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January, 2008

The Shy Writer

Neubauer's Nuggets
No writing problem is too big for our Joan
By  Joan R. Neubauer

ach month, award-winning author Joan R. Neubauer answers questions from you, her readers. She will answer questions about writing, promotion, publishing, and any other aspect of the publishing industry you can think of. Send your questions to her emailbox at Subject: Neubauer Nuggets and maybe yours will be the question she answers next month.

Q: Dear Joan,

I have a couple of quick questions. Is there any special format I should use to submit to greeting card companies? Is there an example for me to follow anywhere? Thanks for your help.

Mark Stanley

A: Dear Mark,

The greeting card market is one that many writers ignore, but once you get your foot in the door, it could prove very lucrative.

First, determine if your creativity lands you squarely "inside the box" for more traditional greeting cards, or a bit more "off the wall" for some of the less traditional cards. Then do some research. Study the card racks in stores and write down the names of companies that you think you could write for.

Second, look in the Greeting Card section of Writer's Market. That section will list names, addresses, preferences, and all you need to know to get your work to the proper people for review. Write for guidelines if they say they have them. You might even find them on the Net.

Third, call each company you'd like to work for to confirm the name of the editor. This is important because editors move around so much. You want your work to go to the proper person.

Fourth, properly format your work and submit it in a large flat envelope with an SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope). Do not fold your work.

Now, this formatting is very simple. At the top of one page, write "Front of Card." Then type in what you'd like to see on the front of the card, for example, Happy Birthday, Congratulations, or whatever.

On the next page, label it, "Inside of Card." Then below that, type in the message. That message should be left justified and double-spaced. You should also use a Courier 12 font. It's easier on the eyes than anything else.

Be sure that every sheet of paper you send has a slug-your name, address, phone number, and email address in the upper left hand corner.

The toughest part of this whole process is coming up with great, creative ideas, but I know you can do it. Now, go forth and write wondrously creative stuff!

Q: Dear Joan,

I've just started my first novel, and someone suggested I write an outline. I remember outlines from school and hated them. Besides, I don't remember my Roman numerals very well. Is it necessary to do this before I write my book?

Sherry Gold
Arlington, Texas

A: Dear Sherry,

New writers especially should develop an outline before actually writing, but it's not the kind of outline you remember from school. Besides, the outline should be the third step in the process, not the first.

To begin with, when you get the idea for your book, write it down. Don't write more than a single-spaced page, but get the main points down on paper. Then create a storyboard. Take a large piece of paper and divide it into squares. Each square represents a chapter. Knowing what little you know about your book at this point, write in the basics of what happens in each chapter. Using post-it notes is great for this because you can move them around so easily.

Then create your outline from your storyboard. Begin with Chapter 1. Write a short paragraph for each scene in the chapter. Just give the essentials of each scene: characters involved and basic plot development.

Don't worry about making it pretty. Don't add dialog-unless a particularly great line comes to mind. Don't even think about narrative and description. Just net it out.

Once you've completed this little process for every chapter, you have in essence, written the whole book, in a very short format. You can still move scenes around, cut, and add as needed, but it's a road map for you to follow so you don't get too far off course. When you're happy with it, start writing the actual book.

If you look at this process, you'll notice that each step builds upon the one that came before, and is an expansion. I wish I had known about it when I wrote my first novel. It would have saved me from cutting about a hundred useless pages.

I hope this helps to speed you on your way. Much success to you.

Good luck with the new book.

JoanIN Icon

Joan R. Neubauer is an author and works as a publisher at Visit her website at email at or You can sign up for WordWright's monthly email newsletter at the site as well.

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Author/Agent Contract
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Character Questionnaire
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Whose Books Are Turning Into Movies?
Bald Ego
Mouse Over To Pause

Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at

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