Friday, August 1, 2014

BOOK COVER FRIDAYS: FULL EXPOSURE by Sara Jane Stone


WELCOME TO BOOK COVER FRIDAYS!
Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from one of
New York's Leading Romance Authors. Enjoy!

 
FULL EXPOSURE
Book One: Independence Falls
by Sara Jane Stone
Avon Impulse
 
 
 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

CRAFT CORNER: Bill and Jane Did What Now? Passive Voice in Fiction

by Isabo Kelly



Fair warning, I’m only going to cover the very basics of this topic. For further reading, I recommend visiting Grammar Girl (http://www.quickan­ddirtytips.com/grammar-girl) who has a couple of excellent articles on her website covering this issue. The topic of Passive Voice comes up a lot in conversations with other writers, and frequently the term gets used to refer to inactive verb choice. In the same breath, “passive voice” is often labeled as something that should absolutely never be used.

In actuality, passive voice is a very handy grammatical construct that can be useful in the right situations.

Let’s start by first defining exactly what it is. In short, passive voice is

when a sentence is constructed so that the subject of the sentence is being acted on rather than doing the acting. Look at these example sentences:

1. Bill and Jane started running the gauntlet.

2. Bill and Jane ran the gauntlet.

3. The gauntlet was run by Bill and Jane.
 

Example number 3 is the sentence constructed using passive voice. The first example—the example that can wrongly be referred to as passive voice—is actually simply the use of a weaker verb construction. That’s not to say the weaker construction is wrong either. This might be exactly what you mean to say. But it’s not the stron­gest verb choice in the examples. The stronger verb choice, and the active sentence, is shown in example 2.

Generally, when writing fiction, example 2 is the kind of sentence you want to lean toward. Active voice, strong verb, reads well, says what you want it to say, simple and straight-forward.

In contrast, sentences written in passive voice are often awkward to read. The sentence doesn’t really say what you want it to, or it is too convoluted for a reader to navigate smoothly. If you haven’t used the passive con­struction on purpose, your writing can feel stilted and create distance with your reader. Passive voice tends to require more words as well. The writing will feel tighter if active voice is used. As a side note, if active verbs are used, the writing also feels tighter. I suspect this is why the two grammar issues are often confused.

Another mistake people tend to make is assuming that every form of “to be” represents passive voice. This isn’t true. There’s no reason to shun “to be” in all cases. Sometimes, “to be” is the only verb that fits the sentence.

So when is passive voice actually a good thing? Occasionally, particularly in speech writing and corporate memos, passive voice comes in handy when trying to deflect blame. A classic example is: “Mistakes were made.” By delivering the sentence this way, the speaker isn’t saying exactly who made those mistakes or ac­cepting blame for the mistakes directly. Passive voice is great at spinning facts so that the person using it isn’t actually lying, but they aren’t exactly being upfront with the full truth.

How can that help in your fiction? If you have a politician or CEO giving a speech, for example, they might require passive voice in their dialogue. It’s even possible your protagonist will use passive voice in their internal thoughts or in dialogue to avoid accepting blame for their actions. Used with conscious thought, passive voice can actually be a very powerful tool in your writer’s arsenal. It’s just important to recognize what it is and why you’re using it.

Understanding what passive voice is will enable you to avoid it where you don’t want it and use it when the writing calls for it. As with all grammar topics, knowing the “rules” is the only way to effectively use or break them in service of your fiction. Once you understand the difference between active and passive voice, you’ll ensure your writing is filled with exactly the types of sentences you intend.♥
 
 
Isabo Kelly highly recommends writers hunt up actual grammar experts for more on this topic. She still works at weeding the occasional inadvertent appearance of passive voice out of her own writing. Her latest fantasy ro­mance release THE DARKNESS OF GLENGOWYN (Fire and Tears #2) benefits greatly from active voice. For more on Isabo visit her at www.isabokelly.com, follow her on Twitter @IsaboKelly, or friend her on Facebook www.facebook.com/IsaboKelly.

Monday, July 28, 2014

FATED LOVE AND THE MAGIC OF THE KOOKABURRA

by Mac Perry



During my lunch hour the other day, I was reading Joseph Campbell’s HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES, on my iBook application. I was struck by the part about dreams being the stuff of unresolved childhood issues, which are the seeds of unrealized potential. As adults, we may have to regress to find those seeds again, in order to undergo transformation, which is a way of returning to the immortality of our soul. That got me to thinking about God, faith, and fate. And, of course, you can’t ponder such things without thinking about love, soul mates, and a sense of purpose. Thus, the theme for this month’s Keynotes, “Fated Love,” was born.

And then I needed to pee.

When I returned from my bathroom break and illuminated my iPhone, iBook had mysteriously switched to my Nook application, and my animal totems book was open to the Kookaburra, of all things. The subtitle read, “The Kookaburra is your power animal.”

Huh. Well, that was curious! Not only because some ghostly hand had decided I needed to read this passage (and is apparently up on the new OS 7), but also because I had no idea what a Kookaburra was. Turns out, a Kookaburra is a bird.

The text said: To manifest your dreams, stay centered, maintain your focus and determination, and let nothing deter you. The best way to overcome your fear is to face it and do whatever you need to do in order to accom­plish your objective. Release behavior patterns that no longer serve you.

I started crying. Yes, again, at work (but not as hard as I did this morning on the toilet). I think the waterworks were for three reasons: One, because I felt like somebody was paying attention to me (so what if only an angel or disembodied spirit? Who am I to be picky?) Two, because it was terribly vague (if the great beyond wanted to give me a don’t-give-up pat on the back, they could have at least included a time table. Like, “An agent will pick you up in approximately three months at 18:00 hours”). And three, I wasn’t sure if they were talking about ambition or love.

Naturally, I had to get my boss’s input. She said, “I don’t think whatever is in charge could get any clearer than that. Your need for further clarification is just a manifestation of your baseless doubts about achieving what you are obviously destined to do. Take it for what it is, which is a ‘good job, keep up the good work.’ Focus on what you’ve been doing and it will be fine.” Have I mentioned I have an awesome boss?

“But what if I end up alone for the rest of my life? I’d like to think I would be okay with that, but I wouldn’t be. And I think that makes me flawed and weak and common.”

She rolled her eyes. “Men are not going to let you live the rest of your life alone. It’s not possible. Look at you.”

“No, but what if it is?”

“It’s not.”

“Youth sags, and beauty fades.”

“Stop assuming everyone else’s problems. You’re not them. Your story is your own.”

Later that evening, I sought the male opinion from a pen pal. He said, “You won’t be alone, you require some­one.”

Ugh! I cringed. Like I had gone to school naked and forgotten my homework on the bus. “How do you know that about me? Doesn’t that make me co-dependent and pathetic?”

“It’s not, Red. Everyone wants someone. It’s human nature.”

As much as I’d like to deny it, relationships have deeply affected my self-concept, (not the least of which, my failed marriage). Campbell states, “In the United States there is a pathos of inverted emphasis: the goal is not to grow old, but to remain young; not to mature away from mother, but to cleave to her. And so, while husbands are worshiping their boyhood shrines...their wives, even after fourteen years of marriage and two fine children produced and raised, are still on the search for love--which can come to them only through the mythical crea tures of their dreams or the big screen.” I don’t know one woman over thirty who wouldn’t understand this statement (and a few over the age of twenty-five).

Look at the popularity of Romance fiction, for example, which was the largest share of the U.S. consumer market in 2012 at 16.7 percent. Of that 16.7 percent, 91 percent are women. And these women are no morons (as my grandmother would say), these are women between the ages of 30 and 54, earning between $50,000.00 and $99,000.00 per year, more than half of which are married or have a significant other. And they are loyal readers; 44% percent considering themselves “frequent readers,” and 41% percent have been reading for over twenty years.

Okay, so, here I am. Trying to be a romance writer, a weaver of fantasies and a proponent of the “happily ever after,” aka, Fated Love. Maybe that seems like a wrong direction to take if I want to find love in reality, but a belief in fated love is closer to reality than you might think.

Campbell states, “The happy ending is justly scorned as a mis­representation; for the world, as we know it, as we have seen it, yields but one ending; death…and the crucifixion of our heart... The fairytale of happiness ever after…belongs to the never-never land of childhood…just as the myth of heaven ever after is for the old. [But] these in the ancient world were regarded as of a higher rank than tragedy…of a deeper truth, of a more difficult realiza­tion, [and] a sounder structure. The happy ending of the fairy tale, the myth, and the divine comedy of the soul, is to be read, not as a contradiction, but as a transcendence of the universal tragedy of man.”

In other words, the happy ending is not a contradiction to “real life,” but hints at the transcendence of the soul—which is im­mortal, sustaining, and capable of transforming. To believe in the happy ending is to integrate anxiety-provoking ambiguities. This helps us endure and change, when the world around us remains the same.

I like that. And I’ll take it. In fact, between Campbell and the Kookaburra, I’m feeling pretty damn optimistic right now. So, I will embrace the Kookaburra’s magic, and keep reading and writing happy endings. Because in every happy ending, we are fated to find love, whichever way you slice it. ♥

 

Mac Perry is a Creative Arts Therapist, adjunct professor, and aspiring author of urban fantasy. When she is not corralling her three-year-old son, she is blogging and working on her passion’s pursuit. To learn more, check out her web site at www.macperry.com, or her blog at www.macperrysblog.blogspot.com.

Friday, July 25, 2014

BOOK COVER FRIDAYS: SURVIVAL OF THE FIERCEST by Chloe Blaque


WELCOME TO BOOK COVER FRIDAYS!
Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from one of
New York's Leading Romance Authors. Enjoy!

 
 
SURVIVAL OF THE FIERCEST
by Chloe Blaque
Loose ID
 
 

 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

LOVE IS OUR TRUE DESTINY

by Catherine McNally




Have you found your soul mate? Is your partner the person you were des­tined to be with?

Fated love – the concept that there’s a pre-destined perfect match for each person in the world – is a universal theme that can be traced back thousands of years. From oral folklore to written stories, there is a long tradition of tales about couples who are somehow cosmically meant to be together. These stories run the gamut of fated love, where the couple goes on to live a long happy life together, to ill-fated love, where the couple is destined to fail in their efforts to be united.

One genre where fated love is found in abundance is in fairy tales. The recurring theme in many of these stories is a heroine or hero in distress who overcomes adversity with the help of the person destined to become their spouse. From Cinderella’s transformation into the belle of the ball under the loving gaze of the handsome prince, to Sleeping Beauty who is awakened from a spell by the kiss of her one true love, the power of connect­ing with the one person you were meant to be with has universal appeal.

Everyone wants to be loved and cherished, and many of us believe that our soul mate is out there somewhere and it’s our destiny to be together. The idea that life is not random – that there’s a greater power controlling our fate – can be a comforting concept for many people.

We see the fated love theme play out in all kinds of novels. From historical novels like GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell where the hero and heroine are destined to carry on a passionate love affair across the backdrop of the Civil War; contemporary romance novels like THE NOTEBOOK by Nicholas Sparks where the lead characters overcome many obstacles to finally unite and remain bonded despite the onslaught of de­mentia; to ill-fated love stories like A FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green where a young cancer-ridden couple fall deeply in love only to be parted by the tragic disease that consumes them.

The appeal of fated love is here to stay, and can inspire us as writers of our own romance stories. From fated love stories with a “happily ever after” ending to ill-fated love stories that end tragically but teach us meaning­ful life lessons - destiny is a powerful concept. ♥
 
 
 
Catherine McNally is an aspiring author of contemporary romance who recently finished drafting her first novel. She joined Romance Writers of America in 2013 and found her way to RWA/NYC where her local chap­ter members inspire her to pursue her dream of becoming a published author.

Monday, July 21, 2014

THE GIDDY GRAMMARIAN: A Case for Case

by Lisbeth Eng


The English language is challenging enough, I admit, but try studying a foreign language if you really want to exercise your gray matter. In German, for instance, there are six different ways to say the word “the.” First, one has to consider the noun’s gender (masculine, feminine or neuter). Then, one must determine case, and we have four possibilities there: nominative, accusative, dative and genitive. Don’t worry – you don’t have to memorize these!

“But surely there is no such thing as ‘case’ in the English language,” I hear you say. Don’t feel bad. I didn’t know there was such a thing as case in English either, until I began to study German a few years ago. Well, I didn’t know what it was called, but it was always there, nonetheless.

Case refers the function a noun or pronoun takes in a sentence. These are the cases in the English language:

*Nominative: the subject of a sentence, the person or thing that is performing the action of the verb. The nomi­native pronouns are I, you, he, she, it, we, they.

*Accusative: the direct object, that which receives the action. Pronouns are me, you, him, her, it, us, them.

*Dative: the indirect object, that which is indirectly affected by the action of the verb. A preposition must be included or implied. Examples include to him, with her, for them, etc.

*Genitive: This is the possessive case, exemplified by the pronouns my, mine, your, yours, his, her, hers, etc.


Okay, I know you’re stuck on that “implied preposition” thing in the dative case. I’ll explain in the following example:

I gave John the book. Clearly, “I” is the subject (nominative), the one performing the action. But what is the direct object and what is the indirect object? The book is the direct object (accusative) because the book is the thing that is being given. John cannot be the direct object because he is not the thing being given. But if John is the indirect object (dative) where’s the preposition? The implied preposition is “to” because what you are really saying is, “I gave the book to John.” Aha, indirect object!

But the real question you should be asking is, Why should I care about any of this? I’ll give you a practical example.

Consider the following: “A few members of my critique group sat down with Janice, an agent with Beastly Books, to discuss our manuscripts. The only writers Janice invited to submit were Gertrude and I.” This is in­correct. It should be, “Gertrude and me.” But wait – isn’t “I” is the subject because I am one of those submitting – I am performing the action of the verb “submit?” Therefore “Gertrude and I” take the nominative case, right?

Read the sentence again. Janice is the subject because she is performing the action of the main verb in the sen­tence: “invited.” If you simplify the sentence it will become clear. “Janice invited us to submit.” You wouldn’t say, “Janice invited we to submit.”

In complex sentences, with multiple clauses and parenthetical elements, it is sometimes difficult to identify the role each word takes. The more words that come between the subject and object – in this case “Janice” the subject and “Gertrude and me” the object – the more mindful we must be. Knowing the names of the cases (nominative, accusative, etc.) is not important. Understanding the principles behind them is. From a practical standpoint, for example, you wouldn’t want your query letters to be filled with errors. Proper grammar is es­sential if we are to be taken seriously as writers. ♥


Lisbeth Eng works as a Compliance Officer in the financial industry by day and writes historical romance by night. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English, and speaks a smattering of German, Italian and French. Please visit her at www.lisbetheng.com.

Friday, July 18, 2014

BOOK COVER FRIDAYS: WORTH THE WEIGHT by Eileen Palma

WELCOME TO BOOK COVER FRIDAYS!
Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from one of
New York's Leading Romance Authors. Enjoy!

 
 
WORTH THE WEIGHT
by Eileen Palma