Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ariana Cover Awards are open - writing tip

The cover competition awards for the 2011 EPIC conference are currently open for entries: We are only entering a few covers this year and only one that was not designed in-house. But all of you are free to enter your own book covers in the competition if you choose.

Entering is good advertising for your book, whether you win anything or not, as everyone who visits the site will get to see it. Please be sure to follow all the directions and prepare the .jpg image to their specifications before submitting.

Here is the link:

Monday, November 29, 2010

Philosophy - Writing tip

Somebody asked me why I write, why I bother, and they failed to understand when I said, "I can't, NOT." Can you help me think of a better answer, asks a former student.

Well, the best I can come up with is to tell you why I do it. But there are as many reasons as there are writers -- also there is no WRONG reason to write.

I write because I enjoy it. When it goes right, nothing can give you greater pleasure. I have come to feel about my stories (especially since I started doing longer works) that the true satisfaction is in the work itself. At first, I wanted to sell, sell, sell, and I did publish a lot. Now, I'm more in tune to making the writing as good as I can. The work is my reward, because I enjoy every minute, even the ones when I'm struggling hard. Then if it sells -- great. If it doesn't, I've had my fun. My friend, mystery writer Helen Chappell, says I should be shot for even thinking such a thing and "nobody but a fool every wrote, except for money." But I can't help how I feel.

Yes, writing is hard. Some days you feel as if you're wrestling a bear. But, oh the sense of accomplishment when you make that bear dance!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nina Osier's Apple Cake - recipe

Nina Osier’s Apple Cake

1 ½ cup flour
1 cup sugar
¾ cup oil
1 egg
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt (I omit this)
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla

2 ccup thinly sliced, peeled apples
½ cup nuts (I like walnuts, but if you’re allergic use another kind; the cake really does need the nuts though)

Mix top ingredients first (no need to beat, just get everything well acquainted), then stir in the apples and the nuts. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan, and bake at 350-F or 177-c until cake tester comes out clean (about 45 minutes). No need for frosting, although I suppose you could drizzle it with a plain glaze or dust it with powdered sugar for a festive look.

Contributed by Nina Osier, author of Interphase and Second Chances... In an idyllic community on the coast of Maine, it's 1967. A widowed preacher is doing his best to bring up his two teen-agers, but his ideas about what ought to be "for the best" don't turn out as Bill Franklin expects, nor do his children.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cheese Balls - Recipe

Ed Petty’s Jalapeno Cheese Balls

2 lbs. mild and grated cheddar cheese
1 lb. prepared pimiento cheese
1 lb. softened cream cheese
1 7-oz. jar of chopped jalapeno peppers
2 medium chopped onions
6 cloves of minced garlic
4 tbs. lemon juice
4 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 4-oz. bottle of chili powder

Mix all ingredients except chili powder together and shape into 1-lb. balls. Put chili powder into a flat dish and roll each ball until all of them are covered. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap or tin foil and refrigerate until all of them are set. Makes four to five balls depending on size.

Contributed by Edward Petty, author of Four Flesh Feasts and an After Dinner Mint, and Naked.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oyster Sandwiches - recipe

Don't know about where you live, but around here the oyster tongers are hard at work and the season for Ham and Oyster supper fund-raisers at local churches and volunteer fire departments is well underway.

Here's my cousin Lizzie's recipe -- the same sandwiches my mom used to cook at the Neck District Fire House, back in the day.

Lizzie Dix’s Oyster Sandwiches

2 quarts oysters, with liquor
2 cups pancake mix (add more if necessary)
2 tsp. salt (some people add pepper some don’t)

Mix liquor and pancake flour well. Add oysters last. There should be just enough batter to hold the oysters together. Ladle into hot iron skillet well-greased with lard. Make six inch round fritters. Fry until edges crisp and bubbles appear. Turn once and let brown on the other side. Each fritter should contain 6 to 8 oysters.

Serve between two slices of white bread ( Wonder Bread is best) and make condiments like vinegar, catsup, mustard, Worcestershire Sauce and tobasco available on the table.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Catching Up

Books that went to press this week:

EASTERN SHORE LIFE AND LURE, the Writers Bloc Anthology

RHINESTONELAND, by Vincent Scuro

Galleys sent out this week:

LOVELAND, by Lisa Marie Mercer

VIENNA PRIDE, by Terry L. White

I am working on corporate taxes, so production will be a bit slow over the next two weeks.

I want you to know that in addition to my family and friends, I am thankful for each and every one of you. Have a great Thanksgiving.


Catching Up

Books that went to press this week:

EASTERN SHORE LIFE AND LURE, the Writers Bloc Anthology

RHINESTONELAND, by Vincent Scuro

Galleys sent out this week:

LOVELAND, by Lisa Marie Mercer

VIENNA PRIDE, by Terry L. White

I am working on corporate taxes, so production will be a bit slow over the next two weeks.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Question from the e-mail - writing tip

This question came from author Elizabeth Egan-Cox, whose titles GHOST OF A CHANCE, THE GHOST FROM THE SHADOWS, and A GHOST MEETS AN ANGEL are among our best-selling books:

I just read your blog and was wondering...
I know 'scalable font' is a font type that has an equally distributed mathematical composition, allowing the font to be enlarged or decreased is exact increments, thus always maintaining ratio to proportion... which seems as if it would be ideal for publishing. However, that not being the case with all publishing format techniques, could you explain (in your blog), with one or two examples, glitches scalable font has caused for you and Shelly in creating the paper-bound books.



A scalable font is one where the letters are different widths. In a non-scalable font, like Courier, for instance, each letter takes the same amount of space. Just another of those typesetting jargon misnomers that leads to mis-understandings. So to use the method I gave yesterday, you'd have to set your font to Courier, and your margins at 1 inch, then look at the number of pages counting at 250 words per page.

The counting method I outlined is a way of counting space, rather than actual words. That way, the publisher knows approximately how many lines of type he or she will end up with. Spell check or Grammatik counts the actual number of words used and, usually, that's a close-enough figure, but on some books it can hand you a surprise. If something is 90,000 words that will usually come in under 300 pages of print and 300 is the cut-off point for costliness in production.

The glitch can come if a book has lots of short chapters and dialog. As I explained yesterday, one word of dialog can take up a whole line of space on the page and should count as 10 words or 60 spaces overall. For typesetting purposes, a word is five letters and a space, or six spaces. With computer typesetting, the programs can solve some of the problems for us and we have learned to deal with others, but still surprises can and do crop up in production.

When they do, Shelley and I are faced with the problem of how to fit a spacier book into the amount of pages we have available -- 300 or less, or we have to raise the price to a figure that will send sales down. I have seen a 50,000 word book, one with lots of one-word dialog back and forth, come it at 298 pages and if it had been longer we would have been in real trouble having signed a contract already.

We can raise the price of the book, and will be doing so on future works as production costs have risen. But that can cost us in sales as well and we don't like to do that.

We can reduce the type size to fit more words per page, that's true. But it makes the book more difficult on the reader's eyes and the pages less inviting to look at. So we only do that for books that offer us surprises and for which we have already contracted. We are often forced to say no when we are offered good work, just because of the length. We try, always to aim for an inviting and readable product and choose our typeface and book design to further those ends.

This is why some e-editions have 497 pages, while the paper book comes in at 298 and gives you a squint. We apologize for that, but it's the best we can do.

That never happens with your books, though, Elizabeth. They are eminently readable both in writing style and presentation.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What is the most common mistake? - writer's tip

Question from the e-mail this week: What is the most common mistake people make when submitting their manuscript for publication?

Actually that IS the most common mistake. Submitting the manuscript when we ask to see a query letter only. The first thing we want to know is if you have a good idea. Sending the whole manuscript doesn't tell us that.

But I think maybe you meant what is the most common reason a good story may be turned down? Usually, it's because the ms. is too long for cost-effective paper publication. E-books can be any length, but anything over 100,000 words will eat most publishers alive with paper costs. The moment we read a query letter that begins:

My 140,000 word novel about sex, drugs, and rock & roll is the first of a series of 3 volumes of equal length....

The moment we hit 140,000 words, the word "NO!" pops right into our minds.

The other thing people don't do is count space, not words. A one-word line takes as much space to be printed as a 10 word line. Here's how editors and typesetters count words:

The first thing any editor needs to know is whether your story will fit in his space (or within his paper budget). If it won’t fit, he won’t buy it, no matter how good it is. Let me explain how typesetters count words, which is very different from the way spellcheck does. A line is 60 spaces long. Six spaces equals 1 word, or 10 words per line. If you have (as most people do) 25 lines per page, that gives you 250 words per double-spaced manuscript page. Now the following dialogue,






"Well, maybe...."

counts as 70 words, though only 8 are used. This way of calculating space, rather than words, is used throughout the industry and is the reason it drives editors absolutely crazy if you justify the right hand margin of your manuscript, or use a scalable font. It looks pretty, but the computer throws in lots of little half-spaces, or moves letters close together, and it throws off all the space calculations.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Boiled Fruitcake - recipe

Louise Thellian’s Boiled Fruitcake *
*Given to me by my beloved friend Babs.

Boil together for 5 minutes:

1 lb. seedless raisins
1 lb. brown sugar
2 tbsp. lard (or margerine)
2 cups water

Let cool, then transfer to a big deep mixing bowl, then add:

2 Level tbsp. of baking soda dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water

Mix the following together and add to mixture:

4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup chopped nuts

Pour into 2 loaf pans that have been greased and floured. Bake at 350-F or 177-C degrees for 1 hour.

Louise Thellian, a friend of Sandy’s, does cover art for us from time to time.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Catching Up

Books that went to press this week:

NEVER A COUGAR by Ludima Burton

Galleys out this week:

EASTERN SHORE LIFE AND LURE, Bloc Anthology, Tom Taylor

A MATTER OF FAITH, by Anna Dynowski

VIENNA PRIDE, by Terry L. White


Looks like everyone is getting ready for Christmas. Thanks for all the orders coming in.

Have a great November, and a beautiful Thanksgiving everyone. I am Thankful for each and every one of you.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Mark Twain is Dead - writing tip

Do you have some advice from a living author?

Well, besides me, you mean? How about Elmore Leonard?

Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle
Elmore Leonard's Rules of Good Writing

These are rules I've picked up along the way to help me remain invisible when I'm writing a book, to help me show rather than tell what's taking place in the story. If you have a facility for language and imagery and the sound of your voice pleases you, invisibility is not what you are after, and you can skip the rules. Still, you might look them over.

1. Never open a book with weather. If it's only to create atmosphere, and not a character's reaction to the weather, you don't want to go on too long. The reader is apt to leaf ahead looking for people. There are exceptions. If you happen to be Barry Lopez, who has more ways to describe ice and snow than an Eskimo, you can do all the weather reporting you want.

2. Avoid prologues.
They can be annoying, especially a prologue following an introduction that comes after a foreword. But these are ordinarily found in nonfiction. A prologue in a novel is backstory, and you can drop it in anywhere you want.
There is a prologue in John Steinbeck's "Sweet Thursday," but it's O.K. because a character in the book makes the point of what my rules are all about. He says: "I like a lot of talk in a book and I don't like to have nobody tell me what the guy that's talking looks like. I want to figure out what he looks like from the way he talks. . . . figure out what the guy's thinking from what he says. I like some description but not too much of that. . . . Sometimes I want a book to break loose with a bunch of hooptedoodle. . . . Spin up some pretty words maybe or sing a little song with language. That's nice. But I wish it was set aside so I don't have to read it. I don't want hooptedoodle to get mixed up with the story."

3. Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue.
The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied. I once noticed Mary McCarthy ending a line of dialogue with "she asseverated," and had to stop reading to get the dictionary.

4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said" . . .
. . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances "full of rape and adverbs."

5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.

6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose."
This rule doesn't require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use "suddenly" tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.

7. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.
Once you start spelling words in dialogue phonetically and loading the page with apostrophes, you won't be able to stop. Notice the way Annie Proulx captures the flavor of Wyoming voices in her book of short stories "Close Range."

8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters.
Which Steinbeck covered. In Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" what do the "American and the girl with him" look like? "She had taken off her hat and put it on the table." That's the only reference to a physical description in the story, and yet we see the couple and know them by their tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight.

9. Don't go into great detail describing places and things.
Unless you're Margaret Atwood and can paint scenes with language or write landscapes in the style of Jim Harrison. But even if you're good at it, you don't want descriptions that bring the action, the flow of the story, to a standstill.
And finally:

10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.
A rule that came to mind in 1983. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he's writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perhaps taking another shot at the weather, or has gone into the character's head, and the reader either knows what the guy's thinking or doesn't care. I'll bet you don't skip dialogue.

My most important rule is one that sums up the 10.
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can't allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative. It's my attempt to remain invisible, not distract the reader from the story with obvious writing. (Joseph Conrad said something about words getting in the way of what you want to say.) If I write in scenes and always from the point of view of a particular character -- the one whose view best brings the scene to life -- I'm able to concentrate on the voices of the characters telling you who they are and how they feel about what they see and what's going on, and I'm nowhere in sight.

What Steinbeck did in "Sweet Thursday" was title his chapters as an indication, though obscure, of what they cover. "Whom the Gods Love They Drive Nuts" is one, "Lousy Wednesday" another. The third chapter is titled "Hooptedoodle 1" and the 38th chapter "Hooptedoodle 2" as warnings to the reader, as if Steinbeck is saying: "Here's where you'll see me taking flights of fancy with my writing, and it won't get in the way of the story. Skip them if you want."

"Sweet Thursday" came out in 1954, when I was just beginning to be published, and I've never forgotten that prologue.
Did I read the hooptedoodle chapters? Every word.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What are the Rules of Good Writing? - writing tip

That was the question in my e-mail this morning from a former student who had the advice "follow the rules of good writing and you can't go wrong" appended to a return letter from an agent she had queried.

As most of you already know, I have only two rules:

1. Never confuse the reader.

2. Never make work for your editor.

But my curiosity was piqued and I checked on the Internet to see what rules others may have. The following is Mark Twain's advice. Number 12 seems to encompass both my rules:

Mark Twain’s Advice to Writers

1. A tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere.

2. The episodes of a tale shall be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help develop it.

3. The personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.

4. The personages in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there.

5. When the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject at hand. And they should be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say.

6. When the author describes the character of a personage in his tale, the conduct and conversation of that personage shall justify said description.

7. When a personage talks like an illustrated, gilt-edged, tree-calf, hand-tooled, seven-dollar Friendship’s offering in the beginning of a paragraph, he shall not talk like a refugee from a Minstrel show at the end of it.

8. Crass stupidities shall not be played upon the reader by either the author, nor the people in the tale.

9. The personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable.

10. The author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and their fate, and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones.

11. The characters in a tale should be so clearly defined that the reader can tell beforehand what each will do in a given emergency.

12. The author should say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it.

13. A writer should use the right word, not its second cousin.

14. In crafting language, a good writer will eschew surplusage.

15. Do not omit necessary details.

16. Avoid slovenliness of form.

17. Use good grammar.

18. Employ a simple, straightforward style.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gianni Hayes's Cookies - recipe

Gianni Hayes’s Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Contributor’s Note: These cookies are absolutely delicious, and the softer you make them, the better. For Christmas, you might want to stir in red and green M&Ms. It's easy and quick to do but the secret's in the chilling. This is a recipe handed down to me by my neighbor Diane Davenport. Everyone in my family makes them now.

1/2 cup cooking oil
4 squares baking chocolate, grated and unmelted
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup powdered sugar (reserve for baking)

In a large bowl, mix the chocolate, oil, and sugar. Add the 4 eggs, one at a time, mixing well. Mix well, add vanilla

Next, stir in baking powder, the flour, and salt. Chill several hours or overnight (This is an important step). After thoroughly chilled, pre-heat over to 350-F or 177-C degrees

Make small to medium-sized ball; you can use a teaspoon for this. Drop the balled dough into the powdered sugar and roll it around to cover it with the powder. Place 2" apart on greased baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes.

Option: Leave out grated baker’s chocolate and add into mixture chocolate Tollhouse morsels or M&Ms. Makes about 50 cookies.

Contributed by Gianni D. Hayes, Ph.D, author of Jacob's Demon.


Monday, November 8, 2010

What is "subtext?" - writing tip

Today's e-mail question comes from a former student who was told that her subtext did not come through well in her dialog and that the meaning of the subtext was unclear. What is subtext? she asked.

In dialog and narrative both there is always both text and subtext. The first is what is said outright, and the second is what is implied by what is left unsaid, or what qualifies what is said. 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 don’t like to mess up your plans....”

Okay, here the subtext is pretty plain: John is hostile and disagreeable and of course he wants to mess up her plans. If he didn’t, he’d say, “You go ahead, hon, I’m too tired tonight." What this really says is, “You couldn’t find time to go with me last night, so I’m NOT going to be nice about what you want to do tonight.”

That is the subtext, although the text says that he'll go if she wants, it is made clear by the subtext that he doesn't really WANT to go and doesn't want her to go and enjoy herself, either.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Catching Up

No books went to press this week.

Print-galleys were prepared for:

NEVER A COUGAR by Ludima Gus Burton, and corrections were received and are in progress. Thanks, Lulu, that was quick.

A MATTER OF FAITH, by Anna Dynowski.

Work continued on:

DEMONCHASER II by David Berardelli

RHINESTONELAND, by Vincent Scuro

We're still waiting on print contracts from the following:

LOVELAND, by Lisa Marie Mercer

TRAVELER, by David Yates

New books are up for November and Shelley did a great job on the front page for the web site. Yay, Shelley.

Work will slow some in the second half of November as corporate taxes are due.

Have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

David Hooper's French Stew - Recipe

David Hooper’s French Stew (Adapted) with Baguettes

* The elegance in this stew is its simplicity. It does not take long to prepare and it is ready to
eat in an hour.

1 2 to 2-1/2 pound chuck roast.
6 medium red potatoes
2 small or one medium onion (cut in quarters)
8 carrots (I use the baby carrots and put in two for one carrot. No scrape, no mess)
½ cup Flour
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of black pepper
½ teaspoon of rosemary
½ teaspoon of thyme
2 tablespoons of oil
2 tablespoons of butter
1/8 teaspoon of Tabasco sauce
1 French baguette loaf

Heat skillet or Dutch Oven on medium high with two tablespoons of butter, two tablespoons of oil. Cut the chuck roast into one-inch squares. Salt and pepper the meat, then dredge it in flour. Put the pieces in hot grease and brown until all sides are uniformly browned.

When done, take the meat out and put in one cup of water, stirring to get all the breading off the bottom of the skillet. Put the rosemary, thyme, salt, Tabasco, and pepper into the skillet. Stir a few seconds. Put in the potatoes, carrots, and the onions into the skillet. Put the meat on top of the vegetables, add water to just barely keep the ingredients covered with liquid, cover, and let it come to a boil. Turn the heat down and let it simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally.

When the meat is tender, turn off the heat and let sit on the stove for five minutes. Slice the baguette and garnish with butter.

Contributed by David M. Hooper, co author of Reunions Are Murder by Ursula McNabb... Retired policeman Bob Brantmier didn't want to go to his 30-year high school reunion, but his old partner on the force needs help after one of Bob's classmates is murdered. Look at it this way, at least Bob knows all the suspects, though maybe not as well as he thinks.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

E-mail question on new print facilities - writing tip

I got an e-mail this week from an author that read: "I've been reading a lot about the ATMs where you can print your book in 5 minutes. I'm sure you've already looked into that. I have no idea what it costs to have them load the book into their machines and/or if each location has its own particular inventory. Maybe if you get a chance you could address that in a blog or something."

They have been talking about this kind of thing seriously for about six years, mostly using the term kiosk for a set-up in a bookstore where you can select your title, go have a cup of cappucino while it's being printed, then pick up your book and take it home the same day. The first experimental versions went into business about three years ago. They are becoming more and more an expected service and less and less a curiosity.

I have heard it discussed as a possibility as early as 2000. And the "technology is just around the corner" has been a standard in the POD publishing business for years. People raved that it would "put traditional publishers out of business." But that is highly unlikely.

I haven't heard the term ATM before, but think it fits, especially if the kiosk becomes an automatic operation where the customer prints his or her own book. That seems likely as no store has to pay health insurance or salary to a machine that's operated by the general public.

I know that some B&N bookstores have them available in larger cities, using print on demand technology for the presses, which are glorified copy machines. The book files they print come from POD publishers, like us, who list with either Lightening Source or Create Space / Booksurge, or other POD printers. Barnes & Noble picks up files for such titles through a distributor of files and pays us through our printers accordingly for any of our books it prints out and sells in their stores -- just as we are paid for any that sell on amazon for instance. We have a contract with them to do so. From the beginning, until now, we've made $23.19 from such sales, and we have paid the distributor more than $1,000 in fees for printing and set up costs. Nevertheless, it is the "wave of the future." Or at least it is right now.

So my advice is not to worry about how to upload files to this market unless you are self-published. That's the printer/publisher's job and if there's any money to be made at it, and eventually there may be, your publisher will be on it -- profit being such a rarely-sighted animal in this business and we optimist publishers so keen on pursuing them wherever they may show themselves.

Some people think/fear this venue would also take advantage of electronic book files so that e-books could be (illegally) printed out and sold as print copies. The investment in the technology is extensive and no reputable company (especially B&N who are the only ones to take advantage of the available technology so far) would risk a suit over copyright infringement by printing e-books files they'd have to BUY first, when they can just use files they can download from our printers and pay a percentage without any initial investment from them at all.

Anyway, I have no idea why anyone would want to print a copy of an e-book. But any determined person who wanted a paper copy of an e-book badly enough could easily do it on his home computer with the right program available. Microsoft Word will convert a PDF to a document and then print it, for instance. Also anyone can take a PDF file to a Kinko's and get it printed. It's not exactly rocket science.

Besides, the whole advantage of an e-book is that you can carry a dozen books in the device, all for the same amount of weight as if it's empty. No wonder they are so popular with college students who form the foundations of our e-book buying customer-base at the moment.

That, too, is changing. With senior citizens the second largest growth group of new e-book readers. As the Nintendo generation ages and takes up more sedentary pursuits, such as reading, instead of hang-gliding, I believe e-books will become more and more popular, just as cell-phones have replaced the tied-to-the-wall variety.

Nothing will ever replace a paper book for those of us who grew up with them. But for folks who grew up with hand-held devices, and with the improved clarity of imagery and screens bigger than two inches, more and more of us will be moving into the e-book market all the time.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Carlene Dater's Coffee Bread - recipe

CONGRATULATIONS TO CARLENE. She's a finalist in the EPIC Awards this year.

Carlene Dater’s Swedish Coffee Bread

Cream together, ½ cup butter and 11/4 cups sugar -
Add 2 beaten eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla. Mix well.
Add 2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder and ½ tsp. Baking soda. Mix in flour to form batter.

In a separate bowl, mix ½ cup chopped walnuts, 2 tsp. Sugar and ½ tsp. Cinnamon.

Put half the batter in a greased Angel food cake pan or, anyway a pan with a hole in the middle.

Sprinkle half the nut mixture on batter in pan. Add remaining dough then add the rest of the sugar/nut/cinnamon mixture on top. Bake one hour in 350-F or 177-C degree oven. Yummy.

Contributed by Carlene Dater, author of Call Sign Love, and The Colors of Death...

Monday, November 1, 2010

How do I describe a character- writing tip

Question: from the e-mail this morning involved character description and ended with, "it's particularly hard in first person, because it sounds ridiculous to say you looked in the mirror and knew the true meaning of georgeous." But even in third person, how do you describe yourself?

Answer: Characters should be described as soon as the reader meets them. it's not fair to mention they are blonde 20 pages later after the reader has already imagined a brunette. And describing a character feature by feature can get to sound like a catalog--or an information dump. I like a general description or to describe one or two things and leave the rest up to the reader’s imagination. The key thing is to describe them when they are first mentioned, before the reader’s imagination kicks in with something you never intended.

Using a mirror for first-person descriptions has been done to often, and too often badly, as you mentioned. But having a character think about how they look is fair and can be intriguing in either first or third -- if what they consider faults turn out to be fairly attractive features.

I'm certainly no authority when it comes to writing good description, but anyone can get lucky. Here’s an example of how to use the "thinking about features" approach from my mystery story, “Final Exit." It begins as follows:

"Actually, Jon knew he and his sister, Jill, looked alike. Same dark eyes, same straight nose, same generous mouth. But his hair was dark where Jill's was fair, and his jaw was square while Jill's pointed chin gave her face a heart shape."

We are in Jon's viewpoint, but can see both Jon and his sister are relatively attractive without either of them seeming conceited.