Writing tip: Doing dashes right



One of the dead giveaways of a non-professional book is misusing the poor hyphen instead of a dash.

Let’s clear something up right away: a hyphen is not the same thing as a short dash, which is distinct from a long dash. They are three different punctuation marks, each with their own uses and rules. They are not interchangeable.

What they’re for

For example, a hyphen can combine two words into one, as in “long-term effects” or “father-in-law.” A hyphen helps avoid confusion in phrases like “high-school students,” which can be very different from “high school students.”

Hyphens also join numbers when they’re written out, such as “forty-two.”

Finally, hyphens indicate that a word is broken at the end of a line of text, when a word is too long to fit on a single line of text. Remember that you break the word between two syllables, with a few exceptions like “ther-apist.”

Dashes: the short and the long

There are two types of dashes. The short dash, also known as the “en dash” is twice as long as a hyphen. It’s also called the en dash because it’s the same width as a letter N. It’s used to indicate a range, most often in numbers, such as “pages 25–35.” It can also be used to indicate a range in space, like “a Toronto–Montreal flight.” However, most style guides recommend that use more for tables and illustrations, but in body text, to write “Toronto to Montreal.”

En dashes can also join words that already have hyphens (which is relatively rare), as in “private-sector–public-sector cooperation,” or when joining two things where one is two separate words, such as “pre–Second World War era.”

The long dash is also called the em dash because it’s the same width as a capital letter M, itself usually the widest letter in the alphabet. An em is twice as wide as an en.

The em-dash is used to link phrases and sentences, or to indicate an abrupt change in thought or logic. Here’s an example from my upcoming new book, Wildfire:

She had seen a question in her green eyes—was she really going to apply for a job in a restaurant?

It can take the place of parentheses or a colon, as in these examples from Wikipedia:

The food—which was delicious—reminded me of home.

Three alkali metals are the usual substituents—sodium, potassium, and lithium.

How to do it

Part of the problem with en and em dashes is that they don’t appear on the standard typewriter keyboard. Those of us who learned to type on typewriters—back in the day—learned to use multiple hyphens when we wanted a long dash. There was simply no other way to do it.

That limitation has survived, even though with our word processors, there’s no reason for it. Seriously, there are keys on the main part of my computer keyboard I almost never use, while getting the dash which I use frequently requires pressing three keys at once. Why a pipe symbol? Why curly brackets?

The way to geta an en dash in Microsoft Word on a Windows computer is to hold down the Ctrl key and press the minus sign at the top right of the number keypad.

On a Macintosh, again using Word, it’s done by holding down the Option key and pressing the hyphen or minus sign.

You can also type the alternative character code: hold down Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac) and type 0150.

Insert an em dash by adding the Ctrl key on Windows: Ctrl-Alt-Minus. On a Mac, it’s Shift-Option-Minus. The alt key code is Alt 0151. On a Macintosh, hold down the Option key.

On-screen typing

Tablets have made this easier. All you have to do is hold your finger down on the hyphen “key.” In a couple of seconds, you’ll get a menu of choices. Select the appropriate punctuation mark.

Spaced out or not

Some people like to put a single space on both sides of em dashes — like this — while others like them tight—like that. Whichever you choose, be consistent.

This may seem like a trivial matter, but hyphens and dashes stand out on a page or a screen, and they clearly signal someone who doesn’t appreciate the difference—and that a professional editor had not seen that page.

It’s almost as blatant as misusing quotation marks, but I’ll write more about that in another post.

A look back at a tough year



To many, 2016 has been a horrible year. The war in Syria, the loss of refugees from that conflict and others, the record number of celebrity passings, record homicide numbers in my home town, Brexit, the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. Presidency … I won’t go on. It’s too painful.

For me, it’s been a turbulent year, too. I broke my knee in May and went through months of intensive physiotherapy and exercise to get back the range of motion and strength I needed for my two-week whitewater canoeing trip. My son had appendicitis, my other son had some issues with school and work.

In the fall, I came down with a wicked case of pinkeye. There were more problems in this single year than in many that I can recall.

On the other hand, there were some “ups,” as well.

  • I published three books this year:
    • IMG_0020.jpgUnder the Nazi Heel, Book 2 in my Walking Out of War trilogy based on the World War 2 experiences of my father-in-law, Maurice Bury.
      It won Second Prize in the East Texas Writers Guild 2016 Awards for nonfiction/memoir.
    • The Wife Line, a Sydney Rye Kindle World book that features my spy-thriller characters, Van Freeman and Earl LeBrun.
    • Dead Man Lying, my third Lei Crime Kindle World title, featuring my FBI Special Agent character, Vanessa Storm. It won First Place in the 2016 East Texas Writers Guild Mystery Awards.WifeLine-final-small
  • I edited three very strong books by independent authors:
  • I participated in some group publishing efforts along with other members of BestSelling Reads, an authors’ group that cross-promotes members.
  • New members joined Independent Authors International, a collaborative publishing venture where members share skills to provide all the functions of a full, commercial publishing company.
  • PaddlersI canoed 325 kilometres down the Missinaibi and Moose Rivers in northern Ontario to Moose Factory on James Bay, and capsized only once.
  • I visited the Finger Lakes in New York, and met some very nice, interesting people and drank some excellent wine.
  • I crafted an outline for The Triumph of the Sky, the follow-up to my first full-length novel, The Bones of the Earth.
  • I outlined a new Lei Crime novel featuring Special Agent Vanessa Storm: Echo of a Crime, and have so far written about half of it.
  • And I came up with a concept for a new Sydney Rye Kindle World novel which will feature Van and LeBrun.

So 2016 has been a year with ups and downs, and now that I look at it, for me at least, there were more good points than bad. And for the family, too.

But for the world, it’s been a tough year. For Aleppo and the rest of Syria, for Iraq, for France, Belgium and the U.K., for Japan, Italy and Fort McMurray. For the U.S., 2017 is going to be … interesting politically.

I wish you all a healthy, happy, loving, peaceful and plentiful 2017.

Writing tip: The cascading benefits of Styles



Wikimedia Commons

Last week, I wrote about the benefits of using Styles in your word processing program to make your writing more consistent, efficient and professional. This week, I explain some of the resulting efficiencies that come from understanding how to use Styles.

I am using Microsoft Word as the example, but the same concepts apply to most word processing applications.

Table of contents

Once you have set up styles for your chapter and section headings, you can use them to generate a table of contents. In Word, choose the REFERENCES ribbon, click on the arrow beside Table of Contents (first button from the left) and select Custom Table of Contents. In there, you can build your ToC from the styles you created.tocmenu

Another way to do it is to customize the pre-made heading styles built into the program, and then you can select the automatic ToC. Either way, you can choose to have multiple levels of headings and subheadings in your ToC. For fiction, you probably only need chapters, although if you have Parts, as well, you’ll need to add them and their styles to your Styles menu. In the main window, select 1 Level.

For non-fiction, where you have several levels of sub-headings, choose the number of levels you want to appear in the ToC. Usually two is enough.

Also choose the “tab leader”—whether you want dots, dashes or nothing at all between the heading and the page number in the table.

When you have selected what you want to appear in the table of contents, click OK.  The program then creates the Table of Contents, with the page numbers correctly listed.

If you change something, like add a new chapter in the middle or extend one of the them so that the new content pushes the following content onto further pages, all you have to do is click on Update Table in the ribbon, and the program corrects the page numbers.

Cascading effects

There are even more benefits to this. When you want to publish your book through Amazon or any other e-book service, the programs recognize styles. They may transform the typeface selections from, say, Times to Times New Roman, or Futura to Avenir, but at least the selections will be consistent.

This also works for blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger. If you use Styles, such as Normal and Heading 2, WordPress recognizes this and replicates it in your blog post. Again, WordPress will change the type font, but will preserve the fact that it’s a Heading 2, and assign it size, weight and position according to its own system.

Use Styles throughout

Now that you’ve seen how Styles make your writing and publishing faster and more professional, use them throughout your work. I set up a Body Text and a First Paragraph styles, and modify the style for headers and footers to my preference.

The same idea applies to pages and sections. In a future post, I’ll explain how to start new chapters with their own styles for the first page. In the meantime, try out these techniques.

If you have any questions, put them in the Comments.

Happy writing!

 

Best post-writing tip: Use Styles



Want to publish your writing more efficiently? Make sure you use the Styles function built into your word processor when you write your manuscript.

oswald_achenbach_von_ludwig_des_coudres_001

Wikipedia

I have just finished editing or proofreading two manuscripts by fellow authors in Independent Authors International. And while both are excellent novels, both were just typed in, with all formatting applied individually to each chapter title.

This is inefficient. I took the time to apply Styles from the word processing program. This has three main effects:

  • automating the production of a table of contents, required by some e-book publishing platforms
  • ensuring chapter titles, sub-headings and body text remain consistent
  • making it faster to make changes and convert your word processing file into e-book format.

It’s easy to do, and there are lots of extra functions that make the whole process even easier, and it really pays off in the re-writing, editing and publishing processes. Here’s are my favourite post-writing tips.

Styles in your word processing program

Microsoft Word is the word processing program I know best, so I’ll use it as an example. It’s also the most popular, and most other programs work in analogous ways.

For example, let’s say you want the title of each chapter to be in big, bold letters, centred on the page. Most people write the words, then format them with

  • typeface
  • size
  • case — upper/capital letters or lower-case
  • weight — bold or lightface
  • style — italic or roman, strikethrough, etc.
  • alignment — justified; flush left, ragged right; flush right, ragged left; or centred
  • colour

You can save all these characteristics in a Style in Word. Then all you have to do is select your subheading, for example, and then click on the Style in the menu. One click to set all those characteristics. Faster, easier and consistent.

There’s more you can save in a Style, though.

  • indent — for example, whether you want the first line of each paragraph to be indented
  • line-spacing — you can control how much space should appear above and below each paragraph, or chapter title, or heading or subheading
  • borders—whether you want a box or a border around the paragraph
  • Shortcut Key — you can even set up a Ctrl- or Alt-character for a swift shortcut to invoke your style without taking your fingers from the keyboard.

For example, I like to have each chapter start on its own page, with the first line of text about half-way down. So that means I want about 8 lines of space above the title, which in my case is 24-point Futura Medium, flush left.

Instead of hitting the Return key eight times before typing the chapter title, I set up a style I called “ChapterHead.” I wrote the first chapter title, defined it with the cursor and set it for 24-point Futura Medium, flush left.

stylesribbonIn Word, I selected the heading, then selected the New Style button from the Styles pane. (Click the tiny arrow that points down and to the right in the lower-right corner of the Styles section of the Home ribbon to open the pane. The button I mentioned is the bottom-left icon of that.)

That opens up a window called Create New Style from Formatting. This will show the type characteristics of the selected text: 24-point Futura Medium, Bold, flush left with single-line spacing.

stylesmenuNote the Format button with the little arrow in the bottom left corner of that menu. Clicking that allows you to choose different controls, including Numbering and Paragraph.

Paragraph is the next one to choose. Here, you can decide how much spacing you want between lines. It gives you choices like 1.5 and double spacing, but you can pretty much choose as much as you like, like 1.1 or 1.2 lines. That opens up the spacing between lines in a paragraph — what typographers at one time called “leading” (pronounced “ledding”). I like to set my display text, like headings, at single, and my body text at 1.1 or 1.2 because it improves readability.

So, to get my chapter title to begin half-way down a new page, under Spacing (third section of the menu), I set Before to 96 points. With 12-point line spacing/leading (1.1 spacing for 11 point type), that’s eight lines. On a 5 x 8-inch page, that’s about right. You can play with it until it looks the way you like.

After is 0, but in my case, I like to have a subheading, like this:

firstpage

I called the Subheading “Subhead,” and set it to be 14 point Futura Medium, bold, flush left with no space above, and 12 points or 1 line below.

And you may have noticed that the first line of the first paragraph of that chapter is not indented, but the next one is. That’s deliberate, but the subject of another blog post. (By the way, if you prefer to double-space between paragraphs, all you have to do is edit the style so that there is 6 or 12 points of space after the paragraph.)

Then, at the end of every chapter, I insert a New Section break. That forces the program to create a new blank page, and when I type the chapter title and set it for ChapterHead style, I get exactly that white space above it that I wanted. Easy-peasy.

In a future post, I’ll write about how to use Sections to help get exactly the format you want in your book.

Efficiency

The problem with doing all of this to each individual chapter heading, sub-heading, first paragraph and so on is that it’s time-consuming and, worse, invites errors. You could easily forget to add the right amount of space above or below the heading or to not indent the first line of text, or to indent every following paragraph.

Another advantage is that, if you want to change the typeface for your chapter title or subtitle, or the amount of indent for each paragraph of text, or any other characteristic, all you have to do is go to the Styles pane (or the ribbon), right-click on the style in question, select Modify, make the change, and the program will apply it automatically to every instance in your document, no matter how long.

There are lots of cascading benefits of using Styles intelligently. I’ll write about them in the next blog post.

Till then, happy writing!

How to find funds for your novel: Guest post by Roger Eschbacher



Finding the funds to cover editing, design and production of a book is a challenge every independent author must work out. This week, the award-winning Roger Eschbacher describes his solution.

This post originally appeared on the old Scott’s Written Words blog.

As just about any “indie” author will admit one of the biggest knocks against our tribe is that often self-published books are rife with errors (punctuation, grammar, typos, continuity problems, etc.). We know how jarring it can be to run across a typo in a traditionally published book, so imagine how distracting it can be to be poked in the eye by dozens of them.

Why does this happen? To be blunt, it’s because the author didn’t have the book properly edited. And by “properly,” I mean professionally. No matter how good at catching errors you think you might be, you’ll never get them all. No matter how good you might think your beta reader/proofreader friends are at finding embarrassing mistakes in your text or story, there are always more hiding in your manuscript. Always.

I can verify this through my own experience. I can’t tell you how many “final” reads I did on Dragonfriend, my 2013 self-published MG fantasy novel. I’d go through it, find and fix a bunch of errors, only to go back to the beginning for one last look and find even more. I realized I needed professional help. I needed a paid editor with a trained eye to go through my manuscript and find the mistakes that would embarrass me if they ever made it out of my computer and into the wild.

What does any of this have to do with finding funds for my novel?

Well…having come to the realization that I was in over my head as far as editing goes, I started looking around for someone to help me out. Guess what? Editors can be expensive! My manuscript was in the 75,000-word range, and quotes for an edit on a book that size ran from the upper hundreds to the low thousands on the sites I checked. Google “editing, novel, proofreading” yourself and be prepared for your jaw to drop to the floor. This is not a knock against the editors, by the way; what they do is very time- and labor-intensive (= expensive).

So what was I going to do? I knew I had to get my book properly edited, but I also knew I wasn’t exactly dripping with cash. I was frozen in place until I could scrape together enough funds for a professional editor. Frozen, that is, until I ran across Kickstarter.

How Kickstarter works

Kickstarter.com is a site that exists solely for raising funds for “the arts.” Based on the artist/patron model of old, Kickstarter provides a platform where you can raise money from friends, family, and total strangers without having to beg in person. You simply set up an account and direct people to it with a “Hey, if you’re interested in backing my book project…” Amazingly, to me anyway, a lot of folks were willing to pitch in and help me out.

If you head over to the site, you’ll find that everyone from filmmakers to graphic artists to greeting card makers have a project going on. Oh, and authors too.

Here’s how it works. You sign up for an account, then pitch your project to the Kickstarter folks. My “project” was to raise enough money to have my book professionally edited and pay for its setup (cover design, proof copies, Createspace Pro Plan, etc.). Frankly, I think this step is included to make sure that only “creatives” get in the door. They’re very specific about not accepting charity or non-arty business projects. This site is about raising funds for projects with artistic content.

Thankfully, my project was approved and I set about trying to determine the amount of funding I would need. Having priced out the costs listed above (I picked an editor quote somewhere in the middle of the pack) and factoring in Kickstarter’s five percent account fee, I determined I’d need about $2,100.00 to properly prepare Dragonfriend for publication. Kickstarter recommends that you research your costs and pick a sum that is very close to the amount of funds you will actually need. They say that an appropriately priced project is more likely to succeed, and I think that makes sense.

Next, you determine how long you want the project to go. The allowable range is between 30 and 90 days. Kickstarter recommends 30 days, advising that if a project is going to be funded, it’ll usually happen within that period of time. I wish I had listened to them. I chose 45 days, only to have my project achieve full funding at around day 25. You have to wait for the project to play itself out before Kickstarter releases the funds, so I found myself cooling my heels for the balance of time left in the project. Another reason not to inflate your request is that if you don’t reach your funding goal within the allotted time, the project fails and no one (yourself or Kickstarter) gets any money. The backers who pledged prior to fail won’t be charged either, which is good, but you obviously don’t want to fail. In short, determine a reasonable goal and don’t be greedy!

Next, you create your backer “rewards,” attaching fun things like bookmarks, signed copies, and future character naming rights to various donation price points. They encourage you to be inventive, so in addition to those traditional rewards, I added stuff like writing a “fake” unmasking scene from the Scooby Doo series I write on. The backer became the villain and was able to pick the name of their evil alter-ego in a customized script. Sure it’s silly, but three backers ended up receiving scenes thanks to some very generous donations.

Then you press the “launch project” button and get the word out that you’re trying to raise money for a worthy project—asking folks to become true patrons of the arts. I ended up raising $2,205.00, which I promptly put into play by hiring an editor. I chose Iguana Proofreading and opted for their complete package of a manuscript critique and proofreading.

I have nothing but good things to say about my Kickstarter experience. It provided the funds I needed to launch my book. Without it, I’d probably still be going through the manuscript and finding error after error after error…

What about you? Do you have any experience with Kickstarter or tips on hiring a pro editor? Please share them in the comments.

c114e-undrastormur2bcoverA native of St. Louis, Missouri, Roger Eschbacher lives in Los Angeles, California, where he’s worked as a writer/actor for over 30 years. These days he works primarily as a TV animation writer. He has written for shows you’ve heard of like SCOOBY DOO: MYSTERY INCORPORATED, WABBIT, and LITTLEST PET SHOP and a few you haven’t. Along the way he managed to get nominated for an Emmy. He’s the author of the middle-grade fantasy adventure novel Dragonfriend (winner of a 2012 BRAG Medallion) and its sequel Giantkiller. Roger’s most recent work is UNDRASTORMUR: A Viking Tale of Troublesome Trolls, a novelette available on Amazon. He’s also written two children’s picture books, “Road Trip”, and “Nonsense! He Yelled,” both for Penguin. 

For a list of all of , please visit Roger’s LinkedIn profile page.

Visit Roger’s

Writing tip: Whose hose they’re taking there



Confused lady

Flickr – Creative Commons (Attribution-Non-Commerical-Share-Alike License) by Kavlinka

I don’t like to rant about little things, but I’ve seen too many instances where supposedly professional writers and editors use “you’re” when they mean “your” and “it’s” instead of “its.” So, I’m dedicating this post to my quasi-regular “grammar tips” feature in hopes of clearing up the confusion.

Most writers, editors and readers I know are willing to forgive the occasional typo, even if it shows a misunderstanding of the right way to do things in English, as long as the overall quality and meaning of the content is good. But little errors erode your credibility, and especially for new writers or those striving to establish a “platform,” that can be a killer.

The source of confusion, I think, is that in English, apostrophes are used for contraction as well as possession, and sometimes, also, for plurals.

I have two proposals to dispel this confusion.

First proposal: discover the consistency

Consistency in spelling is rare in English, a language that seems to have more exceptions than rules. But when it comes to pronouns, the apostrophe always indicates a contraction. In other words, the apostrophe replaces a letter or two.

It’s = it is—“It’s cold in Winnipeg in January.”

Who’s = who is—“Who’s at the door?”

We’re = we are—“Open up! We’re freezing out here! This is Winnipeg, and it’s January!”

They’re = they are—“You better let them in. They’re confused about the date.”

You’re = you are—”You’re right. It’s November, but it’s still cold.”

That means the respective synonyms without apostrophes are possessive.

Its = belonging to it—“The cat lost its toy under the couch.”

Whose = belonging to who—“Whose cat is that, anyway?”

Their = belonging to them—“They left their cat here because they didn’t want to bring it back to Winnipeg in January.”

Your = belonging to you—”Your cat is very fat.”

Second proposal: eliminate the use of apostrophes as plurals

At one time, the apostrophe was used to pluralize single letters or symbols used as words in text and other unusual cases. For example, “The x’s in the expression represent unknown quantities.” “Make sure you dot your i’s and cross your t’s in the contract.”

The change will take some getting used to, but I think it will reduce confusion among non-professional writers.

What do you think? Does this way of thinking about apostrophes combined with pronouns help you?

Being a trinity: Guest post by Bob Nailor



I’m a writer, a speaker, and an editor. Some consider the combination to be some super being but, in reality, I am just a regular man. In other words, I write, I talk and I correct.

I began life as a writer, the proverbial newbie, who felt he knew it all and had the best novel ever written in history. That particular piece has yet to see light of day and it has been over twenty years since I first put pen to paper. In reality, it was originally hand written with a pen on lined paper. Home computers were in their infancy — can you say Vic20, Atari 400 or even Commodore 64? I saved my first electronic version of that story to a 5.25 inch floppy disk and transferred it to updated technology as it became available. The story now resides in a cloud and is undergoing drastic revisions. As a writer, we grow and learn the craft. In other words, we become skilled writers. With luck, that horribly written story should see light of day within the next year.

But I digress. Being a writer, I attended conferences and seminars, absorbing as much knowledge as I could to improve my writing. I grew. I wrote and I got published. I was making a name for myself within the local writing group. I became the vice-president of the local writing group. I continued to attend the local conference. Due to an emergency, I became friends with the local conference coordinator. She had seen me and knew my name after so many years. She asked me to assist her one year and the following year she asked me do a session on science fiction.

I became a speaker. This was a new experience. I was no longer sitting in the audience — I was the person in front. I was now the fount of knowledge for the attendees. I was the person these people sought to talk to and ask questions of. I loved this new sensation of sharing knowledge. There is a great responsibility with being a speaker. The attendees expect you to know your stuff. Don’t attempt to blue-sky (aka BS) the subject matter. Always remember, somebody in the audience may know than you.

During one of the conferences where I was speaking when I was asked to review a short story. The story was good but needed work. I offered suggestions and corrected some glaring errors. The next thing I knew, I was being offered manuscripts to edit. I became an editor.

Is there any difference between an editor and a writer? Yes. A writer puts words to paper and creates a story. An editor reassembles the words to have more impact and be correct.

Photo by Nic McPhee, Creative Commons license

As an editor, I’ve learned to write better, but as a writer I’ve learned that I am too close to my project to be a proper editor. I use a professional editor, Denise Vitola (http://www.thomas-talks-to-me.com/) to correct my work.

One of the biggest mistakes I feel many writers do is to use “that” when it isn’t needed. I, too, am a horrible abuser and delete hundreds of them from my work before I send it out to my editor. An example: He said that he was going to town. The sentence reads perfectly fine without “that” and is stronger.

Notice I said professional editor earlier? A novel needs professional touches. The cover. Edits. Most of my covers have been done by me with the assistance of professional graphic artists. My latest book, “The Secret Voice” has a cover which is a professional photograph by Edison Goodfellow (http://www.edgoodfellow.com/). With the assistance of Steve Lark (http://printedonalark.com/) I was able to accomplish the graphic lettering and colors on the cover. Yes, of course, the book was edited by Denise Vitola.

I feel being an editor has improved my writing and being a speaker has improved my ability to edit and write. How is that? During speaking engagements, I make contact with others and share ideas which then allow my mind to run rampant with even more ideas. Of course, being a writer also improves my ability to be a speaker. They say: Write what you know. I would say the same holds true for speaking: Speak about what you know. Plus, the editor in me allows me to correct both my writing and my speaking.

I guess now would be a good time to lecture about not using your English teacher aunt as an editor. Why? Simple. She will make sure your sentence structure is grammatically correct and punctuation is proper. What she won’t know is how to correct plot, storyline and scenes which makes the story solid. There is nothing wrong with using your English teacher person for this aspect to get the sentences and punctuation correct, but please, use a professional editor who knows your genre to check the story.

Bio:

My name is Bob Nailor. I’m retired from the US federal government. I was a computer geek and still do some programming yet today. One would think I should have plenty of time to write but I actually seem to have less now. So, to make sure that things work out correctly, I try to force myself to sit down and write. That doesn’t always work. Today, writing is fun and I find it relaxing. I get to visit those fantastic and strange places within my mind and well, if I don’t come back right away, there is no longer somebody behind me writing on a pink sheet of paper.

I live with my wife, Violet, in a ranch home snuggled into a small wooded acre in northwest Ohio. I have four sons and currently have ten grandchildren: seven granddaughters and three grandsons.

My interests are travel (have RV, will travel), gardening, music, cooking and reading. So where do I travel? I’ve been in 46 of the 50 states and strangely, Hawaii is one of the states I’ve visited. I have also visited two of our territories—Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands. Traveling allows me to add the ambiance to my stories and to some of the characters, also. Gardening is a bit gamey since we live in the country and have the wildlife visiting us constantly—deer, rabbits, raccoons, birds, squirrels and many others. So vegetables don’t always make it to harvest but what does is more than tasty. There are flowers, sometimes too many, to keep me busy. Music? I love New Age music and my favorite group is Mannheim Steamroller—and not just because of their fabulous Christmas albums; I was hooked on them before that. I also have created some of my own electronic music which I’ve been told is pretty good. Should I mention cooking? I love to cook and do gourmet cooking. Having worked with Boy Scouts for several years, I have taught many boys the basics of cooking beyond hotdogs and beans. I have won quite a few contests. As to what I read; well, obviously a lot of science fiction, fantasy and some Christian. Horror, romance, adventure and other genres are also great reads when they catch my attention with an intriguing tag line or cover.

Bibliography:

The Secret Voice—an Amish story set in 1961
Pangaea, Eden Lost—a Barclay Havens, relic hunter mis-adventure
Ancient Blood: The Amazona vampire series, 500 years in waiting
Three Steps: The Journeys of Ayrold—an Irish fantasy for today
2012 Timeline Apocalypse—the Mayan calendar comes to an end
52 Weeks of Writing Tips—tips to improve one’s writing ability

My work appears in several anthologies:

Telling Tales of Terror—essays on how to write horror and dark fiction
Mother Goose Is Dead—a collection of favorite fairy tales, fractured
Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology—a collection of unusual zombie tales
The Complete Guide to Writing Paranormal, Volume 1—various essays
Nights of Blood 2—different takes on the vampire story
Guide to Writing Science Fiction—essays on writing science fiction
Firestorm of Dragons—an eclectic collection of dragon stories
Fantasy Writer’s Companion—essays on writing fantasy
13 Night of Blood—13 amazing vampire tales
Spirits of Blue & Gray—a collection of Civil War ghost stories

Drop by the official website and the blog.