Tag Archives: writing advice

Fifty Shades of Power – the responsibility of the writer.

Writers have power, and I enjoy adding historical tidbits (see Detour Trail) and sharing opinions about politics (see Strike Three) and life in my stories.

Source: Fifty Shades of Power – the responsibility of the writer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized, Writers, writing

The Wrong Stuff (link)

“THE WRONG STUFF: FINDINGS OF A FORENSIC GRAMMARIAN by Howard Denson has been described as “a cross between Dave Barry and Strunk & White.” The book helps the aspiring writers to make their way across the battlefield of the Prescriptive Grammarians (with their black flag of linguistic doom) and the Descriptive Grammarians (with their white flag of surrender to almost any language usage). It devotes chapters to “How to Read The Wrong Stuff,” “Everyone Makes Mistakes,” “The Dog That Didn’t Bark in the Night,” “Does Anyone Check Copy Anymore?”, “Some Words Creep into Usage on Cat’s Feet,” …”

Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D3PF180



Filed under writing

Sustaining suspense in mysteries (link)

This is a guest post via Morgen Bailey’s blog:   Guest post: Sustaining Suspense in a Whodunit Mystery by Joyce T Strand: Sustaining suspense

Leave a comment

Filed under writing, Writing blogs

How to become a writer (video link)

I found this video,  How to Become a Writer by Katy Haye, on Morgen Bailey’s blog:  /

Leave a comment

Filed under writing, Writing blogs

Advice for the new writer (link)

Good advice and links:

Advice for the New Writer from Barb Caffrey’s Blog



Leave a comment

Filed under Writing blogs

Joy V. Smith’s new website

I’ve been thinking about a new website–and domain name–for some time, which meant a lot of research and browsing, and then one night I caught a commercial for Wix on TV.  Hmmm.  Sounds like I don’t have to be on the cutting edge for that.  (Always an incentive.)  So I checked it out and registered  after browsing it for a while.  (I always want to be sure.)

Then I spent a lot of hours and about three days working on it.  At last I’m getting somewhere!  Wait!  What happened to my additions?!  Why can’t I do this and that and why is the template still hanging around?!  Well, I’d looked at a number of reviews, of course, and the consensus was that their support staff is helpful, and finally I called and scheduled an appointment for a phone call.  (They call you.)

So this afternoon I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with the Wix rep–with hardly any wait time.  And with modern technology and a website called join.me, as I recall, he could see my website and guide me with his little green cursor to where I needed to go.  I fixed some problems and learned what I was doing wrong.  Aha!  Now I’ll add some more images and text.  Check it out and see how I’m progressing: http://www.joyvsmith.com/




Filed under Writing blogs

Doublecheck your facts when writing–or editing (link)

Here’s some background on how my Strike Three editor helped me: http://www.dgdriver.com/write-and-rewrite-blog/category/all

Leave a comment

Filed under Strike Three, Writing blogs

Guest post: How to Improve English Writing Skills with 10 Online Tools by Julie Petersen

Here are some helpful resources:

Guest post: How to Improve English Writing Skills with 10 Online Tools by Julie Petersen.


Leave a comment

Filed under Writers, writing, Writing blogs

Mary Sue test with link

Here’s how I did:

Lorrie is only a little like you. She is not at all cool; in fact, she thinks cool is a temperature reading, and when she says “Oh, I just put on whatever old thing’s lying around,” she means “on the floor, where I threw it last night – but I turned the underwear inside out first.” There’s never been anything special about her that she could see; boy, is she in for a surprise. She’s got no emotional scars to speak of. And you’ve been sparing with the free handouts: whatever she gains, she’s worked for.

In general, you care deeply about Lorrie, but you’re smart enough to let her stand on her own, without burdening her with your personal fantasies or propping her up with idealization and over-dramatization. Lorrie is a healthy character with a promising career ahead of her.

Score Breakdown
Mirror, Mirror: I Love Her, I Let Her Go 5
Beware the Monks of Cool: She’s The Anti-Cool 0
‘Tis Your Destiny: Plain Jane 2
Oh, the Trauma: Healthy as a Horse 2
Momma Loves Me Best: Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child 7
Total: 16

Test link: http://katfeete.net/writing/suestart.php


1 Comment

Filed under writing

Ampersands: Pretty Is As Pretty Does (guest post)

Ampersands: Pretty Is As Pretty Does


By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

I just updated the second edition of The Frugal Editor because I wanted to warn my readers against one other writers’ affectation similar to the ones already in the first edition. That is overuse of ampersands. This little section covers affectations that authors seem to enjoy using in their writing. Some are relatively innocuous, but others keep literary agents, publishers and others in the publishing industry from taking us seriously. So here is that excerpt on ampersands. I hope it will act as a warning for those who love the looks of ampersands as much as I do and a balm (in the form of a free offer) to those whose ampersand bubble I am bursting.

The ampersand is a real pretty little dude but it isn’t a letter nor even a word. It’s a logogram that represents a word. Its history goes back to classical antiquity, but interesting history and being cute are no reason to overuse it in the interest of trying to separate one’s writing from the pack. Better writers should concentrate on the techniques that make a difference rather than gimmicks that distract. Here are some legitimate uses and not-so-desirable uses for the ampersand.

  • The Writers Guild of America uses the ampersand to indicate a closer collaboration than and. For those in the know, it is a convenient way (a kind of code) to subtly indicate that one writer has not been brought in to rewrite or fix the work of another without offending the guy or gal who couldn’t get it right the first time out of the gate.
  • Newspapers, journals, and others choose to use it when they are citing sources. That’s their style choice, not a grammar rule.
  • In similar citations, academia prefers that the word and be spelled out. That’s their style choice, not a grammar rule.
  • Occasionally the term etc. is abbreviated to &c, though I can see no reason for confusing a reader with this. Etc. is already an abbreviation of et cetera and the ampersand version saves but one letter and isn’t commonly recognized, anyway.
  • Ampersands are sometimes used instead of the conjunction to which we’ve become accustomed when the and is part of a name or when naming a series of items, though here, too, it feels like a stretch and more confusing than helpful. Wikipedia gives this example: “Rock, pop, rhythm & blues and hip hop” as an acceptable use. But it, too, is an unnecessary affectation when we could clarify our intent with the traditional serial comma like this: “Rock, pop, rhythm and blues, and hip hop.”

For a little style guide from the point of view of academia go to https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/03/. To see a graphic artist’s creative use of the ampersand, one based on the authenticity of its simply being visually attractive, go to http://amperart.com. Chaz DeSimone, the cover artist for my Frugal Editor and Frugal Book Promoter, offers you a poster featuring ampersands every month with a subscription to his monthly letter which is also free.

So, OK. When should a writer avoid using an ampersand?

  • Usually they decorate poetry unnecessarily and because they appear gimmicky, they detract from a poems imagery and sound.
  • They are unnecessarily frou frou in nonfiction, too. Kind of like giving a barbeque and having someone show up in formal, be-sequined attire.
  • I personally hate them most in fiction. They take the reader out of the story. Sometimes we can lose a reader in the blink of an eye. I can’t believe an ampersand is worth losing a reader just because it looks pretty.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the classes she has taught for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program.

All her books for writers are multi award winners including the first edition of The Frugal Book Promoter published in 2003. Her The Frugal Editor: is also now in its second edition available in paperback (http://bit.ly/FrugalEditor)  and as an e-book (http://bit.ly/FrugalEditorKind). It has received awards by USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from New Generation Indie Books, Global Ebook Awards and others including the coveted Irwin award.

Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “14 San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Instructor for nearly a decade at the renowned UCLA Extension Writers’ Program
uthor of the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally books including the second edition honored by USA BOOK NEWS

/ The Frugal Book Promoter: http://bit.ly/FrugalBookPromo
/ Web site: http://www.HowToDoItFrugally.com
/ E-mail: CarolynHowardJ@AOL.com
/ Facebook: http://Facebook.com/carolynhowardjohnson
/ T
witter: http://Twitter.com/FrugalBookPromo
/ Pinterest: http://Pinterest.com/chowardjohnson

Let’s Network Today!


Filed under punctuation, writing