Friday, June 28, 2013


Say hello to Erin, our new YA author.

Today, Erin is going to tell us a bit about our favorite subject. GRAMMAR.
                Take it away, Erin.

Thank you, Lorrie, for hosting me on your blog today!  I am thrilled to have the chance to “talk” to your readers/blog followers! 


Today, I’d like to talk about a subject near and dear to my heart—grammar.  LOL!  Yes, you heard me right…grammar.  My family and friends often say I’m a member of the Grammar Police (actually they say something not quite so nice, but I’m rephrasing).  Lest you think I’m the master of all things word related, I will confess right now…I cannot spell, at all.  Seriously, I could not spell certain words without assistance if my life depended on it.  My critique partners also point out my issues with formal speech (probably because I’m trying to follow all the grammar rules) and hyphenation (which for the record, I just misspelled).


You might ask, who even loves grammar, and when did you develop this affliction?  Well, I went to one school up until the tenth grade and learned very little about grammar there.  When I switched to a new school in the eleventh grade, my world changed.  The teacher started my first day of class by saying, “Today, we will discuss predicate nominative and predicate adjective,” to which I replied, “A wha-wha?”  I knew a noun, verb, and possibly an adverb, but nothing more.  To her credit, my sweet teacher, Mrs. Hinton (she’s a writer too and has published books you can find here), stayed after school with me for six months to catch me up on grammar.


I ended up at a college that obsesses over grammar. Freshmen must take a course called “Grammar and Composition” and pass an end-of-the-semester test with a “C” or higher to continue on to the next class.  In preparation for that test, I took a free class offered by the head of the English department and learned all sorts of amazing tips and tricks.  I passed the test with flying colors and received a position in the school’s learning center as a grammar and writing tutor.  So, I spent the remainder of my college years trying to impart the grammar wisdom my high school teacher and college professors instilled. 


Now that I am a soon-to-be-published author, I have the privilege of working with fellow authors.  We critique one another’s “works in progress” to sharpen and improve them for submission.  My critique partners recently dubbed me “The Passive Voice Hunter,” a name I quite like. 


Without further ado, let me introduce common grammar/writing errors.  I hope the following information will be useful whether you are a writer, business professional, student, or any other type of human being (LOL!). 


1)  Passive voice


            The use of active voice improves writing and flow.   Try to avoid passive verbs like:  was, were, had been, is, has been, had been, will be.


            A passive example: “I was editing my friend’s work.” 

            An active example:  “I edited my friend’s work.” 



2)  Ending in a preposition


            Try not to end sentences with prepositions.


            Example of preposition:  “She didn’t know where he came from.”

            Correction:  “She didn’t know from where he came.”**

            **This correction sounds slightly pompous and awkward, so the writer would benefit from

                 reworking the whole sentence.

            Reworking option (there are many other ways to change it):  “He appeared by her side without



            Common prepositions:  of, in, to, for, with, on, at, from, by, about, into, as, after, over, against,         before


3)  Commas (cue the “dun-da-dun” music)


            I typically joke, “People treat commas like sprinkles.”


            Here are the main rules for commas (there are more, but we’ll stick to the big ones):


            a)  Serial commas (this particular rule changes every once in a while, so keep an eye out on

                 MLA).  Right now, commas go before the “and” in a series.  


            Example:  Apples, banana, strawberries, and blueberries.


            b)  Conjunction and commas.  Commas can be used to separate two sentences when used with    a conjunction.

                        Common conjunctions:  and, but, or, so, yet


            Example:   Jenna believed her father when he told her John left, but she felt compelled to

            discover the reason.


            Incorrect usage of a comma:  Jenna believed her father when he told her John left, but felt

               compelled to discover the reason.  (No comma is needed in this sentence because there are not

               two sentences.) This sentence should read:  Jenna believed her father when he told her John left

            but felt compelled to discover the reason.


            c) Introductory statements.  When you begin a sentence with a helper statement, you should           use a comma to separate the two piece of information.  Introductory statements with more

            than three words require a comma.  With statements fewer than three words, the comma is             optional, but I always choose to include it.


            Example:   When you begin a sentence with a helper statement, you should use a comma to

            separate the two pieces of information.  (Clever how I did that, huh? I bet you can find a few

            more in my explanation as well…)


            d) Parenthetic elements.  Use commas to offset information you wish to include but is not             crucial to the sentence.  When you place two commas (or one comma in the front and period at       the end), you are signaling the reader that this information is NOT necessary.  If it is necessary,    do not offset in commas.


            Example 1:  My best friend, Dawn, told me a hysterical joke yesterday.

            *Note—I only have one best friend, hence the name “Dawn” is unnecessary.  However, be

            careful in these situations.   “My friend Dawn told me a hysterical joke yesterday” has no comma          because (hopefully) I have more than one friend. 

            **To explore the note a bit further, here is another example:  “My brother, Richard, graduated    top in his class.”   Based on this statement, you should know I only have one brother.  If I said,         “My brother Richard graduated top in his class,” you would know I have more than one brother.


            Example 2:  Charlotte loved going to baseball games, though she preferred football. 

            The football segment could be totally omitted and not compromise the integrity of the sentence.


            Example 3:  He moved toward the door, placing his hand on the knob, and turned to give her one

            last look.

            The hand on the knob adds to the sentence but is not crucial.  The sentence could be just fine

            without it.  “He moved toward the door and turned to give her one last look.”


            e)  Separating adjectives.  Use commas to separate adjectives that both relate to the noun.  If         one adjective is describing the other, leave out the comma.


            Example:  She pushed the big, yellow ball down the hill. 

            Big and yellow both describe ball, so the comma needs to be there.


            Incorrect use:  She pushed the bright, yellow ball down the hill.

            Bright describes yellow, not the ball, so no comma is needed.  Should read:  She pushed the

            bright yellow ball down the hill.



Though there are plenty more grammar rules I could share, I think I’ll stop before your eyes glaze over (if they haven’t already—LOL).  Often, it’s hard to see the errors in your own work.  Asking friends, family, or co-workers to proofread your material before you send it out can be most helpful.  My beta readers (Kim Sharp, Ginny Hunsberger, Danielle Craver, and Dawn Ward) as well as my critique partners (Mary Waibel, Michelle Pickett, and Meradeth Houston) locate the grammatical, spelling, logic, and voice errors in my pieces.  I encourage you to find a group of people to help you as well. 


Coming in November from Erin
A young adult high fantasy epic 
 "One often finds destiny on the road taken to avoid it."

Look for the novel November 2013

The Prophecy


Erin Albert
Erin Albert is an author and fitness trainer.  Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word.  She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police."  In her free time, Erin enjoys acting, running, kickboxing, and, of course, reading and writing. 

If you want to know more about me and my upcoming novel, The Prophecy, please like me on Facebook (Erin Albert Books), follow me on Twitter (@ErinAlbertBooks), and/or visit my website 
If you have grammar questions, please feel free to ask. I love to talk “shop.”  Thanks again for hosting me, Lorrie! 
Thanks so much for the lesson today, Erin.
Okay, folks, any questions of Erin?
If not, leave a comment anyway. 
We love comments.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Good morning Lorrie and thanks so much for letting me visit with you today.  Please don’t mind the scowl on this young man’s face that I have with me today.  Deep down he is thrilled to be here.
Hmm. Are you sure? Cute kid but he does seem a little reluctant. We'll have to treat him to a banana split after. And you, Penny, it's delightful to have you here.

Lorrie, and everybody, this is Jim Abernathy.  He is a seventh grader in Miss Wickware’s  history class and she assured me that young Jim, here, would be a wonderful guest  As I write for the middle grade age group, I’m trying to figure out the likes and dislikes of some of these kids in school. Luckily, Miss Wickware volunteered Jim.
Good luck, Penny. Come on Jim, give a smile. Please. There you go.

So let’s get started. 
“Jim,  how long have you been attending Landon Middle School?”
 “Just moved here.”
 “Oh, how nice.  Are you liking our town of Phoenix?”
 “Well, what about your school mates?  Have you made many friends?”
 “They’re all geeks.”
 “I see.  Well, I understand you just had a report due on a subject that you drew from a box.  Tell us about that………………Jim, are you okay?  You have turned a little pale.”
 “I’m fine.  Yea, there was a report due.  Stupid assignment.”
 “Well, who did you draw?”
 “Sylvia Ludington.”
 “I’m not familiar with her.  Did you know who that was?”
 “Not until I met her in the flesh?”
 “Pardon me.  You, uhm, met her?”
 “I had to stay after school, cause old lady Wickware didn’t like my attitude.  She got all weird and when I ran out of the classroom, I was in a forest, with no school in sight!”
 “Come again….”
 “Yea, and the next thing I know, this Sylvia chick, is shaking my shoulder.  Said, I had fainted, which is a complete lie. 
 “Well, Jim, that sounds…”
 “I know how it sounds and I’m not talking about it anymore.  I know what Miss Wickware is capable of and I’m not going to be her target ever again!  This interview is over!”
 Well, uhm, Lorrie.  I guess we are done here.  Thanks so much for having me.  Also, I read Jim’s report.  There is a whole lot more to this story! 
I guess one banana split is coming up. Yes, yes, Penny, you can have one too. Yeesh!

I'd love to hear the rest of the story. Now that you two have engulfed the treat, will you tell me how I can find out the rest of the story, pleeeeese.

Okay, so you want to give us a little more teasing first. Go ahead.


           The girl stood and took a few steps back.  Her eyes held a look of wariness but there was concern in her voice.  “Please, you may have hurt yourself when you fainted.  Maybe you shouldn’t be dancing around.”

  “I’m not dancing around.  What the heck is happening…”  He stopped talking and his head snapped back around to her.  “Faint!  I didn’t faint!  Only sissies faint!”

 Her eyebrows arched.  “Really?  Well I was walking right over there and I watched you…faint!”  She turned on her heal and walked away.  Her dark hair hung just above her waist and swayed with each indignant step

 “Hey,” he ran after her.  “Don’t get your panties in a bunch.”

 She turned to him, her eyes wide.  “I will have you know my …my undergarments are perfect fine.  How dare you…”

  “Whoa, whoa,” Jim said holding his hands up, “it’s just a saying.  It means don’t flip out.”

  “Flip out?” Her green eyes crinkled with amusement.

 “Yea, you know, take it down a notch.”

 She started off again but the steam was gone.  “You are an odd boy…what is your name?”

  “Jim…Jim Abernathy.”

  “I am Sybil Ludington.”

Now, here’s how you can find out!
At the places below. Go to..........
You can find out more about me and my other stories at:
I want to thank any and everyone who stopped by. Ride of a Lifetime is Book 2 of the Wickware Sagas.  There is a special going on over at MuseItUp.  If you buy Ride of a Lifetime from their bookstore, you get a 20% discount AND Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare, Book 1 of the Wickware Sagas for free.  I will have 3 more stories on the Wickware Sagas out soon.
That's a great deal, Penny, at MuseItUp. Don't pass it up readers. Scoot right on over
Follow me folks.
It was nice to have you and Jim with us today, Penny.
And folks, we love comments.
Show Penny and Jim  that you appreciate them being here today.




Saturday, June 22, 2013


Hello, Pam. Welcome to my blog. What an interesting presentation. I'm sure our readers will find this post as intruguing as I did posting it.

Portraits of strong women


We’ve all read the advice. If you’re writing historical romantic fiction you need a strong female lead. An intelligent, aspirational character. She must be striking, if not exactly gorgeous. Witty, but not too cheeky. Glamorous, under-stated. The list goes on.


Of course, you have to be selective or every heroine would be so perfect I’d want accidentally on purpose to tip a sticky drink down their perfectly-pressed blouse. My favourite female leads are strong and convincing but with a certain weakness that they learn to overcome.


I find coming up with new protagonists is tricky. In one manuscript, many moons ago, the first submission didn’t go well. One agent’s rejection said the female lead was too flawed. She didn’t actually say ‘wet’, but I knew it’s what she was thinking. I’m suspecting she didn’t read to the end. My heroine started out a bit hesitant, certainly, and was recovering from an illness, but the key word is ‘recovering’. Throughout the story she got stronger, mentally and physically. By the end, she is positively Amazonian. My point was that anyone, in extremis, when it’s important, can learn to be strong. But no. They thought she was soppy.


I learned my lesson. I tweaked and rejigged. By the end, the lead was complex, occasionally withdrawn, but strong from page one. And I finally got accepted. Hurrah.


When I began Dark Interlude, a tale set in the troubled winter after World War One, I thought long and hard. The lead originally was a librarian, so I promoted her to acting senior archivist at a top institution. In fact, this was quite plausible, for during the war, there was such a dearth of men that many women enjoyed promotion – for a while. The role of archivist was beginning to be reassessed, especially as so many resources had been lost during the Great War. Alexandra Milton, as I called her, then single-handedly drags the system of old archives into the new century, discovering better ways to preserve the valuable material. She is single-minded, hard-working … and guilty of hiding away from the grim realities of war in her ivory tower.


The fact that Alexandra studied Modern Languages is no coincidence. It was an obvious choice for own grandmother did just that. In fact, I’ve just acquired her actual degree certificate from Glasgow. I myself studied 17th-century Spanish, which also features in the story, in case you’re wondering.


Of course, she is intelligent, hard-working … Oh-oh. I began to feel uncomfortable that she was getting too perfect and prissy for my liking. Dilemma.


It was when I was researching the political history of Glasgow in the early 1900s that the problem solved itself. ‘Red’ Clydeside was a hotbed of protest, and had been since the dock strikes and go-slows of the late 1800s. The first conflict that caught my attention was the Glasgow Rent Strikes of 1915. These were feisty women. Those in the poorer districts of the city had had enough of profiteering landlords. They set about obstructing the Sheriff’s officers by forming crowds and creating a human barrier. Hordes of women – and their children – blew whistles and hurled abuse, peasemeal and flour bombs at the bowler-hatted officials, driving them away.


What would it be like to be caught up in such a fracas? I have a phobia of crowds, possibly because I’m only five foot one. Bingo! My clever heroine would have such a fear, and, of course, end up facing her worst demons.


All the women in the book are strong, in different ways. The housekeeper started out like Janet in Dr Finlay’s Casebook. As I researched more about Glasgow’s history, I realised just how many young women worked in the munitions factories and on the docks, resented by the men that were there, not getting proper training and basically learning gruelling skills ‘on the job’.


When the men came back from war, the women were simply let go. What on earth did they all do? How did they cope with being shoved back into pinnies at the kitchen sink?

Enter Maureen Jessop, a tough, fearless character with a knack for reinventing herself. She is not best pleased when given her notice as soon as the demobbed men return. I like Maureen. Her handshake would crush my fingers.


Henrietta, our heroine’s old varsity chum, is tall, sporty, and almost masculine. She was inspired by the stories I read of how women drove fire engines and ambulances during the war. She has her demons, too. Another female figure has a dream to assist women’s professional equality through education (modelled on some stalwart female educational reformers of the time). I didn’t even need to include a suffragette: ordinary women were fighting the cause in different ways.


Just key in ‘women in the first world war’ into Creative Commons, and you can see some of the photos for yourself, such as two women at shipbuilding yard at Govan along the River Clyde.


Speaking of causes, the story tells of how Alexandra becomes embroiled a massive protest, a fictional retelling of Bloody Friday, when Glasgow teetered on the brink of revolution.


I began to look into the history of revolutionaries and anarchists, and was drawn to the stories of women from Russia and northern Europe, who sought a different solution to inequality. Some were aristocrats, some serfs, and their different journeys in the struggle against oppression make fascinating reading.


Their lives make the world of Doctor Zhivago seem tame. When I started to read their potted biographies, I was staggered by their commitment to the cause, intelligence, determination to train in difficult professions, ability to endure shocking physical hardship, social disgrace, poverty, sickness, prison, torture, ruthless execution. Some gave up husbands, noble prestige, even babies and children …


Some started out by trying to train as doctors, but ended up being exiled. Others tried to open orphanages, run schools or clinics, which upset the authorities. Others started out as socialists and ended up as terrorists, blowing up trains, shooting Lenin, attacking a tsar. There was no difference in punishment. These revolutionary women were fascinating and, admittedly, quite terrifying.


Books have been written about these women (Revolutionary Women in Russia 1870-1917: A Study in Collective Biography by Anna Hillyar and Jane McDermid). Websites such as the history site, Spartacus, describe their lives.


While writing Dark Interlude, I discovered so many ideas for strong female characters – good and evil – that I’ve stored some away for sequels. Caveat lector.


So, I’ve now decided not to worry about inventing the perfect female character ever again. I just do the research and let the real women from history spring back to life.


Who’s your favourite inspiration? Or darkest villainess, come to that?


By Pamela Kelt



Female workers heat rivets in a portable furnace at the Harland and Wolff shipbuilding yard at Govan along the River Clyde in Scotland during the First World War.


A female tram driver and conductor on board their tram, in Scotland.


Mary Barbour (1875-1958), thread twister and carpet printer who settled in Govan. She masterminded activity during the Glasgow rent strike and became a working class hero in Govan and further afield. Later, she was instrumental in founding the Women’s Peace Crusade in Glasgow.


Alexandra Kollontai (1872-1952), Soviet politician, feminist and ambassador in Helsinki.
Nadezhda Krupskaya (1869-1939), Bolshevik revolutionary and politician. She married Vladimir Lenin in 1898 and was later Deputy Minister of Education and a Doctor of Education
Maria Fedoseevna Vetrova (1870 - 1897) Russian revolutionary, daughter of a peasant woman. She was incarcerated in the Trubetskoi bastion she later took her own life, burning herself as a protest against the harsh conditions. At her funeral, 6,000 students attempted to protest but were surrounded by mounted police and dispersed.

Wow, Pam, certainly strong women of yesteryear. Lovely pictures.
Give us a peek at your cover now and tell us where we can find out more about the book.

 Dark Interlude is released on MuseItUp on 21 June. Find out more on the accompanying blog where you can see the extract, view the book trailer and read an extract.

Follow Pam on Twitter and Facebook. Find out all the latest on my author website and blog. Or why not send an email to See her author pages on,, Goodreads and Smashwords.

With a background in journalism, languages and educational publishing, it was inevitable that Pamela Kelt would say to heck with a career and try writing for herself. She really only got around to it to avoid the empty nest syndrome when her daughter left for University. She landed six book deals in as many months and declared herself reinvented. Dark Interlude is her first MIU title. Tomorrow’s Anecdote is a dark newsroom thriller set in Thatcherite Britain. Others follow; two more historical mysteries (Half Life and The Lost Orchid) and two teen fantasy adventures (Ice Trekker and The Cloud Pearl, part one of Legends of Liria). Pam lives in Warwickshire with her academic husband Rob and their two daft dogs, without whom she would never leave her clunky laptop.
Well readers, who’s your favourite inspiration? Or darkest villainess, come to that?
We'd love to hear your choices.
And we love comments. Leave yours below for Pam.