One Hip World Event

I’m happy to announce that as part of the One Hip World Event, from June 15 through June 30, 2012 all sales of my book The Parents’ Guide to Hip Dysplasia and sales of my short stories in ebook format at the Untreed Reads Store will benefit the International Hip Dysplasia Institute (IDHI).

To participate in this fundraiser:

  • Purchase a copy of my book The Parents’ Guide to Hip Dysplasia, and I will donate $1.00 to the IHDI. (It is available through online booksellers or you can order it at bookstores.)
  • Buy my short stories in ebook format at the Untreed Reads Store, and for each story that is sold, I will donate 25 cents to the IHDI.

If you’re new to ebooks and don’t have a reader, don’t worry. You can choose the format that you prefer—PDF, Kindle, or epub, and then read the story on your computer, e-reader, or tablet.

Three stories are available:

  • Equilibrium, a sweet romance in the Candlelight Romance Line.
  • Half and Half, a short work of crime in the Fingerprints Line.
  • Negative Space, a story about loss in the Nibs Literary Line.

My Author Copies of The Parents’ Guide to Clubfoot Are Here

The Parents' Guide to Clubfoot, box of books

As many of you know, my book The Parents’ Guide to Clubfoot was originally published as a print-on-demand (POD) book through a small publisher last year. Then Hunter House Publishers acquired my book. Hunter House specializes in health information, and they are better able to deal with international orders, translation rights, ebooks, and so on in addition to the print edition.

Long story short, the new edition is finally done! They sent me my author copies and even included a nice note signed by the Hunter House editors and production staff. The books look great! I’m really happy, and wanted to share the news.

Creating Your Own Style Guide and Editing List

In this post, I’m passing along some thoughts about tools that work for me and might help some of you too—creating your own style guide and editing list.

Style Guide

One of the most well-known style guides is the Chicago Manual of Style. You can use the book or the online version to look up editorial conventions. For instance, if you are writing a fantasy story or novel and the characters have titles, you can use Chicago to see how and when the characters’ titles ought to be capitalized.

If I am working on book, I like to take this process one step further, and make my own style guide that lists the words that I’ve already looked up, and also specialized words that might not be covered by Chicago. I jot down words I’m not sure about as I go along. That way I can look them up later without having to remember what they are.

When I have my first draft, I go back through my manuscript and check to make sure everything on my style guide is consistent throughout the book. Search and replace is great for this, but I recommend that you check each instance instead of making a global change. Otherwise you might accidentally change part of a word. For example, if you want to change king to King, you wouldn’t want to end up with maKing or similar words in your manuscript.

Editing List

When I first started writing fiction I found that I used certain words in my first drafts that could usually come out. I made a list of them, and after I’ve written a new story or book, I search for these words and see if any can be removed. Some of the words on my list are really, very, so, and then, because I know from experience that I overuse them.

You might have different words on your list. Based on your own experience, you can create a list that fits your writing style and use it to check your work. I prefer to wait until I have a first draft before doing this because if I edit too soon I find it distracts me from writing.

If you give it a try, post a comment to let me know how this went for you. I’m also open to hearing how other people edit their work, so feel free to post your suggestions as well.

Script Frenzy: Coming Your Way in April

If you like to set big writing goals and then dive in, you might want to check out the Script Frenzy event that runs April 1-30. Script Frenzy is an annual event sponsored by the nonprofit organization the Office of Letters and Light to encourage creative writing.

The goal is to write 100 pages of a screenplay, stage play, graphic novel, or TV script, all within that 30-day time period. If you reach your goal, you get a certificate. You can write a screenplay yourself, or team up with a partner and work on it together. Anyone can participate. There’s even a Script Frenzy Young Writers Program for kids who are 12 or younger, with classroom resources for teachers.

The Script Frenzy website has forums and resources for writers, like links that you can use to see sample scripts. There are also some regional events where you can meet with other writers if you want some company or encouragement. Note that this is a writing event, and the focus is writing, not on how to publish your work.

Thousands of people participate in Script Frenzy each year. There’s no charge, but since it is run by a nonprofit organization, they happily accept donations.

Doing Medical Research as an Author

I’m a technical writer, but I also write books for families who are coping with children’s medical issues (The Parents’ Guide to Clubfoot  and The Parents’ Guide to Hip Dysplasia).

If you’re a writer who is researching a medical topic, it’s important to find accurate, reliable sources of information. I often start with the National Institute of Health (NIH) website, which has very good health information for consumers. If I want more depth, I go to Pubmed.  Pubmed is the online U.S. Library of Medicine, which is geared toward medical professionals. Medline  is another good online resource associated with the NIH.

Anyone can visit websites like Pubmed and Medline to search the medical databases and read abstracts of medical journal articles. When I’m doing research, I cut and paste each abstract for the articles that I want to read into a Word document so that I have a list.

The problem that arises is that unless you subscribe to the medical journals, in many cases there’s a fee to get each complete article. This can get expensive pretty fast. When I was working on my first book, a friend in the medical field told me about community health libraries, and a whole new world opened up to me.

Community health libraries are wonderful resources. They have health and medical books and brochures about many health topics. The staff can help you find information that you might not discover on your own, and show you how to use medical databases. Even if the library is small, the staff typically has access to health resources at other locations

On top of all that, researching at community health libraries can save you money. Typically, they can get you full medical articles without charging you for access. If you want a printout to take home with you, there’s usually a small fee to cover the cost of making copies.

I recently visited the PlaneTree Health Information Center located inside the Cupertino Library, which is new to this location. I was doing research for a nonfiction book I’m going to be working on this summer. The staff was friendly and helpful. If you don’t live near the Cupertino Library and want to visit a community health library at a different location, ask your doctor’s office to recommend one.

Keiko Called Time

So there I was at the Write to the End group scribbling away in my notebook. Just before this round of writing, Anthony had announced his Doorways to Time Anthology call for entries. I was working on story idea I got from that. The way it was turning out, this story wouldn’t work for the anthology, but I’d write another one for him later. Even the sound of the words Antony’s Anthology made it seem like they belonged together.

“Two minutes left,” said Keiko. “Finish up, or look for a good place to stop.”

There wasn’t a good place, but that was okay. Enough was on paper that I would be able to figure out what I meant later if I wanted to go back to this story.

Keiko called time, and just that one night, Time decided to stop by, you know, to chat and see what she needed. It was Pacific Time specifically who came over to our table. She had long, flowing tropical hair and looked very relaxed as if she had all the time in the world, which I suppose was not far from the truth.

I was sitting near Keiko, so I heard Pacific Time introduce herself in a low voice, but I think most people in the group figured she was one of the many people who stop in once in awhile, and then don’t come back for a long time.

“I don’t get out to Silicon Valley that often,” said Pacific Time. “For the most part, Internet Time resides here, and he zips all over the place so we don’t connect that well. I was coasting on a weather front when you called, and thought, hey, why not?”

“Oooh,” said Keiko with a smile. “I’m so glad you came. Pull up a chair and sit down. We’ve just finished one of our 20 minute writing sessions and we’re going to read. Did you bring anything?”

Pacific Time shook her head.

“That’s okay, said Keiko. “You can listen in for this round, and then we can talk during the break.”

Nothing fazes Keiko.