Saturday, December 21, 2013

I've had several clients ask me about hyphens, en-dashes and em-dashes lately, so I wanted to give a quick run-down:

Hyphen (-)
En-dash (–)
Em-dash (—)

The en-dash usually replaces "to" or "through" between ranges:

Please join us on Saturday, 1:00–9:00, to watch a Star Wars marathon.

New Zealand beat the West Indies in cricket today, 6–0.

The em-dash can be thought of as used in place of a colon, commas, and parentheses:

I have two pets—a tauntaun and a bantha. (Dash used in place of a colon.)

My two pets—a tauntaun and a bantha—are quite rambunctious.  (You could replace the dashes with commas or parentheses, but note that dashes shout this extra news, where commas and parentheses whisper it. If you really want your reader to pay attention, use dashes.

Some English publications, such as Penguin, use en-dashes with a space on either side in a similar manner, but others, such as Oxford University Press prefer the closed em-dash, as above. When in doubt, go for closed em-dash, as no one will mistake your intent.)

Use an em-dash to indicate that a speaker has been interrupted:

"Han Solo was going to tell you that—"

The em-dash can also be used to signify an abrupt change in thought.

"I was going to tell you that—hold on, C3PO is at the door."

A hyphen is used to join words in a compound construction, or separate syllables of a word, like during a line break.:

cruelty-free fynock eggs

Finally, just throwing this in the mix, a minus sign − is distinct from all three of the above.

4 − 2 = 2.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

What are editors really saying?

Sometimes it's hard for authors to communicate to their editors exactly what it is they're looking for in an edit. But it's also difficult for the editors to tell authors certain things as well. We all know how important clear editor-author communication is, but that doesn’t mean it's always achieved. Unspoken expectations on both sides of this relationship – about fees, timelines, who is responsible for what – can lead to disastrous results, and both parties pay a price. Remember, our goal is to make your manuscript the best it can be. But different editors might do this in different ways. So, here follows:

10 Things Your Freelance Editor Might Not Tell You—But Should

Publishing opportunities

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Word Choice

In writing, word choices and how we phrase them are vital. Have you ever gotten something back from your editor saying "awkward", "unclear", or "too techy" and wondered why or how to fix it? Here's a nice article that goes a bit more into detail on how we can choose our words to best suit our material and our intended audience:

Publishing opportunities

  • Mundania Press and its imprint Hard Shell Word Factory are accepting full-length manuscripts. They're currently actively in the market for urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and steampunk.

Thursday, September 05, 2013


A couple of new publishing opportunities.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

borne/born & wack/whack

Two oh-so-important encounters while editing yesterday:

borne of vs born of:

wack vs whack:

Friday, August 09, 2013

Looking for perfection? Not likely to happen.

How perfect can you expect your editors to be? As much as we'd like to catch 100% of the errors, that's just not the way it works out. This article talks more about the error rates in editing:

Latest opportunities

New Myths magazine has increased their pay rates. Inspired to send them a story? Check here:

How much do you love coffee? Do you love it this much?

And here's one looking for military related sf/horror:

Strength From Within anthology aims to examine addiction and recovery through the lens of fantasy.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

7 "tricks" to improve your writing.

While there is a bit more leeway in fiction as to active vs passive, and how long sentences should be, this still offers some really great advice:


It's soon deadline time for the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers Short Story Contest. (Now that's a mouthful!) Check out guidelines here:

Freedom Fiction is having a themed contest to solicit short stories for their latest anthology. See more here:

And for something a bit different, don't miss Monster Corral's monthly flash fiction contest:

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Wondering about your book contract?

Book contracts are a tricky business. Getting accepted by a publisher or agency willing to represent your book is elating. However, even when they seem on the up-and-up--even sometimes when they ARE legitimate--they can turn sour, as it did for one of my clients. The literary agency that had accepted his book ran out of money (but kept this a secret) and they simply stopped responding to his calls and emails. These types of situations are, unfortunately, the pitfalls of a business in flux, as print goes more and more to digital.

But don't be discouraged! Here's a great blog post about things to keep an eye out for when negotiating your own book contract. While it might not save your agency from going bankrupt, it may well signal you earlier on that it's time to get out of a contract before it drags on too long. I know that all sounds terrible, but forewarned is forearmed. Read this and be your own advocate. :)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Foreshadowing or Telegraphing?

A lot of time, clients write something that they feel needs some explanation, some explicit foreshadowing. But when the text reaches a new set of eyes, the reader thinks, "Gosh, that's too obvious. Now I know exactly what's going to happen." This means the foreshadowing has drifted over into the territory of telegraphing.  (The ever-prolific Dan Brown's novels often reach this territory.)

For an interesting post on the difference between telegraphing and foreshadowing, take a look here:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Word count?

Nearly every day I get questions on word count. People wondering how long their manuscripts are "supposed" to be. It's both a tricky question and a very simple one. There are a few specific ranges, which the link below lays out really nicely. But I think it's important not to forget that the story is complete when it's told. That might be a longer or a shorter word count. For new authors where publishers or agents might be less brave about taking a risk, a good rule of thumb is not to exceed 100k, and if your manuscript is longer than that, you can consider splitting it into two novels. If your manuscript is under 50k words, however, but you feel your story is complete, don't despair! The marketing for novellas is getting stronger again, and might be just the place for your writing to find a home.