Quiz Show Fun – Mandy Baggot

Humour in writing doesn’t have to be a series of one-liners. It can be a subtle view of the lighter side of an otherwise serious scene. Authors who weave this kind of “humour” into their writing usually capture the reader’s interest more than if they had stuck to the dry sequence of events they had planned in their storyline. The use of this kind of light humour also makes the scenes more real. How many times have you been in a serious situation and said, “Someday we’ll look back on this and laugh.” THAT is one of the kinds of humour I’m talking about in this series.

MandyBaggot

 

My guest today is Mandy Baggot of the UK. She writes romantic novels that often have a funny side to them. Her sense of humour makes these “love stories” fun to read. Find out about all Mandy’s novels at her amazon.co.uk link here.

Here is an excerpt from Mandy Baggot’s novel, “Knowing Me, Knowing You.

‘I don’t think you should have any more of those,’ Joel said, putting the glass back down on the bar.

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t realise I was paying you to do impersonations of my mother,’ Kate snapped.

‘I just think it might be better if you didn’t have too much more, that’s all.’ He took hold of the glass as Kate reached for it.

‘Give me my drink back!’

‘No.’

‘Give it to me!’ She made a lunge for the glass.

Joel dodged out of the way and Kate fell, bashing her elbow hard on the bar.

She hurriedly stood upright, straightening her dress.

Joel spoke. ‘All we have to do is answer a few questions. It’s no big deal. It’ll keep your client sweet and it will backfire on Miranda, who obviously nominated you to make you feel uncomfortable.’

‘She spends her life finding new ways to make me feel uncomfortable,’ Kate mumbled in reply.

‘So show her you don’t mind stepping into the breach and entering the contest. Rise above her.’

‘There are bloody TV cameras out there!’ Kate exclaimed, still looking longingly at the drink Joel was shielding.

‘I don’t see the problem. It’s one little quiz. You must have done quizzes before.’

‘Yes. In pubs. With friends. About music and films not about someone I’ve only just met! We know nothing about each other! How is that going to look?!’ Kate shrieked.

‘You’re overreacting. Come on, we going back in.’ Joel took hold of Kate’s arm and led her towards the door of the function room.

‘This is madness! And what sort of escort agency do you work for? You’re bullying me and you’re hurting my arm,’ Kate hissed as he propelled her through the doors and back towards the table.

‘It will be over in an hour or so. We’ll probably only be on stage for ten minutes. Think how many brownie points this will earn you with Frank,’ Joel whispered as Miranda approached.

‘They said the questions were intimate. What side of the bed do you sleep on? What underwear do you prefer?’ Kate asked.

‘Kate, we don’t have to win.’

‘No, but they have to at least believe we’re a couple.’

Knowing Me Knowing You

Humour in Writing – Sue Fortin

Sue Fortin

Whilst I don’t think I could write a rom com, I have noticed that humour finds its way into my writing without me realising it. It happens when the characters really take over and you find them saying things you hadn’t planned. It  comes in different forms, depending on the character.

 

 

In my novel, “Closing In,” I used humour to end a love scene and a chapter. It wasn’t planned; it just seemed to appear on the page. I’ve had several people comment on it and how it made them chuckle. Overtones of a ‘Carry On’ film, I feel.

 Excerpt from “Closing In”

 The come-down was slower; gentle waves lapping over her body, her breathing levelled, her heart rate dropped and the dizziness subsided. Donovan was spent, exhausted, and lying half on her and half on the chaise. He kissed her cheek and brushed a strand of hair from her face.

‘Much as I love this chaise, it wasn’t built for two,’ he said.

‘Where do you suggest instead?’ asked Ellen making sure the kiss she gave left him in no doubt what she had in mind.

‘It’s king sized,’ he said between kisses.

‘I know that.’ She grinned. ‘Now, show me what size your bed is.’

Also from “Closing In” : This is probably closer to sarcasm than humour, but it suits the character of Carla – a bit caustic.

Excerpt:

The clunk of the receiver being slammed back into its cradle made Ellen jump. She heard Carla’s chair wheels squeak as they rolled over the carpet and before Ellen had time to react, Carla was yanking open the door.

She looked startled to see Ellen there but was quick to regain her composure.

‘Is there something I can help you with, Ellen?’ Her voice was the epitome of politeness but her eyes told a different story.

Ellen gulped. ‘Do you know what time Donovan will be back?’

Carla appraised her for a moment. ‘No, I don’t. These networking meetings can run on for some time. Is there something urgent that I can help with?’

‘No, it’s fine.’

‘Good. Now, if you don’t mind I’ve got work to do and I’d rather you didn’t lurk outside my office door like some sort of spectre. I know it’s Halloween, but still.’

Closing_in

“Closing In” is available at   Amazon UK and Amazon.com

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“United States of Love” – Again, this just suited my character. It’s exactly how he spoke and the sort of expression he would use.

Excerpt:

‘Let’s sit down.’ He gestured towards the seats. ‘That’s better. Look, I was just out for a drink. I forgot you said you’d be here, but when I saw you with your client, I was, well, hurt.’

‘Hurt?’

‘Yeah, like shocked. Jealous, I suppose.’

‘Jealous?’

‘Blimey, Anna, it’s like having a conversation with an echo.’ Mark let out a sigh. ‘You know how I feel about you, I told you the other night. You said you were going to think about things. Since then you’ve avoided me like a dose of the clap.’

United_States_of_Love  High Res

United States of Love is available at Amazon UK and Amazon.com

That’s Funny – Sheryl Browne

Sheryl and dogs 2Hi Anneli,

Thanks so much for having me on your super ‘That’s Funny’ feature. Love it! So, why do I think humour is important in a book? For me, it’s because I want to write about real people, dealing with real life events, someone the reader identifies with and wants to get to know.  A ‘boy meets girl, boy gets girl, despite all obstacles’ story portraying characters readers can relate to and hopefully laugh with as they fall over life’s little ‘obstacles’, because the reader is empathising with the character, because they’ve been there. I think when we laugh at characters in a rom com, we’re actually laughing at ourselves, because it’s a familiar, comedic or embarrassing situation we could find ourselves in – or maybe already have.

And here is my Excerpt from WARRANT FOR LOVE.

Lee tugged her vest top over her shorts… jimjams grass-stained she’d discovered… and perched herself on the edge of her bed.

She tried not to listen to Paul move around in his room. Clunk his wristwatch onto the bedside table. His shoes onto the floor. Unzip… Ahem.

Lee couldn’t fall into a relationship with him. It would be madness with her emotions flying all over the place and, anyway, Paul had obviously changed his mind.

But, oh, it was torture, knowing he was just the other side of that wall. Reassuring, too, but she couldn’t help wishing there was no wall at all.

She had a quick gulp of water as her errant mind conjured up his handcuffs, then travelled slowly around front and attempted to tiptoe below belt level.

Blooming frustrating, it was.

Ah, well. She kicked off her flip-flops, and would have snuggled under the duvet, had not a great fat spider sat down beside her.

Lee squeaked, terrified, and leapt fast for a flip-flop. It was huge. A house spider as big as the house, with huge, hunched… scurrying…

‘Aaaaargh!’

She hit it.

It dropped to the floor. Lee sprang on the bed.

‘Help!!’ she screamed, woman of substance nowhere in evidence.

In an instant, Paul banged through the door, wearing boxers and not much else. ‘What? What’s wrong?!’

‘I’ve got no shoes on,’ Lee said feebly.

Paul scratched his head. ‘You’ve got no clothes on.’

‘There’s a spider!’ Lee squealed as it scurried towards him.

‘Christ, Lee…’ He ran his hand over his neck. ‘I thought there was someone… ‘Oh, blimey.’ Paul backed off. ‘It is a bit big, isn’t it?’

‘Get it!’ Lee danced on the duvet.

‘Lee, just calm down.’ Paul skirted around the intruder as it came to rest in the corner. ‘It won’t hurt you.’

‘It’s huge!’

‘Lee…’ Paul laughed. ‘It’s just a spider. It’s probably more scared than…’

‘It’s not! I’m arachnophobic! And don’t laugh at me. I can’t help it. I’m sick of apologising for my shortcom… Oh, my God, it’s moving.

Get it!’ Lee clutched a pillow and a useless flip-flop to her breast and backed up on the bed.

‘Okay. Okay.’ Paul said, his voice calm, his face serious. She was petrified, he realised. Pretty in the shorts and vest, but petrified.

He actually wasn’t far off petrified, himself. He hated spiders. ‘Just stay calm and stay where you are. I’ll get it.’ He headed for the landing.

‘Where are you going?’ Lee almost climbed up the wall.

‘To get a glass.’

‘No-o-o. It’ll be gone when you get back. And it’ll creep out again while I’m sleeping. Please get it.’

‘I’ll get it. I’ll get it. I promise. Just stay calm.’ Paul tried to reassure her. ‘Flip flop,’ he said, surgeon-like as he turned to face his own worst nightmare. Under-stair cupboards were crawling with the bloody things. Or that’s how it seemed, if you were four years old, and locked in there with them.

He braced himself, flicked it out of the corner, and flattened it. Felt like a murderer, but flattened it anyway.

Felt pretty good actually. He smiled as Lee flung her arms around him.

‘I feel really stupid.’ She sniffled into his shoulder.

‘Don’t.’ Paul stroked her hair. ‘We all have our private demons.’

‘It bounced off the bed.’

‘Bounced?’ Paul chuckled. ‘Did it test the springs first?’

‘You’re laughing at me.’ Lee pulled away.

‘I’m not, Lee.’ Paul pulled her back. ‘I’m laughing at me. I’m terrified of the buggers.’

Lee blinked up at him. ‘You are?’

‘Yep.’ Paul smiled. ‘Almost as terrified as I am when I meet some psycho on the streets, but I guess it’s easier to face it than admit it, if you’re supposed to be macho-man.’

Lee scanned his eyes and must have realised he was telling the truth.

‘Sorry,’ she said, her face nestled back in his shoulder. ‘I’d get them myself, if only they’d stand still long enough. They only ever seem to come out when it’s dark, don’t they? When you’re alone.’

‘I know.’ Paul pulled her closer, recalling how alone he’d felt in the dark. ‘Tell you what,’ he said, his mouth close to her ear, his hand tracing the curve of her back, ‘we’ll get one of those sonic insect repellent things. Innovations sell them, I think.’

‘Do they work?’

‘Dunno. It’s worth a try though.’ Paul brushed his cheek against her hair. Lee lifted her head, and…

‘Hello, Mumsie-wumsie,’ Drew said, from right outside Lee’s door on the landing.

Paul and Lee hastily disengaged.

‘Shoot.’ Paul hurriedly left, thinking that more prudent than hiding under the bed. ‘I, er… ‘ He raked his hand through his hair as he met Drew’s eyes. ‘Spider,’ he offered, by way of explanation.

‘Ye-es.’ Drew looked him up and down. ‘So, where’s the white charger? Parked next to the Mondeo?’

‘Sorry?’

‘Word of advice, Paul. Knights don’t do it naked.’

Paul nodded soberly, arms folded over his nakedness. ‘I guess I’d better go and get dressed. Undressed. Go to bed.’ He coughed and stepped past Drew.

‘Good idea.’ Drew clumped onwards. ‘Oh, incidentally, that’s the airing cupboard.’

‘You don’t say.’ Paul closed the door to the linens within.

 

For interest, this is Paul:

Policemen

Thanks for reading everyone! Keep safe. XX

WfL cover

Warrant for Love – BUY Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon Com

Heartache, humour, love, loss & betrayal, a little Ohhhh la la! and thrills! Sheryl Browne brings you poignant, witty, modern romance. A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and shortlisted for Innovation in Romantic Fiction, Sheryl now has six books published with Safkhet Publishing.

Author LINKS:

 

Sheryl’s Website  / Safkhet Publishing  / Amazon.co.uk  / Amazon.com

Author Facebook  / Romantic Novelists’ Association

Sheryl is a Loveahappyending Lifestyle Author and Feature Editor.  Twitter: @sherylbrowne

 

Humour in Writing – Anneli Purchase

Anneli Purchase

It is human nature to enjoy happiness, and although humour in books is not the enduring kind of happiness,   it can bring us snippets of it. Only the most serious of books would not benefit from a little humour woven into the text. My novel, “Julia’s Violinist” is a fairly serious story of a postwar love triangle. I’d like to share with you an excerpt from this novel to show that everything need not be dour at all times, even in a setting like that of Julia’s story, where love still thrives among the ruins of war.

Excerpt from Julia’s Violinist:

He stood in the doorway holding a bouquet of flowers in each hand. “For the lady of the house,” he said. A wave of his blondish hair fell forward as he inclined his head in a quick bow to Brigitte. Julia took a deep breath as Brigitte motioned for her to come closer.

“This is my sister, Julia Feldmann. Our new friend, Karl Werner.” Karl gave the second bouquet to Julia and shook her hand.

“So happy to meet you, Julia. I hope you like flowers too.”

“I love flowers. Very nice to meet you, Karl.” He was charming. No doubt about that.

“Mutti, Mutti!” Steffie ran into the house, gasping for breath. “I saw a man picking the neighbours’ flowers.”

“Psh-sh-t! Steffie!” Julia said.

“That’s him!” She pointed, mouth agape, and hid behind her mother.

“They were being wasted over there and I knew there were two lovely ladies in this house who needed them. Now, Steffie—is that your name? What a pretty name. You won’t tell on me, will you?”

“No.” Steffie peeked at Karl from behind Julia’s dress.

Julia watched the smile playing around Karl’s lips as he wooed Steffie into becoming an accomplice in his crime.

“Let’s get these lovely flowers into water so they haven’t been picked in vain,” Brigitte said. “Why don’t we sit in the living room? Steffie you can go on back out and play.”

“Don’t forget to keep our secret,” Karl called after her.

“I won’t,” she said, skipping out the door. “Sofie! Guess what!” they heard her call.

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Julia’s Violinist is available for only 99 cents from now to the end of July through amazon.com and smashwords.com.

 

Effective Dialogue

Darlene Jones has agreed to be my guest today to talk about the value of good dialogue in a novel. Here she comes on her famous camel. Welcome, author Darlene Jones.

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Dialogue is an integral part of any novel. The verbal exchanges between characters add zip and spice to the story.

Good dialogue sounds natural. Characters don’t repeat each other’s words. They don’t speak in full grammatically correct sentences. When writing dialogue, the author must always ask him or herself what the person would really say.

The author must also consider dialogue tags. The general rule is to only use “said” or “asked.” And, if possible, avoid a dialogue tag by using an action of the character to let the reader know who is speaking. For example:  “No, please, don’t go,” Yves said.  Or “No, please, don’t go.” Yves reached out to stop her. The second version clearly identifies the speaker and creates a better picture because of his action.

Generally action precedes speech. He smiled, but the mirth did not reach his eyes. “It’s my job.” is more natural than, “It’s my job.” He smiled, but the mirth did not reach his eyes.

There are also times when dialogue can go back and forth for a bit without tags.

Used skilfully, dialogue is a tool that can provide tension and emotion, something every good novel needs. Here is a sample from my novel EMBROILED.

“I’m driving home from the conference when the slough catches my eye. I’m mesmerized by the damn thing. I feel an insane urge to walk on the thin fall ice, to explore the fishing holes, to lie spread-eagled to distribute my weight. I know full well I’ll break through and drown, but I’ll be warm and taken care of. What I find down there will make it worthwhile.” Emily felt her chest tighten. Each time she came to David’s office, each time she spoke of her greatest fears, she felt the strings to sanity loosening. Am I crazy, Doc?

Excerpt: 

Emily sighed. “I was such a fool back then, Doc.” High school life was filled with great gobs of loneliness. No amount of wishing took that away.

“Yeah, Doc, I’ve dated some since then. If going out even though I don’t really like the guy counts as dating.”

“Why do you go then?” David asked.

Emily shrugged. “Why not? At least it gets me out.”

“Do you enjoy those evenings?”

“No.”

“Do any of the dates lead to sex?”

“No.”

“Why not?” David paused. “Emily, you’re a normal healthy human. You must have a sex drive. Why not fulfill it?”

“Just because everyone else does?” Emily shook her head. “Not my style.” She waited for David to ask her if she was a virgin.

David tapped his empty pipe in the empty ashtray. Pins and needles prickled at Emily as she waited for his response. She was scared of what he might say and yet she desperately wanted to hear his words.

“Waiting for Mr. Right?”

“Something like that.”

“I don’t think that’s it.” David hesitated. “What are you afraid of, Emily? What is holding you back from loving and being loved?”

Emily sucked in air. “Whatever is under that ice.” Her voice was barely a whisper. “That’s what.” An ache deep inside almost made her cry.

 

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 www.emandyves.com

Hop on Board: Writing Process

I’ve been tagged by Renee Rivers to carry on the blog hop on the topic of writing. On Renee’s blog, you never know what you’ll find next. One thing is for sure though, it will be entertaining and informative.

I’m going to follow Renee’s lead and answer the same questions she did on her blog. Then I’m going to tag someone else who will share more writing secrets.

What am I working on as a writer?

As one of several members of a group  called  “Loveahappyending,” I write magazine-style pieces for the group’s online magazine. My category for the quarterly contributions is Outdoor Life. That pretty much includes most of what I like to do when I’m not writing. Anything to do with nature and the outdoors is of interest to me. I love to take photographs to accompany my writing to help spark interest in the magazine which contains articles of a great variety of topics by other authors.

I also contribute articles about editing and writing tips. I hope to follow my own advice whether I’m writing for this magazine or working on my next novel, a sequel to The Wind Weeps.

My blogs, http://wordsfromanneli.wordpress.com and http://annelisplace.wordpress.com keep me from stagnating. There is always another short story or photo essay to write.

Why do I write what I do?

I believe in the saying, “Write what you know,” so the settings for my novels are places I have been, places I’m very familiar with. My goal is to make the reader feel as if he or she is on location with my characters and so the settings  for the scenes must be believable and imaginable. The secret is in the details. You don’t need a lengthy description of a place to get a sense of it. I’d like to give you some short examples of how the setting is woven into the story here and there.

From The Wind Weeps:

I put my jeans and sneakers back on and sat on a log with my elbows propped on my legs, head slumped forward staring down at the wet gravel. Tiny beach crabs scurried along and dug under small rocks for safety. I imagined them terrified by the giant who hovered over them staring down hungrily. Seagulls squealed warnings. A tiny shorebird alternately hopped and ran in and out playing tag with the waves, picking at things in the sandier part of the beach. I wondered if I would still be sitting here a week from now, watching—and waiting to be rescued.

From Julia’s Violinist:

The walk from Sternberg to Koenigshofen was long, but the air was fresh and clean. Karl was not a person who loved nature, but after being stuck in the gloomy castle, it felt good to get out. He savoured the earthy smell of the steam coming off the land as the sun warmed it. On either side of the road the fields stretched out like a checkerboard of yellow and green, lovely colours after the dark browns and greys of the castle rooms. Even the birds showed their appreciation for another beautiful day as they hopped from shrub to shrub along the ditch, singing and scolding.

From Orion’s Gift:

I had always known that Mexico was poor, and yet I was shocked at the desperate poverty evident in the shabby suburbs of Tecate. Shacks built of rusty sheets of corrugated metal; bits of weathered plywood of all shapes and sizes; anything their owners could scrounge. A car door made an instant wall and window. Sometimes rows of tires stacked up and filled with dirt served as outside walls. And everywhere, plastic garbage bags littered the landscape. The unfortunate cardón cacti must have cursed their spines. Garbage bags speared on them were fated to remain there until the sun rendered the plastic brittle enough to be shredded by the wind.

This is why I write what I do. I’ve been there and it’s familiar territory and therefore should sound authentic.

How does my writing process look?

This is a difficult question at the moment. I’ve had many months of writer’s block with my sequel of The Wind Weeps. The storyline is down and I’m many chapters into it, but it’s hard to find enough time to write. I have short snippets of time when I can write a blog post or a magazine article, but for a long-term project such as a novel, longer blocks of time are needed to think and plan. Lately I’ve been lacking that much available uninterrupted thinking time.

I plan to get “jump-started” again in the next days. My usual process for novel writing looks like this: I come up with my characters and their dilemma (there always has to be a dilemma). I make notes about what each character wants or needs (these may not be the same thing), and I jot down their strengths and weaknesses. Then I draw a timeline and mark on it the major events that will bring the story to its climax and finally its ending.

Once this is done, I jot down the smaller events that will happen, mainly in the form of the results I want to achieve. For example: if X is to marry Y, I mark this down as a mini goal under the bigger umbrella. Lastly, I decide on scenes I need to make this happen, and list those under the marriage entry.

The dialogue used in each scene can go a long way towards showing the reader what  kind of character each one is. It can also be used to drive the action. Strange things can happen though. Once I was writing a scene with a lot of dialogue. I had a plan as to where the dialogue should lead me to make the scene work, but as I wrote, I put down the responses that would naturally come from the characters and they led me in a different direction than I expected. At the end of the scene, I did some silent handclapping and chortled, “Ooh! I didn’t know that was going to happen!” So my methods don’t always work out the way I planned, but sometimes it ends up even better to let the keyboard take over.

This is one of the reasons I find writing so rewarding. Every writing session is like a new adventure. You don’t always know what will come out of the keyboard’s mouth.

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To follow me on the blog hop, I am tagging Lynne Nielsen who writes under the pen name of Grace. You can find her writing on her blog, called Alice and Molly : beautiful words. When you read her work, you’ll be taken into a world of sensitive descriptions, images, and emotions. It’s a treat to read Lynne’s posts. Be sure to visit her blog and find out how she does it.

Why Publish?

To publish means to issue for sale or distribution to the public. I’ve invited author Luanne Castle to share her thoughts about publishing and what it means to her.

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Luanne Castle

Anneli asked me to think about why writers want to get their work published. She said it can’t be about the money, so what is it about?

I do know writers who write for the money. Since I’m not acquainted with Stephen King or his ilk, the writers I know who have aspirations of big advances and even larger royalty checks, are in the not-yet-published category–and pretty clueless, to boot. That’s because–Anneli is correct–there is little money to be made in writing.

That makes writing perfect for me. I have a history of gravitating to low-pay-lotsa-work jobs. When I was starting out as a grad student in the English department, I went to find one of my professors in his office. He was tenured and had been with the department for many years. The door was closed and locked, but taped to the outside of the door was his paycheck stub.  And the pay was about the same that I was making working fulltime in retail.

I was still so new at grad school it would have been easy to back out and apply to law school. But do you think I paid any attention? One day, when I had years of grad school completed and was teaching college as a non-tenured and harried “freeway flyer,” I looked at my paycheck and remembered that warning I’d ignored.

Money is definitely not an incentive to me, although by now I’ve worked in both business and creative pursuits long enough to realize that the world is clearly divided into those who are motivated by money and those who are not.

So why do I want to publish? Having an audience of readers is a powerful incentive for writing. After all, writing is communication as is all art. If we don’t share our stories and poems and blog posts, we aren’t communicating, and communication is how we negotiate our way in the world and build a stronger world community.

I also like to bolster my weak self-esteem and build up my troubled ego by publishing stories and poems in journals and magazines. They rarely pay writers, but it’s nice to know that an editor or editorial panel liked my work enough to publish it. They put their seal of approval on my work by showcasing it in their magazines.

For example, although I plan to complete a book-length memoir, the literary journal Lunch Ticket, run by Antioch University’s MFA program, just published a chapter from my memoir, called “Nuclear Fallout.” You can read it online here, if you like.

Finally, I also think that when I do publish my book, it will make it easier to respond to the usual conversation with strangers.

Stranger:         “What do you do?”

Writer:                        “I’m a writer.”

Stranger:         “What have you published?”

Writer:                        “A memoir called Scrap: Salvaging a Family.”

Stranger:         “Where can I buy that?”

Writer:                        “Amazon, any book store, Target, Wal-Mart, everywhere.”

At least, that’s my fantasy. Now when I say I don’t have a book out yet, they tell me I’m not really a writer.

In the meantime, I’m over at Writer Site.  Thanks so much to Anneli for inviting me to explore the subject of publication over here!

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*Note from Anneli:

If you write, you are a writer. Being published does not change that. Luanne is too modest. She’s an excellent writer. Be sure to check out her blog, Writer Site.

Also, please leave a comment and tell us what you think about publishing.