Saturday, May 19, 2018

Thoughts from a Southern Lady

One third of the writers who wrote with me under the pen name of C. W. Bowie was Claudine Wirths.
(If she were alive today she'd be in her 90s if not reaching 100 years old, so you know she remembered how things were from a long, long time ago,)

When I was writing the biography of Marian Wright Edelman, I pondered about word use.  Because of what Claudine told me, I opted to use the terms for people of color being used in each time period - her youth, her young married life, and 'modern times' (the 1990s).

This is what Claudine told me were the 'proper' ways, at least in the south where she grew up:

"I went from Colored people
to Darkies
to Nigra
to KneeGrow (Southerners had to mentally write it that way in their heads to say it right)
to Black
to African American
to People of Color  -- which was circling back to where I started -- almost!

Sigh, I try to be PC, but am despairing"
           Claudine G. Wirths

Well
Did my editor appreciate how careful I had been to use the correct terms for each time period?
Nope.
He insisted that everything be African American, even though Marian Wright Edelman preferred to use the term -- People of Color.


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

It's time to talk about rejections

The publishing world has changed from the days when writers would type up their manuscripts, slip them into large manila envelopes, complete with a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) for the response from the editor or agent, and mail it to the agency or publisher of your choice.

Now everything is done electronically and some writers flood multiple editors with copies of the same manuscript and they felt so overwhelmed that they decided to close, to not accept submissions anymore, except maybe from agents.  And the few who accepted submissions decided that, if you have't heard back in X amount of time, it's a rejection.  (leaving the writer to wonder if they even received it)

Even multi-published authors have been trapped by this closed door policy.

Laura Backes, editor and publisher of the Children's Book Insider newsletter and now involved with WritingBlueprints.com, has written a letter to editors and agents discussing this problem.
An Open Letter to Editors & Agents, It's Time to talk about Rejections.

Click on the link.  It's good.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Good Rejections

Wow. My fastest rejection ever. 
Yesterday, with high hopes, I sent (emailed) a manuscript to an agent who had come several times to talk with our local SCBWI group. This morning I woke up to a rejection. 
Fastest. Time. Ever.
The nicest thing about it was that she actually responded instead of simply deleting my email and leaving me hanging. I appreciate that.


Last week I got another good rejection. 
What was it?
It was a hand written letter from an editor.  

We writers appreciate people in the business who go that extra step to Let Us Know what's happening.  

Saturday, April 28, 2018

You need to make a WILL

Yes, YOU.

You need to make a will.
To make sure that your partner/ spouse/ children/ etc. understand what your wishes are so they can make decisions.

Especially, if you are a writer, you need to have a will that spells out who should handle your literary estate.  You probably will still have royalties coming in.  Your executor needs to know who to contact to inform them of your death and where to now send royalties.  Yes, some of your books will still be earning income long after your death.

Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon, published in 1947, is still gathering royalties. Yours might not stay popular that long, but still - there will be rights and royalties that have to be handled by your executors.

Neil Gaiman has suggestions for you, plus a link to a PDF of the form you will need.
Click and read and learn.

And Make A Will.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Writer's quotes - Marquand

John Phillips Marquand once said (or wrote):
When I'm writing a novel, I'm dealing with a double life. I live in the present at the same time that I live in the past with my characters.
He continues:
It is this that makes a novelist so eccentric and unpleasant.

Yes to the first sentence.
but
I don't find that writers for children and young adults become unpleasant at all.  It must be older male writers who write books for adults?  (yes, I've run into some of those.)

Writer's Quotes - William Somerset Maugham

A good rule for writers:  Do not explain overmuch.  - Somerset Maugham.

Over and over again I hear from published writers that you have to leave room for the reader.  It's the reader who paints the scene in his mind from the writer's broad strokes.

Also true for picture book writers.  The illustrator is the other half of the story, so you must leave room for the illustrator to take what you have and show the world you've hinted at.


Monday, April 23, 2018

Writer's quotes - Paul O'Neil

From twentieth century American writer, Paul O'Neil:

"Always grab the reader by the throat in the first paragraph, sink your thumbs into his windpipe in the second, and hold him against the wall until the tag line."

I first heard this when Bruce Coville gave a speech to our SCBWI conference and I credited this quote to him until he pointed out that he was quoting Paul O'Neil.  Oooops!

What's the 'tag line?"
GOOGLE only gives information about its use in advertising, but one definition I found says it's the conclusion of the action.  Hmmm. The conclusion of the scene?  Or the conclusion of the book?
Take your pick.