Follow the evolution of the Writer Knapsack (and even participate and help make decisions) as I create the face and materials of a new and different take on helping writers in this crazy world of publishing. Join me from the beginning and watch the website change as I work on sketches to a final logo, offer tips and tales toward final production, and develop an array of materials for those living the writing life...all to fill the pockets of your own writer knapsack.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Visiting Trans Canada Romance Writers

I am over at the Trans Canada Romance Writers blog today talking about the connection between haircuts and manuscripts....all in the trimming.

Pop over and join the conversation!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

One of those months

It has been a crazy stressful month--one of those when life says, "Hey, things are going a little too even keel for you.  Let's see what I can do to freak you out."

The universe definitely knows how to mix things up...a lot.

Jimmy Fallon has been the best part, but at the same time, there has been a number of sleepless nights and a learning curve for all of us.  He's awesome, though, and has been the BEST walking partner, making sure I make my step goals every day.

My son and I ended up with a horrible cold that had been going around--the one that makes you a snotty nose, hacking cough mess for a couple weeks and put me behind on many work deadlines.  Thankfully, I didn't miss any, but I hate when everything comes down to the last day.

Then the car broke down....three times.  The fourth time it's get up and go got up and went and died all together in the middle of an intersection. *Sigh*  The funny part is our last car caught fire in the middle of a snowstorm in February seven years ago.  Don't know what it is about February and us and cars, but sheesh.  And I always thought going out to look for a new (used) car would be awesome--I quickly learned that first time that it is not, at all.  Not only are you restricted by funding, but when you have a six foot husband built like a linebacker, and you are only five foot three on a good day and most of that is body with short legs, trying to find a car you can both drive comfortably is an ordeal to say the least.  So, I really wasn't looking forward to repeating the experience, and once again on a tight budget and needing a car as soon as possible when you live in the country and have to plan one vehicle around three work schedules, children sports and activities, meetings, etc. Occasionally I miss the city where you could walk or take the bus anywhere....hmmmm, no, no I don't. I much prefer the small town and country life :)

Still, as stressful as it all is, if you don't laugh you cry, and I am all for laughing whenever possible.  Like today, when driving my husband's old farm truck, as I am doing for now, and the driver's side door flew open as I rounded a corner.  Man, I thought I was in an action flick!  Then I groaned thinking I had broken our only vehicle left.  Luckily, I was able to pull over safely, and he came and fixed it because the silly thing would not stay shut.

Starting to catch up from being behind a bit, so at least that is good.  Here is hoping March won't come in like a hungry winter lion, but more like a fluffy pink teddy bear.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Spell Check...friend or foe?

Spell Check is not a proof-reader.

Spell Check is a wonderful device. The problem is, too many people trust it to be their proof-reader--if there are no red squiggly lines under the words, then the spelling must be correct, right?


the is the correct spelling....unless you meant them

accept is the correct spelling....unless you meant except

he is the correct spelling...unless you meant she

And as with the last example, mixing up simple genders might not make the best impression on an editor reading your manuscript.

Perhaps this is your first submission, perhaps you don’t know all the ins and outs of Point of View or Goal-Motivation-Conflict; that is all part of the learning curve and feedback an editor can give you. But one of the comments you don’t want from an editor is that your manuscript was sloppy with a lot of spelling errors that could have easily been avoided by a good proofing. You don’t want an editor thinking you’re lazy; you want them thinking you are a diamond in the rough that they can’t wait to help shine.

Proofing your manuscript is one of the simplest things you can do to ensure a good read by an editor.  But don't leave it up to your word program's spell checker.  One of the best ways to proof is to simply read your story out loud--you will be AMAZED how many things you can discover when reading aloud, everything from spelling to sentence structure to paragraph beats (Paragraph beats? What's that? you say--don't worry *wink* I will be talking in the future.) 

Just to be fair, though, Spell Check can be a good friend to international writers submitting to American publishers--IF you make sure the dictionary on your word program is set to the proper dictionary (eg: US). It is a good catch for words that you have used your whole life according to the country you live in. Canada for instance: colour vs color, favour vs favor etc.  Both are correct--depending which country is publishing the book.  Just don't rely on it for that final proofing before submission.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Valentine's Day Blog Tour with the Trans Canada Romance Writers

Valentine's Day may be a commercial holiday, and no, you shouldn't need a reason to express how you feel about your loved ones--you should do so every single day just because you are thankful they are there...but, let's be honest, if we have a good excuse to have chocolate or make treats, are we gonna give that up?

Nope, not me.  I will take any excuse at all to make cupcakes.

That is my thing at the day job, children's baseball games, family gathering or parties--Stacy brings the cupcakes.  And sometimes for no reason at all but that a cupcake = smiles and always makes people happy.

These ones are cherry chip with French vanilla icing, mini chocolate chips, and a strawberry Belgian chocolate on top.

The best part about cupcakes is they are easily adaptable for every holiday, every special event, and just to bring colour to a dreary week--a special way to show your special someones how much you care on Valentine's Day...or any day of the year.

And while you are baking/eating yummy cupcakes, why not read a Valentine's story sure to make you smile...

The Apple of His Eye

The Golden Rule of Friendship: Do not covet thy best friend’s fiancée.

An easy rule for Shane Gallagher to obey when he meets Eden, as staid and business-minded as his good friend, Brad, whom she is about to marry . But when she unexpectedly blossoms before his eyes, temptation takes seed.

Eden is happy with her calculated marriage plans until she is forced to spend a day with her fiancé’s best friend—minus her fiancé—and experiences an evening far different from her usual calm and analytical existence.

On this Valentine's Day, can Shane stay away from the forbidden fruit? Or will the sweetness and allure prove too much to bear?

And make sure you visit fellow Trans Canada Romance Writers to 
celebrate more this Valentine's Day!

Darlene Fredette -
Gini Rifkin -
Daryl Devore -
Victoria Adams -
Casi McLean
Denyse Bridger -
Linda Carroll-Bradd -
Krista Ames -
Susanne Matthews -
Zrinka Jelichttp://forromanceloversonly.

Trans Canada Romance Writers 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

We've been adopted by JimmyFallon

This week has been a busy one in the Holmes house as we were adopted on Wednesday by this spunky guy--yes, his name is JimmyFallon LOL.

 He's a three year old lab/vizsla(pointer) mix and it was a little bit of an odd situation that brought him to us, but definitely involved Heavenly intervention if you ask me.

His previous owners loved him and trained him very well--but their lives had been recently upturned unexpectedly with losing jobs, new jobs and having to find new living arrangements in a tiny apartment in the big city. They loved him enough to know that wouldn't be good for the energetic JimmyFallon and wanted a country home where he had space, could go for multiple walks, and play.

He seems to be adjusting well as we all learn his habits and preferences and he ours. Jimmy loves to play tug-o-war, but we learned quick that the rope toys don't last long and the heavy duty rubber ones gives more enjoyment with less clean-up LOL.

He walks well, likes to snuggle, and has already embedded himself in our hearts.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Check List

One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to make a self-editing checklist.

When a critique partner or editor makes a comment--such as delete 80% of the word "that"--add it to the list.

Then, when you've finished your first or second draft, go through your list doing a Find for the words or phrases, or checking for slips like misplaced modifiers.  Whatever is on your list, make sure you've taken care of it.

The more you catch instead of the submission editor the better!  Not only will your manuscripts be cleaner, your writing (drafts and final products) will improve with each story because the more you use your list, the more aware you will be as you write the next one...and the next and the next.

Here are just a few items to start you off:

  • that--delete at least 80% as most uses are not necessary
  • your versus you're--double check you are using the correct one
  • its versus it's--double check you are using the correct one
  • misplaced modifier--when the descriptive word/phrase doesn't match the subject it is meant to describe. e.g.: Rushing to the door, her heart skipped a beat.  Her heart is not rushing/running to the door, she is.  Therefore, the sentence needs to be rephrased.  Her heart skipped a beat as she rushed to the door.

Keep adding to your list with each manuscript.  The more aware you are, the stronger your writing will be.