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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Before all of the festivities get started, I wanted to wish everyone a Happy New Year! Do you have any goals or resolutions for 2014? Have you made resolutions in the past? If so, have you stuck with them? Let me know what you think!

If you are like me and don't have cable, here is a link to a live feed to watch the ball drop in New York City. The live feed will begin at 5:55PM Eastern Time, so tune in to enjoy the celebration!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Good Christmas Read

Are you looking for a new Christmas story to read this season? A Gitmo Nation Christmas Carol, inspired by Charles Dickens' classic and based on the No Agenda series, is a thrilling tale of the mistake-filled life of President Ebenezer Scrooge. This twist on the traditional holiday story will keep you on your toes!

The best part? It is FREE for the next 5 days in the Kindle store!
In the US, get your copy at
In the UK, get your copy at

Oh, and it also happens to be edited by me!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Christmas Message

If you are alive and well on social media, you have probably seen this cartoon floating about. With the holidays quickly approaching, I think it is a good time to remember that books can be a great Christmas gift! Don't forget that giving someone, child or adult, the gift of a good book can open new worlds, let them learn something new, and expand their universe. Happy holidays, everyone!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Developing our Language

Have you heard and/or seen this speech by Stephen Fry? If not, you need to watch and listen to this video. In it, Stephen Fry talks about the "correct" use of language and how, if you will excuse the term, "grammar Nazis" need to reevaluate their motives.

As an editor, I find this video very interesting. I started to contemplate the difference between cleaning up a manuscript and squashing an author's creativity. It seems that we have entered an era where people are fighting the development of language. Any slip of a comma or misuse of a word is immediately attacked by the mass of the Internet. Everyone is enforcing the idea that the English language needs to be static, that the rules are the rules and that's just the way it is. What if, however, we allowed people to start making up words? I don't mean "YOLO" and "swag", but more along the lines of what many people have done in our past. What if we allowed our language to keep moving forward and develop? Our language is vastly different from the German language it is said to have come from. It has added and subtracted words, meanings, spellings, usages, and other rules as time has gone on. We have stolen from other languages and we have allowed our own words to shift to become other things. You just have to look at the differences between American and British English to see how things have been growing. Instead of fighting this evolution, I think we should try to embrace it and give new words and meanings a try. Who knows where we could end up?

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Times are Changing

"I write a story as if it were a letter to someone and essentially, that’s what you do."
-Theodore Sturgeon

I came across this quote today and it made me start to think. I feel like this has hit the basic idea of writing on the head. When you are writing down a story, it can sometimes seem like you are recounting an event or series of actions that happened in your own life. You put yourself in the place of the main character. You can choose to either recite past actions or narrate as the story moves in time. You can comment on the experience or present it point-blank. All in all, you are expressing what has happened to the reader.

Then, I was struck by the idea that some of the younger generation may not completely understand this quote. Besides the occasional school exercise or required essay, a letter has become a lost form of communication. Emails and text messages don't quite convey the same thoughtfulness, consideration, and detail as a letter. In a world of instant gratification, where you can tell the whole world each moment of every day, how do you apply this theory to today? As a series of Facebook statuses and tweets? It just doesn't convey the same meaning.

Instead of mourning this change, however, I prefer to look at it as a chance to become more creative. With more and more stories becoming popular that utilize an alternative writing style, this could be a chance for the next generation to come up with their own way of telling the stories in their heads.

What do you think, opportunity for new ideas or tragic loss of an art? Leave your ideas in the comments.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hello again, World!

Wow, it has certainly been awhile. This is my first blog post as a married woman. This past summer has been a whirlwind and I can't believe the time has gone so fast! Here's my question: How are YOU doing today?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

From a Book to a Movie

Which book-turned-movie do you wish would have been done this way?
I vote for the Harry Potter series! (Yes, I know, not exactly a classic. But I can't help but love some of the "popular" lit too!)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Get Thee to the Internet

Lately I have become extra aware that there are still many places of business that are neglecting their online presence. Recently, I was trying to find a place to meet my mother for lunch. We live a little over an hour apart, so we were looking for somewhere to meet in the middle. Not knowing the area very well, I relied on the internet to research potential restaurants. There were many names that I came across that had no web presence whatsoever, not even a basic Facebook page. There were some places that had a web presence, but it was so outdated or jumbled that I couldn't garner any information from it. In the end, I picked a place that had a decent website and featured their full menu online.

What does this story mean to you? It points out the importance of having a web presence for your business. It doesn't have to be glamorous and full of multiple links and pages. It does need, however, to have the important information on it. You will have to identify your consumer and what they are looking for. If you are a restaurant, you need to highlight what atmosphere you have to offer and what type of food you serve. If you are an amusement park, you need to highlight your prices and what makes you different from any other amusement park. If you are a freelance writer, you need to showcase your talent and tell your audience how you stand out from other writers.

If you want to succeed as a business, one of the most important things is to build yourself a web presence. Give your potential customers a place to come to for research. Let them learn more about you, what you have to offer, and how you are different. Give them a way to find out more from the safety of their computer and you will be rewarded with more customers and, more importantly, loyal customers.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Importance of Interest

As a writer, illustrator, or other artist, you know how important it is to get your work out to the public. Marketing is key in drawing in potential customers and gaining sales. Some people seem to magically have the "gift" for doing this, where every marketing tweet or blog post just oozes with "the right stuff." You read what they have to say and automatically think you need this product. For some, however, it's not so easy. The marketing copy falls flat, feeling more like a cheesy infomercial than something with true power. So, what makes them feel so different?

Part of the problem is the definition of "importance." The good marketers know that it isn't about whether or not the creator finds the work important. Of course you do, or you wouldn't be making it! The real test is making the potential client believe that it is important to them. In order to really convince them that they need what you are offering, they need to know why. How will it impact their life? What void will it fill? Will it completely change an aspect of their daily tasks? Will it change their mood?

The key to success when marketing your creative products is to see your marketing strategy from the customer's point of view. While it's nice to think that every single one will want to buy your book just because it's unique, that's not enough. They won't buy it just because of that. They need a personal reason. If you approach your work from this angle, you will be able to convince them that it is worth the money to reap the benefits.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ready to Publish?

You have been working hard on your story, novel, or manuscript for a long time. It has been weeks, months, or even years of dedication and determination. Now, as you reread your latest draft, you think it might finally be ready to enter the public domain. STOP RIGHT THERE! Don't go any further before you can answer these questions:

  1. Have you edited it thoroughly by yourself? Check your facts. Check for consistency. Check for grammar, sentence structure, and spelling issues. Physically go through and verify that it as good as it can get. And never ever rely on a spell checker or grammar checker! While they can help, they are notorious for missing things or correcting things that don't need corrected. They are a great place to start, but you need to be independent too.
  2. Have you developed a title? You had a working title, sure, but is it what you really want to call it on the open market? Does it capture the point of your story? Will it attract the right type of reader? Carefully examine the reasons why you are picking this particular title and, if it doesn't work, don't be afraid to scrap it and start finding a new one. It can be scary to have an untitled manuscript this close to completion, but it will benefit you in the future if you take the time to know it is a 100% perfect fit.
  3. Does your book have a blurb? Not only does this paragraph or two of information need to contain a summary of your work, it needs to pack a punch. It needs to be more aggressive than just "drawing" your reader in; it needs to grab them by the wrist with an iron grip and yank them into it! This can be difficult, especially since you are so close to the work, so make sure you have plenty of honest reader friends look it over. If they wouldn't buy the book immediately after reading your blurb, then it isn't doing it's job.
  4. Do you have a good cover? If you are epublishing, then a cover is one of the most important things you will develop in this stage. The phrase "Don't judge a book by it's cover" is irrelevant in the ebook world. Trust me, your potential readers will take one glance at the thumbnail of your cover and, from that information alone, decide if they want to continue or click away to other things. If needs to not only represent your book well, but it needs to be well done. No cruddy artwork, no blurriness, no hard-to-read wording. It needs to be good, solid art. Not an artist yourself? Expect to find someone that is to do it for you.
  5. Has a professional editor looked it over? Even if you are an editor as well as a writer, you still need a fresh set of eyes. And no, your friend from down the street doesn't count (well, unless they really are a professional editor, but for the sake of argument let's say they aren't). Most people in your life will take it easy on you or will miss something important, like a fact being different on page 101 from when it was mentioned on page 1. Find someone willing to give it the attention it deserves.
  6. Have you made yourself visible online? Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, your own blog, your own website, forums, Google+, and many more websites and networks can help make you more accessible to your future readers. When you finally publish, people will want to research you. Give them places to go where they can find out more about you, your work as an author, other things you have published, and any other information you are willing to share. The more they know you, the stronger the connection, and the more likely they are to purchase what you have to offer. And don't forget to interact!

All done? Now, you may continue!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

To a degree...


To a degree, I agree with this! If you are a professional and you are sending me an email, a letter, or other correspondence, then I believe you should have the ability to proofread your own work. If it comes in garbled and jumbled, then why should I think that you are competent in other areas? Why should I trust your expertise?
Obviously, there are many people out there who are intelligent and spectacular at their jobs but still don't have a great grasp on writing. However, it just doesn't make a good impression if you can't follow the rules of English. If you struggle in this area, you can always reach out to someone else for help. Taking the time to correct your mistakes makes your correspondence seem more coherent and professional.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Do You Believe in Luck? defines luck as "the force that seems to operate for good or ill in a person's life, as in shaping circumstances, events, or opportunities." defines luck as "a force that brings good fortune or adversity; the events or circumstances that operate for or against an individual." defines luck as "success that you have by chance and not because of anything that you do." defines luck as "success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions."

Except for the Merriam-Webster definition, each source seems to phrase it in such a way that dismisses the concept of luck. emphasizes that luck is a force that seems to operate... Macmillian's phrasing is decidedly negative, not because of.... And Oxford uses the word apparently in such a way that suggests luck is a myth.

Personally, I allow for the idea that luck can influence the smaller things in our lives. Your bag of cereal ripped, making your breakfast fall all over the floor? That is rotten luck! As for the bigger stuff, however, I believe that there is some greater force at work. I am not suggesting that God or Fate has a hand in these matters (though if that is what you believe, more power to you!). I have come to believe that we each have a part in the major things. If I want to be a famous writer some day, I am not going to wait for luck to come around and make it so. I am going to work my butt off towards my goal and, when I achieve it, it will be because of hard work and dedication instead of by chance. Even the big things that seem like luck are a combination of individual choices. The wreck that destroys your rear bumper? It may not have been because of a conscious choice you made, but the combination of choices that you and the other driver made led to that point.

Now, what is your viewpoint on luck? Does it influence your life?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Punctuation and Quotations

One topic that I have come across that seems to trip up a good amount of authors is how to use punctuation with quotation marks. While quotation marks, whether they are single or double quotes, can cause many trip-ups on their own, we will stick to punctuation issues today.

If you are citing the person after the quote, then a comma should appear at the end, before the closing mark.
For example:
"Socks go in the red hamper," said Sarah.

If you are ending a sentence with a quote, then the period goes within the quotation marks.
For example:
Tom lectured Mark, "You should never have dated her in the first place."

With these two rules, commas and periods are always within the quotation marks. For the next two marks, however, the rules get a bit trickier.

If the item being quoted is an exclamation itself, then the mark goes within the quotes. If it is being used as part of an exclamatory sentence, however, it goes outside the quotes.
For example:
Jennifer celebrated her victory, shouting "I passed the class!"
Tiffany thought it was absolutely ridiculous to think that "the stars brought this upon us"!

Question marks behave a lot like exclamation points.
For example:
George questioned the teacher, "Does A really come before B?"
Matthew wondered, did Anne really "love him more than life itself"?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Retire These Words

While reading the Abby Kerr and the Voice Bureau blog the other day, I came across an interesting post. Abby Kerr focuses on helping businesses thrive, by helping the entrepreneur create a clear brand for themselves and giving them advice on how to be seen out there in the big, ever-expanding world. She covers such topics as copywriting, niche identification, content strategy, and SEO optimization. For her post on January 21st, she covered "11 'Branded Buzzwords' We Should Retire in 2013." I thought the advice was worth sharing, so here is my take on the post:

Abby Kerr encourages eliminating words, though allowing exceptions with almost each suggestion.

Some of the words that are marked on the do-not-use list are because they are too general. They don't really convey a meaning, beyond maybe a feeling of an idea. This type of word/phrase includes juicy, soulful, savvy, authentic, and make it pop. If you are tempted to use these words in your writing, whether it be for professional correspondence, your latest manuscript, or in your blog, I agree that you should reconsider. When you want to use one of these words, what are you truly trying to convey to your reader?

For example, pretend you are reviewing an article in a gossip magazine. Instead of saying that it was "juicy," try describing what you really mean. "The article was full of twists and turns that left the reader open-mouthed in shock. What a scandal!" This conveys much more than simply saying that the information was "juicy."

Abby Kerr also covers the use of the word epic. In today's world, it seems that this word is used at every turn. A trip to the store becomes "epic" after a teenager runs into her best friend. A boy makes a basket in a neighborhood basketball game and describes it later as "epic." According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of epic is "extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope" or "a long narrative poem in elevated style recounting the deeds of a legendary or historical hero." It goes on to mention that epic could be used to describe a work of art or a series of events that includes these qualities. Let's go ahead and let this word go back to it's proper usage.

While I am at it, I would also like to consider some other words that should be banished from use in 2013, especially from business perspective:

  • amazing (it's too bland)
  • awesome (again, blah!)
  • viral (this should have left with Y2K)
  • superfood (it sounds like a gimmick)
  • bucket list (it's fallen into the same trap as "epic")
  • literally (see previous post)
  • seriously (especially when used as a question and the answer is obviously "yes")
  • ignorant (another instance where people need to learn the definition)

Do you have anything you would like to add to this list?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

TABAKA Release

On February 1st, the newest EmotoSingle from Grit City Publications, TABAKA, came to life! This horror short story takes on the tale of a woman taken over by a spirit. The spirit, Tabaka, is able to give her everything she has dreamed of...except one thing. Struggling to come to terms with her new life, Sarah Dayer must figure out how to proceed from here.

The official synopsis:
"For years, Sarah Dayer endured physical and mental abuse from a hard-charging drunk of a fiancĂ© in a sleepy Ohio town. In a moment of self-preservation, she made the drastic decision to flee the only life she’d ever known, despite her fiance’s promise to kill her if she ever returned. After reinventing herself as an ER nurse, an unwelcome horror threatens to destroy her new life.

"On her way to work, Sarah witnesses a bloody highway accident. While using her medical skills to assist a young pregnant woman pinned by her malfunctioning seatbelt, an overbearing metaphysical force implants itself in Sarah’s body. What begins as a blessing of irresistible sex appeal and the ability to perform medical miracles soon turns into a struggle of control for Sarah’s very existence.

"In this Emotobook single of self-discovery, fate, and personal sacrifice, TABAKA takes the reader on an emotional journey of impossible mental trials, moral decisions, and honorable heroics."

To check it out for yourself, check out the official page for TABAKA.

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Trend in Spelling

It has been brought to my attention that there is a new trend in spelling. It affects at least three words, that I am aware of. It starts with the substitution of "of" for "have." Then, it progresses to shortening "have." For example, "kind of" has become "kind've." "Would have" became "would of," then moved on to being "would've." "Sort of" has even started showing up as "sort've."

Normally, though a deep part of me wants to fight against change in the English language, I try to be pretty flexible. This, however, is beyond my reach. What do you think?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Like, Literally

I'm sorry, I can't give up that fight! Improper use of the words "literally" and "ignorant" just get under my skin.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Friends, Let Us Gather...

Today, I am hanging out over at the Grit City Publications blog. Come join me!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Are You Going Mad?

On December 28, the Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors blog came out with a guest post by Tiana Warner entitled Writing With a Touch of Madness. In this post, the blogger talks about what goes into making a novel. She highlighted traits in the author, such as obsession, passion, and persistence. She also noted that it takes a special breed to not only commit to writing a novel but to have the drive to see it through.

I would like to continue her train of thought, if I may. For many people, the idea of getting to that novel-length word count is daunting in and of itself. Add in multiple rewrites, drafts, and edits, and the process seems to stretch forward infinitely. There is also the task of finding a topic that drives you, of latching on to a subject that you can fill many pages with. You have to be able to lock on to a character and travel with them throughout their journey without getting into the boring or humdrum. Each scene has to have a purpose, it has to catch the attention of the reader and propel the story forward. But each scene can't be an action movie either; the tension and activity levels have to rise and fall.

So how do you create this perfect mixture? I don't know if there is really a way to make yourself into a novelist. I think that is something that is part of your nature, something that is built into the way you think and write. Now, with that said, I also think that our nature can evolve over time. If you write short stories again and again and again, eventually you might progress to writing a series of short stories, then on to making novels. Also, you might have rejected the idea of writing such a long piece for years, then wake up one morning determined to make it happen. People do change, and I believe this can be part of that change.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Want to Become a Better Writer?

infographic -- click the text links in the post for text versions of the visual material

While browsing the Copyblogger Best of 2012 list, I came upon this graphic. The creator had wanted to show writers that there is no easy way to become a writer. There are no magical "10 Steps" to follow that will turn you into an instant genius. There is no quick trick to become a world famous author. You have to work at it, which is the point he illustrates here. While there are other things that are important to writing well (such as reading a lot and doing your research), there is nothing that can replace experience. You just need to keep writing and writing to develop your own style and improve your craft.