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Showing posts from October, 2013

Book Review: Excuse me, Your Participle’s Dangling!

By Catherine DePino (reviewed by Linda Lane) The preface of this book opens with these words: “No matter what your circumstances, Excuse Me, Your Participle’s Dangling! will give you the bare essentials of grammar that you’ll need to write like a pro. This book also offers a simple yet foolproof method of writing under pressure, the key to success in any college program or workplace.” While this sounds like a practical approach for many folks, how does it work for novelists, who rarely fit into the “academic” category and whose grammatical needs can sometimes be extensive and complex? Chapter one appropriately addresses verbs. Why appropriately? Verbs empower sentences. Verb choice can determine whether a sentence lies on the page, soon to be forgotten, or rises up to compel a reader to digest its content and continue reading for more gems. This chapter focuses on verb types, weak and strong verbs, active and passive voice, and irregular verbs, covering the “bare essentials

Grieving 101

Losing someone you love is never easy, but losing your spouse, your soul mate, your partner in life is especially hard. My husband died on September 5th, and the days from then until today have been a challenge. One part of me wants to bury my head under my pillow and never peek out at the sun again. Another part of me says, "Get up, do your chores and enjoy the glorious sunrise." Life goes on. Life must go on. It does help to have things you have to do. Mindless tasks like feeding the animals, clearing the pasture, doing some laundry. What is so terribly hard for a writer is trying to get back to writing, as any of you reading this who have walked this same path of oneness can affirm. At first, you are just too numb to write. You're almost too numb to remember to eat or to breathe, and thank goodness we have friends and family to remind of us to do that. At some point, however, you know you have to get back to the writing; just like you have to get out of b

Part 2 – Scary, Satisfying, Work for Hire with Kris Bock

Yesterday I discussed work for hire writing , with some reasons writers might want to try it. Now let’s look at some more specific pros and cons, and how to get started. Isn’t it hard? You certainly face some specific challenges with WFH, though no more or worse than with other kinds of writing. While the work often allows a lot of creative freedom, ultimately you have to meet a publisher’s strict guidelines. This can include targeting an exact length and reading level, as well as including specific material and writing in a certain tone. In some cases, you may see your work changed in ways you don’t like. You can use a pen name, but you can’t refuse to make changes. On the other hand, sometimes the work will be published without your name, and in a few situations you may not even be allowed to talk about the projects. Finally, WFH requires the ability to meet tight deadlines. Writers often have only a few weeks for shorter projects, and a few months for novel-l

Scary, Satisfying, Work for Hire with Kris Bock

Don’t Quit Your Day Job. How often have you heard that? And yet how many writers would like to do exactly that? But writing full time is scary. You can’t possibly survive just from your writing… can you? In truth, many writers make a living from writing, including thousands whose names you wouldn’t recognize. Most of these writers don’t have the luxury of only working on their own fiction, however. They may offer editorial services, give writing workshops, do school visits, or write articles or work for hire (WFH) books. A combination of these can bring in a relatively steady income, whereas trade fiction tends to have more ups and downs. It’s the “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” technique, especially good advice when the basket is as unstable as publishing. People may use “work for hire” to describe different kinds of work. For writers it usually means freelance work done as an independent contractor. A contract should clearly describe who holds the copyright (usually t

Getting Organized: Digital, or Paper?

Like many writers, I juggle a lot of commitments: writing organization leadership, team blogging, speaking engagements, writing deadlines, conferences and networking events. I have to pay quarterly taxes and monthly bills and juggle editing clients. Remember birthdays. And, every now and then, I squeeze in routine health appointments. It’s a lot to keep track of, and it’s getting worse now with the increased workload demanded in advance of and surrounding my book release. In years past, Staples has met my organizing needs. I adore office supply stores and the entire notion of getting organized—Sharpies in one of each color, please, and same with those Post-Its! I’ve looked forward with glee to purchasing and setting up my planner each year. This year, I always pledge, I’ll stay on top of things! My chiropractor will testify that I've struggled with my system. How many times has a call from his office had to pull me from my fictive dream, twenty minutes past

Top 10 Things That Terrify

In honor of All Hallow’s Eve , I decided to make a list of the top ten things that make my hair bristle and chills erupt on my arms. I love horror movies, the suspenseful kind, not the gory kind. Unfortunately, they leave a lasting impact. *Courtesy 1. Things that go bump.  I once heard footsteps in the house when I thought no one was home. I froze, petrified, until I realized school had ended and it was just my daughter rolling out of bed at a time when she should have been at school. Unexplained sounds are guaranteed to up the adrenaline. I can’t count the times I have searched the house with my flashlight/taser or a big knife because I heard a strange noise. 2. Faces in windows. When my sisters and I were teenagers, our friends thought it was hilarious to show up outside our bedroom windows at night. It was not so funny, especially after reading a chapter of Stephen King. Seeing a face you don’t expect staring at y

How to Remember

I’ve heard on more than one occasion that being a senior is not for the fainthearted. If you’ve survived long enough to get an AARP card, or even past that and gone on to handle the Medicare maze as I have, you know what I mean. If you haven’t, you’ll learn soon enough. It may seem far away, but you’d be surprised how fast the years fly by. Being a senior author poses its own challenges. These days you not only need to operate writing equipment, such as a computer, printer, mouse, backup drive, and so forth, but also remember afterward how you did it so you can do it again.  That’s not all. Along with all the ins and outs of creating a great book, you're also expected to discover and implement ways to promote that book and others you've written. You host your own website and interact on social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Blogger and Wordpress. While you're at it, you keep track of your unique passwords, since using only one password for eve

Witch Books for Halloween?

I’ve always had a bit of fondness for stories with witches in them – perhaps I was one in a previous life! My personal interests lie mostly in herbal studies, and I expect most women marked as witches in prior days were nothing more than miscast healers. Such is the case with one of my favorite classic books by Mary Stewart, Thornyhold. During Gilly Ramsey’s lonely childhood, the occasional brief visits of her mother’s cousin were a delight, seeming like visits of a fairy godmother. Years later, when Gilly inherits Thornyhold, her house, she discovers that her cousin, with her still room and herbalist practices—and her undoubted powers—had long been known to the locals as a witch. Another favorite new paranormal collection is the Witchcraft Mystery series by Juliet Blackwell . Set in the modern day and now four books strong, the story begins when Texas witch, Lily Ivory, opens a popular vintage clothing store on the west coast. As one of San Francisco ’s resident wit

Calling for Back-Up: Sidekicks and Henchmen - Part 2

The previous posting on the subject of Sidekicks vs. Henchmen was devoted to exploring what these secondary characters have in common.  In this installment, we’ll be examining the significant ways in which they differ. Broadly speaking, there are two issues to be considered.  On the one hand, there is the personal relationship which exists between the group leader and his/her second-in-command.  On the other, there is the question of how henchmen relate to one another as members of a group. One key difference between Sidekicks and Henchmen is predicated on altruism. A Sidekick, consciously or unconsciously, is dedicated to serving some Greater Good as embodied by the Hero.  A Sidekick has the best interests of the Hero at heart.  His operant faculty is intuition:  in extreme instances, a good Sidekick will “go with his gut” even if that means disobeying a direct order given by the Hero.  If, in spite of all good intentions, a Sidekick screws up, he can

Calling For Back-Up: Sidekicks and Henchmen

Batman and Robin Photo by Dave Keeshan , via Flickr In an earlier posting, I noted the fact that Heroes and Villains alike are intelligent, resourceful, and charismatic. It naturally follows that individual members of both parties should attract followers. Those attached to a Hero are popularly referred to as Sidekicks ; those attached to a Villain are commonly known as Henchmen (or alternatively “minions” 1 ). Insofar as these subordinate characters perform similar narrative functions, they belong to the same species. When it comes to personal affinities, however, they belong to rival clans. This installment will be devoted to examining the points of comparison. I will be exploring their distinctive differences in Part 2. No man is an island. This saying holds true for the Heroes and Villains that occupy the pages of modern Fantasy. These individuals can exist as one or the other only in a populated environment – which is where this discussion begins. Sidekicks and H