Thursday, June 30, 2011

Why are e-books selling so well? - writing tip

Question: Why are e-books selling so well all of a sudden? The devices have been around for ten years and never caught on before. Suddenly books are hot, when you'd think with all the film and video venues around, THAT would be what's selling!!!

Answer: The newer Reading devices are MUCH less clumsy to use and easier to see than the older ones. They have all be created with reader convenience in mind. My first e-book cost $380, had a two inch screen, with liquid crystal display of black against dark gray, and was invisible altogether in strong light, with a battery life of about 2 hours. In addition, to buy a book, I had first to download it to my computer, then go through several steps to load it into the e-book for reading. Finally, the device's memory was so short that a long book had to be loaded in two separate files.

My Kindle cost $180 works anywhere a cell phone works, takes me straight to the online store for selection and downloads the chosen book right then and there. Takes less than a minute to get it, if I know what I want. I read a LOT and the battery life lasts 20 hours or so, for ME half a week. The onscreen display is black against light gray, about like newspaper print, and can be read outside in strong sunlight. No color, but no eye strain. The memory has more than 300 books in it and holds "up to 1500" books.

As to why reading is HOT, let me remind you that back in the 80s Marshall McLuhan said reading is the "hottest" medium, because it happens inside the reader's head and it's participatory. The author mentions a church, the reader's imagination creates one from the words. Each reader may create a slightly different church, but it will be unique to him. And participation is a satisfaction.

Reading goes directly from the page into the mind of the reader. In a movie theater, it's dark, but people behind you may be throwing popcorn, and so on, there are distractions. There's a world around you, though that's not as "cold" as watching TV where the lights are on and other people may be talking and so on. Neither of those requires participation.

Reading gives the reader more satisfaction than any other pursuit, except maybe sex. Well, good sex. Because it allows you to escape the world around you, and become one with the written word.

This is why, whatever technology may give us, the act of reading will always be popular.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Chopped Chicken Livers -- writing tip

Sandra List’s Chopped Chicken Livers

1 pound chicken livers, trimmed
2 medium onions, chopped
1/4 cup rendered chicken fat
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 hard-cooked eggs, halved

Saute chopped onions in large skillet in chicken fat (you can use corn oil or margarine if you are apprehensive about using chicken fat). Add chicken livers and saute until they are cooked--pink, not bloody.

Let cool. Put into bowl of food processor and add salt and pepper. Process until coarsely ground (or finer if you wish). Add the eggs at the last minute (you can also add a smudge of light mayo or Miracle Whip for creaminess).

Chill; you can serve with crackers or bagel chips as an appetizer. Also goes good on a bagel as a sandwich spread (lettuce and tomato go great with this).

Contributed by Sandra List, one of your publishers, and author of the ghost story "Lizzie’s Gold," a collection of poetry, and who is a bit ill just now. Please have a cheerful thought or say a prayer for her.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Power Trip???? - writing tip

Granted, I'm not having a particularly good week. But last week I sent out four acceptances to new authors who requested we publish their material and to whom the Book Committee voted we should offer publication.

AFTER acceptance, three have asked for more information about what happens next with publication, all of which is posted on our web site under "What Happens Next."

I did take time from my day to day work to answer, only to receive STILL more questions from two them, both of whom accused me of being on a "power trip" because I complained of the time I had to spend telling them stuff they could have read on the web site it they had looked. One hinted that our firm might cheat him of his success and after his fifth e-mail, with still more questions and veiled accusations, we cancelled his contract. Another wanted to rewrite his manuscript and have us check it behind him before submitting it for publication.

There are only two rules in publishing:

1. Never confuse your reader.

2. Never make extra work for your publisher.

Just now I am in process with preparation for 10 print books for publication. It is almost time for the quarterly payment to authors, and with more than 200 authors, it's a long and involved process and one I delight in.

I have been a new author. I have made every mistake an author can make, including making work for my publisher, the late Connie Foster, God rest her soul. I do try to be patient and to answer simple, quick questions. I have been in this business 10 years and anyone who wants to do business with us can check us out on the Preditors & Editors web site.

But the past three days make me wonder if I am becoming a curmudgeon. Three out of four have questions... AM I on a power trip?

You tell me...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Russian Tea - recipe

Mary Cox-Bilz’s Russian Tea

2 1 qt. (large jars) containers Instant Iced Tea, sweetened and with lemon (any brand)
1 1 qt. Jar Tang
3 tbsp. Cinnamon

Since I am a quadriplegic, for this tea, I get someone whose fingers work to mix all ingredients well and store in an air tight container. I use one I can flip open with my mouth stick, but any cannister, or even a large Ziploc bag works well. Mix two teaspoons with half a glass of water. Add ice, and enjoy a refreshing treat any time you like. You can also use it as an instant hot tea. Or we sometimes make it by the pitcher using 3/4 to 1 cup of mixture to a 2 quart container.

Contributed by Mary Cox-Bilz, author of At the Gate Called Beautiful...Quadriplegic author Mary Cox-Bilz tells of Jesus’s healing from the New Testament Book of Acts....Read a new account of the story of Jesus, told through the eyes of the disabled people he healed, at the “Gate, Called Beautiful.”

Friday, June 24, 2011

Catching UP

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

BONES OF THE DRAGON, by Marjorie Doughty

Print galleys that went out or out again this week:

RED EMERALDS, by Spencer Dane
FACEPAINTER, by Virginia Winters
SECOND REPUBLIC, by Steven Clark Bradley
CATHERINE'S RING by Elena Dorothy Bowman

Galleys that were worked on this week, but are not yet completed:

NIGHT UNDONE, by K.S. Brooks
PLAYING WITH FIRE, by Tonya Ramagos
GOOD FRIDAYS, by Diane Marquette Best Selling Books for the last 20 days:

1. Long [68192 words]My Dearest Friend by Hazel Statham [Romance/Historical Fiction]
2. Long [82178 words]Memoirs of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs [People]
3. Long [52579 words]Beer Cart Girls SAve the World by John Piccarreto [Suspense/Thriller/Mainstream]
4. Short [23693 words]Merlin's Return by Patricia Uletilovic [Young Adult]
5. Long [55288 words]Mr. Right in Turn-Outs [Stockland Firefighters Book 1] by Tonya Ramagos [Romance]
6. Long [55608 words]Pollyanna [Glad Series Book 1] by Eleanor Porter [Children's Fiction/Classic Literature]
7. Long [57142 words]The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie [Mystery/Crime/Classic Literature]
8. Long [90596 words]Ozark Girl [Ozark Trilogy Book 1] by Terry Piper [Young Adult]
9. Long [75434 words]Frankenstein by Mary Shelley [Horror/Classic Literature]
10. Long [84173 words]Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy [Young Adult]


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 [61049 words]Minder's Oath [High Places Series: Book 2] by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
4. Long [121796 words]Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen [Classic Literature]
5. Long [113180 words]Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini [Suspense/Thriller/Classic Literature]
6. Long [57142 words]The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie [Mystery/Crime/Classic Literature]
7. Long [75310 words]The Secret Adversary [Tommy and Tuppence Book 1] by Agatha Christie [Classic Literature]
8. Long [68911 words]Dark Elf: [Book 2 of the Red Knight Chronicles] by Ray Morand [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
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

Please remember that the Fictionwise statistics are not for the Whole Site, but only for the 500 or so titles we have available there.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The EPIC AWARDS--writing tip

Are now open for entries. The correct website for entry information is:

A Google inquiry will take you promptly to the wrong site, so finding the entry information can be a bit of a problem, therefore many people who want to enter may find only last year's entry information.

After a many lengthy discussions last fall and a heated election this spring, creation of a "brand-new web site" at a different location and by different web deigners, AND much conversation about whether or not there would even BE a competition this year if enough people didn't volunteer to judge, and so on, now they're surprised that no one is entering.

This is the call that went out this week:

Entries for this year's eBook and Ariana Competitions is pretty dismal. Not
going to go into details, but ya'll need to go out there and beat the bushes

We have no entries for Poetry, Graphic Novels, Mainstream Fiction, Action/Adventure,
Romance Horror, and Romance Spiritual/Metaphysical.

We have VERY low numbers on Childrens, Non-Fiction, Anthology, Short Stories
Erotica, Fiction Historical, Fiction Horror, Fiction Paranormal, Fiction
SciFi, Fiction Spiritual/Metaphysical, Fiction Suspense, Romance Fantasy,
and Romance SciFi.

Send folks to for competition information.

This is OUR competition! Get cracking!! We have less than four weeks to
make a difference.

Now I have been a member of EPIC since 1999, long before I was a publisher, following my then publisher's advice that this was a new and upcoming group as well as the first professional organization for e-book writers.

Over the years, I have been proud to be a member. EPIC has done a number of truly great things for the e-book industry, including drafting a model contract that is favorable to authors (the one our contract is based upon) and giving the first National/International awards for original e-published materials. They have, from the beginning, held national conferences to promote the e-book and have done so successfully, even before most folks knew what an e-book was.

Political disagreements can plague even the best of organizations. Now the dust seems to have settled and the incumbents are rolling up their sleeves, preparing to go to work.

Entries must be published in English and released for sale between June 1 of the previous year through May 31 the current year. They must include a publication date and must be submitted "as the product sells". This includes self- and subsidy-published books.

They usually require the PDF files for entry, which are among the "final files' each of you were provided by Shelley upon completion of your e-books. Entry fees are lower for members, but are not onerous and the competition is open to anyone, member or not.

So, I've done my duty. Volunteered to judge again (for the 10th year in a row) and passed the information along as requested....

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Re> Review Site

Elizabeth Eagan-Cox commented Re the new review site posted on June 9, below:


As a best-selling author of your pub. company I am struck by a few questions concerning this query, especially because the blogger is advertising line/ad space for sale on her blogspot and she does not state her expertise or professional background as a book reviewer.

I am not sayng she is not qualified or that her site is not a good fit for romance authors.

However this is the kind of 'review' site I steer clear of. While her daily hits may seem like a lot, they are not, and as to Facebook friends, well.....

Any author can reach that many prospective readers by offering one of their paperback books in a GoodReads contest. Sign up for GoodReads (it is free) start your own author's page and create a contest for one of your books. It is easy and an excellent way to reach out to readers and develop a rapport and uin time, the ratings and reveiws will come as readers comment on their opinion about your books.

I'm not on GR often but as with all other social networking sites, readers know they can contact me at my website and that I will answer them.

And btw, many readers have e-mailed me, asking about Shannon Delaney paranormal mystery series, book 4... which (Yay!) is nearly finished. Heads up, Shelly, I could have "A Ghost At Stallion's Gate" on your desk by end of this summer ;-)
Elizabeth Eagan-Cox

Answer: YOU are so right, Elizabeth. No qualifications are required for becoming a book reviewer. In fact ANYone can go to and write a review of your book. Just as anyone can start a blog and hope to make money off it. Yet I am constantly receiving inquiries from authors wondering where in the world they can get their books reviewed. Makes me wonder if they don't have any friends...

Still some folks feel they shouldn't ask friends or fellow writers to comment on their books, forgetting that it is also an opportunity for the fellow writer to push his or her books in the signature line. So I always post information about review sites, UNLESS they charge for the review itself. Don't laugh. Some sites certainly do charge.

This person does not charge for reviews only for advertising, which is the author's choice or not. So I passed it along. But not without qualms. Nice to see someone is paying attention.

E-Books outselling print

Amazon made the following announcement this week:

Amazon Now Selling More Kindle Books Than Print Books

Amazon began selling hardcover and paperback books in July 1995. Twelve years later in November 2007, Amazon introduced the revolutionary Kindle and began selling Kindle books. By July 2010, Kindle book sales had surpassed hardcover book sales, and six months later, Kindle books overtook paperback books to become the most popular format on Today, less than four years after introducing Kindle books, customers are now purchasing more Kindle books than all print books - hardcover and paperback - combined.

"Customers are now choosing Kindle books more often than print books. We had high hopes that this would happen eventually, but we never imagined it would happen this quickly - we've been selling print books for 15 years and Kindle books for less than four years," said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Since April 1, for every 100 print books has sold, it has sold 105 Kindle books. This includes sales of hardcover and paperback books by Amazon where there is no Kindle edition. Free Kindle books are excluded and if included would make the number even higher.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Speechtags -- writing tip

We saw a manuscript recently where the author had gone to great lengths to find synonyms for "said." There was hardly a "said" in three whole chapters...

Characters exclaimed, or they erupted, or they fumed, or sobbed, or wailed, or cried, but nobody "said" anything. Readers skip right over said, but tend to pay more attention to the synonyms, so that, in reading, the manuscript begins to sound a little hysterical. At least he didn't go so far as that favorite of 19th century authors -- he ejaculated....

Avoiding repetition is good, but if you follow the dialogue with an action by the speaker, you get a good image, and the reader will assume that the character who moved is the one who spoke. No need for either a "said" or a synonym. Just be sure it's the same character who moves and keep the movement in the same paragraph -- that's not too hard to do.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Steamed Crabs - recipe

Hugh Vinson’s Steamed Crabs

1 bushel of No. 1 or Jumbo male (Jimmy), Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs, still kicking
2 cans beer * all alcohol will steam away
1 cup white vinegar
1 quart of water
1 cup Old Bay Seasoning

Put water beer and vinegar in the bottom of the pot. A double boiler crab steamer is good, but any pot larger than a bushel may be used if you place an inverted bowl or two in the bottom to keep the crabs out of the water.

Using tongs, or leather gloves, or both, place live crabs in the large kettle. Careful, they WILL bite. Be prepared to chase down any that climb out of the basket and run. Discard any that don’t fight back. Cooking crabs after they are dead can result in food poisoning.

Cover the pot and put on medium high heat. Some folks use clip clothes pins to seal the top on, as the crabs will sometimes climb out if the top isn’t tight.

Start timing when pot begins to boil and steam escapes around the lid. Cook 30 more minutes. Remove from fire, remove top and let sit for a bit. Crabs should be bright red in color. If they still have a greenish tinge, cook an additional 15 minutes. Using tongs, place hot crabs in a cardboard box or other container. Spread newspapers on a picnic table, and place container on top, and sprinkle hot crabs liberally with Old Bay or the crab seasoning of your choice. Replenish from pot as needed.

Handy side items are: Old newspapers to spread on picnic table. Good sharp crab knives, or paring knives; Small bowls of vinegar for dipping; Saltine Crackers; Mallets for cracking claws; and a roll of paper towels – regular paper napkins just don’t work at a crab feast.

Best served with iced tea, lemonade, or cold beer. Serves up to a dozen.

Contributed by Hugh Vinson, author of A Grandfather's Gift.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Info on IWWG Summer Conference - writing

5 Days Left to Register

IWWG Summer Writing Conference

For Self Discovery and Inspiration

June 24 - July 1, 2011


Have a friend register with you for
two days or more and your
IWWG membership ($55 value) will
be renewed or extended for a year
(or, get a brand new membership!)

The Summer Writing Conference offers 40 workshops, every day. Pick and choose what suits you best.

Some of the workshops include:

  • Editorial Essentials: How to Edit Your Writing Before You Show It to Anybody
  • Writing Effective Dialogue
  • Letters and Literature: Writing Life, Love, and Longing
  • Discovering Your Characters: Listening Then Crafting

Visit the website for Workshop Descriptions and Director Bios

Don't Miss Out! If you want to be with us for the full 7 days there are only 5 days left to register for this unique summer writing experience for women.

Be inspired by kindred spirits, rich workshops and the beautiful Yale campus!

Creativity Matters Now

Novel Characters: Crafting the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Melissa Rosati interviews novelist Susanne Davis on character development in fiction and real life. An nice appetizer to her upcoming workshop at IWWG's summer conference.

Click here to listen

Flexible Registration Format!

We offer many options so you can tailor the conference to your writing needs.

Join us for a day, a few days or spend the entire week immersing yourself in writing with a supportive community of women who write.

We look forward to seeing you at Yale in June!


Hannelore Elizabeth

Hannelore Hahn Elizabeth Julia Stoumen

Founder, Executive Director Associate Director

Friday, June 17, 2011

Catching UP

A busy week, but not a very productive one.

Books that went to press or back to press.

BONES OF THE DRAGON by Margery Doughty

Print galleys out.


Ebook galleys went out on MAGGIE'S MIRAGE by Jeanine Malarsky

Typesetting work progressed on:

CATHERINE'S RING by Elena Bowman

NIGHT UNDONE, by K. S. Brooks

PLAYING WITH FIRE, by Tonya Ramagos

Still waiting on print galleys from:


TRAVELER, by David Yates


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fictional Truth, Redux -- writing tip

Question: Okay I saw today's (yesterday's) post on the blog about creating a good lie, but doesn't fiction have to have some kind of truth, too? I mean, if it doesn't make a statement, why write it at all????

Answer: Yes, fiction has to have a theme and the theme is, basically, what the story says. For instance, my novel Ghost Dancer, is a romance and there's lots of love story there, but the theme -- what the story really says -- is, "With faith, all things are possible."

So fiction does have to hold a truth that becomes evident as the story unfolds.

Most of my face-to-face students used to look at me as if I'd sprouted warts when I said, "Fiction has to hold real truth." and "Nobody can tell your truth, but you." But, basically that's what I believe.

All fiction (yes, even daffy romances about debutantes and Indian shamen) must have something to say. The key for you, or any writer, is to figure out what you want to say. That's your theme.

How you get it across is a matter of technique, and a matter of telling your shared truth in a way that only you can tell it. For instance, "Cinderella" says "Love conquers all." I doubt it if really did. Just look at the sad life of Princess Diana. I'll bet Cindy would have had a biiiig mother-in-law problem. But in the story, love conquered all and that can be summed up in one line. If you can't one-line your theme, it usually means you're not focused enough on what the story really says.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Research? For Fiction? -- Writing tip

Question: Someone in my writer's group said I need to do more research. I write fiction and make it all up. How do I research that???

Answer: Well, all fiction is, by definition, a lie -- a made up thing. But it's important, too, to tell a good (or convincing) lie.

It is a fiction writer’s job to create a dream world for the reader to enter. He must make that dream world real and free of anachronisms or other “wake up calls” as possible.

It’s important to make the experience as real for the reader as possible.

I have a friend, Judith French, who writes historical romances (pure escapism), but when her character does something you can bet that Judy has done tried it. She has laid bricks, mixed her own floor wax from turpentine and bee's wax, hand-dipped candles, and regularly rides horses and drives a four horse team and carriage in local parades.

I’ve never caught her in a mistake, unlike some other novelists. Within the past several months, I have read books by best-selling mass-market authors, where the characters went out “fishing for oysters with a net”, bought “petrol” for a Stanley Steamer, and made a “tossed salad” for a Christmas Dinner in 1820.

Oysters grow on the bottom and are harvested with handheld rakes called “tongs”, Stanley Steamers were powered by coal or wood, and needed water in the tank, not “petrol” or gasoline. And in 1820 nobody called it a “tossed” salad. Whoops! A little research would have prevented those stories from being spoiled for me.

Bottom line, don’t put up Christmas trees in July without an explanation.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lemon Sugar Cookies - recipe

Ann Herrick’s Lemon Sugar Cookies

Sift 1&1/2 cups flour with ½ tsp. salt and ½ tsp. baking soda.
Cream ½ cup margarine and 1 cup sugar.

Add 1 egg and 1 tsp. grated lemon rind. Beat well.

Beat in flour mixture a little at a time, then add 1 tbsp lemon juice.

Refrigerate ½ hour.

Heat oven to 350-F or 177-C degrees.

Shape cookie dough into small balls. Place two inches apart on lightly
greased cookie sheet. Dip bottom of small glass in sugar and press dough
until quite thin.

Bake about 10 minutes or until light golden brown.

Contributed by Ann Herrick


Monday, June 13, 2011

Verbs and Tenses - Writing tip

Verbs and Tenses

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 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 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 Cornwell and Lisa Scottolini 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 which tense they're in. Trust me, getting manuscripts where the tenses wander back and forth for no rhyme or reason happens about once a week.

My advice is to only use present tense in narrative only when writing synopses and outlines. Direct thoughts are always in present tense (and Italics) while "Internal dialogue" -- someone thinking to him or herself -- is in past tense and gets no Italics.

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.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Catching UP

No books went to press this week:

Galleys still out with no word from the author:

TRAVELER by David Yates

GRANDFATHER'S GIFT by Hugh Carter Vinson


Galleys that went out, or will go out, this week:

MAGGIE'S MIRAGE, by Jeanine Malarsky


Work begun on:

CATHERINE'S RING, by Elena Bowman

ROUGH WATERS, by Gianni Hayes

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New Review Site -- writing tip

I write a review blog for clean romance novels and I had two ideas to discuss with you. First, I am always open to reviewing new clean romance books. If any authors in your group would like to send me a copy, I'd love to do reviews.

Also, I was wondering if you would be interested in becoming a sponsor for my site and driving more business/awareness your way. I sell 125x125 button ad space for $15 a month. I don't have any yet, so you can't see it on my site yet, but you would be labeled as a sponsor and be placed prominently on my sidebar. I have 140 facebook friends as well as over 250 followers right now. I average about 100 pageviews every day. That means you would be paying 1/2 cent for each time someone saw your ad.

Let me know if you're interested in anything I can offer or if you have any questions.

Jennifer Kitchens

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Pesto Sauce - Recipe

David Smith’s Best Pesto Sauce

* Pesto is best when fresh, once made it does not keep well, unless frozen right away. A minor drawback for such a great item.

½ cup fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup parsley leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
5 Tablespoons walnuts
Grated rind of ½ lemon
1/4 cup grated Locatelli cheese (optional. Locatelli cheese is a hard, strong tasting, grated cheese.)

(Try adding Thyme for a taste change)

In blender, puree oil, garlic and nuts. Add basil and parsley a little at a time. Add cheese and lemon. Puree until smooth. Serve over pasta, vegetables, or fish. Goes well with just about anything.

Yields: Approximately 1 ½ cups, takes about 15 minutes to make, coats one pound of pasta. Or serves as a dip, or a side dish, or, well...whatever.

Contributed by David Smith.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Critique - writing tip

Question: A friend asked me to critique her manuscript. I read it and told her I was interested, but she says she wants more. What else can I do?

Answer: She may be looking for a "line edit." Where you would mark every typo or correction on the manuscript and then give it back. can only tell you what I do.

As for a critique, I can only tell you my own method:

When I do a critique of advanced work, I like to look at three things:

First I give a short summary of the action, as in “What happened?” This may sound like a waste of time, but it is the quickest way for a writer to discover whether the her message has been delivered.

After I saw the movie “Cross Creek” I set a story in Florida, though I had never been there, and I worried that I hadn’t gotten the atmosphere right, although some people had told me, “a marsh is a marsh is a marsh” even when they call it a “prairie” as they do in Florida. I wrote a “coming of age” story in which a young girl loses her virginity, and used an alligator hunt as the metaphor for that. I put in lots of what I thought was sexual symbolism and tension between the girl and the older man, a friend of her father’s, who had just been waiting for the opportunity to take advantage of her, etc. But I was worried about the setting, so I read it in a critiquing session with about 17 women, five of whom I knew were from Florida. I felt sure they’d pick up on any bloopers.

When the moderator asked what happened, I was stunned. “This girl and her brother went alligator hunting.” Whoops! If they thought he was her brother, then they didn’t get my carefully constructed sexual metaphors at all. My job was to give it to them and I had failed miserably. I learned a lot that day — nobody had to say whether they “liked” it or not, which isn’t relevant to begin with. Nobody had felt bored, which I felt was luck, not skill, since nobody had got the plot. When it came my time to ask, the Florida people said they had assumed I lived there as the detail was so accurate. Most of those place images had come straight out of the Cross Creek movie, which was filmed in Florida.

Second, I try to look at how I felt when I was reading. To give some reader reactions. I never come right out and say I was "bored," but I do say I was "easily distracted from the story." Or I felt tired, or confused, and where and when, but that might have been my day. Tie enough of these reactions together and the point is hard to miss.

Finally, I look for things that I might change if I were writing the story from the perspective of a seasoned writer.

For instance, "You might want to change the name of either Marsha, or Marna, as I kept getting them mixed up. I know they are twins, but characters whose names begin with the same letter are easily confused in a reader's mind. I went to high school with girl twins who were named May and June, because (you guessed it) they were born in different months. Seventeen minutes apart and they had different birthdays!

Monday, June 6, 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.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Catching UP

Books that went to press: None

Print Galleys that went out:

RANDOM APPLES by Terry White

FACEPAINTER MURDERS, by Virginia Winters

SECOND REPUBLIC by Steven Clark Bradley

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Festive Holiday Supper -- Recipe

We really don't have a name for this dish, its a Christmas
evening one, Southern Italian.
Boil water, put in a thin spaghetti, till cooked.

In separate fry pan put:

1/4 cup olive oil,

fresh parsley, (dry works too) fresh is better,

2 fresh gloves of garlic minced fine,

salt, pepper, and

two cans Italian tuna fish, (regular works too) but Italian in oil is better,

Cook together while spaghetti cooking, just a few minutes,
once spaghetti cooked drain.**

**Here comes trick, DON'T remove all the water leave enough to just cover spaghetti, if you take out too much water it becomes like rock. Take out to
little, its too watery. I have over years got in down pat. Then add:

1 cup Italian dry bread crumbs,

Along with the tuna and oil and:

1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, (fresh grated better) bag works too.

Mix well, wait 5 minutes and serve with parsley and cheese on the side.
A heavy red goes very good with this a
2007 Russo De Tavolo.

Thanks for this recipe go to Joseph R. Pugia, Sr., author and blog follower.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Character Motivation - writing tip

Question: I wrote a classic girl-in-danger story, but several people who gave me feedback said my character was stupid for walking into danger as she does. Okay, she may not be the sharpest pencil in the box, but if she doesn't walk into danger, I have no story! What can I do? (Your old student from Ireland, Fiona.)

Answer: All characters do things for a reason. Motivation may need work, here. Give her a good enough reason to do what she does, and....

Seriously, you can let a character make any kind of foolish decision or take on any kind of dangerous action if you give them a good enough reason for the reader to feel as if they might have done the same thing in the given circumstances.

In a nutshell, to coin a cliche, that is motivation.

Good characters keep secrets, tell lies, and take risks for good reasons. Bad characters keep secrets, tell lies, and take risks, for bad reasons.

But they all have a reason to keep secrets, take risks, and tell lies . That reason is the character’s motivation. One reason writers of romantic suspense get criticized is because the dimwit heroine always goes blindly into the house filled with murderers, just because she is determined to solve the mystery herself, when any sane person would go away and call the police.

Put her sister, her lover, her mother in the house with the murderers and threaten to kill the one she loveds if she calls the police, and....