Thursday, December 31, 2009


I did a search on google today of Book Authoring Tools and came across this site:

I haven't checked out the prices of the various SW yet, but there are links at the bottom for some sister sites for Freelance Writing and for writing a proposal. Also there's a free e-book on the right side of the page which may be of interest.


Monday, December 28, 2009

December meeting

Congratulations to Jomana on her 2nd place finish in the writers contest. Anytime you can put yourself out with countless numbers of other individuals and come in either WIN, PLACE, or SHOW, that is something to be really proud of.

Since our last meeting in December was held the week of Christmas, we had a smaller than usual turn-out, but we still had a very good discussion. Following is a short re-cap:

  • Critiqued Joanie's query letter.

  • Rich gave us info on obtaining copyrights through the Library of Congress.

  • The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogler is another good source for budding writers.

Fred informed us that Jason would no longer be with the group as he has moved to Utah to pursue his future. We wish him the best. With the internet, we can still keep in touch. He will be missed.

We also discussed the cancellation of meetings in inclement weather. If the Ohio County Schools are closed for a snow day on the date we are having our meeting at the Highlands, our meeting will be cancelled also. Our individual safety should always be at the forefront of what we do.

It was also brought up about having each blog sent directly to your e-mail account. To do this, when you're writing a new blog, go to the Settings tab on the top, and then go to the e-mail tab. We have six people signed up for this now. We can have a maximum of 10 people. If you find that you're already on the e-mail list, do not add yourself again. One drawback of this is that you never go to the actual blog to see the information posted on the side of the blog. We discussed URL's such as Penn writers and WV Writers. Those sites are posted on the side of the blog.

Our next meeting is on January 18, 2010, 7:00 pm at Books-A-Million, at the Highlands.

Finally, for those of you not at the last meeting, ask Rich about his new job. It sounds really fascinating.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

First Chapter Contest

Hi everyone!

I originally wasn't going to post this, but Fred twisted my arm :o)

Back in October, I entered the November First Chapter Contest on, and I found out a week ago that I actually won second place. If anyone wants to check it out, here's the link to their blog:

Of course, there are some errors (I'm not sure if these were mine when I submitted, or if they occurred during the publishing process), but it bugs me when I see them!

Anyway, this site runs a lot of different contests, so give it a have to actually participate in the critiquing portion of their site in order to be considered, but I think you only have to critique three works by other people. In any case, it's kind of cool how the site is set up.

Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

You Tube help

From Bill

Here is the YouTube video that Fred had referenced.  When you want to add a video on another site, all you have to do is copy and past the line that says Embed.  There’s an icon on the site for video.  Click on this icon and embed the line from YouTube where it says Embed.  BTW if anyone has anything like this that they would like to put on YouTube, let me know.  I’ve been uploading videos for some time now.   I’ve uploaded some videos of Yodeling Dick Brooks and have found that he’s on sites in Russia, China, and Japan.

I also noticed that, when this video ended, there were other videos along the same lines that we should view.

One big thing I got out of this video was that, if you look at the inside flap of a hard cover book, you’re in essence looking at the query letter.

More Agent Pitch Info

Hi guys

You may find this interesting.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Craig Karges & J. David Diosi

Since their new book was brought up at our last meeting, there are two opportunities to see them and have the book signed before our next meeting.  This coming Friday, December 4th, (I can’t believe it’s December already) they will be at the Stifel Fine Arts Center, 1330 National Rd, Wheeling from 4-6 pm.

Also, I just received the following e-mail:

JUST ADDED: Craig Karges and J. David Diosi on December 22!

NEW PROGRAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Craig Karges, Wheeling’s own “Extraordinist,” returns along with co-author J. David Diosi on Tuesday, December 22 at noon to discuss the new book, Extraordinary Tales: Stories from the Road. One part travel memoir and one part encyclopedia of the paranormal, the book takes readers around the world to explore the mystery of Atlantis, King Solomon's Mines, the Ark of the Covenant, Jack the Ripper, the secrets of the pyramids, Bigfoot, the White Witch of Jamaica, the Bermuda Triangle, and WV’s Mothman. It's a fun-filled world of ghosts, vampires and crystal skulls. Don't miss the pre-Christmas magic at Lunch With Books!

There was a good article on the writing of this book in Sunday’s Life section of the Wheeling News-Register.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Warning Flags


In regards to your
I sent this around some Pennwriters people and they flagged it as not good. Following are some comments I received:

It appears to be self-publishing website. Avoid.

I never heard of this agency, but red flags to me are:
* No contact information
* No full names of authors represented
* Lists upfront on the front page of the website "Special Program for Already Self-Published Authors".
* The "AEG Publishing Group" acquired this literary agency--a move that I can't imagine a traditional publisher doing.
* In AEG's press release, it states it is a Strategic Book Publishing and Strategic Book Marketing company. Sounds like a pay-to-publish or pay-to-market your books setup.
* Also in the press release, it states the reason for acquiring Strategic & Eloquent Books: "In their first 6 months of operations they have published over 100 authors and sold over 10,000 books. We think that is an amazing growth pattern." An average of 100 books per author sold in 6 months is NOT amazing.

It appears to fit "if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is" scenario.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Something interesting

There seems to be a lot of chatter in the industry about this. Some of you may be interested.

Also you may want to check out

Look for Writers Beware info. Very interesting.


Check it out

I came across this web-site and found it interesting. It almost sounds too good to be true. Is it legit? Let me know what you think.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

NOTES: Third Meeting, 10-12-09

by a very tardy Jason

— Our writers’ group meetings will perpetually be scheduled for the third Monday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Books-a-Million cafe at The Highlands

— Writers are encouraged to submit any topic ideas that they want to discuss at future meetings on this blog (preferably through a brand new post, rather than a comment).

— Similarly, writers are also encouraged to submit any recommendations, comments or complaints pertaining to our meetings so we can discuss them at future gatherings in an effort to improve our group.

— A few writers in the group recommended keeping “The Elements of Style,” by Strunk & White, on your desk because it has so many essential (and basic) tips that every writer should know. While discussing this, Fred said we should avoid using the passive voice in our writing. Someone at our meeting called it “a deal-killer.”

— Another writer recommended using the “OWL writing book,” but even after an online search, I’m not sure I found the specific book referred to in the meeting. There were several, writing-related books or programs that use the same acronym, so if someone could add a comment onto this post to specify the book, that would be great.

— We discussed how if you’re going to write under a pen name, when you submit your query letter, you’ll write: ___your name____ writing as ____ pen name ______.

From Jo’s Presentation on Online Writing Classes

— Jo personally feels the Writer’s Digest classes are the best value. They cost about $200 for a smaller class. Classes can range from 6 weeks to 6 months. Advanced writing classes are more expensive: about $600 (with a discount)

— She said she learned a lot more from these classes than her comparable, college-credit classes

— Jo said the classes are structured where you can work one on one with a published author, and that person’s experience can yield a wealth of knowledge.

— The way it works is you read bids and choose your instructor, and there’s never more than 8 people in a class at a time.

— The classes are very helpful and educational. You may think you know a lot already, but you may learn otherwise, so don’t be sensitive, Jo said.

— You can get a professional’s view of the business

— Your classmates can critique your writing (there’s an optional critic’s corner)

— Jo said this process ultimately helped her to gain confidence and trust herself

— She said the classes aren’t overly demanding, initially. Assignments can be anywhere from 250 to 2,000 words.

— But Jo took an accelerated course, and those are much more difficult to keep up with.

— You can have a compact 3-week class or have the same material spread out over 5 months.

— As you get into more advanced writing, you may be required to write 10,000 words every 3 weeks.

— Jo has worked out a schedule with her family, where her husband has helped allot her a specific time to write each week.

— Jo stuck with Writer’s Digest, but there are other similar courses, such as Gotham Writers Workshops, Writing, Writers, etc.

— Jo’s favorite is Writer’s Digest. She said they also offer a query letter class, getting an agent class, etc.

Re: Writing Contests: Jo said has a monthly contest, and the site has interesting critiquing methods.

At the meeting, Jo distributed various hand-outs with information about the online writing classes, as well as the writers’ contests.

Brief Report on Nearby Writers’ Conferences:

Rich looked into writers’ conferences that are within a day’s drive of the Ohio Valley. He said many of the usual suspects are victims of the sagging economy and are currently on a hiatus for the time being. But Rich said the W.V. Writers’ Conference at Cedar Lakes has a really nice, relaxed atmosphere. I think he said it was scheduled for the first or second week in June.

Rebecca, a publisher, spoke briefly about her life in the business. At our next meeting on Nov. 16, she’ll be giving a 10 min. presentation about publishing, but at our previous meeting, I noted a few of her comments:

— She started publishing in 2005.

— She edits books and also has a group of editors

— Rebecca, who’s a Christian book publisher, noted the importance of being familiar with your book’s characters, even intimate details such as their religious convictions.

— She said authors were welcome to approach her directly; they wouldn’t have to go through an agent. In fact, she hasn’t had her authors work through agents. She already gets plenty of direct submissions.

— Rebecca said she can tell by page 3 if an author has a grasp or good control of his or her story.

— Rebecca said a big deal-breaker was having erroneous, point-of-view mix-ups in your story.

— You can find Rebecca’s two partner companies, Hummingbird World Media and Double Edge Press, online at and, respectively.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Broken Link

Hmm...for some reason the link I posted won't open. But if you go to you should be able to find lots of other cool stuff :o)


20 Tips on Query Letters


Friday, November 6, 2009

Next Meeting

Hi all,

I regret to say that I will be unable to attend our next meeting -- my daughter has a school function that night. I'll definitely be looking forward to the next one, though. Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Children’s Books

Bill says:

When I was attending the Newt Gingrich speech at the Capitol Theatre last Thursday, I happened to have a real life Medicine Man, Dr. Heynes Landveld, from Suriname, South America sitting 3 seats away from me.  He had just flown in to this country that morning.  His sponsor had just moved back to Wheeling from Florida.  Dr. Landveld is going to be speaking at local colleges and schools from now until October 28th.  I don’t have his schedule yet.

The reason I’m putting this in our blog is:  They gave me a poster talking about Dr. Landveld and his connection with the rain forests.  I went to their WEB site and found that his sponsors have started a children’s book publishing business using the lessons he learned when he visited the rain forest.  For those who are interested in children’s books or for those who are interested in a new and different marketing plan, check this site out.

BTW I’m writing this on my desk top using a new plug-in from Microsoft called Windows Live Writer.  It’s free and will support multiple blogs since I have two blogs, soon to be three, that I’m on.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

OWL On Line Writing Lab

During the course of the last meeting, I mentioned a good resource for all aspects of writing. I mistakenly thought it was the University of Colarado, it is actually Purdue.

Here's the link:

Of particular help is the Grammar and Mechanics tab on the right hand side of the homepage under Navigation.


Friday, October 16, 2009

What Should Be In Your Bio Paragraph in Your Query Letter

Another very helpful article from "Writer's Digest;" regarding what to include and what to exclude in your bio paragraph of your query letter. Phyllis

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Populer Fiction Awards

But hurry! The deadline is looming: all entries must be in by November 2.


How to Protect Your Work (Publishing Contracts 101)

Online Writing Classes

I really enjoyed our last group meeting, and I'm looking forward to the next one! Here are the web sites for the online classes we discussed:

Writer's Digest Workshops:
Gotham Writers' Workshops:
Writer's Village:


Monday, October 12, 2009

Writing Conferences

Many writing conferences and workshops can be found by typing in “writing conference” and a particular state into a Google search. Many conferences are ‘on hiatus’ so it is best to call and determine its status before making plans. However I found the following which is a nice one stop search location:

Shaw Guides and click Writers Conferences and Workshops
You can type in the site’s search box for specific locations such as “Pittsburgh, PA” to limit findings.

Some select examples below:

2010 Conference: May 14 to 16 at the Best Western Eden Resort in Lancaster PA

WV Writers annual Summer Conference
June 11-13, 2010 at Cedar Lakes Conference Center near Ripley, WV.

Antioch Writers Workshop

Central Ohio Fiction Writers

However, it should be noted that many small but excellent conferences are not found on the Internet since many organizations host conferences locally for members but are gradually expanding. Case in point:

The Write-On Writers Conference

Coshocton, OH, held in Spring
Contact: Sharon Mooney (740) 623-8348

Remember to network with others about conferences. Try to distribute contact information and dates through flyers you picked up at the last conference. Use e-mail, telephone calls, and libraries.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Phrase Oddities for fun

Check this site for some fun. Found on my AOL News it shows:

8 phrases that don't mean what you think they mean
9 words that don't mean what you think they mean

Because sometimes writers just like to kick back and have fun outside the crossword.

Storyteller Rich

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pen Name

I have a question for anyone who may know the answer. When submitting a manuscript to a publisher, do you submit under a pen name if you intend on using one, or under your real name? Does the same go for a query letter?



Sunday, September 27, 2009

5 Quick Tips for Writer/Agent Negotiations

Here's another interesting one -- good things to know if -- when! -- we all get agents.


Publishing 101: What You Need To Know

Here is a web site from Writer's Digest that goes over some important things to know about publishing -- I thought this went along well with our recent conversations. And of course, I'm a fan of everything Writer's Digest :o)

Posted by Jo

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Dear Fellow Writers:

I was reluctant to reproduce Writer’s Digest’s entire article, “24 Agents Looking for New Writers,” due to plagiarism concerns. I wanted you to be aware of the 24 agents who are looking for new writers, and have posted a sample of the article. This article appeared in “Writer’s Digest” issue for September 2009. Here is a sampling of what you will find.


Emmanuelle Alspaugh, Agent
Fiction Interests:
romance, women’s fiction, historical fiction
Nonfiction Interests: narrative nonfiction, memoir, business and how-to
Actively Seeking: paranormal, futuristic and historical romance, and urban fantasy
Does Not Want: detective stories, spy thrillers, cozy mysteries or any novel with a dead body in the first chapter

Bernadette Baker-Baughman, Agent
Specializes in: nonfiction and graphic novels
Nonfiction interests: image-rich books, pop culture, light sociology and narrative nonfiction.
Does Not Want: sci-fi, Western or children’s books

Michelle Brower, Agent
Nonfiction Interests: memoir, pop culture, humor, animal/pet books, popular science and narrative nonfiction
Fiction Interests: literary and commercial fiction, including thrillers, graphic novels, select YA titles, books that capture elements of the strange and wonderful, and those that offer a unique perspective of the world.
Does Not Want: cozies, romance, picture books, genre sci-fi or horror

NOTES: Second Meeting, 9-21-09

by Jason

Re: Required Word Count for Books
— It varies somewhat, depending on the genre
— Most books today are about 100,000 words
— 60,000 words equals approximately 300 pages
— Nonfiction books are typically around 400 pages

Fred’s Notes From the Patricia Harman Lecture:
— Harman received 85 rejection letters. (I heard in President Obama’s recent speech that J.K. Rowling only received something like 12 rejection letters for “Harry Potter.”) When we start getting hand-written rejection letters, then we know that we’re getting close and that we’ve arrived as writers.

— Nonfiction writers will get rejected on the basis of query letters and proposals. That’s why those must be perfect.

— In the publishing world, these are the steps for fiction writers:
1. write the book
2. query an agent
3. send synopsis and three chapters
4. agent sells book
5. the publisher buys

—These are the steps for nonfiction writers:
1. query an agent
2. write a book proposal
3. the publisher pays you for the book up front, and you finish writing it with a set deadline

— Writing a good query letter is essential. Must be perfect. Last month’s Writer’s Digest has sample query letters “that worked.”

— Fred says if we’re serious about writing, he recommends that we attend writers’ conferences.

— As strange as it sounds, we might consider hiring a writing coach to assist us with our proposals. Their services cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $130-$150.

— When our books sell to a publishing company, we should expect a significant amount of editing from multiple editors: writing editor, marketing department, copy editors, etc.

Feature Presentation:
Rich and His Adventures in Self-Publishing “Talking ‘bout the relatives”

Note: Rich gave a wonderful presentation at our last meeting. I tried to take good notes, but I’m not much of a reporter (ask Fred). Rich shared some personal financial details about his publishing ventures that I won’t publish here on the Internet. Despite all the above, I’ll try to do it justice. If I get anything wrong, Rich, please feel free to correct me or contribute necessary addenda.

Rich has been a storyteller for years. He has lots of original stories. He’s sent them to magazines, giving their editors permission to cut and edit however they saw fit, and they’d accept his writing. Rich said magazines are nice, but they don’t pay much, if at all.

He went to storyteller conferences and attended a workshop on getting published. Soon he met up with an editor, who assisted him on his journey.

Rich said even if you get your book on the shelves of a major bookstore chain, you face very tough odds that anybody will even pick your book up, amid a sea of competition and better-known authors. He said distribution is the key and a big challenge.

Rich learned that his collection of stories needed to have a unifying theme. This is how he started sorting his material into tall tales, ghost stories, etc.

He learned to rewrite and revise very well, because working with an editor who’s paid by the hour is quite expensive and therefore motivating.

Rich noted that being a writer is a professional endeavor — a business whose expenses could be written off against your taxes. Rich emphasized the importance of paying your taxes and keeping receipts and good records of all your publishing and book-related expenditures.

He said book stores insist on having the bar code on the book’s cover (and the price???) He said in self-publishing, you need to give away as few free copies as possible, because you lose money on each unsold book. Inevitably, Rich said, there are at least 10 copies that must be given away, such as two copies to; two to the Library of Congress; a couple of autographed copies for your editor, illustrator; and then a few promotional copies for the sales reps, etc.

Rich used the West Virginia Book Company . He said it has a good Web site. This company will edit, copyright, help with building a Web site, etc.

Rich got his book into several sales venues, but Tamarack has been one of his best places for sales. He said he made his money back that he spent on his publishing venture in 8 or 9 months.

Rich said in order to get your book on a big chain’s shelves, such as Books-A-Million, there’s lots of paperwork that must be filled out every time you submit a shipment of books (which are very few). He decided it just wasn’t worth his time to fill out the submission forms each time for two or three book sales.

Another important comment that Rich made was that he initially began this publishing investment already having the extra money to spend. He said he had money set aside for a big, model train set, but he decided to pay for self-publishing, instead. What it seemed like he was suggesting, or at least, the point I took from this, was that Rich wasn’t betting the farm, so to speak, on the success of his book sales. Smart.

Fred said now that Rich has proven himself as a salable author, he might have a lot of success with pursuing the traditional agent/publishing-company route. Rich has already built a platform.


Items We Reviewed From Our Previous Meeting:
— In the writing industry, always remember that money flows to the author, not from the author.
— Two big objectives of our writers’ “support group” are to inspire one another and be motivated to write more.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lunch with Books 9-29-09

From Bill

Next Tuesday's Lunch with Books looks very interesting to aspiring writers. Here's a copy of the e-mail describing the program:


Up Next: The Art of Nature with artist and naturalist Julie Zickefoose
Tuesday, September 29th: The Art of Nature
On Tuesday, September 29 at noon, naturalist, writer, & artist Julie Zickefoose will be at the Ohio County Public Library’s Lunch With Books program to discuss her book, Letters from Eden, which offers scenes from her beloved southern Ohio home. The scenes illuminate well-crafted essays based on her daily walks and observations. The book explores the interactions between people and animals. Julie Zickefoose began her career as a field biologist and became a magazine and book illustrator. Her monthly commentaries bring a glimpse of Appalachia to NPR's All Things Considered. Her appearance is sponsored by West Liberty’s Hughes Lecture Series. Lunch With Books programs are free and open to the public. Patrons are invited to bring a bag lunch and free beverages are provided. Please call the library at 304-232-0244 for more information.

To learn more about this author, you can visit her WEB site at

I just looked at Julie's WEB site and was very impressed with it. You can read some of her nature writings, order her prints, and learn more of her background. The WEB site design would work for any writer who wants to show and sell his stuff on the internet. As a WEB site designer myself, I consider it well laid out and very user friendly.

Source for Self Publishing

From Bill

I came across this site while researching on-line printing for my photography efforts: Scroll down and look at the links on the right side of the page to find the areas devoted to publishing. For someone like me who's interested in both writing and photography, this is perfect since they will print both on the same page.

If anyone is working on children's books, you can check out the local talent found at Artworks Around Town in the Centre Market Area of Wheeling. Anne Foreman does all the illustrations for Joe Roxby's books on early frontier life in Wheeling. If it's photography you need, I'm available. You can see samples of my work at:

It has a pretty good PDF document explaining the way to write your novel, what's needed, costs, etc. It explains how you can even design your own cover and the various options on binding, etc. That address is:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jomana's story

I liked how you set up the characters. Interested to see where they go from here.


Gino's "C.D."

First I have to say thanks Gino for the kind words on my pages. Second, I like the premise of your story. I liked the first two paragraphs, but I got bit lost in the third.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I read Jomana's 10 pages

Informatively descriptive. Intelligent. Piqued my curiosity. Gino

I read Joanie's 9 pages

Youthful, adventurous, cute. Your target audience will like it. Gino

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lead for submissions to internet for audio books

From Bill

This site was mentioned in a daily newsletter that I receive. URL is . Briefly you can submit your books via e-mail in various genres. Once on the site, go to the Author's Room and you can see what they will pay in advance for your story and how and when to submit it. They will do the voice recording so people can download it in MP3 format.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Can I Write My Query Letter before Finishing My Book?

This was an interesting read. It magically appeared this morning in my e-mail. It also has a link to look at older query letters from earlier editions of "Writer's Digest."
Click here.


Monday, August 31, 2009

101 Best Web Sites/Agent Blogs for Writers

Here is another great link from Writer's — the 101 Best Web Sites/Agent Blogs for Writers.


Some Major Elements of a Query Letter

Summarized (but not written) by Jason

For those writers who don’t like reading (shame on you), here is an abbreviated summary from the instructions found at regarding how to write a query letter:

— a single page cover letter that introduces you and your book

— has 3 concise paragraphs:
a.) the hook - a concise, one-sentence tagline that describes the book and generates interest
b.) the mini-synopsis - an intriguing, one-paragraph summary (about 150 words) of the entire book; should have a little more info about your main characters and their conflicts; the conflict of the book should be captured in this paragraph
c.) the author’s biography - keep it short and related to writing

The closing of your query letter should do two things:
1.) thank the agent for his or her time and consideration
2.) if it’s non-fiction, tell the agent you’ve included an outline, table of contents and sample characters for review. (if it’s a fiction book, tell the agent your full manuscript is available upon request, but don’t query any agents until your fiction manuscript is completely finished).

What a Query Letter is NOT:
— Not a resume or a life story
— Not casual or "buddy-buddy" friendly
— Never more than 1 page

I’ve posted this summary to entice you to visit The information above is just to help us get started. The site actually has more “do’s” and “don’ts” under the “How to Write a Query” link.

P.S. For all you fiction-writers, here is an actual agent's invaluable blog called "Query Shark," where writers send her their query letters and she critiques them. It's a great resource.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Response to Jason

From Fred
In answer to question one - Yes. But, fewer words should not be cumbersome. It simply means we must become better writers so we can make the most of the few words we use in a sentence.

Question Two - Determine if you are rewriting or editing. To rewrite is to change the basic thought or theme. To edit is to clean up, but not rewrite, a work. The best way to be our own judge is to move on and come back later. Either write further into your book and put it down and return to the questionable section later. Ask for a second opinion from someone you trust. Remember - it is not broken, don't fix it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thoughts on Rewriting

by Jason

I've been thinking about this topic, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on rewriting and the revision process, in general. Here's what I've been thinking:

I've been a copy editor for a few years now for various publications and individual writers, and I'm always amazed at how many people unleash their thoughts in a first draft and send it on to the printing press, without reading over what they've written at least once. Don't get me wrong; I never pen anything perfectly, either, but due to the conspicuous nature of their errors, it's obvious these authors have opted not to look over their writing.

As I've considered rewriting — while frequently implementing it in my book thus far — I've found it to be helpful in improving my project significantly, not just the writing itself but the clarity of the concepts I'm trying to convey. And following Strunk and White's fervent plea to "omit needless words" has been a large part of what I consider successful rewriting. Above all, clarity seems to be the most important goal, in my book.

I have two questions for the group:

1.) Have you ever noticed that extremely concise writing that uses a scant economy of words is sometimes cumbersome and unnatural? (One would suspect that fewer words would equal clearer writing, but sometimes it takes me longer to read well-written prose. Have you experienced this, too?)

2.) Do you think it's possible to revise and rewrite too much? (I can just imagine myself rewriting my first page of my book a thousand times to try to get it perfect. At what point do we encounter the law of diminishing returns?)

Myths of Publishing; Building a Bio

Hi guys,

Here are a couple of helpful articles, courtesy of Writer's Digest:


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

"Real Query Letters that Worked"

In the Sept '09 issue of "Writer's Digest," there are several query letters that "worked." There are also insightful comments beside the letter in yellow boxes. If anyone would like a copy of any of them, please let me know by responding to this post with a comment. (Click on the comment link below to indicate as much.) I'll copy them and bring them to the next meeting. The charge for copies is 10 cents per page. The following list indicates the genres addressed in these query letters:

Women's Fiction
Young Adult
Mainstream Fiction


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Re: Patricia Harman Lecture

From Fred

Hi All

Did you ever force yourself to so something even though you didn't feel like doing.?

That happened to me Monday when I went to Moundsville to hear author Patricia Harman talk about her book and about the publishing business.

I did not want to go. Too tired. Hungry. Wasn't interested in hearing about women's health issues. Probably nothing there for me.

Pass the humble pie, please.

Patricia Harman was great. She projected such a sweet spirit and a total passion for her book.

She hit on some interesting talking points that confirmed some things I already know and some things I was glad to learn.

* Writing a query letter is harder than writing a book.

* A non fiction book proposal should be about 100 pages (that includes three chapters of book or about one-half)

* You may want to hire a writing coach to help with your proposal.

* Most books today are 100,000 words.

* Expect lots of editing from more than one editor. She had to remove some original chapters and replace them with new ones.

* She had 85 rejections before getting published.

Finally - she said anyone seeking an agent should go to

Monday, August 24, 2009

Find Your Corner

"As a rule, writers should be treated like rubber plants — lightly pruned, occasionally watered, but basically left to do their own thing in a corner, away from direct sunlight."
Anthony Lane,
film critic for
The New Yorker

By the way, did anyone get a chance to talk with that author at the Marshall County Library this evening? If so, do tell, please.

From Fred

Let's all give Jason a big ATTABOY for putting this site together. Great Job.

It was great meeting all of you. I am looking for things to happen with this group.

If You Have a Question About Leaving Comments

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Helpful Tip: Little Notebook

by Jason

This is probably a no-brainer for everyone else, but just in case ...

Something that has helped me immensely with writing my book is to always carry one of those little, 3x5 memo pad notebooks around with me (along with a pen). More often than not, ideas — and I mean really good ideas — will pop into my head when I'm out and about, working through my day.

I used to think I'd remember all my neat ideas, but I regret to admit that I've forgotten lots of great stuff before I started carrying my notebook. Now, that little notebook goes everywhere I go, and if "flashes of genius" suddenly illuminate my mind, I quickly jot them down, wherever I am, and then continue about my day.

Friday, August 21, 2009

NOTES: First Meeting, 8-20-09

Posted by Jason

— Purpose of this Organization:

To offer support and encouragement to local, fellow writers, as well as seeking to learn more about the business of writing and specifically, how to get published.

— Writing a book is an art form that's subject to interpretation; getting published is a science, with strictly defined rules. — Fred

— In the book industry, money always flows to the writer, not from the writer.

— When trying to publish FICTION, these are roughly the steps:

a.) write the book

b.) send a query letter to an agent

c.) if agent approves, send a synopsis and three chapters

d.) send to the publisher

(First-time authors typically get about $10,000.)

— When trying to publish NONFICTION, these are roughly the steps:

a.) write the book proposal first (even before writing the book)

b.) write a query letter to agent

c.) if approved, then send proposal

d.) the proposal should be a complete marketing plan for your book; it’s like a business plan — you have to sell your book, because making money is always the bottom line; try to know what they’re looking for, before you ever send your proposal

— Platform — an explanation of your expertise, or why YOU should be the one to write this book

— Genre: You should be able to assign your book to a specific genre (ex. biography) on bookstore shelves

— Hook (or “Elevator Pitch”) — We should be able to accurately describe our book in 25 words or less — and sell it! This should be short enough to tell your agent what it’s about before the elevator gets to the next floor.

— A Query Letter — tells a little more in-depth what the book is about; note any previous publishing experience in your query letter; this adds to your platform and helps define who you are

— Getting published is possible; distribution is much more difficult

— agents seem to be “the gatekeepers”

— the length of a typical novel is about 80,000 words, but really, the length should be “as long as it takes,” no more, no less

— Fred recommends attending the writers’ conferences; you get a 10-min. pitch with an agent

— Getting published will mean submitting to an agent, to critiquing and to an editor

— Every Tuesday, the Ohio County Public Library hosts “Lunch With Books” at noon, where authors often come

— We are considering a possible book-sharing/borrowing program among our group members

— The 5 W’s and H:







— Once writers get published and distributed, how can they get customers to pick up their books, particularly if they don’t have the financial, advertising muscle backing them?

— Talk to an Author in Moundsville:

Best-selling author Patricia Harman will be presenting a multi-faceted program at 6 p.m. Monday at the Moundsville-Marshall County Public Library, 700 Fifth St. Her main topic will be the impact of stress on family health, but she’ll also discuss her work as a nurse-midwife, her recent book, and the writing and publishing process. Anyone interested in writing and publishing their own work will find Harman’s discussion of her experience with the process very useful. The library program is free and open to the public. For more information about the author and memoir, including reviews and an excerpt, visit