Rate Your Story - A Free Critique

Monday, August 26, 2013
No matter how good you are at writing, it is important to have your work reviewed by someone else. Your mom tells you your story is perfect, your kids ask, "Where's the pictures?" and your best friend will giggle at the story with you over a bottle of wine. That's fine, but do you wonder what a published writer thinks of your story?

I've recently discovered Rate Your Story! http://rateyourstory.blogspot.ca/

For the first week of each month, Rate Your Story will accept completed manuscripts that meet the criteria outlined in the submissions guidelines. The manuscripts are then critiqued by volunteer, published authors for FREE and returned in about 14 days. The story is rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the highest rating.

Along with the rating service, Rate Your Story also has a very informative blog.

As an added bonus, if the story scores a 1 or 2, Hummingbird Literary will accept submission of the manuscript on specific days. See submission guidelines for full details http://hummingbirdliterary.com/submissions/

I submitted my rhyming, picture book manuscript to Rate Your Story at the beginning of August. I'm excited, yet nervous, about getting my story rated. It was recently tweeted by @RateYourStory that almost all the manuscripts from August are returned and to check our inbox. I've checked....and checked and nothing yet, but I'm sure it will be done soon.

Thank you to all the Rate Your Story, volunteers judges for taking the time to help writers like myself.

  • Miranda Paul
  • Lori Degman
  • Melissa Gorzelanczyk
  • Mira Reisberg (Former judge)
  • Katie Clark (New judge next month)

What Made Me Yell On The SkyWheel?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013
The other weekend I was in Niagara Falls, Ontairo with my siblings and my kids and we decided to take a ride on the SkyWheel.
Niagara SkyWheel is a 175-foot tall Ferris wheel in the middle of Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
When we reached the top and I saw the view, I let out a yell. What made me yell? No, I'm not afraid of heights.

It wasn't this.
Niagara Falls, USA.
Or this.
Dino Mini Putt
But actually this! 
More specifically this!

It's an upside down house! Why did this make me yell? In my picture book manuscript, ANNALEE FRILL, the main character lives in an upside down house. I was so excited that one actually existed I yelled to my sister to take a picture. Being the wonderful person that she is, she got the best picture she could. This house is exactly how I pictured Annalee's house, except it would be on an upside down hill. If you want to learn more about the upside down house in Niagara Falls you can visit their site at http://www.upsidedownhouseniagarafalls.ca/

Unfortunately, I was unable to go to the house during our visit but we don't live too far from Niagara so I will be sure to go next time I'm there. Looking for the ANNALEE FRILL picture book? Well, it's not published yet. I'm currently looking for a publisher or agent. When it does get published, I will be sure to get a picture of me with my book in front of the house. I look forward to that day!

How is a Car like an Oven?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013
How hot is it in Hamilton, Ontario?

It's so hot, a closed car can kill a person.

Spectator Reporter, Bill Dunphy 'bakes' himself in a car for 30 minutes. The inside of the car gets so hot that the paramedics' equipment, used to monitor Bill, malfunctions. Be sure to watch the video in Bill Dunphy's report at http://www.thespec.com/news-story/3895169-baked-my-car-turned-into-an-oven/

Don't leave anyone(children, elderly, pets) in a car in the heat!

The Hamilton Peregrine Falcon Banding

Tuesday, June 18, 2013
A quick post to share this year's banding video of the peregrine falcons in Hamilton.
TheSpec - Banding the Peregrine Falcons in Hamilton

See my post from last year http://madelinebarr.blogspot.ca/2012/06/peregrine-falcon-chicks-banded-in.html

Measuring the Readability of Your Writing

Saturday, January 26, 2013
In a Business Writing workshop I learned about Gunning Fog Index.
Fog Index measures the readability of English writing.
Which made me wonder if this can help me with other writing projects.

What is the ideal Fog Index? 

That would depend on how well your audience can read.
An index of 12 or more is for people with a reading ability at the University level. This would be ideal for an academic paper.

If you're looking to reach a wider audience, a lower index number would be more appropriate. For the general population an index of 8-10 is ideal.

Different publications have a different fog index:
  • Reader's Digest 8-9
  • Time and Wall Street Journal 11
  • The Bible and Mark Twain 6

Calculating the Fog Index

  1. Select a section of writing about 100 words in length. End with a complete sentence.
  2. Count the number of sentences in that section
  3. Count the complex words in that section. Complex words have three syllables or more. Do not include proper names or compound words. Do not include suffixes as a syllable (e.g. ing, ed and es)
  4. Divide 100 by the number of sentences. Add the number of complex words.
  5. Multiply this number by 0.4 for the Fog Index number.

And, for those of you who like equations:  0.4(100/b +c) = Fog Index

Online Fog Index Calculators

If you are having difficulty with the calculation, you can always use an online calculator. I've noticed they give different results plus they can't take out proper names and so on, but they will giver you a general idea. 
  • http://gunning-fog-index.com/
  • http://www.online-utility.org/english/readability_test_and_improve.jsp
  • http://www.panix.com/~dhf/fog.html
Personally, I like to do the calculation myself.

If you're curious, this post's Fog Index is between 8 and 9.
How foggy is your writing? 

Other Resources: