Much like the Not Ready for Primetime Players, there is a group of amazingly talented authors on the cusp of stardom. They gather here at the Not so Famous Author's Blog to tell you all about writing and smashing your head on a desk. No just the writing part. .

Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Spotlight for the Playing Darlene Blog Tour!!


Playing Darlene: The True Double Life of a Public School Teacher & Professional Dominatrix

by Darlene

Published August 31, 2012 by Chances Press, LLC

Erotic Memoir/Tell All

Available at:




 

Blurb:

In this eye-opening true story, one woman recounts the double life she led working in two very different professions…one revered and the other reviled. Darlene spent over twenty years being thought of as a well-mannered teacher in a Southern California public school district, but her colleagues and students would have never imagined that for eighteen of those years she also worked as a professional dominatrix in a dungeon.

 

“Playing Darlene” lets the reader take a peek into the mysterious lives of professionals in the sex industry and some of the jaw-dropping encounters she had with the thousands of clients whose fantasies she helped come true. With everything from roleplaying a shopaholic wife being spanked by her husband to wrapping up a muscular cross-dressing client in plastic and watching him wiggle, Darlene helped men realize their most secret desires…while she wasn’t grading school papers on her breaks.

 

Darlene's true stories of balancing her two different personas are frequently shocking, at times hilarious, and occasionally touching, but at the heart of the story is a woman on a personal journey not only to reconcile with her past, but also to discover the full potential of her own sexuality.

 

Excerpt:

Since I believe that there are no accidents in life, it’s not surprising that one day I happened to notice among the newspaper racks a paper that had scantily-clad young lady on the front page. Of course I took one to see what was inside it. It was full of ads for private dancing, massage, bachelor parties, escorts, lingerie shows, fantasies, fetishes, and things I’d never heard of. I wanted to somehow get involved in something, but I had no idea where to start. And these things were totally beyond anything I’d done in the past. I mean I had studied ballet and ballroom dancing, and acted in legitimate theater. Were the activities in this newspaper even legal? I couldn't risk getting arrested and losing my teaching credential.

 

I finally called a place of business that offered private, nude dancing. When I got there I saw it was a real business, not someone’s house. It had been there for many years, which proved to me that whatever was going on in there was legal and, therefore, safe for me to do. I was nervous all right, but curiosity won out. I went in and saw a handful of young ladies lounging around in various states of undress. I asked the slimy (too much grease in his hair, rumpled clothing, and he badly needed a bath) guy behind the desk what I had to know how to do in order to work there. He looked at me as if I were crazy. I still looked like a soccer mom. He said something like, “This isn't the place for you.” He was right. I don't know how to describe the “type” the girls were, but I wasn't it.

 

But I wanted very much to be that type. To play that type. I told the guy I was a dancer, looked great when dressed/undressed the way the girls were, and really wanted to try it. He sort of rolled his eyes, but finally told me to come in at noon the next day.

 

I showed up with my “costume” in a bag: a lacy bra, g-string, hot pants, and spike heels. I got dressed and positioned myself on one of the sofas in the lounge. When Mr. Slime saw me, I could tell from the look on his face that he was thinking this may work out after all.

 

He then explained the way things worked. Some guy would just walk in off the street, look around at the girls, and choose me. I was to take him to one of the rooms and pull the curtain across the doorway. (There were no doors). I could dance around and take off some or all of my clothes, but I wasn’t allowed to touch him. He could touch himself, and there was a bottle of oil provided for this. The first time I was selected, I felt a twinge of panic. I was used to performing dances that had been choreographed and well-rehearsed. No one had ever taught me how to do a striptease on purpose. Where was I supposed to look? Should I gaze into his eyes and smile? Should I pretend he isn’t there? Or should I flat-out stare at his dick and wait for the explosion?

 

I worked there for a couple of months. I’d go in at noon, work/dance until five, change clothes, and teach my ESL class in the evening. I got a kick out of it. Now and then, one of my students would ask me something like, “Teacher, what did you do today?” They wouldn't have believed me if I had told them.

 

I didn’t make much money with this dancing thing. There wasn't that much business. Most of the time I was just sitting around the lounge reading a magazine or talking to one of the ladies. What I preferred, though, was listening to them. They discussed other aspects of the sex industry that I knew nothing about.

 

Then one fateful day -- someone mentioned slaves, whips, chains, and dungeons. That sounded like some kind of theater (oh, good--acting again), and I wanted to know more about it. I heard the word “Castle”, but that was it. The conversation was interrupted, and I didn’t know where it was.

 

I went home that night and went through the phone book. There must have been dozens of businesses starting with the word “Castle”. The Castle Liquor Store, The Castle Nursery School, and even The Castle Laundromat. I started calling. And calling. I was on a mission. “Is this the place with the whips and chains?” I'd say over and over again. “Sorry, lady, you've got the wrong number,” was the usual response.

 

This place had to be in the phone book.

 

And it was. Finally a guy on the other end of the phone said in a slow drawl, “Yeah, we got that.”

 

I went right over.

 

About the Author:

Darlene was born in Hollywood, California, and grew up in Pasadena, a quiet suburb near Los Angeles. She received a BA in German from California State University, Los Angeles. For several years she worked in television and film. Credits include General Hospital, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and the female lead in the film Monstrosity in which she played a spaced-out punk rocker. She even photo-doubled for Christian Bale in Empire of the Sun and Corey Feldman in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (when they were 14 and 12 respectively). For the past 20 years, she has been a public school teacher in Los Angeles County. She currently lives in the San Fernando Valley, where she can be found indulging in her favorite hobby, ballroom and country-western dancing. Her next book is scheduled to be released in early 2013. You may also email her at darlene@chancespress.com.

 

Darlene will be featured in an upcoming episode of Discovery Fit & Health's “Shocking Family Secrets.” The episode will air on Thursday, Dec. 27th at 10PM (9PM Central).


 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Networking is Vital

So, you have written a book and now the journey of getting people to read it begins. Well, if you are dreaming of the big contract and the six figure salary of the greats, get to networking.

The truth is there are a number of indie authors out there with great books just waiting to be discovered. The reason why you may or may not have heard of them is due to networking.

As an indie author the bulk of your advertising will fall on you. Even if you secure a contract with a publisher, there may be a clause in your document that states you will be responsible for 50%to 100% of the book's advertising. Is this this the company pulling a fast one. No, it's just a sign of the times. Writing the book is only half the battle, the remainder of the chore is getting your name out there and here are a few ideas:

Facebook:  Make you an author page outside of your regular Facebook page. Author pages can be used for advertising yourself and your work. Also Facebook provides a number of great groups that an author can use to gain attraction. Remember you want readers and support from your fellow authors so choose wisely. If your choice does not seem to work with you, then unjoin.

Twitter: Yes, build up those tweets. In fact join a group on Facebook that will retweet your links and build your audience. Of course you must retweet other author's work and that is the way it should be done. You can't take, take, take.

Google+: Another strong dimension for building up your audience is Google +. This site provides you with groups much like Facebook and you can attract a whole new audience.

Myspace: Same concept as Facebook

Chat Rooms: Take the time to chat with authors and readers. This helps in building your audience, getting your name out and learning the ropes.

Goodreads: This site is built up of authors and readers. This is a perfect site for posting your book, hosting giveaways and conversing about other author's work. This is very important in building your support.

With a host of new and upcoming social media sites, there is always an outlet to getting your name in the mainstream of the author's world. It won't happen overnight, but be persistent and keep going. You will attract good people and that is what you want on this journey.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Godzilla - Official Teaser Trailer [HD]


I still love the original movies the best (and I don't want to talk about that Roland Emmerich one), but this one has a bit of tension in the trailer. Could be fun. Plus, I saw Bryan Cranston in the trailer and that is always an easy sell for me....

First Time Jitters (Or, OMG, I Have to Actually Talk To Readers)

I recently signed up to do my first book signing. And if you know me, you will understand just how much this terrifies me. I am a painful introvert by nature, and the thought of actually having to interact with people who may or may not read my work is paralyzing. I....I can't even.
  
This is putting it mildly.

The powers that be (my writer friends) tell me that this is one of the best ways to reach new readers. And honestly, who doesn't want to do that? I don't have overinflated expectations, mind you. I'm not anticipating on bringing a cartload of books and selling out in minutes. Or at all. I hope to sell a couple of copies, sign a few, and smile and chat like any other normal person. You know, talk a little about my books and thank people in general for coming out to see us.
Perhaps a little less desperate. Okay, not really.
The problem is, I am terrible in these situations. TERRIBLE. While on paper, I am able to execute a modicum of eloquence, in person, I end up like a stuttering idiot. I am hoping to draw strength from my fellow attendees, betting on their confidence to boost my own. It really boils down to the fact that I have produced a product for sale, and now I have to market and promote it. I am not a famous author. I do not have a cabal of PR people and marketing geniuses orbiting around me for the sole purpose of getting my book in your hands. Nope. It's just me, people. Little, terrified, me.
Hello.  
Yep. I'll be sitting there, sharing a table with some lovely fellow writer (who's probably done this before and can whip out a smile and an autograph in heartbeat), with a few books and maybe some candy. I'll have on a slightly cringe-worthy smile, hoping that it desperately hides my awkwardness. More than likely, I will forget how to spell my own name. And so it goes.

In closing, on the off chance that you do make it out to see me and some other talented writers, I'm waving and thanking you now. It might take me a bit to get warmed up and crawl out from under my rock, but I'll get there eventually. And if my hand shakes a little when I sign, or I misspell my name, be gentle. There's a one in a million shot your book could be a collectible one day. Probably not. But it doesn't hurt to hope.
Maybe. Not likely, but maybe.
Tara S. Wood can be found lurking on the internet. Or in these fine establishments.
Amazon
 
Facebook 
Twitter 
Goodreads 
Moon Rose Publishing

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Characters All Around You

Hi there. I thought this time I would focus on finding characters when writing. There are so many different ways to develop characters. You can start with what you see in your eye and there is also outlining. As for me, I love monitoring the people around me. It is interesting what quirks you find in the everyday people that surround you. Little things such as personal ticks, tilts of the head and even a crooked smile, can bring your character to life and make them more attractive to your reader. No one is perfect, not even the super skinny super model. There is always something you can pull from nearby. Here are some that pull from.

1. Chain smoker - Oh my gosh, I worked with someone who smoked constantly and she had this thing like she would go out of her mind if she didn't get another drag. Then to top that off, she always had a large 32 oz insulated cup of coffee. She always kept it filled and drank on it all day. Loud perfume and a very loud personality to top it off and there ya go. 

2. The Bitch Diva - I use the term Bitch in a loving way. This lady is always on her game and will chew a man to pieces. Her clothes, hair and nails are always done and there is usually a smile on her face because someone else is picking up the check. Selfish, yes, but very much a lover of the church and is a true believer. She loves her family, but they tend to use her. But when it is time for her to wild out, she don't play.

3. You Can't Out Do Me - We all know someone like this. This person believes in what they say only. The one I know has a commanding presence as if they should be the center of attention. However, deep down there is a ton of insecurity and pain.

4. I'm the man - Pick anyone you know. This can be male or female. The one I am thinking of thought he hung the moon and stars and felt that just because he looked like a Backstreet Boy, he had it going on. By the way, he was about 5"6 which made him smurf like to me.

Anyway these are some of my favorites. Take your time and observe the folks around you and I guarantee you will find a plethora of characters to mame, fall in love with, hate, adore or kill in your next book.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Formatting Made Easy


Formatting a book, and the quality of that process, is critically important. As an editor and consultant, I know how expensive this process can be. With that in mind, I am always fond of giving seminars and advice to those in need, who perhaps do not have the money in their budget.

Grab this very simple walkthrough on how to format your novel for print, make a very simple book cover, and then how to set up a CreateSpace account. 

All of this for only a $1!


Click on the link following checkout to have access to the guide. Do not close out your checkout until you make sure you have the link! 

Let me know if you need anything by contacting me at amalgamconsulting@gmail.com




Tuesday, December 3, 2013

They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab, But I Plotted This Story Instead...

After a vigorous plotting session, one of my writer friends posted this as her Facebook status: "Brainstorming with Tara is like going to rehab."

Like this one, only with more wine and shenanigans.
Naturally, I was pleased as punch. It's not often that one is compared to rehab, but I took it like the compliment it was. When it comes to brainstorming and/or the pesky business that is plotting, I generally have an easier time helping out someone else than in coming up with stuff for my own stories. It's hard, and I overthink.
And then this happens.
I am a co-dependent plotter. I need someone else to make the ideas flow and make sense. For a while, I felt bad about this. I felt almost unoriginal in a way. But, it's not the big picture that I need help with; it's the getting from point A to point B to make the big picture come into focus. This is where I second guess myself. This is where outside input can be a great resource. Especially when my brain stops working.
This is where the wine comes in. With more wine.
I have a small group of writers (and one or two avid readers and all-around smart people) with whom I can call on at any moment for that little bit of plot help when I'm in a bind. I know for a fact that I get too wrapped up in what I know should happen in the story to actually make it happen. It's like tripping over your own feet. I'm getting in my own way. And sometimes it takes the different perspective of an outsider to help you stay on track and keep the story moving in a positive direction. I love these moments. I love helping other writers talk out their story issues.
What I feel when I help out a friend. True story, yo.
If you have writer peeps or reader peeps who help you out, feel blessed. So many times in this business we make so many acquaintances and colleagues that true friends are few and far between. I'm lucky to have an ever-expanding circle of awesomeness. And if they want to compare my brain to a trip to rehab, then I can't complain.
Not bothered in the least.
Tara S. Wood can be found lurking on the internet. Or in these fine establishments.
Amazon
 
Facebook 
Twitter 
Goodreads 
Moon Rose Publishing

Q and A with Waking Up Dead Author - Margo Bond Collins!

The Interview!

Tell us the story behind that cover!
The cover was designed by Kelly Abell of Select-O-Grafix. I love the way the shadowy figure on it fades out to nothing at the bottom!

What can we learn from your main character?
When I was working on Waking Up Dead, someone asked me why I would want to limit my protagonist by making her a ghost, unable to easily interact with the world around her.
I didn’t have a good answer then, but I’ve thought about it a lot since.
And here’s the deal: I love writing about Callie and her limitations. Because ultimately, that’s what many books are about, right? The limitations we face when interacting with the world around us. Callie’s limitations are just more immediate and obvious. She has to really work to have an impact on the world, and that’s something we can all sympathize with. Who hasn’t had days when getting anything done felt like swimming through peanut butter? When, try as we might, we can’t seem to communicate with the people surrounding us. When our attempts to move people or things fall flat and we have to start working on new ways to try to be seen and heard.
For Callie, these obstacles are instantly recognizable, but her attempts to make connections echo the attempts in our own lives. So why would I want to limit my protagonist by making her a ghost? Because sometimes, we’re all ghosts. But if we keep at it, we can overcome that little problem.

What has been your greatest compliment as an author, your worst criticism?
The single greatest compliment is always “when is the next book coming out?” The second greatest compliment is writing a review—it doesn’t matter whether the review is positive or negative; the fact that someone took the time to read the book and write the review is always amazing to me!
And I don’t mind criticism, so I don’t think of it as “worst.” I generally first try to see if there’s any merit to the criticism (I’ve gotten some great comments that have already improved my fiction writing!) and then, if I disagree with the criticism, I simply assume that this book (or my writing style) isn’t right for that reader.

What part of the story was the hardest to write, the beginning, the middle, the climax?
I think probably the middle. The beginning was relatively easy, as it set up the character and her dilemma, and once I’d figured out where the novel was going, the end was pretty clear. But getting my characters from point A to point B in a way that makes sense and makes for a good story is always the hardest for me!

Is your main character based on anyone in particular? Did you have a muse for this book?
My main character isn’t; she just showed up full-blown in my head one day (though there’s always a little of me in all my characters). But the character of Maw-Maw (a reader favorite) is actually largely based on a combination of my own grandmother and great-grandmother--the only real difference is that they were white and from Texas rather than black and from Alabama. Otherwise, she talks like them and acts like them. It's my great-grandmother's voice I hear in my head when I write her dialogue, my grandmother's movements I see when I picture her walking around. Physically, I imagine her looking a bit like Ruby Dee in the television movie version of The Stand. But her attitude? That's straight from my own family! I loved writing Maw-Maw. Every time she opened her mouth, she delighted (and sometimes surprised) me.


Fast Round

Names of your pets: Roscoe, Mickey, and Bastet. (Bastet was named after that famous Egyptian cat statue—all black and sleek—because when she was a kitten I thought that’s what she would grow up to be. Instead, she looks like a huge ball of greyed-out black dryer lint. That’s what I get for giving her a pretentious name.)

Favorite ice cream, color, book, and television show
Ice cream: Vanilla.
Color: Pink.
Book: Unfair question! Too many to list. I have a Ph.D. in eighteenth-century British literature and also read fantasy, science fiction, and romance. So a little of everything!
Television Show: Only slightly less unfair. This week, I discovered (late to the party) Big Bang Theory. I’ve been watching it obsessively. I went to graduate school with those people . . . and may have sometimes been one of them. . . . Usually, though, I watch supernatural dramas like Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, The Walking Dead.
Fame or Fortune: Fortune.
Grapes or Raisins: Grapes.

Zombies, Vampires, or neither: Both! I write about vampires in my upcoming release Legally Undead, but I’ve been preparing for the inevitable zombie apocalypse for years!

The Book!





When Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex. Now she's witnessed another murder, and she's not about to let this one go. She's determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison. And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up in Alabama?


 Excerpt
As Molly straightened up, the man slipped the wire over her head and twisted it around her neck. She struggled, but he pulled the garrote tighter and tighter.
I was screaming at the top of my ghostly voice, for all the good it did me. I moved up behind the man and beat at his back with closed fists--fists that slipped in and out of his back without ever making real contact. He shuddered a little--clearly he was one of the very slightly sensitive ones--but he didn’t loosen his hands.
I reached up and tried to grab the wire, tried to pull against the pressure he was exerting on the wire and it did loosen for an instant. But only for an instant. The living have more control over solid objects than the dead do. I never resented that fact more than at that moment.
But I kept trying. I kept trying as Molly’s face turned purple, then blue, then black, kept trying even as she drooped in the man’s grip.
Then he loosened the wire and it was too late. I watched that wispy, light-on-fog life force slip out of Molly and move on to wherever it is that other people go when they die. I was glad she didn’t show up next to me as a full-blown ghost. At that moment, I wouldn’t have wished my impotent half-existence on anyone.
I couldn’t help thinking that if I’d been alive, I might have been able to save her.
If I could have cried real tears, I would have. As it was, I was sobbing hoarsely and calling the man every dirty name I could think of.
I was still cursing as I followed him around the kitchen. First he opened the pantry and pulled out a box of Hefty garbage bags. Then he grabbed a knife out of the block on the counter. And finally, he picked up Molly’s body and carried it to the bathroom.


Author’s Bio: Margo Bond Collins lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, several spoiled cats, and a ridiculous turtle. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters. Waking Up Dead is her first published novel. Her second novel, Legally Undead, is an urban fantasy, forthcoming in 2014 from World Weaver Press.

Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MargoBondCollin  @MargoBondCollin
Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/vampirarchy

Be sure to add Waking Up Dead to your Goodreads bookshelves: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18428064-waking-up-dead

Book Trailers:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Spotlight on Only Love Survives

 
SPOTLIGHT ON ONLY LOVE SURVIVES

ONLY LOVE SURVIVES RENEE CHARLES

Amidst an epidemic ravaging the world, all Megan Fletcher's hopes for the future lie in getting to Las Vegas where newscasts reported scientists were gathering to search for a cure for the modern plague. After rescuing her from a rooftop surrounded by Zombies, Sam Woods appoints himself her escort. While he knows she is determined to get to Vegas no matter the cost, he doesn't know her secret. And with his hatred of all things Zombie, she doesn’t dare tell him the truth. The more he kisses her, the harder it is for Megan to hide her growing feelings…and the bite-shaped scar.

But Vegas is not the haven it was promised to be, and when Megan’s immunity to the disease is discovered, she realizes her future and her heart belong to Sam, if he will trust her. An idealistic school teacher and ex-corporate mogul manage to find love despite a looming worldwide catastrophe. Can their love survive while everything around them is dying? Will they learn that when facing the end of the world, Only Love Survives?

Available now!

EXCERPT: A storm that spelled danger flashed across Sam’s face. He advanced on Megan so fast, she backed up against the side of the Suburban. Planting a hand firmly on each side of her, he pinned her with his arms as well as his gaze.

“What I want? Are you so hard headed you can’t tell what I want?” He covered her mouth with his lips and crushed her clever comeback with an assault on her senses.

Megan pushed him, but he didn’t budge. Instead, he continued to kiss her until her heart raced and cheeks flushed with need. All resistance melted and she succumbed to the warmth of his embrace. Her arms wound around his neck of their own accord pulling him closer while her tongue sought his in a passionate dance, completely ignoring what her heart wanted.

When he finally broke away leaving Megan breathless and wanting so much more, Sam put his forehead to hers and watched her mouth like a drunk watches amber liquid poured into a glass. “You,” he rasped. “I’ve wanted you since I found you hanging from that damn roof, and all our little encounter in the river did was add fuel to the fire.”

Bio: Author, Renee Charles believes all love is legendary. Being the only female in a house full of giants (husband and two teenage boys) she tends to lean toward the strange and unusual, but inevitably the softer side shines through.

Whether life leads her to a snow covered mountain top, sun dappled forest, or the bottom of a ravine (yes, ditches happen) she always has a pen and note pad ready so wherever the next adventure takes her, she can take notes.

Her own romance began in an insane asylum. Luckily, both she and her husband only worked there. But it makes sense her romance novels have strange beginnings that lead to passionate endings. Romance with a dark twist.

In the face of zombies, werewolves, and big foot she always seems to find a happily ever after to leave you with a sigh at the end.

Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/ReneeCharlesAuthor

Website link: http://www.reneecharles.net/

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Renee-Charles/e/B009Z0MYCI/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

 

THE GIVEAWAY!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Online Presence Mentors


Modeling Your Online Presence


You might be wondering why I chose these two celebrities. There are a plethora of reasons, but the most important aspect is how they interact with fans. Anne Rice might be best known for her vampire novels, but she handles herself wonderfully on Facebook. She is courteous, posts about personal things and substantive issues in publishing, and she responds to fans despite the fact that she is a world-renowned novelist.

George Takei might have the funniest posts on Facebook and he is simply a wonderful human being. Again, he is personal, courteous, and responds to fans despite his notoriety and busy schedule. I am slightly partial to both of them because they both took the time out of their days to respond to me: Anne Rice responded to one of my emails and George Takei replied to a message on Facebook. Needless to say, as a fan, it was the highlight of my day. As a writer, I took notice of their commitment to their fan base.

If you can’t take the time to post about the process, interesting tidbits you have found around the web, and things that your fans might be interested in reading (ask them if you don’t know what to post), then you might want to rethink being on social media in the first place.

The take-home message is simple: interact.

Don’t react and auto-post. Be a real person as often as you can be. The best way to sell books is to connect to the people who you want to read your book. The greatest way to do this is to interact with them early and often.  


Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Importance of Self-Editing


A Primer On Self-Editing


The importance of self-editing cannot be understated. This should not replace seeking out a professional to make sure your work is the best possible version before you release it to the public. If your goal is to submit to trade journals, magazines, or any other kind of serial publication, then you will want to take the time to polish your work––and self-editing is a good way to help get it ready.

The process of self-editing is not as difficult as it seems. While you are far too close to your work to accurately assess persistent and intrinsic errors, you are more than likely capable of catching simple things that can make an editor’s job that much easier.

I thought it might be useful to offer some very common errors that can be corrected before you begin shopping your book, or decide to send it off to an editor with the intention of publishing it yourself. As we move thorough this section, we will look at the correct usage of commonly misused words––as well as examine some other simple grammatical solutions. The goal of professional writing is to be clear and succinct, terse and pithy. Here are some simple things to remember:

  • Less is more.
  • If you are unsure of how to use a word, then do not use it.
  • If you are uncertain whether or not to use a comma, then do not use it.
  • Grammar conventions can be tricky. Use what you know.

Here is a list of some words that we have all tripped over. Fixing these types of errors in your writing can often mean the difference between going into the trash and getting a second look:

  • Advice/advise
    • The difference between the two words is whether you are using it as a noun or a verb.
      • A fellow Cylon asked for my advice about how to find the Galactica. (noun)
      • I will advise Gaius Baltar on the best way to deal with experiencing hallucinations. (verb)
  • Allusion/illusion
    • Both of these words are nouns, but differ in terms of context.
      • Your allusion that I might be a Cylon is incorrect.
      • The illusion that Cylons can be defeated is quite false.
  • Cite/site/sight
    • The difference here is whether it is being used as a noun or a verb.
      • I cited many prestigious researchers in my thesis. (verb)
      • Room 211 is the site of my thesis defense. (noun)
      • It was quite a sight to see how happy I was to have received my Master’s degree. (noun)
  • Conscience/conscious
    • One is a noun and one is an adjective
      • It was a conscious choice to join the Empire. (adjective)
      • My conscience would not allow me to abandon my post despite an alien invasion. (noun)
  • Council/counsel
    • Both of these words can be used as nouns, but only one can be used as a verb.
      • The council was tasked with deciding whether or not to attack the rebel base. (noun)
      • I gave counsel to a good friend. (noun)
      • I counseled a friend about how to cope with the knowledge that she is a Cylon. (verb)
  • Data/datum
    • The difference is one is plural and one is singular.
      • The data in the scouting report was compelling.
      • A single piece of datum made the attack on the Galactica a failure.
  • Elicit/illicit
    • One is a verb and the other is an adjective.
      • During interrogations, the lieutenant asked open-ended questions to elicit an emotional response. (verb)
      • Cheating on an exam or plagiarizing someone else’s work is considered an illicit activity by the university. (adjective)
  • Lay/lie
    • Both can be used as verbs, but only one can be used as a noun
      • I lay my keys down on the table when I get home from the office. (verb)
      • I lie on my couch when I watch football on Sundays. (verb)
      • I told a terrible lie when I said this class does not count toward your GPA. (noun)
  • Personal/personnel
    • The difference is whether or not is used as an adjective or a noun.
      • I do not talk about my personal life in professional situations. (adjective)
      • I do not have the personnel necessary to attack Romulus. (noun)
  • Precede/proceed
    • Both can be used as a verb, but only one of them can be used as a noun.
      • Kirk precedes Picard in the Star Trek universe. (verb)
      • The Cylons proceeded to decimate the planet to demonstrate their superiority. (verb)
      • All of the proceeds from the event went to charity. (noun)
  • Principal/principle
    • Both can be used as nouns, but only one can be used as an adjective.
      • The principal on the project was Ms. Jane. (noun)
      • The principal advantage of jogging is being able to outrun zombies. (adjective)
      • The most important principle of writing is to write. (noun)
  • Respectfully/respectively
    • Both of the words are adverbs.
      • Respectfully, I must disagree.
      • I find you and John to be fun and irritating, respectively.

That was pretty cut and dry, as it should be. The lesson is pretty obvious: Paying careful attention to word usage can be the difference between a profound series of events and a reader becoming confused and disinterested with the story you are trying to tell. Let’s talk about subject-verb agreement next:

  • Add an s to the verb if the subject is a singular noun (a word that names a person, place, or thing).
    • A well-conceived idea becomes a book.
    • Becoming a competent writer takes time and practice.
  • Add an s to the verb if the subject is any one of the third-person singular pronouns: he, she, it, this, that.
    • This book makes some very good points.
  • Do not add an s to the verb if the subject is the pronoun I, you, we, or they.
    • I work seventy hours a week.
  • Do not add an s to the verb if two subjects are joined by an and.
    • Mary and Brian both write well.
    • Japan and Germany both pay less per student than the US.
  • Everybody is singular and uses a singular verb (as do anybody, no one, somebody, nobody, each, and neither).
    • No one fails this class.
    • Everybody passes this class.
    • Each of the previous sentences is an example of subject-verb agreement.
Again, it is not important that you have a degree in English Literature to be a competent writer. What matters is the determination to be the very best at your craft, and to make the highest quality product possible.

How about the difference between active and passive voice? Do you think you have a strong grasp? Going through your work and reducing the number of times you use the word was can be a very useful and productive exercise. A little trick I like to use when determining whether or not a sentence is written in passive voice is to add the phrase by zombies at the end of the sentence. If you can read the sentence intelligibly with by zombies, then I have bad news for you. Here is a brief overview:

  • Active voice is subject-object-verb.
    • This sentence structure gives credit to who performs the action.
    • Indicates clear and vigorous writing
      • I walked to the store.
      • I studied for the exam.
      • She aced the test.
      • We watched the Super Bowl.
  • Passive voice is generally receiver-verb-performer.
    • This emphasizes the receiver of the action and not the subject performing the action.
    • Adds confusion in professional writing
      • The zoo was visited by zombies.
      • The exam was postponed by the professor.
      • The plane was flown by a pilot.

If this feels like a lot of information, don’t stress out. We are not in a classroom, so you can revisit these ideas and examples to your heart’s content.

An editor will pour over your manuscript and look for similar issues; the more basic errors you can eliminate, the more substantive errors your editor can catch. Do you remember diagramming sentences in elementary school? I don’t know about you, but I loved doing that. I can still see the sentence broken apart on the chalk board with little branches going this way and that. With that in mind, let’s dissect a sentence:

  • Subject
    • This is the part of the sentence about which is being written.
  • Predicate
    • This is what we say about the subject of the sentence. The main word in the predicate is the verb.
  • Phrase
    • It is a sentence fragment that would not exist as a sentence by itself.
  • Clause
    • An independent clause is part of a larger sentence that could stand on its own as a complete sentence. A subordinate clause cannot stand on its own as a sentence because the clause begins with a qualifier, such as because or when.
  • Object
    • This is the part of the sentence that receives the action of the verb.

You might be wondering why I am bothering with the language lesson. There are a variety of personal and practical reasons, but I think it is the pragmatic reasons that are of the most use. When speaking with your editor, fellow authors, or a stranger, it is important to understand not only that something is incorrect, but what it is precisely that went wrong. Let’s tackle one more remedial topic before we finish up some more mistakes to avoid: parts of speech.

  • Noun
    • People, places, things, events, or ideas
    • Typically the subject or object of a sentence
    • Proper nouns start with a capital letter
  • Pronoun
    • Replaces a noun to avoid repetition
    • Singular and plural
    • Rules differ depending on whether the pronoun is being used as a…
    • Subject
      • She, he, they, who
    • Object
      • Her, him, them, whom
  • Adjective
    • Describes or qualifies a noun or pronoun
    • Can be found before a noun
    • Attributive adjective
      • The well-known researcher published another paper.
    • Or after a verb that follows a noun being described
    • Predicative adjective
      • The exam is difficult.
  • Article
    • Special adjectives called demonstrative adjectives
    • Definite article
      • Points out something specific or already introduced
    • Indefinite article
      • Introduces something unspecific or something mentioned for the first time
  • Verb
    • Typically describes the action within a sentence
    • Many different kinds of verbs
    • Change forms depending on…
      • Subject (singular or plural)
      • Tense
      • Voice (active or passive)
      • Verb form (regular or irregular)
  • Adverb
    • Used to modify or qualify a verb, an adjective, another adverb, or clause
      • Participants completed the survey quickly.
      • Study 1 successfully demonstrated the phi phenomenon; moreover, Study 1 replicated previous research.
    • Moreover is an example of a conjunctive adverb; if a clause begins with a conjunctive adverb, it is preceded by a semi-colon.
  • Preposition
    • Combine with nouns or pronouns to provide connections between two words or clauses
    • Examples:
      • About
      • Among
      • Around
      • At
  • Conjunction
    • Used to join words, phrases, or clauses
    • Coordinate conjunctions
      • And, but, for, or, nor, so, yet
    • Subordinate conjunctions
      • That, as, after, before, if, since, when, where, unless
  • Interjection
    • Words, phrases, or sentences that express emotion; often, interjections end with an exclamation point or a question mark.

Let’s round out this section with some more common mistakes to avoid:

  • Your/You’re
    • One is a contraction and one is a possessive pronoun.
      • You’re going to be happy when you finish reading this book. (contraction)
      • Your lack of enthusiasm is killing me. (possessive pronoun)
  • i.e./e.g.
    • Should only be used in a parenthetical phrase and will always be followed by a comma.
      • Id est––“that is”
      • Exempli Gratia––“for example” or “such as”
  • That/Which
    • That is used as restrictive clause (introduces important information).
    • not normally preceded by a comma
    • Which is generally used as a nonrestrictive clause (introduces superfluous information).
      • A sentence that appropriately uses a restrictive clause is one that uses the word “that.”
      • This sentence uses a nonrestrictive clause correctly, which is to say I used the word “which.”
  • Could of, Would of/Could have, Would have
    • One of these exists in the English language, one does not.
      • I could have used a different example, but I did not.
      • I would have used a different example, but I could not think of one.
  • No comma after an introductory element
    • Incorrect
      • Well it wasn’t really true.
    • Correct
      • Well, it wasn’t really true.
  • No comma in a compound sentence
    • Incorrect
      • I like to eat but I hate to gain weight.
    • Correct
      • I like to eat, but I hate to gain weight.
  • Missing comma(s) with a nonrestrictive element
    • Incorrect
      • The writers who had unsuccessfully concealed their participation in the prank were reprimanded.
    • Correct
      • The writers, who had unsuccessfully concealed their participation in the prank, were reprimanded.
  • Comma Splice
    • Incorrect
      • Mary liked the cat, however, she was allergic to it.
    • Correct
      • Mary liked the cat; however, she was allergic to it.
  • Unnecessary shift in pronoun
    • Incorrect
      • When one is tired, you should sleep.
    • Correct
      • When you are tired, you should sleep.
  • Missing a comma in a series
    • Incorrect
      • Students eat, sleep and do homework.
    • Correct
      • Students eat, sleep, and do homework.
  • Lack of agreement between pronoun and antecedent
    • Incorrect
      • When someone plagiarizes from material on a website, they are likely to get caught.
    • Correct
      • When you plagiarize from material on a website, you are likely to get caught.
  • Run-on or fused sentence
    • Incorrect
      • He loved the movie he even loved the trailers.
    • Correct
      • He loved the movie; he even loved the trailers.

Hopefully, these tips and tricks will help you make your drafts more readable to editors. Another great way to hone your manuscript is utilizing beta readers, which you can use at any stage of the process. A beta reader is a wonderful person who takes time out of his or her day to read your unpublished manuscript and offer feedback. If you can find people who are willing to be beta readers for your book, then consider yourself fortunate indeed. Once your book is published, I would suggest making sure you have a few sets of eyes look over your work before publishing or submitting. If you are putting together your own book for publication, then the following sections will be very useful to you. On the other hand, if you are planning on submitting to trade publications or a magazine, then the minutia of formatting a document, creating a cover, and a brief explanation of professional services might be less useful to you.



Friday, November 8, 2013

You're an Indie, Now Let's Get to Work

So, you have penned the great novel, short story or novella and now you wonder what comes next. With social media at your fingertips, it is easier to self publish and gain some form of payment for your work. However, there are many steps to becoming published and many ways to fowl up if you don't follow them properly.

1.  Editing - Friends and family are ok, but a good quality editor will go a long way. The technical aspects of writing can be very tricky and these waters must be sailed by a knowledgeable editor. This person can not only catch your faux pas, they can help you learn what is acceptable in the writing field. In addition, hiring an editor shows that you are serious about your writing and what you produce for the reader.

2.  Book Covers - Another important aspect of writing is the book cover. Finding a graphic artists that is experienced in creating, formatting and preparing your cover is the next big step. Remember, the cover is the first introduction to your book and it needs to attract the reader long before your words are read. Good cover artists can charge as little as $65 and increase exponentially based on their experience and their product. Keeping this in mind, shop around.

3.  Publishers - Thanks to the birth of self publishing, indies have a variety of publishers from which to choose. And yes, you can submit to traditional publishers as well. In both cases, you will need to research what is required in order to submit and what genres they prefer. Also, research and study the publishing company of your choice. Find out their history, review their BBB report, make sure you are not falling for a scam.

4.  Contract- Read the lines carefully, make sure you understand what is expected of you and you are expecting from the publisher. It is always good to have another pair of eyes on these documents. Lawyers, other authors, whomever you trust, take your time and review the print.

5.  Work It!!- As an indie, landing the contract is 50%. The other 50% is marketing and in the indie world that means a lot of social media, book signings, radio promos, advertising in newspaper and whatever it takes. Now for your next question, yes you are doing this yourself. In the indie world, there are no big budgets for marketing or promotions. In most cases, the indie publisher works with various bloggers to promote the author and their work. Get ready to put in some serious time to make the dream a reality.

6.  Write, write, write - enough said

Friday, October 18, 2013

Read and Recharge

This post will be my ode to KISS,  Keep It Simple Stupid.  Of course when I say stupid, I mean me.  I was in a bit of a dry spell. No fresh ideas, no willingness to peck away at anything, just a whole lotta nothing. So, I  decided to take some time and take a break. I had been busy with work, school, family and life so that was not helping my situation either. One afternoon, I came home took a relaxing shower, fixed a quick dinner and picked up a book. I have read here and there and completed some interesting tales, but I needed to recharge and this book did it. The title is Hell Whore and it is an anthology that is the brain child of Nathan Rowark. What intrigued me was that I realized that I had not really crossed some boundaries in my writing. After reading this book, I knew I had to stretch more. There have always been topics for me that I consider off limits. Some things, in my opinion, go too far. Then I realized that if I am going to write a great story, that I need to push myself, not to cross certain boundaries, but to open myself up to other creepy, exciting and even funny avenues. I laughed and was so grossed out that I surprised myself. The writers had no boundaries, which in some cases, shocked me to no end. However, I realized that I needed that shock and immediately started working on a new short story piece and have at least two more ideas brewing in my cauldron.

Taking the time out to read, laugh, be grossed out and reread the gross was just what I needed. I have often heard that writers must read and that is very true. We need to see the other worlds and how they are being portrayed to open ourselves up to new possibilities that are tucked away in our own minds. So the next time you hit a brick wall, pick up a book and not just any book. Pick up a book that takes you down the unknown road and see where that journey ends.

For those of you interested in the gross detail, here is the link for Hell Whore:

http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Undead-Hell-Whore-Anthology/dp/1291336397/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380755397&sr=1-3&keywords=hell+whore

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Holy Buckets of Blood, I Can Finally Write!



Halloween is just around the corner, and my family is really into the spirit of things…no pun intended. This year we’re decorating the porch with a seven foot hanging skeleton made of milk jugs, massive amounts of cobwebs, some freakishly large spiders, and, of course, the motion-sensitive laughing skull, which startles anyone who comes to the door. The pizza guy is not a fan of our house.





We like a little horror in our house, especially those scary movies. Slasher movies rock because they clear my cluttered head so I can think and then later write. It’s like breathing fresh air to watch one. Perhaps it scrubs my brain of all those romance books I read and write? Yes, it’s strange, but I go with what works.

I made a list of my top five, which tend to be the older flicks. They seem less on special effects and more on character and plot. Enjoy.




  1.   Carrie. Holy buckets of blood. Prom night gone awry and one psychic girl who gets her revenge.
  2. Jaws. What’s not to love: long teeth and blood and gore and a boat out in the middle of nowhere. And the half-eaten guy…and the girl…and the other guy. I actually sat on the front row for this one. I was seven. What on earth were my parents thinking? Sigh. It was the seventies.
  3.  The Shining. Empty hotel. Crazy dad. Long butcher knife. Good stuff.
  4. The Birds. Suspenseful with a touch of romance, and of course the super-creepy birds that want to KILL you. Hitchcock is a master at keeping me on the edge of my seat.
  5. The Bell Witch. This one is the newest, 2007, but I had to add because it’s based on a true story: about a witch who lived in Adams, Tennessee, not far from my home. After watching this, I never looked at the woods the same again.


Why do you watch horror? Is it for the nerve-racking moments, like when the girl hides in a closet, but you know the bad guy is going to find her? Yes, my friend, Michael Meyers will find you.

What are some of your favs? Does it help you write? Probably not. Most normal people go for walks to clear their head.

Oh, and here's a pic of a milk jug skeleton if the scary talk frightened you. He'll make you smile.




Friday, October 4, 2013

Blood and Bone Tour!!




The stakes are high in the second installment of The Iron World Series as Avery Quinn decides which path her life will take. Become a vampire and be with Jack forever, or pledge herself to the Fey and help save Faerie from the horrible Queen Mabry? The more she thinks about it the more she wants to remain human. But as she sinks further into the magical world she has come to love, Avery realizes that remaining human is next to impossible, especially when a dark king sets his sights on her. To make matters worse, a secret society of shape shifters have sworn themselves as Avery’s enemy all because of a certain classmate with a caustic temperament. With a mythical war brewing and Evaine close on her heels, Avery must decide who to give her humanity to before it’s too late.

 



Candace Osmond

Authors Bio: Born in 1985 as Candace Osmond in North York Ontario, I began to travel with my parents at the very young age of four years old. I had lived all over Canada and seen everything my country has to offer, from the enchanting shores of Fogo Island, Newfoundland to the gigantic snow-capped mountains of Port Alberni, British Columbia all by the time I was ten. I did, however, spend most of my life in Eastern Canada where I was surrounded by folklore and legends, not knowing how they would shape my personality and imagination for the rest of my life.

Being the only girl of my age in a small group of kids, in an even smaller town, left me spending most of my time by myself and, in result, letting my imagination take over. I would sit by the shore and dream up stories of mermaids and other fantastic creatures to pass the time. Coming from a family with writers and artists dispersed throughout, it was only natural that I spend my time writing, drawing and reading. I dreamed of becoming nothing more than an artist, a creator of any kind. By the age of eleven, I spent most of my waking hours scribbling down short stories, poems and anything else I could think of, while adding my own personal illustrations. By the age of fourteen, I had won numerous minor arts and writing competitions. I excelled at anything art and literature related so, naturally, I planned to attend university for nothing more or less than that. In 2003 I planned to attend university for Creative Writing and Literary Studies. But, with the fear that I would spend all my time and money on an education and end up in a field that I may very well struggle to succeed in, I backed out and attended school for Design instead
. Now, a successful Designer living happily in sunny Medicine Hat, Alberta, I met a man and fell in love. His passion and talent for art far exceeds my own, but he motivated me to awaken my old habits of staying up late or waking up early to scribble down dreams and ideas before I had forgotten them and they disappeared forever.

Award Winning Designer and Author of The Iron World Series

website address: http://www.ironworldseries.com/index.html

Other links

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Iron-World-Series/457807120906947
Twitter - https://twitter.com/candaceosmond (or @candaceosmond)


Buy Links:

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/blood-bone
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Bone-Iron-World-ebook/dp/B00ED406KI/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376072826&sr=1-1&keywords=blood+and+bone+candace+osmond
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/342041





Excerpt

Change has an irrevocable impact on the mind, body and soul. To the fearful its threateningit means there’s a possibility that things could get worse. To the hopeful, however, it’s encouraging because it means things could get better.
Was I fearful or was I hopeful?
I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling in my sunlit bedroom and pondered about that. To most people this wouldn’t be so stressful. To most people change meant a new hair color or a new job.
But I realized a while ago—I am not most people.
I had been left to make a choice that was so life changing that it would alter me completely, forever. I could choose to become a vampire and gain the strength I desperately needed to protect myself. With this choice I could spend an eternity of nights in the arms of the most perfect creature because I too, would be a perfect creature.
Or, I could choose to pledge myself to a monarch, a leader of the fey. Become a child of magic, wonder and beauty and still possess the strength I need for my defense.
Or door number three, choose not to choose. I could remain human, as I’d lived comfortably for the past eighteen years now. But, to choose nothing would still be a choice, and would determine the path my life would take. None of my options guaranteed a smooth path. But I had a lingering a feeling that, no matter what I chose, the path that was unwinding in front of me was going to be very, very rocky.
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