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A Writer's Edge

English words, writing, and books--with a tech touch

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Name: Georganna Hancock
Location: San Diego, California, United States

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Amazon Newsstand

While I don't quite understand the title, the Amazon Newsstand's Blog makes for some interesting reading. Apparently Amazon has a magazine editor who reviews offerings and offers his views in this blog or "plog", as Amazone calls them when on authors' pages. A little bio of this author says:
Harry C. Edwards, a former editor-in-chief and publications consultant, is the magazines editor here at Amazon. If he's not reading a magazine then he's probably out beekeeping, playing golf, fishing, or watching his daughter play basketball.

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Posted Secrets

GEO'S SECRETSRecently Lillie Ammann tagged me to post five secrets about myself that no one here knows. That's pretty difficult to do for a person proud of transparancy and openness. Let's see, I could either dig deeply into my childhood (first pet: Sallie, a duck) or into my private life (adores missionary position), but this blog is about writing. So, how about these gems:

1) I wrote a film treatment to star a famous black male lead.

2) Almost all the characters in my novels live inside me.

3) When writing political copy for a state election, I coined the phrase, "A woman belongs in the House and Senate."

4) I still can't write about 9/11.

5) Although I graduated from Northwestern University, I never took a journalism course there or anywhere else.

Passing it on to:

1) Patrick at A Stop at Willoughby
2) Michael at River Tyde
3) Sou at Chronicles of a Female Thinking Out Loud
4) Fatih at Blogger Indonesia
5) Kate at Kate Blogs about Writing and Web Design

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Google Maps Books

Juan Carlos Perez of the IDG News Service (Miami Bureau) wrote the other day about "Google users map 'places in books'" :

Google Inc. has started integrating its popular mapping service with its controversial books search engine, to let people plot on maps references to places they find in books. Now, book entries in Google's Book Search may include a section called 'Places mentioned in this book.' The section includes a map from Google Maps with pins indicating places included in the text. Below the map is a list with the name of the places, linked to the pages in which they are mentioned and an excerpt from the text.

Some of the books offered with the new mapping service include:

Around the World in Eighty Days
The 9/11 Commission Report
Girl with Curious Hair
Miles from Nowhere: A Round the World Bicycle Adventure
War and Peace
Bach: A Biography
The Travels of Marco Polo
"A Problem from Hell": America and The Age of Genocide

In the Google Book Search Blog, software engineer David Petrou wrote, "'When our automatic techniques determine that there are a good number of quality locations from a book to show you, you'll find a map on the 'About this book' page. We hope this feature helps you plan your next trip, research an area for academic purposes, or visualize the haunts of your favorite fictional characters."

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Microsoft Voucher

Almost forgot to report that on Saturday a long-awaited (three years!) voucher finally arrived from the Microsoft Settlement. As an individual, I'll get $90 repayment for hardware purchased after July 2003. Guess my newish cordless keyboard takes care of that one. Don't suppose Bill Gates waited for these vouchers to go out before announcing (today) the release of Vista ... which doesn't appear to do anything more than my heavily armed Windows XP system. If you have a firewall, virus protection, spam blocker -- why would you need Vista anyway?

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Books for Writers

Quite often beginning writers ask on forums, "What books should I be reading?" Far down in the left column is a link to my Amazon.com list of basics, slanted more toward nonfiction writing. Recently I came across an extensive one, Books every aspiring writer should read, with great notes, prepared by author Anne Mini. She blogs at Author! Author! :: Anne Mini's Blog and really needs a better Amazon profile.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Free Serial

Paid advertisement spotted on the Publishers Lunch newsletter:

OK, You Guys Win

While my hard working agent is busy convincing you publishers how amazing my debut novel is, I'm taking the more direct Texan approach. I'm just gonna let everybody read it for free.

HORIZONS PAST
Cultures collide and humor abounds when the movie star (think Sandra Bullock) encounters a reclusive Texas beach sand poet (think Harrison Ford).

Every Tuesday I'll post a new chapter on www.horizonspast.com.

Set a calendar reminder so you don't miss all the fun. The website Forum lets you comment, critique, rant, rave, revise the plot, and even post fan fiction. You can play "Rename The Novel," and "Be a Movie Producer."

Hey, it beats working, right? Let's also meet weekly face-to-face on www.youtube.com. Search "Olwriter". We'll share some reader comments (even the nasty ones) and we'll review where we are and preview the next chapter. Enjoy!

Bill Stephens

This is a novel *throat-clearing-at-pun* approach, to say the least. Let's wish Ol' Bill good luck and gold stars for effort!

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Kokogiak Book Search

I was so excited in yesterday's post to find my name in someone else's book (I blow my own horn enough!) that I neglected to write about this interesting new KOKOGIAK - Book Search Mashup. The creator says:

I built this little app in response to a complaint in this blog post by Tim O'Reilly - that the various competing Book Search engines that let you search inside books (Google Books, Amazon Search Inside/A9 & MSN Live Book Search) are in proprietary bins. They require the searcher to either guess which website is most likely to house the results they want, or to try them one after the other.

Okay, well, it's easy enough to gather them all into one meta-page, so I did: http://kokogiak.com/booksearch/ - search all 3 at once.

It's been interesting to see the quantity/quality differences between the 3 in trying several searches. Results for "ajax", for instance - Amazon is all current programming books, Google is a mix of classic mythology and programming, and MSN is all classic mythology.

It may not solve the problem of making all the big boys play nice together and share their scanning efforts for the greater good, but it at least puts it all on the same page.
The actual search page is a little intimidating in its minimalism. When not performing vanity searches, I often use another fave, "Siamese cats", as a test topic. What a variance among results: A9 (Amazon) gave me all calendars; Google, all nonfiction, but at least they pertained to the subject; but the MSN LiveSearch results were weird beyond words, appearing to be mainly novels and only the first two dealt with cats.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Georganna Hancock

To me it's a jarring experience to find my name in a new context on the Internet. Not expecting any returns, I plugged in my name to a new search engine that simultaneously visits three book indexes. Why would my name return from a book index, I wondered, as it referred me to Google Books? I have no published books, other than my eBooks offered on this website. Nonetheless, the Kokogiak Booksearch said that my name is mentioned on page 11 of The Everything Blogging Book by Aliza Sherman Risdahl. Sure enough, in a book published in the middle of 2006, the Alaskan author said:

One writer's fascination with words, books, and writing led to the creation of Writers Edge (www.writers-edge.info/). Freelancer Georganna Hancock posts about topics ranging from the evolution of the English language to copyright protection.
Awww, shucks! What's best is that she spelled my first name correctly! I had to know more, because I didn't recognize her name and wondered how on earth she knew about Writer's Edge. Additional snooping lead me to her interesting blog, and Amazon says:

Aliza Sherman Risdahl (Anchorage, AK) is a Web pioneer, online marketing expert, published author, and regular contributor to national magazines and Web sites. She was named by Newsweek as one of the "Top 50 People Who Matter Most on the Internet." She has spoken around the world about the Internet, entrepreneurship, and women's empowerment.
Does anyone still question why I "google" myself? With such nice results, delivered sporadically, this Pavlovian subject salivates at the sight of every new search engine!

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Literary and Commercial

More than a year ago I was ranting about the differences in attitudes towards "literary" writing and "commercial" novels. In Fiction Death I wrote:

Is it a range of quality? Some think so. This conflict isn't new, and it isn't limited to the field of creative writing.
I thought I had posted recently on this schism, based on a contribution I made to a Writer's Digest forum thread, but possibly I pulled the post when I got to read Jodi Picoult's This Writer's Life: Jodi Picoult: Going Global. It made me so mad. Why do some people value a book only if it taxes their reasoning capacity and dribbles off into meaningless existentialism? Why is there no value in escape literature, happy endings (or at least a recognizable ending), and fast reads? I think Stephen King knows what I mean, based on his speech at The National Book Foundation:

I salute the National Book Foundation Board, who took a huge risk in giving this award to a man many people see as a rich hack. For far too long the so-called popular writers of this country and the so-called literary writers have stared at each other with animosity and a willful lack of understanding. This is the way it has always been. Witness my childish resentment of anyone who ever got a Guggenheim.
Despite in my own silly pop quiz, wherein I declared myself to only talk like a snob, a later quiz asking "What Kind of Reader are You? at gotoquiz.com actually declared that I am a Book Snob. This is as puzzling as King listing Piccoult as a writer like himself. Yes, I slogged through all of Gilead recently, and I'm glad I read it, but I would never have chosen it or looked for a copy of the book (it fell into my hands). Yes it did give me lots to think about. And it had no ending. I found that dissatisfying, too much like real life. My real life has always given me way too much to think about. That's why I like sci fi, to take me away, and horror, in which I know the terror isn't real.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Publishing Feud

Feuds are popular these days, a la "The Donald" and Rosie. Whether concocted for publicity or authentic, Fern Reiss and Richard Hoy are getting into it over subsidy publishing at Five Things Fern Reiss Gets Incorrect About POD Subsidy Publishing and Reiss' Five Things Your POD Subsidy Publisher Won't Tell You. I'd tend to agree with Reiss, although she may be a little too succinct in her presentation, and Hoy is apparently boosting his own POD services, which may not compare to other publishers. (I'm sure he'd agree with my last remark!)

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Ephemera

Got Lit?I ran across an interesting new blog yesterday, Ephemera:
Literary journals, or "little magazines," have played a critical role in our culture, providing a forum for new and seminal writing, nurturing important literary developments, and documenting social & political movements. From perfect-bound magazines to pamphlets, zines, and feuilletons--publishing in these ephemeral forms has long influenced the direction of literature and has been instrumental in creating community.
Unfortunately, the blog is completely anonymous, making authentication of "Professor X" impossible. The blog features posts about individual "little magazines", the type that publish literary essays, short stories and poetry, often with no remuneration. The very first post makes the blog sound like an adjunct to a class. It's fun to read, but possibly less reliable than a Wikipedia article.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Blogging Disease

Anyone who practices a discipline with intent and regularity risks more psychological changes than just addiction. When I spent much of my time creating watercolor paintings and teaching others how to do it, I began to see differently. A working artist looks at every scene in terms of painting it, even to the point of automatically considering which color (Viridian or Sap Green?) to use, which paper, what technique to capture the essence.

Georganna's brain on keysWhen I worked full-time at a newspaper and went on vacation, I felt deformed without a typewriter, as if one of my limbs were cut off. I learned my sensation was not unique. Other reporters admitted to the same feeling. That's why part of my Blogger profile states that I "can't think without a keyboard." Worse yet, I now seldom experience anything without composing a post in my mind. My interior dialog has become a constant commentary, nearly simultaneous with reality. I call it, "The Blogging Disease".

Because I live alone, without so much as a cat to converse with, I don't hesitate to verbalize these blog posts. After all, aren't we writers always urged to read our work aloud? Only at stoplights do I become aware of my habit--when I catch a glimpse of an amused face in the car alongside. So, I nod my head and pretend to be singing along with the radio. It's always a very slow song.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Find Rhymes

Are you a poet and don't even know it? Encourage your rhyming affliction with visits to WriteExpress' FREE Online Rhyming Dictionary (use online or buy software to use on your PC or Mac that's said to work within MS Word for Windows) or try The RhymeZone, which offers much more than only rhyme schemes. You can use it as a thesaurus or to find correct spelling, quotations and more. It has links to other useful wordy sites, like the OneLook Reverse Dictionary.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

New Novelists Note

From Barnes & Noble.com new novelist Diane Setterfield offers this advice:

1) Before you write a single word, spend several decades reading.
2) Forget advances, best-seller lists, publishing trends. Just write the book you most want to read.
3) Find a handful of honest people who know what they are talking about and who are not afraid of hurting your feelings. Show them your work and listen to what they say.
4) When you have written the best book you possibly can, edit, edit, edit to make it even better.
We have to guess that she followed her own advice in creating her first novel, The Thirteenth Tale, recently published with a $2 million advance in America. She has a quaint/techie website and the book was launched with lots of online brouhaha, so I was eager for my friend Karen to lend it to me. I'm not the only one to feel the whoops and hype were a bit overextended. The book did not satisfy after following through all the loops and machinations of the plot.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Travel Writing

Georganna in paradiseIf you think you might like to become a travel writer, read World Hum's interview, Pico Iyer: On Travel and Travel Writing. Iyer thinks "travel writing always dances on the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction", a rather bold statement to say the least. Calling guidebooks "marginalized" travel writing, he characterizes his travails as literary essays. Salon.com also carries an interesting essay by Iyer.

I understand how this is an area in which the nonfiction writer can easily lose objectivity. I spent one holiday on Roatan, an island in the Bay of Honduras. Isolated 30 miles from town, during ten days of hurricane-like weather, I occupied myself mostly drinking cheap Honduran beer, reading Asimov's Foundation books, and writing lengthy descriptive letters to family and friends. One of those friends later praised the writing she'd received, urging me to prepare an article on my experiences. Alas, she'd thrown out my letter and I'd run out of beer.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Copyright Anticircumvention

At the end of November, a three-year period of exemptions from certain aspects of the current copyright laws started. One of the areas covered is:

Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling either of the book’s read-aloud function or of screen readers that render the text into a specialized format.
The exemption, which you can read about at U.S. Copyright Office - Anticircumvention Rulemaking basically allows people to monkey around with protected ebook material to break the controls as long as the use is considered noninfringement. A Cnet article mentions the application to cell phones and discs and mentions unlocking them for educational purposes. While I can't think of a legitimate reason to circumvent protection on an ebook, this turn of events makes me happy I never bothered to try to lock mine up.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Writers Questions

In the Writer's Relief January Newsflash (sounds like a menopause remedy, huh?) Ronnie Smith concocts an hypothetical conversation that would supposedly invalidate a writer. Sorry, I can't quote parts, because she insists her whole newsletter be used. Questions like these need not bring a writer to his/her knees if practiced answers are at hand:

You're really a writer?
Would I recognize your name?
What are some titles?
Do I know of your work?
Isn't it a nice hobby?
Do you send your writing in?
Don't writers live a romantic life?
It must be nice to be rich and famous, huh?
What books have you written?

One that Smith mentioned, "Where do you get your ideas?" all professional writers have heard repeatedly, along with "Have I got a story for you!" The latter is especially intimidating when you're a young female, 100 lbs. soaking wet in sweat because the speaker is a fat, old, influential member of local society or government. Or better yet, a major advertiser for the publication for which you write. The best to do in that instance is to take notes and impress on the tipster that you will get the idea directly to the editor who will make the decision about assigning the story.

My responses to the first questions are a simple "Yes" in most cases, or the information, if available. I'm still waiting to be rich and famous, and romantic went out the window a long time ago. My novels are unpublished, and I feel no need to apologize for that--so are most of my poems. I haven't even tried very much to get those forms published.

The point is, it isn't necessary to be defensive and snarky, even when you're a beginner. No matter what you do in life, some will come along who delight in undermining others' self-confidence, tearing you down to build up themselves. That's just life. They're to be pitied. No one can invalidate you as a writer, as long as you're writing.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Creativity Calendar

The Creativity Portal offers a 2007 Calendar with Monthly Creativity Inspiring Quotes that you can download and print for free. It probably requires a color printer to do the pages justice. What I like on the website is that the quotations are listed by the month, with links to the originators' articles. For example, November's quotation reads:

"We as artists bring forth life, whatever form of art we pursue." -- Kristi Kovalishyn, The Beauty Emerges

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Copy Editing

HIRE A COPY EDITOR
From Successful Nonfiction by Dan Poynter

The Fourth Draft is the copy edit; the cleanup.

Now the manuscript is complete and you are concerned with punctuation, grammar and style.

Hire a wordsmith, a grammarian, a picky English pro. Look for them in the Yellow Pages. Ask for them in places where people work with words: check writing clubs, local colleges and ask at photocopy shops. Interview several and get referrals from satisfied customers.

The editor returned the manuscript and the pages were filled with red marks. Attached was an apologetic note saying, "I am sorry for the mess but I thought you would want to know about the errors." The author called the editor and thanked her. "I would much rather that you find the mistakes now than have my readers find them later."

According to Brenner Information Group, editors average sixty-one hours of work per book.

There is nothing wrong with unpolished writing, but there is no excuse for not having it cleaned up by an editor.

Editing is a rewording activity. Edit, edit, edit.

"There is no such thing as a publishable first draft." -William Targ, bookseller, collector, editor and publisher.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Target Visitors

In the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Target visitors or search engines? article, Vanessa Fox settles the point by advocating design for visitors. "Visitor-friendly design makes for search engine friendly design as well," Fox says. Then she elaborates the following tips:

* Make good use of page titles
* Write with words
* Make sure the text you're talking about is in your content
* Make sure your pages are accessible

Google even helps with the last, more techie, issue with it's Site Review service.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Web-Savvy Writer

Patrice-Anne Rutledge has a thought-provoking Quiz: Are You a Web-Savvy Writer? on her website. The quiz isn't so much for knowledge as for your online behavior, use of the Internet to promote your writing career. Some of the points she makes include:

* having a website, blog, RSS feed & podcasting
* having an online marketing plan
* using Amazon tools to the max

The only one I could add is Amazon Connect for authors, which I alluded to in a post on plogs.

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Work on Spec

Following a lead in the latest Contracts Watch newsletter, Issue 93 (vol. 14, #1), from the ASJA, I found NO!SPEC. ASJA said:

Writers, designers, and photographers often face requests (or even demands) for spec work in which you do the project, submit it, and only then learn if it will be used and you will be paid. It's a ridiculous concept, and it seems that some designers have created a web site - www.no-spec.com - to post warnings of high-profile spec projects and to exhort others to resist the trend. We applaud their efforts.
The No-Spec supporters offer Ten Reasons to avoid this type of work. I just don't know if this applies as whole-heartedly to writing as to the visual arts. Working on spec, as well as pro bono, facilitated my start in journalism. Of course, I never went backwards after receiving the first check, and that's what I advocate for all beginners. Get those first clips however you must, but always strive to rise, both in quality of the publications and quantity of the pay-per-word.

This doesn't mean that I don't occasionally get suckered in to a spec situation. Not long ago a local businessman contacted me to edit urgently needed documents for his company. He agreed to my standard arrangement of paying via PayPal and receiving the edited work via email. He even agreed on the cost. I put in four hard hours practically rewriting the work, apparently authored by an ESL, but when I notified him the documents were ready, he refused to pay before receiving them.

"What if I don't like what you've done?" he asked, querulously.

"What if you don't pay me? I've already done the work you hired me to do."

This went on for a few email exchanges, after which I deleted his messages, original documents and edited work from my computer. If he'd wanted me to work on spec and said so in the beginning, we'd have eliminated a lot of wasted words, energy and time. I'm willing to give people sample edits, but not to work for free!

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Friday, January 12, 2007

What to Charge

New freelancers often ask how much they should charge for certain types of writing. I usually tell them to get the job first and see how much employers are offering. Seldom have I had the opportunity to call the shots, until recent years when editing and ghostwriting. I think the Writer's Digest annual market guide still lists fees for different types of writing. The Writer website used to have a similar page, but it has disappeared. The EFA revamped its website last month, but I found the new URL for their Common Rates about which they warn:

Common rates reported to us by our members fall within the ranges indicated below. They should be used only as a rough guideline; rates vary considerably depending on the nature of the work, the time frame of the assignment, the degree of special expertise required, and other factors. The industry standard for a page is 250 words.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Book Thoughts

I have to skedaddle quickly out the door this morning to pop into my book club to offer Marilynne Robinson's "Gilead" as a suggestion for our next fiction read. Even though it is not escapist lit, I'm glad I read it. I think I see why it won a Pulitzer. Then comes a radiation treatment (less said is better). But first I wanted to alert you to the long-awaited publication of Paula's first novel. We've followed her process since she was part way through writing the novel. She blogs about the realease at:

Thought Patterns -- It's Here: "Regal Crest Enterprises is pleased to announce its January titles have been released and are now available for your reading enjoyment. "

BUTCH GIRLS CAN FIX ANYTHING by Paula Offutt.
ISBN: 978-1-932300-74-0 /1-932300-74-1.
224 pages/paper/$16.95.
You go girl!

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

New Book Review Site

Because of an intriguing post to a community on books at Orkut (Google's social networking website), I received an invitation to join Hook2Book.com. The website's subtitle is "...dissect books" and it's founder and operator is 23-year old Vinay D. R. of Bangalore, India, who says:

The MISSION of Hook2Book.com is to create and maintain the world's largest and most comprehensive book reviewers community and to develop a repute of one-stop-solution for any reader looking out for reviews on books.
He has set up templates for users to follow in listing bookstores and writing reviews, which will be listed by book. Another feature Vinay plans:

Hook2Book.com also hosts 'Book Review Contests' each season. Members of the forum will vote for 'Best Review of the season'.
Take a look, maybe you'll get hooked.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More Contest Info

From my favorite humorist, Bonnie Boots: Writer's Digest is taking suggestions for the "101 Best Web sites." Send an e-mail to writersdig@fwpubs.com with "101 Sites" as the subject line. Dare we suggest you try again to nominate Writer's Edge? If you want to try, click this. Don't forget the subject line and to put the name of this blog in the body of the email message.

Only one day left to do the same for a Bloggie, except you can do that online. Thanks!

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Google Reader

Discovered by following a link in MyBlogLog statistics in "Who Came From Where?" Google Reader lets you read syndicated content from any source in one spot, and you can access it from any computer or your mobile device. If you already have a Google Account, start at Google Reader. For info and tips see:
http://googlereader.blogspot.com/2006/09/something-looks-different.html in the official Google Reader Blog. Find other help at:

http://groups.google.com/group/Google-Labs-Reader
http://ycdl2.yukoncollege.yk.ca/googlereader/ tutorial 9 minute slide show
http://googlereader.blogspot.com/2006/11/tools-to-improve-your-reader.html from the official Google Reader Blog, too. Whew!

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Sell Books

Outskirts Press Book Publishing, a vanity/self/POD/whatever nontraditional word you choose to use publisher offers seven tips to make your venture profitable:

1. Invest in professional editing.
2. Invest in a professional cover.
3. Make sure your book sells something else.
4. Make sure you keep all your rights.
5. Make sure you have pricing flexibility.
6. Make sure your author copy price is NOT dependent upon the retail price.
7. Make sure your price is below wholesale.

The latter three pertain wholly to self-publishing, which can be only slightly less complicated than traditional publishing when it comes to the nitty gritty of contracts. Of course,the list entirely ignores the most important aspect of making a book a financial success:

Be sure you have the time and capital to PROMOTE IT TO HELL AND BACK!

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Killer Personalities

Psychiatrist Charles Atkins offers insights into Killer Personalities in a Writer's Digest article. He suggests these personality disorder types as offering the most for a multidimensional murdering character:

* narcissist--plain or malignant
* sociopath
* borderline
* paranoid

The truth about personality types--of which there are far more than I've outlined here--is that we all have bits and pieces of different ones. Where a character trait crosses over into something diagnosable, or potentially dangerous, is the terrain that fascinates us.... Understanding these killer personalities gives readers the leg up they need. When such personalities are fully fleshed out in fiction or true-crime writing, we catch a glimpse into the darker side of human nature and are able to understand the mind of the killer living next door.
Not literally true, I hope, because the only guy living next door to me is a youth pastor with a wife and two lovely daughters. Brr!

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

Bloggies!


This just in from the Seventh Annual Weblog Awards (better known as The Bloggies):

How It Works
From now until 10:00 PM Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5) on Wednesday, January 10, 2005, anyone can nominate their favorite weblogs.
Sure hope they mean "2007". Potential categories under which Writer's Edge would fit:

Best American Weblog
Best Topical Weblog
Best Writing of a Weblog
Best-Kept Secret Weblog
Most Pedantic Weblog (no, I just made that up!)

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No Blog Winner

And another contest that Writer's Edge didn't win is a The 2006 Weblog Awards, perhaps because no category exists for Writing or Writers' Blogs? More like I forgot this prize exists and didn't bother to campaign.

Just learned the reason why Writer's Edge doesn't get to be a Writer's Digest 101 Whatever may be because W.D. doesn't open its email in a timely fashion. A fan received this "Read" notice for a Writer's Edge nomination sent in last summer:

Your message

To: Writers Digest
Subject: 101 Sites
Sent: Sat, 12 Aug 2006 14:08:39 -0500

was read on Thu, 4 Jan 2007 16:48:03 -0500
Yuh think? Which raises the further question, then how do certain websites win this contest? Some people think it's phony anyway, given the poor quality of some of the winners.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

The Written Nerd

Remember my revelation that I'd wanted to open a bookstore? Over at The Written Nerd, Jessica Stockton mourns the losses of the indies also, but confides:

I still want to open a bookstore, despite the odds. And I'm still confident, underneath the blues, that I'll do it, and that it will be a success. But chances are it won't last forever.
It's good to know I'm not alone--but she's only 27, and I'm, well, old enough to know better.

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Increase Blog Traffic

While I was tooling around on a website for blogmasters, I found a new version of pixel-selling to promote websites. This one, FuelMyBlog, offers 625 generously sized squares (not to be increased) with which you can promote your blog or website. See the third square from the left, top row? It's an unfamiliar logo, I know. You may have seen it on other websites where I've registered and chose not to slap up my mug for an icon. As soon as the square was activated, I noticed visitors from there showing up here. Pretty astounding for a service just begun on December 23, 2006. I don't know where the owners are promoting it, or how, but it works! If you choose to sign up, please mention "Writer's Edge" at the end of your description, so they know I sent you, and let me know. The administration will remove the name of my blog when your link is activated.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ghostwriting

When is ghostwriting? Sounds crazy, doesn't it? The compound question reflects the confusion in many people's minds, especially those of beginning writers, about several aspects of ghostwriting. Traditionally a ghostwriter wrote a book on which someone else's name appeared as author. Ghostwriting has expanded to articles and other forms of writing, especially in the business world. A well-known business writer confided to me that his P.R. job consists of writing pieces for CEOs and other business officials to claim as their own.

Copywriting can take on an aspect of ghostwriting when the copy appears as someone else's words. Of course, speech writers have long been ghosts, whether they thought of themselves as that or not. I found as I moved into heavily editing a client's book, that I was essentially rewriting it. Eventually the client began referring to this as "ghostwriting", and I had another feather in my writer's cap.

I found some good ghostwriting tips in an article by Angela Booth, How To Get Started As A Ghostwriter (scroll way down the newsletter to find the piece). Then from a free document by Marg McAlister, Should I Become a Ghostwriter, I learned I might be charging too little for ghosting.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Your Broadcaster

Often I find myself on a website with little memory of how I arrived. Your Broadcaster Social Network Movie Project is a good example. I remember a teaser about "beta testing", but then it's all lost in the mystics of the cyberspheres. Warning: this movie-making site is Flash-intensive and my big, bad machine had difficulty handling it. Still, it's intriguing. Two phrases from the home page caught my attention:

The top voted members will then have their work submitted to feature or use in the final movie productions,- whether it be a soundtrack or as an actual actor, stuntman. voice over artist or extra.

The top perfoming members will receive cash prizes at various stages of the projects.
Lights! Camera! Action!

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Writers Website Example

For an interesting use of Blogger.com for a writer's website, take a look at Steve Hickoff. Nice design, Steve! It's a digital calling card, web presence, and contact resource. When I first saw it in early December, there were few posts, so I had concentrated on reading the information packed into the left column. It's impressive. If this were my page now, however, I'd limit the number of posts that appear on the page to three or four to prevent the long scroll with an empty left column. The graphics are a great addition and make a nice break between the text columns.

As it stands, this appears to be a no-cost web presence. I say that because I see it is hosted at the Blogger-related Blogspot hosting service. If the owner wanted to expand the website by adding functionality like linking the items under "Services" to web pages displying his talents, he'd need space on a different server. I'd suggest hosting the blog himself for better control and archival security. Not telling you what to do with your blog, Steve, just using it as a object lesson.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Book Stores Closing

A friend and I went on an excursion to a big box book store the other day; she to buy books and I to do fieldwork for a client. On our way out and through the parking lot, I admitted that I used to harbor the desire to open a book store "with comfortable chairs and couches, wooden shelves, live plants and cats--like the ones we used to know all over the country." She murmured assent. "They're almost all gone," I added, thinking of the piece I'd read about Murder Ink in New York closing (Murder Ink Closes requires registration and costs) and another in the Pacific northwest.

"We should go to La Mesa," I said, explaining that I think at least three independents still operate there: children's, cookbooks, and used books stores. Neither of us buys children's books, needs more cookbooks, and she buys only new editions and I seldom buy at all. "I want to see the stores before they're all gone," I continued, "like the wonderful old Carnegie libraries," thinking of the newest branch that recently opened in our area of San Diego. From the street it looks like a heap of architectural building blocks thrown down. I'm sure it's amazing inside, and terribly functional, but I miss the old shadow-filled, whispering, drafty, chilling concrete mausoleums of my childhood. Cozy stores and spooky libraries mean books to me.

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