>Just spell it right

>Once a year, an English prof at the local community college recruits me to talk to her research writing class about how they can turn their research into articles for publication. It’s a fun time. I’m always amazed at how young the students are, and I wonder why in every class there’s a guy who sits at the front with his laptop typing every word I say. At this class, the guy insisted on knowing whether I was Miss, Ms. or Mrs. (who cares?), and couldn’t get over the fact that my last name is Lick.

Shoot, I married into the name, and I understand all the connotations. I’ve gotten the obscene phone calls and seen what happens if you Google my surname. But having carried my first husband’s last name for 10 years, I didn’t think it was right to keep using that while married to husband number two, and I figured it was too late to go back to the maiden name people have always had trouble spelling and pronouncing. Besides, Lick is simple, just four letters. Since I play guitar as well as write, it fits. Cool lick. Hot lick. Jazz lick. Plus, I like the symmetry of the whole name: short long short.

Back in my hometown of San Jose, Lick is a famous moniker, thanks to James Lick, creator of Lick Observatory. They named a high school after him, and there’s a Lick Mill housing development, but up here in Oregon, I guess we’re the only ones. I did explain that sometime in the past my husband’s family name was changed from the original German, Licht, but all this name talk was wasting time when I could have been talking about more important issues. When you’re doing an interview, don’t waste time making snide comments about the person’s name; just make sure you spell it right.

And if you ever decide to Google me, don’t look under Lick. It leads to porn. Use Fagalde, which means little beech trees in the Basque language, but is just a name in English, also popular among the French and Latin Americans.

So where was I? It was fun sharing my knowledge with all these eager new writers who are presumably storming www.writersmarket.com today and maybe even ordering my Freelancing for Newspapers book, due out next month from Quill Driver Books. (oops, plugged it again).

While I was prepping for the class, I found a great site called www.magatopia.com. Check it out. You can read so many publications online there that you’ll never run out. And you know–or should know–what editors say: Don’t submit without studying the publication. They’re serious. Otherwise you might as well close your eyes, flip through the pages of your favorite market guide and send to wherever your finger lands. Let me try it. Aviation History. Oh yeah, stories about childless women will fit in real well there. See what I mean. Aim carefully with your eyes wide open.

Enough babble for now.

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