This May Be More of a Freelance Idea, But...

...it is writing related, and even if you're not going to monetize your blog in any way or offer any services...it's an interesting idea.

When I originally set up this blog 2 years ago this August (can't believe it's been that long!), all I had in mind was the idea of goading myself to write and maybe the occasional writing tip or technique.

This post on the Pro Blogger blog (from 2006...still getting hits 2 years later!) has a nice little template focusing on altering your About Me or Profile page.

The idea is to to let people know who you are, your expertise and the problems or goals it addresses (especially good for freelancers and business owners), and how to contact you.

It wasn't until I'd been blogging for a number of months when an online writer friend clued me in that there was no way to contact me on my blog (!!). Simple stuff, but something I'd overlooked.

Getting back to the profile page...my thought on this is that you can make it as personal or as formal as you think it should be. And to get you thinking what you want to offer to the online world - again, even if it's just a word a day or just how you're toughing it out by writing Your Great Novel - I think is a great idea.

I have to admit that my original profile was just kind of slapped together (I figure that's what most people have done!); just a basic, "yadda, yadda, yadda, dis is my day job."

I'll probably tweak it from time to time, as certain things may fall by the wayside; only time will tell. But I've got the new one plugged in now, and although it's not perfect, I think it's serving it's purpose much better.

For now. :-)

~Nancy Beck


Preditors and Editors Is Being Sued

Can you believe this?

Some scammer had the temerity to go after P&E, one of the 3 golden sites (in my opinion, the other 2 being Writer Beware and the Absolute Write Water Cooler) that helps writers figure out who's on the up-and-up and who's a scammer.


I've got the Donate button in the right side bar, right at the very top of the blog.

It's just a "give what you can if you can" type of thing (Paypal, as you can see). Unfortunately, my credit cards are almost completely maxed out, so unless I see a street address or p.o. box somewhere, I'm going to have to pass.

Which pisses me off.

BTW, if any writer out there needs the code, shoot me an email, and I'll send it off to you. It's quite easy to post on Blogger, by just going into Layout. Set it up as an HTML code thing.

~Nancy Beck

If You Want to See An Email Deconstructed...

...James D. MacDonald does so brilliantly in this post at Absolute Write's Water Cooler. This is the infamous WL Writers Literary Agency (and The Children's Literary Agency and, aw, you get the idea - check out the thread), and it/they threatened "3 writers" with not just one lawsuit, but a "series" of lawsuits.


Yeah, like they'd ever want to be in a courtroom. BTW, they threatened all last year, and the year before...going back to 2004.

Still no lawsuit (or series of lawsuits) filed, and you know they never will...until someone gets someone in law enforcement to pay attention. Unfortunately, scam literary agents tend to go on under the radar because usually the amounts of money are small potatoes, among other things.

This is why I write blog posts against such scammy "agents."

Because if I can (or any other writer, for that matter) keep people away from such, that's that much less money in the scammer's pockets.

Remember - do your research first! Don't click on Google ads for literary agencies or publishers! And, by all means, have fun and send "Sherry" or Bobby or best (worst?) dreck and see how long it takes you to receive a similar email.

~Nancy Beck


I saw this post on the Daily Writing Tips blog. In fact, I've just joined her RSS feed. She has another part of the blog with Word of the Day stuff, which is right up my alley, too. :-)

Back to the Post

Anyway, the post talked about a specific Sol Stein book, one I hadn't seen or read, How to Grow a Novel. (Sounds intriguing, huh?) Mr. Stein has this to say about conflict in your novel (that is, is it necessary):
Yes, conflict was and is a necessity, it is the essence of dramatic action. The engine of fiction is somebody wanting something and going out to get it. And if you let him get it right away, you’re killing the story…Without…opposition, fiction is a vehicle without an engine.

I know a lot of you are probably saying: Duh. ;-) But really, how many times have you written a scene in your first draft (hopefully it's just in your first draft and not the final one! :-)) that is just dull/dried out/blah? Or have you seen the same when critting a portion of someone's novel?

Too many times. Writing something like that in the first draft is fine; the idea is write it down fast, eschewing whether it makes sense or not, then revise/cut.

The idea to keep in mind is that you want readers to keep reading...to turn the page, and keep turning the pages until they've finished your novel.

Remember to put up as many roadblocks between your main character getting whatever he or she wants, or the conflict will dry up too soon; if it does happen rather quickly, you might want to consider making your story into a short story instead. Or coming up with those roadblocks and hindrances, no matter how outlandish they might first seem. (Always give in to your creativity with that first draft; tell your inner critic to take a vacation for a while.)

But, yes, conflict is the essence of a novel. Without that, it's just so much dead wood (and that goes for e-books as well as dead-tree books! :-))

~Nancy Beck


Jumping Heads

I just finished critting the first chapter of someone's novel, and it was a tough slog. Not because it didn't have its exciting moments; it did. Not because the opening sentence was a fairly good start; it was.

The author, though, insisted on jumping from one point of view to another - sometimes within the same paragraph!

I know, I know: Larry McMurtry did that in Lonesome Dove. Or so I'm told, as I haven't read the book.

I'm not a fan of it, Mr. McMurtry notwithstanding.

Why? It confuses the heck out of me, that's why. Whose thoughts am I supposed to be getting into? Who am I rooting for or hissing at? To me, if there's a great big jumble in one paragraph, I'm not going to stick around and sort it out (especially if I still don't understand after reading said paragraph 2 or 3 times).

Let Me Know When You Make the Switch

The one WIP I have has 2 different points of view, so I'm obviously not opposed to multiple viewpoint stories. All I ask is that you let me know ahead of time when you switch from one character to another.


Just set 'em off with 3 asterisks (***) or with a pound sign (#), and I'll be happy. Well, at least with knowing that I'm about to embark on another character and his or her thoughts.

About Different Viewpoint Characters

That's not the only thing to think about. In the excerpt I critted, there were 3 different viewpoints. That, in and of itself, is fine. I read Elizabeth Bear's first trilogy which, if I remember correctly, had 3 (or was it 4?) viewpoint characters.

But they were carefully delineated, with one in the form of short diary entries, another in present tense, etc. It was fairly easy to follow, but it took me a while to get used to present tense; after finally reading a short story that worked extremely well in present tense (a lovely story out of Realms of Fantasy magazine), I went back to the opening book of that trilogy - and that part clicked. It turned out to be quite and intense and dark first book. (Alas, too dark for me at the moment. I still have to finish the other 2 books, but I'll get to them at some point.)

Anyway, I made the suggestion to limit this author's particular story to 2 viewpoints, which, interestingly enough, included not only a man's viewpoint, but a dog's viewpoint. I'm a dog lover, so I was hooked. :-)

I think it's something all fiction writers have to keep in mind: How best do I let this story unfold? One viewpoint? Two or more viewpoints? Through which characters' eyes should this story unfold?

And, sometimes, even the right POV (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) is a big question.

But that's a question for another post. :-)

~Nancy Beck


A Pen That Writes Your Novel For You?

Well...not really. (Thought I'd just bust chops, for a moment. :-))

Go to Leapfrog's website (here, as a matter of fact), and you'll see something called a FLY Fusion Pentop Computer.

From Leapfrog's website:
When you write with the FLY Fusion™ Pentop Computer on FLY™ Paper, everything is automatically captured and digitized. You can then upload it to your PC and convert to text. Touch your pentop computer to FLY Paper, and you can quiz yourself on history, get help with a quadratic equation, or even play your favorite MP3. And when you're ready for new software, simply connect to your PC again to purchase and download custom homework and gaming applications directly to your FLY Fusion Pentop Computer.

I don't know what the price tag is, but I imagine, since it has some sort of computer components in it (i.e., tech stuff), it probably isn't cheap.

It actually looks kind of cool; I love getting a trying out unusual things, pens included. I have one right now, from a travel fair here at work last year. It's not much, but it has this neato airplane thingy on it (it does say Virgin Atlantic on it, so that's no surprise).

A Cool Pen I Had Well Before the Techie Stuff Showed Up

I remember a pen I had growing up, and I thought it was really neat. Still do. Wish I still had it. Anyway, blue and white were entwined on the pen's surface so that the white parts looked like clouds and the blue parts looked like blue sky.

What was really cool about it was a moveable rocket on it. (This was in the 1970s, so all sorts of space-age, NASA-type stuff was in.) I turned the pen upside down, the rocket thingy would slide down the pen; obviously, it would move in the opposite direction when I turned it right-side-up again.

Yeah, I know: It's amazing what keeps people enthralled, lol.

But Getting Back to the Computerized Pen...

Besides the price (which, again, I don't know about, but am guessing it's expensive), the other downside is having to buy special paper. This is akin to buying an inkjet printer, which is fairly cheap nowadays, but having to pay through your teeth for the ink cartridges. I could see it becoming an expensive operation to have to buy special paper (and the blurb on the website says you MUST use the special paper in order to write with the pen).

So...will this catch on? My gut tells me it won't, but what do I know?

Interesting, though.


The Writers Strike Is Over

Hallelujah! :-)

That's why I deleted the "I Won't Sell My..." graphic, once the news came out.

Well, actually, I deleted the graphic a couple of days after. That's because I wasn't in work on Monday and Tuesday due to my lower back pain (I've already seen the doctor, and am taking my meds), and didn't go in on Wednesday because of the cruddy weather.

Truly, though, I hope that the writers got their fair share. After all, without the writers, where would any TV show or theatrical movie be?

~Nancy Beck


Why Display Sites Are Useless

What exactly, you may ask, is a display site?

The idea of a site displaying your finished fiction manuscript to potential agents and publishers is an old one. Writer James D. MacDonald came up with an acronym for this tired old concept: YADS.

Yet Another Display Site.

After reading all the evidence (blog and board posts), why do I agree with Mr. MacDonald that they're useless?

I'll give you two - count 'em, two - reasons why it's not worth a writer's time.

Plenty of Manuscripts Out There

With the thousands of manuscripts that are handled by agents and some publishers day in and day out, do you really think agents and publishers have the time to look at something like a display site?

Right. They receive plenty of manuscripts already. Publishers that only take agented work are looking at those from agents they know and trust to give them good stuff to look at.

Yes, agents act as slush piles for publishers. That's because although publishers have editors to edit manuscripts (yes, Virginia, editors still EDIT manuscripts, from the high and mighty to the first timers), editors are already stressed out enough as it is to wade through slush (or, rather, have an intern or an assistant do it for them).

Which is where the agent comes in.

Which doesn't mean there aren't publishers that still accept slush; nowadays, it's the smaller publishers, but there are still a few bigger ones that do (Tor comes to mind).

Same thing applies there as to agents, though.

The Time Factor

Then, of course, there's the time factor. Although I alluded to it above in talking about editors, seems everyone at publishing houses these days are busy, busy, busy. As are agents, who get hundreds of queries a day.

So do you think they even have the time to look at YADS?


Agents and publishers are receiving plenty'o'queries and manuscripts every day. They don't need to go looking anywhere else but their own in bins and email boxes for stuff.

So Who Uses Display Sites?

Typically, bottom-feeder agents.

You know the type:

"I deal mostly with first-time authors."

Hell's bells, people! ALL legit agents and publishers deal - and sign - first-time authors. Happens every day. Don't believe me? Check out Publisher's Marketplace sometime. I get their free email daily, with one email a week reserved for just the deals (although it's a small list because it's the free email version of PM).

There are usually 2-3 debuts in that particular email all the time, and I'm sure there are plenty more at the paid on-site version.

Don't you think agents and publishers want the next big thing? Of course they do! Both are in business to make money, and if they think your voice and storytelling ability has a certain something to it - of course they'll sign you/publish your book.

Final Thoughts

So here's the dealio.

Work on your story until it's the best it can be. Send off queries to agents. If that doesn't go anywhere, have someone paste their eyeballs on your query letter and see if it can be improved. Send out more queries. Once you've gone through a slew of agents, then turn your sights onto publishers.

And what have I said until you probably want to stuff a sock in my mouth? Research, research, research all of your agents and publishers ahead of time so no one takes advantage of you.

Oh, and ignore YADS. You and your novel deserve better than a look-see from a scam agent who will try to come between you and your money.

~Nancy Beck


Manning to Tyree

This is just...amazing. First, Eli scrambling from two defenders, and then the catch...oh my, my, my, my!!!

Enjoy the video.

Manning and Tyree

~Nancy Beck

The Path to Pfftt...


What got me these past 2 weeks was the stupid media hype of "The Path to Perfection." After spewing quite a few choice expletives at the TV set (can't remember if that line was endlessly touted on ESPN or The NFL Network), I was like, no, the Giants are going to win.

Not that I told anyone; I can be just as superstitious as any NFL player (and they are quite a superstitious lot).

But I was talking with hubby yesterday, just before halftime. I said to him, "What the Giants need now is an interception or a fumble recovery."

Bingo! Giants recover a fumble, with the Patriots not too, too far away from the end zone...

It's weird, but since I am a Weirdo Chick (trademark pending on that phrase ;-)), I have to say that in my mind's eye, I swear I saw Eli smiling at the end of this game. Weird, but I've done stuff like that before, so maybe it's not so weird.

Two Keys to This Game

The first, obviously, was the Giants defense. Ferocious, just like Giants fans who've watched them for quite a while (me, since the late 1970s) have seen before. I mean, they sacked Brady 5 times in this game, when he was only sacked 21 times the entire regular season. He was hurried a ton of times, plus there was that fumble, where the Giant defender came around with his arm like LT (sorry, LT will ALWAYS be Lawrence Taylor, no offense to Ladainian Tomlinson).

The second? Unheralded and rookie players rising to the occasion. At the end of the 1st half, I was complaining to hubby about stupid, silly mistakes made by some of the offensive players.

But...then there was the 46-yard pass play to Kevin Boss, a rookie replacement for Shockey. After Manning got sacked, he hooked up with Steve Smith, another rookie, good for a first down. (What was it with them that they kept making 3rd downs throughout the game? Not that I'm complaining. ;-))

Then there was that spectacular catch by David Tyree, a guy who only caught something like six passes all season. (Me: "Oh my God, he caught it! He made the catch!)

How the hell did he hang on to that frickin' ball? Stickum's been banned for quite some time (anyone remember Fred Blitnekoff of the Raiders?), so we know there wasn't any kind of sticky stuff on his hands/gloves. Lynn Swann-ish, indeed. :-)

The Play of the Game

Eli Manning...how the hell did he get out of the grasp of those two Patriot defenders? Thank goodness that stupid in-the-grasp rule has gone by the wayside (especially since it always seemed to me that that Giants was the only team it was called against). But there went Eli, scrambling out and away from the traffic jam in the middle of the field...and throwing that impossible pass to Tyree.

That last throw to Burress pretty much sealed the victory (although I remembered Yogi Berra's "It ain't over till it's over," so I wasn't completely convinced the Patriots couldn't come back).

Prognosticators...and An Organization That Should've Known Better

EVERYBODY was picking the Patriots because of their Path to Pff...I mean, Perfection. ;-) Chris Rizzo of The Fan in New York had the Patriots scoring a ton and the Giants scoring next to nothing; does that guy like ANY New York-area teams? I found that irritating, but par for the course.

The only two prognosticators I heard who picked the Giants to win outright? (Yeah, there were two.)

Joe Namath. Yeah, Broadway Joe, the same dude who guaranteed the Jets would win Superbowl 4 in 1969...and, of course, they did. (I remember a Superbowl from back in the 1970s with the Minnesota Vikings...and I can't remember their opponent...anyway, Joe picked a 10-point spread in the final score, with the Vikings' opponent winning. He got the point spread either dead on or close to dead on.)

The other? Mike Ditka. According to Boomer Esiason on the Boomer and Carton show this morning (The Fan's early morning guys), he said Iron Mike picked the Giants to win by 3 points.


And the organization that should've known better? One of the Boston papers. I heard, two weeks ago, that they were (or did) offer a book on Amazon about the Patriots' perfect season.

Ah, guys, I have a few words for you, recent history notwithstanding: Boston Red Sox. Um, they went how long before they won a World Series? Uh huh.

Remember that Yogi Berra-ism I quote above? Yeah, exactly.

I will say this: I have nothing but admiration for the Patriots organization. The players and Coach Belichick were very gracious losers. My hat is off to them.

The media here, there, and everywhere? Not so much.


~Nancy Beck