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New Beginnings!

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It’s a brand-new year, and almost the 5th anniversary of this website — so what better time to freshen things up with a new look and a new focus?

You may have noticed that I write in a lot of different genres, which is mostly great for me but probably confusing (and maybe a little frustrating) for readers. So for 2019, I’ve split my contemporary romantic fiction off into a new pen name, Carrie Ann Hope, and this site/name/identity is going to focus on “Stories of Other Worlds” — science fiction, supernatural mystery, and paranormal romance.

I’ve also retired from editing for other folks so that I can focus on writing and publishing, which I’ve discovered takes a TON of time!

As I’ve told you, I’m not the most regular of bloggers, but I’ll try to keep you updated both here and on my Facebook page re: everything that’s new and exciting. I’ll also be setting up a newsletter in the next couple of weeks, where you’ll find offers for freebies, a chance to join my ARC team, and links to some great books from other indy authors.

So, stay tuned! It’s going to be a terrific year.

writing

Singing the Praises of Short Stories

Banner for short storiesHello, all, from the world’s worst blogger!

I love a good short story. I’ll admit to feeling daunted when I pick up a mega-novel — like I’m tackling something that’s going to take forever, and the feeling isn’t much different when I sit down to write something lengthy.

But a short story? Can be like a small but very gourmet meal.

The trouble is, short stories are damned hard to market, because the common wisdom is “Everybody hates short stories.” They don’t, but promo sites won’t handle them. So… what to do with the shorties that I’ve written and love, and that other folks have written and would like to put out there in front of some eyeballs?

I created a Facebook group. There, you’ll find links to my short stories, and those of some very talented other folks. All genres: SF, romance, horror, family drama, you name it. Come on over and take a look — you might find something you like! And, for the most part, they’re only 99 cents. (Or free.)

Come on. You know you want to!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/705897606412292/

writing

The Silo Saga Continues… Finally!

Hidden v2After only four years… the saga of the California silo continues, and you can pick up your copy at Amazon today!

Seventeen years ago, the California delegates to the National Convention were herded underground and locked into a silo while bombs exploded overhead. They’ve all done their best to survive since then — some of them with the help of mind-numbing drugs pumped into the water supply.

Now, the head of IT is dying, and the people around her believe they should have a say in who her replacement will be. They aren’t aware that this isn’t a democracy, that they’re all being watched from somewhere else, and that Laura Wayne has already chosen her successor. She’s picked 24-year-old Connor Brownell, the stepson of the mayor — but Connor has secrets of his own, hidden deep inside the silo.

There’s someone else down below, a man who’s carefully bided his time for all these years. He’s made himself essential to those around him, and when he finally decides to head upstairs with all those followers at his heels, he may not only discover a painful truth, he may destroy everything.

advice

Tips from the Editor

By Any Other Name
Mary or Trixie – It Makes a Difference

Parents put a great deal of thought into naming their newborn son or daughter, understanding that a name is often the very first thing a stranger learns about you. An offbeat name can make a child the target of bullying. Later on, a name that’s too cute can be off-putting to a potential employer.

You should give the same amount of attention to naming your characters—after all, they’re your literary babies.

Did you know that Charles Dickens considered naming Tiny Tim “Puny Pete”?

That Sherlock Holmes’ assistant was almost named “Ormond Sacker”?

That Scarlett O’Hara’s name was originally “Pansy”?

Names can act as shorthand between you and your readers, giving the reader clues about the character’s age, where they’re from, what era they’re from, and what image they want to present to the world.

For instance, what initial impressions would you have about a character whose name is Elizabeth, but she calls herself Betsy? Liz? Beth? Lizzie?

What are your first thoughts about a couple named Byron and Madeleine? How about Trey and Madison?

It may take a while to decide on the perfect names for your characters—and you may change them as the story evolves. But those small choices are among the most important you’ll make.

advice

Tips from the Editor

Out, Damned Spot!
Handling the He Said, She Said

“I’m ready to go now.” She said.
“Are you ready yet?” He asked.
“Let’s go!” He shouted.

This is a tricky situation for a lot of newbies. Which one gets a comma? Which one gets a period? Are “he” and “she” capitalized?

Think of it this way. She said isn’t a complete sentence. It needs to be connected to something, using a comma at the end of the dialogue and a lower-case he or she.

“I’m ready to go now,” she said.

Even if the bit of dialogue that comes before ends in a question mark or an exclamation point, He said isn’t a complete sentence. That’s still true if he’s shouting or asking or replying or whispering.

“Are you ready yet?” he asked.
“Let’s go!” he shouted.

What about the bit that comes before the dialogue?

Liz crossed the room, “I’m ready to go now.”  Yes or no?

What Liz is doing is a complete sentence, independent of the line of dialogue, so here, a period is correct.

Liz crossed the room. “I’m ready to go now.”

advice

Tips from the Editor

The Joy of Contractions: The Shorter, the Better

I’m sure anyone who’s given birth will readily tell you that contractions are no fun. But when you’re writing dialogue, embrace them!

The writers of Star Trek: The Next Generation wrote all of Commander Data’s dialogue without contractions because he was an android. His contraction-less speech was a small, subtle reminder that he wasn’t human, that there were things he couldn’t quite grasp. But in real life, few actual humans say I will do that or I am planning to go.

If you’ve got a little spare time, turn on a TV show or movie and listen to it with your eyes closed.

Let’s go!
I can’t believe you did that.
He’s really worried about her.

Unless your character, like Commander Data, has a reason for speaking in a stilted, unrelaxed way (if he’s an elderly professor, an alien, or someone who’s just beginning to learn English), you can’t go wrong using contractions. They’ll go a long way toward making your dialogue sound more natural.