Sunday, April 30, 2006

Writer's Dictionary

Dawn Copeman has compiled "A Beginner's Guide to... Writing Terminology," a useful dictionary of common terms used by writers and editors.

Best Sites for Writers

Writer's Digest has announced their list "101 Best Websites for Writers" for 2006.

From their website: "Here's our eighth annual listing of the 101 best Web sites for writers. We examined more than 1,400 votes and chose the most valuable. We've simplified the list to six categories: creativity, general resources, genre/niche, just for fun, publishing resources and writing sites. We've also added symbols (see the key on Page 30) with each listing so you can quickly scan to see if the site offers what you're looking for: chat, classes/workshops, contests, critiques, forums, jobs, markets, newsletters and young writers. What do you think of our choices? After you check them out, send your comments and nominations for next year's list to with "101 Best Web sites" as the subject."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Author Visit - Jacquelyn Mitchard

Best-selling author Jacquelyn Mitchard will visit the Oshkosh Public Library at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 14 to promote her latest novel, ”Cage of Stars” (Warner, 2006).

Mitchard has the distinction of being the first author selected for Oprah’s Book Club for her novel, “Deep End of the Ocean,” which was later made into a film.

A former newspaper reporter, Mitchard and her stay-at-home husband, Chris Brent, live on a farm near Madison, WI, with their seven children. She does 200 sit-ups each morning, is deeply superstitious and has an ambition to someday appear on the show “Law and Order.”

More details about her visit will be available soon.

Writing a Query Letter

An excellent article on how to write a query letter is posted at Agent Query. The article discusses each part of a query letter in detail and includes real-life examples.

The Literacy Site

Your click on the red "Fund Books For Kids" button at The Literacy Site generates books for children in need, funded by site sponsors and provided through our award winning charity partner, First Book. First Book has distributed more than 40 million books to children in hundreds of communities.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Contest for 1st Chapters

The Writing Show is proud to announce our first ever writing contest. We are looking for the best first chapter of a novel. That’s all you have to do—just the first chapter. Set up your story and hook us!

There will be three prizes: a first prize of $150 and two second prizes of $50 each. Each winning entry will be featured on our Web site, and we will also have them read by some excellent voice actors and made available as audio files.

Your writing will be judged on the following 5 criteria:
1. Concept. Is it a compelling read with a great hook?
2. Style. Is the writing smooth and flowing?
3. Dialog. Is the dialog natural and does it move the story along?
4. Character. Are the characters interesting?
5. Mechanics. Are grammar and punctuation correct?

• Entries are limited to 3000 words.
• Any fiction genre is okay.
• You must write in the English language.
• G, PG, and R ratings are okay.
• The chapter must be your original work and must be unpublished.
• You must hold all rights to the material.
• Relatives of the judges may not enter the contest.
• Only one entry per person.

Entries are due on the first anniversary of The Writing Show, which is July 6, 2006.

Announcement of Winners
We will announce the winners on Labor Day 2006, which is the first Monday in September.

• Book publicist Karen Villanueva, who was on the show on October 3, 2005.
• Author Harriet Smart, who was on the show on March 6, 2006.
• Guest host Mick Halpin, whose interviews were posted on January 30th and March 27th of this year.
• John Bryans, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher at Information Today Books and Plexus Books.
• Georganna Hancock, who writes the fabulous blog Writer’s Edge.
• Alan Chaney, co-founder of The Writing Show.

How to Submit
This contest will be conducted entirely electronically. To send us an entry, you should do one of two things:
• Send a link to a PDF or HTML version of the work
• Send an email attachment of a txt, doc, rtf, or pdf file.
The address to submit to is:

Your submission must include the following. Do not put these on the chapter itself, only in your email. If you include any identifying information on the chapter, it will make more work for me as I will have to strip it out before I give it to the judges:
• Your name.
• Your phone number.
• Your email address.
• Your snail mail address.
• Title of the work.
• Word count.
• A log line—a one-sentence description of the work. Use it to hook us!
• The following text: “I am the author of this work and hold all rights to it. If I win, I grant The Writing Show permission to display the work on its Web site or sites and to have an audio recording of the work made and distributed.”

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The importance of writing practice

Writer Judy Reeves has posted a really good article on the importance of writing practice. You can read it here.

Her guidelines for practice are summarized below; you can read the entire version here or in her book, "A Writer's Book of Days."

1. Keep writing.
Don't stop to edit, to rephrase, to think. Don't go back and read what you've written. If you keep your writing hand moving, you'll bypass the censor, the editor, the critic, and if you're lucky, maybe even the ego.

2. Trust your pen.
Go with the first image that appears. "First thought, best thought," reminds us that the first image comes from your intuitive mind, where the creative process finds its foothold.

3. Don't judge your writing.
Don't compare, analyze, criticize. Remember that what gets written in writing practice is the roughest of rough drafts - writing that is pouring directly from intuition, too fragile and raw for judgments. Remember to be your own best friend - nonjudgmental, accepting, tolerant, loving, kind, and patient. And remember to laugh sometimes. At yourself and your writing.

4. Let your writing find its own form.
Form will come organically out of what you write. You don't have to have a beginning, a middle, and an end for what your write in practice sessions. Nor does it have to fit into some container labeled story or essay or poem.

5. Don't worry about the rules.
It doesn't matter if your grammar is incorrect, your spelling wrong, your syntax garbled, or your punctuation off. The time to edit, correct, and polish is during rewrites, not during practice.

6. Let go of any expectations.
Expectations set you up so you're always ahead of yourself rather than being present in the moment. This is why it's good to dive right into the writing topic with no time to think of what you'll write or how best to shape your writing around a subject.

7. Kiss your frogs.
First-draft writing doesn't have to be good, it won't always be good, and even when it is good, among the good will be some not so good. Remember, this is just practice. You write what you write.

8. Tell the truth.
Every time you write you have an opportunity to tell the truth. And sometimes it's only through writing that you can know the truth. Be willing to go to the scary places that make your hand tremble and your handwriting get a little out of control. Be willing to tell your secrets. It's risky, but if you don't write the truth, you chance writing that is glib, shallow, or bland.

9. Write specific details.
Your writing doesn't have to be factual, but the specificity of detail brings it alive. It does not matter if the tree you sat beneath was a sycamore or a eucalyptus, but naming it one or the other will paint a clearer picture. The truth isn't in the facts; it's in the detail.

10. Write what matters.
If you don't care about what you're writing, neither will your readers. Write about what interests you, what bothers you, what you don't understand, what you want to learn more about.

11. Read your writing aloud after you've completed your practice session.
You'll find out what you've written, what you care about, and when the writing is "working." Reading aloud lets you know when the writing is repetitious or trite. Reading aloud tells you when you're writing with authenticity and when you've found your writer's voice.

12. Date your page and write the topic at the top.
This will keep you grounded in the present and help you reference pieces you might want to use in something else. A review of the dates in your practice notebook can provide insights about your writing self.

Writers Beware Blog

The following site was recommended in "The Street Smart Writer" (see post from last week):

"Want to know the innermost secrets of Writer Beware? Of course you do! Come and read about hunting down scam agents, and get information on writing and publishing from authors/scam hunters Victoria Strauss and A.C. Crispin. Got questions on how to avoid scams in the writing world? Ask the experts! Got questions on writing and publishing? Get the straight dope here."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Spring Writers Conference - Appleton

Wisconsin Regional Writers invites non-members, professionals, amateurs and students of writing to attend our annual Spring Conference. Talk and share at a Writers’ Roundtable. Gather writing tips from nationally recognized speakers. Shop at the Book Fair and enjoy writers reading their work at the Open Microphone.

The Spring Conference is Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6, at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel, Appleton.


Kris Radish, “Creating Real Characters in Fiction”

Kris returns to Wisconsin after completing a nationwide tour showcasing her recent novel and future film, Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral. An author, journalist and nationally syndicated columnist, Kris wrote The Elegant Gathering of White Snows and Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn. Both appeared on national best seller list

John Mutter, Jr., “Lifestyle Experiences to Help Freelance Writing

John has been published in magazines and around 30 different Wisconsin newspapers. His second book, Out in the Country, was released last year. John has received numerous writing awards.

Judith Logan Lehne, “Writing to Children But Not Down to Them”

Over 70 of Judith’s stories and articles have appeared in magazines including Highlights for Children, Cricket and Turtle. She has written plays and published books including The Busy Mom’s Book of Quick Crafts for Kids and Kangaroos for Kids. Judith is an instructor for the Institute of Children’s Literature

Information and Registration:

Visit or email Questions email

Monday, April 10, 2006

TV-Turnoff Week

Can't find any extra time to write? Want to squeeze in more reading? Free up your schedule during TV-Turnoff Week, April 24-30. For activities, TV facts, and tips to reduce your television viewing, click here.

President George W. Bush to a group of school children:
Sometimes boys and girls would rather watch TV than read. When your teachers say read, they are giving you pretty damn good advice.

The Street-Smart Writer

The Street-Smart Writer: Self-Defense Against Sharks and Scams in the Writing World, by Jenna Glatzer and Danel Steven (2006 Nomad Press).

Whether a beginning or established writer, The Street-Smart Writer contains vital information to protect yourself from getting ripped-off. Topics include how to find a credible agent, common contest scams, what every writing contract should include, when self-publishing is a good idea, how to spot dishonest publicity services, and recommended web sites that offer free or low-cost legal advice for writers. This book is full of valuable information and is highly recommended. Available at your local library.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Another blogger!

OAWC member James Grass has started a blog; check it out at

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Contests, Contests, Contests

"Contests" is the topic of the next OAWC meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 13, in the lower level meeting room of the Oshkosh Public Library. Numerous hand-outs will be available on upcoming contests in fiction, poetry and non-fiction.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Job Opening

The Winnefox Library System (located within Oshkosh Public Library, 106 Washington Ave.) has a job opening for an interlibrary loan assistant.

Duties include retrieving items from the Oshkosh Public Library shelves, discharging items, unpacking deliveries, and filing interlibrary loan paperwork.

The job is 11 hours per week; no evenings or weekends. Rate of pay is $7.81 per hour, with an increase after probation.

To apply, ask for a Winnefox job application at the Circulation Desk on the first floor of the Oshkosh Public Library.

Online Book Club

"Dear Reader," on online book club, offers weekly selections in fiction, mystery, romance, business, pre-pub and more. Join as many clubs as you like; each weekday you will receive via e-mail a 5-minute portion of a book. In the course of the week, you can read the first few chapters and decide if you want to buy the book (or borrow from your local library). New selections start every Monday.

For more information, click here.

Choosing a Title

Entitlement: Choosing the Right Title for Your Story
by John Floyd

Here is a good article on how to choose a title for your story. In addition to attracting the reader’s attention, Floyd says titles should be interesting, easy to remember and appropriate to the story. While brainstorming for title, consider a popular expression (As Good as It Gets), a play on words (Live and Let Die), have a hidden meaning later revealed in the story (The Shipping News), a person’s name (Carrie, Forest Gump) or a possessive (Angela’s Ashes). Read the article for more great ideas!