Literary Links

January/February 2006


Good News and Announcements

Good News--Ann Macela is pleased to announce the sale of a single-title contemporary romance, Windswept, to Medallion Press.  Release date to be announced.  Check Ann's web site for details.  Also, Martha Powers sold a mystery, Death Angel, to Oceanview Publishing.  The book is due out in November 2006.  Check her web site for updates.

Coming Soon!--Queen Esther and the Second-graders of Doom is a new novel by Allie Pleiter from Steeple Hill Press.  See Allie's web site for more information. Look for it in stores in February 2006. 

Available Now!--Midnight Marriage by Victoria Bylin is on the shelves now!  Look for it in a bookstore near you!  Also from Victoria, be sure to check out her article in this newsletter about plotting.  See below. Also available, a writing guide for authors.  Michelle Prima has gathered years of experience in research and writing, and written a 14-page booklet for authors, 101 Organizing Tips for WritersClick here for more information on how you can become more organized and more productive.

Chicago-North Fire & Ice Contest--Chicago-North RWA is sponsoring their 8th annual Fire & Ice Contest.  Enter your first 25 pages in one of five categories--Single Title Contemporary, Series Romance, or Historical Romance, Chick Lit and Paranormal Romance.  Top prize in each category is $30.  Acquiring editors will read finalist entries.  For more information, visit the Chicago-North web site.

Services Available--Need to get your home office or house organized? How about research for your new book?  Michelle Prima, President of Literary Liaisons, is now offering organizing, research and errand services through her company, Prima By Design, Inc., a Professional Organizing business for residential customers. She currently works in the Chicago area only, but will provide research services on-line for others.  Contact Michelle for more information.


New On Literary Liaisons

There are many new additions to Literary Liaisons. After reading about them below, check them out on the web site.






101 Organizing Tips for Writers




Midnight Marriage by Victoria Bylin




Born to Rule by Julia P. Gelardi

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

Jewels and Jewelry by Clare Phillips

London's Thames by Gavin Weightman

The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life by Noah Lukeman


Used Books:


The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Potent Pleasures by Eloisa James


Feature Title:


The Timetables of History by Bernard Grun


The Video Library


Berkeley Square


Researching the Romance


Born to Rule by Julia P. Gelardi

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

Jewels and Jewelry by Clare Phillips

London's Thames by Gavin Weightman

The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life by Noah Lukeman


Writers' Resources Online


Alicia Rasley's Writer's Corner

British Culture, British Customs, British Traditions: Food

The Daguerreian Society

Morbid Outlook: Victorian Mourning Garb

Theatres in London


Feature Article 

Plotting for Non-Plotters

by Victoria Bylin


            Are you a pantser or a plotter?  If you’ve ever joined an online writers’ group, you’ve probably thought about that question.  Pantsers fly by the seat of their pants.  They don’t outline.  They just write and see where they end up.  Plotters take time to plan the story. They make outlines and charts and know where the story’s going before they type “Chapter One.”  Those are the edges of the spectrum.  Some of us fall in the middle.  What do you do when you need to write to find the story, but you’re prone to hitting dead-ends?  Here’s what works for me.


            1.  Start by writing.  Let the ideas flow.  No editing allowed.  Tell yourself that this is a draft and it’s not perfect and that’s okay.  The goal here isn’t to tell a perfect story.   It’s to discover the story.  The trick is to put your characters in motion.  Making coffee doesn’t count.  Neither does chatting in the living room or driving in a car unless someone’s being chased down a mountain road by a villain.  To get things rolling, drop your characters into a crisis and see what they do. 


            2.  At some point, you’ll hit a road block.  The signs can be subtle.  Sometimes I feel frustrated. Other times I’m bored with the story.  If the writer is yawning, so is the reader.  Whenever I’m stuck, I ask myself one question:  How can I make the situation worse?   

            Are your hero and heroine lost in the desert with one canteen of water?  Have someone spill it.  Who gets the last swallow? 

            Is your heroine out of a job?  Repossess her car and make her rent past due.  Better yet, throw her possessions on to the street. 

             The goal here is to add tension with every event in the story. 


            3.  When I have a grasp of my characters and story line, usually after the first chapter, I spend time actually plotting. I start by trying to summarize the book in a few sentences.  What does the heroine want so profoundly that she’s willing to die for it?  What does the hero want?  How are they stopping each other from achieving those goals?  Later, these notes turn into a query letter.   

            From here, I make a list of turning points.  What has to happen for the characters to achieve their goals?  Do their goals change?  If so, how and why?   When I run out of ideas, I go back to telling the story.  That’s where I fill in details and explore the characters.  Themes appear.  I see reappearing imagery. If I get stuck, I go back to “What’s the worst thing that can happen to this person?”   The "events" list gets revised on the fly.  


            4.  By mixing “pantsing” and plotting, you’ll eventually have a manuscript.  It might be a mess.  My first drafts are terrible.  But the ideas are there!  The characters are alive!  Things happen!  At this point, I rewrite until the story is as tight as I can make it.  Are the characters behaving logically?  Does every action have a reaction?  I’m an editor at heart, so I love this stage. 


            I once read that “Fiction is the marriage of logic and emotion.”   For me, the emotion reveals itself when I write without constraints. The logic comes later.  It may not be the most efficient way to create a story, but it’s definitely an adventure.


Victoria Bylin has written four historical romances for Harlequin.  Her latest, Midnight Marriage, earned a five blue-ribbon rating from Romance Junkies.  To learn more about Victoria, visit her web site.


Editor's Note

It's yet another new year.  New sales, new books!  Our authors are just brimming with good news!  Martha Powers, Ann Macela and Louis Begley each recently sold a book, Victoria Bylin's Midnight Marriage is on shelves now, Allie Pleiter's new book Queen Esther and the Second Graders of Doom will be on the shelves in February, and Patricia Mae White and Beverly Long have books coming out later this year. If this isn't inspiring to the rest of us, what would be?  Make your new year resolution to finish a book!  A mere page a day will give you 365 pages by the end of the year.  If you need help plotting, read Victoria's article 'Plotting for Non-Plotters' above.  It will encourage you, whether you are a 'panster' or a 'plotter.'  And if you have an old manuscript sitting around, send it out!  You never know what will happen.  So get writing!  I hope to hear more good new from all of you by the end of the year!

--Michelle Prima

President, Literary Liaisons, Ltd.

Q&A Column

Q: When does a son use the name the second.  For example James Edward Smith, II.  If the father is Sr. first son Jr, does a third son use the II?  

A: According to the Chicago Manual of Style, there are two different conventions which govern the use of numbers.  According to the older custom the system works as follows: If John Michael Smith's son or grandson is given the same name, the latter adds 'Jr.' to the name (a nephew or grandnephew would use 'II'.)  If later a third member of the family is given the name, he adds 'III'.  The first, or eldest, of the name is sometimes, though not always, referred to as Senior (Sr.).  On the death of the eldest, John Michael Smith Jr. drops the 'Jr.' and John Michael Smith III (if a grandson) becomes John Michael Smith Jr. However, within this system, if the original or some subsequent bearer of the name is a famous person, a younger namesake often keeps their suffix. 

A newer custom has grown in America to use the same names in successive generations.  In these families same-name males sometimes keep their suffixes throughout life and go to the grave with Jr., III, etc. attached to their names.
So to answer your question, James Edward Smith Sr. would have a son James Edward Smith Jr., and Jr's son would be James Edward Smith III.  However, if James Edward Smith Sr. has a nephew or grandnephew with the same name, the nephew would be James Edward Smith II, and a grandnephew would be James Edward Smith III. 
If a father is a Sr., and the first son is a Jr., the next son would only be 'III' if he has the exact same name as his father AND brother.  This does not generally happen.
The designation 'II' is not used for a son from his father until there is a grandson born, or it is part of a title, as an emperor or pope would use II, III, IV, etc.


Michelle Prima

President, Literary Liaisons, Ltd.


Historical Calendar of Events



Charles Chaplin--film actor--born in England

Paul Nash--English painter

Jean Cocteau--French author

George S. Kaufman--American dramatist

E. P. Hubble--American astronomer

Adolf Hitler--Nazi dictator



Robert Browning

Archduke Rudolf--Austrian Crown Prince--committed suicide

Johannes IV, Emperor of Abyssinia



August 15 to September 16--A dock strike  in London helped extend British trade unionism from the skilled classes to the less skilled.

The London County Council was formed.

The Cecil Rhodes British South African Company was granted a royal charter.

North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Washington became states of the United States.

Benjamin Harrison was inaugurated as 23rd President of the United States.

Pedro II of Brazil abdicated and Brazil was proclaimed a republic.
March 6--Serbia's Milan Obrenovic IV abdicated at age 34 and retired to Paris after a 21-year reign.
French revanchist Boulanger threatened to overturn the Third Republic in a coup d'état, but a warrant was issued for his arrest and he feld the country.
February 11--The first Japanese written Constitution stipulated that the emperor shall exercise legislative power with the consent of the Imperial Diet, but Imperial ordinances were not valid if the Diet failed to approve them.
January 10--The Ivory Coast became a French protectorate.

August 5--An Anglo-French agreement defined French and British spheres of influence on the Gold and Ivory Coasts and on the Senegal and Gambia rivers.
A relief expedition headed by Henry M. Stanley "rescued" Equatoria's Governor Emin Pasha.

The Arts

"Landscape with Cypress Tree" by Vincent VanGogh

"The Laborer" by Vincent Van Gogh

"L'Hopital de St. Paul a St. Remy" by Vincent Van Gogh

"The Starry Night" by Vincent Van Gogh

"Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear" by Vincent Van Gogh

"Portrait of an Old WOman" by James Ensor

"Mending the Nets" by Max Liebermann

"Still Life with Japanese Print" by Paul Gauguin

"The Gulf Stream" by Winslow Homer


A Window in Thrums by J. M. Barrie

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain

The Master of Ballantrae by Robert Louis Stevenson


In God's Way by Bjornson

Agnosticism by T. H. Huxley


"The Wandering of Oisin" by W. B. Yeats

"The Ballad of East and West" by Rudyard Kipling


"Don Juan," a symphonic poem by Weimar

"Washington Post March" by John Philip Sousa


"The Lady from the Sea" (Fruen fra Haven) by Henrik Ibsen
"Miss Julie" (Froken Julie) by August Strindberg premiered March 14 at Copenhagen's Studentersamfundet

"The People of Hemso" (Hemsoborna) by Strindberg premiered May 29 at Djurgardsteatern

"Before Dawn" (Vor Sonnenaufgang) by German playwright Gerhart Hauptmann premiered October 20 at Berlin's Lessingtheater.

"Honor" (Ehre) by German playwright Hermann Sudermann premiered November 27 at Berlin's Lessingtheater

"The Gondoliers" by Gilbert and Sullivan

Popular Songs:

"Oh, Promise Me!" by U.S. composer Reginald De Koven, with lyrics by English drama critic Clement Scott

"Down Went McGinty" by Joseph Flynn



Daily Life

Barnum and Bailey's Circus opened at Olympia, London.

The first May Day celebration was held in Paris.

Catholic University opened in Washington D.C.

Barnard College opened in New York.

The Wall Street Journal began publication July 8.
The University of Idaho was founded at Moscow.
The Memphis Commercial-Appeal began publication.
London's Savoy Hotel opened August 6, the first British hotel to have private baths.
The New York Educational Alliance organized by German-Jewish groups provided education and recreation for slum dwellers on the city's Lower East Side.
William Renshaw won in men's singles at Wimbledon.

Blanche Bingley Hillyard won in women's singles at Wimbledon.

Henry Slocum won in U.S. men's singles in tennis.

Bertha Townsend won in U.S. in women's singles in tennis.
Boston pugilist John Lawrence Sullivan defeated Jake Kilrain at Richburg, Mississippi in July. The 75-round fight lasted for 2 hours, 16 minutes in 106° heat and was the last major bare-knuckle prizefight.
Yale athletic director Walter Camp selected the backfield and linemen for the first All-America football team from among college varsity players across the country.
France's Compagnie Universelle du Canal Inter-océanique went bankrupt after having spent the equivalent of $287 million in an effort to build a Panama Canal that had cost the lives of more than 20,000 laborers in 5 years.

Rust finished off Ceylon's coffee industry, thus creating a demand for Latin American coffee.
Discontented southern farmers in the United States merged their farm organizations into the Southern Alliance.
February 3--Former Texas outlaw Belle Starr was shot dead in Oklahoma Territory two days short of her 41st birthday.
The Cleveland Street scandal titillated London when revelations appeared about a West End homosexual brothel that employed post office messenger boys to gratify the appetites of clients whispered to include royalty and aristocrats.
Richard Sears sold his mail-order watch business for $70,000 but soon started another with a catalog of watches, watch chains, and other jewelry offered with the slogan "Satisfaction or Your Money Back"
Union Oil had its beginnings 75 miles northwest of Los Angeles, where prospector Lyman Stewart struck oil in Torrey Canyon.
May 31--The Johnstown Flood killed 2,000 to 5,000 Pennsylvanians in a city of 30,000.
Oklahoma Territory lands formerly reserved for Native Americans were opened to white homesteaders by President Harrison at high noon April 22, and a race began to stake land claims. "Sooners," who entered the territory prematurely, claimed prior rights in many areas.
Chicago's Hull-House opened in the South Halsted Street slums under the direction of social workers Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr.
A worldwide influenza pandemic began, which will affect 40 percent of the human race in the next two years.
The Mayo Clinic had its beginnings in the St. Mary's Hospital opened at Rochester, Minnesota, by the Sisters of St. Francis.
Japanese Musical Instrument Manufacturing Co. was founded by organ and piano maker Torakasu Yamaha with 30,000 yen in capital.
New York's Harlem Opera House opened in 125th Street.
The Chicago Auditorium opened December 9 with Adelina Patti singing "Home, Sweet Home" to an audience that included President Harrison.
Goodwin Film & Camera Co. was founded by New Jersey clergyman-inventor Hannibal Williston Goodwin.
November 14--Nellie Bly left Hoboken, New Jersey in an attempt to outdo the hero of the 1873 Jules Verne novel Around the World in 80 Days.


Alexander Gustave Eiffel designed the 1,056-ft. high Eiffel Tower for the Paris World Exhibition.

New York's first real skyscraper opened September 27 at 50 Broadway.
Otis Co. installed the world's first electric elevators in New York's Demarest building on Fifth Avenue at 33rd Street.
A coin-operated telephone patented by Hartford, Connecticut inventor William Gray was installed in the Hartford Bank.
G. V. Schiaparelli discovered synchronous rotation of planets Mercury and Venus.

Frederick Abel discovered cordite.

Japanese bacteriologist Shibasaburo Kitasato isolated the bacilli of tetanus and symptomatic anthrax.
Emile Roux and his Swiss colleague Alexandre Emile John Yersin showed that the diphtheria bacillus produces a toxin.

The Protar f.7.5 lens designed by German physicist Paul Rudolph was the world's first anastigmatic lens to be commercially successful.

Hannibal Goodwin  overcame curling of film by using a celluloid varnish which remained flat when applied to a piece of glass or metal and could be sensitized with a gelatin emulsion.
Von Mehring and Minkowski proved that the pancreas secretes insulin, preventing diabetes.

The punch card system was created by H. Hollerith.

The first spindle-type cotton picking machine was tested by U.S. inventor Angus Campbell, but wasn't produced commercially for more than half a century.
British dairymen got their first milking machines. William Murchland of Kilmarnock, Scotland, manufactured the machines.
Electric lights were installed at the White House in Washington, D.C., but neither President Harrison nor his wife would touch the switches.
The first electric train lighting system was patented by U.S. inventor Harry Ward Leonard.
I. M. Singer Co. introduced the first electric sewing machines and sold a million machines.
Philadelphia farm-equipment maker Sam Leeds Allen introduced The Flexible Flyer sled which has runners that can be flexed over their entire length to permit turns twice as tight at twice the speed possible with other sleds.
The first large-scale English margarine plant began production at Godley in Cheshire.
British sugar consumption rose to 76 pounds per capita, up from 60 pounds in 1875, to make Britain the heaviest sugar user in the world.
A U.S. ice shortage caused by an extraordinarily mild winter gave impetus to the development of ice-making plants.
Aunt Jemima pancake flour, invented at St. Joseph, Missouri was the first self-rising flour for pancakes and the first ready-mix food to be introduced commercially.
The pea viner was introduced, which expedited pea canning by taking the whole pea vine and separating peas from pods in a continuous operation.
English organist-electrician Robert Hope-Jones applied electricity to the organ for the first time.
Europe's Orient Express completed arrangements for travel between Paris and Constantinople without change of train.
Scotland's Firth of Forth Bridge was completed by Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker.
Europe's first electric trolley went into service at Northfleet, Kent, England.
The Canadian Pacific opened Montreal's $2 million Windsor Station.
The "safety" bicycle patented in 1885 was introduced in the United States. Within 4 years, more than a million Americans would be riding the new bikes.
French automakers René Panhard and E. C. Levassor acquired rights to manufacture motor vehicles in France using the Daimler patents of 1882 and 1886.
Bird Flight as a Basis of Aviation by German engineer Otto Lilienthal showed the advantages of curved surfaces over flat ones for winged flight.


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