Thursday, September 11, 2014

Curious about using dashes in your writing?

Using Dashes: En Dash, Em Dash, 2 Em Dash, or 3 Em Dash?

Courtesy of Scribendi-- Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about dashes!
A young man dashes down a path surrounded by trees.
Don't dash to use dashes! Dashes can be
complicated, so read these helpful tips
before using them in your writing.
If you’re confused about the various types of dashes and when to use them, you’re not alone. Figuring out whether to use an en dash, em dash, 2 em dashes, or even (gasp!) 3 em dashes can be confusing.

En dash 

In ranges

The en dash (–) gets its name because it’s the same width as the letter N. It is generally used in place of “to” for connecting numbers in ranges, although it can also connect words (in which case, it means “through”). For example,
David Foster Wallace (1962–2008)
The Packers won 21–14.
Note that an en dash should not be used for negative numbers, and that there should be no spaces before or after it. It should also not be used when the number or word is preceded by from or between (from…to, or between…and). So,
The park is open from May to October.                       The temperature is 32–45°F.
Or…                                                                                        Or…
The park is open May–October.                                  The temperature is between 32 and 45°F.              
But not…                                                                                But not…
The park is open from May–October.                          The temperature is between 32–45°F.

Instead of a hyphen

The en dash can be used when joining compound modifiers. For example,
New York–Tel Aviv connection
Mother-of-the-bride–approved dresses
Post–October Revolution politics

Creating an en dash

Creating an en dash can be done by either:
  • [ctrl] and the minus sign on the numpad or
  • [alt] 0150 (on the numpad)

Em dash

The em dash (— or -- [on an old-fashioned typewriter]) is the most commonly used type of dash and is often simply referred to as a dash. It gets its name—no big surprise here—because it’s the width of an M. The em dash is used primarily in informal writing in place of a comma, colon, semicolon, or parentheses to provide emphasis.

Set off parenthetical elements/explain

When I was driving—well, asleep at the wheel—I got into an accident.
The em dash in this example could be substituted with a parenthesis, but not a comma because commas cannot be used to set off parenthetical expressions when there is internal punctuation (such as commas inside the expressions), as can be seen in the following example.
When I was driving, well, asleep at the wheel, we got into an accident.

Sudden turn in thought/break in dialogue

“Mary, How could—Why would you do such a thing?”
“Can I finish my—,” the child pleaded.
“No! Get over here right now,” his mother shouted.

Unknown values in a table

An em dash can be used in place of an unknown value in a table.
Time (h)
Volume (mL)

 Creating an em dash

Creating an em dash can be done by either:
  • [ctrl] [alt] and the minus sign on the numbers pad or
  • [alt] 0151 (on the numpad)

2 em dash

The 2 em dash can be used to indicate missing letters in a word, either because material is missing or illegible, or to conceal a name. For example,
Mr. H—— and Mr. S—— entered into a legal agreement.

3 em dashes

These are used in bibliographies when the author’s name is repeated.
———. Adventures in Fancy. New York: Labadie & Sons. 2010.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Have you entered a first chapter writing contest lately?

Greetings fellow writers.  Contests, whether for published or unpublished authors, are a great way to get your writing in the front of an editor or agent.  To stay on top of the current publisher needs, it's smart to at least take a serious look at a score sheet.  Here is an example for contemporary romance, and judges score these categories from 1 to 10:

PRESENTATION: The entry is presented professionally, using 1” margins, double-spacing, and plain font. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation are correct.

Score: ________

OPENING HOOK: The story opens with a hook that grabs your attention and pulls you in. The beginning tension and/or conflict is clear or hinted at.

Score: ________

CHARACTERS: The protagonist(s) is/are likeable or at least intriguing. Their emotions and actions/reactions are realistically motivated. Characterization is shown well through actions, dialogue, mannerisms, etc. Dialogue sounds realistic and natural.

Score: ________

WRITING STYLE: The writing is tight with no unnecessary verbiage or extraneous information. There is a good balance of narrative and dialogue. Background information is used to move the story forward either through characterization or plot. Point of view is clear and there is no head-hopping. The writing ‘shows’ more than it ‘tells’. Multiple senses are incorporated throughout the story—taste, smell, touch, sight, and sound. The story is well-paced.

Score: ________

ROMANCE: If the hero and heroine have met within the submitted pages, the tension or chemistry between them could lead to a believable romance. If the hero and heroine have not yet met, there is still a hint of a romance in the future.

Score: ________

Contemporary romance novels is a wide range of settings and novels, but should be free of paranormal elements. The author brings you into the setting of the here and now. You find yourself rooted in the here and now without nostalgia. The author use the setting and traits of modern life pull you into the story. The voice is contemporary. You feel you are in the town or family. They use modern technology like Facebook or apps on the tablets.

Score: ________

GENERAL IMPRESSION: The story entices you to keep reading.

Score: ________

Friday, July 11, 2014

Writers' and Readers' Obsession with Futuristic Novels

     At a time when the vast majority of people in our nation can buy everything we need, something in our brains wonders what it would be like not to have easy access to necessities-- water, food, shelter, shoes, and clothing.  Prosperity is a good thing, right?
     One of my favorite actors, Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson on NBC's PARKS AND RECREATION is a woodworker.  In his article, MAKE YOUR OWN DARN GIFT, Nick writes he has too many gloves.  "I purchase leather gloves online that appear to be a good deal or just because I like their look.  Their nice cut.  Well-shaped fingers.  Add to the cart. Click to complete the order.  Here they come."
     In my futuristic novel set in 22nd Century Earth's second ice age, A BRAND NEW ADDRESS, Yardley mends socks to go with the boots she plans to give to a younger neighbor.  She is about to get the boots when she learns from her bother Dad's fiance' Pinky already gave them away.
     Simple socks, boots, gloves, and basic necessities are prized in futuristic novels.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Where to Start a Novel

When a writer outlines a book, the nagging question is where to start.  The functional form of a thriller (my version of romantic suspense) is to start as late into the action as possible.  My character is thrown into a personal crisis midst great physical danger.   As I begin the second book of my Intervenus series, Betrayal at Crater’s Edge, taking place in futuristic Venus, habitable with an atmosphere, the hero, Marchand LaFond, is asked to help Dr. Scott O’Riley regain his own heath.  The neurosurgeon worked for evil BioMinds on Ice Age Earth.  Scott showed remorse over brain procedures dictated to him, and Marchand is loyal.  This quality is a major component of Marchand’s protective self-concept.  Marchand trusts the doctor whom he saved during the space race to Venus in book one, A Brand New Address.   Here is the start—Marchand’s goal is to help Scott regain his health, but an unexpected patient death arouses his reluctant (because he’s loyal) and sets him on a plan of action to find out what’s really been happening in the nearby crater.  The resolution is forced quickly when Scott’s associate, Vito Savage (from book one) decides Marchand must be killed to keep things secret.  I like my beginning hook.  It makes sense after having built the basic book’s structure.  Marchand’s opening threat of change answers the story’s question in Betrayal at Crater’s Edge.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Spotlight on author Tina Gayle

If you're already a fan of Tina Gayle's many books about family, you know she sets a cozy mood.  If you know Tina personally, she makes everyone around feel at home.  She's as jaunty and fun as the hats she wears. Tina's latest book is Fallen Leaves 
Fallen Leaves Blurb -

As autumn comes to the Winston estate in Ohio, Amber Harrison learns further lessons in her new position as keeper for the spirits and ghosts who haunt the estate--and further lessons in love, too. She and her love, Carter Miller, grapple with the fears and passions of new love, while caught up in the storm of ancient family drama.

This is the second book in the unfolding saga of the psychics and talents associated with the Winston estate, a sheltered place where past, present, and future are woven into a single dramatic tapestry of love and desire. The tale spans multiple generations, multiple eras, and offers something special for all ages of reader. A sexy, erotic winner, with an assortment of couples to appeal to most tastes.


“How long before you install the new cabinets?”

He turned on the ladder. His dark brown eyes captured her, engulfing her in an encompassing warmth. She melted under his heated gaze, which ran from the top of her head to the white socks on her feet. He lifted a brow at her attire, but he didn’t comment on her pink sweat suit.

“With the old cabinets out of the way, I need to knock down this wall and tear up the flooring. The electrical work is next on the agenda.” He climbed off the ladder, yanked off his gloves, and slid a hand through his thick, wavy hair.

“It might be awhile before we install the new cabinets. Right now, we’re simply working to remove the old stuff so we can start fresh.” He smiled, which didn’t hide the dark circles under his eyes or the fatigue in the slump of his shoulders.

“There’s no hurry. If you’re busy with something else, this can wait until your Dad and Mattie come home next week.”

“No, Dad doesn’t want her dealing with this mess.” Carter unbuckled his tool belt and placed it on a workbench. “I promised him I’d have it done.”

“Is Grant helping?” Amber stepped around several pieces of sheetrock and stray bits of wood, to the bottom of the stairs.

He walked to the backdoor. “Friday, his classes are over at noon.”

With his hand resting on the doorknob, he appeared anxious to leave. “I’m headed to lunch, and then I need to drop by the office for a while. Are you sure you’re okay here by yourself?”

Amber toyed with the idea of saying no. She missed the taste of his lips and the strength of his arms, but she nodded instead. “Yes, I’m fine.”

After opening the door, he paused. “I guess I’ll see you later.”

She waved and turned to head to her room, satisfied she’d at least gotten him to talk. Her leaden feet trudged up the steps. Unexcited, she contemplated her latest assignment from the family council. How could she achieve such an impossible task of convincing her great grandmother’s ghost to cross over?

Purchase links:



About Tina Gayle

Tina Gayle grew up a dreamer and loved to escape into the world of books.

After years of working in the business world doing a variety of jobs, she decided to try her hand at writing and hope to incorporate the joy of being a mother into her books.

Currently working on a series about four executive wives, she is excited about combining elements of women fiction with the passion of romance. The first three books have been released and the last one is coming out in 2014.
She’s  also started a paranormal romantic mystery series called the Family Tree series. With a family of spirits guiding the lives of their keeper, Amber has a number of tasks to accomplished like solving a two hundred year old mystery.

Married twenty-five years, she and her husband love to travel and play golf.  She can’t wait for Mike to retire so they can do more of both.
Read the first chapter of any of her books by visiting her website.

Find Tina  everywhere

Home -
Blog -
Twitter -!/AuthorTinaGayle
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Linkin -

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Kathleen Rowland Writes Romantic Suspense: Are you interested in writing IR?  Interracial rom...

Kathleen Rowland Writes Romantic Suspense: Are you interested in writing IR?  Interracial rom...: Are you interested in writing IR?  Interracial romance is a popular (that means selling) subgenre of romance in which the hero and heroine a...
Are you interested in writing IR?  Interracial romance is a popular (that means selling) subgenre of romance in which the hero and heroine are of different ethnicity. The hero might be African-American, the heroine white...the heroine might be Vietnamese, the hero Native American...there are as many possible combinations as there are perceived races. My New Adult release, A BRAND NEW ADDRESS, is a futuristic IR sweet romantic suspense.

When you write an interracial romance, you're writing first and foremost a romance.  
Recognize that race or ethnicity is both important to an interracial romance novel...and not important at all. The really important part is the story.
Create a dynamic conflict around which to center your story. Give your characters good reason to be torn apart...a reason that will keep your readers turning the pages. The conflict needn't center around ethnicity at all.
Avoid stereotypes in creating your characters. I can't stress this enough, and it applies to all writing, not just writing about different ethnic groups. How to avoid stereotyping your characters? Well...
Realize that you are writing about an interracial character - i.e., a character who happens to be of a certain ethnicity - and not about an ethnicity cartoon. Just as you are no cartoon image of your own ethnicity, or of your own gender or hair color for that matter, your character is no exaggerated cartoon image, either. Your character's ethnicity is an element of her, but not equivalent to her.
Assume your character is not made up at all, but a real human being. Your character doesn't spend all day thinking about his race and trying to "act" like he belongs to that race. Your character spends all day wondering if his cute next-door-neighbor knows he's alive.
Give your character a full, well-rounded background your readers can identify with that goes way beyond the character's ethnicity. For example, if you are writing about a Native American character, don't stop with deciding that the character is a Creek Indian who likes to chat on the Internet, to the consternation of her grandmother.

Instead, have your character live in Mason, Georgia, and have her leave a lucrative career in the textile factory owned by her family in order to go on a stint in the Peace Corps, until she comes down with malaria and she's forced to come back home to recuperate, where, being a high-energy person, she spends all day being pampered by her busybody grandmother and restlessly gets on the Internet, where, in a chat room, she starts chatting with a low-energy man who's Cherokee, of all things...

In other words, put your character into the world your readers know and give her real, well-rounded characteristics. Not a stereotype.
Do thorough research for your multiracial / interracial romance. Learn about the ethnic background or backgrounds you're writing about. Even if you share your character's background, you may find it useful to learn more by reading and interviewing people. Sometimes the areas we think we know the most about, we learn we don't know well enough to write about well.
An authentic romance appeals across races, ethnicity, and backgrounds. Assume you have three kinds of readers: readers who are intimately acquainted with the races you're writing about (because they are of that ethnicity, or someone close to them is), readers who have no experience with the races you're writing about, and readers who know a little bit about the races you're writing about.

Your writing must do magical things. Your interracial romance must reach everyone, informing them of what they don't know, without talking down to any of the ones who already know. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

How to self-edit the middle of your story

As we self-edit, we must watch out for the sagging middle!  “A middle”, said Aristotle, “is that which follows something, as some other thing follows it.”  Fine! We know how to write the middle section of our stories—by manipulating search and struggle, sequel and scene.  The middle links these things together.  Our focal characters (heroine and hero for a romance) find their suitable goals.  In the middle our characters struggles to attain it.  Further difficulties assail them. 
The beginning starts a fight between tension and danger.  The end resolves the conflict, and the middle lies in between.  It’s the body of our story, the portion detailing the ebb and flow of the battle.  Starting with the story question, it carries our focal character forward to the moment of decision.  This marks the beginning of our story’s end.

At the moment I’m self-editing the middle of my new adult book, INTERVENUS:  A BRAND NEW ADDRESS.  Hero Marchand LaFont, groomed all his life for the space race to Venus, can’t let emotion get in the way of his mission.  At times spent alone with feisty Yardley Van Dyke, he lets his guard down but then must close himself off.  Yardley promised her dying mother she’d care for the family by growing food in her ice age greenhouse, but family dynamics have changed.  Her dad’s fiancĂ© pushes her out.  Nothing stands still in the middle.   She wants to be his but learns what he’s like under pressure.  She sees the sullenness in his glance, the wrong words are spoken, and then there’s tenderness.  Yardley, a gardener, feels as if a new bud is about to open.
Yardley's hydrangea

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The New Adult Genre-- what is it?

New Adult emerged when young adult readers wanted protagonists to represent their ages of eighteen through twenty-eight.  They're discovering who they are and figuring out the best way to become independent.  They fall in love, but their relationships can't swallow them up.  Sophisticated New Adult readers are cognitively demanding. Stories are darker, antiheroes go up again immoral governments, but goals are not ambiguous.  Readers want realism and demand multiple plot threads to stay engaged. Information is deliberately withheld in order to increase tension.  I am enjoying the rewards of writing for a smart culture.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Carey Abbot designed my book cover for INTERVENUS: A BRAND NEW ADDRESS!

For my New Adult Interracial romance, I needed a custom cover.  Otherwise I would have chosen one from her amazing half-priced pre-made covers.  What a bargain! See them here at:
My book will be released in May by moi.  Here's a sneak peek at Carey's cover--

Monday, March 17, 2014

Do you keep a notebook?

If you’re a writer, chances are you’re a trenchant observer and interpreter of society and culture. We tell ourselves stories in order to live life to the fullest. Our notes reflect our slant on what we experience.

Let’s say there’s a woman coming down the stairway into a hotel’s bar one late afternoon. She wears a dirty crepe-de-Chine infinity scarf. The bartender mops the floor where she’s sitting on a bar stool and tells her he heard she separated from George. As a reader you know she’s a regular. At the other end of the bar is a younger woman talking, not to the man beside her but to a cat lying in the triangle of sunlight cast through the open door. She’s wearing a trendy skirt, but the hem is coming down. As a writer, you make up a story. This young woman is leaving the man beside her. All she can see ahead are the viscous summer sidewalks and the 3 a.m. calls which will make her lie awake and then sleep only with the help of sleeping pills. She touches the loose hem and wishes she had a safety pin. Use the double meaning. Wishing she could fix things, she smells the disinfectant the bartender uses on surfaces. She can’t find words to say when the man beside her leaves, but she makes friends with the woman wearing the dirty scarf. She can’t talk to the man she loves but loneliness drives her to make friends with a stranger.

Isn’t it fun to rearrange things for our characters?

Friday, March 14, 2014

If you are a writer, have you tried Scrivener? I'm finishing the third week of Gwen Hernandez' amazing month-long class.  Gwen makes it so easy! If you don't know about Scrivener, it's a software product geared to keep track of EVERYTHING, and this makes finishing a book faster.

#MysteryExchange #spotlight -- have you ever had a daydream that ends up in a book? Let's ask #mystery writer Cathy Perkins @cperkinswrites

Please welcome Cathy Perkins, talented author and her book, In It For the Money! Where do authors get their ideas? Someone told me the...