Sliding Past Vertical: First Chapter Sneak Peek!

SPV_v3

Happy Monday, everyone! I’m so excited to share with you this excerpt from Sliding Past Vertical, my romantic suspense novel, which will be published in just a few weeks on Amazon.com. First, the blurb:

Sarah Cohen is a walking disaster. She means well, but with each ill-considered decision, this twenty-nine-year-old graphic artist and ex-diving protégé damages not only herself, but also her fellow Bostonians. Good thing she has Emerson McCann on her side, at least for now. This nursing home orderly and aspiring author is just a phone call away in Syracuse, with a metaphorical mop to clean up the messes of her life. For Sarah, who moved east after graduating from Syracuse University in 1979, it’s become a comfortable long-distance friendship. But it can be excruciating for Emerson. Eleven years after their short and emotionally consuming freshman-year romance, he is still in love with her. When everything goes wrong all at once, Sarah plunges into another rash decision. To correct her mistakes, as her high school coach used to tell her when she flubbed a dive, she must return to the point where she went wrong and start again. So she’s moving back to Syracuse and into a vacancy in Emerson’s rooming house, a choice that has sometimes amusing but sometimes catastrophic consequences. And nobody is safe.

Chapter One
Boston: July 1987 Continue reading “Sliding Past Vertical: First Chapter Sneak Peek!”

Flash Fiction Potluck Edition

Typewriter - Once upon a timeThanks to writing exercises like Indies Unlimited’s Flash Fiction Competition and JD Mader’s Friday flash fiction parties, I’ve been working at toning up my word muscles between novel scenes. I like the IU competition because of the challenge of being inspired by a prompt and getting a story into 250 words. I like JD’s because it’s freewriting fun: just write and don’t look back for three minutes, or two, even for one minute if it’s been that kind of week, and then we post the results on his blog. [Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I did touch up the first two a smidge after my original posts. Go visit JD’s blog if you want to see the originals.]

Here are a few bits I’ve written lately. Continue reading “Flash Fiction Potluck Edition”

Sliding Past Vertical Cover!

SPV_v3Happy Wednesday, everyone! Here’s the brand-spanking-new cover for my upcoming romantic/suspense novel, Sliding Past Vertical, which is still
on schedule for a mid-September release.

If you’d like to get the latest news about new releases, events, and other goodies, won’t you join my mailing list? Thank you!

 

 

How Writing 200 Install Sheets Improved My Editing

IdeaMany years back, I worked in the marketing department of a lighting manufacturer that asked us to create installation instructions for each of their 200-and-some products. It was challenging to translate from engineer-speak into English and to get all parties on the company-wide team to agree on the simplest of concepts, but we did it.

In the process, which took many drafts, many months, and many cups of coffee, I sharpened my editing skills. Here’s what I learned:

Be Clear. There is not much worse than being atop a ladder with half a light fixture in one hand, a screwdriver in the other, and installation instructions that read like they’ve been translated into Norwegian, and then into Mandarin Chinese, and then back into English. If it’s impossible to install this fixture any other way than to assemble the whole shebang on the ground and attach it to the ceiling with the help of three other guys and some duct tape, say so. Or you may never get a second order from this customer, because you’ve made him squander valuable union contractor time and money taking the #$@$% thing out of the ceiling and reassembling it.

 Be Concise. Contractors don’t have time to parse out flabby language. Say you write, “In order to properly install the battery pack onto the frame, make sure you have selected the correct screwdriver, which should be a #5 flat head screwdriver.” Not only is this an eyeful to read, it’s insulting. Of course a competent contractor would install something properly. So this sentence becomes, “Attach the battery pack to the frame using a #5 flat head screwdriver.” Done.

Be Accurate. Check all your facts before the boxes leave the warehouse. When a customer has a hundred fixtures on site is not a good time to discover you’ve neglected to include (let alone write) programming instructions for the whiz-bang remote that controls the dimming on all of them. Or that you’ve told them to use the wrong screwdriver to install the wrong widget. Know your widgets, people!

Be Compact. Anyone who writes has probably been told showing is better than telling. It’s the same for installation instructions. If Steps 4, 5 and 6 require a clear diagram, you’ll have less room for text. Carve those unnecessary words from the text, and you can make the visuals even bigger.

Know Your Audience. An install sheet for a licensed electrical contractor reads very differently than one designed for a residential customer. Just as you’d never assume the average homeowner knows how to install something “according to local code,” don’t tell the contractor to screw in the “light bulbs.” These, in non-residential land, are called “lamps.” Bulbs, they say, grow in the ground. You will be laughed at and made to buy the coffee and donuts.

Consider Industry Standards. Construction codes and legal liability dictated that we include certain things on our install sheets, like a UL logo and this line: “Read all instructions before installation.” (Even though probably 75% of contractors use installation instructions as nothing more than a placemat for the coffee and donuts you bought them.) Similarly, consider your publisher’s standards or website requirements before you submit. Or else you could end up doing the literary equivalent of disassembling a hundred-pound light fixture on the floor and possibly losing a few widgets down the heating vents.

Have you picked up tips in any unexpected places for the work you do?

(Note: This post appeared on a different blog in a slightly different form in December, 2010.)

Awesome Authors–T.D. McKinnon

Have you met T.D. McKinnon? You really ought to…

DV Berkom Books

Today on Awesome Authors I’m thrilled to interview TD McKinnon,  author of multiple genres including speculative fiction, sci-fi and adventure-thrillers. Along with his eclectic writing interests, TD is a fellow Indies Unlimited contributor, an expert martial artist, and all around lovely human being.

(From his bio):

Born in Scotland in 1950 and raised in the coal mining communities of Scotland and England, T.D. McKinnon joined the British Parachute Regiment when he was just fifteen years old.  After spending five years in the British army he worked at a number of occupations, but for many years he was in high risk security.  A martial arts master in several forms he represented at national level, both in Scotland and Australia, and became a national referee.  Among many high-profile clients, his close personal protection company was responsible for the protection of a member of the Spanish royal family, and was also part of the local contingent…

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Grammar and Technology

file0002054526820One of the things I love about the English language is its fluidity—how it evolves over time. But as an editor and writer, that characteristic is also one of the most frustrating things about my mother tongue. For instance, how do we keep up with the rapidly changing terms we use to describe what has sprung forth from the computer revolution? Do we consult style manuals, major newspapers? Take a consensus from our peers? See what’s being used on the Internet? And should you even capitalize “Internet” anymore? Is it a registered trademark? Is Al Gore collecting royalties, or are they being swapped for carbon credits? Continue reading “Grammar and Technology”

Hot Summer Specials – Mix and Match

This is only one of the things I like about Carol Wyer, my friend and fellow IU author. She’s funny, we all know that, but she knows how to include the important things. Like our trailer. And the fact that First Chapters will be FREE tomorrow (Friday)! Which is why I wanted to post her blog about our new release. Carry on…

Facing 50 with humour.

First-Chapters22 coverAs many of you know I am privileged to be a contributing author at Indies Unlimited where I get to hang out with a bunch of extremely talented authors. Their talent never ceases to amaze me. I have been gradually working my way through each of their books and enjoyed reading every single one of them.

So, imagine my delight when the administrators announced the release of The First Chapters 22. It is a selection from all of the Indies Unlimited team. You can browse the book, read a first chapter ranging from sci-fi to romance. There are some fantastic books included in this collection.

Anyway, even better news…it will be FREE! Yes, tomorrow, 2nd August, this book will be free for you to download from the sites below, then you can discover for yourselves, why I am so proud to be part of this group of authors.

Download…

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