Category Archives: Publishing

Writing is like baseball

DSC02103

Writing has been compared to many things: creating great food from a recipe, a long, arduous journey, a trip to the circus.

I once compared it to Family Court – The writing life is like family court only family court was more fun.

My favorite comparison is Vaughn Roycroft’s What building my house taught me about writing. A must read for every writer!

I was struggling with a short story while watching a baseball game (Go Phillies!). And boing! I realized, “Hey, writing is like baseball!”

The writer is the pitcher

Consider the writer as the pitcher – the dude on the mound. But the pitcher is not the only player on the field.

Long fly ball or an infield out

You pitch the ball and the batter hits it. It’s a long fly ball! The center fielder snags the ball, throws it to the cut-off man, the cut-off man throws it to the plate – runner out!

You pitch the ball. The batter hits it. The shortstop snags it, flips it to the second baseman, the second baseman throws to the first baseman. Double play!

You may have pitched the ball, but you weren’t the only player handling it.

Your pitching coach

Do you have a pitching coach – an expert editor? She/he tells you where the ball was dragging, where it was too high, where you lost control.

Your team DSC01384

Is the pitcher the only player on the field? No! The pitcher has eight other guys on the field with him and a load of other players in the dugout.

Think about all the friends and associates who follow your Fan Page, your beta readers, your blog followers, the people who allow you to guest post. These people are your team.

Looking good on the mound

Let’s not forget the uniform guys. The ones who make you look good when you go out on the field. Imagine what a book cover designer can do for you.

GehrigThe Iron Horse

Lou Gehrig played for the Yankees until his stellar career was cut short by ALS, now commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Gehrig played from 1925 to 1939 and made it to the field for 2,130 consecutive games. This streak was considered unbreakable until Baltimore’s Cal Ripken, Jr., broke Gehrig’s record in 1995. Ripken went on to play 2,632 games.

Moral of the story…writing – and incredible baseball stats – is a long-haul sort of thing.

Don’t be an ass-terisk*

A few players are listed in the baseball record books with an asterisk. Why? They cheated to achieve their monumental goals (remember the writer guy who paid a few thousand people to write awesome reviews for his book?).

Let’s keep it simple – do not cheat.

See you at the Series

No player gets to the World Series by playing just one or two games. You have a long spring training and a long season ahead of you. And sometimes, you might have to wait several seasons to get the recognition you deserve.

So wind up, and keep pitching.

What other activity can you compare to writing?

6 Comments

Filed under Book Cover Design, Editing & Proofreading, Publishing

Writers’ conference tips

Lara and Stacy at a great conference (not in Vegas).

Lara and Stacy at a great conference (not in Vegas).

I attended a conference in Vegas a few years ago, and I was appalled at how people were dressed. T-shirts, shorts, flip flops. The chick at the greeting table wore a blouse cut down to her navel. I didn’t need my imagination.

Fifty percent of the people I met didn’t have a card.

Most of the people I met were dressed like beach bums.

Unfortunately, about 50% of the people I met and mingled with were drunk most of the time (okay, it was Vegas, but still!).

A bad impression? You bet!

Where to start?

If a huge conference in Vegas or NYC scares the heck out of you, look for a smaller, local conference. Better to flex your conference muscles when you’re not too overwhelmed.

What do you wear?

I wear a blazer and nice blouses over new jeans. Wear comfortable shoes – my comfortable shoes are dress Oxfords.

What do you have?

Have cards or bookmarks to hand out. If you don’t have a publication, you can still print your name, blog address, Twitter handle, etc., on a card. Collect cards from everybody and follow up with these people when you get home with a simple note.

After you collect a card or bookmark, remember a few specifics about that person (editorial chat, historic book chat, where you met, we laughed over the buffet). Jot these notes on the back of their card.

One-sheet

Also helpful, a one-sheet. Suzanne Hartmann has a great article (with her own example) on her blog. Click here for Suzanne’s example of a one-sheet.

Who do you talk to?

Try to talk to as many people as possible. Even if the first few people you meet are crazy-fun, hop around. Participate in as many activities as you can.

imagesCA1H24ZQWhat do you carry?

I suggest a carry-all for what you collect along the way – books, bookmarks, brochures. Consider a satchel with a shoulder strap in case you need two hands (one for coffee, one for shaking hands).

Since electronic devices are not 100% dependable, carry a small pad and a few pens.

Hydrate!

Carry water and a few small snack bars. It may be hours before you get a decent meal.

How should you behave?

Show up on time for sessions. Turn off your cell phone. Pay attention and participate in discussions.

What do you talk about?

Don’t talk only about yourself, your blog, your book, your this and that, but do have a sentence memorized about your book or project, in case you are asked. Don’t be pitching all the time – ask others what they are working on.

Know the presenters

Before the conference, Google the scheduled presenters and write a few small facts about them on note cards. I did this for the Vegas conference and consulted these cards before each session – it was helpful in a few cases when I got to talk one-on-one with a presenter.

At the bar Beer-Bottles-

With most conferences, alcohol gets introduced into the equation. My advice – don’t drink too much. One glass of something then switch to bottled water. You don’t want to leave a bad impression because you made a fool of yourself.

Find the right genre

It would be silly if you wrote only horror and went to a women’s lit writing conference or if you wrote only poetry and attended a mystery writers’ conference. Check out these conference lists and you are bound to find the right conference, in a good area (close to home), and for the right price.

Poets & Writers, conferences and residencies

NewPages.com, writing conferences

Association of Writers and Writing Programs, programs and conferences

Opening photo from Stacy Stenberg Jensen. Stacy is a writer and blogger in Colorado. Her new website goes live in September.

Lara Schiffbauer is a writer and blogger. Her first book, Finding Meara, is available on Amazon.

***

Have you attended any writers’ conferences? What advice would you add?

13 Comments

Filed under Branding & Platform, Publishing, Social Networking

Quick Editorial Tips VII – For Poetry!

Nash

Nash

I have edited and proofread some poetry, both for clients and as a favor for friends. Poetry is tough to critique honestly!You don’t want to crush the muse, you don’t want to offend (as poetry is so personal), but you do want the writer to reach a little, experiment with words and sounds, show true emotion.

I have a poetry collection coming together – hopefully I will publish this year with the help of editor Shawn MacKenzie Shawn MacKenzie and my book designer Elizabeth H. Cottrell.

I’d like to share some of my critique notes on poetry I have edited and proofread. Perhaps a few of you can refer to these notes when you beta read my poetry collection! Or perhaps you have decided to write or edit your own poetry.

Struggle for rhyme

Don’t struggle – it will be evident. Try to make the rhyme flow. Rhymes don’t necessarily have to be the same letters like in “ease” and “please.” Rhymes can come from similar vowel sounds. For instance – try “verse” with “search.” Or “son” with “become.”

Echo…echo

Look at your collection – does it use a lot of the same old common words?

Reach for it! Pull out the thesaurus and open up your vocabulary. Don’t use familiar words over and over (people reading your collection will notice).

Thoreau

Thoreau

Tickle a funny bone

How many collections have you read where all the poetry is the same – sadness, depression, lost love, loneliness. It’s depressing to read, too.

Try a little humor! What makes you laugh? Try to tap into this laughter with a light-hearted piece or two.

Does this comma make me look fat?

A comma adds a pause and changes the cadence; it changes the way a reader reads the lines and the piece. Along those same lines…

…Try reading your own work out loud

I do this for clients and friends, and I also do it while reading a “finished” piece or my own. I often change things around a bit after I’ve heard it out loud.

Have a friend read it aloud to you. You can hear where the reader stumbles and pauses.

Change the sequence of words

Instead of “I lost my love,” try “the love I lost.”

Instead of “the worm squiggles and wriggles,” try “the squiggly-wriggly worm.”

Auden

Auden

Caps or no caps?

The use of caps at the beginning of a line or a sentence within a poem is a personal choice. Sometimes we don’t want to use any caps, nor do we want to use any punctuation. But consider it both ways.

Would the piece be enhanced with a few caps along the way?

Would it read better with some additional (or less) punctuation?

Left justified all?

Consider lay-out and indents. Are all your poems left justified?

Experiment! Put a few lines left justified then poke the fourth or fifth line into right justified or indented.

Haiku anyone?

Look at your poems. Do they all look like blood relatives? Are they all laid out the same way? Few lines and a break, few lines and a break…

Throw in some haiku or a long-paragraph prose piece. Study and employ alternative poetry forms.

What have others written?

Read others’ poetry. Search for your favorite poets online.

I’m inspired by Ogden Nash (what a hoot), Auden, Poe, Thoreau, Thomas.

Poe

Poe

Is there a theme?

Some of my poems have a theme, like the sea and waves or art and canvas.

Put a theme into a few of your pieces; use of similes and metaphors can make it more real to a reader.

Smell is the strongest sense

When someone talks about warm apple pie or the lilac scent drifting through the bedroom window…do you remember? Can you smell it?

Darn tootin’ you can!

Interject some smells into your poetry to get the reader more involved.

In your comment

Feel free to include links to your favorite poets, one of your own poems, or a poetry site you especially like.

LET’S HAVE SOME FUN!

I’ll start a poem, you add to it. Poem stanzas will be in ALL CAPS.

If you don’t want to add to the poem, no problem (try it, you might like it!). You can still comment!

Here goes…

I THINK MY BONES HAVE GONE WEAK AND BRITTLE,

THEY’RE NOT AS BENDY AS WHEN I WAS LITTLE,

All photos from Wikipedia.com.

9 Comments

Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Prose & Poetry, Publishing, Quick Editing Tips

Writing good fiction is like baseball

DSC01376Writing good fiction has been compared to many things: creating great food from a recipe, a long, arduous journey, a trip to the circus.

I once compared writing to Family Court – The writing life is like family court only family court was more fun.

My favorite comparison is Vaughn Roycroft’s What building my house taught me about writing. A must read for every writer!

The struggle

I was struggling with a short story a while ago, while watching a baseball game (Go Phillies!).

And boing! I realized, “Hey, writing is like baseball!”

Consider the writer as the pitcher – the dude on the mound. But the pitcher is not the only player on the field.

Long fly ball or an infield outDSC01390

You pitch the ball and the batter hits it. It’s a long fly ball! The center fielder snags the ball, throws it to the cut-off man, the cut-off man throws it to the plate – runner out!

You pitch the ball. The batter hits it. The shortstop snags it, flips it to the second baseman, then the second baseman throws to the first baseman. Double play!

You may have started with the ball, but you weren’t the only player handling it.

YouDSC01382r pitching coach

Consider the expert editor. She/he tells you where the ball was dragging, where it was too high, where you lost control.

Your team

Is the pitcher the only player on the field? No sir!

Consider all the friends and associates who follow your Fan Page, your beta readers, your blog followers, the people who allow you to guest post. They give you feedback, they have ideas, they guide you and support you.DSC00732

Looking good on the mound

And don’t forget the uniform guys. The ones who make you look good when you go out on the field. Consider what a proofreader might do for you.

The Iron Horse

Lou Gehrig played for the Yanks until his stellar career was cut short by ALS, now commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Gehrig played from 1925 to 1939 and made it to the field for 2,130 consecutive games. This streak was considered unbreakable until Baltimore’s Cal Ripken, Jr., broke Gehrig’s record in 1995. Ripken went on to play 2,632 games.

Moral of the story…writing – and incredible baseball stats – are a long-haul sort of thing.

Don’t be an ass-terisk*DSC01375

A few players are listed in the baseball record books with an asterisk. Why? They cheated to achieve their monumental goals (remember the guy who paid a few thousand people to write awesome reviews for his book?).

So, let’s keep it simple – do not cheat.

See you at the Series

No player gets to the World Series by playing just one or two games. You have a long spring training and a long season ahead of you. And sometimes, you might have to wait several seasons to get the recognition you deserve.

So wind up, and keep pitching.

15 Comments

Filed under Editing & Proofreading, Publishing