Thursday, September 30, 2010

Catching Up

Books that went to press this week:


Work Continues:

No titles this week as I am working on the quarterly payment to authors. But we will have to revisit the cover of UNWORTHY, as the print is unclear and uncentered. My bad, I'm sure

Waiting on galley returns:


Still waiting on the computer guys, but they are swamped right now and doing their best and I have ONE working computer anyway.

Best to everyone.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More on Viewpoint Question

We heard again from the author who asked about "author intrusion" and she said: NOW they're yelling that I'm "Head Hopping." What does that mean and how do I fix it?

Head hopping is when you switch from your viewpoint character's thoughts to someone else's. Only the viewpoint character's thought should be mentioned, as she cannot know what others are thinking, unless she's a telepath.

Here's an example from a romance we saw recently: She thought he was the handsomest hunk she had ever seen and he thought so, too.

It's not an easy problem to fix, but the way I usually choose is to insert a gesture with revealing body language for the other character.

We all read body language all the time. It does no good for someone to tell us, "I'm not upset at all," if their face is red, and their arms are crossed firmly on their chest, while one foot taps the floor.

By the way, the computer gurus didn't show yesterday at all. Will they come today? Kene Sabe.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Computer Gurus

The computer guys are going to pick up my machine today to try to recover the missing author files. They promised to pick it up this morning and have it back by this afternoon, but if I should disappear from the net for a few days you will all know what happened.

Yes, I know, I know -- I am of little faith. And they have been wonderful in may ways. But half the work I've done in the last ten years disappeared.


The Computer Gurus

The computer guys are going to pick up my machine today to try to recover the missing author files. The promised to pick it up this morning and have it back by this afternoon, but if I should disappear from the net for a few days you will all know what happened.

Yes, I know, I know -- I am of little faith. And they have been wonderful in may ways. But half the work I've done in the last ten years disappeared.


Monday, September 27, 2010

A common mistake in point of view - writing tip.

On Saturday, an author write to say someone in her writer's group had castigated her for "author intrusion all over the place." What is that, she asked. Everything she wants me to cut is an image and images are good, right?

To avoid author intrusion, you have to be careful, too, not to show anything your viewpont character can't see. For instance if the viewpoint character describes their own "blushing red cheeks" she can't see that unless she's looking in a mirror.

On the other hand, you can describe gestures and inner feelings and emotion in a viewpoint character. For instance, the protagonist can "hope her excitement didn't show on her face," or "feel the heat of embarrassment burning on her face."

When we show a detail only other characters can see, it's called "author intrusion" because the writer is telling the reader something that the VIEWpoint character can't possibly SEE. One way around this problem (I still catch myself doing it, so I surely know how to fix it) is to use one of the character's other senses, to get the point across. Your protagonist can't see her cheeks blush without a mirror (and that's done too often, and too often badly), but she might "feel her face grow hot" or her "try to swallow back a tide of embarrassment and wish she could drop right through the floor." This was the hardest viewpoint lesson of all for me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Catching Up

Still trying to catch up, anyway, after the computer disaster. I keep two computers so I'll have a backup, but this time the desktop lost its mind and had to go to the repair shop, while the laptop died. Both at the same time.

Nothing went to press this week. (Needless to say.)

I am able to work only sporadically, due to the missing files. (The computer gurus lost my addressbooks, both of them, and half my author files -- some with "in progress" books in them.) Apologies to all.

Galleys went back out on:

EASTERN SHORE LIFE AND LURE, anthology by the Writer's Block

Work continued or began on:

A GRANDFATHER'S GIFT, Vinson, new cover
PETALS OF STARLIGHT, by Bobbi Sinha-Morey

Wish I had better news.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Peas, Potatoes and Macaroni - recipe

Marie Prato’s Peas, Potatoes and Macaroni

1 medium size onion

1 or 2 tbsp. Olive Oil

2 medium or three small potatoes, cut into cubes

1 sm. box frozen peas

1 sm. can tomato sauce

2 quarts of water

1 sm. box shell macaroni

Cut up a medium size onion and saute it in a tablespoon of olive oil in a pot. Cut two medium potatoes into small cubes and add to the oil. When slightly golden add in a package of frozen peas. Put in two quarts of water and a small can of tomato sauce. When the water boils, add a box of shell macaroni. Season to taste. Makes a thick broth soup and a complete meal in one pot for four people.

Contributed by Marie Prato, author of Ten Terrifying Tales...Impeccably written and haunting short stories. Marie Prato reveals all of her writer's craft in these pieces of short fiction. Her stories are believable and chilling. Read Ten Terrifying Tales and prepare to sleep with the lights on!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Too wordy - Writing tip

An author contacted us this week with news that another publisher was considering their non-fiction book (we no longer contract new non-fiction, but will fulfill all outstanding contracts and continue all current series), but had complained to them that the work was "too wordy" and asked for an edit. How can I do that, she asked.

We sent along the following advice: Use your search mode to look for prepositional phrases that can be deleted, by searching and, but, so, to, because and the like and making sure both parts are needed to make your meaning clear. Essentially, there's nothing wrong with the writing, when a passage tends to go on a bit too long. This is a matter of pace, not prose. Often such passages can be a bit redundant.

You have to tell the reader everything, but you only have to tell him once.

Even good writing that is too full of prepositional phrases, overused pronouns and adjectives, or where the action moves too slowly, can be tiresome to readers. So essentially what a publisher means, when she writes "tighten" is that I feel the work may be moving a little slow, but she can't put her finger on anything that is really wrong, so the usual thing to do would be to see if you can cut some of it out, without losing any of the meaning.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Burfa - Recipe

Bobbi Sinha-Morey’s Burfi

*Please note that silver foil can be obtained from any Indian food store. It's an edible, very
fine silver used exclusively for sweets.

1 lb. ricotta cheese 2 tsps. almond extract
1 cup sugar 2 Tbsps. sultanas
1/4 lb. butter 2 Tbsps. pistachios, chopped
3 1/2 cups powdered nonfat milk 1 Tbsp. flaked coconut
1 cup nonfat milk silver foil (optional)

Beat the ricotta cheese until smooth and gradually stir in the sugar. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a two quart pot and add the ricotta cheese, powdered milk,
and liquid milk. Cook over medium low, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon for
twenty minutes or until the mixture leaves the sides of the pot and becomes very
thick. Take care not to burn the mixture. Turn off the heat and stir in the almond
extract. Transfer this to a lightly greased pie-shaped glass dish and smooth the top.
Garnish with the sultanas, pistachios, and coconut and decorate with the silver foil.
Refrigerate for two hours and cut into squares or diamonds. Serves 4-6.

Contributed by Bobbi Sinha-Morey, author of ...Sorcerous At Breakfast A wonderful collection of bewitching poetry .... another feast of imagery by the author of The Sylvan and Tears Of A Mourning Rose.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Write in Scenes - writing tip

Some of the best advice on fiction writing given my by my first agent, was the simple statement, "Write in Scenes."

Every scene has the same structure. Here it is:
1. Transition, preferably with hook.
2. Rising action and dialogue
3. Turning point of the scene (the place where something changes forever)
(if there's no point, the scene goes, no matter how well written)
4. End/resolution of the scene, preferably with another hook. Usually when we come to the end of a scene,

* * *

we indicate it with the double line break, at least two extra lines of "white space" and most people use the three stars, a line, or some other indication, in case the line break falls at the bottom of a page.

Your publisher may bless you for those stars, too, because some typesetting programs eliminate all blank lines, effectively erasing all your double line spaces and turning your careful scenes into one long block of text.

Above all, be consistent. Don't use two blank lines one time, one the next and none the next, don't use the tab for indents sometimes and a row of space bands another. This makes your copy "hard to work with."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Catching Up

Well, after a week I have the computer back from the repair guy and half my author files are missing -- only about five years work -- but he may be able to rescue them. He thinks.

Needless to say, I have gotten no work done this week as the machine only came back yesterday and I am still trying to find my way around Windows 7 which is, I'm told, a much better operating system, but waaaay different.

Wish me luck, but I know you all do.

arline, the frustrated

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Will be Off Line

Due to computer problems, I will be off line until sometime next week.

arline chase

What's a theme? - writing tip

We received e-mail this week from an author complaining that a prospective agent had complained that their work "had no theme." What's a theme, the author asked. When I went to school it was a term paper. Here's what we answered.

The theme of any work is usually a grain of universal truth that can be said in one line. The memoir, or action in a story, article, or essay is then used to illustrate the theme. Nobody can tell your personal truth but you. You will find as you write more and more that the same themes, often related to your deepest beliefs, will surface again and again in your work.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Oma Julchen's Chocolate Mousse - recipe

Oma Julchen's Chocolate Mousse

4 1-ounce squares bitter or semi sweet chocolate
1/4 cup water
5 pasteurized eggs
1 tablespoon Cognac
3/4 cup sugar

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Add the sugar and water; stir until dissolved.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites and set the whites aside. Beating vigorously, add the yolks, one by one, to the melted chocolate. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the Cognac.

Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then fold them gently into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mousse into individual molds or a dessert bowl, then place the mousse into the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. The longer it stands the better. It will keep for several days. This recipe makes about 4 cups.

Contributor’s Note: In my recipe files is a yellowed index card on which I long ago typed my grandmother's "piece de resistance", her chocolate mousse. Yes, she was short and plump, often sighing deeply. But despite her heaviness, both emotional and physical, she was the one who could make food addictive. Maybe the two go together.

Contributed by Hannelore Hahn, On the Way to Feed the Swans in the park, 5-year-old Hannelore heard Hitler making a speech.... “My, those must be terrible people he’s talking about,” she said. “Hush,” came her mother’s answer. “He’s talking about us.” This is the story of how Hannelore and her family left their home in Dresden, Germany, and how she journeyed back, almost half a century later, in search of old friends.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Writing Contest - $1000 prize

Authors wanted for All Romance's Just One Bite Short Story Contest! We are very excited about this contest. Thirty-two of the short stories submitted will be deemed "Semi-Finalists" and released onto and websites on October 1, 2010.

Readers will vote for their favorite short stories during 5 rounds of voting with the field being narrowed at the end of each round. The first prize winning author will receive $1000 US. The second prize winning author will receive an 8GB iPod Touch. The third prize winning author will receive a $100 eBook Bucks Gift Certificate redeemable either at or

Submissions will be accepted between September 1 and September 28, 2010. Each title must be an original, never before published paranormal romance work between 2,500 and 3,000 words and will be marketed exclusively by All Romance/OmniLit. Aut hors can access the submissions forms via this page . Authors need to complete all fields to the best of their ability at the time of submission. I'll be the Editor-In-Charge for the Contest and will lead the committee that will make the final decision on September 30 as to which submissions will be chosen as the Semi-Finalists. Stor ies selected as one of the 32 will be released for voting on October 1.

Authors should keep in mind that we will not be editing these manuscripts. They must have them edited PRIOR to submission.

We anticipate having more wonderful stories than we have slots for. If a story is not chosen as a Semi-Finalist, rights will be returned. Questions about the Contest can be directed to me at:

Thanks again for your interest!

Cat Johnson

Monday, September 6, 2010

First things first - writing tip

A lot of writing is plain common sense. I can't tell you how many manuscripts we see where scenes open with conversation between two people, but we don't know where they are. Worse, many times a third person will say something, then following the speech, will be the words, "Danny Martin joined them on the post office steps." It's plain disorienting for Danny to speak, before he joins them. Sort of like someone sneaking up behind you and poking you in the back when you're not looking. And it's even worse if the first two people have been talking for half a page before we find out they're at the post office. Especially if we've already built them a street corner, or a grocery store parking lot in our imagination.

Reading is a participatory sport. It's a partnership between you, the writer, and the reader. In a movie, it's all there for them to see. When a new scene begins, you have an "establishing shot of the post office and the two people coming out the door. Then the camera moves in and they begin to talk to one another. When Danny comes over, we can see him in his postal employee uniform with his mailbag over his shoulder, so we're not too surprised when he joins in their conversation. But in a book the reader takes what you show them with your words, and builds the set inside his or her mind. It's then the writer's responsibility to let the reader know Danny Martin is there, the reader's responsibility to "create" Danny in his or her imagination. That's why it's so important to describe a character when he or she first appears. From the name, the reader will usually infer a bluff, perhaps red-headed Irish postman and would be startled later to learn that Danny was a swarthy complected Episcopal priest.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Computer Problems Force me on Vacation

The laptop died this week and a new motherboard would cost as much as a new laptop, so I am dead in the water as far as getting books done until the new laptop arrives and I get the software loaded.

I will get back to work as soon as possible.

arline the idle.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ugali - African recipe


1 cup of mixture of maize(cornmeal) and millet flour (3/4 maize flour + 1/4 millet flour)
1 cup of water

Boil water. Pour the flour in a little at a time as you stir until the mixture becomes thick. Stir for 5 more minutes. Serve hot.

Contributor's Note: This is a three-course meal that can serve two people. Best eaten on the shore of Lake Victoria in Kenya.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Is it "perfect" yet?

No. Nothing is ever perfect. Give yourself a break and settle for clean, clear, unconfusing prose written without trying to be either "artful" or "perfect." Don't agonize over every word and let those "artful" passages appear on their own. Trust that they will.

I wanted to address your concerns about "perfectionism" because I used to agonize over every word, every paragraph, until I made myself feel helpless and impossibly inept. Then I went to work for a newspaper where they didn't want it "good," they wanted it accurate and "yesterday." I learned to do it their way -- otherwise I'd have been employed for about a week. But I learned something valuable in that experience, which I'm going to pass on to you, now. Writing is a process of development. It doesn't spring "full blown" from the brow of the writer and those who assume that every word they put down is perfect because "it came to me that way" are in for a rude surprise.