Perfect Is Better?


by Jennifer Paros

Recently, while he was playing a computer game in which the score was dependent on cumulative rounds of problem solving, every time my son missed a round, he’d quit and start the game again.  He wanted to get 100% in the end.  When I protested, he said, ‘Perfect is better!” Though opposed to his approach, I was (to my dismay) drawn to his reasoning and found myself faltering to explain my position.  Perfect is perfect, after all – but then, that doesn’t necessarily make it better.  

In the realm of creative work “Perfectionism,” as Anne Lamott put it,  “is the voice of the oppressor . . .” We all know perfection, in terms of flawlessness, is not critical for organic perfection - the beauty and power of nature and creativity.  But what about the kind that seems technical and surface, achievable, exacting? 

Perfect is one of the hairiest of words.  In art and creation, it’s personal and objectively indefinable.  If I’m looking at The Mona Lisa and declaring its perfection, you might be looking at it and seeing flaws.  In the world of tests, however, there are right answers. So, if we get 100% of the questions correct, this is called a perfect paper”.   more...



Writing With Two Kids Under Two

by Chauran Alexandra

I often hear a chirping giggle from the other room mid-morning.  It is my son waking up from his nap, startling me from my reverie at the keyboard where I’m currently writing non-fiction.  On my lap my daughter cuddles with her blanket, so I set her down gently on the floor before we go to retrieve her brother.  If I’m lucky, my writing goal for the day is already done, but chances are that I’ll finish it after library story time but before lunch, leaving the entire afternoon free for other things, like playing with the kids and working on my doctoral degree.  Evenings are reserved for my spouse and weekends are sacrosanct family time.  

I signed my first two book contracts with my publisher while I was pregnant with my daughter.  I wrote a book while she was a newborn and a book while my son was a newborn.  Now that he is seven months old, I have my seventh book acquired by a publisher to match, and my daughter just turned two.  The most common question I’m asked by friends who are also writers is, “how do you do it?”   more...

We, The People

by Cherie Tucker

We just reviewed pronoun usage, so I thought any confusion was all cleared up.  But, alas, it seems we have a bit more work to do.  What with all the recent elections, people appear to be quoting the Constitution a great deal more than usual—that is, misquoting. When Jefferson wrote “We, the people . . .,” the use of the pronoun “we” was entirely correct, because the sentence goes on to show that “We” actually “do” something:  
“We . . . do ordain and establish.”  
Even though it takes a while to get to those verbs, “We” is their subject.  I realize that when people say “for we, the people,” they think that they are quoting the Constitution, but that is not how those words were used in that document.  Pronouns have specific functions, so if you change the sentence structure, you must be sure the pronouns you are using still work. 


Please (Please) Avoid These Common Writing Mistakes

by Erin Brown

After almost a decade in New York publishing houses, and now as a freelance editor, I keep seeing the same writing, ahem, “issues” cropping up again and again. Now you’re probably thinking, “But I knoooooooooow all of these. Duh.” Well, maybe not “duh” as that saying went out in 1987. However, the fact remains that I see these concerns over and over and over, in manuscript after manuscript, which leads me to believe that these lessons have not been imbedded into every first-time author’s brain. So let’s review so that you can save your revision time and energy for more important things, like fixing “it’s” versus “its.”  

**Note: in the following examples you will see that I spent a large part of my holidays visiting relatives in small town Texas. A pattern is not difficult to surmise. 

Telling Versus Showing: Anyone can tell the reader about a person and a scene. The key is to show the reader, using your skills as a writer. Don’t tell the reader that your character, Agnes Bertha Gottenblaum, is down on her luck and a bit depressed (I choose this name because I would be quite despondent if my parents bestowed this moniker on me.). Booooooring. Don’t just tell us she’s depressed and down on her luck. Show us—there she is now, poor Agnes Bertha sitting on the mildewed couch in her double-wide, her fingers stained orange from the Cheetos, the salted tracks of her tears staining her sweatshirt that features an airbrush of a wee kitten dangling by its paws from a branch and the saying “Hang in there, baby.” The phone handset is dusty from lack of use. Jerry Springer rages in the background. Ramen Noodles crunch under her feet as she waddles across the rug to answer the doorbell, excitement on her face at the prospect of a visitor, someone who cares. But alas, it is only the grungy neighbor boy, who points and laughs as she opens the door. You get the over-the-top picture. This shows us Agnes’s life and state of mind much better than the line, “Agnes Bertha Gottenblaum was depressed.”  more...


Three Types of Author Bios

by Richard Ridley

Let’s dig a little deeper into the three types of author bios. Each has equal merit, but some are better fits for newer authors as opposed to established authors, some work well for authors of professional materials, while still others work better for authors of fiction. After reading the below examples, you may find that your brand doesn't fall neatly into one of these categories. In that case, you could even combine elements of each bio type and create a bio that is the perfect fit for your situation. 

Types of Author Bios 

The Expert Author: As discussed in the previous article, credentials are vital elements of the nonfiction category, but that doesn't mean they are off-limits in the fiction world. I previously gave an example of someone with a law enforcement background writing a mystery novel.  more...

Points of View: What are they?

by Jason Black


In a more polite take on a rather coarse old saw, we might say points of view are like opinions: everybody has one. But what do literary types mean when they talk about points of view? Usually, they mean the grammatical side of point of view (hereafter, just “POV”), which has person, tense, and informational aspects. This conception of POV covers the manner in which the writer chooses to present the story’s narrative text. Dialogue and inner monologue are different beasts, and obeys their own rules; this article relates solely to narrative.

Beyond the grammatical take, there is a philosophical take on POV which I find much more useful. But, first things first.



Self-Publishing Through CreateSpace

by John Oehler

I’ve won a lot of writing contests, including a PNWA competition.  I’ve had two literary agents.  I’ve had editors interested in my novels.  And I’ve had exactly zero books published — until I decided to self-publish.

Four things convinced me to self-publish:

• frustration with the traditional path,

• contraction of the traditional publishing business, meaning that path was getting more difficult to tread,

• the rise of e-books, and

• the fact that a friend of mine has sold more than 40,000 copies of his first self-published novel.

When I took the plunge, I chose CreateSpace because that’s what my friend had use.   more...



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