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Questions & Quandaries Blog
Online editor Brian A. Klems has been writing for Writer’s Digest since 2003. He covers the most pressing grammatical, ethical, business and writing-related questions—and often does it with a bit of humor.
Agent judge Lindsey Clemons of Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents recently wrapped up the eighth “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA blog and has picked her three winners. The winners (listed below) receive … Read more
Q: When submitting an already published article—which carried one-time rights—what information do I owe the new editor?—Jack C. A: You need to tell the new editor the name of the publication and … Read more
Q: Every time I say, “I could care less,” my husband stops me and says, “It’s ‘I couldn’t care less.’” But everyone I know says it the same way I do. Which … Read more
Q: In a work of fiction, what restrictions exist on using the names of the dead, e.g., JFK, J. Edgar Hoover, etc.? —Thomas W. A: When writing fiction, it’s generally OK to … Read more
This contest is closed as of the end of Sunday,Jan. 23, 2011. Winners announced in threeweeks or less. Thanks for entering! ——————— Welcome to the eighth (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on … Read more
Q: I still occasionally have to stop and think about the “can” and “may” conundrum. Could you explain the differences once and for all? —Marcus W. A: This question takes me back … Read more
Q: I plan to write a series of prank letters to politicians, celebrities and manufacturing firms, and then publish my letters and the replies in a book of humor. Do the replies … Read more
Q: What is an ISBN, and what’s its purpose? Can I apply for one without being a company/publisher? —Kathryn N. A: An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a 13-digit number that … Read more
Q: I have an article being published in a magazine and the editor e-mailed me asking for a short bio. This is my first time being published. How long is “short” and … Read more
Q: I recently had an agent respond to one of my queries and request my full manuscript. More interesting, he wants a six-week exclusive read on my book. I don’t want to … Read more
Q: When writing dialog where one character poses a question to another, where do you place the question mark? Does it go inside the quote mark or at the end of the … Read more
Q: “I may go to the store.” “I might go to the store.” Is there a difference between these two sentences? I’ve always been confused as to when to use “may” and … Read more
This contest is now closed. The three lucky winnerswere notified via email on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010.Thanks to all who entered! New contests soon! ————- Welcome to the seventh (free!) “Dear Lucky … Read more
Q: Am I allowed to use text from a government document in my manuscript? —Amy V. A: The short answer is yes. Nearly all documents published by the government are part of … Read more
Q: For some reason I confuse “peak” and “peek” all the time. Is there a simple way to help differentiate the two so I can get it correct in the future? –Brian … Read more
As of Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010 this contest is now closed. Winners notified within three weeks. Thanks to all participants. ——————- Welcome to the sixth (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the … Read more
Q: If a magazine buys all rights to a non-fiction article I wrote about my granddaughters’ medical problems, can I have other articles or a book published which would include the same … Read more
My Gnome Attack Book Lands Mention in Reader's Digest; Good News Has Inspired Another Free Giveaway to Commenters
(Update: Notified winners are Tom F & Eliza C. Congrats you two!) In appreciation of the extreme good news that How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack got a nice mention in … Read more
Q: I love the English language and hope to master it some day, but I need help with the word “graduate.” I hear people say (and see them write) “I graduated high … Read more
Q: Sometimes I see numbers spelled out (nine) and at other times I see them in numeric form (9). Which is correct?—Kevin T. A: Most writers—including me—took on this artistic profession for … Read more
Q: I e-mailed a query to a magazine editor three weeks ago and haven’t heard from him. The writer’s guidelines state, “Don’t call us; we’ll call you if we want to use … Read more
Q: When I write stories that include horses, is it grammatically correct for me to say “he” or “she” when I write about a horse? Also when referring to a horse in … Read more
Q: I’ve seen many top publications (I won’t name names) using the words “reigns” and “reins” as if they are the same word. I always thought they had different meanings. Can you … Read more
Q: Is it acceptable to capitalize key words in a spiritual book, i.e., Source, Soul, Spirit, Consciousness and Oneness when sprinkled throughout the manuscript? –Mary C. A: Yes, it’s OK to capitalize … Read more
Q: What is the difference between libel and slander?—Mark E. A: Libel is the printing of false information that’s stated as if it were fact and brings harm to someone (or some … Read more