Finding the #Write #Words? No.1

This post was written by one of Britain’s greatest wordsmiths Stuart Aken. For the last few years he has taken us on a journey about words that are difficult to pronounce, misused, abused, or simply misunderstood. Of all the titles mentioned my favorite is “The Grouchy Grammarian”. He has used this title among others in search of “just the right word”. Take it away Prof. Higgins…

Stuart Aken

For a few years I’ve been posting about word choice here. It seems timely to let you know the sources for the information and ideas I’ve presented. Before I started writing seriously, which preceded mobile phones, personal computers, and even electronic typewriters, I developed an interest in words: a fascination for the huge variety of words available and the way in which the English Language has stolen from other languages to form a vocabulary capable of great subtlety. I then began to buy books that took word usage and choice as their topics.

Below, is a list of books I now own
on the subject; a small personal library. 36 titles are listed here. They range
in size from the petite softback ‘American English English American’, at 47 pages, to the weighty,
hardback, two-volume Shorter Oxford English Dictionary with its 3,743 pages. In
price, the cheapest was the free Reader’s…

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Should You Hire a Professional Editor?

If you write for a hobby or maybe a living (we should all be so lucky) read this article by Milly Schmidt. It took a lot of courage to write this. Can anyone offer some words of wisdom?

The Cat's Write

All self-published authors must face this question at some point in their publishing journey. I am no exception. I have toyed with the idea of simply going through a few beta reader rounds and utilizing a program like Grammarly premium before finishing off the process with a proofread from a professional.

I have also contemplated hiring a professional editor for every stage of the process – copy/line editing, structural editing, proofreading etc…

In the end, it comes down to budget.

How much professional editing can you afford?

I would bet that most writers (if they had the money) would jump at the chance of hiring an expert – you would be crazy not to. But what if you will never be able to afford a professional editor? Should you throw in the towel and return to submitting your manuscript into that void filled with silence and a litany of…

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First draft completed–86,655 words – Holy Cow!

I finished “Blue Cottage” a couple of weeks after my mother passed away. After she passed I will admit there was a period of time when I wanted to chuck the whole thing in the nearest garbage can. But my mum got a kick reading about Cassie Carter and Peter Christopher so I decided to soldier on. In order to improve it I enlisted the help of a friend. She suggested I collect all the chapters I published on WordPress, put them in chronological order from Chapter 1 to Chapter 13B, so I could better see the problem areas. After doing all that I discovered two things about my first draft. First it was 86,655 words long (single spaced) and secondly it was 291 pages long. Up to then I had no idea it was novel length.

To honour my parents, who both got a kick out of my stories since grade school, I’m going to write a second draft. I conducted an experiment when I was writing “Blue Cottage”. I usually try and do some sort of outline but “Blue Cottage” I decided to write to write by the seat of my pants. I found the experience mildly liberating but I soon found myself mired in a sea of details. Some people may be able to write by the seat of their pants but I can’t. I said to another friend this morning that writing without an outline is akin to Herman Melville writing Moby Dick completely without an outline.

I already know a number of things. The second draft will not appear on WordPress. I want this draft to be ready for a publisher. I think its a real loss that publishers will not touch anything that has appeared on-line. I also find this attitude puzzling because Andy Weir, author of the book “The Martian”, originally had “The Martian” on his web site long before he had a publishing deal.

Not only will there be an overall outline but there is going to be an outline for every single chapter. I don’t intend to make the mistake of having someone being 5’ 5” then two chapters later have them be 5’ 8”. I’m going to work on one chapter at a time meaning I won’t go to chapter two until I’m positive chapter 1 simply can’t any better. And if takes until doomsday to get story ready for publication I’ll wait. I’m not going anywhere. And there won’t be any of this chapter “13B” nonsense. All chapters will have numbers. To paraphrase actor Charlton Heston they’re going to have to pry this laptop out of my cold dead hands before I begin my final sleep.

Why You Need to Market your Book Before it’s Published

So, I thought it was high time I did another Monday Marketing post!

Now, no matter how much I say it, I’m still seeing new writers who claim they “don’t need to market” or that they will “Market after publishing.”

I get it, no one really likes marketing.  I’ve worked in Marketing Departments, and it can be uncomfortable and frustrating and since most writers are introverts and struggle to often talk about their work, pushing it a little can seem an impossible task.

But it’s not and it is important…and it really needs to be done before you publish.

So, I thought I’d share with you 7 reasons when you need to market your book before it’s published! 


Get your Foot in the Door

If you are a new writer chances are people won’t know you.  Yes, you may have told some people you’re a writer but the vast majority…

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For mom

My mother, Margaret Armstrong Kyle Austin, passed away yesterday. She was 91.

Regular posts will return next week (I hope).  I helped my brother Allan write her obituary.         

Margaret A. Austin

(née Kyle)

March 20, 1928 – July 17, 2019

We are deeply saddened to announce that Marg died peacefully, with her family by her side, at Belmont House long term care, on Wednesday, July 17.

Beloved wife of Allan McNiece Austin (Mac, 2018) for 66 years, adored mother of Allan (Lyn), Jim (Sue) and Tom (Rosaria), devoted and loving grandmother of Maggie (Jeremy Packard), Gren (Kimberley Dossett), Graham (Mallory Lazarus) and Michael (Felicia Birmingham ).

Marg was the only child of William Armstrong Kyle and Euphemia Marguerite Hunter. She is survived by her cousins Bill Kyle in Pointe Claire, QC and Fergus Kyle in Burlington, ON.

Marg was born in Toronto and attended Parkdale Collegiate Institute and Branksome Hall, before going on to Victoria College at the University of Toronto, where she earned a BA in sociology.

After completing university she worked for the Bell Telephone Company in customer service.

Marg married Mac Austin in 1951 and soon began managing their busy family life, which centred on their three sons, and included their home in Toronto, their cottage on Shadow Lake, and “that male chauvinist pig of a dog.”

Marg worked for many years for the Volunteer Centre of Toronto, which recognized her contributions with an award.

She enjoyed sports, including golf, curling and skiing. She also loved travelling, to the South and to Europe, particularly the south of France.

She was a dedicated and long-time member of Eglinton-St George’s United Church.

Mac and Marg moved into the retirement side of Belmont House in June, 2013. From then until Mac’s death she worked valiantly to support and care for him as his life was taken over by Alzheimer’s Disease.

We are profoundly thankful for the care she received from the whole team at Belmont House, and her personal caregiver Yeshi Choedon.

Please consider a donation in her name to Belmont House Foundation, 55 Belmont Street, Toronto, ON M5R 1R1.

Arrangements in care of Humphrey Funeral Home, 1403 Bayview Avenue, Toronto M4G 3A8.

A celebration of Marg’s life is planned for late summer.

How to Hook a Reader from the First Sentence.

And now some sage advice about writing that very first sentence. The one that’ll hook your reader and have them saying…”Oh, this sounds good. Tell me more….”

Lorraine Ambers

We all know first impressions count, from the title to the very first sentence. So if you lose the reader at this point, chances are they won’t be coming back again. Whoever said ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ probably was not in the writing industry. The first line needs to be brilliant, presenting something curious, shocking or entertaining, and it must be an example of your best writing.
pen-notebook-coffee-writing tips

Fear not, writing buddies; you’re not alone in editing that all important line for the trillionth time. It’s something most of us struggle with at some point.

Here are some examples of excellent first lines, they hook your attention long enough for you to think, ‘oh, what’s happening here?’ Lets’ take a look, perhaps you’ll recognise a few.

“It took seven years to get the letter right.”

“Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would…

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How to Submit Your Manuscript to the Big 5 US Publishers in 2019

Milly Schmidt has come up with a list worth of reading, printing out, and keeping for when your pen moves you. Drop her a line and thank her.

The Cat's Write

Hi Everyone! Here’s a recently updated list of the Big 5 US Publishing Houses, their submission requirements for unsolicited manuscripts and links to submission details. I’ve also added a bonus publisher at the end for you.

I spent hours (quite literally) researching and updating this list for all of my wonderful blogging friends. You know how much I love you!

For those of you who don’t know, the Big 5 US publishers are represented in other countries too, which means Non-U.S. Citizens will need to submit their manuscripts to their own country’s equivalent Publishing House.

I have noticed while researching the Big 5 in the US that the options for submitting unsolicited manuscripts are incredibly limited – and have been tightened still in 2019. My best guess is the imprints that are usually open to unsolicited manuscripts have not yet ‘woken up’ from the Christmas & New Year Breaks (publishers…

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Literally, you’re killing me…

Meg Sorick, Author/Artist

A brief complaint about ‘literally’.

The word ‘literally’ is meant to emphasize the truth and accuracy of a statement or description or to express exact equivalence with the meaning of each individual word given.

In the first case, you might say, “The house was literally shaken from its foundation during the earthquake.” This is meant to convey the idea that the house is no longer attached to the foundation on which it was built. Really. For real. Not exaggerating.

In the second case —expressing equivalence— you might say, “tempus fugit literally means time flies.” It is a word-for-word translation of the Latin phrase.

But you didn’t ‘literally’ die when Taylor Swift liked your Instagram post.

How ironic that a term designed to emphasize a statement has transformed into just the opposite. It has, in fact, evolved to mean ‘figuratively’ in most cases! The misuse and overuse of ‘literally’ has at…

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Ten things that make writers mad

More words of wisdom from Milly Schmidt of The Cat’s Write

The Cat's Write

Writers are a peculiar breed. Even though we live all over the globe in a variety of different habitats and abodes (and display a surprising range of personality traits) as a collective bunch, writers are often marred by a particular set of idiosyncrasies… like the things that drive us bat shit crazy:

1. Copies, all the copies

Like when you realise mid-way through a major edit that the Google Doc you uploaded last week is NOT THE RIGHT ONE. Because, duh, you emailed yourself a copy last night and you also saved a different version to your USB stick shortly after that. But wait… are you sure that’s the right one??? Which one is it!?

too many cats2. Scrivener

Because you don’t have it and every other writer has it and they keep telling you how freaking amazing it is and there’s this thing called binder and you should totally ‘get it…

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Write Like Yourself

From the pen of Jordan Peters of The Art Of Blogging

The Art of Blogging

Let’s face it: most people can’t write their way out of a paper bag. Further, most bloggers are boring, most journalists are so heavily edited that any personality they’ve added to a story has long since been weaned out by the editorial process.

I want to let you in on a secret, though: it’s not really that people are boring, but that too many have been taught that you shouldn’t write the same way you talk. I blame our educational system, actually, with those 5th grade teachers who drilled us on adverbs, pronouns and the minutia of grammar, coupled with too many boring, tedious academic books that we all suffered through while in college.

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