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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 14:19          13,950 subscribers           October 2, 2014
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THE EDITOR'S DESK, by Moira Allen
     Creating New Readers
FEATURE ARTICLE, by Sean McLachlan
     Write What You Don't Know
CRAFTING FABULOUS FICTION, by Victoria Grossack     
     Some Absurdities in Fiction

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Creating New Readers

As I prowl the book-sale shelves of the local Goodwill these days,
I am a woman with a mission.  My goal: To create new readers!

No, I'm not ambushing fellow thrift-shoppers by stuffing the
shelves with flyers for my latest work.  Rather, I'm thinking about
the readers of the future.  And so, as I browse, while my hand may
stray toward a book with a scantily clad hunk on the cover, it's
even more likely to stray toward one with a mouse.  Or a cat.  Or a
rabbit.  Vampire rabbits are good (think "Bunnicula").  Or a robot,
or...  hmm, how about an enchanted robot rescuing a swashbuckling
mouse from a vampire cat?  That would be cool!

But wait, I hear a few alert readers saying.  Umm, haven't you
mentioned a few times that you don't have kids?  Why this sudden
taste for sword-wielding mice, vampire bunnies and bewitched

Quite true.  I'm not a Mom.  But... I AM an Aunt.  I have a lovely
niece and nephew, ages 5 and 2+, respectively.  They live on the
opposite coast, and are the main reason I bother with a Facebook
account.  And my niece has just started Kindergarten.

She's going to be learning how to read.  (In two languages,
apparently; she is enrolled in an immersive bilingual
English/Spanish kindergarten!) And it has occurred to me that
possibly the very best thing that "Aunt Moira" can do for these
small, faraway relatives is to encourage them to discover just how
wonderful books can be.  It has also occurred to me that the time
to do this is NOW.

While it's easy to suppose that school is where children go to
learn how to read, the reality is that the "seeds" of reading are
sown long before a child first sets foot into a classroom.  The
issue is not whether a child is taught to read at home -- but
rather, that a child is taught that reading is a fun, desirable
activity to pursue.  In short, numerous studies have shown that
children are far more likely to love reading, and to become skilled
and successful readers, if the joy of reading is modeled at home.

In my own home, growing up, it was modeled in spades.  I don't
think there was a room in our house that did not sport a bookshelf
-- including the bathroom.  (In retrospect, I'm not sure the one in
the bathroom was such a good idea -- it encouraged rather long
stays, and was stocked with books that were highly inappropriate
for a young child.  I was actually told NOT to read them, which, of
course, is another great way to encourage reading in kids.)

The bedroom I shared with my sister had two, and later three,
bookshelves.  Hers sat on a dresser and rose nearly to the ceiling;
on the higher shelves were books like the "Boswell's London
Journal" and a set of ballet annuals.  Mine overflowed with picture
books, the complete original hardbound Oz series, Raggedy Anne, and
a host of story books, fairy tale collections, and classics.  Some
of those were permanent -- the Oz books had been in the family for
decades -- and some came and went.  Some are still on my shelves

My family did exactly what studies today say families SHOULD do to
encourage reading: They read.  Constantly.  This, the studies tell
us, reinforces to kids that books are something of value and
interest. Young children want to model what the adults around them
do, so if the adults around them READ, that seems the thing to do! 
I wanted so much to be a part of this that when, at age 4 or so, I
discovered a discarded paperback with a familiar picture on the
cover, I carried it around in my pocket for months, much to the
amusement of my family.  The book was actually Philip MacDonald's
mystery novel "The Rasp" -- hey, it had a rasp on the cover, my dad
had rasps in his tool collection, so what more could you want? 
(Years later, I tracked it down and finally READ it!)

My mother also made time, every day, to read TO me -- the other
thing studies say is one of the best ways to stimulate a love of
books and reading in children.  I can remember lying in my sleeping
bag on a camping trip, listening to the ongoing adventures of
Huckleberry Finn.  I couldn't wait to be able to read these magical
tales for myself.

And now, I can't wait to pass along these joys to my niece and
nephew.  Now is the time to help them discover that books are
perhaps the most precious possessions in the house.  (It took
awhile for my mother to realize that "sending me to my room" was
not a punishment -- until she added the injunction "no reading!") 
I want to share old loves and new -- the box I'm about to send
includes Roald Dahl's "Vile Verses," which I read for the first
time last month; "Heidi," which I loved as a child; and a hefty
stack of Richard King-Smith ("Babe") tales of pigs and cats and

As I gather these treasures, however, another thought occurs to me
-- one that I haven't seen referenced in any of the studies on how
to encourage reading in children.  It seems to me that, to be
effective in modeling a love of reading, we have to remember the
joys of reading WHEN we were children.  I'm quite tempted to sit
down and re-read "Heidi" before sending it off -- and I confess,
I've read every one of the King-Smith books in the package, from
"The Terrible Trins" to "The Mouse Butcher."  My stack of books by
the couch contains a little bit of everything -- a scholarly work
on the Silk Road sits next to "Great Expectations," which sits atop
"The Sisters Grimm," which in turn rests upon a Victorian dog
story.  If you want to help children love to read, it seems to me
to be helpful to LOVE what children read.  If you love it, so will
they; if you don't, don't think they won't notice!

Lots of studies also tell us of the long-term advantages to being a
reader.  Ironically, researchers are now finding that reading
FICTION as an adult can make one more successful in business! 
According to one study, "fiction-reading activates neuronal
pathways in the brain that measurably help the reader better
understand real human emotion -- improving his or her overall
social skillfulness."  (
http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/01/the-business-case-for-reading/)  So if
I want my niece and nephew to become business moguls 30 years from
now, these boxes of books may be the place to start...

But you and I know that all the studies that affirm that "reading
is good for you" because it develops this or that social skill,
learning ability or long-term success habits is just icing on the
cake.  We don't read because we want to become better CEOs. That's
nice, but... irrelevant.  

We read because books are wonderful.  

My mission, as an Aunt, is to help my nephew and niece make that

If I succeed, who knows?  If we're lucky, one day, they'll be
reading US.  And if we're even luckier, one day, WE'LL be reading

-- Moira Allen, Editor

This article may be reprinted provided the author's byline, bio and
copyright notice are retained. (For an author bio and complete
details on reprint terms, please visit 

Link to this article here:

THE OCTOBER ISSUE OF VICTORIAN TIMES is now available! This month,
thrill to the tales of a host of Victorian ghosties; follow a
Victorian lady to the end of her journey in Texas; find out what an
"American Sale" is (and how to run one); meet Mungo the curious
mongoose; and enjoy delicious recipes, beautiful craft projects,
and rare glimpses into the Victorian world.  
Visit http://www.mostly-victorian.com/VT/issues/VT-1410.shtml to
download the free electronic edition or access the print edition.



BannedFiction Press Now Seeking Submissions
BannedFiction Press is now seeking submissions for all of our
categories. We are a new publisher, but we are NOT a vanity or
subsidy press.   We are a full service, royalty paying publisher. 
We pay you.  You do not pay us. We specialize in "kink/taboo"
fiction, GLBTQ, and other exciting areas of erotica and romance.  
Simply check our Submissions page for the keywords we target. At
this time, we welcome submissions from all authors, both
established  published authors, as well as new authors.

Please read through our blog to learn more about us.  And we look
forward to hearing from you soon and receiving your manuscripts!

Our blog:  http://bannedfiction.com/blog  (Submit your manuscripts


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FEATURE ARTICLE: Write What You Don't Know
By Sean McLachlan


One of the standard pieces of advice given to beginning writers is
to "write what you know." Like all received wisdom, this is true
only to a point. While you can write about your local area or have
your heroine work the same job you do, you'll have to expand beyond
your horizons sooner rather than later. All fiction writers,
especially genre writers, end up having to write what they don't
know. None of us have walked on another planet or saved the
president from assassination, so how do we depict these things in a
convincing manner?

Nonfiction writers have to go beyond their knowledge too. While
journalists and freelance writers all have their specialties,
harried editors will often assign stories that take the writer well
beyond their comfort zone. It's part of the job. and being able to
write what you don't know is essential to building a career.

Focus on what you do know
I've never been in a gunfight, but I've written a lot of them.
While I don't know what it's like to be in battle, I do know how to
fire a gun, and I do know what it's like to fear for my safety and
the safety of my friends. I also know what it's like to be shot at.
It was an accident, but that didn't make it any less real!

Readers aren't really after the plot, they're after the emotions
that the plot gives them. We all know what it's like to strive for
something, or to be disappointed, or to be enraged. These emotions
are what will carry your scenes. When you start looking at your
scenes in those terms, you'll find you know more about your
characters' situations than you think.

This works for nonfiction as well. Focus on the things in your
subject that affect all of us. You and your readers may not be
Syrian refugees, but we all know what it's like to miss home and be
worried about our family's future.

Research, research, research
Sue Burke, author of numerous highly regarded science fiction
stories, says, "Research leads straight to originality because
nothing is exactly as it seems at first glance. For example,
athletes may seem tough, but often they have superstitious rituals
to prepare for a competition, such as certain clothes to wear or
foods to eat, and this is a portal to explore their anxiety.
Houseplants might seem like a benign hobby, but nasty smuggling
rings bring endangered species to unscrupulous collectors. I live
in Spain, and here commercial fishermen hate the sea. Why? Because
every time they leave port, the sea might kill them. They fear the
sea. And yet, children follow parents into the business. 

"How did I learn this? I spent time with athletes. I talked to
horticulturalists. I read about Spanish fishermen.  Read widely,
learn new things every day, explore avidly, try anything, talk to
anyone: this will help you write better, and you can have fun doing

If writing nonfiction, the best thing to do is to assemble as many
basic facts as possible in order to create an accurate framework
for the story. When writing a guidebook to London, I had to include
information about the city's football (soccer) teams. I knew very
little about British football and cared less, but a few hours
reading the sports papers and checking out the official websites
for the teams helped me create an accurate chapter.

Research works for erotica too, even without a "hands-on" approach.
Nicola Jane, author of "Follow Your Fantasy," a
Choose-Your-Own-Adventure erotica published by Harper Impulse,
says, "I hope no one ever looks at my Google history! I've
researched a lot of very strange things. The most fun one was what
it's like on the set of adult (porn) films. It turns out they're
not very sexy places at all - it's just a job for most of the film
crew and even some of the actors. For the second book, I read a
book by a sex expert who had collected hundreds of womens'
fantasies. That gave me lots of ideas what to write about."

Experts are your friends
You don't have to become an expert at your field, you just have to
find someone who is. I've been a freelance writer for more than a
decade and I'm still amazed at just how much you can learn and
experience by simply asking. People who are enthusiastic about
their sphere of knowledge love sharing with writers. Park rangers,
museum curators, university professors, firefighters... all sorts
of people will happily give you information that will lend realism
to your prose, and show you everything from the mummy storage room
at the British Museum to the municipal waste treatment plant. The
mummy room was better.

After writing that chapter on London football teams, I had my
housemate read it. As a rabid football fan, he was the perfect beta
reader and I was happy to learn that my research helped me get it

Andrew Leon Hudson, author of several short stories and the
steampunk novel "The Glass Sealing" (Musa Publishing), came across
some experts in an unusual way.

"Several years ago I was a moderator on an online forum in which a
sub-group of teen-aged members began discussing self-harming. I was
tasked with ensuring that, like everyone else, their comments
didn't break the forum's content guidelines.  It was an unusually
difficult task, balancing the forum's requirement not to allow any
graphic description (or encouragement) of such activity with their
freedom to discuss a troubling issue and desire offer emotional
support to each other. What surprised me most, however, was the
frequent, aggressive intrusion of other members into these
conversations, directing miscellaneous abuse, accusing them of
attention-seeking, etc. The moderators spent more time deflecting
such negativity than policing the actual discussion by far. 

"I have never engaged in self-destructive activities like theirs
and I hope I never will, so you could say there is no better
example of writing what you don't know than a non-self-harming man
writing about a self-harming woman; but witnessing these
discussions and a microcosm of the struggles they faced from
outsiders was a real eye-opener, and eventually informed one of my
stories, 'The Blade,' that would otherwise have been much less

Mind the Details
Nothing will trip you up quicker than all those pesky details.
While any decent writer can get the major aspects of a subject
right, lots of minor errors can easily creep into your prose and
more knowledgeable readers will spot them and call you to task. The
tricky thing about the details is that you may not know they're
important, or even that they exist. This is where in-depth research
and a friendly expert become essential.

For example, in the post-apocalyptic setting of "Radio Hope," I
have many characters surviving by scavenging material from ruined
settlements of the Old Times and trading it to the techs at New
City in exchange for food. One easy item to scavenge is electrical
wiring. It's abundant, lightweight, and always good for a trade.
Now, I could have just made up a scene about stripping wiring from
a building, but I don't actually know what's involved, and anyone
who actually has stripped wiring would probably find fault with my
description. A quick email to my local handyman (who isn't a writer
but occasionally blogs about his three-wheeled Piaggio Ape 50 van)
revealed, "two possibilities. One has the cable running in conduit,
in which case you just give a mighty heave. You might need to find
corner junctions, which may be covered by a circular plate on the
wall that is screwed on. Have a look at your own internal walls and
also those in shops, bars, etc. If not in conduit, then you have to
wrench it out from the plaster or plasterboard. That will probably
be noisy."

Ah, it's noisy! That leads to an idea. If the scavenger makes too
much noise stripping out the wire, he might attract some unwelcome
attention. The details you discover can lead to entirely new scenes.

We've all read fiction and nonfiction where the writer has gotten a
detail wrong, and it can be a minor annoyance or even so bad as to
make us put down the book or article. The flipside of this is that
if you get the details right, you create a vivid world where the
knowledgeable reader feels at home. Even someone who doesn't know
about the particular subject will sense when a writer is speaking
from authority, and that makes the reading experience all the

It's fiction, breathe easier
You don't have to be 100% accurate with fiction. Military writers I
know such as David Drake and Weston Ochse, who are both combat
veterans, often smile at the battle scenes people who have never
been in combat may write, but if the prose flows well, they can
overlook these flaws. Once I was reading a book set in the 17th
century and I found a minor historical inaccuracy. While it made me
stumble over the story for a second, I still enjoyed the book and
ended up reading more by the same author.

Nicola Jane says, "No one really needs to ask me if the erotica is
based on my real life. My imagination provides a much richer
selection of scenarios and characters than I've met in real life
and I can take scenes in any direction I want to... The hardest
part of writing about sex is not what I know or don't know, it's
transmitting the feeling of sex through words."

You are not perfect. No book you will write will be perfect and no
book ever written is perfect, so relax, and enjoy writing.


Sean McLachlan is an archaeologist turned writer who is the author
of more than a dozen books of fiction and history. His latest book
is "Radio Hope," a post-apocalyptic novel written despite the fact
that he has never survived an apocalypse. Check him out on his blog
Midlist Writer (http://midlistwriter.blogspot.com/).


Copyright 2014 - Sean McLachlan

This article may not be reprinted without the author's written

Link to this article here:


SPEAK UP AND SELL MORE BOOKS! The most powerful tool in your book
promotion toolkit is your personality. personality sells books! 
Readers want a relationship with authors, and it's up to you to 
create that relationship. Finally, here's a book that tells you 
how to develop a greater rapport with your readers. Patricia Fry's 
Talk Up Your Book: How to Sell Your Book Through Public Speaking, 
Interviews, Signings, Festivals, Conferences and More will help you
sell more books through more effective presentations. Available in
Print, Kindle & audio from Amazon; for details visit



Help Libraries by Telling Your Story
The "My Library Story" project has been launched to collect stories
and headlines about how libraries have helped individuals,
families, and communities.  For every story accepted by the site,
$1 will be donated to a library advertising fund.  The site is
sponsored by Gale, a division of Cengage Learning.  Read posted
stories or submit your own at http://mystory.gale.com/ (So far,
they've raised $88...)

Why Books are Banned 
In honor of Banned Books Week (September 21-27), The Huffington
Post developed a series of infographics to illustrate the reasons
why books were banned or challenged.  (A challenge means that
someone has requested that a book be removed from a library; a ban
means that it actually IS removed).  The leading reason for bans
and challenges was sexually explicit contet (92%) followed by
offensive language (73%).  "Unsuited for age group" was next,
followed by violence (49%); "religious viewpoint" came in next at
only 22%, while homosexuality was cited as a reason for only 9% of
cases.  Another infographic indicates how various commonly
challenged or banned books "scored" in terms of the number of
reasons applied to them; "Shades of Gray," for example, scored only
two reasons, while "The Things They Carried" topped the charts at
11 different reasons.  Infographics also illustrate the rate of
challenges by state since 2013, and the most frequently challenged
authors since 2013.  For more details, visit 

New Statistics Available on Publishing Salaries
If you are wondering whether a job in the publishing industry might
be a dream come true for a writer, take a look at the latest
statistics from Publisher's Weekly survey on publishing salaries: A
managing editor averages just $55K per year, while a mere "editor"
averages around $48K.  Salaries for women in the industry still lag
behind those for men, and men still far outnumber women in
management.  Survey respondents indicated "increased workload" as
their primary source of dissatisfaction.  Nor is there much
diversity to be found in the industry: 89% of respondents
identified themselves as white/Caucasian; 3% selected Asian, 3%
selected Hispanic, and only 1% selected African-American.  Not
surprisingly, 61% of respondents felt that there was a lack of
diversity in the industry as a whole!  For more details on the
survey, visit http://tinyurl.com/kzreoor

And From the Same Survey... A Look at Self-Publishing
The Publisher's Weekly survey cited above also asked respondents
whether their companies acquired self-published books in the
previous year - and 55% of respondents said yes.  Don't get too
excited, though - what they said was that their companies had
acquired at least ONE self-published title in 2013 (and there's no
indication of how many actual publishing houses are represented by
this figure).  Trade publishers had a slightly higher rate (67%). 
Larger publishing houses were more likely to acquire one or more
self-published titles in a year than smaller houses.  Again, for
details, visit http://tinyurl.com/kzreoor


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CRAFTING FABULOUS FICTION: Some Absurdities in Fiction
by Victoria Grossack


Let's face it.  Sometimes, compared to life, fiction is ridiculous.
 This can be especially true in genre fiction, in which stories
frequently follow particular rules and require that certain key
events take place in a certain order.  In this article we'll review
some of fiction's absurdities.  We'll also consider why they are
tolerated, welcomed, or even demanded.

ROMANCES tend to follow a well-established pattern.  A couple of
lovers -- they could be straight, gay, or even of different species
as sometimes happens in science fiction -- are attracted to each
other but something prevents them from becoming a couple.  After
some eye-popping trials, tribulations, and possibly some
misunderstandings so major that one wonders if the pair belongs
together, the lovers finally unite.

Despite their follies, romance may be the least far-fetched among
genre literature.  After all, romances occur all the time, and
sometimes people do create crazy situations.  Besides, even when
the situations are pushed to make them a little more extreme for
fiction, the FEELINGS that the characters are experiencing can be
very similar to those endured by real people.  It is not asking so
much of the reader to travel beyond the usual boundaries of the
experiences of most people in order to enjoy the ups, downs and
butterflies of romance fiction.

DETECTIVE STORIES provide entertaining puzzles meant to challenge
those who like to figure things out, yet often they require those
very readers to check some of their most logical gray cells at the
title page.  In real life, crimes are usually committed by the most
likely people, but in fiction the perpetrators are often the least
likely.  This is because the first goal of the puzzle in a
detective story is to entertain by making it a challenge to solve;
if the murderer is the most likely person, then the story no longer
holds interest.  Perhaps the best real-world argument is that a
murderer really does not want to be caught, so he covers his guilty

Another device common to detective stories is that often the
protagonist never tells anyone else his or her suspicions regarding
the murderer.  This an action which proves to be unwise and often
puts the protagonist in danger.  As the protagonist is supposed to
be smart -- after all, he or she is solving crimes -- this lack of
precaution seems rather strange.  This can lead to another trope:
the protagonist is captured by the murderer, who then confesses. 
Generally the murderer is about to kill another -- the protagonist
-- and is apparently using this moment to get this information of
his chest.

Even though these types of events MAY happen in real life, in
fiction they happen all the time.  This is because they are almost
necessary for the story.  Detective stories need the puzzle and the
suspense to be pushed along as far as possible, with nearly
everything being resolved at once.  Other sequences of events might
be more realistic, but are not nearly as satisfying.  And so
writers are challenged to come up with different and -- hopefully
-- credible ways to manage them.

THRILLERS are, as they promise, full of danger and adventure and
hair-raising escapes, especially for the hero.  Others may die,
through less inventive and more reliable methods, but frequently
the villain attempts to kill the hero in such a way that somehow he
gets away at the very last moment.  In more rational moments, one
wonders why the villain -- if he is the mastermind that he is
supposed to be -- doesn't simply shoot the hero and be done with it?

On the other hand, the audience -- whether they are reading a book
or are watching a film -- have come for exactly these thrills:
danger and harrowing escapes.  They expect the writers to provide

SCIENCE FICTION is often filled with items and conveniences that
completely defy science.  On the other hand, some of the ideas
developed in science fiction have actually inspired real scientists.

FANTASY should be a genre beyond criticism, because by its nature,
anything can happen.  Nevertheless, even by the "rules" of fantasy,
some bits can be absurd.  How many times do characters die and then
get resurrected, in one form or another?

There are good reasons for the death-plus-resurrection trope.  The
death of a character can evoke strong emotions in readers, which is
often a goal of the story.  Furthermore, some deaths, especially of
mentor figures, are useful for increasing the sense of jeopardy
experienced by the hero.  This also gives the hero the chance to
become more self-reliant.

However, the plot may require additional information from the
mentor, which may lead to a partial resurrection of the mentor
(such as how Dumbledore talks out of his portrait in Harry Potter).
Another reason for returning the mentor to the story is to give the
readers a happy ending (an example is the return of a more powerful
Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings").

BOOKS IN A SERIES may be less absurd when each book is viewed
alone.  However, when you observe them as a whole, they often
contain credibility-straining elements.  For discussion purposes,
let's consider a few famous detective series.

Murder mysteries are extremely popular, but audiences may
occasionally wonder just how many times a particular individual can
get involved in them.  Now, being involved in murders is quite
understandable for series in which members of the police force in
are the protagonists, as in the New Mexico-based novels by Tony
Hillerman or those set in Venice written by Donna Leon.  It can
even be excused for those who are hired by the police, such as
Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot.  But the amateur sleuths Miss
Marple and Jessica Fletcher are involved with so many murders that
one has to wonder if they might somehow be causing them.  Never,
ever invite either of these ladies to dinner -- these women are bad
luck!  The same principle can apply to some other types of series:
just how many adventures can a single individual endure?

In some series, characters never age.  When I was little (a long
time ago) I read all the Nancy Drews. Besides wondering why the
girls weren't going to college while the boys were (Nancy Drew
finally started attending college in 1995) I wondered how she could
be involved in so many incidents without aging. 

Even when you plan to age your characters naturally, you can still
encounter problems.  Agatha Christie began writing about Hercule
Poirot in 1920, at which point she made him a retired policeman
from Belgium.   It was rather awkward to be still writing about him
in 1975; how long was the man supposed to live?  Miss Marple was an
elderly spinster when she appeared in a short story by Christie in
1926; Christie's last Miss Marple novel was published in 1971. 
Christie had no idea that these detectives would prove so popular
or that her career would last so long.  What is an author to do
when the audience wants more?  Stop writing?  That's bad for the
bank account and does not satisfy the audience.  Keep the stories
set in the past?  This is also not as satisfying to the audience,
which may want a contemporary story.  I think we can all understand
why Christie continued to write and just moved her characters along
with time, hoping that readers would not be too particular about
lining up the math and the passing years.

Perhaps I'm poking too many holes in the soufflé of escapist
literature.  After all, escapism may be full of hot air, but it can
be both enjoyable and artistic.  I have certainly enjoyed my fair
share of it.

If these absurdities bother you a great deal, you shouldn't attempt
to deal with them in your own writing; instead, seek fictional
situations where you can respect your own work.  If these
absurdities bother you a little, that may actually be a bonus.  The
niggling may spur you to be creative and come up with interesting
and different solutions.

On the other hand, life is sometimes absurd, so perhaps we should
not mind absurdity in our fiction.   Next time, we'll consider some
ways in which fiction -- in my opinion -- makes more sense than
real life.


Victoria Grossack studied Creative Writing and English Literature
at Dartmouth College, and has published stories and articles in
such publications as Contingencies, Women's World and I Love Cats.
She is the author of Crafting Fabulous Fiction, a step-by-step
guide to developing and polishing novels and short stories that
includes many of her beloved columns. With Alice Underwood, she
co-authors the Tapestry of Bronze series (including Jocasta,
Mother-Wife of Oedipus; The Children of Tantalus; and Antigone &
Creon), based on Greek myths and set in the late Bronze Age. Her
independent novels include The Highbury Murders, in which she does
her best to channel the spirits and styles of Jane Austen and
Agatha Christie, and Academic Assassination (A Zofia Martin
Mystery). Victoria is married with kids, and (though American)
spends much of her time in Europe. Her hobbies include gardening,
hiking, bird-watching and tutoring mathematics. Visit her website
at http://www.tapestryofbronze.com, or contact her at tapestry (at)
tapestryofbronze (dot) com. 


Copyright 2014 Victoria Grossack

This article may not be reprinted or posted without the written
permission of the author.

Link to this article here: 

Want to learn more about crafting fabulous fiction? Get one-on-one
guidance with Victoria Grossack's personal writing class; visit


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For writers who aren't convinced that either traditional OR
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How Hybrid Publishers Innovate To Succeed 
More details on the hybrid publishing structure (be patient, though
- you'll have to wade through a bunch of ads and subscription
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Looking for funding for a novel or creative project?  Take a look
at PubSlush, a crowdfunding site for writers.  It's also possible
to use your project to raise funds for literacy projects.


CONTESTS, from Writing-World.com!  "Writing to Win" brings you 
more than 1600 contest listings from around the world.  You won't 
find a more comprehensive guide to writing contests anywhere.  
Available in print and Kindle editions from Amazon!

This section lists contests that charge no entry fees. Unless 
otherwise indicated, competitions are open to all adult writers. 

DEADLINE: November 1
PRIZES: $50,000
DETAILS: The Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize is awarded annually for
the finest scholarly work in English on Abraham Lincoln, the
American Civil War soldier, or a subject relating to their era. The
Prize will generally go to a book but in rare instances an
important article or essay might be honored.  When studies
competing for the Prize show similar scholarly merit, preference
will be given to work on Abraham Lincoln, or the Civil War soldier,
or work aimed at the literate general public.  In rare instances
the Prize may go to a work or works of fiction, poetry, the
theatre, the arts, a film, scholarly article or editing project,
provided they are true to history. Send seven copies of book.
CONTACT: The Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, 300 N. Washington
Street, Campus Box 435, Gettysburg, PA 17325,

DEADLINE: November 15 
PRIZES: $500 
DETAILS:  Creative nonfiction set in Brooklyn, New York, and
renders the borough's "rich soul and intangible qualities through
the writer's actual experiences."  2,500 words maximum.
CONTACT: Brooklynfa@yahoo.com
WEBSITE:  http://brooklynfilm.blogspot.com/

DEADLINE: November 15
PRIZES: £5,000 for overall winner; £1,000 for each of four regional
DETAILS: Author must be citizen of a Commonwealth region (Africa,
Asia, Canada and Europe, Caribbean, and Pacific) but need not be
resident in the Commonwealth. Fiction 2000-5000 words.
E-MAIL: writers@commonwealth.int
WEBSITE: http://www.commonwealthwriters.org/enter-2015-prize/

DEADLINE: November 15
PRIZES: Non-monetary award 
DETAILS: "The entry must be an original short story (not a
retelling of a folk tale, legend, or myth) appearing in a young
children's periodical that regularly publishes short stories for
children." The short story should serve as a literary standard that
encourages young readers to read periodicals.  
CONTACT: You will be asked to submit a nomination form; contact
details will then be sent to you.
E-MAIL: committees@reading.org 

DEADLINE: November 30
PRIZES: To £20,000, to be used for foreign travel
DETAILS: For a published or unpublished novel written in a
traditional or romantic (but not experimental) style, by a
Commonwealth citizen under the age of 35. 
CONTACT: Paula Johnson, Awards Secretary, The Society of Authors,
84 Drayton Gardens, London SW10 9SB, UK,
WEBSITE: http://www.societyofauthors.org/betty-trask

Deadline: November 30 
PRIZES: Prestigious award
DETAILS: All books, short stories, television shows, and films [and
plays] in the mystery, crime, suspense, and intrigue fields are
eligible in their respective category if they were published or
produced for the first time in the U.S. during this calendar year.
Books from non-U.S. publishers are eligible if they are widely
distributed in the U.S. and are readily available on the shelves in
brick-and-mortar stores for the first time during the judging year.
Works should be submitted by the publisher, but may also be
submitted by the author or agent. Fiction and nonfiction
categories. Includes categories for children's and young adult
CONTACT: MWA National Office, 1140 Broadway, Suite 1507, New York
NY 10001
WEBSITE: http://mysterywriters.org/edgars/

DEADLINE: November 30 
PRIZES: To £1,000 for foreign travel. 
DETAILS: Open to British subjects by birth who are normally
resident in the UK or Northern Ireland, under the age of 35. For a
full-length book (fiction, nonfiction or poetry) first published in
the UK in the year preceding entry. 
CONTACT: Paula Johnson, Awards Secretary, The Society of Authors,
84 Drayton Gardens, London SW10 9SB, UK,
WEBSITE: http://www.societyofauthors.org/somerset-maugham

The competitions below are offered monthly unless otherwise noted;
all require electronic submissions.

PRIZES: $100 and other prizes
DETAILS: Various monthly fiction, nonfiction and poetry contests;
for some, you must become a member of the site.
WEBSITE: http://www.fanstory.com/contests.jsp

PRIZES: $100, $50, $25, plus review and membership
DETAILS: Must be a member. Competitions throughout the year,
including novels and flash fiction. 
WEBSITE: http://www.thenextbigwriter.com/competition/index.html

PRIZES: $50 to $100 Amazon gift certificates
DETAILS: Short stories, flash fiction, poetry, on themes posted on
WEBSITE: http://www.scribophile.com/contests/ 

DETAILS: Submit fiction, creative nonfiction, prose poetry, and
writing for children/young adults to 1,000 words. The first story
that "knocks the judges' socks off" each month is declared the
PRIZES: $100 in WD books
DETAILS: We'll provide a short, open-ended prompt. In turn, you'll
submit a short story of 750 words or fewer based on that prompt.
You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your
WEBSITE: http://www.writersdigest.com/your-story-competition


AUTHOR'S BOOKSHELF: Books by Our Readers

BITS ABOUT ANIMALS: A Treasury of Victorian Animal Anecdotes,
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EPITAPHIANA: A Collection of Quaint and Curious Inscriptions and
Epitaphs, by W. Fairley; edited by Moira Allen

HERE, THERE, EVERYWHERE: A Travel Writer's Memories, 
by Peter Dunkley


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