Writing Right: The Blog

Elektra Press Names Literary Scout

March 3, 2017

Tags: News

Feb. 23, 2017. Multi-book author/editor/ghostwriter D. J. Herda has today been named a scout for Elektra Press, according to E. P.'s CEO Donald Bacue. Herda's role will be to discover and sign to contract new and exciting literary discoveries, most notably from minority authors (particularly women), first-book authors, and foreign authors and to see them through to the successful editing, preparation, and publication of their works. (more…)

Beware That "Unnamed Source"

February 25, 2017

Tags: Legal News, Opinion

I've seen a lot of accusations thrown around lately about "unnamed sources." And for good reason. A growing number of legitimate news outlets, particularly those bent on destroying the Trump White House, manufacture stories, including innuendos and accusations, attributed solely to an unnamed source. Most of these are fabrications. The only "unnamed source" these fake news folks have is their own fecund minds. In the real journalistic world, a source will occasionally insist upon remaining anonymous in exchange for spilling the beans on someone or something. In half a century of reporting, I have attributed material to an unnamed sources three or four times. That's in more than tens of thousands of newspaper and magazine articles. (more…)

Shutting Down "Fake News"

February 23, 2017

Tags: Legal News, Opinion

"Fake News." Ever hear of it? It's been in the headlines a lot lately, thanks to President Trump, who has been calling out the deteriorating pretenders to the Fourth Estate for a couple of years now. I've been doing it for a couple of decades.

I saw the inevitability of fake news half a century ago when the British press devolved into a ragtag bunch of self-serving renegades taking Yellow Journalism to its zenith. It seemed back then that the American press would eventually follow, and it did. But not until the last presidential election has America's "Freedom of the Press" morphed into "Free-for-All of the Press." (more…)

"Some Day" or "Someday"? Which Is Right?

December 10, 2016

Tags: Gramar

In terms of grammar, the two-word phrase, "some day," consists of an adjective ("some") and a noun ("day") and refers to a single SPECIFIC day in the future that is either unknown or forgotten but nevertheless specifically exists. (That's what the "some" in the phrase is doing--defining which day.)

"Someday," on the other hand, is an adverb that refers to future events that will occur on a single day that is still indefinite or unknown in time. It's a nonspecific day because there is no adjective that can be inserted without breaking up "someday" into two words. "Someday" is a single non-modifiable adverb! (more…)

Write the Image, Not the Word!

October 31, 2016

Tags: Writing Tips, Writing Better

Here is one more of the most harmful "tips for better writing" I've come across in more than half a century of scratching pen across parchment. Ready?

"Write about what you know."

Oops, wrong-o, bong-o! You can know plenty about your subject and still come across as a rank amateur. The truth is, you should write not about what you know so much as about what you see! If you can't visualize the image in your mind, you'll never be able to help your reader create a mental picture of it. And if you can't do that, you can't write successfully.

Which brings up a point too often left undiscussed: The art of writing isn't about putting words on paper, it's about putting images in people's minds. Images are created by a word or a combination of words that generate a mental picture of the scene, place, person, or event in the reader's head.

So, what's the difference? Check out these two similar sentences: (more…)

When To Secure Libel Protection

October 31, 2016

Tags: Legal News, Libel, Plagiarism

There are times when a writer has invested months or even years of his life preparing the book of the century only to learn that publishers won't touch it because they're afraid of getting sued. At times such as those, wouldn't it be nice to tell those publishers, "Hey, not to worry! I have had a media attorney review the material and have a $500,000 libel policy in place for any contingency we might require."

Now, you can! The Authors Guild has an agreement with AXIS PRO, the world's leading underwriter of media liability insurance, to offer Guild members professional liability insurance. Even without being a Guild member, you can check out what libel insurance would cost to protect you (and hold your publisher harmless) by filling out and submitting an AXIS PRO WriteInsure Application. For more information, check out this PDF document.

Coverage is available under the program, known as WriteInsure, for book authorship, freelance writing (including blogging on blogs owned by others), and blog sites that you own and operate. The insurance covers claims of libel, invasion of privacy, copyright or trademark infringement, plagiarism, errors and omissions, and other related risks. The program covers legal expenses incurred in defending a claim and any monetary damages due to judgments or settlements you may be required to pay. (more…)

Author Income "Frightening"

October 27, 2016

Tags: Author Income, Internet

In its Summer 2016 Bulletin, The Authors Guild ran the text from a speech given recently by Guild President, Roxana Robinson. It's called "Where Does All the Money Go?" Not surprisingly, she surmised that a major portion of a writer's income gets gobbled up by--who else?--Amazon, Google, and other major Internet content providers. Here's a teaser from her speech:

"Suppose you decide to buy a copy of my most recent novel, Sparta, which came out in 2013. Chances are that you'll buy it on Amazon. The company offers a new paperback copy for $12.98. Also a new copy for $4.33. You can buy a used paperback for $0.01. Probably you won't choose to buy the more expensive copy. Why would you? You'll buy the cheaper one.

"But how can a new copy be sold for so little money? That new copy is probably one that the publisher sold off to make room in the warehouse. If a book's sales slow down and the publisher needs the space, it may sell copies at a deep discount to make room for other books. Many contracts have clauses that will allow the publisher to pay no royalties under these circumstances. So the publisher gets paid, and the middleman (in this case that kindly and book-loving site "Turnpike Liquidators") will get paid. And, of course, Amazon will get paid. Only the author will receive nothing for this sale of the new book she wrote. (more…)

New Words, New Worlds

October 23, 2016

Tags: Language, Etymology, Writing Tools

Hostile (adj.). Late 15c., from Middle French hostile: "of or belonging to an enemy" (15c.) or directly from Latin hostilis: "of an enemy, belonging to or characteristic of the enemy; inimical," from hostis: "enemy" (see guest (n.)). The noun meaning "hostile person" is recorded from 1838, American English, a word from the Indian wars. Related: Hostilely.

Interesting? Only if you're fascinated by the development of the English language. The study of how words evolved--usually from foreign words, sometimes from slang--is called etymology. Look up a word in Webster's Dictionary and you'll likely get very little of a word's parental background. Look up that same word in an etymological dictionary, and you'll see it all, from earliest usage right up to the present. (more…)

Literary Agents: When To Submit

October 20, 2016

Tags: Literary Agents, Submissions, Queries

I had been wondering for a while if there is a good, better, or best time to submit material to literary agencies (assuming you don't yet have an agent and are looking around for the perfect match). Here's something I came across from the agents of Bookends Literary Agency, who were recently asked which months they would consider good- versus bad-submission months.

Jessica Faust: I tend not to read any submissions in the month of August. This is the time of year when I take my break to recharge and read only published books. While you can certainly submit in August, it will likely sit in August and sit through the month of September when Iím focused on my clients and getting back in the swing. Itís October when I am likely to really sit down and get my reading in. The tough part about this question is when a good or bad time is depends not on the calendar, but on what is happening in my business. Lately, for example, I havenít been reading as many submissions since Iíve been busy with my clients. I took on a few new people earlier in the year and have been focused on getting them into the hands of publishers. Next year, I could spend September and October desperately seeking new clients. So for me, submit whenever you want to submit and I appreciate your patience as you wait on my clients and other work. (more…)