Friday, December 12, 2014

That pesky Semicolon and how to use it by Helen Hardt.

The Semicolon
Take a Tip from Helen #9

by Helen Hardt

(This article originally posted at the Musa Publishing blog and is being reposted with permission from the author)

Are You a User or an Abuser?

This little punctuation mark is probably the most misused on the planet. The semicolon is a divider. It is used ONLY (okay, there's one exception, but you won't come across it in fiction) to mark off the boundary between grammatically parallel elements. It is most often used to separate independent clauses in compound and compound-complex sentences and to separate items in a series when one or more of the items include interior punctuation.


His heart told him to move to New York; his head told him to stay.

(Two independent clauses joined)

He pleaded with her to stay; however, she left on the train at noon.

(Two independent clauses joined by a coordinating conjunction, when the second independent clause contains a comma.

My favorite movies are Titanic; Yours, Mine, and Ours; and Avatar.

(A series of three items, one of which includes interior punctuation)


We're looking at the city's liability; a problem that could be addressed by raising taxes.

She'd need a few months to learn to walk again; to adjust to living again.

She quickened her footsteps; stopped; turned around.

If you choose to use the semicolon, please use it correctly :).

Cowboy Heat Bakersville Saga One and Two

Ivy League~ Cowboy Dusty O’Donovan, an accomplished bull rider, isn’t afraid to ride El Diablo, a feisty stud whose owner, Zach McCray, is offering $500,000 to anyone who can stay on him for a full eight seconds. Though Zach refuses to let a woman ride his bull, he's intrigued by the headstrong Dusty, who he last saw when he was thirteen and she was six. Sparks fly when they’re together, but will Dusty’s secrets tear them apart?

A Cowboy and a Gentleman~ Newly divorced Dallas McCray wants a sweet country girl like his sister-in-law, so why is he lusting after the new veterinarian in town, striking New Jersey transplant Annie DeSimone? Also divorced, Annie yearns to leave her difficult past behind and start a new life in beautiful Colorado. Sparks fly between her and handsome cowboy Dallas, but attraction and emotion aren’t always enough…especially when a cowboy has vowed never to make the same mistake twice.

To read excerpts from Helen Hardt's books please click a vendor's name.
Musa Publishing - Amazon

Helen Hardt is the Head Line Editor for Musa Publishing and a freelance editor. She is also an award-winning author. Helen writes contemporary, historical, paranormal, and erotic romance for several publishers. Her non-writing interests include Harley rides with her husband, attending her sons’ sports and music performances, traveling, and Taekwondo (she’s a blackbelt.)

Learn more about Helen Hardt and her editing service on her website.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Ten Tips for Becoming a Better Writer

Thank so much for inviting me to guest blog on the Aspiring Romance Authors site, Dominique! It’s a pleasure to be here.

Ten Tips for Becoming a Better Writer by Ann Gimpel



1.      Read. Read a lot. Not just in the genre you want to write in, but in other genres as well. Learn to recognize why you like (or don’t like) a particular book. Be able to pick out plot threads, tension, pacing, and character development. If you can’t see them in other people’s writing, you won’t be able to work those things into your own, either.

2.      Write every day. Even if it’s only a few hundred words. At the beginning, don’t worry about aiming for whole stories. Write scenes. Learn to work with words on your screen.

3.      Consider writers’ software like Scrivener. I don’t use it, but I know lots of writers who swear by it. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but what I use in lieu of Scrivener-type software is storyboards and three-ring binders. It’s how I keep my characters and my words and the mythologies in my different books straight. I think you need something. Otherwise, when you go through a story for first edits, you find embarrassing things like your characters’ names having changed. Or their hair color.

4.      Find a good critique group. Or at least a couple of critique partners. You need other sets of eyes to go over your writing and tell you where the plot holes are, or why a particular character doesn’t work. We just can’t do that for ourselves. Also, your partner, mother, BFF, etc. can’t do that for you, either. It won’t help you to have someone gush over your work. Even NYT bestselling writers have a phalanx of people looking over their shoulders, starting with their literary agents.

5.      Get good and familiar with grammar. They don’t teach it in school like they did when I went an embarrassingly long time ago. Do any of the rest of you remember diagramming sentences? Can you list the various parts of speech? Of a sentence? Do you know why we avoid adverbs and only rarely begin sentences with gerunds or prepositions? If you know all that stuff, great. Some of it still gives me fits, like lie versus lay. I still have to think that one through. Or farther versus further.

6.      A bit more on #5. Do not rely on Word’s grammar checker. It’s wrong nearly as frequently as it’s correct.

7.      Develop a thick skin. Writing is a skill, much like any other. It takes time and dedication to hone your craft. I’ve been grateful for every single review I’ve gotten, even the bad ones, because they’ve highlighted areas I need to focus on.

8.      It takes many elements to create a great story. You need three dimensional character who blaze off the page. You need a plot with enough interwoven threads to hold a reader’s interest. Tension and pacing move the plot forward. None of us are born knowing how to do all those things. Characters were always easy for me. I had to teach myself plotting, pacing, and holding tension.

9.      Learn to proof your work. It’s a skill. Your chances of publication will improve dramatically if your work is close to error-free. A neighbor of mine just posted the first couple hundred words from her novel that’s been sitting in a drawer for twenty years on FB. It made me itch to toss it up on M/S Track Changes. That level of editing proficiency will knock a big, fat hole in your pleasure reading, but it’s worth it.

10.  Don’t give up. If you want something, work for it. We don’t truly appreciate what comes to us too easily.


What about the rest of you? Did I miss something you think is critical? Love to have you weigh in.

Get to know Ann Gimpel

@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)
Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. She’s published over 20 books to date, with several more contracted for 2014.

A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family.



Magic didn’t just find Luke Caulfield. It chased him down, bludgeoned him, and has been dogging him ever since. Some lessons are harder than others. Luke survives by embracing danger and upping the ante to give it one better. An enforcer for the Coven, a large, established group of witches, his latest assignment is playing bodyguard to the daughter of Coven leaders.


Abigail Ruskin is chaperoning a spoiled twelve-year-old from New York to her parents’ home in Utah Territory when Luke gets on their stagecoach in Colorado. A powerful witch herself, Abigail senses Luke’s magic, but he’s so overwhelmingly male, she shies away from contact. Stuck between the petulant child and Luke’s raw sexual energy, Abigail can’t wait for the trip to end.


Wraiths, wolves, and humans with dark magick attack. Unpleasant truths surface about the child and Abigail’s well-ordered world crashes around her. Luke’s so attracted to Abigail, she’s almost all he can think about, but he’s leery too. In over his head, he summons enforcer backup. Will they help him save the woman he’s falling in love with, or demand her immediate execution?

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tips for doing radio interviews

Radio show hosts are almost always rushed for time and being creative in their questioning. Combining those two things will help you be a better radio guest.

This is what you do:

List a bunch of questions you would like to be asked or anticipate would be interesting to a radio audience. Remember things are done in very short snippets.

For each question formulate your answer; then orally time how long it takes to answer the question. Once you have that, indicate with the question how long it takes for the question/answer. Having all your questions and answers timed out will help you look good to the host and make their jobs easier because they know how much time they have to fill. So a typical question would go like this:

1. How do you come up with ideas for your books?

Answer: 1 minute.

2. Do you read e-books?

Answer: 2 minutes

3. How does the quality of e-books compare to traditional publishing?

Answer: 2 minutes.

4. What is your book about?

Answer: 1 minute

5. How will reading your novel impact our readers? (How will it better their lives in some way?)

Answer: 2 minutes

Let's say your host has 4 minutes of airtime to fill. He/She can pick and choose from the questions you provide to fill that time without awkward silence and make the best use of the time you've been given.

Stand up it will make you less breathy,

For web radio interviews you will be asked to make sure you call on a land line. Better safe than sorry do not call on your cell. Also you will likely have more time than you would for your morning radio show so be prepared. Have answers to questions like

Who inspires you? Why did you start to write?

In any sort of interview you want to show how reading your work will enhance the lives of the readers. Bonus points if you can tie some aspect of your story into current events

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Not All Pirates are Sexy by Dominique Eastwick

Dear Pirate sites and those using them,
 I am not flattered you are downloading my stolen books for free. I do not get a great big advance and I count every penny my book sales give me. You would not steal a paperback off the shelf so why do you think it's okay to steal my pdf.
 I have spent all morning requesting my books be removed from your sites, and yes my time is precious. And now the count is over 10000 of my books being downloaded for free. And don't tell me those people wouldn't have paid anyway. If they didn't want to pay for the book they shouldn't have stolen it. And if they can afford the computer, nook, kindle they need to read it on they can afford the 2.99 if cost to buy my book.
Let me say this LOUD AND CLEAR. Downloading eBooks from pirating sites is stealing. They are not a lending library, you get to keep the books forever if you choose. If you want to check out my books then ask your local library to get them for their eBook program, it’s available to them. Library's pay the authors for their books. They are legit, pirating sites are not. If you think I make a lot of doing this I do not. Do I want people to read my books yes but pirating doesn't help my book it hurts it. Do not buy into the hype that this is okay, or LEGAL it is NOT. This is theft plain and simple. Pirate sites do not own my books, I do and I have NOT given them the right to use my books in any way... If you can't afford my book ask me if I have free copies to give you. DO NOT STEAL THEM.
Let’s Debunk the Hype.
Downloading free media is a victimless crime.~~~ FALSE.  When you down load a movie it’s the little people who lose out, because the big company’s cut them first. It’s the painters the costumers the props people. People who make little to nothing anyway.  When I sell a book I make between 35% and 50% depending on the publisher of what the Publisher makes. That means that once Amazon and Nook take their cut I get sometimes 10 cents on the dollar.
I should be honored that so many people are downloading my book~~~FALSE. Would you be honored if someone came into your house and stole from you? Theft is theft weather it’s a piece of Bubblegum or a camera.
It shouldn’t bother you because they wouldn’t have bought it anyway~~~FALSE Really that’s the best you can come up with. 9000 copies of Tony’s Haven were downloaded in one weekend. I should feel happy that 9000 people would prefer to steal it then pay 3.99 for it. So I am not planning on ever buying a Porsche, I am not going to steal one just to make this statement ok.
Authors make tons in advances~~~ FALSE  Some a very few make big advances and guess what they make no more money until that advance number has been met. And other authors get as little as $10 for an advance. But the vast majority live in hope of a royalty check. That royalty check pays for the extras we can’t afford otherwise, sports, music and oh those things like electricity. A great many authors are just happy to see $10 dollar royalty checks every month or so.

Amazon gives it away for free what's the big deal~~~ The big deal is that Amazon gives it away if I as the author say they can. Not because they choose too.
AUTHOR my helpful hints
Now that I have addressed the pirate sites this is my advice to Authors. You may not agree with them all but here it goes…
·         Expect it to happen. When it does you will be ready to deal with it. It’s a sad fact of the business. I don’t have to like it but I except that it will happen and I will have to deal with it. Expect the worse hope for the best.
·         Deal with it.
·         Getting unduly emotional. (Yes I have cried but I am learning) It’s up on the site. Take a breathe and relax, now calmly find out where to send the DMCA take down notice. Be calm, be professional and follow what they ask for.
·         REMEMBER THE PART ABOUT EMOTIONAL? Some sites are search engines only if you type the title in it will come up with a place to download it. Guess what if you type in anything it will come up with where to down load it even “oaihjefpoaihewfoaiwjfe[444kk” So your book might not be there make sure before you stress out.
·         Did I mention professional. Always be professional even when dealing with scum. Two authors sent in DMCA letters on the same day. The professional one came down 24 hours later the other one took weeks. Coincidence? Who knows.
·         Keep a DMCA letter in your Docs file makes this an easier email to send when you have it already written. If you need a copy of one please leave me an email address in the comments and I will send you my sample.
·         Believing it won’t matter another one will just pop up tomorrow. Probably but let’s make it as hard as possible for them to get your work for free and some pirate sites are share sites and once you ask for your name to be taken down some will block it from appearing again.
·         Be vigilant.
·         Make sure the site is a Pirate site and not a site your publisher is actually sending too. A sure fire way to piss off your publisher and the third part retail sites are to send a DMCA when your book really is supposed to be there.
·         NEVER ever give them your phone number even if they ask for it to remove a book.
·         THIS IS IMPORTANT!!!!!!!!!!!! NEVER EVER blast on social media where you just found a book. DO NOT I repeat DO NOT promote these sites in any way shape or form.
To find out more about DMCA
 Thank you to all those who have spent the 3.99 my most expensive book costs. And to those who buy books, music and movies legally. You are appreciated more then you know.
There are no victimless crimes and we authors are feeling the crimes every day.
About Dominique
Dominique Eastwick is an award winning, bestselling author. She lives in NC with her Hubby two boys, lazy cat and crazy lab. She started the Aspiring Romance author group in 2002 as a way to support other authors in the goals to finding their dreams.



Friday, February 7, 2014

You wrote the book. Now what? by Rebecca Royce

I recently sat down with a woman dreaming of being a Romance Author. She’s talented, with great ideas, but has never been able to get published. So, we sat around and talked about what she was supposed to do next.

First of all, its important to note that there are lots of ways to get published these days. The traditional model of getting published is not the only way to go about it. Digital publishing changed everything and I happened to have made my career that way.

But I don’t want to talk about how to submit, where to submit, and how. I want to talk about taking a critique. One of the things I suggested to my new friend is that if she has never been read, never been edited, then she is not ready to submit.

An author needs very thick skin.

If you are a new writer or an unpublished one then you need to submit your work for an edit with a critique group. You need to hear from someone who may or may not know what the heck they are talking about that your book is just awful. Why? Because even if it is not awful someone out there is going to hate it after they read and you’d better be ready to let that roll off your back. No one likes everything and someone is not going to like what you’re doing.

Rejections are hard. If you don’t have a previous relationship with a publisher it can be hard to get your foot in the door. Its better if that moment is not the first moment you’re hearing no.

I guess that’s my advice. You’ve written a book? Don’t you dare submit it anywhere until you’ve had it torn apart. Its not ready and neither are you.

About Rebecca

As a teenager, Rebecca Royce would hide in her room to read her favorite romance novels when she was supposed to be doing her homework. She hopes, these days, that her parents think it was well worth it.

Rebecca is the mother of three adorable boys and is fortunate to be married to her best friend. They’ve just moved to Texas where Rebecca is discovering a new love for barbecue!
She's in love with science fiction, fantasy, and the paranormal and tries to use all of these elements in her writing. She's been told she's a little bloodthirsty so she hopes that when you read her work you'll enjoy the action packed ride that always ends in romance. Rebecca loves to write series because she loves to see characters develop over time and it always makes her happy to see her favorite characters make guest appearances in other books.

In Rebecca Royce's world anything is possible, anything can happen, and you should suspect that it will.!/rebeccaroyce


Aidan Roux fled New Orleans fifteen years ago, leaving behind a woman he loved. Planning to keep it light because he has no intentions of sticking around, he’s caught off guard by his mother’s health crisis. Forced to stay, he challenges Stacey to be his lover for February with no expectations of anything else.

Stacey never stopped wanting Aidan, but she’s not a girl anymore and she meets his proposition with one of her own. A hero, just back from Afghanistan, he’s the perfect guy for her calendar contest. If he wants her in his bed, he’ll pose for her camera.

Stacey and Aidan seem made for each other—but old hurts cannot be forgotten and love isn’t always enough…

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