Sunday, June 29, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/06/12/midmorning2/ Note: when I double-checked this link, I got the MPR web site and a statement that the program was not found. I searched using the agency Kneerim & Williams and got the program and the same link, so it’s still available.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Although I’ve not (yet) gotten an agent for my novel, The Pine Tap Bar and Bait Shoppe, I’ve had some requests to see more after my initial query, which is a big step. For memoirs, while technically nonfiction (well, that’s debatable given recent news stories about memoirs revealed as fiction), the guidelines for publication are generally the same, unless you are already famous. The best path to have a memoir published is via an agent rather than direct contact with an editor. Here are a few suggestions for those of you who have not yet started your agent-quest, or feel you need some new ideas:
- Writers Digest, online, in books, courses, and in their monthly publication, is the single best source for ALL a writers needs. See their web site at http://www.writersdigest.com/GetPublishedCategory/
- Agent quest, an online agent search site, makes it easy to narrow your search. I like that I can quickly see what authors and books an agent represents. If I like who is represented, I assume the agent may also like my work. See http://agentquery.com/
- Keep tabs on agent blogs. Here’s one I just learned about: http://rejecter.blogspot.com/ Note: you should get the blog of a NYC agent who rejects 95% of the submissions she receives—reminds me of the site of Miss Snark who “retired” last year. Beware, however, because I tried three times to get the blog—there is some sort of “adult” web site that can snag you.
- Plan on attending book events in your area (or farther afield, if you can afford the cost and the time). I post upcoming fairs, conferences, workshops, and other events that offer writers not only advice, but also connect them with agents and publishers. Like most industries and professions today, nothing beats networking. Book events can be the best source for writers to network. Scroll down past the jigsaw puzzle for current ones.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Image from Dover Publishing at http://www.doverpublishing.com/
Parachute Poetry Blog is looking for poems—any subject and any style. You can submit up to six poems a month. Visit http://www.johnmarkeberhart.com/blog.html to check it out.
I am intrigued by this . . . hmmmm, I like it. Look at the little kids in the illustration . . . instead of a book, picture a laptop!
Friday, June 20, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Now, with my novel ready and another history book percolating, I realize just how easy getting that first book in print was. Because Lucent publishes series books for middle and high school children, they will not be interested in my other books. So . . . I’m pounding the keyboard sending agent queries.
In general, for fiction, you will need to have your novel finished. Agents are rarely interested in seeing bits and pieces of an untried (i.e. unpublished) novelist’s book. Don’t query until your novel is done—nothing would be worse than querying an agent who asks to see your book and having to reply, “um. . . I haven’t finished it yet.”
For nonfiction, you can query agents or directly contact editors at publishing or book preparation firms. For these, you will need a book proposal, which presents your justification for why the world needs your book as well as a detailed outline and several finished chapters.
I’ll provide some details for both fiction and nonfiction queries in upcoming posts. I will be focusing on traditional print publishing in these posts. Self-publishing and print-on-demand have different benefits, limitations, and rules. I’ll cover them separately.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
- Dogs who yawn when humans speak
- Sun-dried sheets
- A new book by a new author
- A bath in Epsom salts
- An email from a friend
- Sun-ripened fruit
- Kenyan coffee.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
One of their recent projects was aimed at the United Arab Emirates’ recent attempt to block web sites it deems “morally harmful and offensive.” Censorship is a tricky and complex issue, however, and I’m not clear myself on what—if anything—should be restricted and by whom. Somehow, I doubt I would agree with what the UAE deems harmful and offensive and therefore stopping the UAE from censorship is on my “good” list. However, I’m not against all censorship. For example, web sites for pedophiles and violence toward women and children I believe should also be censored, as should hate groups.
It keeps getting trickier. When does freedom of expression, art, and innovation start (good) and the worthy-of-censorship (bad) end? For example, many of Jack London's books were banned in Italy and Yugoslavia between World Wars I and II. In the U.S., a school district in Missouri blithely banned Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in 1980, while J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye was banned in certain schools in six states in the 1970s and 80s. Do I even need to mention that I totally disagree with the banning of these books?
Government is not necessarily the best arbitrator—the UAE is a good example of a government that I believe should not be allowed to decide. Closer to home, there was that whole episode when Bush’s original Attorney General John Ashcroft (remember him?) decided a statue of Justice was offensive and the taxpayers had to spend $8,000 to cover it. Again, this was NOT an example of when the government’s censorship was acceptable. On the other hand, I don't really believe that censorship should be based on what the average citizen thinks, either. I have no answers to the question of censorship. This issue, which has been around almost as long as humanity, will continue to be one that has no pat answers.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
The narrator returns to her the village where she lived until 1942. Her memories and understanding of what was happening then were limited by the fact she was only nine years old. Now, in her sixties, she comes to grips with a secret she holds, long memories in the country town, and a truly dysfunction family.
Friday, June 13, 2008
The following from the Arkansas Times, 6/11/08, quoted on the Free Press web site, sums up the conference well: ‘Consolidation is the root of media evil,’ Moyers said [Bill Moyers was one of the speakers at the conference]. ‘As conglomerates swallow up newspapers, magazines, publishing houses and broadcast outlets, news organizations are folded into entertainment divisions. The news hole in the print media shrinks to make room for ads, celebrities, nonsense and propaganda, and the news we need to know slips from sight.’ And he cited the placement of government propagandists in mainstream media as a symptom of journalism in crisis. ‘You couldn't find a more revealing measure of the state of the dominant media today than the continuing ubiquitous presence — on the air and in print — of the very pundits and experts, self-selected message multipliers of a disastrous foreign policy, who got it all wrong in the first place.’” (see http://www.freepress.net/node/41521 ).
For additional coverage of the conference as well as more information on the Free Press movement, see http://www.freepress.net/conference You can access videos of many of the program sessions, read articles and blog postings from those attending, as well as video clips and references to the teeth-gnashing done by Rupert Murdoch’s minion, Bill O’Reilly. As one of the bloggers said, “When Bill O'Reilly goes after you, you must be doing something right. So we've decided to return the favor, and tell him two things: (1) Thanks so much for the compliment and (2) please stop pretending to be a journalist.” (see http://www.freepress.net/node/41488 )
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
After six weeks of blogging, the Oral/Interpersonal classes had to give a reflection presentation and the Written class had to write a reflection paper. Only two of the 60+ students were negative. The rest raved. The primary comment was how they enjoyed reading a viewpoint that was miles away from their own. One student said she hated one of the assignments and couldn’t understand it. She kept reading it over and over—and suddenly she "got" it. She beamed as she described what it felt like to her to understand something she thought was beyond her. Other students reported starting their own blogs, subscribing to various feeds from the assigned sites, and said they appreciated that they could now interact professionally on the web.
The reflections also required that they give me suggestions on how to improve the assignments. Once I teach again (probably this fall), I plan on implementing all of their suggestions. These were:
- They suggested there be two weeks of getting used to signing in, writing comments, and reading BEFORE having graded blog-assignments.
- I would post the week’s assignment on Sunday morning, and it was due the next Saturday at midnight. Way too generous, and some of them thought they had to do the work just on Sunday (I'm not sure why they figured that). Next time I will have it run from some time on Monday and have the assignment due at 5 p.m. on Friday.
- My rubrics with my comments and their grades didn’t have the assignment numbers or topic titles, which confused them (and me). This was a problem at the end when they wanted to look back at the assignments and couldn’t tell which was which.
- They wanted to do it for longer than six weeks—they felt they were just getting going.
In the future, I will expand the blogging aspect of my classrooms to at least 12 weeks. I had an extra credit blogging assignment, but I was not impressed by the results. I probably won’t use it again as a vehicle for extra credit. Although my classes were face-to-face, I think one could use blogging in an online class. This is because the online work is private, so the public presentation of themselves in a professional manner is still valuable through the medium of a blog. One of my professors in graduate school tried using a wiki as an additional tool for the online class, but I think a blog works better. You can visit the two blog sites by going to View my complete profile, scrolling down, and selecting either Erica’s Communication Class or Erica’s Writing Class.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
My grandfather made this writing desk and chair. My grandmother wrote letters at it. I've done some prewriting, journaling, and letter-writing while seated there.
There is an excellent essay on the writing process by Deanna Mascle at http://renaissancewomanonline.com/blog/?p=376 Note how well Mascle explains the prewriting process—this is a key component for being a successful, serious writer. Here is a quote from her blog:
“The theory of writing process begins with prewriting or invention stage. This is when you may need to do brainstorming, research, and planning to get started with your writing project. This is the stage that struggling writers spend the least time on and experienced writers spend much more time as they know that more attention and thought at this stage can save time and effort later. This stage may have a lot to show for it in terms of prewriting and research or it might take place primarily inside the writer’s brain. This depends on the individual writer, the complexity of the task, and the familiarity of the writer with the task." (Mascle, Renaissance Woman blog)
I am currently in the early prewriting phase of a history book. I’m slowly pondering the outline, drafting a book proposal, querying publications about articles on the subject, working my way through the research, and will soon start scheduling interviews. I am still a long way from starting the writing phase. But—by the time I start, because I’ve invested time in the prewriting stage, the book will practically write itself.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Dr. Wansink spent many years in my hometown of Urbana, Illinois, doing research on what makes people eat. Currently, he’s the Director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. He examines how, among other things, marketing, placement, serving size, personality, and our minds make us eat more, eat less, eat snacks, and all the other habits that result in good health, optimum weight, poor health or blubber.
Carl’s nutritionist recommended this book. After he read it, he passed it along to me. We both read a lot of books on healthy lifestyle and diet. Mindless Eating was an eye-opener for both of us. Learning the truth about comfort foods is worth the cost of the book right there and there is so much more. For example, you can learn how the “health halo” results in our eating MORE. Plus, you can hardly read a page without laughing at such experiments as the endless soup bowl that sprayed soup, the date’s reaction to rotgut wine with the high-priced label, the navy cook’s tale of yellow-jello, or—my personal favorite—the Manly Man eating syndrome. Dr. Wansink’s research showed that men rated other men’s manliness by how much they ate. Manly Man eating is summarized at the end of the description of the research by Dr. Wansink this way:
“So does Brad’s Macho-Man-Savage appetite impress the ladies? We did this same study with 140 college women. While the manly eating Brad may have been impressive to his male readers, his charm was lost on the ladies. They didn’t think he was any stronger, more aggressive, or more masculine that the ‘couple handfuls’ version of Brad. He also wasn’t any more of a bench-pressing stud-muffin. There are a lot of things we guys do to impress women. Eating all of our popcorn at the movies is probably one we can cross of our list,” (p. 102).
Friday, June 6, 2008
http://www.freepress.net/ ). The conference, with speakers that include Dan Rather, Bill Moyers and Arianna Huffington, is focused on media reform, specifically bringing the media from under the control of corporations and back to the people. According to its web site, Free Press is a nonpartisan organization and “[t]hrough education, organization and advocacy, we promote diverse and independent media ownership, strong public media, and universal access to communications.” As the daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of editors, I think returning to independent ownership and being freed from the big money yoke of corporate agenda is a good thing. I learned of the conference from a friend who is attending the conference. I’ll keep you up-to-date on what happens.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
My intent was to have them become used to presenting themselves professionally on the Internet. The reactions were negative at first: what’s a blog? Why can’t we do Facebook? I can’t get logged in. My password doesn’t work. It took about two weeks of coaxing, explaining, and training them how to log in and how to write comments.
Once that phase got handled, I was amazed at how positive everyone became. I had them read a weekly assignment, and then post a comment. The assignments varied between something I wrote, something in another person’s blog, and something in the mainstream media such as a program on NPR or an article in a news magazine. They were graded on how well their comments reflected comprehension of the reading matter, showed original thinking, and how well they wrote. There was a lot of indignation that they couldn’t use text message shortcut words.
At the end of the six weeks, students had to reflect on the blogging assignments. I’ll discuss this in detail, as well as what I learned, in a few days. You can visit the two blog sites by going to View my complete profile, scrolling down, and selecting either Erica’s Communication Class or Erica’s Writing Class (or visit both).
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
I look for a statement that indicates the words or images may be used, as long as the source/creator is identified. For my blog, I credit the creator and provide a link to the source. For example, the images I use from Dover Publishing are always credited and linked—this promotes them. Same with the WPA images I used a lot this winter. Some sites state that you are welcome to post their material on your own blog or web site as long as you include the material IN FULL and UNCHANGED and provide the citation. If that’s the case and you want to use the material, that is what you must do.
In my book reviews, or other postings, I sometimes quote from the source and identify it. If it’s a web site or blog, I provide a link. If it’s a book, I include a copy of the cover, but no link. These instances qualify as Fair Use since they are brief, cited, and are “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research” according to Fair Use law.
When I am writing or researching as a student or teacher, I use the institution’s rules. When I quote someone here, I give the citation, usually the author’s name and book title. I don’t adhere to the full source listing that I would in a print publication or academic piece.
Most people are delighted to get free advertising and promotion of their book, company or site. When it is clear that their work is copyrighted and I really really really want to use it, I email or call for permission. I’ve never been denied it.
This concludes the copyright series. If you have questions beyond what I’ve covered, please check with the staff at the Library of Congress at 202-707-3000 or visit its web site at http://www.copyright.gov/
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Now another old friend hires Stromsoe to guard a weatherwoman who is being stalked. Stromsoe, in watching over her, discovers she has a secret life. The stalker turns out not to be what he appears to be—little is what it appears to be. We learn why prison doesn’t deter crime, and we learn about the history of water diversion to the city of Los Angeles in the early 1900s. All these enter into a nicely complicated plot. Oh, and it is confirmed for us that rain happens. A great read for a rainy weekend or when you’re stranded at the airport waiting for a flight.
Monday, June 2, 2008
To keep the book rolling, so to speak, now we also have July 27 as the International Day of Books. This day is for serious writers who just happen not to be published yet. The goal is to provide a way for authors from all over the world to collaborate over the next few months on publishing and promoting books. Write a book of 12,000 to 15,000 words by July 1, 2008. (Yikes—we have a month!) Then promote the launch of your book and International Day of Books. Lulu is the publisher. As a reader, I’ve ordered books from Lulu a number of times and have been pleased with the professional look, speed, and reasonable cost. This sounds like a fabulous motivator (deadlines always help) and an excellent way to promote books and reading on a worldwide basis. How splendid is that? Visit the web site at http://www.disresponsiblenodpots.com/index.html
To visit the World Book Day site for the U.K., see http://www.worldbookday.com/ For more about UNESCO and its celebrations honoring books, see http://www.unesco.org/