Categories
My Journey

2011 Breathe Writers Conference

Last weekend I attended the Breathe Christian Writers Conference in West Olive Michigan. It was my second year and the conferences’ fifth or sixth. Breathe is a value-packed conference that is priced right. Although most attendees were from southern Michigan, some came from out of state, as far away as Texas. Interestingly, Breathe was founded and is organized by a local writers group, The Writers’ Guild, an octet of talented, published ladies.

In addition to main sessions, featuring an author and keynote speaker Caryn Rivadeneira, there were 24 breakout sessions to pick from and a concluding panel discussion. The sessions I attended were:

  • Creating the Best First Line (Cynthia Beach)
  • Digital World 101 (David Frees)
  • Publishing Process Overview (Andrew Rogers)
  • Agenting 101: Finding an Agent (Karen Neumair)
  • Adding Market Value with Study Questions (Sharron Carrns)
  • Book Publicity 201 (Kelly Hughes)

Of course, there were 18 sessions that I couldn’t go to, many of which held equal interest and pull. I also was able to talk with friends from prior conferences and meet with an agent. See what you missed?

My head is still spinning with all the information that was shared and the ideas that were generated. My to-do list is long and will keep me busy for quite some time.

Next year’s conference will be October 12-13, 2012 and it is already on my calendar. I encourage you to add it to yours—and hope to see you there.

What writing conferences have you attended?

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Categories
Commentary

My Friend, the Author

Do you ever read a book and feel the author is your friend?

This can be especially true if the book includes self-disclosure, as in a memoir styled account. After reading this type of book, I wish I could sit down and talk with the work’s creator: asking questions, sharing observations, and nurturing the budding relationship that germinated as a result of his or her words.

If I happen to see the author in public, I flash my best smile and wave enthusiastically. I have an impulse to run up and say “hi,” offer a handshake, or even give a hug. To me, I am reconnecting with a valued friend; to them, a stranger is accosting them—or a stalker, attacking.

The problem is our relationship is one-sided. I know the author, but he or she doesn’t know a thing about me—or that I even exist.

This also happens with public speaking. Audience members connect with the speaker, forming an emotional connection, but that is again one way.

While I am usually on the admiring side of these situations, in a few instances I have been on the admired side. It’s disconcerting, and I’m often taken aback. Since it happens infrequently, I’m still learning how to best respond, but I want to respond well. My fans are precious, and I want to respect and honor them. And who knows, a two-way friendship may emerge.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Categories
Writing Tips

Write Better Headlines By Studying Bad Ones

Last week, I recorded the headlines of press releases that I received—not the ones I used, but the ones I didn’t use (and many more were screened before they reached me). Many don’t even address the industry I cover, so make sure you only send your press releases to those who actually cover your industry, niche, or geography.

The next step in getting your press release picked up is to write a compelling headline. In reading these examples ask yourself: Which ones are interesting? Which ones make me want to read more? Which ones have a great hook? And, which ones do I even understand?

  • Presence Technology is positioned in the Visionaries quadrant of CRM Web Customer Service Magic Quadrant
  • Girls Night Out Event Tour Comes To Zeeland
  • New Combination Locking Cap Designed to Protect Children and Teens From Prescription Medications
  • SecuriGlobe Deploys Interactive Intelligence IP Business Communications Solution
  • Sitel Work@Home Solutions Provide Next Generation Virtual Workforce
  • Professional Insurance Marketing Association (PIMA) Publishes Updated Advertising Manual
  • TantaComm Announces New Interaction Recording Solutions for Business Process Outsourcers (BPOs)
  • iPractice Group, Inc. Acquires Doctors Access
  • Intelliverse Introduces Partnership Program for Cloud Services in International Markets
  • Copper Helps Serve and Protect Along Lightning Alley
  • MDSL and FancyFon combine TEM with Mobile Device Lifecycle Management
  • HyperQuality Releases New Performance Management Features in ClearMetrix 3.0
  • NYeC Announces List of Speakers for Digital Health Conference 2011
  • Amazon’s Latest Bite into Apple
  • Amazon Unveils Kindle Fire Tablet, Two Other New E-Readers
  • Olympus KeyMed selects Alcatel-Lucent for Innovative Data Center and Customer Service Solutions
  • Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC)
  • SuccessEHS Announces Results of 2010–2011 Implementation and Customer Support Surveys
  • Encoda Announces Eileen Harrow to Develop Professional Services Division
  • HireIQ Launches InterviewPlus Solution, Enabling Organizations and Recruiters to Streamline Hiring Process
  • Ambry Genetics First to Offer Exome Sequencing Service for Clinical Diagnostics.
  • Breakthrough Service to Supervise Children’s Use of Mobiles Launched by MM Technologies
  • Finalists Announced for the 2011 Eddie and Ozzie Awards!
  • SIMM Associates Uses Latitude Software Suite to Reduce Operational Costs
  • West Corporation Celebrates InterCall’s 20th Anniversary

Writing an effective headline is part art and part practice. By studying these beauties and learning from them, we can hone our craft of writing a compelling headline and increase the chances of it being picked up and promoted.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Categories
Writing Tips

A Logline Writing Contest

A logline is a brief summary of a story that is designed to hook the reader. Ideally, it is one sentence long.

I recently entered another writing contest, where the challenge was to write a logline. Not just any logline, but a really bad logline. The rules were it had to be one sentence and under 60 words long. We were allowed two submissions. Interestingly, my two entries came to me rather quickly and with minimal effort.

My two bad loglines are:

  • In this fast-paced action thriller, protagonist Peter Piper is shocked to realize that his thumbnail needs to be trimmed, but lacking the appropriate tool to do so, he is left in a quandary as to how to proceed, all the while suspecting that the fate of mankind must surely rest in the balance.
  • Ladd, half-wonder dog, half mutt, is a caped superhero at night and a lovable, albeit lazy pet during the day, but when a sudden disaster strikes in the daylight hours, Ladd must choose between revealing his true identity and… “Squirrel! Did someone say, ‘squirrel’?”

How did I do? Do you have a bad logline to share?

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Categories
Commentary

Five Words About Books from A Word A Day

Each weekday I’m treated to a new vocabulary word that arrives via email. It is called “A Word A Day” and is provided by author, speaker, and linguaphile (word lover) Anu Garg. Starting 1994, the subscriber list is now over a million strong. Although the words shared have little chance of being added to my vocabulary or appearing in my writing, it is good to see the diversity and color of the English language, learn a word’s history (etymology), and see an example in contemporary writing.

Last week, the theme was “words about books.” Check out these five beauties:

vade mecum (VAY/VAH-dee MEE/MAY-kuhm)
noun: A book for ready reference, such as a manual or guidebook.

enchiridion (en-ky-RID-ee-uhn, -kih-)
noun: A handbook or a manual.

roman-fleuve (roe-MAAN*-fluhv) [* the middle syllable is nasal]
noun: A long novel, often in several volumes, that tells the story of an individual, family, or society across several generations.

chapbook (CHAP-book)
noun: A small book or pamphlet containing stories, poems, or religious tracts.

omnibus (OM-ni-bus)
noun: 1. A volume reprinting several works by one author or works on one theme. 2. A public vehicle designed to carry a large number of people.
adjective: Including or dealing with many things at once.

I’m familiar with the last two and even used the last one in my writing. As far as the first three, it’s nice to know these words exist, but I don’t see myself ever using them.

If you are a writer or someone who loves words, I encourage you to sign up to receive A Word A Day.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Categories
News

Amazon’s New Tablet, The Kindle Fire

There is a buzz today about Amazon’s new Kindle Fire, a tablet intended to compete with Apple’s iPad. I first heard the announcement on the radio this morning while munching my breakfast—and I have already received three press releases about it.

Apple reportedly sells 7 out of every 10 tablets, with more than one competitive product left floundering—or having drowned—in its wake. Amazon’s Kindle Fire is competitively required to protect Amazon’s Kindle-loyal readers and all the books that they consume. Karl Volkman, of Chicago-based SRV Network, Inc., notes that Amazon’s foray may be successful because:

  • The Kindle Fire costs far less than Apple’s iPad 2.
  • The Kindle Fire will run a revved-up version of Google’s Android software, an operating system that has given Mac’s iOS software a run for its money on smart-phones.
  • Kindle’s existing momentum as a more popular alternative for reading books than the iPad.

What does this mean? There is now one more device for publishers to work with and more device for people to consider, with the e-reader/tablet market becoming more congested before it becomes clearer. The result is that publishers—and consumers—who pick the wrong device will be left with old hardware they can’t use and books that they can’t read. (How many audio cassettes, video disks, and VHS videotapes do you have laying around?)

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Categories
Commentary

Let’s Apply Olympic Scoring to Our Writing

In sports, such as the Olympics, results are often ascertained objectively by quantitative measurements, such as time, distance, or score.

Other competitions are determined in a more subjective manner based on the qualitative opinions of judges. To help screen out possible bias or bad judgment, multiple judges are used, with the highest and lowest scores (that is, opinions) being disregarded. The result is a more balanced and centrist evaluation.

I think that we need to apply this to our writing as well.

Some people—often family members, close friends, or those with a vested interest — will say that whatever we write is golden. They will only speak of the positives and when positives are lacking, they will spin innocuous platitudes. In short, their high score cannot be trusted and should be disregarded.

Conversely, there are those who tear your work to shreds—perhaps a word-wielding reviewer, an insecure colleague, or a self-righteous critic. Their painful bards are not helpful and often, destructive. Their low score should likewise be dismissed as extreme and untrustworthy.

With the high and low scores wisely jettisoned, the remaining scores—that is, opinions—represent a more balanced and centrist evaluation. They can be safely considered as a viable and realistic evaluation of your work.

Olympic scoring works well in both sports and in writing.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Categories
Commentary

Do You Struggle With Writer’s Block?

I’ve been wanting to talk about writer’s block for quite some time, but I don’t know what to say. Actually, I do know; it’s just that I don’t want to irritate readers because I don’t think I’ve ever truly had writer’s block.

That doesn’t mean everything I write flows effortlessly and without delay. It doesn’t mean I never find myself stuck composing an ending, an opening, or a transition—or that I never struggle with tying in an example, illustration, or point.

All those things do happen. It’s just that they are generally short-lived. I am usually able to work through them rather quickly, in a matter of seconds. Or sometimes I take a short break—measured in minutes, not hours or days—which allows me to attack my dilemma from a fresh perspective, with new insight, or a creative solution.

As I write more, I’ve observed these situations occur less frequently and are more easily overcome. I assume the same is true for writer’s block: that practice and persistence prevail, but I can’t say for sure.

So I can’t offer much in the way of useful advice for those who struggle with writer’s block, but Google does give eleven million matches for “writer’s block,” so I’m confident there is plenty of help out there from those who actually know what they’re talking about.

Regardless if your writing is blocked or not, my wish for you is to write well.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Categories
Commentary

Who Do You Write Like?

Check out the I write like website (iwl.me). The premise is simple. You paste some you work into a text box and click “analyze.” The site will then tell you what famous author you write like. It is most interesting, but I’m not sure if it is much more. In testing a half a dozen of my writing samples, I received six different suggestions:

  • Cory Doctorow
  • David Foster Wallace
  • Edgar Allan Poe
  • James Joyce
  • Daniel Defoe
  • Arthur Clarke

I chose wide-ranging samples, all non-fiction: an article, a movie review, a book review, and posts from three different blogs. The most surprising—and perplexing—response was my post on spirituality about Trinitarianism matched me with Edgar Allan Poe. That certainly gives me pause.

Though I’ve yet to be asked, “Who do you write like?” I’m sure I will one day be faced with that question. I am now no closer to an answer than when I started. Even so, this is a fun tool.

Give it a try and then share your results in the comment section.

(By the way, for this post I write like H. P. Lovecraft.)

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Categories
Commentary

How Many Punctuation Marks Are There?

There are reportedly fourteen punctuation marks. Unfortunately, the lists I consulted do not completely agree. Some include “braces” while others list a “slash.” With consensus on the other thirteen, that makes a possible total of fifteen punctuation marks. Here are my thoughts on all fifteen:

Comma: I use them, more then I should, and always before “and” when three of more items are in a list.

Period: I used to be compelled to place two spaces after periods at the end of sentences, but not anymore; I retrained myself. When not ending a sentence, I tend to leave them out, as in PhD.

Question mark: I question if this sentence needs a question mark? (not really, but I do occasionally stumble over this)

Exclamation point: Except for here, I never use them in groups!!! I do, however, tend to overuse them, especially in emails!

Quote: Except for colons and semi-colons, all punctuation goes inside quotes—usually.

Colon: The use of colons is more art than science. I pop them in when it feels right and my proofreader fixes them.

Semi-colon: I am in love with semi-colons; I tend to overuse them; it sometimes borders on the ridiculous.

Apostrophe: Many novice writers use them when they aren’t warranted or omit them when they are. It’s and its are common stumbling blocks.

Hyphen: My tendency is to insert them where a space is needed or to remove them (without adding a space) where they are required. I think I am just ahead of my time.

Dash: I may use dashes too much—but I always use the en-dash, while dismissing the em-dash.

Ellipsis: This is a great tool when writing dialogue or making sense of a wordy quote, but other uses strike me as sloppy writing.

Parentheses: I tend to add parenthetical sentences (and thoughts) way too often.

Brackets: This is a great device to insert editorial comments. [Other than that, I know of no other use.]

Braces: Braces are lovely in appearance and elegant in design, yet I can recall no time when I have ever used them.

Slash: I’m not sure if there is a proper place to use a slash, but I often see it (and occasionally use it) when connecting two thoughts or words by inserting “and/or” between them.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!