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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 10:13             11,069 subscribers          July 1, 2010
MANAGE YOUR SUBSCRIPTION: See the bottom of this newsletter for
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THE EDITOR'S DESK, by Moira Allen
THE INQUIRING WRITER: Using Song Lyrics, by Dawn Copeman
FEATURE: How to Keep your Memoir Writing Sharp and Vital, 
by Dr. Allan Hunter
COLUMN: Free Stuff for Writers - The Power of Powerpoint, 
by Aline Lechaye
THE WRITE SITES -- Online Resources for Writers
The Author's Bookshelf

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More from the Grumpy Dinosaur

I've mentioned before that, quite often, the "latest" Internet
gizmos and wing-dings and tweedles leave me feeling a bit like a
dinosaur.  Well, the dinosaur has finally -- I can't quite believe
I'm saying this -- entered the world of social networking.  Sort of.

I have a Facebook Page.

There isn't anything ON it to speak of.  I haven't even completed
my profile yet, let alone loaded the site with exciting pictures
of, say, me having my morning coffee or my cat sleeping on the
newspaper.  (Although, when it comes to cat pictures, I could
probably use up my entire allotment of memory...)  There isn't,
even, a picture of ME -- just my coffee-drinking avatar from
"Coffee on the Deck."  

Why did I sign up?  Was it because Facebook is one of the fastest
growing networking sites and the ideal place to network and promote
my writing?  Was it because it's become THE place to locate other
professionals in one's field?  Was it to take advantage of... of...
well, whatever there is on Facebook to take advantage of?

No, it was because someone in our neighborhood sent out an e-mail
to everyone who has registered with our neighborhood website,
inviting us to join a new Facebook "community" page where we could
meet one another online and, theoretically, start building some
real-world social friendships.  And since I spend most of my day in
the "community" hunched over my computer keyboard, I thought this
sounded like a pretty cool idea.  So, reluctantly, I trudged over
to Facebook and signed up.

So far, I seem to be the only other person in our community to have
done so.  So much for online social networking actually creating
ties in the "real" world!  But in the interim, I'm beginning to see
the dreaded seduction of the site.  People keep pinging me, asking
to become my "friends."  When I say yes, I get to see a list of
THEIR friends, and invite them to become MY friends.  And then I
can look at other lists and find even MORE friends, and... and... 

And then eventually I remember that I'm actually sitting at the
computer with the idea of getting some WRITING done!

Which is when I switch off Facebook and go play a round of "Fairy

-- 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 2 FREE issues.      


THE INQUIRING WRITER - Using Song Lyrics, by Dawn Copeman

Last month both Marcia and Sable wanted to know if they could use
song lyrics or titles, or quotes from famous people in their
writing, whether they'd need permission and if so, how do they set
about getting it. 

The resounding answer from all our respondents is yes, you do need
permission. Christopher Wills explains: "Song lyrics and poems are
owned and so permission should always be gained to use them in

"The music industry is extremely litigious and will sue people down
to everything they own if their lyrics are used without permission.
Also, no decent publisher would ever dare publish stuff with song
lyrics in it without having permission.

"Having said that, if you can find the owner of the lyrics (not
always the person who write the song because rights can be sold)
permission will often be given if the song is old or not currently
being used in adverts, film soundtracks etc (this is because those
users will have paid a considerable sum to use the song in an
advert or film)."

"Another point to consider is why are you using the song (or poem)?
If it is to create mood or atmosphere it might be worth thinking
again. The mood or atmosphere you experience when you hear a song
is not necessarily going to be the same for the reader because they
will have different experiences from you. Unless you have
permission you should find other ways to create the mood or
atmosphere you want.

"One thing to consider. Imagine you wrote a brilliant paragraph
describing, say, a sunset, then a songwriter lifted it from your
novel, put it word for word as a verse in a song and it became a
worldwide hit, and you were not asked for permission and you were
not offered any compensation. Most of us would go straight down to
the lawyer's. A song or a poem is written by someone who expects
payment for their work just as most of us hope to receive payment
for our writing; using somebody else's words without permission is
stealing. Don't try the 'public domain' argument either unless the
songwriter has been dead for many years (75 years for novels in the
UK I believe). [Editor's Note: Visit 
http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm to
determine when copyright in a work expires.]

"Apologies if this is not what people want to hear but better safe
than sorry."

Elizabeth Creith wrote in with a cautionary tale about what can
happen if you use lyrics without permission: "I remembered this
thread on Zoetrope and hunted it up. I'd say the little lesson here
is to be very, very cautious.

"According to the thread on Zoetrope, which came from an article in
the Guardian, it cost one author $1500 to quote two lines from a
Bob Marley song in his novel.  The concept of fair use doesn't
apply to lyrics, which is why this particular author, Blake
Morrison, had to pay £500 to quote one line of 'Jumpin' Jack Flash'
by the Stones, £535 for a line of 'Wonderwall' by Oasis and £735
for one line from 'When I'm Sixty Four'."

Ouch, that is an expensive mistake to make.  So, what if we track
down the owner of the copyright as Christopher Wills suggested;
would that work?  Not according to Marilyn Donahue.  She wrote:
"This is one of the pickiest areas of getting permissions. When I
researched and found the composer of 'Accentuate the Positive'
(Johnny Mercer), I discovered that it would cost me a hefty fee to
use the words. Permission would certainly be granted, but at a
price. Solution? I used other words.
"For other permission to quote from literary works, I always write
the publisher, explaining where and how I am going to use the
words. For example, if I say I want to use some lines from a book
to illustrate excellent development of character, setting, point of
view, etc., the publisher usually writes back with a specific
permission insert to be placed in the front pages of the book. I
have also had to get permission to quote from my own words once
they are in published form -- for example, a magazine article or
short story that I want to use to prove a point. In such cases, I
have never been turned down, and there has been no charge. 
"This information will appear in extended form in my forthcoming
book, A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Fiction for Young Adults,
from E & E Publishing."

So, what to do?  Do we have to leave music out of our books?  Well,
no.  Many authors, Ian Rankin comes to mind: simply use
the titles of songs to suggest the mood of their character.  This
is also what Sharon Donahue suggests.  She wrote: "I researched
this and found that titles of songs are okay but for any words from
the song you must get permission from songwriter or publisher and
you may have to pay. I'm no expert, so you may want to verify

So I did.  I hunted around the web and the general consensus is
that song titles are not generally copyright-protected; hence you
can get several songs with the same title.  So if you do want to
add music to your scene, you just have to say what your character
is listening to, but not quote the actual lyrics. 

For more information on Blake Morrison's experience with song
lyrics visit this link: http://tinyurl.com/24w7brp

This month's question is of a grammatical nature.  Janis wrote:
"You said you were running out of questions, so here is one that
has been bugging me:

"Most books on fiction writing (even ones by editors) say to never
begin a sentence with a gerund (an -ing word). However, in sections
where there is no dialogue, and there is only one character whose
actions need to be described, it is very boring to start out a
sentence with 'He' every time. Now, admittedly, you can rework a
sentence so it starts with another word. But, in some cases, you
can't. Sometimes beginning a sentence with a gerund is the only way
you can break up the repetition of using 'he' in a paragraph.

"Here are some examples:

"He pulled the truck over onto the shoulder, opened the door, and
slid out of his seat. Hurrying around to the front of the truck, he
spread the map out on top of the hood.

"If I had used 'He' in the second sentence, instead of 'Hurrying,'
there would have been too many 'he's'.

"Here are some more:

"He took his time ambling toward the truck, and then climbed in.
Pressing the starter button, he backed out and headed down the
street at a purposeful, slow speed. When he reached the end, he
heaved a sigh of relief, sped up and whizzed down the washboard

"He drove around to the front, and pulled up to the gate. Grabbing
his ID papers off the seat, he thrust them through the open window. 

"He retraced his route around the rear of the prison, drove through
the cemeteries, and reached the outskirts of Richmond. Gunning the
engine, he raced toward the hills."

So, what do you think?  Are gerunds completely out when it comes to
starting sentences?  How do you get around the problem?  Email me
with your solution with the subject line 'Inquiring Writer' at

Until next time, 

Copyright Dawn Copeman 2010 


BE YOUR OWN EDITOR, by Sigrid Macdonald, is a crash course in 
writing basics: everything from run-on sentences to character 
development to organizing essays and nonfiction articles is 
covered here. Buy it at Lulu http://tinyurl.com/yehze36 or 
Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/be-your-own-editor



Amazon Suspends Independent Bookstore's Account
An independent British bookstore had its trading account with
Amazon suspended without notice, causing it to lose hundreds of
pounds in lost sales.  The bookstore, which paid to have a premium
account with Amazon, had to email for several days before Amazon
would re-instate the account.  According to Amazon it suspended the
account because the customer satisfaction rating fell below 98%, a
problem the bookseller blamed on Amazon.  For more on this story

Writer's Ages Should be Removed from IMDb.com Says Writer's Guild
Apparently showing a writer's age or birth date could lead to
writers of a certain age getting less work, claims the Writer's
Guild.  They want the Internet Movie Database IMDb.com to remove
such information from their listings. 
For more on this story visit: http://tinyurl.com/2a5lmpv

Libraries to add E-Books to Lending Library
A group of libraries in the United States, led by Internet Archive,
a non-profit organisation set up to create an internet library,
have come together to create a website enabling readers to
check-out e-books.  They are providing access to over one million
works in the public domain as well as thousands of contemporary
titles. For more on this story visit: http://tinyurl.com/29y7ctg


CALL FOR ENTRIES: Dream Quest One Writing Contest! Write a poem, 
30 lines or fewer on any subject or write a short story, 5 pages 
maximum length, on any theme, for a chance to win cash awards! 
Prizes: Writing - $500, $250, $100. Poetry - $250, $125, $50. 
Entry fees: $5 per poem, $10 per story. Postmark deadline: July 31.
Visit http://www.dreamquestone.com for details and to enter!




Military History Articles Wanted
Military History Quarterly welcomes feature articles. All eras are
of interest, particularly ancient times, if the writer bases an
article on up-to-date historical research. Rates for feature
articles start at $800 (more if special expenses incurred) for
1500-6000 words. Pays $400 for departments. View website for
details: http://tinyurl.com/28q8auo

Blog Seeks Articles on Being a Web Entrepreneur
The NetSetter is seeking articles on being a web entrepreneur. 
Articles should be 1000 words long and new contributors will be
paid $50 per article. For more information on the types of articles
they are seeking and how to submit visit: 

Science Articles Wanted
Cosmos, the Australian science magazine, is open to submissions.
Cosmos is largely interested in ideas, particularly those that
involve, or are driven by, science and technology. Payment for
features ranges from A$900 to a maximum of A$3,000. View PDF for
full guidelines.


WRITE YOUR MEMOIR: The Soul Work of Telling Your Story from
Findhorn Press. Allan Hunter has been teaching writers the secrets
of authentic storytelling for decades. Unblock and be inspired
again. For more information go to: http://www.allanhunter.net.


FEATURE:  How to Keep your Memoir Writing Sharp and Vital

By Dr. Allan Hunter 

One of the most difficult challenges for Memoir writers -- for any
writer at all -- is keeping the writing sharp and engaging for
readers.  Partly this is because when we revisit our memories there
is a strong tendency for us to assume that others already know what
we know -- if we're describing life in the 1960s, for example, we
might assume that everyone knows what a Buick looked like in those
days, or that they can guess.  When we do this we rob our readers
of a whole realm of description that leaves whatever we write
sounding vague. Vagueness, cliché, and imprecision will leave
readers yawning and detached.

The answer, of course, is to put in details -- but which details? 
Here are several techniques for avoiding this pitfall, derived from
three decades of advising writers.

The first thing I ask writers to do is to look at the adjectives on
the page. 'Wonderful,' 'spectacular' and words of this sort tend to
be used as shorthand by writers, but the trouble is they don't work
that well. What is a 'spectacular view' or a 'wonderful occasion'? 
Unless we get some first-rate details it could be practically
anything. On one occasion I had a writer describe his homecoming
party as a 'party like you wouldn't believe' -- and the trouble was
I didn't believe it.

After some careful questioning he admitted that he'd actually hated
the party, because he'd been away so long he couldn't connect to
anyone there.  So he'd used the clichéd phrase to cover his sadness.
When he started to describe the actual party in real detail a whole
other picture emerged, one that was poignant, vital, and alive.  The
writing had power and focus. This taught me to always look behind
the feeble adjective and the cliché because hiding there, in the
background, was the real story.

The second technique I use is to ask writers to look at photographs
of themselves and others from the specific time periods. By looking
I don't mean a casual flip through an album; I mean taking the time
to single out specific pictures and ask what they could possibly
convey, and then taking the time to try to figure out what the
expressions were saying. Sometimes the most useful pictures are of
themselves as children, since children know a lot more about what's
going on in a family than they can express in words, so they show
it in other ways.

Pictures of oneself at age five or so can be extraordinarily
fruitful. One woman recalled how her grandparents had made her hold
a teddy bear for the snapshot, even though the toy bears were not
usually allowed in the girl's hands -- and the ferocious grip she
had on that bear jumped out of the picture! It was the proof she
needed, she said, that the women in the family were always treated
as second-class citizens, and that the family pictures were
frequently staged to try and hide this fact. It confirmed what she
already felt, and it gave her a window into the past.

The third technique is what I call the 'Writer's Shelf,' and it is
exactly that -- a shelf on which one places the small physical
souvenirs one has. If you can, put this shelf near where you write.
Looking at those objects every day tends to help us focus on what
actually was the case rather than what we wish was the case, now,
all these years later.  Any sort of small item can go on this
shelf:  Old letters, pencils, bus tickets, anything. Maps and 
pictures of homes and buildings also belong on this shelf.  Study 
them, and you'll recall the physical reality of that time period in 
detail, and this will help you to convey this to your reader. The 
most famous exponent of this was James Joyce, who had a map of 
Dublin at hand when he was writing Ulysses, in far away Trieste, 
Italy. He boasted, in his delightfully tongue-in-cheek way, that if 
Dublin were to be wiped off the face of the earth that very day it 
could be reconstructed from his novel. Behind this lies something 
more important, though: as he recreated the city in which he'd spent 
his youth the map kept him honest about just what the city was like,
stinking alleyways, damp pubs, and all, and he didn't fall into the
exile's trap of sentimentalizing his experiences.

Another, similar, technique that works well is that I ask writers to
think in terms of what I call significant details.  So I ask them to
write short exercises with titles such as 'A History of my Shoes' or
'A History of my Eyeglasses' and -- this one works especially well
for men -- 'A History of my Cars'. What this does is ask us to take
a fresh look at those things that were such an integral part of our
lives that perhaps we overlooked them only too easily, yet they
certainly reflect some vital aspects of who we were. One woman
wrote about the orthopedic shoes her mother insisted she wear at
age 12, and about how she would walk to the end of the block before
she hid them under a mailbox and changed into her 'good' shoes for
school. In focusing on this she was drawing a scene that was richly
resonant of the way her family functioned and that alerted the
reader to the felt and lived world she was describing in a way that
was absolutely convincing. It was the sort of significant detail
that spoke volumes -- and which the writer might otherwise have
never mentioned. Those significant details function like tiny
snapshots of a whole series of tensions, and like any snapshot,
they're worth several thousand words of prose.

Of course, detail just for the sake of detail is boring. What
writers come to recognize is that memories lodge in our minds
because there are always strong emotions attached.  It's emotion
that causes us to recall what the campsite felt like that rainy
day, or how good the coffee tasted at the end of that long hike.
The writer's task is, almost always, to give the detail and then
let the emotion arise.

This is vital because otherwise the writer is telling us what the
feeling is, rather than evoking it. If you describe the scene,
picking on the right details, the emotion -- whatever it is -- will
emerge without the writer having to tell anyone what to think.

A final and sometimes rather elusive technique is to provide
descriptions that appeal to the senses of touch and smell. That 1960
Buick we started this piece with had those blue, slippery, plastic
bench seats, and in warm weather they gave off a synthetic smell of
cellulose thinners and hairspray.  When the car went round a corner
the kids on the back seat (my brother and me, especially) would
slide helplessly from side to side on those slick surfaces,
giggling with delight.  And when that car started up with that odd,
low rumble that made the rear view mirrors shake, the exhaust that
wafted into the passenger compartment seemed to be mostly raw
gasoline with a fair amount of soot mixed in -- quite different
from the cleaner leaner-burning cars of today.

When a reader encounters details like these it creates an
unconscious sense of knowing that the writer is being
straightforward, that this is not staged or prettified for anyone's
benefit.  And that's when your reader will trust you.

The details will keep us honest as writers, every time.  And they'll
help you connect with your readers much more readily.

Dr. Allan Hunter is a professor of literature at Curry College, 
where he teaches memoir writing for the Blue Hills Writing 
Institute. He is the author of "Life Passages," "The Six Archetypes
of Love" and "Stories we Need to Know." Dr. Hunter's latest book is
"Write Your Memoir; the Soul Work of Telling Your Story" (Findhorn
Press, 2008). He lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Dr. Allan Hunter 

For more advice on writing memoirs visit: 


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WORLDWIDE FREELANCE WRITER - You can download a free list of 
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2,000 writing markets from USA, Canada, UK, Europe, Australasia. 


Free Stuff for Writers: The Power of Powerpoint
By Aline Lechaye

Boring presentations. We've all sat through at least a couple of
them, perhaps even slept through a few, or slipped out to "go to
the bathroom" in the middle of some. 

The worse (but surprisingly popular) presentations are the ones
where the speaker simply reads his or her entire speech off of a
bunch of slides in a droning monotone. You struggle to stay
focused, but by the third or fourth slide, your mind's already
concentrating on what you're going to order for lunch. 

I've seen more than one writer promote their books in this fashion.
To be more accurate, I should probably say TRY to promote their
books in this fashion. Most of the time, the audience members are
so eager to get some fresh air after the speech that they all but
ignore the bookstall by the exit. 

What can you do to ensure that your audience stays awake, alert,
and interested throughout your speech?

Get started by downloading the free ebook, "Really Bad PowerPoint
(And How to Avoid It)", written by marketing guru Seth Godin. The
book is only seven pages long (bonus: you can finish it on the way
to work!), but it covers a lot of important points and gives you an
all new perspective on what a "presentation" is. Download the ebook
at http://www.sethgodin.com/freeprize/reallybad-1.pdf 

Frequently, the reason people give for making boring presentation
slides is that they have no idea their software allows them to do
otherwise. If this is your problem, sign up at 
http://presentationsoft.about.com/c/ec/1.htm to receive a ten day
Microsoft PowerPoint beginner's course, which is sent to you by
email. (PowerPoint 2007 users should go to 
http://presentationsoft.about.com/c/ec/32.htm to sign up for their
e-course.) If you prefer, you can opt to receive your e-course
weekly instead of daily. For Mac users, 
http://www.apple.com/iwork/tutorials/#pages will teach you how
Keynote works. 

Ever been jealous of animated presentations? Stop by the tutorial
section of http://pptheaven.mvps.org/tutorials.html to learn how to
make your own stunning animations! (PowerPoint users.) I'm not
saying moving slides are always better, but in some cases a little
animation can help dramatize your speech. 

Stuck with limiting slide templates? Download new ones for free
from http://www.templateswise.com/. Choose something that relates
to your area of expertise, or the book you're promoting. Don't
leave the slides with plain white backgrounds! 
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/default.aspx also has
great free templates, some of which are submitted by fellow
PowerPoint users. A few of the templates include tutorials to help
you modify your presentation and make it your own. 

Keynote is said to come with a larger number of creative themes
than PowerPoint, but if you're a Mac user looking for free Keynote
templates, you can find some at http://oegf.co.uk/oegf/, 
http://www.keynoteuser.com/downloads/themes.html, and 

Of course, good presentation slides are really only half the battle
when it comes to book promotion. You still need to decide what
information is relevant and should be included in your
presentation. You still need to work on your speech delivery and
marketing skills. But sounding professional and looking
professional can help you go a long way towards higher book sales. 


Aline Lechaye is a translator, writer, and writing tutor who resides
in Asia. She can be reached at alinelechaye"at"gmail.com.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Aline Lechaye


WIN PRIZES AND GET PUBLISHED! Find out how to submit your stories,
poetry, articles and books to hundreds of writing contests in the
US and internationally. Newly updated for 2010, WRITING TO WIN
by Moira Allen is the one-stop resource you need for contests
and contest tips. Visit Writing-World.com's bookstore for details:


This site enables you to make a "widget" that lets a reader
actually flip through selected pages of your book.  It's a nice
marketing tool; the downside is that it takes a lot of effort to
set up or change, and once readers have flipped through your pages,
they'll come across ads for other people's books!

This is a must-visit site if you have ever considered technical
writing.  It explains how to become a technical writer and has
excellent information on such matters as the writing process,
document design and editing your work. 

Maybe I should have kept this site a secret.  It is a guide to the
best writing reference sites on the web and as such could have
furnished me with write sites for months to come!  It lists poetry
sites, journalism sites, technical writing sites, fiction, writing
for the web and details of free and paid for courses. It is
definitely one to bookmark.

The Self Editing Blog, by John Marlowe
It's great to find this truly awesome blog on the subject of
grammar and a host of other topics that will help you improve and
polish your writing skills.  But this blog isn't just about grammar
and punctuation; it also covers such topics as choosing good
character names (see John's article, The Name Game, from our June 3
newsletter, at 
http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/namegame.shtml), avoiding bad
endings, the misuse of coincidence, and much more.  

Find more Awesome Blogs at 


AUTHOR'S BOOKSHELF: Books by Our Readers

Historic Genesee Country, by Rose O'Keefe

The Mystery of Fate: Common Coincidence or Divine Intervention?
by Arlene Uslander and Brenda Warnecka

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 more than 100,000 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 2010 Moira Allen
Individual articles copyrighted by their authors.
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Copyright © 2017 by Moira Allen. All rights reserved.
All materials on this site are the property of their authors
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For more information please contact Moira Allen, Editor