Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Spagetti Sauce - Recipe

Josh Aterovis’s Spicy Spaghetti Sauce

2 Quarts of crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Parsley
1/2 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Oregano
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp red (cayenne) pepper
1 large clove of garlic
1 medium onion
1 pound of hamburger

Combine tomatoes and spices in a large pot. In a skillet, saute onions and garlic in oil until the onions begin to turn translucent. Add to tomato sauce. Brown hamburger in skillet and add to sauce. Cook over low heat for several hours to allow the flavors to blend. Serve over pasta.

Contributed by Josh Aterovis, author of BLEEDING HEARTS...Quiet unassuming 16-year-old Killian Travers Kendall has always known somewhere inside himself that he was different from other boys... Then an openly gay youth becomes a student at his school. For the first time Killian has met someone who understands how he feels. When the new boy is murdered during a hate crime, Killian is also attacked and vows to himself to find the killer.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Homonyms -- writing tip

Question: Someone commented that my blog had mis-spellings in it. How can that happen. I always run Spell-Check, the last thing I do before hitting post. So I know there are no spelling errors.

Answer: It's possible that there are errors in use of homonyms, or errors where the word that's there is spelled wrong, but the spelling error forms a valid word. Like using "on" instead of "in."

Spell check will not find those.

I've recently been reading (not for business, but for pleasure) an author who self-publishes his work. He likes being "in control" (who doesn't) and also likes not having to share income with a publisher. He's quite successful, too. But there are a number of errors that keep cropping up and it makes me believe he uses voice-activated software to write his (entertaining!) books.

They ARE entertaining and the errors probably won't stop me from buying another, but customer reviews at have complained he needs a proofreader, so readers DO notice.

Past and passed are often confused in his text. As are affect and effect. When trying to see around corners, characters peak at one another. Your and you're have been mixed, as well. It's not just one book, but the same stuff appears in most of the ones I've seen. This is common with voice-activation and then running spell-check.

But whether you use voice activated software, or not, Homonyms (words that sound alike, but are spelled differently), can be real pests as they are so easy to confuse.

Below is a list of the most often-confused homonyms and their meanings.

ade – drink type, as in lemonade
aid – to help or assist
aide - assistant

affect - change
effect – result or consequence

air – atmosphere (the stuff we breathe)
err – to make a mistake

aisle - walkway
I’ll – I will
isle - island

allowed - permitted
aloud – out loud

ant – picnic pest
aunt – relative, as in your mom’s sister

arc - curve
ark – Noah’s boat

ate – chewed up and swallowed
eight – number after seven

bare - uncovered
bear – grizzly animal

berry – fruit from a bush
bury – to put underground

base – bottom part
bass – deep or low

be – to exist
bee – buzzing insect

beach – sandy shore
beech – type of tree

beat - to pound
beet – type of edible plant

berth – tie up
birth – to be born

bite - nibble
byte – 8 bits (computer data)

blew – past of blow
blue – color of ocean

boar - pig
bore – not interesting bore - to drill

borough – area or district
burrow – dig through
burro – small donkey

bough - branch
bow – bend or curtsy

buoy - floater
boy – young man

brake – stop pedal
break – smash

bread – bakery food
bred – form of breed

broach - mention
brooch - pin

brows - eyebrows
browse – look around

buy - purchase
by - beside
by - originating from,BR. bye – short for goodbye

cell – compartment
sell - vend

cent – penny coin
sent – did send

cereal – breakfast food
serial - sequential

Chile – country in South America
chili – bean stew
chilly – frosty

chord – musical tone
cord - rope

cite - quote
site - location
sight - view

close – opposite of open
clothes - clothing

complement – enhance; go together
compliment - praise

council - committee
counsel - guidance

creak - squeak
creek – stream of water

crews - gangs
cruise – ride on a boat

dear - darling
deer – woodland animal

dew – morning mist
do - operate
due - payable

die – cease to exist
dye - color

doe – female dear
dough – uncooked bread

dual - double
duel - battle

ewe – female sheep
you - second-person personal pronoun

eye – sight organ
I - me

fair - equal
fare - price

fairy – elflike creature with wings
ferry - boat

faze - impact
phase - stage

feat – achievement
feet – plural of foot

fir – type of tree
fur – animal hair

flea – small biting insect
flee - run

flew – did fly
flu – illness

flour – powdery, ground up grain
flower – blooming plant

for – on behalf of
fore - front
four – one more than three

forth - onward
fourth – number four

knew – did know
new – not old

gorilla – big ape
guerrilla - warrior

grease - fat
Greece – country in Europe

groan - moan
grown – form of grow

hair – head covering
hare – rabbit-like animal

hall - passageway
haul - tow

halve – cut in two parts
have - possess

hay – animal food
hey – interjection to get attention

heal - mend
heel – back of foot

hi - hello
high – up far

hoarse - croaky
horse – riding animal

hole - opening
whole - entire

holey – full of holes
holy - divine
wholly - entirely

hour – sixty minutes
our – belonging to us

knead - massage
need - desire

knight – feudal horseman
night - evening

knot – tied rope
not - negative

know – have knowledge
no – opposite of yes

lead – metal
led - was the leader

lessen – make smaller
lesson - class

loan - lend
lone - solitary

made – did make
maid - servant

mail - postage
male – opposite of female

marry – to wed
merry – very happy

meat – animal protein
meet - encounter

none – not any
nun – woman who takes special vows

oar – boat paddle
or - otherwise
ore - mineral

oh – expression of surprise or awe
owe – be obligated

one - single
won – did win

overdo – do too much
overdue – past due date

pail - bucket
pale – not bright

pain - hurt
pane – window glass

peace - calm
piece - segment

peak – highest point
peek - glance

plain - ordinary
plane – flight machine plane - flat surface

pole - post
poll - survey

poor – not rich
pour – make flow

pray – implore God
prey - quarry

principal – most important
principle - belief

rain – water from sky
rein - bridle

rap - tap
wrap – drape around

real - factual
reel - roll

right – correct; not left
write - scribble

ring - encircle
wring - squeeze

role - function
roll - rotate

rose - flower
rows - lines

sail – move by wind power
sale – bargain price

scene - landscape
seen - viewed

sea – ocean segment
see – observe with eyes

seam – joining edge
seem - appear

sew – connect with thread
so – as a result
sow - plant

soar - ascend
sore – hurt place

sole - single
soul - essence

some – a few
sum - amount

steal - swipe
steel - alloy

tail – animal’s appendage
tale - story

their – belonging to them
there – at that place
they’re – they are

to - toward
too - also

toe – foot appendage
tow – pull along

vary - differ
very - much

wail - howl
whale – huge swimming mammal

waist – area below ribs
waste - squander

wait – kill time
weight – measurable load

war - battle
wore – did wear

warn - caution
worn - used

way - path
weigh – measure mass

we - us
wee - tiny

weak – not strong
week – period of seven days

weather - climate
whether - if

which - that
witch – sorcerer

your – belonging to you
you’re – you are

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ginger Cookies - Recipe

Brenda Boldin’s Ginger Cookies

2 cups self rising flour
(OR 2c. flour, 1tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. baking soda, ½ tsp. salt)
1 tsp. ginger
11/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
½ cup shortening
½ cup molasses
1 egg yolk

Mix sugar and shortening; add molasses and egg yolk. Sir in dry ingredients. Roll on lightly floured surface, 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes. Bake on lightly greased cookie sheets at 350-F or 177-C degrees for 10 minutes.

Cool before removing from cookie sheet.
Makes approx. 30 cookies.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Catching UP!

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

FACEPAINTER MURDERS, by Virginia Winters

TAPE, by C.M. Albrecht

RED EMERALDS, by Spencer Dane

Galleys went out, or went out again on the following:

CATHERINE'S RING, by Elena Bowman

THE DREAMER GAMBIT, by Kathryn Flatt

A POCKETFUL OF HOPE, by Anna Dynowski

Work continued, resumed, or began on the following titles:

MINDER'S OATH, by Nina M. Osier

Collected Stories of Victor Uribe

Still waiting for the following Galley Returns

ROUGH WATERS, by Gianni Hayes



We are on high ground for our county -- about 25 feet above sea level (Highest point in the county is 27 feet) and quite far from the river, so we should be okay. Shelley lives much nearer the water and may have some tidal problems -- especially if the storm comes up the bay as Isobel did. Their house had a lot of damage from Isobel.

Ocean City is about 60 miles east of us. IF the storm stays in the Atlantic, we'll have high tides and winds, but no real reason to evacuate this far inland. If it comes up the Bay, as with your Outter Banks, if it goes west we'll be in BIIG trouble.

My husband and I are on the same electricity grid as most of the local emergency services, the airport and the state roads people, so we seldom stay out of power for long on this street. It was only 18 hours for Isabelle, while parts of Baltimore County went more than a week without power. Shelley and Dave's power was out about two days and their house had both wind and tide water damage.

But that was a "FIFTY YEAR" storm. Last one before Isobelle, came up the bay in 1954. Let's hope another doesn't come up the back so quickly this time....

Still, anything can happen and usually does.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Promotion Redux -- writing tip

Book Promotion Question

Even though it's been mentioned here several times, I'm still getting e-mails from new writers wanting to know how to promote their e-books.

The Following are my best suggestions:

Authors who do promotion sell better. Promotion is something we can't afford to do, as we are a small company without an advertising budget. Free promotional opportunities abound for authors who don't mind working for it.

1. Authors can join Group forums at sites like Yahoo and Google. Pick Groups with LARGE memberships who are interested in your subject. Don't just pop in and say "HI, I'm new, I have a book, Buy it!" But set aside time once a week to skim your groups, reply to any messages of good news with a congratulations message, and put your book information in the signature. Don't just join author's groups, either, but readers' groups and any kind of group interested in your subject. If your book features a bowling detective, hit BOWLING groups. Always be positive, do NOT get involved or take sides in any squabbles on the list.

2. Use social media, like Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-In to set up profiles about yourself and mention your book, with links to purchase sites. Update those messages whenever there is news about the book. Whenever you start a new book, etc.

3. Google "Internet Radio" and your book's subject together, for a list of Internet Radio Stations, LISTEN to some of the shows, then contact that show's moderator, listed on the web site (giving positive feedback on something you have heard), and offer to be a guest on talk radio. They call you on the phone and you can talk about the subject and mention your book. Once the show is on line, it STAYS on line forever. People searching the subject, find the program AND your book.

4. FAX or e-mail press releases to your local paper, TV, and local Radio stations, and all nearby media outlets and those wherever your book is set, and to organizations that might be interested in the subject with contact information and saying you are available as a guest speaker (keep this local as most of them will not kick in for travel expenses). Local organizations like the Rotary, book Reading Groups, your library and Homemakers Clubs, are always looking for lunch speakers. Your yellow pages or public library will tell you what organizations are near you. Every computer has e-mail and a built-in fax function, learn to use it if you don't have a fax.

5. If you can afford it, hire a publicist to arrange an Internet tour where you can be a guest on other people's blogs and so on.

6. Start a blog of your own, if you have time to keep it up. POST often and link it to your Facebook and Twitter accounts.

7. Once the book shows up on there, set up your free author's page at

8. Get the book reviewed as often as you can. If people tell you they have read it, ask them please to post a review on where ANYone can post a review. Save the reviews as they will be useful advertising to put into the print edition.

9. Read my book, HOW TO PROMOTE, MARKET, AND ADVERTISE YOUR PUBLISHED BOOK. Read Nikki Leigh's (who arranges on line guest tours, etc.) two books on BOOK PROMOTION 101 and BOOK PROMOTION 201.

10. Tell your mother, brother, co-workers, and all the biggest gossips you know.

And for those who asked--YES, we did have an EARTHQUAKE!

I was sitting in my rocker and when it began to rock, I assumed my cat, Jack (see photo above), was sharpening his claws on the back as he frequently does "rock my world."

At that same moment, my husband began to yell, "Stop it, Jack!" That's when it dawned on me that Jack could not be in two places at once.

Jack, who was playing with his ribbon, gave us both a weird look.

STRANGE. The world kept right on rocking!

It was the first earthquake I ever felt. And right here on the Eastern Shore, too! The center was between Richmond, VA and Washingyton, DC.

No local damages here, though Shelley's house shook more than mine and I understand the Washington Monument in DC has a crack or two.

Isn't it a beautiful day?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Broccoli Casserole -- recipe

Jay Hughes’s Broccoli Casserole

2 sm or one large package chopped broccoli
8 Ounces of Cream Cheese
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
3/4 Stick of butter or margarine
½ cup chopped onion
1 roll Ritz crackers, crushed

Saute onion in butter until tender. Remove onion and add to casserole dish with other ingredients, except crackers. Mix well. Saute crackers in remaining butter. Sprinkle crackers on top. If any excess butter, add to casserole.

Bake at 375-F or 190-C degrees for 20 minutes or 350-F or 177-C degrees for 30 minutes.

Contributed by Jay Hughes

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How long does a short story need to be?

Question: Many of my short stories are less than 500 words. People in my writers' group keep telling me they are too short. Is there a downward limit? Melanie....

Answer: What you are writing, Melanie, is called "flash fiction" and typically runs below 500 words for a story (some even define it as "less than 300 words." So no, the stories are not too short. In fact editors of little and literary magazines delight in them, as they can publish three new and promising writers of short, short fiction, instead of ONE with a 1500 word story. Most editors will not look at anything longer than 1500 words due to space restrictions and the cost of paper is rising all the time.

Most people have the exact opposite problem and their stories run far too long. I remember when I couldn’t write “Hello” without using 500 words. Writing short is good discipline and will serve you well in the future, even if you get around to those novels you were planning.

Ernest Hemingway once bet someone he could write an entire short story in six words. According to some, he was very drunk at the time and the other writers who hung around at Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West were certain they would win.

“You need plot, a main character who changes, and a resolution,” they warned. Hard to do in six words. Everyone agreed it couldn’t be done and put a lot of money on that.

Hemingway who had been telling them all there was no such thing as writers' block and they could find stories anywhere, pointed to the classified section of the newspaper — and collected his bet.

“For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

Zuccini Cake

Arline Chase’s Zucchini Cake

1 ½ cup flour
1 cup sugar (or a cup and a half of Splenda if you are extra-sweet*)
¾ cup oil
1 egg
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt (I omit this)
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups grated zucchini (you can use the blender if you like)
½ cup black walnuts (I like black walnuts, but if you don't, use any other kind of nut)

Mix top ingredients first (no need to beat, just get everything well acquainted), then stir in the zucchini 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).

Serve with a big dollop of whipped cream on top.

Contributed by Arline Chase, author of Killraven and Ghost Dancer. 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.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Catching UP!

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

CATHERINE'S RING, by Elena Dorothy Bowman

YOUR PLACE OR MINE, by Lynette Hall Hampton

RED EMERALDS, by Spencer Dane

Galleys that went out this week

THE DREAMER GAMBIT, by Kathryn Flatt

Work continued or began on the following:

MINDER'S OATH, by Nina Osier

TAPE by C.M. Albrecht

Still waiting for author's response:

A GRANDFATHER'S GIFT, by Hugh Carter Vinson.

Not the most productive week I've ever had. Feel like I'm spinning my wheels

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What do editors want? -- writing tip

E-mail question: This publisher's guidelines say one thing, the next publisher's -- another. Agents I have queried come up with a third list of requirements to be met before anyone will read my manuscript. WHAT do editors WANT, anyway? Your student from the past, Alicia.

Answer: Alicia, they want to save time, so they can get more work done. People who send manuscripts that take a lot of extra time and trouble to read or produce almost always get rejected. Each one has a long list of demands, designed to save time at that, particular publishing house and it certainly varies from house to house.

Speaking as a sometime editor, here’s MY OWN 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. Less than 90,000 words, means 90,000 words or LESS. It doesn’t mean 90,001 words. Sending in assignments that are too long makes a great deal of extra work for your editor. Problems with manuscripts that are shorter than desired, are easily dealt with.

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.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Caesar 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 jar with 1/4 cup 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.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More on Anachronism -- writing tip

Question: Thanks for the tip on anachronisms. Looking over my work, I don't really SEE anything. Could I be wearing blinders?

Answer: I doubt it. You never had any time and space issues when you were my student. Author Terry White could be correct when she observed the fellow-writer may be nit picking you to pieces out of her own feelings of inadequacy.

But do keep in mind John Gardiner's advice about the "dream of the story" and not waking the reader up by asking them to believe six impossible things before breakfast.

Another possibility might be the order in which the information is given. It's always a good idea to use a full name on first reference (unless it's a minor unnamed character like "the waiter"), and to get the physical description in when the reader first meets the character. It can seem a small thing, but if your reader envisions a blond on first reference, only to learn that the character is dark a few pages later, it can be really confusing. It wakes them from what John Gardiner calls "the dream".

Believe me, I've seen some real "wake up calls" even in commercially published material. Once I was reading a historical romance set in Elizabethan England. Obviously the author had written it first as a modern story, then set it back in time. There was a wonderful wedding scene. It had whole roasted pigs, jongleurs (what the hell is a jongleur, anyway?), lute players and troubadours singing soulful songs of wedded bliss. Then a minor character praised the cheese served in the wedding "buffet," saying to the bride's father, "Where did you get this wonderful cheese?" To which the bride's father replied, "Oh, I'm glad you like it, okay? We had it flown in special."

"Buffet" and "okay" would have been bad enough, as in Elizabethan times "buffet" was a cupboard and "okay" didn't come into use until the 19th century.. But "flown in?" How?

Monday, August 15, 2011


It seems my address book has been raided again, as I am getting "returned mail" messages for mail I DID NOT send. Probably a virus, or a Trojan.

If you receive the following message from me:

Arline sent you a Care2 eCard on August 15, 2011.

PLEASE know that Arline DID NOT send it, and PLEASE do not open it or follow the link, if you value your computer informations's safety.

Beef and Vegetable Rolls - recipe

Ray Morand’s Beef and Vegetable Rolls
(Gyuhire yasai maki)

1 medium carrot
4 oz asparagus
4 oz French beans
12 oz prime beef, sliced paper thin
Cornstarch or potato flour
Vegetable oil
(Alternative: green onions instead of asparagus)

1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 Tbsp. Water
1 Tbsp. Sake
1 Tbsp. Mirin
3 Tbsp. soy sauce

Scrape the carrot and cut into long narrow strips. Trim the asparagus. Top and tail the beans. Parboil the vegetable separately in lightly salted water until just tender. Drain immediately and refresh in cold water. Drain and pat dry. Lay half the meat slices side by side with edges overlaying to form a sheet. Press overlapping sections so they stick and brush with cornstarch. (Alternative, marinate meat in sauce for ½ hour)

Lay a few strips of each vegetable at one end and roll up firmly. Tie securely with white cotton string. Repeat with remaining meat and vegetables. Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir well. Put a little oil into a frying pan and heat over high heat. Add the rolls and sauté until lightly brown.

Pour the sauce over the rolls and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer over a low heat for five minutes, until the beef is tender and well flavored. Cut the strings and slice the rolls into 1-inch rounds. Arrange on individual serving dishes and spoon over a little sauce. Arrange on porcelain dish and garnish with parsley.

Raye Morand is the author of the Red Knight Chronicles: Army of the Dead, Dark Elf, Lost Memories, and the latest, Crash Landings, with more to come!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Catching UP!

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



GOOD FRIDAYS, by Diane Marquette

BLEEDING HEARTS, by Josh Aterovis (new edition, e-book)

Galleys that went out or went out again, this week:

YOUR PLACE OR MINE, by Lynette Hall Hampton

MY DEAREST FRIEND, by Hazel Statham

Work began or continued on:

THE DREAMER GAMBIT, by Kathryn Flatt

TAPE by C.M. Albrecht

MINDER'S OATH, by Nina M. Osier

A POCKETFUL OF HOPE, by Anna Dynowski


1. Mid-Length [45109 words]A Medic in Iraq: A Novel of the Iraq War by Cole Bolchoz [Mainstream]
2. Long [70978 words]Sagarmatha by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction]
3. Mid-Length [41377 words]The Christmas Ball by Ludima Gus Burton [Romance/Historical Fiction]
4. Very Long [459405 words]Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas ( Pere ) [Classic Literature/Historical Fiction]
5. Mid-Length [41300 words]Drew Gets It Right: Sequel to Never A Cougar by Ludima Gus Burton [Romance/Mainstream]
6. Long [82062 words]Regs by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction]
7. Long [75495 words]Conduct Unbecoming by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction]
8. Mid-Length [45629 words]Electrifying Mysteries: Prize Winning Stories from by Editors [Mystery/Crime]
9. Long [83243 words]Matushka by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction]
10. Long [71677 words]Interphase by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction]


1. Long [66889 words]A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett [Classic Literature/Children's Fiction]
2. Long [61049 words]Minder's Oath [High Places Series: Book 2] by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
3. Long [121796 words]Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen [Classic Literature]
4. Long [98906 words]Ghost Dancer by Arline Chase [Historical Fiction]
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 [Horror]

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Anachronisms? -- writing tip

Question from the e-mail: Arline, someone in my new writing class said my story was "just full of anachronisms." I looked it up in the dictionary and it said something out of time or place, or meaning "old-fashioned." I write Regency novels. What else can they be but old fashioned? Pam.

Answer: Good to hear from you. Good news that you are writing again.

Anachronism can also mean something out of place in a story's time, when used in connection with writing, Pam.

I used to create anachronisms in my work all the time, mostly by not seeing the action clearly in my head. Here are some examples from my early work:

A person can't go upstairs, if they are already upstairs.

They shouldn't light a cigar, if they already have one going, either.

They shouldn't pick up the reins and urge the horses forward, if the scene was set in a billiard room. That's anachronism.

Also it can mean something out of step with the time of a story. A woman in a Regency novel should not wear a mini-skirt, OR slacks. But you know that, as you always did costume well.

It can also have to do with language use. If a story is set back in time, then the characters shouldn't use modern slang. Even "okay" didn't come into use until the mid-19th century. Characters in a historical shouldn't talk like people today. Mainly, they should stay away from slang. But they should still sound human. Read Jane Austin, who WROTE in the Regency period for ideas about dialogue.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wild Rice Casserole -- recipe

Carlene Dater’s Wild Rice Casserole

1 cup wild rice
½ lb. fresh or 2 cans mushrooms
¾ cup butter
3 Tbsp. grated onion
3 cups chicken broth

Soak and wash rice 3 or 4 times in boiling water till rice opens up. Slice fresh mushrooms. Brown rice in butter; add remaining ingredients except broth. Put into buttered 2 ½ quart casserole. Add broth. Cover and bake at 350-F or 177-C for about 1 ½ or 2 hours. Takes a while, but well worth it.

Contributed by Carlene Dater, author of THE COLORS OF DEATH and CALL SIGN LOVE...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Write Words Page on Facebook

Author Nikki Leigh helped me set up a Write Words page on Facebook where authors can go in and set up publicity feeds, information about them, upload videos and book covers and so on.

All you have to do to get in and make changes is to click on "like."

Here's the LINK.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tuna Noodle Salad -- recipe

Terry White’s Tuna Noodle Salad

2 cups macaroni, uncooked
½ cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 can tuna packed in water, drained
1 can peas drained, or 1 cup leftover peas
1 cup diced celery, or 1 tsp celery seed
½ teaspoon coarse ground pepper
½ teaspoon salt
Diced onion to taste.

Boil macaroni in salted water, drain and chill. Add other ingredients and mix well. A good one-dish meal on a hot day. Most of the salt goes down the drain. This will keep in the refrigerator for two or three days. Makes enough for four.

Contributed by Terry L. White author of 18 books, including her latest, Random Apples.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Catching UP

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

FACEPAINTER MURDERS, by Virginia Winters



GOOD FRIDAYS by Diane Marquette

Work continued or began on the following:

MINDER'S OATH, by Nina M. Osier

DREAMER GAMBIT by Kathryn Flatt

TAPE, by C. M. Albrecht

Galleys went out on the following:

YOUR PLACE OR MINE, by Lynette Hall Hampton

ROUGH WATERS, by Gianni Hayes

MY DEAREST FRIEND, by Hazel Stratham

Waiting for galleys from authors:

A GRANDFATHER'S GIFT, by Hugh Carter Vinson

PLAYING WITH FIRE, by Tonya Ramagos

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Commas question - writing tip

Question from my e-mail: A friend keeps telling me I use too many commas. I learned when to use commas in English 101, so I'm not completely ignorant. I don't just throw one in every time I stop to think. She says most of them are unnecessary and to just "ignore the rules" and leave them out. Should I follow her advice?

Answer: NO. I know there is a whole school of thought about this that says to leave them out, but commas in sentences are like stop signs when you're driving. Maybe you can ignore them, but not always. Sometimes a behemoth of a truck is coming your way and disaster lies in wait.

Here's my best very basic advice about commas. Put them where you'd pause for breath or effect. There's a world of difference between:

"Shoot John!" and

"Shoot, John!

In one sentence John gets shot, in the other he is instructed to shoot. That can make a big difference to your reader, as well as to John.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Jello Mold Salad - recipe

Oysterback Jell-O Mold-off’s Prizewinning Watergate Salad

1 (3 3/4 oz.) box Pistachio flavor instant pudding (prepare according to the directions on box)
1 2 oz. can pineapple
1 9 oz. container Cool Whip
½ cup pistachio nuts
½ to 1 cup miniature marshmallows

Combine instant pudding with Cool Whip and stir until creamy. Add other ingredients, place in mold, and refrigerate over night.

Contributed by Helen Chappell, author of the Oysterback Tales I and II, as well as the “Sam and Hollis” mystery series, Slow Dancing With the Angel of Death, Dead Duck, etc.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Vernacular in Dialogue

Question: I write about Southern characters, who talk the way people do talk in the South. But the members of my writers' group complain about "spelling errors" and "grammar mistakes" in dialogue, when I had put them there deliberately. They also think my story "moves too slow." Isn't it correct to be incorrect, if the characters "don't talk so good?" And shouldn't they sound like people really sound.

Answer: Mark Twain got in trouble for doing the same thing. For many years his books were banned from school libraries because of all the "poor grammar issues" that he put in quite deliberately, as he explained at length in the preface.

Having said that you are right, grammar mistakes are allowed when writing in dialect speech, let me add that a little of this goes a long way.

This is a lesson I learned – reluctantly I’ll admit – in a workshop with Diana Gabaldon. She wrote a book about a group of 17th century Scots, and English Outlander. No dialect is a thick as that of Scotland. Diana said she listened to old Scots ballads sung in English and in Gaelic to absorb the rhythm of the speech. There’s a great deal of difference between the speech of the Scots and the Englishwoman, and among the Scots, depending upon their station in life and educational level. But nobody said, “Hoot mon!” She changed didn’t to didna, and wouldn’t to wouldna, and added some dated terms like “foxed” for drunk. But most of it was in the rhythm of the language. Because of the sentence construction, English sounded different when the Scots spoke it, but their meaning was never obscured.

Avoid anachronisms and use very little slang, unless it’s some you make up yourself. I read a story set in Biblical times where characters said things like “okay” and "right on!" Okay is a slang term that didn’t come into use until the 19th century and "right on" had a brief popularity in the 70s. Neither would have been said in Biblical times. Any time you are uncertain when a term came into use, you can check it in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Slang gets dated and slang terms may change in meaning. Avoid cliches, too. In a 1940 edition of Nancy Drew, Girl Detective, it was fine to describe her father as a “gay man about town,” even though it was a cliche. At that time it meant he was lighthearted and very social. You wouldn’t use that term today, because the word “gay” has taken on a whole different meaning.

Good dialogue should sound natural, but not too much like people really talk. Never put small talk into dialogue, it just slows everything down. The important thing in dialogue is to leave out stuff that is unimportant and get right to the point.

Here is an example of BAD dialogue the way it might go in real life:

“Hi, Harry. How are you? And how’s your mother?” Mary said, to her neighbor.
“Hi, Mary. Good to see you this morning. She’s better thanks.”
“Oh, good. I’m glad to hear it.” Mary admired the way Harry cared for his aged mother. He was so good to her. Mary wondered if Harry had heard the news about John. “Say, did you hear about John?”
“No. Did something happen to him?”
“He’s dead.”
“John Smith, who lives across the street? You’re kidding. Right?”
“No, I’m not kidding. John’s dead.”
“Really? What happened?” Harry asked.
“The postman smelled exhaust coming from the garage. He called the cops from my house. It took them 20 minutes before they showed up! Then they had to call a locksmith to get in his house, ” Mary said.
“Wow. That’s interesting. Which locksmith did they call?” Harry asked, again.
“Brady’s – the one over on Biscayne. Anyway, the car was still running and John was dead when they found him. But they called for an ambulance anyway. It took them another twenty minutes to get here. Then they took him to the hospital.”
“Hospital? I thought you said he was dead,” Harry said.
“He is dead. But they had to go to the hospital, it’s the law,” Mary said. “The paramedics said he was dead all right, but they took him in the ambulance anyway.”
“Gosh. I can’t believe John’s dead. What was it? Suicide?” Harry asked.
“You’d think so, wouldn’t you. He’s been so depressed, ever since Evelyn left him,” Mary said. “But the cops found a bruise on his head. So they weren’t really sure if he killed himself or if it was murder. You know, John had a lot of enemies.”
“Yes, he did. That Evelyn of his, for one. Not to mention that new fellow she's been seeing.”

Notice all the “saids?” Here's a neat little technique you can use. 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. You only have to be careful to make certain that the person who speaks and the person who moves are the same person. If you want to show another character's reaction to the speech, change paragraphs, even if they don't say anything. Treat the movement just as if it were a dialogue reply.

In good dialogue, you only put in the important stuff:

“Harry, did you hear? John Smith’s dead.” Mary Sullivan greeted Harry Donohue, her across-the-street neighbor. "They found him locked in the garage with the car still running.

“Suicide?” Harry’s face looked stunned.

Mary shook her head. “They’re not certain. Could be murder.”

“Wouldn’t surprise me – that ex-wife of his always said she’d kill him one day.”

“You think it was her?”

“He had a lot of enemies, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she did it.” Harry’s eyes narrowed. “Her, or her new boyfriend.”

Do you see how 25 lines of dialogue were condensed to just a few? And yet all the important information was relayed to the reader.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Party Crab Dip - recipe

Liz Hamlin’s Crab Dip

1 round loaf of rye bread (seeds optional) reserved for later.

Dip Ingredients:

1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip if you like it tart)
3 tbsp. Finely chopped or grated onion
1 pound Crab Meat
Old Bay Seasoning (to taste)

Mix dip ingredients together, adding crab last. Chill. Just before party, cut round hole in top of loaf and scoop out inside, arrange those pieces outside to use for dipping. Fill loaf with dip.

Contributed by Liz Hamlin, author of Country Club Drive, Where’s Miss Mary? and The Women in No Man’s Land...