Thursday, October 17, 2013

Outlining versus Pantsing

This Writers Digest article on the merits of not outlining when writing a novel appealed to me, given I am a pantser myself. Author, Steven James, has some interesting things to say on the subject and there are some useful links at the end of the article too. His website is worth a look too.

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Con about conmen. And thieves. And especially murderers ...

I love going to conventions! I won't miss an SF con if I can possibly be there - but twice now I've been to a con with a different slant - Crimescene. This excellent small convention looks set to become a regular feature of Perth’s readers and writers convention scene. It’s quite possible that it might eventually put the SF cons in the shade, because many, many more people are interested in reading and writing crime novels than spaceships and dragons.

A new Tara Sharp book by Crimescene guest Marianne Delacourt (alter ego of SF writer Marianne de Pierres)
With editing colleague Marisa Wikramanayake, I spent last Saturday at Rydges Hotel in Perth, a very nice venue that has a cosy setup for small conventions. We were there to run a panel on editing for newbie authors, and were delighted to find that we had a bright, interested audience who asked questions and shared their own experiences. I hope they all write best sellers!

I spoke about the mistakes beginners of all genres make in their writing - as a freelance editor, my speciality is doing what I call ‘mini-assessments’ for new writers. A mini-assessment is based on a synopsis and the first twenty pages of the writer’s manuscript. I’ve been doing these for several years now. It didn’t take me long to realise that a new writer’s problems all show up within a few pages – and I quickly learnt that almost all beginning writers show the same faults. They don’t all have all of them, but some do – and I’ve yet to have a newbie client who didn’t show at least three of them! I believe the first two are inexcusable, but you’d be amazed at how often I see them!

1.    The first one is not reading enough. A writer learns the basics of the craft by reading work by experienced authors and emulating them. You need to read widely, not just in your preferred genre, but in other genres as well. And it’s important that you read not just modern works, but the classics of past years, too. If a client writes but doesn’t read it’s screamingly obvious to me, and it will be to an editor at a publishing house, too. So make sure you read extensively – non-fiction as well as fiction – and read other genres as well the one you write in. And when choosing books to read, be sure to at least sample the work of authors from days gone by. In any job, the historical perspective is important. If we can’t see where we’ve come from, we’ve got Buckley’s chance of knowing where we are going! But we need to read the modern writers too, so we can start to recognise trends.

2.    You learn a lot by reading, but it’s not enough to turn you into a writer. The second problem of beginning writers is not bothering to learn the craft of writing. I don’t know why it is, but many people seem to think that because they know how to write words and sentences, they will automatically know how to write stories, too. Sadly this isn’t true. It takes at least 10 years to train as a concert pianist, and it takes about the same amount of time to learn to write well. Just as if you were learning a musical instrument, you need to practise and take tuition, so I hope you wannabe writers out there are doing a bit of writing every day and also going to classes and workshops as often as you can. It’s also useful to join writers critiquing groups, and go to conventions like Crimescene. There are national conventions for Romance and  Speculative Fiction every year in Australia, and perhaps Crimescene will set the ball rolling for crime, suspense and mystery as well. Also, you can learn a lot about the industry as well as the craft of writing by reading blogs by writers, editors and agents.

Still on the craft of writing; do make sure you have a good grasp of the basics, the stuff you learnt in school. Without a good understanding of grammar, spelling, syntax and punctuation you are going to find it impossible to find an agent or a publisher, and if you self-publish a badly written book it simply won’t sell. There are so many self-published books out there that you have to be as good as traditionally-published authors if your work is going to attract readers. Learning to lay out your MS like a professional – with wide margins, double-spacing and so on is also important if you don’t want your submissions to look amateurish.

These two faults are inexcusable because all these things can be learnt online. All you have to do is Google! 

The other four faults are excusable, and will be overcome with time, patience and practice. Here they are:

3.    A problem shared by most beginners is not knowing where to start the story. In genre fiction, it’s essential to start in media res – right in the thick of things. Beginners tend to load the first few pages with back story, and that is a sure mark of an amateur. Start with something exciting that leads us to the precipitating incident – the event that gets the story rolling.

4.    And that brings me to Structure – another bugbear for beginners. Structure is complex and this isn't the place to go into depth with it. Just bear in mind that for a novel to work you must be able to answer the following four questions:

a.    Who is your main character?
b.    What does s/he want?
c.    What is stopping him/her from getting it?
d.    How does s/he deal with the opposition?
These are the four essentials of a good story. If what’s written can’t be summed up in this way, it’s not a story. It might be a lovely descriptive piece, a dissertation, or a clever bit of propaganda, but it’s not a story.

Expanding on this idea, a novel needs three acts, like a classic play. The precipitating (or inciting) incident comes early in the piece, certainly not more than ten per cent of the way in. At about the thirty per cent mark should come the protagonist's first setback, which marks the end of Act One. (All major characters should have been introduced by the end of Act One, by the way!) Act Two is the longest act, and it can take up to 60 per cent of the novel. About half way through the total length we should have a second setback, and at the end of Act Two – 90 per cent of the way through the novel – we have the third and biggest setback. There will have been minor disasters in between, of course, both in the main plot and in the subplot, but the one at the end of Act Two should show us the main character hitting an all-time low from which he or she has to turn things around. In most novels, this will be where the protagonist’s fortunes turn: the battle is won, the throne is gained, the princess is rescued - or your detective solves the case and confronts the criminal. The in true Henri Poirot style, we should see the main character clear up loose ends. This denouement should use up no more than ten per cent of the total word count.

That’s a very brief look at structure, but once again, you only have to Google to find articles that will clarify what I’ve just rushed through.

5.    The fifth problem of beginners is not having sufficient grasp of ‘show, don’t tell’. This is the most widely touted rule in writing, so I’m sure you’ve heard it before. When we go to a new place, we learn about it by finding our way around and listening to what the locals have to say. So too, in reading fiction, we learn about the author's world by becoming immersed in the sights, sounds and senses of the inhabitants, who are brought to life through dialogue. This is especially important today because modern readers expect an immersion experience. Writers today have to compete with many other forms of entertainment, and most of those are visual. We cannot give our reader visuals in a straight novel, but we can give them something better. We can get right inside the mind and body of our main character, showing how anger affects his body rather than telling reader he is angry; showing how he interacts with his world rather describing the scenery or telling us it’s a fine sunny day. Done skilfully, this not only drags the reader into your characters’ world, but also gives the reader information about the characters and the plot. It’s a very subtle thing, this show-don’t-tell. Chekov put it very nicely when he said, ‘Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of moonlight on broken glass’. Can you see how that single phrase shows us that it’s night time, the moon is shining, and that the presence of broken glass means there must be a building or some other human artefact nearby, and that there has been an accident or violence of some sort. In that one little phrase ‘the glint of moonlight on broken glass’ - there lies a world of writerly wisdom. 

There are lots of subtleties in show-don’t-tell, and it’s closely bound up with worldbuilding and point of view. Fellow Egobooer Carol Ryles says that it’s useful to think of worldbuilding as a picture painted on glass. You smash that glass picture and insert shards of it – tiny shards, no more than slivers – into your story where appropriate, and always by showing, not telling, and through the viewpoint of the characters.

6.    This strong connection that binds show-don’t-tell to worldbuilding and point-of-view brings me to the last problem of beginning writers – and that’s not having a good enough grasp of point of view. I’m assuming you all know the difference between first and third point-of view. First is easier than third in some ways, and harder in others. Easier because you are forced to write from within the headspace of the main character, and harder because you are limited to that one viewpoint. First person makes it easier also to give readers the immersion experience they want. That’s harder to do in third person. What many authors today do is write from a close third viewpoint, which involves getting inside the character’s head just as you would with first person, so you are limited by what that one character thinks, feels, senses and experiences. But in third person you are at liberty to include more than one view point. Do make sure, though, that you only use one POV per scene. ‘Head-hopping’ – skipping about from one character’s head to another – is not only confusing for your readers: it also prevents you from giving them the full immersion experience of the tight third POV. In a really close third, you write everything, even the narrative, from within the character’s head. You avoid using dialogue tags as much as possible, and you slip information about the characters and their world in where appropriate, always from within the thoughts, feelings and experiences of the POV character, so narrative, setting and point-of-view become a kind of holy trinity, each one different manifestation of ‘show-don’t-tell’.

Marisa then went into more detail about what an editor looks for in crime stories and the kinds of stereotyped characters and situations that writers tend to use. You can read about her take on these topics at  Lee Battersby has blogged about the con in more detail at

Friday, September 27, 2013

Diversity in SF

This has been a hot topic of discussion recently so I thought I'd mention a few I've seen.

Particularly interesting to me was this blog post by Jim C. Hines. Full of interesting links it's well worth looking at.

Through it I found Writing the Other by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward (Aqueduct Press 2005, available both in paperback and as an ebook and highly recommended) which addresses the problems inherent in writing fiction outside your culture and suggests ways writers can avoid falling into the inevitable traps.

I had barely finished reading it when I came across these comments by Aliette de Bodard. Although she calls it a rant, it is really much more measured than that. As well as giving her opinion she also provides some useful links. The comments are interesting too.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Western Australian Premier's Book Awards

Congratulations to all the winners of the Western Australian Premier's Book Awards announced yesterday by the Honourable John Day, Minister for Culture and the Arts. The judges' report is here and the shortlist here. More books to add to the To Be Read list - for me at least.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


While reading Chuck Wendig's blog, Terrible Minds, I came across an interesting post on his theory that if you publish your own book you are both an author and a publisher and should both call yourself that and behave accordingly. He does swear a bit so be warned but you can read his thoughts on why self publishers  should rename themselves as author-publishers here.

There are some thought provoking ideas here and, if we are going to be serious about treading newer routes in getting published, we need to look at all aspects of it. Publishing is a business so perhaps if we are considering self-publishing we should remind ourselves of that. It's not just having the thrill of seeing our words in print or in an e-book anymore. It's about sales and that means every aspect of getting a book out to the public - editing, illustration, marketing, all those things which traditional publishers do - come back onto the author. That, in turn, means everything should look and sound professional so, given that producing and marketing a book means, yes, you are both an author and a publisher, why wouldn't you call yourself that? Makes sense to me. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Self E-publishing

Not so long ago the attitude was, not all that unreasonably, that self-published meant unprofessional and substandard work but now many self-published books are well written and professionally presented with some even making it on to shortlists of major awards.

Given the current state of flux the publishing industry is in and with new opportunities for authors to take publication into their own hands opening up seemingly by the minute it might be a good time to provide links to some professionals who have tried to self- publishing. Here are a few links I found informative:

Aliette de Bodard is a multiple award winner and traditionally published author. Her thoughts on self e-publishing are here.

Patty Jansen is another award winning writer whose blog is a great source of information with many articles based on her own experience and those of her guest bloggers. Well worth a look.

Catherine, Caffeinated is the blog of Catherine Ryan Howard. She has wide experience in self publishing. Her blog posts on the subject are here.

This article outlines author Mark Edwards' choices and his reasons for the course he has taken.

Then there's this article about a different form of self publishing where a co-operative of experienced writers have banded together to publish their books and use their skills to make a professional product. The comments are worth looking at too, because there are others who are doing this as well.

There are many others, of course, some more reliable than others, but it's certainly worth searching.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Hugo Winners

The Hugo Awards is out. Congratulations to all the winners especially to Tansy Rayner Roberts who was awarded Best Fan Writer. As the first Australian woman to win a Hugo this is something special. The complete list is here.
  Australia's own 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Swords to Wollongong!

Many years ago, when I was a student at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, I attended a weekly fencing class with Olympic sworsdman Owen Weingott. Actors are expected to learn a variety of skills, including fencing and horse-riding. Sometimes these skills - or the lack of them - can be the deciding factor in whether or not an actor gets a coveted movie role.

We did 'quarte, sixte, advance, retreat, lunge, parry' so many times that I can still do it in my sleep. I was expecting my first child at the time, which gave poor Mr Weingott the heeby-jeebies. I think he had visions of some over-enthusiastic student impaling me and my unborn infant. That would actually be a bit hard to do with foils, which are the flexible blades that are every fencer's first weapon, and in fact my firstborn and I came through the experience unscathed. However, I've done no fencing since, and I've always regretted that. It was heaps of fun, and good exercise to boot.

Fencing is not just an asset for actors, but also for writers, especially historical and fantasy writers. Not only is it valuable for fitness, determination, focus, teamwork, and social skills, but it is also one of the activities that often turns up in stories. It's pretty hard to write about fighting with sabres if we've never had a go at it ourselves. I know of at least a couple of professional writers who took up not just fencing but historical re-enactments to help them learn what it actually feels like to be on one end or other of a blade.

Fencing photo by Martial Wraith, courtesy of Photobucket
Dramatic and writerly aspirations aside, I think many of us would like to have a go at being swashbuckling swordspersons. (Hey, who doesn't love the duelling scene from The Princess Bride?) The enthusiastic fencers at Bulli Swords, the only fencing club on the south coast of New South Wales, think it's time the people of Wollongong had the chance to give it a try. Problem is, the sport requires a lot of equipment, and that equipment costs money.

Bulli Swords is an extremely small club. They charge no annual membership, and their weekly sessions are as inexpensive as possible, so that even people on a limited budget can have a go. This means that buying beginners' equipment is beyond the club's means. They have only a very limited number of foils, masks, jackets, chest protectors and gloves – nowhere near enough to run a dedicated beginners' class, or to welcome as many new fencers to their weekly sessions as they would like.

Here's how we can all help. A thousand dollars will get the club enough equipment to run regular beginners' classes for eight people, and to be able to lend gear on normal training nights to people who can't afford their own. Please help Bulli Swords to bring fencing to the people of Wollongong by contributing to their crowd-funding project at . They only need a couple of hunded dollars more to reach their $1,000 target by the 25 August deadline. Even a dollar or two, along with your good wishes, will help them get there.

And who knows - not only might a few aspiring actors and writers sign on, but unemployed youth (fencing is an excellent sport for young people, and there's lots of unemployment in Wollongong) and maybe the odd pregnant woman might benefit from the program, too!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Book-in-a-Day competition

Our friends and colleagues at the Canberra Science Fiction Guild are making up a team to create an entry for the annual Write-a-Book-in-a-Day competition. This is a great fundraiser for children's hospitals throughout Australia. The idea is that you get a team together, get your friends to sponsor you, and on a predetermined date, your team sits down and jointly writes a book suitable for children. You have just one day to get it it written, edited, illustrated, printed and bound, so it takes some really nifty teamwork to make it happen.

Three of us Egobooers - Carol Ryles, Helen Venn and Satima Flavell - were part of such a team in 2004, when we won the Western Australian 'Professional' division. I'd thoroughly recommend the experience to any writing group. It's great fun and an excellent fundraiser for the hospitals as well. So form a team of your own if you can, or if not, go to, where you can sign up to support the Canberra team. It doesn't have to be a big donation - every little helps.

You can find out more about Write-a-Book-in-a-Day at

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Joanna Fay wins Banjo Patterson Writing Award for Poetry

Hearty congratulations to Joanna Fay (writing as Jo Mills) for winning third prize in the Open Poetry Section of this year's Banjo Patterson Award for her poem "Circle of Stones".

You can read "Circle of Stones" along with photographs that inspired Jo at Jo's own website.

A well-deserved prize, Jo.

The Banjo Patterson Award is a biennial award run by the Festival of Arts in Orange, NSW.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Clarion West Write-a-thon Needs You

Are you looking for something to encourage you to get back into a regular pattern of writing over the next six weeks? Or are you thinking about pushing yourself further?

If so, then the Clarion West Write-a-thon needs you! Here, you can not only take part in the fun of setting yourself new goals, but you can also help to raise funds for one of the world’s best workshops for writers of speculative fiction. Anyone can join by simply heading over to the Write-a-thon sign-up page before June 22nd and fill in details about yourself, your writing and your goals.

Shadow the workshop from June 23 through August 2 and write, write, write! Write 15 minutes or 4 hours a day, 250 words a day, or maybe 8,000 words a week (we call that a “Swanwick”); revise a story or a chapter of your novel every week; complete a story, novella, or trilogy; submit three short stories to professional markets; or do something else completely different. Remember to keep asking for support and donations for Clarion West from friends and family — send them online to the Write-a-thon web page you’ll create, with the personal PayPal link we’ll add for you. 

For 2013, Clarion West are hoping to sign up 300 participants—workshop alumni and instructors, and authors who’ve never attended—all sorts of people. You.

This year, my goals for the Write-a-thon are 500 words a day of new fiction. It might be on my new novel, or it might be on the novelette I’m working on. Depends on where my muse takes me. If you go to my Write-a-thon page, you’ll also find an excerpt from my novel, Heart Fire.

For me, the Clarion West Workshop not only crammed ten years worth of writing experience into a mere six weeks, but also introduced me to a bunch of people who I now consider to be life-long friends. Together, we knuckled down to the seemingly impossible task of turning out a new short story every week, as well as critiquing up to 30,000 words per night. Each morning, we’d sit down to a three-hour critiquing session, which was honest, informative, at times confronting, but ultimately worth every minute.

These sessions were led by professional writers, experts in their field. In 2008 we had Paul Park, Connie Willis, Mary Rosenblum, Cory Doctorow, Sheree M Thomas and Chuck Palahniuk.

This year it will be Elizabeth Hand, Neil Gaiman, Joe Hill, Margo Lanagan, Samuel R Delaney and Ellen Datlow.

If not for fundraising schemes like the Write-a-thon, this amazing writing experience would not be possible. During the last Write-a-thon I took part in, my goal was 5000 new words per week. I ended up doing 7000 per week, ie, 49,000 words in six weeks – almost half the total rewrite of the novel draft I was working on at the time. It broke the back of a seemingly impossible task and showed me that when my mind was made up, I could do it.

Clarion West Write-a- thon

Sign up before June 22nd 

You’ll find an excerpt of some of the words I wrote during the 2011 Write-a-thon at my Write-a-thon page. Here you will also be able to sponsor me by Paypal. Every dollar – no matter how small – counts.

Carol Ryles

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Point of View: Taking Baby Steps

Today I'm reflecting on 'Point of View' at my blog, with thanks to the gals of Egoboo WA. If you're a writer, do you have a preferred point of view to write your characters in/from? Or as a reader, do you have a preference?
You can find the post here.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Book Club

Book Clubs, eh? We've probably all belonged to one at some time or another, and we know the stock characters that can always be found in such organisations - the snobbish 'literary' person, the romance-o-holic, the crime and mystery fanatic, the school librarian, the wannabe author ... Just imagine playng each and every one of those roles yourself!
Last weekend, I had the privilege of reviewing  Amanda Muggleton's wonderful one-woman show, The Book Club, which is currently touring Australia. If you love books and love comedy, this show's for you! Amanda Muggleton is one of the cleverest and funniest actresses Australia has produced.
If you'd like to read my review, go to 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Opal Vapour

One of my scriberly interests is writing reviews. I write book reviews that usually go up on Goodreads, and reviews of stage productions, especially dance, for Artshub.

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to review a really lovely show called Opal Vapour, a collaboration between dancer Jade Dewi Tyas Tunggal, musician and fabric artist Ria Soemardjo and lighting and set designer Paula van Beek.

The show is touring Australia at the moment (north Queensland as I write) so watch out for these gifted young women coming to a venue near you! You can read my review on Artshub to give you a taste of what this show is all about, and for more pics and info about the artists, check out

Friday, May 24, 2013

How Real is your Fantasy?

On her own webpage, Joanna Fay explains how she uses intuition and word association to invent meaningful names for people, places and objects in her fantasy writing.

"In the ‘show, don’t tell’ model, there are two main aspects I use to give the world of Siaris a feeling of internal realism. One is context; using only the context of a naming noun. The other is creating an unfamiliar word that has real word associations or suggestiveness in its soundforms. Even more effective is to combine the two; then the need to ‘tell’ drops away."

For more check out the full post on Jo's own webpage.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Laura E Goodin wins The Kris Hembury Award for Encouragement

Our heartiest congratulations to Laura for winning the Kris Hembury Award at last night's Australian Aurealis Awards held at the Independent Theatre in North Sydney.

You can read Laura's response to this award at her blog, A Motley Coat.

And the live reports of the Aurealis Awards at Twitter.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Short Story Competition Win

Over at, I blog about my win in the Conflux 9 short story competition.

I’m especially pleased about this as the story, "The Silence of Clockwork" works as a prequel to my novel, Heart Fire, by showing some of the history of its male protagonist, Ruk, a bold, daring shapeshifting spirit who plots to escape the human word, but his shifterness prevents him.

Conflux 9 was held in Canberra in late April. It’s theme was steampunk (angels, junk and steam), an added bonus.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Writerly Advice

I was clicking through the multitude of blogs on my blogroll when I came across this, for me very timely, post on productivity and time management on Australian Writer's Marketplace Online. In discussing the centre's regular Writing Race, Louise Cusack, team captain for the last of these, and Amy Chatwin from AWM have some very useful things to say. According to Louise Cusack even cats can help us in our quest for handling our time and getting published. It makes sense when she says it, I promise.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Gender and Book Covers

Over the past year there has been much discussion about the portrayal of women on book covers with Jim C.Hines and John Scalzi doing their bit to show just how ridiculous women's poses (on fantasy novel covers in particular) often is. What I hadn't realised though is how at least some publishers skew the covers of novels by women to what they perceive as the likings of the women's market - because, of course, all books by women are about things of interest only to women. Right?

Well no. It's akin to the fact that my daughter felt she had to apologise for giving me a pink card for Mothers' Day because all women like pink, don't they. Again no. I really dislike pink as she well knows. I'm not fond of washed out baby blues and lavenders or purple either and I'm by no means the only one. If you look around certain women's wear sections of most stores, though, that's often all you can buy. The retailers' perception is that women like such colours so that's how they skew their buying. The clothing sells - because there are no alternatives - so they have their perception reinforced and so it continues.

It seems something similar might be happening among publishers except here the perception appears to be woman writer = won't get read by men because girl cooties = will only be read by women = girlie covers because women like girlie covers, don't they. Maureen Johnson tackles this in her post The Gender Coverup on The Huffington Post website. It's worth reading to the end before you go to the link where, in answer to a challenge by Johnson, a number of classics written by men have some of their better known covers redone as if they had female authors. They are clever and are a real eye-opener.

Edited for more clarity.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Guest blogging

On her website, Joanna Fay has been inviting various authors to write guest blog posts about favourite characters they have created in her weekly Character Column. So far four Egobooers have accepted her challenge and, if you are interested, I've linked to each of their posts - Carol Ryles and St OliviaKeira McKenzie with NedSatima Flavell and Nustofer and most recently I've posted about one of my own favourites, Seri.

I have been fascinated to read all the posts, not just those by Egobooers, and to find out more about how different writers develop particular characters. In my case, it was love with my first glimpse of Seri but not everyone seems to have the same experience with their characters so it's proving an interesting series.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Interview at Indie Reviews

Writer and reviewer, Angella Graff, has posted a lovely interview over at Indie Reviews, in which she asks me about writing, and about my current release, Reunion: The Siaris Quartet Book Two. If you would like to catch it, here's the link:

Tin Duck Awards

Congratulations to Sarah Parker, winner of a Tin Duck Award for her short story Jack Gorman is Dead, and to Joanna Fay shortlisted for her novel Reunion and short story Pearl Red: The Hunt of the Unicorn  and Satima Flavell also shortlisted for her short story La Belle Dame.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Ditmar finalists

This seems to be the time of year for lists and writing prizes, doesn't it. The latest list is of the Ditmar finalists and what an impressive one it is. The Ditmars are Australian awards voted on by members of the current Natcon and the preceding one. The winners will be announced at Conflux 2013. Congratulations to those who are on the list.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Aurealis Awards 2012 Shortlist

The shortlist for the 2012 Aurealis Awards (for Australian speculative fiction published in 2012) has been released and can be viewed here. It's an impressive list and all finalists should be congratulated. The winners will be announced at the Aurealis Awards in Sydney on May 18.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Book Contracts

While most of us will have heard about the book contracts from some of the imprints of major US publishing house, Random House which provoked much discussion - if you haven't, have a look at this post at Writer Beware and here and here on John Scalzi's blog Whatever - Dean Wesley Smith has pinpointed another issue that no-one seems to have taken much notice of so far. This is the length of time you are signing your work away for, something every writer needs to think about seriously. Since few of us have the legal expertise to assess a contract properly it's easy to make mistakes. We need to change this and realise taking care of business is a vital part of being a professional writer and for that this article makes illuminating reading.