Monday, January 31, 2011

Making the best of a bad germ

There’s a great aspect to being a writer. I’ve been ill for a week. It’s not flu but it’s definitely a horrible cold and sore throat and that affects the asthma. Fortunately I’m a writer and work from the next door bedroom to my sick bed so I can crawl out of bed, write a bit and crawl back. No need to look presentable as I would if I was employed in an office. No problem if I’m coughing and spluttering as I have no co-workers. I sit at the keyboard surrounded by inhalers, nasal sprays, cough sweets, Vitamins, hot lemon drinks… OK I’m milking it but only because the LSO likes looking after me. (And I am really poorly – all say Aaah!)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Exclamation marks!!!!

Many years ago, in the days of typewriters, I sent a children’s book to a publisher I picked from a list, using a pin, and with my eyes closed, of course. Then I waited for the contract to arrive and old Walt to get in touch and discuss film rights. (Weren’t those days of ignorance sheer bliss?)
I got a no but a kind editor gave me some advice. He pointed out that his company didn’t actually take the sort of book I had written and told me about something I’d never heard of then – The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook.
I had asked, in a cheeky covering letter, if he thought I should sell the typewriter and buy a knitting machine. He was kind enough to tell me to hang on to the former but to learn my craft and then came the sentence that has stuck with me ever since. ‘The overuse of exclamation marks is the sign of a true amateur.’
Nowadays I am always surprised how many I see scattered around students’ assignments and stories sent to me for critiques. (I shouldn't be because I probably used even more when I started out.) Naturally, I have learned that ! is not necessary at the end of nearly every sentence and should only be used for exclamations. The clue is in the name. It’s an Exclamation Mark!
Save them for real exclamations such as Ouch! Help! Look out!
As every rule is broken you will discover that the children’s stories in certain magazines contain, on average, fourteen exclamation marks, most of which are not needed. But, if a magazine likes them and uses them I advise students to write their piece first and add the ! later.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


This is Brisbane where my sister and fellow writer, Glynis Scrivens, lives.
She was not directly affected because she lives on high ground but the garden was underwater and now there's the problem of shopping. There's been no milk or bread for a while now.

Friday, January 14, 2011

100 stories for Queensland

"100 Stories for Queensland" is a charity anthology to assist the victims of the Queensland floods. Stories are donated by writers from across the globe. 100% of the sales profit will be donated to the Queensland Premier's Flood Relief appeal. The anthology will be available in digital and print form, and is expected to be ready for release late February/early March. Copyright of all work remains with all authors. Please read the submission guidelines carefully and ensure your story meets both the guidelines and the word limit. Thank you ~ Jodi Cleghorn
(doc, rtf, jpg)Size limit: 500 - 1000 words By submitting a story authors are granting eMergent Publishing the non-exclusive rights to publish their story in print, digital and audio. Copyright of all stories remains with the originating author. If you have any questions please email GUIDELINES 1. Stories must be original and of an uplifting or upbeat nature. Stories with gratutious violence, demeaning content or narratives dealing with death and destruction will be automatically removed from consideration. 2. Stories are welcome in ANY genre and for any age group. 3. All stories must be beta read, line edited and proof read prior to submission. 4. ONE submission per writer. The first of any series of multiple stories will be accepted and the rest removed from consideration. NOTE: Stories previously published to personal blogs are acceptable for submission on the understanding the original blog post is taken down if the story is accepted. DEADLINE: Friday, 28th January 11:59pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time) Please include a short bio of less than 50 words in your covering letter. Biographical information will only be used on the website to assist with promotion and will not be included in the final anthology. Please ensure your story meets ALL criteria before submitting. Submit