What Turns Readers Off

A couple of weeks ago I read a review of a book on someone’s blog and I was intrigued by the plot of the featured book. Thankfully I have forgotten the name of that book so I don’t need to worry about accidentally giving away the name or shaming the author, which I would never purposely do.

But as I read the synopsis of the book, I was seriously going to download the book and went to the link on amazon to do just that. I did what I usually do before downloading an e-book and clicked on the book cover’s “Look Inside” feature.

I read two pages and knew that I would not be able to stomach reading this book, no matter how good the plot was or how wonderful the story might be.

What turned me off in those first two pages?

It was the “ing” words. I can’t give specific examples from the book, and to be honest, I don’t really want to do that, but you’ll get the picture if I give you some generic examples. (To be fair, the dialogue was more interesting than what I will give here, but my examples are merely to make the point about the tiresome overuse of “ing” words.)

“What do you think?” she asked, twirling a lock of her hair in between her fingers.

“Oh, I don’t know,” he said, grinning at her. “Why don’t you tell me what you think first?” he asked, looking at her slyly.

Getting up and walking around the room, she pondered her response. “It was good, don’t you think?” she asked, giving him a hopeful smile.

Jumping up to hug her, he said, “You’ve guessed right.”

*****

I just couldn’t handle a whole book of that, so I didn’t download that novel that was probably a great story, but written with a major weakness in writing style.

A good copy-editor could have saved the author from him/herself.

www.anneli-purchase.com

Conversations and Punctuation

Dialogue adds interest for the reader and helps to bring them into the story, almost as if they were an invisible bystander in a conversation. It also helps to break up what could be dreary paragraphs of narrative that could be a turnoff after a while.

Using a conversation helps to show, rather than tell, what the characters are feeling. So, great! Why not use some dialogue to perk up the story? But be sure to do it right, or your reader will give up in disgust.

Some basic punctuation rules will help to make your dialogue look professional.

First of all, think of your dialogue as a sentence just like any other with a capital letter at the beginning and a period at the end.

Second, we want to show which words the person said. These go between double quotation marks.

“You sure are bossy,” Joe said.

The part that is inside the quotation marks is like a sentence within a sentence, but instead of a period at the end of what he said, we put a comma, or a question mark if it is warranted. These go INSIDE the closing quotation marks.

If there is a quotation inside a quotation, you would use single quotation marks to show that.

“Did he say ‘You sure are bossy’?” Darryl asked.

Supposing Joe had more to say, and wants to continue his sentence. The dialogue tag (Joe said) interrupts the words he is speaking, so we use a comma to separate it from the spoken words and no capital letter is needed to continue the words he spoke .

“I’ve asked you three times already,” Joe said, “if you’d like to go to the movies with me.”

However, if Joe has two or more sentences to say, we must treat them just like any other sentences, separated by a period.

“I’ve asked you three times already,” Joe said. “That tells me you don’t want to come with me. Why didn’t you just say so?”

If you are trying to show that the character is thinking some words, these are put into italics and not within quotation marks.

“I’ve asked you three times to come to the movies with me,” Joe said. I guess that should have told me she doesn’t want to go.

If you have dialogue at the end of a paragraph and perhaps the speaker is changing the subject, so you want to start a new paragraph as he continues to speak, you leave off the final quotation marks but begin the new paragraph with quotation marks. This way we know it is still the same speaker. If it is a new speaker, we put the closing quotation marks on the sentence before beginning a new quotation.

“I painted the house since you were gone,” Joe said. “I hope you like it.

“By the way, would you like to come to the movies with me tonight?” he added.

Also, notice that no capital is used to begin the dialogue tag (he added) after the quotation, unless it is a person’s name, of course.

“I hope this helps you with your punctuation,” Anneli said, “especially in the case of a sentence interrupted by a dialogue tag.” I wonder what they’ll think. Will they leave a comment to tell me?

Emotion in Writing

When I read a book, I often base my opinion of whether it’s a good story or not, by the emotion it brought out in me. If a book made me laugh or cry it was usually a good one. Of course there are many other emotions besides happiness or sadness. Fear, paranoia, depression, sympathy, worry; they are all part of our emotions. It is the writer’s job to draw the reader into the story by making him care about the characters. As a reader, if I feel that I am emotionally drawn in, that usually means I’m enjoying the book.

I would like to share with you an excerpt from my novel, Julia’s Violinist. I hope you’ll feel some kind of emotion as you read it.

Excerpt from Julia’s Violinist

Three days later the POWs gathered their few possessions and lined up at the Stalag gates to have their passbooks stamped on their way to freedom. The last distribution of mail was done as the soldiers passed through the gates. Only a handful of POWs had mail. Karl thought he must have heard wrong when his name was called. The Russian guard tossed a tatty bundle of letters to him and read the next name. Karl was stunned. Not a single letter for over a year and now, on the last day, a bundle of … thirty-one, he counted. All from Julia.

He was frantic with wanting to open them, but nothing, not even these special letters, could make him lag behind in the POW camp. Out! Out! Just get out first, and then I can look at them.

As soon as he was out of sight of the prison camp, he sank down on the ground beside the road. His hands trembled as he opened the first letter. Through tears he saw her lovely handwriting, so perfect and neat; words that spoke of loneliness and longing. Each letter contained a small anecdote of Julia’s home life and ended with the hope that they would see each other again. Around the edges of the pages his name was written over and over in a border design, “KarlKarlKarlKarl. I miss you, Karl.”

He wasn’t sure how long he sat there. Other recently released POWs walked by. No one stopped. They had seen it all and there was nothing unusual about a man sitting in the dirt crying his eyes out as he read his mail.

Front Cover  jpg (1)(2)

Julia’s Violinist is available at all amazon sites in paperback or Kindle and at smashwords.com in paperback and all e-reader formats. You can find out more about my books on my webpage:  http://www.anneli-purchase.com

Relationship Security

Have you ever had someone say to you, “Why are you like that?” Or maybe you’ve asked yourself that question about others. There are reasons for our behaviour. Some of them we don’t understand; some we are not even aware of, and never will be.

In her book, Relationship Security, author Kathleen Price shows us that, along with some other factors, our experiences, even those we have as young children, shape us into the adults we become. They influence our responses to nearly every situation we deal with as we go through life.

Most of us seek a loving, caring relationship in which there is mutual trust. As young adults, we are optimistic about finding the right person who will fulfill that expectation. If we haven’t witnessed an example of a secure bond in our parents’ relationship, marriage may bring disillusionment when we perpetually need to protect ourselves because we don’t feel secure. At the same time, we may discover that we are blaming our partner for faults we don’t want to see in ourselves.

Using her own experiences Ms. Price analyzes how events in her life have affected her relationships. She uses an engaging method of bringing the reader in, alternating the narratives of parts of her life with passages from psychologists and other professionals.

Each chapter features an “insight” section containing the reliable concepts and theories, which she applies not only to her past, but her present challenges. With this understanding, she is better able to let down her defenses and embrace her relationships more fully in a calm, trusting, and optimistic way.

In reading Ms. Price’s book, we can see why some of her early experiences have caused her to react in certain ways as she encounters situations in her adult life. We may be able to identify with many of the conclusions of professionals, and possibly find them helpful in our own daily living.

          In Relationship Security Kathleen Price records her experience growing up in a family in which two committed parents were not able to establish a trusting relationship. The same problem repeats itself in her first marriage as she and her husband grapple with the challenges of parenthood without a secure bond. A divorce and remarriage follow, but this time she and her new husband, who is also disillusioned by a first marriage, are determined not to make the same mistakes again. Both acknowledge they shared the responsibility for the failure of their first marriages, but they don’t yet understand how or why.

          Her book reveals a progression of awareness as the author strives for security and nurturing, not only with her spouse, but her children, siblings, in-laws, and close friends. Each chapter features an “insight” section containing the reliable concepts and theories, which she applies not only to her past, but her present challenges. With this understanding, she is better able to let down her defenses and embrace her relationships more fully in a calm, trusting, and optimistic way.

I was deeply moved by Ms. Price’s autobiographical writings. Her story is bravely told. She faces her shortcomings honestly with a view to discovering why she has made some of the decisions that have shaped her life. Relationship Security is very readable and will give you a lot to think about after you close the book.

You can find this great book at amazon.com

Kathleen Price

Kathleen Price began her professional career as a family life educator and marriage and family therapist. Since her retirement she has published two books, both based on her personal experience. She lives with her husband in Las Cruces, New Mexico and can be reached via her website: www.kathleenprice.org.

Warning Signs: A Story about Obsession

Horror and gruesome killing upset me and I don’t like to read about these details. But author, Carol Balawyder, handles the murder scenes in her novel about a serial killer so deftly that I just wanted to keep turning pages – never having the urge to hide my eyes – only wanting to know more.

Once I was hooked (on the first page), she introduced the characters gradually, allowing me to get to know them as they each struggled with various dilemmas. Ms. Balawyder expertly slipped in details that would be needed later to make the culmination of the plot flow easily. Nothing happens that seems contrived, because the groundwork was laid earlier in the book.

Each of the characters had major flaws but they also had redeeming traits. Even Eugene, the serial killer, was not all bad. Imagine empathizing with a serial killer!

The tension regarding the murderer escalates, and we expect this, but when he befriends Angie, their internal conflicts come into play as well. We already understand why Angie would fall for someone like Eugene, because, by now, we know her personality. But will Eugene hurt Angie? What will Angie do once she suspects that Eugene may be the killer?

What about Darren, the policeman who finds Angie attractive? Will his feelings toward her interfere with his murder investigation?

I was impressed by the way this novel’s plot flowed so smoothly, pulling me in as the characters I came to know so well became entangled in it.

After being drawn into the story on page one, I didn’t want to put the book down until I read, “THE END,” and even then I was thinking about it after I closed the book.

Carol Balawyder

Visit Carol Balawyder’s page on amazon to see all of her novels.

Grammar Manners – Say it Right

Writers, do you struggle with grammar? Here is one way of helping yourself sort out how to “say it right.” But first, look at these sweet little dogs.

Exemplary Behavior – by Horatio Henry Couldery (1832-1893)

Having and using good manners will always be important to me. Although I don’t feed my dogs at the table, I couldn’t help admiring the good manners displayed by the dogs in this painting.

DSCN9420

My old “Good Manners for All Occasions” says it’s polite for the man to open the door for the lady, and for that matter, for any younger person to open it for the older one. This custom is considered to be polite, but in the penguin world, letting someone else go first is based on survival.

penguins

Penguins stand in a line at the edge of the ice, ready to go for a dip in the ocean for a bit of fishing. Who will test the waters first? The crowd gathers at the water’s edge jostling each other until finally, one of them falls in. If he isn’t attacked by a lurking leopard seal in the next few moments, the rest of the penguins dive in.

But surely, we humans have evolved from these primitive, yet effective, tactics. We now consider it polite to allow others to go first. We offer others the first choice from the food platter, even though it occasionally backfires on us.

This was the case when at dinner, Joe passed the meat platter to his brother Bob first before helping himself. When Joe complained because Bob took the biggest piece, Bob asked, “What would you have done?”

Joe sniffed. “I would have taken the smaller piece, of course.”

“Well, you have it,” Bob said. “So what’s the problem?”

*****

In spite of these odd cases, modern society generally agrees that we should let others go first. And so it is with grammar.

We name the other person(s) first and then ourselves. If it is that simple, why is it still such a problem in our writing?

Following are some tips and guidelines.

When naming others first, we would not begin a sentence with: Me and Joe, Me and him, Me and her, I and Joe.

Okay, we know we should name Joe first, but even so, is it Him and me, Joe and me, or Joe and I?

Let’s look at some sample sentences where you and Joe are the subjects of the verb. Here are the possibilities:

Joe and me / Joe and I / Him and me / Him and I / He and me / He and I / drove to town.

 

When in doubt, leave Joe out. Without Joe in the car, you are in the driver’s seat and of course you would say “I drove to town” not “Me drove to town.” When you take on that extra passenger, if you need to get the feel of whether it’s Joe or him or he, try leaving yourself out. “Joe drove to town” or “Him drove to town” or “He drove to town”?

“Him drove to town” simply does not work, so you can use either “Joe” or He.”

*****

I’m still shocked when I see sentences like “Me and him went to the party.” You would never say “Me went to the party” or “Him went to the party,” so why would you say “Me and him” or even “Him and me” (went to the party)?

And now we come to the other situation where you and Joe are the objects of the verb. Which is correct?

The sun shone on:

me and Joe

Joe and me

Joe and I

him and me

him and I

he and I

First rule is to mention others first so that narrows it down to Joe/him/he and me/I. Second, leave out me/I and we have “The sun shone on Joe (or him).” Then leave out Joe and we have “The sun shone on me” (you wouldn’t say “I”). So together we have “The sun shone on Joe/him and me.” Better yet, say “The sun shone on us.”

Now may the sun shine on your grammar and mine.

When you have finished writing your book, why not check out my webpage for copy-editing and other goodies?

anneli-purchase.com

 

 

No Fancy Man

She pulled over to the side of the gas station after she gassed up, and made the call. At the pumps Brent was leaning his shoulder into the side of his truck, staring off into space as he held the nozzle in the gas tank. The profile of his face was perfect—manly, but fine. His blue checkered work shirt had a tear in the elbow. Jeans were dirty and smeared with dried blood—from the deer, she presumed. She sure hoped that was what the blood was from. How was she to know? She’d only just met him. His canvas vest had lots of pockets, more practical than fashionable. Seemed like islanders tended to be that way. Kodiak boots half unlaced told her he must have walked a lot today and maybe his feet were sore. Fancy, he was not.

Marlie, a young teacher newly arrived in the Queen Charlotte Islands has a lot to learn. The rough island life tests her survival skills both physically and socially. She finds that with the beauty of the islands come hidden and unexpected dangers.

If you like page-turner stories of love, adventure, and danger, why not download “Marlie”? It is available on all amazon outlets for Kindle and paperback, and on smashwords.com and nook.com (Barnes and Noble) for all formats of e-readers.

 

To find out more, visit my website at http://www.anneli-purchase.com

A Matter of Thyme

Enjoy a Mystery and Support a Good Cause

My guest today is Douglas Logan, author of “A Matter of Thyme.”

Doug is a management consultant, facilitator, public speaker, Rotarian – and long-time author of reports and plans.

One day, having just finished writing a lengthy document on innovation, he went for a walk to clear his head. As he did, it occurred to him that not all the words he put to paper had to be so dry.

“Maybe I need to broaden my horizons,” he thought. “What if there was a mystery to be solved?” So, he sat at his keyboard to see just what kind of mystery might need solving. A Matter of Thyme was the result.

A cold, foggy night. The dead body of a well-respected principal is discovered lying frozen on the highway. He drowned and it’s obvious something untoward has happened. But after several months the police know nothing more than this, and still can’t explain how his corpse came to rest on the cold hard pavement.

Frustrated and impatient with the lack of progress, the victim’s sister asks Justin Thyme for help. Once a highly talented investigator, Thyme has been forced out of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police by the sudden onset of PTSD. Unemployed and living alone he’s learning to control his illness and carve out a new life for himself.

Thyme is at first reluctant to get involved. But encouraged by close friends, he accepts the offer and begins to untangle the mystery and learn more about his new self.

Available at:

Amazon – https://www.amazon.ca/Matter-Thyme-Douglas-Logan/dp/1999018605/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=a+matter+of+thyme&qid=1564678756&s=gateway&sr=8-1

Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/ca/en/ebook/a-matter-of-thyme

And iBooks on your Apple device.

AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

The Rotary Club of Halifax Harbourside On-Line will invest proceeds from sales of A MATTER OF THYME in women striving to build better lives for themselves, their families and communities.

According to the World Bank, the best investment we can make in developing countries is to support women’s labour force and business participation.

EARTH SHATTERING CONTEST ANNOUNCEMENT!

Once a month for the next six months the author is giving away a free signed copy of A Matter of Thyme! 

To win your copy, all you need to do is to answer a skill testing question! People who answer correctly will have their name entered in a draw held at the end of each month.

This month’s draw will take place Saturday, August 31.

But wait! There’s more!

At the end of the sixth month, there will be a second draw from all entries received over the six months. That winner of that draw will have the right to have their name used for one of the key characters in the next Justin Thyme mystery, tentatively titled No Thyme for Crying!

What could possibly be more exciting?!

So, let’s get started!

Since the Rotarians are using proceeds from sales to invest in women in developing countries, their first skill testing question is Rotary related:

What is the name of the person responsible for starting Rotary International?

Send your answers to Thyme@bell.net

Good luck!

And don’t forget to share this with your friends! In fact, share like crazy!

Power: A Passion Patrol Novel

Emma Calin doesn’t just take it easy on the beach. She is busy writing steamy suspense romance stories.

Power’ is the 9th title in the ‘Passion Patrol Series’.

Each story in the series introduces one of Emma Calin’s sassy female cops.  These tough police officers are as passionate about solving crime and locking up the bad guys, as they are about the men they love.

Every book features a different crime episode, with villains to be caught. Threaded through the mystery, our heroine meets and falls for the love of her life, but not without obstacles and dilemmas along the way. Cops from earlier stories make appearances in later books,  as they progress up the career ladder. Knowledge of their stories is not necessary and the books can be read in any order.  

And here’s a treat for you!
The first book in the series is FREE (‘Guilt‘). This story highlights the adventures in crime and love of a dog-handler, Helen Marx and her trusty K9 partner, Lanza.  (LINK: https://emma-calin-author.lpages.co/download-from-from-giveaway/).


The newest title, ‘Power‘ tells of a young rookie cop, Olivia. She encounters visiting American congressman, Jackson T. Paine during a violent incident on the streets of London. Their attraction is strong but he’s a high profile guy, earmarked as a future president and their relationship is unlikely to succeed.  Controversy is rife as rivals try to smear this presidential contender.  Scandals that also smear Olivia and compromise her position, result in a change of role within the police. These crooks at the heart of power are determined and will use any means to spoil his campaign, ruin his image and remove him as a candidate – even if that means death.  But he of course has the ultimate weapon – a woman in love.  Read this book to feel the victory of the human heart. 

Here is the typical setting for one of the planned attacks on Jackson’s life. Who would expect assassins to be lurking just around the corner? As you read the story, you’ll be right there with Olivia as she does her “hero” thing to save the life of the man she has come to love and admire.

You’ll love this book!


Buy direct from author:  https://emma-calin-author.lpages.co/power-landing-page-01/
Universal link to buy from a choice of online book sellers (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Apple etc.):  http://books2read.com/PPPower


The launch editions of ‘Power’ include a link at the back of the book to a giveaway draw – with a chance to win a Kindle Fire 7 or equivalent Amazon Gift Card. 

The Murderer

On Marlie’s first day of moving onto the Queen Charlotte Islands, her car has a flat tire. All her belongings are stuffed in the trunk on top of the tire changing equipment. Once removed, they don’t fit back into the trunk, but a passing islander stops to help change her tire and as the sky opens and rain threatens to soak everything, he offers to bring the excess belongings to Masset for her.

Here is the scene that follows (taken from the novel “Marlie”)

*****

“Okay, you go sit in the car and I’ll take care of the rest.” When she nodded, Brent grabbed a few things from the roadside and walked to the back of his truck. She was right behind him with an armful of odds and ends.

Brent opened the canopy door and as she shrieked, he whirled around. “Oh my God! You killer!” Her face was contorted into a mask of horror.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“You murderer! How could you kill that sweet little thing? Give me my stuff.” She tried to grab the bags from his hand but dropped what she was carrying. They both bent to pick the things up and bumped heads.

“What the hell’s the matter with you?” Brent stared at her in disbelief. The popstar image was fading fast and she was looking more like one of those angry protestors he’d seen on TV.

Her hazel eyes were huge as she glared at him. “You killed that helpless animal.”

“Yeah, I shot a deer. So what? I eat venison.”

“Is that even legal?”

“Lady, what planet did you beam down from? Of course it’s legal. Everybody eats venison here.”

“Not everyone! Not me!” She picked up her things and stomped back to her car but there was no place to put anything. She threw him a disgusted look, frowned, shook her head. She opened the back door and punched and pushed and shoved her belongings, desperate to cram her things into the Corolla’s back seat. No room. She squeezed out a growl of frustration, and looked back at Brent again. Her shoulders sagged and that’s when the tears came.

He blew out a long breath. “Look. Nothing is going to happen to your stuff in the back of my truck. The deer won’t do anything to it. You don’t even have to think about it being there. We’ll load up and you can follow me to Masset.” He waited and she appeared to mull that over. It was taking too long. “Oh, piss on it. This was a mistake. I’m leaving. You can wait for another car to pull over to pack your stuff to Masset for you. I don’t need this shit.”

She wiped her eyes with the back of her wrist and sniffed. “No wait! Yes, okay. Would you please bring my stuff for me? I guess I have to trust that you won’t take off with my belongings.”

“Have to trust me?! Jeezus you’ve got some bloody nerve. What the hell would I want your stuff for?” Brent turned to get into the truck.

“Please.” She closed her eyes and pulled herself up straight. “I’m sorry. I do need your help. If you could take some of my things in your truck…. I do trust you.”

“This is the only road that goes up or down the island, so you won’t lose sight of your boxes.” What does she think I’d do with a bunch of ladies’ clothes? Christ! What a loonie! How did I get myself mixed up with this nutcase?

“Of course. You’re right.”

“Where in Masset are you headed?”

“The teachers’ trailer court,” she said.

He straightened up and inhaled a long slow breath through his nose. Oh man. One of those! “That explains a lot.”

Find MARLIE on amazon and smashwords.