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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Great Dialogue Help: In Case You Didn't Know Americans Speak Different Languages

Because people in America speak different languages--even when they are speaking English--they may not understand each other. East or West Coast. Buffalo, Orleans, or Chicago. Phoenix. I've lived in them all and, trust me, I've had my linguistically challenging moments. 

When I moved from my home state (Utah)  to work as a publicist in New York, there were days when I thought I spoke an entirely different language than New Yorkers. Perhaps it was vice versa. That was several decades ago, but apparently, that hasn’t changed. Josh Katz lists a few definitions in his Speaking American that makes those east of the Mississippi think those of us in the West “talk funny”—and vice versa.  Here are a couple from his book:

·       In the East they say “sneakers.” Westerners call them tennis shoes.
·       In the East they say “scrap paper.” Westerners say “scratch paper.”
·       Easterners say “skillet.” Westerners say “frying pan.”

Back in my New York days, I had to remember to say “light bulb” rather than “light globe” if I expected to find one at the grocery store and to say “highway” rather than “freeway” because the big roads around New York City were most decidedly not free.

PS: If you write fiction or use dialogue in your nonfiction, you need Katz's book. You can buy Katz’s book on Amazon.




MORE ABOUT THE BLOGGER

 Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also a The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor. Her latest is in the series is  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. Learn more on her Amazon profile page, http://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile . Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers is one of her booklets--perfect for inexpensive gift giving--and The Great First Impression Book Proposal, another booklet, helps writers who want to be traditionally published. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including one she encourages authors to read because it will help them convince retailers to host their workshops, presentations, and signings. It is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She helps writers extend the exposure of their favorite reviews at TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com. She also blogs at all things editing--grammar, formatting and more--at The Frugal, Smart,and Tuned-In Editor (http://TheFrugalEditor.blogspot.com). Her SharingwithWriters.blogspot.com blog focuses on the writing life and book marketing and promotion. It is a Writers' Digest 101 Best blogs pick. Carolyn is also
marketing consultant, editor, and author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers including the award-winningest book in the series,  The Frugal Editor.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Micro Rant on Generational Differences and Vocabulary Words

I had an article criticized because "young folks won't know what you mean by Rolodex." 

Here's the thing. "Rolodex" makes a dandy metaphor for a group of contacts related to a specific subject. So, does it hurt if we use a word that people have to look up now and then? Isn't it possible to use "Rolodex" in a context that people can quickly grasp its meaning without looking it up? And aren't words more than so much use-and-toss garbage? Take "Rolodex." It's an example of a brand name that vividly brings to mind what we do with one. It rolls and it's a kind of index for personal or business use. 

About the idea of ascertaining the meaning of a word by its context. Most writers do that frequently. Khaled Housseini uses whole sentences in several Afghani languages in his novels and I'm assuming his readers mostly figure out what was said. It's called technique and we writers should know how to do that. We used to teach analytical skills in school, didn't we? We shouldn't give up on that, either.

What if we just discard the word and any others our grandkids don't get? We could start a list of words my grandson might not get--starting with "typewriter." If we start eliminating from our dictionaries what those from prior generations don't remember, we may also have to eliminate some of the greatest books of all times.

Is this rant moving from "micro" to "mini?" Sorry about that.


MORE ABOUT THE BLOGGER

 Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also a marketing consultant, editor, and author of the multi award-winning #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers including the award-winning second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor. Her latest is in the series is How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. http://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile. Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers is one of her booklets--perfect for inexpensive gift giving--and The Great First Impression Book Proposal, another booklet, helps writers who want to be traditionally published. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including one she encourages authors to read because it will help them convince retailers to host their workshops, presentations, and signings. It is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She helps writers extend the exposure of their favorite reviews at TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com. She also blogs at all things editing--grammar, formatting and more--at The Frugal, Smart,and Tuned-In Editor (http://TheFrugalEditor.blogspot.com). Her SharingwithWriters.blogspot.com blog focuses on the writing life and book marketing and promotion. It is a Writers' Digest 101 Best blogs pick.
Learn more on her Amazon profile page,

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Ditch Tattletale Words in Your Marketing Materials, Résumé



People in all walks of life work mightily on perfecting their résumés and other career-building documents and then forget one vital step. An editor. Preferably an editor versed in all the elements of writing including grammar, punctuation, storytelling…wait! Storytelling?

Yes. And some other surprises like marketing—and a little knowledge about psychology won’t  hurt either.

The list is long but it can be shortened by thinking “experience.” A broad range of experience. So, no, your high school English teacher may not be your best choice. Nor, your mother who “did really well in English.”

There are a whole lot of tattletale words you shouldn’t use in your résumé or related documents like biographies, proposals, query letters, and media kits. All of these documents are designed to convince the reader of your ability to do the job—your expertise—and to nudge your career (or product) toward success.   

So what are those words? And how do they relate to storytelling?

Ambitious is one of the most frequently used tattletale words. It seems like a wasted word doesn’t it. A couple more that mean little because of overuse or are downright laughable are highly motivated or responsible. That you are writing this document is an indication that you are ambitious.

This is where that storytelling thing comes in. You tell a little story that subtly shows the responsible, ambitious, or highly motivated aspect of your work habits. Using the age-old writers’ motto, “show, don’t tell,”  will keep your reader from asking—often with a touch of irony—what makes you ambitious. King Midas was ambitious. Maybe your reader assumes your father got tired of seeing you playing video games and you got ambitious only when it looked as if the couch would no longer be a good place to park yourself.

So what is your story? Tell about the upward movement in your chosen career or even between careers—how one informs the other and gives you knowledge and a dimension that no other applicant is likely to have.

Hardworker and go-getter seem as useless in a résumé or query letter as ambitious. It’s like tooting your own horn. The person reading it might ask, “Who says?”

Overblown adjectives. Words like exciting and amazing—even when they describe results or projects—are anathema. They have the same problem as hardworking above. I call this the awesome syndrome. They are words that tempt a reader to scoff. Instead tell a story about the extra effort you put into a project and the difference it made. Or quote one of the rave reviews you received from one of your supervisors in a periodic assessment, recommendation, or endorsement.

Team player has been a cliché for decades.. Instead choose a group project you’ve worked on and tell about your contributions. Or just list some of the ways you might have helped another department or division. And, because human brains have been wired for stories since we sat around the fires we made in caves, make it into an anecdote if you can.

Think out-of-the-box is also a cliché-ridden no-no. It’s storytelling time again

Microsoft Word. I’m proud that I can produce an entire book using Word from its Contents to its Index to its Footnotes. I love that I don’t have to spend time learning another program. But there’s no point in telling people that I’m an expert at Word. Everyone is. Of course, I can use it prove another point like how well I have managed to adapt its features to new, advanced project and tell how much time I saved by doing that rather than learning a new program. I might mention how much more professional it looked even as I saved that time. And I might mention that my project got rave reviews.

Some frequently used words like synergy have become a way to insert some humor into a résumé and that has become as much of a cliché as the overuse of the word. Marco Buscaglia picked this word out of the hundred (if not thousands) of popular words I call business-ese. You can avoid them by reviewing your copy and purging anything that sounds officious including most words with more than three syllables.

Think in terms of relationships, colleagues in other departments, associates in competing companies, respected academicians, mentors beyond your teachers. Though a good story can take even that kind of mentorship out of the humdrum and into an Aha! Moment.

Before you send off your paper, go over it. Find all the weak verbs—is, be, do—and use your thesaurus to strengthen them and to make them more accurate.

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MORE ABOUT THE BLOGGER

Carolyn Howard-Johnson was an instructor for UCLA Extension's world-renown Writers' Program for nearly a decade and edits books of fiction and poetry. She  is the author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers including The Frugal Editor  and The Frugal Book Promoter. They are both USA Book News award-winners and both have won several other awards. Her How To Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.is the newest book in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers. Her The Great First Impression Book Proposal is a booklet that can save anyone writing a proposal time reading tomes because it can be read in 30 minutes flat.


Carolyn is the recipient of the California Legislature's Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award and was honored by Pasadena Weekly for her literary activism. She is also is a popular speaker and actor. Her website is www.HowToDoItFrugally.com.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Word Lovers Unite: Let's Spread the Word!

Valentine’s Day is gone but I introduced a new feature for word lovers in my #SharingwithWriters newsletter anyway. We are all word lovers, right? This feature will only appear when the spirit (and interesting tidbits) present themselves to me, but feel free to send me your favorite word or a new one that has sparked your imagination or found useful in your writing. Yes! As a contributor to my newsletter, I will include your author name, title, mini pitch for your title and links to its buy page. To subscribe, use the form at the top-right corner of most every page on my Web site and get a freebie, too! 


Because I am a big fan of Greek Classicism, this photo from National Geographic caught my eye. The painting on this ancient drinking cup (no mugs for these guys!) caught my attention. It depicts a drinking party known as a symposium, presumably where things were discussed between serious downing of spirits. The word is still used essentially the same way, but it has come to mean something much less social and far more erudite. I have been to few symposiums in this century where “drinking” was a part of the event—except perhaps surreptitiously!



MORE ABOUT THE BLOGGER

 Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. She is also a marketing consultant, editor, and author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers including the award-winning second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor. Her latest is in the series is How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically. Learn more on her Amazon profile page, http://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile . Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers is one of her booklets--perfect for inexpensive gift giving--and The Great First Impression Book Proposal, another booklet, helps writers who want to be traditionally published. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including one she encourages authors to read because it will help them convince retailers to host their workshops, presentations, and signings. It is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She helps writers extend the exposure of their favorite reviews at TheNewBookReview (http://TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com).  She also blogs at all things editing--grammar, formatting and more--right here at The Frugal, Smart,and Tuned-In Editor (http://TheFrugalEditor.blogspot.com). Her SharingwithWriters blog focuses on the writing life and book marketing and promotion. It is a Writers' Digest 101 Best blogs pick.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Beware Those Pretty Ampersands!

Ampersands: Pretty Is as Pretty Does

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

I added a new section to the second edition of my The Frugal Editor because ampersands seem to be so popular these days. It’s especially important for editors and those who publish books to both know a little about their history, how to use them, and how Lynn Truss’s of the world might view them.  So, I thought I’d share this excerpt today.
AMPERSANDS: PRETTY IS AS PRETTY DOES
The ampersand is a real pretty little dude but it isn’t a letter nor even a word. It’s a logogram that represents a word. Its history goes back to classical antiquity, but interesting history and being cute are no reason to overuse it in the interest of trying to separate one’s writing from the pack. Better writers should concentrate on the techniques that make a difference rather than gimmicks that distract. Here are some legitimate uses for the ampersand.
  • The Writers Guild of America uses the ampersand to indicate a closer collaboration than and, in other words, to indicate a closer partnership rather than a situation in which one writer is brought in to rewrite or fix the work of another. For those in the know it is a convenient way to subtly indicate that one writer has not been brought in to rewrite of fix the work of another.
  • Newspapers, journals and other choose to use it when they are citing sources. That’s their style choice, not a grammar rule.
  • In similar citing, academia asks that the word and be spelled out.
  • Occasionally the term etc. is abbreviated to &c, though I can see no reason for confusing a reader with this. Etc. is already an abbreviation of et cetera and the ampersand version saves but one letter and isn’t commonly recognized.
  • Ampersands are sometimes used instead of and to distinguish the and is part of a name rather than the typical conjunction used when naming a series of items, though here, too, it feels like a stretch and more confusing than helpful. Wikipedia gives this example: “Rock, pop, rhythm & blues and hip hop.” This also seems like an unnecessary affectation if we would but use the traditional serial comma like this: “Rock, pop, rhythm and blues, and hip hop.”
For a little style guide from the point of view of academia go to https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/03/. To see a graphic artist’s creative use of the ampersand, one based on the authenticity of its simply being visually attractive,  and go to the back of  multi award-winning The Frugal Editor for a free offer for the readers of that book. It's a gift from Chaz Desimone.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. All her books for writers are multi award winners including both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and her multi award-winning The Frugal Editor won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award. Her next book in the HowToDoItFrugally series for writers will be Getting Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.
Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. 
The author loves to travel. She has visited eighty-nine countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her Web site is www.howtodoitfrugally.com.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Not-So-Tuned-In about How to Use "Contact?"

Well, I guess I'm not so tuned in today!

This little tip on editing that recently ran in my #SharingwithWriters newsletter will explain why I say that:

It used to be that contact was a noun. We didn’t use it as a verb, at least not in formal writing. But Garner’s has put us at ease about this. Bryan Garner notes that the positive aspect of this trend keeps us from using “”I’ll get in touch with him,” which is lots wordier than “I’ll contact him” and works just as well. By the way, if you don’t have a copy of Garner's book on usage, get one. It is a trusted style guide—far beyond the one you are probably using. Ahem! (Those who read my SharingwithWriters newsletter probably know I'm not keen on any of the editions of Strunk because it has been misleading those interested in English--particularly rules vs. style choices-- for too many decades, now!)

Well, I didn't know that contact was exclusively--by dictionary standards--a noun. Either that usage was restricted a very long time ago, or I have been slipping.  OR, it's all about what the World Wide Web does to our language. What do you think?

PS: If you are interested in subscribing to #SharingwithWriters (there is something on editing in every issue), go to http://howtodoitfrugally.com .  There is a subscription window in the top right corner of almost every page.   


MORE ABOUT YOUR FRUGAL, SMART, AND TUNED-IN BLOGGER

Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults, and speaks on issues of writing and publishing. Find her at http://howtodoitfrugally.com. Find the second edition of her multi award-winning The Frugal Editor: Do-it-yourself editing secrets for authors: From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your bestseller. (HowToDoItFrugally Series of Books for Writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers find lists and other helps including , Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her SharingingwithWriters blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

One Syllable Words and Tighter Writing

Today my author friend (and director of several Florida book fairs!) shares some of her tight writing knowledge.  I sometimes have trouble using pronouns when it would be clearer to use the specific noun, but overall it seems this article will be a reminder for many of us writers.

The Mighty Monosyllabic
by
Valerie Allen
We are told to write tight is to write well. Do not use three words when one will do. Use one strong verb to get the job done.

The above paragraph is an example of using one-syllable words to convey exact meaning. English has many powerful one-syllable words, 20 of which make up approximately 25% of all spoken English.

In order of frequency, the most often used one-syllable words are:
  • I
  • you
  • the
  • a
  • to
  • is
  • it
  • that
  • of
  • and
  • in
  • what
  • he
  • this
  • have
  • do
  • she
  • not
  • on
  • they
You can use the find feature on your computer to see how many times you have used these mighty monosyllabic words for tighter writing.

* * * *
Valerie Allen writes fiction, non-fiction, short stories, plays, and children's books. She is a popular speaker at writer's conferences, libraries, and community events using her book: Write, Publish, Sell! Quick, Easy, Inexpensive Ideas for the Marketing Challenged 2nd Edition. Amazon.com/dp/1480043855

She is co-founder of Authors for Authors, which supports new and experienced authors with book fairs, book launches, book displays, and writing seminars. Authors from across the US have had their books displayed at two Florida book fairs held in March and November each year sponsored by AuthorsforAuthors.com

ABOUT THE GUEST BLOGGER


Valerie Allen can be contacted via FB, Twitter, Google+ and at VAllenWriter@gmail.com    ValerieAllenWriter.com     Amazon.com/author/valerieallen

ABOUT THE FRUGAL, SMART, AND TUNED-IN BLOGGER

 Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults, and speaks on issues of writing and publishing. Find her at http://howtodoitfrugally.com. Find the second edition of her multi award-winning The Frugal Editor: Do-it-yourself editing secrets for authors: From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your bestseller. (HowToDoItFrugally Series of Books for Writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers find lists and other helps including , Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her SharingingwithWriters blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

Friday, October 14, 2016

Time Magazine Reports New "Rule" on Spit and Image

It's been a while. Just couldn't resist popping in to tell you, there's one thing you don't need to worry about these days. Or is there?

Editors have always needed to be on the lookout for the corruption of the true form of “spit and image.” It comes “from the notion of God’s using spit and dust to form the clay to make Adam in his image.” Garner’s says it’s now OK now to use the incorrect form, “spitting image.” 

I think that’s foolish in this digital world where everyone is an editor (and an expert) and only too eager to dis something as “incorrect” with no leeway for style choices. And when your career could be affected by the judgment a gatekeeper like an agent or publisher makes about what they consider your lack of interest in the written word.

But even those who choose to write on the side of caution, the exception for "spit and image" might be its use in dialogue when people tend to talk the way they always have--regardless of what reference books say. After all, the way characters use words tells something about their—well, character. For more on dialogue, I suggest Tom Chiarella's book published by Writer's Digest.  


ABOUT THE EDITOR AND BLOGGER

 Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults, and speaks on issues of writing and publishing. Find her at http://howtodoitfrugally.com. Find the second edition of her multi award-winning The Frugal Editor: Do-it-yourself editing secrets for authors: From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your bestseller. (HowToDoItFrugally Series of Books for Writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers find lists and other helps including , Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her SharingingwithWriters blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Book Fair Director Lists Annoying Wordiness Devils

Welcome to Valerie Allen, author and director of several book fairs in Florida. I love this little list she has compiled. Simple little wordiness constructions can sneak into our writing so easily! Be sure to check her little bio below with possibilities the growth of your career in mind.

Wasted Words
by
Valerie Allen


Pleonasmus: the use of more words than is necessary to express an idea.

Extra words serve no purpose and slow your writing. Some common examples:

I can stop at this point in time.
I can stop now.

She sat down in the chair.
She sat in the chair.

He nodded his head up and down.
He nodded.

She shrugged her shoulders.
She shrugged.

He shook his head from side to side.
He shook his head.

What he said was that it was not his fault.
He said it was not his fault.


Here are some very special, extra annoying, so excessive, tiny little writing devils to always look out for at all times in your prose writing:

  • Brand new
  • Every single time
  • Hefty large
  • Huge giant
  • Irregardless
  • Killed dead
  • Sleepy tired
  • Slightly impossible
  • Stupid moron
  • Teensy weensy
  • Up on the tabletop
  • Very unique

MORE ABOUT TODAY'S GUEST BLOGGER

Valerie Allen, author, playwright, and speaker, writes fiction, non-fiction, short stories, plays, and children's books. She is a popular speaker at writer's conferences, libraries, and community events using her book: Write, Publish, Sell! Quick, Easy, Inexpensive Ideas for the Marketing Challenged 2nd Edition.
She is a co-founder of Authors for Authors, which supports new and experienced authors with book fairs, book launches, book displays, and writing seminars. Authors from across the US  have had their books displayed at two Florida book fairs held in March and November sponsored by AuthorsforAuthors.com
Valerie Allen can be contacted via FB, Twitter, Google+ and at VAllenWriter@gmail.com or ValerieAllenWriter.com
----
Carolyn Howard-Johnson edits, consults, and speaks on issues of writing and publishing. Find her at http://howtodoitfrugally.com. Find the second edition of her multi award-winning The Frugal Editor: Do-it-yourself editing secrets for authors: From your query letter to final manuscript to the marketing of your bestseller. (HowToDoItFrugally Series of Books for Writers). Learn more about her other authors' aids at www.howtodoitfrugally.com/writers_books.htm , where writers find lists and other helps including , Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips on the Resources for Writers page. She blogs on all things publishing (not just editing!) at her SharingingwithWriters blog. She tweets writers' resources at www.twitter.com/frugalbookpromo . Please tweet this post to your followers. We all need a little help with editing. (-:

Great Editing Is Great Marketing

Your First Marketing Offense: Write and Edit Great Query Letters