Friday, January 28, 2011

Catching UP

Well all the year-end bookkeeping is finally finished and the 1099s were mailed out this week. BIG sigh of relief.

Meanwhile, work progressed, though nothing went to press again this week.

Galleys sent out or that will go out by the end of today:

VIENNA PRIDE by Terry L. White

Ebooks completed:

CASE OF JENNY BRICE, by Mary Roberts Rinehart
OUT OF CONTROL, by Arline Chase

Our e-book editor Shelley Rodgerson Chase is feeling a bit under the weather. No actual diagnosis yet, but she could use a cheerful word from those who care about her.

Best to everyone for the New Year, that is beginning to feel "real" now.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Elena Bowman's Mother's Pasta Sauce - recipe

I thought perhaps someone might like my Mother's Recipe for Pasta Sauce. This is the sauce we use all the time and it is great. One more thing, never, ever used Oregano in Italian Sauce. Oregano is used in salads. :-)

_*Pasta Sauce*_

1 Large can of Italian Tomatoes 1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 clove of garlic (or minced) 3 tbls of sugar
1/2 chopped onion (cut very small) 1 tsp salt
16 oz (2 cans) tomato paste pepper to taste
1 tomato can of water 1 tsp sweet Basil

*Increase batch size proportionately*

*Brown *the garlic and onion in oil in a sauce pan until golden (not burnt)
*Add* and *Simmer* tomato paste in oil ~ 15 -20 min (do not burn)
*Add *all other items (Tomatoes should be mashed or crushed)
*Bring* ingredients to a near boil
*Simmer* 2-1/2- 3 hours or to a desired consistency
*Stirring* occasionally.

1/2 lb of spaghetti is enough for two people.

Note: minced garlic and or minced onions can be used in place of fresh garlic and onions. Crushed cans of Italian tomatoes can be used in place of the whole tomatoes. However, do not substitute any other oil for Olive Oil. Onion and garlic brown rather quickly. After adding the paste to the golden onion and garlic stirring until the mixture is all absorbed is necessary to prevent burning. Once the crushed tomatoes have been added and brought to a near boil, and reduced to simmering, only stirring occasionally will be needed. This sauce can be used for all pasta recipes.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Too Flat? - writing tip

Question from a former student: An agent I queried, said my manuscript was "too flat" -- what does that mean?

Answer: It could mean one of two things. First there may not be enough emotional reaction to the situations from the characters.

When you need to give a character a strong emotion, try to find a moment in your own past when you felt that emotion. Once I needed to find shock and horror for a character in a story. To do that I rememberd a day when I'd taken clothes in off the line, folding them into the basket as I went. When I started to put them away, a snake crawled out from between the towels and landed between me and the door. I am terified of snakes. I took all the sick, palpitating, screaming horror I felt when I saw the snake and gave those emotions to the my character. Her palms sweat, here hands shook, the room seemed to come and go. And I used what I had felt, to understand how she would feel when she walked into that horrifying situation.

Or it equally might mean the hooks need work. Hooks tie the reader's emotions to the story.

A hook should raise a question in the mind of the reader that will be answered before the story is over. Ideally they should come at in or near the transition of a scene opening and again at the close of the scene, with a "what will happen next?" hook.

Hooks heighten reader interest, pure and simple. There are teachers who will tell you that hooks are the stuff of pulp fiction and are beneath writers of literary fiction. I disagree with that. In good literary fiction, the hooks are there, but they're much more subtle. I firmly believe the difference between "page-turner commercial fiction" and " beautiful gripping literary prose," lies only in the subtlety of the hooks.

Without actually looking, I can't tell you which, but if you reread the ms with those things in mind, it may help. As a former teacher, I don't have time to read manuscripts, but I've always time for a quick question. It's always good to hear from old friends.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Green Beans - recipe

Mary Bible’s Green Beans with Potatoes or Okra.

*Mary always believed in parboiling all green vegetables. She said if you didn't you could get sick from botulism.

4 cups of green beans broke or cut into small pieces about one inch. Parboiled for three minutes and rinsed in cold water.
3/4 teaspoon salt.
3 strips of bacon or a small piece of ham.

Put beans and meat into a large pot and cover with hot water. Stir salt in the beans and add bacon. While beans and meat are cooking, peel and quarter two medium size potatoes.

Cook the beans until water is almost gone. The last twenty minutes place the potatoes on top of beans and cook until the potatoes are done. You can cook okra on top of beans the same way. Good with cornbread.

Contributed by Dorothy Bible Kawaguchi, author of Her Name Was Mary...the story of a mountain woman’s struggle to raise her children alone, during the Great Depression.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Stringers - writing tip

Question from my e-mail: I haven't sold much this year and don't have much income to report for my taxes. Is there some way I can help myself with more sales, even if they are small ones. Mostly, last this year, I sold to a regional magazine and the pay is putrid, but they are very nice to me.

Answer: Because of the economy, small magazines and local newspapers are using more "outside" pieces and cutting down on staff reporters who need benefits like health insurance. So regionals is a good way to go and don't forget newspapers, too.

They are always looking for "stringers" to cover time-consuming assignments. These often pay little in terms of $ per hour, but can be very rewarding in terms of experience and fun. Say the local historical society is taking a day-long cruise on a replica 17th century sailing vessel. They want a reporter to come, but the editor knows it will take all day (and cost many hours of salary), and he'll only get one story for his bucks. A stringer can go and spend six or eight hours for a flat fee, usually a low flat fee, while the staffer runs here and there covering three or four other things.

If the stringer can take or "come by" some photos of the vessel as well, the editor will have a nice looking color feature at a reasonable price, the historical society will be proud and gratified, and the stringer will work long and hard for little, but will have "income" to report.

The stringer will also get to spend the day on a 17th century sailing vessel, will meet contacts and may find ideas for other articles. One of our authors got $25 for her feature on the Dove, met a real photographer who had some lovely slides of skipjacks as well as the Dove under construction, and under sail. That gave her a chance to earn many times her original fee for a feature on the vessel in a national boating magazine.

All using the same source material. You, too, can become a "double-dipper" by recycling some of the features you've already researched. If you do something often enough, you will become the local expert and any time they need a piece on a subject in your repertoire, your name will come up, too.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Catching UP

The checks are in the mail and Everyone is PAID every cent once more. Thank goodness. Now I can go back to work preparing paper books for release.

I received a notification this week from Barnes & Noble (whose checks had been even more miniscule than normal over the last three months) that they had failed to report on some sales last quarter. You were all paid for what was reported as of the first week in January. Reported sales that were added after that (and they ARE being added) as a result of an unexpected upsurge in sales processing that overloaded the B&N computer order system, will be paid to you in the next quarter's checks.

I have downloaded the updates and so far (it's caught up now to the second week in Jan) have found only three or four authors who will have additional sales for the last quarter and those have only one or two titles each. Yes, that's all the difference there is, but it was nice of them to let us know so we can catch up and make sure all of you are paid correctly. We are, after all, a pretty small fish, in the cyber-ocean, but we do pride ourselves in making sure that authors are given their due.

It's good to know that holiday season sales for NOOK resulted in such an up-rush of business on their site that the sales force was hard-pressed to keep up with delivery of books and had to let reporting sales wait for a post-holiday slowdown, however.

Things are almost completely caught back up and I do trust Barnes & Noble will report the differences accurately, as I will, adding in the missing sales to your April checks.

As a result of my being occupied elsewhere,

No books went to press this week.

No galleys went out this week.

There is no real editorial progress to report for this week

Friday, January 21, 2011

Coffee Souffle - recipe

_*Coffee Souffle'*_

1 cup strong coffee
1 cup milk
¾ cup sugar
a pinch salt
1 envelope plain gelatin
2 eggs, separated
1 ts vanilla

*Scald *the milk and coffee
*Mix* sugar and gelatin
*Add* half to hot liquid.

*Beat* egg yolks; add to remaining dry ingredients.
*Add *to hot mixture.
*Cook* until mixture coats silver spoon.
*Let cool.*
*Add* vanilla.
*Fold* into stiffly beaten egg whites.
*Chill *until firm.

Souffle' results in three different color layers; the bottom one is a dark brown, the middle a lighter color and the top even lighter. At least that's the way it should turn out. Nevertheless, it is so good that it doesn't last beyond one meal. There are always those who want seconds.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Verbs and Tenses -- Writing tip.

Verbs are action words, everyone knows that. And it’s a good idea to use the active form of verbs whenever possible. One thing that will instantly make your writing read better is to avoid gerunds and verb participles, by using the active form of the verb. That helps keep you in "active" voice. Almost all "ing" words follow a "to be" verb–is, was, were, are– one that's in static, if not exactly passive voice. In fact if you use your search function to look for was, were, etc. you can pick up on those passive phrases and turn them around pretty easily. Instead of "He was still chuckling as he closed the trunk...," try "He chuckled as he closed the trunk." It’s more direct, more specific. Better writing. Do you see what I mean? This is no big thing, but overall the writing will feel more “participatory” to the reader if you do that.

Some modern fiction is written in present tense, but that is fast going out of style. Once
it was the province of the Very Literary in writers’ programs at ivy league schools. But once the likes of Patricia Corneal adapted whole novels into present tense, it quickly
went out of fashion as a literary device. Critics now find it passe and quite a few editors hate it, because they can’t be certain at first glance whether the writer meant to do it, or if he or she doesn’t have a clue about verb tenses. Few editors are patient enough to read far enough to find out. They assume the worst and reach for the rejection slip. Their mission is to clear their desk. They have a whole stack of stories to get through.

I can't say I've never done present tense fiction. I went to college. But my experienced advice is to use present tense in narrative only when writing synopses and outlines. By it’s very nature, a story that is written down happened BEFORE it was written down. Therefore it should be in past tense. Likewise references using the word NOW can be harmful. Now is when the reader is reading the story. It gives me a “time out of place” signal every time I see it. Kind of like seeing old movies with shots of the Twin Towers.

Usually, narrative is written in past tense, dialogue in present tense (because the people are speaking in present time of the story, even if it's historical fiction), and flashbacks in past perfect tense to distinguish them from the regular past tense of the story's narrative.

For instance (verbs in bold):

Present tense (used in experimental fiction):
I walk toward town. The distant buildings shimmer beneath the summer sun. "This is a hot day!" I say, though there is no one around to hear me.

Past tense, used in most fiction:
I walked toward town. The distant buildings shimmered beneath the summer sun. "This is a hot day!" I said, though there was no one around to hear me.

Past perfect tense, used in flashbacks:
I had been walking toward town. The distant buildings had shimmered beneath the summer sun. "This is a hot day!" I had said, though no one had been around to hear me.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Promotional Opportunity

Behind the Scenes scheduling has opened up for 2011.  We have open slots from May till 2012.  Behind the Scenes is an opportunity for your authors to write an autobiographical 7-part serial telling how they became  writers.  Each post links to their web page; and we post a photo, short bio and list of urls. They are on the front page  of for a week.  This opportunity is open especially to authors who have enough writing under their belt to have a story to tell;   preference will be given to those authors who have not yet guest hosted Behind the Scenes.   Hoping to hear from you soon.  Allie 

Blackened Red Fish - Recipe

Tanya Ramagos’s Blackened Red Fish

2 boneless red fish fillets
1 tsp butter
lemon juice
Chef Paul Prodone Blackened Seafood seasoning

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the fillets with the Chef Paul seasoning and lemon juice on both sides, then gently lay in butteredskillet.

Cook, flipping often, until blackened on both sides.

Contributed by Tonya Ramagos, author of SECRET ADMIRER... Someone is sneaking anonymous letters in Alexis Berkley's locker. Could it be the boy of her dreams?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What editors want? -- writing tip

From the email:

Question from a former student: We contracted for 2000 words, but I did a lot of research on that article, so I included all the information, thinking I'd let the editor pick and choose. She sent it right back saying she wanted only 2,000 words and for me to cut it down. I thought that was her job. What do editors want, anyway?

Answer: By sending more information, without realizing it, you doubled her work and asked her spend time doing something she shouldn't have to do. She doesn't get paid to make decisions for you. She gets paid for filling up space in the magazine with prose. The prose all has to fit within a certain framework. If the story or article is too big for the "hole", then she's in big trouble and has lots of extra work to do while many other duties wait.

Making work for an editor is a sure way to get on their "no" list which will last as long as that editor has that job, and will follow her to all her later assignments at other magazines. Just the mention of your name will bring a wince.

So if they ask for 2000 words, send them 2000, not 2001. Don't try to impress them by showing all the information you gathered (a GOOD thing, sure, shows you were thorough, I do understand why you did it), but just choose the most important and go from there.

Speaking as a sometime editor, here’s MY list in order of importance:
1. Good clean mistake-free copy that arrives well before deadline.
2. Coherent and organized prose that is never confusing to the reader.
3. Authors who will listen to what the editor is saying about the assignment and will produce the desired results the editor has asked for without going off on a tangent of their own.
4. Authors who will pay attention to length requirements. Three thousand words means “three thousand Words, or LESS”. It doesn’t mean 3001 words. Shorter lengths are easy to make longer.
5. Stories or information that readers will enjoy, or that will benefit them in some way.
6. Authors who don’t take unnecessary time. Who ask just enough questions to know what’s wanted then go away and produce it without talking about their grandchildren, dogs or in-growing toenails.
7. Authors who don’t telephone or send twenty e-mails a day wanting to know when their book, or story, or article, will be finished and/or published.
8. Authors who listen to suggestions and produce results without whining.
9. Clear, concise, informative prose without repetition or padding.
10. Artistry with words.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Oyster Stew - recipe

Barfer Robinson’s* Stewed Oysters

3 (or four) strips of bacon
1 medium sized onion, (diced)
1 quart fresh cream (half and half, or milk for the faint-hearted)
1 quart fresh-shucked oysters with their own liquor
Salt and pepper to taste

In a deep iron skillet, or a Dutch oven, fry up three or four strips of bacon. Let them get crispy and then take ‘em out. Put ‘em in a bowl and after they cool a bit, crumple them up for later.

Brown up your (diced) onion in the bacon grease. Fish out the oysters with a spoon and put them in a bowl, then strain the liquor, because you know them worthless boys is bound to get some shell in there. Then add the oysters with their own strained liquor and cover the pot. Push it on the back of the cook stove (low heat). Let it simmer until the oysters start to crimp up (edges pucker).

Add your cream and stir it a little, and then let it come to a simmer again, but don’t let it get too hot or the cream will scorch. Then she’s ready to dish up. I like to sprinkle a little bit of that crumpled bacon on top of each bowl. It’s mighty good with oyster crackers, or saltines – you got to allow for the extra salt if you’re going to use saltines, though. You might have to do two pots on a cold day, cause a six man crew can go through a lot of grub.

Contributor’s Note: Barfer Robinson, cook aboard the dredge boat Hope V. Rogers, earned his nickname from his unfortunate predilection for seasickness. His crew say he’s the best cook afloat and stand ready to fight any man who says otherwise.

Contributed by Arline Chase, author of THE DROWNED LAND an award-winning collection of short stories where this character first appeared and he returns in the later novel KILLRAVEN...Hope Voeschell, a gentle young woman, falls in love with DeCoursey Rogers a violent man. When their island community encounters rape and murder, Coursey’s “eye-for-an-eye” reaction may cost him everything.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Catching Up

Still at work paying people, so I haven't been able to do much about publishing chores yet. Sales are definitely higher in volume, though most authors still only sold one or two copies per quarter. As in the past, those who did the most publicity, made the most sales.

E-books are far outselling paper. The Year end sales report has gone to the accountants and 1099s for those authors who earned more than $600 should be on the way shortly. Checks should actually be in the mail come Monday or Tuesday.

David Yates, if you read this, please contact me at once. I need important information from you.

Books that went to press this week:


Galleys that went out:

VIENNA PRIDE by Terry L. White

That's it, folks.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Use "said" or "vary the language?" -- writing tip

Question: So do we use "said" all the time as you advised in your blog earlier this week, or do we vary the language. Could you explain that point a bit?

Answer: Yes it's good not to use "said" in every line of dialog and the way to avoid that is to use movement tags instead of speech tags, a method that was also explained in the "Common Mistakes" blog.

Stretching a point to find other synonyms for "said" draws too much attention to the words used, taking away from the meaning of what you've written. In this one case, it's better to use the same word over again, because readers see it so often they rarely pay attention to it beyond the sense of speech it conveys.

Using such words as commented, exclaimed, spoke, and so on burdens the meaning with the connotation of the individual words, rather than just the meaning, and can distract the reader's attention from what is said, which should be the important part of the information there.

All words have a dictionary meaning, or denotation, but many also have a meaning that accrues to the word in the mind of the reader and that is connotation. An illustration of the difference between denotation and connotation can be seen in the following two descriptive phrases of a man, with the same exact occupation:

A red-neck farmer.

A tiller of the rich, dark earth.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

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, January 11, 2011

How to avoid Common Writing Mistakes - writing tip

I'm still working on getting folks paid this quarter. Meanwhile, I thought I'd start the new year's worth of writing tips with a long general post on common problems that was compiled from things we often see on submitted manuscripts

Tips on How to Avoid Common Writing Problems
from the Publishers at

1. Check homonyms and be sure they are used correctly. Problems often happen with words that sound alike, but are spelled differently, because spell check will not pick up on them. Watch out for words like hear and here, then and than, to (toward), too (more or also), and two (the number), there, their, and they’re, zinc and sink, and check them carefully. Don't give anyone a pear of scissors.

2. Double check your transitions to be sure the reader is oriented. A transition is when you move the reader from one place to another, or one scene to another, or one time to another–usually the opening sentence in a block of copy or scene. A good transition, like the lead in a newspaper or magazine article, should answer the questions, Who? Where? and When?

3. Re dialogue and dialogue punctuation: Make sure characters don’t waste time on small talk. Punctuate dialogue correctly. Never let two characters talk in the same paragraph. Commas and other punctuation go inside the quotes. And everything a person says at one time (even if they change the subject) goes in the same paragraph.

4. Indicate the speech tags as part of the whole sentences in dialogue. When a quote is followed by a “speechtag” as in, ‘David explained.’– the tag is still part of the SAME sentence and so the end of the dialogue speech is connected with a comma (NOT a period), and then a close quote. The comma is there to show that the “said” is part of the same sentence. Dialogue quotes should not end in period when there is a speechtag. Tags like “Responds David”, or “Explains Mary” or even "She said." should never be capitalized as they are not a new sentence.

5. Keep speechtags simple. Use “said” most of the time. Never use animal sounds such as ‘he barked’ unless your character is a dog or a drill sergeant. Here's a neat little technique–if you show a character in action within the same paragraph as their speech, the reader will assume the character who moved was also the one who spoke. This little trick can get rid of a lot of repetitive language (the saids), and it forces you to insert an image. If you want to show another character's reaction to the speech, change paragraphs. Treat the movement just as if it were a dialogue reply.

6. Write in scenes or structured parts and be sure each part makes a point. In fiction, the turning point is the place where something important changes. In non-fiction, it’s where you draw a conclusion. In either case, scenes or parts should make each make a different point.

Narrate scenes or parts with no point. They always tell us in the beginning to write in scenes and "show don't tell" and narration is "telling." But you can't show everything. So narrate the mundane, or the action in scenes that don’t have a point. Most writing texts don't get into how to do narration – in fact they warn against it. But narration has an important place in any work. It is the mortar that holds the bricks together.

7. Be aware of scene structure and hooks. Every scene has the same structure. Here it is:
1. Transition, preferably with hook. (Who? When? Where? And raise a question in the reader's mind.)
2. Rising action and dialogue
3. Turning point of the scene (the place where something important CHANGES)
(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 the three stars. Using the three stars instead of just an extra blank line is crucial if submitting to electronic publishers who will use your text block for typesetting, as most typesetting programs automatically close up all blank lines and without the stars all your scene breaks may disappear.

8. Watch capitalization. Proper nouns get capitals, pronouns do not. But that can be confusing sometimes. For instance, Mom or Dad gets a cap when used as a proper noun, but no cap when used as a pronoun. As in, “My mom said Dad was late coming home.” My before mom, makes it a pronoun, but Dad is used as a proper noun. Goes against all those “be consistent” rules we know.

9. Watch punctuation, especially apostrophes and possessives. Apostrophes are used in contractions, that is a shortened version of two words, but never in abbreviations. Can’t instead of can not, it’s for it is (the possessive form of “it” never takes an apostrophe), and didn’t instead of did not. But CDs wouldn’t take an apostrophe. Apostrophes (usually apostrophe followed by an s) are used, for possessive clauses. Mandy’s house. Tammy’s CDs. Do you see what I mean? It's different in Britain, but in America possessive forms of proper names take an apostrophe s even if they already end in s, such as Silas’s car. But plural nouns and pronouns get the apostrophe without the s in the plural form. I visited Mandy’s parents’ house. Plural form of proper names get an “es” rather than a plain s, and no apostrophe. Both the following are correct. “The Williams’ car,” for possessive, and “The Williamses came to dinner,” for plural. I know, confusing isn’t it?

10. You should never quote from any copyrighted material directly without permission in writing from the publisher. And most of them will want to be paid. It’s okay to quote from Shakespeare or older editions of the Bible, because that material is in the Public Domain. But if the copyright is still active, as it is on The New Living Bible, or instance, that’s not okay to quote from, while the King James is in the Public Domain. It’s okay to paraphrase song lyrics, to quote song titles, or book titles, to mention celebrities by name, but not to copy directly from any work. So you can name your character Sherlock Holmes or Scarlett O’Hara, if you want. Or you can have Kris Kristofferson singing“Bobby McGee,” or singing “about being broke and hitching rides in Baton Rouge.” But you can NOT have Kris sing, “Busted flat in Baton Rouge, headed for the train...”

11. Be careful of pronouns. The rule is a pronoun always refers to the preceding noun. But the important thing is not to confuse the reader. So if two people are present, a man and a woman and the name Mary is followed by “he” — that’s clear. But if the scene has two women and the “her” after Mary refers to the other woman, then the proper name should be used to avoid confusion.

12. Always vary the language as much as you can. Guard against using the same word or phrase too close together. We all get "stuck" on a phrase from time to time, and this kind of problem crops up for every writer. Keep an eye, too, on how often required repetitive language such as pronouns and "said"s crop up. If you ever work in first person, look out for the "I"s. Try to keep the language as fresh as possible by paring those things down during your "self-editing" process. We think words should be like soldiers doing drill. Each is necessary, each must march in line, in order for the formation to be complete. None should be out of step, or draw undue attention to itself, lest the formation (and the concentration of the reader) be broken. Try always to find just the right word. Avoid $40 words or thesaurus choices unless you look them up and are sure they apply.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Old South Punch - recipe

For those who may have super bowl parties coming up:

Aunt Belle’s Old South Punch*
* from Serenade of the South

6 Lemons or Limes
6 seedless oranges
1 cup sugar
1 pint frozen strawberries, thawed
½ gallon cranberry juice
2 liter bottle of lemon-lime soda (Sprite or any brand you favor).
block of ice, frozen ahead in plastic container or milk carton

On the night before, slice lemons and oranges paper thin. Remove seeds. Combine with sugar in a large bowl to marinate overnight.

When preparing to serve, place orange and lemon slices, juice and all, in large punch bowl with strawberries and block of ice. Fill punch bowl with cranberry juice and lemon-lime soda. Stir to cool. Serves about 12.

Contributed by Louise Ulmer, author of Winter Shaker and Serenade of the South...Who could resist an antebellum mansion by such a name? Not Ariel. She's there to write the family history for her Great-aunt Belle, the owner of the house and benevolent ruler of all therein. Ariel has an ally, too, a lovely woman in a long gray dress, whom no one else can ever remember having seen.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Catching Up and Promotional Opportunity

Promotional Opportunity

We do not put author's biographical info on our site, but and, where we distribute all our titles, is in the process of initiating author bios.

Here's what they ask you to do:

"Since the holiday season, we've been experiencing record traffic on our website. These users represent your prime target demographic and they want to know more about you.

Please take a moment to conduct a search on your name and verify your author info (i.e. bio, website, email, photo). If you have any corrections or additions, please send them in as soon as possible so we can make the necessary updates. Photos must be of the author in pixels 200 w X 300 h in .jpg format.

Please forward changes or additions to this email (

Lori James
Chief Operating Officer
All Romance eBooks, LLC"

Back to Arline's news

Am still finishing up the year-end bookeeping for the CPAs who will do our 1099s. Yes, some of you did earn more than $600 this year for book sales. Congratulations.

Some sold less, but every sale is important to us, whether you made $600 or $0.69. Each of you will receive every penny coming to you when the checks go out later this month. We are in the process, too, of processing the sales reports and getting ready to pay authors for last quarter sales.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Harsh Criticism - writing tip

I heard today from an old acquaintance who has decided to go back to work on her novel after several years' hiatus. It made me think again about yesterday's question where people in a former student's writers' group spent most of their time arguing about the meaning of terms. To me, it seems they would do better to expend that effort on writing something, rather than playing "I-understand-this-better-than-you-do" games.

Personally, I don’t do harsh criticisms. Taking my own first class was traumatic. I'm a late bloomer. Didn't go to college until I was 35. The writing class was my 41st birthday present to myself. When I walked in, I was the only one in the room over 30, the only one without jeans and sandals, the only one wearing polyester. The attitude of the other students approximated a shark attack. I fought back as best I could with remarks like, "Well, why didn't you like it? What was wrong with it? It's not enough to say it sucks. You have to tell me how to fix it." By the end of the term, I had gained their respect and had two of the pieces I wrote for the class scheduled for publication in national magazines, though I never made the school's literary magazine. That experience stayed with me and when I became a writing teacher, I made it a point not to let students in my classes behave rudely to one another. Good manners were required. Call me old-fashioned. I think it worked.

As far as I'm concerned, the best format for a critique was the one I learned from the International Women's Writing Guild.

After reading the work, these three questions are asked of the person who is to offer advice. (and only these three questions, no "comments" on whether the piece was "good" or "bad" or if anybody "liked" it, need apply.

1. What happened?

2. How did you feel while reading this?

3. If this were your story (and it's not) what would you change in it?

So basically my advice is, if you're in a group that spends a lot of time nit-picking -- find another group. Or start one that will concentrate on something constructive.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lay or Lie? - writing tip

Question: Todays e-mail brought a note from a former student on when to use lay or lie. I knew this, or thought I did, but people in my critique group are arguing about it, so I thought I'd ask you. Hope you don't mind....

Answer: I don't mind at all as it's something that's easy to be confused about. Despite what we all learned at our mothers’ knee, “Now I lay me down to sleep” is archaic use of the English language and no longer correct. Be careful of “Lay” and “Lie”usage.

Lie is a verb, with tenses lie, lay, lain. So "lay" is the past tense of lie. I will lie down, I did lay down. I have lain down, and the past participle is "was lying." She was lying down. Never was laying.

Lie can also be an adjective describing a situation, as in “the lie of the land,” and can be both a noun (he told a lie) or a verb (You lied!) when the meaning is that of telling an untruth.

Lay, another verb, has the tenses lay, laid, and has laid. Lay is interchangeable with lie, only if used as an adjective (the lay of the land), but it’s use as a verb mean to put or set down. For example you can “set the table” or “lay the table.” Webster’s Ninth does not list “layed” and I don’t believe it is a real word, though I have seen it in print. Lay can also mean that something is produced, as when a hen lays an egg. But she laid the egg, or she had laid the egg, if you get into past and past perfect tenses of “lay” when the chicken and egg kind of lay is used. One joking way to remember is, “Objects lay, people lie or get laid. People sit, but objects get set.”

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Venison Stew - Recipe

Rowan Cameron’s Venison Stew*
*non-hunters may substitute beef

1 to 2 pounds of venison haunch or flank cubed
3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can baked beans (you’ll have to trade for this)
3 medium tomatoes (if they are out of season, the white man has them in cans, too)
3/4 cup minced green onion (tops and all)
1 Leaf of Miracle (bay)
1 tsp. Dried sage
1 tsp. Dried garlic
Salt to taste.
Water as needed.

Heat medium sized rocks in your camp fire until they get red hot. Trim all tallow from the meat. Deer tallow can taste rank, especially it the deer was old, or a buck. Slice and dice a good sized haunch round, or flank steak into 1 inch pieces. And place in leather pot. Add spices, water to cover plus 6 inches, and enough red hot rocks to make the pot boil hard.** When venison is good and tender and rocks have cooled to make the pot simmer, add the other ingredients.


You can use a stove and a soup pot, but you have to let it boil hard until the meat falls apart at the touch of a fork. Then reduce the heat, add the vegetables, and simmer until done. This recipe works equally well with elk.

Contributor’s note: This is the stew Christy serves to her sister and ex-fiancĂ© when they arrive from the east in Ghost Dancer.

Contributed by Arline Chase, author of GHOST DANCER, After a broken engagement, Christy goes west for “her health” and meets a medicine man.... Rowan Cameron, a Blackfoot captive scheduled for a hanging, escapes and then ignores her attempts to “civilize” him. But Rowan does his best to heal Christy’s spirit, and mend her broken heart.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Free Books sites -revisited

Author (and promotional specialist) Nikki Leigh e-mailed me with more ideas about how to use the free books sites mentioned in last week's blog.

Nikki pointed out that instead of giving them a whole book to give away, an a uthor can create a "sampler" with first chapters of all her books, along with links to websites where they are for sale. She is so right.

Now that would be a good use for these legal free distribution sites that ask for material to give away.