Brady Magazine: An online writer's trade directory.
Archived content.


Brady Magazine was an online writer's trade directory, dedicated to putting writers on the map. Launched in May 2003, Brady Magazine now contained the most up-to-date information for those looking to succeed in the writing industry. They also provide many services to personally help writers succeed. "It's what separates us from the rest: we back up our words with action."
Content is from the site's 2004-2006 archived pages providing a glimpse of the type of information and insights this site offered its visitors.

165 Old Muskoka Road, Suite 306
Gravenhurst, ON
P1P 1N3 Canada

2002: From the Editor's Desk
     Welcome to Brady Magazine, a new online publication that is 100% freelance written. We accept articles, fiction and poetry from writers around the world. Not only are we a magazine, but an online forum where writers meet writers.

 

2003: From the Editor's Desk
    Hello Writers,

     Beginning in our November/December 2003 issue, we are launching a new column called For Future Reference, created by fellow freelance editor Darla Bruno. The column will consist of excerpts of manuscripts submitted by you that have been edited by Darla. She will edit the manuscripts and provide descriptions for her editorial decisions as well as suggestions for change. This will help the writer whose manuscript is being critiqued, as well as all writers looking to improve their editing and writing skills.

     Have your manuscript edited by Darla, and get the first five pages edited free! You will also be given the option of having the first two pages and your byline showcased in an installment of For Future Reference. This will be a great new addition to Brady Magazine that will help us all with our writing and editing skills. For more information, or to get a free quote on having your entire manuscript edited.

 

2004 From the Editor's Desk
     Not only did I want to provide an extensive amount of information to writers on this website, I also wanted to provide a number of services to writers to personally help them succeed. Many websites and publications advise writers, but they do not offer the tools needed so the writer can use the advice. That's where Brady Magazine has found its unique contribution to the writing community.
     We are currently working with many writers to help them find their spot in the industry, and are enjoying every minute of it. Starting this website has been the best experience I could have ever asked for. I have met so many fabulous writers, and continue to do so every day. This is what motivates me to continue to launch new issues of Brady Magazine, and assist new writers through our services.  

 

2005 From the Editor's Desk
     A new year beginning is always so inspirational: it gives us the opportunity to recap our successes and failures, and what we can improve for our future. It helps us to continue our lives in as fresh a way as possible. It definitely is the best way for us to put things into perspective when it comes to our career goals.
     What also helps put things into perspective is taking a break from our goals and spending time with those who would be there for us, regardless of whether we write a bestseller or not.

That's the great thing about the holidays: when you come back to work after a week of leisure, you're even more motivated to succeed. After catching up with friends and family, you come back home to your responsibilities with ease, and are ready to jump in again. You may even come back with a new outlook on what you've been working on, and a more objective look at your goals and how to reach them.  

 It's really hard, at least for me, to take a break and not think about my work. For some reason (even though factually I know it's not true) I feel that if I take a break, it will take me that much longer to succeed. By taking several days off this past Christmas, I have begun to learn how to make each minute count, and to balance my personal life with my business life. This hasn't been the easiest thing to do of course, and I still have a long way to go. It has been the best resolution I could have ever made for myself, and for my writing.

  What are your goals this year, and how can Brady Magazine help you to accomplish them? We're taking requests for what you'd like to see in future issues. I want to publish information you are having trouble finding. When accepting submissions for publication in future issues, I want to accept not only great writing, but great (and much needed) information. I'm not like most editors-- you'll actually receive a personal response to your query. I hope you had a great holiday, and enjoy the new issue.
     

Love Krissy


 

"Brady Mag was responsible for getting my first novel connected with a legit publisher. My geeky day job was working on upgrading deprecated code, working long hours writing and testing interfaces and data connections that were old and in need of revision. So basically I was modernizing legacy applications so that the software could be maintained with existing data and users without having to commission entirely new code. My novel was about how the process of legacy modernization revealed a conspiracy to steal government secrets from within the State Department by a rogue high tech contractor. I shopped the script around for 6 months before getting it properly edited and marketed by Krissy. That I could achieve success with such an obscure and esoteric topic (but one that I lived!) is proof that they know what they are doing! I'm onto my second novel - one much more pedestrian in terms of the topic - girl meets boy, boy is an alien, girl doesn't care, etc. I already have a publisher and am looking for a movie deal." PJ Whitaker

 


 

Brady Classroom

     Brady Copyright
     Brady Critiques
     Brady Editing
     Brady Gallery
     Brady Marketing
     Brady Publicity
     Brady Showcase
     Brady Storage
     Brady Typists

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Brady Critiques

Because of the volume of submissions editors receive on a daily basis, it is difficult and almost impossible for them to send specific feedback on each piece they receive. Starting at $25, you can have your article, short story or collection of poems reviewed, and you will receive suggestions for your future writing projects. Our standard rate is $25/2,500 words (if manuscript is longer, add $5/additional 500 words). For lengthy pieces, writers can request a free quote. After the critique is completed, you will receive a feedback form that will contain the following:

          :: First Impression
          :: Quality of Work (style, grammar, editing, etc.)
          :: Likes
          :: Dislikes
          :: Feedback for Improvement
          :: Reference Websites and Potential Markets

     The best part about working with us? We understand that the writing industry can be costly. We keep our rates low so writers are able to advance their careers at a quicker pace. We work closely with each writer and their budget.

As a new writer on the market, and without an editor, finding someone to review my work with helpful insight was difficult to say the least. I found Brady Magazine's critique program to be very helpful in pointing out key areas of my manuscripts that needed consideration. Brady Magazine is now one of my most important resources.

Lee Stringer

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Brady Classroom

Brady Magazine has partnered with A Cappela Publishing to offer you writing classes created specifically for your writing level. For beginners, our classes introduce you to the skills needed to write good, publishable manuscripts. For more advanced writers, they help to identify your writing problems and show how you can solve them.


Beginning Level Classes
          :: Start Here  :: 
          :: Openings That Hook Readers  ::
          :: Body-build Your Story  ::
          :: Strip-tease Writing  :: 

Intermediate Level Classes
          :: Choosing Your Voice  ::
          :: Writing Dialogue  :: 
          :: Writing Dialect  :: 
          :: Make 'Em Care!  :: 
          :: Seven Common Writing Problems and How to Solve Them  :: 
          :: Stalking the Markets  ::

Advanced Level Classes
          :: Book Promotion  :: 
          :: Bringing Your Characters to Life  :: 
          :: Selling to the International Markets  :: 
          :: Sell Your Book Through Talk Shows  :: 

     Once you sign up for a class, you’ll be e-mailed the first week's text. Exercises to help you apply the skills discussed will be included in each week's text. Read the text early; do the exercises and e-mail them to your instructor, who will critique them and get back to you with an e-mailed report.


I've searched a long time for an online writing course, and Choosing Your Voice met my every expectation and more. The instructor, Patrika Vaughn, combines fresh and insightful tools with high quality writing samples and assignments to create a very satisfying course. As an instructor, Patrika is highly qualified, approachable and professional, and she consistently provided thoughtful critique and encouragement. I plan to refer to Choosing Your Voice throughout my writing career and have already registered for my next course.

Gladys Knight

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Brady Editing

Brady Magazine offers top-notch editing services at affordable rates. Our current rate is $2.50/double-spaced page (this rate is based on 12pt font); for longer manuscripts writers can contact us for a free quote. While looking at your work, we will edit the following:

          :: spelling
          :: grammar
          :: punctuation
          :: sentence and paragraph structure
          :: manuscript setup.

     The best part about working with us? We understand that the writing industry can be costly. We keep our rates low so writers are able to advance their careers at a quicker pace. We work closely with each writer and their budget.

Allowing someone to critique and edit your work can be a devastating experience for an emerging writer. Working with Brady Magazine was not a cold business interaction, but a personal comraderie. My experience with Brady Magazine was both pleasant and informative. They edited my manuscript with respect for my work, professionalism and courtesy. They did not try to change the content of my work, but rather enhanced what was already there. The suggestions were astute and helpful, and I learned a great deal in a short time. It was wonderful to work with someone who is supportive of my work and interested in the final outcome. I highly recommend Brady's services for anyone who is apprehensive about having their work edited.

Lynnmarie Staiano

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Brady Marketing

Double the amount of time you have to write by leaving the market research to us. We offer unbeatable quality at unbeatable prices. Let us assist you with marketing your writing, and just watch how much time you'll save.
     Brady Marketing will take care of researching specific markets for your current project. Whether you are looking to find a home for your article, short story, poetry, or novel, we are here to help. While we cannot guarantee publication, we can guarantee we will find the most targeted markets for your work. Below are our current rates:

          :: $40/10 markets, submission guidelines, contact information, query letter.
          :: Add $30/additional 10 markets, submission guidelines, contact information.

     While we do not take care of submissions sent through regular post, we will send away and keep track of submissions sent through e-mail. For submissions sent through regular post, we will setup your query letter and manuscript based on each set of publisher guidelines, and will let you know which formats to send where. If you leave the market research to us, all you'll have to do is mail away your manuscript.
     The best part about working with us? We understand that the writing industry can be costly. We keep our rates low so writers are able to advance their careers at a quicker pace. We work closely with each writer and their budget.

It is always a pleasure working with a company that encourages and energizes those around them. Brady Magazine has meticulously submitted my poetry to various literary magazines, and as a result, my poetry has been receiving more exposure.

Len Bourret

Krissy Brady did an absolutely outstanding job marketing the second edition of my children's book. My publisher went out of business, and there was a potential demand for copies within the elementary school system. Krissy identified and contacted several publishers, and was soon successful in finding an interested publisher for the second edition.

Thomas Schwartz

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Brady Typists

Brady Typists is the quick and easy way for writers to complete their manuscript so it is ready to send to publishers. Manuscripts are typed for $1/page (this rate is based on double-spaced 8 1/2" x 11" page, 12pt font). We will not edit or critique manuscripts, although while typing we will complete basic corrections such as spelling and grammar. We format each manuscript so as to fit general manuscript guidelines. We accept work that is:

          :: handwritten
          :: tape recorded
          :: available on Internet files.

     When submitted, manuscripts must be in order, and not difficult to read/hear. Please send with your manuscript a blank CD or 3.5" floppy disc so we can send you a copy of the typed manuscript for your files. The writer will pay for both shipping sent to and sent by Brady Magazine (we will add shipping costs to our invoice once the service has been completed). Manuscripts will be completed in Microsoft Word format (unless a specific program request is made).

     Writers can send their manuscripts to:

          Brady Typists
          c/o Krissy Brady, Editor
          165 Old Muskoka Rd., Suite 306
          Gravenhurst, ON P1P 1N3
          Canada

     The best part about working with us? We understand that the writing industry can be costly. We keep our rates low so writers are able to advance their careers at a quicker pace. We work closely with each writer and their budget.

 

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Success Stories

I found a contest listing on your site for the book publication, Our Fathers Who Art In Heaven. I entered it, and just found out that my essay will be included in the publication, coming out on Father's Day, 2005. Without the tip from your website, I would not have known about it. This is a success story from a rather new member of your site. Finding current, non-hoax opportunities to write is exceptionally helpful and reassuring.

Patricia Miller

I found information on the newly launching IMG Magazine, and soon after my short story was accepted for publication in their first issue. Not only was it great dealing with Brandon, the editor, but feedback from readers has been really encouraging. I now check into Brady Magazine every day just to see what new information will be listed. It's nice to find publishing information that isn't too good to be true.

Tracy Nita Pender

I was a published author of a children's book whose publisher went out of business as the first run of 500 copies came off the press. I was running out of copies and needed a publisher for a second edition. Having what I thought was a winner, one would think getting a publisher would be easy. I pulled out my old e-mail list of publishers that I canvassed for the first edition. None were interested, and more than a few told me that they only deal with agents, not authors. After contacting Krissy Brady, she soon asked for more information about the story. She offered her marketing services to find a publisher, which I accepted. Soon thereafter I began receiving query letters that were going to specific publishers, and they needed to be signed. Responses came back declining to publish me, but Krissy kept the letters coming, and I kept mailing them away. Then one day, Reagent Press in Oregon responded positively. They were looking for a nature story along the lines of mine. I contacted Krissy with the good news, and asked that she represent me. She agreed, and I so informed Reagent Press. Krissy worked out all the details with Reagent, including obtaining a release from my previous publisher. A second edition of my book will be published soon, thanks to Krissy and Brady Magazine.

Thomas Schwartz

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ARTICLES ABOUT WRITING

 

:: June 2006 ::
       The Mirror of Mood
       by Jason Parker

     Moving your reader is what creative writing is all about. Is it not?
     Sparking inspiration, making someone feel good, or changing someone's life in some way, is the reason I write. After years of being read, having gained comments such as "I've had a rough day. I really needed that one!" and "What a great story! I'm going to have my friend read this!", I'd like to share with you what I consider to be at the heart of my writing. Hopefully you'll take something from it.

What?
     The mirror of mood is a term I use to describe the correlation between the way I feel with what's being put on paper. When I'm feeling enthusiastic and upady, I tend to write humor well. When peaceful, I write well regarding elements of spirituality or humanism. In other words, when I feel in the correct mood for a piece of writing, the result is, the story moves the reader in a similar way. This is the mirror of mood at work.

When?
     Always. At least to some degree, what you are producing matches whats going on inside of you. Therefore, it's important to always feel in the correct mood for what you're writing.
     This is especially true for writing longer pieces. After five chapters, it's essential to have the ability to throw yourself back into a similar mood. I think this is why a lot of writers burn out, because they are unable to re-inspire themselves in the same way. Frustration and stress overtakes them, and chapter six becomes a blob.

Where?
     Why, in your heart and in your writing.

Why?
     To me, a moving story can only be produced if one understands the mirror of mood. In real life, if we win the lottery, were bouncing off the walls with joy. On the other hand, if a family member dies, were mourning them in tears. My point is again our external world reflects our internal world.
     And so, to take advantage of the mirror of mood means to write from the inside out. Good feelings produce good feelings in your reader, because it's almost as if your writing has an energy to it, radiating a piece of your internal state. If you have an understanding of this conceptyou will know how writing moves others.
     Readers take in a story just as they would a real life situation. They are happy because something wonderful has happened to your character, or sad because something horrible has happened to your character. Do you now understand the importance of the mirror of mood?

How?
     I personally believe when one is having writer's block, he is out of alignment with correct mood.
     I know I hit road blocks when writing. I'm sure you do too. In my opinion, the best thing you can do to overcome the block is to align yourself with the mood you intend to feel, the mood that is to fuel your story.
     Say, you are depressed and want to feel generally good because this character you are writing about is going to have a great experience. Before you go on with your chapter, work to align yourself. You must understand this character by feeling that way yourself.
     This can be done by doing activities you like, such as playing a sport or listening to music. Sometimes a happy memory will align you. What works best for me, however, is simply intending to feel good, holding that intention in my mind until I feel good.
     By first being aware of my emotional state, I know I'm not feeling the way I would like to feel. Secondly, I hold the intention of feeling good in my mind. Consequently, I get closer and closer to the mental-emotional state I would like to be in. Then, finally, I write something that moves me and at least someone else.

     You can use the mirror of mood to change peoples lives, to provide an internal state through external phenomena. You can move people with your writing!

     Jason Parker is an author and ghostwriter from Atlanta, Georgia. He specializes in lifting spirits through stories. 

 

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:: August 2005 ::
       Stopping Readers in Their Tracks
       by Laura Backes

If you love books, you can probably think of several occasions when you've been stopped in your tracks by a unique turn of phrase or a magical description. "How did the author do that?" you wonder. "It's so simple, and yet so profound."
     Authors get involved in the big picture when creating a book, and rightly so. We need to think about aspects of character, plot, setting, conflict, development and resolution. We must view the overall structure to ensure that it's sound. But once that story's down on paper and we know it's not going anywhere, we can start concentrating on the words. The forest is planted; now take a look at the trees.
     Think again about those track-stopping experiences you've had when reading. What else do you remember about the book? If occasional groupings of words overshadowed the story, then the author was struggling to sound writerly at the expense of the plot. However, if individual words and phrases melded seamlessly together to create a satisfying experience from beginning to end, then the words and the story had equal weight.
     As a children's book writer, how do you entice readers with your words, the essential building blocks of any type of writing, without overshadowing the other elements that make up your book? The answer: Keep it simple.
     Skilled authors use everyday language in new, exciting ways. One of my favorite picture book examples is from Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. Max is sailing across the ocean to meet the wild things for the first time. Instead of telling us the ocean is "very big" or Max travels for "a long time," Sendak takes advantage of young children's budding fascination with calendars:

"...and he sailed off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are."

It's a poetic description of time, and fits perfectly with the poetic tone of the rest of the text. Memorable description happens when the writer pairs disparate images to create a new picture infused with emotion. The feelings make the place seem familiar to the reader.
     Here's the opening paragraph from Paul Fleischman's middle grade novel The Borning Room:

"Four small walls, sheathed with pine, painted white. A window. A door onto the kitchen, for warmth. Two chairs. A bed, nearly filling up the room, like a bird held in cupped hands. Standing by the bed, squire beside his knight, a table bearing a Bible and a lamp."

I'm certain you've stood in many such rooms. Even if the reader has never stood in such a room, she can see it. The words Fleishman uses are accessible to every reader, and invite her in. The text is not complex--most second graders can read it easily--yet it is rich and interesting. The unadorned language reflects the straightforward nature of the narrator.
     The Prologue of Natalie Babbitt's novel Tuck Everlasting begins with a metaphor that sets the stage for the tale to follow. Babbitt likens the first week of August to the seat at the top of a Ferris wheel:

"...The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot."

She goes on to describe that time, her verbs building the tension: sunsets "smeared with too much color"; lightning that "quivers all alone," and then the kicker:

"These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after."

     Surprising the reader is good, and Babbitt jolts the reader out of his dog-days reverie with that last sentence. Joyful images of Ferris wheels and hot summer days are abruptly replaced by the promise of a story about bad decisions. This, then, is what you want your reader to notice about your writing. Not the individual words, not the fancy descriptions, but the overall feeling of being taken for a ride through the story. Pay attention to your words, but don't let them take control. The only way to keep the words from overpowering the story is to always keep it simple.

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 :: July 2005 ::
       The Search for the Story: One Writer's Approach to Fiction
       by Jonathan Rabb

     The process of writing a book starts, for me, with a place in time that I find intriguing. I begin to do a little research-- if possible, with novels written at the time-- and then, if all goes well, I experience a kind of flash of complete understanding a few weeks later. Every character, every setting, every moment of tension, choice, betrayal, and resolution comes into perfect focus. But only for an instant. It’s as if I’ve been given this one chance to see how the book is meant to be, and the rest of the process-- the next year to year and a half-- is spent trying to recapture everything from that flash. Of course, I never manage to get it all, but that moment floats above and acts as a kind of guide. Luckily, there are some bits that remain clearer than others. The general arc of the book-- the scenes that I know I have to get to-- usually seems pretty well fixed, but what happens between the scenes is left for me to discover. And, I suppose, I prefer it that way. I’ve never been one for detailed outlines. I have the five or six scenes that stand out-- usually those when choices are made and, later on, when consequences play out-- but, aside from that, I like to see how the characters get from one place to another as they go.      

It’s not as arbitrary as it might sound. Most pieces of fiction-- whether novels, films or plays-- are written in three acts. The best way I’ve heard to describe it runs as follows: In the first act, you take two sticks in either hand and place a rubber band around them; in the second act, you pull the sticks away from each other, making the rubber band as taut as possible-- another inch and it would snap; at the beginning of the third act, you stretch the rubber band just that bit further... and then let go. Seeing structure in that way guarantees that conflict (or tension, or however you like to describe it) remains the driving force in the story. How that conflict manifests itself-- through characters, plot twists, etc.-- makes for the discovery.      

The lengths of the acts can vary greatly. I’ve been surprised to find myself at the end of act one twenty pages into a book, and at other times, 100 pages in. Act three can be half a chapter, or three. Of course, having a good editor to tell you that an act is too long, too short, not fleshed out enough, etc. is crucial.
     What resonates most strongly from the flash, however, is a connection with one or two of the characters. In my first two books, that wasn’t much of a stretch since the main characters were, to a greater or lesser degree, versions of myself. This time around, it was something entirely different, not just because the main character was someone I had to get to know, but because one of the characters wasn’t a person, but the city of Berlin. That might seem odd, but I’ve come to discover that place is as much a living, breathing thing as are the people who inhabit it.     

 Once all of that is in place, I go back to research. For my last book, I put together nearly fifty pages of single-spaced typed notes on language, settings, characters, clothing, etc., 95% of which never made it into the book. I do that because I have to feel absolutely certain in the world I’m creating before I begin to write, otherwise how can I expect a reader to accept that world as something possible. And that is always of critical importance given the type of books I write. My fiction is of the “what-if” variety. I like to find moments in history where there are gaps, or unknowns, and then play with what might have been. This is different from taking something we know and saying, “actually it happened differently.” I’m not one for rewriting history, or for distorting things we know to be true in aid of fiction. I take what we know surrounding the moment, make sure I relate it in authentic terms, and then create my own story inside the gap. For instance, in my latest book, we know historically that Rosa Luxemburg returned to Berlin in November of 1918; we know that she, along with Karl Liebknecht, plunged Berlin into revolution; we know both were killed on January 15, 1919, thereby bringing the revolution to a halt; and we know Liebknecht’s body showed up the next day, while Rosa’s remained missing for four months until it was found floating in a canal in May 1919. My book begins on January 16, 1919, the day after her death, and imagines what might have happened during those months she was missing. And at the end, it remains absolutely consistent with the history beyond that moment. If I’m successful, the reader is never quite sure where reality leaves off and where fiction takes over, and that’s what makes, in my opinion, for a very fun read. As long as the reader trusts me in the first thirty pages or so-- that I know this world, and that he or she is now stepping into it-- what I then decide to create on my own will fit into that reality, and the reader will have no choice but to follow along.      

As for the actual writing, I need to do it every day. I need to go in sequence-- I’ve never been any good at jumping ahead to a scene that I know I have to get to. In fact, I prefer to have that scene hovering above, prodding me along to get there. I write in silence and I often find myself reading my stuff back out loud. I know when I’ve gone off-- or when the language is wrong-- when I begin to hear myself humming as I read. That’s the telltale sign that I need to go back, hit delete (saving the deleted text, of course, in some far away file), and rethink what I’m doing. I can usually go for about five hours, and then my brain gives out. Editing is another matter. I can do that ad infinitum, but, in the end, that’s not terribly helpful. Over-editing is just as dangerous as not editing enough, and the longer you edit, the longer you stay away from pushing the characters along.     

 Most important during the writing is having a bit of inspiration nearby. For me, it’s always been Graham Greene. By my estimation, there is no one better at capturing an emotion, a moment, a place with such perfect ease or beauty of language. Greene is also remarkable at creating choices for his characters that, on the surface, seem almost insignificant, but that ultimately impact the world to shattering effect.     

 Along the way, I get comments from my editor, my agent, other writers and try not to get sidetracked for too long. Eventually, a first draft emerges, and I invariably go back and fiddle with the beginning, and then realize that the ending is completely wrong. I don’t think I’ve ever written an ending that was right the first time around. I take several more passes through while waiting for my editor’s comments (I usually bombard her with replacement pages during those weeks, which must be annoying), and when the manuscript comes back to me, I go through it several more times. They say of a poem that it’s never finished, simply abandoned, and I think that’s true of all writing. At some point, the red pen gets put away, and the editor, copy-editors, etc. step in. Hopefully by then, I’ve gotten the idea for my next book so that while the business of publishing takes over, I’m on to another intriguing place, with characters to meet, reality to play with-- and the process starts all over again.      

Are there any fixed rules for writing fiction? I don’t know. All I know is what works for me because, in the end, writing is a purely idiosyncratic exercise.
Jonathan Rabb is the author of Rosa: A Novel (Published by Crown; February 2005; 

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:: August 2005 ::
       Four Keys to Successful Freelance Writing
       by Melissa Ingold

     Making the decision to become a freelance writer is easy, but actually working and being successful is a huge challenge. You have to be prepared for, and willing to overcome the distractions that all writers face.
     Your success as a freelance writer depends four things: an equipped home office, time management, support, and writing.

An Equipped Home Office
     When setting up your home office, you will need to figure out how much space you require, as well as equipping it with all of the essentials. A computer with Internet access and a printer is a must-have for every writer.
     If funds allow, you may want to think about investing in a filing cabinet, fax and answering machine, and a separate telephone line or cellular phone. Staying in touch with your clients is essential, and having the right equipment on hand makes it easy.
     When looking for a desk and chair, do some research before heading out to the stores. Keep in mind that you need support and comfort to enable you to work at your computer for long stretches. Having an idea of what you're looking for will save you time and problems. Be sure to talk to a salesperson about the various desks and chairs available, and ask a lot of questions. Shopping around before you buy can save you a lot of money and frustration, so don't rush and buy the first thing you see. You will also need to think about equipping your office with good lighting, to avoid eyestrain.
     Once the essential equipment is in place, adding personal touches to your home office can make it into a cheerful and relaxing place to be. If you're happy in your environment, you will find yourself working comfortably, and working more often.

Time Management
     The first step to managing your time is deciding what your office hours are going to be. Make sure you include time for breaks and lunch. Stick to your hours and be sure that potential clients know what they are; otherwise they may expect you to work around the clock to fulfill their needs. If a client needs something done right away, charge a rush fee because it means giving up evenings and weekends to complete the job.
     Purchasing a good day planner will help you keep track of meetings and assignments. The last thing you want to do is hand in a late project that may affect your name and business image.
     Always keep a notepad and pen handy for jotting down article or story ideas, and taking critical notes during a phone call with a client. A hand held tape recorder is a great way to do this when you're on the go, or interviewing for articles.
     A great way to set time limits for specific work is to find a free minute timer from Windows. You can set the clock for as many minutes as you want to spend on a certain task. When time has run out, a small window will pop up to let you know. You can also use the timer for taking coffee or stretching breaks to help prevent lingering. A kitchen timer can also do the trick.
     Dividing your work into three piles will help you stay focused on the tasks that need to be done. The first pile should be work that needs to be done right away, the second pile is for work that needs to be done soon, and the third pile is for work that you can do anytime. Set out wire baskets to help you keep the piles organized. You may want to add a fourth for the work you have completed.

Support
     The most important thing about setting up your own space for working is having the support of your family. They need to respect the fact that you are working. Just because you're home doesn't mean you're not working, and they should respect your office hours just like your clients do.
     If you have smaller children at home with you during the day, you may have to improvise. Try setting your office hours during naptimes and in the evening or early morning. If you can afford to, send your children to pre-school a couple of times a week, or have a sitter come to the house. You can always work out a schedule with your spouse that will allow you time to retreat to your office to work.
     If you do not have a supportive family, it will be a lot harder to work from home, but it can be done. Give it time; they will likely come around once you begin adding publishing clips to your resumé, and will begin taking your goals seriously.

Writing
     Once you've set up your workspace, established office hours, and talked to family about respecting your space, it's time to get to work. If you want to be a freelance writer, then you have to write. By now you should know what your niche is, so start submitting queries and proposals to publications. Writing for free will help you build up your portfolio, but don't get stuck in a rut doing this. The point of freelance writing is to be doing what you love, and making a career out of it.
     Join writing groups, workshops, and classes to brush up on your skills. Not only will it improve your writing, but it's also great source of support and motivation.
     If you opened a business offering writing services, don't just expect clients to come to you. Seek them out, post your services on message boards, in groups, and ask friends and family to spread the word. Get together with other writers and broach the possibility of combining services to help each other gain clients. Don't forget to advertise offline too; you may be surprised by how many people contact you this way.

     Some freelance writers become successful quickly, while others slowly work their way there. Freelance writing is a highly competitive field of work, but if you believe in yourself and work hard, you too will succeed.

     Melissa Ingold is a wife, and stay-at-home mom to two children. She is a part-time freelance writer.

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 :: July 2005 ::

       First Pages
       by Kate Pepper

     Context, character and conflict-- I call them “the three c’s.” They are the essential fictional elements a writer should braid together on the first page of a story or novel in the quest for a sparkling beginning. If you save all the good stuff for page fifty, but you haven’t held your readers’ attention, no one will ever find out what a great writer you are because they will have already put your work aside.
     Your very first readers will be the most jaded: the agents and editors whose help you need to reach the reading public. Generally, agents and editors are so overwhelmed by submissions that they’ll skim just a few pages to find out whether the work is competent and, better yet, magical; more accurately, they’ll have their young assistants make that evaluation. On a practical level, you must engage your first readers or your work will have a form-letter rejection slapped on it and sent back to you. On a creative level, you don’t want your story or novel to begin so slowly or clumsily that it’s plain boring. Writing a good first page is a discipline, but it isn’t as hard as you might think.
     Begin by delving right into the story’s action. One of the biggest mistakes new writers make is over-writing their beginnings. There is an inclination to wax poetic about weather or to delve into the thoughts of a character we don’t yet know or care about. If you need to do some pre-writing to get yourself started, go for it, but then set it aside in your personal file of “Gems to Save for Later.” Now, choose an opening moment that will ignite the story in your reader’s mind. Something should be in the process of happening on that first page; it doesn’t need to be momentous, but it should engage your reader’s curiosity.
     Context. Quickly give us a sense of where we are-- in an urban penthouse; on a farm in summertime; in a space ship; on an ocean liner; looking at a storefront on Madison Avenue; in an office. Identifying the setting will orient your reader; otherwise, he may have to re-read just to put the story into accurate perspective. The moment he has to regroup, you have pretty much burst the bubble of his suspended disbelief and possibly lost his attention all together. If you know your character-- let’s call her Marcella-- is going to pour herself a cup of coffee, then make sure to place her in a setting where there would be a coffee pot. But don’t just inform us of the context, or setting; integrate it into the action. Action doesn’t need to be dramatic, just the sense that something is happening or about to happen. To echo an old chestnut: action is story, and story is character.
     Character. Your character experiences your story’s context; it informs her, and she informs it. If it’s cold, she puts on a sweater and turns up the heat; if it’s hot, she strips to her underwear and opens all the windows (or turns on the air conditioning). If she’s in an office and her feet ache, she still keeps on those toe-pinching high heels; or maybe she stows a pair of fluffy pink slippers under her desk. In the particular, idiosyncratic world of her mind, she experiences her world uniquely. Context and character fuse and play off each other. It’s all in the details, so choose carefully. Think about what you want to show readers as you introduce them to your fictional world. Marcella’s in her office, she’s pouring herself a cup of coffee, her feet are killing her and she’s thinking about those fluffy slippers under her desk. Good, but nothing’s really happening and you’re halfway down your first page. Someone once said that every character must want something, even if it’s a glass of water. Know what your character wants, and set her quest, however minor, into motion.
     Conflict. What’s at stake? What does Marcella care about? What does she want? Maybe she’s been up all night with a dying pet and has come into the office to meet an important deadline. She pours a cup of coffee and can smell that it’s burned before it scalds her tongue. She screams at her coffee-brewing secretary, who quits. If we can smell the burned coffee and feel the scald on her tongue, then we’ll also feel her exhaustion and frustration. Despite her loss of control, we’re sympathetic, because her beloved pet is dying at home, alone, while she had to come into work. And now, without the help of her secretary, she’ll be at the office hours longer than planned. The vet’s office closes at six o’clock, but her boss has made it clear that she’ll lose her job if she doesn’t meet her deadline... you get the idea. By now, you’re at the bottom of page one and your readers are going to feel compelled to turn the page to find out what happens.
     By quickly establishing context, character and conflict, you have set in motion some of the essential fictional elements that will resonate throughout your story or novel. Marcella’s off on her quest, you have conquered another first page and won the hearts and minds of readers who will probably go easier on you next time. But the trick is this: in the future, you won’t need their mercy, because through practice and discipline you have come that much closer to mastery of your craft.

     Kate Pepper is the pseudonym of author Katia Spiegelman, who teaches fiction writing at New School University; “First Pages” is based on an original exercise she developed for her workshop. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two children. 

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:: June 2005 ::
       Understanding Children's Writing Genres
       by Laura Backes

     I just received a letter from a writer who said, "Alas, I find myself adrift in a sea of unexplained and/or contradictory publishing terms." It's true-- you can read three different books on writing and find three different definitions of "picture book." So, to make your life easier, here's what I hope is a definitive glossary of children's publishing genres:

     Picture books-- In its broadest definition, a picture book is a book in which the illustrations play a significant role in telling the story. Under this umbrella are several types of books:

     Baby Books-- For infants and young toddlers, these books are generally lullabies, nursery rhymes, fingerplays, or wordless books. The length and format varies with the content.

     Toddler books-- Very simple stories for ages 1- 3 (under 300 words) familiar to a child's everyday life, or concept books (teaching colors, numbers, shapes, etc.) Books are short (12 pages is average) and the format can be board books (sturdy paper-over board construction), pop-ups, lift-the flaps or novelty books (books that make sounds, have different textures, etc.) See the Max series of board books by Rosemary Wells (Dial).

     Picture books-- Traditionally, picture books (also called "picture story books") are 32-page books for ages 4- 8 (this age may vary slightly by publisher). Manuscripts are up to 1,500 words, with 1,000 words being the average length. Plots are simple (no sub- plots or complicated twists) with one main character who embodies the child's emotions, concerns and viewpoint. The illustrations (on every page or every other page) play as great a role as the text in telling the story. Occasionally a picture book will exceed 1,500 words; this is usually geared toward the upper end of the age spectrum. Picture books cover a wide range of topics and styles. The list of Caldecott Medal winners, available from your library, is a good place to start your research. Non-fiction in the picture book format can go up to age 10, 48 pages in length, or up to about 2,000 words of text.

     Early picture books-- A term for picture books geared toward the lower end of the 4- 8 age range. These stories are simple and contain under 1,000 words. Many early picture books have been reprinted in the board book format, thus widening the audience. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (Philomel) is an example.

     Easy readers-- Also called "easy-to-read", these books are for children just starting to read on their own (age 6- 8). They have color illustrations on every page like a picture book, but the format is more "grown-up"-- smaller trim size, sometimes broken into short chapters. The length varies greatly by publisher; the books can be 32- 64 pages long, with 200- 1,500 words of text, occasionally going up to 2,000 words. The stories are told mainly through action and dialogue, in grammatically simple sentences (one idea per sentence). Books average 2- 5 sentences per page. See the Amelia Bedelia books by Peggy Parish or other I Can Read books published by Harper Trophy.

     Transition books-- Sometimes called "early chapter books" for ages 6- 9, they bridge the gap between easy readers and chapter books. Written like easy readers in style, transition books are longer (manuscripts are about 30 pages long, broken into 2- 3 page chapters), books have a smaller trim size with black-and-white illustrations every few pages. See The Kids of the Polk Street School series by Patricia Reilly Giff (Dell) or the Stepping Stone Books published by Random House.

     Chapter books-- For ages 7- 10, these books are 45- 60 manuscript pages long, broken into 3- 4 page chapters. Stories are meatier than transition books, though still contain a lot of action. The sentences can be a bit more complex, but paragraphs are still short (2- 4 sentences is average). Chapters often end in the middle of a scene to keep the reader turning the pages. Look at the Herbie Jones books by Suzy Kline (Puffin) and the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary (Morrow).

     Middle grade-- This is the golden age of reading for many children, ages 8- 12. Manuscripts suddenly get longer (100- 150 pages), stories more complex (sub-plots involving secondary characters are woven through the story) and themes more sophisticated. Kids get hooked on characters at this age, which explains the popularity of series with 20 or more books involving the same cast. Fiction genres range from contemporary to historical to science fiction/fantasy; non-fiction includes biographies, science, history and multicultural topics. Check out some middle grade novels from the list of Newbery Medal winners at your library to get you started.

     Young adult-- For ages 12 and up, these manuscripts are 130 to about 200 pages long. Plots can be complex with several major characters, though one character should emerge as the focus of the book. Themes should be relevant to the problems and struggles of today's teenagers, regardless of the genre. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton defined young adult when it was first published in 1967; the Newbery Medal award list also contains many worthy titles. A new age category (10- 14) is emerging, especially with young adult non-fiction. These books are slightly shorter than the 12 and up category, and topics (both fiction and non-fiction) are appropriate for children who have outgrown middle grade but aren't yet ready for the themes (fiction) or who aren't studying the subjects (non-fiction) of high school readers.

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 :: July 2005 ::
       Have You Killed Anyone?
       by Brian Feinblum

     One look at the headlines making the news and you would see the best way to make the news is to kill, rape, steal, or have an illicit affair. So how do you compete with that-as well as all the ink given to celebrities, the weather, sports, terrorism, and the latest movie?
     The first way to get media coverage is to tie your book’s message to the things that are making news. Why would Michael Jackson molest young boys? Well if you’re an expert on sex, parenting, celebrities, law, social services, or child abuse, you can get media coverage talking about some aspect of Jacko’s case- even if you book never discusses the case.
     The second way is to anticipate the news. Check your calendar and look to see what holidays are coming up. Memorial Day means war, security, international relations, death, history, etc. Father’s Day means dads, grandfathers, parenting, family, etc. Can you speak on those topics? How about the seasons? Summer means stories about travel, camp, droughts, picnics, West Nile, baseball, etc. Think of how your message ties into a holiday, a season, or an honorary day, week or month (i.e.: February is Black History Month, March is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, April is National Autism Month).
     The third way is to actually make news with the results of your research, surveys, interviews with important people in your book, or the uncovering of hidden facts. Even if your book lacks original earth-shattering news, perhaps you can create a poll of say 500 people on your subject and then report those results.
     The fourth way is to give out news we can use. If you can shed light on the newest treatments for a disease or effective parenting strategies or tell us the three smartest ways to save for retirement, people will listen.
     Lastly, raise an issue or ask a question. For instance, declare something interesting or controversial. Should pets be allowed to sue for health care? Should we eliminate the presidency and instead have three co-presidents? Should there be a legal limit on how much someone can weigh? Should people who have fake breasts be forced to disclose this to the men they date?
     Or, just kill someone and I guarantee that you’ll be on the evening news. And then you might go to jail. And then you can write a book– and promote it.

     Brian Feinblum is the Chief Marketing Officer of Planned Television Arts, one of the nation’s leading book publicity firms. 

 

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