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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Article: Who vs. Whom

by David Bowman

Do you remember Johnnie Cochran, the powerful lawyer who lead OJ Simpson's defense team? He was good, really good. And he used good grammar.

One of his more powerful statements, actually a rhetorical question to the jury, was, "Who is kidding whom?" I admit to cheering when I heard him say that.

"Whom" is starting to drop out of the English language, I suspect, because many people don't know what it means or how to use it. Those who do are sometimes considered snooty by those who don't, like wearing a suit and tie to a ball game might be considered snooty by those who are dressed in shorts. Using "whom" isn't snooty; it's correct. Let's look at "who" and "whom," what they mean, and how they are used.

1. Using "Who"

"Who" is a subject pronoun. This means that "who" does something. "Who" has an action and is followed by a verb.". One way to check whether or not "who" is the right word is to replace it (temporarily) with the word "He" or "She," which are also subject pronouns.

Examples:
"There is the man who stole my cookie!" ("Who" is the subject of "stole"; "he stole.")
"Who wants to buy me another cookie?" ("Who" is the subject of "wants"; "he wants.")

2. Using "Whom"

"Whom" is an object pronoun. This means that "Whom" is the recipient of an action or completes a prepositional phrase. One way to check whether or not "whom" is the right word is to replace it (temporarily) with the word "him" or "her," which are also object pronouns.

Examples:
"Officer, my cookie was stolen, but I don't know by whom." ("Whom" is the object of the preposition "by"; "by him.")
"I'm looking for the cookie thief whom you didn't see." ("Whom is the object of "you didn't see"; "you didn't see him.")

3. Where this gets tricky

The "who/whom" can start a clause that serves as an object. For example, consider this sentence: "I gave my cookie to the man who/whom wore a red tie." "The man who/whom wore a red tie" is an object of "to." So which do you choose? Actually the answer is pretty simple. Find the verbs in the sentence first, and then locate their subjects. The subject of the verb "wore" is "who/whom." Because we need a subject here, we use the subject pronoun "Who." Thus, we have "I gave my cookie to the man who wore a red tie."

Another way to decide is to identify the clauses in a sentence. This sentence has the clause "I gave my cookie to the man" and "Who wore a red tie." The first clause has the subject-verb combination of "I gave," and the second has the subject-verb combination "who wore." Again, we see that "Who" is the subject of the clause, so we need the subject pronoun. This also gets tricky when the Subject-verb-object order is disrupted, such as when revising sentences so they don't end in prepositions. For example, consider this sentence: "To whom shall I give my cookie?" "Whom" seems to be in the subject position as the subject of "shall." However, "whom" is the object of the preposition "to." Another way to write this sentence (poorly) is "I shall give my cookie to whom?" Now, the selection of "who" and "whom" seems pretty obvious.

On the other hand, in the sentence "Who shall buy my cookie?" "who" is serving as the subject of "shall buy," which is why we use "who" and not "whom." In this sentence, as in the previous examples, finding the verbs will help you decide which to use.

4. Quick summary

Who: Subject, can be replaced by other subject pronouns, such as "he" and "her"
Whom: Object, can be replaced by other object pronouns, such as "him" and "her"

5. One final note

We sometimes get questions about "whomever" and "whoever." These two words follow the same rules as "who" and "whom." You can correctly write, "Whoever has the cookie can give it to whomever he chooses." "Whoever" is the subject of "has," and "whomever" is the object of "chooses" (as in, "he chooses whomever").

About the Author: David Bowman is the owner and chief editor of Precise Edit, a comprehensive editing, proofreading, and document analysis service for authors, students, and businesses. Precise Edit also offers a variety of other services, such as translation, transcription, and website development. Click Here for more information about Precise Edit’s services.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Interview: Cynthia Eden

The Long and the Short of It is excited to have Cynthia Eden visiting with us today. Cynthia has a new paranormal romance being released by Kensington Brava this week. She's also had novellas published by Avon Red and Red Sage Publishing, as well as two other paranormal romances with ImaJinn Books.

Cynthia told me she a very active imagination. In fact, she shared with me that her imagination is too strong for total darkness, so she always sleep with the light on. "I’ll admit this without shame," she said. "I can imagine anything when I hear the creak of a floorboard or the drip of a faucet. Better to just have a sliver of light spilling in from the closet or bathroom—that way, I won’t imagine a serial killer (wearing a hockey mask) in my bedroom."

I asked Cynthia when she first considered herself a writer. "When I finished writing my first book," she told me. "Not when I sold my first book—'cause that didn’t happen until much later. But, when I actually wrote 'The End' and stopped typing on my first novel, well, yes, that’s when I called myself a writer. I’d put sweat, struggle, and sacrifice into that story—I definitely considered myself a writer when it was completed."

Cynthia has a couple of interesting things she does when she has a case of writers block. One thing she does is keep an "idea file" going. Whenever she gets a new idea for a story, she opens her "idea file" and types it in. Then, when she gets stuck on her current WIP, all she has to do is open the file and work on something new for a bit. "Usually just starting a new tale will free my mind—and allow me to get the creative juices flowing again," she said.

I really liked her second way of overcoming writers block. "I also take a lot of walks. I often talk to myself as I walk—hashing out scenes and trying to figure out exactly what should happen next in my novel." She doesn't get many strange looks when she does this. And for a very good reason. "I have my two-year-old with me," she said, "so it looks like I’m talking to him instead of, ahem, myself." I think she plans it that way :-)

Several things, in her estimation, go into good writing. These elements are strong characters, great chemistry between those characters, fast pacing, a gripping plot, and believable dialogue.

Every writer has a different part of their book they find difficult to write. Cynthia shared with me that the hardest part for her is always the beginning. "Usually, I will write about three different beginnings for my stories," she told me. "I’ll experiment until I find the one that seems to flow the best for me."

Cynthia enjoys snorkeling, thunderstorms (she told me she loves "listening to the thunder and hearing the roar fill the sky. Perfect inspiration"), funny movies (if you catch her crying during a movie, she said, "I’m laughing so hard the tears trickle down my face. I try to avoid movies that I know will be sad—I figure life is sad enough"), starry nights, and reading great romances.

Finally, I asked Cynthia what a phrase was she used a lot. Although she admitted to being embarrassed about it, she 'fessed up that she says "That's the way I roll with it" a lot. It's a very versatile comment, it seems, because she can use it in almost any situation. "For example," she told me, "'Didn’t you wear that yesterday?' to which I’d say, 'Uh, huh. That’s the way I roll with it.' Or, 'Jeez, your house is dirty. Don’t you ever clean?' My reply: 'Nope, that’s the way I roll with it.'”

Her latest book, Hotter After Midnight is being released this week and we are giving away an autographed copy of it (you can also read our review of it here). Make sure you go to our contest page and play along. I asked Cynthia to tell me a little bit about this intriguing book. "In Hotter After Midnight," she said, "my heroine, Dr. Emily Drake, is a psychologist who only treats paranormal patients and Colin Gyth, the hero—he’s a police detective (and a wolf shifter). The two of them become paired up while working a murder investigation. Since Emily’s specialty is the paranormal, she is the perfect profiler for a supernatural case. But, as the danger mounts, Emily and Colin find a connection that neither anticipated, and a passion they can’t deny."

Visit Cyntha at her website: www.cynthiaeden.com .

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Never Before

by Allie Boniface


He asked her to dinner the moment they met.

Tall, brash, with chiseled jaw and muscled chest, he crossed the lawn and knelt beside her. “Hi.”

She raised her head; one finger marked the page of the book that lay in her lap. “Yes?” He looked vaguely familiar, she thought, one of the many fraternity brothers who wandered in and out of the library while she squinted into old manuscripts and took notes until her hands ached.

“Can I take you to dinner?”

She blinked. The grass under her bare legs tickled the backs of her knees. “I don’t know you.”

He collapsed beside her, baby blue eyes laughing as he rested on one elbow and squinted into the afternoon sun. “Sorry. Name’s Taylor.”

“Isn’t that a girl’s name?”

He looked wounded. “Not always.”

Then she felt bad. “I apologize.” She glanced at her watch. Her Mythic Short Story class began in ten minutes. His arm, so close to her leg, made her shiver. She moved away.

“So, how about dinner?”

She cocked her head and lost her place in the book. Now she recognized him: captain of the football team. Two years older than she. Pictured every other week in the campus newspaper at some party or fund-raising event or mud-sliding competition with the other fraternity houses.

“I don’t…really think I’m your type.”

“How will you know unless you give me a chance?”

She glanced over her shoulder, a furtive scan of the trees that lined the academic quadrangle. Surely someone had put him up to it, bet him ten dollars he wouldn’t ask out mousy-haired, too-thin, serious Grace Appleby. But she saw no one, no mirror image of Taylor laughing into his palm or elbowing a sleek-haired, sloe-eyed girlfriend in silent mirth.

“Okay.”

He smiled, and her shivers started up again. “How about Portia’s?”

Ah. The pricy Italian place outside of town. Now she knew it was a dare of some sort. “I’ve never been there before.”

“It’s nice. A little over-rated, but still nice.”

She thought about asking him how many other girls he’d wined and dined there, but she refrained. She’d find out soon enough.

###


“I had a really good time.”

They stood in the moonlight, on the sidewalk outside a restaurant that had closed hours earlier.

“Me too.” To her surprise, she didn’t have to lie.

His arm, warm and safe, moved around her waist. She waited for the lean-in, for the smooth, practiced kiss. It didn’t come. Instead he simply looked at her and moved a lock of hair from her eyes.

“Want to go to the shore this weekend?”

A fall breeze brushed her neck. The Shore. It would be cool, she imagined, perhaps gray: perfect weather for a sweater and a hand tucked inside someone else’s.

“I’ve never been to the shore before.”

“Really?” He looked surprised. “It’s relaxing. Not as crowded this time of year, either. You’ll like it.”

He walked her home, kissed her on the cheek, and danced his way through her dreams all night long.

###

The seagulls ate from her hand as she squished cool sand between her toes. He laughed and took her picture, framing her face in fading light. Her sneakers lay on the beach a half-mile back, next to his hat with the Greek letters that meant nothing to her.

They sat at the edge of the water and told stories. They watched the sun set. And when he ran one hand along her cheek, she was the one who leaned in first. She kissed him, breathed him in, and let the evening air cool the flames that rose inside her.

###


“I was thinking…” Taylor began.

Grace rolled over in his bed, sheets twisted around her legs. She loved the sound of his voice, the cadence it made against the walls of the room. Dawn had just touched the winter morning. Three more days until they left, he for his mansion in the country and she for her mother’s studio apartment across town.

“Want to ski the Alps over break?” His fingers played over her bare skin, touching the sensitive spots he knew by heart.

She giggled and rolled away from him again. “I’ve never even been on a plane before. And you know I’ve never gone skiing.”

His mouth moved against hers. “I’ll show you how. And on the plane, I’ll hold your hand and count to one hundred until we’re in the air and there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

###

They stayed in a castle high above the town of Chamonix, and he was right – he taught her to ski, and to order from a French menu, and to breathe in the air that seemed thinner and richer all at the same time. They fought only once, when she fell and bruised her elbow.

“You said you would help me!”

“I can’t be there every minute, Grace.”

The words seared into her, and she spent a long afternoon without him, wandering narrow streets and running her fingertips along souvenirs that would probably break the minute she carried them off the plane, back home.

###

She sat by herself in the corner of the library. Finals week loomed. Her head ached with thinking, with planning, with imagining. Daylight changed to shadows and then to rain. Thunder echoed inside the old stone building. An emptiness she couldn’t shake clung to her shoulders.

Close to evening, he found her there. He had to turn and walk sideways through the cramped aisles, until he reached the scarred, crooked table. He pushed aside her books and papers.

“I’ve missed you.”

She didn’t answer.

His hands worked inside the pockets of his shorts. His blue eyes dimmed. He scraped a chair up beside her. “I have to tell you something.”

She waited.

He pulled out a small velvet box and placed it on the open pages of Sonnets from the Portuguese. “I’m in love with you.” He cleared his throat. “I’ve never felt that way before.”

About the Author: Allie Boniface is a romance novelist and high school English teacher living with her husband in the northern New York City suburbs. She’s had a soft spot for love stories and happy endings since the time she could read, and she’s been caught scribbling story ideas on scrap paper (when she should have been paying attention to something else) too many times to count. When she’s not writing, shoveling snow, or grading papers, she’s traveling the United States and Europe in search of sunshine, back roads, and the perfect little pub.

Visit Allie’s website at
www.allieboniface.com to find out release dates and all the latest news, or hear what’s on her mind today at her blog, www.allieboniface.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Article: Get More Value From Your Author Website

by Nina Davies

You already have a website; readers sign up for your newsletter; and you link to Amazon so visitors can rush off to buy your books. As a writer trying to build a following, are you getting the most out of your author website?

You can’t answer this question until you know how many people are visiting your site, where they come from, and what pages they visit on your site. This article will tell you how to do this for free using Google Analytics.

*** What is Google Analytics? ***

Google Analytics is a tool that lets you track visitor activity on your website. It is free, simple to install, and provides easy-to-read reports that will answer most of your questions about how people are reaching and using your site.

*** Why Should I use Google Analytics? ***

Information is power.

You can’t evaluate the effectiveness of your author website until you have some data to give meaning to your hunches. I’ll gives you three examples where data from Google Analytics can help you direct your marketing efforts.

** Is my brand effective?
You’ve decided on a brand and come up with a killer slogan. Is it working?

To answer this question you can use Google Analytics to review the key words that visitors are using to find your site. Not surprisingly, the top keywords used to find my site are “Nina Davies”. But visitors have also found my site using the following searches:

-Romantic suspense author
-Authors psychic romantic suspense

The first example makes sense, since I brand myself as a romantic suspense author. The second was a surprise since I’m not a paranormal writer, although one of my unpublished books features a psychic heroine. So far I’m satisfied that my branding is effective and I’m glad that no one is finding my site using searches such as “terrible writer”

** What type of sites should I guest-blog on?

Imagine you have two invitations to guest blog, but only time to do one. Which do you choose? Looking at data from your past guest-blogs can help you decide.

Using Google Analytics, you can find out exactly how many visitors arrived at your site from each of your guest blogs. You might find that you get most clicks when you blog on author sites in the same genre as you, or you might find that you get most clicks when you blog in far-flung and unusual places.

** Was that bookstore signing worth it?

Google Analytics also tracks the geographic origins of your website visitors. If you do a bookstore signing, you can determine whether website visitors from that locale increased before/during/after the signing. While this isn’t the only measure of a signings success, it provides another piece of evidence to help you decide how to spend your precious time.

These are only three examples of how Google Analytics can increase the effectiveness of your author marketing efforts. There are dozens more reports you can review, such as which pages on your site get the most traffic, which pages do most visitors leave from, etc, etc.

**** How Do I Get Started? ****

Your first step is to go to Google Analytics at www.Google.com/analytics and sign up for a free account.

To get the tracking started, you then need to paste some code into the pages of your website. Adding the code is quite simple. Whoever developed your website should be able to do it in ten minutes or less (perhaps a bit longer if many pages need to be edited). If you developed the site yourself, follow the instructions on Google.

Have fun with Google Analytics. You’ll be amazed at the information at your fingertips.

From: http://www.articlesbase.com/writing-articles/get-more-value-from-your-author-website-388734.html

About the Author: Nina Davies is the author of two novels and the founder of AutoCrit Writing Center, home of the awesome AutoCrit Editing Wizard and an extensive Writing Advice Center.

Article: Get More Value From Your Author Website

by Nina Davies


You already have a website; readers sign up for your newsletter; and you link to Amazon so visitors can rush off to buy your books. As a writer trying to build a following, are you getting the most out of your author website?

You can’t answer this question until you know how many people are visiting your site, where they come from, and what pages they visit on your site. This article will tell you how to do this for free using Google Analytics.

*** What is Google Analytics? ***

Google Analytics is a tool that lets you track visitor activity on your website. It is free, simple to install, and provides easy-to-read reports that will answer most of your questions about how people are reaching and using your site.

*** Why Should I use Google Analytics? ***

Information is power.

You can’t evaluate the effectiveness of your author website until you have some data to give meaning to your hunches. I’ll gives you three examples where data from Google Analytics can help you direct your marketing efforts.

** Is my brand effective?
You’ve decided on a brand and come up with a killer slogan. Is it working?

To answer this question you can use Google Analytics to review the key words that visitors are using to find your site. Not surprisingly, the top keywords used to find my site are “Nina Davies”. But visitors have also found my site using the following searches:

-Romantic suspense author
-Authors psychic romantic suspense

The first example makes sense, since I brand myself as a romantic suspense author. The second was a surprise since I’m not a paranormal writer, although one of my unpublished books features a psychic heroine. So far I’m satisfied that my branding is effective and I’m glad that no one is finding my site using searches such as “terrible writer”

** What type of sites should I guest-blog on?

Imagine you have two invitations to guest blog, but only time to do one. Which do you choose? Looking at data from your past guest-blogs can help you decide.

Using Google Analytics, you can find out exactly how many visitors arrived at your site from each of your guest blogs. You might find that you get most clicks when you blog on author sites in the same genre as you, or you might find that you get most clicks when you blog in far-flung and unusual places.

** Was that bookstore signing worth it?

Google Analytics also tracks the geographic origins of your website visitors. If you do a bookstore signing, you can determine whether website visitors from that locale increased before/during/after the signing. While this isn’t the only measure of a signings success, it provides another piece of evidence to help you decide how to spend your precious time.

These are only three examples of how Google Analytics can increase the effectiveness of your author marketing efforts. There are dozens more reports you can review, such as which pages on your site get the most traffic, which pages do most visitors leave from, etc, etc.

**** How Do I Get Started? ****

Your first step is to go to Google Analytics at www.Google.com/analytics and sign up for a free account.

To get the tracking started, you then need to paste some code into the pages of your website. Adding the code is quite simple. Whoever developed your website should be able to do it in ten minutes or less (perhaps a bit longer if many pages need to be edited). If you developed the site yourself, follow the instructions on Google.

Have fun with Google Analytics. You’ll be amazed at the information at your fingertips.

From: http://www.articlesbase.com/writing-articles/get-more-value-from-your-author-website-388734.html


About the Author: Nina Davies is the author of two novels and the founder of AutoCrit Writing Center, home of the awesome AutoCrit Editing Wizard and an extensive Writing Advice Center.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Interview: Kara Lynn Russell

The Long and the Short of It is very excited to welcome Kara Lynn Russell, author of the Orchard Hill Series. Orchard Hill is a small town in Wisconsin where Pansy Parker and Misty Green, two rival matchmakers live. Each thinks she is the best at creating couples. One year they decide to keep track of all their matches and whoever has the most at the end of the year will be considered (at least between the two of them) as the best matchmaker.

The newest installment in this series, "Keeping Faith," is scheduled to come out on Memorial Day. I asked Kara to tell us a little bit about it.

Keeping Faith, the next installment in the Orchard Hill series will tell the story of school secretary Faith and elementary principal, Andrew. They’ve been working together for years and Faith’s been in love with him for most of that time. Andrew’s totally clueless until she decides to quit and won’t tell him why. Then he discovers not only that Faith loves him, but also that he’s been denying his own feelings about her. Of course matchmaker Misty Green gives them just the push they need to get things started.

After “Keeping Faith,” five more Orchard Hill romances will be released – “Enduring Hope,” “Accepting Charity,” “Disrupting Harmony,” “Losing Patience” and “Finding Joy.” You can find out more about Orchard Hill by visiting my website – karalynnrussell.googlepages.com

A series like this has got to be a big undertaking. "It’s very challenging and satisfying," she said. "It’s also a lot of work and there are days when I think I’m insane for pitching it to my editor. But by the end of the year, I’ll have written more than 165,000 words, which will be quite an accomplishment in itself."

I'll say it is! I asked Kara what got her interested in writing. "I don't remember ever not being interested in making up stories and writing them down," she told me. "One of my earliest memories is of creating comic books with my brother."

Kara grew up, with her brother, on a dairy farm in Wisconsin and has recently moved back to her small home town where, once again, she has to get up at 5:30 in the morning to get the day started. She doesn't mind getting up early in the morning, though, because she uses that time for herself, before the morning chaos of getting everyone else moving starts. "I use that time to write," she said.

Kara has several books and stories published, so I asked her what advice she would give to a writer just starting out. "Persevere," she said, "in writing, in learning the craft and eventually, in submitting. I've found the writing community in general and particularly the romance writing community to be very supportive and helpful."

She also had a second word of advice. "Learn to revise what you write. I used to hate that part of writing. I took a big step forward in my writing journey when I finally embraced the need to revise. Now I see it like this –the first draft is just setting down the clay on the wheel. Through revision you create the piece you envisioned."It' s always interesting to me how different authors develop their stories. For some, it's all about the characters and the situations they find themselves in. For others, like Kara, the idea for a plot comes first.

She told me she used to have several types of character worksheets. "The ones," she said, "that have you list everything from traumatic childhood events to preferred underwear type. I always hated filling those out. Lately I've been keeping character journals. I really enjoy letting the characters tell me about themselves. It's still a good idea to keep a list of things like eye color and age, but you can just add to it whenever your character tells you something like that."

She also admits to being an outliner, but adds, "This seems strange because my story never comes out looking like the outline and, in longer works, I usually have to stop once or twice and re-do the outline because my story has strayed way away from it. But I find I can't start if I don't at least have a 'map' of where I want to go."

I asked Kara what authors have most influenced her writing and she told me the answer could change depending on the project she's working on or even what day it is, because there are so many writers she admires and who have influenced her writing. However, she did tell me about three writers who are on her list.

One of the authors that I admire most is L. Frank Baum, who wrote The Wizard of Oz. (And if you’ve only seen the MGM musical of this story, you really need to read the book.) His purpose in writing children’s fantasy was to create a truly American fairy tale. He was a free thinker who had many careers including actor, playwright, store owner, newspaper editor, China salesman, and pioneer in the silent film industry. His writing provided his family with an income after a heart problem prevented him from pursuing more active work.

The second author I’d like to mention is Lynn Cote, an inspirational romance author. I read her first book and was delighted when I found it was set in an area close to my home town. It was exciting to realize that I could write “what I know” and have someone be interested in publishing it.

Finally I have to say that Jane Austen is a great influence. She is another author who wrote “what she knew” and made the ordinary absolutely magical. I love the way she created families and communities. I try to do the same in my stories.


Many people, when journaling find their "inner editor" is turned off only when they write quickly and without really thinking about how they write. Kara shared with me that she's quite the opposite. "In college, a professor started me on the habit of keeping a notebook and writing in it every day...When I wrote slowly and concentrated on the way I formed my letters instead of the way I arranged my words, it was easier to write without judging. As a result I have a distinctive way of forming my letters."

She also admitted to me she cries a lot during movies. "I tend to over-empathize with the characters. My kids love to tease me about it. They're always watching me at the sad parts to see if I'm going to cry. Usually I do."

For a bit of trivia about Kara: a saying she uses a lot is "She doesn't know if she's afoot or on horseback." She got this saying from her grandmother describing a confused person and, she said, "it's always made me laugh."

You can also visit her at her website or, to find out more about Orchard Hill, visit http://orchardhill.blogspot.com/

Thursday, April 17, 2008

One Final Spell

by Alisha Paige


Gunther drew a circle in the soft soil with an old knobby stick as he sat on the mossy log. Dried autumn leaves fluttered around him, landing at his feet and within the circle where disturbed beetles and earthworms wriggled.

Tonight was the night he’d waited for all his life. The old wizard’s magick had been years in the making. Lifetimes really. Tonight’s spell had been bubbling in the cauldron for five generations. The weight of the moment nearly shattered his courage. Nearly. He had to go through with it. There was no turning back now. He could see her face. Almost hear her whispering his name like she had in his twentieth year.

Time had weathered him, ravaged his skin, turning it soft and leathery. A stark white beard trailed down his purple cloak, curving upward at his round belly. He fingered the medallion she’d given him. A symbol of their love. Her coven’s symbol, two stars entwined, nestled onto the symbol of his, an acorn with a spear through the center. Their marriage would have been one to bind the two alliances together for eternity. But it was not to be. Too much goodness would have come from it and the demons would not have it.

The dark memory stung him still. He snorted at the thought of it. Anger boiled in his chest. He sucked in a gasp of wood smoke scented air and stood, kicking the circle and all the frenzied critters that squirmed within, giving them not a second thought, much like the demon had done to his Marquetta. She’d been kidnapped, taken in the dead of night, as she lay dreaming about their wedding the next day. Gunther knows this because the demons tortured him as well. They captured her dreams, placed them in a box and sent them on a raven’s wing to his lonely house in the woods. Lonely now but it wasn’t so long ago. Forty years past bled through his mind as he stormed through the woods, his heavy boots squishing through the damp forest as he made his way back home to prepare for the historic occasion. Tonight the two covens would unite. Marquetta, ah, sweet Marquetta…

But he wouldn’t allow it. Couldn’t allow the thoughts to snake into his mind and take him back. Not when he needed all his power. He’d harness every last drop of it tonight. Or he’d die trying. His coven would not be present. They weren’t allowed. Not one of them had the strength to survive the current of power he’d battle tonight. He still wasn’t sure if he did. The ancient scrolls foretelling of the great event named him, but still he could not believe it. He’d led a very quiet life, never marrying another, training and teaching his magick to his underlings.

He flung the cabin door open and stomped to the carved table in the center of the room. Herbs lay about, scattered as if the wind had mixed them herself. Tugging at the rope around his belt, he pulled up the empty jar, opened it and tossed in sprigs of this and sprouts of this, a pinch of something and three gnarled roots. He glanced out the window at the fading sun and twisted the lid back onto the jar. Two, maybe three minutes top. He’d begin when the first shadows fell. He could hear the frantic whispers, good will chants from his coven hissing through the wind as he departed and headed back into the darkening woods. To a place he visited daily. Her grave.

The rusty gate squeaked in protest and dozens of crows fluttered from the trees, leaving Gunther even more alone than usual. He looked over his shoulder and squinted. He’d forgotten his spectacles in the rush. No matter. He’d not need sight to complete the spell. Good, he could see the waning moon climb higher, cut in two by a wide branch in his line of blurry sight. He dropped to his knees and kissed the dirt that lay over her.

“Marquetta,” he said out loud. “My love. We’ve waited so long.”

Sinister doom wafted on a wind swept night. His bones ached with it. A crackling rattle sounded on the earth around him. Snakes slithered between the bars of the ancient cemetery, twisting, turning, twining over his legs as he worked frantically, mixing the herbs, the roots, the flower petals he’d perfected into the most potent hybrids. He stood, kicking the hissing beasts off the grave as he danced his final dance beneath the crescent moon, chanting one last spell against the deafening roar of the howling winds. His beard whipped around his face as he screeched the words.

My love lies here;
Grown cold and bare.
Beneath the warm earth;
awaiting me there.
Take away her pain,
Her fear from the evil
That stilled her voice.
Give back to the dark,
In full force, girth and might
Punish the wicked and bring
Forth the light…

Gunther was hurled into the sky, tossed like a doll, twirling in a ball of lavender light, his white beard swirling around him as he continued the chant.

Rise, dear Marquetta!
I’ve loved you all along.
The dark will fade away,
And our love with be won.
Our marriage will foster goodness
For all to see.
Once again the kingdom will know
Harmony.

Gunther fell to earth in a heap of robes. His head struck the marble stone carved with her name. The woods grew silent and dark. Moments passed as the snakes crackled over dead leaves, over his body, then wiggled back into the ground from where they’d come. Stunned, he opened his eyes and sat up. Blood dripped from his brow. He stood, turning a circle as blood splattered, falling faster, sinking into the soft moss that covered her grave.

Nothing. No sound. No movement.

He sighed and slumped away, looking back only once. Forty years of work and no light. No spell, no concoction could bring her back. She was dead. And so was he. He pushed open the door, feeling older than ever, wishing for death. His coven was silent. They knew better than to disturb him in his fatal disappointment. The scrolls had been wrong. He was not the chosen. And he had hoped so with all his heart. Hope had kept him alive for so long.

He flung himself upon the bed and blew out the dripping candle. Total darkness. Emptiness. Like his soul. Soft, sweet sleep drifted in. He dreamed of her face, their first kiss beneath the apple tree when he heard a dove. A cooing. He rolled over on a groan. The bed squeaked. He strained to hear again. More cooing and a cough. Doves don’t cough. He reached for his spectacles and fashioned them over his ears, bounding out of bed. He lit the candle and scanned the small cabin, running room to room. Nothing. No one. It was a dream. He slumped onto the bed. More cooing.
He stood and walked to the window, staring into the tall oak tree. No dove. Now he couldn’t sleep.

He opened the door and stood there listening. He held the candle up high. Something caught his eye. Just under the eaves, where the ivy grows and gathers in soft bundles. A baby!

He knelt down when she smiled at him and laughed out loud, reaching for her in the moonlight. She wrapped her hand around his finger and he saw for the first time that his hand was smooth again. So young. He felt his face, gathered the baby in his arms and rushed inside. He reached for the mirror and gasped at what he saw. A lad was staring back at him. Perhaps thirteen years of age. Tears fell from his face and he held her to him, smoothing the tiny blonde hairs on the back of her head, breathing her in .

He knew at that instant. With one shaking, youthful hand, he lifted her gown and saw above her naval, the birthmark that told him all he needed to know.

“Marquetta! My love!”

About the Author: Born and raised in Texas, Alisha lives in a charming haunted house built in the 50’s. She’s married to an extreme alpha-male with long hair and tattoos who still makes her think she married the cover model of her dreams. When Alisha’s not writing about sexy shape shifters, luscious vampires, wanton witches, brooding ghosts, lost fairies or ancient history, she’s spending time with her family, gardening, singing, relaxing in the swing out back, reading, eating rich dark chocolate or drinking fine red wine. Visit Alisha at her website.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Article: The Literary Food Chain

by Sharon Horton


In the world of acting, the food chain is well defined. Theater actors look down upon movie actors…movie actors look down upon television actors…television actors look down upon commercial actors…and I suppose commercial actors look down upon infomercial actors. Everyone has an opinion as to what is legitimate within the thespian world.

It is the same within the literary world.

How often I have encountered the curious and intrigued expression when I announce I’m a writer. And how often I have encountered the “looked down upon” expression when it’s discovered I am an unpublished writer.

The first question, after they learn I write, is always, “Are you published?” They don’t care if I’ve written a charming tale about an artichoke that talks and teaches the meaning of life to children, or if I’ve written a complete manual on how to split atoms over a campfire. All they care about is whether they can enter a bookstore and see my name in print.

Will seeing my name in print validate my craft? Maybe. Will it ensure I am a writer? No. I am a writer pure and simple, and struggling with the best of them. The dream of creating our stories and characters is what makes us strive to perfect ourselves. The dream of being published keeps us striving. And yet, we are all still writers.

As the well-read person may have seen in print by another writer, "All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players." Those who are actors, act. We, who are writers, write. If the reading world views the unpublished me as being at the bottom of the literary food chain then I shall accept it proudly, for I am in good company.

About the Author: Born and raised in Northern California, Sharon now lives on the East Coast where her husband, son, dog, cats and goldfish have learned to overlook her endless quest to blend the hearts and spirits of people who don't exist - until she creates them with words. Visit her at her website.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Interview: M. K. Trent

The Long and the Short of It is excited to welcome M.K. Trent. I love her bio so much, I'm going to share it with you, just like she shared it with me.

I’m not Dorothy-my dog was Bobo, not Toto-but I did come from Kansas. When my house landed on the wicked witch of the west in 1972, I came east. I love lime green fingernail polish and flatfooting to Bluegrass music. If you want to know about tomato horn worms, don’t ask me. I can tell you how a grandson can melt your heart or a daughter graduating from college at age thirty can make tears of pride well in your eyes. And over the last fifty odd years, I’ve learned about the endurance of friendship and the power of love. That’s what it’s all about – right?

M.K. hated writing when she was in high school. She told me she dreaded September because she knew she would be getting the assignment, as we probably all did, of writing about "What I Did on Summer Vacation." "It never occurred to me," she said, "I could make up something really exciting, like chasing cattle down the Chisolm Trail or hurtling through space as Captain Xenon."

Even though she hated writing in school, she always had stories in her head. She told me that even as young as three or four, she would make up stories about her favorite TV heroes, whether they be swashbucklers, a guy dancing on American Bandstand, or Little Joe Cartwright. One day, she decided to write one of them down.

She said the first one she wrote down, but her writing got better. She attributes that to her local RWA chapter. She said, "I actually learned HOW to write a decent manuscript from all the fabulous writers in my local RWA chapter."

In fact, networking with other writers is one of the pieces of advice she gives to new writers and one way she suggests doing that is by joining Romance Writers of America and your local chapter, if you write romance. "If you're a mystery or suspense writer," she adds, "find a group that specializes in that genre. Go to meetings, go to seminars, listen to other writers, network."

She also encourages all new writers to find a critique group that meets on a weekly or monthly basis, being sure to "make sure the fit is right. If it doesn't click, find a different group."

First and last, though, the main thing a new writer should do is WRITE. M.K. says, "Write what you know, write what you feel, write what you love."

When I asked her what she did if she suffered from writer's block, she admitted that what she did she wouldn't recommend for others. "[I do] something very ineffective," she said, "I wait for the great revelation. Seriously, this is what I've always done. Usually if I let the story percolate in my brain for awhile, I come up with a solution to move my story forward." She went on, "Probably a better idea is to just keep writing, even if what you write is crapola. It's easy to delete what doesn't work. But if you stop the process, it's soooo hard to get back on track."

When M.K. sits down to read for pleasure, she's looking for memorable characters who make her laugh. So, two of her favorite authors are Susan Donovan and Janet Evanovich. "Janet has created Stephanie Plum and her wonderfully dysfunctional world," explained M.K. "I walsy end up holding my sides and wiping tears from my eyes. Susan has an outrageous sense of what works in comedy. Even the smallest detail can be made hilarious. These two wonderful women are my idols when it comes to writing comedy."

M.K. considers herself a "panster," or one who writes by the seat of her pants, when it comes to plotting. "I don't start with a detailed plot or in-depth character sketches or even a clue as to who these two people are and where their story lies," she said. "I guess this is where my MUSE kicks in. My muse is a guy, by the way. He keeps changing character on me and he won't let me alone. He winks at me from doorways and revs his Harley to get my attention. Once he's there, I can't help but figure out who he is and who is the woman in his life. So the characters come first and once I start writing, I find out why they need each other. And that's the story."

I asked M.K. if there was anything in her past she would like to erase. She said, "My first and only date in high school." Then she added, "Actually, I'm hoping I can erase it from my date's memory. That would be better. I belonged to Camp Fire Girls all the way from elementary school through high school. In the spring of my senior year, we had a big Camp Fire Girls bash and I actually got up the nerve to ask a very nice young man if he’d like to go with me. I was surprised and excited when he said yes. Problem was, we double dated with my best friend and her mother insisted her brother drive us. So we had a chauffeured station wagon to and from the dance. I was so boring (I lived in my head, not the real world, and had no idea about conversational English) the poor guy kept stealing a peek at his watch. On the way home, our driver stopped by 'Smacks' (the early McDonalds) and treated us to cokes. At the door of my date’s house, we shook hands. It probably would have been better if I’d had no dates in high school."

She also told me her dog, Lady, used to eat crayons that her two kids would leave out. She said she always knew when it was time to buy new crayons "because there were pretty confetti-sprinkles in all the presents Lady left for me."

M.K.'s favorite animal is a dog. "Dogs are always there for you," she said, "no matter what." And, if she were a dog, she would be a beagle, even though Lady is a Springer spaniel. "Beagles are hard-headed and persistent," she told me. "They love life with the wind blowing their hair and bringing exciting scents to follow. And unless you kick them out on the street, they will be your best, true-blue friend for life."

Finally we talked a little bit about thunderstorms. She told me, "The only word that comes to mind when I think about thunderstorms is 'Awesome.' I absolutely love a good storm. I think it has more to do with the wind than anything else. There is such power in the wind, whether it comes pushing ominous black clouds or just rushing down the mountain across from my house. I know disaster is so often associated with terrible storms, but even knowing that, who couldn’t look at a satellite picture of Hurricane Katrina and not know the awesome power of nature. I am humbled by it. Perhaps that’s why I love them so much – they remind me I am only an infinitely small part of nature, that life is an almost impossible miracle and to treasure it each day."

Please visit M.K. at her website, http://www.mktrent.com/.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Time Past

by Luree Vanderpool


Houses had a way of giving up their secrets to her. Some were like blank slates waiting for someone to color in the lines. But others creaked as their frames expanded, filled to the brim with human memories. Human spirits.

Rena Miller drove through a neighborhood consisting of older, large adobe and brick homes on acre plus lots. Some of the homes original structures went back to the 1930’s. She could hear them talking. It made her a good Realtor.

It wasn’t often houses in this area came up for sale. When 3556 Desert Trail popped up on her MLS hot sheet that morning, she was ecstatic. It was a perfect match for her new client Clint Ray.

She’d only met Clint briefly the week before to assess what he needed in a house. The draw of attraction had hit with an unexpected thud to the chest and was shaken off with her usual resilience. Divorced for three years, she admitted she was lonely. But the ache of betrayal was still too fresh.

Out of habit she stood in front of the house imaging life a new owner would bring. The courtyard with potted plants set discreetly in corners. A table and comfy chairs gracing the center, inviting you to linger over morning coffee. A Mesquite fire in the Chimenea taking the chill off while you basked in the sunset, wine in hand.

Rena opened over sized, double wooden doors. Went through pulling up blinds to let sun light dispel the shadows. She admired Saltillo tile on floors as she wandered rooms soaking up the ambience for her pitch.

The kitchen was large, needed updated from its last re-do in the ‘70’s. But there were tons of cabinets, a large baker’s island and plenty of room for a breakfast table and chairs in front of the large window. She was turning to move in to the dining room when she smelled the cake baking. A wonderful, homey odor that sent dizziness to her core.

“Rena? You here?” A man’s voice called her back.

She composed herself and walked to the foyer.

“Clint, I didn’t hear you pull up.” Rena extended her hand to shake his, firm and all business.

“I really like what I am seeing here.” Clint’s hand lingered, warm and compelling on hers. “Lot’s of native growth, Saguaro’s, Mesquite, Barrel cactus. The courtyard entry is perfect. Can’t wait to see the rest.”

Faded jeans hugged his thighs and a chambray shirt, sleeves rolled to the elbows exposed tanned sinewy arms. Rena gave herself a mental shake, get on your game. “I think you are going to love the whole package, come on in.” Love the whole package, what the hell was she thinking?

Her heels clicked on stone tile as she led him in, pointing out large windows and stunning mountain views. The smell of cake baking hammered at her.

“The rooms flow naturally one into the other creating a perfect setting for entertaining, don’t you think?” Rena liked to engage client’s in the visualization process, encouraging them to see the potential of a home.

Clint surveyed the room, his smoky blue eyes lingering when they came to her. “Just moved here, maybe you could introduce me to someone to entertain?” He laughed, teasing.

He was throwing her off stride. “You could arrange two conversation areas. One there in front of the fireplace and another next to the window. A sectional couch and chairs with ottomans in each area would allow for a feeling of more intimate conversation while maintaining open space.”

“Intimate conversation, a nice roaring fire, candles, a bottle of wine. I could see that.”

Damn, he had the sexiest mouth. She needed to change the subject. “Let me show you the kitchen.”

Rena turned. The smell of cake saturated her senses. Chocolate. She was sure it was chocolate. Her shin banged hard into a piece of furniture and she yelped stunned. A heavy oak end table stood in her path. A gentle hand steadied her.

“Miss Rena, you really aught to stop running off every time I talk to you. I don’t bite.” Clint said, pushing back his cowboy hat.

He had on a cowboy hat and well worn cowboy boots. Not what he came in wearing. A cotton dress with small floral print clung to her skin. Not what she had been wearing either. She looked around. The room was full of furniture, just how she’d pictured it. Voices were drifting from the kitchen and that was, without a doubt, chocolate cake she smelled baking. “What’s going on?”

“I’ve chased you through three generations and I’m damned tired of it.” He pulled her around to face him.

Recognition slid through as their eyes held. Memories danced at the edge of her mind. “I ……..”

His mouth came down hard on hers; stopping anything she’d planned to say. The heat of his body radiated, the kiss softened and lingered. A film strip of visions fast forwarded causing her to pull back. Tears burned her eyes. “Our house?”

He nodded watching discovery dawn, pain penetrate. “I didn’t betray you. I didn’t leave you. I have been trying to tell you.” He pulled her back in his arms.. “You going to give me a chance?”

Rena rested her head on his chest. “Yes.”

“Are you alright?” Clint’s voice was as soft as the chambray shirt her cheek rested against. The cowboy hat was gone, boots replaced by sneakers. The room was empty.

“You could have been a little more subtle.” She laughed, still shaking. “I about broke my shin bone.”

“Had to get your attention some how. I wasn’t letting you run this time..”

“Well you have my full attention now. Start talking.” She lifted her head to look him square in the eyes.

“Not now Rena, not now. It’s been too long. Just let me hold you first.”

About the Author: I love writing paranormal romance, creating extraordinary events that happen to ordinary people. Since I can remember, I have been creating stories in my head and playing with children from another world. Visit Luree at her blog or website.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Article: How to Name the Characters for Your Story with this Simple Technique

by Mervyn Love


We've all been there. You know she's called Sandie or Kaylee or some other cool name but can't for the life of you find a suitable surname. You've wrung your hands to the bone, you've drunk the midnight oil, but still a good solid name won't come. What, oh what can you do? Read on, dear writer, an inexhaustible supply of quality names awaits.

The answer lies, in fact, in the common or garden road map! Most homes have one, but if yours doesn't your local newsagents almost certainly will. And before you say, "What is he blathering about? I'm not naming MY hero Chorlton-cum-Hardy!" just hold hard one cotton picking minute and let me explain.

Centuries ago when someone moved from their native town or village, say Nyewood in Sussex, and settled down somewhere else, they might be known as John of Nyewood in order to differentiate them from all the other Johns. Eventually they would simply be called John Nyewood. So there is nothing wrong with taking this principle and bending it to our own creative purposes.

I have before me a road map of that fine county of Essex and I need a few names for my next best-selling novel and they've got to be believable. OK, so I cast my eye over the page which is awash with the most amazing and inspiring towns and villages with names like Bishop's Stortford, Stansted Mountfitchet and Stondon Massey.

Of course you don't take these names quite as they stand, but with a little bit of tweaking a fine bunch of characters can soon be standing in front of you bursting with life and veracity.

Take for example Bishop's Stortford. You might be tempted to include a Bishop in your story and call him something like Bishop Gerald Stortford. I would advise against that. We don't want to make it too obvious, do we? But you could use Gerald Stortford, or maybe adjust it slightly to Gerald Startford or Stertford.

Let's move on to the redoubtable Stansted Mountfitchet. What a name! It would almost work as it stands. But no, we must refine it and make it believable for a human being. The idea is to use these place names as inspiration and develop them. So, what if we drop the Stansted and also, I think, the Mount and call our likely lad Fitchet? Better still add an extra 't' to make him sound a bit posher and call him Fitchett. Brilliant. You could even pick up on the Stansted and call him Stanley. Stanley Fitchett. I can almost see him now ensconced in his solicitors' office peering doubtfully at me over his pince-nez even as we speak! Fitchett, Fitchett and Stanton. Hey, that's not bad!

Now I've given you the idea, what can you do with Stondon Massey? You could use Massey as is, but if it's a female character don't call her Anna! What about Stacey Massey? Or Stella Mansey? Or Sophie Mensie?

You may still be a little nervous that some of these names could still be genuine people and what if they write you a stinging letter of complaint? Well, just write back calmly and politely pointing out exactly how you arrived at 'Fortescue Mancaster' or whatever it is, giving the Ordnance Survey grid reference or other means of identifying where you got it from. I recommend culling all your names for a particular story from the same area on the map. It just makes it easier I feel.

Finally, let's drift back to that disparaging remark apropos Chorlton-cum-Hardy. If you've been paying attention this will present no problem at all. We can easily convert it to Charles Hardy, Chester Hardy and goodness knows what else.

So, when you've populated your novel or story using these tactics drop me line. I'll buy a copy. Promise.

About the Author: Mervyn Love is the webmaster of www.writersreign.co.uk offering a wealth of links, competitions, resources and more for the aspiring writer.

From: Articles Base

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Interview: Jules Bennett

The Long and the Short of It is very excited to welcome Jules Bennett, who also writes under the name of Sophia Rae. Jules writes contemporary romance and Sophia's output is a bit steamier. Because of this, she told me, she gets a variety of feedback from readers. The one constant, though, is that so far it's all been positive. "I've yet to have a bad comment," she said. "I think it's important to let an author know you appreciate their work…It's nice to know a complete stranger loves your work as much as you do."

I asked Jules what stereotype she would see herself as. She took her answer from Linda N. Edelstein's book The Writer's Guide to Character Traits and sees herself as the Creator (fitting for an author!). The Creator is described as artistic/sensitive, observant, persistent, a brainstormer, and being happy in an internal world. The Creator is also imaginative, fanciful, enthusiastic, and can work for hours at a time alone. Jules said, "I think people who know me well enough, know all these traits apply to me."

Jules has some exciting news for us. Today is the release of Naked Vengeance , by her alter-ego, Sophia Rae. It's a contemporary, romantic suspense and I asked her to tell me a little about this new release.


FBI agent Eve Morgan will stop at nothing to find her father's killer and avenge his death, even posing as a stripper and getting suspended from her job. Her plans are blown all to hell when bullets fly, and she's rescued by a man who may or may not be on the right side of the law.

Ex-Marine Nick Shaffer knows Eve is trouble the second he lays eyes on her leather-clad body, but he’s been hired to protect her. Nothing will get in his way. Not her sultry looks, his overactive hormones—or the nightmarish guilt from his last mission, in which an innocent man died.

As they get closer to the truth, the danger escalates, and so does the sexual tension. But the secrets they keep from each other could be just as deadly as the killer they hunt.

Jules told me she's always been a writer, since she was about seven, because "published or non-published, if you write what's in your heart, you're a writer." But, she started writing seriously for publication a few years ago and has never looked back. In fact, when I asked her what advice she would give a new writer who was just starting out, her first words were, "NEVER give up!" She told me many times she wanted to throw the computer out the window, but an idea would hit her and she couldn't get to the computer fast enough. The only sure way to fail, she said, is to quit.

Of course, these days it would be more difficult for her to throw the computer out the window. Jules has recently had a new baby, plus she has a two-year-old. So, when I asked her to describe her writing space she told me it "has toys, bottles, rattles, so research books, notes on upcoming books, my TBR pile." She added, smiling, "Oh, and somewhere under all that is my computer."
Her two girls are obviously very important to her. When I asked her what she would like to know about the future, it wasn't anything to do with her writing or some discovery. The one thing she would like to know is about her children. "I want to know," she shared with me, "that my children will be safe and happy. I want to know, after I'm gone, they are going to be taken care of and stand on their own two feet."

Her one wish was similar. "I wish all children were happy," she said. "There are so many children living in poverty and it breaks my heart. Children should be smiling, playing, and loving life, not worrying where their next meal is coming from."

Finally, I asked Jules if she could multitask. She just smiled and said, "I’m a mother of two kids under 2, an author, a beautician, and a wife. What do you think?"

Please visit Jules at her website

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Espresso Nights

by Ryshia Kennie

It wasn’t there.

Her sneaker clad feet squeaked as they stuck to the concrete floor, the sound echoing through the airport terminal as she paced beside the methodically slow luggage carousel. Any moment she expected that her suitcase would appear. But except for a duffel bag and a beat up bag, the carousel was empty. Like Dave, her suitcase was gone.

Dave.

She swallowed back grief and was surprised that the edge was gone. The raw pain at the thought of him, the tears, were missing. He’d been dead for four years. It was getting easier.

A smooth male voice broke into her panicked nostalgia. She glanced up into an espresso-tinted gaze. Dark hair, framed a face that hinted strongly of Spanish genes.

At first she didn’t understand what he was saying. Maybe he didn’t speak English. Spanish probably. This was Mexico. He looked, while not exactly Mexican, foreign in a deliciously exotic kind of way. The smile was killer but not killer enough to relieve her anxiety. Maybe it was the thought of Dave or the mild panic that was setting in, but her voice caught and for a moment nothing came out.

“Your suitcase didn’t arrive either?”

“No. Is there a lost and found?” she asked. Finally finding her voice.

“Not that I know of.” This time his smile was slow and easy. A smile that said he just might know what he was doing. “Hang on. I’ll see what’s going on.” And he hurried away, a not overly tall man with a commanding presence.

She tried to forget her panic. Except that she was in Mexico sans her belongings. A frightening thought for someone who had never traveled. She’d never done anything impulsive until this trip. People like her, people who organized their sock drawer were not meant to be impulsive. This had been a bad idea. But despite her doubts, she wanted so badly for it to be a good idea. If her suitcase would just miraculously appear she’d take that as a good sign.

“They’ve unloaded all the luggage,” he said when he returned. “Ours might be mixed with another flight.”

“Great. Now what?”

“We wait.”

“You’re serious?”

“Yes,” he said. “Been here a lot. I’m from Dallas.”

“Dallas?”

“You thought I was from here, didn’t you?”

He laughed when she nodded.

“Honest mistake - the tan and the Spanish. Throws everyone.”

“I’m from Austin,” she said hesitantly. She wasn’t used to sharing information with strangers. Actually, since Dave’s death she wasn’t used to sharing information with anyone.

He held out his hand. “Seth Baker.”

“Cara,” she returned, withholding her last name. This was still a foreign place and he was still a stranger, fellow Texan or not. She shook hands and noted he had a strong grip. Reliable, Dave would have said.

The conveyor belt ground to a halt.

“That’s it.” She bit back panic. “What am I going to do?”

“Wait,” he replied cheerfully parking himself on the edge of the carousel.

“For what?” She stared at him in disbelief. There was no one left around the luggage carousel but them.

“Your suitcase.”

“My bus is out there,” she said nervously, watching the man still waving the sign for her resort as the last stragglers headed for the terminal exit and waiting buses.

“Mine too.” But he didn’t appear inclined to get up.

“Sunset Cove?”

He nodded.

“I’ll be back in a minute.” She rushed over. Only one bus was left outside. “How long before the bus leaves?”

“You’re going to Sunset Cove?” said the sign waver in perfect English.

“Yes, but my suitcase hasn’t arrived. I’m not the only one waiting for a bus.” She waved a hand to where Seth still sat on the edge of the carousel. If it started up, he could be injured. Cara returned her attention to the tour guide. Her life had become so staid that she considered sitting on the edge of a stopped conveyor belt an unacceptable risk.

“Senorita, you must board. Your luggage will be delivered within the hour.”

Cara sighed. She’d heard of Mexican time. She didn’t even have a change of clothes with her.

“No luck?” It was Seth.

She flushed as her heart did double time.

“No. They’ll deliver the luggage directly to the resort. In an hour.” She sighed. “I assume that could mean a day or two.” She glanced outside. People were filing onto the last bus.

She glanced back at the silent carousel.

“It’ll be fine,” he assured her. “This happened the last time I was down here. The luggage actually beat the bus. Don’t ask me how, but it will get there.”

She smiled tentatively. “Thanks. This is my first time to Mexico - actually, anywhere.

“Traveling alone?” he asked.

She nodded.

“Me too,” he replied.

Alone. The word had an edge.

“It’s tough being single,” he said. “At least for the first little while. That’s what I found. I got over the divorce but it was the being single that took longer. What about you?”
He was warm and guileless, he could be a friend if only her heart would calm down long enough to let that happen. Who was she kidding? For the first time in a very long time she was attracted to a man.

On the bus, she found herself telling him about Dave.

And when they arrived at the resort, the luggage was there, waiting for them in the lobby. Suddenly, things didn’t look so bad.

“Would you like to meet for an espresso after we check in?” he asked.

She glanced at her watch. It was seven in the evening. Coffee would keep her awake. Take a chance, the little voice in her head said. “I would love that, Seth.”

Maybe taking a chance was not such a bad thing she thought tentatively. In the meantime, there was an entire tropical resort to enjoy and she was going to make the most of it - hopefully, with Seth.

About the Author: Ryshia Kennie is a published author of an historical romance "From the Dust", as well as the author of a number of travel articles. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and an affiliate the Romance Writers of Calgary. Visit her at her website.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Article: How to Write Funny -- It's All About Timing

by Diya Sood


My Dad has this old joke that goes, "What's the most important thing about humor?" After a short pause, he interjects, "TIMING!"

I've rolled my eyes many a time over this joke.

But here's a new version for writers: "What's the most important thing about writing funny? ...... WORDING!"

Whether you're talking about stand-up comedy or humorous writing, surprise is one of the biggest elements of laughter. (Yes, Dad, I know, "Surprise" is what your little timing-joke is really all about.)

Readers become accustomed to seeing things written a certain way. As a writer, you have a choice: give it to them they way they expect, or surprise them with something different.

Here's an example:

In my article "Does Target Shun Veterans?" I say that Internet Urban Legends are "stories that scare readers into believing such things as rat urine contaminating the tops of their canned peaches, and so forth." I could have just as easily written, "Internet Urban Legends are stories that scare readers into believing the tops of their canned food is dirty." But that wouldn't surprise anyone, and it would have made my piece just another bland "news story."

I also shook up the sentence about Internet Urban Legends by including some humorous exaggerations. Simply writing "canned food" isn't nearly as funny as being super specific and writing, "canned peaches," and being "dirty" is far more typical than having "rat urine" on your lid.

The idea of being very specific is what comedian (and my hero) Jerry Seinfeld has built his entire career on. He doesn't just talk about flying on an airplane, he mentions everything from the really small bag of peanuts to the pilot announcing the flight play-by-play. As an audience, we laugh at these things because it's something we've experienced but never given much thought to.

Who else but Seinfeld could have an entire 30-minute television show about toxic glue on envelopes?

Drawing attention to things that are common to all but seldom discussed makes people chuckle. This is mostly due to their slight embarrassment when they realize "wow, I do that," but it's also because for the first time they are paying attention to something they might not have otherwise.
But aside from timing, exaggerations and calling attention to life's quirks, sentence structure may be the ultimate weapon for writing humor. Just as a lyricist times his verses to a beat, writers need an internal rhythm to make their work conversational and surprising. There is quite a difference between writing a factual news piece and composing a humorous essay, but the biggest difference is sentence structure. Cut-and-dry news pieces need to follow a formula so that the content doesn't get lost. When writing a narrative or essay, however, you can play with pauses (dashes, colons, etc.), italics and words to create a feeling and rhythm.

Follow these hints and your writing will be surprising and funny....AND have great timing.

From: http://www.articlesbase.com/writing-articles/how-to-write-funny-its-all-about-timing-370454.html

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Interview: Terry Spear

The Long and the Short of It is very excited to welcome Terry Spear, author of Heart of the Wolf, out today from Sourcebooks. The second book in the series will come out next spring and Terry has just told me she has sold the next two books in the series.

Terry lives in Texas where she also writes urban fantasy and medieval romantic suspense. Terry is also an avid genealogist and has written articles for genealogy magazine, in addition to giving online writing workshops. She's not only creative with writing, she makes the most wonderful award-winning Wilde and Wooly bears. Check them out at her website.

Her bears have been featured in magazines and have found homes as far away as Australia, Russia, China, Hong Kong, and Sweden. She told me, "I now even make them for author's books for book signings, gifts for agents and editors, and commemorations for books. Like creating characters for books, every bear is a character in and of itself."

Her genealogy research has shown that she's, in her words, "A hodge podge!" Her mother is Canadian, but most Canadians, like Americans, mostly come from other heritages. She said she was "mainly Scots-Irish-German with a Frenchman and Italian thrown in for good measure… Oh, yeah, finally found a whole string of English, and not sure what else is lurking in the mix that I couldn't discover--ancestors with no connection to any older family roots, really suspicious."

From the Italian must come her love of pizza… pepperoni, bell pepper and black olives, just for your edification.

Terry told me she's been making up stories and has loved reading ever since she was a child. "I always enjoyed the escapism to other worlds," she told me, "and took creative writing even in Junior High in addition to the regular composition class."

You would expect from Terry's varied interests she might be a multi-tasker, and you would be right. "I'm often running outside to move the water hose in this Texas heat," she said, "working on bears when I'm stuck on revisions, checking emails, and working on website updates, blogs, while working on a novel. So I definitely do a lot at the same time. Sometimes though, I need to take my novel into the bedroom, get away from everything, and write in solitude. Or to music."

Terry shared with me that there are times she suffers from writer's block. " Sometimes I get it in the middle of a story. Sometimes when I've just finished a novel and not sure where to go next. Sometimes at the end of a story and I'm not sure how to tie up the end to give a satisfying finale."

She also had some great ideas on what to do when and if it happens. " Read, work on something else, sometimes writing, sometimes revisions, promotions, website changes, a blog," she told me. "Just something that keeps me moving forward. I brainstorm with others. Just taking a break and doing something fun that's not writing related can help. Reading a new book will get me motivated, or watching a movie, or listening to music that gets me in the mood."

She shared with me something else that is great mood-making weather for writing is thunderstorms. "It must be the paranormal writer in me," she said. "When I lived in Florida, the lightning strike capital of the world, I loved to watch the streaks of lightning constantly turning the night to day. But in Texas, I like it because it means we'll have some welcome rain."

Finally, I asked Terry what advice she would give to a beginning writer just starting out. "Perservere," she said. "Learn the craft. Join writer's groups that will give you moral support and help you to find your way. Writing can be a lonely journey. Family doesn't understand. Coworkers don't understand. But other writers do."