Saturday, September 29, 2012

Proofreading Fun

Proofreading is a dying art, wouldn't you say?
Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter
When we complained, it took two or three readings before the editor realized that what he was reading was impossible!!! They put in a correction the next day.

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
No crap? Really? Ya think?
Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
Now that's taking things a bit far!
Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
What a guy!

Miners Refuse to Work after Death
No-good-for-nothing' lazy so-and-so's!

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
See if THAT will work with a Teenager.

War Dims Hope for Peace
I can see where it might have that effect!

If Officials Strike Isn't Settled Quickly,
It May Last Awhile

Ya think?!

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
Who would have thought!

Enfield ( London ) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
They may be on to something!

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
You mean there's something stronger than duct tape?

Man Struck By Lightning: 
Faces Battery Charge
He probably IS the battery charge!

New Study of Obesity Looks for
Test Group
Weren't they fat enough?!

Astronaut Takes Blame for
Gas in Spacecraft

That's what he gets for eating those pureed beans!
---------------- ---------------------------------

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
Do they taste like chicken?

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
Chainsaw Massacre all over again!

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
Boy, are they tall!

And the winner is....

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
Did I read that right?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Catching UP!

Not a long list, this week. We have begun to gather data for author payment, and will be spending most of the next two weeks of work time on the payment process.

Also plans are underway for the fall/winter list. If you have an e-book that is overdue to go to print, please contact me at: so I don't forget to put it on my "to do" list.



A DESIRE PATH, by Jan Shapin


DEATH SHADOWS, by Sharon Jordan



WORLD WITHOUT END, by Nancy Madison



WILT THOU BE MINE, by Ann Nolder Heinz

SNIPER ON THE ROOF, by Warren Graffeo

STAR WOLF, by Warren Graffeo

If anyone here knows Warren Graffeo or is in contact with him, PLEASE ask him to contact me at:

The college e-mail we have for him is not working, another college is listed on his Facebook page, but despite repeated requests, he will not befriend us or give anyone access to his new e-mail. Both his books  are stalled and we cannot proceed with either of them until we hear from him.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What is a "dangling participle?"

The first in a popular series of mystery books about 
a prostitute-turned-band singer, and a musician-cop.
Together they come up against murder again, and again
-- without a dangling participle in sight.

Question: Someone told me I had a "dangling participle." I just said, "Thank you." But I have no idea what they meant....

Answer: Dangling participles are when a phrase is out of place in the sentence structure and the placement of the participle leaves it modifying the wrong verb, so that it  alters the meaning of the sentence from the author's original intention.

I can dangle a participle with the best of them and once had "a woman in a barn with a broken hip." This says the BARN had a broken hip -- must've been the roof.... Well, anyway, watch out for phrases like that. They tend to send editors off into gales of laughter.

What I meant, of course, was that the woman with a broken hip was in the barn, but that's not what I said. This happens to ALL of us from time to time, because we are so involved with what is happening in the story we are telling that we forget to pay attention to the words.  The trick is to recognize it when we give our work a final edit.

I use a method I call "layering."  That is, I write in layers, concentrating on one thing at a time – all my poor brain can manage --and going through the material several times with a single objective in mind. I hear my characters, rather than “see” them , so first, I go back and layer in every image I can think of to make sure my readers can see everything. I'm only working on images at this point. Show, show, show, show, show! 

Then I go back again and rewrite the transitions, making sure the who? when? and where? is present at the opening of every scene and that the viewpoint character is mentioned First. 

Also I look at continuity, checking to make sure they walk outside before noticing it has started to rain, etc. 

Then I look for end-of-scene hooks to make sure a reader wants to find out something that will happen later.

BUT IN THE BACK OF MY MIND, in all those passes, I try to keep a vigilant watch for those dangling participles. Because they will happen to the best of us.

Here's a few examples, though I'm not guilty of ALL of them:

Riding along on my bicycle, the dog knocked me over. (A bicycle-riding dog???)

Rushing to finish the paper, Bob's printer broke. (Nice when the machinery cares about your deadline!)

Running to the catch the bus, Bob's wallet fell out of his pocket. (Tell that wallet to walk next time!)

Having finished my dinner, the waitress offered to bring out the dessert tray. (I am not tipping a waitress who eats MY dinner!)

At age seven, her grandfather passed away. (Obviously, the grandfather did not pass away at age seven.)

Decked out in a stunning vintage Versace gown, the man couldn't take his eyes off his Academy Awards date.  (SOME guys will wear anything. )

Removing each other's fleas, the zoo workers watched the monkeys intently. (Flea-infested zoo-keepers? No big surprise.)

For sale: an antique desk suitable for lady with thick legs and large drawers.  (Seen a few ladies like that in my time.)

And from e-Bay:

Wanted: Man to take care of cow who does not smoke or drink. (Nice that the cow  doesn't run up expenses for alcohol and tobacco.)

For Sale: Several very old dresses from grandmother in beautiful condition. (Nice that granny is holding up so well.) 

Well, you get the idea!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cheese Biscuits -- recipe

The latest murder mystery from popular author
C. M. Albrecht

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 as needed

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.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

They don't like my characters...writing tip

This is a story about a bunch of characters you
will love and at least one that you will love-to-hate.

Question:  The folks in my writer's group don't like any of my characters. You said in a recent post that if the reader doesn't have any stake in your characters, there will be no tension in your story.  They say they don't DISlike them, just don't care about them one way or the other. What can I do?

Answer: The reader only knows what you show or tell them. But that can be a very small amount of information and therein lies the problem. YOU may know a lot more about them than you show/tell the reader. 

Perhaps your character is a guy who makes a bet that he can get to first base with some "untouchable" girl on a first date? Now that's an UN-gentlemanly thing to do and shows him as disrespectful to women. Basically, he's betting against her virtue here. This is the same plot whether in Jane Austen's era, or our own.

At that point the reader is unsympathetic to him and rooting for the girl, but the guy is your PROtagonist and the reader should be rooting for him. The key here, is motivation. You can show her, before the bet, being rude to him, OR you can show him as crazy-in-love with her and making the bet while in the throes of a dream/fantasy, but however you do it, he MUST have a GOOD  reason, a likeable reason, or at least an UNDERSTANDABLE reason for what he does. 

I once read a story where the main character was shown as playing mean tricks on his phys-ed teacher, behaving like a bully to his classmates, and going off to sulk by himself  after school when the others asked him to come along to the soda shop. The actual writing was good and I could see everything that happened, but the character acted like an ass.

When I asked my student why he was so rude, she said he was too poor to buy a soda, that the teacher encouraged the others when they constantly made fun of him in gym class for not having the right kind of basketball shoes. But  none of that was in her story. She knew all about it, but she hadn't let the reader in on any of that.

Now, I don't know your characters, or your situation, but you might want to check for facts about the character that have not been shown.

I once read an article in Writer's Digest by popular fiction writer Phyllis Whitney, in which she said, "a heroine can never have chipped nail polish." I looked down at my own well-bitten digits and knew I'd never make it as a heroine. 

But her point was that in the real world you'd hardly ever notice if someone's nail polish was slightly chipped, because you have the whole persona there in front of you and you are seeing everything all at the same time. But within the context of a story, where the reader knows so little and then only what the writer chooses to show, if her nail polish is chipped, the reader will assume that she's slovenly and careless. 

Everything you say about a character in your story takes on weight tenfold.

Monday, September 24, 2012

It's fall and will soon be candy season

OUT OF CONTROL is a story gleaned from my days
as a newspaper reporter, covering cops and courts.

Below is my favorite easy fudge recipe. It's easy and never fails to be just right.

3 sticks of butter ( Warning: must be Real Butter!)
1 Two  lb package of 10x sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 tsp. salt

Melt the butter in the microwave

Stir in vanilla and salt with a whisk or fork

Mix in the sifted sugar, half at a time, stirring well

As you add the second half of the sugar, the mixture will form a thick consistency. Mix well with your hands as if it were bread dough, until it is smooth and thick.
(If the final mixture is too dry, add 1 tbsp of cream.)
(If final mixture is too wet, add a little extra sugar.)

When the fudgy consistency is just right, spread doughy mixture on a greased cookie sheet (Pam works great). Using your hands, pat it into a flat square shape about 1 inch thick.

Cut into 1 inch squares and Refrigerate for half an hour or more.

When the fudge is firm, put the squares into plastic bags, or candy dishes. Store in a cool place.

The fudge will stay firm at room temperature, but should not be stored near an oven, or a wood stove. I usually put mine on the back porch. It's glassed in, and not quite as warm as the rest of the house.

For Chocolate Fudge

To the above recipe, add 3/4 cup cocoa to melted butter, mix well, then proceed as shown.

For Chocolate Nut Fudge

Add 3/4 cup cocoa and
1 cup pecan pieces
Or Black walnut pieces
Or whatever nuts you like best
Mix nuts in with the sugar.

For Pina Collada Fudge

Leave out cocoa and add:
1 tbsp coconut flavoring.
1 tbsp pineapple flavoring
Yellow food coloring (optional).

For Mint Fudge
Leave out chocolate.
Add 1 tbsp mint flavoring.
Green food coloring.

For Almond Fudge
Leave out chocolate.
Add 1 1/2 tsp almond flavoring
Red food coloring to make the mixture pink.

For Chocolate-Peanut Butter Fudge

To the basic recipe, stir 1 cup of peanut butter in with melted butter.
Stir in 3/4 cup cocoa.
Then proceed with the basic recipe.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Catching UP!

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

HANNAH'S GHOST, by Robert Kanehl


WORLD WITHOUT END, by Nancy Madison

TWO FACES: TWO FACED, by Kathryn Flatt

Work Began or Continued on the Following:

STAR-WOLF, by Warren Graffeo


If anyone here knows Warren Graffeo or is in contact with him,

The college e-mail we have for him is not working, another college is listed AS HIS WORKPLACE on his Facebook page, but despite repeated requests, he will not befriend us or give anyone access to his new e-mail. Both his books are stalled and we cannot proceed with either of them until we hear from him.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Chicken Kebabs - recipe

Ray Morand’s Chicken Kebabs 


2     pounds chicken
16     small onions
8     green peppers
    sansho powder (optional)
    (Alternative: add carrots)

½     cup soy sauce
½     cup mirin
1-2     tbsp. Sugar

Cut vegetables into bite sized pieces. Cut chicken in bite sized pieces. Place on skewers. Simmer sauce. Grill kebabs and brush sauce over them as they cook. Sprinkle with sansho powder if desired and serve.

Ray Morand* is the 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 C. Kofed.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

VIEWPOINT--Writing tip

A New Thriller from the author of LAST STOP FREEDOM.

Question: One year at Skidmore (yes, it was that long ago) you gave me a handout on point-of-view. Do you still have a copy of that one, too?

Answer:  Sure thing.

Viewpoint, A Conundrum

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 “I” narrator, or third person “She or he” narrator.

There are several kinds of viewpont. "First Person" is written with an "I" narrator, as if the story happened to you. "Third Person" limited, is written in third person, but limited to a single point of view. This is the viewpoint 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 viewpoint. 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 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 viewpoint of fable and fairy tale.

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. It's a good learning viewpoint for writers who are poor at description, but has been said to  produce cold and "unfeeling" stories.

The advantage of using “Limited Omniscient” viewpoint 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's identity shifting at scene or chapter breaks. This is  the viewpoint I chose for both the novels KILLRAVEN and GHOST DANCER as 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 that 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 have a scene with the villain watching them from behind a bush and planning rape and murder. With the second option, the reader knows the two women are in danger, even though the villain slinks off 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 your 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.

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'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 worst, 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.

Bill is mentioned first, because HE is the viewpoint character. 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 viewpoint:

    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 all 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) 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.
    (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 -- pov:

    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.”

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chopped chicken livers -- recipe

Perfect Relcipe for a  Hurricane Party!!!

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).

Our late business partner, Sandy List, used to make this for all our parties. We've been missing her so much lately. It will soon be a year since she passed.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Catching UP!

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

GO TELL AUNT RHODY, by Thornton Parsons


LADY SLIPPERS FOR MY LADY, by Lynette Hall Hampton

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

WORLD WITHOUT END, by Nancy Madison

TWO FACES: TWO FACED, by Kathryn Flatt

 WILT THOU BE MINE, by Ann Nolder Heinz

Work Began or Continued on the Following:

STAR-WOLF, by Warren Graffeo


HANNAH'S GHOST, by Robert Kanehl

STAR WOLF, by Warren Graffeo

If anyone here knows Warren Graffeo or is in contact with him,

The college e-mail we have for him is not working, another college is listed AS HIS WORKPLACE on his Facebook page, but despite repeated requests, he will not befriend us or give anyone access to his new e-mail. Both his books are stalled and we cannot proceed with either of them until we hear from him.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tension and Suspense -- writing tip

The first in a popular new romance series, and a good example of tension and suspense.

Question:  Back when you were my teacher, you sent me a handout on tension and suspense.  I have moved three times since then. Can you let me have it again???

Answer:  Sure thing!

Tension and Suspense

One way to write page-turner fiction is to build in tension and suspense into every scene.

Without those two elements, there is no real story. Someone has to want
something – usually, it’s the main character – and wondering whether
they will get it or not is the definition of reader suspense.  For tension to be
present, the reader has to care about that character, to be rooting for him to get what he or she wants.

One way to make the reader care is to use motivation  (why the character wants the something) to increase the tension.

Just like real people, all characters act for reasons of their own. Good characters have a good reason for acting as they do. Bad characters have a bad reason, but ALL characters MUST have a reason. That reason is called "motivation."

The term "tension," in fiction writing, has to do with the amount of stake the reader has in your characters.  The more the reader cares what happens to your protagonist, the more tension there is. Good motivation increases tension. Tension can be increased by inserting action that magnifies the danger to the main character, or that makes it look less likely the character will get what he or she wants. Any scene that makes it look like the main character is in danger of losing what he or she wants in the story will  increase tension.  Tension equals the "can't put it down" factor.

But you also need suspense.

To a fiction writer "suspense" isn’t just for mystery writers. Suspense means keeping readers guessing what will happen next and that is a necessary element for every story. 

The term suspense, denotes how involved the reader is in your plot.  If he or she already knows what is going to happen next, or doesn't care what will happen, there isn't any suspense (critics call it "predictable"), and little reason to continue reading. 

Readers begin to feel “tired” when you tell them something they already know. 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 plot twists. Remember, keep the readers guessing.

Don’t tell them everything at once. Feed them little bits of information in dribs and drabs, to keep them guessing what will happen next. You have to know everything, of course, but you don’t have to tell your reader everything at once. 

A good place to put that information is in your "end of scene hooks," where you would ordinarily plant a question in the reader’s mind about what will happen next or what secrets from the past the character is concealing.

Having defined both terms let me give you an exaggerated example:

Your detective, Sam Shovel, a hard-drinking, insensitive, bigoted lout, is being held at gunpoint by an equally nefarious antagonist. Whether he gets shot or not is suspense – a plot turning point. 

Whatever happens, SOMEthing will be different afterwards. 

Whether the reader cares if Sam gets shot? That's tension.... 

Since Sam is such a louse, we may NOT care at all. Now suppose Sam is working for Tess Trueheart, and (for an exorbitant fee – which is Sam’s motivation) is trying to find evidence that will prove her innocent of killing the man who sold her an unsafe used car, raped her sister, and kicked her dog. Tess is a teacher in a school for the blind, takes care of her invalid mother, and helps little old ladies across the street. 

If Sam is shot, Tess will be found guilty for we care now whether Sam gets killed?  Do you see how motivation affects tension? Tess (a good character) is in danger of losing her freedom, perhaps even her life. The reader will care about Tess, even if Sam is a louse. 

Now the example is exaggerated. No “real” character will be as big a louse as Sam. 

No real woman will be as pure as Tess. 

This holds true, whether you write genre fiction or deathless Literature with a capital L. Even “realistic” characters must have a reason for what they do.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Agent Night's Chile -- recipe

(also Gluten-Free)
This recipe is a delicate balance of sweet and spicy.  If you want spicier flavor, add chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin and red pepper.  This chili is great for freezing in individual serving containers and then heating in the microwave for a nice hot lunch!
  • 1.5 pounds of 93% lean Ground Beef (sometimes I substitute 50% with ground turkey)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped finely or nearly pureed in the food processor
  • 16 oz Cream of Tomato Soup (please see below for gluten-free options)**
  • 28 oz Delmonte Chunky Diced Zesty Chili Style tomatoes or equivalent
  • 1 large can of kidney beans (2.5 pounds)
  • Chopped fresh parsley as desired
  • 1+ tbsp Worcestershire sauce to taste (Lea & Perrins is gluten-free)
  • Shredded Cheddar Cheese for garnish (optional)
NOTE:  There are two ways to prepare this – standard stove top or crock pot.  I prefer crock pot because it is maintenance-free.  Instructions for both are provided.
Brown beef in large pot, drain.  Add remaining ingredients, cook on medium low until it starts to steam and bubble, then simmer for one hour.  I usually let it cool, then put it in the fridge overnight to let the flavors mingle.  The next day I heat it up and serve.

Brown beef in large skillet, drain.  Add beef and remaining ingredients to crock pot, cook on low for up to 10 hours. 
Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and serve!
Serves 6-8 people.
Preparation time:  10 minutes
Cooking Time:  Stove Top – 1-2 hours; Crock Pot – 8 hours.

**I can recommend the following gluten-free soups: 
Pacific Natural Foods Organic Creamy Tomato (available in stores)
Heinz UK Cream of Tomato Soup (can be purchased online in the U.S. through the Gluten-Free Trading Company)
© K. S. Brooks 2009

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How did the chicken lay the egg?

Notice that the body was LYING on the ground!

Question:  I'm told I constantly mix up Lay and Lie. Is there an easy way to remember which one to use?

Answer:  Be careful of “Lay” and “Lie”usage.  It's easy to get them wrong as sometimes lay is a verb, sometimes a noun.... Gotta think what you're saying.

Lie is a verb, with tenses lie, lay, lain. I will lie down, I did lay down. I have lain down, and the past participle is was lying, as shown above. Never was laying.

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

Lay, another verb, has the tenses lay, laid, and has laid. Lay is interchangeable with lie, only if used as an adjective (the lay of the land), but it’s use as a verb means to put or set down.

For example you can “set the table” or “lay the table.”  Webster’s Ninth does not list “layed” and I don’t believe it is a real word, though I have seen it in print. I believe the correct word there is "laid" however amusing that may be to some people.

Lay can also mean that something is produced, as when a hen lays an egg. But she laid the egg, or she had laid the egg, if you get into past and past perfect tenses of “lay” when the chicken and egg kind of lay is used. One joking way to remember is, “People sit, but objects get set. Objects lay, people get laid. ”

Monday, September 10, 2012

Connie Foster's Lobster Salad -- recipe

A Great Fall Read

Connie Foster’s Lobster Salad With Basil And Lemon Vinaigrette

2     live lobsters -- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pound
1/2     pint red cherry tomatoes -- halved
1/2     cup fresh corn -- removed from cob
1/2     cup celery -- sliced diagonally
1     tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves
1     tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
3    tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3     cup hazelnut oil
    garnish: 4 lemon wedges

In a large stock pot of boiling salted water, plunge the live lobsters and boil them, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the lobsters with tongs to a cutting board and let cool until they can be handled. Break off the claws at the body, crack them, and remove the meat, cutting it into 3/4 inch pieces. Halve the lobsters lengthwise along the underside, remove the meat from the tails, and cut it into 3/4 inch pieces. In a large bowl combine the claw meat and the tail meat. Break off the legs carefully at the body, reserving them for another use, remove the meat from the body cavities near the leg joints, and add it to the bowl.

Add the halved cherry tomatoes, corn, and celery to the lobster meat. Toss in the basil and lemon zest and stir to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the hazelnut oil and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the lobster mixture and toss to coat it well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Yield: 2 serving

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Catching UP!

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

Final Victim by Ann Nolder Heinz

The Comfort of the Shepherd, by Barbara Garro

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

Go Tell Aunt Rhody, by Thornton Parsons

World Without End, by Nancy Madison

Work Began or Continued on the Following:

STAR-WOLF, by Warren Graffeo


WILT THOU BE MINE, by Ann Nolder Heinz

HANNAH'S GHOST, by Robert Kanehl

STAR WOLF, by Warren Graffeo

If anyone here knows Warren Graffeo or is in contact with him, PLEASE ask him to contact me at:

The college e-mail we have for him is not working, another college is listed on his Facebook page, but despite repeated requests, he will not befriend us or give anyone access to his new e-mail. Both his books  are stalled and we cannot proceed with either of them until we hear from him.

Fictionwise Best Sellers Go to the Home Page

Best Sellers for
Based on data gathered within the last 20 days.    Icon explanations
1. Short [6138 words]Justice for Caleb by Edward Petty [Gay Fiction/Mystery/Crime]
2. Short [11544 words]A Country Christmas by Louisa May Alcott [Classic Literature]
3. Very Long [185349 words]Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte [Classic Literature/Romance]
4. Long [103994 words]Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey [Historical Fiction/Classic Literature]
5. Long [87712 words]Final Victim [Book 2 Fox River Valley Series] by Ann Nolder Heinz [Mystery/Crime/Suspense/Thriller]
6. Long [82178 words]Memoirs of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs [People]
7. Long [78763 words]Web of Fear by Marie Prato [Suspense/Thriller]
8. Long [71385 words]Bodily Harm by Arlene Stadd [Suspense/Thriller]
9. Short [21781 words]Timequake by Patricia Uletilovic [Children's Fiction]
10. Short [23693 words]Merlin's Return by Patricia Uletilovic [Young Adult]

(Any titles you already own will not be added.)
Highest Rated for
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 [121796 words]Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen [Classic Literature]
3. Long [61049 words]Minder's Oath [High Places Series: Book 2] by Nina M. Osier [Science Fiction/Mainstream]
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]

(Any titles you already own will not be added.)