Writing Tip Tuesday: Possessive ['s]

Great to see someone else picking up on this! However, there's something else that bothers me more, and that's the mis-use of the 's. Because it's sweeping across English-speaking countries, it's even becoming prevalent here in Germany! There's a shop not too far from where I live that proudly proclaims "Beauty and Nail's." Ugh! And recently, I'm sure I saw this line on the internet somewhere: "Who want's to be a millionaire?" Holy flying cowpats!

Can you do a Writing Tip Tuesday about this? Help them, LDS Publisher, you're their only hope! ;-)

I have been guilty of adding or omitting the apostrophe—not because I don't know better but because I'm typing too fast or my software does an auto-fix and guesses wrong.

However, on signage? NO EXCUSE!

The 's shows possession.

Example: Melanie's comment was dead on.

If the word is plural, there is no apostrophe.

Example: Beauty and Nails.

There are some exceptions, for example, its vs it's. The possessive its has no apostrophe. The apostrophe is only used in the contraction for it is.

Example: Its problem is that it's confusing.


Query Critique: FHE Study Aids

Dear Acquisitions Editor,

Let’s Learn About the Temple, at approximately 13,500 words [This is not an accurate indication of length for this type of book. Tell me how long you think it should be with illustrations included.], is a Family Home Evening study aid targeting LDS families with children. With interesting facts about temples, from the ancient down to the modern day, Let’s Learn About the Temple contains 15 lessons to thoroughly explain why temples are vital to salvation, how to prepare to go to the temple, and the important role of temples in the past, present, and future. Each chapter is supplemented with suggested scriptures, stories, music, and activities designed to help reinforce each lesson objective.

Let’s Learn About the Temple is well written, attractively illustrated, and carefully researched. Six beta readers, consisting of both LDS parents and youth, assisted in providing thoughtful feedback to help refine the final draft. In addition, Let’s Learn About the Temple is unique. No other book of Family Home Evening lessons on the market is both youth and parent friendly, is as comprehensive in the scope of temple-related topics addressed, or provides multiple hands-on learning activities for families to use in each teaching situation. The plentiful illustrations also help to add an effective visual dimension no other study aid offers.

I am a graduate of Brigham Young University with a MA in communications and have worked professionally in the marketing industry for over ten years. As an author I currently have two other published non-fiction books on the market: XXXXX (2008) and XXXXX (2009). I intend the enclosed book as the first in a series of three, all of which follow the same general concept to teach specific gospel-related topics. [I'd like to know the other two topics.]

Please know how much I appreciate your time in reviewing the enclosed completed manuscript. [I'm assuming it includes the illustrations you mentioned?] I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Author Name
Contact Info

Uhmmm. Other than the comments made above, I can't find anything wrong with this query. If I published this type of book, I'd look at the enclosed mss.

There are two possible issues:

1. If you have two published non-fiction books already, why isn't the publisher of those two books picking this one up? I'm not saying you need to include that information in your query. Just be prepared with an answer if I like the book and I give you a call. You must be sure that no ROFR clause in a previous contract will cause a problem if I make an offer. I'm going to want it in writing.

2. Generally, including illustrations is not a great idea unless you are the illustrator. (Are you? IF so, say so in the query.) Is this a package deal where I have to accept or reject the mss and illustrations together? Or can I accept the mss and reject the illustrations? That needs to be made clear.

Illustrations can make or break a book. They'd better be really good if you're going to make them a part of the package. Also, purchasing the rights to illustrations may be an issue. Most of the time, I consider illustrations work for hire and pay accordingly—within my budget. If the illustrator is going to cost more than what I generally pay, or they're too hard to work with (artistic temperament can nix a deal), then I'm going to want to use my own illustrator.



Title of my WIP: Is This What Death Feels Like?

Ugh. Going back to bed.

BUT—wanted to let all of you know that I am being interviewed tomorrow, Friday, for Sarah M. Eden's I Need Friends Friday.

It was lotsa fun. Back when I was alive.


Skipping the Slush Pile

Yes, I know this is supposed to be Writing Tip Tuesday, but this weather swinging from cold to hot to cold again, has got me all messed up with a cold. So this week, you get what you get. And if I suddenly never show up again, it means I died of a sore throat...

Dear LDSPublisher,

Sorry I'm always peppering you with questions, but you're just so darn helpful. [thank you!]

At the LDStorymakers conference I pitched to an LDS Publisher. They were very excited about my book, insisted that there was a definite market for this kind of story and promised to take a look at my first five pages and let me know, either way. They have my email address.

Here's my question, not because I'm trying to be annoying, but because I am truly ignorant on this topic: How long of a wait am I looking at? I already sumitted to this Publisher (a different manuscript) and waited for 5 1/2 months before getting a response. In essence, doesn't the fact that I pitched directly to an editor mean I get to skip the basic slush pile?

For those of us that don't know the process, could you explain what kind of pile those pages are sitting in, waiting to be read?

Thank you so much for your time.

Yes, when you pitch to an agent—or even if you attend a conference where an agent presented—you get a bypass the slush pile free card. Your mss would be in the "Read First Chance I Get" pile.

As to how long it takes to get to your mss, it depends upon how much recovery time the agent needs after the conference (some agents do back-to-back conferences), the number of other manuscripts that came in from the conference, and what hit the fan while the agent was gone.

Even if the agent was very excited about your manuscript, even if it was his or her favorite pitch from the conference, their assistant won't know that. So while it's in the "Read Soon" pile, it may be #40 in the stack of manuscripts that were sent in immediately after the conference.

So, as always in this business, be patient.



Sara Megibow is an Associate Literary Agent with the Nelson Literary Agency. She writes a regular article in Kristen Nelson's monthly newsletter. If you don't get this newsletter, you should. You can sign up here.

The article below was from the last newsletter. I hope I don't get in trouble for reposting it here. But I thought it was very, very good—plus I'm telling you to get the newsletter.

This year I will be attending the Romance Writers Convention in Nashville (July) and World Fantasy in Columbus (October). Some other conferences may yet come up, but that's my schedule for right now. Amazingly, I am already preparing for RWA even though summer feels light years away. At these conferences, I hope to meet writers shopping for an agent and I've been thinking of ideas to help smooth that process.

1. If you have a completed work of fiction ready to submit, prepare a two sentence blurb that you can rattle off at any time (in the elevator, after a workshop, in a pitch session - whatever). Know your word count and your genre (and subgenre) and practice reciting these things out loud. (Example "FRANK is a completed historical romance at 100,000 words. It's about a hero who is driven to shun society at the impetus of a mysterious and sexy bar wench.") (I just made that up, no laughing please.)

2. Have access to your work. Who knows, I may be impressed with your pitch (the one you've just successfully rattled off to me while waiting in line for coffee). If I ask for 30 pages, it would be great if you could say - "heck, I have them right here on my iPhone - can I send them to you?" Have two versions ready to send electronically - the first 30 pages as one document (labeled with your name, the title of the work, genre, word count and your contact information including email address). Also, have the full manuscript ready to go (with same info attached at the beginning of the document). Save them and have them in microsoft word format (no pictures, no headshots, no weblinks) and at the very least have access to them in your hotel room.

3. Update your writer website and blog before the conference and include the addresses of those tools in anything that you submit. Yes, that means you should have a website and a blog - make sure they are professional, accurate and engaging. An update doesn't have to be fancy - just make sure you have a recent blog entry (example, "I'm off to RWA - looking forward to finding an agent for FRANK") and that your website mentions your writing (better yet, there is a blurb on your completed manuscript already loaded and accessible!)

I am looking forward to this year's conferences. I enjoy meeting and talking to writers and am actively looking for new talent to represent!

Sara Megibow
Associate Literary Agent


Writing Tip Tuesday: Effect vs Affect

Affect and effect are two words that get mixed up a lot.

First, let's define the two words from Dictionary.com.

Affect is usually a verb, meaning:
  • To act on; produce an effect or change in: Cold weather affected the crops.

  • To impress the mind or move the feelings of: The music affected him deeply.

  • To attack or infect, as a disease: Rheumatic fever can affect the heart.

Effect is usually a noun, meaning:
  • Something that is produced by an agency or cause; result; consequence: Exposure to the sun had the effect of toughening his skin.

  • The power to produce results; efficacy; force; validity; influence: His protest had no effect.

  • A scientific law, hypothesis, or phenomenon: the photovoltaic effect.

  • Advantage; avail: used her words to great effect in influencing the jury.

  • The condition of being in full force or execution: a new regulation that goes into effect tomorrow.

  • Something that produces a specific impression or supports a general design or intention: The lighting effects emphasized the harsh atmosphere of the drama.

  • A particular impression: large windows that gave an effect of spaciousness.

  • Production of a desired impression: spent lavishly on dinner just for effect.

Even with the definitions, sometimes it's hard to pick. Here are a few rules:

1. Use "affect" as a verb when you're talking about influence.
  • Eating too many bon bons can affect your weight.

  • Running into a werewolf was really affecting her mood.

2. Use the "effect" if you're talking about results or to describe something that was caused or brought about.
  • The effect of eating an entire pound of bon bons was immediate and uncomfortable.

  • I cannot effect change in my life without a huge bundle of cash.

3. Use "effect" whenever it is preceded by any of these words: a/an, and, any, into, no, the, take(n) (with or without an adverb).
  • Meeting a unicorn always had a calming effect on her.

  • The magic wand had an effect on the frog.

  • It's all about cause and effect.

  • The werewolf had no effect on her mood at all.

  • The effect of the vampire bite was instantaneous.

Here is a quiz. See if you can get them all right.


May 2010 Prize Sponsors

Last month's prize winners announced HERE.

Please take a moment to learn more about our wonderfully generous sponsors.

My Double Life by Janette Rallison

Her whole life, Alexia Garcia has been told that she looks just like pop star Kari Kingsley, and one day when Alexia’s photo filters through the Internet, she’s offered a job to be Kari’s double. This would seem like the opportunity of a lifetime, but Alexia’s mother has always warned her against celebrities.

Rebelliously, Alexia flies off to L.A. and gets immersed in a celebrity life. Not only does she have to get used to getting anything she wants, she romances the hottest lead singer on the charts, and finds out that her own father is a singing legend. Through it all, Alexia must stay true to herself, which is hard to do when you are pretending to be somebody else!

Janette Rallison is old. Don't ask how old, because it isn't polite. Let's just say she's older than she'd like to be and leave it at that.

Janette lives in Chandler, Arizona with her husband, five children and enough cats to classify her as "an eccentric cat lady." She did not do this on purpose. (The cats, that is; she had the children on purpose.) Every single one of the felines showed up on its own and refuses to leave. Not even the family's fearless little Westie dog can drive them off.

Since Janette has five children and deadlines to write books, she doesn't have much time left over for hobbies. But since this is the internet and you can't actually check up to see if anything on this site is true, let's just say she enjoys dancing, scuba diving, horse back riding and long talks with Orlando Bloom. (Well, I never said he answers back.)

Courting Miss Lancaster by Sarah M. Eden

Harry Windover adores blonde, green-eyed Athena Lancaster, but alas, a penniless man like himself has no hope of winning a young noblewoman's hand. To add insult to injury, Athena's brother-in-law and guardian, the Duke of Kielder, has asked Harry to assist Athena in finding the gentleman of her dreams. But the lovesick Harry is cunning as well: as the weeks pass, he introduces Athena to suitors who are horrifically boring, alarmingly attached to their mothers, downright rude, astoundingly self-absorbed, and utterly ridiculous.

Athena can't comprehend why she is having so little success meeting eligible and acceptable gentlemen. Indeed, her circle of admirers couldn't be less admirable--nothing like the loyal, gentle friend she's found in Harry. But how long can Harry's scheme be hidden before it is discovered? And what will Athena do when she uncovers Harry's deception?

Sarah M. Eden says of herself, "I'm not normal. I'm an author. I spend enormous amounts of time avoiding responsible things like cooking dinner and doing laundry and making vital phone calls. Instead, I fill my days with making up stories, talking to voices in my head, and laughing hysterically at my own wit. Like I said, I'm not normal."

Sarah self-published several regency romances, which are now out-of-print and awaiting republication by a publishing company. Her book, Seeking Persephone, was a 2008 Whitney Award Finalist. Her story is also the lead in LDS Publisher's Stolen Christmas and Other Stories of the Season.

CLICK HERE for details on how to win these books.

CLICK HERE for details on sponsoring the contest.


Diabetes Auction Starts Today!

Brenda Novak's auction starts today. We ended up gathering over 100 items for the auction.

"What?" you say? There are only 93 listed in the LDS Publisher category? That is because some of the authors/publishers felt their books would be a better fit in some of the other categories.

Also, the PTBs moved the Fablehaven set HERE. (Yes! The full set, signed by Brandon Mull!) It's a one day auction that begins and ends on May 13th. Guess they think that will be a hot one. (And of course, it will. I was thinking of bidding on it myself.)

We have both fiction and non-fiction books listed, as well as editing, dinner with a publisher, and a "Bypass the Slush Pile" from Valor Publishing. Go take a look and BID! (Bidding instructions are HERE.)

While you're there, browse around the other categories. There are some awesome items up for grabs!