Archive for January, 2010

Five pointers for Manuscript Submission

January 29, 2010
  1. Make sure you know proper manuscript format. Basics are double spaced with no extra spacing between paragraphs. Left justification only. Don’t fully justify or center material. Pages should be approximately 25 lines. One inch to one and one-half inches on all sides. Name, address, telephone number in the upper left hand side of each page. Approximate word count on upper right hand side.

  3. It is best not to put a copyright sign or the word copyright and date on the manuscript. All editors are aware that material is copyrighted and find it somewhat offensive that a writer is inferring that they would steal your work.

  5. Do the work, know your market. Take a look at the magazine and make sure the material you are sending is appropriate to the market. Market listing books are fine but a quick look at the magazine will give you a better idea of its target audience.
  6. Be an editor friendly writer. Don’t call editors to ask if your manuscript has arrived or demand to know when you will hear back from them. Demanding is a good way to receive your manuscript back by return mail with a standard rejection slip.
  7. If you wish to have your manuscript returned, send an SASE with proper return postage. If no SASE is included, most editors will send an unsolicited manuscript directly to the shredder.

Writing and reading

January 22, 2010

My reading appetite is insatiable. I mention this to make my readers aware that I do know where of I speak. In addition to my daily writing habit, my morning usually begins with at least thirty minutes of reading. The subject matter spans nonfiction, on marketing or writing, or fiction, ranging from Linda Fairstein to my current material, Thomas Wolfe’s LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL. The later I must admit has been a long trudge.

Every fiction piece whether short story or novel requires several key ingredients to survive and this time I’d like to focus on two which are actually part of the same thing: plot and storyline. When most writers complain that they are having plot problems, they really aren’t. They are having storyline problems.

All fiction stems from one of three plotlines: man against nature, man against man, and man against himself. Jack London’s famous “TO BUILD A FIRE” short story is a man against nature plot, as is Hemingway’s “OLD MAN AND THE SEA.” Thomas Harris’s HANIBAL, SILENCE OF TH E LAMBS, and RED DRAGON are all perfect examples of man against man. Charles Dicken’s “A CHRISTMAS CAROL” weighs in as an excellent example of man against himself.

Occasionally an author will use a combination of the basic plotlines to keep the reader interested, but the basics are always there.

When an author says they are having plotting problems they are usually having problems with storyline. Next time, I’ll talk about storyline and how it makes the fiction world revolve.

Sandy Whelchel is the author of two novels, CHECK AND MATE and HIDE AND SEEK. Her latest book, THE NATIONAL WRITERS ASSOCIATION GUIDE TO WRITING FOR BEGINNERS is available through your local bookseller. ISBN:978-1-57886-685-4.

5 Second Tips

January 15, 2010

Tips for the 5-Second Rule

  1. First and most important reader you will have is an editor.
    1. Editors get hundreds of manuscripts per week.
    2. Most editors don’t have time to read all the submissions they receive.
    3. Unless an editor is interested not more than the first two to three pages are read.
    4. 2. You must catch your readers eye on the first page

    5. Better to do it in the first paragraph
    6. Best if in the first sentence.
  1. Remember Clive Cussler and the beginning of CYCLOPS.
  2. Catch the reader with
    1. Intrigue
    2. Questions
    3. Action
  3. 4-Way sentences are a great way to start writing but sometimes not the best hook.

A 4-way sentence is main character, one characteristic, where they are, and what they are doing.

Join me on the 14th.

January 7, 2010
Jan. 14, 2010… 6PM-CST… “Writing-Combining Craft & Career” with our “Guest” Sandy Whelchel, Executive Director for the National Writers Association, and Author of “The National Writers Association Guide To Writing for Beginners” on “Aging Outside the Box®” Syndicated Radio Show with National Author/Writer/Syndicated Columnist/Speaker and Celebrity Radio Talk Show Host, Shirley W. Mitchell, as they discuss “Writing-Combining Craft & Career” with… . Join us “LIVE on AIR” every Thursday Night at 2PM-HIST, 3PM-AKST, 4PM-PST, 5PM-MST, 6PM-CST, 7PM-EST and 8PM-AST on the LA Talk Radio Network. Listen in LIVE! Listen to the Archive!


January 4, 2010

Things have been quiet since Carrie left the pasture. I’m feeding twice a day so morning and evenings all the animals come to the corral when we call. Lewis and Clark come to the gate to wait for the food to arrive. Big Boy and Lover are slower to arrive and generally wait beside the corral gate. Even Lover lets us pet her head now when we are feeding. She has settled down after Carrie’s departure.

One afternoon, Taylor, the little girl I’m tutoring, squeals with delight watching the calves come up. “Look, Big Boy is running!” she shouts. Sure enough despite the bad hip and leg, Big Boy is feeling frisky and is running to the corral for supper.

In October, our neighbors host a “haunted forest” and we are told later that the calves did their part by standing at the fence and snorting at participants. Sending at least one group screaming through the nighttime maze, we think perhaps the neighbors should have given the calves a cookie or two as a reward for their part.

On October 9th and 10th the weather turns unseasonably cold, I watch as my brave Big Boy limps from the gulch to get his morning oats and hay. I tell him how cute his white forehead curls are and reassure him that he won’t have to suffer through the agonizing winter cold.

October 22 is the last day for the calves. It snows the night before making transportation even more difficult. My son tells me he can’t get the trailer with all the calves out from the corral. We decide to cut the fence at a flat space along the yard and go from there. After some maneuvering through the snow, Lewis and Clark hop into the trailer. Lover and Big Boy refuse to go. Finally I tell my son to go ahead and take the two little ones.

My daughter and I herd Big Boy and Lover back to the corral.

After lunch and a bit of Colorado sun, my son thinks he can take the trailer around through the pasture if we load Lover and Big Boy from the corral. For a half-hour we move the two through the corral. Then with no apparent reason, Lover hops into the trailer and we close the gate between the trailer sections.

Big Boy refuses to go. I tell him that it will soon be winter and cold. The snow and freezing wind will cause him agony in that hip. I talk…he isn’t listening.

In desperation, I call up to the house begging my husband to call everyone we know for ideas about how to get Big Boy in the trailer. One friend suggests using a piece of metal corralling to move him into the chute. It works. But he is still not in the trailer. Every time he moves forward a bit we place two boards behind him until at last he climbs in.

We cheer but are deeply sad. Our experience is over for the summer.

“The cows are gone.” Taylor remarks when she comes on Friday for her reading session.

“Yes, they are.” I tell her but we will get more in the spring. “And you can name them.”

“They will be named Lewis and Clark, Lover and Big Boy,” says Taylor. “But no Carrie, because Carrie was an impossible problem.”

Yes, in May we will start with new calves, but we will be wiser, and better informed. This winter we will occasionally look out the window and see the deer crossing the lower flat and remember the crazy, wonderful—Summer of the Cows.