Copyright 2013 Pacific Northwest Writers Association. All Rights Reserved
Crimes Against Ourselves
Compassion for All
True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves, but from realizing our kinship with all beings.
~ Pema Chodron
It’s a story that’s now a speck in the rearview mirror of the news, but most likely one to be remembered: A paying passenger pulled off an airplane against his will, resisted and, in doing so, sustained a concussion, lost two teeth, and broke his nose. Due to overbooking and the airline’s need for seats for staff, the man was selected as one of four to leave. When he refused, the aviation police were enlisted. The tape of the event was dramatic – the absence of kindness, striking.
I felt compassion for the passenger. Though he could have potentially prevented his own injury, the situation seemingly cast him as the victim, which means the others were the culprits. But compassion is more meaningful when it goes beyond who we think is deserving of it and acknowledges something essential and shared in all of us. If compassion is just about caring about those we deem innocent and good, it ceases to challenge us to call forth the best of who we are. Compassion then remains a shallow exercise, rather than a deepening experience.
In a Leslie Stahl interview with the last living Nuremberg trial lawyer, 97-year-old Ben Firencz says he’s learned that “War makes murderers out of decent people.” Though central in prosecuting 22 Nazi commanders of Einsatzgruppen (Nazi death squads who killed over a million people outside of concentration camps), he recognizes it’s unlikely those who killed would ever have done so had there been no war. In their minds, according to Firencz, they were acting as patriots in the interest of their country. Still, they were tried for crimes against humanity; acts they did commit. more...
Keep in Together
by Cherie Tucker
We haven’t discussed this for a long while, and I’ve noticed some bad habits developing. You know how to use the hyphen when you break a word at the end of a line. You aren’t as good as using that same hyphen to connect two words in a manner that gives them a single meaning. We used an example last time showing the difference between drive up, as in “Drive up to my house,” and drive-up, as in “The bank has a new drive-up window.” They are the same two words, but they function differently because of the hyphen. One is a verb and an adverb that simply tells the direction you should drive; the hyphen changes the other into a single word that describes the type of window the bank has.
There’s a tip to help you determine whether you need that hyphen or not. Visualize the word before the line break as the last word on the line, which should illustrate the need for the hyphen.
The bank has a new drive
You often join more than just two words with a hyphen. The same line-break rule applies for these multi-hyphenated adjectives.
When I see that no-good, double-dealing, fast-talking scoundrel, I’m going to let him have it!
If you have to fit that sentence on two lines, keeping the hyphens where they belong will allow your readers to stay with you. more...
Tips on Powering Through the Slush Pile
by Judi Lauren
Because of the woes of cold querying, pitch contests such as Pitch Madness and Pitch Wars are becoming increasingly popular. However, cold querying doesn’t have to be that frightening. There are several ways you can up your chances of pushing your query through the slush pile and ultimately winning over an agent or editor.
Stellar opening pages and a manuscript that follow through are very important parts in getting an agent to offer representation, or an editor to buy the rights to your manuscript. But before an agent or editor views your pages, you will introduce your story to them via a query letter.
The Sales Pitch
Keep in mind that your query letter is a sales pitch. Most agents and editors like a bit of introduction in queries—usually a line or two—on why you chose them. Be personal and professional. Even something as simple as writing “I recently discovered on Publisher’s Marketplace that you’re seeking XYZ” is personal.
If you have a referral from another client, mention it. If you met the agent briefly at a writer’s conference, mention it. If you read an interview where he or she mentioned wanting to see something like your story, mention it.
Next, you tell us about your story. more...