On May 21, I’ll release my new poetry book. This book has been in my work in process pile for quite some time. When I organized recently, I asked myself why I hadn’t published it. Initially I organized it for a contest. But it didn’t win or place.
This meant it’s just been sitting in my files waiting for attention. I asked my middle daughter to create a cover and handed the manuscript over to her. She did a beautiful job formatting it.
Here’s the blurb and cover of my new poetry book. I hope you’ll give it a try.
Ever thrown a stone into a lake and watched the ripples? These poems explore the ripples of emotions caused by moments in life. This is a journey of battling societies expectations and beliefs while finding strength and power within.
I know you’re groaning because I’m using grammatical terms. We know what this is – it’s words that sounds the same but have different meanings.
Are you saying Huh? I hope not but if you are…
Here’s a few examples
You’re / Your
Its / It’s
There / They’re / Their
Now I can tell you when I write, these mess with me all the time. So I’m doing what I do best – writing about them. Doesn’t mean I’ll mess up less but I’ll at least share with others.
There are so many of these I cannot even begin to tell you them all. The three above are commonly done incorrectly as are many many more.
In the Wayfarer series for some reason I could not come up with console – meaning a scientific instrument consisting of displays and an input device. I came up with council, counsel and I’m sure there were other iterations. But not console. I knew what I wanted and I was pretty sure of the word but the correct spelling eluded me.
Now when I’m tooling along writing, I don’t always type the write word. I just get it down. I want to get the words on the page and get it out of my head.
How do I as an author fix this?
My first go to is spell check. I work in Word and the Editor they are now using gets its/it’s wrong all the time. It’s like it’s drunk. So you have to know your spell checker.
Read through. I do a read through of all my manuscripts as well as using the Editor / spell check.
If that doesn’t catch them, my beta and arc team will let me know if something is off.
Readers will also let an author know when something is wrong – my only hope is they let me know before they leave a review so I can correct it.
When you have beautiful fluffy yarn, you have to make something equally beautiful. Both patterns can be made up in under 12 hours. They are made with super bulky yarn and provide a challenge in different ways.
Crème de Mint Afghan is made with super bulky yarn which takes a few hours to create. The soft tones of cream and mint allow it to fit in with most décor. The pattern has a two row repeat which allows the crocheter to fall into a rhythm while working the pattern. The afghan shown is worked in a two row color repeat which means you’re changing colors every other row. Making this with one color would be just as beautiful while eliminating the need to change colors.
I’ve had old eyes for my whole life. My eyesight changed drastically when I turned 40. It’s been an adjustment needing reading glasses. I went to my eye doctor and we discussed a few issues I’ve been having – weeping eyes and blurry vision.
I told him – I’m on the computer from eight to four for my day job and then I come home and I’m on the computer from six to midnight. He told me my blurry vision and watery (weeping) eyes are from overuse on the computer. I did add the blue tint to my glasses which helps. But still more help in other forms was needed.
Now the day job, I can’t change those hours. It’s my job. So the six to midnight had to come under scrutiny. How can I reduce my time on the computer and still write? Well I could write my stories by hand. NOT FUN. Now don’t get me wrong. I love the act of writing. I love to see my words flow from a pen to paper but it adds steps. I ultimately decided this was not an option unless I could figure out how to do it without then having to type everything up.
I tried a tablet. It worked. Sort of. I’d write and then look at what I wrote and correct it. I attempted to write a story this way and I found it frustrating to stop every sentence or so to fix what I wrote to how it was translated by the tablet.
My daughter asked if I wanted a Rocket book. I was ambivalent. I had one at work and gave it to my boss because she used hers more than I did. I hemmed and hawed and told her okay since the price is low, I’ll try it out and see if it works better than a tablet.
Ironically, the Rocket book didn’t offer transcription when we bought them so I was going to write out my scenes, scan them, send them to my computer to transcribe them. Adding steps but again – eye issues – so I was willing to try it.
I got my Rocket book and thought – okay I’ll have to make time for this. I set it aside with a plan to try it over the weekend. In the meanwhile, I get an email from Rocket book saying they are introducing transcription! I’m seriously floored. Like did they do that just for me? Probably not.
So I pull out my Rocket book and follow the directions and set it up to transcribe. Now I’ve not been in the app or even downloaded the app at this point. So I set it up on my phone. I write a couple words on the page and try it out. Lo and behold – it transcribed it. You can have this go to your email or One Note.
This means when I’m having issues with my eyes or even if I’m traveling, running errands, or whatever, I can take my Rocket book with me and use it. I’ve got visions of how useable this will be!
My first time using it, I pulled up the story I wanted to work on using my tablet – thus avoiding the computer completely. Then I open the Rocket book (journal size at this point) and start writing.
Problems I had – I’m a journal writer. Because of the cost of journals (and I’m cheap) I squeeze as many words as possible into my journals. The problem with this – the closer together your words are the harder it is for the program to translate. Also I write from top to bottom and left to write squeezing in as many words as I can. So with the Rocket book I had to really stop doing this. The program couldn’t read all of the words. Okay so slight adjustment.
I have fairly neat handwriting, even with my arthritis and other hand issues. I’m right handed and write neatly / printing is even neater. I do not know how well this would work for a left handed person or someone whose writing is less neat than mine.
At first, I was frustrated because I was scanning and nothing was showing up. It annoyed me and then I realized, I didn’t have a page open in One Note. Okay so I fix that and try again. Still issues. Frustration and annoyance usually is enough for me to say – never mind and write it off. But I kept trying – new technology so I’m assuming user error.
Now I don’t know if it was user error or the tech, but I’ve gotten better at it. I have noticed the scanning needs more low light – or in my case, I have a light directly overhead so it causes shadows when I lay something flat and try to take a picture of it. So I turn off the overhead light when I do my scanning.
Pens – I’m a pen snob. You have to use a specific pen – Pilot Frixon Ball. The pen which came with the book was nice but I hate having to pull a cap off. I like clicker pens better. I also like color. So my daughter bought me some colored pens which are clickers. They are on my list to try.
At this point, the advantages of the Rocket book to me as an author are portability, easier use in the car than even a tablet, gets me off the computer. The pen that comes with it allows you to erase. So no scratching out. Cost is another distinct advantage. Generally the cost is under $50 so makes it affordable for those on a limited budget or cost conscious buyers.
The disadvantages are it’s slower. Typing is much faster. The technology takes a bit to get used to. Hand writing is a factor – though I’ve not written overly sloppily since I’ve had it so it may figure it out. Once the page is scanned and transcribed, there is some need to adjust the words. It’s not 100%. The counter to this is – you have the original written in front of you so easy enough to figure out what it should say.
I’m counting this as a plus. When my eyes are tired or I’m out and about with lots of wait time, I can use the Rocket book to allow me to write in those moments when I’m normally playing on my phone or chomping at the bit because I want to write but I’m in my car or whatever.
Once I realized I would use this, I went looking for a different size and one with lines. My original one was a journal size with a dot grid. I wanted 8.5″x11″ with lines. I found one and bought it. My daughter also got me a note pad size (for making lists which I love).
Oh you might ask, what happens when you’ve filled the book? Well you take the little cloth they send you and get it damp – not too wet. Then you go back to your Rocket book and wipe each page. Now in doing this, I had several pages and it was difficult to figure out the best way to do it so I wiped from the spine out. This seemed the most efficient way. I also didn’t like putting wet pages next to each other. If you had any ink residue on the pages, it smeared it. So clean up is a little time consuming but still.
Here’s a spiral notebook essentially which you can use over and over and over. I’ve done some extensive writing it in. I started a new short story in it and written multiple pages. I’ve used the journal and spiral size and liked both – not done the smaller one yet. I’ve also not tried out my color pens yet. Overall I recommend these especially if you have issues with being on the computer.
How does a writer make their writing more dynamic? This is the question every writer wants an answer to…. at least if they want strong writing.
So let’s define the type of writing I’m talking about. I’m not talking about dialog – conversations have their own quirks and breaking the rules is acceptable if it’s purpWoseful. I’m also not talking about academic or formal writing. Fiction writing is different from all those other types of writing.
In fiction writing, we use words which aren’t needed. Are they added to pad the number of words? I think they’re added because it’s easier to write using them. Here are a few of them:
Often we use this in place of other words like who or which. The way to know which word to use is by looking at the clause (huh? what comes after it) it’s attached to. The bike, which is red, has a flat tire. Should which be that? It depends. If there are multiple bikes and the color defines the bike you refer to, you use ‘that’ and there would be no commas. If the color is just additional information, you use which and commas.
When it comes to who, who is used when people are involved. That can refer to people, animals, groups, or things. If people are involved you use who. Now this is English so it’s messed up – when it comes to groups you use either who or that.
There are times when you don’t need that but it’s put in because it “sounds” better. Most often the ‘that’ is not needed. Here’s two examples from Owl Purdue
Wordy: I received your inquiry that you wrote about tennis rackets yesterday, and read it thoroughly. Yes, we do have. . .
Concise: I received your inquiry about tennis rackets yesterday. Yes, we do have. . .
I’ve done a lot of editing and most authors overuse the word ‘that’. Part of the reason for it is because we use it speaking.
Passive voice vs Active voice
I know I’ve talked about this before but here’s a quick review of the topic. Passive voice slows down your pace and is an indirect way of describing something
The boy was bitten by the dog
The dog bit the boy
In the passive voice sentence the verb includes a be verb (am is are was were are been – per Perdue Owl.
Now in an action scene passive voice slows down the action.
Passive – The boy was chased by the dog he teased.
Active – The dog chased the boy who teased him.
Now you can google and see which words the powers that be say are overused. But slow down your reading of the book and analyze what you overuse. That is one for almost every author. But there are others.
In my early writing everything was done quickly. Apparently my characters did all their action fast. I’ve found other words and also stopped making my characters rush.
But I have a list of words I know I overuse.
How do I eradicate them? I search for each one and highlight them. When I do my read throughs, I look at each highlight and try to get rid of it – especially when there’s a paragraph full of them.
Now I never get rid of all these words – and I don’t want to. Sometimes passive voice is good, sometimes you need That or other words like it. The point is to look at these things and see if the alternate is stronger than what you have.
This is in the #KBWorld Everyday Heroes. I got this opportunity to write in this world and was scared to death of stepping outside my comfort zone. I don’t usually write contemporary romance – though I love it.
I put it aside – though I had a year to write it. I kept saying – oh I need to write it but I have no idea how to do this. I saw her books were written in first person of which I’m not a huge fan. I asked and I didn’t have to write in first person.
I kept putting up roadblocks for myself. Then it came down to two months before it was due. I was like holy crap I need to get this written. So I started writing. First decision – Allison would be an older woman, mature and not overly interested in a new relationship since she got out of a 20 year bad marriage.
From there the story grew and I remembered why I love to write contemporary romance. Each scene fed off the previous but at one point, I wanted them to go on a date – well group date. I asked my daughters for ideas. I didn’t want them to go to dinner or out to a movie. My oldest daughter suggested a scenario and I liked it so I went with it.
When it came time to write the scene I said I need a song. Now I like music and will listen to a lot of varieties of music but within the scope of their setting, I wanted a romantic song which didn’t go over the top. This song was supposed to be a prelude to their first love scene. I got opinions from a lot of people and it came down to a couple of songs. Again I turned to my family because I love music but I’m horrible at remembering names and artists. Since my oldest picked the scene, she piped up and said, I picked the scene, go with this song. I said – okay.
One thing I haven’t talked about much is that Allison is handicapped. She was in an accident which made it hard for her to get around. Chandler from the beginning didn’t seem to notice her handicap. Then as the story went on, he saw her struggle with things like he drove a truck which was hard for her to get into. I liked the evolution of how he didn’t pay attention to her issues but then he starts to realize how it makes her life harder and he wants to make her life easier.
On the Line
On the Line is a mature, contemporary romance written in K Bromberg’s Everyday Heroes World and filled with emergencies and emotional connections.
Sunnyville offered Allison a return to a happy time in her life after leaving her cheating husband. After the drama of a car accident and the failure of her marriage, she wants nothing but peace and quiet. With the help of her daughters, she’s settled in her new home. She wants to do her job as a 911 operator and live a quiet life.
When his father fell off a ladder and his mother called 911, Chandler didn’t realize how much it would impact his life. One look at Allison and he knew he had to convince her to meet his family. But her ex-husband believes she’s still his. Is Chandler stepping over a line when he uses his computer skills to learn more about her ex?
“So… you’re rich,” he said. “Will you be my sugar mama?”
She laughed. “Maybe. Depends…”
“On what?” Chandler asked.
“You’re respectful. I like when you open my door. It makes me feel cared for,” she admitted.
“I have more than one requirement,” she wiggled her finger at him. “You can cook. My daughters like you.”
“I like this ticking off of my good qualities,” he said.
“You have a good body which I have picture proof of, at least part of your body,” she bit her lip. Before he said anything, she continued, “But I’ve only seen part of your body and I don’t know how well you employ the more interesting parts of your body.”
“You mean my brain, right?” he asked.
“Oh no,” she said. “I promised myself a really good lover when I got rid of my husband and stole half his money.”
As she parked the car, he leaned over and murmured, “Turn the car around and I’ll show you the things I want to do to you.”
“What things?” she swallowed as she turned to him. Heat ripped through her and settled in her gut. She was certain her panties were damp and it wouldn’t take much to push her over the edge.
As their lips were about to touch, Jesse banged on the top of her car. “Come on,” he said. “Do that later. We have darts to throw.”
Chandler growled and fumed at the interruption. Allison bit her lip for a moment and then burst out laughing. “Guess we’ll have to wait awhile for me to discover whether you pass muster in those other areas.”
“I’m gonna kill my brother,” Chandler joined her in laughing.
“That will make it hard for me to discover more about certain attributes,” Allison said.
“Is there a chance of me giving you a demonstration later?” he asked.
“There’s always a possibility,” she said kissing his surprised mouth.
Two exceptional novellas featuring two men engulfed in a war no one understands or wants—Vietnam. They’re both hoping for a miracle with little expectation of finding it.
Jan Selbourne lends her award-winning writing talent to Miracle in the Outback. Nick Saunders is in a hurry to escape a family argument and also to return to his Army base in Wagga Wagga. He doesn’t need another complication. Rachel Garth is a woman with a broken down car, a small girl, a deadly snake, and a baby on the way. She needs Nick’s help. He doesn’t know it, but he needs hers, too.
In award-winning author Anne Krist’s The Miracle of Coming Home, Army PFC Tom Stabler wins a trip to his parents’ Nebraska farm for Christmas. He needs the time away from the war. Lately, he’s been feeling lost and too alone. Trouble is, being home is almost as bad. Then Susan Swensen arrives, just as sweet and pretty as he remembers. Can Susan help him find himself again, or will it take a miracle?
Selbourne and Krist created two short stories to touch your heart and make you think of family. Selbourne’s story speaks to destiny. Her characters are real, harsh, and struggle with their lives. You want to reach into the book and help them both.
Krist’s story seems straight forward. Boy goes off to war and becomes lost in the viciousness of it. Girl worries for him and wants nothing more than a moment with him. There’s a twist which was unexpected – no spoilers don’t worry. This twist transformed the story from the expected to the extraordinary.
The writing of these two authors is stellar. They both have good pacing, good character building, and a good plot. This is a quick read which will be well worth your time.
Stephanie Douglas is an author with 10+ years experience in the publishing field, in both independent & self publishing. She writes under her birth name in the horror genre as well as under Annabel Allan in erotic romance. She lives in Ontario, Canada, with her three Ragdoll cats, Binks, Edgar, and Ulalume.
Hi Stephanie! Welcome to my book blog!
Thank you so much for having me!
I’m a fan of your writing so I’m excited to talk books with you today! You write under 2 names, please tell me what names and what you write under each.
Well, under my real name of Stephanie Douglas, I write horror and urban fantasy. But under Annabel Allan, things get a bit spicier! I write erotic romance, specifically BDSM romance.
Which one came first?
I actually started out writing under my mother’s maiden name–so, Stephanie O’Hanlon. But when the publisher I was working with closed their doors, I rebranded and started up with my birth name. Annabel has been around since 2015, so she technically came first!
So horror and urban fantasy for one side of your writing persona – what about those genres spoke to you?
Horror has always been an interest. I grew up watching both quality and low-quality horror movies because of my cousin, who used to babysit me. So, I knew I was going to eventually try to write a horror novel. The urban fantasy was actually a bit of a surprise! I originally was working within historical settings for my vampire romances, but I read the Southern Vampires series (True Blood) and I was like…I can do this! “Fright Club” and the Bite Scene series was born!
And under Annabel, you write erotica and BDSM… what brought you to those genres?
I started out with writing erotic romance because I thought it would get my foot in the door with publishing. I wrote “Wildfire” and kind of fell down a rabbit hole. As the years progressed, I knew I needed something new and fresh for Annabel, so I tried writing a BDSM romance with a male Dominant and female submissive. That outing wasn’t successful, but did bring about “Edgeplay” and Dominatrix Ava Goode. FemDom then became my thing!
I can tell you I like the idea of the female dominant rather than male. So how did you learn about the BDSM community? Was it through research?
This is actually the funny part! My kinky journey actually started in high school when I was given a BDSM erotica novel as a gag gift. It kinda stuck with me…then I wrote my unsuccessful D/s novel, and personally started to explore the BDSM lifestyle. That led to meeting interesting people, as well as researching the aspects of it.
Sounds like an interesting journey. Your Ava Goode series is on my to read list. I’m looking forward to reading them! So what shifted you from Male Dom to Fem Dom?
A friend of mine wanted me to write shorts for his website, he suggested FemDom. I was going to write a little short for him called “Goode Pain” because I was inspired by a KISS song called “Thrills In the Night”. Then as I wrote the first scene, I remembered an instructor from film school telling me that flip the dynamic to make it interesting. So, I took my unsuccessful D/s novel (The Wilder Side) and rewrote it with a Dominatrix.
Do you often use music to inspire your stories?
Oh, definitely! I always make a little playlist for each novel when I’m writing. And sometimes while I’m writing, I can hear the soundtrack in my head, hear the music that would play if I was watching it as a movie. Then I obsessively listen to it until I get that scene out of my head.
Tell me about your writing process, please. Do you plot or just write? Do you have a specific place you have to be to write? What starts a novel for you?
What starts the novel is the Muse whispering loudly in my head. When I’m sitting on the couch trying to watch a movie and all I can think about are these characters, I know that’s it. I have to start writing. I then usually do up the first chapter, just to test the waters out. I’m a little bit of a “plantser”–I have recently started doing loose outlines, but leave enough room for me to go off in whichever direction suits the story.
I’ve heard some authors create pinterest pages and play lists. Do you do anything like this?
I used to be obsessed with Pinterest! I decided to delete the app because it took up waaaay too much time! Haha. I want to find a way to share playlists…maybe have a portion on my site for it.
Pinterest is a rabbit hole for sure. Lots of interesting things but easily distracted. Do you include the playlist in the book?
No, I try to steer away from songs in my books, just because you never know when you’re going to cross a line and have people after you for money. But I do love when books include songs! Like Stephen King’s Christine.
What are you currently working on?
Annabel has a new BDSM series that’s in development! I’m so excited about it too. When I started writing FemDom, I didn’t realize it was a taboo subject, especially in publishing. I’m very grateful that BVS took a chance on “Edgeplay” and that so many people love it. But it’s time to switch up the dynamic…but I am staying in the realm of FemDom.
Oh that sounds exciting.
What got you started writing?
I have always been interested in telling stories. I used to play with dolls a lot, using them to tell stories. Then every so often, I would actually write a story down. I always excelled in English-based classes, especially when we were told to write fiction. I never thought about being an author though. My career aspirations were in science until I got to high school and it shifted to film. I went to film school in 2007 and by the end of it in 2008, I realized that I was going to have to fall back on writing…which led me write my first manuscript. Because writing is a rabbit hole too! Haha. You start by writing a short and then that turns into a whole novel.
Are you an observer of your characters or do you feel they tell you their stories?
They definitely tell me their stories. I always say they aren’t my stories I write. I have voice in my head that I need to get down on paper, telling me their own stories.
So who or what has been a big influence on your writing? Is it books you’ve read or movies you’ve watched? Or is it something else?
There are two things that have influenced me: one, my grandmother. She used to write children stories for me when I was little, though we also had a book of fairytales she used to read to me also. She instilled a love of books into me. She always had a book in her hands. Second, the late Anne Rice. I read the first three books in the Vampire Chronicles in 2009 and her writing just stuck with me. I always aim to write as beautifully as she did. Then, on top of that, to take risks, like she did with her Sleeping Beauty series.
I always ask this question… what advice would you get someone who wants to write?
I used to say the same old that you should just write, but I actually have a new piece of advice. RESEARCH! And I don’t mean just research for your novel, though that is extremely important too. I mean, if you want to get into writing, want to be successful, research about the publishing industry. I’m not a big fan of the “you’re a writer only if you do this” thing, so you write how you want to write. But researching the business is so, so, so helpful and I wish I had done that back in the day when I started out.
Oh that’s lovely advice! Thank you for joining me! I’m excited to see what you write under both names!
Thank you so much!
Want to know more about Annabel Alan? Follow her here:
When I found a bag of yarn – well not hard in my house – in cakes rather than skeins, I was thrilled. I loved the feel of the yarn. However, one skein of each color was in the bag. So what do you make with a single skein of yarn? Well I opted to make scarves. It was fun to design different combinations of stitches to create these scarves. In there you will find more than just the one type of yarn as I had other yarns that made the pile. I took pictures of the yarn and asked my nieces and nephews do you want. I got a variety of answers.
However, I want to thank my models Aimee Jahns, Lara and Brian Zielinski, and Rebecca Schreier for donning my creations and showing them off. Lara Zielinski and Victoria Troemel for taking the pictures. Victoria Troemel for making the covers. Without the support of these people, these patterns would be sitting in the bottom of a drawer.
Three booklets with nine patterns each of scarves. Twenty seven scarf patterns which take a night or two to make. Need to make donations or presents? Try out these new patterns.
He hires Gwyn Meinen as his companion. Now he has three months to persuade her they have more than a business contract.
Gwyn is all business.
She was hired to satisfy all the needs of Captain Ulrik Tonason. To protect her heart, she sticks to the letter of her contract. Her contract includes organizing social activities, meals, and sex but sex with her Sinivite captain and his pheromones is more than she bargained for.
Will Ulrik convince Gwyn there’s more between them than a contract?