Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Do I have to send a message?

by Milton Brown

Grab your compass and come along with the crew of the motor ketch the Lady Dance. Be with them as they unravel the mystery of the lost continent of MU for a great adventure.

Question from the E-mail: Lately all they've talked about in my writer's group is the "message" in your writing.  As you know, I write romance. My stories are not "Deep."  What message do I tell them I send?  Fran.

Answer: Good to hear from you Fran. Been awhile since you were my student. Every piece of writing sends a message and the most common one for romance is that "A loving relationship is a blessing in your life." 

In fact, Judith French, an excellent romance writer who lives near me, regularly buys up all her "returned" copies, and donates them to the library in the  Maryland State Prison for Women. She once gave a talk there and discovered most of the women present had no idea how a man was supposed to treat a woman. She asked them, what they would describe as a "good man." Half the room said, "A man who doesn't beat you."

Since all Judy's heroes treat their women with loving care, will risk anything to protect them, and always act respectfully to them, she thought those women should be exposed to men who would do that and gives them her books as good examples. 

As for the "message." What a story says is often as important as the way it says it. Take a look, for instance, at To Kill a Mockingbird, that I know is one of your favorite reads, Fran. We all know that the theme of that novel is that "racial prejudice is unfair." Harper Lee told a good story in her novel; a story that was loosely based on her own childhood experiences, as Atticus Finch was based on her father, Jem on her brother, and Dill on her childhood playmate, Truman Capote.

Lee created characters the reader cared about. She deserved the recognition she received. But she also created something good in the world that will touch many peoples minds and hearts and that will continue to shape her readers' thinking for generations.

Today, To Kill a Mockingbird is on every high school reading list in the country, because of the message. Every teenager is asked to read this book as an example of fine literature, which it is. But in reading it, they also benefit from Ms. Lee's message and walk away with the thought that racial prejudice is unfair, buried somewhere deep in their subconscious.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stormy Weather.

by Tom Glaviano

When a hurricane rages on the coast, wreaking havoc on the lives of the people who live there, the most dangerous threat in the winds and crashing waves may not come from nature. Clayton Ackerman has made a life chasing the hurricanes, storms and blizzards that at times ravage virtually every part of the nation. While covering a tropical storm that was battering the Gulf Coast, Ackerman has an altercation with a young woman that turns deadly and opens his eyes to the potential he’d overlooked for years.

Rainy Day Yellow Cake

Cooking with the Kids on a Rainy Day can be fun when April Showers are on hand.

4 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk frosting


1 Heat the oven to 350°F Prepare a 9- by 13-inch pan by greasing it and dusting it with flour.
2 In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff but not dry.
3 Set aside.
4 KIDS' COOKING SKILLS: Use this recipe to teach your kids how to cream butter and sugar and decorate a cake using a pastry bag.
5 In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter for 1 to 2 minutes; add the sugar and cream for another 2 minutes.
6 Add the egg yolks all at once and beat for another minute or until the mixture appears light and fluffy.
7 Beat in the vanilla extract.
8 Measure the flour using a dry measuring cup and pour it into another mixing bowl.
9 Ask your child to measure the baking powder, baking soda, and salt, carefully leveling each with a knife, and then stir them into the flour.
10 Measure the buttermilk in a liquid measuring cup.
11 Add about a third of the flour mixture to the butter-sugar mixture and mix well.
12 Then, mixing (but not overbeating) after each new addition, add half of the buttermilk, followed by another third of the flour, then the remaining buttermilk, and finally the last of the flour.
13 Fold the stiff egg whites into the batter with a rubber spatula.
14 Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
15 Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
16 Set on a rack to cool.
17 Ice the cooled cake with Cool Whip. Drizzle with Chocolate, or Maple Syrup.

Monday, April 14, 2014


by Kathryn Flatt

Jack Watson Series, Vol. 1

Tabitha Solo thought nothing of dropping the name of Scot Cunningham, the object of her high school crush who recently died in a car crash, as the inspiration for her first hit song, “Dreamer,” during a TV interview. But now, the FBI is asking about him, people are following her, and Carren Bixby--Tabitha’s manager and Scot’s one-time girlfriend--is behaving suspiciously. When Tabitha finds a listening device in her bedroom, she runs away and hires private detective Jack Watson.

Question from the e-mail: What is subtext? People in my reader's group talk about it a lot and I'm not sure what they are saying. I tried the dictionary, but it didn't make much sense. Can you help?

Answer: Subtext is when something says one thing on the surface, but implies something else underneath.

In dialogue and narrative both,  there is always both text and subtext. First there is what is said, and second what is implied by what is left unsaid. Often, subtext, which the reader picks up on, is as important as what is actually said. Look at the following:

    “Oh, is that slide show at the library with the nature photographer tonight?” John grimaced. “I’ll go if you want, but I’m really tired. After all, I was out to the Bible Study at church last night and you stayed home and read. This makes two nights in a row, for me. Of course, I can stay home alone. I don’t want to mess up your plans....” 

Of COURSE he wants to mess up her plans! If he didn’t, he’d say,

You go ahead, hon, I’m just too tired tonight."

What this really says is, “You couldn’t be bothered to go with me last night, so I’m going to pour on the GUILT about what you want to do tonight!”

Friday, April 11, 2014

Catching UP!

Books that went to press, or back to press this week:
EXIT PLANS, by Terry L. White
   What happens when a group of senior citizens decide to manage the way they are treated at the end of their long and useful lives? Will they go along with the state of the art status quo – or find new reasons to get up on Thursday mornings to discuss their possible fates?

Galleys that went out or went out again, this Week:

THE MORGENSTERN MURDERS: The Jonas McCleary Series, Vol. 2 by C. M. Albrecht
   In this sequel to The Sand Bluff Murders, former police chief Jonas McCleary has gone into business as a private investigator.

I HAVE A FRIEND ON JUPITER, Celine Rose Mariotti
   Paperback edition of the popular e-book.

MOONLIT BAY, by Elena Bowman
   What is in an abandoned building on an uninhabited Island across Moonlit Bay that has been surreptitiously invaded by armed, unidentified entities who are helmeted, dressed in black survival suits and armed with laser guns?

Work began, or continued, on the following titles: 

 MATTEO'S TREASURE, Morretti Men Series, Vol. 3, by Anna Dynowski
   Jet-setter Santino Moretti died and left the Triple-M property, worth nearly $25 million, to his three neglected sons, Micah, Marek, and Matteo, each born of a different marriage, and each unknown by the others. Before any one of them can inherit, he must take turns living on the farm for three months, then they must return and all three live together for a final three months. Half-brothers, city boys, and complete strangers, they face the biggest challenge of their lives: to put aside their distrust and bitterness and live together like a kind and caring family.

THE DEPUTY, by C.M. Albrecht
   A dark mystery from popular author C.M. Albrecht
THE KIDNAPING OF SEN. ANDY THOMPSON, Adventures on Capital Hill, by Celine Rose Mariotti
   A political mystery, suspense, with a touch of humor.  

DOING DEAD MAN'S TIME, by Matthew L. Schoonover

     From the author who brought you the supernatural thrillers of The Arbiter series and the impossible mysteries of The Tornado Man series comes a new tale of supernatural suspense. Phil Talbot is in the here-after, awaiting judgment. He is given the opportunity to come back to the mortal plane and fix the one mistake that changed his supernatural fate. 

MINISTER'S SHOES, VOL. 2 by Celine Rose Mariotti
   Rev. Castle is back in another cozy mystery.

THE PROMISE, by Karen Rossi
   A romantic new title by an author who appeals to "New Adult" readers.

REWIND FORWARD, by Michael E. Field
  Another great mystery by popular author Michael E. Field.

BLEEDING HEARTS: Killian Kendal Mystery Series, Vol. 1

   Winner of the Stonewall Society's 2002 Pride in the Arts Literary Award in the Whodunit Category!

REAP THE WHIRLWIND: Killian Kendall Mystery Series, Vol. 2,  by Josh Aterovis.
   Suicide, or murder? That's the question in the second Killian Kendall mystery. Will Smith suspects murder when an old childhood pal drowns, and asks his friend Killian for help in solving the mystery.

TRUTH OF YESTERDAY,  by Josh Aterovis


CHANGE  OF WORLDS, by Josh Aterovis 

Jack's News!
  by your bookstore cat and gossip columnist. 
One new e-mail scam this week. A message purporting to be about to send us a tax refund from Liverpool in the UK. While we do sell books in the UK, but we alsoo know that taxes, if any, are collected and paid at the store end of things, not by us. So what these guys were after were information so they could steal identities! Even I knew that was a scam right away. 

Ya'll be careful though.  If you get an e-mail message like that, don't fall for it!

Not a whole lot of gossip this week.  Arline is still writing checks, but should have the last of them in the mail by Saturday. She finished the Paypal people yesterday, so some of your kitties have been  fed.  Sales were up for some, down for many, soooooo...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Payroll Fun!

Dead DuckHollis Ball and Sam Westcott Series, Vol. 2

by Helen Chappell

Hollis Ball is back, this time covering the Decoy Jamboree, still smouldering over the light sentence Judge Fish gave a wife-murderer. Then someone bashes Fish on the head with an antique decoy. Hollis is pretty sure it's not suspect #1, so naturally she decides to solve the murder herself, with the help of her dead ex-husband, of course, the charming and ghostly Sam.
Working on Author Payroll

Data Entry is done and Paypal payments are going out now.  If your message says "You've got money from family or friends" actually it's your royalties on book sales (not that I'm not a friend). Yes, this is business, but if I say "to family and friends" at this end, they will be certain to take any transfer charges out of our account, not yours. So you will get every penny and WWI will bear any expense.

For those who require checks, it will take awhile longer...but we'll get them in the mail as quickly as we can.

Paying authors is one of my most favorite things to do, but I'll be glad to get back to book production.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A nerve-wracking audition for a summer ballet workshop reminds fifteen-year-old Cass how much she wishes her mom hadn’t died so young. Her dad isn’t exactly Mr. Encouragement when it comes to her dancing, and he shuts down whenever she asks about her mother. Cass feels as though her life is a puzzle with a giant piece missing.

Question: What is a Dangling Participle? And how do I find them...?

Answer: A dangling participle is where the the action described by the verb (the participle, is not placed next to the verb it describes, but behind yet another action.  Sounds complicated, right?  Or careless???

Well just to prove it can happen to anyone, here's a few examples with the participles in bold.

Sleeping in mine orchard, a serpent stung me. (Hamlet)

After driving for 100 km to Lhasa airport, the road meets the Tsang-po (the Brahmaputra)…

And some from just Regular People:

Riding along on my bicycle, the dog knocked me over. (Clever dog!)

Rushing to finish the paper, Bob's printer broke. (Nice when the machinery cares about a deadline!)

Running to the catch the bus, Bob's wallet fell out of his pocket. (Tell that wallet to walk next time!)

Having finished my dinner, the waitress offered to bring out the dessert tray.  (I am not tipping a waitress who eats my dinner!)

At age seven, her grandfather passed away.  (Obviously the grandfather did not pass away at age seven.)

Decked out in a stunning vintage Versace gown, the man couldn't take his eyes off his Academy Awards date.   (Oh, those crazy actors . . . )

Removing each other's fleas, the zoo workers watched the monkeys intently. (Ick!)
Having been thrown in the air, the dog caught the stick
Smashed flat by a passing truck, Big Dog sniffed at what was left of a half-eaten hamburger.

After hiking through a few more galleries, their goal appeared ahead. 

Fearing the impact upon her delicate digestive system, the tangerines sat unmolested in the fruit bowl.
And from the Want Ads:
Wanted. Man to take care of cow that does not smoke or drink.

For sale: an antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers.

Have several very old dresses from grandmother in beautiful condition.

3-year-old teacher need for pre-school. Experience preferred.

Hastily summoning an ambulance, the corpse was taken to the mortuary.

While eating our burgers and fries, a BIG rat just stood there on the kitchen floor and stared at us. (The food looked good, but I don't think the rat was going to give it up without a fight.)

After writing my dangling participle sentence, the delivery guy finally showed up and I got a free pizza. (I hope you tipped him well.)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Comma Question

by A. G. Case

Newly married, former NYC police Lt. Jo Garcia leaves the city to become the first woman officer in the small upstate community of Indian Cove. When the head accountant in the local school district dies at her desk after a late night, local law enforcement assume it’s a natural death, but Jo is suspicious. When a second death occurs, Jo sets out to find the truth, despite direct orders not to, from her new Chief.

Question from the e-mail:  I got a rejection from a small publisher recently and, since you were talking about comments scrawled on the rejection slips a couple of days ago, I thought I'd ask what it means when they say, "Grammar needs work."

Answer:  With us it usually means the speech tags and action tags are interchangable, when the speech tag should hook on with a comma and and the action tag gets a whole sentence of its own.

Either that are there  are mistakes in comma placement in general.  Commas, are often done wrongfully. Most often they leave off one of a pair needed to spearate a parenthetical clause, or one that demands a pause in delivery and has been left out.

Now I've heard writing teachers, even very good ones, adivse new writers to leave out commas if they're not really needed. The trick is to Know When they can safely be left out. Only when the meaning is perfectly clear wihtout them can a comma be safely be left out. It is never safe to leave out half of a parenthetical pair, as that can easily confuse the reader.

Here's my best very basic advice about commas. A comma is a pause. Put them where you'd pause for breath or for effect. There's a world of difference between:

    "Shoot John!" and

    "Shoot, John!

In one sentence John gets shot, in the other he is instructed to shoot. That can make a big difference to your reader, as well as to John.

Writing teachers have lists and lists of rules of good writng. Publishers only have two rules:

1. Never confuse the reader.

2. Never make extra work for your editor.