Today Will Soon Be Tomorrow – So Just Hold On!

Another beautiful day in PA. Lately. the weather has been more like September than July. I can live with that. I love the fall. And I hope this day finds you excited about sharing your story via the written word. But you know, that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes procrastination gets in the way. I know some of you never experience that, right? Here are some quotes that will hopefully get you moving on this Wednesday. Enjoy!

  • “Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday”― Don Marquis
  • “Procrastinate now, don’t put it off.”― Ellen DeGeneres
  •  “My mother always told me I wouldn’t amount to anything because I procrastinate. I said, ‘Just wait.”― Judy Tenuta
  • “Someday is not a day of the week.”― Janet Dailey
  •  “My advice is, never do to-morrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!”― CharlesDickens
  •  “You may delay, but time will not.” ― Benjamin Franklin
  • “The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing.”― Alan Dean Foster
  •  “The scholar’s greatest weakness: calling procrastination research.”― Stephen King
  • “Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a . . . death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything . . . ” ― Alan W. Watts
  •  “If you want to be a writer-stop talking about it and sit down and write!” ― Jackie Collins
  • “Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.” ― Hugh MacLeod

Okay. So grab your box of crayons, and while you’re coloring, think about your next story line. That’s it for another week. See you soon.


Using Assonance

Let’s forget about the weather today and jump into our topic – assonance. First, what is it? Assonance is the use of repetitive vowel sounds in nearby words. The example above focuses on the “ee” sound. Consonants vary, but the vowel sounds repeat in several of the words. Neither do the words need to rhyme, although they may. Think, “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.” Assonance comes from the Latin word, assonare, meaning to answer with the same sound.

Often used as a poetic device, it is used in prose as well to draw attention to the primary subject of the phrase or sentence. Poetry? Well, how about Emily Dickinson’s Mayflower?

Pink, small, and punctual
Aromatic, low.
Covert in April,
Candid in May,
Dear to the moss,
Known by the Knoll. . .

. . . Bedecked with thee,
Nature Forswears

So use assonance to emphasize your points. You can always use a thesaurus to find synonyms to add some some lyrical flair to your prose or poetry.

Just a few thoughts to experiment with. Let me know how it works for you. See you in a week!


The Singer/Songwriter in Me

Welcome to your favorite weather channel, WWFK! It’s a beautiful summer morning in central Pennsylvania. Slight breeze. Temperatures starting in the low 70s and steadily rising. Humidity – a little high, but the big, white, puffy clouds against an absolute blue sky make easy to endure. I hope you’re faring well wherever you may be.

I’m feeling nostalgic today. I was thinking back to my high school days during the 70s. Every generation of high school kids has their own unique music as a backdrop to their lives. The uniqueness of the 70s centered on the singer/songwriter. Think James, Taylor, Paul Simon, Carol King, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, Jim Croce. The list goes on.

When I was eight, my father bought me my first guitar shortly after The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. It became my friend. I spent many hours practicing and playing my favorite songs. By the time I was 13, I had written my first song. It wasn’t good, but it was the first of many steps in my love for writing.

Then the 70s came. So many brilliant songwriters influenced me in those early years. I teamed up with a buddy to form a Simon and Garfunkel type duo. We followed the singer/songwriters of the day and performed songs by many of them. But the thing I most wanted was to write my own material. Gradually, we added original songs to the many covers we did. Eventually, we made the show almost all original.

Lately, I’ve been studying song writing again, and it has taken me back to my roots. I’ve learned that writing is writing, whether it be songs or fiction. Both need a hook. Without something to draw in your listener or reader, they will never listen or read without a hook. Both need a cohesive theme with each verse or chapter tugging at your audience to continue the journey. Both need compelling and believable characters.

One major difference between songwriting and fiction writing is most songs are written in the first person. You would be hard-pressed to find a song written in anything but the first person. Fiction is often written in the third person.

When writing a song or a fiction piece, the first person is more intimate. That’s only my opinion, but I think it to be true. With songs, you also have the added benefit of music which adds to the emotion of the story. Fiction calls for extra work to bring the emotion across.

Okay. So I could on and on, but that’s enough reliving in our eloquence, as singer/songwriter Dan Fogelberg would say. Enjoy your week, and I’ll see you next week.


Will the Real Fan Please Stand Up!

It’s been a long week since I’ve returned from my brother-in-law’s funeral. There were moments of tears and moments of light-hearted memories. There were times of facing the reality of death and times of denying its existence. There were faces of despair and faces filled with hope. There were . . . but time moves us steadily away from those things. We’ll never have all the answers to life, death, and human suffering until we get to the other side. Now, let’s move on.

I want to look at appealing to your fan base. The following is from Randy Ingermanson’s, The Avanced Fiction Writing E-zine. I want to credit him with the following and acknowledge his expertise in the fiction writing world. It’s a little lengthy so take what you want and skip the rest. You can find more information on his website ( Enjoy it and have a great week.


How to Appeal to True Fans

It’s time to talk about e-mail sign-up forms. These are typically small boxes on your website where your True Fans can subscribe to your e-mail newsletter.

There are several issues to consider:

  • What information to show in your e-mail signup box.
  • How to encourage your True Fans to sign up.
  • How to discourage everyone else from signing up.
  • How and where to display your signup forms on your site.

What Goes In Your E-mail Signup Box

Here are the various thingsthat can or should go in your signup box.

  • A headline that grabs attention.
  • Optionally, a graphic that also grabs attention.
  • One or more paragraphs that explain in some detail what your True Fans get if they sign up. It’s important to be clear and accurate here. You have nothing to gain by deceiving people.
  • A field where a True Fan can enter their e-mail address.
  • Optionally, other fields for the first and last name of a True Fan, and maybe other information.
  • A button to click to complete the subscription.
  • Some sort of code that connects your button to your e-mail newsletter service.
  • Some mention of the fact that you respect the privacy of your True Fans, with an optional link to your Privacy Policy. (Please note that a Privacy Policy is mandatory for your website. Normally you link to it at the bottom of every page. It’s a nice option to also link to it from your e-mail signup box.)

How to Appeal to True Fans

True Fans are people who are likely to buy your next book. You want as many True Fans as possible to sign up for your e-mail newsletter, and you want nobody else signing up.

The way to attract True Fans and repel everybody else is to offer something of value that would appeal only to True Fans. Typically, this might be a free e-book you wrote, or a free short story, or something else free.

But current law makes things a little tricky. I’m not a lawyer, and nothing I say should be construed as legal advice, but here is my understanding of things:

  • You are asking people to subscribe to your e-mail newsletter, AND you are giving all subscribers a free welcome gift.
  • You are NOT giving away a free gift and then attaching to that gift a subscription to your e-mail newsletter.

There is a fine line between these two things, and you need to be on the right side of the line. The issue is that you need people’s consent in order to send them marketing information, which is what your e-mail newsletter is. Consent to receive a free e-book is not the same as consent to receive a newsletter. Make sure your form makes clear that they are consenting to get your newsletter. The freebie is only an added-on extra.

You have a number of options for displaying your e-mail signup box. Some options work better than others. Here is a list of the most common:

  • A widget signup box which is always visible in the sidebar of a two-column website.
  • A signup form that is always visible and is integrated into the main body of one or more pages of your website.
  • A “lightbox” that pops up on a page of your website, forcing site visitors to close the box or else subscribe. The lightbox can be closed by clicking on an X in the upper right corner.
  • A “ribbon” that displays at the top or bottom of a page, with a button that pops up a lightbox when clicked. This lightbox then has the full signup form. The ribbon can be closed by clicking on an X in the right side.

The first two of these options—the sidebar widget, and the form integrated into your web page—are always visible. They both are unobtrusive, and if someone is specifically looking to sign up for your e-mail newsletter, they’ll easily find these forms. However, you’ll find that the “conversion rates” for these forms will be fairly low. Many people will ignore them and never sign up.

The other two options—the lightbox, and the ribbon—will get more signups because they’re more obtrusive. The lightbox obscures the page it’s on. The ribbon takes up valuable space at the top or bottom of the page. Your website visitor can’t miss these, and will either have to sign up or click an X to make the form go away.

Please note that lightboxes and ribbons are annoying to your site visitors. So if you use them, set them up so each visitor sees them only rarely—like once every 7 days or every 14 days—and only after they’ve been on the page for awhile. Visitors will put up with a one-time annoyance, but if they have to keep dismissing the same lightbox or ribbon on every single page of your website, they’ll leave.

  • It makes good sense to have an unobtrusive widget or integrated signup form on almost every page of your website. Nobody gets offended by them, and some people will be looking for them. You’ll get you some signups from these.
  • If you want to get more signups from visitors using desktop or laptop machines, then create a lightbox signup form that displays on most pages of your site. But remember that lightboxes are annoying, so set yours up so a user will see them only once every week or two. And make sure to disable lightboxes on tablets and phones, because they look bad on those devices.
  • If you want to get more signups from visitors using tablets and phones, then create a ribbon signup form that displays on most pages of your site. Again, remember that ribbons are a bit annoying, so set them up so a user will see them only once every week or two. And disable the ribbons on desktop and laptop machines if you’re using lightboxes on those devices.

Em Dashes, and En Dashes and Hyphens – Oh My!

Weather Report: Well in to the 90s. Humidity, the same. Such a change from last Wednesday when the temperature was 48 degrees. I can’t control the weather, so I live with crazy Central PA changes. We don’t have lions, and tigers, and bears this week, but we do have en dashes, em dashes, and hyphens. They can be just dangerous and frightening. Let’s make the trip together.


  • Indicates breaks within words that wrap at the end of a line
  • Connects compounded words like “mass-produced”
  • Connects grouped numbers, like a phone number 555-860-5086
  • The hyphen does not indicate a range of numbers.

En dash

  • Joins numbers in a range, such as “1993–99” or “1200–1400 B.C.” or “pages 32–37” or open-ended ranges, like “1934–”
  • Joins words that describe a range, like “July–October 2010”

Em dash

  • Supposedly works better than commas to set apart a unique idea from the main clause of a sentence. I’m not sure.
  • Shows when dialogue has been interrupted:

The em dash? I never use it, I’m improper. I only use the en dash. I always skip a space between the last word and the en dash and skip a space before the next word – if you know what I mean. No, that’s not the way it is supposed to be done, but then again, who cares? See you next week!


Thinking About Foreshadowing

Let’s look at foreshadowing this week. Foreshadowing is when an author gives a warning of a future event. The purpose is to build suspense, and there are some things to consider in using it properly. You will need to decide how it fits your story best.

Use it subtly. Foreshadowing may be something in the fabric of your writing that is noticeable but not glaring. The reader must notice it. Otherwise, it has no purpose. At the end of the novel, do you want your reader to look back and think, “Oohhhhh! I get it now!” Well, then be subtle.

Use it boldly. Without dwelling on it, make your point obvious. Let the reader know there is a reason for it and build enough curiosity to keep your audience turning pages. But please – don’t overdo it.

Make it relevant. Not every plot-point needs foreshadowing. Too much foreshadowing can cause your writing to appear silly, or worse yet, melodramatic. Use it sparingly, and make sure there is the payoff, that point where the foreshadowing is recognized.

Done well, foreshadowing will excite your reader. It will make him want to know how the pieces connect. It will prepare her for when the foreshadowing pays off.

Add it later. So you finished your rough draft and you’re revising. You can always add a touch of foreshadow after the fact. You can always remove foreshadowing, too. Just remember, if it serves no purpose, ditch it, and be sure not to overdo it.

Next Wednesday will be here before we know it. See you then!!!


With Saddened Heart

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die,, but after this the judgment: ” – Hebrews 9:27

You may have noticed there was no update this past Wednesday. I apologize for getting to it late, but my wife’s brother passed away unexpectedly Wednesday morning. An Air Force veteran of 30+ years, in what I would call perfect health, slipped away as a vapor into eternity. We will never see him again. There will be no more phone calls. No more impromptu visits.

It is appointed unto men once to die. My short challenge to you this week is to make every minute count. One day we will all follow him to the grave – to return to the dust from which we were taken; to stand before our Creator; to give an account of the lives we lived on earth. God will not be concerned with our works at that time. His only question will be, “Have you followed my Son, Jesus Christ?”

It’s been a long couple of days, so I’ll not preach (although I could). I will simply ask you, have you found peace in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Every single human being will die at some time. You don’t know when. Are you ready? Every single human being will stand before the God of the Universe. Are you ready? If I can be of help in any way, please reach back. I’m reaching out to you concerning the most important decision you will ever make.

We’ll do our best to get back to writing next week. Until then . . .


The Hardest Thing About Writing; Self-Editing

Welcome to another manic Wednesday! It’s great to have you with us on this humid Pennsylvania morning. Hopefully, one of those Central Pennsylvania thunder storms will roll in soon and cool things off.

One of the hardest things for me to do is to edit my writing. I can catch mistakes in other’s pieces, but I miss too much when I’m checking my own – not sure why. Jerry Jenkins, notable Christian author, lists several facts to be considered when checking your own story. Where can you improve?

Have you:
Maintained a single Point of View per scene.

Avoided clichés—not just words and phrases, but
also situations.

Resisted the urge to explain, showing rather than
telling. For example, not, “It’s cold,” which is
merely flat, telling narrative, but rather, “She
shivered,” which is descriptive language, showing
a character in action, letting the reader experience
the story and deduce what is going on without
being told.

Primarily used said to attribute dialogue, rather than
any other option.

Included specifics to add the ring of truth.

Avoided similar character names or even the same
first initials to keep characters distinct. o Avoided
specialized punctuation, typestyles, font sizes, ALL
CAPS, italics, bold facing, etc.

I have to admit, I never thought about some of these. Maybe you haven’t either. Maybe it’s time. Anyway, ponder this until we meet again. See you next week!


How Many Times Have You Heard, Show Don’t Tell?

Happy late Memorial Day to everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful time of relaxation with family and friends – or just a time to kick back and lessen the pressure and stress that so easily creeps up on us. Now, are you ready to dig in for the rest of the summer?

Let’s revisit the first rule of writing. Show, don’t tell. We know what we’re supposed to do, but do we – at least with consistency? Let me give you five ways you might be telling when you could be showing.

  1. Giving too much information at one time may cause telling, especially relating to backstory. Rather than dump the whole thing on us at one time. Spread the information throughout the story. Try to not use more than three sentences at a time. Dialogue can be effective in revealing information pertinent to your piece.
  2. Don’t get into the habit of always using words to express your character. Sometimes, things are better off left unsaid. Let the action make the statement.
  3. Writing is about sharing your character intimately with your reader. There needs to be an emotional connection. When emotion is lacking, it may be because you’re telling too much. Back off and show it. A beta reader might be helpful. It’s hard for us, as authors, to know how our material affects an outsider. We’re too close to the story to see straight at times.
  4. Could it be your scenes are too short? If every scene feels like an introduction or summary, then you may have a telling problem. Telling takes fewer words, and it leaves scenes feeling like they end before they even begin. It’s like telling a friend the plot of a scary movie versus making them see it themselves. You can tell a story in a minute, but the movie takes at least an hour.
  5. A story is like a puzzle. It comprises various pieces the reader needs to put together. If there are no puzzle pieces for the reader to apply, you’ve probably told too much. Don’t spoon-feed your readers. They want to do the work, investigate for themselves, and discover the secrets within. Showing allows them to do this. Telling takes the work – and the fun out of it. No doubt you’ll lose your reader.

Well, there you have it! Stay safe and healthy until next time.


The Perfect Setup

Weather Report – Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. Finally, we get a break in the weather in Central PA. Great temps in the 70s, a mild breeze and clear, blue skies with sunshine everywhere. This is perfect for me. Sunshine? Think about the quote below.

Now, on to business. For writing, what is your ideal setup? Well, we all know (at least we’re told) we need a comfortable place with good lighting, etc., but how do you personalize that? Sometimes you have to make the best of an imperfect situation.

Because of circumstances beyond my control, I’m writing this in cramped quarters – anything but ideal. I’m working off of a small corner desk, maybe four feet long and two feet wide. My laptop is out of commission at the moment. Hopefully, I will have it fixed soon. Anyway, I have spread across this tiny desk a desktop computer (and believe me it takes up space on the entire desktop). Of course, that desktop needs to be shared with a full-size printer. Wires and cords are everywhere!

Maybe I have a laptop after all. Since there’s no room on the desk, I have to balance the keyboard on my lap. It just doesn’t cut it. Every time I hit a key, it shifts. Words per minute? Probably about ten!

So what would be the perfect setup for me? I dream of an L-shaped desk. Maybe even a U-shaped desk where I’m surrounded with usable surfaces. A place where the lighting is dispersed evenly over the entire workspace, without shadows here and there.

Let’s get rid of the cords. Give me a desk where the cords can safely be tucked behind the desk, out of the way and out of sight. Give me a laptop that actually works. Towers aren’t my thing.

Okay, so my setup isn’t exactly perfect, but it works. That’s all I need. So tell me, what’s your ideal setup? That’ all for now. I’m going to go enjoy some sunshine. See you next week.