Saturday, December 24, 2011

How do you Celebrate Christmas?


Have you ever thought about the true meaning of Christmas and why we celebrate it? Is it exchanging gifts or spending time with your family and friends or is it a holy time of remembrance and adoration? Some would say it’s all of the above. I’m guessing that it has to be more than decorating a Christmas tree or waiting for Santa to drop down the chimney with his bag of presents. For me it’s a time of memories from all of the Christmases of my past. Kind of like when the ghost of Christmas Past took Scrooge on a trip down memory lane.

I remember the long hours my mother spent placing lights and ornaments on our Christmas trees. Then she hung lead tinsel, one strip at a time, on every tree branch. It looked gorgeous. She often reminded me that God sees the entire tree and that meant that the back of the tree should look as beautiful as the front. This put a lot of pressure on me because it was my job to decorate [wait for it] the back of the tree. I believe that I was seven when I first picked up that task. Funny how some things stay with you...I can still hear my mother telling me about the side of the tree less seen. To this day, I take the same care decorating every side of my trees.

My father would help “proof” (his words) the eggnog. We had two different eggnogs, one for me and one that I wasn’t allowed to touch. In those days, eggnog was made from scratch, not bought in a wax-impregnated carton. It was thick and we put real whipped cream on top. Funny, I remember that the more they drank their “special” eggnog the happier they became. I also fondly remember playing with my American Flyer train set until mother made me go to bed.

However, back to my original question; why do we celebrate Christmas? Did you know that the earliest records mention a feast held in the Church at Alexandria, Egypt, around AD 200, to honor the Nativity? The celebration of Christmas did not become a church-wide celebration until the late third and early fourth centuries. It took many hundreds of years before the Western Church’s decided on 25 December to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s funny how an event that took place thousands of years ago has made such a strong impact on our daily lives. Gift giving harkens back to the Three Wise Men who brought gifts to a baby in a manger. Did they receive something in return…you bet they did…a blessing from God that they took back to their people and spread the news that Christ the Savior was born. We do the same thing when we exchange presents with loved ones or do a kindness to a total stranger.

I want to wish each of you a MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR.

I will begin blogging about my writing journey after New Years. I have been hard at work on book two of my trilogy and it is almost finished. I am excited to start writing the final book because I have several more stories that I want to pen.

Now for some fun. If you want to track Santa’s location as he circles the earth check out this NORAD site. It’ll keep you and your children up-to-date on his location.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Find Dialogue Box and your writing

A month ago, I used my word processor's “find and replace” dialogue box to add a period after every instance of the abbreviation, Dr. It was simple task and I thought that I had a handle on it. Then I saw the results—452 instances were found in my manuscript—and changed! Oops!

After mouthing the number “four hundred and fifty-two,” several times, I checked on the results. Using the “Find dialogue box I typed in Dr. And hit the search button. It did correct the word Dr, changing it to Dr. It also added “Dr.” to every word that had a “dr” in it such as drink (, drying (Dr.ying) and hundred (hunDr.ed). You guessed it; I had to go back and manually change each error.

After researching this problem on the internet, I found out that Microsoft Word 2007 (my word processor) has an expanded menu that prevents this type of mistake. Below is the “Find and Replace” dialogue box.

Look at the bottom left and see the “More>>” button. When you click it, the box expands. It is set up correctly to find and replace Dr with Dr. However it will also replace every instance of Dr or dr with Dr. Pressing the more button opens up a menus (see below).

Placing a check mark next to “Find whole words only” will save your sanity and replace only Dr with Dr. Isn’t computing fun.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Two Different Editors of Value for your Manuscript

Today I want to discuss two different editors for your manuscript. One covers any type of manuscript including screenplays. The other is for the YA writer.

Imagine a professional proofreader who checks grammar, style and keep you on track with tried and true suggestions. She is a full-time novel and script proofreader, analyst, writer, ghostwriter and editor. Her name is Tammy Gross and in her own words:

My entire career has been a mix of creativity and entrepreneurship. After 25 years providing music transcriptions worldwide while dabbling in freelance writing and proofreading, the transition is now complete with writing in the forefront and music in the proverbial background.

Her skills include Writing & Ghostwriting: books: novels, how-to, historical biographies; screenplays: shorts, historical biopics, action-adventure, Christian testimonial; plays: musicals, skits; other: short stories, newsletters, blogging, research reports, and copywriting.

What she offers is

• Detailed proofing (spelling, grammar, punctuation...).

• Editing (consistency, word-smiting, page appeal...).

• Formatting (notes on format, technical direction...).

• Story notes (continuity, structure...).

I know what you are thinking. For all of the above services on your manuscript I can’t afford it. Not so my pretty. Tamera charges only a dollar a page or .005¢ per word.

I have been using her to edit my own manuscript, and boy, does it look different now. Her web site is If you mention my name and manuscript (Edwin D Ferretti III/MYSTERIOUS GIFT) she will give you fifteen percent discount off of your entire manuscript.

The second editor specializes in TEEN novels. Her web site is at . I will let them introduce themselves.

Teen Eyes is an editorial service for your YA manuscript. We bring a dual perspective that your critique partners and beta readers may not have: we are the age demographic of your future target audience, teens, as well as experience writers ourselves.

About Kate: Kate has completed eight novels to date. Her fifth novel, tentatively titled LIKE CLOCKWORK, won the 2010 PUSH Novel Contest. It is currently undergoing revisions with Jody Corbett at Scholastic Press. She is represented by Edward Necarsulmer IV of McIntosh & Otis. In addition to having extensive experience as a freelance editor, Kate works as an intern at Scholastic Press where she reads many (agented and unagented) submissions. She is 18 years old and lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.

About Taryn: As of July 2011, Taryn has completed eleven novels. They range from YA contemporary to fantasy to YA thrillers to everything in between. She has done a number of paid critiques, and she interns as an assistant at a nationally renown literary agency where she reads lots and lots of slush (yay). Taryn is 18 years old and lives in Seattle, Washington.

Reading their credentials makes me humble. Their price is very reasonable. Her’s their take on what they offer.

What We Offer

• Would I read on? AKA the Submission Package

o In this case, you would send me your query letter and first ten pages.

o I will read the query letter as if it were the back of the book, tell you whether it worked or not (AKA would I read on) and WHY, and then move into the first pages. At this point, I would stop whenever I lost interest as if it were traditionally published. I will, of course, tell you why I stopped and any other thoughts.

o This is a flat-rate service of $10.

o Expect your package within 3 business days of my note saying I received your submission.

• Reader Report

o Your submission length would be up to you.

o I would return to you a couple pages of what I liked and didn't like from your submission. I will read as a reader, rather than a writer, so this is not the right package if you are looking for an in-depth critique or editing. I will also include where I would have stopped as a reader.

o After the first 20,000 words, this service is $0.50 per 1000 words. Under 20,000 words is a flat rate of $15.

o Expect your package within 5 business days of my note saying I received your submission.

• In-depth Critique

o Your submission length would be up to you.

o I would return to you the full manuscript with in-text comments in addition to a reader report (defined above).

o After the first 20,000 words, this service is $1 per 1000 words. Under 20,000 words is a flat rate of $25.

o Expect your package within 7 business days of my note saying I received your submission.

• Line Editing

o Your submission length would be up to you.

o This service focuses on the small things, like grammar, spelling, word overuse, and cliches. Unlike the other service, the Line Editing package has little to do with my teen perspective and uses me instead as a competent copy editor. Both of us received near-perfect scores on the writing portions of our SAT and ACTs scores.

o After the first 20,000 words, this service is $1 per 1000 words. Under 20,000 words is a flat rate of $25.

o Expect your package within 7 business days of my note saying I received your submission.

• Double Teen'd

o Want both of us to read your manuscript? We can perform the same services as stated above, but you'll get 10% off each critique.

• Free Packages

o Query help! Always, always free.

o 2-page synopsis read through. Does it make sense? Have you hit on everything important?

That’s it for today and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

To EM or to DASH?

The EM Dash Verses the Ellipse

It has been awhile since I have had the leisure to blog again. When the harvesting season arrives in Nebraska, I raise my head up and take notice. When my farmer friends ask what I will be doing for the next month I never refuse to offer my help. I am not a “farmer” by trade and as such had to be taught all of the basics. Driving the big John Deer tractors is a hoot and this season I was shown how simple it was to run a combine with hydrostatic steering.

The days are long, hot and the rewards great. It is almost like being in the military; with the camaraderie and cold beer. The fields are empty now; only a golden splash of color covers the ground where waving Winter Wheat once stood. I am back to my writing and exploring better ways to improve my manuscripts

A few weeks ago I followed a discussion on LinkedIn on the use of the EM dash. The main article recommended the elimination of or minimal use of this wonderful grammar tool. After reading all of the comments I put it aside (see above) and thought about it for a while.

The EM dash has been available to the author since the first typewriter was invented. It was common practice to use two hyphens to represent an EM dash. The idea being that the width of the two hyphens corresponded to the width of the capital “M” on the typewriter’s keyboard. If you are using WORD to compose your manuscripts you can also use two hyphens ( -- ) or press the CTRL and ALT keys and then the minus sign on the numeric keypad ( — ). If you look at the above two hyphens you will note that they correspond to the width of a capital “M.” The digital age has changed the size of the EM dash—now it is longer.

The em-dash is used to indicate an interruption in speech or to emphasize a phrase. Examples include:

1) “What the—” erupted from Jen’s mouth.

The roar of a lion exploded in her mind, and her body froze in place.

2) Twenty-first birthdays are memorable events in every girl’s life—Jen’s was no exception—it was a complete disaster. NOTE: There is no space between the word letters that an EM dash separates. (…Life—Jen’s…).

The ellipsis is used to indicate a pause in speech, missing text or to slow the reader down—draw out the sentence.. Examples include:

1) “Well, I guess it will work for me. It might take some time. I...have to admit, it does make you look cuter,” he mumbled.

2) “I, Umennre, warn of the coming of the Swthshee. Heed my words...”

3) The eyes stared at her with deep foreboding, if they were trying to tell her something important, something scary and something urgent.

There are other uses of the EM dash and Ellipse. The above examples are ones you—as a writer—are apt to use in your own writing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Books and Props—Take Your Pick.

New writing books in my library.

A year ago, I became a Writer’s Digest VIP. WD tried to entice me to renew my membership by offering me 35% off any of their writer’s books. This was something I could use and I took advantage of it. After careful consideration—I purchased several of their publications and want to recommend some of them.

The Breakout Novelist by Donald Mass: Fiction writers of all levels and genres who want solid craft advice and writers ready to send their manuscripts out to agents and editors but aren't sure of the next steps will value this comprehensive writing reference by top New York literary agent Donald Maass. It contains the most essential information from four of his bestselling books, Writing the Breakout Novel, Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, The Fire in Fiction, and The Career Novelist plus updated content. This book is spiral bound and lays flat from page one to the last page.

The Fire In Fiction by Donald Mass: How do widely published authors keep their stories burning hot? Learn how to supercharge every story with deep conviction and, conversely, turn fiery passion into effective story. The Fire in the Fiction shows you not only how to write compelling stories filled with interesting settings and vivid characters, but how to do it over and over again. With examples drawn from current novels, this inspiring guide shows you how to infuse your writing with life.

Write Great Fiction Dialogue by Gloria Kempton: How do some writers craft conversation so authentic, it feels like they've been eavesdropping? What's the secret behind getting characters to talk to each other? How can writers make their dialogue sing?

Answers to all of these questions and more can be found in Gloria Kempton's in-depth look at this crucial component of fiction. Readers will learn how to create dialogue that sizzles, with tips on:

• Creating dialogue for specific genres

• Bringing characters to life with revealing dialogue

• Identifying and fixing common dialogue problems

• Each chapter features numerous examples of successful dialogue drawn from bestselling novels, and chapter-ending exercises help readers apply the lessons learned. This is one book that will get readers talking!

Write Great Fiction Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: The indispensable Write Great Fiction series continues with an in-depth look at three of the most important tools in the writer's craft: character, emotion and viewpoint. With the tips and techniques in this book, you will learn how to:

1) Create compelling characters that readers believe in

2) Write scenes that deliver an unforgettable emotional impact

3) Distinguish among the many different kinds of viewpoint, and choose the one which is right for your story.

• Each chapter is filled with examples drawn from the work of successful writers; along with action-and-results, exercises that help you take your lessons to the keyboard.

Zounds by Mark Dunn: From "Geronimo!" to "holy mackerel!" Dunn highlights interjections, as readers have never seen them before.

What props do you use to set the mood for your writing?

I have always been a multi-tasked person in that I have several actions going on at the same time. Since they are complementary, I find that the blend enables me to focus on writing. I do enjoy listening to the sounds of the big band and place that in the background. I also use a thirty-hour digital recorder small enough to carry in my shirt pocket to take notes—when inspiration strikes—or record different sounds. Sounds are hard to describe with words much less make the reader think she/he is hearing that noise as they read your scene.

I can also call the place I live at a prop for my writing. My home or farmstead is amid hundreds of acres of farmers fields and filled with the sounds of nature. No cars traversing the street or lawnmowers put putting across a neighbor’s lawn greet me in the morning. Owls, pheasants and the whinnying from my two horses telling me it’s time to get up and feed them or the sound of the strong Nebraska winds as it ripples the Winter Wheat crops are pleasant backdrops that stir my creative writing mind. I experience the day first then settle down after dinner—relaxed—and write.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Make your own book cover

Today’s blog is a short one as I am going to lead you to a few tutorials on making your own book cover using the free program called GIMP.

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free software raster graphics editor. It is primarily employed as an image retouching and editing tool and is freely available in versions tailored for most popular operating systems including Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS X and GNU/Linux.

In addition to detailed image retouching and free-form drawing, GIMP can accomplish essential image editing tasks such as resizing, editing and cropping photos, photomontages combining multiple images, and converting between different image formats. GIMP can also be used to create basic animated images in the GIF format.

GIMP's product vision is that GIMP is or will become a free software high-end graphics application for the editing and creation of original images, icons, graphical elements of web pages and art for user interface elements.

You can download the free GIMP program here and the user manual here. Once the program is installed on your computer, download the two free book cover tutorials here and here have fun. You can make covers for your eBook too.

It took me three days to get a handle on the GIMP program. The tutorials cut through the mist and confusion. My first success is above when I tried to make a logo for my book. I know it is pitiful but it is a start and I will improve it as time goes by.

I found an editor who charges $1.00 a page (200-word count) or .005¢ a word. Her link is here.
Have a wonderful Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Is a single word universally recognized?

In chapter one of my current WIP, titled QUEST, I introduce a group of antagonists bent on capturing my protagonist and taking over her business of selling alien spacecraft to world countries. I hinted to my readers that the head honcho is an alcoholic. Below, are my original sentences that I used to describe him making a rum and coke.

He poured a stiff shot of Bacardi Rum into a tall tumbler and added ice cubes and cola, watching the bubbles exploding at the rim. The knife slipped from his trembling hand as he cut a wedge of lime. Settle down, it will get better, he promised himself.

My trusted beta reader quickly pointed out that the words Bacardi Rum were redundant in that the word Bacardi was recognized universally to mean rum. After gnashing my teeth several times I decided to do some research into this enigma. I reasoned that maybe Bacardi sold other liquors under their brand name and was surprised at what my research found.

The original company dates back to the 1860's. Over the years the company purchased many different types of liquor. Bacardi has made several acquisitions to diversify away from the eponymous Bacardi rum brand. In 1992 Bacardi acquired Martini & Rossi, the famous Italian producer of Martini vermouth and sparkling wines. In 1998 the company acquired Dewar's scotch and Bombay Sapphire gin from Diageo for $2 billion. Bacardi acquired the Cazadores tequila brand in 2001 and in 2004 purchased Grey Goose, a French made vodka, from Sidney Frank for $2 billion. In 2006 Bacardi purchased New Zealand vodka brand 42 Below. Other associated brands include the US version of Havana Club, Drambuie Scotch whisky liqueur, Disaronno Amaretto, Eristoff vodka, B&B and Bénédictine liqueurs, and the Canadian alcopop Rev.

The bottom line is that Bacardi sells other liquors with their logo on the bottle and I am sure in small print a statement like Produced by the Bacardi Company. The only bottle they sell with the Bacardi label is their rum line. The two most popular rums are Bacardi Superior and Bacardi 151. With this in mind I changed the sentence to read as follows:

He poured a stiff shot of Bacardi Superior into a tall tumbler and added ice cubes and cola, watching the bubbles exploding at the rim. And if you are asking, yes, this passed by my special reader.

What two words do you have together in your manuscript that is unnecessary and how did you correct


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Three Free PDF Writer's Books That You Need

Today’s post centers around three free PDF publications. Two deal with writing query letters and the third, by Agent Noah Lukeman, titled Ask a Literary Agent (year one).

A short while back YA author Elana Johnson offered a free copy of her digital eBook titled From The Query to the Call. The free download is still available at her Website.

. This 61 page book is chocked full of tips and straight talk about writing the best query letter for your novel. It covers:

• What queries are and aren’t.
• The query hook, setup, conflict, and consequences.
• Researching agents.
• Sending your query.
• Responding to agent requests or rejections.
• Cover letters.
• Revising for an agent.
• Fielding “The Call”.
• Query Samples.

The second free book titled How to Write a Great Query Letter by Noah Lukeman, President of Lukeman Literary Management Ltd. He is also the author of writer’s aids such as The First Five Pages and How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent. This 110 page free eBook covers:

• Chapter 1: Preparation
• Chapter 2: Formatting
• The 4 Formatting Red Flags
• Chapter 3: The 3 Paragraph Rule
• Chapter 4: Your First Paragraph: The Introduction
• Chapter 5: Your Second Paragraph: The Plot
• 3 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Plot Paragraph
• Exercise: Creating a Logline
• 4 Positive Traits to Have in Your Plot Paragraph
• Exercise: Refining Your Plot Synopsis
• Chapter 6: Your Third Paragraph: Your Bio
• 4 Common Mistakes to Avoid in Your Author Bio
• 8 Positive Elements to Include in Your Author Bio
• Chapter 7: Fiction versus Non-Fiction (How a Query Letter Will Differ)
• 7 Elements to Include When Summarizing Non-Fiction
• 2 Crucial Elements of a Non-Fiction Bio
• Different Types of Non-Fiction
• Chapter 8: Final Issues to Keep in Mind
• 7 Common Mistakes
• Conclusion
• Checklist: 30 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Query Letter
• About the Author

The final 71 page free eBook, Ask a Literary Agent (Year One) by Mr. Lukeman covers questions and his answers writers have asked him during the first year of his blog. Questions asked and answered:

• * Should my agent let me know which publishers/editors have read my work, and provide me with copies of the rejection letters?
• * I am just starting out and have never been published. What should I put in my bio?
• * My agent is unwilling to sell world rights to my book. What should I do?
• * How does one land a job as a literary agent?
• * Should I revise my work for a prospective agent?
• * Can I fire my agent mid-submission?
• * Should I query an agent with several books at once?
• * Once I land an agent, how long does it take to land a book deal?
• * What is the ideal page count for a first novel?
• * How many agents should I approach?
• * If my agent doesn’t like my next book, should I fire him?
• * Why won’t publishers respond?
• * How long should I wait to hear back about my manuscript?
• * How many copies must a book sell to be considered a success?
• * Will being published by a small press help my career?
• * Can self-publishing damage your career?
• * Is there a market for literary fiction set in a country outside of the United States?
• * Can I be represented by two literary agents?
• * Should I finish the manuscript of my novel before submitting to agents?
• * Do agents really read the first five pages? Or just the first five sentences?
• * What do you look for in a logline?
• * How do I find out what agent represents a novel in my genre

All of the above gems are worth reading, taking notes and applying lessons from these two outstanding authors.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

I want to wish everyone a Happy Easter and family and friends to share it with.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Reflections of a writer

Sorry for the late blog post. Honestly I have been caught up in my own world of working around my farmstead and correcting problems that have plagued me for years (yes, I said years). First there is this rusty pipe that stretches’ from an underwater cistern down a hill and under the barn to an old fashion pump. The hand pump broke off several years ago and now there is a large hole filled with (you guessed it) water.

Then my water well pump jack malfunctioned and snapped the pump rod. I quickly filled the horse’s water tank and promptly ran out of water. This condition lasted for nine days while I portaged water and pulled the pipe and rods from the well—279 feet down I found the culprit and repaired it. You might ask what this has to do with the above water hole next to my barn. Good question.

During the nine days I spend working on the well; I wandered behind the barn and was surprised to see a dry hole. It took me two days of slinging mud before I found the offending pipe. Needless to say there is now a new hand pump in the middle of the hole. Reflecting on the lesson that I learned—if water stops flowing here it also stops at other places. In other words accidents happen—repair them and make the best use of your time—the same lesson applies to your writing.

I leave you with my reflections in pictures. The first shows what caused them and the second is titled Reflections.

Reflections off my Chicken Coop

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Will Print Books be Replaced by Digital Media?

Today’s post covers the topic, Will print books be replaced by digital media. I look forward to your remarks on this subject.

For the past several years I have read articles hinting that the eBook reader will replace the printed book. My answer then as it is now is maybe. By this I mean that the traditional publisher’s model of printing a hardback novel followed by the paperback must change .Change to what? I foresee a model where most of the hardbacks and paperbacks will be replaced by the trade paperback only. It is clear that the digital book is here to stay and has impacted the overall sales of hardback/paperback books.

When I first began researching how much eBook sales increased the profit of the major publishing companies I noted a surprising trend. All of the major companies reported almost identical digital sales—2 to 3%. Today, these sale figures can’t be ignored because they are now in the 25 to 30% range. Do you see a trend here?

Follow this link to a publishing giant’s article titled Dumping print, NY publisher bets the ranch on apps. It will open your eyes.

Friday, March 25, 2011

As writers we are often told to “Show, don’t tell.” What does this mean?

To tell it—easy, show it—page turner. David was impressed with that sentence (telling using narrative summary). David’s eyes devoured the typed words—a smile filled his face. Wow. I didn’t believe I had that in me (showing using both action and interior monologue).

Randy Ingermanson has written an excellent description of the tools used in showing and telling. I added the descriptions for each word(s). His full article can be read here.

When we say “showing,” we mean that the author is using the following tools:

• Action. Doing something toward your goal, achieving a purpose, important events in your novel.
• Dialogue. Characters words, formal discussion, spoken words between two or more people in your book.
• Interior Monologue. Expressions of a character’s thoughts and feelings.
• Interior Emotion. A strong feeling or agitation about something or somebody.
• Sensory Description. Heightened sensory (taste, touch, smell, sight, hearing) awareness.

When we say “telling,” we mean that the author is using the following tools:

• Narrative Summary. The story or account of a sequence of events in their proper order.
• Exposition. Act of describing or discussing something in your story. Back-story in your novel.
• Description. The process of giving an account or explanation of something in your story.

An excellent (with examples) definition of Showing and Telling is found at Inspiration for Writers .
“Are you an idiot?” Sam yelled. The glass shattered, causing deep cuts in David’s hand. “What—did you call me?”  If you can show it you can paint a picture in your readers mind, record or film it. In the above example you can sense David’s hand gripping tighter around his glass until it breaks bringing pain (can’t you picture the blood dripping on the floor and hear the anger in David’s voice?).
Here are two examples from my current WIP. You tell me if they are showing or telling. In the first example, Jen (protagonist) meets Perseus (a disguised Greek Prince) for the first time. The second paragraph, from my first novel, describes Jen’s impression when meeting her Supreme Commander of her Army for the first time.  What examples of Showing and telling do you have from your WIP?  
• Jen waved the line closer and for the next two hours, she greeted each person and held their hands as they told their story. One young man approached with a bloodstained patch over his right shoulder—his arm hung useless by his side. Jen liked what she saw. He is not rich, by the cut of his clothing and he is Greek, not Egyptian, she thought. His long brown hair, tied in the back, hung down past his broad shoulders. In addition, his dark brown eyes sparkled of pride and courage. Bowing in front of Jen, he thanked her for saving his best friends life with her magic.

Jen liked what she saw. Narmer was a middle-aged man who had a no-nonsense demeanor. Taller than most of his contemporaries, his hardened face expressed assurance and at the same time wisdom. Jen guessed his weight to be around 180 pounds and almost six feet tall.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


“A smile is the shortest distance between people.”
                                                                 Victor Borge

I want to welcome my new followers. I will be linking my blog with yours and hope that my articles spark something creative in your writing/publishing experience.

Last night I watched the PBS special on my favorite side-splitting pianist, Victor Borge. One of his routines that he performed dealt with punctuation. As new writers we often struggle with the correct usage of punctuation. His world famous, “Phonetic Pronunciation,” makes it all clear. If you have never heard this before please take four minutes and listen…you will laugh.

The eBook revolution is gaining momentum and many published authors are turning to this means of mass communication. New authors are also jumping on the bandwagon. Only a small percent of their books make a large splash in the reader community. Some are poorly written with little or no editing, bad plot, weak characters and redundant story and a few are brilliant.

I read an article on a published author who turned down a $500,000 advance on his most recent book. Randy Ingermanson has a discussion with James Scott Bell and discuses the pros and cons of the author’s decision. Click the link to read the full interview, (Scroll down halfway to find this article).

A year ago I would not have thought of self publishing my own manuscript much less only doing it through the eBook medium. What are your thoughts on only self publishing as an eBook?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

He said—she said in dialogue. How do you mix up these voice tags?

There is an interesting post on Linkedin about the overuse of the he said, she said dialogue tags. How do authors break up this repetitiveness? First let’s assume that the human mind works faster than the eye and that the brain glosses over the, he/she said dialogue tags. Think of it like breathing. The process continues every second of the day and we do not conscientiously think of it. The same can be said of these pesky tags. What our eyes gloss over the brain processes and we move on. Sometimes there is a need for another way to show who is talking.

I use actions in some of my sentences to indicate who is speaking. The examples below show who the speaker is without the, he/she dialogue tags:

“Crazy how that suddenly happened, I mean out of the blue,” Cheryl removed her hand from her brother’s mouth.
“I am sorry to wake you, “David stuttered, “the aircraft has a heating problem, and it is freezing inside.”
“My body is physically here but my mind is still in bed,” David told them.
“I have uncovered a half of a slate palette,” Tom’s excited voice called out.
“My deceased husband found it somewhere outside of town.” Jen’s gaze followed Useret’s hand as she pointed it toward the direction of their camp.

I have a list of alternate dialogue tags often used to add action to your manuscript. It is included below—enjoy.

• Accepted, Acknowledged, Admitted, Advertised, Affirm, Agonized, Agreed, Alleged, Announced, Answered, Appealed, Apply for, Arranged, Articulated, Asked, Asserted, Asseverate, Assumed, Assured, Attract, Aver, Avow,

• Barked, Bawl, Bawled, Beamed, Beckoned, Begged, Bellowed, Beseeched, Blubbered, Blurted, Bossed, Breathed, Broadcast,

• Cajole, Called, Carped, Cautioned, Censured, Chimed in, Chortled, Chuckled, Circulate, Claim, Comforted, Conceded, Concurred, Condemned, Confer, Confessed, Confided, Confirm, Consoled, Contend, Continued, Crave, Cried out, Criticized, Crooned, Crowed,

• Declared, Defend, Demanded, Denote, Dictated, Disclosed, Disposed, Disseminate, Distribute, Divulged, Drawled,

• Emitted, Empathized, Encourage, Encouraged, Entreated, Exact, Exclaimed, Explained, Exposed,

• Faltered, Finished, Fumed,

• Gawped, Get out, Giggled, Given, Glowered, Grieved, Grinned, Groan, Groaned, Growled, Grumbled,

• Handed on, Held, Hesitated, Hinted, Hollered, Howled,

• Impart, Implied, Implored, Importune, Inclined, Indicate, Informed, Inquired, Insisted, Interjected, Invited,

• Jabbered, Joked, Justified,

• Keened,

• Lamented, Laughed, Leered, Lilted,

• Maintained, Make known, Make public, Marked, Mewled, Mimicked, Moaned, Mocked, Mourned, Murmured,

• Necessitated, Needed, Noted,

• Observed, Offered, Ordered,

• Passed on, Pleaded, Postulated, Preached, Premised, Presented, Presupposed, Proclaimed, Prodded, Professed, Proffered, Promised, Promulgated, Proposed, Protested, Provoked, Publicized, Published, Pulled, Put forth, Put out,

• Quaked, Queried, Quipped, Quivered, Quizzed,

• Raged, Ranted, Reckoned that, Rejoiced, Rejoined, Released, Remarked, Remonstrated, Repeated, Replied, Reprimanded, Requested, Required, Requisition, Revealed, Roared,

• Said, Scoffed, Scolded, Seethed, Sent on, Settled, Shared, Shed tears, Shouted, Shrieked, Shrugged, Shuddered, Sniveled, Sobbed, Solicited, Sought, Specified, Spread, Stated, Stressed, Suggested, Supposed, Swore,

• Taunted, Teased, Testified, Thundered, Ticked off, Told, Told off, Tore a strip off, Touted, Transferred, Transmitted, Trembled, Trumpeted,

• Understood, Undertook, Upbraided, Uttered,

• Verified, Vociferated, Voiced, Vouched for, Vouchsafe,

• Wailed, Wanted, Weep, Wept, Wheedle, Whimpered, Whined, Whispered,

• Yawped, Yelled, Yelped,

Word of caution. Be sensible, sprinkle in alternatives to said sporadically, and your work might glitter – use them everywhere, and your work will tarnish.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

To E-publish or not to E-publish

This is a great 1948 movie on the process of putting a book together. It makes you appreciate the word overhead as viewed through the eyes of a publisher. The number of people it takes to set up, print, collate and finally tie it up into a book is impressive. Add to this the cost of the machines, paper, ink, utilities and you wonder how anyone in the publishing industry earned a profit back then.

Question of the day.

I saw a man today who mimicked the opposite of what I did.

“Who are you trying to kid?" I asked, "how is that possible—how can this be? If I move to the right do you wriggle a knee?”

“Nothing as difficult as that,” he assured with glee. “I’d simply move to the left—now do you see?”

With my eyes fixed firmly on his face, I accepted his challenge and quickened my pace—for it was the middle of the night. I walked to the left—he disappeared from sight.

Who did I meet?

Two excellent articles by Randy Ingermanson* on self publishing.

Why James Scott Bell Chose to E-Publish

Is There A Price For Self-Publishing?

*Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the
Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing
Ezine, with more than 24,000 readers, every month. If
you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction,
AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND
have FUN doing it, visit http://

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing
and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Writers Daily

This is a quick post today. If you are like me and don’t have the time to read every reader newspaper (ezeen) that you receive then check out TK Richardson’s The Writers Daily. All of the major events and happenings in the writer community are covered. Articles include:

• Headlines
• Art & Entertainment
• Stories
• Technology
• Education
• Business
• Leisure
• #amwriting
• #wdborders

The last two topics are for Twitter users. Speaking of Twitter I just joined and am trying to figure out how to display Twitter feeds on my blog, any help in this area is appreciated.

TK and several of her friends work hard to bring the best writer’s news to your doorstep. If you are not subscribed to this ezeen then now is the time to join.

Dark Jenny
(Did I mention she also covers book reviews) - Ah, once again, we meet the inestimable sword jockey Eddie LaCrosse in DARK JENNY, Alex Bledsoe’s third installment of the LaCrosse fantasy noir saga. The series is tons of fun with the main charac...

Hold the line folks. I noticed that I have had my 2000th view of my blog…wait now it’s 2001…if only I had that many followers.

If you can raed this tehn you are sdinantg too csole to yuor mntoior.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Does your novels first sentence hide subliminal messages?

Fun: If you can read this you join a group comprising 55% of every 100 readers. This exercise demonstrates that the human mind reads/translates whole words instead of individual letters. You can try this out at home. The first and last letter must be correct. Your mind will unscramble the remaining letters to make sense of the word.
 Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.

The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at

Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a

wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be

in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed

it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed

ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and

I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

I wonder what a query letter in this format would look like. I bet the agent would be shocked...he, he, he.

What can a novel’s first sentence tell you about your protagonist?

Here is mine from my manuscript, MYSTERIOUS GIFT:

Twenty-first birthdays are memorable events in every girl’s life—Jen’s was no exception—it was a complete disaster.

This sentence tells a lot about my protagonist. I count seven different facts. Can you spot others?


• The protagonist is 21 years old.

• BD’s are supposed to be happy events.

• She has expectations that her BD will be unforgettable.

• The protagonist is feminine.

• Her name is Jen.

• Jen’s BD will be etched in her mind forever.

• The outcome of this once in a lifetime day wasn’t what she hoped for.

Wow, a single well crafted sentence at the beginning of your novel is a powerful means of revealing additional information, about your main character, to your reader. The original sentence uses eighteen words vice the sixty-one words needed to explain your hidden edits. I added forty-three extra words into the mind of the reader.

Think of it this way. I edited my first sentence by cutting forty-three words. I call this Hidden Editing. I wanted the information to be presented however; I wanted my first sentence to be as short and revealing as possible.

How does your first sentence save space on paper and at the same time tell more?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Can swap words help your writing?

One writing tip I learned is not to use the same word repeatedly within a hundred words of each other much less within a single paragraph.

Sometimes it is hard, especially when using your protagonist’s name. This is where pronouns help. Words such as him, her, she, he, you, them, it, ours, who, which, and I can be used to replace a noun (persons name). Depending on the tense of your writing (first or third person) you can even use pronouns to replace pronouns—her for she, him for he or me for I.

Another way to substitute words is to use the Thesaurus and find a synonym for the speech you want to replace. A synonym is a word meaning the same as another. Most word processors have a dictionary and Thesaurus. In Microsoft Word simply hover your cursor over the word, right click it and you are presented with the option of looking its definition up or checking to see the synonyms. As an example: hover your cursor over this word simple. The synonyms are—easy, straightforward, uncomplicated, trouble-free, undemanding, effortless and plane. Choose the word that best fits your sentence and substitute it for your overused word.

What do you do if a word has no synonyms? This is where a good dictionary comes in handy. Hints often arise for alternate language or phrases simply by reading its definition. Sometimes you can substitute a written expression with a showing statement. For example, say your protagonist has a cold and coughs a lot during a scene. Instead of using the word cough, try something like; his stomach shuddered as he tried to catch his breath.

How do you deal with the overuse of words in close proximity to each other?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

If it weren’t for Bad Luck I would have any luck at all.

Poor writing does not emanate from a broken quill but from an untrained mind./edf 2011

What is Bad Luck? Is it something you earn on your own merits or is it dealt out at birth? Do you consider a rejections Bad Luck (BL) and continue sending out query letters.

I define BL as an unplanned setback. In the past two months, I experienced a trio of BL. First, my windmill—my only source of water—broke the gears in its motor. It took me three days to find and put up a pump-jack; water again flowed. Second, I had the gasman add one hundred gallons of propane to my outside tank. The valve failed and within two days, my tank was dry. This took place during the coldest snap of this winter season. Temperatures dropped down to minus nine and I lived inside the house huddled next to my fireplace. When the gasman returned he found a screw that needed tightening and refilled the tank. Heat filled the house again. The next day I heard water running and discovered that two pipes in the ceiling of my downstairs bedroom burst, collapsing the ceiling and soaking everything in sight. I fixed the damaged pipes and had water inside the house again.

Three unexpected setbacks that ended with positive results (well fixed, heat restored and water running). I look on rejection letters as positive information. They whisper two things to me, the agent did not think my manuscript was a fit for her or my query letter needs tweaking. Weighing the rejection letter in one hand and my passion for my writing in the other the obvious answer is to draft another query letter. How do you handle rejection letter?

Friday, January 21, 2011

How do your Writing Habits affect your Novel?

When I first take the weight off my feet to write a scene or chapter I find that I can quickly churn out 1500 to 2000 words.They might be great words—they might be horrible words—taking up space on a book page. For me the important thing is that I had an idea for a place for something to happen in my book and wrote it down. I read over what I wrote, take mental notes, turn off the computer and think about until the next day.

The first thing I do when I turn on my computer again is to read the events leading up to my new scene to see if it flows in a logical progression (one scene to the next). After that, I reread my previous days writing, flesh out the conflict/action and catastrophe (if any) and mentally move to my next action. I find that I usually add another 100 to 200 hundred words every time I do this. This process lasts about three days before I am satisfied and move on to the next scene.

How do you tackle scene or chapter writing? Do you first motor through to the end of your book, go back and edit or do you attack each scene/chapter, one at a time?

Writers Quote, for inspiration:”It is my goal to one day write a novel that every reader I’ve ever had feels is the best thing I’ve ever written.” By award winning author Nicholas Sparks

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Twenty agents eager for your manuscripts.

Agent Query has done it again. This month’s newsletter is chocked full of great articles on writing including a list of 20 agents looking for new manuscripts/writers.

It's January and the publishing industry is back in session! Agents are busy pitching to publishing editors and on the hunt for new, fresh manuscripts to sell, sell, sell. That means the first month of the year is one of the best times to query agents—and querying new agents, junior agents, and associate agents at veteran agencies is one of the smartest strategies to help an aspiring writer snag an agent.

For this reason, we've pulled together a list of over 20 literary agents at some of the most elite, established agencies—Victoria Sanders & Associates, Andrea Brown Literary Agency, J A Bberwocky Literary Agency, Nancy Coffee Literary Media and more—who are actively building their clients lists. Just remember: you only have one-shot to capture an agent's attention, so make sure you check out our industry-approved, top Google ranked "How to Write a Query Letter" guide in order to ensure your 250-word query letter is all SHAZZZZZzam! with zero flow-fizzzzzle.

Tip of the day from Bree Ogden of Martin Literary Management

Start marketing yourself right now. Use the Internet in every way possible. Get your name out there. Build a powerful blog and get a following. Join writers' groups. Get beta readers. Join sites like Attend writers' conferences. Do your research. There are so many tools to help you achieve your goal. You just have to really really want it. This isn't a process you can rush through. You have to fine-tune everything before you move on to the next step in the business

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What do you see happening with e-Books this year?

Michael Hyatt is the Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the largest Christian publishing company in the world and the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S. His answer to this question appears below and is worth reading. I subscribe to his RSS feed and have learned a lot about creating and improving my writing skills.

Welcome! If you find this page useful, you might want to subscribe to the RSS feed for my updates. You may also want to follow me on Twitter.

I don’t know exactly how things will shake out long-term, but I believe we will see the following six trends in 2011:

1. Bundled Books. Some publishers have experimented with this, including my company. However, I believe it will happen in earnest this year. The major e-tailers will make it possible for you to buy different kinds of e-bundles at a discount—a bundle of the same book in both print and e-formats; a bundle of of one author’s complete library or most popular titles; or a bundle of several titles on a particular topic.

2. Social Reading. I have seen several concept demos of this already. (Here’s one.) But this is the year it will be widely implemented. Imagine hosting a digital discussion group, inviting a dozen friends or co-workers and being able to see one another’s highlights, comments, and questions—and reply to them. This interaction could happen in preparation for the group meeting or in place of it.

3. e-Book Clubs. With over a million new books published in 2009 (the last stats we have), we are awash in content. We need curators more than ever. A single editor or a panel of them will pick the best of the best. Since it is all done electronically, readers will choose the frequency in which they receive new titles. Just like the book clubs of yesteryear, etailers will give them an e-book bundle in exchange for a commitment to purchase a specific number of titles at a special membership discount.

4. e-First Publishing. We are already seeing this, of course. But again, I think the trend will accelerate—especially since 19 of the top 50 books in 2010 sold more e-copies than print. Publishers will see this as a way of reducing risk and testing the market. The print copy will be manufactured for those who prefer them (still the majority of readers) or printed on demand for those who want a souvenir.

5. Free e-Readers. E-tailers will do this as a premium for readers who buy bundles or join e-book clubs. Or they might provide a dramatic discount to induce the next segment of holdouts to try digital reading. More and more the dedicated reader will be seen as a commodity, just like razors are to razor blades. In the near-term, expect to see the major e-Readers drop below $100.

6. Monetization Experiments. We will begin to see publishers try new ways of monetizing content. This will include in-book advertising (or commercial-free for a premium), sponsored links, subscription delivery, and even all-you-can-read options for one price. Most of the infrastructure for this already exists. It’s just a matter of someone capitalizing on it.

 Tell me what your thoughts are concerning the future of eBooks.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Tip on where to sign your book at your book signing?

When you attend your own book signing where do you sign your name? There is a standard place that published authors sign their books. Any guesses. Drum roll please.

The accepted place to sign a book is on the title page. More specifically, it is below the title. Some authors sign over their printed name. Others cross out their name replacing it with their signature. Now you know as much as I do.