November 20 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: Selma Lagerlof (1858), Bray Hammond (1886), Alistair Cooke (1908), Nadine Gordimer (1923), John Gardner (1926), Don DeLillo (1936), Rhys Isaac (1937) Deborah Eisenberg (1945), Orlando Figes (1959), Jaime Lowe (?),

Selma Lagerlof was the first female to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. She won in 1909 in appreciation of the lofty idealism, vivid imagination, and spiritual perception of her writing.”

Bray Hammond won the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for History for “Banks and Politics in America”

Nadine Gordimer won the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature.

John Gardner is best known for continuing the James Bond series of novels.

Don DeLillo was a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Rhys Isaac won the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for History for “The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790”

Quote: “A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn’t feel like it.” – Alistair Cooke

Tip: Beware of the “Just because…doesn’t mean…” construction. (Just because I did this doesn’t mean you have to.) – it adds unnecessary words. Better: I did this, but you don’t have to.

Jumpstart: When we first moved into the new house, it was so exciting. But now…

November 19 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: Joanne Kyger (1863), Allen Tate (1899), Jack Schaefer (1907), Sharon Olds (1942), Tony Hoagland (1953),  Annette Gordon-Reed (1958), Charlie Kaufman (1958), Ruta Sepetys (1967)

Jack Schaefer is best known for his western “Shane”

Sharon Olds is the 2013 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Annette Gordon-Reed won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for History (as well as 15 other awards) for her work on the Hemings family at Monticello

Charlie Kaufman has been nominated for four Academy Awards and three of his scripts appear in the Writers Guild of America’s list of the 101 greatest movie screenplays ever written. They include “Being John Malkovich” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

Quote: “The mission for the day is to encourage students to think beyond traditional career opportunities, prepare for future careers and entrance into the workplace.” – Allen Tate

“I don’t have large blocks of time to sit and write. I snatch bits and pieces when I can, which often means in traffic, on planes, or very early in the morning. I always carry paper and pen with me. I often write dialogue longhand. I’ll see a scene (as if I’m watching a movie) and the characters will just start talking. I recently wrote several chapters of my latest book while sitting on the edge of the bathtub.” – Ruta Septeys

Tip: There are a lot of writing groups on Facebook and Pinterest. Take a look around and see what interests you.

Jumpstart: I hadn’t been down to the basement in years, but I had to, because….

November 17 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: Shelby Foote (1916), Auberon Waugh (1939), Marina Carr (1964), Rebecca Walker (1969), Christopher Paolini (1983)

Christopher Paolini is best known for his “Eragon” series.

Quote: “The real torture with Eragon came in the editing. I discovered that editing is really another word for someone ruthlessly tearing apart your work with a big smile, all the while telling you that it will make the book so much better. And it did, though it felt like splinters of hot bamboo being driven into my tender eyeballs.” – Christopher Paolini

Tip: You’ve just gotten your first edits back from your first editor…and it looks like she marked up everything! Take a deep breath. Look at them, and go through them one at a time. I’ll bet you find most of them are simply grammar things like missing commas, wrong words, etc. You can do this.

Jumpstart: He burst into the room… (finish using: wing tips, disguise, crash)

November 16 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: George S. Kaufman (1889), Joan Lindsay (1896), Jean Fritz (1915), José Saramago (1922), Chinua Achebe (1930), Elizabeth Drew (1935), Rick Atkinson (1952), Robin McKinley (1952), Andrea Barrett (1954), Anne Holt (1958), Tahir Shah (1966)

Jose Saramago won the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Rick Atkinson has won the Pulitzer Prize in both journalism and military history.

George Kaufman won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for “You Can’t Take It With You” and “Of Thee I Sing”. He also won a Tony Award as director for “Guys and Dolls”

Jean Fritz won a Newbery Award for “Homesick: My Own Story” about her childhood in China.

Quote: “Storytellers are a threat. They threaten all champions of control, they frighten usurpers of the right-to-freedom of the human spirit — in state, in church or mosque, in party congress, in the university or wherever. It is the storyteller who makes us what we are, who creates history. The storyteller creates the memory that the survivors must have – otherwise their surviving would have no meaning.” – Chinua Achebe

“One of the biggest, and possibly the biggest, obstacle to becoming a writer is learning to live with the fact that the wonderful story in your head is infinitely better, truer, more moving, more fascinating, more perceptive, than anything you’re going to manage to get down on paper.” – Robin McKinley

Tip: Ensure vs. Insure: You ensure that something is done (to make certain of); you insure a car. They are not interchangeable.

Jumpstart: What I really want is… (finish this for yourself or your character)

Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: Gerhardt Hauptmann (1862), Marianne Moore (1887), Richmal Crompton (1890), David McCord (1897), Thomas Williams (1926), J.G. Ballard (1930), Daniel Pinkwater (1941), Carole Nelson Douglas (1944), Rick Atkinson (1952), Liane Moriarty (1966)

Gerhardt Hauptmann won the 1912 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Marianne Moore won the 1951 National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for “The Poems of Marianne Moore”.

Rick Atkinson won prizes in both History and Journalism.

Quote: “Never argue with a librarian; they know too much.” – Carole Nelson Douglas

“Think of nothing else but your story – not the world of publishing, or what makes a best-seller, or should you self-publish or not, or should it be more erotic or funnier or sadder, or how will you make sure nobody else steals your ideas – just lose yourself in the pleasure of writing your story. Then edit, edit, edit. THEN and only then should you think about all that other stuff.” – Liane Moriarty

Tip: Numbers between twenty and ninety-nine are usually spelled out, and always hyphenated: twenty-one, ninety-nine. After 100, they are usually written as numbers: 101, 199. Note: I said “usually” – there are exceptions, such as when writing an address: 35 North Main Street – and others.

Jumpstart: I stared at the stars overhead. They were amazing. Then, one got bigger…

November 14 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: Frederick Jackson Turner (1861), Astrid Lindgren (1907), William Steig (1907), Eric Malpass (1910), George Bizos (1928), Karen Armstrong (1944), Gary Provost (1955), Nancy Tafuri (1946), P.J. O’Rourke (1947), Cara Black (1951),

Frederick Turner won the 1933 Pulitzer Prize for History for “The Frontier in American History”

Astrid Lindgren is best known for her “Pippi Longstocking” books.

William Steig is best known as the creator of “Shrek”

Quote: “A childhood without books – that would be no childhood. That would be like being shut out from the enchanted place where you can go and find the rarest kind of joy. I want to write for a readership that can create miracles. Children create miracles when they read. That’s why children need books.” – Astrid Lindgren

“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with the energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals – sounds that say listen to this, it is important.” – Gary Provost

Tip: Please use the Oxford or serial comma. There has been a lot of debate about this, but it is important to use it to alleviate any confusion: She used pink, yellow, and blue feathers. Not: She used pink, yellow and blue feathers. The second one (without the comma) implies that the second feather was a combination of blue and yellow and not two separate feathers, each a different color.

Jumpstart: It was drawn on the back of an old envelope. I stood there with it clutched in my hand…

Spotlight: Velvet Cruelty

Title: Velvet Cruelty

Author: Eve Dangerfield

Series: Midnight Dynasty

Genre: Romance

Publisher: Dangerous Press

Release Date: Oct 11, 2022


Once upon a time I was promised to a powerful man. I know my duty. But on my wedding day, I’m stolen by four men. Men who loathe my fiancé.

They’re going to use me to fulfill their vendetta.


One of them only wants my body.

One of them wants me as his wife.

Another one offers freedom… at a price.

And the last wants me dead.

I was raised to be a good society wife. Now I’m facing a battle of wits and breathless desire. My only hope is to set aside my innocence. Or learn to use it as a weapon.

Author’s Note: VELVET CRUELTY is a scorching romance between a woman and four beautifully dangerous men in which she never has to choose. Read at your own discretion.

Welcome to the Midnight Dynasty… The warring Morelli and Constantine families have enough bad blood to fill an ocean, and their brand-new stories will be told by your favorite dangerous romance authors.

This book is intended for readers eighteen years old and over. It contains material that some readers could find disturbing. Enter at your own risk…

November 12 Writing Tips, Tricks, Thoughts

Birthdays: George Dillon (1906), Roland Barthes (1915), Marjorie Shamat (1928), Michael Ende (1929), John McGahern (1934), Janette Turner Hospital (1942), Tracy Kidder (1945), Michael Bishop (1945), Katharine Weber (1955), Neal Shusterman (1962), Naomi Wolf (1962), Damon Galgut (1963), Richelle Mead (1976),

George Dillon won the 1932 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Marjorie Shamat is best known for her “Nate the Great” series

Michael Ende is best known for his epic fantasy “The Neverending Story”

Tracy Kidder won the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction for “The Soul of a New Machine”

Quote: “Even the most brilliant natural writer needs to know rules of grammar and punctuation before she breaks them.” – Katharine Weber

Tip: Onomatopoeia is a word that sounds like what it means: crunch, roar, pop, tick-tock. They can make your writing stronger when used correctly.

Jumpstart: I stood and took my place in line, my stomach flipping like crazy. Ahead, they opened the door to the…

Review: Last Stop Wylder

LAST STOP WYLDER by Barbara Bettis

Fiction, Historical, Romance


Blurb: Gunman Morgan Dodd is headed to a new life in California, where no one knows his name. Or his reputation. Just one last job to raise money for his fresh start-gunhand for a railroad agent in Wyoming. Easy enough. Until he meets the woman who could change everything. After ending her engagement, Emily Martin longs for independence. She sets out for Wylder, Wyoming, to help her brother with his newspaper. But when she arrives, she finds he’s off investigating a story. Well, then. She’ll simply publish the paper herself until he returns. Emily’s prepared to face challenges, but not the dangerous stranger who ambushes her heart. The same man hired to destroy her livelihood. When a common enemy threatens, Morgan and Emily must find a way to defeat danger and save their budding love. But a gunman’s word is his bond, and a lady’s trust can shatter.

Thoughts: After breaking her engagement, Emily Martin heads to Wylder, Wyoming to visit her brother David, who owns the local newspaper. But David isn’t there when she arrives and the business is in shambles. Emily refuses to back down and is determined to get the paper back up and running for her brother until he returns. But she is a city girl and not used to the rough way of life in Wylder. She can’t even make her own tea! 

Morgan Dodd’s new job and his new boss make him uneasy, but he is honor bound to do what he was hired to do. But he’ll do it his way. Especially when he meets the pretty newspaper woman, Emily. He and Emily end up ensnared in a nasty cattle rustling/land grabbing conflict that puts them both in danger.

 This is a great addition to the Wylder series of stories. The secondary characters are almost as good as the main ones and the story reads well. This is a great historical with lots of interesting notes about frontier towns, voting rights, newspapers, and more and told in such as way as to not be boring. A really good Western romance.


Disclaimer: Disclaimer: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book with the hope that I will leave my unbiased opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in