Thursday, March 31, 2011

5 Ways to Make an Editor Smile

by Priscilla Y. Huff Editors of magazines, publishing houses, and other content media are VERY busy people. The more you make their jobs easier, the happier they are. Here are five ways to make them smile and increase your odds of getting published: 1) Knowing their publication! Study their writer’s guidelines, their audience (target readers), plus read back issues or books they publish to see if your style and subject matter matches theirs. 2) Being a professional. Send queries or proposals in the correct format (stipulated in author’s or writer’s guidelines), to the current editors (addressed to specific persons) who handle those specific topics, and with a succinct cover letter introducing your manuscript and what qualifies you to write it. 3.) Catching their attention with the first few sentences of your query letter and/or manuscript. Good fiction and nonfiction writers “hook” readers into their stories from the start. Editors read query letter after query letter and many book proposals, so make yours a “standout.” 4) Writing in an “active” voice. Instead of writing “You should always turn off the lights when you leave a room,” say “Turn off all lights when you leave a room.” 5) Delivering what you promised. When your assignments or manuscripts are finished, review and check to see you have followed the editors’ specific requests as to exact word length, manuscripts’ set-up, and of course, their deadlines. Editors have strict timelines and delays are costly, so make them happy and get your work in on time. These are just a few ways to please an editor. Better for your writing career to make an editor smile, rather than frown.

Suggested Further Reading:

  • The Everything® Get Published Book, Completely Updated, All You Need to Know to Become a Successful Author by Meg Schneider & Barbara Doye

  • Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One & Never Lets Them Go by Les Edgerton

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Additional Library Talks Scheduled

Want to learn more about the writing and publishing process AND support your fellow Black Diamond Writers Network members? Then join us for "Write ItRight--Get Published", coming soon to a library near you! The following library talks are scheduled as a promotional tie-in for the Write It Right conference on April 16: Thurs., March 31--Tamaqua Public Library, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Lehighton Area Memorial Library, 6:00-7:00 p.m. Pottsville Free Public Library, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Tues., April 5--Minersville Public Library, 6:00-7:00 p.m. Wed., April 6--Dimmick Memorial Library, Jim Thorpe 6:00-7:00 p.m. Thurs., April 7--Weatherly Area Public Library, Weatherly, 7:00 p.m. Come out and learn more about how to get your work noticed by agents and editors!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What I Learned at the 2010 Write It Right Conference

by Linda Murphy

I work with children and see the positive results when quality books are used for teaching. I often use books to create fun learning activities. In 2009 I began dreaming of seeing my own work in print in the form of a children’s picture book. In order for my dream to become a reality I realized I needed to gain insight into the world of publishing and improve my writing skills. “How-to Books” and websites on the topic indicated the importance of networking with fellow writers. I immediately connected with the BDWN organization when I attended my first meeting. The members are composed of a wide range of writers who enjoy sharing their knowledge and expertise. When it was announced BDWN was having their first conference in 2010 I decided to attend. If a two hour monthly BDWN meeting was very helpful I concluded an 8 hour BDWN conference would be highly useful.

Like the guest speakers at the BDWN monthly meetings, the presenters at the “Write it Right” conference were individuals well established in the writing industry. These men and women are published authors writing for local and national publications. Several own writing related businesses and have published books to their credit. Knowing I could benefit from these professionals I carefully chose the four sessions that I felt would address my needs as a novice writer.

I will highlight the vast amount of information I acquired that day. The idea to submit my work to children’s magazines was fueled during Priscilla Huff’s session “Breaking into Magazine Writing: Beginner’s Basic.” She gave useful tips on how to choice and to pitch ideas to magazines. Rick Grant taught me the importance of setting goals and building a portfolio in his session “Effective Self- Promotion for Writers.” In Holly Landau’s “Build a Character” session a comprehensive outline on how to create compelling characters was reviewed. During Kathryn Craft’s “Get That Story Moving” session I learned I was guilty of performing several common story stalling techniques.

So what did I do with all this valuable information? I formulated specific writing goals which resulted in building a larger portfolio. Each new story I wrote included believable characters readers could be drawn to. I used every word, carefully improving the quality of the stories. Two of the stories have been submitted to editors to be critiqued. One story has been submitted to a writing contest. Another story will be pitched to a national magazine fitting its style and subject matter. I also had several articles published in a regional magazine.

If you have the desire to refine your writing skills or to get published in any form I highly recommend attending the “2011 BDWN Write It Right” conference. Who knows, the BDWN 2011 Write It Right conference may be the catalyst behind the creation of many new amazing stories that will get you closer to your writing dream!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

BDWN Library Talks Scheduled

Want to learn more about how to get your work published? Join us for one of our library talks, where we will share pointers for getting your work noticed by an agent or editor:

· Jim Thorpe—Dimmick Memorial Library, March 23, 6 p.m.
· Tamaqua—Tamaqua Public Library, March 31, 6:30 p.m.

We will be adding additional talks to other libraries throughout our area and posting the dates on our blog as they are scheduled. Please come out and join us!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Writing and Literary Events Across the US

Even if a writing conference doesn't appeal to you, there is no shortage of book fairs and literary festivals across the country that are worth checking out. Besides networking, they're a great way to learn more about what's happening in the industry or learn more about authors you admire. Here's a brief sampling:

25th Annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival
When: March 23-27, 2011
Where: The Royal Sonesta Hotel, New Orleans
Speakers: Film Director John Water (Hairspray), Armistead Maupin
For more information:

The Northern Arizona Book Festival
When: April 16, 2011
Where: Coconino Center for the Arts, Flagstaff, AZ
Speakers: Maryland's poet laureate Michael Collier, Jamie Ford (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet)
For more information:

Philadelphia Writers' Conference
When: June 3, 4, 5, 2011
Where: Holiday Inn at 4th and Arch Sts., Philadelphia
Speakers: Nelson Johnson (Boardwalk Empire), Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Solomon Jones
For more information:

Wordstock (Pacific Northwest's premier writing and literary event)
When: October 6-9, 2011
Where: Oregon Convention Center, Portland, OR
For more information:

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

10 Reasons to Attend the 2011 Write It Right Conference

Not sure if you should spend the $65 to register for the BDWN 2011 Write It Right Conference? We hear you--hopefully the list below will help to convince you that it's money well spent:

  • More workshops. This year we have 10 breakout sessions and have extended the day, which means more time for learning, networking, and getting inspired.
  • We have something for everyone. Fiction? Nonfiction? Mystery? Memoir? YA? Nervous about getting started? Not sure how to market yourself or your work? Yep, we can help you.
  • Lots of literary star power. We're proud to have Maria V. Snyder (Study and Glass trilogies, Inside Out) and Josh Berk (The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin) on our schedule this year. Both have made the New York Times bestseller list.
  • Lunch is included.
  • Location, location, location. Write It Right is the only event of its kind in Northeast Pennsylvania.
  • Networking opportunities galore. Whether you write a book a year or are overwhelmed about getting started (or fall somewhere in between), there will be plenty of other folks who can relate.
  • Motivation. If you're new to writing, a conference can be a great motivator to get started. If you're more experienced, a conference can give you a boost and some energy to keep going--or branch out into something new.
  • Sell, sell, sell. Authors can sell their books during our author book fair at the end of the day.
  • Learn something new. Attend a workshop that's different from what you normally write. You've been dabbling in children's books? Why not see what makes YA different? Looking to branch out from poetry? Try memoir.
  • Two words: Free stuff. Freebies (like back issues of magazines, pens, books, etc.) and door prizes...who doesn't love that?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Interview with Kelly Butterbaugh

by Gary Blake

Kelly Butterbaugh is a freelance writer and teacher whose list of publications include Hey! History Isn't Boring Anymore!, Images of America: Upper Saucon Township and Coopersburg, and Then & Now Lehigh County. Her work has also appeared in publications like Keystone Country, Back Home, Next Step, History, and Piecework, among others, and she will be speaking on Marketing Yourself as a Writer and Stepping Over the Writer's Block at the Write It Right Conference. Here, Kelly talks to our Gary Blake about the writing life.

BDWN: I like history so I'm intrigued by your book title. How did you get started as a writer?

KELLY: Hi, Gary! I remember writing stories on an old typewriter when I was just a girl, dreaming of becoming a writer. I saw the movie Crosscreek, and I wanted to be Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. But then, as I tell my students “life got in the way” and I became a teacher. Once my son was born, I had some down time to sit and be creative while he napped. Pulling out written pieces I’d done over the years, I reintroduced myself to writing and spent some time learning the business of writing for profit.

BDWN: Did you teach history in school?

KELLY: No, I teach English in the public school and writing in college. History is my passion, but not my job J

BDWN: How long have you been a writer?

KELLY: I guess I’ve been a writer all my life, but I’ve been a professional writer for 6 years.

BDWN: What are your favorite genre's of writing?

KELLY: I am most definitely a non-fiction writer with creative non-fiction and historical fiction pieces to my credit. I enjoy fiction writing, but I don’t pursue it on a professional basis. I like the personal style of non-fiction writing that makes readers feel as if I am talking directly to them; this is why I enjoy writing for specialized magazines.

BDWN: Have you published any books?
KELLY: Yes, my first book was released with White Mane Kids in 2008 titled Hey, History Isn’t Boring Anymore! A Creative Approach to Teaching the Civil War. A sequel is pending with White Mane possibly late this year or next. I also have a two local history books published with Arcadia Publishing. Images of America: Upper Saucon Township and Coopersburg was released with them last year, and Then & Now Lehigh County will be released in March 2011. I am currently working with them on two more upcoming titles.

BDWN: Switching to the BDWN conference, how will your programs help me as a writer?
KELLY: All writers fear the dreaded writer’s block. Stubborn as I am, I refuse to allow it to enter my world. Pulling what I’ve learned during my years as a writer and more importantly as my years teaching college writing, I can give writers an arsenal of information to arm themselves against the invasive block. My college students are notorious for succumbing to writer’s block, and those who follow my suggestions admit that the problem solves itself.

As for marketing, no one should feel the let down that new writers feel when they realize that work doesn’t come flooding their inboxes all on its own. A writer works quietly alone, so “selling” oneself as a writer isn’t an easy task for most. Likewise, a book contract is great but few publishing houses market their writers aggressively. Part of acquiring a book contract depends upon the writer’s ability to write advertising text for the book as well as rationales for marketing. This is something few expect, and the less surprises the better. The best part about having self-marketing skills is that this business can be catered to your individual needs. Gather more work when you have time and need, and lighten your workload when you have personal demands. With the proper marketing skills you can achieve this perfect balance in your work schedule.

BDWN: Do you use humor in your writing?

KELLY: I think the title of my first book with White Mane answers that question! Once my editor got to know me and read over my rationale for writing the book she commissioned a comic artist to draw the cover. There’s not a lot of room in history writing for humor, but I try to instill my personality into my writing whenever I can. It’s easy for me to laugh at myself, so when I write humor that’s usually what I do. I like to laugh and I like to make people smile, and that comes out when I talk to people.