February 17

Today is the birthday of Gustavo Becquer (Spanish poet), Andrew Paterson (Australian journalist, poet), Dorothy Fisher (novelist), Margaret Truman (mysteries), Chaim Potok (novelist), Ruth Rendell (British mystery writer)

Tip: Do not add new characters or plot lines in the last third of your book. If they weren’t there in the beginning or middle, they shouldn’t be there in the end.

Thought: “I have rewritten – often several times – every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.” – Vladimir Nabokov

Teaser: You’re inside an elevator and the doors won’t open. What’s worse, you’re claustrophobic. What do you do? Is there anyone with you?

Guest Post: Aaron Grant (Lila Leigh Hunter)

Welcome to my guest for today – Lila Leigh Hunter. I know she’s got to have a great book because… come on, she picked Captain Kirk over Batman and Superman and that’s what counts!

All About Me: Cast Edition – Aaron Grant

Hey, all! Thank you, Vicki, for letting me talk with your readers today. I want to introduce them to Aaron Grant. One of the main characters from my new States of Love novella, Dating in Retrospect. He’s a good Midwestern man living and working in Southeaster Iowa. He’s a college professor and runs the family farm, Grant Lanes. I couldn’t resist using the Facebook challenge “All About Me” to tell you more about him. Well, for him to tell you. Enjoy!

Full Name: Aaron Grant
Single or Taken: From single to taken in one year
Crush: Clay Keller *blushes*

Height: Six-feet
Favorite Color: Gold
Kids: A whole herd—to come—if you ask my father
Snapchat: Still trying to figure out the calendar on my iPad

Zodiac Sign: Geminisdatinginretrospectfs_v1

Last Drink: Coffee, lots, and lots of coffee
Glasses: Yes; tortoise shell frame
Cat or Dog: Neither. Not much of a pet person
Evil or Good: Definitely good
Favorite Sport: College football. Iowa Hawkeyes
Favorite Animal: None
Weird: No, that’s Clay’s specialty

Do You Have Haters: Yes!!! One faculty member; He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

Funny or Not: Not

Apple or Samsung: Apple
Smart: Overachiever

Batman or Superman: Captain Kirk

February 10

Tip: It’s okay to use sentence fragments in fiction writing. But be careful not to overuse them. They can make for choppy writing.

Thought: “Good ideas aren’t hard to come by. Good writing is.” – Paul Martin

Teaser: Write a list of favorite phrases and “swear” words your character would use. When would s/he use them? Why?

February 9

Tip: Make sure your pronouns are referring to the person you want them to. In the sentence: John called Tom every day while he was away. The “he” is vague. Who is it referring to? John? Or Tom? Who was away? Technically, a pronoun refers to the last person mentioned, in this case, Tom. But what if it was John who was gone? A better way to write it would be: While John was away, he called Tom every day. Or, if Tom was away: While Tom was away, he called John every day.

Thought: “You will never overcome your fear that your writing is insipid or incomprehensible or trivial – write in spite of the fear.” – Paul Martin

Teaser: Your heroine hears something scratching in her walls. What is it? How does she react? What does she do?

February 8

Tip: “Try and” vs. “try to”: the correct usage is “try to”. Don’t “try and” do something. You can try “to” do it, but not try and.

Thought: “See life as it is, but write about life as it might be.” – P. M. Martin

Teaser: Make a list of every place you’ve been in the past twenty-four hours. Describe each location in detail and the feelings associated with it. If you’ve not been anywhere, pick the last time you went somewhere and describe that. Now, put your character there.

February 7

Tip: Watch out for word phrases like: due to the fact that, in view of the fact that, the reason for, inasmuch as, on the grounds that, etc. These can usually be boiled down to simpler words like: because, for, since, etc.

Thought: “People who talk a lot say they could write a book if only they had the time. Writers are the ones who quit talking so much.” – John Martin

Teaser: Make a list of images you find ugly or disgusting. Choose one and write a description that redeems that image.

February 6

Tip: A redundancy is the use of a word or words that are not necessary and can be eliminated without losing the meaning of the sentence. “That” is often a redundant word. Go over your manuscript. Are there any places where “that” can be eliminated? So are things like: each and every (one or the other, not both); first and foremost (first); blue in color (blue); return back(return); full and complete(either one, not both); period of time (time), etc.

Thought: “The man or woman who doesn’t write holds no advantage over the one who can’t.” – Mark Twain

Teaser: What does your main character like to watch on TV? What kind of music does s/he like? Make a list of media choices your character would make (movies vs video vs TV, etc)

February 5

Tip: Numbers under 100 should usually (but not always) be written out. If you’re starting a sentence with a number, that should be written out or, if you can’t (like in a year – 2017), rewrite the sentence so it doesn’t start with the number. If you’re using a percentage—10 percent—always use a number. I know, grammar rules don’t make a lot of sense, but for now, it’s what we have to go by and these come from the Chicago Manual of Style.

Thought: “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” – Henry Ford

Teaser: Your character hates to travel. She gets motion sick swinging on a swing. But she has to take a trip. Why? What does she do? How does she travel? What happens?

February 4

Tip: Quote marks—use doubles to offset dialogue or words or phrases you want to emphasize. Singles are used only within doubles.

Thought: “Writing is a series of permissions you give yourself to be expressive in certain ways. To invent. To leap. To fly. To fall.” – Susan Sontag

Teaser: Your house seems to be haunted. Who is haunting you and why?