New Blogger Address

Sorry for the extra clickage (it’s only *one* though, I promise!) but I’m blogging at this address now: www.rickischultz.blogspot.com

Hope to see you there!

Mwah! :)

I’m Moving — to Blogger!

First of all, let me apologize for the serious drought in posts as of late.  My sickpocalypse sucked away all my blogging energy (and, actually, most of my other energy as well).

But now, as I’m pretty much over the plague and as I prepare for my next two speaking engagements, which are both on platform & online presence building (one this week at Scribblers’ Retreat Writers’ Conference in beautiful St. Simons Island, Ga., and one at James River Writers’ May “Writing Show” in Richmond, Va.)—I feel I need to make the switch from WordPress to Blogger.

Nothing against WordPress.  It’s not you; it’s me.  Really.  I’ve been happy here for nearly two years, and we’ve had a good run.

It’s just that a few of the social networking things I need to do with the blog, I’m not able to do on WordPress.  Not without hours of headaches (some of which I’ve already endured) and potential costs, which I’d rather avoid if I can . . .

. . . and I can, on Blogger.

There, I will be able to connect my bajillion blogs I follow as well as my Google Friend Connect widget right on the home page of the blog.  This will make following and interacting between bloggity folks much easier.

Anyway, I hope all my loyal followers will make the trek over to my new digs and swap out following me/subscribing here for following me/subscribing there.  It may take me a little bit to get settled in—and I’ll likely take my favorite posts from here with me—but I hope to see some familiar faces.

Here’s the new address:  www.rickischultz.blogspot.com

And WordPress? I hope we can still be friends.  :)

xoxo

Input, Please: Platform & Online Presence

I’m currently tweaking a talk I’m giving on platform & online presence next week at the Scribblers’ Retreat Writers Workshop in St. Simons Island, Ga.

It’s intended to be “the basics”/making these things accessible and “easy,” and I’m just wondering:

What are, say, the top 3 things you’d expect to learn from a session like that?

Would love to hear your input.

Cracking the Whip on Your Word Count: NoRhym-O-ReMo

First, I have no idea what’s up with the formatting of the text on this post.  But I have 18 bajillion things to do today, so rather than freak out about it, I’m letting it go.

WHAT??  I know.  That’s so un-Ricki.

Anyway.

My apologies for being a bit sparse with the posts as of late. My aforementioned sickness, which lasted several weeks, played a large part in that, as did some freelancing and, of course, the Write-Brained Network.

What will be pulling my focus now? NoRhym-O-ReMo

But this is something anyone can take part in—and I hope you will!

LET ME ‘SPLAIN

As per my last post, my online writing community did a reboot of NaNoWriMo last May, and we’re doing it again. NoRhym-O-ReMo stands for No Rhyme or Reason [Writing] Month, and it’s on—right now!

THE RULES

There are no rules.

Well, that’s not entirely true—but, let’s say, you make your own rules.  Just write something.  Every day.  For the month of May.  NoRhym-O-ReMo is like NaNoWriMo, but a more accommodating of your schedule.

HUH?

For traditional NaNoWriMo, folks set out to write 1500 words a day—and then, at the end of the month of November (National Novel Writing Month), they have a 50,000-word first draft of something.  For those of you unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, click here.

For NoRhym-O-ReMo, let’s be more flexible.  Set your own goal for your daily word count.  For instance, if you think your schedule will only allow you to comfortably write 500 words/day, fine.  That’s your goal.  Post it here, and have at it.

You can write one continuous piece or a lot of smaller pieces—or, heck—even just writing prompts.

And if you find your schedule changes, and you are writing more (or less) than you had hoped, adjust your goals as you go.

REPITE, POR FAVOR?

Just set a goal for yourself and DO THE WRITING.  And keep us posted about it.  Participants are keeping records of their progress over on the WB—and it’s hugely inspiring (and kick-in-the-pantsing) to see other folks succeeding.

WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH WORD COUNT?

As a general rule in the industry, 250 words=1 page.  That should help you gauge the amount of words to which you think you can commit per day.

When setting your goal: Don’t be too aggressive.  Not that you shouldn’t challenge yourself, but I’m just saying don’t say you want to write 3K/day if there’s no way you can feasibly do that!  You don’t want to make it impossible to reach your daily goals—that might discourage you from continuing. However, don’t be wimpy either. Throw out a number you’d be happy reaching per day, and get those words down.

OK, so what are you waiting for?  If you’re not already a member of the WB, get on over there.  It’s painless—really. You’ll meet a lot of fantastic writing folks and you’ll even get to keep your first born. (Well, probably.)

If we get enough participants, I’ll be offering up a prize or two.  Stay tuned . . .

If you’re looking to get serious about a new manuscript, if you want to finish/up your word count on an existing one, or if you just need a little incentive to write whatever it is you’re writing get on over to NoRhym-O-ReMo and DO IT.

*cracks the whip*

Spoiler Alert: NoRhym-O-ReMo Starts May 1

Last May, my online writing community was much smaller—and called Shenandoah Writers Online—so we had SheNoWriMo, which was SWO’s reboot of NaNoWriMo for the month of May.

We’re doing the same thing this year—only now we’re the Write-Brained Network—and we’re calling it: NoRhym-O-ReMo (No Rhyme or Reason [Writing] Month).

I’ll be posting more info about this next week, but if you’re looking to get serious about a new manuscript (or if you’re looking to finish/up your word count on an existing one), it’s on like Donkey Kong in May, baby.

The Straight Dope on “Entitled” vs. “Titled”

“The Straight Dope” highlights common grammatical errors—so you can stop looking dopey when you do these things incorrectly. :)

Please note: Unless otherwise specified, these are the proper grammar and formatting rules according to Chicago style—the style in which you should be writing, if you’re writing fiction—and some nonfiction.  (So don’t give me a laundry list of reasons why some other way is correct. It *might be*, in AP style or APA style or MLA formatting . . . but that’s not what I’m talking about here.)

This is actually one I got a request to do*—which is funny because it’s one that’s been nagging me a lot lately, since I have nothing else to worry about (sarcasm).

THE PROBLEM

Okay, so I’m seeing a lot of instances where people are using “entitled” when I think it should be “titled.” What’s the difference?  And what’s correct??

I consulted a number of sources** on this one because I like these “Straight Dopes” to be as black and white as possible.

Unfortunately, however, this one is pret-ty hairy.  I hate that!  It also contradicts what I formerly got all snootastic about—and, of course, I don’t like that either!

But, being that it’s so confusing, it’s def worth the discussion.

ENTITLED

In a general sense, ENTITLED is a transitive verb* that means something or someone has been given a right or a claim to something.

*Sorry to get all grammar geek on you with “transitive verb,” but that basically means (in this sense), it’s used as in: X entitles you to Y.  A transitive verb requires that there’s both an object and a direct object—and that they both have a relationship with the verb.

In normal-people English: something/someone is being entitled and something is being entitled to something else.

Make sense?  Ish?

Example:

     Since you didn’t sign a pre-nup, you are entitled to half your spouse’s earnings. 

(DISCLAIMER: I’m no lawyer—it’s just an example!)

Back to grammar-geek speak for a minute: You is the thing BEING entitled—and your spouse’s earnings is the thing being entitled TO something.

But I digress.

Okay, so, here’s the part I don’t like.  According to all these sources, ENTITLED is also the past tense of a verb that means to give a name or title to.

Translation: The following are technically correct.

     She finished her book, which was entitled 10 Things I Hate About Sue.

     I should have entitled this post “Entitled vs. Titled—Prepare to Have Your Minds Blown.”

Ew, I know.  I can hardly believe I’m saying it!!

TITLED

TITLED is an adjective that means having a title—especially a noble title.

     Sir Elton John and Dame Judy Dench are both titled individuals.

To make this even more confusing, TITLED is also the past tense of the verb TITLE (duh), which means to provide a title for or to designate or call by a title.

So that means the following are *also* technically correct:

     She finished her book, which was titled 10 Things I Hate About Sue.

     I should have titled this post “Entitled vs. Titled—Prepare to Have Your Minds Blown.”

AHH! *hides*

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED? *scratches head*

Basically, you can’t go wrong.  I mean, you *can*—not all of the uses of these two words are synonymous—but in the sense of what we’re trying to clear up, you really can’t.

THE GOOD NEWS: If you’re one of those who feels like “entitled” should only be used in the You forgot our anniversary, so I am entitled to foot massages for life sense and “titled” should only be used when referring to actually giving a title to something sense, you’re not wrong.  You’re perfectly within your right—you’re entitled (see what I did there?)—to keep using those words that way.

THE BAD NEWS: You can’t be snarky about people using “entitled” the way you don’t like it, because they are also correct.

ADVICE

Grammar Girl puts it nicely when she says that going simple is almost always better.  (But I’ll admit, I like that in part because, in saying that, she suggests “titled” is simpler than “entitled”—fewer letters—and that jibes with my preferred method.)

Better still? Her suggestion of avoiding the confusion altogether by not even using those words—or by rewording the sentence.

     She finished her book, 10 Things I Hate About Sue.

     I should have called this post “Entitled vs. Titled—Prepare to Have Your Minds Blown.”

There you have it, my friends.  Snark responsibly.

*Have a suggestions for a “Straight Dope” post?  Shoot me an e-mail (ricki [at] rickischultz [dot] com)!

**Merriam-Webster, Dictionary.com, Purge Your Prose of Problems: A Book Doctor’s Desk Reference (Bobbie Christmas), and The Grammar Devotional: Daily Tops for Successful Writing from Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogarty)

How Writing Makes You Like an Insane Bird

About two weeks ago, my hubbo awoke to a sporadic knock.  “Do you year that?”

I did. I was up then, thankyouverymuch, and just as rattled by the knocks as he was.

We followed the sound and discovered a robin was repeatedly flying into our sliding glass door on the back patio, the entire pane streaked with droppings and flecks of blood.

Every time we’d step into its view, the bird would fly to a nearby tree; every time we moved away, it returned to its perch on the outer edge of our deck table and, there, it would gather its bearings before it thrust itself into the glass again.  And again. And again.  For about half an hour, until the beagle took an interest and kept watch in front of the door.

Every morning since, the bird has kept at this. We have no idea why. The Internet said robins can be territorial and, if they’ve built a nest in the vicinity and happen to see their reflection in a window, they might think it’s another bird and try to attack it.  But there really aren’t any trees THAT close to the sliding glass door for that to be the case, I don’t think.  And, furthermore, why every morning?  It’s just so strange.

The poor thing is, like, killing itself, peck after peck on the pane. It HAS to hurt.  There’s blood on the window, after all. So why does it keep doing this??  We can only figure that it must be insane.

It occurred to me that this is probably what a lot of what I call “normal” people* think about writers. Why quit your day job—or KEEP your day job, but dedicate all your hours of “down time” (heh) to writing? Facing rejection can practically leave blood stains on your laptop screen as well—and it can definitely take time to recover.

Wouldn’t it be much easier to occupy your time doing something that was stable? Steady? That if you put in the time and dedication it takes, it’s a sure thing? What possesses writers to query again? Revise again? Write again?

I’m not sure I have a good answer for the normal people.  I suppose we seem as cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs as the mama robin who’s pecking herself into brain damage because it’s as important to writers—to me—to keep on going—to make it—to try to make it—as it is for that bird to do whatever the eff she’s trying to do to our door.  She can’t explain it to me because I probably couldn’t understand.

And I think the same thing applies here. It’s not something writers can help.  Call it a mental condition if you want. But as sure as I know that robin’s going to be stippling the end of our deck table with white, black, and red tomorrow morning, I know I’m going to be thinking about my career—my manuscripts—my next speaking engagement—the Write-Brained Network—probably all hours of the night, whether it’s good for me or not.

It’s not that I enjoy the concussions—of course I don’t—but it’s something I can’t control.  It’s how I’m wired, faulty wiring or not.

If you’ve never had the itch to hurl yourself against the hard surface of some kind of cause or vocation, I can’t explain it to you because you won’t get it.  All I can say is, peck peck peck, baby.

*nonwriters

M.I.A. Much?

I’ve been missing in action a lot lately, because as I mentioned in a previous post, I have been sick and super busy.

But I promise to pick up the slack, and I shall be blogging in the very near future about several things:

  • What I (and Other Writers) Have in Common with a Psychotic Bird
  • Pointers from the Pros—so many good things still to blog from SCBWI Mid-Atlantic, the Virginia Festival of the Book, and even other cons & workshops from the fall as well as the one I attended this weekend, the Southern Kentucky Book Fest/Kentucky Writers Conference
  • The cancellation of two of ABC’s long-running soap operas, All My Children & One Life to Live
  • Operation House Demo
  • Another installment from my “Straight Dope (on Grammar)” series
  • & more!

But but but -- What will "the Looch" do?

Pointers from the Pros: Art Director Kristen Nobles Talks Picture Books

Pointers from the Pros” gives tips from authors and publishing industry professionals on everything from craft to querying to their experiences on the road to publication.*

I attended the 2011 SCBWI MD/DE/WV’s Spring into Action conference in Buckeystown, Md., with some of my favorite-evers. As usual, I took a ton of notes at all the faboo sessions I was lucky enough to attend—and I’m sharing some of those tips with my lovely blog readers. (Thanks for being so fabulous, BTW!)

Here are some of Candlewick Press art director Kristen Nobles‘s tips from her session, “Thinking Visually: The Illustrator as Illuminator”:

WHAT’S SHE LOOKING FOR IN A SUBMISSION?

Professionalism*

  • Be clean & neat
  • Respect your work
  • Be organized & timely
  • Be collaborative
  • Be communicative
  • Be confident
  • If you’re unpubbed, don’t send her proposals every week—quarterly or seasonally is a good rule of thumb—you have to edit yourself

Technical Proficiency*

  • Master your medium
  • Don’t send work in a technique you’ve just learned
  • Be comfortable in your style
  • Remember: the quality of your craft is important
  • Learn composition!  Think about it in terms of pages—how it will look on a page
  • take classes—and if you don’t have an art degree, give yourself assignments & deadlines

Appropriateness*

  • Your work should speak to children
  • Should transport children to another world

*they expect you to bring these things to the table—the rest, they’ll work with you on

OTHER MUST HAVES

  • Characters should have unique personalities
  • You must make a character recognizable throughout the entire book—multiple renderings must look the same
  • You must be able to draw the same character from many different POVs—must look the same
    • A lot of times, the characters will always be wearing the same clothes/hairstyles throughout series (for consistency’s sake)
  • Pages should end in cliffhangers—not just the words, but also the pictures

QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU DEVELOP YOUR STYLE

  • What is your passion? Your interest? (If you examine these things, it can be an outlet for how your story, your characters will stand out)
  • What’s NOT out there? What HASN”T been done?
  • What new style, medium, or perspective can you contribute?

For a complete recap of the conference, see author Laura Bowers’s post here.

Sick

I’m SORRY I have been a bad blogger as of late, but I’m sick. I can’t seem to shake this cold, and every time I *think* I have and venture out my front door or I do a little work, I get slammed with it again.

Boo.

It’s been horrid in terms of getting things done, but I’m realllly hoping I can kick it by next week, because I’ll be attending the Southern Kentucky Book Fest, and it would suck to, ya know, sneeze all over Nicholas Sparks!

I *wish* I were this cute when I was sick!! Yeah---I'm so NOT.

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