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                      W R I T I N G   W O R L D

A World of Writing Information - For Writers Around the World


Issue 9:11            8,009 subscribers            June 4, 2009
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THE EDITOR'S DESK, by Moira Allen
THE INQUIRING WRITER - Outside Inspiration, by Dawn Copeman
FEATURE: Looking for Travel Sidebars, by Jack Adler
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers
The Author's Bookshelf

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Feeling Like a Dinosaur... 

I got a letter the other day.  I don't mean an e-mail, I mean an
actual, pen-on-paper letter.  (Yes, it was handwritten.)  Someone
who had read one of my books, and who (as she says) does not use
the Internet managed to contact my old publisher, who, in turn,
managed to track me down and send the letter on.

I confess, I sat there looking at the letter with a feeling that
can only be described as bewilderment.  What, I found myself
wondering, do I do with THIS?  In the age of instant e-mail
communication, the process of writing out a letter, addressing an
envelope, affixing postage, and mailing it off all seemed so...
so... dare I say it... antiquated!

This, from a woman who still knows how to cook an entire
Thanksgiving dinner, from turkey to pie, on a wood-burning stove...

It was little more than ten years ago that I answered such letters
on a daily basis, all using that same (shudder) antiquated method
that has served correspondents for so long.  I have nearly half a
file box of such letters in a closet downstairs (in the fond hope
that, one day, there will be a demand for "the collected letters of
Moira Allen").  And yet, while the thought of writing a letter "the
old-fashioned way" seems antiquated to me, I find that much of the
electronic world has already moved beyond me.  I have no interest
in creating a Facebook page, and when someone had to explain
"twittering" to me the other day, my reaction was not "cool!" but
"why???" I can survive for more than ten minutes at a time without
announcing to some faceless friend on a cell-phone that I'm in the
grocery store, studying the options in the milk aisle.  And to
prove that I am indeed the ultimate electronic fogey, I have to
LOOK at the keys on my cell phone to send a text message.  

Now, the typical reaction of those of us who suddenly discover that
we are becoming dinosaurs (and it can happen very quickly these
days!) is to start bemoaning the future of the world -- or, if we
happen to be writers, the future of literacy.  How often have we
heard that the kids who are growing up today with text and twitters
and tweets just can't be bothered to read anything longer (or
properly spelled)?  The Internet, we've been gravely informed, is
changing how the next generation reads and expects to read, and
soon such saurian modes of communication as "linear text (i.e.,
stories with a beginning, a middle and an end), literary style, and
anything we would refer to as "good writing" will be history.

Well... As the song in the musical "Shenandoah" goes, "I've heard
it all, a thousand times, I've heard it all before..."  One of the
advantages to BEING a dinosaur is that it means one has been around
for awhile.  And I, like (I imagine) many of you, have been around
long enough to have heard many a doom-and-gloom prediction about
the "death of reading" and the "end of literacy."  In my day,
television was the culprit; kids growing up in the television age,
we were warned, would never become readers. Television spelled the
end of literacy (and spelled it badly).  Before television, I have
no doubt that radio was touted as the doom of literature, and
before that -- well, quite probably, strolling players.  

News flash: Most kids don't read!  Think about it.  I'm guessing
that if you're a writer today, you were probably an avid reader in
your youth.  So cast your mind back to your classroom, or
playground, or wherever the kids of your day hung out.  How many of
them, like you, were "bookworms"?  How many of them understood WHY
you spent so much time with your nose in a book?  How many of them
felt that the school library was the best place to hang out during
your lunch hour?  We readers were a rare breed (and, oddly, hardly
even spent that much time talking to each other, even if we were to
find others like ourselves).  

Much as we dinosaurs like to hark back to the "good old days," I
suspect that if we had a talk with our parents and grandparents,
we'd learn that things were much the same.  I've just finished
reading a charming Victorian story (Victorian magazines are my new
addiction) in which one of the characters, the son of a shepherd,
has a consuming desire to read and learn -- a desire that is
baffling to his friends and family, who can't understand why
someone would rather stick his nose in a book than herd sheep.  As
they say, the more things change, etc. etc...

The fact is, throughout history, MOST kids manage to find something
to do other than read. Before television, it might be games and
sports and just general "playing outdoors."  In my day (you can
tell you're turning into a dinosaur when you can blithely write
lines like "in my day"!), even though TV was popular, the other
kids still found plenty of other things to do, like chatting on the
phone (the kind with a dial and a cord), playing outside, hanging
out in the mall, and so forth.  Reading wasn't last on the list
BECAUSE of all those other activities.  It was last on the list
because, to most of my schoolmates, it was just one step above
ditch-digging as a favorite activity.

And yet...  And yet... Good books survive.  They endure.  They even
thrive.  And they are still being produced, by the multitude.  When
was the last time you walked into a bookstore and sighed, "Oh,
dear, literacy must be on the decline... there's just NOTHING here
to read!"?  (My husband shudders and gropes reflexively for his
wallet every time I walk into a bookstore...)

Why?  Because, Gentle Reader (as the Victorians might have said),
we are not WRITING for the TV generation.  We are not writing for
the texters and tweeters.  We are writing for those who, like us,
bear the scorn of their peers as they choose a book over the chance
to sit on a bench in the mall with one set of friends while texting
or chatting to a completely different set of friends.  We are
writing for those who, generation after generation, make the
discovery that there are worlds to be found in books that one can
never visit via cell-phone or text or tweet. 

In every generation, we may feel as if we are an isolated few --
and yet, we few are enough to keep that love of books and
literature and just plain "great words" alive.  We may, indeed, be
dinosaurs -- but despite the words of doom and gloom, we are
dinosaurs who are, in fact, in no danger of extinction.  In fact,
feeling like a dinosaur can actually be a GOOD feeling!

Now if I can just figure out how to answer that letter...

-- Moira Allen, Editor

CHILDREN'S WRITER - Read by most of the children's book and
magazine editors in North America, this monthly newsletter can be
your own personal source of editors' wants and needs, market tips,
and professional insights to help you sell more manuscripts to
publishers in this growing market  segment. Get a Free issue.      


THE INQUIRING WRITER - Outside Inspiration, by Dawn Copeman

Last month I asked you if you ever "write" outdoors.  By this I
meant, do you manage to combine being outside with creating your
articles and stories?

Many of you, it seems, find the outdoors to be the perfect
inspiration for your writing. Ann Hoffman certainly does.  She
wrote: "I live in an apartment on the southernmost tip of South
Africa, in Nelson Mandela
Bay. The name alone inspires. The Bay is home to dolphin pods that
cavort and enchant throughout the year. Whales slide in on the warm
current to mate and deliver their young during spring. Every
morning, as the sun rises over the sea, I walk along the beach
watching for these delightful mammals.

"Each day comprises different colours, scenes and experiences which
I tune into with all my senses. Then from somewhere, previously
elusive words and ideas crowd into my head while new slants on half
attempted stories appear. Poems, almost fully formed, scramble for
recognition. I have to stop, focus and order my thoughts before all
turns into a jumble of useless information. I carry a notebook and
pencil so I can jot down these myriad images before they escape.

"I come home, play an appropriate CD, then sit down at my desk to
write. My first draft is always hand-written. My study window looks
across the Bay so that the passing magic of the day is always with
me. My inspiration is definitely drawn from my environment and I
feel truly blessed by nature's ever-changing scenes." 

Jacqueline Dowling also takes her inspiration from her
surroundings.  She wrote: "We live in Africa and enjoy travelling
to fairly out-of-the-way places.  I've had stories published which
were inspired our local baboon troop; tales of puffins in Icelandic
waters, seabirds around the Faroes, and the incredible pristine
beauty of Antarctica - the great silence, the crack of calving
icebergs and the almost immeasurable jade depths of light shining
through ice millions of years old.  Long may the inspiration last
-- it takes a few deep breaths and a bit of cutting-off from news
and glooms, but with a clear mind (not always easy), on a clear
day, you really CAN see forever."

But you don't need to live in such amazing countries to get
inspired by the outside.  Dawn Eldritch finds her own backyard an
inspiration. She wrote: "I live in New England, USA, and the
summers are very short so I tend to be outdoors as much as possible
during these months. Much of my spring/summer journaling is done
via paper and pen in order to enjoy the warmth of the sun and the
beauty that surrounds my yard. My favorite spot is in my back yard
behind the gate of the pool area. I close the gate behind me and
I'm secluded in my own little world where my thoughts run rampant
most days. I can't say I write the final versions of stories or
blogs but I am able to think more clearly to record raw emotions
that form more finished works later in the year. Recently I
remodeled my indoor office and shifted my writing desk to face this
backyard sanctuary. It is already serving as a source of
inspiration on the cold rainy spring days we've experienced lately."
Nancy Christie can't get enough of the outdoors.  She wrote: "I
have found that being outdoors (even when it is freezing cold!)
really stimulates my creativity and helps destroy those writing
blocks, boulders and barricades that show up on occasion. Working
in my garden, taking a walk, mowing the lawn--any kind of physical
movement (away from my desk and out of my office)--has proved to be
the way through writing issues: from figuring out how to end (or
start!) my short story to organizing material for an article. I
highly recommend a good dose of fresh air to clear the mind!"

Rebecca Brown also finds she gets her best ideas in the garden. 
She emailed to say that: "Lots of Big Thoughts come when I'm
trimming back the forest so my garden can get sunlight or when I'm
out walking." 

"I agree with Agatha Christie that ideas form for a book while
doing dishes and household chores," wrote Alice J. Wisler. "For me,
I have done some of my best creations while out on walks, pulling
weeds, and sitting under the sun on the Carolina coast. The
narrative voice I had struggled with for my first novel, 'Rain
Song,' came to me while I was pulling weeds in my yard. I wrote in
a spiral notebook scenes for my second novel, 'How Sweet It Is,'
while sunning by a pool on a weekend trip with my children.  The
outdoors generates creativity. On walks, I carry either a tiny
notepad and pen with me or a small recorder so that I don't miss
any inspired opportunities."

"I often find that gardening or cooking sets up a low 'mumble' in
the back of my mind as my creative brain starts loosening up and
running through ideas," writes Leona R. Wisoker. "I rarely 'hear'
the actual ideas, but I can sense the process and have learned to
let it roll without interference. On the other hand, when I'm in
the middle of a project, driving can be chancy, because on long
country stretches with no stop signs I start getting very specific
ideas and can fall into such deep thought that my driving suffers.
Those are the days I'm most grateful for my husband, because he
understands and would rather run errands for me than risk my
driving distracted!"

Sharon Rose, however, finds that she can get her ideas anywhere. 
She wrote: "I do enjoy writing in my gazebo during the warm months
but even surprised myself one time when I wrote up the whole
synopsis for my second novel while waiting to get my car fixed.
People were coming and going and it was noisy but somehow my
creative juices were flowing! I'm sure I got the occasional odd
look as I stared off into space and then rapidly wrote something
down on a piece of paper I'd found in my purse. (Now, I carry a
notepad when I take my car in.) And poetry? I can only write while
I walk on the beach." 

Another writer who gets ideas whilst out and about is Cecily
Mahoney.  She wrote: "I often find my stories coming to me as I
drive my car somewhere. I'll have a problem trying to develop the
story and as I drive along, it'll start developing.  I have no idea
why the car ride does it, but it does.  Some of my best ideas occur
while I'm driving somewhere. I rarely have the radio on, so it's
quiet. I usually can remember what I had in mind when I get home,
but if I'm in doubt, I carry a small pad of paper with me and
record the ideas there.  If I forget the pad, I've been known to
stop somewhere to quick buy one. But it's the car ride that gives
me that few minutes to myself to develop an idea."

"I had to laugh when I got to the bit about writing poetry while
walking the dog," writes Margaret Finland. "We have seven dogs  (my
partner trains dogs for a living and I do sometimes find myself
walking some of them alone (except for the dogs) and composing
poetry in my head. The best way I've found to remember it is to
repeat it over and over -- aloud works best, and the dogs don't
mind -- as I walk.

"I also find doing the dishes, ironing, raking leaves, and driving
alone to be quite inspiring. If I can, I run inside and write
things down. When driving I keep a notebook and pen open on the
seat beside me so I can scribble things down.  But my fallback is
always to repeat whatever it is over and over aloud." 

Two of you, however, find nature itself not only a source of
inspiration for other works, but a source material in itself.  Mary
Alice Murphy wrote: "I write a weekly column, 'MAM's musings,' for
the Silver City Daily Press that reports my observations about the
outdoors. As soon as I have finished and submitted my column, I'm
already 'writing' in my head what I will tell my readers next week. 

"Sometimes I take notes in the ever-present reporter's notebook on
bird sightings or the new leaves of springtime that I've spotted on
a hike. Other times, I stow the memories in a corner of my brain to
be brought out when my fingers hit the keyboard for that week's
musings. The column usually 'writes itself' because I've been
mentally compiling for days what I will say."

And Karla wrote " I don't 'write' outside -- I write outside.
Nature is inspiring. Because it is always changing, it is the best
place to find fresh new ideas and different ways of looking at old
ones. When I am writing, either outside or next to a window inside
if the weather forbids being outdoors, I look at nature as a pool
of creative energy to draw from. Nature also serves as a reminder
that we are all part of something larger than ourselves known as
the great wide world, and this point of view often helps me deal
with whatever problems I may be having either with my writing or in
life. Writing outside provides a framework from which to view the
subject. Ever try writing about an event or person from the
perspective of a tree, or a flower, or the wind? Try it. It's

Thank you for sharing your inspiration sources with us. 

Recently Margaret Stockley emailed me in response to the Inquiring
Writer we ran on SEO Writing.  She wrote: "Your article has spawned
a monster, albeit a good one. The article was perfect timing as I
was looking for ways to broaden the message of my book on

"Your article made it seem very easy so I followed the guidelines
and researched the sites that you linked to on starting a blog.  As
a professional TriYoga and meditation teacher, starting a daily
blog on all aspects of meditation seemed like a natural progression
in sharing what I know and in less than four weeks I now have
people following my blog from all around the world and they have
shared their beautiful stories on email and posted kind and
encouraging comments too.

"It doesn't stop there though.  I now have a daily 'Thought For The
Day' on Twitter and a page on FaceBook and this all means that I'm
building up a quality public platform that editors and agents alike
can see. All this happened as a result of your article."
So what I want to know this month is, have you been inspired by the
Inquiring Writer to try something new? Let me know by sending me an
email, with Inquiring Writer in the subject line to

Until next time,


Copyright (c) 2009 Dawn Copeman


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Badly Trained Journalists Led to Poor Reporting in Financial Crisis
Both American and British journalists are poorly trained and unable
to report accurately on financial matters according to Matthew
Fraser, adjunct professor at the American University in Paris. To
find out more about this story visit:

Horror Story Printed on Toilet Roll
Japanese horror writer Koji Suzuki has had his latest novella,
"Drop," printed on toilet roll.  The story is, appropriately, set
in a public restroom and the story is repeated every three yards on
the toilet roll that is blue, but has what appear to be red
blood-spatters intermittently along the roll. Each roll retails for
$2.10, not bad for a dual purpose item. For more on this story

Haiku While You Wait 
Commuters in London have another way to pass the time while they
wait for delayed trains -- they are composing Haikus.  Thousands
have entered the free to enter Haiku contest by Twitter and are
seeing their works displayed on a huge digital information board at
Kings Cross station.  The winner will receive one years' free entry
to Kings Place, an arts venue in Islington, which, along with
Network Rail, has sponsored the contest.  For more information on
this story visit: 

The Write Stuff on Writer Beware
The Write Stuff, a writer TV reality show that we featured in the
news last month, is the subject of a warning blog at Writer Beware.
According to the blog, things are not necessarily all that they
seem with this show.  To find out more click on the link below and
scroll down to April 26, 2009.



Have a Half-hour comedy script to hand? Send it to Fox today!
Enter the FOX-PGP-NYTVF Comedy Script Contest and submit your
script for an original half-hour comedy series. One winner will
receive a development deal with Fox and a $25,000 prize, and
Procter & Gamble Productions will have the opportunity to produce a
network pilot from the winning script. Up to 25 finalists have the
opportunity to earn a first-look deal with Fox. Scripts must be
entered by uploading them in a PDF format on the NYTVF upload page.
The submission period will open at noon Eastern on June 1st and
will close at 12:00 noon Eastern on June 15th. All submissions must
be uploaded during this time period, without exception. The contest
will stop accepting entries if this period elapses or if the
Festival receives 1,500 script entries, whichever comes first. 

Demand Studios Hiring Freelance Writers
Take control of your writing career with Demand Studios.  We give
you the tools and flexibility you need to earn a living while
pursuing your passion for writing.  

Demand Studios writers supply high quality articles to a network of
websites that reaches over 30 million people a month.  Due to
expanded distribution, we are now recruiting new writers to
research and write articles.  

This is a freelance position where you can claim and work on
multiple assignments at a time, allowing you to work at your own
pace and earn extra money around your own schedule. We offer a
variety of payment options, including upfront and royalty based. 
Payments are made weekly and deposited into your PayPal account. 
Our articles assignments vary in length and format.  They also
cover a broad range of categories so you can focus on the topics
that interest you most.  All writers receive a byline on each piece

Work as much as you want, on whatever you want, from wherever you
want with Demand Studios.  To apply, please upload your resume and
writing sample via our online application:

WORLDWIDE FREELANCE WRITER - You can download a free list of 
writing markets if you subscribe this week. Discover almost 
2,000 writing markets from USA, Canada, UK, Europe, Australasia.


FEATURE:  Looking for Travel Sidebars
By Jack Adler

A sidebar is a supplemental piece to your article. It's
considerably shorter in length, and it has to feature material that
relates to the main article but isn't needed or possibly is too
long for inclusion (such as a listing or roster). Sidebars can be
confusing but they can generate extra income. Many articles lend
themselves to sidebars, but you have to be careful about what you
use. Generally, information on prices, how to instructions, and
like nuts and bolts material belongs to the basic article. Some
publications may use such information in the body of the article,
at the end of the article, or in some box-like area. However, this
material is usually considered part of the article regardless of
its placement.

Look for material on historical and developmental aspects,
anecdotal items, incidents, mini-profiles of relevant
personalities, a rundown of extra terminology, historical aspects,
or any human interest angle, etc. 

Writers have even sold jokes that related to the subject matter. I
sold an article on ways Americans could meet foreigners abroad,
such as through home visits and various people-to-people programs.
The roster of outfits working in this area was too long for
inclusion in the main article and I was able to sell a sidebar that
listed the various organizations where one could write for
information including their addresses and contact information.

You can provide additional coverage and interpretation of one part
of your main article. Or it might be a case history that's too
lengthy for the article. Say it was an article about getting
emergency medical care abroad. You could do one case history or
even parlay a couple of representative cases together. Check lists
on do's and don'ts are frequently used in sidebars; such sidebars
are probably the most clipped for future reference by readers.

Suppose you're writing an article on how to protect your home from
burglary while you're traveling. You could possibly do a sidebar
listing stores selling pertinent safeguards, or neighborhood watch
programs, case histories, etc. Sidebars can also be graphs, maps,
parts of poems or songs or all of the particular work.

If you find you have material from your research that doesn't fit
into your article, but is nevertheless both related and
interesting, look for ways to present it as sidebars. Chances are
that if you've done a good deal of research, you'll have left over
material to possibly develop and utilize as sidebars.

Sidebars can be anywhere from 50 words up to perhaps 300 or more;
but figure on no more than one/two double-spaced pages. A sidebar,
of course, is always much shorter than the main article. As a rule,
words in a sidebar are counted separately from the main article,
which is important if you're paid by the word. Sidebars also lend
themselves to tight writing; you can often use bullets (enlarged
periods) to cover basic information.

Some other examples:
- A mini-glossary of culinary selections in the gastronomy of a   
- Extra information/history on the architecture of a distinctive
museum/building; and/or the architect.
- Legends of ghosts or paranormal occurrences at a hotel.
- Tips on care and preservation of suitcases after returning from
a trip.
- Four key pointers on security while traveling.
- A roster of Internet web sites on a particular subject.
- Unusual fruits and vegetables in a region or country/where
esoteric foreign food items are sold in your city.
 -Recipes of foreign dishes/a profile of a famous chef.
- Components of a travel first-aid kit.
- Possible games and diversions for traveling with young children.
- Quizzes on any subject including currency, language, etiquette
et al of a foreign country.
- Locations for famous and not so famous movies/television
- A rundown of jogging routes in a city.
- Key definitions about a subject and its terminology.
- A rundown of books about a particular subject/city/nation.

Think about possible sidebars before writing a query. It helps to
check if a target publication uses sidebars. Include your
suggestion of a sidebar or sidebars in your query after covering
what you'll do in the main article. It's quite possible that while
you're writing the article that other potential sidebar ideas may
crop up. You can always bounce these ideas off editors as well. But
don't submit more than a couple of sidebars per query.

A well-researched article is evident quickly to editors, regardless
if the subject interests them or not. The key to giving this
impression is your presentation of facts and how they are woven
into your article. Most importantly, the facts have to be accurate.
The first hint of an inaccuracy can throw everything else in the
article into doubt. Many magazines have fact checkers, and most
editors go over stories with considerable diligence. There are few
things editors like less than letters from readers pointing out
factual mistakes in articles that have run. While it may have been
the writer's initial fault, editors generally feel they should have
caught the error.

Therefore, it behooves you in your research to make sure what
you use in your articles is reliable. Be especially careful with web
sites and phone numbers as it's relatively easy to use the wrong
letter or number, and these items are often checked.

Excerpted from "Make Steady Money as a Travel Writer," by Jack Adler


Copyright (c) 2009 by Jack Adler

Jack Adler is an author, playwright and screenwriter in North
Hollywood, California.  He is the author of several books,
including "The Consumer's Guide to Travel," "Southern India,"
"Exploring Historic California," "Travel Safety" (co-authored), and
"There's a Bullet Hole in Your Window." Adler is currently a
columnist for Travel World International, an electronic magazine,
and an instructor in nonfiction writing for the UCLA Extension and
Writer's Digest School. He has been the board leader for Internet
travel forums for Prodigy and Excite, and currently runs the travel
forum on the Antares bulletin board. He was a weekly columnist for
the Los Angeles Times Travel section for almost 15 years, and has
also written columns for Westways magazine.  For more information,
visit http://www.pearlsong.com/jack_adler.htm. 
For more advice on writing travel articles visit: 
http://www.writing-world.com/freelance/travel.shtml or


Stories Without Traveling, by Jack Adler, specialist in consumer
travel reporting. Examples of published articles, sample topics,
how to develop a specialty, write queries, use your background and
area plus much more. 288 pp, $14.95. 



Quantum Muse
A SF/fantasy zine and online writer's group; stories selected from
the group are published in the zine.  Members must critique to earn
submission credits to be critiqued. Includes messaging system to
discuss critiques and a forum for general discussion.

Greeting Card Designer Blog 
This is a useful new blog written by Kate Harper, who has over 15
years' experience in the card making industry. It covers ideas for
writers, how to sell card text to companies, how to start up your
own greeting card business, how to design a card and more. 

This site has lots of useful links to resources such as style
guides, reference materials on-line and in print and other useful
sites.  A good one to visit before you Google.

AUTHOR'S BOOKSHELF: Books by Our Readers

Don't Mess With Earth, by Cliff Ball

Make Steady Money as a Travel Writer, by Jack Adler

Out of Thin Air, by Peggy Bechko
Find these and more great books at

Have you just had a book published?  If so, let our readers know:
just click on the link below to list your book.


on how to reach 60,000 writers a month with your product, service 
or book title, visit


Writing World is a publication of Writing-World.com

Editor and Publisher: MOIRA ALLEN (editors"at"writing-world.com)

Newsletter Editor: DAWN COPEMAN (editorial"at"writing-world.com)

Copyright 2009 Moira Allen
Individual articles copyrighted by their authors.
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For more information please contact Moira Allen, Editor