August 28, 2012

Shall I take out the trash, or will you?

The two verbs, shall and will, are both used to express future conditions.

Will is normally used after pronouns such as I, we, and you. Will indicates your intention to do something, such as I will take out the trash, or a firm fact of a consequence of something; you will get into trouble if you do that.

The word shall is mostly used in a question. Although it can be used as an aid to a refusal, such as “You Shall Not Pass!” it’s mostly used as the beginning of a question, such as Shall I take out the trash? or Shall we go?

An easy way to decide which to use is by determining how formal you want to be. Will sounds more demanding, but shall is the more formal manner of speaking.

Thanks to Grrly Girl for suggesting this post!


August 21, 2012

I would like a piece of peace and quiet!

Ah, the never-ending grammar battle of which word to use. Piece and peace are homonyms, but they mean totally different things.

The word piece means part of a whole.

The word peace means freedom from war, or tranquility. I’m sure most people know the differences between the meanings, but many people spell one when they mean the other.

An easy way to remember which one you need and how to spell it: piece has an “I” in it; and piece begins with the letters p-i-e, so if you remember I took a piece of pie, then that should help your memory. Peace has an "a" in it, and when you have peace and quiet, you want to say "aaaaahhhhhh."


August 18, 2012

Book Giveaway!

My writing friend Janette Rallison has a new book, Erasing Time, coming out in 11 days. To celebrate this, she is giving away a book a day on each of her blogs. (She has one blog for each pen name. She writes YA as Janette Rallison and SF as C. J. Hill.)

Today, she is giving away signed print copies of my books Tanella's Flight and Assignment to Earth. Head to her blogs for Janette Rallison and C. J. Hill if you'd like a chance to win one of my books, along with her wonderful book, My Unfair Godmother.


August 17, 2012

New Book Trailer

I'm so excited! I have finally learned how to do something I've been wanting to do for more than a year. I have made my very first ever book trailer, and posted it to YouTube.

First, I have to thank Paul Carroll, author of Balor Reborn. Last week I agreed to host him on his blog tour. His next stop after my blog involved a tutorial on how to make book trailers. Without his help, I would not have any book trailers until next year or longer.

Second, I need to thank Shen Hart of Literary+, because without her efforts to help authors get together and help each other with marketing, I never would have met Paul Carroll.

Third, I need to thank my friend Dzrt Bxr for performing the music on my trailer and allowing me to use it.

And fourth, I bet by now you're all wanting to actually see the trailer, right? Well, here you go, I hope you all like it!


August 14, 2012

Reconstitute the Sauce and Slather it on the Pizza Bones

You’re going to do what, on what, with what?!

Reconstitute, slather, and pizza bones; a trio of very strange terms, but let’s find out what each of them mean.

Reconstitute means to bring something back to original state. Restoring dried potatoes into mashed, or soaking beef jerky in water while you’re camping so you can have yummy meat for dinner that night equals reconstitution.

Slather means to layer a liquid or semi-liquid substance on thickly, so slathering pizza sauce means laying it on thick. It sounds very tasty, as long as you put lots of cheese on top.

According to, pizza bones are the crust remnants ‘left’ or ‘you leave’ on your plate.

So if you “reconstitute the sauce and slather it on the pizza bones,” you are putting fluid into dried sauce of some kind and heaping it on pizza crusts! That sounds so good, I think I’ll have to try it soon.

Have fun slathering and munching!


August 08, 2012

DIY Cover Design

I'm very pleased to host Paul Carroll on today's stop of his blog tour. I thought I was a fast writer, but Paul is the fastest I've ever met, online or off!


Akin to gymnastics in the modern Olympics, how you present your book to the world has two styles to it: artistic, and rhythmic. Today, we’ll focus on the artistic, on what potential readers will see first, and with that we’ll look at cover design and blurb writing.

Let’s be clear: I’m not suggesting that everyone who wants to release a book like I did with Balor Reborn should design their own cover. For me, this was a matter of principle for the Writing Olympics. I had to do everything myself. In two instances, I got help. Someone else found me the image, which is royalty free and attribution free, and someone beta read the book to help pick up on mistakes. But when it came to actually designing the cover, this was my own work.

I began with a simple concept: the eye (Balor’s eye) in the middle, golden, and a black background. The writing on the cover for the title and my name is in an old Irish font that I had first encountered when I was back in secondary school. I found that font online, which allowed for me to move on to the rest of the cover.

In my writing warm up, someone suggested a cirku for Balor Reborn. That put the idea in my head that I should describe the book, in brief terms, around the eye. And so, with the different pieces in place, I had my cover. What did I learn from this?

1. Aim for simplicity.

If you’re doing this yourself, and you don’t have years of experience with art and/or design, don’t try to over-complicate the process for yourself. I went for a simple black cover with a single image that would stick out. It’s now in use on the two social networks I use the most: Facebook and Google+. To this end, I can recycle the image that I had. That’s important for marketing, being able to get the image around easily.

2. Get help.

I couldn’t afford a cover designer for two reasons. The first is obvious: money. I don’t have much. And while this book isn’t about me getting rich, it’s also not about needless spending on something I have the determination to try myself. The second thing against me was time. I simply didn’t have enough of it to specify to a designer what I wanted, and get it in time for the actual launch of the book. So, I had to pass up on that. If you decide to publish your own book, don’t be afraid to hire a cover designer. Save up the money you need, find someone affordable whose work you like, and set yourself free from the constraints of your own computer.

3. Get feedback.

I went to social media for feedback on my cover. It came down to a few things. Firstly, was black okay? I needed to know, before I did anything else, so I could try find a new colour if need be. Secondly, overall impressions. What I discovered was that people couldn’t read the text I had going around the eye, so I had to change the font. I also discovered that some people didn’t know what the image was, and that people liked the font. The latter was fantastic to hear. The former gave me something to focus on in the next step: the blurb.

Wring a blurb is easy. Writing a good blurb, not so much. It’ll be on display wherever your book is on sale. Online, it’ll be the product description. For a printed book, it’ll be on the back cover. You need to get it right. I knew I needed to explain two things in my blurb: what the image was, and that I wrote the book in a week. It then came down to making sure that Stephen and Fionn, my two main characters, weren’t too connected in the blurb. So I rewrote my blurb to cater for that, and pointed out in the end that Balor Reborn was based on the Irish myth of Balor of the Evil Eye.

In the end, I had something that worked to tell people what the book was about, without giving away the whole book. That’s vital for both the blurb and the front cover. You want to entice people, inform people, and be sure you don’t give the whole thing away in the process.

Paul Carroll is a writer from Dublin. He is studying to be a teacher of Religion and English at second level, while working in a bookshop at weekends. His 'free time' is divided among assignments, fiction, poetry, articles and blog posts, as well as college Drama and almost weekly trips to the local cinema.

He has been writing since the age of twelve, with a love of words going back further than he can remember. When he isn't reading or writing, he likes to make use of social media, bake, and talk to friends. Often, he'll watch a horror film alone in the dark for the sheer joy of it.

He can be found online at

About Balor Reborn

Old Ireland is returning, as an ancient evil arrives in Dublin. A single glance from his eye is all it takes to kill.

Stephen Fox is haunted by the memory of his wife, and suffers from guilt at abandoning his new-born son. The spirit of the tyrant Balor has come back to take his vengeance on the country. A hero must rise in the unwilling form of Fionn Murray, a university student with a mysterious past.. As a world of wonder unfolds around him, and with no one but his house mate Michael at his side, he’s left with the choice of running, or facing the evil that could consume the world.

Based on the old Irish myth of Balor of the Evil Eye, Balor Reborn is the first in a series that seeks to revive the magic of Ireland. It was written and published in one week.

It's available to buy on PDF, Epub and Mobi through

August 07, 2012

Allusions to Illusions make my Head Spin

An illusion is a distortion of the senses, revealing how the brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation.

An allusion is a figure of speech that makes a reference to, or representation of, people, places, events, literary work, myths, or works of art, either directly or by implication.

These two words are often misused at least in conversation, if not in a literary sense. Illusion is what a magician does; he creates a world or a vision of something that isn’t real. He makes you believe what he shows you is genuine and factual, when in reality it is nothing more than sleight of hand tricks or redirection of your gaze while he manipulates objects before you.

Allusion is the act of reminding you of an earlier reference of an established fact or idea. If you were asked the question, “Do you like cherry trees as much as George does?” the speaker is referring to the youthful indiscretion of our nation’s first president, George Washington, cutting down cherry trees.  You are directing my attention to a bit of early history.

If a person’s long hair is wildly untidy, an allusion to Medusa’s head of snakes would be a comparison easily recognized.

The way I remember to keep these words separate is that if I believed in magic I could become ill; therefore I must keep the illusion of magic in its proper place. My brain is big enough to remember some of the most notable references of historical and literary work ever written, but not all of them, so my allusions may need to be researched for their sources so I may understand the reference to the subject under discussion. 


August 01, 2012

My Life

I'm not sure whether blogging about my goals for the year have made me stick to them any better, but things are definitely happening for me.
My goals for this year began as:
  • Graduate from college. (Accomplished)
  • Write a new manuscript, something I haven't had time to do since I started college.
  • Take a vacation someplace out of Arizona. (Accomplished)
  • Hug my daughter every day.
  • Learn how to make book trailers and post them to YouTube. (Deferred 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.
The new manuscript, Crown of Tears, was started this morning. As I like to write over my outline, the combined word count for the outline and manuscript already exceeds 2,000 words. My office is hung with ten maps for Crown of Tears, and one for The Siege of Kwennjurat. My daughter says it looks like a copy of "National Geographic" blew up. She wants to edge all my maps with yellow.

The daily hugs have gone a long way to defusing tension between my teen daughter and myself. I'm about two-thirds of the way through The Siege of Kwennjurat, and still plan to release it this fall. 

My sweet daughter starts school in about three weeks. We're going shopping for textbooks and school supplies next week.

I'm 3/4 of the way through knitting a pair of socks. My arthritis is now moving into my hands and wrists, making it more difficult for me to write and do my handcrafting. This is a very sad thing for me. I've ordered dictation software to handle the writing challenge, but I'm still looking for an app that will create hand-knit items for me. I don't think I'm going to find one. In July I read 25 books, for 4696 pages. In May 2011 I started the complete works of Mark Twain, which is about 6,500 pages and includes his essays and letters as well as all of his works of fiction. I just passed the 5,000 page mark, and am getting excited about finishing up. It's been a fascinating ride, and I now understand why people say the man is so funny.