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typewriterYour latest manuscript is finally complete. First off – congratulations! Before you move on to hiring a professional editor, take a look at these six tips from HuffPost Books that you can do yourself.

Six Tips for Self-Editing Your Fiction

Kristen Lamb, former editor and author of Rise of the Machines — Human Authors in a Digital World, has this advice for aspiring authors:

“There are many editors who charge by the hour. If they’re spending their time fixing blunders you could’ve easily repaired yourself, you’re burning cash and time. Yet, correct these problems, and editors can more easily get to the meat of your novel. This means you will spend less money and get far higher value.”

What helpful hints would you add to this list? WNBA-ers? Share in the comments.

 

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After years of celebrating published authors, extraordinary book women, and others in the field, we have decided it is time to celebrate emerging writers with our 1st Annual National Writing Contest. The deadline to submit your work is November 1st, so don’t delay! Please send only your highest caliber work.

GUIDELINES:

  • Submission Period: June 1st – November 1st, 2012
  • Fiction: 2,500 word limit – may be a short story, or a stand alone excerpt from a novel in progress
  • Poetry: 35 line limit – or one page double spaced
  • Previously unpublished work only
  • Your entry must be uploaded without your name, address, or contact information on the actual document. Your contact information will be collected on a separate form when you submit your entry.
  • Applicants must be 18 years or older.
  • You may submit more than one entry, however, each one must be separately submitted.
  • Acceptable formats are: Word Document 2007, Word Document 2003 or earlier version, RTF (Rich Text Format).
  • Winner will be announced April 1st, 2013. Contest results will be posted online at www.wnba-books.org/contest.

JUDGES:

Fiction: Valerie Martin. Valerie is an award-winning author (Kafka Prize, Orange Prize) with 9 novels, 3 short story collections, and one biography. Her website is: www.valeriemartinonline.com.
Poetry: Julie Kane, Poet Laureate, Louisiana, 2011-2013. Julie has authored six books, including three collections of poetry, one volume of non-fiction, and two edited anthologies. Her website is: www.juliekanepoet.com.

ENTRY FEE:

Entry: 3 poems or 1 short story

WNBA Members: $10 per entry
Non-Members: $15 per entry

Multiple submissions will be accepted.

PRIZE:

$250 cash prize, and the winning entry will be published in The Bookwoman, the official publication of the Women’s National Book Association, with 10 chapters nationwide. 2nd, 3rd and honorable mention prizes in each category, please see website for details.  Proceeds of the contest will go to support scholarships for writing conferences and other professional development training.

Submissions Link:
wnba.submishmash.com/submit

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After years of celebrating published authors, the Women’s National Book Association has decided the time is right to celebrate emerging writers!  The First Annual WNBA National Writing Contest is a chance for the many talented WNBA writers to show off their unpublished work.

The contest judges are Valerie Martin, an award-winning author (Kafka Prize, Orange Prize) and Julie Kane, Poet Laureate, Louisiana, 2011-2013.

The submission period for the contest is May 1st – September 15th, 2012. The following submissions will be accepted:

  • Fiction: 2,500 word limit – may be a short story, or a stand alone excerpt from a novel in progress
  • Poetry: 35 line limit – or one page double spaced

The contest is open to previously unpublished work only. For full details, visit the contest page on the WNBA national website.  Good luck, and happy writing!

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 By Erica Misoshnik

Disclaimer: The following post is my personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the thoughts of the Women’s National Book Association – they were simply kind enough to let me post it.

By now I’m sure you have all heard of Fifty Shades of Grey, the erotic novel by E.L. James that has taken the country by storm. It’s the sort of book that makes people happy to have e-readers and despite its popularity, is in no way something you would give as a present on Mother’s Day – though the writers of this SNL skit may disagree. It has been featured on ABC news and discussed on The View – even Ellen is up on the trend. There is also a parody being released this summer. So yes, everyone is talking about the salacious novel, but there is something people outside of the publishing world seem to be forgetting…and it has nothing to do with Fifty Shades’ steamy content.

This book started as a work of Twilight fan-fiction.

Fifty Shades of Grey was initially called Master of the Universe and the original Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele were none other than Edward Cullen and Isabella Swan. Master of the Universe was published on fanfiction.net and garnered approximately 37,000 reader reviews before James moved the book to her own site. Those are just reviews, not page hits. Only the authors can see how many total hits they have gotten per story on fanfiction.net, so it is currently impossible to know exactly how many people read the story before it was moved. It has been estimated that E.L. James had tens – if not hundreds – of thousands of fans on fanfiction.net alone.

None of this would be a big deal because there are some wildly popular works of fan-fiction, which have accumulated their own fan bases. (Fun fact: Cassandra Clare, author of the best-selling Mortal Instruments series, was a writer of fan-fiction, too.) But it is a big deal; because none of those writers went on to get 7 figure book deals for their fan-fics.

To be fair, Fifty Shades of Grey is technically an original work. Even Master of the Universe bore little resemblance to Stephenie Meyer’s paranormal young adult romance. In fact, there were no vampires or werewolves, and no paranormal activity of any kind in the fan fiction. Other than the names of the characters, there was virtually nothing else the two stories had in common – with the exception of the Twilight fan base.

Therein lays the issue I personally have with Fifty Shades. It is not that I think there’s an issue of  copyright infringement, since the fan-fic had little to do with Stephenie Meyer’s work apart from the names. Under copyright law, Stephenie Meyer (as the copyright holder) would have to take legal action against E.L James if she felt that Fifty Shades was in violation of said copyright, which she has not done. And, E.L. James is open about her Twilight “inspiration.” Whatever the case, what I think is pertinent is that a huge proponent of E.L. James’ initial success was due to Stephenie Meyer’s fan base.

While the laws are clear that fan-fiction cannot be published for money (though it has been published for charity, with the original author’s express permission) what of cases like Fifty Shades? What happens when a fan-fiction writer changes some names around, adjusts a few details, and goes on to publish with a major house? Anne Jamison, an English Professor at the University of Utah, who recently taught a course involving fan-fiction, brought up a good question about “whether [or not] the explicit, conscious use of another writer’s fan base, via creation of characters known and experienced as ‘versions’ of the writer’s characters, for commercial purposes, constitutes any kind of damage or infringement.”

Personally, I think this falls into an ethical grey area (no pun intended!), but I’m open to hearing debate on the topic. What do you think? Will the huge success of Fifty Shades of Grey pave the road for other popular fan fiction authors to change a few names or places and then publish the work? Is there even an issue at all – or did I just get too invested in my ethics class this semester?

Let me know what you think in the comments!

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It’s no secret that Young Adult fiction is hot right now – and the genre offers more than just supernatural romances, apocalyptic societies, or steampunk tales. It’s also no secret that we’re big fans of KGB Bar – we’ve written about them and are having our Open Mic Night there. So when we found out that one of our favorite NYC spots holds an annual Young Adult Fiction Evening*, we couldn’t wait to share!

Come by on May 10 from 7-9, to hear from four fascinating Young Adult novelists. Patricia McCormick, a finalist for the National Book Award, is the author of the forthcoming novel, Never Fall Down. Paul Griffin, an Amelia Bloomer Project Award Winner, is the author of a highly anticipated new mystery novel, Burning Blue. Neesha Meminger’s latest novel, Into the Wise Dark, is a time-travel fantasy that further cements her critical success, such as a spot on the Smithsonian’s Notable Books for Children list. Bil Wright’s acclaimed recent novel, Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy, joins the ranks of his other works, which include a New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age, and a feature on the American Library Association’s list of Books for Gay Teens.

Click here for more information about the event and its authors.

Click here for more information about KGB Bar.

*Please note: all event attendees MUST be 21+ years old.

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By Sonia Kane

On the evening of April 26th, it was standing room only at Wix Lounge for WNBA-NYC’s panel discussion on the popular topic of historical fiction. The five panel members included literary agent Daniel Lazar (Writers House), editor Heather Lazare (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster), editor and reviewer Barbara Hoffert (Library Journal), and two authors of recent works of historical fiction, Carole DeSanti (The Unruly Passions of Eugenie R.), and Kathryn Harrison (Enchantments). DeSanti, who is Vice President, Editor at Large at Viking Penguin, contributed insights not only as an author but as a longtime publisher. WNBA-NYC’s Rosalind Reisner moderated the panel.

Reisner began with a question: What is historical fiction? Does it have to take place at least 60 years before the current period, as in Walter Scott’s Waverley, generally considered the first historical novel in English? Daniel Lazar noted that he considered anything set during and before World War II to fit the bill; Heather Lazare agreed that this was an appropriate benchmark, but said that a lot depends on how a book is packaged by an agent and what audience a publisher is trying to reach: “From a publisher’s standpoint, are we going after the historical fiction bloggers? The mommy bloggers?” Panelists generally agreed that whereas historical novels used to be considered strictly genre fiction, with plots featuring either romance or, as Barbara Hoffert memorably put it, “sweaty men sticking things into each other,” today’s historical novels are often more accurately labeled as literary fiction, as in the case of the phenomenally successful Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel, which won the Man Booker and National Book Critics Circle Award. For a book review editor like Hoffert, this shift can make assigning books to the appropriate reviewers more perplexing, but she still is in favor of broadening categories to reach as many readers as possible, and has even at times used the seemingly contradictory label “literary/popular.” DeSanti echoed this thought: “Writers are working to broaden what historical fiction can be. . . . today the trend is toward hybridity, depth, and character-driven novels.”

Harrison and DeSanti shared brief descriptions of their novels:  Enchantments, set during the Russian Revolution, is told by Masha, daughter of the monk Rasputin. A woman whom Harrison found to be a “strangely modern character,” Masha escaped the Bolsheviks, survived a marriage with a husband chosen for her by her father, and eventually had a successful career as a lion tamer! DeSanti’s work, set in France during the Second Empire (1860-1871), focuses on a young woman who leaves her home in the provinces to meet her lover in Paris. Pregnant and alone, she waits for him in vain. DeSanti described her protagonist as “on a path to finding her center . . . in a polarized culture that was both hedonistic and moralistic.” She sees Eugenie’s story as one of “becoming alienated from what you love and desire and then finding your own way back,” adding that her book might be considered “self-help folded into historical fiction.”

Both authors spoke of their delight in giving voice to their characters. In Harrison’s novel, the protagonist is a real woman whose remarkable story had yet to be told. In DeSanti’s work, she is a type—courtesan—who recurs in the fiction of male writers of the nineteenth century, and yet whose thoughts are not often explored by those writers. As she put it, “Zola does not give Nana an interior history.” Harrison and DeSanti also spoke of the immense and consuming pleasures of research—as well as its perils. DeSanti noted that she “used artifacts to get the emotion of the time,” artifacts such as ration cards, dancing slippers, and even a piece of bread perfectly preserved from the Siege of Paris. She became so immersed in the period that her friends were worried, asking her, “Are you ever going to leave the nineteenth century?” Harrison pointed out the danger for historical novelists of trying to “jam things in” to their novels, just to put their research to work. “You will use three to five percent of what you have taught yourself; it’s important for a historical novelist to be disciplined.”

The evening concluded with a robust question-and-answer session in which the authors provided further details about their research methods (DeSanti noting that she had read “an entire dictionary of smutty French words from the nineteenth century”) and literary agent Lazar gave tips on how to write a good query letter (“be very specific and evocative, give us a taste of the atmosphere of your novel”). Afterward, audience members milled about happily and got their newly purchased books signed. Ashley Gallman and Omri Arad of Wix Lounge were enormously competent and convivial hosts, as always; many thanks to them for their enthusiasm and good cheer. For the hosts, the panelists, and the audience, it was clear that historical fiction remains an enduring genre.

Sonia Kane is a free-lance editor and writer living in Brooklyn. Formerly Assistant Director of Book Publications at the Modern Language Association, she has a PhD in English from the CUNY Graduate Center and teaches literature and writing at Hunter College. She has recently been appointed Co-Editor of the NY Bookwoman, the official newsletter of the NY chapter of the Women’s National Book Association.

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By Hannah Bennett

Each year, the Pulitzer Prize is awarded to notable works in the fields of journalism, photography, literature, and musical composition. But this year, the most notable aspect of the Pulitzer Prize Board’s final decision was the announcement that two categories would have no winner – Editorial Writing and Fiction.  For the first time in 35 years, to the consternation of publishing professionals and book lovers everywhere, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was not awarded.

Announced on Monday at Columbia University, the Prizes honored amazing photographers, reporters, poets, and others, but failed to choose a fiction author for the prestigious award.  The nominees this year were unusual, leading some to believe that a fiction winner wasn’t chosen because the nominees were deemed unsuitable.  The three nominees were Denis Johnson for Train Dreams, a book that was originally published as a novella, Karen Russell for Swamplandia!, the writer’s debut novel, and David Foster Wallace for The Pale King, who died before completing the book (which was later completed by his editor).  Whether a winner wasn’t chosen because the board could not reach a consensus or because none of the nominees were found worthy, the end result was an uproar from the publishing community, which counts on the Prize to help promote and sell their literary fiction.

The New York Times published several excellent pieces on the literary community’s reaction to the Pulitzer announcement.  The first, an article by Julie Bosman entitled “Publishing Is Cranky Over Snub by Pulitzers,” outlined the controversy in detail.  The second, an op-ed piece by writer Ann Patchett entitled “And the Winner Isn’t…,” discussed her personal views about the decision as a writer, reader, and bookseller.

What do you think about the decision not to award a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction?  Which books deserved the honor, in your opinion?

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