to list the expert's credentials—and be sure you really can get the interview if you get the assignment!

Whatever your credentials, be sure to present them in a well-crafted query letter that clearly describes the article you want to write—and gives the editor convincing reasons to buy it. Your letter should indicate a familiarity with the publication and its needs, and should also demonstrate that you have a grasp of grammar, style, and proofreading. Your credentials will then have a better chance of convincing the editor that you can, indeed, “Write what you know.”

Moira Allen is the author of more than 300 articles and columns. Her books include Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer; The Writer's Guide to Queries, Pitches and Proposals; and Creative Internet Strategies to Advance Your Writing Career.

Affirmations to Write By
I’m a talented, gifted, and serious writer.

I organize my research with great diligence.

Creativity flows through me easily and effortlessly, like a gentle river.

I’m not the least bit affected by the negative attitudes and opinions of others.

I have my priorities straight, easily balancing the needs of my family with my own need to write, but I do make writing a big priority.

Images and words come easily when I sit down to write.

I use my writing time wisely and efficiently.

I always manager to find a congenial, cozy spot to write, or, as Hemingway once wrote, a clean, well-lighted place.

I write daily with excitement, enthusiasm, and confidence.

I have a positive, reasonable expectancy of big success, and I take temporary setbacks well.

Get the book out of your head!

Mike’s Private Coaching Sessions
Need a writing coach to pump you up and get your creative juices flowing? Need a writing mentor who doesn’t speak from theory but decades of experience in the center of the publishing arena? Let me help you reach your writing dreams!
• Make your writing powerfully come to life
• Build the A, B, and C’s of a professional writing career
• Learn the secrets of full-time freelancing
• Talk to editors and come away with work
• Network your way through the publishing game
• Reach publishing powerbrokers
• Negotiate like a pro for high-dollar assignments
• Deal effectively with rejection, blocks, fear, procrastination, and other obstacles

And much, much more!
Write me at:
Half-hour phone sessions available for $50, one hour for $75! Students and seniors half priced!

Mike’s Writing Workshop Named to the
2008 List of Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers!

The entire list can be found at:

The Author’s Repair Kit is a NEW ebook designed to help you breathe new life into your faltering or failing book. Use Patricia Fry’s post-publication book proposal system and heal your publishing mistakes. The Author's Repair Kit, only 27 pages: $5.95.

Looking for a Writing Job?
Check out these sites:

(Disclaimer: I only recommend these sites as interesting ones to check out. If you decide to purchase any products or services, or become a paid member of a site or apply for a posted job, you do so at your own risk. Please use your discretion and common sense.)

Find Out What’s Going On Inside The Publishing Business
Industry News and More!

The Language
Don’t let these commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases trip you up
By Mark Terence Chapman
Here are some more words, phrases and forms of punctuation that are commonly misused or misspelled. A conscientious writer should use these correctly. More importantly, using these words/phrases correctly will reduce the odds of your writing being rejected by an editor due to excessive errors. (Editors don’t want to waste time on pieces that require an inordinate amount of their time to clean up.) Even if you write only business reports and emails, you still wouldn’t want people chuckling over your misuse of the English language, would you?
Walla vs. Voilà
Wrong: We turned the corner and walla, there it was.
Right: We turned the corner and voila, there it was.
Voilà (or voila) is French for “see there.” It’s used to call attention to something or express satisfaction or success. Walla is simply an attempt to spell it phonetically. But even that fails, because the correct pronunciation of voila is vwa-LA (not wa-LA). The v is not silent.
Eldest vs. Elder / Youngest vs. Younger
Wrong: The eldest of their two daughters is getting married next month.
Right: The elder of their two daughters is getting married next month.
Use elder or younger when referring to one of only two; use eldest or youngest when referring to one of three or more.
Tortuous vs. Torturous
Right: We undertook a tortuous journey.
Right: We undertook a torturous journey.
Tortuous means winding, twisting, or convoluted, while torturous refers to causing pain and suffering (torture). Sometimes there can be overlap in meaning. For example, describing a tortuous road as torturous imparts the added nuance of danger or mental anguish. Still, it’s important to understand the difference in meaning, to ensure that you always use the correct word.
Jist vs. Gist
Wrong: That’s the jist of the situation.
Right: That’s the gist of the situation.
Jist is a simple misspelling of gist, which is the central meaning or essence of an idea, discussion, or legal argument.
Dessert vs. Desert
Wrong: She wandered for days, lost in the dessert.
Right: She wandered for days, lost in the desert.
Unless she was eating the world’s largest hot fudge sundae, she was lost in a desert (an extremely dry place that supports only sparse vegetation), not a dessert (the final course of a meal).
Tort vs. Torte
Wrong: That tort was delicious!
Right: That torte was delicious!
A torte is a type of cake containing little or no flour but many eggs and, usually, ground nuts. A tort, on the other hand, is a wrongful act for which a civil lawsuit can be brought (personal injury, for example, but not a breach of contract). While an attorney might refer to her victory in a tort case as delicious, most of us would find a torte to be tastier.
Longest vs. Longer
Wrong: The Queen Mary is the longest of the two ships.
Right: The Queen Mary is the longer of the two ships.
Use longer or shorter when referring to one of only two; use longest or shortest when referring to one of three or more.
Amature vs. Amateur
Wrong: She’s a rank amature.
Right: She’s a rank amateur.
Amature is a common misspelling of amateur (another of those pesky words borrowed from French).
Last vs. Final or Previous
Wrong: Rocky IV wasn’t as exciting as the last movie.
Right: Rocky IV wasn’t as exciting as the most recent movie I watched.
Right: Rocky IV wasn’t as exciting as the previous movie in the series.
Right: Rocky IV wasn’t as exciting as the final movie in the series.
Last has many meanings, including “most recent,” “final,” “least important,” and “least desirable.” It’s hard to tell from the first example which meaning of last the writer intended. (The context of the sentence within a paragraph may or may not tell us.) So, for the sake of clarity, it’s best to be more precise.
If you’ve ever been confused about any of these words or phrases, tack this article to the wall by your desk. It’ll help you avoid similar errors in the future.
Mark Terence Chapman writes in various genres: He’s a poet, short story writer, novelist, humorist, and even a nonfiction writer tackling computer topics and nanotechnology. To find out more about Mr. Chapman, please visit his Web site at: or his blog at:

Writer Beware
Warnings About Literary Fraud and Other Schemes, Scams, and Pitfalls That Target Writers
Do yourself a favor and check out these great sites to keep you safe in the publishing world:

On the Writing Business

A Dozen Unique Ways to Make More Money Writing
By Patricia L. Fry

Would you like to make more money writing? All you need is an awareness of the vast opportunities out there and the willingness to stretch and grow.

Let’s say that you write articles for magazines. You get paid to write a church bulletin and an occasional book review. What more could you do? Plenty. Here are some ideas:

1: Write political campaign material. Elections can be lucrative for writers. Candidates rely on accomplished writers to sway voters. I’ve earned some good money writing campaign material for school board candidates and local union election contenders. It’s easy to get involved. Simply choose your candidate or cause and apply for a writing job.

2: Produce radio copy. Before it’s spoken, it has to be written—at least that’s true of ad copy for radio. If you can write concise copy for products, this might be a lucrative sideline for you. The fee is around $50/hour.

3: Start a newsletter business. I know someone who writes newsletters for half dozen businesses and organizations. Potential annual earnings per newsletter are $2000 to $6000.

4: Become a teacher. It took me years to figure out that my writing experience was a valuable commodity. Perhaps yours is, too. Teach classes through a local art center, a community college, a senior center or online and get paid anywhere from $100 to $1,000 per course.

5: You be the judge. If you have the right credentials, why not apply as a judge for some of the many writing contests operating throughout the U.S. each year? I’ve judged poetry contests and a nonfiction story-writing contest. Find contests listed in “Writer’s Market” and online at

6: Write speeches. People will pay for speeches of all types. Write a eulogy, a motivational speech for a CEO or a roast for a 50th birthday party. You can charge anywhere from $25 to $100 for a five-seven-minute speech.

7: Produce fundraising material for businesses and organizations. Fundraising takes a special knack. If you can write convincing, straightforward copy designed to touch people’s hearts and their pocketbooks, you can probably get work in this field. Fees vary.

8: Do technical writing. If you can explain in writing how to use a toaster, maybe there’s a place for you as a technical writer. To learn more about this field and to find jobs in this market, read Susan Bilheimer’s book, “How to Become a Technical Writer.”

9: Translate foreign documents and books. If you speak more than one language, you could earn thousands of dollars each year as a translator. Start by registering with the American Translators Association (ATA) Also send your resume to publishers who typically reproduce books in other languages.

10: Work with other writers. Earn extra money ghostwriting books or doing editing, proofreading, typesetting or indexing. Help a writer develop his/her book proposal, write a query letter or design promotional material for his/her books. You can earn anywhere from $300 to $15,000 per project.

11: Expand your writing services. Have you ever visited a Web site that was disorganized and littered with misspelled words? Contact the Web master and offer to rewrite the text. Do you sometimes find mistakes on brochures you receive in the mail? Go to the heads of these companies/organizations, point out the mistakes and offer your services.
12: Ask for writing work. When you experience a slow time, contact your favorite editors and ask for an assignment. Maybe one of their writers can’t make deadline and they need a fast turnaround. Perhaps they have an idea and need a writer.

In order to find and land writing jobs such as these, you must be proactive. Here’s what I suggest:

Subscribe to online writing-oriented newsletters and join online writing organizations that offer job listings for writers.

Network constantly. Networking has served me extremely well. Last year, for example, a writer friend suggested I contact an editor she knows about writing for their technical magazine. I ended up writing a dozen articles for this magazine during a twelve-month period.

If writing is your passion and your livelihood, it’s imperative that you write where the money is. Let this list be a starting place that launches your lucrative writing career.

Contributing newsletter columnist Patricia Fry is the author of 25 published books, including, The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book and The Author’s Repair Kit. She is also the president of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network,
Visit her publishing blog at:
Ms. Fry’s free guide to writing a Post-Publication Book Proposal can be requested by emailing her at:

Writing Quotes of the Month
"Mere literary talent is common; what is rare is endurance, the continuing desire to work hard at writing."—Donald Hall

“Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”—Gene Fowler

"Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression. The chasm is never completely bridged. We all have the conviction, perhaps illusory, that we have much more to say than appears on the paper."—Isaac Bashevis Singer

“I think you have to experience the world to write about it. That’s not to say you must write what you know. I don’t believe in rules like that. I am just talking about experiencing the world. Living in order to write about living. Your mind should be a blender. Everything you do, see and experience gets thrown in. Throw in what you learn and what you hear. Throw in what you read in good books and see in movie theaters. Throw in what you see on your travels. Throw in the good and bad things in the world. When the time is right you flick on the blender, mix everything together and hopefully pour out a smoothie that is all yours.”—Michael Connelly

“Detail is the lifeblood of fiction.”—John Gardner

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”—Ray Bradbury

“A good style should show no sign of effort. What is written should seem like a happy accident.”—William Somerset Maugham

“Like a piece of ice on a hot stove, the poem must ride on its own melting.”—Robert Frost

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”—William Wordsworth

“The art of poetry consists in taking the poem through draft after draft, without losing its inspirational magic: he removes everything irrelevant or distracting, and tightens up what is left. Lazy poets never carry their early drafts far enough: some even believe that virtue lies in the original doodle scrawled on the back of an envelope.”—Robert Graves

A Bevy of Writing Knowledge

Five Tips for Making Your Freelance Writing Dreams Come True
By Bev Walton-Porter

Before you begin your travels into the realm of freelance writer, I'd like to share five points of guidance that will serve to guide you along your trip. Read them, consider them, and mold them to fit your circumstances.


First and foremost, you must have a specific vision of how you want to succeed as a freelance writer. Not all freelance writers fit in one mold; some write mostly for specific niches, such as health or finance publications. Other freelancers, such as myself, prefer to diversify and write for a number of publications on a variety of subjects.

Regardless of your decision to specialize or diversify, you must define your personal vision as a freelance writer. If you don't have a specific vision in mind, then how can you hope to achieve your goals?

You've heard this old adage over and over again, but have you really considered putting it into play in your life? When I say, "believe in yourself," that simply means to have faith in your own abilities and to cultivate them as you would help a child cultivate his or her newfound abilities.

Believing in yourself and cultivating your own unique brand of creativity is to celebrate and honor the gifts that have been given to you in this lifetime. There is no shame in discovering your true purpose and then following it with gusto and determination.

Before we can take care of others and honor others' successes, we must learn to celebrate our own inherent talents, to cultivate them and to believe that we do, indeed, have a fresh perspective and insight to offer to the world. There is only one of you. Gradually work to become more comfortable with yourself and to believe that with a smidgen of confidence and an open heart with which to learn, you can accomplish any goal you desire.

Writing is a solitary profession for the most part. When it comes time to sit down at your computer and bang out an article, essay, short story, novel or poem, it's pretty much you and a blank screen. And a cup of strong coffee, if you're like me.

Still, no writer is a success without others. Yes, no matter how talented you are or how dynamic your prose might be, along the way I'd be willing to bet you had plenty of support from other people—and some of the best support you can get is from other writers.

Networking with other writers adds a dimension of familiarity and a sense of belonging to a larger, like-minded group. Writers understand other writers; writers understand the terror of rejection; writers remember the jubilant rush of one's first article publication. Writers know other writers in a way that non-writers will never know them.

Invest in a group of close-knit writers who share your same vision of writing and who can boost your morale or loan you a crying shoulder when you need it. Then, after you're finished crying and moaning over your latest rejection, they'll most likely help you pull yourself up by the bootstraps and begin submitting work again.

During those times when you'll inevitably feel like you've lost your best friend and the publishing industry has shunned your work forever, that's when you'll appreciate the value of networking with other writers. Just because writing can be solitary profession, that doesn't mean it has to be lonely, too.

Like any other heartfelt undertaking, you must be committed to your writing. Like combing your hair, brushing your teeth or exercising your body each day, so must you commit yourself to exercising your writing each day.

I've heard many times before that it's not necessarily the most talented of writers who become the most published, but it's the most committed writers—the ones who submit more often—who are published the most. And you know what? It's true.

If you write once or twice a year and submit only on occasion, how can you possibly dream of becoming a bestselling author? The answer is that you cannot. In order to live your ultimate dream and to reach the level of success you desire as a writer, you must first pledge to commit yourself to that dream.

Becoming a bestselling author or a full-time freelance writer is not something that can be achieved overnight. You must first focus on your goal, map out the small daily steps you need to take to make steady progress, and pledge to commit yourself to your goal until you reach it -- no matter how many months or years that may take.

Remember, so-called ‘overnight success’ generally takes 15 years—or so say experts. Ask yourself what small step you can take today to set yourself on the path toward your goal.

What about joining a professional writing group? How about attending a writing conference or workshop? Why not learn how to write a query letter and begin sending one to an editor each week? It's these actions of commitment that help pull you along in the right direction. Commit yourself to action and you've cleared a major hurdle.

When one reaches success, it's only because throughout the journey there have been many failures, as well. This leads me to the final, somewhat paradoxical tip for how to begin living your dream as a freelance writer...


"Allow yourself to fail?" you repeat in horror. "How can you say it's okay to fail?" Because, fellow writer, it is through the lessons of failure that one learns what it truly means to succeed.

Allow yourself to fail many times over. Not everything you write will be a gem. In fact, much of your work may never see the light of publication. What's more, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all.

To reach our greatest potential as writers, we must write ... and write ... and write. Repetition is the mother of skill. The more you write, the more you will sharpen your talent and expand your abilities.

Along those same lines, don't be afraid of taking chances in your writing. Some of you may have heard that it's safer to stay with one genre or specialty in writing. There are, of course, good points to support that argument. However, one prevailing question remains: if you don't expand your horizons as a writer, how will you ever grow in your abilities?

Don't be afraid to fail, don't be afraid to stumble along the way and don't be afraid to try something new in your writing. Above all else, keep growing and learning. Always.

By the same token, don't be afraid of allowing yourself to succeed. It may sound crazy, but many writers are secretly afraid of success. "What if I succeed, and then I can't handle the pressures of success?" they ask themselves.

It is true that with success comes pressure. It is also true that once you reach the stage of what you consider success, you may begin to doubt your abilities. You may feel like a sham. You may feel you've been lucky, but that you don't have the mettle to really cope with larger assignments that are coming your way. These fears, and many others, will undoubtedly assail you.

What to do? Step back. Relax. Refocus. Understand who you are, where you came from and where you are going with your writing. As in writing, as in life, we are usually not given more than we can handle. The key is how we consciously decide to handle the zingers that are tossed our way.

With both failure and success come zingers of all shapes and sizes. Once you know who you truly are as a writer, it's much easier to anticipate whether it's smarter to dodge energy-sapping obstacles or whether to confront them head-on.

Indeed, when you remain specific in your focus, believe in yourself, maintain commitment, exude passion and have a circle of unbending support surrounding you, the fallacy of failure vs. success diminishes. With much amazement, you finally realize that the only thing that matters is your dream of writing and how you choose to live it!

There are countless other tips I can think of and would like to share with you—too many to pen here. But these will get you started and heading in the right direction. Don't be afraid to take the first step today to see yourself as a capable writer and to live the dream you've only entertained in your mind.

Remember, no writer was born a professional; even the most revered writers were absolute beginners at one time or another.

Believe in yourself, as Goethe once extolled: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now. "

Be bold. Begin your dream, and begin it now. I know you can live your dream, because if it can happen to me, it can certainly happen to you. I'm betting on it!

Newsletter contributing columnist Bev Walton-Porter is a professional writer/author who has published hundreds of stories on a wide variety of subjects and written three books: “Sun Signs for Writers,” the contemporary romance “Mending Fences,” and “The Complete Writer: A Guide to Tapping Your Full Potential,” co-authored with three other writers.
She has also worked as a contract editor for NBC Internet and, among others, published in the award-winning e-zine for writers, Scribe & Quill, for the past nine years, and is a member of The Authors Guild as well as the co-founder of the International Order of Horror Professionals.
Please visit her Web site at:

Writing Promptly

Write about…
Your most memorable street.

Your favorite park, both as a child and now.

Your fantasy vacation.

Your worst day recently.

Your favorite pet.

Your worst meal in a restaurant.

Your dream job.

Your wardrobe.

Your bedroom as a child.

Your scariest moment.


News Releases that Get Face Time
By Angela Wilson

Journalists these days don't have time to wade through the bulk of releases they receive by email, snail mail and fax. Padded envelopes that promise TMI from a company are thrown away, unopened, whiles others land in File 13 because of poor writing or proofing.

When you send a news release to a media agency, you are competing with hundreds - sometimes thousands - of others scrambling to get their attention. Your release must stick out by being short, concise, well-written, error-proof, with answers to the: who, what, when, where, why, how.

All news releases should include a boilerplate, or standard text, at the bottom. Most likely, this will be a three-to-four sentence author bio, with a link to a Web site or media center. For example: Angela Wilson is a Web-savvy marketing/promotions specialist. She works with authors across the nation on publicity and promotions. Her advice appears in at the blog,

Include a clear embargo date, if necessary. Reporters work ahead, so don't be surprised if they call you before the information in your release is officially public.

To also stand out from the crowd, you should follow up with a phone call. Not only does this put you directly on an editor or reporter's radar, but it allows you to gauge their interest in doing an interview.

Releases should also be sent early, with a follow up release and phone call closer to the event. More media professionals respond to eReleases, or e-mailed news releases, than to those sent by fax or USPS.

These additional pointers will help you cultivate news releases guaranteed to generate buzz.

Print News Releases
▪ Use one page. Period. A rule of thumb in some newsrooms is the longer the release, the worse the event/book/movie, etc. Exception: When you are outlining a list of quarterly or annual events, you may use more than one page. For example, authors on a 25-city book tour will need more than a page to list the times, dates and places they will be.
▪ Include a publicist contact—not yourself. If you do, fewer people will see the legitimacy of your release. Ask a friend or family member to act as the initial contact. They can take messages that you can return later, or book interviews, signings or other appointments. This is time consuming, but adds an added layer of legitimacy to your release—especially if you are self published.
▪ Boldface hyperlinks so they stand out from the copy. Reporters are more likely to visit these sites than read through your entire release.

Electronic News Releases
▪ Keep them short—no more than 3 long, or 4 short paragraphs.
▪ Include live links. Don't force reporters to track down your Web site. They don't have time - and won't, in most cases.
▪ Use a blog format. Do not use standard paragraph format. Everything electronic should be in blocks, with an additional line between paragraphs. Single-spaced type runs together and is unreadable, which leads editors to trash your release whether it is well-written or not.
▪ Always include your name, position and email address in the copy. Editors forward emails to reporters, and sometimes the stream of addresses does not carry over.
▪ Add a link to your online media center. Don't have one? Get one—now. Read this article to get details on what your media center needs.
▪ Be sure your releases are fed through RSS or another feed. Also post a ink to these in appropriate forums and social networks online.
▪ Do NOT include attachments. SPAM filters will likely shuffle your email out of the mix and it will never reach the hands of the editors and reporters. This is another reason it is vitally important to load images, PDF excerpts and other typical attachments into a media center, where they can download it themselves.

As always, have someone else proof your work. You are too close to the release to check it properly. An extra set of eyes can catch flaws you can't, and also offer up suggestions to improve the copy.

Angela Wilson is an author, freelance author publicist and professional blogger and podcaster. She requests ARCs and manages the book blog for Pop Syndicate, where she hosts authors on virtual book tours. If you have a question about promotions, visit and fill out the contact form. Your question may be used on that site or in a future newsletter column.

Find Ms. Wilson at:

Tip of the Month

Be a super model.
Modeling successful behavior is one of the most useful methods to achieve top results. So, just as an exercise, try imitating the writing style of one of your favorite writers—the way he/she sets up scenes, describes, builds action, etc. The late, eccentric Hunter Thompson took this to the extreme, once typing out the novels of Ernest Hemingway. “Just to get a feel for how it’s done,” he told friends.

Poetry Tip of the Month
By Amy King
2007 Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere

Avoid the poetry game—don't try to write straight emotional verse and don't try to write straight intellectual verse and don't concern yourself with "becoming a poet." Tap into your intuition and go with what both feels smart and smartly feels. Easier said than done, I know. It takes practice, daily, with lots of throw away. Sit alone and realize that even famous writers rely only on themselves, their bodies and minds that are infinitely not split. Learn to be alone, practice writing without recognition, without approval.

The trick is to get rid of your ideas of publishing. Don't ask, "What do people want to read?" or "How can I become a well known poet?" Instead ask, "What do people *need* to read?" Your words can either merely reflect the culture around you or your language can invent and change the world. Go with what feels right, however odd that appears in the face of expectation—stand out and be loyal only to what you know must be done.

Walt Whitman, shameless self promoter, was not invested in advancing himself or gaining celebrity status, but rather, he was certain of his poetry and how much the world needed it. He changed the face of poetry, who can use it, and even how.

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Credits, Disclaimer, and Copyright

Michael P. Geffner, the founder/editor-in-chief of this newsletter, has been a writer/journalist for nearly 30 years. He's appeared in hundreds of publications, including The New York Times, USA Today, Details, The Sporting News, Men's Health, Cigar Aficionado, The Village Voice, FHM, Texas Monthly, and Los Angeles Magazine. He has won two Associated Press Sports Editors awards, been awarded first place for magazine profile writing in 2000 by the Society of Professional Journalists (NJ), voted Best Sportswriter in New York City in 1990 by New York Press, and acknowledged for excellence seven times by the annual anthology, The Best American Sports Writing.
Mike’s Writing Newsletter does not guarantee any offers made by any of the advertisers, sponsors, or business opportunities mentioned herein. While every business and persons associated with said businesses are believed to be reputable, this publication cannot and does not accept responsibility for their actions; therefore, readers using this information do so at their own risk.
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Copyright ©2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Freelance Writing: Avoiding Feast-or-Famine Cycle
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Joan Didion Interviewed by Charlie Rose

Disturbing News about the Media Industry
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