Monday, November 29, 2010

Book Review -- Silent Partner by Jennifer Chase

Title of Document: Book Review

Book Title: Silent Partner
Author: Jennifer Chase
ISBN: 978-0-9829536-0-0
Publisher: JEC Press
Genre and Target Market: thriller; fiction; criminal psychology
Publication Date: 2011
Book Length in Pages: 308

Jennifer Chase has rightfully earned a strong fan base following the release of her first two novels to feature heroine Emily Stone—Compulsion and Dead Game. I have been fortunate enough to review both of these books as well as interview the author upon their publication, so it was with great anticipation that I waited to find a copy of her newest release in my hands. And, I was not surprised to find that Chase had produced yet another thrilling page-turner. Silent Partner is a novel that will chill you with the callous evil of its criminals and have you engaged in the dramatic life of Deputy Jack Davis in his dedication to caring for both strangers and loved ones who cross his path.

For those not already familiar with the character of Emily Stone, she is prominent in Chase’s first novels. Stone tracks the pedophiles, rapists, and killers who are terrorizing small towns, gathers evidence against them using technology and great instinct, and then anonymously leaves her files of proof with the local police department before moving on the next case. While Emily Stone does play an important role in Silent Partner, readers should not expect her to be featured as she was in Chase’s previous work. Instead, we are introduced to Deputy Jack Davis. He is a man who is still haunted by what happened in the home of his childhood friend many years ago and, upon a chance reunion, realizes that the girl who watched her mother die at the hands of her father is still living the nightmare every day.

The reemerging relationship between Davis and his childhood friend, Megan O’Connell, is set against a series of vicious murders that are carried out by men who seem to carry no remorse or sense of value to human life. It is during these scenes, in which Chase calls upon her expertise in the field of forensic psychology, that I believe her writing is at its finest. I found myself having a physical reaction to the brutality faced by some of the victims in the book and the killer’s thirst for more violence and blood. And, the way in which Chase weaves her multiple storylines and characters together makes for a shocking ending. Even though I was anticipating a twist as the book progressed, the final scenes took me in a direction that I did not expect.

The emotional heart of this book comes from the mutual love that exists between the humans and their dogs. From Jack Davis and his K-9 dog Keno to Megan and Eddie, whose need for an emergency trip to the vet is the only reason that the troubled woman can force herself to leave her home, the importance of a loyal dog is a theme throughout Silent Partner. In fact, this special bond is the inspiration for the book’s title. Jennifer Chase often shares the love for her own dogs on her website and other writings, and I know the words used to express the adoration between dog and owner could only come from a person who carried those feelings in her heart.

Silent Partner forms a definite break with the previous offerings by Jennifer Chase in both its style and perspective. Two constants in all of Chase’s work, though, are the quality of the story development and the rich psychological insight. When you add a spotlight to members of our law enforcement who often go unheralded, the trained dogs, Silent Partner is another wonderful product. Whether you already count yourself among Jennifer Chase’s followers and were waiting for the release of this new book or you are discovering this author for the first time, Silent Partner is a compelling read.
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Keyboard Shortcuts When Using Microsoft Word

by Yvonne Perry

Most PC users have Microsoft Office and use Word as the word processing software on the their computers. There are several keyboard shortcuts that can be utilized to make working in Word faster. And, we all know that faster means a better use of our time.

Right click is your friend! The mouse has a right and left button. Each accesses different option menus. You may copy, cut, paste, change font settings, adjust your paragraph settings, create bulleted or numbered lists, add a hyperlink, look up a word online, find a synonym, get a translation of a word in another language, or adjust your style settings by utilizing the right click button.

This next feature comes in handy when your document is large and there are many occurrences of a word or phrase. Pressing Ctrl and F together (Ctrl+F) opens a box that allows you to type in the word or exact phrase that you are looking for in your document. Type the word or phrase in the box that reads: “Find what.” Click OK and Word will start from the point in your document where your cursor is located and find the next word or phrase that is exactly as you typed in the search. Click “find next” to go to the next place that word or phrase appears in your document.

To replace that particular word or word phrase, click the “replace” tab at the top of the search box and type the word or phrase you want to substitute in the “replace with” box . If you click “replace,” Word will replace one at a time so you may review each change or all of the occurrences at the same time. If you select “replace all,” Word will replace all occurrences of the word or phrase at one time. If you need to select words that are only lower or uppercase, explore the More >> button on the left hand side near the bottom of the box.

In this same search box, you may click on the “go to” tab and locate a particular page number. This is very useful if you have a lot of pages to scroll through but you know that you want to be on a certain page. Just type in a page number and Word will take you there. This option is also accessed by Ctrl+G.

Pressing Ctrl+A will highlight everything in your document.

Pressing Ctrl+C will allow you to copy the text currently highlighted onto your clipboard. If you used Ctrl+A, it will copy everything in that doc!

Pressing Ctrl+V will paste whatever was last copied to your clipboard.

Pressing Ctrl+X will cut the currently highlighted text.

Pressing Ctrl+Z will un-do whatever change you just made.

Ctrl+S will save your document to the last place it was saved. If it hasn’t been saved yet, it will open the “save as” option so you may specify where you want it saved.

Highlight the text you want to use to “hide” a URL. Press Ctrl+K to open the box. Type in the URL in the bottom blank where it reads “address” and click okay. You can also use the drop down menu to show and select from recently used URLs.

Pressing Ctrl+Home will take you to the very top of a document.

Pressing Ctrl+End will take you to the very end of a document.

These are only some of the shortcuts Word has to offer. And, did you know that many of these commands will also work when you are browsing the Internet? Give it a try!

If you are interested in a class to learn more advanced features of MS Word and formatting your book, let me know.

Yvonne Perry is a freelance writer, author and keynote speaker who enjoys assisting people on a spiritual path. She is a graduate of American Institute of Holistic Theology where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Metaphysics. She is the owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services—a team of freelance writers and editors located in Nashville, Tennessee. She is the author of The Sid Series, a book that build self-esteem and empower young ones to follow inner guidance and overcome fear. She has also authored More Than Meets the Eye: True Stories about Death, Dying and Afterlife, a book designed to help people release their fear of death, and comfort those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

iPad’s Writer App: Another Toy for Distracted Writers

Distractions abound for writers, especially those of us who work from home. While most of our friends are jealous of the fact that we could choose to work from our own beds if we wished, they forget that it also means:

1. We are tempted to perform household chores because we’re in the house, anyway.

2. We are tempted to answer the home phone as well as our cell phones (and update our Twitter accounts, our Facebook statuses, our blogs. . . .).

3. We are surrounded by our children, our whiny pets, and the Internet, our greatest friend and nemesis.

Distracting Writing Programs

Writers have enough distractions outside the screens of our computers, but at times, our own writing platforms can be distracting. In fact, many of us prefer typewriters or simple programs like NotePad to steer clear of petty playthings like styles, links, and incorrect autocorrections. While those can be nice in editing phases of our work, the point of the first draft is to transfer the ideas in our heads to paper (or screen). Our clutches on The Muse can slip easily, however, when the talking paperclip slinks into the corner of our screens or we just don’t like the font with which we’re working.

iPad’s Writer

Information Architects claims to have found a solution for such distracted writers. The iPad’s new app, called Writer, has a simplified interface without all the fancy Microsoft Word touches. Writer takes it back to the old school so it’s much like typewriting without the clacking and pinging.

A few intuitive modes make the writer’s job easier. For example, the “Focus Mode” fades out everything on the screen but the current three lines of text the writer has written. This keeps writers intent on writing more rather than editing or rereading what’s already been written. Editing too early in the first draft not only loosens our clutches on The Muse but it also hampers our progress (making it easier to slip into the dreaded block) and destroys the organic structure of our lines of thought. “Focus Mode” makes us write now, edit later.

Those of us visually inclined spend much time fiddling with fonts and styles—Writer takes this out of the equation but makes its own typeface conducive to distraction-free, focused writing. In fact, Information Architects consulted several type, screen, and graphic designers before deciding on the font Nitti Light, a readable, simple, yet pleasing typewriter-esque font. The iPad can also be used in both landscape and portrait modes with column width, text size, and contrast best for any writer’s eye.

Just Another Toy

While Apple and Information Architects have the right idea, this seems like just another toy for already distracted writers. Focus is most easily influenced by environment and state of mind—having a personal office with strongly enforced work and play hours, turning the phone off, and using a different browser for research and writing versus social media and online shopping are just the beginnings to being focused writer.

While a Spartan and intuitive writing platform might help some writers, they would most likely still be sidetracked by existing distractions the iPad can’t cure. The cat will still meow at the door and the dog will still get into trouble. The dishes will still need doing and your friends who assume that because you work from home you have free time will invite you out for a night on the town. Rather than spending money and experimenting with writing platforms, writers should focus, instead, on clearing their environments and minds of distractions. A weed can only be removed by its root.

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching various online programs and blogging about student life issues. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.
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Monday, November 22, 2010

Ctrl + F Your Work (but still hire us…)

By: Dianna Calareso, WITS writer and editor

Often when I return a manuscript to a client with my revisions and general comments, I hear back, “Oh, I can’t believe I did that!” or “I can’t believe I missed that!” or “I feel so stupid!”

Do not feel stupid. Ever. We are here to help you, and we are that odd type of person that just loves digging in and fixing the tiny things that make a huge difference in a manuscript.

But if you’d like to learn a few tricks of the trade for self-editing, read on. I believe that a good, thorough self-edit makes a writer more self-confident, more prolific, and more eager to make the big revisions, the ones we still hope you’ll ask us to do!

*Nota bene: All of the below examples are mistakes I have not only seen in many manuscripts, but made on my own. If you fall into one of these categories, do not lose heart – we’ve all been there! This is not to push you deep into despair, but to offer a very easy escape from common writing traps.

Ctrl + F: This incredibly simple “find” feature will help you rid yourself of those terrible filler words (really, just, very, etc.). Filler words are a common sickness of the first draft, because the writer still hasn’t taken full authority of the piece. These fillers tell the reader, “I’m not quite ready to come out and say what I need to say, so chew on these words while I work up the confidence.” You don’t need them – do a simple word find, delete, and voila! I suggest using this feature for other common piece-killers, like most adverbs (especially added to the end of dialogue tags), pet names (you know, sweetheart, it’s just so annoying to read, babe), and my two least favorite word constructions in the English language (described below).

Adverbs: These are almost always unnecessary. Yes, I know that sometimes you absolutely have to describe the appallingly rude way he shouted or the beautifully designed gem-encrusted sword sheath. But by definition, isn’t a rude shout always appalling? Isn’t a gem-encrusted sword sheath obviously beautiful? My point is not that adverbs are bad, but that they are often repetitive. Read the two examples: “I hate you!” he shouted angrily as he threw the book across the room. “I hate you!” he shouted, throwing the book across the room. The clues “hate,” “shouted,” and “threw the book” tell the reader this character is angry. There’s no need to coddle your reader to remind him/her that hate, shouting, and throwing are signs of anger. Trust your reader! And then Ctrl + F the adverbs away.

Pet names: I’ll be brief with pet names, because I know some of you will disagree with me: I hate them. Now and then, a simple “honey” works between two people in a relationship, or between a parent and child. But if you include a pet name in every interaction, your reader will not only be annoyed, but more importantly, distracted. Think about going out to dinner with a couple. You are all talking, but they never use each other’s real names – only “honey,” “sweetie,” “babe,” and “sugar bear” (blech!). Are you absorbing everything you could from the conversation? Or are you thinking you’d like to throw rocks at your friends? Even if your reaction is not that violent, you will find this kind of interaction distracting – and distraction takes away from the real story you are trying to tell. Ctrl + F, sweetheart, so I can focus on the story.

Began to: This phrase (and its ugly sister “started to”) is possibly my biggest pet peeve as an editor. “She began to walk towards him. He started to drive. She began to start thinking about beginning to look away.” No! “She walked towards him. He drove. She looked away.” Ahh…isn’t that refreshing? See how clear, confident, and direct those sentences are? There are few cases when “began to” and “started to” are truly necessary, but most of the time they are weak fillers that tell the reader you’re not ready to let your character make her own decisions and walk towards somebody. Begin to start trying to think about beginning to start deleting these extra words (using an easy Ctrl + F search for “began” and “started”). Get to the action!

Was –ing: He was crying, she was looking, they were thinking, he was walking, she was talking. While this construction can be effective (if you are setting up one character to be interrupted by the action of another, for example), it can also slow down your writing like a barrel tied to the back of a shark (Jaws? Anyone?). Immediacy in writing is important because a) readers are quickly bored and distracted and b) readers are quickly critical of writers. Fair? No. But true – you need to sell yourself as the ultimate authority on the piece you are writing, and immediacy is one of the most effective ways to show that you are there, you know the story, and you can tell it better than anyone. Use Ctrl + F to search for “was,” and whenever possible, make the verb immediate. Instead of “he was looking,” “he looked.” Instead of “she was thinking,” “she thought.”

I’m a writer, too. I have my favorite writing styles, quirks, and yes, adverbs. But as an editor I want to see your best writing come through on the page, instead of bogged down by extra words, distracting names, and self-conscious verb constructions. This type of editing will allow you to submit a more polished manuscript, allowing us to get past the nitty-gritty and into the joyous work of fleshing out characters, revamping plot lines, and cleaning up chapters. That’s the real fun isn’t it? C’mon honey, I know you can do it!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Welcome Blog Joggers!

Today is Blog Jog Day, sponsored by Carol Denbow, and I hope everyone signed up to participate for a hearty round of blog reading.

Those who jog by here today are encouraged to sign up for Writers in the Sky's Fabulous Friday Newsletter and get two free e-books as a gift to thank you for becoming part of our writing community.

While you are here, you may want to join the community of writers and readers on this e-zine blog where you will find a ton of information about writing, publishing, and book marketing. We accept announcements, book reviews, poetry, and articles from our readers to post on this site. If you are interested please see our submission guidelines.

If you didn't enter the drawing to win Vila Spiderhawk's book, you may want to jog by after you are done here.

The next stop on this blog jog is Chelle Cordero’s blog, If you would like to visit a different Blog in the jog, go to

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Friday, November 19, 2010

17 Ways for Writers to Publish Their Content

By Joel Friedlander

As self-publishers we usually think of books as the primary way we distribute our ideas, our stories, or our teaching—in other words, our content. Books certainly are the best delivery vehicle for long content, for collections from a variety of writers, or for explaining complex ideas and providing a text to study over a long period of time.

In this age of chunked content, re-purposed content, and the many different ways to re-use your old content, there are more ways than ever to publish interesting, educational or entertaining ideas. You know that the internet, blogs, article sites, multimedia presentations and many other online formats make use of text in different ways. The flexibility of ebooks also clearly shows that the text we prize so highly is still data, and can be manipulated in lots of ways. Each of these formats represents another channel through which you can let people know about your ideas, your books, or your community.

It just makes sense to explore these content channels. When you also get a link back to your website or blog you’re not only spreading your ideas, but enhancing your traffic. If you are selling from your website, either directly or indirectly this will also affect your bottom line.

It’s unlikely that anyone could make use of all these different ways to publish content, but it’s amazing how many of them might fit with the subjects you’re writing about now.

17 Ways to Publish Your Content

1. Printed book—the standard-bearer for long text for the last 500 years, looks like it still has life as a text delivery system.

2. Ebook—the future of text, according to many. Common workflow today is to prepare the print book first then use the final text to generate ebooks in multiple formats for use on different readers.

3. App(lication)—the rise of the app stores has created another opportunity for publishers. Whether you just package your book as an app, or incorporate some of the functionality of today’s smart phones, you gain access to tens of millions of smart phone owners, a vast new market.

4. Audiobook—recording someone reading your content gives you access to people who like to listen, rather than read, for enjoyment or education.

5. Serialization—A favorite for fiction writers for a couple of hundred years, issuing your story in episodes can present a long story in bite-size chunks, making it easier to approach for today’s attention-challenged readers. And a great way to use social media status updates.

6. Blog—writers are constantly being exhorted to start blogs, build their audience and thereby spread their message. Blogs also thrust your content into the social media space, where readers can give you instant feedback.

7. Articles—massive article sites like aggregate articles you can take from your book, or which you write with an eye on keywords and web traffic, allowing you to passively spread your message, and links to your website, throughout the web.

8. Teleseminar—this audio format using either telephone lines or teleconferencing software creates a de facto classroom in which you or a panel of speakers discuss ideas and take questions from the audience.

9. Webinar—similar to a teleseminar but with video and visuals, webinars are becoming increasingly popular as a means to connect with interested readers and deliver your content with the addition of slides or other visual aids.

10. E-course—delivered primarily by email, an e-course presents your ideas or instruction on a particular topic one lesson at a time. This is a robust and growing form of at-home training and education.

11. Workshops—gathering a group of students at a physical location, workshops give you the chance for one-on-one interaction with students and may vary from just a few people to hundreds of attendees.

12. Free reports—using one piece of your content as a freebie, perhaps in exchange for an email opt in, helps spread your message. Sites such as and give you a global platform for distributing your ideas this way.

13. Infographics—some ideas, processes or new ways of looking at existing data can be incorporated brilliantly into a graphical presentation. If your infographic becomes popular, it can easily go viral and spread to a huge audience.

14. Interviews—the question-and-answer format of interviews can be very useful for giving potential readers a good idea of what you are writing about. And interviews inject a welcome personal element that allows those readers to appreciate you on a personal level.

15. Animation—do-it-yourself animation tools can help you put your ideas into a form that more people may appreciate. Videos like Zoe Winters’ Zoe Who? videos, reach audiences that may never have seen your book.

16. Web video—establishing your own channel and issuing videos that describe common applications of your ideas, or in which you read from your book and answer questions, for instance, gives you yet another way to connect to those people who would rather watch than read.

17. Speaking engagements—as an author you are already an expert in your niche. New processes or new ways of thinking about things can easily become the basis for motivational or educational speaking opportunities, content you can adapt from your book.

So there you have it, 17 ways you can slice, dice, stir-fry and serve your content to whole worlds of readers who may not have heard of you before.

So many of these venues for content are new, unleashed by the power of the internet to connect people with similar interests. It’s undeniable that even more methods of content publication will be coming as web 2.0 matures.

What have I left off? Are there other ways you’ve published content that I don’t have on my list? I’d love to hear.

Joel Friedlander is a self-published author, a book designer and blogs about book design, self-publishing and the indie publishing life at He's also the proprietor of Marin Bookworks, where he helps publishers and authors who decide to publish get to market on time and on budget with books that are both properly constructed and beautiful to read.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Special Offer on to Download The Drawing Lesson by Mary Martin

Mary Martin is a lawyer turned full time writer. Her law practice inspired the three legal suspense novels in The Osgoode Trilogy.

Now the first book in the next trilogy has been published—The Drawing Lesson, the first in The Trilogy of Remembrance, which is set in the world of art. Mary Martin and her husband live in Toronto and we have three adult children.

Synopsis of The Drawing Lesson, the first in the Trilogy of Remembrance.

With magical light, Alexander Wainwright, Britain’s finest landscape artist, creates stunning visions of the beyond. His painting, The Hay Wagon, wins the Turner Prize. His nemesis, Rinaldo, a conceptual artist seeks revenge. Despite his win, Alexander fears the loss of his muse. Seized with a vision, he paints ugly, misshapen, humanoid creatures on his canvas. Searching for his muse, Alex travels from London to Venice and New York, where Rinaldo awaits him to settle the score. But the real journey is within Alexander. Only by saving his tormentor not once, but twice, does he regain his artistic vision.

Special Offer!!  You can download The Drawing Lesson by Mary Martin on to your Kindle for only 99 cents!  This is a limited time offer!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Calling for Submissions for December!

It's time for me to start putting together more fantastic and information-filled blogs for December 2010. That means I need you to send me your book reviews, articles, announcements, and brags to be included on our e-zine blog.

Read our guidelines for submitting here. Remember, the better your piece is written, the better attention and credibility it receives--and the less editing I have to do.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Book with a View November 2010

Book Title: Confessions of an Ex-Gun Dealer
Author: Ludwig Sawicki
ISBN: 143275839X
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Link to purchase:
Reviewer: Vonnie Faroqui for WITS

A Side Splitter with Bang Appeal.

Since we are into confessions . . . I have one of my own to make. I am a bleeding heart liberal, love animals and although I am not anti-gun I am close to it. When I first picked up this book I was skeptical about how fair I could be to the author and what kind of review I would give. That being said, I really, truly, deeply enjoyed this book.

Southern gentlemen and the Irish aren't the only natural storytellers. Author Ludwig Sawicki can spin out a tale with the best of them. Confessions of an Ex-Gun Dealer is a humorous, intelligent, straight shooting, and honest memoir that reveals much about life. No time is wasted in political correctness and yet the book has a charm about it that allows the reader to remain comfortable, even when challenged with setting aside personal bias.

Sawicki’s love of guns is infectious. His knowledge and experience is vast and yet woven into the book with such ease one hardly realizes they are receiving an education. There is an incredible level of joy and love conveyed in every character description and tale. The people and accounts shared by the author seem to come alive.

There are strange things done by men with guns, for the love of the hunting trail . . .

This is a great book for anyone who enjoys the hunting and the shooting sports but it is also a wonderful study in human resilience, determination, and character. The book is full of life experience and wisdom, business acumen, and best of all laughter. Sawicki is damn funny and an astute observer of human nature.

Book Title: How We Beat Diabetes
Author: Ronald S. Brown
ISBN: 1453541012
Publisher: Xlibris
Reviewer: Vonnie Faroqui for WITS

Useful and Encouraging

Diabetes is no laughing matter. How We Beat Diabetes is a meticulous chronicle of one family’s battle to reverse the disease. As a type two diabetic myself, I found the content of this volume to be interesting and informative. I was inspired by the quality and care taken to record the diabetes control detail and testing results. As a reference it is useful and informative, but not very personal.. The book does not include a chapter or interview with Mrs. Brown about how she felt before, during, or after making the changes in her lifestyle.

There are about 50 pages of written background information and support, with the remainder of the book being dedicated to records of the diabetes control detail. This informational section was helpful in understanding the therapeutic lifestyle changes taken. The author was able to inspire confidence that the choices made were based on proven practices, with the diabetes control detail and testing results as evidence supporting the regimen’s merit.

Although I am not a medical expert, I found the book to be encouraging and helpful. I learned a few things I didn’t know and am thankful to Ron for his work and to his family for sharing their journey.

Doctors will tell patients to keep records but knowing what information is pertinent or how to record the diabetes control detail is something a diabetic is left to figure out alone. The mental toll for a person with diabetes can be very intense and a defeatist attitude is not uncommon. How We Beat Diabetes provides an example, a model for record keeping. Being able to see the success obtained through diet changes, diet supplements and exercise as recorded in the book is inspiring. I find myself wondering if I can recreate the Brown family’s success in my own life.

Book Title: The Drawing Lesson, the first in the Trilogy of Remembrance
Author: Mary E. Martin
ISBN: 978-1-4502-2936-4
Publisher: iUniverse
Year of Publication 2010
Link to purchase: Available on Amazon.comReviewer: Sue Magee,

Alexander Wainwright is the UK's premier artist. He's just won the Turner with The Hay Wagon – a painting with a luminous, moonlit landscape. He should be at the peak of his powers, but he's about to lose his muse and, more worryingly, there seems to be something wrong with his sight and the year to come is going to be traumatic. The story of it is told by his friend, art dealer Jamie Helmsworth, who has pieced together what he knows, what he's heard – and used a little artistic licence to fill in the gaps. It's a most unusual story which will take you deep into the world of artists and writers.

I loved Helmsworth – a sensitive man, conscious that he is not an artist but a man of commerce – and he tells Wainwright's story, which moves from London to Venice, Toronto and New York with a very English restraint and an obvious sympathy for his friend's predicament. There is no prize in art more coveted than the Turner and every winner has their detractors.

Rinaldo wouldn't admit to jealousy, maintaining that the time for love of beauty in paintings is past, but he takes his revenge by defacing The Hay Wagon. Wainwright could probably cope with this, but it's not enough for Rinaldo, who wants to destroy the man and not just his art.

Most troubling for Wainwright – and for Jamie Helmsworth – are the visions he has of ugly, misshapen, humanoid creatures. Seeing them in his mind is bad enough but before long he's driven to introduce them into his paintings. It's his search for their meaning which takes him first to Venice and then to North America. The people he meets, each with their own story to tell, shine lights into forgotten corners of his psyche. I loved his meeting with the man who rode a hay wagon just like the one he had painted - and the couple on a journey to remember their daughter. The meetings are like a mirror which gently distorts an image until it becomes something which can be accepted.

Mary Martin has a real skill when it comes to lifting her characters off the page in very few words. Relatively minor personalities have stayed with me long after I finished reading the book and she's equally good with places. I know London well and frequently found myself walking the streets with Wainwright and when you're in the Turbine Gallery at the Tate Modern you'll feel the vast space around you. Superb.

The plot is a real page-turner, but there were a couple of points which pulled me out of it. Jamie Helmsworth occasionally slips into North American English, which is a little disconcerting and without spoiling the plot too much (I hope!) if Wainwright was young enough to win the Turner he must have been particularly precocious in his pre-teens. Suspend disbelief though and you'll find a book which is well-worth the read. I'm very much looking forward to parts two and three of the trilogy, despite the fact that The Drawing Lesson reads well as a stand-alone.

I'd like to thank the author for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

I always feel that it can be something of a burden to compare a relatively unknown author to one of the greats, but whilst I was reading this book and as I've thought about it since my mind has been taken back to Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje because of the way that seemingly unconnected stories build to form a greater story. If you enjoy one then I think that you will appreciate the other.

Book Title: Conduct in Question, the first in The Osgoode Trilogy
Author: Mary E. Martin
ISBN: 0-595-35820-9
Publisher: iUniverse 2005
Link to purchase:
Reviewer Byline Norm Goldman, Book Pleasures

Toronto based author Mary E. Martin, who at one time practiced law in a small estates firm, has made a promising foray into the mystery arena with her debut novel Conduct in Question: The First In A Trilogy.

Martin's principal protagonist, Harry Jenkins, is portrayed as an honest and sincere general family solicitor specializing in estate law, who finds himself over his head, as he becomes innocently involved in money laundering and murder.

The story unfolds when Jenkins witnesses his partner Richard Crawford drop dead in front of him, as a result of a massive heart attack-leaving Jenkins the sole remaining partner in the law firm of Crane, Crawford and Jenkins.

Prior to his death, Crawford had instructed Jenkins to draw up a trust for one of the firm's clients, Marjorie Deighton. Jenkins had also just received a retainer of two hundred thousand dollars from a new client, Albert Chin, who had been referred to him by one of his colleagues. The sum was to be used to purchase several parcels of land that were located very near Marjorie Deighton's property. Jenkins suspects something fishy, however, the lure of earning some “big bucks” causes him to turn a blind eye and not to delve too closely into the source of these funds or the client's motives as to why he wishes to purchase the real estate.

When Jenkins tries to deposit the two hundred thousand dollars in his trust account, the teller informs him that the assistant manager, Mr. Mudhali, wishes to have a word with him. After being ushered into Mudhali's office, Jenkins is informed that the firm's line of credit of fifty thousand dollars is in arrears and in order for him to deposit the two hundred thousand dollars he will be required to immediately repay the arrears. Completely taken aback, Jenkins is further astonished to discover that Crawford pledged the firm's account as his own personal line of credit for a loan of five hundred thousand dollars. How was this possible without Jenkin's signature?

Placed into a very difficult situation, Jenkins realizes that if he fails to clear the arrears, the trust account would be frozen and he would be obliged to return the retainer to Chin. Against his better judgment, Jenkins uses fifty thousand dollars of the trust funds to pay the arrears and the balance he deposits into the firm's trust account.

While all of this is going on, we learn that there is a serial killer on the loose in Toronto named the florist , who after murdering his victims, carves rose petals on their bodies. To add a little more suspense, Marjorie Deighton dies under very suspicious circumstances, leaving as her legatees her two nieces, Katherine and Suzannah and a nephew, Gerry. However, complicating matters is that Marjorie Deighton's last will, that was prepared by Harry Jenkins, seems to have been misplaced, lost or stolen. The previous will had bequeathed the house to her niece Suzannah, while the last will had the estate divided into three equal shares, including the house.

Martin whips up a highly original plot spicing it with a mix of some psychological horror. All of the characters are subtly interwoven into the threads of the story, and with its quick pace and gruesome details, the novel is an auspicious inauguration to Martin's trilogy.

Norm Goldman is the Editor of the Book Reviewing and Author Interviewing site comprises over 25 international reviewers that come from all walks of life and that review all genre.
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The Second Mile Award 2010 Winner!

Several of you may have entered an essay for Second Mile Award 2010 sponsored by Janet Riehl and her father. We congratulate the winner, Tom Hoe, age 95, of Montana. Here is Janet’s notice thanking all of you who nominated elders who live an ordinary life in an extraordinary way.

Dear Riehlife Villagers,

We read about so many remarkable elders as we sifted through the nominations for the 2010 Second Mile Award. Nominees ranged from 78 to 95 and come from coast to coast.

We had our work cut out to choose our 2010 winner--Mr. Tom Hoe, a 95 year old musician and story teller, who continues to go the extra mile. Read Jan Beekman's essay nominating Tom: "How to Grow in Grace and Experience but Never Grow "Old"

We've selected two honorable mentions: Joe Taylor and Helen G. O'Leary. The essays nominating these two elders are coming soon.

All the best,

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Promoting Your Book Using YouTube

By Vonnie Faroqui

The era of publishers marketing books for authors is gone. Traditional publishing houses are no longer flush with funds and are not willing or able to promote the majority of the books they publish. If you are a self-published author you have always been responsible for marketing your books. Publishers, both independent and conventional, are increasingly advising authors to promote themselves online using virtual blog tours, podcast interviews, book trailers, and through the popular Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube social networking sites. The difficulty arises in knowing how to use these tools. Unless you are a teenager or surfing the Internet has become a major part of your life, you may not see all the marketing opportunities. You probably don’t know what to do, where to go, or understand how to integrate social networking into your marketing strategy as a means of redirecting internet traffic to your author home page, where readers can buy your book.

Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services [WITS] offers authors assistance with promotions, including consultation and management for a growing number of social network marketing strategies. This week we would like to highlight one aspect of social networking that will help you bring your book to the world market of YouTube.

YouTube was founded in February 2005 and has risen to become the world's most popular online video community. YouTube allows “. . . millions of people to discover, watch, and share originally-created videos.” It does this by allowing “. . . people to easily upload and share video clips on and across the Internet through Web sites, mobile devices, blogs, and e-mail.”

If you are not familiar with the Internet jargon . . .

YouTubing: is surfing the wave of Internet video posting.

YouTuber: is one who surfs the YouTube wave.

There are an estimated 30 million new video posts uploaded to YouTube every day from across the globe, in every language, with YouTube currently reporting “. . . 2 billion videos viewed a day [and a] . . . user base age range of 18-55, evenly divided between males and females, and spanning all geographies. Fifty-one percent . . . of users go to YouTube weekly or more often, and 52 percent of 18-34 year-olds share videos often with friends and colleagues.” ~

This is important to authors because the reading audience is hanging out and being entertained on YouTube and we want them to find, buy, and read our books.

What Can I Do As An Author to Benefit from YouTube?

The first thing you need to do as an author is to have fun! Go exploring. Familiarize yourself with what YouTube has to offer. In the beginning you probably won’t have any videos of your own created or you will need to have a way of attracting YouTubers to your video clips. If you are going to attract attention you need to understand what YouTubers are looking for, to be where they are, and to do what they are doing.

• Search for videos related to your own interests, e.g. video clips that share your book’s genre or major themes

• Create your own YouTube login account and channel (see WITS’ channel

• Keep your personal YouTube channel separate from your author channel

• Decide on a focus of interest for your author channel, choosing a genre, topics, or themes that relate to your book or that are in harmony with your book’s message

• Create playlists by theme on your channel

• Surf YouTube, using key words to find video clips you like, and begin adding videos to the playlists you’ve created under your chosen themes. By creating a playlist using other people’s videos, you are tapping into and harnessing pre-established searches. This saves time spent building a following and it places your author interview or book trailers where they can be seen.

• Post your author site URL and information through your YouTube channel to redirect traffic where your book is available.

• Use the subscription functions of YouTube to allow others to become a fan of your channel

• Allow followers to make comments. Even negative comments attract viewers and sell books. Google recommends, for increased search engine ratings and site traffic, that you do not monitor or block commenting.

• Become someone else’s fan and make comments on your favorite video posts. Leaving comments will create a back trail or back-link that allows others to find your playlists and video material

• Begin creating your own video vignettes, between 1-3 minutes in length is ideal.

• Have a trailer created for your book.

• Seek out video interview opportunities like those offered by WITS.

• Use video blogging on YouTube to talk about your book or current projects

• Key word tags are used to assist searching for and finding videos. Don’t forget to set up key word tags to any playlists and video clips you create

In this way you can begin to use YouTube to redirect traffic to an author site where your book is available. YouTube is a key component to integrating social networking into a marketing strategy and it isn’t necessary to have videos of your own created in order to begin benefitting.

VonnieFaroqui is WITS’s marketing assistant in charge of helping authors with online book promotion such as arranging virtual book tours and writing book reviews, author bios, media kits, and sell sheets. She also provides project management for online book publicity campaigns and virtual blog tours. As the WITS Podcast coordinator, Vonnie schedules guests interviews for our writing show, creates promotional pieces to feature authors on our blog, writes articles and media releases, and serves as one of our podcast hosts.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Book Proposals: Going the Extra Mile for Our Clients

By Martin Smith

Of all the writing services we provide, it strikes me that book proposals offer writers one of the best opportunities to serve our clients over and beyond the call of duty. Let me explain.

I recently completed a book proposal for the president of a management consulting firm whose specialty is applying behavioral applications in the workplace. One such approach focused on improving interactions and collaborations in group settings, specifically meetings that take place in business, academia, non-profit organizations, governmental bodies, and community organizations.

One of the venues the consultant had applied his methods to was a homeowners’ association meeting. If you’ve ever been to one of these meetings then you understand how chaotic and frustrating the experience can be. What gets done is often a function of who yells the loudest. The association president, a position rotated annually, often does not have the requisite organizational skills to conduct a meeting. Mass confusion reigns and it often gets in the way of rendering a decision in the interests of the homeowners.

In researching published books, I found dozens whose subject is improving group interaction and collaboration in a business setting. Literally dozens. I realized that the consultant’s chances of getting yet another one published were slim to none.

However, I could not find a single book that provided a definitive method to help association homeowners work through the task of producing tangible results without alienating participants. Based on that I persuaded the consultant to focus on subjects such as the homeowners’ association and other similar community meetings where ordinary citizens need to come together and resolve problems for the common good. He agreed to focus on that and drop the other applications. I wrote the book proposal and contacted two editors of large New York City publishing companies I’ve worked with before to test my assumption. They both thought the idea had merit and agreed to read the book proposal. Today the consultant is shopping the book around using an email query I wrote for him along with a targeted list of literary agents and publishers. One or both of the contacts I made for him may come through. But even if neither does, his chances of attracting other editors are now greatly improved because his proposed book is aimed at an unaddressed niche in the market.

Book proposals present abundant opportunities to help our clients. Writers in the Sky wants to provide each of our clients with the same invaluable service. Email Martin today at scribesmith2008 at gmail dot com.


Martin Smith is a retired small-company president who writes on business, management, and senior and health issues. The author of sixteen nonfiction books and six published novels, two of which were optioned for film, Martin has written articles for periodicals such as Quality Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Maximum Fitness, and INC. While working as a ghostwriter for Wordworks, a book packaging firm, he wrote three business/management books. He also worked as a career advisor for senior-level managers, preparing resumes, portfolios, and press kits for executives seeking to change jobs.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Nominate an Elder for the Second Mile Award

The nominee should be 75 years or older, a person of connection, creativity, and character. Has lived an ordinary life in an extraordinary way. The person nominated who claims the award receives $500.

To find out how to nominate an Elder, learn more about the award, the meaning of the Second Mile, and my father's life go to this link: $500 for 2010 award holder.

Janet Riehl

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Calling for Submissions for November 2010

It's time for me to start putting together more fantastic and information-filled blogs for November 2010. That means I need you to send me your book reviews, articles, contest announcements, and brags to be included on our e-zine blog.

Read our guidelines for submitting here. Remember, the better your piece is written, the better attention and credibility it receives--and the less editing I have to do.

Article Marketing: Promoting Your Book

By Vonnie Faroqui

Daily we at WITS are consulted by authors about book promotion and how to drive traffic to an author homepage. One powerful and non intrusive tactic for marketing your book and driving Web traffic is through the intelligent use of article marketing.

Bloggers and other online or print publications use sites like, ABC Article Directory, and to obtain free content that is available for republication. These article database sites specialize in collecting the most up-to-date articles, on a variety of different topics and making those articles available for reprint. Articles on these sites are available for use free of charge and may be reprinted any number of times by multiple publications.

WITS utilizes these sites to promote our authors and their books through article placement and marketing. We create content-rich, key-word optimized articles on topics that either introduce readers to a book and author or refer to an author’s work as a reference guide of unique knowledge and experience on a theme.

Articles we have written are reprinted across the Internet and through conventional print media, giving our authors a broad range of exposure. But, the benefit of article marketing doesn’t stop there. It is not necessary for an article to be republished in order to be found and read online by your audience. Simply being placed in one of these databases opens an opportunity for your book and your name to enter the online stream of communication. These articles and database sites are also available to internet users surfing the web using key word search engines like This makes article placement and marketing even more effective.

To learn more about article marketing visit our author promotions page at Writers in the Sky.
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Writers in the Sky Podcast Schedule November 2010

On November 5, Vonnie Faroqui will interview author Nicholas Oliva, whose book, Finding God: To Believe or Not to Believe, explores the world of science, religion, and atheism. The book includes the author’s account of his own near death experience. In the interview Oliva shares the considerations and risks involved in writing his book and how he found a publisher for it.

On November 12, author Ron Brown shares his book, How We Beat Diabetes. In an era when challenging the established medical practice and questioning a physician’s healthcare management choices are frowned upon, author Ron Brown dares to share his family’s battle with Diabetes and how they overcame disease. Vonnie Faroqui will ask the author why he felt compelled to write a book sharing his experience with the world.

On November 19, WITS presents the Confessions of an Ex-Gun Dealer, by Ludwig Sawicki. Author and host discuss common perceptions about gun ownership, laugh together at life and situational humor, and reflect on the power of positive thinking. Sawicki will talk about his writing and publishing choices and read an excerpt from his memoirs.

The podcast series for November ends on the 26th in an interview with Grandmother Elsie Spruill, author of Say It: I'm No Bitch, I'm No Ho, and I'm More Than Just Another Vagina. The author loving yet firmly addresses a culture of sexual promiscuity and its impact on today’s youth culture. Join WITS host Vonnie Faroqui as they discuss the motivation for and approach to writing this book, and Spruill’s crusade to help young women value their bodies, their choices, and learn the rewards of developing a healthy sense of self.

Have you thought of hosting your own podcast? It's easy. Learn how at

If you enjoy our podcast, be sure to leave a comment on iTunes to help others find it.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

Writing Interesting Dialogue that Indicates Who is Speaking

By Yvonne Perry

Recently, Hal Manogue, an author friend of mine, had a question regarding the dialogue in his book, Living Behind the Beauty Shop, he is writing. In an email he stated: I intentionally tried to avoid using the word “said” after a statement because I felt the audience would understand who was making the statement. It seems using those "said so and so" is rather redundant unless there is some confusion about who is making the statement. What is your opinion?

Since this is a common question among authors, I want to take this opportunity to answer Hal’s question publically so our subscribers may benefit:

The use of the word “said” is very common in novels and other works that contain dialog. There was a season when authors stopped using it and tried using replacement words such as “replied, related, snapped, quipped,” but this was short lived because it interrupts the reading pace. It was discovered that the word “said” was the most natural insertion and the easiest word to ignore while giving the reader clues to keep the dialog on track.

What tends to get on the reader’s nerves is using a character’s name over and over in the dialog as in the sample below. This is one way to show who is speaking but it can easily be overdone.

“Margie, you have a great book.”

“Thank you, Alan.”

“I hope I’m not being redundant, Mase, but I’m trying to help.”

“I see, Cindy. Let’s move forward.”

Although some people do speak this way, it is not natural—it feels a bit contrived. And, to top it all off, we still don’t know who the speaker is in each instance. If we do our jobs well as writers and editors, the dialog will be written clearly enough that we won’t need many “saids” or name tags. However, if the passages of dialogue are long and there are several speakers in the conversation, I will stick in a “said” to help clarify. This helps the reader maintain pace by not being confused or having to backtrack to determine who is speaking.

Many times an action can help determine who is speaking, but the action needs to be placed beside (with no line return separating them) the lines spoken by that person in order for it to be effective.

I’ve numbered the dialogue lines below so I can refer to them easily for the purpose of instruction. (Of course, you would never number the lines in your manuscript.) Notice that Jamie’s actions in lines 2, 6, 10, and 18 are next to his spoken lines. In lines 7, 9, 11, and 15, we have Alan’s actions. Then in line 19, we never note who is speaking but we can tell because the set up is effective: . . . the waitress came to take their order . . . Jamie grinned at the pretty co-ed.

“Did I tell you about Margie and Cindy?”

“Yes, how’s it going with them?” Jamie took a sip from the glass of water that was already on the table.

“Well, I just found out this morning that the baby has Down syndrome.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”

“I can’t understand it.” Alan propped his elbow on the table and ran his worried fingers through his hair.

“Do you think you’re responsible for that?” Jamie’s eyes opened wide and his smile showed his perfectly straight white teeth.

“I don’t know, but I feel like I had a part in it.” Alan felt the women at the other table looking at him as he answered Jamie. Both women were listening to the conversation, but were trying to act nonchalant about it.

“Well maybe you did. I think I heard Down babies are born to older parents and you fall into that category for sure.”

“Hey, I can still kick a ball, and I able to run a mile in under six minutes. Age is just a number. It’s irrelevant.” Alan’s voice was shaking as he justified his age.

Jamie was not smiling anymore. In a low understanding tone, he said, “Okay let’s just say the baby wanted to be born that way and let it go at that.”

Alan perked up. “I never thought of that. Do you think babies have a choice?”

“Hell, yes, they do! I wanted to be black so I could bring a little contrast into this white-ass world and here I am, making a difference.”

Alan laughed. “They don’t teach that in my church, but I believe you’re right. I think maybe we all have a choice to be born how, where, and when we want. Maybe this kid wants to be born to a gay couple and a confused dad!”

“That baby is a form of consciousness right now. Spend a little time around the girls before he’s born, and I think you’ll realize that I know what I’m talking about.”

Alan thought for a moment. “Man, I appreciate your wisdom. You’ve helped me more than you know.”

The ladies smiled, still looking at the men. One of them said, “I heard you say something about a new baby. No matter what that baby looks like, you’re gonna love him.”

Alan smiled and thanked her as the waitress came to take their order.

“I think we both want a steak sandwich and the salad bar.” Jamie grinned at the pretty college-age girl.

“All right. Do you want anything to drink?”

“Water’s good, thanks.”

When an action goes with a spoken line, use a period, question mark, or exclamation point to separate them as indicated in lines 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, and 18. If using “said,” a comma is inserted as demonstrated in lines 10 and 16. Each time the speaker changes, a new paragraph is necessary. Also notice the punctuation is inside the quotation marks. A comma is used with the speaker’s tag. A period is used with the speaker’s action.

By the way, Hal’s book is going to be a wonderful metaphysical novel that I think many of our readers will enjoy. If you have a heart for the homeless, know someone who is affected by Down Syndrome, enjoy communicating with consciousnesses in other spiritual realms, and like uplifting books that encourage green living, this is the one to read.

Sarah Moore is proofreading Hal’s book now, and then it will go to our graphic designer, Jessica Galbraith for interior layout and cover design before being uploaded to Lightning Source. I’ll be sure to let you know when it is available. In the meanwhile, check out Hal’s blog

Yvonne Perry is a freelance writer, author and keynote speaker who enjoys assisting people on a spiritual path. She is a graduate of American Institute of Holistic Theology where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Metaphysics. She is the owner of Writers in the Sky Creative Writing Services—a team of freelance writers and editors located in Nashville, Tennessee. She is the author of The Sid Series, a book that build self-esteem and empower young ones to follow inner guidance and overcome fear. She has also authored More Than Meets the Eye: True Stories about Death, Dying and Afterlife, a book designed to help people release their fear of death, and comfort those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

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