Archive for October, 2009

NOW OFFERING ONGOING SUPPORT FOR FORMER STUDENTS!

NEW!!!
Destination: Book Deal
Advanced Student Discussion Group
With Christina Katz
Prerequisites: 3 Previous Classes with Christina
Destination: Book Deal is a monthly 90 minute accountability group that guides members towards landing a book deal sooner rather than later. Members will check in each month and set monthly goals. Christina Katz facilitates this group by phone as a way to stay in touch with her former students and point out the shortcuts, pitfalls, and career building opportunities available to experienced writers aiming for a traditional nonfiction book deal.
Cost: $150.00 (Intro price)
Dates: January – June 2010
Days & Times of monthly calls TBA
Space is limited to 12 participants
More/register: E-mail Christina

NEW!!!
Article Accountability Dream Team For Former Writing & Publishing the Short Stuff Students
With Christina Katz
Prerequisites: WPSS
The Article Accountability Dream Team is a monthly 90 minute accountability group that guides members towards getting more articles in print in less time than it might otherwise take going it alone. Members will check in each month and set monthly goals. Christina Katz facilitates this group by phone as a way to stay in touch with her former students and point out the shortcuts, pitfalls, and career building opportunities available to article writers, who wish to get published and profit from their writing.
Cost: $150.00 quarterly (Intro price)
Dates: January – June 2010
Days & Times of monthly calls TBA
Space is limited to 12 participants
More/register: E-mail Christina

Invest In Your Writing Career Today
& Reap Greater Rewards Tomorrow.

The Scoop on Writing Profile Articles: Thinking Like an Editor

 
By Lori RussellLori Russell
Successful editors have a method or checklist that they use when reviewing a manuscript for publication. To save time and to avoid having your profile article bouncing back to you with several editorial suggestions, think like an editor as you revise and edit your drafts.  
 
First, begin revising by looking at the big picture: 

  • Does the first paragraph grab your attention and draw you into the body of the storry?
  • Is your lead followed by a “hook” that explains what the feature is about and why someone should keep reading?
  • Do the parts of the story flow logically? Remember, your goal is to communicate your story clearly to your reader.
  • Are your transitions smooth?
  • Does the information you’ve included belong in this article?
  • Have you left any questions unanswered?
  • Does the style of the article fit the style of the publication you are writing for? 

Once you’ve looked at the big picture, it’s time to focus on the details:

  • Does each paragraph hold together and move the reader along? Every paragraph needs to have a reason for being and for being a distinct unit.
  • Got rhythm? Powerful prose contains a rhythm that comes from a variation of long and short, simple and complex sentences within a paragraph. Read your draft out loud. Can you hear the rhythm?
  • Do your verbs pack a punch? Use the strongest, most concrete verbs you can. Occasionally, the passive voice cannot be replaced, but your writing will be stronger if you put the “somebody” in the sentence first by using a subject-active verb-object construction.
  • Present participles? Use them sparingly. “We were skiing down the mountain” becomes stronger as “We skied down the mountain.” 
  • Is your verb tense consistent throughout the article and with the style of the publication you are writing for?  
  • Throw out the overloaded adjectives, adverbs, redundancies and excess words. Eliminate clichés and mixed metaphors. Forget trying to sound fancy. Keep it simple and specific.
  • Finally, look at your grammar, punctuation and spelling. Invest in a couple of good reference books and refer to them when editing your article. A few of my favorites are The Essentials of English: A Practical Handbook of Grammar and Effective Writing Techniques by Vincent Hopper, The Elements of Style by Strunk and White (also available online) and the New York Times or AP Stylebook

This month’s assignment: Imagine you are the editor at your targeted publication. Read through your article using the checklist above. How does your piece measure up? What changes can you make for a better fit? 
  

Lori Russell has written profiles about people, their passions and their places for more than a decade. Her nonfiction articles have been published online and in magazines and newspapers around the country. She is a contributing editor for Columbia Gorge Magazine, a regular contributor to Ruralite Magazine and has co-written the “In the Spotlight’ column for WOTR for the past two years. She is currently enjoying a writing residency teaching memoir writing to high school students through Columbia Gorge Arts in Education, an organization that brings professional writers and artists to the public schools.
 

 

Christina’s Calendar: FALL GIGS:

The Northwest Author Series: Third Season!

2009-2010 Northwest Author Series

Next up: Memoirist, Melissa Hart

“Memoir that Sells”
More info

Getting Your Poems on the Page: Choosing Your Speaker’s Vantage Point

By Sage CohenSage Cohen

In every poem, there is a speaker-a person or narrator delivering the poem-and a listener-the person receiving the poem. The choice a poet makes about who’s delivering the message or story, and to whom, can significantly impact the reader’s experience of the poem.
 
For example, a poem may tell the tale of the consequences a man’s addiction has had on his life. Depending on whether he’s telling his AA group from whom he’d like support, his boss from whom he’d like forgiveness, his son whom he’s trying to teach not to repeat his own mistakes, or a general audience, the experience of the poem could go in a number of different directions.
 
These possibilities assume that the man who is the subject of the poem is also the speaker of the poem, telling the story in his own voice. Another possibility is that this is a poem about a father, told by a narrator who is someone else: maybe his son, his boss, or his AA sponsor.
 
All of this is to say that any given poem could be approached from a range of vantage points. As the writer of the poem, it may behoove you to experiment a bit with at least a few different ways into any given poem to learn how you want to tell it and how you’d like your reader to hear it.
 
For example, do you want the reader to know from an objective distance that the young lover is anguished with heartbreak? Or do you want to stand your reader in the wobbly shoes of the accused ex who has just emptied every drawer and bank account? Each engages readers differently and gives them a different vantage point from which they participate.
 
Your turn!
 
Take a poem you’ve already written and tell it differently. Let’s say it’s a poem about a particular experience you had, told in an omniscient voice to no one in particular. To create a new slant, you might revise this poem to tell a first-person (I) story to a specific listener-perhaps the person who carried you out of the schoolyard that afternoon-or the person who you wish had done so.  

  • Write a nature scene, perhaps about a snowstorm, in the voice of a child  from her point of view.
  • Write about that same scene from the point of view and in the voice of the snowman she’s built. 
  • Now let the cedar tree standing tall above the scene narrate from its lofty vantage point. 
  • Let us see this scene through the eyes of the guy who drives around plowing snow on his day off.  

Now reinvent the poems by writing about a child in a snowstorm, the snowman she’s built, the lofty cedar tree and the guy driving the plow

 

Writing the Life Poetic by Sage CohenSage Cohen is the author of Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read and Write Poetry (Writers Digest Books, 2009) and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World. An award-winning poet, she writes three monthly columns about the craft and business of writing and serves as Poetry Editor for VoiceCatcher 4. Her poetry and essays appear in journals and anthologies including Cup of Comfort for Writers, The Oregonian, Oregon Literary Review, Greater Good and VoiceCatcher. Sage holds an MA in creative writing from New York University, co-hosts a monthly reading series at Barnes & Noble and teaches the online class Poetry for the People. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and awarded a Soapstone residency. To learn more, visit www.writingthelifepoetic.com

NOW OFFERING ONGOING SUPPORT FOR FORMER STUDENTS!

NEW!!!
Destination: Book Deal
Advanced Student Discussion Group
With Christina Katz
Prerequisites: 3 Previous Classes with Christina
Destination: Book Deal is a monthly 90 minute accountability group that guides members towards landing a book deal sooner rather than later. Members will check in each month and set monthly goals. Christina Katz facilitates this group by phone as a way to stay in touch with her former students and point out the shortcuts, pitfalls, and career building opportunities available to experienced writers aiming for a traditional nonfiction book deal.
Cost: $150.00 (Intro price)
Dates: January – June 2010
Days & Times of monthly calls TBA
Space is limited to 12 participants
More/register: E-mail Christina

NEW!!!
Article Accountability Dream Team For Former Writing & Publishing the Short Stuff Students
With Christina Katz
Prerequisites: WPSS
The Article Accountability Dream Team is a monthly 90 minute accountability group that guides members towards getting more articles in print in less time than it might otherwise take going it alone. Members will check in each month and set monthly goals. Christina Katz facilitates this group by phone as a way to stay in touch with her former students and point out the shortcuts, pitfalls, and career building opportunities available to article writers, who wish to get published and profit from their writing.
Cost: $150.00 quarterly (Intro price)
Dates: January – June 2010
Days & Times of monthly calls TBA
Space is limited to 12 participants
More/register: E-mail Christina

Invest In Your Writing Career Today
& Reap Greater Rewards Tomorrow.

The Fiction Writing Workshop: Don’t Forget the Reader

By Kristin Bair O’KeeffeKristin Bair O'Keeffe

A few weeks ago, I bought a secondhand copy of Mark Haddon‘s novel A Spot of Bother in an antique furniture shop in Shanghai. I liked his first novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and had high hopes for this one.
 
Though I’m only midway through the book, I’ve not been disappointed. The thing about Haddon is that he gets that there is an indispensable, dynamic relationship between the writer and the reader, and no matter how interested he may be in telling his story, he never forgets that there’s a reader out there on the receiving end.
 
How do I know this?
 
Because I can’t stop reading the book. Because every night I look forward to shutting down my computer, washing my face, and crawling into bed with it. Because I’m already counting how many pages I have left, calculating how many more nights I can read at the pace I’m going, and forcing myself to slow down so I can stretch it out.
 
How does Haddon keep my interest? How does he successfully maintain a relationship with me, the reader?
 
1.   The first sentence of each chapter drops us into the middle of something, for example, Chapter 7 begins, “There was a clatter of plates and Jean turned to find that George had vanished.”
 
2.   Haddon utilizes a third person narrator who jumps from character to character in an organized, interesting way. Each chapter is told from a different character’s perspective, for example:
    a.  Chapter 1 is told from George’s perspective. (It’s in third person point of  view, but we’re getting details about what George feels, thinks, and sees. We’re very, VERY close to him.)
    b.  Chapter 2, George
    c.  Chapter 3, George’s wife Jean
    d.  Chapter 4, George
    e.  Chapter 5, George and Jean’s daughter Katie
     f.   and so on.
 
3.   The characters feel like family members, friends, or neighbors. Because of the point of view choices Haddon has made, we get very intimate with these folks. We understand their motivations, desires, and frustrations. And because we understand, we care.
 
4.   Tension. Haddon creates tension. Because we know the characters so well and because they have such conflicting motivations, desires, and frustrations, tension is a natural outcome.
 
5.   Because the tension is so high, we want to know what happens next.
 
All that said, I recommend you run out and buy Haddon’s A Spot of Bother. Read it, study it, set it aside for a while, and read it again. When you sit down to work on your own writing, keep his relationship with the reader in mind. Then create your own.

 
 
October 2007 Family Fun MagazineKristin Bair O’Keeffe’s debut novel, Thirsty, will be published by Swallow Press in 2009. Since moving to Shanghai, China, in 2006, Kristin has been chronicling her adventures (and misadventures) in her blog, “Shanghai Adventures of a Trailing Spouse.” Her essays and articles have appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Poets & Writers Magazine, The Baltimore Review, San Diego Family Magazine, and The Gettysburg Review. She teaches fiction and nonfiction writing and is the curator of Out Loud! The Shanghai Writers Literary Salon. To learn more, visit www.kristinbairokeeffe.com.

Understanding Personal Essays: Short and Sweet

By Abigail GreenAbigail Green
The consensus among most writers I know is that it’s much easier to write long than it is to write short. Longer word counts leave the writer space for description, exposition, and often, extra fluff you don’t really need.
 
In his landmark book, On Writing Well, author William Zinsser puts it like this:
 
“It’s amazing how often an editor can just throw away the first three or four paragraphs of an article … and start with the paragraph where the writer begins to sound like himself. Not only are those first few paragraphs hopelessly impersonal and ornate; they don’t say anything. They are a self-conscious attempt at a fancy introduction, and none is necessary.”
 
Short essays, by definition, only have room for the “meat.” You have to be relentless with the red pen and whittle your words down to the bare essentials.
 
Lots of my writing students moan and fret when they have to cut their essays to meet a shorter word count. They worry that they’ll lose the good stuff or that the piece will no longer have their voice. On the contrary, tightening an essay is often what really makes it sing.
 
For example, consider the “What I Really Know” column in AARP Bulletin. In 300 words or less, writers tackle such topics as terminal illness, love, and freedom. Ami E. Rodland’s “What I Really Know About Freedom: A Second Wind” proves without a shadow of a doubt that sometimes less is more when it comes to word count. Reading her essay, I felt the weight of her grief and the buoyancy of her newfound independence. Pretty impressive for a mere seven paragraphs, no?
 
For another example of a short but powerful personal essay, check out the most recent winner of the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. In just 385 words, writer Toni Giarnese evokes all five senses in her poignant essay about making ravioli with her grandmother.
 
To write a short essay, you don’t have to sit down at your pad or keyboard and eke out a few hundred perfectly chosen words. Rather, write the first draft as you normally would. Then revise, tighten, and revise some more until, as Zinsser said, you get to the part where you start to really say something and sound like yourself. The result will be both short and sweet.

 

 
Abigail Green has published more than 150 articles and essays in regional and national publications including American Baby, Baltimore Magazine, Bride’s, Cooking Light, and Health. Her work also appears in the new book, “A Cup of Comfort for New Mothers.” (Adams Media, 2009). Abby holds a B.A. from Vassar College and an M.A. in publishing from the University of Baltimore. She writes the “Crib Notes” column for The Writer Mama e-zine and the “Understanding Personal Essays” column for Writers on the Rise. A mother of two boys, she blogs about parenting, publishing and more at http://diaryofanewmom.blogspot.com.

Ask Wendy: Your Writing and Publishing Questions Answered

By Wendy Burt-ThomasWendy Burt

Q: Should I interview experts BEFORE I query a magazine or wait to see if the article is assigned?

 
A: As a full-time freelance writer, I’ve learned that time is money. With that said, my personal preference is to NOT interview any experts until I know I’ve got a paid assignment. What I do recommend, however, is that you LINE UP interviews before you query a magazine.
 
You’ll need to clearly explain to potential interviewees that you’re pitching an idea to a magazine with no guarantee that the piece will be assigned, but that you’d like to cite them as your experts in your query letter.
 
Two exceptions to the rule: 1) If a fabulous opportunity arises to interview someone (e.g. a celebrity or a famous anthropologist who’s about to embark on a 6-month African safari), interview them while you can; and 2) If you’re not sure that your expert is the right source for your article, do a pre-interview scouting session. 
 
The Writer's Digest Guide to Query LettersWendy Burt-Thomas is a full-time freelance writer, editor and copywriter with more than 1,000 published pieces. Her work has appeared in such varied publications as MSNBC.com, NYTimes.com, Family Circle and American Fitness. She is the author of three books: Oh, Solo Mia! The Hip Chick’s Guide to Fun for Work It, Girl! 101 Tips for the Hip Working Chick (McGraw-Hill, 2003); and The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters (Writer’s Digest, 2008). Visit her at http://www.GuideToQueryLetters.com 

or her blog, http://askWendy.wordpress.com.

Christina’s Calendar: Fall Gigs

The Northwest Author Series: Third Season!

2009-2010 Northwest Author Series

Next up: Kati Neville
Test Marketing Using Self-publishing

More info

NOW OFFERING ONGOING SUPPORT FOR FORMER STUDENTS!

NEW!!!
Destination: Book Deal
Advanced Student Discussion Group
With Christina Katz
Prerequisites: 3 Previous Classes with Christina
Destination: Book Deal is a monthly 90 minute accountability group that guides members towards landing a book deal sooner rather than later. Members will check in each month and set monthly goals. Christina Katz facilitates this group by phone as a way to stay in touch with her former students and point out the shortcuts, pitfalls, and career building opportunities available to experienced writers aiming for a traditional nonfiction book deal.
Cost: $150.00 (Intro price)
Dates: January – June 2010
Days & Times of monthly calls TBA
Space is limited to 12 participants
More/register: E-mail Christina

NEW!!!
Article Accountability Dream Team For Former Writing & Publishing the Short Stuff Students
With Christina Katz
Prerequisites: WPSS
The Article Accountability Dream Team is a monthly 90 minute accountability group that guides members towards getting more articles in print in less time than it might otherwise take going it alone. Members will check in each month and set monthly goals. Christina Katz facilitates this group by phone as a way to stay in touch with her former students and point out the shortcuts, pitfalls, and career building opportunities available to article writers, who wish to get published and profit from their writing.
Cost: $150.00 quarterly (Intro price)
Dates: January – June 2010
Days & Times of monthly calls TBA
Space is limited to 12 participants
More/register: E-mail Christina


Invest In Your Writing Career Today
& Reap Greater Rewards Tomorrow.

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  • This Blog Moving to ChristinaKatz.com as of December 30, 2009… December 27, 2009
    We’re moving! Writers on the Rise archives have been here for years. I hope that WordPress will let the archive live on for a good long time. However, it’s time to move on, bittersweet as change may be. Please come and find me at my new digs: http://christinakatz.com. And while we’re both thinking of it, […]
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