Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Breathing new life into an older manuscript brought me back to


Do you want to know your most commonly used words in a chapter?
In a Blog post?
In a letter to your editor?


'WORDLE is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to your own desktop to use as you wish.' is a FREE Service that doesn't demand any Google Chrome EXT additions.

However - WORD ON INSTALLATION - you'll need Java RunTime in order to access Wordle, and you will need to download the 32bit version (actually, shows as X86 on the Java download site, which is old school for 32bit). My laptop is roughly a year old and the Win 10 version on my system is 64bit. Just be aware that you might need to handle this conversion depending on which version of Windows is loaded to your desktop/laptop, and which BIT size as well. If Java is currently downloaded to your system, Wordle should open. Also, there is a Wordle trouble-shooting help guide. I used Internet Explorer - not EDGE - just good ole Explorer to access Wordle, and it worked perfectly. Hopefully, these install tips will ease your Wordle path.

Pssst - any program that demands a Google Chrome EXT needs to be handled with extreme caution.
Check for reviews or malware alerts on these programs before you complete install and allow the EXT full access.
You might find your browser taken over by the EXT . . . never a good result.


Through the Wordle process, my nemesis of 'back' revealed its ugly redundancy,
and I dived into the chapter to obliterate its overuse.

The point of this exercise is to make certain - that you, the author - are fully aware of the most commonly used words, and phrases, in your writing.
Does the Wordle picture reflect the language that should float to the top like wonderful cream?
Or have you fallen into a vocabulary trap where the same tired words appear over and over?

Wordle is a bit of visual creativity to color our written world of black-and-white.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Book Review - Magic Harvest by Mary Karlik

Magic Harvest (Fairy Trafficking) by Mary Karlik

Want to push aside the FAIRYTALE veil,
and see what really happens between the pages of Once Upon A Time and Happily Ever-After?

Then Magic Harvest is a definite read for you.

Author, Mary Karlik, has woven a wonderful tale that intertwines magical creatures with the human world. The story is filled with elves, trolls, dragons, a band of law enforcement Investigators, and a host of fey people. And just like real-life, some of these folks are good, and some, not so much.

Magic Harvest is a dedication to a sister’s love, and the sheer determination of sibling to let nothing keep her from affecting a dangerous and dimension-spanning rescue.

Mary Karlik has breathed life into these fantasy beings until the pages flutter like so many faerie wings.

Think you have read the best of ‘quest’ books? Then think again, because Magic Harvest reminds readers that each of us is filled with self-doubt when facing our enemies, fear is universal, and bravery can be found no matter what your size.

This story kept me up until the ‘wee’ hours of the morning, and will bring me back to Mary Karlik’s author’s page again and again.

Fairytales do exists and sometimes the ending is even better than Happily Ever-After.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Perfect Phrase

Writers need to be voracious observers.
Listen carefully.
Read anything, everything.
Watch behaviors.
Stare at the sky, the landscape, even the cars in rush hour.
Nuggets of gold can be mined from the most unusual places.

I watch America’s Got Talent. Sometimes to prove how out-of-sync that I am with the rest of the population. More often, because I’m continually awed by the gifts of so many.

AGT comedians for the most part – entertain.

The ones that truly earn my out-loud guffaws are those who keep it every day simple, say grocery store adventures.
No, I’m not specifically referring to Wal-Mart shoppers. Those would be an article all of their own.
Remember your last grocery store trip.
Funny stuff happens.

Men, who are perfectly capable of driving on the right – correct side of the road – seem to become lane-confused when in the store. They’re always on the wrong side, or pass incorrectly, or block the aisle, and then are terribly confused when they receive death glares from their female counterparts.

Teenagers, who clearly believe in the grocery stork, are completely lost and will wander aimless – and always in your path – when searching for an item.

The woman on her phone – you’ve seen it too – who is so engrossed in her conversation that it’s impossible for her to shop.

AGT Comedians don’t find these encounters aggravating.
Well, maybe they do. But they turn said encounters into comedy.
Laugh-makers, I term them.
The real world with a twist.

As I DVR my select AGT favorites, I often watch these snippets again and again.
Who doesn’t need a laugh pick-me-up after a tough day?

I practice this same repetitive behavior with books.
A familiar book will feed my sanity-starved soul.

Most of us have ‘keeper’ shelves. Some of us are a bit obsessive and mark favorite pages . . . passages . . . the perfect turn of the phrase.

Use that behavior to your writing advantage.

Is the narrative in your current WIP detached? Guilty of telling rather than showing? Borderline boring?

Is your dialogue flat? Uninspired? Wasted page space?

Then start your own page of ‘keeper’ phrases, lines, and great passages.

When I began this exercise, it was with the thought I’d capture a couple of memorable one-liners and then share.

The more I read the talented, the more I find to KEEP.

I’ve listed a few here. If you haven’t read these books, I’d suggest a trip no further than your local Amazon store. Any of these titles in hardback or paperback, I own the permanent copies.

1) Because writers need to be voracious observers.
2) Because reading makes me happy.
3) Most importantly, great writing hones my craft.

I hope you enjoy my list.

‘It’s for his own good. Odd how the gods and humanity used that so often to justify brutality.’ Sherrilyn Kenyon, UPON THE MIDNIGHT CLEAR.

‘Howard Roark laughed.’ Ayn Rand, THE FOUNTAINHEAD.

'She was the dream he lost at dawn . . . his dream of everything . . .' Suzanne Elizabeth Phillips, THIS HEART OF MINE.

‘Caitlin mustered up all her courage – all one and a half ounces of it – and walked up the stairs. Stopping at the closed door, she risked a side-long glance at Mr. Mountain Man.’ (the bouncer of a BDSM club). Sayara St. Claire, HURT ME, HEAL ME.

‘ “Because when I pray, I say your name first, and I say your name last. When I breathe, I breathe for you. Every kind thing I say, every good thing I
do, I do because I know you’re in the world and I . . . I love you.” He smiled at her with his mouth, his eyes . . . his soul.’ Christina Dodd, DANGER IN A RED DRESS

‘People who wanted to challenge the status quo didn’t get to have temper tantrums. They had to be smarter, and calmer, and faster, and better. Beyond reproach, beyond critique. As perfect as a human being could be, because you could whine about fair and unfair all you wanted, but at the end of the day, you did the extra work or you failed.’ Kit Rocha, DEACON(Gideon’s Riders)

‘He’d wanted her. Out of all the women in the world, he’d wanted her. Wanted, hell, she thought, grinning now. Pursued, demanded. Taken. And while she could admit all of that was exciting, he’d gone one step further.
He cherished.’ JD Robb, BETRAYAL IN DEATH

‘ “An ‘usband should be plain enough to sit at his settle, and simple-minded enough to accept the stew on his plate, rather than looking round ev’ry corner for a more succulent chop,” she declares.
Maud nods in agreement. “She sounds very wise.”
Aye, she was full of wisdom; but mostly gin!” ‘Emmanuelle de Maupassant, THE GENTLEMEN'S CLUB

‘When he touched her, the sensation was like going over the tip-top of a roller coaster and speeding right toward the ground. It was scary, and awful, and grand all at once.’ Christina Dodd, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.

‘His silence welcomed her as surely as another’s man greeting, for his eyes glowed and a smile flirted with the stern line of his mouth.’ Christina Dodd, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.

‘Pride was how one behaved when others were watching. Honor was what a man did when there was no one else to see.’ Mary Jo Putney, THE RAKE

‘Her presence had been palpable since she first arrived and now he could feel only the ghost of her essence, echoes of her laugh.’ J.S. Scott, THE BILLIONAIRE'S OBSESSION

‘. . . real happiness and joy, those don’t tend to come without some risk. Those things are worth it.’ Lexi Blake, PERFECTLY PAIRED

Lexi Blake summed up my attitude. Good things don't come without risk. They also don't come without effort. In order to be a better writer, we need to observe, first-hand and in detail. We need to read great authors and pay careful attention to the turn of a phrase.

If 'due diligence' is given . . . then some day, it will be our words highlighted on blogs, with Post-it notes, and in literary discussions.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Parents Get to Have Fun, too!

Several years past, Disney spent their advertising dollars to entice the older age group back to their parks.

Scene: Daughter driving off in VW Bug, headed to college.
Voice-over: “My parents will be so sad when I’m gone. I don’t know what they’ll do.”
Scene: Mom & dad, in full Mickey Mouse regalia, riding the roller coasters at Disney World.

So, when the 19.9 million students (projected student starting figure for 2018) finally leave for college, do mom & dad mourn their leaving?

The wallet probably does. According to this year’s figures, 25.5 Billion – yep, that’s with a ‘B’ will be spent to put kids into university for the first-time, or send those returning students back to the world of academia.

Perhaps a trip to Disney would be a strain on college-shocked budgets, but there must be things Moms & Dads can do to celebrate their freedom.

Remember parents, you had a life before children.
The ‘empty nest’ realm is NOT a bad place to live.


Ooh, brings back memories, doesn’t it? This time, date night can be even better. No nervous Nelly or sweating Sam. You already like your date for the evening.

By this point, you know . . .
which movie genre makes your spouse nod off;
which restaurants serves their favorite dessert;
whether the clack of pool balls or the echo of toppling bowling pins is their idea of fun.

Plan an evening, or afternoon, that’s your ideal of adult fun.
Then spend the time talking about things beyond your kids.
This is a behavior to rediscover.


– between the thousand and three tasks to get your kid ready for college and the oodles of everyday ‘life’ chores, you and the spouse have more than likely neglected a day away adventure.

Even though my husband is a truck driver, and long road trips can turn into a busman’s holiday, a day jaunt is always a lovely mini-pleasure for him. When possible, I talk him into the navigator’s seat on these trips. It’s a completely different world view from the passenger seat. Try switching up driver/passenger. Listen to a different genre of music. Or a favorite audio book that you’ve both wanted to enjoy.

Keep the plan simple:
What city/destination/tourist spot is two hours from your home?
What’s within an hour’s drive?
What’s within thirty short minutes from your driveway?

Pick a destination a couple of hours away. Perhaps lunch in a small rural cafĂ©. Or brunch on the porch of winery. Perhaps a hiking trail that’s best explored in the morning hours.
Then chose another, or two, mini-stop(s) on the way back. It could be the museum on the other side of town. A gallery that’s always caught your attention, but just seems too far for a one-way visit. Maybe a tour of the local ballpark, or even an afternoon game.
The beauty of this plan is the several stop approach.
And if you start at the furthest distance and work back toward home, there’s no long drive at the end.
Day trips aren’t required to serve a grand purpose.
Don’t be afraid to pack a simple overnight bag for the two of you. Stopping at a hotel that’s just cross town can be a lovely way to spend an evening.
This is about exploring with your spouse and stepping into adulthood beyond children.


– it was several years after my first child had left for college before my husband and I perfected this art-form. It certainly helps if you have ready vacation days that can be spread out during the year. Many of our fondest ‘couple’ vacation memories have been the 4-day weekend trips. It’s long enough that the sorting & packing can be contained in a couple of suitcases. Destinations can be chosen at random. I mean, it’s only 4-days. After raising kids, you and your spouse both know how to survive four days – fun or not. Throw a dart at a map; pick one city in the state never before visited; listen to water cooler advice on the ‘coolest’ spot to ever vacation. The point is make this an easy get-away and then GET-AWAY.

Your young adult is off in walking the halls of academic greatness. At least, that’s what they’re supposed to be doing.

Have your own magical moments.

Don’t worry if Disney is a little beyond the budget.
From Date Night, to Day-Tripping, to the mini-Vacation, parents can find plenty to keep occupied.

Hey, you get to be the one to tell the kiddo to make certain they clear coming home against YOUR schedule.

Reality is a part of adulthood that is inescapable.
You and your spouse have earned a bit of down time, and your own moments in the sun.
Kids in college can be ‘freeing’ for all.

Parents get to have fun, too.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Texas Jewel Series: Book 1 by Melissa Alexia

Author, Melissa Alexia, sets her series: Texas Jewel, in the heart of West Texas.

Filled with snakes -- real and human-like -- Julia (Jewels) Starling navigates unknown terrain after returning to bury her grandfather.

A long estrangement between the two of them leaves Jewels with a whole heap of problems as she tries to determine why the old man left her the land.

Between her past history with the 'Big Douche', the local sheriff who wants to play hanky-spanky, the sleazy drug lord, and the current man who 'needs' her to say 'I do', Jewels has way too many men vying for her attention.

For a gal who just felt the need to show up for the reading of the will, life is suddenly filled with blistering complications.

Caught between the proverbial Texas rock and Hell's own hard place, Jewels needs to keep herself alive, figure out who ALL is lying to her, and escape the West Texas heat.

This fast-paced story leaves readers wanting to find out what happens next to Jewels and the men who want her.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Language Garden: The Apostrophe Hummingbird

I have been re-reading ‘Eats, Shoots & Leaves’ by Lynne Truss.

Glutton for punishment???


I, like the majority of authors, need to constantly hone and redefine my skills. There is no quick grow method to sound writing. No short-cut or easy season. Study time, butt-in-chair effort to learn basic and advance grammar is still the most effective method for a good crop of sentences.

As to ‘Eats, Shoots & Leaves’, if you haven’t read Lynne’s witty take on grammar and its sad decline, you are in for a treat. She entertains and educates – no easy feat.

If you’re new to writing, then best advice: learn the grammar rules.

A past critique partner, albeit a brilliant woman, continually brought her week’s pages with numerous grammatical errors. When we groused, as writers are want to do, about the continued mistakes, she informed us that learning all those pesky rules slowed her creativity and she knew we’d correct her anyway.


**Your writing buddies, your critique partners, and heaven forbid, your readers don’t want to slog through your grammatical mistakes.**

The tiny apostrophe is actually quite a work-horse in grammar. Perhaps, I should liken it to a hummingbird. Always around, busy, and cheerful if used correctly.

Don't cross your eyes and click off this blog. I have no intention of sending you into doldrums of boredom with a list of apostrophe purposes.

There are many - not too many - but let us focus on one aspect: Plural Possessive

Very specifically –
A) men
B) women
C) children
D) oxen
E) brethren (general usage in today’s time to denote spiritual brothers. Depending on the religion or denomination, women can be brethren as well.)
F) neofen (newcomers to science fiction; fans who are extremely new and inexperienced with the genre.) Wiktionary
G) kneen (obsolete form of knees – plural) Your Dictionary
There is the school of thought that ‘chicken’ belongs in this list; that chicken is the plural for chick. However, Old English scholars believe that ‘. . . chicken, the –en ending isn’t a plural, but a diminutive, expressing small size or affection, which also turns up in kitten and maiden.’ World Wide Words

TO our lesson:

Is it Men’s Locker Room? Or Mens’ Locker Room?

As MEN is already plural, more than one man can go into that smelly, sock-infested locker room and hang out, doing whatever men do behind in that inner sanctum, and it’s all good. Therefore, Men’s Locker Room will nicely suffice.

Was it the Women’s Suffrage Movement? Or the Womens’ Suffrage Movement?

Again, WOMEN is already plural; no extra ‘s’ is required. Women’s history can be charted back to the early start of women’s rights when female abolitionist activists gathered and gave birth to the Women’s Suffrage Movement. See, no extra ‘s’ needed. Women stand quite nicely on their own.

Should we name the new play area: Children’s Playground or Childrens’ Playground?

By now, the pattern should be clear.

In your writing, if the word is already plural through the use of an ‘–en’ ending, then any possession must take place with an added apostrophe then s.

Some are blatantly common: MEN, WOMEN, and CHILDREN.

Some are dated, almost part of our quietly buried English language: KNEEN, BREATHEN, and OXEN.

Others are new to our language: NEOFEN.

In the garden of language, new words sprout and bud; their usages, and meanings offering color to a black and white landscape. Grammar rules are the raised beds, the lattice work, bits of string and twine that allow our ever-evolving language to blossom.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Phrase . . . the true meaning behind the catch phrase: A fool’s paradise.

Pick a genre and you’ve probably read this catch phrase.

‘John thinks he’ll finally get the promotion, but then he lives in a fool’s paradise.’

‘Her fool’s paradise ended the day she caught her cheating lover in bed with her best friend."

Writing a historical and worried about the inception of this phrase?

Unless, your characters are pre-1462, you’ll be safe. This phrase first found its way on page in the Paston Letters, 1462.

But what exactly does a fool’s paradise mean?

Shakespeare embraced its usage in Romeo and Juliet, and certainly that was one couple that lived in happiness based on false hope.

Writing current fiction . . . or non-fiction?

The phrase – a fool’s paradise – is still as potent today.

Artist, Shohei Otomo, debuted his work in September 2012, entitling his exhibition: Fool’s Paradise.

The phrase shows its relevance in modern newspapers, as shown in The New York Times Opinion Section, October 6, 2008, article by Bob Herbert, A Fool’s Paradise, “We’ve been living for years in a fool’s paradise atop a mountain of debt.” has even determined that some wish to celebrate the day. July 13th is listed in their registry as Fool’s Paradise Day. Perhaps, it is just a day to
believe that anything is possible. Perhaps, a day not to worry about detrimental truth. And perhaps, it’s simply a day to assume that no matter the worst . . . it will all be over in a single day.

Whatever your take on the day, be careful not to live in a fool’s paradise.

Someday the truth will win out . . .
But then that’s a phrase explanation for another day.

Breathing new life into an older manuscript brought me back to WRITERS Do you want to know your most commonly used words in ...