October 2013 Archives

Reading blogs will not

Reading blogs will not turn you into a published author. Writing blogs won't either. Writing books will. You have precious little time after your other responsibilities and if the goal is to write a book, well, then... write it.
Laurie Halse Anderson

A Dark Story - Wooden Bones

WoodenBones12.jpgWooden Bones (Simon & Schuster, 2012) by Scott William Carter is a dark retelling of Pinocchio. I love this sentence on the first page: "So although something extraordinary had certainly happened in this little town at the edge of a great forest, the first strange person didn't show up asking about it until nearly winter."

Here's a brief intro: Pino has been working as an apprentice with Geppeto, his papa for 6 weeks. "It had been long enough that he'd started to forget all about his terrible old life." Then a stranger comes to the door and talks to Papa. When the second one comes, Pino gets an idea of what these strangers want--for Geppetto to bring back a lost one. When Pino finds he can bring wood to life, the two must flee before an angry mob.

I won't spoil the story with any more details. But it's a very good book!

Read about Scott and his books here.


splendors.jpgLooking for something spooky or creepy? Then read Splendors and Glooms (Candlewick, 2012) by Laura Amy Schlitz which won a 2013 Newbery Honor.

The book told in multiple viewpoints features:

12-year-old Clara, child of wealthy parents, who wants the puppet master to perform at her birthday party. She wants something to be different from her other birthdays, where she has to open presents from her dead siblings.

Lizzie Rose and Parsefall work for the puppet master Grisini. They're always hungry and neglected. When Clara is found missing, Lizzie Rose suspects their master has something to do with it.

We also have viewpoints of a witch.

I love how this historical story is mixed with magic. It definitely deserved the honor it has received. Laura is a 2008 Newbery winner for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village
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You can read about Laura on her publisher's site. And here's an interesting video.

Is That Right?

keep right.jpgFirst rights, all rights, simultaneous rights--what do they all mean? Let's talk about these terms and others in relationship to magazines. First, the eight terms below refer to North American serial rights, which includes the United States and Canada.

1. all rights - the rights to those words in that order. You may not resell or reuse this piece. Some magazines who buy all rights will sell the piece elsewhere and split the proceeds with you--usually those resales are to a market most of us don't have access to, such as an assessment test or inclusion in a textbook. Decide if it is worth sending your manuscript to an "all rights" magazine, knowing it can't be reprinted by anyone else without the publisher's permission. Some high profile magazines buy all rights.

2. first rights - the right to print those words in that order first. You may resell it to someone else, who accepts reprint rights, second, simultaneous, or one-time rights. Sometimes first rights include limitations such as "first rights for 60 days following publication." Make sure any succeeding publishers are aware of any limitations if it will affect them.

3. one-time rights - the right to print those words in that order once. Again, you may resell. A lot of religious magazines are open to this option as their audiences are very separate.

4. second rights - the right to print those words in that order once, after it has been printed one time elsewhere. Reselling again is permissible.

5. reprint rights - the right to print those words again and again. Except for the initial printing, you may not know when they use the piece again. It's okay to sell elsewhere yourself.

6. simultaneous rights - similar to one-time rights--it doesn't matter when someone else is using it.

7. first and nonexclusive reprint rights - the right to print those words in that order first, and to print those words again and again. This is an alternative to all rights that some publishers are offering. The author may resell the piece as well.

8. regional rights - the right to print those words in that order in a specific area of the country. You'll often see this with local parenting magazines or newspapers. A parent in San Francisco won't likely be reading a Boston parenting magazine, so editors of noncompeting magazines might be interested in the same article. However, these often have sections or sidebars with strong local focus.

What rights do magazines buy? It depends on each individual magazine or magazine publishing company. This is why it is vitally important to check market books and each magazine's current writer's guidelines.

What if a magazine accepts a variety of rights? How do you decide what to give them?

1. Most magazines that buy all rights only buy all rights. If they offer more than that, different rights may change your pay, so it will depend on what you've already sold or are willing to sell.

2. If they buy first or one-time rights, they may pay more for first rights. If you haven't sold the manuscript elsewhere, offer first rights.

3. If a magazine buys one-time and simultaneous rights, offer the latter if you plan to submit elsewhere now. You may offer one-time if you don't plan to submit again until an acceptance/rejection comes from this magazine on this manuscript.

4. If first rights on a piece have been sold, offer second rights or one-time rights before offering reprint rights.

How do you let those magazines who accept different rights know what rights you are offering? In your cover letter and on your manuscript below your word count. If you're not offering all or first, it is common courtesy in your cover letter to let them know who published the article or story and when.

But what if you want to write another article on that topic and you sold all rights? Can you do that? Of course. Above I mentioned "the rights to those words in that order," it doesn't mean they bought the ideas, only this particular piece. You could take the facts you learned when researching or interviewing and write an article with a different slant. You won't use any sentences from the original piece. Your paragraphs won't look like the original piece. It's very doubtful you'd use the exact same quote.

For a short story, you can write the same theme with a different aspect of the same problem. Of course, you'd use a different main character. Or perhaps you'd choose to write about a younger or older or opposite gender character who has a similar problem--it would be a different story. This new story or stories might also be in a different setting. i.e. instead of a city, a rural location.

One final question I've heard: But what if you want to use that character in a book and you've sold all rights? This isn't likely to happen, but if it does, you can always ask the magazine for permission. But remember, a magazine character isn't as fully developed as a book character. Neither is the setting in a magazine. Your character will change and morph when you give her a book length problem. Your setting will likely expand as well. Don't limit yourself by being stuck on only one name and personality.

Thanks to heirbornstud of morguefile.com for the above image.


Read what you have

Read what you have written aloud. I read my writing aloud as I go. If it doesn't sound well, it won't read well. When I first began writing, my kids would say, "Who are you talking to in there?" because I spoke the conversations as I wrote them.
Betsy Byars

Read like a wolf

Read like a wolf eats.
Gary Paulsen

Poetry is an art

Poetry is an art form requiring a lot of discipline in language. It's two different ways of writing, and the successful rhyming story requires both: First the heat of inspiration, then the cool control of revising and refining. I've seen too many manuscripts that appear to have been submitted after just the first step, without the second.
Paula Morrow

Other writers might have

Other writers might have different priorities, but for me, the chief goal of my novels is not plot or premise or pacing, but to evoke a certain feeling.
Maggie Stiefvater