Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pico de Gallo - recipe

Matthew L. Schoonover’s Pico de Gallo

2 large tomatoes (do not use Romano tomatoes), diced

1 twined bunch of cilantro, finely chopped

1 large onion (yellow or white, your choice), finely diced, not minced

2 to 4 Serrano peppers (with or without seeds, per your own tastebuds), finely chopped

mix everything together

Juice of half a lime or lemon, squeezed over concoction - er, I mean ingredients

Serve with corn tortilla chips, or over assorted foods of your liking.

(Personally, I enjoy it with Spanish rice.)

Contributed by Matthew L. Schoonover, author of the Arbiter Series featuring Incubus Detective Augustus Pilot, and his latest novel, DOING DEAD MAN'S TIME.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hooks - writing tip

Question: Someone in my group said I need more "hooks." Come on, I write literary fiction. I don't need to do hooks -- they are for people who write mystery and romance....

Answer: A hook should raise a question in the mind of the reader that will be answered before the story is over. Hooks make readers want to read on. They 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.

We just talked about this not too long ago, but it is a perennial question.

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.

For example: Dick Francis, a modern mystery writer.

"I inherited my brother's life and it almost killed me."

Charles Dickens

"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Catching UP!

The following went to press, or back to press this week:


BONES OF THE DRAGON, by Marjorie Doughty

The following galleys went out this week:

CRYSTAL WIND, poetry by Bobbi Sinha-Morey (ebook)

HISTORIC GHOSTS AND GHOST HUNTERS, by H. Addington Bruce (e-book)

RANDOM APPLES, by Terry L. White, print.

SECOND REPUBLIC by Steven Clark Bradley.

Best sellers for OUR COMPANY at Fictionwise this week....

1. Long [52579 words]Beer Cart Girls SAve the World by John Piccarreto [Suspense/Thriller/Mainstream]
2. Long [65571 words]Your Place or Mine by Lynette Hall Hampton [Suspense/Thriller/Mainstream]
3. Long [83251 words]Marta's Place by C. M. Albrecht [Suspense/Thriller/Mystery/Crime]
4. Mid-Length [39723 words]The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum [Children's Fiction/Classic Literature]
5. Long [112291 words]Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle [Mystery/Crime/Classic Literature]
6. Short [20251 words]Woman in the Glass by G.D Gaetz [Suspense/Thriller/Mainstream]
7. Long [76566 words]Catherine's Ring by Elena Dorothy Bowman [Historical Fiction/Suspense/Thriller]
8. Long [83219 words]Occupational Hazards by Michael E. Field [Suspense/Thriller/Mystery/Crime]
9. Mid-Length [45858 words]Eve's Planet [Book 3 of the High Places Series] by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
10. Long [72374 words]Rustlers of the Pecos by Zane Grey [Historical Fiction/Classic Literature]

Reader Favorites for out small company at Fictionwise this week:

1. Long [66889 words]A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett [Classic Literature/Children's Fiction]
2. Long [98906 words]Ghost Dancer by Arline Chase [Historical Fiction]
3. Long [121796 words]Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen [Classic Literature]
4. Long [61049 words]Minder's Oath [High Places Series: Book 2] by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
5. Long [113180 words]Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini [Suspense/Thriller/Classic Literature]
6. Long [75310 words]The Secret Adversary [Tommy and Tuppence Book 1] by Agatha Christie [Classic Literature]
7. Long [68911 words]Dark Elf: [Book 2 of the Red Knight Chronicles] by Ray Morand [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
8. Long [57142 words]The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie [Mystery/Crime/Classic Literature]
9. Long [70408 words]Slow Dancing with the Angel of Death [Hollis Ball and Sam Westcott Series Book 1] by Helen Chappel [Mystery/Crime/Humor]
10. Long [76981 words]Tortured Souls [Arbiter Series Book 2] by Matthew L. Schoonover [Horror]

Thursday, May 26, 2011

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

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Possessives - writing tip

Question: Arline, your submission guidelines say a possessive that ends in S still gets an apostrophe S, but I was always taught it gets the S without the apostrophe. Can you explain why you are different? Just wondering....

Answer: Sure. Publishers, at least most of the professional ones, use the Chicago Manual of Style and that rulebook says to do it that way. Most of us had Strunk & White (British authors), or other college stylebooks and they say the apostrophe without the S.

Rules vary from stylebook to stylebook. I have to watch out that I don't automatically follow the AP Handbook, as that's what I used on the newspaper....

Here's the whole set of rules for apostrophes:

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.

The 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. The 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 plural possessive that says the car belongs to the whole family, and “The Williamses came to dinner,” for plural.

Don't forget that grammar rules are different in England, so the S' without the following S for plural possessives is printed that way in all books published in England and grammar and spelling checkers set for UK English will ask for them that way.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Salad Dressing - recipe

David Smith’s Caesar salad dressing

1/4 cup wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh grated Romano cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ½ inches Anchovy paste - which about covers the bowl of a regular ice tea spoon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (fine, fresh ground black pepper is best)

Fill a Good SeasonsÂȘ bottle to the water line with wine vinegar, stir in the Anchovy paste (try an ice tea spoon), add the dry ingredients, stir well, then add oil to the oil line. Shake well just before use.

Serve over salad greens and croutons.

Contributed by David Smith

Monday, May 23, 2011

Images - writing tip

Question: Arline, one member of my group says I have too much description, another that I need more detail. I do try to "show, don't tell" and maybe some of my description is telling...because I don't always see everything clearly in my mind. Is there an easy way to do description without "telling?"

Answer: Yes. Use what you have. That sounds simple, doesn't it. You would have thought I would know that from Jump Street, but I didn't. I thought if I wrote a story about a wedding, I had to make up the church, spend a lot of time picturing what it was like, creating every detail in my mind before I wrote. Then I'd go on to do the same with the wedding dress, and then the next imaginary detail. Now I just describe my church, or a church I have been in, a bell skirted wedding dress I saw in a magazine, the lace-encrusted shirt my son received as part of the rented tux when he acted as his friend's best man. The secret is the reader will take the few details I include and imagine a church of his or her own. Then as long as the characters are real, everything else will be, too.

Specific Images are the key. And One Specific detail, instead of piles of adjectives. Look at the following and tell me which is the better description. Which is telling?

This way? Late for her job because her car wouldn't start, my son’s new girlfriend drove his shiny little red car to work and got stopped by a state trooper for speeding. The uniformed trooper had no sense of humor and he handed her a printed white speeding ticket.

Or this way? When her car wouldn't start, Kathy "borrowed" her boyfriend’s red '63 Austin-Healey Sprite convertible. Her blonde hair flew in the 80-mile-per-hour breeze. Flashing lights brought her up short. The Trooper called her, “Ma’am,” but frowned as he leaned down to hand her the ticket.

And yes, my son does have a red, 1963, Healey. His back surgery went well and he is coming along fine, by the way....

Friday, May 20, 2011

Catching UP.

Books that went to press, or back to press this week.

NO BONES FOR THE DRAGON, by Margery Doughty

Galleys that went out this week:

SECOND REPUBLIC by Steven Clark Bradley

CRYSTAL WIND, by Bobbi Sinha-Morey

RED EMERALDS, by Spencer Dane

A GRANDFATHER'S GIFT, by Hugh Carter Vinson

Galleys still out with no word from the author:

TRAVELER by David Yates

Not a lot accomplished this week, but then my youngest son had back surgery. He's out of the hospital and doing well. :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Bacon Leek Rolls - recipe

Ray Morand’s Bacon-Leek Rolls
(Namba maki)

8 slices Canadian bacon
6 young leeks
Vegetable oil

Trim bacon and lay three or four pieces side by side with edges overlaying. Press overlapping sections gently to stick and brush with cornstarch. Trim leeks. Place three leeks at one end of bacon sheet alternating tops and tails of leeks. Carefully roll leeks in the bacon.

Tie the rolls securely with white cotton string. Put a little oil in a frying pan and heat over high heat. Place the tied rolls in the pan and fry, turning about seven minutes, until bacon is cooked and leeks are tender. Repeat with remaining rolls. Remove the strings and cut the rolls into ½ inch slices.

Arrange in the center of a delicate porcelain plate, garnish with parsley.

Contributed by Ray Morand*, author of Modified... The year is 2106 and the human race finally united under one world government, but a slave race of Artificial Intelligence Clones want their freedom and genetically engineered soldiers were created to combat them. The Space Marines are fighting a losing battle and one genetically engineered female Navy Seal may be the secret to winning the war.
* Ray Morand is the pen name of Raye Carchia, author of the Red Knight Chronicles.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

More on Viewpoint -- writing tip

Question: Saw your post on viewpoint and it's obvious to me I missed a few of the "rules." Can you post them on your blog? I don't belong to it, but I follow it on Twitter, so I always check in on writing tip days....

Answer: Sure. This basic info is from a handout I used to use in my writing classes.


The best way to choose viewpoint is to ask yourself whose story or scene it is. Once you know who the story is about it’s safe to assume that most of the story will be told from that character’s viewpoint, either in first person with an“I” narrator, or third person with a “She or he” narrator.

The rulebook says there are several kinds of pov.

"First Person" is written with an "I" narrator, as if the story happened to you. As Barbara Michaels once remarked, "It is difficult to engender suspense as to the survival of the protagonist in a first person story."

"Third Person" limited, is written in third person, but limited to a single point of view. Essentially, it is the same as first person, but with different pronouns. This is the pov chosen for most short stories. Also most Gothics (girl in danger like Mary Stewart and Meryl Sawyer) stories are written in first person limited, while Harlequin and most genre romances are written in third person limited. In either case “limited” means limited only to the main character’s thoughts and feelings. The reader cannot know anything the character doesn’t see, think, or feel.

One way to get emotion across for a character, when we're in another character's viewpoint, is to use body language to express the character’s inner feelings. Describing the body language will get the character’s emotions across to the reader, whether the observing character understands them or not. Remember the classic romance ploy where the heroine thinks the hero is mad because his teeth are clenched and the inevitable muscle in his jaw is jerking, but the reader knows it’s only because he’s in the throes of desire. 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.

"Limited Omniscient," is written in third person, and limited to a single viewpoint in any one scene, but is considered omniscient, because it can shift from one character's viewpoint to another's at scene or chapter changes. This is against the rules in short stories, but IS used in most mainstream novels by everyone from Margaret Mitchell to Stephen King to Larry McMurtry.

True "Omniscient" viewpoint is the godlike view of a story told by a narrator who knows all, including all the characters innermost thoughts. This is the familiar pov of fable and fairy tale. "Once upon a time in a land far, far away...."

Finally, there is the "Camera-eye" or what is sometimes called the "Exterior Dramatic" viewpoint, in which no single character's thoughts are revealed and every part of the story is told only with described action. This is the most difficult viewpoint in which to write, but it forces the writer to produce images. Some college professors have called it the ONLY "authentic" viewpoint. It's a good learning viewpoint for writers who are poor at description, but can produce cold and "unfeeling" stories through the detachment necessary.

The advantage of using “Limited Omniscient” viewpoint (by far the standard in our day and age) is that you can sometimes show things that happen when your main viewpoint character is not present -- and you can have more than one viewpoint character with the focus character shifting at scene or chapter breaks. This is the viewpoint I chose for my novels KILLRAVEN and GHOST DANCER as well as for the spirit series. I wanted to have scenes from both the man’s and the woman’s viewpoint and to show what one was doing while the other was elsewhere.

If you limit yourself to one character’s viewpoint in either first or third person, it gives the reader a closer involvement with the character, but you can only show the reader things that character sees or knows. The limitation is exactly the same as in first person, where the reader can only know what the “I” narrator sees and knows. If you choose that viewpoint, you can have a scene of your main character cleaning out the school and having a heart to heart about Love with her best friend while they work. But you cannot follow it with a scene where the villain watches them from behind a bush and plans rape and murder. With the second option, the reader knows the two women are in danger, even though the villain slinks off (for now) when the hero appears. The reader knows what he intends to do and that he might Come Back anytime. With the first it’s only the heart to heart talk that is at stake. With the second you have set up tension and suspense that should last through several scenes and chapters in the back of the reader’s mind.

In every viewpoint, you have to be careful, too, not to show anything that scene's viewpoint character can't see. For instance if an embarrassed viewpoint character describes her 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 shame 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. Readers never notice this stuff, but critics and other writers always do. In today's fiction, the writer is never supposed to get between the reader and the story.

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 cheeks grow hot" or her "try to swallow back the tide of embarrassment and wished she could drop right through the floor." This was the hardest viewpoint lesson of all for me.

Now I’m going to give you some examples of the same scene, written from several different viewpoints.

Jacqueline's viewpoint third person limited: (We only know what J. is thinking and feeling).

Feeling tired after one of the toughest days on the job in weeks, Jacqueline let herself into the apartment and shut the door. She wasn't surprised to find the breakfast dishes still on the table, but stopped astonished, to see her husband, Bill, still in his undershirt and kicked back in his recliner with the evening paper.

"I thought you had that job interview this afternoon." Trying to control the sudden spurt of anger that made her hands shake, Jacqueline put down her bag and picked up the mail. More bills.

"I didn't go. It was too hot."

Jacqueline's viewpoint first person:

Feeling tired after one of the toughest days on the job in weeks, I let myself into the apartment and shut the door. I wasn't surprised to find the breakfast dishes still on the table, but stopped astonished when I saw my husband, Bill, still in his undershirt, kicked back in his recliner with the evening paper.

"I thought you had that job interview this afternoon." Trying to control the sudden spurt of anger that made my hands shake, I put down my bag and picked up the mail. More bills.

"I didn't go. It was too hot," Bill said.

Bill's viewpoint: third person (limited)

Bill watched as his wife, Jacqueline let herself in. Her shoulders were slumped as she came through the door. Jacqueline looked mousey and worn-out. How could a woman let herself go like that? That wasn't the worse, though. Ever since he'd lost his job, Jacqui meddled all the time. She'd had no right to set up an interview for him at her company when they advertised for a mail clerk! Did she think he wanted to be a mail clerk? Surely he was above all that.

Bill watched her glance at the dishes still on the table. She'd had plenty of time to do them before she left for work, but she'd left them for him. Well, he wasn't anybody's mail clerk and he wasn't anybody's housemaid, either.

"I thought you had that job interview this afternoon." Jacqui put down her bag and picked up the mail with fingers that trembled.

"I didn't go. It was too hot." Bill rattled the paper. Let her stand there and stare at the damned bills all day, it wasn't going to change anything.

Note that Bill is mentioned first, because HE is the viewpoint character. The viewpoint character should always be the first one named, as readers will assume if from the name position. But do you see how Bill’s thoughts and feelings come through, while Jacqui’s are only shown through her gestures and body language?

True omniscient pov:

Once upon a time in a city far far away, a young married couple were experiencing problems, because the husband had lost his job. (Notice the “telling.”) Feeling tired Jacqueline pushed into the apartment. Seeing the breakfast dishes still on the table and Bill kicked back in his recliner made her mad. (More telling.) Surely, he could do a little around the house.

Bill (hops into Bill’s head, because we see through his eyes) watched her glance at the dishes still on the table. She'd had plenty of time to do them before she left for work, but she'd left them for him. Well, he wasn't anybody's housemaid, and he wasn't anybody's mail clerk, either.

"I thought you had that job interview this afternoon." Jacqueline fought to control her anger (hops into Jacqueline’s head) as she put down her bag and read the bills ( more telling).

"I didn't go. It was too hot," Bill said, angrily. "I told you, you were wasting your time. You practically kill yourself working for that company. What makes you think I'd want to do the same?" Let her go ahead and get mad, (Hops into Bill’s head) it wasn't going to change anything.

Note: Now this gets into both peoples thoughts, but it is ill-favored with editors who call it “head hopping” and because of that and all the “telling” it almost certainly would be rejected.

Exterior dramatic -- or camera eye -- viewpoint:

Jacqueline's shoulders were slumped as she came through the door. She looked mousey and worn-out. She glanced at the yolk-encrusted plates and cups half full of cold coffee that were still on the breakfast table.

Bill looked up from his recliner and rattled the newspaper, shaking the pages into position with an impatient gesture.

"I thought you had that job interview this afternoon." Jacqueline frowned, put down her bag, and picked up the mail with shaking hands "You've been out of work for weeks. What are we supposed to do about these bills?"

"My life's ambition isn't to become a mail clerk in a company where you're a vice-president, so forget that. Besides, it was too hot." Bill's eyes narrowed when she glanced from him to the dishes. He rattled the paper again, but said nothing.

Notice in the last scene how, because of all the images, you can see everything. Nobody has to say Bill was angry, his “narrowed” eyes, and “impatient” rattling of the newspaper tell us that without going into his thoughts at all. I think this particular scene might work better in exterior dramatic viewpoint, although I usually don’t recommend it. All emotions have to be shown through gestures and body language, rather than letting the reader in on the character’s thoughts and feelings. Unless it is done very well indeed, it can produce work that comes across as “cold” and “unfeeling.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Jalapeno 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 Diary of a Teenage Hustler, Four Flesh Feasts and an After Dinner Mint, Naked, and Jared’s Little Playground...People can only be pushed just so far before they snap and claim justifiable revenge. This is not your everyday, garden-variety retelling of 'Good' versus 'Evil'.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Review - Writing tip

Question: I sent my book, Tape, to the review site you posted last week and the reviewer complained bitterly about my skills. I did manage to glean a quote for my web site, but she trashed my prose saying the viewpoints were confused.

That reviewer should read Nana. Zola was the master at showing a room (or a theater) full of people all talking at once from their different viewpoints without ever confusing the reader. There, I feel better already.

C.M. Albrecht


After seeing the full review, I think she's talking about the writing rule that says you can only have one character THINK anything in a scene. Others can be observed by the viewpoint character, who is the only one allowed to think, and what other characters are thinking may be surmised from their words, attitude, or body language, but the rule, NOW, is only one character's viewpoint (inside his or her mind--behind his or her eyes -- in the thoughts) per scene. The viewpoint character can shift at scene breaks, but not at other times. If more than one person thinks within the same scene, editors today call it "head-hopping."

Some also feel that a viewpoint should be "authentic." That is, if your character is a blacksmith, you can't truly put yourself in his place unless you, too, are a blacksmith...

Now I know this wasn't the standard in Dickens's era and probably not for Zola, either. They lived in a time when the Godlike (the narrator knows and TELLS all), Omniscient viewpoint was not only standard, but popular. Reviewers, today, frown at Telling and Sneer at the Omniscient viewpoint, except for fairytales, even as the dictionary disdains to-morrow, with a hyphen, which was also perfectly correct spelling back then.

Readers, however, are looking for a good story and don't give a hoot in hades one way or the other. They buy for story and if they like the story, come back for more from the same author. As long as what they read isn't Confusing, and they understand perfectly well who is thinking and saying what, and when, and where they are and when it's happening, they are happy.

I was a writing teacher for 25 years and the hardest lesson I had to learn or teach as a writer was viewpoint. Some people could learn it. Some never could. And some understood perfectly well and decided to ignore the whole thing anyway. Reviewers, however, will always be sticklers for whatever the current trend is!

Stephen King was royally trashed by reviewers for his Delores Claibourne, since he was a man and couldn't possibly write "authentically" from a woman's viewpoint. I believe reviewers were largely unsuccessful in discouraging sales on that one, though.

Let me list some authors who didn't think the viewpoint rule was important and if you never heard of them, look them up.

LaVyrle Spencer, who once wrote the sentence, "She thought he was the best-looking hunk she'd ever seen, and he thought so, too."

Jude Devereau is the author of thirty-seven New York Times bestsellers. There are more than 50 million copies of her books in print worldwide.

Dick Francis ( who once had TWO "I" narrators in a book.) So much for first person being inviolable.

Patricia Cornwell, who wrote from the dog's viewpoint in one book...

Several mystery writers are quite fond of writing from a cat's viewpoint, too, but I can't recall names just now.

My own first writing teacher, poet Michael Waters, was fond of saying, "First you learn the rules, then you figure out when to break them." To that, I'd add, it's important to know when you are breaking a rule and to have a good reason for doing so.

But no rule is inviolable. Story should always come first.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Catching UP!

Books that went to press or back to press this week:



Print Galleys that went out this week:

NO BONES FOR THE DRAGON by Margery Doughty

RED EMERALDS, by Vincent Scuro



Work continued on:

A GRANDFATHER'S GIFT, by Hugh Carter Vinson

SECOND REPUBLIC, by Steven Clark Bradley

PLAYING WITH FIRE, by Tonya Ramagos

Current best-sellers for our company on Fictionwise.com are listed below:

Based on data gathered within the last 20 days. Icon explanations
1. Long [82178 words]Memoirs of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs [People]
2. Long [112291 words]Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle [Mystery/Crime/Classic Literature]
3. Long [57142 words]The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie [Mystery/Crime/Classic Literature]
4. Long [84607 words]Bleeding Hearts by Josh Aterovis [Mystery/Crime]
5. Long [97465 words]Reap the Whirlwind by Josh Aterovis [Mystery/Crime]
6. Mid-Length [34647 words]Tabitha June is a Shoulder Cat by Nina M. Osier [Family/Relationships]
7. Mid-Length [41069 words]Playing With Fire [Stockland Firefighters Book 3] by Tonya Ramagos [Romance]
8. Long [93665 words]Second Chances by Nina M. Osier [Mainstream]
9. Long [100195 words]Undercover Nudist [Nudist Series Book 2] by Byron McAllister & Kay McAllister [Mystery/Crime]
10. Long [76768 words]Cracked Shadow by E. A. Petrick [Mystery/Crime

Reader favorites for our company at Fictionwise.com

Based on highest average ratings by at least 5 readers. Icon explanations
1. Long [66889 words]A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett [Classic Literature/Children's Fiction]
2. Long [98906 words]Ghost Dancer by Arline Chase [Historical Fiction]
3. Long [121796 words]Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen [Classic Literature]
4. Long [61049 words]Minder's Oath [High Places Series: Book 2] by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
5. Long [113180 words]Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini [Suspense/Thriller/Classic Literature]
6. Long [75310 words]The Secret Adversary [Tommy and Tuppence Book 1] by Agatha Christie [Classic Literature]
7. Long [68911 words]Dark Elf: [Book 2 of the Red Knight Chronicles] by Ray Morand [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
8. Long [57142 words]The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie [Mystery/Crime/Classic Literature]
9. Long [70408 words]Slow Dancing with the Angel of Death [Hollis Ball and Sam Westcott Series Book 1] by Helen Chappel [Mystery/Crime/Humor]
10. Long [76981 words]Tortured Souls [Arbiter Series Book 2] by Matthew L. Schoonover [Horror]

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Hush Puppies - Recipe

Tonya Ramagos's Hush Puppies

2 cups yellow cornmeal
2 tbsp. Flour
1 tbsp. Salt
½ tsp. Baking powder
2 tbsp. Chopped or grated onion
2 ½ cups boiling water

Mix all ingredients, except boiling water. Slowly pour ingredients into rapidly boiling water, stirring constantly. Cook until mush-like. Remove from heat. Shape, while warm, into 2-inch balls or patties and place on waxed paper to cool. Brown in deep hot fat. May be made ahead and kept in refrigerator several hours before frying.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Thanks, and -- writing tip

Question: Thanks for the info on pronouns. That was just what I needed. Since you seem to be a "good guesser" what do you think it means when someone says, "Write what you know." That, too, is a comment I've been getting in my writers' group. It's a generalization. I am the youngest there and the only one who isn't university trained. Are they trying to tell me I'm ignorant? Do you think that's it?

Answer: Glad to know the pronoun tip was a good one. I don't think university training is necessary to be a good writer. I DO think one has to have SOME kind of training, and since you were my student at WD I know you have some and your writing skills are honed. So my best guess on that one is that they believe you need to use more of your life experiences. Sure, you're not "old", but you are more than 30 and have had many life experiences from which to draw. If memory serves you joined the military at 18, got training as a nurse on the GI Bill, married a lawyer at 27, and have two children.

I think a lot of writers, even famous ones, draw on their real life experiences. For instance, we all know that Dick Francis grew up with horses and was a professional jockey for a long time. Most of his books contain either horses, or jockeys, or both and that’s no surprise. But the stories center on mystery and human issues, often om life and death, not horse-races. That's the background and basing background on what you know helps give your work a sense of authority.

But it goes much deeper than that. The first was about a jockey who lost the use of his hand (Francis suffered a hand injury that ended his riding career). One is about a pilot trying to make it back in a damaged plane (Francis was a bomber pilot in WWII), another about a writer who cares for his wife, a victim of polio (When they were young, Francis’s wife had polio), one about a famous man man who inherits a gold mine (Francis is famous and owns or once owned a gold mine), one was about an artist who painted in acrylics (Francis paints in acrylics, an interest he developed as therapy for the injured hand), and two about a jockey who rides for a very classy middle-aged princess (Francis once rode horses owned by the Queen of England's Mother).

No, one shouldn't be limited to writing ONLY about what you know, but using a background you know well can certainly lend authenticity to the rest of the story

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Grapeful Chicken - recipe

Beverly Jennings’s Grapeful Chicken:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed mushroom soup
1 large can French-style string beans
1 package slivered almonds
Large bunch of seedless white grapes (approx ½ pound)

Saute chicken breasts until almost done. Cover bottom of a casserole dish with half a can of mushroom soup. Add layer of white grapes. Add string beans. Add slivered almonds, layering them over the string beans. Add chicken breasts to top of mixture. Add remaining mushroom soup. Cover and bake approximately thirty minutes or until chicken is done and the sauce is bubbling.

Serve over steamed rice. Yield four servings.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pronoun ? - writing tip

Question from my e-mail: Someone in my writers group insists I have "pronoun problems." I don't think I use too many pronouns, but I don't want to argue with her. I am always careful to use the given name once for every two pronouns, so....?

Answer: I'm guessing, of course, as I haven't seen the manuscript. But it could be that the pronouns are used inappropriately, rather than too often. The rule is a pronoun always refers to the preceding noun. Yes, even if the pronoun is He and the noun is chair. The rules of grammar are, well, the rules.

Basically, though, 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 said,” — that’s clear. It has to be the guy who spoke. 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.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Catching UP!

Books that went to press, or back to press:


Galleys that went out:

SECOND REPUBLIC by Steven Clark Bradley

Print Galleys remain out for:

TRAVELER by David Yates

Work began or continued on:

A GRANDFATHER'S GIFT by Hugh Carter Vinson

PLAYING WITH FIRE, by Tonya Ramagos

FACEPAINTER MURDERS, by Virginia Winters

RED EMERALDS, by Spencer Dane

Contracts were signed for ROUGH WATERS by Gianni Hayes

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Apple Salad - recipe

Maggie Dix’s Apple Salad*

4 medium apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/4 cup raisins
1/3 cup walnut pieces
4 tbsp. mayonnaise*

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to serve. Serves four.

* Using low fat mayonnaise makes this a healthier recipe.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Suspense? - writing tip

Question: I received a return on my literary novel from a major publishing house, Arline. On the rejection letter someone had scrawled, "needs more suspense." I don't write mystery stories. I write mainstream fiction! What do I need with suspense????

Answer: Well there's suspense, the genre, as in thrillers and mysteries. And there's "suspense" the writing element, that is -- or should be -- indigenous to all fiction. At least that's what I suppose they were referring to. And remember, this is a guess....

To a fiction writer suspense is keeping readers guessing what will happen next. The term suspense, denotes how involved the reader is in your plot. If he or she already knows what is going to happen, there isn't any suspense (critics call it "predictable"), and little reason to continue reading. Hooks help increase suspense. To avoid trite plots, make a list of 10 things that might happen next and pick the least likely. Or brainstorm with friends to come up with suggestions for unusual and exciting twists. Remember, keep the readers guessing.

Now Amy, of course, I haven't read your book, so I can't say for sure what the "scrawler" meant, but whoever it was took the trouble to try to tell you something. They would not have done that if they hadn't seen promise in your work.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New Book Review site -- writing tip

A new site for book reviews is asking for authors to submit PDF files for review.

This is a quick email to announce the site of Words That Sparkle

I hope you'll check out our site and give us an opportunity to review your books.


Kristy Bock

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cheese Biscuits - recipe

Joan Boise’s Cheese Biscuits

1 pound of sharp cheese (shredded)
1 ½ teaspoons of paprika
4 cups of self-rising flour
1 pound of margarine
3/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
Pecan halves

Mix first five ingredients together, chill 1 hour. Do NOT skip this step. Roll out 1/4 inch thick and cut with 1 1/4 inch cookie cutter. Place on greased cookie sheet, 1 inch apart. Press pecan half on top. Bake 10 minutes or until firm (not brown) at 350-F or 177-C degrees. Yields 2 dozen.