Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Words, Words, Words and How to Right Them

One of the largest expenses writers face is getting their manuscript polished. They know their credibility can be seriously undermined by common spelling and usage errors.

In her presentation at the November Writers Guild meeting,  local writer and editor Elizabeth Simons gave a presentation on steps writers can take to bring down the number of errors and lower their expenses. Participants learned to recognize some of the most common mistakes writers make and how to correct them.

Elizabeth illustrated her presentation with photographs, including a sign maker's banner proudly displaying “professional sign’s” (Note: There is no need for an apostrophe) and a classic example of a subject and verb that don’t agree on a hand-lettered note at a gas station declaring that “all pumps is pre-pay,” which prompted one customer to correct the grammar and give the sign maker an F.

Elizabeth explained that often writers are aware of their most frequent mistakes, and showed how to use the Find and Replace functions in Microsoft Word for global editing of terms and misspellings.

Participants were then challenged with a short story containing 36 of the most common grammar and punctuation mistakes, with prizes awarded to those who found the most errors. Elizabeth pointed out that the spelling and grammar function in Word found just one error out of the 36, prompting her to say that this function is a good initial tool that will catch some of the most common typos, but certainly should not be relied upon to do a good job of editing.

Elizabeth told the group that while doing her research she visited more than a dozen sites offering proofreading and copy editing services and was amazed to find that almost half the sites contained grammar and punctuation errors in their online text. The takeaway from this is that no one is immune to mistakes, even those who correct mistakes for a living.

Writers should go over their manuscript with a fine-toothed comb to check for consistency in fonts, margins and spacing, and use Microsoft Word's Find and Replace to catch their most common usage errors. It would then be helpful to enlist the aid of a trusted friend or acquaintance who hasn’t seen the manuscript, asking that person to read the document carefully and offer substantive feedback.

If writers want to be taken seriously, they should use every tool at hand to make their writing perfect. Another pair of eyes is crucial, whether it’s their nerdy friend who can spot a misplaced modifier from the back of a running horse or a professional editor. 

Taking these extra steps means that if the writer does choose a professional editor, that editor won’t need to spend as much time on a manuscript, thereby reducing the overall expense.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

An open call to those who would write!

If you own a pen and paper, or wouldn't be opposed to borrowing some, I've got the workshop for you!

Many of us, myself included, have often dreamed of (and sometimes started) writing the "Great American Novel," certain to be a New York Times Best Seller, if only we had the time or discipline to just sit down and write it!  Need a boost to help you get started?  Fear not, help is at hand. Dust off those spiral notebooks full of ideas and folders overflowing with half-completed manuscripts and join us for some fun an innovative ways to get those juices flowing.

The Lake Arts Council is forming two writing workshops - one for Middle & High school students and one for adults.  The groups will meet on alternating weeks at the Lake Arts Council's office at the Stone Crest Mall in Osage Beach.  The goal of these workshops is to support good writing habits, develop talent, compile an anthology of stories, written by Lake of the Ozarks residents and GET PUBLISHED.  Starting in 2013, we'll publish the anthology every year on Amazon and iTunes. Any proceeds from the sale of the anthology will be split among the writers. But best of all, there is no charge to participate.

If you can tell a story we'll help you become a published author. Elizabeth Simons, host of the workshops, is a professional editor, educator and has written a creative writing course, Dancing With Words, currently being utilized by the Center For Distance and Independence Study (MizzouOnline) for their middle school gifted students. Elizabeth will present a program on editing and preparing your manuscript for publicatrion at the next Writers Guild meeting on November 10.

Ages 13-18:
We strongly encourage student participation, because we guarantee the rewards are great. You'll have the opportunity to put on your college application/resume that you are a published writer.  You will be surrounded by peers who share similar interests and have joined this program because they want to be better writers and support their fellow writers' growth.  You will have fun, you will become a better writer, and you just might make a little money while you are at it. So take that first step by encouraging your parent or guardian to contact us for this unique opportunity.

Ages 18+:
You've kept a journal but you haven't told anyone about it, but now you think maybe you'd like to try your hand at putting some words out there for all the world to see. Or maybe you read a lot but you've never written anything but emails and texts to friends and family.  You find yourself polishing the words in those messages, and it hits you: Hey, maybe I could write something other people might want to read. If that's the case, grab your pen and notebook and join us. Please contact the Lake Arts Council at 964-6366 to sign up.  Everything written above paragraph applies to adults, except we don't need a note from your parents.  Don't talk/think/dream about writing... DO IT.  Surround yourself with others who share your goal and, together, we will make it happen. 

Once we have assembled a small group, we will work with you to determine the best day and time to meet.  We need only a handful of people for each workshop to get started.  If you have questions, please feel free call us, email us, or contact us by using the comments system below.

I look forward to hearing from you.

John Pylant
Executive Director
Lake Arts Council

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Writers Guild features Travel Writing 101

In some cultures, you don’t offer anything with your left hand, says Chris Ciolli, a former Midwesterner who is a teacher, writer and translator currently living in Barcelona.

Chris Ciolli
Chris shared these and other tips in her lively and informative presentation on travel writing to the Lake Writers Guild meeting in Osage Beach on July 21, 2012. She says she makes sure she extends only her right hand in these situations by sitting on her left.

Chris also spoke about the various aspects of travel writing, including researching the region prior to your trip, learning about the history of a region, its cultural standards and norms, its handicrafts, and especially sampling its cuisine. She pointed out that offering food is often the result of considerable effort and sacrifice, and turning it down can be insulting. So be adventuresome and expand your palate by trying the Durian or haggis or blood sausage, and then write about your experience.

Chris related that there are a lot of travel writers and a lot of travel markets, so take your time to focus on a different slant. Instead of describing the cathedral of Chartres, you might tell a story about someone whose life was changed by the building’s beauty and grandeur.

You can write about food or activities or handicrafts. Talk to local people whenever possible, and ask specific questions about unique customs or anecdotes. Take a lot of photographs in a variety of styles, including landscapes and portraits. Most importantly, make sure you have all names and places spelled correctly, because you may not get a second chance to get them right.

When you return from your trip, assess what you have in the way of pictures, notes or videos, if you took them. Think about your markets. Do you want to write for a food magazine? Sports? Do you want to highlight handicrafts? After you’ve made your choice, query your market, which could include a local newspaper, a trade or consumer magazine, or a travel website.

In conclusion, Chris offered the group a detailed list of travel markets. For an extensive list of Chris’s clips, you can pay her a visit at

The Writers Guild will offer a program on writing for children and young adults at its next meeting on Saturday, September 15 at the Osage Beach Library. In November the Guild will offer a program on Proofreading and Editing Manuscripts, and other informative topics for authors. Mark your calendars and plan now to attend these important presentations.

How To Write and Market Books for Teens

A Presentation by Christina Williams
Written by Elizabeth Simons
of the Lake of the Ozarks Writers' Guild
“I got a marketing degree in 1992, but that was before the Internet. Now everything has changed,” said Christina Williams, author of Destined Love is Immortal, a novel for teens in the fantasy genre. 
At the September 15 meeting of the Lake Writers Guild, Christina talked about how she marketed her e-book, Destined Love Is Immortal, once it was finished. She chose Amazon as her venue because it provided five days of free downloads of her book every quarter. This would increase visibility and would get her book into the hands of readers who would then hopefully write an enthusiastic review and increase sales. She also talked about using Twitter to spread the word about her book.
Regarding the writing process, Christina said she wrote one hour a day. In a household with five children, that’s all the time she has. That hour represents about 1,000 words, or roughly three pages. “Dishes and laundry are always there, but if you write three pages you’re three pages closer to getting your novel done,” she said. That’s how she was able to write Destined Love Is Immortal, a story in the fantasy genre about a young girl who travels to Belgium to escape a troubled past, and falls in love with a most unusual hero.
Make your characters memorable. People may love them or hate them, but they won’t forget them. To avoid plagiarism, she said it’s better not to be reading a book while writing your own.  Keep writing, even if you feel you’re stuck. You can always go back and change things once the book is finished. She said that once she finished her novel she removed 20 pages from the beginning and condensed them into one paragraph.
Christina stressed the importance of formatting, especially for e-readers. And in order to get a five-star rating, it’s imperative to have an error-free manuscript.  If you have a lot of errors, people will let you know with bad reviews. 
She went on to say that the cover of your book is critical. Remember that some people are color blind. A white text against a dark background will grab the reader’s attention. Spending the time to create a cover that will capture the eye is critical.
Christina is a native of Tulsa, Oklahoma and has worked, lived, and traveled extensively in Europe. Previously an owner of a martial arts school, Ms. Williams currently holds a second degree black belt in the Korean Martial Art of Han Mu Do. You may follow Christina Williams on Twitter @immortalswriter. Her e-book is currently available on, where it has a five star review rating. 
Christina distributed a list of online and print books that provided information about the writing and marketing process. For information about these publications, contact the Arts Council at,  or call 573-964-6366.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Arts In The Park

Saturday, Eldon’s Rock Island Park was invaded by pirates – young pirates.  However, there was little pillaging and most of the loot they hauled away had been made by their own hands.  Bandanas, miniature sailing ships, tie-dyed shirts, and Jabbersocky puppets crafted with the denizens of Wonderland were among the prized possessions.  By the end of the day, with bellies full of hotdogs, snow cones and popcorn, the youthful plunderers boarded their transportation crafts, ordered their crews to set a course for “home” and began dreaming of what the next Art in the Park might have in store for them.
I love Art in the Park – a day full of laughter, creativity and free goodies for the little ones.  But, it’s not just the happiness of the children, for whom the event is hosted, that I treasure this event.  It is the outpouring of support shown by the community for these kids.  Together, parents and volunteers from lake area businesses and organizations set about creating a special day that includes free food, crafts and prizes.  Giving freely of themselves and their time, these volunteers help create wonderful memories and a strong feeling of community.
Of particular note was the cast of “Alice, Through the Looking Glass”, a play created and directed by Tim Williams of the Lake Arts Council.  These young actors appeared at the park, in costume, ready to spend what started out as a rainy day helping children create Jabbersockies.  The White Rabbit patiently encouraged children to repeat impossible tongue twisters to receive a felt tongue for their sock puppets.  A trio of talking flowers led the Hokey Pokey for a pair of google-eyes.  Pompoms were earned in an egg race with Humpty Dumpty and Tweedledee.  Doing a fancy jig for the Red Queen earned jewels and great praise.  Once all of the components were collected, the adventurous youths proceeded to a table to begin bringing their Jabbersockies to life.  Denise Alford, Linda Sanders, Rose Adams and the Lake Arts Council’s Youth Activities Director, Charlie O’Neill assisted the little artists with glue, markers and the patience of saints.  By two o’clock, many of the tents and tables had been folded up and put away for later use, but the costumed teens continued to welcome any late-comers.  Their excitement and cheer had not waned in the slightest throughout the procession of little boys and girls sporting paper eye-patches and painted goatees.  As the crowds dispersed, there was no sense of relief among the teens.  Instead, the excitement continued as they huddled together to discuss things they could do to at the Linn Creek Art in the Park.
To the many volunteers who made today an amazing experience and to the Miller County Child Advocacy Council who puts on this event each year, I offer, on behalf of the parents and children of the lake area, my deepest thanks.  To anyone who missed out on Saturday’s activities, reserve a spot on your calendar for Art in the Park in Linn Creek, presented by the Camden County Child Advocacy Council on October 6th.  I urge everyone to join us.  At Art in the Park, there is no such thing as too many children or too much fun and there can never, ever, be too many volunteers!
For more information, please call the Lake Arts Council at (573) 964-6366 or email us at

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lake Arts Council Missoula Children's Theater 2012 Photos

The photos from the 2012 Missoula Children's Theater production of Rumplestilskin are now available! A tremendous thank you to Charlie O'Neill, Leon Wahlbrink, Sylvia Thompson and the Lake of the Ozarks Day Break Rotary for making it possible to again host this important program for the lake area children! It is only through the support of these people that the Lake Arts Council is able to offer this program free of charge for all children who wish to participate. As we were informed by the Missoula directors, LAC hosts the only production which does not charge the children for the incredible experience that is Missoula!

2012 saw the return of many performers and the arrival of many new faces. The amazing turn-out for auditions made for some difficult casting decisions as we all learned that the Lake of the Ozarks is home to a great many talented children! Under the guidance of Sarah-lucy and Danelle, Missoula's outstanding actor/directors, these young stars truly shined!

Thank you again to everyone involved - the parents, the participants, the volunteers, the Missoula directors and all of the people who worked so hard to make this event a fantastic memory these young superstars will always treasure! You can visit the online photo album by clicking here.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Lake Arts Council's New Blog


This is the future blog of the Lake Arts Council.  Here you will find regular blog entries on the Arts at the Lake of the Ozarks, information on upcoming events, a complete schedule of events, a forum to discuss the Arts, samples of artwork from local artists, and everything we can possibly find time to post on here!  Of course, this blog is less than an hour old as I type this, so lots of things are still on the drawing board.  We will still maintain our website, this is something completely different.

Completely different?  How so?  Well, you have found this at the very infancy of what is to be a joint-operation spanning ALL of the lake area arts organizations! Being that this is only DAY ONE of the blog, the only authorized blogger is me, John Pylant, Executive Director of the Lake Arts Council.  If you have ANY experience with blogging, or even just a desire to learn, and want to help, please let me know and you can climb aboard.  This blog is to be composed for and by those who live at the lake and love the Arts.  Don't be shy, reach out and be heard!

New features should be popping up daily.  Subscribe to our blog using the box to the right and you will be among the first to know as we gain members, posters and new events!