Tag Archives: Short story

New Release: Fairy Tales and Folklore Re-Imagined

24 Jan
folklore-anthology.jpg

An anthology of short stories and poems published by Between The Lines Publishing of Saint Paul, MN, Copyright 2017.

It was a pleasure to write another short story for Between The Lines’ yearly anthology. Last year, contributions like my short story “Family Phoenix” focused on the theme Liminal Time Liminal Space–a cerebral topic which challenged authors to consider worlds between.

This year, our theme was more mainstream, but the contents of the completed anthology are anything but. The authors I had the privilege of joining in this publication are talented word-workers. They do not rest on the familiarity of their respective fairy tales and folklore to evoke emotion, set scenes, or build character. My short story, “Grey Man” (Marsico 246), and those in its company are true re-imaginations.

Check out Fairy Tales and Folklore Re-imagined for yourself.

 

 

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CONTEST and GIVEAWAY

3 Aug

The time for the first contest and giveaway has arrived. No entry fee!

Enter your fiction of 5,000 words or less for a chance to win one free editing/proofreading package for your choice of writing project (30,000 words or less).

Package includes: initial project meeting by virtual media of your preference (email, instant message, Skype, in person only if in the Metro-Richmond, VA area); editing/proofreading of text no longer than 30,000 words; and final project write-up with editing summary and suggestions. This is a prize worth $1,500* awarded to the contestant with the most engaging piece of fiction.

This is an open contest, meaning there is no theme. Your only restriction is that it must be fiction 5,000 words or less. I will score from 1-4 in each of 4 categories: engaging introduction (catch my attention, make me curious about what’s coming next), continuous forward momentum (includes climax–does your story peak too soon? too late?), lifelike characters (even if they are imaginary or not human), and well-crafted conclusion (wraps up the story or suspends the moment in an inventive, pleasing, or surprising way).

To submit, email your attached text in word document or PDF form to marsicoam@gmail.com with FICTION CONTEST in the subject line by SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013. Entries without the proper subject line will not be opened and will likely go to the spam folder. Please also put your email address in the header of each page of your text so that I may contact the winner via the email address used to submit. If you would like to submit a cover letter with your story, that is fine, but it is by no means a requirement. I will not accept entries from those with whom I am personally acquainted.

Thanks for reading! It keeps this blog alive. Now, it’s my turn to give back 🙂

Happy writing and good luck.

 

*No cash given for prize. Value of prize based on price charged to clients for identical editing package.

Self-Editing Tip #4: Em Dash

8 Jul

The Em Dash—The Em Dash is the “giant hyphen” of the punctuation world. Many don’t realize that the hyphen is not the proper way to add commentary/editorial information into sentences. The example below shows the common mistake of using a hyphen rather than an Em Dash for this aside-type statement.

Ex. What is most important- especially for those not accustomed to certain exercise equipment -is that enthusiasm is not replaced with recklessness.

The sentence above is not incorrect in terms of syntax, semantics, or cohesion. The only thing that needs fixing are those pesky little hyphens. To create an Em Dash, type the first phrase and two hyphens. Leave no space between the words and the hyphens and no space between the two hyphens. Type the commentary phrase without adding a space after the hyphens. At the end of the commentary phrase, type two more hyphens with no spaces just like the first set. Most word processing programs will automatically turn your two hyphens into Em dashes. If it does not, you can select an Em Dash by going to the Insert tab of Microsoft Word, selecting Symbol, More Symbols, and then Special Characters. You can also use the shortcut key phrase Alt+Ctrl+Num or set your own shortcut key. The sentence in its corrected form is below:

Ex. What is most important—especially for those not accustomed to certain exercise equipment—is that enthusiasm is not replaced with recklessness.

Self-Editing Tip #3: Redundancy, Reiteration, Repetition

5 Jul

Redundancy, Reiteration, and Repetition—there’s a critical difference between making sure your message is purposefully apparent in every facet of your work (reiteration) and restating that message verbatim at every opportunity until it gets in the reader’s way or insults their intelligence (redundancy).

Whether you write in a technical capacity like web content and print materials (think client-targeted brochures, newsletters, mailers, etc.) or creatively for pleasure, reiteration is important. You want your readers to know what you’re about. Keep like items or topics together to avoid redundant menu labeling, but feel free to creatively reiterate important info when necessary.

Consider this situation:

You are the writer for your company’s website. There are ten tabs on the site menu, each leading to different groups of information. All of that information still relates back to the same central theme, idea, product, whatever. As the writer, you nod toward that unifying topic on each page in some way. This is good. After all, what if page seven of ten is the only page a particular client visits? What if page four of ten is the one that shows up in a Google search? The customer may look at that page only when coming to your site. Prepare for the possibility and probability that any individual page on your site is the only page your reader sees. Are they going to know what your company is all about?

However, and I cannot stress this enough, copying your mission statement, slogan, company motto, sales pitch, etc. verbatim on each page is not the way to make sure that reader gets the message. Remember how I said you must consider that they may only see one out of ten pages? They might also see all ten. So if you’ve been redundant instead of informative, find a way to rephrase that enables you to stay true to your purpose without insulting your reader’s intelligence.

Another effective way to make sure your reader gets the whole message is to encourage your audience to take a look at the rest of your site (or any other publication). Give them an incentive, give them motivation, and give them something to look forward to. Every writer must decide for herself what those incentives, motivations, and exciting features will be. For some, it might be giveaways and contests. For others, it might simply be good-natured or humorous instruction to do so. Consider your niche and your audience when deciding. Not every method will work for every reader or writer. Also, give readers easy navigation to those additional pages; i.e. Back to Top buttons, Home Page link on every page, sentences with links to other pages written in.

Let’s diverge, now. Did you notice what I did up there? “Give them an incentive, give them motivation, and give them something to look forward to.” That’s neither redundancy, nor reiteration. That is repetition. In this instance, it is also an example of isocolon—the repetition of entire grammatical structures within a sentence. You can reuse entire grammatical structures consecutively in order to create emphasis on an idea. This is a great technique for all writing. If you take the time to say something more than once in the same sentence or paragraph, most readers will realize it is something important.

Just remember, these three concepts are not the same as summarizing. For long academic or technical documents in which a final culmination of ideas is necessary for reader understanding, restating the message in a condensed way is almost always an appropriate means of wrapping up.

For more tips on web content, technical writing, and editing for business documents, check out Mike Markel’s book Technical Communication 9th edition or newer.

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