Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas!

To all our friends along the writing road, Scoti, Roxanne and I wish you a most joy-filled Christmas!!
We're taking a break while we enjoy the holidays with family and friends. We hope to see you in the New Year as we all continue pursuing our writing dreams.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Turn Disaster to Writing Opportunities

"It is in periods of apparent disaster, during the sufferings of whole generations, that the greatest improvement in human character has been effected."—Sir Archibald Alison

By Scoti Springfield Domeij

Is this economic downturn motivating or demotivating your desire to write for publication? Although it seems as if financial and publishing doors are slamming shut, it's during hard times that people are most open to hearing about compassion, hope and God's promise to care for us—no matter our situation. I don't know about you, but it's depressing to hear via all forms of media how bad things are—over and over and over and over—with absolutely nothing optimistic sprinkled in between the dreadful news.

Enough Already! I Get It.

I'm pulling in my belt, hunkering down and looking for ways to save. However, this is not all bad. It just makes me be more accountable with what I have. My 89-year-old best friend, who died last year, gave me his tiny blue Ford Festiva. I preferred cruising around in my GMC Jimmy, which is big, comfortable, quiet, and a terrible gas guzzler. Little Blue Bomb is missing its entire muffler system, making it sound more like a monster dragster. The muffler quote I obtained to see how much it would cost to eliminate the embarrassing noise cost more than the car's blue book value. While gas prices were high, I switched to Little Blue Bomb and enjoyed the gas savings. I also stopped talking on my cell phone while driving. Why? Because of safety? Nope. Without the muffler system to quiet the roar, I cannot hear.

Perceptions or Perspective: Can You Hear Me Now?

The clamor of the bad news media also drowns out faith and hearing God's small quiet voice. When life looks the most pessimistic, that's precisely when writers need to tell stories filled with optimism, hope and that God will provide. A boss at a ministry often told me, "Perception is reality." His response always angered me. What he communicated to me was—truth isn't relevant. It's not important. I wondered why he preferred to believe innuendo, second-hand information and gossip. Following the company infraculture, he trusted accusations, intimidated the politically naive and questioned provable facts. His "perception mentality" didn't inspire confidence, respect, faith, or God's perspective.

What You See Depends on What You Look For

The bad news writers and thinkers want us to believe that perception is reality. Financial, economic, physical, political, or relational defeat in this life is often victory in disguise. Fear creates opportunities to reflect on priorities. The perception that times are hard is a faith test. Circumstances remind us that we are not in control—God is. Has this economic downturn made you question your calling to write? Keep pursing the passion God implanted in your spiritual DNA. Write. God—not editors, publishing houses, a lucrative writing platform, who you know, or the economy—is in charge of when and where we're published.

Cleanse seemingly closed doors and glass ceilings smeared with perception—bad economy, less opportunities, blah, blah, blah. Use your God-given abilities and passion to transform perceptions into perspective. Writers can give new meaning to hard times. Remind people of the veracity of truth. Point them to the source—the perspective balancer—God's Word. God is our protector and provider. His strength outlasts tough times.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Of Editing and Dentists

"Editing is like going to the dentist. It can be painful. Sometimes you just want to avoid it. But, in the end, you're glad you got the work done."

I have spent too many hours of my life in a dentist's chair. I often say my husband's marriage vows should have been altered to read, "To love, honor, cherish, and pay my dental bills ..."

I am a dental disaster waiting to happen. A casual trip to my dentist, Dr. C., usually involves an "Uh-oh, this doesn't look good" comment. I know it's time for me to open wide for a really long time so he can go to work.

As much as I trust Dr. C., I hate dental procedures. I don't like cleanings. I don't like fillings. I don't like x-rays. I don't like root canals (too many to count.) And I do not like the uncomfortableness of reclining in the chair, mouth open wide, trying not to drool on myself or Dr. C.

A lot of writers feel the same way about editing: They don't like it. It's painful. It's something to be avoided. Who knows? There may be some of you out there who'd rather go to the dentist than edit your article or WIP.

But, remember what I wrote at the beginning of this blog post: " ... in the end, you're glad you got the work done."

You'll be glad you persevered and wrote and rewrote your article. You'll be thankful you found the passive verbs and the misspellings and the incomplete sentences and the rabbit trails. If you don't someone else will. If that someone else is an editor considering your article or book for publication, lousy writing could mean no sale.

If I avoid the dentist, am I avoiding my dental problems? Nope. They're still there. And they bother me.

If you avoid editing, you're not avoiding your writing weaknesses. They're still there--for everyone else to see.

Is that what you want?

You tell me.

Now, excuse me while I go make an appointment with Dr. C. I'm way-past due.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recipe for Entertaining a Group of Writers

1) Group of writers, genres may vary
2) paper, pens or pencils
3) timer
4) gift bags or wrapped presents, (each writer supplies one) containing a character, setting, and one object. (Hint: easy to remember as a person, place, and thing.) These can be pictures of people cut from magazines, old photographs, maps, ticket stubs, letters, toys, brochures, keys, silk flowers, miniatures, or practically anything.

1) Each writer selects a gift (other than his/her own) from the pile.
2) Take paper and pen and spread out writers to various locations--corners of rooms, separate rooms, etc.
3) Each writer opens gift bag, examines items.
4) Give a minute or two for writer to get situated.
5) Set timer for 15 minutes.
6) Writers create a scene inspired by the character, setting and object. Write as many words as possible in fifteen minutes. Try to include something about Christmas or other holiday if used at a themed party.
7) Give a five-minute and one-minute warning.
8) When time is up, reveal who brought each present and read your stories aloud to one another.

1) Each writer brings one object. Put them on the table and each writer creates a scene using as many objects as possible.

NOTE: Spelling and grammar do not count as no one else reads your work.

It's fun to hear the stories that other writers have created from the objects you brought. They often go off in directions that you never imagined. Our group writes across the board--romance, suspense, historical, and cozies. It was interesting to see how closely we stayed in our genre.

Try this writing exercise the next time you're with a group of writers. You'll be amazed at how much you can write in fifteen minutes. Who knows? This just might be the recipe to begin your next project.

Roxanne Sherwood

Monday, December 8, 2008

Eerie Writing Experience

"The bees pillage the flowers here and there but they make honey of them which is all their own; it is no longer thyme or marjolaine: so the pieces borrowed from others he will transform and mix up into a work all his own."—Michael Eyquen de Montaigne

Busy writer bees Google key words to find "original" writing ideas. I researched holiday blues and depression so I could write an article for my solo parenting blog, www.courageoussingleparenting.blogspot.com. Then today I picked up a magazine and read an article about holiday depression. The words sounded eerily familiar. From the three triggers that cause holiday depression to other points, the article sounded just like my research. I could even underline familiar lines that I recall reading. So much for a photographic memory. It was a strange feeling to think that the writer may have researched the topic on Google and then cut and pasted together a "new" article.

Beyond Google

I use Google to jumpstart my creative process, read what's already been written and learn from experts. However, this article sounded neither new nor fresh. If you rely on Google searches for research, here are a few tips to avoid plagiarism.

  1. Write using your own voice and your experiences. Do not cut and paste other people's voices and stories.
  2. Quote others. Link to their article. But please avoid regurgitating other's viewpoints or phrases. What do you think or believe about the topic? Share it.
  3. Do not copy and paste a quote and then substitute words using your Thesaurus. Read the information, and then say it aloud in your own words. Now write it.
  4. Give credit where credit is due.
  5. When you paraphrase keep the facts and content in context.
  6. Run your copy through http://www.plagiarismchecker.com. It will identify whether you've accidentally copied from the Internet. Plagiarism Checker can also help you find out whether someone has plagiarized your work and posted it to the Internet.

Friday, December 5, 2008

What's It All Mean?

It's not pretty in the publishing world right now. Economic woes have wreaked havoc on a number of publishing houses. Recent announcements included:

Simon and Schuster cut 35 employees
Thomas Nelson cut 54 employees
Random House cut some of its top people and also announced it was restructuring
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt let its publisher go--and and other changes have been reported.
Border's stock price fell under $1.

You can't help but feel badly for those folks who have lost jobs. But I think most professional writers also wonder: What does this mean for me? If publishing houses are letting employees go, they are probably tightening there belts other ways too. (Pardon the cliche.)

One writer I know had a contract, signed, sealed and delivered. Recently, his publisher decided to cut expenses by limiting the number of books they planned to publish. So, they eliminated 200 authors. He was one of them. A contract doesn't always equal a finished product. Not ever--and certainly not in this sagging economy.

So, what's a writer to do? Quit? Wait until the economy is booming again?

I think lean times like these will weed the "players" from the professionals. The "one day I'd like to write a book" folks from the day-in-day-out, gonna make it happen in spite of the odds writers.

That doesn't mean that real writers won't face some harsh realities, like my writing buddy did when he lost his contract. But that won't stop him from writing and submitting and staying with his craft.

In times like these, publishers aren't going to risk their limited bugets. We'll have to work harder--write more, write well--and give editors and publishers our absolute best. And if it comes with an established author platform, all the better.

But more on the next week.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Is Contest Feedback Worth it?

In 2008, I won the Touched by Love contest, finaled in the Golden Gateway and the Summer Sizzle contests, and judged contests as well.

But when contest score sheets arrive in the mail, my stomach flips more times than a world-class gymnast performing a floor routine. I’ve received wonderful feedback that praised my work or told me how I could improve. Every compliment is read over and over, savored like melt-in-your-mouth chocolate.

Then, there are those other comments. Negative feedback hurts; and sometimes, I’ve had to put it aside until my skin feels thick enough to withstand the pain. But I’ve found that the critical comments were the most useful ones. Those I can learn from. After all, if I wanted only positive feedback, I’d give my manuscript to my mother and save the money spent on entry fees.

When I can be objective—usually after a long, bubble bath and ice cream straight from the carton—I study my manuscript. Was the judge right? Is my heroine shallow? Have I failed to show instead of tell? Does my chapter lack description? (Probably yes to the last one, though I’ve really tried to work on that.)

I imagine each judge as a potential reader—she is, isn’t she? If she loves my submission, wonderful! I have a new fan. But if she doesn’t, is there something I can change—while staying true to my story and my voice—yet win her over? Then, I'll have more satisfied readers.

Some comments are best ignored. But first, really try to see if the criticism has merit. In one contest, the judge scored me low score for conflict, then wrote: “Most of the conflict is because of the heroine’s poor choices.” Hello? Hasn’t she heard of Moby Dick? I know my story is rife with conflict. What about the other judge who thought my heroine was unsympathetic? Ouch. My character has abandoned her children. If I haven’t provided proper motivation for this heinous act, then I needed to heed this judge’s criticism and create a more sympathetic heroine. I was glad for the opportunity to rewrite the story now, before submitting it to an editor.

The best way to look at contest feedback is the way a writing partner offers her critique: “Use what you can, and lose the rest.”

Sunday, November 30, 2008

May I Help You Find a Book?

"The book you don't read can't help."—Jim Rohns

Overheard in a Barnes and Nobles store in Brooklyn Heights, New York.

Lady: Excuse me, but I'm looking for a book.

Store Chick: And?

Lady: I don't remember the title or author, but the cover is purple.

Store Chick: Our purple books are downstairs.

Lady: They sent me up here.

Store Chick: We're sold out of purple books. You want something in a yellow?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! May you find many reasons to be thankful!

The blog will resume next Monday after the holiday.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

15 Tips to Make Your Article Title Sing

"Every newspaper headline is a potential song." —Phil Ochs

By Scoti Springfield Domeij

A title captures the tune of your article. Work hard to create a title that sings, sings a song, sings out loud, sings out strong. Many readers only scan headlines and subtitles. Rhythm makes your title sing. Your title sings if it —

  1. Hooks the reader's attention.
  2. Is simple, direct and easy to read.
  3. Lures readers to read the body of your article.
  4. Relates well to the topic.
  5. Pinpoints the theme or essence of the entire article in a few words.
  6. Uses key words from the article.
  7. Is seven words or less. (If writing for the web, it's under 65 characters.)
  8. Uses strong, active phrasing.
  9. Employs short, ordinary, vibrant, powerful, or specific words.
  10. Avoids abbreviations.
  11. Offers a promise to the reader of a believable benefit.
  12. Reflects the article's tone: funny, solemn, irreverent, upbeat.
  13. Can be followed by a colon and a subhead clearly defining the subject of the article.
  14. Influences subtitles revealing reader benefits.
  15. Judges the relevance of each paragraph.

Take Ray Charles's advice for making your article sound good to the ear, "Do it right or don't do it at all. That comes from my mom. If there's something I want to do, I'm one of those people that won't be satisfied until I get it done. If I'm trying to sing something and I can't get it, I'm going to keep at it until I get where I want it."

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Little Bit of Friday Fun

With thanks to literary agent Chip MacGregor, here's some fun Friday reading.
Chip has a great blog, where he fields all sorts of questions from writers.

This past week, he took on 10 questions, starting with As an agent, what is a typical Monday like for you? and ending with What do you love most about life?

My favorite question was #6: What was the worst story you were ever pitched?
I laughed so hard--and decided to make sure you didn't miss out on the opportunity for some "you've got to be kidding me" moments.

So, visit Chip's blog. Go ahead, read all 10 questions and answers. But start with #10! You'll want to find out if Chip accepted the book proposal from the man who said he and his son were the two witnesses from Revelation--and threatened his part of the country with "severe weather patterns" if Chip didn't accpet his book proposal. (And that's only one of Chip's examples!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Experiences--Keep a Record for Your Fiction

"Should I use something quick like a knife, or slow and subtle, like poison?" My friend asked.

"Oh, definitely go with the poison," another friend answered.

The waiter paused in the middle of pouring fresh tea, his eyes darting from one customer to another as he undoubtedly wondered who was the intended victim.

Lunch conversation can be quite interesting when a group of mystery writers are plotting mayhem, especially to the unsuspecting wait staff.

We all know a writer doesn’t commit a murder in order to write about one, but you can use your struggles today to enrich your writing in ways that you would have never imagined otherwise. Authors draw on their experiences with anger, jealousy, and revenge (real or imagined) to create a character's emotions.

I was happily married when I wrote a scene with a widow visiting a cemetery, so I drew on my experience of going to see my unborn baby’s grave to write the scene. I just wanted to clean off the grave, lay some flowers, and say a prayer, but I couldn't find the marker. I was getting more upset by the minute, and I was almost hysterical by the time I located the site.

One Sunday afternoon, I sat at the computer in my bedroom and entered that magic writing zone when the scene was unfolding before me and I was merely a typist. I could see my poor heroine. She couldn't find her husband's grave. She was crying. I was crying. My family—did I mention that I have seven children?—kept interrupting me. I’d wipe the tears from my face, answer the question, then continue crying and writing. But the scene is wonderful, and one of my crit partners cries whenever she reads it because the emotion is real.

Last month, I was inconvenienced with a flat tire. Thankfully, it happened in my driveway and I wasn’t stranded somewhere with my two-year-old. As I struggled to install the car seat into the back of my son’s two-door Focus, I was pressured for time. My 11-year-old son was speaking on the Battle of Thermopylae to home schooled children before a re-enactment with super soakers. The kids would have wet fun, while I’d be chasing my fearless two-year-old around the park in the sticky heat. Not my ideal morning! But I knew if I could keep a good attitude, I’d find the morning’s mishaps useful the next time I needed to frustrate a character.

Today, something else happened that inconvenienced me, and I thought of how this could affect one of my characters, but—here’s the important part—I didn’t jot it down. Now, as I write this on blog, I can’t remember what it was. So keep a journal of your mishaps. You’ll be glad that you did.

~Roxanne Sherwood~

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Humpty Dumpty Double Speak

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all." Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

By Scoti Springfield Domeij

I enjoy the humor of language. Oxymorons—oxy means sharp, moron means dull—combines incongruous or contradictory terms. Take for instance the word "sophomore." It's Greek roots are oxymorons. Sophos means wise. Moros means stupid. Hardly a description of a second-year high school or college student. Writers inject oxymorons for a humorous, ironic, or rhetorical effect or to express an opinion or call attention to a contradiction. They appear in poetry, literature, advertising, and popular language. Oxymorons in literature appearing in Romeo and Juliet are damned saint, honorable villain, loyal deceit. Tennyson's Idylls of the King contains two oxymorons: "And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true."

Shakespeare's Oxymorons in Romeo and Juliet

Romeo: Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate!

O anything of nothing first create,

A heavy lightness, serious vanity,

Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms,

Feather of lead...

Juliet: O serpent heart, hid with a flow'ring face!

Beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical'

Dove-feathered raven, wolfish ravening lamb'

A damned saint, an honourable villain

Oxymorons in Poetry

One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night

Two dead boys* got up to fight, [*or men]

Back to back they faced each other,

Drew their swords and shot each other,

One was blind and the other couldn't, see

So they chose a dummy for a referee.

A blind man went to see fair play,

A dumb man went to shout "hooray!"

A paralyzed donkey passing by,

Kicked the blind man in the eye,

Knocked him through a nine inch wall,

Into a dry ditch and drowned them all,

A deaf policeman heard the noise,

And came to arrest the two dead boys,

If you don't believe this story's true,

Ask the blind man he saw it too!

Land of Cockaigne

I saw three headless [men] playing at a ball,

A handless man served them all.

While three mouthless men laughed,

Three legless [men] from them ran.

Oxymoronic Phrases

No fair

Now, then...

We're alone

Less is more

Love to hate

No comment

No means yes

Are you asleep?

Include me out.

One size fits all

Better than new

Easy to assemble

Sharp as a marble

Turned up missing

Thinking out loud

Make haste slowly

Noisy but peaceful

Back to the future

Fighting for peace

Free with purchase

New and improved

Where the truth lies

Expect the unexpected

Specialize in everything

With all deliberate speed

Brief after-dinner speech

Accidentally on purpose

Signing off on something

The rain is starting to stop.

Can I ask you a question?

Thank God I'm an atheist.

Benign military occupation

Ready-to-eat frozen dinner

Thirty-day mini-jumbo CD

New antiques arriving daily

Different, like everybody else

All the way through a portion

That shoe fits him like a glove.

This page intentionally left blank

Seriously, you need to lighten up.

As famous as the unknown soldier

You cannot know anything for sure

I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous.

More Oxymorons


A 12-ounce pound cake, a foot ahead, a little big, abortion doctor, absolute uncertainty, absolutely unsure, abundant poverty, academic sorority, accident alert, accidentally on purpose, accordion music, accurate election, accurate estimate, accurate forecast, accurate horoscope, accurate rumor, accurate stereotype, accurate stereotype, act naturally, active neutrality, active reserve, active retirement, acute dullness, adult child, adult children, adult male, advanced basic, advanced beginner, aerobic exercise, affordable housing, affordable luxury, African American, aged care industry, aging yuppie, agree to disagree, air field, airline food, airport security, all alone, alligator skin, almost always, almost certain, almost done, almost exactly, almost finished, almost never, almost perfect, almost ready, alone together, aluminum bottle, amateur expert, American beer, American chop suey, American culture, American English, American Honda, American intelligence, American Taliban, amicable divorce, Amish technology, among the first, Amtrak schedule, anarchy rules, anxious patient, anorexic pig, anticipated surprise, anti-missile missile, antique cars, anxious patient, appear invisible, appearance hearing, approximately equal, aqua land, Arabic anti-Semitism, arid ocean, armchair athlete, army intelligence, art student, artificial grass, artificial intelligence, artificial life, assistant supervisor, atheistic theocracy, athletic scholarship, attentive husband, auction winner, audience participation, authentic replica, authentic reproduction, auto pilot, automated data entry, awfully good, awfully nice


Baby grand, baby sit, bad good-bye, bad health, bad health, bad luck, bad sex, bad sport, baked Alaska, balding hair, ball club, ballet flamenco, bankrupt millionaire, barely dressed, battle ready, beautiful badlands, beginning, Finnish, benign tumor, best of don lane, better than new, big baby, big minority, big sip, Biggie Smalls, bigger half, bird dog, birth control, birthday suit, bitter sweet, black comedy, black gold, black light, black Russian, blackmarket.gov, blameless culprit, blank expression, blessed curse, blind eye, blinding light, blue bird of happiness, blue green, bomb shelter, boneless ribs, books on tape, born again, born dead, boxing ring, boy bands with instruments, boyfriend, brain fart, brave wimp, bricked-up windows, bride groom, brief journey, brief legal description, brief speech, brief survey, bright night, bright shade, British fashion, British humor, broad tip, budget busters, budget deficit, buffalo wings, bull shark, bulldog, burning cold, burning ice, business casual, business ethics, butt head


Cafeteria food, calculated risk, California champagne, California culture, California expressway, calm storm, calm wind, camping resort, cardinal sin, care industry, carnal innocence, carnivorous vegetarian, casual chic, casual dress, casual intimacy, casual sex, cat fish, catdog, cautiously optimistic, change management, charm offensive, cheap gas, cheap schooling, cheap skates, cheerful pessimist, cheerful pessimist, cheerfully cynical, cheerleading scholarship, Cherokee pioneer, childproof, chili, chocolate 'nilla wafers, Christian democrat, Christian militia, Christian right, Christian science, Christian scientist, city park, city worker, civil disobedience, civil engineer, civil libertarian, civil servant, civil unrest, civil war, civilized divorce, classic novel, classic rock, classic rock & roll, classically modern, clean air, clean coal, clean dirt, clean hack, clean litter, clean mud, clean oil, clean toilet, clearly ambiguous, clearly confused, clearly confusing, clearly misunderstood, clever fool, click the start button to shut down, climb down, close distance, coal mine safety, coca-cola foods, coed fraternity, coed sorority, cold as hell, cold boiling water, cold comfort, cold fever, cold sweat, cold fire, cold heart, cold sweat, collectible antiques, collective liberty, colored music, comedic tragedy, comfortable thong, comfortably dressed, commercial art, committee decision, common sense, common sense underwriting, communist leader, communist party, compassionate conservative, compassionate narcissist, competitive disadvantage, complete selection, completed research, completely disorganized, completely unfinished, completely unprepared, compulsory volunteers, computer jock, computer science, computer security, concession stand, conciliation court, concrete pad, conditionally pre-approved, confirmed rumor, congressional action, congressional ethics, conscientious capitalism, conscious sedation, consensual rape, conservative activist, conservative democrat, conservative intellectual, conservative stock, conservative think tank, consistently inconsistent, conspicuous absence, constant change, constant variable, constitutional amendment to ban flag burning, construction worker, constructive attitude, constructive criticism, consumer awareness, contemporary classic, continuously and frequently, controlled chaos, convenience store, conventional wisdom, cooperative multitasking, copyrighted fake, corporate conscience, corporate family, corporate planning, corporate responsibility, correct error, correctional institution, corrupt official, cost effective, cotton candy, couch potato, countable infinity, country life, country music, courtesy towing, covered bridge, cowardly lion, crack pipe, crash landing, creation science, creative destruction, creative process, crime prevention, criminal justice, criminal mastermind, criminal rights, crisis management, Crispy Cream, critical acclaim, crowded room, cruel kindness, cruel kindness, cruel to be kind, cultured animal, cupboard, current history, current status, curved line, customer satisfaction, customer service


Daily special, dangerously safe, dark star, date rape, day dreams, days night, dead livestock, dead right, dead spirits, deafening noise, deafening silence, death benefits, debutante ball, decaffeinated coffee, decent lawyer, deeper high, defensive strike, defensive tackle, defensive weapon, defiant maybe, definite maybe, definite possibility, degradable plastic, deliberate mistake, deliberate thoughtlessness, democratic centralism, democratic congress, department of the interior, deregulation law, designer jeans, desktop publishing, detailed summary, developmental swamp land, devilish angel, devout atheist, devout Christian, diet coke, diet ice cream, different similarities, dim wit, diplomatic offensive, disco music, disgustingly good, disinformation, disposable income, distant relative, divorce court, dodge ram, doing nothing, domestic abuse, domestic bliss, domestic violence, Donner party, dotted line, double solitaire, double solitaire, double-check, down elevator, down escalator, drawing a blank, dress pants, drink responsibly, drip dry, drive-thru window, driving pleasure, drug free school zone, drug war, dry beer, dry creek, dry gin, dry ice, dry lake, dry martini, dry vermouth, dry water, dry wine, dull knife, dull roar, duplicate original, dust off, dynamic equilibrium


Earth angel, easy labor, easy money, easy payments, easy problem, easy to follow directions, easy-open cap, economic reform, economic science, economy car, educated guess, educated illiterate, educational television, effective compassion, electroshock therapy, elementary calculus, elevated subway, elevator shoes, eloquent silence, emergency room, empty load, empty stomach, end head, English gourmet, English syntax, enlightened despotism, entertainment news, entire portion, environmentally sensitive development, equal housing, equal justice, equal opportunity, equal opportunity, ergonomic keyboard, eschew obfuscation, essential service, ethical attorney, Ethiopian food, European community, evaporated milk, even odds, exact difference, exact estimate, exact opposite, executive assistant, executive decision, exit interview, expanded basic, expect the unexpected, expected surprise, expert amateur, express bus, express mail, expressive silence, extended limits, extensive briefing, extinct life, extra ordinary, extra time, extra money, extra virgin, eyes wide shut


Factory air, factual inaccuracies, fail safe, failing health, fair lending, fair reporting, fair trial, fairly dark, faithful boyfriend, faithful husband, fallout shelter, false evidence, false fact, false hope, false positive, false reality, familiar difference, family entertainment, family planning association, family vacation, famous Belgians, fan fatale, fan light, farewell reception, fast food restaurant, fast food, fast idle, fast turtle, Fatboy Slim, fatal attraction, fatally injured, fat-free cream, fat-free creamer, fat-free ice cream, featherweight, federal budget, feeling numb, fellow women, female autobot, female logic, female sperm whale, female transformer, feminine logic, fiber glass, fighting Christians, fighting for peace, final draft, final version, fine mess, firehouse, firewater, first annual, first conclusions, first-strike defense, fish farm, fish fingers, flamenco choreography, flat-busted, flexible budget, flexible ethics, flexible freeze, flood control, following preview, foolhardy, foolish wisdom, football scholarship, football, forced normalization, foreign national, forever's end, forgetful elephant, forgotten memories, forward lateral, forward retreat, foul line, foul post, found missing, free agent, free gift, free love, free with purchase, freedom loan, freedom mortgage, Freewill Baptist Church, freezer burn, French deodorant, French mafia, French resistance, French shaving cream, fresh air, fresh cheese, fresh dried fruit, fresh exhaust, fresh frozen, fresh smelt, fresh-frozen, fried ice cream, friendly advice, friendly argument, friendly competitor, friendly divorce, friendly enemy, friendly fire, friendly suit, friendly takeover, front end, frozen hell, full service snack bar, full service, full stop, full vacuum, full-length bikini, full-time day, full-time hobby, fun run, functional illiterate, funky white guy, funny insult, future date, fuzzy logic


Garage apartment, gateway, gay drill sergeant, gay priests, gay rights, gentle piranha, gentle turbulence, gentleman bandit, gentleman pirates, gentleman's agreement, gentleman's club, genuine fake, genuine forgery, genuine illusion, genuine imitation, genuine plastic, genuine replica, genuine veneer, ghostly spirit, giant shrimp, girl scout nuts, girlfriend, girly man, global village, go sit, god awful, going nowhere, gold silverware, golden silverware, goliath beetle, good boy, good cigar, good demon, good Friday, good grief, good job, good kid, good lie, good loser, good morning, good riddance, good teenager, gourmet cat food, gourmet pizza, gourmet porridge, gourmet sandwich, government aid, government assistance, government employee, government integrity, government intelligence, government organization, government service, government worker, governmental efficiency, graduate student, grand children, grand theft, graphic language, grass roots, great Britain, great deficiency, Great Depression, great war, greater Cleveland, greater evil, green consumerism, green oranges, ground floor, grounded flight, group of individuals, growing deep, growing dim, growing small, growing smaller, growth recession, guaranteed forecast, guest host, guided democracy, gum brick, gun safe, gunboat diplomacy, gypsy king


Haitian former president-for-life Jean-Claude Duvalier, half dead, half empty, half full, half naked, half-breed, hamburger steak, hang over, happily married, happy camper, happy homeless man, happy Monday, hard curve, hard liquor, hard pillow, hard roll, hard water, hate to hate, head butt, head-end, health care industry, healthy chocolate, healthy tan, heavy gas, helicopter flight, Hells angels, here and there, hermitage, Hi-Fi cassette tapes, high minimum wage, higher ground, highly depressed, highly underestimated, high-speed computer, highway underpass, hip-hop culture, historical event, historical fiction, holistic healing, holistic medicine, hollow point, holy crap, holy hell, holy land, holy war, home office, home work, homeland security, homeless shelter, homeless shelter, homeopathic medicine, honest cheater, honest crook, honest lawyer, honest politician, hopelessly optimistic, horse fly, hot chili, hot ice, hot water heater, hotdog, house boat, house ethics, house plant, huge market niche, human evolution, humane war, humanitarian invasion, humble opinion, humble pedantry, hurting pretty well, hurts so good, hybrid car


Ice cream cake, ice water, iced coffee, icy hot, idiot savant, ill health, illegitimate relative, immediate future, important game, improvised arrangement, improvised choreography, incorrect facts, increasing declines, incredibly convincing, incredibly dull, independent financial advisor, independent party, industrial park, inexpensive car, infinite number, initial conclusion, initial result, inmate trustee, innate wisdom, in-school suspension, inside out, instant classic, instant oil change, institutional revolutionary, instrumental song, intelligent life forms, intelligent reporter, intelligent truck driver, intelligent war reporter, intense apathy, intentional accident, internet privacy, internet security, intrinsic value, invisible ink, invisible solid, irate patient, ironic similarities, Italian American


Jailbird, jet lag, Jewish Nazi, Jews for Jesus, job security, jogging stroller, journalistic accuracy, journalistic integrity, jumbo shrimp, junk food, just friends, just war, justifiable paranoia


Key chain, knothole, known secret, kosher ham, kosher pork


Lace-up loafers, lame effort, lamp shade, land bridge, larger half, last exit, last initial, law enforcement, lead balloon, lean pork, least favorite, led zeppelin, left intellectual, legal brief, legal ethics, legal justice, legal monopoly, legally drunk, legitimate ruler, leisure industry, leisure suit, lend lease, liberal bias, liberal Republican, life insurance, life sentence, light beer, light heavyweight, light-skinned black, limited edition print, limited incursion, limited lifetime guarantee, limited war, limousine bus, linear curve, liquid crystal, liquid gas, liquid metal, liquid natural gas, liquid paper, literal interpretation, little big, little big horn, little big man, little giant, live recording, living dead, living will, local celebrity, local long distance, local network, Long Island Expressway, long shorts, long sleeve t-shirt, loophole, loose tights, loosely packed, lopsided majority, loud librarian, loud whisper, love affair, love crime, lovesick, loving Christians, low altitude, low fat, low insurance rates, low-paid politician, loyal opposition, luxury apartment, luxury bus, luxury SUV


Mad scientist, major general, Malaysian democracy, male compassion, male intellect, male ladybug, malnutrition nutritionist, man child, managed competition, management action, management science, management style, management support, mandatory elective, mandatory options, man's intuition, manual automatic garage door openers, marijuana initiative, marketing strategy, marital bliss, married life, martial arts, martial law, martial music, maternity fashion, mature student, maxi thins, meatless chili, meatless hamburger, Medicaid payment, medical ethics, medium large, medium rare, medium well, melted ice, mercy killing, metal board, metal woods, Mexican cuisine, Microsoft works, Mid-East peace, midnight sun, mighty weak, mild abrasive, mild enthusiasm, mild heart attack, mild interest, mild jalapeno pepper, mild mannered reporter, mile high, military intelligence, military justice, military organization, military peace, mind expanding drugs, mindless thinking, mini giant, mini marathon, miniature giant, minor crises, minor disaster, minor hurricane, minor miracle, minor surgery, miracle drug, misanthropic philanthropist, mobile house, mobile station, model prisoner, modern classic, modern history, modified final judgment, moral majority, mortgage industry, motion picture, mournful optimism, moving target, much less, mud bath, music business, musical comedy, mute sound, mutual differences, mutually exclusive, natural additives


Nameless celebrity, native immigrant, natural additives, natural blonde, natural enhancement, natural makeup, near miss, nearly complete, necessary evil, necessary meeting, negative gain, negative growth, negative profit, net loss, neutral bias, neutral charge, neutral color, never again, never generalize, never is, never mind, never repeated, nevermore, new antiques, new classic, new lofts, new old stock, new routine, new tradition, new used cars, New York culture, night light, nightshade, ninety-nine percent fat free, ninja turtles, noble savage, non-alcoholic beer, non-alcoholic wine, non-binding contract, non-binding resolution, non-commercial sponsor, nondairy creamer , non-denominational church, non-stick glue, non-stick gum, non-stop flight, non-working mother, normal deviation, normally weird, northwest summer, nothing happens, nothing much, now and then, nuclear defense, nuclear strategy, numb feeling


Objective opinion, objective parent, obnoxiously happy, obscene art, obvious secret, obviously hidden, odd similarities, oddly appropriate, office suite, offset, old boy, old news, on the go, on time flight, on time train, one choice, one hour photo, one man show, one-man audience, one-man band, only choice, only one option, only option, open circuit, open code, open marriage, open secret, operating system, operation rescue, organized chaos, organized chaos, organized confusion, organized crime, organized mess, organized traffic jam, original copies, original copy, original reprint, orphans of the living, over achiever, overcool, overdone, overfull, overmodest, oxymoron


Pagan Cretin, paid volunteer, painless suicide, painless torture, paper tablecloth, paperless office, parking space, partial ceasefire, partial silence, partially complete, partially honest, partially true, partly pregnant, pass rusher, passive activity, passive aggression, passive preamp, peace force, peace offensive, peacemaker missile, peace offensive, peace officer, peaceful hullabaloo, peaceful warrior, peacefully contentious, peacekeeper missile, peacekeeping force, peace-keeping missile, pepper cherry, perfect idiot, perfect mismatch, perfectly awful, hair permanent, permanent guest-host, permanent loan, personal business, personal computer, pet fish, pet peeve, pet slug, petty cash, philosophy science, physician assisted suicide, pianoforte, pinch hitter, planned chaos, planned serendipity, planned spontaneity, planned surprise, plastic board, plastic cork, plastic flowers, plastic glass, plastic lemon, plastic silverware, plastic straw, plastic wood, plastic wood, plastic wood blocks, play responsibly, player coach, player piano, poet in residence in absentia, police protection, police science, Polish American, polite cabby, polite salesman, political ethics, political leadership, political promise, political science, political will, politically correct, poor little rich girl, pop art, pop punk, popular mechanics, positive defeat, positively cynical, post feminist, postal efficiency, postal service, postal worker, posthumous conception, post-modern, pot luck, power nap, practical experience, practical joke, practical logic, precision bombing, preemptive reaction, preemptive self-defense, preexisting condition, preliminary conclusion, preliminary final, premature ejaculation, premeditated spontaneity, premenstrual period, preservational development, presidential promises, press release, pretty bad, pretty smart, pretty ugly, preventable accident, primitive culture, primitive technology, prison life, private citizen, private community, private e-mail, producing manager, production meeting, productivity committee, professional courtesy, professional jealousy, professional realtor, professional temp, professional wrestling, program-length commercial, progressive conservative, promiscuous nun, pronounced silence, proprietary standard, psychiatric care, public opinion, public servant, pure evil, pure garbage, pure pollution


Qualified success, quality assurance, quality service, quantum leap, quick escrow, quick reboot, quicksand, quiet riot, quiet scream


Rabbi Hitler, racist liberal, radio show, rampant apathy, random logic, random order, random pattern, random precision, randomly organized, rap artist, rap music, rapid transit, rarely done, re- creation, Reagan Democrat, Reagan's memoirs, real copy, real fake, real fantasy, real lie, real numbers, real phony, real polyester, real potential, real processed cheese, real TV, real vinyl, realistic schedule, reality television, reality TV, real-life show, really sarcastic, reasonable attorney fees, reasonable female, recent history, recent history, recently new, reckless caution, recoilless rifle, recorded live, red licorice, redundant redundancy, refundable deposit, regular specials, related division, relative stranger, relative truth, relaxation exercise, relaxation exercise, religious education, religious fact, religious retreat, religious right, religious science, religious tolerance, remarkably common, Republican party, repulsive desire, required elective, resident alien, resort campground, respectful trolls, responsible government, restless sleep, restrained opulence, retarded genius, retarded logic, retired worker, reverse discrimination, righteous indignation, riskless investment, river land, roaring silence, rock opera, rogue cop, rolling stop, routine surgery, rubber bones, rubber cement, rude manners, rural metro, rush hour, Russian economy, RV resort


Sad clown, sad smile, safe abortion, safe and sane fireworks, safe investment, safe sex, safety glass, safety hazard, same difference , sample prototype, sanitary landfill, sanitary napkin, sanitary sewer, saving price, savings & loan, saying nothing, scented deodorant, scheduled spontaneity, school food, school vacation, science fiction, scientific belief, scientific consensus, scientific creationism, Scottish Danish, seacoast, seaport, search party, second best, Secret Service, secular religion, security risk, seductive innocence, see-saw, self service, self-help, self-help group, selfish lover, self-rescue, self-taught, semi truck, semi-boneless, semi-boneless ham, Senate ethics committee, sense of the Congress, sensitive male, serious clown, serious fun, serious musician, serious rest, seriously funny, set free, shabby chic, sharp curve, short distance, short length, show business, silent alarm, silent auction, silent scream, simple instructions, simple rules, simple technology, simplistic complexity, simply complex, simply complicated, simply confused, simply confusing, simply superb, sinfully good, single diversity, single family, single pair, single parent, singles, singles club, singles group, singular relationship, sit up, situational ethics, skinny broad, sleepwalk, slim fast, slouchy perfectionist, slow speed, slumber party, small crowd, small crowd, small fortune, small giant, small plethora, small world, smart ass, smart blonde, smart bomb, smart drugs, smart dummy, smart teachers, smooth closing, snow angel, social outcast, social science, social security, socialist market economy, socialist worker, soft bomb, soft rock, soft rock, softball, software documentation, software engineer, solid glass, solid gold plated, solid hole, solitary group, solo concert, someone, soul food, sound of silence, sour cream, southern justice, space cowboy, space walk, spare rib, special rights, spectator sport, speed limit, spendthrift, spiritual materialism, splendid misery, sports sedan, spring break, square peg, stable progression, stand down, standard deviation, standard option, start stopping, static variable, stealth bomber, steel wool, still life, still moving, stinky rose, stock modified, stool pigeon, stop action, stopmotion, straight angle, straight curve, straight hook, strangely familiar, strawberry blonde, strawberry papaya, string cheese, stripper's dressing room, strong decaf, strongest weakness, structured program, student athlete, student professor, student teacher, studied indifference, Styrofoam peanut, subdued debate, suburban culture, sugarless candy, suicide murder, suicide victim, summer school, sun screen, sun shade, sun shower, support groups, supporting documentation, sure bet, sure deal, sure thing, suspended indefinitely, sweet and sour, sweet crude, sweet sixteen, sweet sorrow, sweet tart, Swiss steak, symphonic discord, synthetic natural gas


Tabled motion, talk show, talk show, tame cat, taped live, tax cut, tax free, tax relief, tax return, team boss, team of mavericks, tears of joy, techno music, techno singer, techno song, teenage logic, television critic, temporary tax increase, temporary tax relief, ten-ounce pound cake, tense calm, tentative decision, terminal initialization, terribly good, terribly lovely, terribly nice, terribly pleased, terribly wonderful, terrific headache, Texas league "Longballers", thanksgiving, thick film, , thinking soldier, thunderous silence, ticket master, tiger shark, tight slacks, timeless moment, timeshare investment, titanium woods, toll free, tone color, top 100, top floor, total quality management, totally impartial, tough love, trade secret, traffic flow, tragic comedy, trailer park, train schedule, train the trainer, traveling without moving, trial separation, troubled paradise, truck farm, true counterfeit, true gossip, true lies, true replica, true story, truly deceptive, truth-in-advertising, truth-in-lending, tryout, turbo diesel, , twelve ounce pound cake, two foot tsunami, typically unusual


Unacceptable solution, unbelievably real, unbiased journalism, unbiased news report, unbiased opinion, unbiased predisposition, uncommitted voter, uncommonly normal, uncontested divorce, uncrowned king, underdone, undergraduate, understanding banker, undesirable attraction, unequal justice, unequally just, unexpected surprise, unhappily married, uninvited guest, uninvited guest, union worker, unique similarity, unique uniforms, united independent (a real taxi company in Los Angeles), United Methodists, United Nations, United States, unknown identity, unsalted saltines, unscented deodorant, unscented incense, unsellable stock, unsmelly pooh, unsung hero, unsung hero, unsung hero, upper low, upside down, urban cowboy, urban landscape, urban planning, useful insurance policy, useful oxymoron, user friendly, user-friendly war


Vacant lot, Vacation Bible School, vaguely aware, vaguely familiar, valley heights, vegetable beef soup, vegetarian hamburger, vegetarian meatloaf, veggie burger, veiled accusation, vertical horizon, very little, very unique, Viagra falls, vibrating ringtone, victimless crime, violent agreement, violent peace protest, virgin bride, virgin mother, virgin vinyl, virtual friend, virtual real estate, virtual reality, virtually identical, virtually scratch resistant, voluntary compliance, volunteer job, voodoo science, voting power


Wacky nerd, waiting patiently, wake (funeral), walking race, Wall Street, war games, war hero, war law, warm frost, wasteful profit, water landing, water loving cat, wedded bliss, well-known secret, white chocolate, white gold, white lie, whole half, whole portion, wholesale, wholesome, wicked good, wilderness management, wind resistance, wireless cable, wireless cable TV, wise fool, woke up dead, woman's logic, wooden silverware, woods metal, wool raincoat, wordless book, work party, working holiday, working mother, working vacation


Xenophobic interpreter


Yellow violet, young adult, young Floridian, yummy cheese, yummy sushi

Friday, November 14, 2008

Author Interview: Melody Carlson, author of Let Them Eat Fruitcake!

Melody Carlson's Let Them Eat Fruitcake! is set during the weeks after Thanksgiving and leading up to Christmas. It's a realistic view of family and friends dealing with real life, love and disappointment in the midst of all the expectations that come up during the holiday season.

Here's a glimpse of Carlson's writing journey.

What got you started along The Writing Road?

Since I was a small child, I've always loved "story." Whether picture books, plays, daydreams, or a storyteller, I was captivated. As soon as I was able to write I began creating "stories" of my own. And all through school I continued to write and was often told by teachers that I was a "good writer." Of course, I thought they said that to everyone. And I didn't take my writing seriously. Sometimes when things come easily to us we take them for granted and don't perceive those abilities as real gifts. It took me a long time to realize I really was a writer. In my mid- thirties, I finally hit the place where I felt driven to write--like if I didn't start writing seriously I might explode or implode or something messy. I had no specific plan, but soon joined a critique group, read some books, attended a conference and it wasn't long before I sold my first short story.

Who has helped you along The Writing Road?

Early in my life, I had the same reading teacher (Mr. Lamb) three years in a row. He taught me to love good literature and to appreciate poetry. Later on, when I got serious about writing, my critique group was enormously helpful. I'm sure I learned more about writing from them than anyone. Then I worked in publishing for a few years and learned some more valuable lessons about what's involved in the making of books.

What's next for you along The Writing Road?

As always, I've got a pretty packed writing schedule--a new YA series to begin as well as a new adult series that I can't wait to start, some stand-alone YA books and Christmas novellas. I'm also getting more involved with a producer in Hollywood who's taken serious interest in getting some of my books to TV and film. Although it's a long shot, it's interesting and fun, not to mention educational.

**Blog Tour Contest**
Leave a comment on this post or any other post in the tour by 5pm CST on November 21, and you'll be entered into a drawing for a $25 gift certificate to the Collin Street Bakery. The Collin Street Bakery is world-famous for its - you guessed it - fruitcake and will deliver your baked goods almost anywhere in the world. You can enter multiple times by commenting on more than one post (but only one comment per post will be counted).

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Finding Markets and Writer’s Guidelines

"To write what is worth publishing, to find honest people to publish it, and get sensible people to read it, are the three great difficulties in being an author."—Charles Caleb Colton

By Scoti Springfield Domeij

Feeling frustrated because you cannot find the right market to publish your writing? Below you will find a list of online databases listing writing markets and links to writer's guidelines. Some also include job listings.

AboutFreelanceWriting.com: Includes links to freelance writing jobs.

Bella Online: The Voice of Women: Links to 111 other websites with links to writing markets.

Forwriters.com: Scroll down their list of markets.

FreelanceWriting.com: Includes 898 writer's guidelines for paying magazine markets in their database.

Funds For Writers: Includes a variety of newsletters listing paying markets.

JacketFlap: Includes more than 20,000 children's book publishers.

Magazines in the Yahoo Directory: Lists magazines by subject. It links to the magazine's website. You'll have to search the website to find their writing guidelines.

OrganizedWriter.com: Search this database by category or alphabetically.

Sunoasis Jobs: Provides a resource base for those looking for writers, editors, and copywriters.

Wooden Horse Publishing: Includes over 2,000 print magazines in their media directory. It's fee based. You can check it out for 24 hours for $1.99.

Worldwide Freelance: Publishes two newsletters that contain international writing markets on a weekly basis.

WritersCrossing.com: Offers a weekly selection of paying markets in a free newsletter.

Writer's Guidelines Database: Browse by category, alphabetically or key word search of their database. It provides links to writing guidelines.

Writer's Market: The Writer's Market book is published each year and has hundreds of updated listings for magazine markets. You can also subscribe to the online database for a fee.

Writing for Dollars: Includes a guidelines database listing 848 writing markets.

WritersWeekly.com: Publishes paying markets and jobs each week.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I Love to Write Day: November 15

Anybody out there ever particpated in I Love to Write Day, the world's largest party for writers?

November 15th is the 7th annual I Love to Write Day, which was founded in 2002 by author John Riddle. Riddle's goal for I Love to Write Day is for people of all ages to spend time writing--a poem, a love letter, a greeting card, an essay, a short story, starting or finishing a novel. Besides inviting individuals to be part of the celebration, Riddle hopes to have 20,000 schools involved.

You can help celebrate I Love to Write Day by signing up for the 2008 event. Register by sending an e-mail to ilovetowriteday@ilovetowriteday.org Include your name, hometown, occupation, and tell how you learned about I Love To Write Day.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Writing Your Thanks

One of my children has recently been diagnosed with a serious disease, and I’m still learning how it will affect his life. For one thing: Medical insurance is a necessity. During the next two months, he’ll take an unbelievably expensive medication. In fact, a one month supply costs more than the value of his car. Our insurance pays over $4,000, but the co-pay, or our portion, is $994.

At Walgreen’s picking up the prescription, my mind reels with a kaleidoscope of questions: What are the side effects of the medicine, especially since my son is being given three times the normal dose? How can I understand a disease that causes him to need such powerful drugs? I’m researching, but I’m not sure that I’m asking all the right questions. And, gulp, the practical—how do I afford the co-pay?

Then, I remember my son has given the pharmacist a card from his physician that reduces our co-pay, but the pharmacy tech can’t find a record of it. I whip out my cell and call my son. He speaks with the tech and jars her memory. When she looks again, she produces the card. My jaw drops when she tells me my portion: $0.

My son watches a video on how to self-administer the medicine. He’ll need to vary the injection sites and watch for signs of infection or symptoms of a long list of life-threatening diseases. He learns that the medicine is supposed to be refrigerated. He breaks into a cold sweat and feels as if he’s going to throw up. He prays, “Please, let the medicine only need to be refrigerated after it’s opened.”


And my son still needs the medicine.

I’d been overwhelmed when the prescription was being filled and the tech hadn’t told me to refrigerate it. Since my son had to wait for instructions on how to dispense the drug, he hadn’t opened the bag where the fine print said it needed refrigeration.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday . . . The Condensed Version.

After my son pleads, Blue Cross and Blue Shield agrees to write off their portion, but the pharmacy charges me the original $994 co-pay, since the card is only good once each month. I know that my family will still eat, but I’m thinking Christmas is going to be slim. I speak with the manager, who asks the corporate office to waive my charge. In the end, my family was blessed tremendously.

You agree: it’s a wonderful story, but how is it writing-related? After all, this is a writing blog.

Well, (1) I’ve written this down so my family will remember a time when we were very blessed. Also, (2) I’ve published this story here to give Walgreen’s and Blue Cross and Blue Shield well-deserved recognition. Finally, (3) I’m writing letters thanking the local manager and the corporate offices for their generosity.

When someone in your life is kind or thoughtful or gives service beyond what’s expected, I urge you to put your thanks in writing.

~Roxanne Sherwood~

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Book Review: Through the Storm

Lynne Spears with Lorilee Craker

Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World

272 pp. Thomas Nelson Publishers

By Scoti Springfield Domeij

Through the Storm reveals Lynne Spears struggles in her marriage, the pain of her husband's alcoholism, the frenzy of her daughter's rise to mega-fame, and the relentless stalking by paparazzi. Lorilee Craker captures Lynne Spear's southern voice and clichés, sharing bits of humor and the emotional conflicts of Lynne's life from the death of her father to Jamie Lynn's teen pregnancy. Lynne's story recounts her feelings and regrets regarding many of the events her family faced as Brittany's fame skyrocketed their family into the public spotlight.

The most griping chapters deal with her first phone calls and meetings with Sam Lutfi, his hold upon Brittany's life and her parents' battle to regain control over their daughter. When she tells about Lutfi's first sickening phone conversations with her, I found myself wondering, Why would Lynne consent to meet with him?

After telling the reader about her husband's alcoholism, I started feeling irritated at repeated mentions of his alcoholism. However, I must say, I have not struggled with that kind of pain. I caught my breath when she described Brittany's first husband. Her putdown and her beloved sister's comment reminded me of cruel small town gossip. The comments were demeaning and unnecessary to the story. Then her warm affirmations of K-Fed felt like a disconnect when compared to his lack of moral fiber—dating Brittany while his other girlfriend was pregnant.

She swings between feelings of guilt to being naïve to rationalizing to second guessing herself to expressions of her faith in God. I slogged through some of the biographical parts of the book, along with chapters about her friends and thought, If an unknown author sent in a manuscript that dull, it would be rejected. Near the end of the book the sermonizing seemed thrown in to give the book a spiritually "up" or redeeming ending. The chapter "A Mother's Heart" may provide a cautionary how-to for young parents.

It's obvious that she loves her children and grandchildren dearly. I found myself cheering her on, "You go, Girlfriend," when she sprayed the paparazzi with water. Lynne Spears describes the frustrations and helplessness a family feels when fame strips privacy away from normal (or perhaps it's more accurate to say dysfunctional) family life. Parts of the book live up to the title Through the Storm, but the tone of the book fails to deliver on the subtitle's sensationalist promise "A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Dive In!

Olympic divers amaze me.

They climb up a ladder, walk out on the diving platform, take a few preliminary bounces, and dive--leaping off the board, twisting, turning, arching--finally slicing through the water to finish their routine.


The purpose of Olympic diving is to dive--to get off the platform and into the air and then into the water. If the diver just stood there bouncing on the board well, I'd get tired of waiting.

"Dive already!"


"Just do it!"

Writing the lead paragraph for your article is like diving off the platform. You don't want to spend too much time up there on the board, bouncing, bouncing, bouncing ... you need to set up your piece and then dive in.

We're writers. We love to write. We love words. We especially love the words we write. And sometimes we are convinced every single word has to stay in that article we've oh-so-carefully crafted. No slicing, no dicing.

Part of writing is--dare I say it?--editing. And editing is more than just polishing the words you've written. Editing is also figuring out what words you need to delete.

Too many words can become too many sentences, which can become too many paragraphs, which becomes a lead that is way too long. It's like a diver taking too many bounces on the board. He's up on the board, bouncing, bouncing, bouncing, bouncing, bouncing, bouncing ...

Dive already!

The next time you're working on an article, look at how many "bounces" you take before you dive in to the rest of the story. Your lead should set up your article and then allow you to move on.

You decide if you need a sentence or a paragraph or half a page before you're "off the board" and into the rest of the story. If you're on page 2 and you're still setting up your story, you're probably overdoing your lead. You're just bouncing on the board. Step back and rework it so you're not wasting valuable word count on a lead that's too long.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What is Deep Point of View (POV)?

The point of view where a reader experiences being inside a character’s mind, knowing his actions, feelings, emotions, and thoughts.

The reader becomes the POV character.

Before you write a scene, decide which of your main characters—or possibly the villain—will be the point of view character. Everything in the scene will be experienced through this character. Consider:
--Which POV character has the most at stake?
--What must be revealed or remain hidden? (If a character has a secret, you don’t want the scene to be in his head.)
--Which character has the strongest emotion in the scene?

Layers of Deep POV.
On the surface, the reader experiences the actions of the POV character. Going deeper, the reader perceives what the character sees, hears, feels, tastes and touches, which also establishes setting. Then, the reader discovers the thoughts, emotions, and feelings. Finally, the character displays a unique voice that’s based on sentence patterns, age, gender, education level, career, and attitudes.

A five-year-old protagonist sounds different than a college professor. Male characters should sound different than female ones. A reader selecting a random page in your novel should be able to tell which character is speaking by the unique voice you’ve given to each POV character.

Setting becomes more than mere description and reveals qualities of your character. Describe setting through the POV character’s eyes. If your POV character wouldn’t notice the setting, then it’s not important to the reader, so you’d give minimal description. But if your character is an architect or a building contractor, you‘d describe the building in more detail then if your character is a mailman. If your character is a forest ranger or a botanist, you’d describe the field differently than if she were a hairstylist.

Choosing Vocabulary.
My husband used to say there were only sixteen Crayolas in his box. He’d recognize beige and tan as synonyms for light brown, but words such as ecru, fawn, cream, sand, oatmeal, or taupe weren’t colors in his vocabulary. However, if your POV character is an artist, paint contractor or fashion consultant, he might have a wide pallet of colors.

1. Write the scene before worrying about a lot of rules. Then, edit and decide which rules you need to follow.
2. AVOID: seemed, appeared, and looked.
Example: In the moonlight, Sara looked at a tall man limping toward her.
Better: In the moonlight, a tall man limped toward her.
3. AVOID: He or she thought/felt/saw/noticed/wondered.
Example: She wondered, how many times had Nick warned her to observe the details the police would need to solve a crime?
Better: Nick had warned her to observe details the police would need to solve a crime.
4. AVOID: describing your POV character's physical traits. I know I’m a petite brunette. I don’t think about it, and your character shouldn’t either.
Example: Suzy ran her hands through her long, silky, blond hair.
Better: Suzy pulled her hair into a ponytail.
(The reader will learn the color of her hair when another character notices it.)

1. Become your POV character for a day. I’ve heard of several authors who say they’ve done this. As you sort laundry, stir cream into your coffee, run errands, think of how your character would react in each situation. It sounds crazy. But we’re already crazy, since we hear voices. It’s worth a try.
2. In a workshop, Author Suzanne Brockmann advises to write the scene in first person, then rewrite the scene in third person point of view, changing as few words as possible.
3. Read The Power Of Point Of View: Make Your Story Come To Life by Alicia Rasley.

When writing deep POV, every word should reflect the personality of your character and bring him or her to life.


~Roxanne Sherwood~

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Top Ten Tips to Avoid Missed Spellings

"Bee holed! Wear wood wee bee without the my tea spell checker? God only nose."— Jason Ohler

By Scoti Springfield Domeij

  1. Set your writing aside for a day.
  2. Proof read carefully on hard copy—not the computer screen.
  3. Check your dictionary, either a hard copy or online, then click "Add to Dictionary" tab to add the correct spelling into your "Spelling and Grammar" check. This is especially useful for Bible names and commonly used "web words."
  4. Don't rely on spell check. It's not the infallible last word. However, do turn on Microsoft Word's auto-correct feature. When it flags a misspelled work, select the correct usage, then click on the auto correct button. Warning: Auto-correct doesn't review every misspelling. Also, watch things it flags as potentially wrong. If you just blindly follow the recommendations of spell check, you will introduce new errors into your manuscript.
  5. Look for homonyms. (One of two or more words that have the same sound and often the same spelling but differ in meaning, i.e. Their/they're/there.)
  6. Watch for potential spectacularly embarrassing misspellings. Spell checker will not catch misspellings that form other valid words. I routinely misspell marital. My fingers always Freudian-type "martial." Public is another word that you don't want leave out the letter "l." Trust me on this one. A "faculty person" can become a "faulty person."
  7. Right spelling, but wrong words spell check misses include: accept/except, affect/effect, among/between, anxious/eager, bad/badly, desert/dessert, Earth/earth, farther/further, foreword/forward, irregardless/regardless, It's/Its, lead/led; passed/past; than/then, your/you're.
  8. Make a list of words you usually misspell.
  9. Double check dates. You don't want 1997 to rewind back to 1967 or 1897.
  10. Read your copy aloud. Often, our ears hear the mistake our eyes miss.

Fun Web Sites

How Well Can You Spell? Take this test and find out.

Improve your spelling. Learn the one hundred words most often misspelled.

Regret the Error: Mistakes Happen This web site reports on corrections, retractions, clarifications, and trends regarding accuracy in the media. Some of the posts are hilarious.

Quiz: Are You Smarter Than a Spell Checker?

Word Finder finds words with any combination of listed parameters. For example, you can find all 6-letter words that start with "d" and end with "n". Or find words that rhyme by searching for words ending in the same letters. If you enter letters into the "Unscramble" box, it finds any words formed from those letters.

Owed to Spelchek by Jamy Schuler

I have a spelling checker,

It came with My PC

It plane lee marks four my revue

Miss steaks eye can knot sea.

Eye ran this poem threw it.

You sure reel glad two no

Its vary polished in it's weigh,

My checker tolled me sew.

A checker is a bless sing.

It freeze yew lodes of thymes.

It helps me right awl stiles two reeds,

And aides me when aye rime.

To rite with care is quite a feet

Of witch won should be proud.

Their are know faults with in my cite.

Of none eye am a wear.

Each frays come posed up on my screen

Eye trussed to be a joule.

The checker poured oar every word

To cheque sum spelling rule.

That's why aye brake in two averse

By righting wants two pleas.

Sow now ewe sea why aye dew prays

Such soft wear for pea seas!

Spell Check Poem