Writing Tips

Don't let simple mistakes ruin your book's chances! ~ Don McNair

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Remembering the fallen heroes on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015*

To honor our fallen heroes.
It wasn't always Memorial Day — it used to be known as Decoration Day—whatever the name, it's a day of remembrance for all those who have died in the service of the United States of America.

Born of the Civil War, Memorial Day began as a holiday honoring Union soldiers, and some states still have separate Confederate observances. Mississippi celebrates Confederate Memorial Day on the last Monday of April, Alabama on the fourth Monday of April, and Georgia on April 26. North and South Carolina observe it on May 10, Louisiana on June 3 and Tennessee calls that date Confederate Decoration Day. Texas celebrates Confederate Heroes Day on Jan. 19 and Virginia calls the last Monday in May Confederate Memorial Day
The first Decoration Day, the 30th of May, 1868, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular Civil War battle.
The “National Moment of Remembrance” resolution passed in Dec. 2000 asks that at 3 p.m. local time, all Americans “Voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of Remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.’”

Red poppies are known as a symbol of remembrance, and it's a tradition to wear them on Memorial Day to honor those who died in war.  

In 1915, inspired by the poem “In Flanders Fields,” Moina Michael conceived the idea to wear red poppies on Memorial Day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. (cj Sez: When I was little, we called it Poppy Day instead of Decoration Day, and I always had a red, paper poppy to wear.)

The casualties of each U.S. war: 
Civil War: Approximately 620,000 Americans died. The Union lost almost 365,000 troops and the Confederacy about 260,000. More than half of these deaths were caused by disease.

World War I: 116,516 Americans died, more than half from disease.

World War II: 405,399 Americans died.

Korean War: 36,574 Americans died.

Vietnam Conflict: 58,220 Americans died. More than 47,000 Americans were killed in action and nearly 11,000 died of other causes.

Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm: 148 U.S. battle deaths and 145 non-battle deaths.

Operation Iraqi Freedom: 4,422 U.S. service members died.

Operation New Dawn: 66 U.S. service members died.

Operation Enduring Freedom: 2,318 U.S. service members have died as of May 12, 2014.

cj Sez: I am in awe of their sacrifice, and it is with profound respect that I humbly say thank you to the families that America's fallen heroes left behind.  May God Bless.


DEADLY STAR (Publisher: Crimson Romance)  
    http://bit.ly/19QDQq3   (B&N.com)
http://amzn.to/1LRRwC9  (Amazon.com)

Composite Photo Credit: Jeff D. Johnston
*Data from multiple on-line sources.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The All-Important First Page

cj Sez:  Many writers’ conferences offer writers opportunities to pitch their stories to agents or editors. Pre-conference submissions of a chapter or a few pages for consideration is also popular. One conference I know of offered attendees a chance to have the first page of their manuscripts reviewed by three publishers. (I’m sure other conferences have done something similar.) The idea was to critique one page and then give the writer an idea of how successful the manuscript might be in getting a request to see more pages.

The 'toon is from my Facebook page.
The publishers stopped reading some of the submissions before finishing the page.

The submissions ranged from fiction to non-fiction and adult to YA, but the rejected pages seemed to have similar problems. The judges identified four blatant writing miscues that caused them to stop reading:

1.      The story’s opening paragraphs failed to establish where the story was taking place, the time, and the setting.

2.      The beginning was too slow. Too many details, too much description, too much backstory, or too many charactersand all of that on the first pagecaused the judges to lose interest. The opening paragraphs also lacked action or a hook to entice the readers to continue to read.

3.      The writer didn’t establish a clear point of view. She/he headhopped or mixed first or third person with omniscient points of view.

4.      Mechanical errors earned a speedy rejection. What are mechanical errors? They are the typos, punctuation errors (a lot of them involving dialogue), and unclear syntax that can destroy a good story.   

What agents or publishers see in the first few paragraphs of a manuscript is what they expect to see throughout each scene and chapter. That makes for an acceptance or early rejection.
If you re-read the paragraphs of your manuscript, would you see any of these miscues?

Lyrical Pens would love to hear how you construct a first page. Do you re-write yours? I usually re-write mine many times as I work through a manuscript.

Love this Chicken 'Toon from Facebook
   Okay, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try
   to do the same.

   DEADLY STAR (Publisher: Crimson Romance)  
   http://bit.ly/19QDQq3   (B&N.com)
http://amzn.to/1LRRwC9  (Amazon.com)
   PS: I intend to use the list to analyze a short story
   I’ve just started, to make sure I stay on target.