Tag Archives: poetry

Poetic Beauty

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“Beauty is the sole legitimate province of the poem.”

— Edgar Allan Poe

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Portrait of a Poetry Myth

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“Poetry creates the myth, the prose writer draws its portrait.”

— Jean-Paul Sartre

 

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Editor, Not Opinionator-Terminator

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor/ Editing Addict]

Editor Tip: Make Sure Your Editor Is Just That—an Editor

Recently, an author contacted me about another editor she was using, and the practices, notes, changes, and comments this editor was making. To say I was appalled, is an understatement. The author showed me notes this editor had made.

It was obvious the editor was a Opinionator-Terminator, not an editor, because she was literally in a fight with the author about OPINIONS—claiming she was right, and the author was incorrect.

The battle was not over grammar, not spelling, not punctuation, not even the functions and allowances of the Chicago Manual of Style…the arguments were forcing the author to justify why she chose to name characters what she did, and why she titled her work with that title…. She was belittling the author, and tearing apart subject matter that was irrelevant.

If an author wants their character to have an accent or lisp, then that is the author’s decision. The editor’s job is not to challenge that decision, but to make sure if the character had an accent or lisp in the beginning, they also have an accent or lisp in the end—continuity, flow, and logic.

If you are dealing with an editor who is an Opinionator-Terminator, you may feel too afraid to say anything (and fairly, saying anything to one of them may not have the outcome that you desire). This is one reason you want to have a clear and concise contract laid out before starting the editing process—know what it is you are expecting. You also need to know your rights as an author.

You—the author—are the creator and final decision-maker with your work of writing: poetry, book, short story, essay, novel, biography…. The editor is there to help you, assist you.

What should an editor change with minimal (if any) notes to the author?

[Proofread Edit]
Spelling
Grammar
Punctuation
CMS standard
 

 What are the items an editor should leave comments for the author, but shouldn’t make the changes?

[Copy Edit or Content Edit]
Logic flow
Names of characters, places, cities, families….
Plot & action
Scenes / Chapters
Scenario of suspense/humor
Ending

 

An editor should tell the author what items are or aren’t accepted in CMS standard. Those are facts, but they aren’t laws. If the author chooses to reject a change, the author’s voice and choice still reigns supreme—YES, above the CMS, above the editor, and above all.

An author can choose to reject the standard of CMS, if they feel it will alter the readability or the understanding of the project for the reader. The author makes that decision, not the editor. The editor can leave notes, but there is no reason for an editor to attack or harshly defend their points and opinions. That is not their job. Authors shouldn’t put up with it.

An editor’s job is to make sure and find the mistakes—iron out the punctuation, spelling, and grammar. It is not an editor’s job to grade the entertainment value or the subject, or to test the humor factor. That is the author’s choice and decision—they are the creators of the work.

It is okay to challenge your editor, and to disagree with them. If they don’t allow for this, then they are not an editor, they are an Opinionator-Terminator. You need to seek out and find a real editor in order to find success.

If you are looking for an editor, contact me at billijoycarson@editingaddict.com.

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor / Editing Addict

 

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Book Launch: Marie H. Curran

Book launches supporter copy

 

Observant Observings

004c77_939e7e2bed9a47238a420cfd226d95e5.jpg_srz_302_404_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srzObservant Observings is Marie Hanna Curran’s first poetry collection. It’s a book of noticing, observing behavior, questioning routine and redefining the banal. Each poem encourages the reader to pause, listen, inspect. Traits so often overlooked in life. Observant Observings is comprised of five sections, which speak to aspects of nature, everyday objects, the four seasons, time past and present and people in social situations.

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Marie Hanna Curran holds a degree in Equine Science from the University of Limerick, Ireland and lives in rural Galway with her husband and many wild birds. Due to illness she is currently housebound, however, ME/CFS doesn’t stop her writing. She believes writing is soul food and such food must be shared. Two of her poems appeared in The Galway Review and seven pieces of work weaved their way between the pages of the published anthology: Poems from Conflicted Hearts (Tayen Lane Publishing 2014). Her articles concerning illness and anti-bullying were published in Irish Newspapers and her feature against bullying was read on radio.”

Tayen Lane Publishing

 

Plain Sight
– An Excerpt from Observant Observings (Due for release Sept 1st) –

There were hundreds of them
Strung out across the barbed-
Wire fence. As if sculpted,
Crafted by ghosts, seen only
When the sun angled the morn,
Each white web echoing back
That first light, Illuminated,
Touched by a sun once hidden
By night. And for that moment,
Each leg crafted spider web
Showed itself off, like Newgrange
On the summer solstice
Before the world clocked passed dawn,
And the ghosts hid themselves
In the plainest of sight.

 

Book Launch / Poetry Reading 12th September 2014:

Town Café, Cross Street, Athenry
Doors open 7.30pm, reading starts 8pm sharp
Book signing thereafter.
 
Join Marie Hanna Curran
On September the Twelfth,
When she introduces
Her new Poetry Book.
 
Town Café is the place
There’ll be words and fresh tea,
Seven thirty’s the time
The event will be free!
 
Sure where else would you be
On a late Friday eve?
Only smothered in words
In Athenry’s Cross Street.
 
Bring along an old friend
Or arrive and make new-
Now you’ve the details,
You know what to do!
 

MarieHCurran.com | Tayen Lane Publishing | Blog |

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What Your Editor Needs From You

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor/ Editing Addict]

Editor Tip: What Your Editor Needs From You

Respect

Your editor is going to spend weeks pouring over your manuscript. She (or he) is going to eat, sleep, and breathe YOUR book. She (or he) will be correcting spelling, grammar, margins, indents, spacing (line and character), punctuation, formatting sections (for consistency), comparing character logic and plot flow… Your editor is going to be BUSY. Don’t treat them like your time is more important than theirs—or like you are their only client.

A Timeline—So They Can Schedule YOUR Book

Your editor is not a magician. She (or he) has other clients, and those clients all have deadlines too. When you know you are getting close to finishing your manuscript (not the day before you plan on handing it over to your editor), notify your editor. They need to estimate the time needed on your book, and let you know when they can do it, and then add it to their schedule.

Communication, Because Deadlines EXIST

1) Again, stop treating your editor like they can do magic. They can’t. If you missed giving your manuscript to your editor on time, several things should happen:

If at all possible (I mean, come hell or high water), stay within the deadline of when you said you would give your editor your manuscript.

As SOON as you know you are going to be late, notify your editor. Their time is valuable, and they need to schedule in another project. Remember, they blocked out time for YOU.

If you are late with your project, and you didn’t give your editor notice, you should be paying a late fee. You reserved their time, and you did not cancel it. Respect them enough to pay for the slot you scheduled.

2) Tell your editor about your deadlines.

Ideally, you should have given your editor the manuscript with time to spare, but if you need a rush on the edit, then you need to communicate this. Also, all rush edits need to have a rush-fee. You are asking your editor to SUDDENLY include your manuscript in their schedule. This means something else has to be shuffled (or possibly dropped) for you.

Complete Files

 When you send your manuscript to your editor, it should be in one file (not broken out in sections, chapters, or parts). If you change anything after your editor has started to work on your manuscript:

Most editors will require a change-fee, because they have to transpose all their notes, edits, and changes to the new document. Some editors refuse to work with any changed manuscripts, so it is best to ask in advance.

Most editors work with .doc and .docx files only. Ask your editor what he or she prefers, and then—send them what they ask for.

If you send your editor files she (or he) has to convert (e.g. .wp7 when they asked for .docx), you are taking two risks:

Possible lost information:

If your editor has to convert the files:

It means she (or he) doesn’t have the program your files are saved in. Therefore, once conversion is complete, your editor will not know if anything is missing from your manuscript.

There is also the possibility that your editor can’t convert the file, and the file will have to be returned to you. This delays your editor, and shrinks her (or his) timeline of work—because the deadlines are still the same.

Abusing your editor:

You want a loyal editor who roots for, cheers for, and fights for you. Not one who resents you every time you send them your manuscript in the wrong format. See the first item listed on this page.

A Way to Reach You

 More than likely, your editor won’t need to speak to you during the editing process. Radio silence does not mean anything is wrong, it means they are steadily working on your manuscript.

If your editor comes across something that needs to be addressed immediately, before they get too far into the book, they need to be able to reach you. Email is a good way to communicate, because they can copy/paste the questionable areas for you to read, and give them feedback (e.g. your editor may discover that your main character’s name changed in spelling, but you intended a plot-twist, and need your character’s name to change; you want them to check with you before correcting all the names throughout the book).

Both communication and respect assure success; they also enable teamwork to grow and thrive between you and your editor—who is on YOUR TEAM, and desires to be there. She (or he) hopes you succeed, and is excited to be along for the journey. Your editor is dedicated to helping you grow, and cares that you keep learning how to be an amazing author.

Help your editor to help you. Teamwork brings success!

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor / Editing Addict

 

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How to Submit Poems for Publication

 Guest Blog by Dr. Katie Manning

 

Every time I teach Creative Writing: Poetry to college students, I spend some time going over how to submit poems for publication, and then I require them to send out two batches of submissions to literary journals at the end of the semester. I set them up for the reality of disappointment by talking about acceptance rates (often lower than 1% of submissions to journals) and by showing them my own Excel spreadsheet record of acceptances and rejections. I’ve actually had a handful of students get poems accepted on their first try with submitting, and my own acceptance rate has improved greatly over time, so we must be doing something right.

Here’s the quick and dirty version of my publication lesson, which is based on tips my poetry professors gave me, on my own experience of submitting poetry for several years now, and on my previous experience of editing literary journals. Of course, the first step is actually writing and revising some brilliant poems, but being brilliant isn’t enough to get poems published.

 

1) Find literary journals.

Check out the literary magazine databases on Poets & Writers and New Pages. Look over calls for submissions on CRWROPPS. Stalk (metaphorically, of course) the poets who seem to be your kindred spirits by looking at the acknowledgments pages of their books and submitting to the same journals that published them. Most importantly, be a good literary citizen and support the publications you most enjoy: purchase a print subscription, follow online issues, and invest yourself. You can’t do this with every journal you ever send a submission to (or at least I don’t have the time and money for that), but being an active reader of a handful of publications will likely make you a more savvy submitter of your work. When you have a better sense of which publications might prefer which poems, then you’ll be more likely to have work accepted.

Also, connect with real, live poets and editors as much as possible at local readings or national conferences or wherever else you can find them, even on Facebook and Twitter. The more you network with other people in this community for the sheer joy of having their company and experiencing their art, the more you’ll hear about publication opportunities and find readers and publishers for your own work.

 

2) Follow directions.

You MUST follow the guidelines for each specific journal when you submit your poetry. Each publication’s website will likely have a tab for Submissions (sometimes housed under About or Contact Us). If they say to send 3-5 poems, don’t send just 1. If they say not to put your name on your poems, then don’t do it. If they want you to paste your submission into the body of an email, don’t send an attachment. Nothing will get your work tossed aside more quickly than ignoring simple directions.

 

3) Cover letters matter (sort of).

If you’re submitting in hard copy, then your cover letter should be in business letter format. If you’re submitting by email, then you can be a little more casual with the formatting, but you still want to be somewhat professional. If you’re submitting via an online system, then you might only have a tiny box for a cover letter, so keep it simple.

If you want to show your familiarity with a journal, it is appropriate to address your submission to the poetry editor by name. If this information is not available to you, then it’s okay to stick with “Dear Editor.”

Keep the letter brief! You might tell them what you enjoy about their journal, but don’t go overboard. A simple “I’m submitting three poems for your consideration” with a “thanks for your time” is often best.

Many journals want you to send a brief (2-3 sentence) third-person bio; this is customary in a cover letter unless otherwise specified in the guidelines. There are different ways to approach this: some poets are strictly business (notable publications, current job, location), and some mix in more casual and fun details (hobbies, family info). If you’re able, see what the journal’s bio notes usually look like and match them. If you’re not able to do that, then do what makes you happy. Just be sure that your bio isn’t more interesting than your poems…

One final thought: I was told as a student not to say that I was a student in my cover letter, and I caution my students about this as well. Even editors who think that they love undergraduates might be inclined against a set of poems if they assume that the writer is especially inexperienced. Your bio should be honest, of course, but it can’t possibly include everything about you, so be strategic with what you reveal.

 

4) Keep good records.

Find a system that works for you. As I already mentioned, I keep an Excel spreadsheet with columns for the journal title, the poem titles, the date of submission, the date of response, whether or not it was published, and any fees or payment. I also like to note how I submitted—online system, email, or hard copy. I had a professor who kept records on notecards in recipe boxes. Do whatever makes you feel organized and happy.

Keeping track of submissions is important. If you’re submitting in earnest, then you can’t possibly remember when, where, and what you sent. Keeping some kind of log will ensure that you don’t send the same poems to a journal that already passed on them. It will also ensure that you don’t submit another batch of poems to a journal that is already considering a submission from you…that’s a sure way to annoy editors!

This brings us to the topic of simultaneous submissions. Most literary journal editors are now comfortable with the reality that poets will send the same poems to a few different journals at a time, meaning that most journals will accept simultaneous submissions. (Note: Some publications still say in their guidelines that they won’t consider simultaneous submissions. You will have to decide if those publications are worth your time.) The deal here though is that if a poem is accepted for publication in one journal while it’s under consideration at other journals, then it’s the poet’s job to be a good poetry citizen and withdraw the poem from consideration with those other journals. This might be done via email or within an online system; again, follow the directions in each journal’s submission guidelines for best results.

 

5) Keep submitting.

If you’re not one of those rare, lucky poets who have poems accepted on the first try, don’t worry. Most of us took a long time to get a first poem published, and sometimes even well-published poets have dry spells. Submitting poetry can be discouraging, but keep doing it. To pass along advice that was given to me, this is a numbers game. The more you send out, the more likely you’ll get something published. When I was first trying to get poems published in literary journals, I would try to keep around 40 submissions out at a time (usually sending a batch of 3-4 poems to 3-4 journals at a time). Your poems have to find the right editor in the right mood, so give them the best shot possible.

 

Meet our Guest Blogger, Dr. Katie Manning:

Katie-25Dr. Katie Manning is the author of three poetry chapbooks, including The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman (Point Loma Press, 2013), and she is an Assistant Professor of English at Azusa Pacific University. Find her online at www.katiemanningpoet.com.

 

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A Writer’s Soul

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.”

— Virginia Woolf

 

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Audience-Shmaudience—Write What YOU Love

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor/ Editing Addict]

Editor Tip: Write What YOU Love

 

It’s true that writers need to write to an audience. But the process is not a game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey.  As a writer, you do NOT need to find the audience you think is best worthy, and then force yourself to write for them.

 

Write what you love, and find the audience that loves to read what you write.

 

When C. S. Lewis was asked about his books, The Chronicles of Narnia, and whether he wrote specifically so children would read them, he answered:

 

“I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story. The good ones last. A waltz which you can like only when you are waltzing is a bad waltz.” 

 

Lewis wrote what he loved; he didn’t morph his writing so it would be read and liked by his audience. He found the audience that would cherish his writing. Children love his books; adults do too. Why? Because C. S. Lewis poured passion through the pages of his books—a love that is obvious, and not forced, a contagion of enthusiasm that inspires generations, young and old, to pick up his books and read again.

Know your audience, don’t choose your audience; your audience has chosen you. Write what you know, write what you love, and write what the world will want to read again and again.

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor / Editing Addict

 

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Work at the Language

“Of course, there are those critics – New York critics as a rule – who say, ‘Well, Maya Angelou has a new book out and of course it’s good but then she’s a natural writer.’ Those are the ones I want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language.”

— Maya Angelou

 

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Highlight to Success

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor/ Editing Addict]

Editor Tip: Highlight to Success

Every writer—no matter how strong a wordsmith—has at least one crutch word. To the author, the words remain hidden, and unseen, but to the reader, the words become machine-gun weapon rounds every time they read them.

The words are different for each author, just as style and genre differ. The impact of the words on the readers, however, remains the same. The more crutch words you have, the greater the possibility you will lose your readership. The pain of hitting word after word after word becomes greater than the desire to keep reading.

Have you noticed the number of times a variation of word has been used in these two paragraphs? Ten times in a ninety-five word count. A deft killer of writing, hiding in plain sight. Crutch words.

What are the most popular crutch words?

They are the small ones. Innocuous. Overlooked in read-throughs, and missed in proofing: and, had, that, my, he, she, it, her, him, said, looked, saw, turned, smiled, be, is, was, were, been.

Steps to becoming crutch-free:

1. Search [Edit/Find All] your manuscript for each crutch word listed above. You might be surprised how many times they pop up in your book.

2. Highlight all occurrences of the word you’re searching for (e.g. that)

a. How many highlights are clustered together?

b. If you feel annoyed seeing all the highlights…

(1) …guess how your readers feel?

(2) Time to fix it.

3. Rework the areas where the highlights show up clustered together

a. Many can simply be deleted without changing the meaning

(1) The man that was sitting at the table, told her that she was beautiful.

(2) The man, sitting at the table, told her she was beautiful.

b. Some can be reworded, or reordered, to strengthen the writing.

First paragraphs with highlight method:

Every writer—no matter how strong a wordsmith—has at least one crutch word. To the author, the words remain hidden, and unseen, but to the reader, the words become machine-gun weapon rounds every time they read them.

The words are different for each author, just as style and genre differ. The impact of the words on the readers, however, remains the same. The more crutch words you have, the greater the possibility you will lose your readership. The pain of hitting word after word after word becomes greater than the desire to keep reading.

First paragraphs reworded:

Every writer—no matter how strong a wordsmith—has at least one crutch word. To the author, it remains hidden, and unseen, but to the reader, the writing becomes machine-gun weapon rounds every time they read them.

The weaknesses are different for each author, just as style and genre differ. The impact on the readers, however, remains the same. The more crutches you have, the greater the possibility you will lose your readership. The pain of hitting word after word becomes greater than the desire to keep reading.

Once you master this, you will keep your writing alive, and retain your readership. It’s a tedious task the first two or three times, but it will eventually be second nature to you.

Questions for the editor to answer next time:

[by Billi Joy Carson, Senior Editor / Editing Addict

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