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How to Get the Most Out of a Writers' Conference

Spring has arrived, and for me, that means writers’ conference season is in full swing. I have well over a dozen events this year, and I’m looking forward to them all. I love the chance to get out and meet writers and hopefully find the next big thing. If you approach a conference in the right way, it can be a wonderful opportunity for you to fill that role.

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The Value of Blogging

Agents ask for it, but it’s best when they don’t have to. The unsolicited keeping of a good blog shows a prospective agent (and later, publisher) that you are serious, proactive and effective in building your platform and marketing your work. I greatly prefer an author with an established blog. But if you don’t have a blog and your project is just too attractive to pass up, I may still sign you and then have you start a blog. Blogs are just about necessary these days. They may take time and effort, but I wouldn’t waste yours if it wasn’t worth it.

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Getting Started on Your Memoir

Like most nonfiction writing, a memoir can best be accomplished by starting with an outline. The outline should be chronological and contain the specific people or events you are most interested in writing about, along with the specific timeframe you would like to cover. To start out by trying to cover your entire life is probably not the best way to go, since it will dilute your story and make the task seem onerous right from the start. Once you have a basic working frame, you can begin to gather information to fill in the blanks around the story. Then, if you feel there is more to be added to the story, you can always add to your outline. Think of each outline entry as a possible chapter in your memoir. And as always, the team of editors and coaches at Edits Made Easy stand ready to help you with your memoir!

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Strategies for Falling in Literary Love

I turn down easily 95% of the books pitched to me without even reading a single page. And yes, I am sure that some of them are just as brilliant as yours. Plenty of talented authors slip through the cracks because they simply do not articulate their skill and the brilliance of their manuscript in a well-crafted query letter. Others don't get picked up by agents because they don't demonstrate the dedication to a successful, mutually beneficial, long-term publishing relationship the agent is looking for. This article highlights a few of the qualities your agent will be looking for when you pitch your book to him or her. As always, the team of editors and coaches at Edits Made Easy stands ready to help you craft your query letter and synopsis and get your manuscript into final form as you begin your foray into the world of literary publication.

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A Medical Editor's Dilemma: Where to Get Medical Expertise

Most medical and technical writers and editors, as well as medical writing firms, pride themselves on the fact that they have X, Y, or Z subject-matter expertise. But is it really an essential requirement for successful writing or editing of medical documentation? This is a heavily debated subject within the technical and medical writing communities. The simple answer is absolutely “Yes.” Here's why.

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This Blog Post is Not Yet Titled

One of the most important parts of your completed novel is the title. Not only does it need to be catchy and creative, but in a handful of words it also has to get at the core of what your entire book is about. Not an easy task, but an enormously important one. 

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To Split or Not to Split ... Infinitives

Splitting infinitives will not get you arrested by the grammar police, but neither is it something to be done carelessly. It is a matter for conscious choice. And in making the choice about whether or not your infinitive should be split, the most important considerations are emphasis and naturalness of expression. The old rule (if, indeed, it ever was a rule) no longer applies. But the result is not less need for concern over the issue—it is more. In the absence of a rule, what is needed is skill.

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Hyphens and Dashes

At Edits Made Easy, one of the problems that our academic editors encounter rather frequently in all genres of writing is confusion over the use of hyphens vis-à-vis dashes. I’d venture a guess that most writers aren’t even aware that there is a distinction between these two kinds of punctuation marks, so it’s a mistake we find ourselves correcting quite often. And if that distinction doesn’t cause enough confusion by itself, there’s also a further distinction that has to be made—between two kinds of dashes: the em-dash and the en-dash. (Minus signs, negative signs, figure dashes, 2-em dashes, and 3-em dashes all complicate the matter further, but they are of lesser importance and will be mentioned only briefly in this post). Since the uses of the hyphen, the en-dash, and the em-dash are clearly distinguishable, my hope is to clear up some of the confusion here.

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Finding Your Voice in a College Essay

As a professor of composition and rhetoric, I’ve read countless college essays. I’ve read students’ thoughts about everything from justice in Plato’s Republic to salsa dancing at the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. What I’ve discovered in these essays is that while students often struggle with choosing a topic and sticking to it, their biggest difficulty in writing is finding their voice. By “voice” I mean the expression of their thoughts in a mode that fits both the assignment and its intended audience. Conquering this much-dreaded hurdle, however, requires only three simple things: thought, a clear grasp of the assignment, and an awareness of the reader. 

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Do You Have an Accent in Written English?

People form impressions of us based on the language we use, whether written or spoken. Our language choices tell people where we are from, whether we are educated or not, or whether we are professional business people or not. This is a universal truth with all languages, not only English. In this article, Marilyn discusses the ways in which non-native speakers of English may have an accent in their writing. For help with the accent in your writing, call on the trained and certified ESL professionals at Edits Made Easy!

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Writing Web Content: Low Literacy Users

When writing content specifically for web use, it's important to bear in mind whether we are dealing with high-literacy or low-literacy users. In this article, Lisa offers some tips for engaging low-literacy users and making sure that they find the content that you intend for them to see.

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The Modes of the Narrative Voice

Voice is one of the craft elements that the reader experiences most directly and immediately. There is no story without the narrative voice, whether it is a very familiar first-person narrator or a distant omniscient one. It is the lens, the vehicle, through which the reader experiences all the other elements that make up the story. As an editor, therefore, it is important to define this term as precisely as possible, without any of the mythical baggage that comes when speaking about Voice in its capitalized and more mythical form.     

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Interviews: Have Confidence in Your Competence

Confidence is a very attractive quality in a candidate. Every successful candidate has confidence. The question is: How can you develop confidence? I’m glad you asked! Here are some tips that I have used with clients over the years to boost perception.

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What's New in APA 6?

APA-6 is the result of a thorough re-working of the widely used style manual. The entire structure of the book has been reorganized with the intention of more closely following the process writers actually follow in their writing. Since APA-5, online research has grown by leaps and bounds, and changes in both computer technology and the publication process have had profound effects on academic writing. With modifications of the guidelines in earlier versions, and with the addition of entirely new sections, APA-6 addresses these changes. If you've been working in APA-5 and must now switch to APA-6, this article will help you to quickly identify the things that are new. And as always, the team of academic editors and coaches at Edits Made Easy are available to help ensure that your thesis or dissertation is in full compliance with the latest APA standards.

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The Serial Comma

All things being equal, I’m inclined to recommend the serial comma’s use. However, rest assured that—as long as your intended meaning is clear—neither its use nor its nonuse is really wrong.

 

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The Comma Splice

When a run-on sentence is the result of putting together two independent clauses joined only by a comma, this is known as a comma splice. And while there are some circumstances in which a comma splice may be considered acceptable, in most cases it is a grammatical error.

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Bring and Take

In common, spoken American English, the terms are used almost interchangeably. But in formal, written English, it can be more important to be grammatically precise. If that’s the goal, remember that it’s take when you are going and bring when you are coming. Take that simple rule with you, and you should be fine. Or is it bring that simple rule with you? That, too, depends upon your perspective.

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Resumes Are Much More than a Laundry List!

When I am asked, “What do you do?” I say, “I assist individuals in their search for a career fit. I use assessments and one-on-one interviewing to identify strengths, skills, and areas for improvement.”  I could have said, “I’m a career coach. I talk a lot. I’m a people person.” But while the latter answer is just a laundry list without much meaning, the former sincerely describes what I can offer to the new position I seek. And in the end, the employer is not so much interested in what you have done in the past as in how your past experiences point to what you can do in the job you now seek. 

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