Monday 4 May 2015

Ridding Your Work of Redundancy

Redundancy, usually flagged by an editor with the letter R, is the use of the same word or phrase over and over within a piece of writing.

This is a problem that can easily be fixed with a little creativity. Typically, in any good piece of writing, you really want to avoid using the same word or phrase, especially within the same paragraph. This is especially true when paragraphs are short - less than half a page long.  There should be little to no repetition of words, i.e. "cats" in the same paragraph.  This can be changed or avoided in one of two ways: by changing the redundant word to something with the same meaning, or by rewriting the sentence so it says the same thing, but in another way. I'll give you an example below; the first paragraph uses a redundant word that need editing, and the following two offer different ways of rewriting it to make it a stronger piece of work.

Cats are cute. My cat is very affectionate and has a typical cat name; Fluffy. Cats can climb trees, which is an important skill for a cat to have, especially when being chased by a dog.

Cats are cute. My feline is very affectionate and has a typical pet name; Fluffy. She can climb trees, which is an important skill for her to have, especially when being chased by a dog.

Cats are cute and can climb trees, which is an important skill for them to have, especially when being chased by a dog. My feline, Fluffy, has a typical name and is very affectionate.

So you see, in the first example, the word "cat" is very over-used.  It appears far too many times, and makes the writing seem elementary, or less sophisticated. In the second example, the paragraph remains the same, but with a little help from some useful synonyms, the writing sample becomes less tedious/boring for the reader.  A little bit of variation keeps them on their toes, and helps to prevent them from skimming.  The third variation completely changes the wording, but keeps the intent of the story intact.

Saturday 21 February 2015

POV or Point of View. How to Successfully Write from the POV of More than One Character.

  Books are generally written from the protagonist's point of view (or POV for short).  However, what if you want to switch partway through a book and show someone else's POV?

You can write a book correctly, from any number of points of view, but they have to be packaged neatly.  Each chapter or section of a chapter should be written from the same character's POV the whole way through that chapter or section.  So if you start writing a chapter from say, a girl named Stephanie's point of view, the whole chapter should only be from HER point of view - what she's feeling, sensing and seeing.  The next chapter can then be written from say...Peter's point of view, but then THAT whole chapter has to stay from Peter's point of view.  If you want to switch back to what Stephanie or another character is feeling or seeing or sensing, and you want to stay within the same chapter, you either have to cut the chapters in sections with * * * between the paragraphs to let the reader know there's a switch.  It's the way to give the reader the heads up that you're changing perspective, so they are expecting the switch, and don't get confused or suffer from what I think of as vertigo.  If you're going to do this though, do it consistently throughout the book. This should not be used once, and then not again. Whatever format you want to write in, be in all from one person's POV, from a protagonist and then antagonist, or from multiple characters, just be consistent with the changes and style of those changes throughout the book.

A common and effective way to switch POV in a book is to write complete chapters from different characters' points of view.  Robert Jordan does an amazing job of this in the Wheel of Time Series. Each chapter is headed by the name of the person he is writing from, so the reader automatically knows whose head space the story is happening in. Each chapter is told with a different feel, that is consistent with that character.  For example, all of the chapters written from Mat's point of view are done in a congenial manner, full of pranks and his perspective on women and gambling and the world in general.  Those written from Nynaeve's POV are all no-nonsense, and meshes perfectly with her personality. (If you haven't read his stuff, I would SERIOUSLY recommend it. It's 14 books of awesome, and they're fantasy, and LONG, but his cultures and characters and character lines are so complex (but easy to follow and remember), that his book series has actually been compared to War and Peace.  He even goes as far as to take the same readers for all fourteen of the audio books.  Michael Kramer reads all of the chapters told from the different male characters' points of view, and Kate Redding reads all of the female ones.  It would give you the perfect example of the correct way to write from multiple character's points of view.

The common error occurs when a writer switches in the middle of a paragraph or chapter, with no warning to the reader.  For example:

Chad walked down the street with his hands shoved way down in his pockets.  The melancholy he was dealing with had stolen his smile, and worry lines creased his forehead.  Charlene always walked this way, and he wondered if he would see her.  Part of him hoped that he would, just a glimpse of her smile made his heart beat quicker, but her stinging words often cut like a knife; she was not always a nice girl. It usually depended on who she was with.  His eyes stayed glued to the cement sidewalk blocks as they slowly moved under him.  His long blond bangs hung down, shielding his face from onlookers, and afforded him privacy, allowing him to think.  Then, her chiding voice filled the air.     

"Anthony, give it back!" she flirted with another boy from their history class.  He was holding her book in the air just out of reach, and she was stretching up to take it. She knew full well that she wasn't tall enough to compete with his gorgeous six-foot-two physique, but she didn't care in the least.  That wasn't the point anyway, she didn't care about the book, but reaching up like that made her shirt lift, just a little.  She saw his eyes flick down to her exposed skin, and caught him smile.  She blushed, and took a small step toward him.

"You heard the lady, give it back," another voice ordered from down the block.  Ick, it's that annoying creep from history, she thought, perturbed that her fun was to be interrupted...

So you see, I started out from Chad's point of view, and then jumped into Charlene's.  For this type of writing to be correct, I should have stayed with Chad's POV and finished the scene.  Then I could break it up with * * * or a new chapter and tell a different part of the story from her point of view.(Stephanie Meyers even went so far as to make a start of rewriting the entire Twighlight book but this time from Edward's point of view.  I forget what it was called, but it was neat to see the same story from a male perspective).

If you want to see another quick example of how to make the switch in mid-chapter properly, check out the first book in my medieval fantasy series, Knight's Surrender.  You can find it in hard copy at (search Knight's Surrender, Heather Reilly), or on ebook at (Search Knight's Surrender).

Chapters 17, 18, and 19 will give you a great snapshot of how the switching technique is used. Chapter 17 is from the main character's point of view, then chapter 18 switches to the villain's POV. Chapter 19 has the POV switching back and forth, but with those *** breaks I was talking about so the reader sees it coming.  I hope you read and enjoy!

No matter whose POV you are writing from, just remember to make sure the whole chapter or scene is complete before you switch. Also, consistency will help the reader know what to expect.  When a reader becomes confused when reading, it breaks their suspension of disbelief, and pulls them out of your world and back into the real one.  As long as you stick to a pattern, and are consistent with the ways you switch, and whose point of view you are switching to, they will have no problems following your story, and can remain happily submersed in the world you've created.

Friday 13 February 2015

How to add or fix page numbers and title/author headers in your book

Feb 13, 2015

This is one of those things that you have to do every time you write a book, but because you don't do it that often, perhaps it's something that you keep forgetting (as I sometimes do when I'm not repeating an action), or maybe the program just won't do what you think it should be doing.  This can get very frustrating, so I thought I'd give you some instructions or tips to help you do this for yourself. This would probably be a good time to plug my services quickly, so here goes.  I offer complete formatting services for ebook or printed book (both are very different), for an affordable price.  For more information, check out my website:

These instructions work when using word - I've never typed a doc on a Mac, so I'm sorry, I can't be of much help there, but perhaps this can point you in the right direction.

When I write or edit in a Createspace template, I scale down the size of the document (in the bottom right corner opposite page and word count,) to 90%. This lets me see two pages at a time. It is worth noting that the pages are opposite to how they will appear in the book: the page you see on the left on your computer screen will be the page on the right in the actual printed book.  Therefore, I have left some reminders below to make sure things will print properly.

Once you have all of your introductory stuff added (title page, copyright page, dedication, acknowledgements, map or graphic, table of contents etc), and have started your actual story, this is a good time to enter the formatting.  I usually wait until all the "front matter" is done, so I don't have to add in pages or move things around later.

Formatting – set up your document
·         Back up the “Chapter 1” onto the previous page
·         Go to Page Layouts
·         Breaks
·         Section Breaks (this will drop "Chapter 1: back down to a new fresh page, which should be on the left screen page). The section break you have just created means that you won't have the author/title, or page numbers appearing on your front matter, they will begin when your story does.

Page numbers:
·         Go to footer
·         under the HEADER AND FOOTER design tab:
·         unclick the “link to previous” (make sure different odd/even pages, & show text doc are all checked)
·         Go to page number
·         Format page number: start on 1
·         Alignment for page numbers: left screen page - number to right (and vice versa) this puts the numbers at the outside edge of the actual book

·         Go to header
·         unclick the link to previous
·         name goes on the top of the right screen page
·         Book title (italics) goes on the left screen page.

Note: for both page numbers in footer and author’s name/title in header, if they don’t appear to be continuing, or if a page number 3 is missing etc, double check that on that page in the footer or header, that you don’t have to unclick the “link to previous” again.  In my word document, I have had to do that a second time on that one page, for both the new numbers and the header.

Hope this helps, happy writing!

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Past and Past Perfect Tenses

January 28, 2015

A new year, and more notes! I had a very good conversation with one of the authors I edit for, so I thought I'd talk about it here.  A lot of authors have questions about the correct time to use tenses in writing as a general rule.  I was lucky growing up.  I had a grandmother who was chief of the grammar police, so things like tenses and correct word choice were ingrained into me at a young age. It now comes naturally to me for the most part, but for a lot of people, it doesn't.  There are a lot of great web sites out there that can help you as an author, but when doing research or when trying to learn, keep in mind that all websites are like television; you can't always believe what you see.  Remember that all websites are written by people like you or I, and every article is written with some bias.  Some of us are specialized in our areas (I have an honors English degree, and I've been an editor for over two decades,) but these things we write are still our take on things.  Having said that, I hope that some of what I talk about can guide you and shed some light on things that might be to date, as clear as mud.

So take a journey with me through the wonderful world of tenses. If you are writing from the first person's POV (point of view), then you will likely be writing predominantly in the present tense, with a possible smattering of past and past perfect. If you are writing from the third person's or narrator's POV, you'll be writing in a mixture of past and past perfect.

Present: walk, run, fumble, explode, sympathize.
Past: walked, ran, fumbled, exploded, sympathized.
Past Perfect: had walked, had run, had fumbled, had exploded, had sympathized.

The easiest way to explain it is if you're writing in the third person, or narrator's voice, using the past tense denotes what is happening as you read the book. Past Perfect is used to tell a story within the story, or to tell about something that happened before the "present" in the book.  I'm not talking about present as in using present tense verbs, but rather, what is happening as you read. Past can describe something habitual or repeated, whereas past perfect can also describe an action that has ended and will not likely be repeated.

 "Listened" is in the past, but when writing in third person, that talks about what the person is doing in the story as you are reading it. "She listened at the door, and the sound came again."  When you read this, you understand that it's happening.  The sound could come again as you are watching the scene unfold.  Her listening didn't end.

However, if it was something that happened in the current story's past (like at breakfast earlier in the morning), or only happened once, and then stopped happening, the perfect is used.  "She had placed the coat in the closet and had forgotten about it."  She did this a long time ago, and it was done with.  The action was not going to repeat itself, it was complete.

Part of it is using context of the rest of the paragraph or chapter to explain which to use.  If a chapter mentions something about time context, like Sabrina was washing dishes after supper, (and then she has a flashback or the story talks about what she did earlier that day),  the washing dishes part (the story's current present as it is happening now), would be washed, but the verbs in the flashback or description of earlier would be perfect: she had made breakfast for everyone that morning.

In any histories of your characters, it should all be past perfect.  had been, had lived, had moved, etc.  It was long ago in the past, and it's no longer happening, nor is it likely to repeat itself, it's complete.

All of the present things happening currently in the book should be washed, slept, changed etc. because that is still happening as the story is unfolding.

I find the best way to really explain what might be confusing concepts, is through examples.  It's easier to understand something if we can experience it and see it working. I was doing some editing of my own work, and I came across a passage that I thought might explain better the past and past perfect.

Master Zalice held in his hands a little wooden box with decorated metal bands across the top.  It was the same box he had procured from Cal’s trunk just after the boy had left.  He hadn’t stolen it, well not exactly.  It happened to have been his box in the first place.  He had just retrieved it from Cal’s room when the boy had gone. Thankfully, he had interrupted the child before he had had a chance to examine the contents that lay within.

As you can see, the first line is what is happening in the book's present tense, it's what's happening in the story now.  (it's written as past tense held, because it is written in the third person.  But as you read it, you know that this part of the story is unfolding as you are reading it.)  Then, the tense changes to past perfect, had procured, had left, hadn't, have been, had retrieved, had interrupted, had had... because the story tells about something that happened prior to this "present" time in the story. (It happened a day or two earlier).

So to sum up, if your book is written in third person, the tense to use when describing what is happening as you read, or of what is going on is past tense:

Sabrina walked to the table and sat down.

When you are telling about something that had already happened before the "right now" of your storytelling, i.e. about a character's past, or about something that had happened earlier in the day or earlier in the week, that is when had and had been are used:

She had been a wreck that morning, with great knots in her hair and mascara trails that had run down her face.  She had brushed her hair for almost an hour, and had scrubbed her face with a warm wash cloth. That had felt good, but it was only with a force of will that she had been able to make herself presentable before breakfast.

Thursday 18 December 2014

I am elated at the recent completion of my other projects.  Cauldron Cards is now published, and I must say, is an extremely fun game to play! (Also a great Christmas present!) You can check it out through, or shoot me an email and I have a few for sale.

I am honored, and love working for other authors in many respects, as editor, illustrator, and cover designers.  The only drawback that I have found recently, and only because my other projects are coming to a head, is that I have come to the realization that I tend to put my own projects on the back burner in order to complete my "real work" for others.  I think that this is a necessity, and if I were a client of mine, I would expect nothing less.  I aim to please.  But, it has been nice to finally get back to some of my own projects, and be able to work on them without feeling guilty that I'm not working on someone else's.  I think I'm going to give myself a whole week to concentrate on just that, and give myself some "me time".  I feel that it's healthy, and necessary at some point, like being able to just blow off some steam.  One of my projects, the Bonesie's Blog (, has been something that I am sticking to, and I have been diligently writing for every day or every other day when life is really busy.  I have been lax in that this week with Hanukkah, my school's concert, and my son's birthday all falling in the same week, however, this is not a project I intend to let fall by the wayside.  Please check it out, it's a little bit of awesome.  For now, I will leave you with a little brain teaser from my third book in the Binding of the Almatraek series, Enchanted Page, which should be out in January.  This is a riddle, and I'll post the answer in my next blog.
I move across the land,
But I don’t require air,
I dive through the water,
But I don’t get wet there.
Some say I’m part of a free flying fowl,
Though I never make a peep,
Nor hoot like an owl,”

Books are a great gift to give for the holidays, please check out my website; for books for kids, teens, and adults alike! Also, if you are looking to publish, go to, we might not have all the answers, but we do offer a lot of help!

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Dec. 9, 2014
This weekend, the author of my illustrated book Santa Almost Missed our Town, put together a reading/book signing book launch.  He and his wife, who worked closely with me on the project, invited me to be a part of it, for which I felt really touched and grateful.  There wasn't a real big turn out, but I was introduced to a beautiful location that always has things on the go.  It was held at the Bay Roberts Information Pavilion, and walking into the place, it was instantly comforting.  The whole place was decorated with Christmas paraphernalia, and though I'm Jewish, it was very cozy and inviting.  Talking to the lady afterwards, I learned that it takes approximately three weeks to decorate the two room establishment, and they redo the decoration for every holiday normally celebrated in Newfoundland.  I have found a new avenue to help promote my books, as she has invited me to come back during tourist season to do a book reading of one of my own books, which I am really looking forward to.  As an added plus, the lady who keeps the Bay Roberts website up and running, was there to take our picture and will be posting on the town's information page.  That's it for now, I have been working on another blog,, and it has become a new project that I am really enjoying.  I am writing religiously there, every day, or every other day on the outside.  Come, check it out!

Sunday 23 November 2014

November 23, 2014
I worked that big craft fair close to the city today.  Things went differently than expected.  On the plus side, it was housed at a high school, and a LOT of the kids were there to help out.  I mean how thrilled was I to be told upon registering that if I drove around to the back, there would be minions...(I mean students), to help me unload my car!  I went in feeling like a rich lady who had personal valets.  I was inspired and moved by the amount of work the school body did to decorate (all the figureheads on the gym walls were dressed with x-mas hats and there were large presents everywhere).  It really felt like the holidays, and the piped in repeating holiday music was even on a cycle that didn't make me want to tear my hair out.  So all pluses. On the down side, the large crowds I was anticipating, the droves of people promised, the throngs of buyers...must have been out to lunch...but not at the craft fair's cafeteria, if you know what I mean.  There were much fewer buyers than I had prepared for, though the ones that did buy largely bought more than one of my books.  I tried something new this time with the contest, a raffle for a free book that anyone was entered into when they bought at least two books.  Unfortunately, this craft fair was three times the cost to rent a table as the past ones, so I basically broke even on my costs.  The good news is that I drummed up lots of interest, including drawing the eye of a representative from the local university, who informed me that they keep copies of books from all of Newfoundland's authors.  Therefore, she's going to mention me to her board, and possibly order a (or some) books.  I did meet some wonderful people, one of which was an inspiring young man (teen) who created his own business called "Stranded".  It has a wonderfully powerful message, and I encourage you all to check it out. The only real down side to my journey today was that the helpful teens at the end of the day had become too scarce to help carry all the stuff back OUT to the cars.  I guess life is never perfect, but today was fun on the whole.

Monday 17 November 2014

I also forgot to mention that I have started a blog called Bonesies Blog, a day in the life of our cat. Possibly humorous, cat lovers will get this, dog lovers should read it too, you know your dog thinks it's a cat ;)

October 15, 2014
I have mastered the art of multitasking to a fault. I find myself taking on a very heavy workload when it comes to my various writing projects, but as they are being completed, I feel the cloud lifting. I set deadlines for myself, and I find that because they are self-set, I am okay with not meeting them. Having said that, they give me a time frame to work towards, which keeps me on the job. I usually complete projects in order of importance: editing first for other authors, or cover work. Illustrations and kids' books next, because I find them both quicker than writing novels, and to be honest, the most enjoyable. Lastly, my own personal writing projects, my novel series. The only thing I find that disappoints me, although I think this is the most gainful way to spend my time, is that I lose the knack of daily writing. I find it harder to pick up the threads this way, and I let down my fans. One family in particular has come back to craft fair after craft fair seeking the next book in the series, and I feel like I am not doing enough. I have begun to recognize my own limitations, and I feel that it's helping to say "no" to some new projects, while excepting those that I will be able to manage. My last roadblock is in not having a set schedule due to work and staying home with the kids. I have two small children, and I find that life with them is pretty unpredictable at best, even when attempting to stick to a schedule for their learning. This means that I have to find time to work after they go to bed for the night, which for me, is my least productive time of day...perhaps I'll have to start drinking coffee in the evenings.

November 15, 2014
The workload grows lighter, as does the weight on my shoulders to get everything done. I have the pleasure of announcing to the world the end of and the birth of three long-lasting work projects that have all come to fruition. The Poetical Alphabetical Book, a colourful children's rhyming alphabet book both illustrated and written by me; Santa Almost Missed Our Town, written by Tom Christopher and David J. Fitzpatrick and illustrated by me (this is the book made from a song that I wrote about in my earlier posts), and the long awaited Cauldron Cards. Cauldron Cards is a card game based on my medieval fantasy novel series. I banded together with LilCon Games to create the graphics for this magical spin-off of their other popular game Cooking Cards. The game is now available, and has an expansion pack to allow for altered game play and more players at the table. I'm really quite proud of all of these projects, and to celebrate, I am doing the biggest craft fair yet in order to get the word out. I wanted to reach more readers, and this one is in a big town, close to the city, and promises to have a big crowd of all new readers who have yet to own any of my books. New exposure is great, so I have gotten pencils printed with my website, an all new set up for the (smaller) new table, and I have decided to do a draw for anyone who buys a set of books to encourage the purchase of more than one. I have taken on the square app to allow buyers to use credit cards to allow for bigger purchases, and my buyers will get to fill out a ballot for the chance to win a free book. Fingers crossed, I hope it goes well!

November 17, 2014
A quiet reprieve.  Now that most of my projects are done, I find I have a little more time for this.  I am on the fence though about my website, a sore topic for the last few months.  I have been begging my web creator to update my website for a while now, two books and a game ago, to be exact, and nothing is getting done.  My company has now published two other authors, that I want author pages for, and it should be updated with all of the merchandise I sell.  I am about to endeavor in a craft show this weekend, (Craft shows are where I sell the majority of my books), but this one promises to give new exposure and a LOT of people coming through.  I got swanky new affordable business cards from vistaprint, I paid an extra $25 for this raised ink bit and man, does it look swanky!  All my ducks are in a row, except the website.  It HAS to be updated before the weekend.  I am on the fence whether to create my own website on Weebly, which I have done for another author and another company, but the only downside is that I like the setup and look of my website, and weebly has set templates/flavours for you to choose from.  I put a lot of work into the graphics on my website, and I won't be able to use them on the new one.  Perhaps I will plug away at a new one and not activate it until it gets closer to the end of the week.

On an up side, I'm looking to start swapping blogs and have guest bloggers com on the site.  I've never done this, and am not really sure how it works, but I have found the wealth of information from my contacts on places such as Linked in to be invaluable, so perhaps some of that information will translate here.

Go check out Bonesies Blog, my new blog that's truly the cat's meow!