My thoughts on writing tips found online and in published works (with some random thoughts thrown into the mix).

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Freelance Editing

Up until recently, I have worked exclusively with Grit City Publications. During the past few months, I worked with author Scott McKenzie on his holiday piece, A Gitmo Nation Christmas Carol, outside of the company. Due to the wonderful time I had, I am spreading my reach even further and going public as a freelance editor. Here is a quick look at what I have to offer:

If you are here, that means you have a passion. You love the emotional thrill of writing and have plunged into creating your own magical story. You are giving bodies to the characters in your head and you can feel the fire in your fingers as you bring them to life. Sometimes you write with such fervor that you wonder at how fast the ideas came into your head and slammed onto the paper. Before you really know that you have begun, you realize that you will need an editor to help improve your piece. Now that you have written such a wonderful project that you know will change the reader's life, if only for a moment, you need to make sure it is perfect. There can be no punctuation errors, your facts all have to line up, and your story needs to be consistent.

That's where I come in. Your passion is writing; mine is editing. My name is Rebecca Hoffman. I am a freelance editor, both for independent authors and for Grit City Publications. I started correcting my mother's grammar and spelling when I learned the concepts and I've been thrilled by proofreading and developmental work ever since.

I enjoy working with fiction of any length, from flash stories to novels, and nonfiction pieces, including handbooks. I base each rate on the project at hand, factoring in length and amount of work required, so I will send you a quote after reviewing your manuscript. I am more than happy to work on a project that is in any stage of completion, so it doesn't matter if you have just finished the first chapter or have reached "The End." I am also able to adjust to your specific needs, doing everything from basic copyediting to intense developmental editing.

If you would like to preview my editing work, please check out the Grit City Publications handbooks, the Lily Dair mystery/thriller series, or the Financial Success for Creative Professionals marketing plan handbook.

When you are ready to begin your journey down the editing road or would like more information, please email me at I look forward to working with you!

You got an iPad or tablet! Now what?

On Christmas morning, you ripped off the crinkly bow and the shiny wrapping to behold a slightly heavy box. Inside was the iPad or tablet you have waiting for all year! Fantastic! Now that your highly-anticipated Christmas gift is in your hands and you have played with all the nifty features, what do you do with it? The answer: read an Emotobook!

What are Emotobooks, you may ask? Well, if you don't know that answer by now, you are certainly missing out! Emotobooks are ebooks that are jammed full of hard-hitting emotions and abstract art that packs a punch. They are designed to be consumed during your morning commute, during your lunch break, or as you are winding down for bed. They come in EmotoSingles, which are short stories designed for one sitting, and EmotoSerials, which are longer stories broken down into bite-sized chunks, much like a TV series.

Ready to get your first taste yet? Check out the following titles:

To learn more about Grit City Publications and the Emotobooks Revolution, visit the website.

Happy reading!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's getting closer...

Christmas time is almost here! Are you having trouble finding last-minute gifts for the loved ones in your life? Or maybe you just need a gift for your neighbor or coworker because they already got you something. Either way, Grit City Publications has the solution!

If you have a creative professional in your life, such as writer, artist, or actor, you can help support them and show them the way to success with the new marketing plan, Financial Success for Creative Professionals. This ebook will help them find a way to dig in to their career and make sure that they get the recognition and business that they deserve.

For the readers in your life, Grit City Publications has many fictional emotion-packed Emotobooks to share! You can choose from EmotoSingles, bite-sized stories to consume in one sitting, or EmotoSerials, which are longer novellas and novels split up into easily-consumed chunks (much like a TV series is split into episodes).
You can find them all, with links to their Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes listings, at the Grit City Catalog page.

To learn more about Grit City Publications' goals and missions, visit the Emotobooks page of the Grit City website.

Happy holidays and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Guest Blog: Jason D. Bryant

For today's post, Jason D. Bryant (@Jason_D_Bryant) has stopped by to talk about his new short story coming out in January, TABAKA, with Grit City Publications. Dig in!

I began writing my 1st book back in 1998, simply giving a concept an idea. In 2000, the idea grew and I gathered personal real life experience to the book idea, thus creating an outline. It was here I learned that full length novels were not going to be my forte but instead, short stories were my ticket. By 2002, the book was well underway with a cover, a title, a concept, a fluid arrangement of consecutive short stories that interlinked, and a series of plots that fed off each story. The book was called BLOODDAY. In 2005, I finished it, and put it on a shelf in a manuscript box until 2009. I loved it but was embarrassed by it for it never saw the light of a real editor. In late 2010, I put the book on for the Kindle and I sold 13 copies. I removed it in 2011, again embarrassed for even putting it online.

I loved each story and I liked the unique way each story tells the entire book, like ores in a canoe, guiding the book along. What I was most embarrassed about was simple: me. I write as passion; a hobby, for fun. I can write anything and I can say, “I like this.” Someone else’s opinion is a different story! If John Doe from The Windy City says, “You’re book sucks.”, I wouldn’t care. I would smile, thank him for reading it, and be on my way to write some more, hopefully better. But if some famous author said that, I admit, I’d be in the corner re-enacting The Fly crying, “Heeelp Me! Heeelp ME!” I didn’t go to college to be a writer, nor have I taken any creative writing courses. Just College Comp I & II, that’s it.

I began helping others with their stories, ideas, overview, drafts, concepts, illustrations, directions, and projects; completely ignoring my own. But then, in the midst of discovering Twitter, I met someone. A ‘THE WALKING DEAD’ fan who also is an editor: Alexis Jenny, and she told me about Grit City Publications and what they do. A month later, I submitted all 7 stories from BLOODDAY and another short story to them, just to see what they thought, nothing thinking any of the 8 would be liked. To my complete surprise, they accepted 5 of the 8 to be formed into Emotobooks! I never saw this coming!!!

I’m proud to say that after under a year of learning the company’s mission goal, discovering what an Emotobook is (which is the future of eBooks, ladies and gentlemen), and the incredible production staff, I am proud to announce that all my 10 years of hobby writing short stories, wrestling episodes, and project building with other authors has FINALLY paid off, and in a BIG WAY! With the powerful help of my editor Rebecca M. Hoffman, the Grit City Publishing CEO Ron Gavalik, and the newest illustrator to the company Darcy Lynn, my debut Emotobook TABAKA will be hitting eReaders world-wide!

Click this link to learn about Grit City Publications from Pittsburg PA, Emotobooks, all the Emotobook authors :

But as for what TABAKA is about begins with a question for you: If you were able to have perfect posture, self-healing capabilities, scar free and unblemished skin, uncontrollable pheromones, be ageless for decades, and be completely desirable to anyone; what would you sacrifice about yourself to have such a life? Your dignity? Your morals? Your soul? And what if you had no choice but to subdue to this lifestyle under restraint, forced to be attractive and beautiful for people were your meal ticket to perfection, as well as your meal itself? How would you live? How would you cope? Well, meet Sarah Dayer.

An ageless and pompous creature named TABAKA inhabits itself into Sarah Dayer for the rest of her life, offering her everything she needs to exist like no other human. What would be considered medical gifts, such as being physically flawless and immune to all diseases, Sarah finds these so-called miracles as bounded traps to keep Its existence inside her body. After a year of dealing with Tabaka’s existence, and after self-analyzing everything she’s ever learned about It, she believes she knows the way to remove It from the world before it can cause the living nightmare of Tabaka to exist in someone else. (TABAKA, the debut Emotobook from Grit City Publications written by Jason D. Bryant, edited by Rebecca M Hoffman, and illustrated by Darcy Lynn; coming January 2013!)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Computer Issues and TABAKA

Well, when I got my computer back, I did some updating, cleaning up, and resetting. I think I may have solved the issue! I haven't seen the dreaded blue screen since I got my laptop back. Victory! (Now let's just hope that I haven't jinxed myself).

In just a few short weeks, the newest short story from Grit City Publications (@Emotobooks) will be making it's big debut. Entitled "Tabaka," this EmotoSingle is written by the brilliant and enthusiastic Jason Bryant (@Jason_D_Bryant). I have had an absolute blast working with this author! He has an incredible wit, genuinely enjoys his craft, and has an intense desire to learn anything and everything he can. It is being illustrated by Darcy Babines (@deadartssociety), who is a new illustrator for Grit City. This is her first rodeo, so to speak, and she is doing a fantastic job! Her artwork is spot-on and greatly amplifies the emotions already strongly presented in the manuscript.

Now, you may be wondering, what IS Tabaka about?
For years, Sarah Dayer had been locked in an abusive relationship. Living with her fiancé in a small town in Ohio, Sarah finally escaped his violent outbursts and mental battering by running across the country to Arizona. She reinvented herself and her life, going back to school to become a nurse and eventually working in the local ER. Now, an unexpected new nightmare is about to catch up with Sarah Dayer. She will need to return to her past in order to change her present.
This excellent EmotoSingle horror will keep you locked to the edge of your seat. You will squirm, you will gasp, and you will smirk. You will ache with Sarah as she recalls her regrets, past and present. You will root for her as you follow her journey across the miles to reclaim her life. Are you ready for this emotional experience?
Prepare yourself, because it's coming!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

In Less Than 72 Hours...

...I will have my laptop back! My poor electronic device is still broken. They determined it is a software issue, and my warranty only covers hardware and memory issues, which a blue screen is usually an indicator of. Just my luck! Once I get my laptop back, I'll have to make a systen recovery disk and go from there. I really don't care if I have to go as far as wiping it clean, all my important stuff is on my flash drive and external hard drice anyway.

On a good note, they replaced my increasingly-sticking keyboard. That was covered by the warranty.

On another good note, I have come to appreciate my tablet a lot more. It is a pain to type on, and I certainly can't do my editing work on it (no Word=no TrackChanges), but it is very convenient for reading and checking my emails on. I have never really gotten into using it for eBooks, but I might now.

Or maybe once I get my new phone for Christmas that doesn't shut off when I try to use apps or hold a call for more than 5 minutes (thank goodness for upgrade discounts) that might change again. Who knows?

All I know right now is that it will be nice to have a physical keyboard again. This post has taken me three times longer to write than if I was on a computer. Yikes! Just goes to prove how much I miss blogging!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Upcoming Absence

My newish laptop (it's less than 2 years old) has been acting up lately. Actually, it's been acting up for over a month now. When I'm on the Internet for any length of time, it likes to shut down, including the infamous blue screen. Luckily, I bought the extended warranty when I bought the computer, so I am still covered.

When I called the manufacturer about fixing it, they said I had two options. One, I could ship it to their service center, which costs $50 just to mail it. Or, two, I could take it to the nearest authorized repair center, which is about an hour or so away from me. Since I am going that direction anyway today for another errand, I am taking it to the repair center.

The only issue is that I won't be able to get back down that way during the shop's open hours until the Wednesday after Thanksgiving. I already have my tweets scheduled, but I won't be able to make any blog posts (unless I can somehow jump on someone else's computer between now and then!). I also probably won't be able to respond to any emails, direct messages on Twitter, or Facebook notifications.

In short, I won't be online for about two weeks. Don't give up, though, I will be back!

Since I won't be around to say it then, I wish you all a very wonderful Thanksgiving! See you soon.

-Rebecca and her Red Pen

Monday, November 12, 2012

Guest Blog - Achieving Financial Success

My friend Ron Gavalik, author of Grit City, mastermind behind Grit City Publications, and the writer of Financial Success for Creative Professionals, has offered to share his thoughts today on how to achieve financial stability in the creative world.

Propel Your Creativity Forward and Achieve Financial Success
Ron Gavalik

As a publisher and marketing professional, I’ve always found it vitally important to ensure creative professionals possess the correct tools to market their work to the right kinds of audiences. I’ve enjoyed a long and fruitful career ensuring the success of businesses, but also multiple fields in the arts. I take a lot of pride in sharing that learned experience with others.

Unfortunately, I’ve met so many creative people who honestly believe they’ll never make a secure living by pouring passion into their work. That kind of cynicism is sad and frustrating, especially when I know for a fact that it’s not true. We all require housing and plumbing to sustain life, but it’s creativity that gives our lives purpose…and talented creators perform a necessary function in our society. It’s my job to make sure they earn a high middle-class income.

That’s why our team assembled Financial Success for Creative Professionals, the first of its kind marketing plan that’s guaranteed to drive your long-term success.

In the modern era, writers, artists, performers, models, photographers, musicians, and crafters face two real challenges when it comes to selling their creative products and performances. The first is contending with an oversaturation in the market, where so many indie creators are now selling their work to the masses. The second and more important challenge is gaining the marketing knowledge to break through the chaos and build a significant fan base that leads to achieving a secure revenue stream.

Because of the oversaturation, consumers are only willing to invest about 5 to 10 seconds viewing a creative product or performance on a website or at a tradeshow. If they’re intrigued, they’ll stay longer to absorb more of the experience and begin to build what’s referred to as an emotional investment. That happens when something about the product or performance you created pleases the sensory pathways of the brain and a person is compelled to become part of the experience, such as making a purchase.

On the other hand, if the consumer doesn’t emotionally identify with your work in a few heartbeats, they’ll navigate away from your website or walk away from your booth. Their psychology will register your product or performance as a negative experience and you’ll never see them again.

In that brief 5 to 10 second moment, the potential fan stands on the shore of a river while your work sits on the other side. You must persuade the consumer into building a bridge (emotional investment) to cross the river and then obtain your creation. That’s no easy feat, but when we understand how to brand a creation and then present it properly to potential fans, it’s easy to achieve the needed connections with hundreds of thousands of consumers.

How do we do this? Exposure. The marketing plan shows us how to attract the right kinds of consumers, referred to as target audiences. These targets must be exposed to a properly branded product or performance over and over again for their minds to build the bridge across the river and purchase your work.

Financial Success for Creative Professionals provides you the tools to drive hundreds of thousands of target consumers to your creations. You’ll also gain the ability to brand your work in a unique category that eliminates competition. It’s that created perception of your work that raises you above the chaos of so many indie writers, artists, musicians, and performers in the world.

The marketing plan is delivered to you in five-parts to achieve long-term success. You’re walked through expert marketing theory as it applies to the arts. You’ll construct your public marketing structure. The plan then drives your media marketing initiatives to win support of social media followers, the news media, and others. You’ll diversify income from multiple sources into your one checking account. Don’t worry; it’s not that complex. You’re given easy to follow checklists for daily, weekly, and monthly initiatives that respects your artistic time. That’s the guaranteed formula that will achieve you the true success your passion deserves.
Now that you’ve been given a glimpse of the proven marketing plan, it’s my hope that you’ll take your creative career seriously and allow your work to raise the quality of life in potential fans around the world. If you pour your passions into each project or performance, you must propel your career to the next level, realize your full potential and achieve success.

Let’s make it happen.

Good hunting.

Ron Gavalik’s Bio:

Ron Gavalik is the author of Financial Success for Creative Professionals and has over 20 years of celebrated experience in corporate and creative marketing. This former Director of Communications has assisted private, nonprofit, and artistic organizations achieve success through grassroots experience marketing initiatives. Gavalik is currently the Publisher for Grit City Publications and creator of the innovative Emotobooks fiction medium. He holds a B.S. in Marketing Communications from Point Park University and an M.A. in Writing from Seton Hill University. His work in the arts has shaped success for countless creative professionals who seek financial independence.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Character Traits

Everyone struggles with making their characters believable and realistic. Every author wants their character to resonate with their audience. Every writer want the readers to feel what the characters feel, to root for the "good guys" and hope the "bad guys" fail. But how, exactly, do you instigate this emotional connection?

One major task is to make sure that each good guy has a flaw and each bad guy has a redeeming quality. Don't make the characters flat; there is no such thing as a person who is purely good or purely evil. Well, unless your character is a saint or a devil. Even then, your saint could have an issue with losing his faith or your devil could have a soft spot for orphan children. People relate to what they recognize in themselves.

To accomplish this level of diversity, you have several different approaches available to you. You can model the characters after yourself. If you volunteer at the local soup kitchen, but pull out your credit card every time you see the word "clearance" or "sale," you can give this flaw to your character. You can also mold the characters after your close friends and family. Does your mom have a hard time with road rage, even though she works as an elementary school teacher? Take those values and traits and insert them into your characters (if you follow your friends closely, though, it might be a good idea to warn them that they star in your story!).

Stumped for ideas? Exhausted your close resources? Go sit in a public place, such as at the mall, the movie theater, or an amusement park, and people-watch. Even if you don't see enough to really know what a person's different characteristics may be, you can certainly imagine what they are like. No one cares if it is accurate, and in this case it is 100% okay to judge a book by it's cover. That girl covered in tattoos? Yep, she has an issue with insecurity but she also takes time to play with the neighborhood kids. That guy with his pants slung low? He dropped out of high school, but he also works a dead-end job to help his sick father with the bills.

Along with all this is the idea of giving your character a history. Give them family, friends, and a past to reference throughout the story. In real life, everyone is affected by their past. If you fell off the swings when you were a toddler, you might have an aversion to looking over the edge of a skyscraper. If you got sick after eating a bowl of chicken noodle, you might not be able to see the soup without feeling nauseous now. Allow your character to have these same quirks and you will give them a depth that readers can relate to.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Financial Success for Creative Professionals

If you are any type of artist (visual arts, music, writing, etc.), you need to check out this book! It will help you advance your career. This is not a scam, gimmick, or other wasting-your-time type of deal, and I wasn't hacked. I know some people who have followed this plan in it's development stages, and it really does work.

Financial Success for Creative Professionals

*I will be writing a full-length blog post about this later*

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Time for a Change

I created this blog back in January, when I was still a newcomer to the blogging world. I had no idea what to call it, so I chose the first thing that came to mind, Drop in the Ocean. Newly graduated from college, it described how I felt: like one tiny drop in this much larger world. I felt lost.

Now, 10 months later, I am much more confident in my editing abilities and feel like I have earned my (albeit preliminary) stripes. I know what I want to do with this blog, I know what direction I want my career to go in, and I feel like I know a lot more about my profession. I have been editing with Grit City Fiction for as long as I have had this blog, and I have been blessed to work with many talented authors, illustrators, and the publisher himself. They have been very patient and have helped guide me along the way, so I have developed my abilities and have a great deal more in-the-field knowledge about editing than I did before.

Since I have developed so much as a professional, I feel it is about time my blog developed as well. I have updated the design and color scheme. It is easier to read and navigate and looks more professional. I have also changed the name to "Rebecca's Red Pen." I feel this pen more accurately reflects my outlook now, as I am growing into an editor that can stand on her own merit.

Overall, I am glad to be able to grow this blog alongside my own personal and professional growth. I hope that we both can continue this journey as I learn even more about editing and publishing in the coming years. Here's to change and improvement!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Improve Your Writing with Romance

When surfing through my email this evening, hunting for interesting blog articles and writing world news, I came across a blog post from the Smashwords blog posted on Friday, August 3rd (I get over 50 blog posts in my email every day, so I read my subscription emails by random chance). The author of the post, Mark Coker, writes about attending the 2012 Romance Writers of America (RWA) conference. Check it out at

What I found most interesting, however, is that he gave this little tidbit of advice: "Even if you write thrillers, mysteries, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy or even horror, your books will probably get better if you study romance. Romance writers are among some of the finest storytellers of interpersonal relationships. If you want your readers to care what happens next to your characters, study the masters."

This thought had never crossed my mind before, but suddenly, I was wondering why it hadn't! He hits the nail on the head, romance writers have the most experience in trying to convey human nature. They have to make their readers feel the sparks in new relationships, connect with the hearts and minds of their main characters, and genuinely care about every happening in the character's lives. The biggest success for any romance writer is to have their audience walk away feeling that they have lived another person's life.

For many writers of different genres, the characters can be the hardest part. Not only do the descriptions have to be just right, but how in the world do you make them seem real? How do you give them depth without having to divulge every thought and every emotion they feel? How do you focus on their inner workings while advancing the plot and keeping the reader entertained?

Well, writers, Mark has given some great advice. Romance authors have a huge fan base, with many readers consuming books faster than any other genre. They are obviously doing something right, and it has to be with their characters and those characters' relationships. So next time you are feeling stumped about how to show sadness, excitement, or anger, take a few minutes to sit down and read a romance novel. I'm sure you will find inspiration and a bit of wisdom in between the lines.

Friday, November 2, 2012

A Hard Sell

I will be the first to admit that, when it comes to selling books and ebooks online, I am a hard sell. In a good deal of author interview blog posts, I start to nod off. Reading a description of an author's new book can make my attention slip away. On the rare chance that you do happen to catch my attention, you still have to get me interested enough to go beyond reading the synopsis and actually click "buy." You have to be original, unique, and different. You have to find a way to show me why your book stands out from the millions of others out there that I could find by using the same keywords. If it's a thriller, you have to convince me how I can find something in your writing that I can't find in any other thriller. Not only does your book have to keep me on the edge of my seat, but your promotional efforts have to do the same thing. One lapse into boredom and that door is indefinitely shut.

Today, I found an interview pitch for a book that actually succeeded in making me want to click further. ( The author starts off by tackling the question of why I should care. She questions her own sanity and shows us that she has done her research. She proves that her book is different. She pushes us to realize that her novel is exciting, especially compared to to the hum-drum alternatives out there. She shows us that there was a definite void that she is here to fill for us. Then, she dives into her topic and makes it pop. I suddenly realize that I want to learn more about verbs. I want to gain a deeper understand of my own language and my own profession, writing. I want to become better at writing and, especially for the author, that means it is essential that I gain a greater knowledge about a key element of the English sentence. And if her pitch is this good, I begin to wonder about how great the book will be. I'm already drawn in, and I've only read a few short paragraphs!

Anyway, the point is, you have to be aware of your tough-to-attract audience and find a way to sway them to your side. The author above found a great way to do that, so I recommend you click the link so you can see what she did right and find a way to do the same thing for your own writing.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Improving your SEO

If you have your own website or blog, you have most likely heard of SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. This is a tactic that helps boost your presence in search results. Why is this important? Because if you are low on the results totem pole, then no one is going to find you! If you are on the front page, however, people are more likely to click on your link, bringing in not only views but potential clients or buyers. It is up to you to keep them hooked with good content and/or products, but it is also up to you to make sure that they make it to your site in the first place.

While I have read several books and articles on this subject, they always seemed vague and never really helped me understand how to improve my SEO. I got the idea, but didn't know how to make or implement a plan. Keywords are great, but how do I insert them in my blog posts without making them awkward? If I write posts that aren't about writing, editing, and publishing, how do I still make sure that my blog shows up in search results for these topics? No one wants to beat their audience over the head in the interest of widening their audience, so it's important to maintain a balance. But how?

Today, I ran across a great post at the Writerland blog by Meghan Ward, called "9 SEO Tips for Authors" (click the link here: She really helps spell out the terms of SEO in a way that authors and others that might not delve so deeply into the world of technology and website searching. I really have no idea how search engines like Google actually work, so I didn't know where to begin. Meghan breaks it down into easy steps that help anyone improve their visibility in the World Wide Web.

One thing that I found interesting is that one way search engines decide what keywords to associate you with  is your bold text, headlines, and hyperlinks. I didn't know that the titles of my blog posts could really make that much of a difference. Simply by highlighting the words writing, editing, and publishing, I could be increasing my rank in search results for these topics. Pretty neat, huh?

I also found an intriguing tidbit in her point about contextual text. If you are writing about something off-topic, such as an author that writes sci-fi but is writing a post about the new Barbie doll, you can include a mini blurb for the end of each post that mentions what you really want the world to know about you. In this example, the writer could include a blurb that says "My book, ______, about _________, is due out on September 1st! To learn more about this book and my other works, check out my website, ______." It's that easy! You up your keywords, which increases your SEO potential, and it's really that simple.

For more helpful tips, please feel free to click the link about to Meghan Ward's blog post. She has many more useful insights into SEO to share!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Describing your Characters

During my daily blog-reading travels, I came across a post on The Bookshelf Muse blog by Angela Ackerman that I would like to share. The post, entitled "Physical Attribute Entry: Teeth", sparked my mind to think about the general idea presented at the beginning of the post. To find the full text, please visit:

Before talking about how to describe a character's teeth, the blogger points out how difficult it is to really nail down a good character description. In her own words, "too much will slow the pace or feel 'list-like', while too little will not allow readers to form a clear mental image." So, that begs the question, how do you find the balance?

When you are writing, you can picture your character as if they were physically standing before you. You could describe every feature, every hair, and every freckle. You could go on and on about how they dress, the way they walk, the particular accent they showcase when they speak, and how they hold their hands at their side. For you, the character is a real person that is unique and complex.

Some writers end up coming up with a list-like description because they want the reader to see the character the exact way they do, down to the very last detail. They want to recreate the person they see and force the reader to do the same. The fact is, however, that the reader will never see EXACTLY what you see, even if you draw a picture to put in the book or make an animated mini-movie. They will use their imagination to come up with their own version of the character. The best you can do is to describe the character in a way that will bring the two interpretations together.

To put it simply, you have to find a few key things that will bring out the essence of the character and his/her personality. For example, take Jack from the movie "Titanic." If you were to recreate him in a novel, your best chance of reaching synergy with the reader would be to pick out the things that make him "Jack." Instead of writing down a list describing every attribute of his hair, you must narrow it down. For instance, you could describe his love of having fun, his gorgeous smile, and his laid-back stance.

The best thing you can do for your character descriptions is to come to terms with the fact that your vision and that of the reader will never be the same. Accept that they will always be a little different, that the best you can do is get close to the image in your head, and your characterization will increase dramatically.

Friday, October 12, 2012

A New Journey

Tomorrow, I will be going out on a metaphorical road that I rarely travel. I will be temporarily abandoning the world of fiction, a world that I love, and delve into the world of technical writing. But, with a creative twist! I am helping out a friend, who also happens to be the head-of-it-all at Grit City Publications, by editing a handbook he is writing. Due to be roughly 150 pages, the first round of editing will be purely about the bigger picture. I'll need to read carefully for content and be prepared to ask a lot of questions. Because this handbook will be geared toward creative writers, I also have to make sure that the non-technical area of this world can easily follow it. Basically, I have to make sure that I would be able to use it myself. Sounds easy, right?

For me, this is going to be difficult. Even when I edit for content with Grit City, I tend to line edit at the same time. I could be classified as a nit-picker by some. Personally, I just think that I'm thorough. Even if the line I edit eventually gets cut, at least we knew it was a properly worded and grammatically correct line! For this one, because of the length of the piece and the short amount of time I have available to work on it, I can't do that. I have to remain focused on what the words are saying, not on the words themselves. At least for the first round. Round two will be correcting the little things. I might even go as far as to write on the back of my hand (where I can easily see it) BIGGER PICTURE to remind myself.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bad Days?

I was reading one of the blog posts that I subscribe to today, and I came across an interview on The Write Practice blog. The blogger, Joe Bunting, had interviewed author, professional speaker, and entrepreneur Joanna Penn (check it out here: As I was reading about how she avoids distractions and schedules her life to include writing, I came across this passage:

"What’s the worst writing day you’ve ever had?"
"I don’t really get this question as I don’t have bad writing days. There are days when I don’t write at all, but they are more like rest daysThere are days when I write a few thousand words and none of it goes into the book, but those are like practice days, and they definitely happen to everyone. There are days when writing is hard, but this is my living so I just get on with it!"
I was so shocked when I read this interview answer, my jaw dropped, quite literally. I have never heard anyone respond in such a way. I had never thought of anything like that, myself. And I most certainly had never heard a writer describe their 'bad' days like that. But, I knew as soon as I read these lines, that they were absolutely the best way to look at writing and at life. I find them inspirational, and I couldn't resist sharing them with you in order to pass that inspiration along.

Now, my question is, do you agree with this author? Or do you have another way to look at it? Please share your opinion!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Visiting Other Blogs: CAROLINE SMAILES

I have admitted it before and I have no shame in repeating it: I am addicted to blog subscriptions. I love being able to read many different posts from various blogs around the world in my email inbox.

Today, while scrolling through my subscription folder, I found a blog post from Caroline Smailes' blog, In Search of Me..., entitled "How Writers Engage on Twitter" (find it here: In this post, she addresses some things that have always bugged me about certain users on the social networking website.

The first quality that she points out is being "Consistent and Helpful/Funny/Open/Shouty." This means constantly giving your Tweeps something to enjoy about your posts, some reason for them to keep reading what you broadcast. Basically, you need to be interesting and be that way day after day. If you want to attract writers, you need to give them a reason to care about what you are posting. You can't just expect your viewers to visit your website, like your Facebook page, or subscribe to your blog if you don't allow them to get to know you as a valuable resource.

The second quality is being available. This means retweeting, replying, answer private messages, and reaching out to other users. The biggest reason for doing this is to start a conversation with your followers. You are building bridges and making connections that could lead to a mutually beneficial relationship. While your ultimate goal might be to promote your new book or guide more traffic to your blog, you won't succeed in any of these types of ventures if you don't make your Tweeps into friends. They need to know that you are a live person, not just a robot.

This all gives way to one of my biggest Twitter pet peeves: auto-promotion, as I call it. After adding someone, have you ever gotten a private message that asks you to view their website, buy their new product, or check out what service they are offering? Without ever talking to you, they pretend to immediately know you are interested in what they are pushing. I realize that automatic messages such as these might be a standard, but I loathe them. It all feels like spam to me and I delete every single one.

So, my point is to beg you, please, get to know your followers on Twitter (and other social media)! You don't have to make them your new best friend, just please acknowledge that they are a real person with real interests and make an effort before you try to promote yourself.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Editing - The Hard Part

I have been a very lucky person, in that editing has always come rather easily to me. I had a proficiency for spelling in elementary school, to the point that my second grade teacher let me come up with my own list because the regular list was too easy. My mom would have me correct her letters and other written notes constantly and got annoyed when I would correct her grammar while we talked. I always had a passion for English classes throughout high school and, when I went to college, my original major was Secondary English Education. While I ended up changing my major quite a few times, adding another major and then dropping both, I always had English as the core focus. I finally settled on being a Creative Writing major, which allowed me to learn even more about editing and to really perfect my technique.

Now, Creative Writing majors usually want to be the writers. They want to make their own work, sell it, and get their own words out there in the hands of others. I never really had this dream. I played with it for a bit, but I never really was dedicated to this idea. Somehow, my head always knew that editing was my real destiny. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy writing my own work, but it's only a side hobby that I delve into occasionally, with no real intent on taking it further than my own notebook. Instead, I live for taking apart the work of others, of strengthening it, sometimes cutting it to pieces, and making it the best it could possibly be. I proofread and give structural pointers, but my most important job is to make sure that the reader can really connect with what they are reading.

With the level of excitement and joy I get from doing this, you would think I would be eager to do it all the time. However, I am like a lot of people, in that it's difficult for me to actually sit down and do the work. I think about it and my mind exaggerates how much work it is. I have to force myself to pick up the manuscript and a pen and get down to it. Once I get started, I am in love with it, but the initial "getting down to business" phase is hard.

After thinking about this recently, I have decided to ask if anyone else out there has this problem. Writers, does it take a lot of discipline to sit down to a blank page every day? Artists, do you beat around the bush before finally picking up your instrument of choice? If you do have a similar problem, how do you defeat it?

Saturday, September 22, 2012


I will admit it: I am addicted to blog subscriptions! I love receiving new posts in my email inbox and getting to read all my favorite bloggers' thoughts in one place. And it's so convenient! It also helps me with my own blog, because I can tag posts that I find inspiring or though-provoking and I can help promote other writers that I feel deserve some extra attention. It also clues me in to some trends that might help develop my own blog too.

For example, I have noticed that some blogs have themes beyond a general one (such as writing, editing, or a specific genre). They will have "Wacky Wednesdays" or "Week-In-Headlines Fridays". I sometimes consider doing this myself, but I can never figure out what I want to do. I don't want to copy someone else. I also can't post every day, my full-time job and my editing job keep me busy enough! But I think it would be interesting to change it up every once in awhile and do something like that.

Does anyone have any ideas to help me out?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bike Riding

This past weekend, I finally retrieved my bicycle from the basement of my parent's house. On Monday, I took it out to the local state park to ride on the 7-mile long paved trail. That first day, I went 2 miles, took a 10 minute break, then rode the 2 miles back to my car. Today, I went back out again. This time, I went 3.5 miles, took a 5 minute break, then rode back to my car for a total of 7 miles. I was amazed that it took less than an hour to ride 7 miles, including some nasty hills! I've been walking this trail for the entire summer, so I am used to a 4-mile trek taking a little less than 2 hours.

I now wonder why I didn't do this sooner. It's so relaxing to feel the wind against my face and the strain of my muscles as I pedal hard. I can feel the stress just sliding away and then disappearing, as if it never existed.  The sun felt so good on my skin! On that trail, I could imagine summer lasting forever.

Unfortunately, that's not true: summer isn't going to last forever. In fact, it's already over. It's autumn now, nearing the end of September and October is approaching fast. By the end of October, if previous years can be used as a reference point, we will have snowfall and below-freezing temperatures. My bike will have to be put away until spring and I'll be stuck inside at the gym instead of outside at the state park. (Not least of all because that trail is used for snowmobiles during winter).

For now, though, I am enjoying every moment I get to take a ride. I'm soaking up the nice weather and pumping the pedals as fast as I can. In my mind, fall is stretching on into the distance and I'm gonna make the best of it!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I'm Back!

Hello everyone! After over a month and a half of having no Internet service at my apartment, I am finally back online. It was an interesting journey, to say the least.

First, my downstairs neighbor (each apartment is one story of a house) moved out on August 1st. We had shared her wireless, which wasn't supposed to get shut off until the 15th. Needless to say, it got cut off early, and we were suddenly without access to the Internet two weeks before we had expected. It took a couple days for my fiance to decide what level we could afford and to buy our own router.
Next, I called to set up the appointment. Much to my surprise, they had an appointment available in a week, which meant we would be hooked up within the first two weeks of August. However, when the technician arrived, we found out we needed access to the basement. I called Mrs. Landlord, only to find out that Mr. Landlord had the keys and he was over an hour away. Reschedule #1!
Skip forward two weeks to the next appointment (at this point, we have been without Internet for a month). Mrs. Landlord shows up with the keys to the basement and all is fine and dandy. Until the technician decides he needs access to the attic too, which is locked. Mrs. and Mr. Landlord have no idea where the key is. Reschedule #2!
Skip forward another two weeks, to September 11th (no Internet for 6 weeks). Mr. Landlord unlocked the attic the day before and Mrs. Landlord shows up with the keys to the basement. Finally, everything goes as planned and we are readmitted into the digital world. Third time is a charm, I guess!

I have been online periodically by using the WiFi at the McDonald's in Walmart after work and by taking my laptop over to a friend's house, but those visits only lasted long enough to do the essentials (checking email and paying bills). Now, I am glad to be able to access the Internet whenever I please and to be able to recommit myself to this blog and for encouraging submissions of popular fiction for Grit City Publications. While I never stopped editing for GCP, I wasn't able to communicate with authors, which I missed a lot. I always enjoy chatting with writers, illustrators, and other editors, so please feel free to reach out and get in touch! I'm excited to jump back into the world of genre fiction and produce more awesome works that are perfect for your to-work commute, sitting on the lawn between classes, or relaxing before bed. Hello again!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friends & Followers

I just wanted to let you know that I am going to be absent from here for a couple days.

My downstairs neighbor shared her wireless with us (upstairs). Well, she moved out at the beginning of this month. The internet was not supposed to be shut off until the 15th, but the company did it on the 1st instead. My fiance and I were trying to get quotes from the two suppliers around our area, but they wouldn't even give us an estimate price until the Internet was already shut off (why, I don't know). So, we are working on getting service back to our house, but it will take a few days.
I am writing this from the McDonald's in the Walmart I work at, because that is the only way I can get online.

I will let you all know when my house is back online. Until then, enjoy your August!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How many can you identify??

funny facebook fails - One-Sentence Classics

How many of these descriptions can you match to their titles? Feel free to leave your answers in the comments, but don't cheat and look down there!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

City Life

Ever since I moved to a small city in Pennsylvania, I have always been intrigued by the habits and movements of my neighbors. Trampolines seem to occupy almost every yard and it is easy to imagine the children jumping from one to another, bounding over fences and visiting every house in the neighborhood. I enjoy seeing the older crowd sitting on their front porches, waiting for the world to go by as they lounge. This is especially true for the house across the street, where I think the little old lady in the rocking chair is slightly out of her mind.

The thing that amazed me most, however, occurred during my first summer here. I heard annoying, distorted music floating through the surrounding streets. In mid-June, Christmas music was trying to enter my ear drums! Soon enough, around the corner came a plain white van. With no visible speaker, signs, or any other way to distinguish it from a work van, it was like a wheeled music box. Suddenly, all the children went running as fast as their little legs could carry them, running in front of the ridiculously slow-moving vehicle. I was confused! Why would these parents let their children run off like that to a strange, unmarked van? Then, the top of the side door swung to the side, displaying a menu full of cold treats. It was the legendary ice-cream truck!
Living in a rural area until I moved to this city, I had never seen an ice-cream truck in real life. I thought they were a legend of days past, when the world seemed a bit safer and smaller. I had no idea that they still existed, let alone roamed the streets of my new home. I was absolutely fascinated from that moment, and I still enjoy listening to the slightly-creepy music every summer. I never seem to have any cash on me when I have a chance to buy from the truck myself, so I still haven't experienced that, but part of me doesn't want to. For me, the truck still has that magical quality that it would have for a child, and I don't want to ruin that by finding out that ice-cream truck goodies are no better than their store-bought counterparts. I just enjoy watching my dream drive by.

Have you ever had a similar experience, where moving to or visiting a new area revealed something to you?

Sunday, July 15, 2012


For today, I decided I would open up my iTunes (which has quite a wide array of genres in it), put the songs on random, and comment about the first song that came up.

Today, that lucky song is: Psycho by System of a Down.
Psycho, groupie, cocaine, crazy 
Psycho, groupie, cocaine, crazy 
Psycho, groupie, cocaine, crazy 
Psycho groupie coke 
Makes you high makes you hide 
makes you really want to go, STOP 
Psycho, groupie, cocaine, crazy 
Psycho groupie coke 
Makes you high makes you hide 
makes you really want to think and stop 
stop your eyes from flowing 
Psycho, groupie, cocaine, crazy 
Psycho, groupie, cocaine, crazy 
Psycho groupie coke 
Makes you high makes you hide 
makes you really want to go, STOP 
Psycho, groupie, cocaine, crazy 
Psycho groupie coke 
Makes you high makes you hide 
makes you really want to think and stop 
stop your eyes from flowing out 
so you want the world to stop 
stop in and watch your body fully drop 
from the time you were a 
psycho, groupie, cocaine, crazy 
so you want to see the show 
you really don't have to be a ho 
from the time you were a 
psycho, groupie, cocaine, crazy 
psycho, groupie, cocaine, crazy 
Psycho groupie coke 
Makes you high makes you hide 
makes you really want to go STOP 
psycho, groupie, cocaine, crazy 
psycho groupie coke 
do you really want to think and stop 
stop your eyes from flowing out 
so you want the world to stop 
rushing to watch your spirit fully drop 
from the time you were a 
psycho, groupie, cocaine crazy 
so you want to see the show 
you really don't have to be a ho 
from the time you were a 
psycho, groupie, cocaine, crazy

When you attempt to look up the meaning of this song, you will find two interpretations. The most popular is that it is about groupies that try to get in with the band by doing drugs and basically stalking them. The second is about the music industry itself; about the life and times of being a rockstar.

At first, I was going to comment on the meaning of the song that came up first. But, this song doesn't really have a strong meaning to me. I think it has a fun beat and I love to listen to it, but I don't really have a personal connection to the lyrics. So, it's just about the pleasure of listening!

Guest Post by Jason D. Bryant

For today's post, Jason D. Bryant (@Jason_D_Bryant) has generously offered to share his writing experience and provide advice for writers plagued with negativity. Dig in!

Entertain Your Inner-Reader

Have you asked yourself these questions or made these excuses:

“I don’t know what to write!” “I can’t think of anything good!” “I want to write this story but will anyone care for it?” “Is this going to be a great seller or will it be a waste of my time?” “Oh, I am so suffering for writers block!” “I want everyone to like this story but know one knows me.” “Am I good enough to write?”

I have an opinion on each one of these questions, concerns, and comments that bring down each and every author, famous and unknown. There is a solution to every writer’s block case, for each person who wishes to write but fear stops them, and for every shred of self-doubt that all artists have. And here it is:

Write for the audience of YOU!

There is an old politican quote, “Fling enough bullshit on the barn wall, and eventually something will stick.” This technique actually works but this is for desperate people who are seeking an audience. Being an author or an artist of self expression, this should never be the case. George Lucas didn’t make Star Wars for an audience of a grandscale, and 20th Century FOX didn’t see it going anywhere at all, ever. (That’s why they let him keep ALL the rights!) He did it because it was the story he enjoyed and he wanted to tell. And look how history & the world has changed because of one man’s simple story that became a universal phenominan!

George Lucas, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, Stephen King, Eli Roth, Wes Craven, R.L. Stein, Stephenie Meyer, James Cameron, Steven Speilberg, Stan Lee, Oscar Wilde, H.G. Wells, Dav Pikley, J.R.R. Tolkien, James Patterson, William Peter Blatey, Margaret Mitchell, Ray Bradbury, & Gene Roddenberry: every single one these artists/writers had a simple idea and wrote what they enjoyed reading about, dreaming about, thinking about, or just plain had an interest in the topic. (History did the rest.)

The same should go for YOU, the writer. If the topic or genre or inspiration is enough for you to say, “Hhmmm?”, then that is where it begins. Just the interest in the story alone is the fuel that begins the artists’s fire of involvement & dedication. In Laymen’s terms: write what you would enjoy reading, create would you would enjoy seeing.

However, there is one more step in this process of easing your mind, and this is a key important factor: write what you know! If you are a die-hard racing fan and you wish to write a book, I wouldn’t recommend writing a fictional novel about some villiage civil war in 17th century China! If you are a fun-lover of cartoon & childrens books and you wish to write a children’s story, i wouldn’t recommend doing a thesis on the mind of Adolph Hilter & how Play-Doh was invented; and how they nsync! Write a story based off racing. If you have a fear and want to write a scary story, write what you fear. No one knows more about you and your interests than YOU!

In closing to this advise in self help, I leave you with a quote that many claim, both fictional & non-fictional but nonetheless, it’s a great line (…and I wish I really knew who said it first):

“Don’t be a great man, just be a man. Let history make its own judgements.”

Til next time-

Saturday, July 14, 2012

You Made It!

Congratulations! You survived another Friday the 13th! Just to honor the superstition-covered day we had yesterday, I'd like to hear from you. Did your day seem worse than others? Did your luck suddenly turn against you? Did you avoid walking under ladders, having your path crossed by a black cat, or breaking a mirror? Did you carry any good-luck charms, and do you think they helped?

Let me know what you think, dear readers!

Friday, July 13, 2012

*Insert Creepy Music Here*

Today, as everyone knows, is Friday the 13th! A day famed to be full of bad luck. A day where, if you break a mirror or walk under a ladder or have a black cat cross your path, you should pretty much just quit and stay home. It is also the haunting backdrop for a classic scary movie.

While you are loading up on your lucky rabbit's feet and four-leaf clovers to keep you safe, take a minute to write your own version of a Friday the 13th story. Is the main character terrified of the date, but then finds that nothing happens to him at all? Is he skeptical of the mystical powers and ends up having the worst possible day? Does he completely scorn the superstition and head to a casino, only to lose everything on the last table?
Or is more about murder? Romance? Adventure?
Get creative with it!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Writing the Shortest Story

Now it's your turn! Get creative and write your own original "shortest" story. Try writing the shortest love story, the shortest thriller, or the shortest detective story. Leave your results in the comments!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Motivational Posters

Writer's Notebook - lots of ideas

To help you keep on track as a writer, it is a good idea to make a poster like this for yourself. Come up with 4 to 6 writing goals and write it on a piece of paper or posterboard. Get creative and make it something you WANT to look at. Put it in a place where you will see it, so it can remind you that it is time to write.

It might be helpful to also make a sheet that lists the reasons why you write, and one for your long-term goals. By looking at why you chose to begin writing that short story or novel in the first place, you can keep your motivation going and prevent any ideas of slacking off.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My Editing Life

I recently did a guest post for Cynthia Ravinski's blog, She is an amazing author who has published the Emotobook Lingering in the Woods, which I highly recommend. ( Anyway, the post is about my experience as an editor for Grit City Publications. Enjoy!

From a young age, it became clear that editing would be my passion. As early as first grade, I was bored with my spelling tests and my teacher let me create my own lists with harder words. Hey, when everyone else is still learning how to spell “cat” and “pen”, being advanced enough to be learning “alligator” is quite an accomplishment! As time went on, I could always be found with a book in my hand. As my family watched television at night, I would have my nose in a novel and learned to drown out all the background noise, much to my mother’s annoyance at times.

Once I entered middle school, I gained a passion for writing poetry and short stories. In high school, as I started to consider what I wanted to study in college, I didn’t even have to think about it; I knew my future was in English and writing. During my time at the university, I found that I gained a greater feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction from editing the work of my peers than I did in writing my own works. I put more focus into learning the details of proofreading and editing and set my sights on becoming an editor with a publishing company.

Now, six months after graduation, I have spent five months editing for Grit City Publications. As soon as I heard about their revolutionary approach to writing, I knew I had to be a part of it. By combining the best genre fiction (or popular fiction, if you like) with emotionally-packed abstract art, Grit City’s emotobooks present a sensory experience that heightens emotions and helps the reader create a more solid connection with the story unfolding before them. These past few months have been extraordinary, for many reasons.

The best part of working with Grit City is that the editing work presents a challenge. It is certainly a challenge that can be overcome, but it also strengthens my skills as a result. Not only do I have to worry about such physical things as punctuation, spelling, and grammar, but it is important to identify places where the emotions need to be heightened and absorbing. These five or six places in each emotobook have to be built upon in order to support the illustrations that will be created to fit the piece. It is my job to help the author anticipate these insertions and provide the best possible set-up to ensure that the illustrations and writing work together.

Another challenge in creating emotobooks is the specific formatting that must be done before a novel or short story can be considered ready for the public eye. After all of the writing details are nailed down and the perfect illustrations are created, I have to put them together and change the formatting to fit the requirements of each company, from Amazon to Barnes & Noble to Apple. This is a lot to juggle, especially when it gets closer to the deadline (each company publishes on a quarterly schedule), but it reminds me how important it is to multitask.

Overall, editing for Grit City Publications and supporting the emotobooks revolution has been a far different experience than I ever imagined when I decided to become an editor. However, I wouldn’t trade a single moment, because I know it has made me a better professional and has shown me how to work with multiple genres. The unique approach to eBooks that Grit City offers has allowed me to grow as an editor and, for that, I will be forever grateful.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Creating Your Own World

If you want to write a sci-fi, or fantasy, or western, then many times you end up creating your own world within the story. This is not easy and requires a lot of creativity and deep thought. I have a lot of respect for people who can create a believable world that is entirely separate from our traditional lives.

Doing this comes with challenges. First, you must be able to remember what details you have given the reader. You can't contradict yourself, because you will confuse your audience! It is also important because, while you have this whole world in your head, you have to be sure you have explained it thoroughly enough that the reader can picture it too. If you accidentally leave out one important detail in your description, it could send them off in a different direction or throw them off completely.

If your world is very extensive, such as in the Lord of the Rings, it might be a good idea to give the reader a visual aid. This might mean including a map at the beginning of the book, including a picture of your main character, or using an introductory chapter solely for getting the reader oriented. This could also be a place to expand your book across media lines and make a website that delves further into the intricacies of the novel. While this might seem like a lot of extra work, it gives the reader a place to learn more and might hook  potential readers that happen to stumble upon it. From a marketing standpoint, it also keeps your reader focused on your work and will encourage them to learn more about you and about other titles you have published or are working on. This is why it is important to have a blog or an "about the author" section!

While there are a lot of points that can be made about making your own world, this is just a brief look into the needs of the reader.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Reaching Outside The Box

Scary writing

Lacking a little in the inspiration department? Try reaching out to a genre you don't normally write in. If you mostly write romance, try delving into horror. If you normally write erotica, try your hand at nonfiction. If you are a poet, try to write a short adventure story. You don't have to worry about it being good, that will only make it harder. The purpose is to go outside your comfort zone a bit and force your creativity to start up. If you want, you can keep it to yourself, or you can share it with others to get some feedback. Who knows, you may even find you like it!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Tip for History Writers

Through my college years, I was very lucky to be able to take some interesting history courses as gen ed credits. One of the most unique ones was about gender and sexuality in medieval Europe. The books we were assigned to read were, for the most part, concise, easy to follow, and helpful. With history not being my strongest ability, I was worried that the books would leave me lost and confused. These fears quickly vanished, however, thanks to the authors who kept non-history-buffs like myself in mind when they were writing. Without a background in any medieval European history, I was still able to follow every sentence, every paragraph, and every chapter and gain an understanding of the material. It was exciting!

Now, in my spare time, I am reading a collection of essays about the connection between Harry Potter and history. It talks about ancient philosophers and the beginnings of Christianity. While I am fascinated by the idea that one of my favorite series might actually have a realistic basis, I am highly disappointed in this book. First of all, it sounds like most of the writers have barely even looked at a Harry Potter book, as they use quotes that don't apply and take things out of context that don't make sense otherwise. My poor fiance has had to put up with my outbursts as I complain about the inaccuracies involving the original text.
Another thing that bothers me is that the writers don't have a clue on how to relate to their audience. I keep trying to push through, but even within one essay, the author jumps from one time period to another, from one important historical figure to another and then back again, and from one idea to the next, without providing some way of connecting them. It seems like each new paragraph (or, sometimes, each new sentence) springs out of thin air. I really want to understand, so I keep pushing through, but I wonder how much more I could be learning if the writer would simply explain what he or she is talking about instead of dropping comments as if they were leaves in autumn.

After experiencing this dreadful novel, I have some advice to give to history writers. If your subject matter is bound to be popular (such as the HP one, which involves pop culture), please write so that the general population can understand you. This doesn't mean you have to "dumb it down" or talk down to us. It simply means that we need you to stick with one thought long enough for the reader to grasp what you are trying to say. If your subject matter is for more involved history buffs, then by all means, skip over the stuff that is common sense in that area. However, if it is not, then you must take the time to explain the more common elements of your topic.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

This is what you are!


The gist of this: Don't expect writing to be easy. There is no winning formula, there is no cut-and-paste style, there is no way to master writing overnight. You have to be willing to work hard and put in the hours of practice in order to improve your skills. This shouldn't be too hard, however, if you have the passion for it. It might not always be what you want to do that day, you might want to have an easy day and relax, but in the end you need to motivate yourself to get through it. If you push yourself through the hard work, you will have that finished product in your hands that you can be proud of.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Trying Something Different

While this is a rather crude example, it accurately portrays the experiment I want to propose today. If you are having trouble coming up with new ideas, try putting a secret message in your writing.

You could write a want ad, like the one above, that uses every other line to send a message. You could write a letter that includes a code with a secret message. Find a way to make your writing serve two different purposes at one time.

If you decide to try this activity, please send your attempts, I would love to read them!

Saturday, June 30, 2012


Haha that's so true!

I think this quote is the most relevant to my life, and I have always tried to live by it. If you are always scared of what other people will think, then you will never get anywhere. You will be stuck wondering "what if" and standing still instead of moving forward.

The best piece of advice I could ever give someone is to "Just Do It," to borrow from Nike. Do you think no one will like your novel? Well, you'll never know if you don't send it out to possible publishers! Do you think your character might be too unusual? Try it anyway! Want to experiment with a new form of writing that you have no experience with? Are you worried you might "fail"? Well, there is no such thing as failure. Any chances you take will ultimately give you something to learn from. Even if you don't get the result you want, you can still improve from that point and move upward and onward. If you don't try, you will never know if that particular activity could have been your new passion.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Time to get Back on Track

Due to my great-grandma's recent passing, I have let my concentration and drive drift. While I am still in mourning, and I'm sure I will be for quite a while, I realize that it is time to turn back to my work. I am going to hit the books and hit them hard. I have to make up for lost time, and I plan to do that.

I have also lost the focus on my blog. I want this blog to help writers, editors, and others in the publishing industry to learn how to work together and how to be the best in their craft. Lately, I have been posting more random things and stuff about myself. While I love getting to know my readers, and I hope you all enjoy learning more about the woman behind the blog, I need to get back to mission.

So, in conclusion:
The writing world, you have my full attention. Let's get back to business!

Monday, June 25, 2012

R.I.P. Gramy

This past Tuesday, the 19th of June, I was informed that my great-grandmother had passed away. She was 87 years old. To me, she had always seemed invincible and immortal, like she hadn't aged a day since I was born.

Around the time of my very first Christmas, my great-grandmother was fighting breast cancer. She told my mother that she wanted to give up and just die in her sleep. My mother sat me down on her hospital bed and asked if she wanted to see me grow up, see me go to prom, see me graduate from high school, and see me get married. When Gramy said yes, my mom told her that she had to keep fighting, then. And she did. She beat cancer and went on to see me go to prom and graduate from high school and, though she didn't get to see them, she heard about my college graduation and my engagement.

The news of her passing has hit me hard. It seems like just a few days ago we were sitting at her tiny dining room table, playing Go Fish, and betting quarters on who would win. In reality, it has been a few years since I saw her last. She began to lose her memories and, when I went to visit her, she became frustrated because she wanted to remember me but couldn't. In respect for her feelings and her blood pressure, I stopped visiting. At times, I feel guilty about this, but deep down I know it was the right decision to make.

I still cry every day for her. I miss her so much and, though I know she is not in pain anymore and she's happy now, I wish she was still here. I long for the Gramy that enjoyed getting embarrassing gifts for Christmas and took her black mutt, Midnight, for a walk several times a day. I want to sit with her and listen to her old country records on the turntable. I want to hear her laugh again.

Though I am still struggling with her death, I am very glad that I had the opportunity to know her. Many people don't ever get to meet their great-grandmothers, let alone have fond memories of 20+ years together to look back on. She taught me to be kind to others and to never give up, no matter what odds are working against you. She kept our family close and, thanks to that, my cousin and I were able to lean on each other at the funeral. She was an amazing woman, and I will always be grateful that I had the privilege of calling her my Gramy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Book Signing and Author Recruitment Event!

On this Friday, June 22, 2012, Grit City Publications will be attending the "In Your Write Mind" book signing and author recruitment event at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA. If you are in the area, stop by and take a look!

Article here:,_Issue_6_RELEASED_2.html

Monday, June 18, 2012


Within the past week, my fellow editor at Grit City Publication decided to bow out. She didn't have the time to commit to GCP anymore, and I respect her decision and will miss her greatly. After learning this news, however, I suddenly felt a weight fall on my shoulders as I became the sole editor with the company.

Thankfully, the creator of GCP came to the rescue. He had been chatting with two other editors that were interested in joining our team and was already in the process of bringing them into the fold. Soon, we should have three editors in total for Grit City Publications. What a relief! One of these editors has already reached out to talk to me, and he seems extremely enthusiastic, passionate, and intelligent. I think he will do great in this new position and am excited to be working alongside him. I haven't had the opportunity to talk to the other editor yet, so I can't say much about him, but I trust the creator of GCP.

Besides taking away some of my anxiety, these additions to the team are a good sign for the company. It means that we are growing and emotobooks are starting to catch on. We are receiving more submissions than just two editors could handle, which is great! Hopefully this trend continues and we will soon be at our short-term goal of ten editors, with enough work to spread around!

Until then, I am still very excited about the future of the Emotobooks Revolution.

If you would like to read up about emotobooks, check out:

If you want to check out our catalogue, click here:

If you would like to send in your own story, read the submission guidelines here:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Writing Prompt

Today, as a writing prompt, I want you to go to Google Images and type in "unusual ____" (insert word of your choice). Then, I want you to write a story about whatever that comes up that interests you. For example, if you type in "unusual flower", these images come up:


For example, the last flower reminds me of a sand dollar. You could write a story about the extraordinary events that turned a sand dollar into a flower. For the blue spiky one, you could write a story about the dangers of touching it and any poisons it may emit. For the top one, you would write about falling inside it and getting lost in a different world, similar to Alice in Wonderland.

Good luck, and have a great day!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Tomorrow, my sister graduates from high school. My little sister, my baby sister, the youngest one in the family. I can't believe she is 18 and getting ready to go off to college. I am so worried about her, because I remember all the stupid decisions I made when I was first out on my own on a college campus. I got in with a party crowd and did rather poorly my first few semesters. Eventually, I learned from my mistakes and graduated from college with a 3.8 GPA, but I don't want her to have to go through that. She has been there for me through a lot of my idiotic spells, so my greatest wish is that she will learn from my mistakes. I want her to cherish all of her years in college, instead of regretting some of them. I want her to learn everything she can and become brilliant in her profession. I want her to stay away from drugs, alcohol, and late-night parties. I want her to study and be a good student. I want her to pass with flying colors and stand out.

I know that she says she never wants to make the same mistakes that I did, but once she is away from our parents on that campus, I am afraid that the temptation will start calling her. I am afraid that she will not be able to resist the call from friends to go out on the town, to go to strange houses and do stupid things, to take random trips in the middle of the night to unknown places. I want her to be safe and to make the best of this learning experience. But, most of all, I want her to have it better than I did.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Fun Weekend

I apologize for the sporadic posts these past few days. My retail job was short-handed in my old position (customer service manager), so I spent the past three days doing that plus my current position (deli department manager). That means I spent 13+ hours on the clock every day, not counting the hour-long lunch period required each day. While I was happy to help, especially considering the overtime I will be receiving, I am still very glad to have a day off today. I was so exhausted by the end of my shift yesterday rolled around!

While it was a definitely unique experience, I have learned that I have a limit. By the third day, I easily became emotional and, near the end, I become irritable and cranky. I did learn some other important things, though. I already knew how much a deserved "thank you" can mean to someone, but this reinforced it, when my co-manager let me know how much he appreciated the extra effort I was putting in. It made it all worth it in that moment, especially because I look up to him, not only because he's my boss but because I genuinely strive to do well at my job each and every day. Also, my direct supervisor, an assistant manager, proved that he had my back and watches out for me. It's nice to know that I have the support I need and that I can trust my superiors.

Anyway, I guess I just wanted to pass along this information to help out any other bosses or future bosses that may be reading this. When you have people that you are in charge of them, make sure you show your appreciation when they go above and beyond the call of duty. You don't have to praise them for every single little thing, but make sure they know that their hard work is noticed. A little bit of positive reinforcement goes a long way. Also, it is important to keep in mind that you were in their shoes at one point and remember how it felt to be there. That way, you can identify where they are coming from and you can show them that they are not alone, that you are in the proverbial trenches with them, and they can count on you to help them when they need it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Delicious Recipe

One of the keys to writing great stories, novels, poems, blog posts, or anything, really, is to write about something you love. Find something that you have a passion for and make it the focus of your writing or find a way to include it in a creative way. This is a great example of how to do just that. By combining a love of cooking and/or eating, the person who made this image was able to create something unique that would stick in the minds of others. What other ways can you come up with to mash up your favorite activities with writing?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Make a List

If you are ever stressing out about something, it's a good time to make a list. Lists can make you realize that you have more together than you thought you did, or that you know more than you knew. It can also make you aware of how thankful you should be for what you have, instead of focusing on what you don't have.

The other night, I was starting to freak out a bit because I had so much to do for the wedding. Our location finally got nailed down, so now it's time to seek out a reception location and locate some vendors. This means a lot of time and a lot of meetings. It's a big project to find someone who will work with your ideas and who fits your vision! It just seemed like a lot of work that needed done in a very small time frame. Especially since my fiance is on night shift for another two weeks, then on day shift for a month, so we would need to get everything done before he switched back to nights. I was really getting hyper about it.

Then, I started to think of all the friends I have enlisted for various tasks. Two of the girls I work with are going to do the cake, those two plus another have volunteered for general baked goods, another one is willing to do the flowers, another one is jumping to be my photographer, my sister is excellent with Photoshop and wants to do all the stationary, etc. Once I started making this mental list, I realized how much I really do have worked out. While there are still some vendors that I need to interview, there is not nearly as much as I thought. It helped me relax and made me grateful for all the resourceful, creative, and generous people in my life.

This was just an example, but think about the ramifications. What could making a list do for you? What are you tense about that could be eased by writing a list? Take a minute to write down all your options, resources, and possibilities, and take a breather!