How to Find a Literary Agent

Finding an agent is one of the hardest steps on the road to publication. Its importance can’t be stressed enough: a good agent will provide feedback on your manuscript, get it on the desks of prospective editors, and make certain you get the best possible deal.

1.Finish Your Novel

As a pre-published author, you’re not ready to begin hunting for an agent until your novel is completed and polished. Join a local critique group to get feedback about your manuscript. If you can’t find a face-to-face group, consider joining an online critique group. There are many that cater to different styles of writing. If that’s not an option, pay a freelance editor to offer commentary.

Whatever you do: don’t query until the manuscript is complete and perfect.

2. Build Your Platform and/or Your Credibility

Non-fiction writers need to show credentials in the same area as the book they are proposing. This could be a degree (the more advanced the better), serving as spokesperson on the topic, working in the field, and/or speaking to people at seminars or conventions devoted to the subject.

For fiction writers, platform-building can be a chicken-or-the-egg kind of problem. It’s tough to build a following without a book to promote, and it’s hard to publish a book without that following, but there are ways to go about it. Christina Katz’s book, Get Known Before the Book Deal is an excellent resource.

Some pursuits fiction writers might try: teaching literature or creative writing classes (or tutoring in the field), maintaining a blog, attend prestigious writer’s camps, or win awards for their writing.

3. Learn About the Business

Ideally, you should be learning about the publishing business while you’re writing your novel and building your credibility. Attend major writing conferences and talk to agents and authors (this is not the time to tell an agent you have a book he should read). Read author and agent blogs. Visit their Web sites and the Web sites of publishers.

You want to know as much as you can about the business. When an agent comes knocking, you want to appear savvy, smart and knowledgeable.

4. Publish Short Fiction or Articles

It’s long been debated whether publishing short fiction can build you enough credibility to interest an agent. Some editors say that writing short fiction doesn’t prepare you for writing a novel. Others disagree. They say publication credits (in reputable media) show you’re serious about being published. Also: the process may toughen your skin for rejection and provide some editing experience.

Publishing articles related to a non-fiction book you’re proposing – again in reputable media, such as trade magazines or newspapers – almost always lends credibility. Publication proves that other editors believe in your credentials.

5. Research Prospective Agents

Just like doctors, agents specialize. You’ll want to find one that represents the type of work you write. and the Association of Authors’ Representatives ( are two Web sites you can research to find agents.

Once you make a short list of agents, visit their Web sites and blogs to find the specific books they’re represented. Have you read any of them? Are they similar to yours? Would you want to read those books? (If not, consider if this is the right agent for you.)

After doing your research, if you still want to query this agent, find the requirements for submitting to them. Some will accept email. Some won’t. Some will want a query letter and a synopsis. Others will want only a query letter.

6. Write a Query Letter (and Possibly, a Synopsis)

A query letter is like an audition. It’s your one-page introduction to your chosen agent. It should contain only a few brief paragraphs: the type of book you’re trying to sell along with the word count; a brief, compelling summary of the book; and your credentials: why this agent should represent you.

A synopsis is a three-to-five page summary of your book. It should be written as carefully as your novel, in the same voice, and contain all the plot points and spoilers.

Have both of these reviewed by the same people who critiqued your original manuscript. Is the letter error-free? Does the synopsis match the tone of the novel? Pay just as much attention to these two items as you did your novel. If the synopsis isn’t well-written, agents won’t ask to review a full manuscript.

7. Send Your Queries

Send your targeted query package (letter, synopsis and anything else the agent requests in his guidelines) to your three-to-five “top choice” agents. It’s considered unprofessional to “spam” vast numbers of agents at one time.

If all reject you, send out to your second choice agents.

8. Be prepared.

This is where having a completed, polished manuscript serves you well. An agent who likes your query is going to request either a partial – so many pages or chapters – or a full manuscript from you. Since yours is complete, you’ll be able to send at moment’s notice: the exact amount of time to prove (again) that you’re a professional who’s ready to be published.

In a nutshell, finding an agent is as easy as (or as hard as) writing well, making a good first impression and being professional. There is no certain method to obtaining an agent, but following these steps, can increase a writer’s chances.

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Makler Heidelberg

Source by Kelly A Harmon

Eleven Penultimate Tracks From Great Rock Albums

Neither conference championship game was very exciting, as New England trounced Pittsburgh and Atlanta dismantled Green Bay. All football fans are hoping the Super Bowl will prove to be more of a nail biter.

What would really be nice is to have a contest much like those to set up the conference championship matchups, when the Packers beat the Cowboys on a last second field goal and the Steelers edged the Chiefs when a fourth quarter two point conversion was nullified. The Super Bowl will not likely be as exciting as either of those penultimate games before the championships.

When it comes to superior penultimate occurrences, one only needs to look at the world of music. Some of the best rock albums ever recorded have their outstanding track as the second to last song, a phenomenon known as the penultimate track. listed “Going To California” from Led Zeppelin IV and “Don’t Stop Me Now” from Queen’s Jazz album. Both songs are the standouts on their respective records, far superior to the final tracks.

In Issue 79 of Big Takeover magazine, columnist Jeff Kelson discusses a rather comprehensive list of what he terms penultimate tracks, second to last songs that are much better than the one that follows. Among the tracks he mentions are “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths from The Queen Is Dead and “Eton Rifles” by the Jam from Setting Sons. Two others listed are “Behind Blue Eyes” by the Who from Who’s Next andThe Needle and the Damage Done” from Neil Young’s Harvest.

Although he failed to make Kelson’s column, Elton John could actually appear twice on any discussion about penultimate tracks. The standout track on Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player is the second to last song, “Honky Cat.” The follow up album Caribou featured its biggest hit, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me,” as the second to last tune.

Here are eleven other penultimate songs, along with the artists and the album they come from.

Peaceful Easy Feeling by the Eagles

This timeless love ballad is the second to last song from the band’s self-titled debut, which also featured “Take It Easy” and “Witchy Woman.”

Ballad of Dwight Frye by Alice Cooper

Love It To Death was the breakthrough album as “I’m Eighteen” hit the Top Ten, but the best of the ten songs is the ninth.

How Lovely All It Was by the Old 97s

This second to last song from the alternative country band’s from The Grand Theater Volume II recalls the music the Eagles made on their first few records.

Death At One’s Elbow by The Smiths

The group’s last album, Strangeways Here We Come, is a collection of British rock highlighted by its penultimate song that has Morrissey pleading, “Oh Glenn, don’t come to the house tonight.”

Suit of Lights by Elvis Costello

King of America indicated a more acoustic direction for Costello, and his Attractions appeared only on the album’s second to last song.

Crackerbox Palace by George Harrison

The Beatles guitarist did his most accessible work on 33 & 1/3, on which the penultimate song was also the biggest hit.

Dress Me Up As a Robber by Paul McCartney

The Stevie Wonder collaboration “Ebony and Ivory” closes Tug of War, but the track preceding it has long been considered the best on the record.

Oh Brother by Frank Turner

This poignant tribute from Tape Deck Heart shows the British alt rocker at his finest lyrically.

Gone For Good by the Shins

This title would have been perfect for the closing song on Chutes Too Narrow, but James Mercer and his band placed one after it.

Death and Night and Blood by the Stranglers

Black and White featured a dark side and a white side, so a song with such a morbid trifecta would obviously appear on the black side.

Pretty Girls by Joe Jackson

The debut album Look Sharp is comprised of eleven catchy tunes, but the best of the bunch is track ten.

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Makler Heidelberg

Source by Doug Poe

6 Benefits of Self-Publishing

So, your book is ready. You have done all the revisions and editing. And now comes the most important and final stage: publishing. When it comes to publishing, you have two options to choose from. You can choose the traditional method or the modern one, which is self-publishing. To make the best choice, you may want to weigh the pros of each. Without further ado, let’s take a look at 6 benefits of self-publishing.

1. Better Creative Control

First off, self-publishing gives you better control over the whole process of publishing. Generally, the process involves 4 stages: writing, reviewing/editing, design and the final stage called printing. You can hire a professional or carry out the whole process yourself.

2. Greater Financial Rewards

In traditional publishing, you have to pay to the publisher as well. However, if you self-publish, you will get all of the money that comes from the sale of your book. You can use the money to meet your advertising expenses.

3. Pricing Control

Another benefit is that you can decide on the price of your book. Keep in mind that if you set the price too low, it may be hard for you to recover your costs. However, the lower price will attract a lot of readers which will earn you a lot of loyal readers.

On the other hand, if you set the price too high, very few readers will be willing to pay for your book. So, It’s better to set a reasonable price.

4. Networking Opportunities

While working on your eBook, you go through a lot of production stages. You can talk about the book with your friends. Moreover, you can read up on advertising and marketing methods to get the word out about your work.

5. The Self-Publishing Guarantee

Big publishers publish only those books that they think will earn them a good deal of money. Actually, they work mostly with successful authors. On the other hand, self-publishing allows guaranteed publishing. There is nothing stopping you from making your book available to the world.

Once your book is ready, you can use an online publisher, such as Amazon to publish your book. You don’t need to ask for anyone’s permission.

6. Reputation building

Usually, popular retailers don’t stock self-publishers with single book. If you have the money to publish your first book yourself, you can build your reputation as an author. In the future, this will help you use the traditional publishing route as well.

Once you are done with the whole work yourself, you are ready to see your book in the hands of your readers. You don’t have to rely on others to see your hard work in the form of a book that can truly benefit your loyal readers. That’s where self-publishing steps in. You should be proud, respect your creation and put it out there for the whole word to enjoy.

So, these are a few prominent benefits of getting your book published yourself instead of using a traditional publisher. Hope this helps.

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Makler Heidelberg

Source by Shalini Mittal

Why Choose WordPress For Your Blog Software?

It’s wise to start your blog on a good note. It’s difficult to change software and start over again once you have your site going. Blogging for free? When you get something for free, the quality might be lacking and you will likely be forced to have undesirable advertisements on your site that you have no control over.

If it’s within your budget at all, pay someone for website hosting and verify that your server can work with WordPress.

Unless you are a computer wiz, be sure that whichever hosting company you select to host your blog includes  Fantastico in the package. WordPress is automatically installed with Fantastico. The other option is to install the software yourself, which is difficult.

WordPress is easy to use and you do not need to be a computer programmer to be able to use it. It works as soon as it is installed, and you can begin blogging right away.

What makes WordPress better than others? It has the most users, it is well established, and it is stable.  A wide variety of themes are available. (The appearance and feel of your blog can be altered with themes.) Unless you want to alter a function that cannot be done with ‘canned’ plug-ins, it is unnecessary to have any knowledge of designing or coding.

You have the entire administrative control with your blog. There are so many things that you can do. The user management functions are excellent. For instance, authors can write articles and, upon approval, editors can publish those articles, while administrators can alter the design of the blog — but none will have “permissions” to do or alter the work of others.

Useful functions can be added to your blog when you enable Plug-ins. You have the option of making your own plug-ins with PHP or by selecting a third-party plug-in. Plug-ins can be located on the WordPress website. A plethora of them are available and they can do almost anything you can imagine — there is even one plug-in that will generate an XML sitemap of your site for Google.

Don’t waste hours of your time only to have to tear it all down and convert it over.

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Makler Heidelberg

Source by Stephen Grisham Sr.

The Five Cs of Copy Editing

Copy editing involves changes made to a manuscript by the copy editor before it is sent for printing or publishing. What are the five Cs of copy editing? Before I spell them out let me tell that each C represents the job and skills required of any good copy editor. The final edited copy must have the features represented by the Cs. The five Cs are,

  • Clear copy
  • Correct,
  • Concise,
  • Comprehensible
  • Consistent

Before any manuscript is sent for proofreading the copy editor has to check for many defects in it which may include functions like,

  • Punctuation checking
  • Spelling checks
  • Correcting grammatical mistakes
  • Remove semantic errors
  • Check all terminologies used
  • Check that the publishers “in house” style is being maintained
  • Incorporate headers / footers etc
  • Ensure there will be no legal problems after publishing
  • Summarize or shorten text (abridgement)

A good copywriter must also be a good copy editor and have good command of the language and must also be fairly aware of a wide range of topics with a very strong background in grammar. He must also have an eye for spotting errors and inconsistencies in manuscripts. It is also necessary that he be able to work under pressure and finish work within the given deadline. The growing online publications requires more than just journalistic and language skills. As editors may have to publish articles directly on the Internet, they should be also be good with computers, different word processing programs and must also have the required pagination and technical knowledge/skills.

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Makler Heidelberg

Source by Ricci Mathew

Technical Writing – Components Of Windows User Interface In Software Documentation (2) – Window

User interface documentation, one of the important tasks in software documentation, requires clear and consistent definition of all interface components. In this second part of the series, we continue with our survey of the most important interface components that a technical writer should be familiar with.

NOTE: Windows, Mac and Linux machines all have different user interfaces, depending on the particular Operating System (OS) (or “distribution” in the case of Linux) installed on your machine. This series is limited to the Windows interface only.

First of all, let’s clarify the conceptual difference between a SCREEN and a WINDOW.

A SCREEN, as defined by Microsoft, is the “graphic portion of a visual output device.” It is sometimes used interchangeably with a “MONITOR” or a “DISPLAY.” Sometimes both are used together as in the retronym “monitor screen.”

A WINDOW, on the other hand, refers to the individual display area surrounded by a FRAME and display when the user clicks a button or selects certain menu options.

A “screen” displays one or more “window”(s) but not the other way around.

A “screen” has one size which is the size of the monitor. Every “window,” on the other hand, might have a different size depending on the user preference.

A “window” is a more abstract term when compared to a “screen” and that’s why although there is a “screen RESOLUTION” (number of pixels in a unit length of screen), there is no corresponding “window resolution.” There is, for example, “screen SAVER” programs. But there are no similar “window savers.” You can save and close a window but a screen, as the physical medium of the interface, is there always, no matter which window(s) it is displaying.

When there are multiple windows open in a screen, the window that is selected and responds to user commands is referred to as the window in FOCUS. By “focusing” on a window you select it and make it respond to your interaction.

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Makler Heidelberg

Source by Ugur Akinci

Book a Ghost Writer Service

If you want to be a ghost writer, be prepared to work for a high cost, expensive services clientele. It takes something in the ballpark neighborhood nowadays of figures in the five to ten to fifty thousand dollar range to hire a great book ghost writer. You can hire a book editor, a book doctor or a book coach for much less than that. Prices for editing and assistance with you yourself actually writing your book run for far less.

I have worked directly, myself, on some upwards of 50 book manuscripts for a wide variety of client authors. I don’t do screenplays; I have edited them, and I do an adequate job, but you really need to know the film industry to create the very best in scripts and screenplays. So I leave that sort of project to experts, optioned screenwriters and produced script writers for TV, who are on our team. What I specialize in is books.

I can whip out a great, revised and edited book for an author client without having to worry about whether or not it’s misspelled, has grammar or syntax issues, or is colorful enough to grab a literary agent’s attention. Well, that is one way to put it. To be honest, I work over the top to produce the best manuscript I can possibly give each of my author clients, and that can mean working like a dog sometimes. It depends. Some clients hand me easy background notes, book outlines, chapter by chapter outlines – I’m the one who requests them from each client – and some clients don’t. They need to either write out a full manuscript and have me edit it for them, or book coach them into writing it out, or book doctor an existing manuscript by performing content and/or developmental editing on it for them.

So when you’re a book ghost writer service, you can handle both ends. When it comes to screenplays and scripts, I have other people work on them. The right thing to do is to specialize for a while, I believe, and then when you’re bored it’s time to move on to a different specialty. I know a ghost writer who grew tired of writing screenplays, so he moved on to the prose writing and editing of book manuscripts. It doesn’t hurt to step out of one field and into another. I started out editing people’s book manuscripts for free, also for low cost, and I then stepped into the field of book ghost writer services in the early 2000’s. It’s been lots of fun for me, and a real roller coaster ride.

My daydream is to continue with getting author clients over to the correct literary agents and commercial book publishers. It’s more than just a dream, I’m able to do that. I have people on our team who handle that, and they have the right connections. But I’d like to shift eventually over to doing that myself someday. It’s more lucrative. A book ghost writer on our team landed a $75,000 advance for a book where she only wrote the proposal and query letter. The book was published, selling quite well. She used the advance to make a down payment on her new house.

She’s very gracious and is always willing to bend to the needs and desires of her clients. But she won’t take on the “wrong kinds” of non-marketable book projects. Only the ones she sees as potential winners, which have a great chance at being marketed appropriately. So I need to enter that field myself someday down the road. Right now, I’m taking it easier, mostly farming work out to writers, editors, marketers and others on our team, and trying to get my own three books, the ones I wrote myself, published. I smuggled one of my author client’s books into The Library of Congress, early on in my career, and we have placed several more of them over there through the years.

I’ve gotten my books into Google Books, Smashwords, Amazon, bookstores, and plenty of my author clients have been published on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, other media outlets, brick and mortar stores, online venues and the Public Library System, as well as around the world. Our books and some of mine have landed in France, Great Britain, Rwanda, China, Canada, Germany, Spain, South America… it is rather the glamorous side, the life of one book ghost writer running her ghost writing services. But there are also many pitfalls and drawbacks. The main one is getting out enough advertising to bring in the clients. The second most important aspect is finding ways to get our author clients to sign a firm Contract, and then stick with the project. I’ll write another article about those two topics soon, I promise!

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Makler Heidelberg

Source by Karen S Cole

Web Content Writer – Get Started Writing For The Web

Even if you’ve never written for money before, you can make great money as a Web content writer. This is because on the Web as in the print media, eyeballs translate into dollars. And since Web content writers attract eyeballs to Web sites, the demand for Web content writers is high.

What Does a “Web Content Writer” Write?

Anyone who writes for the Web editorially is writing Web content. “Editorial” material may be articles, essays, blogs, product descriptions, and guides. Editorial Web writing may also mean writing Web pages, but this shades over into Web copywriting, or marketing copywriting.

How To Get Started Writing Web Content

The easiest way to get started is just to type “web content writer +job” (without quotation marks) into any search engine and start browsing. You can also visit Web out-sourcing sites, of which more seem to be springing up every day. Within a short time, you’ll have enough jobs to keep you busy.

As soon as possible however, you’ll want to create your own content-writing Web site so that clients come to you – this means you can spend less time searching for writing gigs, and more time writing. It also means that you can develop your own stable of clients – people who know you and the work that you do, and work with you long-term. With a stable of clients, you’ll have a reliable steady income, which will grow each year.

Another benefit of developing your own site is that you can develop relationships with other Web professionals like site developers and graphic designers, and can bid on larger projects.

As More Advertising Moves Online, Web Writing Will Develop Into A Huge Writing Field

Each year, more advertising dollars move online, because that’s where the people are. This means that the opportunities for Web content writers will continue to expand. If this new form of writing intrigues you, get started now. It’s a lot of fun, and very lucrative too.

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Makler Heidelberg

Source by Angela Booth

Langston Hughes – The Life, Times, Works as Well as Impact of a Versatile African-American Writer

Langston Hughes stands as a literary and cultural translation of the political resistance and campaign of black consciousness leaders such as Martin Luther King to restore the rights of the black citizenry thus fulfilling the ethos of the American dream, which is celebrated universally every year around February to April.

Hughes’ overriding sense of a social and cultural purpose tied to his sense of the past, the present and the future of black America commends his life and works as having much to learn from to inspire us to move forward and to inform and guide our steps as we move forward to create a great future.

Hughes is also significant since he seems to have conveniently spanned the genres: poetry, drama, novel and criticism leaving an indelible stamp on each. At 21 years of age he had published in all four (4) areas. For he always considered himself an artist in words who would venture into every single area of literary creativity, because there were readers for whom a story meant more than a poem or a song lyric meant more than a story and Hughes wanted to reach that individual and his kind.

But first and foremost, he considered himself a poet. He wanted to be a poet who could address himself to the concerns of his people in poems that could be read with no formal training or extensive literary background. In spite of this Hughes wrote and staged dozens of short stories, about a dozen books for children, a history of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured Peoples (NAACP), two volumes of autobiography, opera libretti, song lyrics and so on. Hughes was driven by a sheer confidence in his versatility and in the power of his craft.

Hughes” commitment to Africa was real and concretized in both words and deeds. The fact of his Negro-ness (though light-complexioned) has aroused in him a desire to challenge those from the other side of the color line that reject it:

My old man’s a white old man

And my old mother’s black

My old ma died in a fine big house

My mad died in a shack

I wonder where I’m gonna die

Being neither white nor black?

His search for his roots was given impetus when in 1923 Hughes met and heard Marcus Garvey exhort Negroes to go back to Africa to escape the wrath of the white man. Hughes then became one of the poets who thought they felt the beating of the jungle tom-toms in the Negroes’ pulse. Their verse took on a nostalgic mood, and some even imagined that they were infusing the rhythms of African dancing and music into their verse like we could sense in the reading of this poem: ‘Danse Africaine’:

The low beating of the tom toms,

The slow beating of the tom toms,

Low …slow

Slow …low –

Stirs your blood.


A night-veiled girl

Whirls softly into a

Circle of light.

Whirls softly …slowly,

Born in Joplin, Missouri in 1902, Hughes grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and Lincoln, Illinois, before going to high school in Cleveland, Ohio in of which places, he was part of a small community of blacks to whom he was nevertheless profoundly attached from early in his life. Though descending from a distinguished family his infancy was disrupted by the separation of his parents not long after his birth. His father then emigrated to Mexico where he hoped to gain the success that had eluded him in America. The color of his skin, he had hoped, would be less of a consideration in determining his future in Mexico. There, he broke new ground. He gained success in business and lived the rest of his life there as a prosperous attorney and landowner.

In contrast, Hughes’ mother lived the transitory life common for black mothers often leaving her son in the care of her mother while searching for a job.

His maternal grandmother, Mary Langston, whose first husband had died at Harpers Ferry as a member of John Brown’s band, and whose second husband (Hughes’s grandfather) had also been a militant abolitionist. instilled in Hughes a sense of dedication most of all. Hughes lived successively with family friends, then various relatives in Kansas.

Another important family figure was John Mercer Langston, a brother of Hughes’s grandfather who was one of the best-known black Americans of the nineteenth century.

Hughes later joined his mother even though she was now with his new stepfather in Cleveland, Ohio. At the same time, Hughes struggled with a sense of desolation fostered by parental neglect. He himself recalled being driven early by his loneliness ‘to books, and the wonderful world in books.’ He became disillusioned with his father’s materialistic values and contemptuous belief that blacks, Mexicans and Indians were lazy and ignorant.

At Central High School Hughes excelled academically and in sports. He wrote poetry and short fiction for the school’s literary magazine and edited the school year book. He returned to Mexico where he taught English briefly and wrote poems and prose pieces for publication in The Crisis the magazine of the NAACP.

Aided by his father, he arrived in New York in 1921 ostensibly to attend Columbia University but really it was to see Harlem. One of his greatest poems, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” had just been published in The Crisis. His talent was immediately spotted though he only lasted one year at Columbia where he did well but never felt comfortable.

On campus, he was subjected to bigotry. He was assigned the worst dormitory room because of his color. Classes in English literature were all he could endure. Instead of attending classes which he found boring he would frequent shows, lectures and readings sponsored by the American Socialist Society. It was then that he was first introduced to the laughter and pain, hunger and heartache of blues music. It was the night life and culture that lured him out of college. Those sweet sad blues songs captured for him the intense pain and yearning that he saw around him, and that he incorporated into such poems as “The Weary Blues”.

To keep himself going as a poet and support his mother, Hughes served in turn as: a delivery boy for a florist; a vegetable farmer and a mess boy on a ship up the Hudson River. As part of a merchant steamer crew he sailed to Africa. He then traveled the same way to Europe, where he jumped Ship in Paris only to spend several months working in a night-club kitchen and then wandering off to Italy.

By 1924 his poetry which he had all along been working on showed the powerful influence of the blues and jazz. His poem “The Weary Blues” which best exemplifies this influence helped launch his career when it won first prize in the poetry section of the 1925 literary contest of Opportunity magazine and also won another literary prize in Crisis.

This landmark poem, the first of any poet to make use of that basic blues form is part of a volume of that same title whose entire collection reflects the frenzied atmosphere of Harlem nightlife. Most of its selections just as “The Weary Blues” approximate the phrasing and meter of blues music, a genre popularized in the early 1920s by rural and urban blacks. In it and such other pieces as “Jazzonia” Hughes evoked the frenzied hedonistic and glittering atmosphere of Harlem’s famous night-clubs. Poetry of social commentary such as “Mother to Son” show how hardened the blacks have to be to face the innumerable hurdles that they have to battle through in life.

Hughes’ earliest influences as a mature poet came interestingly from white poets. We have Walt Whitman the man who through his artistic violations of old conventions of poetry opened the boundaries of poetry to new forms like free verse. There is also the highly populist white German Émigré Carl Sandburg, who as Hughes’ ” guiding star,” was decisive in leading him toward free verse and a radically democratic modernist aesthetic

But black poets Paul Laurence Dunbar, a master of both dialect and standard verse, and Claude McKay, the black radical socialist an emigre from Jamaica who also wrote accomplished lyric poetry, stood for him as the embodiment of the cosmopolitan and yet racially confident and committed black poet Hughes hoped to be. He was also indebted to older black literary figures such as W.E.B. Dubois and James Weldon Johnson who admired his work and aided him. W.E.B. Dubois’ collection of Pan-Africanist essays Souls of Black Folks has markedly influenced many black writers like Hughes, Richard Wright and James Baldwin.

Such colour-affirmative images and sentiments as that in “people”: The night is beautiful,/So the faces of my people and in ‘Dream Variations: Night coming tenderly,/ Black like me. endeared his work to a wide range of African Americans, for whom he delighted in writing,.

Hughes had always shown his determination to experiment as a poet and not slavishly follow the tyranny of tight stanzaic forms and exact rhyme. He seemed, like Watt Whitman and Carl Sandburg, to prefer to write verse which captured the realities of American speech rather than “poetic diction”, and with his ear especially attuned to the varieties of black American speech.

“Weary Blues” combines these various elements the common speech of ordinary people, jazz and blues music and the traditional forms of poetry adapted to the African American and American subjects. In his adaptation of traditional poetic forms first to jazz then to blues sometimes using dialect but in a way radically different from earlier writers, Hughes was well served by his early experimentation with a loose form of rhyme that frequently gave way to an inventively rhythmic free verse:

Ma an ma baby

Got two mo’ ways,

Two mo’ ways to do de buck!

Even more radical experimentation with the blues form led to his next collection, Fine Clothes to the Jew. Perhaps his finest single book of verse, including several ballads, Fine Clothes was also his least favourably welcomed.

Several reviewers in black newspapers and magazines were distressed by Hughes’ fearless and, ‘tasteless’ evocation of elements of lower-class black culture, including its sometimes raw eroticism, never before treated in serious poetry.

Hughes expressing his determination to write about such people and to experiment with blues and jazz wrote in his essay “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain.” Published in the Nation in 1926

‘We younger artists…intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves Without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they Are not, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful, And ugly too.’

Hughes expressed his determination to write fearlessly, shamelessly and unrepentantly about low-class black life and people inspite of opposition to that. He also exercised much freedom in experimenting with blues as well as jazz.

The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs. If coloured people are pleased we are glad. If they are not their displeasure doesn’t matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how and we stand on top of the mountains, free within ourselves.

With his espousal of such thoughts defending the freedom of the black writer Hughes became a beacon of light to younger writers who also wished to assert their right to explore and exploit allegedly degraded aspects of black people. He thus provided the movement with a manifesto by so skillfully arguing the need for both race pride and artistic independence in this his most memorable essay,

In 1926 Hughes returned to school in the historically black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania where he continued publishing poetry, short stories and essays in mainstream and black-oriented periodicals

In 1927 together with Zora Neal Hurston and other writers he founded Fire a literary journal devoted to African -American culture and aimed at destroying the older forms of black literature. The venture itself was short-lived. It was engulfed in fire along with its editorial offices.

Then a 70 – year old wealthy white patron entered his life. Charlotte Osgood Mason, who started directing virtually every aspect of Hughes’ life and art. Her passionate belief in parapsychology, intuition and folk culture was brought into supervising the writing of Hughes’ novel: Not Without Lauqhter in which his boyhood in Kansas is drawn to depict the life of a sensitive black child, Sandy, growing up in a representative, middle-class.mid-western African-American home.

Hughes’ relationship with Mason came to an explosive end in 1930. Hurt and baffled by Mason’s rejection, Hughes used money from a prize to spend several weeks recovering in Haiti. From the intense personal unhappiness and depression into which the break had sunk him.

Back in the U.S., Hughes made a sharp turn to the political left. His verses and essays were now being published in New Masses, a journal controlled by the Communist Party. Later that year he began touring.

The renaissance which was long over was replaced for Hughes by a sense of the need for political struggle and for an art that reflected this radical approach. But his career, unlike others then, easily survived the end of that movement. He kept on producing his art in keeping with his sense of himself as a thoroughly professional writer. He then published his first collections, the often acerbic and even embittered The Ways of White Folks.

Hughes’ main concern was now, the theatre. Mulatto, his drama of race-mixing and the South was the longest running play by an African American on Broadway until Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun appeared in the 1960’s. His dramas – comedies and ramas of domestic black American life, largely – were also popular with black audiences. Using such innovations as theatre-in-the-round and invoking audience participation, Hughes anticipated the work of later avant-garde dramatists like Amiri Baraka and Sonia Sanchez. In his drama Hughes combines urban dialogue, folk idioms, and a thematic emphasis on the dignity and strength of black Americans.

Hughes wrote other plays, including comedies such as Little Ham (1936) and a historical drama, Emperor of Haiti (1936) most of which were only moderate successes. In 1937 he spent several months in Europe, including a long stay in besieged Madrid. In 1938 he returned home to found the Harlem Suitcase Theater, which staged his agitprop drama Don’t You Want to Be Free? employing several of his poems, vigorously blended black nationalism, the blues, and socialist exhortation. The same year, a socialist organization published a pamphlet of his radical verse, “A New Song.”

With the start of World War II, Hughes returned to the political centre. The Big Sea, his first volume of his autobiography work with its memorable portrait of the renaissance and his African voyages written in an episodic, lightly comic style with virtually no mention of his leftist sympathies appeared.

In his book of verse Shakespeare in Harlem (1942) he once again sang the blues. On the other hand, this collection, as well as another, his Jim Crow’s Last Stand (1943), strongly attacked racial segregation.

In poetry, he revived his interest in some of his old themes and forms, as in Shakespeare in Harlem (1942).the South and West, taking poetry to the people. He read his poems in churches and in schools. He then sailed from New York for the Soviet Union. He was amongst a band of young African-Americans invited to take part in a film about American race relations.

This filmmaking venture, though unsuccessful, proved instrumental to enhancing his short story writing. For whilst in Moscow he was struck by the similarities between D. H. Lawrence’s character in a title story from his collection The Lovely Lady and Mrs Osgood Mason. Overwhelmed by the power of Lawrence’s stories, Hughes began writing short fiction of his. On his return to the U. S.. by 1933 he had sold three stories and had begun compiling his first collection.

Perhaps his finest literary achievement during the war came in writing a weekly column in the Chicago Defender from 1942 to 1952. the highlight of which was an offbeat Harlem character called Jesse B. Semple, or Simple, and his exchanges with a staid narrator in a neighborhood bar, where Simple commented on a variety of matters but mainly about race and racism. Simple became Hughes’s most celebrated and beloved fictional creation. and one of the freshest, most fascinating and enduring Negro characters in American fiction Jesse B Simple, is a Harlem Everyman, whose comic manner hardly obscured some of the serious themes raised by Hughes in relating Simple’s exploits in the quintessential “wise-fool’ whose experience and uneducated insights capture the frustrations of being black in America.. His honest and unsophisticated eye sees through the shallowness, hypocrisy and phoniness of white and black Americans alike. From his stool at Paddy’s Bar, in a delightful brand of English, Simple comments both wisely and hilariously on many things but principally on race and women.

His bebop-shaped poem Montage of a Dream Deferred (1991) projects a changing Harlem, fertile with humanity but in decline. In it, the drastically deteriorated state of Harlem in the 1950s is contrasted to the Harlem of the 20s. The exuberance of night-club life and the vitality of cultural renaissance has now gone. An urban ghetto plagued by poverty and crime has taken its place. A change in rhythm parallels the change in tone. The smooth patterns and gentle melancholy of blues music are replaced by the abrupt, fragmented structure of post-war jazz and bebop. Hughes was alert to what was happening in the African-American world and what was coming. This is why this volume of verse reflected so much the new and relatively new be-bop jazz rhythms that emphasized dissonance They thus reflected the new pressures that were straining the black communities in the cities of the North.

Hughes’ living much of his life in basements and attics brought much realism and humanity to his writing especially his short stories. He thus remained close to his vast public as he kept moving figuratively through the basements of the world where his life is thickest and where common people struggle to make their way. At the same time, writing in attics, he rose to the long perspective that enabled him to radiate a humanizing, beautifying, but still truthful light on what he saw.

Hughes’ short stories reflect his entire purpose as a writer. For his art was aimed at interpreting “the beauty of his own people,” which he felt they were taught either not to see or not to take pride in. In all his stories, his humanity, his faithful and artistic presentations of both racial and national truth – his successful mediation between the beauties and the terrors of life around him all shine out. Certain themes, technical excellencies or social insights loom out.

“Slave in the Block” for example, a simple but vivid tale reveals the lack of respect and even human communication, between Negroes and those patronizing and cosmetic whites.

Hughes also took time to write for children producing the successful Popo and Fifina (1932), a tale set in Haiti with Arna Bontemps. He eventually published a dozen children’s books, on subjects such as jazz, Africa, and the West Indies. Proud of his versatility, he also wrote a commissioned history of the NAACP and the text of a much praised pictorial history of black America The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955), where he explicated photographs of Harlem by Roy DeCarava, which was judged masterful by reviewers, and confirmed Hughes’s reputation for an unrivaled command of the nuances of black urban culture.

Hughes’s suffered constant harassment about his ties to the Left. In vain he protested he had never been a Communist having severed all such links. In 1953 he was subjected to public humiliation at the hands of Senator Joseph McCarthy, when he was forced to appear in Washington, D.C., and testify officially about his politics. Hughes denied that he had ever been a communist but conceded that some of his radical verse had been ill-advised.

Hughes’s career hardly suffered from this. Within a short time McCarthy himself was discredited. Hughes now wrote at length in I Wonder as I Wander (1956), his much-admired second volume of autobiography. about his years in the Soviet Union. He became prosperous, although he always had to work hard for his measure of prosperity. In the 1950s he turned to the musical stage for success, as he sought to repeat his major success of the 1940s, when Kurt Weill and Elmer Rice had chosen him as the lyricist for their Street Scene (1947). This production was hailed as a breakthrough in the development of American opera; for Hughes, the apparently endless cycle of poverty into which he had been locked came to an end. He bought a home in Harlem.

By the end of his life Hughes was almost universally recognized as the most representative writer in the history of African American literature and also as probably the most original of all black American poets. He thus became the widely acknowledged “Poet Laureate” of the Negro Race!

According to Arnold Rampersad, an authority on Hughes:

Much of his work celebrated the beauty and dignity and Humanity of black Americans. Unlike other writers Hughes basked in the glow of the obviously high regard of his primary audience, African Americans. His poetry, with its original jazz and blues influence and its powerful democratic commitment, is almost certainly the most influential written by any person of African descent in this century. Certain of his poems; “Mother to Son” are virtual anthems of black American life and aspiration. His plays alone… could secure him a place in AfroAmerican literary history. His character Simple is the most memorable single figure to emerge from black journalism. ‘The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain’ is timeless, “it seems as a statement of constant dilemma facing the young black artist, caught between the contending forces of black and white culture’

Liberated by the examples of Carl Sandburg’s free verse Hughes’ poetry has always aimed for utter directness and simplicity. In this regard, is the notion that he almost never revised his work seeming like romantic poets who believe and demonstrate that poetry is a ‘spontaneous overflow of emotions”.

Like Walt Whitman, Hughes’s great poetic forefather in America’s poetry…, Hughes did believe in the poetry of Emotion, in the power of ideas and feelings that went beyond matters of technical crafts. Hughes never wanted to be a writer who carefully sculpted rhyme and stanzas and in so doing lost the emotional heart of what he had set out to say.

His poems imbued with the distinctive diction and cadences of Negro idioms in simple stanza patterns and strict rhyme schemes derived from blues songs enabled him to capture the ambience of the setting as well as the rhythms of jazz music.

He wrote mostly in two modes/directions:

(i) lyrics about black life using rhythms and refrains from jazz and


(ii) Poems of racial protest

exploring the boundaries between black and white America. thus contributing to the strengthening of black consciousness and racial pride than even the Harlem Renaissance’s legacy for its most militant decades. While never militantly repudiating co-operation with the white community, the poems which protest against white racism are boldly direct.

In “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” the simple direct and free verse makes clear that Africa’s dusky rivers run concurrently with the poet’s soul as he draws spiritual strength as well as individual identity from the collective experience of his ancestors. The poem is according to Rampersad “reminding us that the syncopated beat which the captive Africans brought with them “that found its first expression here in “the hand clapping, feet stamping, drum-beating rhythms of the human heart (4 – 5), is as ‘ancient as the world.”

But what Hughes is better known for is his treatment of the possibilities of African-American experiences and identities. Like Walt Whitman, he created a persona that speaks for more than himself. His voice in “I too” for instance absorbs the depiction of a whole race into his central consciousness as he laments:

I, too, sing America

I am the darker brother.

I, too, am America.

The “darker brother” celebrating America is certain of a better future when he will no longer be shunted aside by “company”. The poem is characteristic of Hughes’s faith in the racial consciousness of African Americans, a consciousness that reflects their integrity and beauty while simultaneously demanding respect and acceptance from others as especially when: Nobody ‘/I dare Say to me, Eat in the kitchen.

This dogged resistance and optimism in facing adversity is what Hughes’ life centred on.thus enabling him to survive and achieve in spite of the obstacles facing him. as Rampersad affirms:.

‘Toughness was a major characteristic of Hughes’ life. For his life was hard. He certainly knew poverty and humiliation at the hands of people with far more power and money than he had and little respect for writers, especially poets. Through all his poverty and hurt, Hughes kept on a steady keel. He was a gentleman, a soft man in many ways, who was sympathetic and affectionate, but was tough to the core.

Hughes’s poetry reveals his hearty appetite for all humanity, his insistence on justice for all, and his faith in the transcendent possibilities of joy and hope that make room as he aspires in ‘I too’, for everyone at America’s table.

This deep love for all humanity is echoed in one of his poems: ‘My People” some lines of which were earlier referred to:

The night is beautiful,

so the faces of my people,

the stars are beautiful,

so the eyes of my people

Beautiful, also, is the sun

Beautiful also, are the souls of my people

Arnold Rampersad’s last word on Hughes’s humanity, is anchored on three essential attributes: his tenderness; generosity and his sense of humour.

Hughes was also tender. He was a man who lovse other people and was beloved. It was very hard to find anyone who had known him who would say a harsh thing about him. People who knew him could remember little that wasn’t pleasant of him. Evidently, he radiated joy and humanity and this was how he was remembered after his death.

He loved the company of people. He needed to have people around him. He needed them perhaps to counter the essential loneliness instilled in his soul from early in his life and out of which he made his literary art.

Hughes was a man of great generosity. He was generous to the young and the poor, the needy; he was generous even to his rivals. He was generous to a fault, giving to those who did not always deserve his kindness. But he was prepared to risk ingratitude in order to help younger artists in particular and young people in general.

Hughes was a man of laughter, although his laughter almost always came in the presence of tears or the threat of the surge of tears. The titles of his first novel Not Without Laughter and a collection of stories Laughing to Keep from Crying. indicate this. This was essentially how he believed life must be faced – with the knowledge of its inescapable loneliness and pain but with an awareness, too, of the therapy of laughter by which we assert the human in the face of circumstances. We must reach out to people, and one should not only have an astounding tolerance of life’s sufferings but should also exuberantly complete the happy aspect of life.

His sense of humour is again credited by a writer from Africa who was like Hughes also faced with fighting racial discrimination and deprivation, Ezekiel Mphahlele.

Here is a man with a boundless zest for life… He has an irrepressible sense of humour, and to meet him is to come face to face with the essence of human goodness. In spite of his literary success, he has earned himself the respect of young Negro writers, who never find him unwilling to help them along. And yet he is not condescending. Unlike most Negroes who become famous or prosperous and move to high-class residential areas, he has continued to live in Harlem, which is in sense a Negro ghetto, in a house which he purchased with money earned as lyricist for the Broadway musical Street Scene.

In explaining and illustrating the Negro condition in America as was his stated vocation, Hughes captured their joys, and the veiled weariness of their lives, the monotony of their jobs, and the veiled weariness of their songs. He accomplished this in poems remarkable not only for their directness and simplicity but for their economy, lucidity and wit. Whether he was writing poems of racial protest like “Harlem” and “Ballad of the Landlord” or poems of racial affirmation like’ Mother to Son’ and ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers,’ Hughes was able to find language and forms to express not only the pain of urban life but also its splendid vitality.

Further Reading:

Gates, Henry, Louis and Mc Kay Nellie, Y. (Gen. Ed) The Norton

Anthology of African American Literature, N.W. Norton & Co; New York & London 1997

Hughes, Langston, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” 1926. Rpt

in Nathan Huggins ed. Voices from the Harlem Renaissance Oxford

University Press, New York, 1976

Mphahlele, Ezekiel, “Langston Hughes,” in Introduction to African

Literature (ed) Ulli Beier, Longman, London 1967

Rampersad, Arnold, The life of Langston Hughes Vol. 1 & 11 Oxford

University Press, N. York, 1986

Trotman, James, (ed), Langston Hughes: The Man, His Art and His

Continuing Influence Garland Publishing Inc. N.

York & London 1995

Black Literature Criticism

The Oxford Companion to African American Literature., Oxford University Press,.1997

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Source by Arthur Smith

Proofreading – On-Screen Vs Hard Copies

The old-fashioned way of editing and proofreading on hard copy was a lot more work than the current method of performing these tasks on-screen. On-screen programs have made editing and proofreading a much faster, more efficient way of producing a document and finalizing it for publication.

Let’s review the old method. An author wrote several pages of material. A word processor was hired to enter in the text. A hard copy was printed on large sheets of paper with large margins on each side for the editors to make their corrections and comments. The font used for printing was usually Courier 12 for easier error-spotting. The document was printed in double-space so the editors and proofreaders had room to make corrections. A red pen was used for all edits. One had to know standard proofreading marks when they made their corrections. The left side margin was used for proofreader marks and the right side for editorial comments. Most publications would go through two or three passes depending on how much work was needed to improve the quality of the document. In addition to the text edits, graphics had to be incorporated into the document. That phase usually occurred after the final print-out. Cut and paste was the standard way of placing graphics into the document before going off to the publisher.

There was a lot of going back and forth with printed documents that cost a lot of money in paper, ink, salaries, and time to get the product out the door. Well things have changed quite a bit. Now we are able to do all these things using programs that keep track of our edits. One popular program is Microsoft Word’s Track Changes.

Most authors have transitioned to writing their documents in a word processing program but they usually don’t want to get involved in cleaning up the document. They are thinking about what they will write next. The authors submit their work in a draft format to be finalized for publication. Editors and proofreaders are now able to use Track Changes to make comments and corrections. All changes are shown in red and are noted in the right column using the balloon feature. The balloon feature in Track Changes allows the editors and proofreaders to post comments for the reviewer right on the document. As a matter of fact, all changes made to the document can be shown with the balloon feature; such as revisions, additions, deletions, and formatting changes. Additional editing and proofreading tools that are available include spelling and grammar checkers, research tools, and a thesaurus. After editing and proofreading are completed, reviewers can then go through each change and accept or reject the change. They can also accept or reject all the changes at once. Incorporating graphics has also become much easier with the ability to insert graphics into the on-screen document.

An original of the document is always available. Several editors and proofreaders can work on a copy of the document at the same time. Each person’s input is differentiated by using different colors. There is an option to merge all the changes together into one document for a final pass. Once all corrections and comments have been addressed, the document can be saved as a final version. It can be printed with and without the markups.

Another great feature being used today is the ability to run word counts. Many editors and proofreaders charge their customers a fee based on word count so this feature has become very handy.

Proofreaders in the hard copy days were hired mainly to check that all edits were incorporated into the document. They did this anytime a document went through a revision. With the ability to do on-screen corrections, the proofreaders’ responsibility has become a little unclear. They are now basically doing light copy-editing instead of proofreading.

The entire editing process has come a long way since performing them on hard copies but it is still recommended that any final version of a document be printed in whole for a final read-through. Sometimes it is easier to catch obvious errors by looking at a hard copy versus an on-screen version.

Immobilienmakler Heidelberg

Makler Heidelberg

Source by Alicia Ramirez

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