Saturday, June 30, 2012

Summer TV

It's 2:30 AM EST and I'm still awake and getting tired of the GSN so was flipping through the menu to see what else would be on and what is the Disney Channel playing? A 1997 movie called "Under Wraps". What is it? A Halloween story in the middle of summer. How weird is that? I mean seriously, why not some summer movies? Something a bit more modern? As many movies as come out on the Disney Channel surely there would be something that isn't 15 years old.

After watching 15 minutes of the movie, I've decide I've seen this one before so I guess it's time to turn the TV off and head to bed and maybe read or go to sleep- have a great night and see you all in the postings soon - E :)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Guest Jo Linsdell

Today, I'm hosting Jo Linsdell on her "Out and About at the Zoo" book tour. This is her first children's book. Jo will be appearing on my blog a couple more times throughout her tour. Today's posting is an article geared for homeschoolers and zoo field trips.

The Zoo: Homeschooling Guide
By Jo Linsdell

Jo Linsdell is the author and illustrator of the rhyming children's picture book OUT AND ABOUT AT THE ZOO. Find out more about her here.

Kids often get bored over the long summer months and the stress levels of parents increase. A trip to the zoo will be enjoyable for the whole family and gives the opportunity to educate your kids before, during and after.

Children will love learning about the zoo and all the animals with these simple lesson plans:

· Build the excitement for your trip by doing some research about the animals or the zoo itself before you go. When was the zoo built? How many animals does it home?

· Kids will have great fun seeing the animals up close. Most exhibits usually have a fact file with information about each animal. Read it with the kids as you watch the animals. Maybe even make it into a quick quiz. Get the kids to test your knowledge by asking you a question about the animal and they can check your answer from the fact file.

· Get the kids to take photo's of the animals so they can make a scrap book about the day. They might even remember some of the animal facts and be able to add them as a note by each picture.

· A lot of zoo's have petting areas where kids can get up close to the tamer animals. These areas usually have a keeper who overlooks the animals and will be able to give more information about them. Have the kids ask the keeper questions about what the animals eat, what they like etc... They might even be able to feed them themselves if you get there at the right time.

· Often you will also find cinema areas in the zoo where they show short documentaries about the animals especially the endangered species. These 'films' usually only last about 10 minutes making them just the right length to hold kids attention.

· Animal picture books- Provide each child with several pages of paper folded and stapled together into a book. Give them pictures of animals cut out from magazines, or use photo's taken during your visit, and get them to choose which pictures to glue into their books. Then have them label the names of each animal.

· Zoo collage- Get the children to cut out pictures of animals and make a collage.

· Teach children about habitats. Place 3 plates on the table. In one put water, in one put sand and in the other some grass. Have some small toy animals and get children to put them in their natural habitat.

· Play pretend. Get the children to act out being zoo animals. How do they move? What noises do they make?

· Animal fact file. Have children research the different animals and put together a fact file for each one.

· Animal poetry. Talk about the different animals at the zoo. Talk about poetry and show them some examples. Have the children write their own poem about one of the animals.

· Have each child make a word-search using the names of zoo animals. Each child then completes the word-search of another.

· Alphabet animals. Get the children to help you create a list of animals using the letters of the alphabet e.g. A for Alligator, B for bear, etc...

· A quick research on the internet and you'll be able to find a huge variety of zoo themed colouring pages for some creative fun.

A trip to the zoo is can be great for everyone and it's perfect for stimulating activities. The kids will be more than happy to learn more and do crafts and activities about the animals they've seen.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Guest Darcia Helle

Today my guest is Darcia Helle. I first met Darcia online book tour group and actually won one of her books. I thought I'd ask Darcia to do something a little different for her guest posting. Instead of an interview or an article on writing, I asked her to provide one of her short stories from her anthology. Hope you enjoy - E :)

Wilted Brown Eyes
by Darcia Helle

I’ve never accidentally killed someone. That’s the thought I have as I step around the bed and peer down at him. His eyes are open but I can tell he doesn’t see anything. He’s lying on his back, framed by the edges of the black and crimson rug I’d bought to hide the wine stain on the hardwood floor. The blood leaking from his head gets lost in the crimson, making it hard to tell where the carpet ends and his blood begins.
I ease closer, looking for signs of life. His chest isn’t moving.
I’ve never accidentally killed someone.

I sit on the edge of the bed and look into his unblinking eyes. They’re brown. But saying he has brown eyes is really not telling the story at all. Brown can be dark and rough like old tree bark or light and soft like a new leather jacket. Brown has so many variables. It’s really not a color of its own but more of a category. His eyes are a wilted brown, like they’ve been left in the sun too long. Little dots of green brighten them, making me think of a crisp fall morning, before winter settles in and kills off that last bit of life.

I’ve never accidentally killed someone.

I always loved his eyes. The first time we met, he’d handed me a glass of champagne and said, “Hello. My name is Jake.”
“You have amazing eyes,” I’d said. Just like that. Words spilling from my mouth untethered.

Now Jake’s eyes stare up at the ceiling. The blood has stopped drizzling from that awful gash on the side of his head. His blood is on the nightstand. All over the sharp corner. Dripping off the edge.
I’ve never accidentally killed someone.

I sit for what might be a long time or might be a few seconds. Jakes’ eyes won’t look back at me ever again.

I’ve never accidentally killed someone.

Does it matter, really, if the act is intentional? Killing someone means they are dead, regardless of intent. Dead is dead. Right?

I’ve never accidentally killed someone.

I shake off this mantra I’ve been reciting in my head. Whether I’ve ever accidentally killed someone is of no importance. I killed Jake. And it wasn’t an accident.

AUTHOR BIO: Darcia Helle lives in a fictional world with a husband who is sometimes real. Their house is ruled by spoiled dogs and cats and the occasional dust bunny.

Suspense, random blood splatter and mismatched socks consume Darcia’s days. She writes because the characters trespassing through her mind leave her no alternative. Only then are the voices free to haunt someone else’s mind.

Join Darcia in her fictional world. The characters await you.

You can find Darcia here:
Facebook page
twitter or @DarciaHelle

Darcia has also agreed to give away a copy of one of her books, so leave a comment and we'll do a random drawing for a copy of Enemies & Playmates, Hit List, No Justice, Beyond Salvation, Miami Snow, The Cutting Edge (fun, suspenseful story), Into the Light (not a horror or suspense story), or Quiet Fury, An Anthology of Suspense (where this story "Wilted Brown Eyes" appears) - see you all in the postings - E :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Guest Jen Wylie

Collective Nouns...of the paranormal
by Jen Wylie

Some time ago I wrote on my blog about the fun of collective nouns. For those of you going “huh?”, a collective noun is a word used to define a group of objects, where objects can be people, animals, emotions, or other things. These can be general, such as a flock of birds, or more specific to a certain species, such as or a pride of lions, a murder of crows, etc.

This whole idea got me to thinking about collective nouns for the fantastical. So let's play with that!

An Internet search showed some are already in popular use, such as a kiss of vampires. Others have come up with ideas on their own.

For the shape shifting types it would be logical to use the collective noun for their animal, ie a pack of werewolves, a pride of were-lions etc. This could also apply to those with names other than 'were'. For example, selkies, which shift from seal to human could have the collective noun for seals when in that form. However in this case things can get confusing, as it is not uncommon for a species to have more than one collective noun. Seals have the following: Pod, Bob, Harem, Herd, Rookery.

But what about everything else? I like a gore of zombies. BRAINS! How about a fickle of elves? Do you know of any common usages, or have a good idea of your own?

About the Author:

Jennifer Wylie resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her two boys, Australian shepherd, a flock of birds and a disagreeable amount of wildlife. In a cosmic twist of fate she dislikes the snow and cold. Before settling down to raise a family, she attained a BA from Queens University and worked in retail and sales. Thanks to her mother she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t.

Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories. Sweet Light is her debut novel published in 2011 by Echelon Press. She is also the author of the YA short story series, Tales of Ever, as well as the shorts Jump and The Forgotten Echo.

You can find her pretty much anywhere online:
Jen's website
Jen's blog

twitter: @jen_wylie
Jen's facebook page
Jen's smashwords page
Jen's Amazon Author page

HALF-CENTURY GIVEAWAY: Jen will be giving away an ebook as part of my half-century giveaway bonanza. Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing. Good luck to everyone. - E :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

This and That

It's been a kind of crazy week here having to deal with insurance and towing and AAA and getting daughter's car fixed but overall, I think things have settled down and hopefully she will have her car tomorrow before she goes to work.

I totally forgot to mention Friday that Susanne Drazic, the person who leaves the most comments here and who bestowed upon me the RAOK on her blog, posted a review of "The Proposal". Part of forgetting this was that I was away from my desk most of the day and it slipped my mind. For the review, drop by her blog and leave a comment.

On the sales side, I sold one copy of "The Tulip Kiss" on kindle and no sales anywhere else. I am running a special deal on my state books through the 7th of July - buy 2 get 1 for 1/2 off ($25 for three books/$50 for all six which is like buying five and getting one for free, plus no shipping costs). For more information, you can check out the JGDS blog.

I do plan on getting back to my state stories soon but I'm waiting on some other things from Heather before I get back to writing anything. She's got one more fix on "Train of Clues" and I'm thinking of trying that one out as an ebook as well just to see if it will work in that format being that it is illustrated. I'm also waiting on the cover for "Butterfly Halves" so I can get that published. Of the two persons I shared the first cover with, I've had differences of opinion on several aspects of the cover. Things I like about it, they don't and things I'm not crazy about, they like. I've passed both opinions and mine to Heather and hopefully she will come up with the perfect cover.

If you are a horse lover or even a horse rider or know someone who is, my other blind friend, who is also an author, Andi Mills, has an article here about using mini horses as service or guide animals.

This week's guests will be Jen Wylie, author of the Ever series and several other short stories, Darcia Helle, author of many suspense stories, and a special appearance by Jo Linsdell for her "Out and About a Day at the Zoo" book tour. See you all in the postings - E :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

This and That

Not a lot to report on the book front this week - no sales across the board - kindle, nook, smashwords. No live sales. Giveaways have been stopped but did send out 3 bookworms finally to the folks who left comments on my birthday blog posting. (UPDATE: 06/20/201 - I checked my createspace and saw that I sold a copy of Finally Home via the expanded distribution on June 10, so that would have been 1 sale for the week ending 06/16/2012.)

On the family front, lots of stuff happening. My son, who basically has not been home for the past three weeks, texted me Friday night demanding I take him to the ER for impacted ear wax. Bear (that's husband and no he's not a teddy bear, more like a grizzly bear) said not to take him to the ER but rather to a doctor. So nothing was done Friday night for son since all the minor care places and urgent care or immediate care places (we have very few in our area) were closed. Saturday morning, daughter and two of her friends (sisters) headed to Carowinds (that is on the other side of Charlotte, NC - about 2-1/2 hours from where we live). They had been planning this little getaway for about three weeks. Both the other mother and myself had concerns and really would have preferred that they postpone it for a bit. There was something huge going on at Carowinds yesterday - something called "Rockin' the Park" (a Christian concert of some sort - lots of church vans/buses, and folks in general attending or just going to Carowinds). My daughter hasn't done much highway driving and had to be on two major highways to get there (I-85 and I-77). They left our area about 7 and got to 1 mile from the exit to the entrance to the park and were involved in an MVA. She called me at about 9:47 which I figured she was just letting me know that they had arrived safe and sound, but thought it odd when she called a second time (my voicemail isn't set up since I went through a semi-upgrade but had to revert back to my old phone for a bit longer) and then a third time (I was kind of indisposed when she called the first time). I did answer on the third call time. She was upset and I knew it was going to be a long day. On my way up there (I rode with the other mother and father as my van was low on gas and I have no funds until payday) I received another text from my son stating "Is no one going to do anything for this excruciating pain?" - I promptly called him and left a voicemail telling him I couldn't do anything and that he would need to call his father to have father take him to minor care as I was on my way to get daughter because she had been in a wreck and I wasn't even home. We made it to about 1-1/2 from the exit we needed when traffic literally halted. This was about 1 or so PM (we left my house about 10:15 or 10:30). The 1-1/2 mile trek to get to the exit took us over 45 minutes to creep through. The traffic was backed up from the entrance of the park to the highway for almost 2 miles, plus apparently there had been several other church bus breakdowns and accidents in that area during the course of the morning.

We made it to my daughter and her friends about 2:15 or so, grabbed a bite to eat, and then I called the insurance to start a claim since time is of the essence in situations like this. We left McDonalds and headed to the towing place so daughter could gather everything she needed out of the car. She was complaining of her shoulders hurting some and the girl who was in the front seat was complaining of her back some. On the way back, we stopped at the other mother's sister's house for a bit and by the time we left there (about half way between Carowinds and home) both girls - my daughter and the other front seat passenger) were complaining of low back, shoulder and neck pain. We had urged them to go to the ER before we got there but they wouldn't go.

Getting home about 10:30 last night, I had enough time to come in the house and go to the bathroom, plug my phone up to charge (forgot to charge it Friday night and ended up with a dead phone before leaving the Charlotte area (spent a long time with claims person), and grab my van keys. Left and went to pick up son from friend's house where he had been staying, went to put a few dollars (I found $3 in my wallet and daughter had $2) worth of gas and then headed to the ER. We got there between 11:15 and 11:30 PM. We got home about 6:30 AM - almost 7 hours in the ER for both of them to be examined and treated.

So it will be a long week in the Eldering home secondary to having to treat a severe ear infection with lots of ear drops and oral antibiotics and pain medications (not impacted ear wax as he thought originally) and trying to keep my daughter comfortable from her whiplash and pain and stiffness. She's hoping to go back to work Tuesday or Wednesday, but I hope they just bump her schedule at least until Thursday.

So this is what has happened in my little corner of the world for the week ending June 16. Happy father's day to all you fathers out there - Mrs. E :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Carpe Diem

Find out how this phrase and "seize the day" affected my thinking over on the Writers on the Move blog today.

There is a giveaway being offered on that blog so check it out and leave a comment if you want to win the prize of the day. See you all in the postings - E :)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Ellis Vidler's Unpredictable Muse: 3 Approaches, 1 Subject: Toussaint. Iyer. Staggs.

This was an interesting approach for a blog posting over on Ellis's Unpredictable Muse blog.  This is similar to what I did with my new novel - Imogene:  Innocense Lost.  I was thinking on the lines of posting the pictures here and letting ya'll see what the inspiration of the story is and maybe ask for some suggestions to move it forward.  I'm pretty resolved about making this story true fiction - everything is made up and there are no facts to drive the core of the story since it is a time dated piece.  I'm thinking Imogene will need an "author's note" to explain that other than using real places the story is truly fictional in that I couldn't make the time fit any of the facts for that time period.  Be on the lookout for the pictures at a later date.  In the meantime, stop over at Ellis's blog and see what Maggie Toussiant (see my posting from Friday about Maggie's workshop on pacing), Earl Staggs (only know him from online and having read some of his stories for the Derringers when I was a judge) and Polly Iyer (a member of our local chapter of Sisters in Crime and suspense author) have to say about this man.

Ellis Vidler's Unpredictable Muse: 3 Approaches, 1 Subject: Toussaint. Iyer. Staggs.: Salvatore Vuono,

I asked three excellent but very different authors to write a description of this pic...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

This and That

It's my weekly summary of everything going on and all I can say is that not much has been happening here. There was only one in person sale of Finally Home to the local library as I had given them a copy back in January but somehow it never got to the main branch so the local librarian bought a replacement copy so that it can get catalogued. I also informed her that all my books were available through Baker & Taylor in case they wanted to order more copies of any of the books.

There were no ebook sales at all.

Tuesday was my birthday and I kind of played around all day but did manage to somehow put in 4 hours of work and gained quite a few lines in those 4 hours (I'm paid on production so the more lines I type the more I make). I also had started a 50-day giveaway blitz but only had 3 participants on the first day and none the second or third at all, so I decided to randomly give away things and go back to my regular blogging schedule as I was struggling to come up with 50 days of postings to preschedule.

We had a great speaker, Maggie Toussiant, at our local Sisters in Crime meeting Thursday who talked about pacing, which I posted about here. On the same day, Heidi Thompson from the Writers on the Move group talked about pacing here.

If you would like to be entered to win a copy of Finally Home, stop by my posting from yesterday and leave a comment. If you decide on the ebook copy, I will send you a free kindlegraph, so you are still getting a signed file. Only persons living in the United States are eligible for the print copy (sorry everyone but shipping is rather pricy for outside of the US).

I gave Ms. Faye her nook cover and she suggested I sell them as sets as well - an afghan, a kindle or noo case or a tablet cover (your choice) and a bookworm. So I'll probably drop the afghan price and then do a bundled price for the three matching items. All afghans and covers/sleeves can be found on my website under the gifts tab.

This week coming up will be random repostings from the Writers on the Move blog and the start of a possible series on using pictures to inspire my story Imogene. See you all in the postings - E :)

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Genre Lengths

This will be the third in the "length" series and probably the last one.

There are many genres and subgenres of stories. Each of them have specific guidelines as to how long they should be.

I already looked at children's books on my first posting Wednesday.

What are the different genres we writers can write? You have nonfiction, fiction which covers a plethora of categories to include children's, fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction, short fiction, thriller/suspense, western and young adult (Source). There are also a plethora of combinations of these genres but that won't be the focus of this posting. Basically, I'll be looking at standard lengths for the overall genre.

Let's define the genres and then talk about length for each.

CHILDREN'S: These are written for the under 13 age crowd for the most part and usually include board books, picture books, early readers, et al. as described on my post a couple of days ago. The length of this genre varies according to the type of story it is and the target audience.

FANTASY: Stories in this genre usually contain a "fantastical" element - animals talking, werewolves or vamps, et cetera. These stories can occur on Earth or some other realm or world and the humans or other characters do "magical things".

HORROR: This genre evokes an "eww" factor in most humans. I think of Stephen King as a horror writer. I've not read his books but have seen bits and pieces of movies based on his books and to me they are all horror stories.

MYSTERY: This is the solving a puzzle or figuring out the unknown factor. Mysteries cover a lot of subgenres but the most common is the cozy. This is the story written where the murder takes place off the pages and the protagonist has to figure out whodunit before the end of the story. Agatha Christie, Carolyn Hart, Elizabeth Craig Spann all fall into this category.

ROMANCE: This is your basic love story but can get steamier than just girl meets boy, boy likes girl/girl likes boy and they fall in love and get married.

SCIENCE FICTION: This is the genre that covers robots and outer space, aliens and whatever one can imagine. The only stipulation to classifying your story as "science" fiction is that it must be scientifically plausible.

THRILLERS (SUSPENSE or formerly ACTION or ADVENTURE): This is the genre that keeps you on the edge of your seat because you are so caught up in the action and thrill of the experience that you forget you already know the ending.

WESTERNS: According to the definition of this genre, it is the only one that is time and place specific. This genre usually follows the times of the cowboys and Indians and the hero is usually the sheriff, cowboy, cowhand. Think John Wayne movies when thinking Western.

YOUNG ADULT: This is the genre geared for the 12 to 18, on up to 20 something year olds. This genre also has many subcategories. Since Young Adult stories fell in the length posting on Wednesday, I will only cover this one briefly.

From my research and several sources but one of my favorite sites states that most novels fall in the 50,000 to 110,000 word range, except of course children's books which I covered on my post of Wednesday. Most publishers will have their own guidelines as to the length of the submitted piece. If you are going to submit any work to a publisher, either by way of an agent or directly, make sure you follow their posted guidelines or you could see many rejections. Rule of thumb is to come under the maximum word count accepted so that you are less likely to be rejected for being too wordy.

If you are self-publishing, again, keeping with the overall guidelines on word counts for your genre is probably a good idea since you are building your readership and as an unknown, you don't want to lose a very large reader base out of the gates.

I hope you all have enjoyed my postings on lengths. Next week there will be some repostings from the Writers on the Move blog and then I may start my picture inspiration series showing some backstory in how I'm developing my novel, Imogene.

Since I still haven't given away a signed copy of Finally Home, leave a comment on this posting and I'll do a drawing for either a signed printed copy or an ebook of Finally Home. See you all in the postings. - E :)

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Friday, June 08, 2012

Writers On The Move: Pacing in Writing

Heidi's post on pacing went up the same time mine about Maggie Toussiant's workshop did, so how about stopping over on the Writers on the Move blog and see what Heidi has to say about pacing.

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Pacing and Maggie Toussiant (discontinuation of the 50-day blitz)

Last night was our monthly local Sisters in Crime meeting and our guest was author Maggie Toussiant. She talked about pacing your scenes, chapters and books and how to catch some of those pesky pacing problems. We also had an interactive session where she gave us two characters and we provided a little bit of background information and then we formed several small groups and had to come up with a scene - either a fast paced action, slow paced action or fast paced dialogue or slow paced dialogue. Interesting what happens with the same background information, how each group came up with different scenarios. A fun exercise in pacing.

Anita rode with me to the meeting and as usual I was the talker all the way home. I did a little brainstorming about Imogene's story thinking about the pacing of the story. So far, the three pages I've written are slow paced, narrative, not much action but fitting for where the story starts. I know the prologue will disappear because I've got the scene in my head and unsure if I've put it down on the paper yet as to when the secret comes out. I don't know if I can pull off a slow-paced beginning with a faster-paced majority of the story or not but I'm going to try. One thing that did come from the brainstorming session with Anita is that I believe this story will call for a "postlogue", not so much an epilogue but more of an "author's note" explaining certain elements in the story. Don't worry it won't be long - a couple of paragraphs at the most and will be something to the effect of: This is truly a work of fiction because after my many hours of research and the findings of historical data and other information would not make this story happen in such a way. (I know it needs some work and there will be a little more to it than that but you get the gist of the meaning - Imogene is pure fiction and there are no facts to really base much of the story on other than possible places in a different time from when the story takes place.)

I'm discontinuing my 50-day giveaway blitz as I've had only three comments (six actual but only three answered the question) on the first day and I've tried to go to my social groups and post everywhere to stop by my blog and leave a comment to be entered for whatever the day's giveaway is. Since it seems no one is interested in leaving comments, it isn't worth my time to put out there my time or effort to get readers and followers and folks who will at least just leave a comment in order to try to win whatever I may be giving away on any given day. I'll go back to my posting schedule as before - Mondays and Thursdays with guest bloggers the 4th week of the month and an occasional review of books I've read on my kindle.

The end of this month, Jen Wylie and Darcia Helle as well as Jo Linsdell are my guest bloggers and there will be free ebooks during Jen's and Darcia's days. Jo will be a guest on my blog two more times as part of her 3-month blog tour and a free ebook will be given away on her last appearance. I will probably do some occasional giveaways during the next couple of months. I haven't really decided.

I hope you all will still at least read my blog and see what I have to say. See you all in the postings - E :)

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Story Category Lengths

This is a followup posting to my book lengths posting from yesterday. Today, I'm going to touch on defining your story. Is it a flash fiction? short story? novella? novelette? novel? Again, these are all based on word lengths and not pages.

Most of the shorter categories are usually for contests and not publication per se. As with yesterday's post, the lengths for the different categories of stories will vary from site to site. One site, The Short Mystery Fiction Society blog, runs a yearly contest for its members called the "The Derringers". From the name of the group, the purpose is to promote the short story writer, so anything considered a novel won't be targeted in the contest submission guidelines.

FLASH FICTION = up to 1000 words
SHORT STORY = up to 5000 words
NOVELETTE = up to 17,500 words
NOVELLA = up to 40,000 words
NOVEL = 40,000 and up -

Flash Fiction, what is it? For all intents and purposes, this is a super short story. I've seen places running contests for flash fiction of 100 words or less and others of 500 words or less, even still others saying 1000 words or less. I've even attempted to enter a flash fiction contest in a former life (before I decided to enter real contests and start writing for real) and the story had to be 100 words or less. If we base this on the previous guidelines on yesterday's posting of 250 words = 1 page, then technically, this very short story isn't even half a page in length. If you can write a full story in two or three very short paragraphs (for the 100-word or less flash fiction), then I say more power to you.

If you compare book lengths, a children's board book would fall into this category, but most picture books don't have a full story as they are teaching type books. For the purposes of the Derringers, the length for flash is up to 1000 words. Even 1000 words is low for the type of writing I do, as I consider myself a short story writer.

Short Stories: As noted above, flash fiction are very short stories and contain a beginning, middle and ending in such a concise manner that when reading these very short flash pieces, one walks away with a sense of awe. You wonder how the author could write a story that played on all the senses and had such an impact that it left you in a state of awe.

Short stories do the same thing as flash fiction in a few more words. Most short story writers find it harder to write longer lengths because they know their story and write it and usually don't need a lot of fluff to get the story out. I consider short stories to be under 10,000 words, and most everything I've written has been under 10,000 and a good many under 5000 words. Again, there isn't any one source with exact standard numbers for the different classifications of stories.

A novelette will be longer than a short story and shorter than a novella. Again, the word lengths vary but 17,500 seems to be a pretty standard number from several sources to classify a novelette. Again, if you are entering a contest or writing for a specific publication, follow their guidelines as to the acceptable word length.

That brings us to the novella. This is almost to the point of novel writing but not quite. As a short story writer and not really a novel writer, I would consider writing something of novella length or up to 40,000 words if the story warranted such. I think transitioning from being a short story writer to a novella writer is probably easier than from short story to complete full-length novel. It's a mindset thing.

As far as novels go, pretty much 50,000 words on up is considered the standard for novels. If going a traditional publishing route, I've heard most publishers won't accept anything less than 65,000 or 75,000 for novels. So again, it all depends what reason you are writing the story. If it is to be published traditionally, then the publisher's guidelines trump everything else.

When participating in National NOvel Writing Month in November (NaNo), 50,000 words in 30 days is considered a novel, although most people participating consider that the beginning of a novel. A good many people write well over the 50,000 word limit in the 30 days. When I wrote Finally Home I struggled to get to 50,000 words but I managed to come in at just over 56,000 words, which is a tremendous feat for someone who considers herself a short story writer.

You will find when reading my stories, even my state stories, that word-wise they all fall in the short story category, falling between 2500 and maybe 8500 words. I'm comfortable with writing short stories and do well with them, having placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and runner up in various contests, all asking for short stories. I've heard some novelists state that they find it hard to write short stories and that's okay because we all have a place in the writing world. There are those of us who can write short stories and those who write novels and epics who do quite well.

When writing stories of short lengths and writing for contests, pay attention to the guidelines. If the folks running the contest or accepting short stories for anthologies or other publications that carry multiple stories at one time say they want stories up to a certain word count, and no more, then do your best to not go over those stated word counts. Some folks are more flexible and will make statements like "accepting short stories up to 4000 words, but will consider some slightly longer if the story merits being longer." It's all in the perspective of who is seeking the submission and for what purpose.

Another source definiing story lengths can be found here. There are many other sources for defining the length of stories, so remember not to rely on just one source for your answer.

Question for the giveaway blitz: If you are a writer, which do you prefer to write - the short story or the novel? Why? Remember to leave a comment to be entered for the 50-day giveaway extravaganza celebrating my 50 years. Today's giveaway is a free ebook of my first place winning story, "The Tulip Kiss". Don't forget to leave an email in the comment so I can contact you if you are the winner. See you all the postings - E :)

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Book Lengths

This posting could technically fall in the WWYWWQ category as any young writer would have to think about how long a book should be.

The answer to the question is that it varies depending on the genre and in many cases, the publisher's guidelines.

As an author, we are basically not concerned with page lengths of books in the beginning. Everything is measured in word length when writing.

You have short stories, children's picture books, early readers, chapter books, middle grade, YA and then your adult genres which also may have varying lengths depending on the genre and again, the publisher's specifics. If a publisher wants a 70,000 word mystery, as an author, you will do your best to write over 75,000 words knowing that a good bit of it will get cut in the editing process. The main focus of this posting is going to be children's books, specifically middle grade stories.

Here are the general ideal book lengths: Resources found here and only one was utilized but most of the sources agree or feel the same length as is represented here are pretty standard acceptable lengths. Don't rely on one specific source, so do your own research and remember to write your stories as per the guidelines and geared towards your specific audience.

Board Book — 50 words max (these are what they say they are and are usually only 6 or 8 boards per book, so every word has to mean something. Most of these are teaching books, colors, numbers, shapes, et cetera)

Early Picturebook — 300 words max (early picture books are geared for the newborn to very young toddler; parents read the story but mostly the kids are entertained by the pictures, so this is where a good illustrator comes in)

Picturebook — 700 words max (Seriously. Max.) (picture books are one of the hardest children's books to write because they are so limited on their words. When you think about 700 words, your typed story will probably be no more than 3 pages long, very short and concise, every word has to count.)

Nonfiction Picturebook — 2,000 words max (nonfiction picture books are usually about factual information thus the longer word count because you presenting facts to your reading audience and these rely heavily on the illustrations as much as the factual information presented)

Early Reader — I’d say 1,500 words is the max. (these are geared for the reader who is just learning to read, already having learned their alphabet and letter sounds or combinations of letters; the reader is basically reading familiar words (the, a, an, cat, dog) and adding newer words that need to be sounded out. Think back to our readers, "Dick and Jane" or "See Spot"; these are early readers and as a writer you don't want to get bogged down in too many words or the kids will get frustrated and won't want to read.)

Chapterbook — This varies widely, depending on grade and reader level. 15,000 words max. (Chapter books can be considered early readers and go on up to the more advanced reader; I usually think of 2nd and 3rd graders reading chapter books, maybe even up to 4th grade)

Middle Grade — 35,000 words max for contemporary, mystery, humor, 45,000 max for fantasy/sci-fi, adventure and historical (for this category I think of fifth grade and up to the pre-teen age group. I think 45,000 is a reasonable word count for this age group for several reasons - most kids in this age group are still developing their reading habits and finding what is right for them as well as the fact that their time is very limited secondary to all the extracurricular activities they are involved in; they tend to have very little time for reading)

YA — 70,000 words max for contemporary, humor, mystery, historical, romance, etc. 90,000 words max for fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal, etc. (this category is geared for the teens - ages 13 to 19 and even the early 20s; to me these limits seem high considering most adult novels are written at about 90,000 words and these limits put teens in the same reading level as adults. If you go by the formula of 250 words/page @ 90,000 words = 360 pages, you are basically talking a cozy mystery length. Most novels geared for the over 20 crowd usually fall between 300 and 400 pages and this goes to the fact that most adults don't have time to read lengthy books secondary to life commitments. Kids have just as many commitments so really getting them to read a 300+ page novel is an almost impossible task.)

*Taken from the KidLit blog

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with a 15-year-old writer who has taken the publishing route and is publishing her own books. She published her first novel at the age of 13, having written the first book at the age of 12. She recently published her fourth book in a series that she is calling a "middle grade fantasy series" at a whopping over 700 pages. Her third book was probably close to 500 pages if not more. Her first book is over 300 pages and I don't remember how long her second book is but it is definitely over 300 pages because it is thicker than the first one.

She not only is calling this a middle grade series, but she is selling people on the idea that these books are written for 8 year olds and up.

The last time I checked grade wise/age wise, middle grade does not include 8 year olds/second or third graders. Middle school is usually 6th through 8th grade, the grades between elementary and high school, thus middle. Some middle schools are 5th grade through 8th grade, some are just 6th and 7th or 7th and 8th, and then there are some areas who don't have a middle school and house all their kindergarten through 6th grade classes in one school and 7th through 12th in another school (very small district and yes, I've worked with a 6th grade class for the past 4 years who fall into this category). Although the 6th graders are middle schoolers, as are the 7th and 8th graders, they are not housed in a middle school building per se.

If we go by the formula that middle grade stories should be between 35,000 and 45,000 words and the formula overall says that when typing a manuscript, the average word count per page is 250 (regular sized paper, double spaced, indented first lines of paragraphs, 1 inch margins all around; when I was in high school and taking typing class, we were told a word is 5 characters but the modern day word processes the word count may be an actual word or may still be this 5 characters per word), then a true middle grade novel shouldn't be more than 140 to 180 regular sized paper sheets. When formatted for print, this will come out to be about a 200-page or so novel.

My middle grade/YA paranormal mystery, Finally Home topped out at about 56,000 words. It is a 5.5 x 8.5 sized book, and printed it came out to about 170 pages plus all the other pages in there - but still under 180 total from cover to cover. I classified this book originally as a YA novel but feel it is a good read for 10 year olds and up, so that would put it back into the middle grade category.

Karen Cioffi mentioned in her newsletter recently that middle grade novels were between 20,000 and 25,000 words. Karen seems to be on the low end of where middle grades fall, but still acceptable ranges. If a novel is only 25,000 words in length, then you are looking at approximately 100-typed, double-spaced, 1 inch margins, pages. This is very short and to me would be more like a novelette or novella; will post about the difference in categories tomorrow.

The author over on the Kidlit blog does mention that there are always exceptions to any rule. I agree with this, but remember do your own research and make sure you are targeting the right audience with the correct word count. There are many sources out there.

As part of my half-century giveaway, I am going to give a signed copy of my middle grade/YA paranormal mystery, Finally Home, to one lucky winner. All you have to do is comment on this posting and tell me what the longest book you have read was and make sure you leave your email addy so that I can contact you if you are the winner to get your mailing address in order to send your copy. What is the longest book you have read? Longest middle grade book? What is the longest book you would consider reading? (you don't have to answer all of the questions but please do leave a comment on the longest book you've ever read to be entered for the drawing.) - see you all in the postings - E :)

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Half a Century celebration

I'm celebrating half a century, so what better way to celebrate than to do fifty giveaways in 50 days. Crocheted bookworms, ebooks, writing related giveaways, state related giveaways - all between now and the 2nd of August (no giveaways on Sundays or holidays, but may change my mind and do something for the 4th of July just because it ties in with my state series).

First giveaway today will be 10 red, white and blue crocheted bookworm bookmarks to the first 10 correct comments on this blog the answer to this question: Where does Ms. Elysabeth make her home? (hint - answer can be found somewhere here or here).

Happy hunting and when you comment, please leave your email (you can leave it in email addy (at) whatever server (dot) com format if you want to). I'll need to contact you to get mailing address so I can send out your bookworm.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

This and That

This week is the start of my 50-day giveaway which will run through August 2. I've got a few postings up starting Tuesday. The giveaways will be from bookworms to crocheted kindle or nook covers, crocheted tablet covers, signed books, ebooks and many other items. So please tell everyone you know to keep checking back every day to see what I'll be giving away in celebration of my half century.

Sales this week have been slow but there have been a couple - 1 copy of "The Proposal" and 1 copy of "The Tulip Kiss", but there haven't been any online sales since the week ending the 12th of May so I'm happy with it.

I received a preview cover for "Butterfly Halves" yesterday and hopefully will be able to release it to the public soon. I can't share the cover yet because there were a couple of problems that I need fixed before accepting it as complete. Heather is doing an awesome job as usual.

I also need to review "Train of Clues" one last time before re-releasing it. I think we caught all the doubled pages/paragraphs this go round and we have made a few changes in the placement of the illustrations and made the book length a bit longer by putting more white space per page - the story is basically unchanged. So be on the look out for that to make its reappearance.

I've got all but one tablet cover completed and I'm not really liking the Old Glory yarn for the cases/covers because the yarn is softer than the Red Heart brand (I've only been able to find the red/white/blue varigated at Hobby Lobby and it's their brand "I Love This Yarn" which seems to be a very soft and not as stiff as the Red Heart brand). Once I finish the tablet cover, I'll post pictures of all the kindle/nook covers and the tablet covers. I hope to find some yarn at the "All About Fabric" plant this week to make more of the cases. I've got all summer to build up my supply until my next big event, Decatur Book Festival, Labor Day weekend. In October I have a librarian's conference and then a local event where I know my afghans will do well. The price of the kindle/nook covers is $8 and the tablet covers $10 (these are a bit bigger and take a little more time). Afghans are $75 in person and $85 shipped which includes shipping and tax.

Chances for the red/white/blue granny square afghan are still available either by purchasing from my website or the JGDS website under the gift tab or by purchasing any print book from me or from or other place. If you make a purchase that isn't directly from me, all you need to do is email me ( with proof of purchase (attached receipt or electronic receipt) so I can send your chance to you. The more you enter, the better your chances. This drawing will be done December 1, so you have six months left to get all your chances in.

Come celebrate my birthday with me starting Tuesday and see you all in the postings

Friday, June 01, 2012

Let Us Not Forget the Tablet Holders

So, while I was completed the second Monet kindle cover, I got to thinking (dangerous territory) about tablet owners. The kindle cases may not be big enough for some tablets, so I picked up one of the other colors and decided to expand the kindle case by 2 clusters/V stitches (kindle cases are 6 and tablet cases are 8) and make it 2 rows longer and instead of a flap closure, I would just sew some velcro to the top row for a closure. I didn't add a carrying strap as I felt most people wouldn't want their tablets just dangling from their wrists. So the tablet covers will give you a little protection when puting your tablet in a pocketbook or satchel.

I can get one kindle case and one tablet case and one or two bookworms out of a skein of yarn or I can get two kindle cases and four bookworms out of a skein. So for now, other than the Monet (both Faye and Susanne picked the same kindle case), I will have one kindle case and one tablet case of each of the colors I have to offer - Primary, Aspen (completed), Woodsy (completed), melonberry, marrakesh, Old Glory, bonbon print (kindle case only right now) I have to replinish the Monet and bonbon print.

Next week the All About Fabrics plant is opened and since I have to be up there anyway, I'm hoping to be able to buy yarn in bulk (six skeins in a pack) for a fairly decent price. I'm also looking for some material to make my Ma America costume as well as buttons for the kindle cases. Fingers crossed they have everything I need, and hopefully a different brand of the red, white, and blue varigated yarn in the 6-skein packages. I'll post pictures of all the completed kindle cases and the tablet cases soon. See you all in the postings - E :)