Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Is your modifier dangling?

The subject for this post came to mind when I remembered Groucho Marx saying, "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I don't know."

A dangling modifier is an error in sentence structure whereby a grammatical modifier is associated with a word other than the one intended, or with no particular word at all. For example, a writer may have meant to modify the subject, but word order makes the modifier seem to modify an object instead. Such ambiguities can lead to unintentional humor or difficulty in understanding a sentence. Here are a few examples:

At the age of eight, my family finally bought a dog.
Walking down Main Street, the trees were beautiful.
As president of the kennel club, my poodle must be well groomed.
Screaming for help, David's fingers gripped the edge of the cliff.
After living under a pile of dust for thirty years, I found the documents.

We know what we're trying to say, but sometimes we just get a little confused and end up with something that may be a bit funnier than we intended. Of course, if you're writing humor, the dangling modifier may be your best friend.

Now it's your turn. Give us an example of your own. Just click on that Comment thing and type away.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Digital Publishing—FREE COPIES!

There are probably thousands, maybe millions, of great book manuscripts lying in drawers, gathering dust, and never being read by those for whom they were intended. Why? Because those writers have given up on the traditional publishing methodology and have failed to embrace the new digital publishing model. And it's time those books were published. If you're a writer, and you're ready to publish your book, this post was written with you in mind.

Digital publishing has arrived, and a lot of writers have decided to take the self-publishing route. Many of them have done so quite successfully. Others have procrastinated simply because they have no idea how to go about it. With that dilemma in mind, I created and published a nuts-and-bolts, how-to manual that will help anyone achieve the status of published author—with very little effort and no cost. Yes, indeed, you can have your book published and available for sale on Amazon.com by this time tomorrow. It really is THAT easy to do.

I'm going to put a link to my book explaining the details of digital publishing right HERE. If you'd like to click it and go to Amazon and purchase it, I would certainly appreciate that. (It's only 99 cents.) However, just so I don't sound like a salesman, if you'd really like a copy, and you'd be open to writing a review at some point in the future, I'll send you a copy with no strings attached.

How to Get Your Free Copy—

1. Go to my website HERE.
2. At the bottom next to the word CONTACT, click on the email address.
4. Send me an email with FREE BOOK in the subject line.
5. I'll send it to you in a return email.

I know you're a great writer, and this book will make it a piece of cake for you to get your manuscript formatted, converted, and uploaded to Amazon.com in no time at all. By this time tomorrow, you can be a published author!

Now click the link and order your FREE BOOK!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Treasure of Morro Bay — Book One

I am in the process of doing a revision on Book One of the Treasure of Morro Bay trilogy. Why? Because I am about to format and publish Book Two (Deja Vu), and I wanted to give the series a new look and clean up a few stray typos I found.

I will be doing a FREE DAY on Book One in the near future, so stay tuned for that if you'd like to get a free copy of the first installment so you can read it before Deja Vu comes out later this summer.

Here's the new cover. I would welcome your comments!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Final Cover Design

I have revised the cover design. The background illustration was created by Pierre "Asahi" Raveneau. So far, the responses to the new cover design have all been quite positive. So, if you need any art or illustration for YOUR cover, I would highly recommend checking out Pierre's work.

Here's a LINK to his site.

Meanwhile, don't forget to enter to win your FREE copy of Skullhaven. Check out the post below.

I hope you will leave a comment so I'll know you're out there.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Skullhaven Giveaway

Skullhaven launched today as a digital edition, and I've decided to host the first giveaway. If you'd like to enter, just follow the instructions on the form below. The giveaway ends at midnight April 15th, 2014. Winner will be selected by a random drawing.

To receive 1 entry, Tweet a message about the Giveaway. You can get 1 extra entry every day by Tweeting it. (Use the Twitter symbol below this post.)

For 5 entries, share this post on Facebook. (Use the Facebook symbol below this post.)


If we have 24 entries or less, there will be ONE COPY awarded.
If the entries exceed 25 but don't go past 49, TWO COPIES will be awarded.
Between 50 and 74, THREE COPIES.
Between 75 and 99, FOUR COPIES.
And if we hit 100 entries, I will award FIVE COPIES.

Easy-breezy! Good Luck to everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Hero's Journey

A great deal has been written over the years about the Hero's Journey. It can provide a blueprint for the writer in the construction of their novel.

Orphan --- Wanderer --- Warrior --- Martyr

As a writer, it’s your daunting task to take your character, and your readers, through these stages in the hero's journey by creating that wonderful plot around which everything revolves and evolves. Let’s take a brief look at these four stages and discuss some examples to provide a better idea of the progression.

ORPHAN: This can be a literal or a figurative situation for the hero. Sometimes it’s both. It puts the hero into a more vulnerable position, with no one to help them, so they have to think things out for themselves. Two examples are immediately obvious: Annie and Dorothy. These two characters are literal examples. One is living in an orphanage (like Lilly White in my most recent middle grade paranormal novel Skullhaven—pardon the shameless promotion) and the other resides with her Auntie Em. A more recent example can be found in the Harry Potter books.

Figurative orphans may be more common. Gordie LaChance in Stand by Me is one example. He lives with his parents (who are now totally consumed with the death of his older brother) and Gordie is more or less isolated and forgotten. He finds companionship with his friends and a degree of solace in his writing. Other examples include Homer Hickam from the movie October Sky, Carrie from Stephen King's novel by the same name, and Neil Gaiman's Coraline. In Finding Nemo, both Nemo and his father could be classified as figurative orphans, each of them searching for the other. In Lost in the Bayou, Robin Sherwood is a figurative (and perhaps literal) orphan. In the opening chapter, we learn that her parents have disappeared—fate unknown.

Within this “orphan” environment, the main character is presented with a problem, an obstacle, something that's wrong and simply has to be fixed. That’s where your wonderful plot begins. Usually this occurs with a “situation-changing-event,” such as Gandalf’s visit to Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit. When that occurs, they become a…

WANDERER: The hero, dissatisfied with their current situation (whatever it may be) embarks on a quest to resolve it and make it, or the world, better. Your hero may wander through many pages and numerous chapters, or they may only wander for a short time until they come up with a solution. When that happens, they become a…

WARRIOR: This is where things begin to change. Your hero comes up with a plan, figures out what needs to be done and how to do it. But it’s never easy, or at least it shouldn't appear too easy. There must be some struggling, internally and/or externally. Obstacles come flying out of nowhere, slowing and stopping your hero's progress. They have to summon their courage, use their brains, or figure out what can be done to overcome whatever, or whomever, is blocking their success. Typically there is a “darkest moment” where things take a drastic turn for the worse and success and a happy ending seems all but impossible. Your hero may have to make a huge sacrifice, and sometimes put themselves into the most dangerous situation imaginable. This is when they reach the status of…

MARTYR: This is the point where the hero risks everything, faces the danger and lays their life on the line if necessary in order to solve the problem and/or achieve their objective. They may have to dig down deep inside to find the courage to do what's necessary. As the writer, you need to make certain we feel their pain, their fear, their desperation. This is typically the climax chapter where the hero stands up and delivers. This is the defining moment, and the event that changes everything. The dark clouds separate, and the sun shines brightly. As readers, we are relieved that our hero has managed to escape the villain, the jaws of death, their loneliness, or whatever situation you (the writer) have placed them in. Problem solved. All is right with the world.

So there you have it. This is the basic progression. For a much more detailed explanation, check out Joseph Campbell’s narrative at the following LINK.

Your comments are always welcome!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Writing for the senses...

The senses are a very powerful tool for adding realism to a story. As a reader, we enjoy it when the author takes us deep into the story and paints a realistic environment for the characters. As a writer, we need to strive to offer our readers no less.

The excerpt below is from my newly-released MG novel, Skullhaven. I selected it to provide an example of what I'm talking about regarding sensual input.

Skullhaven Cemetery is across the highway from the Sacred Heart orphanage. It lies in a shadowed valley where a misty cloud of fog rises from the ground shortly after sunset. No streetlights warm the soul on a chilly autumn evening, and once you step through the creaking, rusting wrought iron entrance gate, the night wraps around you like a damp shroud. It is an old and lonely place, where lost spirits haunt the grounds until they move on—if they can.
In this example we've covered four out the five senses. The only thing missing is the sense of smell. That's a bit unfortunate, because that sense is perhaps the most powerful for sparking memories and adding additional realism.
I hope you'll leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Skullhaven is coming...

I've just uploaded the converted .mobi files to KDP for my new middle-grade paranormal novel, SKULLHAVEN. I will be offering free gift copies for anyone willing to read it and do a review on Amazon.

Here's a blurb to give you a bit more info. 

Lilly was only four years old when her mother kissed her goodbye and told her she would be right back. And after seven years, Lilly still wonders what happened to her. For the last seven years, Lilly has been living at the Sacred Heart Orphanage across the highway from Skullhaven Cemetery. It’s a spooky place for a timid girl. Especially at night.

Sister Carmen understands Lilly's fears, and she gives Lily a necklace with an ancient cross and tells her it will protect her. But it does more than that! Its mysterious power allows Lilly to see spirits who haven’t crossed over.

When the wealthy and ruthless Egyptian antiquities dealer Horus Hawass visits the Sacred Heart Orphanage and sees Lilly’s necklace, he recognizes it immediately as the priceless Golden Ankh of the ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. The greedy Horus Hawass quickly hatches a plan to acquire it for himself, and he calls in a few of his seedy associates.

After kidnapping Lilly, he gives her an ultimatum: She can either give him the Golden Ankh, or she can join her mother in Skullhaven Cemetery—forever.

Skullhaven is a fun adventure with a hint of history, a bit of mystery, and a lot of complexity that will keep the middle-grade reader wondering what's going to happen next!