Dear authors of the world #FabulousFriday @AuthorMoira

Happy Friday one and all – we made it through another one! Before I get any further first I want to shout out to all the fathers (in whatever form they take), and wish you all a very Happy Fathers Day. This weekend I’ll be off visiting with the familial sorts, including my own father, and do god only knows what. I keep getting texts of updated itemized itineraries – and this, right here in a nutshell, is why I only go home a couple times a year. They be cray-cray! But enough about the genetic insanity that flows through my ancestral lineage, onto today’s post.

Dear Authors of the world, you’d better buckle up, this one’s likely to sting! (to paraphrase a social media celebrity I quite enjoy following).

For the love of all that is shiny and bright in the universe – USE SPELL CHECK. No, I’m not merely talking about your books (although you should), and I’m not merely talking about your emails (although you really should), and I am not merely talking about your newsletters (although you really, really should). No, what I AM talking about is on social media – whether it be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, wherever. THIS SHIT LIVES FOREVER. You may delete it from your feed, but you all should know by now there are people out there, evil and petty people, who live to make other folks lives miserable and they’ve already done a screen shot. They stalk you, plot against you, and yet have never met you face to face. You are their own personal Goliath, and they have devious, insidious, and plain dumb ass plans to “take you down”. Stop giving them the fucking ammo! Use spell check, or if you do make a mistake, FIX IT!

I cannot tell you how many posts I’ve read, from otherwise elegantly eloquent authors, which have me wondering if their accounts have been hacked by some brain eating, disease ridden alien. Because trying to equate someone who writes books which suck you in, and won’t let you go to the crap being spouted on social media – now that there be one hell of a noggin’ scratcher.

In no way am I saying you need to be perfect, no one is, but do try your best. And, for the love of all that’s fluffy and delightfully soft in the universe, stop with the text speak. 1) I really hate having to look up some of these acronyms, and 2) you look like an fool. We’ve all heard the saying to “use your words”. Well, if you are trying to keep your brand untainted, and create the right image for who you want to be seen as, you need to be consistent in all things. Don’t fucking fly off the handle on some random ass rant when you’ve never done it before. And use the English language as it was intended, to be concise and precise in getting across your point.

Now go slap some ice on that sting, and open a damn dictionary once in a while would you.

A Word to the Clueless #TuesdayThoughts with Doris (@mamaD8)

Happy Tuesday, folks, Doris here, and I know what you’re thinking. Who is she calling clueless? Well, me, for starters….

*sniggers*

Gather close, my dears, let me explain. Once upon a time behind a keyboard not too far from here, there sat a very enthusiastic, not so young writer, who had this fantastic story idea!!!!!!

She did LOTS of THESE in her writing!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LOTS and even LOTS and even more of  ‘these’.

Let’s not forget, arms, hands, legs, heads that went off a tangent, acted independently from the body they attached to, and the heads that LITERALLY exploded.

*sniggers some more*

One of my editors kindly pointed out that exploding heads are very messy, and it would be physically impossible to pick one’s eyes off the floor.

Oh yes, all classic newbie mistakes.

So, what got me on this today, I hear you ask? Well, it was yesterday’s excellent post from Ravenna on POV.

It made me think back to that clueless writer, who wrote her first chapter in a day and send it off to a writing competition, quite convinced she had the next bestseller on her hands.

Yeah, don’t do that. Seriously, don’t. Especially when that first chapter was riddled with POV hops, and exclamation marks and comma vomit. I still have an issue with the dreaded comma but I learned a few things over the last six years of bashing out words on the keyboard. A first draft is just that, a draft, never to see the light of day, until you have extensively edited it yourself, had your beta reader/s check it over, and then edited it again.

Only then should you send that ms off for submission.

I digress, however, as per usual.

When I read Ravenna’s post it made me smile, because one of the first feedback I received was from the lovely Sally Quilford on my POV. She was very encouraging, said my first chapter showed lots of promise, but I needed to work on that POV.

Say what?

Grey mannequin with big red question mark

I literally sat there and scratched my head a lot, because I had no clue what she was going on about and I didn’t want to ask and show exactly how clueless I was.

A girl’s got some pride, right?

Well, yes and no. Pride comes before a fall and all that. I should have just asked and saved myself a headache trying to figure it out.

I did, of course, eventually figure it out, together with such strange things as dangling modifiers, independently acting body parts, propositions, wrong verbs, comma splices, showing vs telling, to name but a few mysteries of writing, as it were.

Now, I could blame my clueless state on the fact that I’m German, and English is actually my third language if you like, though I’m not sure that the Latin we were forced to learn on entering higher school in Germany can strictly be called a language.

I also learned French, and Italian for a bit, but it’s really only the English that stuck with me.

Also, by the time I started writing stories, I’d lived in the Uk for 24 years, and could hardly speak my mother tongue anymore, so that excuse doesn’t really wash.

No, the simple truth is that I was and to a large extent still am clueless.

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Now, don’t get me wrong. I do know my grammar. I have an English and German ‘A’Level and passed my ‘Abitur’ with flying colours back in Germany, just don’t ask me to name that grammar.

Verbs, propositions, etc, it’s all double dutch to me. I’ve never been good at the theoretical side of things. I can swat up and learn for an exam, that’s easy. You simply memorize and repeat parrot fashion, but I do not retain that information.

Nope, I learn, retain, and act on actually doing things.

Be that writing, cooking, learning how to drive… you get the idea.

I’m sure I mentioned before that I’ve never read a how to write book in my life. There is, for me, at least, no point. It would go in one ear and out of the other, with clueless me going, huh(?) a lot!

Write a story, see my beta reader comments, and eventually the editor’s suggestion, and all becomes clear, however.

Inspired lightbulb character

Duh, that’s what they mean, you numpty.

So, while I find my fellow quillers who can name the various parts that make up a sentence very informative, and I can see what they are saying, I couldn’t actually put that into practice.

Likewise with things like story arches, black moments, resolutions etc.

I do all those things, I know I do, but name them….

*crickets*

So, like I stated above this is really just a post for all the other clueless folks out there. Don’t get bogged down by the details. It’s okay to learn as you type, as long as you do learn.

Nothing annoys me faster than a seasoned writer, who’s ms you look over and you see the same damn mistakes time and time again.

Not on, folks. Being clueless is not an excuse not to learn and better yourself.

That’s all from me today, you’ll be pleased to hear.

Do stay naughty, folks.

D xxx

He Did That… She Did This…

Ravennas Monday MumblingsWelcome to Ravenna’s Monday Mumblings!

Let’t talk about sentence and paragraph structure. Somewhere along the line, I know I learned this, but it was brought to my attention this past week that I tend to start A LOT of paragraphs in a manuscript with either the hero or heroine’s name, or a pronoun – he, she, his, her.

Two amazing fellow Evernight authors are going to read the second Tortured Love book for me before I submit it (thank you Doris and Raven!!) and as a prep, I sent the first book in that series, UNYIELDING, to each of them to read and understand what I was looking for in the second book.

Raven pointed out to me how many sentences I begin with a name or a pronoun. When I went back and looked at what I’d written in the second book to date (all 175 pages of it!!) boy, oh boy was she right! It was enough that she was counting them in UNYIELDING. YIKES.

pronoun trainTook quite a bit of time to go back and fix them in the manuscript, but I’m so grateful I did. This second book is a much better read with the variance. But let me tell you, sometimes it’s not easy searching for a substitute, and also making sure you aren’t beginning every single paragraph or sentence with a gerund – those annoying ING words. That sticks out like a sore thumb, too, and can really distract from the reading.

So, just one more thing to keep in mind as you write and then self-edit. Like you don’t already have enough to think about, right?

Until next week… HAPPY WRITING!!

Apostrophe’s Catastrophe

Ravennas Monday MumblingsWelcome to Ravenna’s Monday Mumblings!!

Last week, we talked about using the right words. This week, I’m going to tackle that catastrophic punctuation mark, the dreaded APOSTROPHE.

Nothing, except perhaps the COMMA, strikes fear in the heart of a writer or editor as much as incorrectly using the apostrophe.

Let’s break down the most commonly misused rules…

Use the apostrophe to show possession for single nouns:

The cat’s hat sat on the mat.

Little Billy’s fly was open and all the girls screamed.

 

oh shit here comes the SWhat happens when the word ends in S?

The rules differ according to where you live, and per publishing house style. The trick here is to choose one and stay consistent.

Damas’s name was so unusual, he hated it.

OR…

Damas’ name was impossible to spell so he changed it.

 

Use the apostrophe to show possession for plural nouns:

Tonight is the guys’ night out. All the guys are going out.

Tomorrow is the girls’ night out. All the girls are going out.

 

one does not simply add an apostropheDO NOT use an apostrophe to make a regular noun plural:

The cave had many bat’sWRONG!!

The cave had many bats. CORRECT!!

 

What about irregular nouns?

The childrens’ toys is incorrect.

The children’s toys is correct, because the plural noun is CHILDREN, not childrens.

 

DO NOT use an apostrophe to make a name plural:

The Wilsons’ are here is incorrect.

The Wilsons are here is correct.

 

apostroph catastropheApostrophes are used with contractions:

The apostrophe is placed where the letters have been removed.

Do not becomes Don’t

Should have becomes Should’ve

Does not becomes Doesn’t

There are many, many rules when it comes to using apostrophes. When in doubt, I strongly urge you to consult a website specifically designed to teach grammar rules. This is one I found easy to read and understand:

http://www.grammarbook.com/punctuation/apostro.asp

Happy writing!

 

Use The Write Word!

Ravennas Monday MumblingsWelcome to Ravenna’s Monday Mumblings!!

Yes, the title is a play on WORDS. Get it? 😀

Building on Moira’s post yesterday, I thought I’d talk today about commonly misused words. It’s easy to do when you’re typing along, lost in your characters.

Yes, an editor will usually catch the mistake, but as an author, be on the lookout for these common, and not so common ones.

Accept, Except: 

Accept is a verb meaning to receive. Except is usually a preposition meaning excluding. I will accept all the packages except that one. Except is also a verb meaning to exclude. Please except that item from the list.

affect-vs-effectAffect, Effect:

Affect is usually a verb meaning to influence.  Effect is usually a noun meaning result. The drug did not affect the disease, and it had several adverse side effects. Effect can also be a verb meaning to bring about. Only the president can effect such a dramatic change.

Allusion, Illusion:

An Allusion is an indirect reference. An illusion is a misconception or false impression. Did you catch my allusion to Shakespeare? Mirrors give the room an illusion of depth.

Capital, Capitol:

Capital refers to a city, capitol to a building where lawmakers meet. Capital also refers to wealth or resources. The capitol has undergone extensive renovations. The residents of the state capital protested the development plans.

mean-ol-schoolmarm-climatic-vs-climactic1Climactic, Climatic:

Climactic is derived from climax, the point of greatest intensity in a series or progression of events. Climatic is derived from climate; it refers to meteorological conditions. The climactic period in the dinosaurs’ reign was reached just before severe climatic conditions brought on the ice age.

Elicit, Illicit:

Elicit is a verb meaning to bring out or to evoke. Illicit is an adjective meaning unlawful. The reporter was unable to elicit information from the police about illicit drug traffic.

Emigrate from, Immigrate to:

Emigrate means to leave one country or region to settle in another. In 1900, my grandfather emigrated from RussiaImmigrate means to enter another country and reside there. Many Mexicans immigrate to the U.S. to find work.

Principle, Principal:

Principal is a noun meaning the head of a school or an organization or a sum of money. Principle is a noun meaning a basic truth or law. The principal taught us many important life principles

then vs thanThan, Then

Than is a conjunction used in comparisons; then is an adverb denoting time. That pizza is more than I can eat. Tom laughed, and then we recognized him.

There, Their, They’re:

There is an adverb specifying place; it is also an expletive. Adverb:   Sylvia is lying there unconscious. Expletive: There are two plums leftTheir is a possessive pronoun. They’re is a contraction of they areFred and Jane finally washed their car. They’re later than usual today.

They’re is a contraction of they are. Sound out they are in the sentence and see if it works. If it does not, it must be one of the previous versions.

To, Too, Two:

To is a preposition; too is an adverb; two is a number.  Too many of your shots slice to the left, but the last two were right on the mark. 

tumblr_m4x89ooG8B1qzr5zlo1_500Your, You’re:

Your is a possessive pronoun; you’re is a contraction of you areYou’re going to catch a cold if you don’t wear your coat. 

 

 

Lie, Lay: 

Lie is an intransitive verb meaning to recline or rest on a surface. Its principal parts are lie, lay, lainLay is a transitive verb meaning to put or place. Its principal parts are lay, laid.

Set, Sit:

Set is a transitive verb meaning to put or to place. Its principal parts are set, set, setSit is an intransitive verb meaning to be seated. Its principal parts are sit, sat, satShe set the dough in a warm corner of the kitchen. The cat sat in the warmest part of the room.

Who, Which, That:

Do not use which to refer to persons. Use who instead. That, though generally used to refer to things, may be used to refer to a group or class of people. I just saw a boy who was wearing a yellow banana costume. I have to go to math next, which is my hardest class. Where is the book that I was reading? 

supposed to be

Problem phrases:

Supposed to: Do not omit the d. Suppose to is incorrect.

Used to: Same as above. Do not write use to.

Toward: There is no s at the end of the word.

Anyway: Also has no ending s. Anyways is nonstandard.

Couldn’t care less: Be sure to make it negative. (Not I could care less.)

All walks of life: Not woks of life. This phrase does not apply to oriental cooking.

Chest of drawers: Not chester drawers.

For all intents and purposes: Not intensive purposes.

When in doubt, a good dictionary should always be at hand when you’re writing. After all, you’re a writer! Use the tools of your trade wisely. 🙂

The Devil is in the Details… Another Freaky Friday with Michelle Roth @mroth_author #writing

Well, well, well. Week three and you’re still here, huh?

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Thanks for sticking with me! This week’s post is a little less soap-boxy and more writing oriented. I’ll start it off with a small anecdote, though.

Strict Black Leather Locking Hand Cuffs on white background

So, when I was 18, I worked as an office manager for a cleaning service in the small town I grew up in. My boss was very particular about cleaning, obviously. He had a huge pet peeve that he shared with me once. In movies, the scenes where someone would be mopping a floor, in almost all cases the mop was never wet. To him, it wasn’t realistic. It took him right out of whatever movie he was watching.

When Pepper Potts character in the first Iron Man movie is running across the steel catwalk in her spike heels in the big action scene toward the end, my thoughts turned from, “Oh. This is really intense,” to “Oh, hell no. She’s not running that quickly over something that’s riddled with holes. Her heel would have wedged in one of them and that heifer would be barefoot if this was real life”

Neither of these things are earth shattering, but they illustrate my point.

DETAILS MATTER.

The old adage write what you know can really only take you so far. There will be times that research is required. It’s in your best interests to make sure that you know what you’re talking about. Spend an afternoon learning about elephant birth, fire restoration, flugelbinders and The Baker Act if you’re putting it in your book.

No matter how obscure the topic, there will be some soul out there that knows that a flugels just don’t bind in the way that you’ve described. They will write you an email to tell you all about it.

Read your work out loud once you’ve finished it. Spellcheck knows the difference between tehn and then.. but if you really meant to say than… someone out there will write you an email to tell you about it.

If you have named a meaningless character Ted, but accidentally call him Tad later on… Yep. You guessed it. Someone’s going to write you an email about it.

I’ll admit, it’s a little painful (but completely appreciated) when I get an email from someone about an error in my work. I like to put out a clean, polished product. Things inevitably slip by.

As a writer, you’re going to get feedback about all sorts of things. People will hate the cover of your book. Someone will dislike your style of dialog. Someone else will be ‘just not into the universe you’ve created’. Those are subjective.

Proper fleugel binding, poor grammar, and inconsistent naming are things that you (as the author) have control over. Don’t be lazy with them. People will remember.

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Everyone knows this is how fleugels are bound. Jeez.