Thursday, May 27, 2010

Author Interview with M. L. Lacy

Our interview today is with M.L. Lacy, author of Chrysalis: Tribulations.

FQ: Vampire Lesson 101 was fun. But the vampires in your book, in Bree's clan, are good vampires. Did you struggle with how you wanted to portray them?

No, it was fun actually. I had my vision of each one, added the characteristics I thought they should have for the role they played and it took off from there. It's very easy to write for each of them. If a storyline should start to go against the grain of their personalities, I run into a road block until I can get them back on track. Their personalities portray them just as I want.

FQ: I LOVE the idea of a matriarchal society. How important is this aspect of the story to both you, and to the story of Bree?

I think the mother role in a family is the most important element. She is the one that holds things together. She needs to be strong in her discipline, yet not so strong as to break their spirit. She needs to be someone her family can rely on. So yes, I think it is important to have a strong, not domineering, female presence in a family.

In Bree's case, she is a strong presence in the clan and it happened very quickly. She took control of a situation when all was thought to be lost. She has a need to protect. This is her destiny when you break it down. She is there to guide, she is there to teach, she is there to nurture. She is a very loving and forgiving individual. But, she's not so commanding that she doesn't listen to other's suggestions (of course she may not do it their way....but hey, she's learning). She will become stronger as the story progresses, but not overbearing.

FQ: Another really neat element to the story was the ability of some to "talk" with their minds. Bree is at first unnerved by this ability until she gets used to it, and sees the benefits. Was it fun to write these sections and did you imagine all sorts of possibilities for this mind talking?

Being able to talk with their minds was fun, especially in the first book. Bree was unaware of the Magical realm, so it was important to hear the other's thoughts to drive the story. I had one very good session going but it started to get out of control so I had to tame it down. Sometimes we say things in our minds that we wouldn't dare say out loud. So I just went with that. Unfortunately for all the cast members, they don't know Bree can hear their thoughts. She never told anyone about that because growing up she thought they would think she was crazy and lock her up -- so she kept it her secret. Anyway, she would hear their thoughts and they let a lot of information out that maybe they should have told her in person. It's very entertaining.

FQ: Esmeralda is a great character - the kind you love to hate. Was she fun to write and which character(s) did you enjoy bringing to life the most? The good or the bad?

Oh gosh! I love them all because without each one there wouldn't be a story...well, yes there would, but each cast member is now very important to the plot. I simply love Esmeralda. I can just let the nasty side go and she runs with it. Thomas is great. I think I enjoyed developing Stanley in the second book. I love the way Bill and Bree's relationship continues to grow. He is very important in her life. Her bond to Steven is very natural. He is her ultimate, but she is slowly adapting to the ways of the Magical realm. I want my reader's to enjoy each one -- even the bad. So I have taken my time with each member of my cast and I think it was time well spent.

FQ: I suspect women reading Tribulations will see a neighbor or co-worker in the character of Madalyn. She seems to want to start a cat fight with poor Bree. How important was her character, and the other women of the clan, to the advancement of the story? Would Bree be half the women she grew into if she didn't have to learn to deal with all the intertwining relationships?

Madalyn is very important. Gina is Bree's rock, Sandy is the sister she never had -- so is Becky. Pam is Bree's equal as far as clan leadership. All the women are important in one way or another. Bree is strong because of the way she grew up. She relied on herself. The intertwining relationships add the depth of the family relationships and do to some extent strengthens her.

FQ: Without giving the ending away, I suspect Bree has some unfinished business. Will we be seeing her again? If so, can you give our readers a little teaser of what we might expect?

Yes, the story continues. Book 3 is on track for release in Jan 2011. Book 4 the following year. I'm looking at 7 or 8 books in this series. Book 1 -- The Awakening, takes place over seven days in Las Vegas where she learns the truth about who she is and what she is to become. She is reunited with Steven and begins to learn the ways of the Magical realm - a real eye opener for her. Book 2 - Tribulations takes place over November and December. Book 3 (name pending) is all of January. It's action packed, full of surprises and from what my bata reader has said --- she couldn't put it down. AND that's what I want.

BEA - Two Days NOT Enough

Reprinted with permission of Publishers Weekly.

While this year’s BookExpo America has drawn mostly high marks, one change has not been met with widespread approval--cutting the exhibit floor time from three days to two. On his blog, event director Steve Rosato has confirmed reports that the exhibit hall will move back to three days beginning next year running from Tuesday through Thursday.

A portion of the blog is below.

BEA this year was about change and making a good event great that served the publishing industry in a meaningful way. Moving to mid-week was absolutely the right decision. We also felt strongly that the 2 day format was the right thing to do because the value of BEA is in the audience we deliver. We executed a strong plan that we knew would deliver that audience for BEA 2010 and that the quality would prove that was the right choice as well. A lot of people genuinely like the 2 day format and it did work for them. However - I have to acknowledge while people liked the 2 day format - a lot of people genuinely need 3 days to meet their objectives at BEA. While our mantra has been quality versus quantity - there is a reality of what people can accomplish in 2 full days. We will always do what will make BEA the best event possible for the people we serve.

In the end while many people liked BEA as a 2 day show - more people need BEA to be a 3 day show. We will remain mid week with the show days being Tuesday - Wednesday - Thursday. My plan right now is to keep the conference program on Monday because the impact of the conference this year running on Tuesday without competing with the show floor was tremendous. There were great sessions that had overflowing audiences.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Leads From Linda - Press Releases

Here's a free place to submit your news releases.

  Leads From Linda is written by Linda F. Radke of Five Star Publications.  To learn more about Linda and what Five Star has to offer you, please visit

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Finds

Welcome to Feathered Quill's Friday Finds!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Reviewer's Tip - Advance Reading Copy - Part 4

One final suggestion for back covers.  We see this on some (but not all) advance reading copies.  At the bottom, near/beside the marketing campaign information, specifics on the book.  These include:
  • Title
  • Author
  • Genre
  • ISBN
  • Book size
  • Number of pages
  • Number of illustrations
  • Price
  • Publication Date
  • URL of books' website
  • Contact information - name, phone, email of contact person
Finally, don't forget to add, if you can fit it in (and some of the 'Big Boys' put it in VERY tiny print), "Text is subject to change.  Before quoting anything in this book, please verify with the publisher/against the final bound book."  We've seen this blurb put on the back cover, front cover, and also inside, on the title page and even, occasionally, on the copyright page.

Next time, what should your front cover look like???

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Reviewer's Tip - Advance Reading Copy - Part 3

Last time we talked about what should be on the back cover.  Today, we'll look at probably the most important item for your book's back cover - the marketing campaign.

As we mentioned earlier, we're taking examples from books the 'Big Boy's have sent us.  Whenever we get an 'Advance Reading Copy' from one of the mainstream, large presses, the back cover ALWAYS includes a summary of the book's marketing campaign.  Why?  To help sell the book to reviewers.  They want to know that the book has been given sufficient attention and a decent marketing budget so that it will get significant attention.  Afterall, why would a reviewer/review publication spend precious time on a book that's going to flop due to lack of promotional funds? 

Normally, the marketing plan is at or near the bottom of the back cover, typically blocked off in a text box or by some other means that makes it stand out.  Here are examples of what publishers have listed as part of their marketing campaigns (but are not limited to):
  • National broadcast and print media coverage
  • Online promotion
  • 30-City (or more/less) national tour
  • National radio campaign
  • Blog tour
  • E-card campaign
  • Online video and e-mail notifications
  • Author website (with website and/or blog url listed)
  • School and/or library appearances
  • Viral marketing to author promotional sites (children's sites, genre specific sites, etc.)
  • Press releases to over 150 national/regional genre magazines/sites/book clubs, etc.
  • Interviews in over 25 genre related publications (note: you should list the genre!)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Finds

Come One, Come All - It's FQ's Friday Finds!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Author Interview with Muriel L. Crawford

Today we're excited to talk with Muriel L. Crawford, author of Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit.

FQ: Your research is incredibly thorough. How much time did you spend collecting information before beginning to write? Where did most of the information come from?

I spent seven years researching and writing Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit. I research only in reliable peer-reviewed medical journals and other reputable sources, and use conservative statistics. Even the most conservative statistics show how terrible smoking is for the health of both smokers and those exposed to secondhand smoke. My wonderful Medical Advisory Panel of eminent physicians and scientists reviewed my manuscript, but made few corrections. I am a careful researcher.

FQ: What inspired you, a non-smoker, to collect so much data on the effects of smoking?

My father was a heavy smoker--my brother, himself a former smoker, estimates that my father may have smoked three packs of cigarettes a day. I was raised in a cloud of tobacco smoke and had many painful middle-ear infections as a child. Research shows that children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to have middle-ear infections than those not exposed.

My father developed emphysema that confined him to a motorized wheelchair. He was given supplemental oxygen, but still complained that he often felt he was smothering. Then he had a stroke that paralyzed him. He died of a massive heart attack. His doctors said all his heath problems were brought on by his smoking.

My brother began smoking at age fourteen. When my brother was seventeen, he was driving on a curvy mountain road, with his girlfriend as a passenger. He leaned down to light a cigarette, went off the road, and his girlfriend was killed when the car rolled over. So we had these terrible things happen in our family as a result of smoking.

Fortunately, my brother wasn't a heavy smoker and quit smoking at age 35. He is now the age my father was when my father died, and my brother still jogs for exercise. We're all so happy that my brother quit before his health was ruined.

I wanted to persuade my kids not to smoke, so, when they were small, I started collecting articles about the harm smoking does. When they were in high school they became devoted to healthy living, and I knew that they wouldn't start smoking, so I was going to throw out my articles. Then I thought, "I should write an article about all the bad things smoking can do to people." That article turned into a 368-page book. There are actually more than 201 reasons to quit smoking, but I had to stop somewhere.

FQ: The reasons to quit are also excellent reasons not to start smoking. Have you thought about ways that your research could be used to prevent people from starting to smoke--especially children?

Yes, indeed. I have written Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit in language simple enough for most teenagers to understand. I hope parents will give the book to their teenagers. I suggest this on the back cover of the book. Most people start smoking by age 18. And if parents quit smoking, it sends a powerful antismoking message to their kids. I mention this in the book.

Also, our marketing plan for the book includes marketing to school wellness programs. Teachers of courses on wellness need to understand how harmful smoking is. And Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit could be used as a supplementary text for school wellness courses.

FQ: It seems like some smokers will resist reading your book, afraid of what they might find out. Do you have any suggestions for concerned family members or friends about how to present this information to smokers?

I'm sure some smokers don't want to know how dangerous smoking is. The book will not make them comfortable. But it might save their lives. I would say to family members and friends of smokers, "Read the book yourself, and especially the chapter on helping others quit smoking."

I know the book will help some smokers quit. I personally know three smokers who have quit because they read either the manuscript of the book, or the book itself. That alone made writing Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit worthwhile for me. I have entered a program to market the book to foreign publishers for translation into other languages so that smokers in other countries might be persuaded to quit. I know I can't persuade all smokers, but, as the Talmud says, "If you save one person, you save the world." I'm not Jewish, but I believe that.

FQ: You clearly have a talent for research and writing. What's your next project?

I'm collecting stories about how people quit smoking. I believe these stories will help some smokers quit. Many former smokers have found creative and interesting methods of quitting or preventing relapse. I would be most interested to hear from any former smokers who want to tell me their stories. They can email me at or write me in care of Dillon & Parker Publishing LLC, P.O. Box 504, Walnut Creek, CA, 94597-0504. They should tell me if they are comfortable with my using their names in a book about how people have quit smoking--my next project. I will only use a former smoker's name if he or she says it's OK.

To learn more about Smoking: 201 Reasons to Quit please visit our website and read the review at: Feathered Quill Book Reviews.

Reviewer's Tip - Advance Reading Copy - Part 2

Back covers - hmmmm.... what to put on the back cover of an advance reading copy????  Remember, we're giving examples from the big, main, traditional (whatever you'd like to call them) presses.  The 'Big Boys' as I like to say.

Typically, at the top is a quote from somebody well-known in the genre of the book. The quote is a glowing, one or two sentence review. 

Next, there's a paragraph with a synopsis of the book.  It's going to be the most fun you've ever had; you'll learn more from this book than you learned in four years of college.  This is where you want to SELL your book. 

The third paragraph highlights the author.  Sell yourself here.  Why should the reader pick up your book?  You're an expert, right?  Refer to other books, your writing accomplishments, etc.  But please don't get carried away.  We once had a book where the author mentioned a writing award he received in elementary school!  Do you really think that will convince somebody to buy your book????

Next time, what else needs to be on the back cover?  Hint: think 'marketing campaign.'

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

May's 'Win A Book' Contest

Don't forget to sign up for this month's 'Win A Book' contest.  This month we are offering a copy of The Way I See It: A Look Back at My Life on Little House by Melissa Anderson.  For all the Little House fans, this is a great book to read, enjoy, and learn a few tidbits about what went on behind the scenes.  Enter the contest here.

Borders Australia Declares War On Amazon

Borders Australia has tossed down the gauntlet: The company has announced that it will sell all its books cheaper than, and to back up the guarantee, if customers find a book cheaper on Amazon, it will refund the an amount more than the difference. Read more here.

Google Entering the E-Book Trade

Not to be left behind (is Google ever left behind???), Google is taking the E-book plunge.  Read story here.

Kids Reading on a Bus???!!!

Here's a great story about getting kids to read on a bus!

Google attorney slams ACTA copyright treaty

PALO ALTO, Calif.--An attorney for Google slammed a controversial intellectual property treaty on Friday, saying it has "metastasized" from a proposal to address border security and counterfeit goods to an international legal framework sweeping in copyright and the Internet.

For the rest of the article, visit

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Come check FQ's latest Teasers!

"Keeping the Grays from interfering any further would not be easy. But were these the people to trust with the job?"

"The number of computer security incidents and the resulting cost of business disruption and service restoration continue to escalate. Implementing solid security policies, blocking unnecessary access to networks and computers, improving user security awareness, and early detection and mitigation of security incidents are some of the actions that can be taken to reduce the risk and drive down the cost of security incidents."

"For a moment I brightened. That people would come just for the novelty of a play by a woman might make it worth the company's support."

"The family's perfectionism, expectations, and control have been replaced by a new ability to surrender, accept, and trust. Past wounds have had time to heal."

"Drums rolled a steady beat as we formed up shoulder to shoulder. There are to be no Rebel yells or running until we are almost there."

Tips to Encourage Children to Read

20 Ways for Parents to Encourage Reading
Source: Reading is Fundamental
Ages 9-12, 13+

The following are some ways to turn a young reader's reluctance into enthusiasm:

1.  Scout for things your children might like to read.  Use their interests and hobbies as starting points.
2.  Leave all sorts of reading materials including books, magazines, and colorful catalogs in conspicuous places around your home.
3.  Notice what attracts your children's attention, even if they only look at the pictures.  Then build on that interest; read a short selection aloud, or simply bring home more information on the same subject.
4.  Let your children see you reading for pleasure in your spare time.
5.  Take your children to the library regularly.  Explore the children's section together.  Ask a librarian to suggest books and magazines your children might enjoy.
6.  Present reading as an activity with a purpose; a way to gather useful information for, say, making paper airplanes, identifying a doll or stamp in your child's collection, or planning a family trip.
7.  Encourage older children to read to their younger brothers and sisters.  Older children enjoy showing off their skills to an admiring audience.
8.  Play games that are reading-related.  Check your closet for spelling games played with letter tiles or dice, or board games that require players to read spaces, cards, and directions.
9.  Perhaps over dinner, while you're running errands, or in another informal setting, share your reactions to things you read, and encourage your children to do likewise. 
10.  Set aside a regular time for reading in your family, independent of schoolwork, the 20 minutes before lights out, just after dinner, or whatever fits into your household schedule.  As little as 10 minutes of free reading a day can help improve your child's skills and habits. 
11.  Read aloud to your child, especially a child who is discouraged by his or her own poor reading skills.  The pleasure of listening to you read, rather than struggling alone, may restore your child's initial enthusiasm for books and reading.
12.  Encourage your child to read aloud to you an exciting passage in a book, an interesting tidbit in the newspaper, or a joke in a joke book.  When children read aloud, don't feel they have to get every word right.  Even good readers skip or mispronounce words now and then.
13.  On gift-giving occasions, give books and magazines based on your child's current interests.
14.  Set aside a special place for children to keep their own books.
15.  Introduce the bookmark.  Remind your youngster that you don't have to finish a book in one sitting; you can stop after a few pages, or a chapter, and pick up where you left off at another time.  Don't try to persuade your child to finish a book he or she doesn't like.  Recommend putting the book aside and trying another.
16.  Treat your children to an evening of laughter and entertainment featuring books!  Many children (parents, too) regard reading as a serious activity.  A joke book, a story told in riddles, or a funny passage read aloud can reveal another side of reading. 
17.  Extend your child's positive reading experiences.  For example, if your youngster enjoyed a book about dinosaurs, follow up with a visit to a natural history museum.
18.  Offer other special incentives to encourage your child's reading.  Allow your youngster to stay up an extra 15 minutes to finish a chapter; promise to take your child to see a movie after he or she has finished the book on which it was based; relieve your child of a regular chore to free up time for reading.
19.  Limit your children's TV viewing in an effort to make time for other activities, such as reading.  But never use TV as a reward for reading, or a punishment for not reading.
20.  Not all reading takes place between the covers of a book.  What about menus, road signs, food labels, and sheet music?  Take advantage of countless spur-of-the-moment opportunities for reading during the course of your family's busy day.

For more information, please visit

Monday, May 10, 2010

10 Tips for Choosing Books for Children of All Ages

10 Tips for Choosing Books for Children of All Ages
Source: Family of Readers Advisor's Guide
Ages: 5-8, 9-12, 13+

·      Have children choose their own books as soon as they start showing a preference for one over another.
·      Find the children's section of your local library. Get to know the librarian, who can be a great resource.
·      Find out what your child is interested in, and help choose books that are related to his or her interests.
·      Ask friends, family, and teachers what books their children have enjoyed; try a book swap.
·      If your child does not like a book you are reading together, put it away. Reading is a fun time to share, not a time to fight.
·      Again, Again, Again! Children may want to read the same book many times, even if you think they have outgrown it. 
·      Use book lists generated by various literacy organizations; they usually have good suggestions. For example: American Library Association, International Reading Association, Children's Book Guild
·      Look for books that you will like reading aloud. Your enjoyment will shine through and become contagious.
·      Try out different kinds of books to see what appeals to your children.
·      Have fun! Show your children the joy of reading and how it can open up a brand new world!

For more tips, please visit! 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Reviewer's Tip - Advance Reading Copy - Part 1

We see lots of newbie authors asking on various publishing lists what should be in 'Advance Reading Copies' of their books?  How should they be formatted, what about a glossary, or an index?  Does the layout need to be in final form?  Should it be bound like a proper book?  Can it be a finished copy with a sticker on the cover noting its status as an 'Advance Reading Copy'? 

I thought it would be helpful to discuss what some of the 'Big Boys' do with their advance reading copies.  First, let me say that it is all over the place!  From finished, properly formated, finalized covers to white covers with boring text and little "bubbles" that note "uncorrected proof - not for sale." 

Interiors, from the 'Big Boys,' tend to be finished, or pretty darn close.  The only time we see manuscripts in their original Word/WordPerfect form is from very small presses or self-publishers.  The big review journals may not like this, but at Feathered Quil, we understand the pressures small presses are under.  As long as the text is edited, we're okay with the format.  But watch out if the text hasn't visited with an editor!  We have to review what is in front of us, not what it will eventually (possibly) be like after being edited.  (And yes, we did once have an author argue that we should forgive all the errors because the book would "eventually" be edited!)

What about a 'Contents' page?  How can you possibly put together a list of chapters when content is, at this point, still changing from day to day?  Follow the example of a book I'm currently reviewing that's from an imprint of HarperCollins.  The book has 25 chapters.  All the chapters are noted by name on the 'Contents' page.  But where do those chapters begin?  All of them can be found on page "00."  Obviously the layout, while looking finished, is still in flux and the publisher does not want to wait any longer to get out the advance copies.  As a reviewer, I expect this and I certainly won't find fault with this in my review.  It's SOP (standard operating procedure).

Next time - just what should you put on the back cover of your advance printing???

Friday, May 7, 2010

6 Ways to Promote Your Book Online

This is a guest post written by Tom Tessin. Tom created FindMySurveys, a paid surveys directory that shows you who’s going to make you money online and who’s not. You can also check out more of his work there.

6 Ways to Promote Your Book Online

A lot of us have the dream of writing our own book. Whether it’s about our life, our hobbies or a book on how to do something, we want to share the word with others. Although, what may make it hard is just that, sharing it with others and getting people to find out about it. It may seem difficult, but if you consider a few of these ideas you will find that others will hear or discover your book rather quickly!

Website: People use the Internet for everything and when they’re interested in finding out about something they are going to search websites to find it. Create a website and promote your book online. Allow them to buy it or download it if it is an e-book.

Blog: Create a blog and blog about your book. The more content you have written about your book, the more opportunities you have to spread the word.

Social bookmarking: Once you’ve blogged, submit your post to a social bookmarking website. These update instantly and allow people on the website to find the newest posts. These can bring instant traffic and help you spread the word.

Message boards: Discuss your book online by using message boards. Find a message board that is talking about the types of books you’ve written about. Then, suggest to them the book you’ve written and describe it.

Press release: Try submitting a press release online. Have a catchy title and write a one page description of your book. If you submit it online, your story will be distributed to media outlets all around the world and it can appear on websites and in print.

Friends and family: Tell your friends and family members about your book. Explain what it’s about, who would like it and ask them to spread the word. A great way they can spread the word is through e-mail. E-mail them and submit a link to your website or blog and have them forward this e-mail to the people on their contacts list. This will then bring those people to your website or blog that is promoting your book.

Creating your own book is very exciting! It feels good to get your words down on paper and to share with others what you’re thinking or your creativity and imagination. So, if you’ve written a book, be sure to promote it online in these few ways!

Friday Finds

Yes folks it's that time again - FQ's finds for Friday!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Writing the Right Words - Part 2

Here's part 2 of Barbara Ardinger's informative aricle about selecting the correct words.  Part 1 was posted on April 5, 2010.  Barbara is a master at selecting the right words so if you're in need of an editor, please check out her services.  Visit her at:

Writing the Right Words - Part 2

The French have a phrase for what I’m talking about: le mot juste. The right, perfect, appropriate word. No matter what I’m writing—even this blog—I’m looking for the right words. Occasionally I turn to the thesaurus, but using the thesaurus can lead to other detours on the road to writing the right words, especially for inexperienced authors. We get too many choices! My guess is that it’s the thesaurus that leads my authors down a wordy primrose path. It gets them into trouble. It’s gotten me into trouble, too. When I was in high school, I was the only member of the creative writing club to have a new story every week. One story—now remember, I was a 15-year-old girl living in suburban St. Louis, Missouri—was about a woman in Alaska who was being stalked. She narrated the story. She did a lot of thinking. I dove right into Roget: “think, reflect, cogitate, deliberate, contemplate, meditate, ponder, muse, ruminate, speculate” … well, you get the idea. I used nearly every synonym. Then I came to “opine.” All these years later, I can still hear a friend’s voice: “Opine???” As I know now, ordinary people seldom opine. Judges, maybe; politicians, perhaps; philosophers, indubitably. So nowadays I tell, beg, order, and plead with my authors to stay out of the thesaurus. The synonyms, I tell them, are never exact. There are always shades of meaning. That’s exactly why English has such a big vocabulary.

When I was writing a book review (The Throne in the Heart of the Sea) for Feathered Quill a couple days ago, I wanted to characterize the way the prophet Elijah spoke to the people. First I used “preached.” Not what I wanted. He did more than preach. I’ve always thought Elijah was a nasty old man, so I tried “harassed.” Still not right. It seemed too active, as if he were chasing them while he was yelling at them. I broke down and opened my thesaurus. “Harangued.” Le mot juste.

As we endeavor to write the right words, we also need to keep learning new words. One way to do this is by reading good writing, both fiction and nonfiction, by authors recognized as literate and skillful. Watch the ways they put words together. Look at how their sentences are constructed. Do they slavishly follow the rules of grammar and usage we learned in our eighth-grade English class? Do they ever break the rules? For what purpose? In what contexts? What’s the effect? Finally, there’s a perfectly splendid web site called A.Word.A.Day that we can subscribe to and receive a new word via email every day. Subscription is free.   Sign up and learn new words and read the thought for the day. That’s a good way to get more right words and become a smarter writer.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Writing the Right Words - Part 1

By: Barbara Ardinger (please see Barbara's bio at end of post)

As we know, English has the largest vocabulary of any language on the planet. Some English words are homophones, words that are pronounced alike but spelled differently. (The most famous example of homophones is “to,” “two,” and “too.”) If English were my second language, I might have used a homophone—“rite”—in my title. Lemme think about that…. “Rite words” might be words used in a ritual. But that’s not what I’m riting—ahem, writing—about. And I do not write in “texting,” where the point seems to be to shorten and misspell wherever possible. U no wht I mean abt rite wrds? (Did I do that right?)

My editing skills have helped some very intelligent people just coming to the English language. An Israeli author, for example, wrote “infect.” The first time I saw this, it didn’t make sense. The context has nothing to do with infection. I just sat here and shook my head until I finally figured it out. She meant “in fact.” A Brazilian author referred to the goddess Nikki. After reading a couple more paragraphs, I understood that she meant Nike. A very wise Mexican author wrote, “That indelible moment reinforced my belief in the effectiveness and plausibility of enjoying a dichotomy transcendence of completely diverse fundamental human attitudes.” That was a sentence I had to completely rewrite. He and I worked together to make his biography of Benito Juarez readable (and I learned a lot about the history of Mexico). It was even more fun when I was doing technical editing for a scientist born in Azerbaijan who wrote in Russian and used computer software to translate his articles on topics in physics. The scientist and I became friends while we were working together, and he patiently answered my every request for clarification.

But even if we were born in the U.S.A. and English is our first language, we sometimes miss the right words. Here are a few examples from books I’ve actually edited. “Kevin walks in Grandma’s direction. She stands in the umbra shaking nervously.” “I felt like I had been found guilty of a crime punishable by no cure. So just like the penile system, I locked myself away from society.” “Being disabled in a fast paced society seemed like trying to rock climb in the dessert.” “Then came a fast and bestial curve.” “The sound of the lock turning made a squeaky high-pitched noise, almost like a scream. The lock sang out once more and finally clicked. The hinges crooned a hideous caterwaul until the door slowly opened.” Sometimes an editor needs to have a functioning imagination.

Want more?!  Barbara has some great suggestions and a helpful link for would-be writers in part 2 of Writing the Right Words.  For the rest of this very interesting article, please stop by tomorrow! 

Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (, is a published author and freelance editor. To date, she has edited more than 200 books, most of them for authors going to small, vanity, or on-demand presses. The 200 projects are both fiction and nonfiction and also include screenplays, children's books, academic discourse (textbooks and doctoral and master's theses), web site text, and some poetry. Fiction edited includes romance, action-adventure, science fiction, western, mystery, historical, speculative, and horror novels. Nonfiction edited includes philosophy (mostly mainstream metaphysics and New Age), Calvinist theology, holistic health, science and technology, political tracts, business topics, history, and memoirs and biography. The authors live around the U.S. and around the world, and for many of them, English is their second language. Barbara has also taught university classes in writing and public speaking and has worked as a technical editor (four different industries).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Welcome to Feathered Quill's Teasers for this week!

"I regret that she died young, and that her death caused you pain. I regret that, due to Van Helsing's incompetency, I was obliged to turn her into a vampire."

"This is, in my house, how things have been divided: I am in charge of the children. For fifty dollars, my husband could not give you the name and address of our children's pediatrician."

"I usually don't mind going to Principal Baloney's office. There's always a blue bowl of sugar-free candy on a little table covered with smiling-kid magazines."

Monday, May 3, 2010

Good Dictionaries Should Be Heard As Well As Seen

The world's most popular online learner's dictionary now has audio.

Millions of users of Cambridge Dictionaries Online, the world's most popular online learner's dictionary site, now have access to over 40,000 audio pronunciations.

Cambridge University Press has launched the audio offering to help the vast number of English learners who use the dictionaries to conquer the sometimes tricky territory of English pronunciation. Access to thousands of pronunciations in both British and American English is now just a click away via a special icon.

With more than 2 million unique visitors every month, Cambridge Dictionaries Online (CDO) is not only the most visited learner's dictionary site, it is one of the most comprehensive and trusted dictionary sites in the world, providing easy-to-understand definitions and example sentences based on real English.

The audio feature is not the only new offering from CDO: as well as being able to hear the words they are trying to learn, English students can now bring up words accompanied by a thesaurus-style range of related terms.

This 'topic information', which has been added to most of the dictionary entries, is based on Cambridge's unique SMART Thesaurus. With more than 1,000 topics on offer, this new feature represents a tool that is unique in English language learning materials.

The Cambridge Dictionaries Online site also offers a facility to customise other websites with help options including a free dictionary search box and free double-click dictionary search. There are also options for schools, businesses and other institutions to customise the CDO dictionary look-up tools on their own websites with their organisation's branding.

The new features have been created after more than 20,000 Cambridge dictionary users worldwide responded to a survey about how they would like to see the dictionaries to develop.

Paul Heacock, Cambridge's Publishing Manager for ELT Dictionaries said customer direction-setting was vital and that the new features would keep coming:

"We are always looking for ways to make the dictionaries better than ever for our loyal users around the world but we don't operate in isolation: we always match developments to what our customers are telling us they want.

"We were delighted at the response to our recent survey and we hope our dictionary users will get in touch again and tell us what they think of the new features. Also – look out for more changes in the months ahead."

To listen to the audio samples, go to

Edgar Award Winners Announced

From: The Wall Street Journal
By Alexandra Alter

Winners at tonight's annual Edgar Awards, presented by the Mystery Writers of America, should relish the victory—the first Edgar is often the last.

The group has doled out awards to crime and mystery novelists since 1946, but few writers collect multiple awards in major categories during the course of their careers. A perusal of the group's online database found little overlap between debut authors who have won best first novel (including Patricia Cornwell, Michael Connelly, James Patterson and Richard North Patterson) and seasoned mystery writers who have won best novel (among them Dick Francis, Tony Hillerman, Elmore Leonard, John le Carre, Donald E. Westlake and Raymond Chandler).

Only one winner in the debut novelist category has gone on to win best novel. The late Ross Thomas won best first novel by an American for "The Cold War Swap" in 1967, and won best novel for "Briarpatch" in 1985. Entry rules may account in part for the low overlap: The debut novel prize is awarded only to American authors, while best novel is an international category. Few writers have won the best novel prize more than once (Dick Francis won three times, in 1970, 1981 and 1996; T. Jefferson Parker and James Lee Burke have both won twice).

Writers may have a better shot at multiple wins if their work takes a variety of forms. A few writers have bagged repeat awards in different categories, such as short stories, novels, TV and movies.

Television writer David Simon won for best fact crime in 1992 for his nonfiction book "Homicide," about a Baltimore homicide unit, and for best TV feature in 2007 for his HBO series "The Wire." Mr. Westlake won best novel in 1968 for "God Save the Mark," best short story in 1990 for "Too Many Crooks," and best motion picture in 1991 for "The Grifters," the movie made from his screenplay.

This year, women dominate among the finalists for best first novel by an American author, outnumbering men by four to two. The finalists are "A Bad Day for Sorry," by Sophie Littlefield; "In the Shadow of Gotham," by Stefanie Pintoff; "Black Water Rising," by Attica Locke; "The Weight of Silence," by Heather Gudenkauf; "The Girl She Used to Be," by David Cristofano; and "Starvation Lake," by Bryan Gruley, Chicago bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal. (Journal pop critic Jim Fusilli is also up for an Edgar for best short story category).

In the best novel category, the finalists are "Nemesis," by Norwegian crime novelist Jo Nesbø; "The Odds," by Kathleen George; "The Missing," by Tim Gautreaux; "A Beautiful Place to Die," by Malla Nunn; "Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death," by Charlie Huston; and "The Last Child," by John Hart, who won in 2008 for "Down River."

UPDATE: And the winners are….

Best Novel: The Last Child by John Hart (Minotaur Books)
Best First Novel By An American Author: In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff (Minotaur Books)
Best Paperback Original: Body Blows by Marc Strange (Dundurn Press - Castle Street Mysteries)
Best Critical/Biographical: The Lineup: The World's Greatest Crime Writers Tell the Inside Story of Their Greatest Detectives edited by Otto Penzler (Hachette Book Group - Little, Brown and Company)
Best Fact Crime: Columbine by Dave Cullen (Hachette Book Group - Twelve)
Best Short Story: "Amapola" - Phoenix Noir by Luis Alberto Urrea (Akashic Books)
Best Young Adult: Reality Check by Peter Abrahams (HarperCollins Children's Books - HarperTeen)
Best Juvenile: Closed for the Season by Mary Downing Hahn (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Books)
Best Television Episode Teleplay: "Place of Execution," Teleplay by Patrick Harbinson (PBS/WGBH Boston)
Robert L. Fish Memorial Award: A Dreadful Day" - Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by Dan Warthman (Dell Magazines)
2010 Grand Master: Dorothy Gilman

Amazon Cuts Prices in Tiff With Penguin

From The Wall Street Journal


In the latest round of the book pricing wars, Inc. has begun selling a number of new hardcover books published this month by Pearson PLC's Penguin Group (USA) for only $9.99 amid a dispute between the two companies over electronic books.

Penguin stopped providing digital editions of new titles to Amazon as of April 1 because Penguin and Amazon haven't yet struck an agreement on a new "agency" pricing model, in which publishers set the retail prices of their e-books. Out of the five major publishers that struck an agency-pricing deal with Apple Inc., Penguin is the only one that hasn't yet reached an agreement with Amazon.

Since Amazon can't sell the digital editions of Penguin's books, it is, in effect, showing its customers that Amazon is still the place to go for discount pricing. The low price also serves to put pressure on Penguin, as publishers passionately dislike the steep discounts. Many publishers say a $9.99 price tag on a new hardcover book cheapens the value in the minds of consumers.

Amazon and Penguin declined to comment.

The works being discounted aren't necessarily best-sellers, which Amazon has traditionally reserved the $9.99 price for. Rather, their low retail price underscores the increasingly competitive and complicated retail bookselling landscape now that Apple has launched its iPad tablet and Google Inc. is readying its own bookselling service, Google Editions. A host of additional new devices are expected to go on sale later this year.

The books include Roger Lowenstein's "The End of Wall Street," Drew Perry's novel "This is Just Exactly Like You," Olga Grushin's novel "The Line" Anne Lamott's novel "Imperfect Birds," and Stuart Woods' novel "Lucid Intervals."

The e-book editions of the Penguin titles published in April are widely available for sale on such sites as Apple's iBooks store and Barnes & Noble Inc.'s Barnes&

'Fastest Growing Indies'

PW's 'Fastest Growing Indies' CEO Roundtable

For Immediate Release
Contact: Lisa Krebs

IBPA Publishing University announces PW's "Fastest Growing Indies" CEO Roundtable

Heads of houses from Quirk Books, Square One, Morgan James Publishing, Blue Apple Books will talk about how they landed on the Publishers Weekly "Fastest-Growing Indie" list in a down economy at an informal no-holds barred Q & A with IBPA Publishing University attendees.

The "Fastest Growing Indies" roundtable, introduced by Publishers Weekly Publisher Cevin Bryerman and moderated by Tom Woll of Cross River Publishing Consultants, will feature David Borgenicht, Quirk Books, Rudy Shur, Square One Publishers, David Hancock, Morgan James Publishing and Harriet Ziefert of Blue Apple Books. The program is part of IBPA Publishing University's "Growing Your Business" track of sessions created for more experienced publishers poised for expansion.

"This is a rare chance to pick the brains of the CEO's of companies that grew exponentially in the middle of a recession, "explains IBPA President Florrie Binford Kichler. "The PW 'Fastest Growing Indies' discussion will benefit publishers ready to take their companies to the next level—here's where they can get advice on how to do that from those who have."

Other tracks in IBPA's Publishing University include "Getting Started" for those new to publishing, and "Making a Living" for those who have been in business for several years.

In addition to the more than 20 break-out sessions, general session highlights of IBPA Publishing University include a keynote speech by mega marketer and best-selling author Seth Godin, an opening day kickoff address by Dominique Raccah of Sourcebooks, and Emagination: What's Now and What's Next in Ebooks, a roundtable of digital pioneers and industry prophets who will weigh in on a host of e-issues. The annual IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards Gala for excellence in publishing will be held Monday evening, May 24.

For additional information, speaker bios, photos, and video from the 2009 University, visit IBPA Publishing University 

Founded in 1983, the Independent Book Publishers Association <> is the largest not-for-profit trade organization for publishers in the United States, serving more than 3000 book publishers of all sizes. IBPA's mission is to help independent publishers market their titles, to provide education on all aspects of publishing, and to act as an advocate for publishers' rights.

The Author's Inn

Here's information about a relatively new site created to promote authors.  Great promotion for authors and a good source of new book information for book buyers (from their 'About Us' page).

About the Site

When I (the webmaster) wrote my first novel, the next hardest thing was getting information about it out to the world at a cost I could afford ( like FREE?). There were sites I could afford but which weren't responsive or well done, and sites which looked great and appeared to have wonderful response from the public but which I couldn't afford. Sound familiar?

I decided to create this site for the purpose of displaying the works of authors, enabling them to get their novels, articles and poetry out in front of the reading public at a cost anyone can afford, and to enable readers to see and make contact with the authors.

Every author who joins will have a full page to display their work, with their book graphic, article or poem, a description of the material and a picture and bio of themselves. You can have multiple pages for multiple books, poems, short stories, etc. Plus, your book covers will be constantly displayed in The Gallery of Books. These will be "static" pages that will always be there whenever anyone clicks into the site, not pictures that will rotate through once in a decade. Authors will be able to do some advertising within the site itself. And you will be able to include links on your pages that will take readers directly to your own websites where you can tell more and even sell your books.

This site is not intended to make money. The cost for an author to get their work displayed on a page really won't even cover the cost of managing the site, and that's okay. The site is for YOU, not for me (although I suppose I could put my books on it, too.) As the site grows, more things will be available such as blogs, articles, book reviews from the readers and so on. As you get ideas for things that would be good to have here, I would really appreciate a quick note.

The site was set up for serious writers and will be open to most genres that you might want to display. YOU will need to let me know what is needed. Here is a list of possible acceptable genres:

Action/Adventure/Mystery/Spies/Suspense/Thriller Art Works Autobiographies/Biographies Children/Teen/Young Adult Christian/Religious Family/Parenting Historical Fiction History/Documentaries Humor Inspirational Literary Fiction Memoirs Military Philosophy Poetry Political Science Science Science Fiction Short Stories Western Women's Fiction

Visit The Authors Inn for more information.