Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Self Publishing Tips from Guru Lyn Horner


We know the self-publishing trend has skyrocketed in recent years and many of our members are considering it (if they haven't done so already). For those who would love more information, we're offering a series of blog posting from guru Lyn Horner, who's had resounding success in self-publishing on Amazon. Today is her first article on Formatting, step-by-step. Come back every month for the next installment.
Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us, Lyn!

Howdy, y’all! The gang here at As We Were Saying have asked me to post a series of blogs about self-publishing on Amazon. First of all, I recommend you read through the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) support pages to find out what they require. NOTE: You can use your Amazon account ID and password to log onto the Support Home page. If you don’t have an account, you’ll need to set one up.

The Support Home page  Kindle Forums offers links to Publisher Support, Ask The Community, and Voice of the Author/Publisher. Be sure to check out the KDP Select link at the top of the page.

I also suggest you read Building Your Book for Kindle. This is a 31-page printable pdf file put out by Amazon and it’s FREE! Click here for the PDF. It’s available for Mac users as well as for PC.

Okay, let’s get going. The first thing you need to know is how to format your book for the KDP platform.  KDP supports several different formats. Go here for the complete list. Since I use MS Word, I will refer to that application.

Formatting Steps:

1.       Make two backups of your book file, one on your computer and one on an external drive. I use a small, handy-to-carry thumb drive. Keep it in a safe place. Having these copies can be a life saver in case something goes wrong.

2.       Open one copy of your book file in MS Word. If you store your book as separate documents for each chapter as I do, you need to combine them into one big file. I work chapter by chapter, making the necessary format changes in each one before pasting it to the end of my combined document. If you prefer to combine all chapters first, that’s up to you. Experiment and see what works best for you.

3.       Remove page numbers. Kindle books are reflowable (viewable with different font sizes); page numbers are unnecessary and would cause problems. Headers with the book title, chap. number and your last name, such as you would include on hard copy submissions to editors, are also unnecessary. Take them out.

4.       Important: Never use your tab key to indent paragraphs. The KDP conversion process automatically indents each paragraph. If you use tabs to indent paragraphs, you will end up with uneven indents in your uploaded book. To remove tabs, type one tab at the top of your document, select and copy it to your clipboard. Open Find/Replace under the Edit menu. Paste the tab you copied into the Find box. (Word won’t let you type a tab in there.) Leave the Replace box empty; click Replace All. This will remove all tabs from your document. Again, you can do this chapter by chapter, or you can combine all chapters first and then remove the tabs. You will need to replace the tabs you removed, using the following method.

Open the Format dropdown menu, click paragraph, then click the Indents and Spacing tab. Next, go to the Indentation area and set your first line indent width under “Special”.  Set the indent width at 0.5″ (this is standard). Click the okay button. WORD will now automatically indent each new paragraph for you. This does not cause problems with the Kindle conversion. I use this method and my indents look perfect on the Kindle Previewer. (I’ll explain the Previewer in a later post.) In future, set up the indent width at the beginning of each chapter.

5.       Your font style must change sizes easily on a variety of readers. Times New Roman 12 pt. seems to work best. That’s what I always use for my books.

6.       Get rid of all the double spacing we’ve always been told to use for editors and agents. This means double line spacing and double spaces after each sentence (also unnecessary for editor submissions nowadays.)

7.       Remove underlining if you use it to indicate italics. I tried to use the Find and Replace feature under the Edit menu, as B. V. Larson suggests, but could not make it work. So I searched each chapter as I worked and removed the underlining, replacing it with italics. Obviously this takes some time.

8.       When combining chapters, add a page break at the end of each chapter. If you don’t, your chapter will all run together in the uploaded book. That doesn’t look good.

9.       Indicate scene breaks within a chapter, and POV changes if you wish, with one blank line followed by a line with three or four asterisk (* * * *) signs centered, with a space between each. Then add another blank line. If you prefer, you can use hash marks or some other small symbol.

10.    If you use slang or foreign words in your book, they may be underlined in red. I once read that such lines could show up on converted text. I’m not sure this is true, but to be safe, when I finish a chapter, I select the whole document, then go to the Spelling & Grammar feature under the Tools Menu and turn off the spell checking option. All the squiggly red lines disappear.

11.    You don’t need to add copyright data at the beginning of your book. You will be asked to enter your publishing rights during the upload process.

12.    Save your combined text file as a regular Word document first to be safe (in case you need to go in and make changes later.) Then choose “Save As” and save the file again, choosing “Web Page, Filtered” as your file type. You have now converted it to an .HTM file. No, I did not forget the “L”! HTM is the way it appears, why I have no clue. My computer geek son says it means the same thing. Some apps just leave off the “L”.

That’s all for now. Next time, I’ll talk about Kindlegen & the Kindle Previewer. ╩╝Til then, happy writing!

Come back the end of September for the next self-publishing installment from Lyn Horner!
Breaking news: Lyn Horner's DASHING DRUID is a winner in the Romance Through The Ages contest, sponsored by the Hearts Through History RWA Chapter. Congrats, Lyn!! Find the announcement here: http://texasdruids.com/posts/.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Romance Of Scotsmen In Kilts



Romance novelists love castles and the mystery of the highland warrior in kilts. In fact you can go to any book store and see the numbers of book covers with shirtless men wearing kilts.

If you ask a reader why they love these men in kilts, they will give you any number of reasons. Many are influenced by the stories they’ve read from romance writers.

The covers show big kilt-wearing sensual men with muscles, washboard abs, chiseled lips, eyes showing passion and excitement. The stories are about courageous men who are protective and respectful of women, capable in everything they do. Strong in body and mind, they enchant us with their brogues and masculinity. At the same time they show sensitivity to their wives and children. Each novel has a theme of honor as a Scotsman’s code and when they give their word it is good as gold. They are warriors who fight for their land, clans, and country.  

In Scotland, you’re bound to see men in kilts. They work in tartan stores, on street corners playing bagpipes, as tour guides, belong to the military tattoo, participate in highland games or in celebratory venues. But not all Scots  wear kilts every day. They run businesses, dress in tailored suits or in casual attire such as jeans and tees. They are very courteous, and they have a great sense of humor with a bit of naughtiness thrown in. In the picture above a scotsman is having a bit of fun. He'd just asked if he should raise the kilt higher!
What do men wear under the kilt, apart from their kilt hose and kilt shoes?

While on a recent trip there, I had a conversation about kilts with native, Kathy Cameron who said  what a Scotsman wears or doesn’t wear underneath the kilt is part of the mystery for women. They’re always wondering when they see a man in a kilt.



The topic of underwear and kilts has been the subject of many discussions among women. Kathy says there are  situations where wearing underwear with kilts is required. At the Highland Games, for example, participants are asked to wear shorts for modesty reasons; the colors are expected to coordinate with the kilt. Highland dancers also wear undergarments with kilts, since they engage in high kicks and other moves which could result in exposure.


She said military regiments are the only group that “nothing under the kilt” was once a requirement. She knows that to be true as years ago she watched one of the military men drink a bit too much and stumble over drums at a party exposing himself to a large group. She said the military probably wear undergarments now due to the comfort factor because wool kilts are scratchy. Pipe bands associated with regiments are required to use undergarments, because they use a high-step march and could easily expose themselves. Today not wearing anything under the kilt is called going "Commando" which has it roots in military history.


An internet search for men in kilts shows literally hundreds of men wearing kilts  and some expose themselves. Kathy says a Scotsman knows how to sit to prevent someone looking up his kilt except guards who must remain standing in one place. She related a story of women lying on the ground at the feet of a guard in a kilt with their cameras angled trying to get a picture. And the poor guard couldn't move!
Outside of Scotland there’s another group whose owner has Scottish heritage  attracting a lot of attention in Canada. Men in Kilts are making a living as window cleaners and wearing  kilts on the job.
www.meninkilts.com


If one views the pictures of Gerard Butler in his kilt( who the Scots love but that's another story) is it any wonder women find a scot sexy?


What do you think? Outside of Scotland, are men wearing kilts looked upon the same way? Share your opinions.
~~~
Ruby Johnson is a member of Greater Fort Worth Writers, Yellow Rose RWA, and NTRWA.  She writes romantic suspense .

Monday, August 20, 2012

Burning Bridges Clouds Your Path by Susie Sheehey


Susie Sheehey is president of Greater Ft Worth Writers, in her second term. She writes women's contemporary and romance and has completed two novels in the past year, and just started another one. She lives with her husband and rowdy 3-year-old son who loves to push her buttons. She had several long and educational years of sales experience in the healthcare field. As a former springboard diver, she's been glued to the television the last week for the 2012 Olympics in London.

The smoke from the fire you create with your words will always cloud your future. One way or another. And who wants to walk through the world blind, choking on smoke?
I recently read a blog post from a literary agent (whom I respect and follow regularly) that disturbed me. He had attended a few conferences where he'd overheard several writers bashing him and/or his agency in one way or another. Combined with a few other factors, he decided to close his agency to new submissions until further notice.
I think this is a bit of an overreaction, but at the very least it;s extremely disappointing to hear writers doing this. Granted, publishing is subjective and everyone has his/her opinion. Every agent works differently and won't get along perfectly with every writer (and vice versa). Not everyone is bound to agree all the time. It's just the nature of the business. Heck, that's human nature.
But even if you have a disagreement with an agent or editor, you at least need to be civil in parting ways and (more importantly) how you carry yourself in the future. This includes what you say on social media sites, and what comments you make to others. AKA- gossiping. Either in personal or digitally. It's so high school, and even when I was in high school, I hated it. So adults should definitely not partake.
Remember the phrase: 
"Be mindful of the toes you step on today for they may be attached to the ass you must kiss tomorrow."
Trust me- this will happen. It may take a week, a year, or ten years. But it will eventually happen. Be honest with yourself: don't you remember something hateful someone said to you when you were in high school? Middle school? College? Your first internship? And don't you agree the next time you see them you'd have those comments in the back of your mind?
If you're in complete denial with the statements above, at the very least you should be mindful of the golden rule you should have learned in kindergarten:
"Treat others the way you would like to be treated."
I remember the first Author Workshop I attended several years ago where the author spent the first half-hour bashing her former publisher, cover artist, editor and everyone under the sun having anything to do with her novel. And my take-away from that workshop: I won't buy any of her books.
Not because she turned me off to the publisher or disliked the premise of her novels, but her bashing gave me a horrible impression of her. I refused to support someone who was so negative and had no care with the words she chose.
Yes, we live in the United States where the First Amendment is upheld at all costs. You can say whatever you want to anyone at anytime; that's your right. But karma's a bitch, people. 
These are just my thoughts on how you create relationships, professional or personal. 'Keeping silent when you have nothing nice to say' is easier said than done. But I always remember that I don't want to have smoke covering my path going forward. 
Follow Susie on her blog at susansheehey.wordpress.com
Follow her on @susieQwriter or Facebook www.facebook.com/susiesheehey.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Taste of Dashing Druid by Lyn Horner


Award winning author, Lyn Horner shares an excerpt of Dashing Druid, book #2 from her Texas Druid series.

BackCover Blurb:
Tye Devlin is an empath. Assailed by emotions from everyone around him, Tye has learned to block out most of the “racket”. Yet, when he meets cowgirl Lil Crawford, he has no defense against her hidden pain, for it echoes his own sorrows.
Wounded by love, Lil guards her bruised heart behind a tough shell. When a handsome stranger with an Irish brogue calls her beautiful, she thinks he’s mocking her, but she secretly wishes such a man might truly want her. Feuding families stand between the two and a perilous cattle drive pits them against menacing foes as they fight their personal demons. Is love worth the risks, and will Tye’s gift prove to be a curse or a blessing?


In this scene, Lil Crawford attends a Saturday night social, escorted by a man her parents would like her to wed. She can’t stand the arrogant galoot, but pretends to let him charm her. The dance is about to begin.

* * *
Lil fought a strong urge to shove Frank away. She hated the touch of his hands. This was a bad idea. Give Frank Howard an inch of ground, and he’d try to take the whole pasture.
She’d purposely led him on, smiling and denying any interest in that black-haired rogue by the door, and Frank hadn’t even questioned her sudden change of heart. The swollen-headed fool probably thought she couldn’t resist him. Now she was paying the price. And why? Just to show Tye Devlin she wasn’t without her admirers. As if he cared.
The fiddler finished tuning up. Beside him on a raised wooden platform, the caller shouted, “Y’all ready to shake a hoof?” He got a loud ‘Yeah!’ from the crowd. “All right, gents, grab your gal and get ready for a reel.”
Frank gave a boisterous whoop, seized Lil’s hand and dragged her onto the dance floor. As they lined up with the other couples, she glanced around and saw Tye standing near where she and Frank had just stood. Had he meant to ask her to dance? Meeting his fierce scowl, she swiftly looked elsewhere, flustered.
Fortunately, Uncle Jeb had taught her how to dance a reel. Not risking another glance at Tye, she got through it without making a fool of herself – or slapping Frank for the way he continued to leer at her. When the dance ended, she clapped without much enthusiasm.
“Yuh dance real good, honey,” Frank commented. “Never woulda thought yuh knew how.”
She smiled tartly. “I’m just full of surprises, Frank.” She glanced toward her mother and received a nod of approval. Her father and uncle were on their way out the door, for a smoke no doubt. Not glimpsing Tye, she wondered if he’d also stepped outside. With a woman, perhaps? The thought caused a sinking sensation in her stomach.
The caller announced a waltz. Without asking if Lil wanted to dance with him again, Frank grasped her arm and swung her toward him. Incensed, she resisted. Just then Tye stepped out of the crowd.
“Might I have the pleasure of this dance, Miss Crawford?” he asked, smiling at her and ignoring Frank.
“Go find yore own gal, mister,” Frank barked before she could say a word. “This one’s mine.”
Tye drilled him with a hard blue glare. “Indeed? Well now, I’ll hear that from the lady’s own lips if ye please.” He grinned in challenge. “Or even if ye don’t.”
Frank cursed and made a move toward him.
Anger drove Lil to step between them. She faced Frank, fists on her hips. “I’m not your property, Frank Howard. And I’ll dance with whoever I please.”
He gaped at her. “But yuh said yuh don’t even like –”
“Never mind what I said. You don’t own me.” Turning her back on him, she scowled at Tye. “Well, you want to dance or not?”
“By all means,” he said, flashing a wicked smile and offering his hand.
Accepting it, she saw him throw a taunting grin past her and heard Frank’s furious snarl. Then Tye led her out to the strains of Sweet Genevieve.
Frank vanished from Lil’s thoughts the moment Tye took her in his arms. A barrage of dizzying sensations shot through her. Where he touched her, even through layers of clothing, her skin burned. The aroma of shaving soap, mixed with his own subtle, manly scent, stirred her blood. His broad, black-cloaked shoulders filled her vision, and she felt an absurd longing to lay her head on that inviting expanse. When she raised her eyes, he smiled down at her in a caressing way that made her feel, well, pretty. That was nonsense, of course.
“Have ye forgiven me at last, colleen?” he asked. “For what I said that day when we rescued the calf, I mean. I’d take back every cruel word if I could.”
She lowered her gaze to his shirt front. “I said some things, too. Reckon we’re even.”
“I think not, but so long as ye don’t hate me, I’m content. Now tell me, who is this Frank Howard who wishes to keep ye all to himself?”
“He’s a friend,” she said falsely, “from up Fort Worth way.”
“’Twould seem he considers himself somewhat more than a friend.”
Lil stiffened. “Listen, I agreed to dance with you to show Frank he doesn’t own me. That doesn’t give you the right to nose into my business.”
His mouth curved downward briefly, but then he nodded. “As ye say, colleen.” He tilted his head, studying her. She was about to tell him to quit staring when he spoke. “And will ye also object if I ask ye, as I did once before, if Lil’s your full given name?”
She blinked at his unexpected change of subject and shrugged. “It’s Lily, like you guessed that day at the barn raising, but nobody ever calls me that. It doesn’t suit me.”
He laughed softly. “Ah, but I think it does, for you’re as beautiful as your namesake.”
Lil forgot to breathe for a moment. Was he mocking her the way he had that day last summer at the creek? Or . . . was it possible he really meant what he said, both now and back then? Suddenly unsure, she felt herself blush and sent her gaze skittering away like a terrified rabbit searching for a hidey-hole.
“Y-you must be addled. I’m not even pretty.”
He sighed and murmured in a deep, husky tone, “Lily, Lily, ye know not your own worth. You’ve the face of a Greek goddess I once saw pictured in a book. Your skin glows as if kissed by the sun, your brown eyes spark with fire when you’re angry and call out to me in my dreams. And your hair . . . ah, colleen, it makes me think of moonlight on dark water. My dearest wish is to bury my face in it and drink in your sweet scent.”
Never had a man said such things to Lil. Melting warmth enveloped her as she lifted her head and got lost in Tye’s radiant blue eyes. She parted her lips, but no words came out. Instantly, his gaze swooped down to her mouth, and it shocked her to realize she wanted him to kiss her. What was left of her rational mind cried out in protest.
“Don’t talk nonsense,” she whispered, sounding breathy and unconvincing even to her own ears.
“Nay, Lily, ’tisn’t nonsense, ’tis the simple truth. And there’s more, much more I wish to say . . . and do.”
She gasped, suddenly fearful.
“Ah, luv, don’t be frightened,” he said quickly. “I’d never hurt ye, I swear.”

Thanks so much for sharing a bit of Dashing Druid with us, Lyn! 
Be sure to come back for a special article series on Self-Publishing tips and expertise later this month from Lyn Horner!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Can A Change Of Scene Spur Creativity?

“What are you thinking?”
 
Last November, my daughter Anne stared at me with a look of disbelief. This is a normal scenario for me. “I’d like to go back to Scotland, but I also want you and Heather to come.”


She looked doubtful. “You’re serious.”

I assured her I was serious and had been thinking of a return trip for some time. The fact that I’d read lots of novels set in Scotland,  watched movies like Rob Roy and Braveheart and had visited there many years ago may have affected my decision.

”So when do you want to go?” I could see wheels turning inside her head. “I know Heather can’t go until the summer.”

I laughed. My daughter loves travel and I knew she was considering my idea.
She nodded. “Well that’s going to take some planning.”

I agreed knowing there would be more to it than just getting a  plane ticket and hotels..

She picked up the phone and called Heather, her older sister, who almost immediately said yes.

My friend Susie said she hoped I came back full of ideas and enthusiasm to write. For the past few months, I had hit a wall in writing. It’s funny how this malady can sneak up on you causing self doubt and second guessing. It throws one completely off course, happens at the most inopportune time, but forces you to look at what’s working and not working. There is nothing more soul killing than staying where you are and not moving forward with a plan and seeing where it leads you. At least that's the way it is for me. So Scotland was my change agent. You may ask why Scotland. And what can I say? Spring like temperatures unlike the 108 degrees in Texas, a trip back in time with history everywhere, blooming flowers, friendly people, and for romance writers, men in kilts everywhere.


We landed in the hilly city of Edinburgh in the early afternoon, the first city on our tour, and breathed in the cool fresh air, temperature 65 degrees.

 Later we settled into the Sheridan Guest House. This old victorian house was spotless and we were greeted by Rowena our hostess who showed us to our tastefully decorated rooms. The extra touch were phalenopsis orchids in both rooms adding to the ambience.

We gazed from our windows and there was Edinburgh Castle sitting high above the city. The sound of bagpipes echoed in the distance.
After a short rest, we selected The Ship on the Shore at Leith for dinner. In our part of Texas we don't get seafood right off the boat and Scotland has an abundance.
We each chose a different type of seafood. I chose a  platter and it had mussels,sardines, monkfish, brown crab, bass , shrimp and trout. I have never seen so much food. My daughters chose scallops, and salmon. It was a pricey meal but one of the best seafood dinners we had in Scotland.





The Shore side of the Water of Leith was the original Port of Leith and the location of The Ship on The Shore Restaurant and Bar.


A pier was later built to the north in the late 1700s.
"Tall masted sailing ships berthed at the Shore, while scores of crewmen loaded fish, coal, grain and hides for export to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Ships returned with wine, fruit, spices and cloth.
As ships grew too large for this shallow river mouth the harbour was moved north but the buildings on the Shore still show evidence of the old port."
This description of the Shore, above, is taken from a notice board at the Shore erected by the City of Edinburgh District Council, Forth Ports Authority and the Water of Leith Conservation Trust.





We returned to our guest house and went to sleep with the noise of seagulls outside our windows.
                                                 ~~~
To Be Continued..

Ruby Johnson writes romantic suspense with a twist of medicine and mystery.Her experiences as a certified registered nurse anesthetist practitioner are reflected in her characters and her stories. Ruby earned a BA degree fom Stephens College and a masters degree from the University of S.C in Columbia. She completed her education in nursing and nurse anesthesia at the Medical University of S.C. in Charleston. She now resides in Texas. When not writing, she’s traveling. But after years of being on 24 hour call, her present life allows her to switch from putting people to sleep with anesthesia to waking them up with words.. Ruby is a member of Romance Writers of America, Yellow Rose RWA, NTRWA, and Greater Fort Worth Writers. Follow her on facebook.com/RubyPJohnson, twitter@rubypjohnson . 



Monday, August 13, 2012

Lyn Horner's Foray into Self-Publishing


Award-winning author Lyn Horner resides in Texas with her husband and beloved cats. Trained in the visual arts, Lyn worked as a fashion illustrator and art instructor for Art Instruction Schools. After quitting work to raise her children, she took up writing as a hobby, soon discovering a love of historical research and the crafting of passionate romances based upon that research.
Lyn was a 2008 semi-finalist in the prestigeous Orange Rose Romance Writers Contest. In November 2010, she launched her debut novel DARLIN' DRUID, the first volume in her Texas Druids trilogy, which won 2nd place in the Paranormal Romance Guild's 2011 Reviewers Choice Awards.

Where did you get your inspiration for the Texas Druids series?

Years back, while living in the Chicago area, I came up with the idea to write about a young woman who lived through the terrible Chicago Fire of 1871. Since many Irish immigrants had settled in Chicago, giving my heroine, Jessie, an Irish lineage was logical. The decision to make her and her siblings descendants of ancient Druids, each with a different psychic gift, came later. I’ve always been fascinated by Celtic myth and folklore, and Druids. When searching for a paranormal element to make my western romances stand out in the crowd, it didn’t take me long to settle upon making Jessie Devlin and her two siblings descendants of ancient Druids, each with a unique psychic power. Jessie has second sight, the ability to look into the future. Her brother Tye is an empath, able to absorb others emotions, and baby sister Rose possesses the power to heal with the touch of her hands.

What scene in Dashing Druid is your favorite?

Oh gosh, that’s a tough one. I love quite a few. Hmm, I guess I’d have to pick the scene late in the book, when Tye finally explains to Lil, his feisty Texas cowgirl, what he is. He scares her almost into running away from him. Then, once he makes her understand and believe what he’s told her, she orders him out of her head, with surprisingly painful results for Tye.  It’s scene filled with revelation and dashes of humor. And love.

Which character was the most challenging to write and why?

Lil was tough. Literally.  For years she’s worked alongside her father’s cowhands, wearing britches and a six-shooter.  Softening her up, showing that she longs for love just like other women, while still retaining her spunky character, was a tricky process.

What is your writing story? How did you get started in the business?

I was trained as a visual artist and worked as a fashion illustrator and art instructor. That was up in Minneapolis. When my husband was transferred to Chicagoland by his employer, I gave up working to stay home with our two young children. And promptly went bonkers! Being home all day with toddlers, without adults to talk to, can do that to you. However, I loved reading, especially historical romance. One day, I read a particularly bad book and thought maybe I could do better. Desperate for a creative outlet, I took up pencil and paper and began to scribble stories. It took about a week for me to get hooked. Then followed hours and hours at the nearest library, researching the Chicago Fire, train schedules for the Union Pacific RR, and dozens of other obscure subjects. Eventually, I finished my first book (it had a different title back then) and sent off a query to a New York publisher. They asked to see the whole manuscript, a rather stunning request after a mere query. Unfortunately, they turned down the book (it was far too rough for publication). I rewrote it, got an agent, two different ones actually, and ended up with a bunch of rejections. I pretty much quit writing for several years until 2010, when I discovered Kindle Direct Publishing. I’ve since published two novels, a novella (a prequel to the Texas Druid series titled White Witch) and a photo-illustrated memoir titled Six Cats In My Kitchen.

Are you a plotter or a ‘pantser’?

I’m definitely a plotter.  I tried the pantser approach with my first book, Darlin’ Druid. It took me years to get past the first three chapters. Never again! These days I lay out detailed outlines. As a matter of fact, I just finished the outline for my next Texas Druids book. I plotted and wrote the first few chapters to get acquainted with my characters. Then I took time to outline the rest of the story. Now I’m set to zip through the chapters. I hope!

What is the oddest/craziest piece of advice you’ve heard from an editor/agent/or author?

Oh boy, have I got a story for you! Back in 2008, I entered the prestigious Orange Rose Contest, at the urging of a friend in California, who belongs to the Orange Rose chapter. The story I entered is an unfinished manuscript set in Ireland. It did quite well, making it to the semi-finals. One of the editors who judged it really like the story but could not offer for it because the house she worked for (still does as far as I know) had recently contracted for a historical trilogy set in, you guessed it, Ireland. However, the editor requested to see more of my work. So I sent her the first three chapters and synopsis of Darlin’ Druid. After a few months, I heard from her. She said she wasn’t going to buy my book, for reasons I’m not real clear about, but she advised me not to take out the paranormal element (as I’d offered to do if necessary) because that’s what makes the book unique. She was very polite and encouraged me to keep writing. Still, I’ve always found it ironic that she didn’t want the book, but also didn’t think I should change it. Go figure.

What time and where is your favorite place to write?
I write at odd times, both day and night. It’s past 3 a.m. right now, as I write this. Sometimes I work in my favorite recliner with my laptop. Other times, I park on our bed, with research books and papers spread out around me. Needless to say, I have to move when hubby decides it’s time for some shuteye. Poor man puts up with books and papers piled around the house, but he does like to sleep. Darn!

What’s next for you?

Well, as I said, I’m working on the third Texas Druids novel. I hope to publish it by early 2013. After that, I’d like to finish that Irish historical I mentioned. It’s set in 1798, “The Year of Liberty” ­– when the Irish rose up against their British overlords. It was a violent, exciting, and finally sad period in Irish history, the perfect setting for an epic historical romance.

If you could have coffee/tea/martinis with any person (living or dead), who would it be with and why?

That’s a no brainer. It would be Diana Gabaldon, my favorite author. I adore her Outlander series and Lord John books. She truly is my idol. I’d probably just sit and stare at her like an idiot, entirely star-struck! Well, maybe not. I’ve actually met her years ago, but didn’t get to discuss writing with her. That would be fantastic.

Thanks for sharing, Lyn! Post comments/question for Lyn below and she'll answer. Come back on Friday for an excerpt of Dashing Druid!
Follow Lyn Horner online at texasdruids.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Grammar - Appropriate Apostrophes

Matthew Bryant is secretary of GFW Writers group and also is our in-house professor of the new Grammar Etiquette blog series, posted the second Wednesday of every month. He is an English teacher in Denton, TX. When he isn't teaching he is ghost writing and working on his novel. He says with small children he has learned to write fast.
If you have a question or a comment, please leave it in the comment section at the end of this article.


One of the easiest mistakes to make, then later to overlook, is the misuse of apostrophes. While a bit obnoxious, this is perfectly understandable, so there's no real sense in beating yourself up over it. As an English teacher, it's the third most common error, just tailing behind commas and homonyms. So let's have a quick refresher in the appropriate times to use one, shall we?

Contractions

Ladies, calm down, I'm not talking about labor here. Contractions also represent the combination of two words. Down south, one of our favorites is “y'all”, a clever slang of 'you' and 'all'. And yes, it's spelled “y'all”, not “ya'll” for you wannabe southerners.

In each of these, the apostrophe appears where the words are split and then rejoined. Think of them as the duct tape of the literary world. The reason I used this demonstration first, is for a few select words: it's and there's. While these could easily fall into the category of possessives, it would be incorrect. It's and there's represent “it is” and “there is” respectively. Such as “It's a nice day out today” and “There's poo in the litter box.” And for the record, those self-cleaning litter boxes don't really do you any favors, it just collects all of the foulness into an inconvenient plastic box that leaks half the litter out onto the floor beneath the box anyway.

The best way to keep a litter box clean is to throw out the cat.

Possessives
I like having things. Anything I can dub as 'mine' is an automatic win in my humble opinion. Even if the statement is, “Matthew's car is a piece of crap.” This may be true, but it's MY car and I'm damned proud of it. In these situations, the apostrophe follows the noun that holds ownership and is typically succeeded by an 's'. Rare instances are those shown above involving 'its' and 'theres'. While spell-check will tell you that 'theres' doesn't exist, it's just being stupid. Disregard.

Other instances of difference are following plural nouns - “It's the ducks' favorite watering hole.” In these cases, the apostrophe actually signifies the end of the word.

More obnoxious are the nouns that end in 's'. For instance: Princess. In order to make princess plural, you must attach an apostrophe and another 's'. Spoken aloud, this sounds like 'Princesses', although there is no additional 'e' added.

Pseudo-Quotes
 I might've just made that word up. Regardless of my God-like abilities to create language, this happens to fit these phenomena perfectly. Pseudo-quotes are words, letters, or phrases embedded into a sentence, statement, or thought without actually being a direct quote. I love these because they don't require a comma, although some may call for 'finger quotes' when spoken publicly.

Armed with this knowledge, you can safely avoid the apostrophe atrocity that has befallen far too many self-published authors who excitedly hand me their manuscript and 'graciously' receive their backhand of peer-editing.

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