July 31, 2012


I'm certain you've seen this common abuse. If you haven't, a glance through your spam folder will give you an opportunity to observe it.

An exclamation point is meant to be used with an interjection. If you're old enough to remember the Schoolhouse Rock video, an interjection "shows excitement or emotion. They're generally set apart from a sentence by an exclamation point, or by a comma when the feeling's not so strong." If you're not old enough to remember the video, click the play button.

Or, you can watch it later on YouTube at this link.

You would not use a dozen commas or question marks in a sentence, and you should not use more than one exclamation point.

An author friend of mine teaches the proper use of exclamation points this way: They are to be used if your character is screaming, yelling, or hysterical. If your character is not screaming, yelling, or hysterical, they are not feeling the emotion strongly enough to warrant the use of an exclamation point. Even then, do not put them at the end of every sentence once you have established the character is screaming. If he's involved in a fight, and the reader knows he's screaming, show the emotion once or maybe twice with the exclamation point, and the rest of the time through body language.

Enjoy the video!


July 28, 2012

Gizmos for Non-Writers

I'm happy to host the amazing A.K. Flynn today, who got her post to me despite spending most of the night in the hospital with pneumonia. If I'd been fighting pneumonia, I'd have cancelled or postponed my blog tour, but A.K. simply persisted against all obstacles. I'm in awe.


Salutations! My Name is A.K. Flynn, I'm a 27 year old bright eyed bushy tailed Child and Youth Worker to be, who is very ambitious and absolutely in love with writing all sorts mind perplexing Fiction. I also tend to pour my emotions out on the screen as it is the only thing that keeps my hectic life sane. As of right now my website and second novel seems to be a major focus and writing is my major outlet so it all pans out perfectly. Oh did I mention I was a redhead? Well now you know! So you know my writing has got to be good, because redheads are very spontaneous... (runs off into the distance babbling to herself).

I can proudly say I am a non-writer, I do not hand write nor do I really type anything. I manage to do all of my written or typed work using a program called Dragon: Naturally Speaking by Nuance. This program allows me to write my novels using a minimal user interface to transcribe my speech into text. I am also able to use specific commands to navigate my computer without needing to touch my mouse. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

I can honestly say without this program I would not have been able to keep up with my college demands, blogging, e-mails, novel creations and professional written documents needed in my profession. The reason I use this program is because of MS (Multiple Sclerosis) my fingers feel like they are on pins and needles, and when I try and type it’s a very unpleasant as it can become a painful experience. (I write at a speed which would probably provide shame to an arthritic snail.) In the case of other individuals they sometimes use the program to accomplish much more while multitasking. Think about it, most people speak over 120 words per minute, but type less than 40 words a minute.  Also it works wonderfully for recording lectures and transcribing them into text. I’m a visual learner and I need to see what has been said in order to grasp concepts and for this reason alone Dragon has been a great help. 
In terms of writing specifically, I found that I catch my mistakes much faster than I would normally by just typing, plus editing is easier because I do not have to hunt down specific words throughout the text. Dragon will jump from each word asked and scroll through it on its own making it much less frustrating when you have over 25 pages of text. I also can speak to my computer when I have an idea, before losing it, as sometimes typing can distract from the thought process and you end up losing some of the more detailed intricacies of the idea. The software has enabled me to change something about my writing process.  I mentioned earlier that my style of writing fiction is to write slowly and I tend to consider each word carefully.  Using voice recognition software has changed that activity for the better in one important regard.  In the past when I’ve sat down to write a first draft of a story or blog and I have frequently struggled to keep the overall ideas in mind as I write, and this also pertains to losing the entire idea all together too.  This problem was caused primarily by my slow typing speed allowing me too much time to think.  Now when I sit down to write a first draft I find it far easier to go with an almost “stream of consciousness” style of writing.

The benefits of this program do outweigh the negatives, but there are some things to consider before going out getting a program like this.  First of all the program states that it is 99% accurate, now with that said this program needs to be trained to obtain this accuracy. There are also training sessions that help you understand the basic functions of the program with the commands needed to navigate through your text and computer. I however found this process very tiring, as it is something that you are not use to doing and how Dragon predicts text is by the fluidity of the sentence and how long it is. The longer your sentence is the better for its accuracy. Saying singular words can become frustrating quickly, especially if you are reading from a text. I find dictating much easier than reading something back to Dragon though. Learning all the commands for Dragon can also be very frustrating as it does breakup your thought process when you have to tell it to insert a period. Also when dictating dragon does not always pick up on the different spellings of something that sounds similar such as their, they’re and their; this can be frustrating when trying to edit.
When I first started with the program I thought this will be easy, because all I have to do is talk to my computer. Upon actually working with Dragon I quickly realized that I could only do approximately 15 minutes at a time before my patience ran too thin. It takes time and it is mentally draining to constantly dictate, however it does become easier with practice and your ability to dictate for longer periods improves over time. The more you practice and talk with Dragon the more accurate and fluent it becomes.  I must say though that Dragon does not pick up on speech well if you are sick and your voice is compromised, so keep that in mind. In my opinion despite some of the issues this program is one of the better programs for speech to text and it works seamlessly with other programs; it certainly trumps the built in program from Microsoft under the accessibility menu on your computer.

Overall regardless of some frustrating moments I am very thankful for a program like this as it enables me and many others to stay connected and accomplish our written passions, whereas if this program did not exist I would not have been able to write this post. Down below are what you will need to run this program and some other gizmos I use to sustain being a non-writer.

What you will need for this Software:
·         A decent head microphone (I am using HP’s premium headset.)
·         Dragon Naturally Speaking By Nuance Communications (I am using the premium version)
·         Patience (I am running on unlimited)

Some more Programs and Hardware I use:
·         This converts your blogger website into speech (podcast) for the hard of hearing and it is free: http://www.ispeech.org/integration/blogger
·         This multitasking pen enables me to keep up with lectures ,college, and professionally related information: http://www.livescribe.com/en-us/  (I use the Echo pen)
·         Free editing program that I sometimes use when I can’t get someone to edit my essays. http://www.gingersoftware.com/

Although I use all of these programs “A procrastinator’s work is never done.”

~A.K. Flynn

July 24, 2012

The Boarder Crossed the Border

A border is an outline of some sort, which shows the boundaries of something. It can be a decorative swirl on or near the edge of a picture or greeting card. It can also show the boundaries of a country, an imaginary line drawn on a map to delineate where one government's power stops and another government's power begins.

A boarder is a person who rents a room, either from a private family or a boarding house. The price of the room usually includes meals, thus you are paying for "room and board". The term board, meaning meals, comes from medieval times when the great hall of the castle was turned into a dining room for the duration of a meal by trestle tables, which basically amounted to boards laid on sawhorses. At that time, many people worked in exchange for "clothing, room, and board", without receiving actual money for their labor.

Remember the difference by knowing that boarder and meal both have an "a" in them, and border and country both have no "a".


July 22, 2012

Vitamin F

I'm delighted today to be hosting Len Berry on his blog tour for his new book, Vitamin F.


For the longest time, I was going to treat Vitamin F as a trunk novel, setting it aside until I needed to release a book. I was more interested in trying to release something more action-oriented that would reflect my typical tastes. Explosions, biotechnology, action, intrigue, and explosions, that’s what I usually write.

Vitamin F isn’t like that at all. Instead, this dystopian science fiction focuses more on the subtle differences that separate it from our modern world. Yes, there are explosions and intrigue. I’ve got a few bits of combat, but it’s not a major feature of the story. I have biotechnology, but in a more practical, plausible form. Instead of trying to have heroes and villains, Vitamin F uses normal people as the core characters.

Which brings up the question, why am I releasing Vitamin F now?
In recent months, the modern world has gone through some distinct cultural changes. We’ve had a major political party try to make a policy war on women’s health, while trying to cut back on financial aid to the poor and students, and attempts to regulate voting and marriage well beyond any necessary levels. We hear the words all the time.

War on Women. War on Gay Rights. War on the Poor. War on Students. War on Latinos.

This is the kind of thing that predominates the news and the political discourse of the United States currently. I am a firm believer that when someone is bullied on end for a long period of time, eventually, they will fight back. In the course of history, the victors in such a conflict, especially when its between ethnic groups or nations, tend to oppress the losing side, maybe even for generations. I do not want to see this point reached with the current political state.

One of the main functions of Vitamin F is to provide a glimpse of a future where homosexual women are the most common and heterosexual men are exceptionally rare. I wanted to explore the nature of tolerance and intolerance. I wanted to examine the conflict of the sexes, as well as the conflict between sexual orientations. To achieve this, I needed to represent all sides of this battle. On one extreme, I have Oriane, a fearsome woman who is devoted to her wife and would prefer that “a male’s purpose is to be naked, quiet, and secrete reproductive fluids.” Her opposite is Adam John, a violent man who feels the old “barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen” line is too liberal.

These characters are quite literally at war with each other. They don’t want to negotiate, they only want to violently eradicate the other from the face of the Earth.

Now look at today. Our leaders don’t talk with the leaders of the opposing Party. Instead, they yell and make accusations, half of which are false, just to make the other guy look bad.

New ideas of liberty and health come about every day. Those who proclaim they want to help get Americans back to work spend all their time trying to make abortion unavailable, even to those who need it most. I saw that a lot of lawmakers were trying to turn the United States into a business driven version of Gilead from The Handmaid’s Tale and decided I was tired of it.

I didn’t feel like going into politics myself and I couldn’t stay quiet on the subject any more. I felt I had to say something, I had to do something to let others know that we were going too far. As a writer trying to build a library of stories available to the public, there was only one thing I could do.

I had to release Vitamin F.

Now, I can say that I wanted to use it as a way to get noticed by an agent or editor, which would be nice. My real reason for releasing this book now is to show the world what happens if people are oppressed for too long, what happens when the state tries to control the simplest things about life, and what happens when innocent people are caught in the conflict.


Len Berry, a lifelong resident of Missouri, studied biology before turning his imagination toward writing. In his spare time, Len enjoys drawing, watching anime, and playing an occasional video game. He is the author of the dystopian e-book Vitamin F, now available for Nook and Kindle. Since Len is an active blogger, you can find out more about him and his projects at http://lentberry.wordpress.com.

On Nook: http://t.co/rLLiVugT

On Kindle: http://t.co/VMurredi

July 17, 2012

News and Resolution Update

First, the news.

Christopher Wilke wrote a review of Assignment to Earth, which can be found at the League of the Iron Quill.

The Moms Place is now available in all formats. Links to both books are on my website, am-jenner.com.

I was out of town at my sister's wedding when it was time to publish my resolution update, and it's taken me a week or so to recover from my trip and get all the loose ends at home tucked back in again. I have not been neglecting my goals, I've just been too busy to write about them.
My goals for this year are:
  • Graduate from college.
  • Write a new manuscript, something I haven't had time to do since I started college.
  • Take a vacation someplace out of Arizona.
  • Hug my daughter every day.
  • Learn how to make book trailers and post them to YouTube.
College graduation was May 11, so that goal is now retired.

My darling daughter and new partner Jenna helped me plot a new book, Crown of Tears, which I will be writing for Camp NaNoWriMo in August.

I just got back from my vacation in California, where I visited with family and a large sentient rodent.

I continue to hug my daughter on  a daily basis.

The book trailer project has been put off indefinitely.

As I continue through the year, my goals now read:
  • Write a new manuscript, something I haven't had time to so since I started college.
  • Hug my daughter every day.
  • Finish editing The Siege of Kwennjurat and get it published.
  • Support my daughter as she takes her turn at college.
In June I read 17 books, with a total of 5335 pages. At the half-year mark, this brings my reading total to 120 books and 25,903 pages read for pleasure. None of the reading I do for school or work is included in this total.


We and Us and Me and I are all going to the store

I've had a request from my friend grrly girl to discuss when to use I in a sentence and when to use me, and also the plurals us and we.

I and me are both pronouns referring to the speaker. No one seems to have any problems deciding which one to use in a sentence when the speaker is the only subject present. From listening to our parents speak, we have learned to say, "I am going to the store", and "Give that to me".

We tend to get into trouble though, when there are two or more subjects present in the sentence. We're not sure whether to use I or me when we are going to the store with someone else, or when we are asking for something.

The easy way to figure out which one is correct is to remove the other person from the sentence. While you might dither over whether it is "Susan and I" or "Susan and me" going to the store, if you temporarily drop Susan from the sentence you will know which pronoun to use. It then becomes easy to say "Susan and I are going to the store" and "Give that to Susan and me."

We and us are the plural pronouns of I and me. If you are in a group of unnamed persons, and you need to know whether to use we or us, drop the rest of the people from the sentence temporarily. If you would use I as the singular pronoun, use we as the plural. If you would use me for the singular, then us is the proper plural. Therefore, you should say, "We are going to the store", and "Give that to us."


July 10, 2012

A Lot of Alots

This post is going to be very short, because there isn't much to say on this subject.

The phrase "a lot" means "a large number of the creatures, items, or objects in question". It is used in sentences such as, "What a lot of chocolate bars!"

The word "alot" isn't a word. It means nothing. Don't ever use it. Ever. I mean it. It's seriously annoying to people who speak, read, and write actual English. Actually, it can mean anything you want it to mean, if you accept that it isn't really a word. There's quite an interesting post about the creature known as the alot on the blog Hyperbole and a Half.

Told you this was going to be a short post. ;-)


July 03, 2012

Huzzah! Hooray! It's Independence Day!

Two old English words today, huzzah and cock-a-hoop.

I began my search for the origin and meaning of cock-a-hoop at dictionary.com, but they didn't have it and gave me a list of what theythought were likely links. One of those links led me to The Word Detective's blog where a full explanation is given which is quite interesting to read. Apparently the most common meanings in use today indicate either extreme happiness or extreme drunkenness.

A search for huzzah also sent me through various links, until reference.com said that according to the Oxford English Dictionary, Huzzah was a cheer with no apparent source. It's been in use at least since the time of Shakespeare. That's 500 years, give or take, so it's understandable that the origins have been forgotten.

So, as most of my readers celebrate the 236th anniversary of American Independence tomorrow, join with me in a loud Huzzah! And whether your idea of a good time includes extreme joy or extreme drunkenness, I hope you get all cock-a-hoop.