Monday, May 31, 2010

May 31, 2010 Newsletter - Free Workshops Start Friday

Happy Memorial Day!  In Today's 1-2-Writing Newsletter, read about our upcoming Freewriting and Short Story Workshops (both of which are free of charge).  Also, we have an extensive list of book picks and links to websites that offer feedback for your creative writing.  (for a complete list of recent newsletters, you can visit our iContact Community Page.

Scribophile: A fun approach to writing

Looking for a community to develop your writing? Want a place that gives solid constructive feedback? Perhaps you are a budding writer, looking to hone your skills? Today, we’ll take a look at the community known as Scribophile.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Roxana Saberi's Memoir of Captivity in Iran

Roxana Saberi's Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran chronicles her experiences as a prisoner in Iran's Evin Prison.

For me, it's very hard to imagine what she went through.  She was imprisoned for over a hundred days, and during that time she was often told that they would keep her locked up for ten years.   Roxana's Interview on the Tavis Smiley Show gives an idea of just how difficult it must have been, and yet it also shows the poise and reflection of someone who is braver than she herself would ever admit.

For more information, see Roxana's Interview with Paul Morton of The Millions.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

After the Apocalypse - Three Books on the Third World War

Few topics offer the scope and interest of a world war.  In terms of creative and historical interest, the Second World War continues to resonate with readers today.  Simply Searching for WWII in Amazon yields nearly 45,000 book titles, and an additional 2,700 in movies and television.

Here we'll consider three books which the prospect of global war and break it down into what such a war would mean to our daily lives: War Day, End in Fire, and World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers

Glimmer Train announces their Short Story Award for New Writers, deadline of May 31st:

1st place wins $1,200, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies.
2nd place: $500 and possible publication.
3rd place: $300 and possible publication.

Glimmer Train is one of the best magazines for aspiring writers to publish in.  They are always open to new talent, and they pay significant earnings for contributors and contest winners.  Because of this, competition is also fairly stiff.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Learn to Write Fiction, Poetry, and Drama with X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia

Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama, Interactive Edition (9th Edition)
On the outside, it resembles a classic literature textbook - a hard cover, lots of pages, and a rich collection of stories, poems, and screenplays.  What separates this text from the others, though, are the essays on craft.  I own the 3rd Edition of Kennedy's book, and I regularly refer to it for everything from teaching meter to understanding plot.  In addition to the literary and critical essays, it offers a great selection of authors and several complete novels.  As an introduction to literature and writing, it's hard to beat this book - especially at the used-book price.  (I bought my copy for fifty cents at a used book store)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Revise Your Work with Professional Editorial Advice from Polish My Paper

Christina Davis, a grad student alum and former instructor from Case Western, has started the website Polish My Paper to provide revision services.  From their website, their instructors are required to have qualifications such as an MA or Ph.D. in English or a related field, teaching experience, or previous work as an editor.  I especially like the approach outlined in their philosophy: they not only provide feedback on a specific paper, but also on how to become a better writer.

Davis's website comes recommended to me by Mary Grimm, one of my former professors at Case Western and the current chair of the English Department there.  In addition to hands-on editing, you can go to their website an take a look at their Free Guide to Common Writing Errors with information on punctuation, sentence structure, writing paragraphs, rhetoric, and citations.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Are Online Writing Classes Right for You?

If you're considering online creative writing workshop but aren't sure if it's right for you, take a look at my new article on HubPages: Online Writing Workshops.  In addition, you can consider your budget, the teaching, and whether it's time for an MFA by going to the earlier blog post Choosing the Right Online Workshop.

Monday, May 10, 2010

HubPages can Boost Traffic to Your Website

As writers, marketing is (for better or for worse) one of the most important components of our financial survival.  I've heard that HubPages are an excellent way to generate quality links to your website, and they also have a social networking function which looks promising.  I've posted a hub just to your left - if you're interested, take a look and let me know what you think.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Optimizing Your Website - Search Engines and PageRank

To the previous post about Cleaning Up My Online Profile, a friend of mine asked if I could talk a bit about search engine optimization and page rank.  I've actually wanted to write a post on this for a while, but I've been reluctant because I am not an expert.  However, I have found some excellent websites to get you going.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

2008 Publication - My Brother the Hero

Publication is perhaps the highest qualification a writer can seek.  Academic degrees, military experience, and artistry with words pale in comparison to the words "I published a novel."  The closest I've come so far is a short, short story in the 8th Annual Writer's Digest Short Short Story Competition (I came in tenth).

Ryan Edel on in 2003

One of my strongest qualifications as a writer has nothing at all to do with words or publishing - I was in the Army.  In fact, my military experiences will probably help future book sales far more than my academic credentials.  And my experiences were nothing special - I joined, I served, and I didn't see much in the way of combat (thankfully - not everyone is this fortunate).  But if you'd like to see how I looked back then, watch these videos of My Life as a U.S. Army Linguist.

Share Your Stories and Poems on Scribophile

For a writer, few opportunities are more precious than the opportunity to share with other writers.  On,  not only can you share your work, but you're also very likely to receive feedback and friendly support.  And, as an added bonus, you can read a selection of stories about Dagny v. Writer.

Why I Write Fiction and Not Autobiography

In 2005 - when I was first putting up a website, still deployed in Afghanistan - I thought I knew what direction my writing would take in the years ahead.  In my article "Because the Truth Hurts: Why I Write Fiction Instead of Autobiography," I tried to lay out the reasons why fiction, for me, was so much safer than works more personal.

Writing Action on Bill Henderson's TrueVoice Blog

By focusing in on the details, you can write action scenes that lock in the reader's attention.  To learn about how Little Lizzie saves the planet from schoolyard bullies, frat boys, world-devouring nanodes, and an enormous tarantula with hairy legs, take a look at my articles "Writing Action - Part 1" and "Writing Action - Part 2" on Bill Henderon's TrueVoice Blog.

Cleaning Out the Skeletons from My Online Profile

It's a fact - people check us out online. So imagine my horror today when I discovered that the "first hit" when I googled "Ryan Edel" was the neutered web page I haven't updated in over two years.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Why We Must Learn to Teach

Many writers - many writing teachers, in fact - fail to realize how different writing is from effective teaching.  Teaching online in particular carries many challenges.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Diagram Your Sentences with

Do you feel confident writing complex sentences?  Or do you fear the run-on sentence?  Does the subject match the verb?  Or has a prepositional phrase somehow usurped the proper placement of adjectives?

One way to double-check a sentence is to do a quick mental diagram. Visit Grace Fleming's "How to Diagram a Sentence" on to see the correct way to break down a sentence.  Besides teaching proper syntax for a full-on diagram, reading the article will make you more aware of how each component of functions within the sentence as a whole.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

New Tax Law May Affect Small Websites and Writers

A new tax law passed with Health Care Reform may affect the way small businesses (e.g. writers starting websites which some start-up costs) do business.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Place Your Commas Inside the Quotes

Yes, you've worked in the perfect dialogue for your characters - well-versed lines packed with intensity.  But then, on the side, you have these pesky little words outside the dialogue which still need quotation marks.  Where, then, does the comma go?  Inside?  Outside?  Dropped completely?

I, too, have wondered this.  And now there's a website to answer this question for us.  Basically, if you're an American, the punctuation goes inside the quotes except in extremely rare cases.  For anyone British, however, punctuation often goes outside the quotes.

For a thorough discussion of this, visit Tim Blue's "Quotation Marks: Where do the Commas and Periods Go - And Why?"

Punctuation: the Zero Tolerance Approach with Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots & Leaves

Do not underestimate the importance of punctuation in writing.  As Truss points out in this handy book, slight changes in punctuation can seriously affect the meaning of a sentence:

A woman: without her, man is nothing.
A woman without her man is nothing.
Note, however, that this book strictly follows British conventions for punctuation.  Although still very helpful, Americans will find a few differences between standard American usage and standard British usage.  Overall, though, the examples are entertaining, helpful, and memorable.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Connection vs Content - Social Networking and the Future of Online Learning

Web 2.0 - more than just content, it's about the connections that bring us together.  It's the integration of ideas from multiple sources. It's changing the way we interact with our friends, and it will revolutionize the way we learn.

To get an idea of just how rapid the change has been, see the Socialnomics Video on  To learn more about how this will change online education, see "The Future of Learning: LMS or SNS?" on the Connectivism Blog by George Siemens.