The Art of Column Writing
By Suzette Martinez Standring
ISBN 9781933338261
Marion Street Press

Reviewed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

I love writing columns. It’s one way I can share. I can’t help liking to do that. It must be the teacher in me (or vice versa) because I love teaching, too. Practically speaking though, many writers are columnists because they need to pay the bills while they write books.

Some don’t even know that’s what why they’re doing it. They came to write columns long after they started writing in other genres. Though I have heard columnists say that the paychecks aren’t big enough, I’ve never heard one of them claim that they don’t like getting paid.

Having said that, some write columns for no pay, or rather—more accurately—in trade for a byline, a good credit line that includes the writer’s Web site address, and (if they are also good negotiators) a little ad or image of their book’s cover or the logo of the writing-related service they provide that also pays the bills while they support their writing habits. Those not-quite-so lucrative writing habits may range from poetry to the writing of novels, and may well include several of those less practical pursuits all at once.

That isn’t to negate the skill it takes to write a good column. In fact, learning to write a great column can lead to better writing of about anything, to say nothing of fatter and fatter paychecks.

Therefore, I was glad to see Suzette Martinez Standring’s book The Art of Column Writing. It includes “insider secrets” from the likes of Art Buchwald, Tim Bete, and Arianna Huffington, but it also gives a writer the basics necessary to succeed.

One of my favorites is Standring’s chapter on “Elements of a Pulitzer Prize Winning Column.” As a past president of NSNC, Standring has access to the best of advice from the best of columnists, and some of the ideas in this chapter are from Keith Woods who spoke on the subject at the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Many are ideas he gleaned as he judged entries for the big “P” prize.

My very favorite chapter, though, is on copyright. I like it because my students and clients worry about it—sometimes to excess. This chapter will put many writing minds at ease, give them some guidelines so they feel more comfortable with both quotations and research. Pay special attention to her entry, number seven on page sixty-three.

So, if you are a writer without an itch to be a columnist, should you read this book? I think so . . .If you were my student, I’d want you to make a very good case why you shouldn’t. Like maybe you have already reached the top of your game. You are Dave Barry, Walter Brasch or Suzette Standring.
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Originally published at MyShelf.com.
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The reviewer is an instructor at UCLA Extension Writers' Program, a poet, novelist and author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers including The Frugal Editor (www.budurl.com/TheFrugalEditor).

Alternative Sales! You Gotta Know the Ropes!

For information about making retailing work in a down economy and how authors can make their case to retailers for letting them host book signings or workshops (and how retailers can boost profits by partnering with authors) check Paul Bruno's Career Czar® radio program. The show is available f r ^ ^ at http://www.careerczar.com/mp3/career121710.mp3 . Listen to his other shows at www.careerczar.com or at the show's blog at www.careerczar.wordpress.com . E-mail Paul at careerczar@cs.com and ask to be on the show's notification list for free podcasts.



As the author of A Retailer's Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques, I appeared on Paul Bruno's Career Czar® radio program. We'll talk about making retailing work in a down economy and how authors can make their case to retailers for letting them host book signings or workshops and how retailers can boost profits by partnering with authors. The show is now available at http://www.careerczar.com/mp3/career121710.mp3 . ; In the meantime, listen to Paul's other shows at http://www.careerczar.com/  or at the show's blog at www.careerczar.wordpress.com. E-mail Paul at careerczar@cs.com  and ask to be on the show's notification list for free podcasts or how you, too, might be a guest.
And for more promotion ideas that you can borrow from the retail industry, click on the widget at the left. You'll also find more information that will help you convince retailers that they should make a partner of YOU.

Karina Fabian and Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator

Hey, there, Writers on the Move readers and visitors. I have the pleasure of being part of Karina Fabian’s book tour and featuring her newest book, Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator. But, along with this, Karina has also graciously offered to provide a great article, “Random thoughts on Seat-of-the-pants Writing.”

First though, let’s take a look at Neeta Lyffe Zombie Exterminator:

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator takes place 30 years in the future when causes unknown make people to rise from the grave. Unlike the dystopic tales like Zombieland, Fabian's world has taken measures to curtail the spread of disease. The result: zombies are pests and nuisances--and who better to take care of such things than an exterminator?

Neeta Lyffe is a professional exterminator down on her luck when a zombie she sets on fire stumbles onto a lawyer's back porch. Desperate for money, she agrees to host a reality TV show where she'll train apprentice exterminators in a show that crosses the worst of The Apprentice with Survivor with Night of the Living Dead. Can she keep her bills paid, her ratings up, and her plebes alive and still retain her sanity?

Ah, horror with a sense of humor. Sounds intriguing! Check below for the details.

Now, let’s hear from Karina about her thoughts on writing techniques:

Random thoughts on Seat-of-the-pants writing
By Karina Fabian

Plotter or Pantster?

It's one of the most commonly asked questions among writers. Plotters like to have their plot defined--they know where the characters go, how they get there, what they'll feel and do, and what route they'll take to get to the next plot point. Pantsters just start writing and, as Tigger said, "Open the door and hope for the best."

Neither is right or wrong--it's a different way of thinking, and as we all know, writers are wired differently. I'm definitely a pantster. Even the few times I have plotted, they've been very loose and always with the unspoken assumption that they will change, maybe even drastically.

So how do pantsters even write? That can vary, too. Some get an idea; others, a world. Most I know, however, start with a character. Not just any character, either: one that has sprung from their mind like Athena from the mind of Zeus--smart, engaging and full enough that this character has a story to tell--and they want to tell us!

That's how it worked for me with Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator. Neeta came to my mind as a 20-something, slightly cynical, tough but caring exterminator who happens to specialize in zombies. She had a crush on a guy who didn't seem to know she existed, and a quirky way of looking at things. (Who else sees a zombie playing with fried rice and thinks, "Hm, pointillism. I'm a Picasso-type, myself" as she slices through it with her chainsaw?)

Sometimes, the character has the story, which comes straight from who they are. Vern is my dragon who lives in the Mundane world solving crimes, but many of the short stories I write come from learning who he is.

Other times, an idea presents itself, and the character says, "That's fun." So it happened with Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator. I was talking with friends about reality TV while mulling over writing a zombie novel for Neeta, and having her host a reality TV show was so tempting. All I had was "They ate Eidleberg. *dammit,* Neeta thought, *I hadn't finished training him.* I started with that and she showed me the rest.

One great thing about seat of the pants writing is that you always get surprised. I didn't plan for Neeta to have a boyfriend, Spud to fall in love, or Dave to be so oblivious as to offer his traumatized personal assistant a safari to the Outback to relax. Oh, and I'll never be able to listen to "Unchained Melody" the same way again. (You'll have to read the book to find out why!)

However, this kind of writing takes a lot of trust. Once, I had a story fleshed out in my mind which called for the main character's fiancé to be the spunky sidekick. Instead, she turned into the damsel in distress. She REFUSED to be spunky--until I let her get kidnapped and rescued. Live and Let Fly isn't out yet, but it's such a better story for having let her have things her way.

Pantsters, just like plotters, can make wonderfully complex and complete stories--and sometimes, the story will demand either plotting or pantsting. I do think, however, most people are wired one way or another. The key is to trust yourself and your story--and have fun!

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I’ve used both techniques, and while I find the outline method a bit more secure, the seat-of-the-pants is fascinating. Thanks for sharing your insights on this topic, Karina.


And, thanks so much for visiting with us today!

Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator is categorized as horror, humor, science-fiction and you can get your very own copy at Damnation Books. (http://www.damnationbooks.com)

For more info visit: http://www.fabianspace.com

Karina is still on the book-tour move, so be sure to stop by One Writer’s Journey tomorrow, December 7th, for the next stop and check out “What do You do With a Zombie Novel.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Until next time,

Karen Cioffi
Author, Ghostwriter, Freelance writer, Reviewer,
Acquisitions Editor Intern for 4RV Publishing

http://KarenCioffi.com
http://DKVWriting4U.com
Karen Cioffi Writing for Children and More

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karencioffiventrice
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KarenCV
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kcioffiventrice



Post your 2011 Goals on Write On! Online

On Wednesday, Write On! wrapped up the year with the December Meeting on Blog Talk Radio.

As is the end-of-the year tradition, we talked about our 2010 accomplishments and started setting goals for the new year. I always encourage people to pick at least one personal goal, as well as a professional writing goal, for the new year. Sometimes we need to get our personal lives in order (new place to live, organized workspace, eat healthy) in order to find success on a professional level (write a book, finish a screenplay, find an agent).

If you missed the show, you can listen online.


Listen to internet radio with WriteOnOnline on Blog Talk Radio

Please post your 2011 Goals on Write On! Online.

You can also post your January Goals on Write On! Online for a chance to win an iScript. The January Write On! Meeting on Blog Talk Radio will be January 12 at 5 pm Pacific/8 pm Eastern.

Happy Writing! And Happy Holidays. To your success!

Debra Eckerling
Creator, Write On! Online

Holiday Mini-Gift for Writers

The Great First Impression Book Proposal
Subtitle: Everything You Need To Know To Impress a Publisher in Twenty Minutes or Less
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com/great_first_impression_book_proposal.htm
A booklet in the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers
$6.95
Available on Amazon: www.budurl.com/BookProposals


Reviewed by Jennifer Akers, reviewer and editor for MyShelf



If you’re interested in writing a book, then I’ve found a great resource for you. Written by PR guru, award-winning writer, Carolyn Howard-Johnson, The Great First Impression Book Proposal guides you through every step you need to know to impress a publisher.


Do you know the differences between fiction and nonfiction writers trying to sell their books? The former writes their book first and then sends a query letter, including a specific number of chapters (requested by the publisher or agent). Their book must be ready to go because the publisher may want to contract their work.


Nonfiction writers send proposals, in which they need to impress the publisher on the idea of their work. The book isn’t written. Before that sounds like the easier path of the two, it isn’t. A book proposal is well researched and formatted; the process is similar to writing a book and can be complicated if you don’t know what you’re doing.

To the rescue, The Great First Impression Book Proposal! In six chapters, you’ll learn how to get past gatekeepers, entice jaded gatekeepers, get an open invitation, and keep those doors open. You’ll also have a checklist to make sure your proposal is at its best. The resource section includes a basic query letter sample, suggested studies, and resources for editing, grammar, book promotion, publishing and more.

A book proposal is a mysterious beast. It’s not something you can bypass; it’s a necessary “evil” of the publishing world. To do it correctly, you need to know the guidelines. In essence, you’re proposing a business deal, but your letter shouldn’t be too formal. It needs to be friendly with eye-attracting titles without being too cozy or using over-the-top language like “amazing”. It’s a fine balance; one you’ll need to learn to be successful.


You’ll learn about the publishing industry; the correct way to research, write, and format your letter; and the steps to make yours a winning proposal. This is a jammed-packed resource, with the tag line “Everything You Need To Know To Impress A Publisher in Twenty Minutes or Less”. A quick read with everything to write a winning proposal.

Howard-Johnson writes with the experience of a professional and the candor of a best friend who doesn’t want you to fall on your face. With humor and friendliness, she offers solid, practical tips. She is one of my favorite authors, and her books always top my must-have list. This one is no exception. It’ll stay on my resource shelf.


If you’ve ever thought about being an author, you need The Great First Impression Book Proposal in your resources.

Hi everyone, today we’ll continue the VILLAIN SERIES at Hilary Melton-Butcher’s Positive Letters Blog. Out theme is What Makes A Great Villain. So stop by and say hello. The comments have been great so far for the VILLAIN series and I expect more of the same this week!

How to Find Your Writing Rhythm with Marsha Casper Cook


Writing Rhythm is what I perceive to be my own writing style. Over the years, I have realized that when writing a poem, a novel, or a screenplay my voice is what I feel in my heart. When I write I try to be honest with my feeling and never try to write like anyone else.

There are some days when I write something I really don’t like but I usually don’t discover that until the next day. I then ask myself what was I thinking when I wrote that. There is usually no answer to that question, so I go on and hope that my story will come to me. Usually my stories come to me in small segments. I am happy about that because it takes time to know your characters so you can develop them and maintain the rhythm of a smooth sorry that flows naturally.   

Most of the time when I can’t seem to figure out where my story is going I close my eyes and place myself into the situation that my character is in.  My characters are not me they are just coming from thoughts and ideas that I may have on the subject good or bad.

When I write I try to be flexible and go with the flow. I always hope that my characters come to life and they usually do. When I speak about writing, I tell stories about how I sometimes write a letter as the character and try to understand the problems my character may or may not have. If they have no problems, they are not real. They also have to have a past to get to where they are at the time I am writing about them. When I’m finished and happy with the storyline I always hope that the next day when I re - read it again and again I will be happy with what I have written. If not, I re- thinks my thoughts and makes changes or start again. If at the end of the day I don’t like my storyline and I don’t think the reader will I begin again and inevitably it does become better with a better flow and a realistic rhythm.   


Author Bio:
Marsha Casper Cook is the author of six published books and 11 feature-length screenplays, a literary agent with 15 years of experience and the host of a radio talk show about the business of writing and entertainment, “A Good Story is a Good  Story,” on the Red River Radio network. She and her guests discuss writing and what’s new in the entertainment field. This year, she also began hosting another talk show “The Whole Truth”; on this show she and her guests discuss day to day issues that effect family life. Marsha has also appeared as a guest on other network shows and will continue to make frequent visits to other shows.

Her published works include “Love Changes,” a romantic novel about a family in crisis, and “Sala, More Than a Survivor,” a non-fiction biography about surviving the Holocaust. She has also written three books for young children, including the short stories “Snack Attack” and “The Magical Leaping Lizard Potion” and the poetry collection “The Busy Bus.” She has just completed the fourth book in her children’s series. Marsha has also published a book version of her romantic-comedy screenplay, “It’s Never Too Late.”
 
Marsha’s other screenplays range from romantic comedies to crime thrillers to family dramas. Her scripts “Grand Central Station” and “Romancing Gracie” were optioned by movie studios, and the latter was named a finalist at the ASA, Houston and Chicago Film Festivals.
 
Wanting to help new writers reach their goals, Marsha founded the literary agency Marcus Bryan & Associates in 1996, and achieved signatory status from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) within two years. In that capacity, she has represented more than 100 screenwriters and authors, and has also optioned books to movie production companies. Marsha has spoken about her work and the craft of writing to a wide range of audiences including bookstores, schools, museums and local cable and will continue to speak to the media.

Links: 


You can learn more about Marsha Casper Cook and her children's books at http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com/MarshaCasperCook.aspx

Her next World of Ink Tour stop will be December 7th at The Product Review Place –
  

What is required for a character to be believable?

We’re happy to announce December ’10 World of Ink Tour Guest J.D. Holiday joins us today to share what is required to make your characters believable. J.D. Holiday is the author and illustrator of two children’s books: Janoose the Goose, picture book and a chapter book for six to eight year olds, THE GREAT SNOWBALL ESCAPADE. A chapbook of her short stories called, Trespasses was published in 1994 and she has had short stories printed in literary magazines and numerous articles about writing and publishing published. She is a member of The Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators, (SCBWI) and Small Publishers of North America, (SPAN). J.D. Holiday lives in the Delaware Valley of Pennsylvania.

We chatted with J.D. Holiday about the process of creating characters and how it is so varied. We suspect there are as many methods as there are authors and every writer must do what works for him or her. However, learning each other’s techniques helps us hone our own writing skills.

J.D. Holiday’s Tips on How to Make a Character Believable

A believable character is one that can show human traits and emotions through body movement and dialog. Know your characters well.

Each character must have an identity; name, age, background, a hobby or two and likes and dislikes. Your readers have to see where your characters live what the characters think and feel about the situations they find themselves in.
1. Do they play an instrument?
2. Do they run in the park mornings or in the evenings?
3. Who are their friends? And on and on.

I put myself in their shoes and use myself as a model for all sorts of emotions and problems my characters face. This applies to even emotions I have not felt or traits I don’t have. If my characters have to be something I am not or feel what I have not, I picture myself being or doing what my characters must and write it down.

Do an outline sketch of each one and even with all of that, your characters, especially your main character should standout and for the most part, are likable to the readers.

The characters personalities have to be consistent throughout the story.

That's the basic recipe for character creation. I hope it helps you get your characters off the ground and running. Remember- characters are the building blocks of story- don't forget to spend time on your characters before you dive into your first draft.

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J.D. Holiday is touring her book, “The Great Snowball Escapade” all December long. For those of you who would like to follow J.D. Holiday’s World of Ink Tour her next stop is December 5th at the Utah Children's Writer Blog http://utahchildrenswriters.blogspot.com/




A little about “The Great Snowball Escapade”:
Wilhemena Brooks’ cousin, Bud Dunphry come to live with her family. Wil, as she likes to be called, finds her pink pencil sharpener is missing after Christmas. Wil knows Bud has it! Who else would have taken it? Her mother told her to be nice to Bud and to treat him like she would like to be treated. If Wil treats Bud nicely does that change anything for her?

Publisher: Book Garden Publishing, LLC
ISBN Number: 978-0-9818614-2-5
Publication Date: March 16, 2010

Places where J.D. Holiday’s book is available for sale other than Amazon.com: B&N.com, Books-a-million.com, Powell's Books.com

E-books on sale at: Amazon, B&N, Scridb, LULU, and soon at Google Editions


J.D. Holiday’s Links:
Author Website: http://www.bookgardenpublishing.net

Blog Address: http://jdswritersblog.blogspot.com/

Twitter URL: https://twitter.com/#!/JDHoliday

Facebook URL: http://www.facebook.com/

Facebook Fan Page URL: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001087242518#!/pages/JD-Holiday/10150125088360294

Publisher Website: http://www.bookgardenpublishing.net

Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Writers

The Great First Impression Book Proposal

Subtitle: Everything You Need to Know to Impress a Publisher in Twenty Minutes or Less
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
ISBN 9781453690956
$6.95

First reviewed for Amazon by Robert Medak
Four of five stars

The Great First Impression Book Proposal is a book that all authors need to get past the gate keepers as Carolyn refers to them in her books. This book is by no means a step-by-step plan, but it does give you the basics for publishing your book.
The publishing industry has changed. In today’s environment, more is placed on the author to make a good impression on agents, editors, and publishers if they want to get their manuscript published.

The first impression is all you have to get the attention of those that hold the publishing purse strings. If you do not create something of value for their time and effort in your first impression your chances of becoming a published diminish greatly.

Carolyn’s The Great First Impression Book Proposal while not guaranteeing publishing does offer things that will aid you in the possibility of becoming published.

The Great First Impression Book Proposal is another in a series of little $6.95  pamphlets about various aspects of writing, editing, and publishing including Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers.


This is a book that anyone considering writing for publication should read. In fact, they should read all of Carolyn’s pamphlets about writing. Some may feel that they know the information in Carolyn’s pamphlets; even prose will find they are still a good source of information and review of what authors need to know about getting past the gatekeepers.
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The reviewer is an editor and reviewer.