Sunday, April 26, 2009

"That's Definitely A Big Mistake!"

Nothing bothers me more than to be reading a story, and to find a misspelled word, poor grammar or improper punctuation. It has been a pet peeve of mine, since I was a youngster, to find documents that have mistakes in them. If I was the one that had made a silly mistake, then you had better stay out of my way, because I would be so angry with myself for being careless that I would be grumpy for days!

To this day, I am still pretty hard on myself, but I am not sure that it is altogether such a bad trait. Lack of self-editing by authors who send their work in for consideration for publication is one of the main reasons that manuscripts are rejected. If an editor prepares to read a story, only to find that the story is riddled with errors, he will reject it immediately, a good story or not; it will be an irritation to him/her to read the story in unpublishable condition.

Certainly, you can understand that to an editor, if words are misspelled, that alone would indicate sloppiness on the part of the author in the preparation of the manuscript. It might also indicate that the author is someone that has a poor work ethic, therefore making him/her undesirable to work with. My advice is: present yourself in the best light possible, and if you want your book published, you had better be willing to go that extra mile and correct any mistakes that you possibly can.

If editing is not your forte, you could always hire someone to do it for you. If I were you, I would take the time to learn at least the basics, because, in my opinion, knowing proper grammar does help you to write better.

There are several courses to choose from, but I would suggest starting with the one that I am familiar with. Rob Parnell and Robyn Opie have teamed together to offer a course entitled "How to Edit for Success." It is a well-rounded course that offers such things as:

  • Introduction to Manuscript Editing

  • The Basics - Tips and Strategies to Ensure Your Success

  • Editing for Story, Content & Rewriting

  • Editing for Impact: Clarity, Sense, Logic and Transparency

  • Editing for Submission & Publication


Plus, if you want to learn to the best of your ability, you can also be mentored throughout the entire course! (*Note: Mentorship includes thorough feedback on your exercises, one on one guidance and individual help with editing your MSS.) If I were you, I think I would check out the "How to Edit for Success" course right away!

By the way, did you notice my new "favicon" that's located on the tab up above, next to my blog name? It looks like a capital letter "H" in a box, which stands for the "H" in my last name, Hammond, just like the one that is here on the right:

Until next time... stay safe, stay well and may God bless you all.


Please visit my other blogs:
Cynde's Daybook ~and~ Usurper Exposed. Thank you!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Sometimes Things Get A Little Hairy!"

In medieval stories, romance novels, stories about Kings and their kingdoms, horses always play an important role. They are romantic figures, due to the fact that they almost always play a major part in the rescue of the heroine of the story, or they lead the King off to battle or home from victory and sometimes even defeat.

How would you feel if your horse appeared to look a little more like one of us? What if he had a head full of long, luxurious, locks and thick bangs instead of a mane and forelock? You'd have thought I went off the deep end if you hadn't see these astounding photos, am I right?

************************************These portraits were taken by the famous Australian photographer, Julian Wolkenstein . It took an entire day to all three horses, which included four hours of "hair and makeup" for each horse, of all things. Julian said he just took his time and made sure that everyone involved had fun; it was all on his own time, so the money didn't matter and he wanted it done right while at the same time he wanted it to be a special memory for all.

It may sound like punishment for these horses, but it wasn't. I owned a show horse a few years back, and when we took her to the shows, she would have to stand in the cross-ties for hours while we braided her mane and tail, painted her hooves and all the other little grooming tricks that you do for the shows. I loved every minute of it, and believe did she!

Here is a video of Julian Wolkenstein on the "Today Show" with Meredith Viera:

This is probably the new wave of the future in horse competitions somewhere. I'm sure we'll see a horse or two that looks like this in someone's book...maybe even mine!

Until next time...stay safe, stay well, and may God bless you all.


Please visit my other blogs:
Cynde's Daybook ~and~ Usurper Exposed. Thank you!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Accuracy Counts!"

When writing writing non-fiction stories, or let's say, news reports for the newspaper--especially front-page, headlining news--it's extremely important to be accurate with the facts. I would say that we "story" writers seem to take that more seriously than the media have or still do.

Case in point: 14 April 1912 (97 years ago today)--The British steamship RMS Titanic, which was thought to be virtually unsinkable, struck an iceberg. More than 1,500 people, which included both passengers and crew, perished after the impact from the crash crippled the vessel and ultimately caused it to sink into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. Among the famous passengers who were killed were John Jacob Astor IV and his bride; Isidor Straus; and Benjamin Guggenheim. One of the most famous survivors was Margaret Brown, later to be known as "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."

The Fitchburg Sentinel initially reported on April 15, 1912:
"Though hard hit and damaged at the bow, the giant steamer, on her maiden trip across the water, from Southampton for New York, stands a fair chance of reaching port safely, for the officers of the White Star line say that she can not sink because her air tight compartments will hold her afloat."

NOTE: By April 16, reports confirmed that the Titanic had been lost, and of the more than 2,220 passengers, only around 700 survived

Some of the many irresponsible, inaccurate headlines can be found here, here, and here, with such titles as "Titanic's Passengers All Rescued and "Not One Is Lost."

My father always told me that it was always best "to err on the side of caution," so I would do that if you're not absolutely sure about a fact. If you don't have something to back it up with, then leave it out of your story/article. You certainly don't want someone coming back later to question the rest of your work, all because of one shaky bit of information; it's just not worth it!

Remember: They said the Titanic would never sink...

Until next time...stay safe, stay well, and may God bless you all.


Please check out my other blogs:
Cynde's Daybook ~and~ Usurper Exposed. Thank you!

Friday, April 10, 2009

"Do You Like Horses AND Mystery?"

If you love horses and a good mystery as much as I do, then you're going to like the new blog site, Sasscer Hill Mystery & Suspense Stories.

Every posting that the blog owner, Lynda Hill, has made so far has been a short story that she has written about race horses, some of which were fiction and one was a rivoting non-fiction story called "THE TONGUELESS WONDER, A True Story."

Her most recent entry entitled, "Just As Well," was about a horse with the same name that she had her eye on for quite a while and that is actually scheduled to run the Grade 1 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland Thoroughbred Racing & Sales on 10 April 2009, which is today.

The story includes a jockey named Julien Leparoux, who happens to be featured in the video clip of the "$150,000 (G2) Beaumont Race" run at Keeneland on 08 April 2009, which I have for you here:

Trust me: you're going to love Lynda Hill's stories as she brings the world of the racetrack and betting to life for you. You will feel as if you are experiencing the excitement yourself while you read the stories and you become part of them. They are truly electrifying.

Until next time...stay safe, stay well, and may God bless you all.


Please visit my other blogs:
Cynde's Daybook ~and~ Usurper Exposed. Thank you!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


i I have so many ideas floating around in my head. I always have. I guess that if I could put those ideas to good use, then I could be considered a writer of sorts. First I would have to learn how to put the words in some kind of order, right?

One of the blogs that I follow called Nick's Writing Blog, is written by a man named Nick Daws and for his biography, he writes,

"I am a professional freelance writer and editor living in Burntwood, Staffordshire, England. I am the author of over 80 non-fiction books, mainly published in the UK. I have also written many articles, short stories, training materials, distance learning courses, and so on."

Nick is one of the smartest, friendliest, most helpful people I have ever had the pleasure to "meet" (though we have only met online and via email), and I have purchased a few things from him, but I'm ashamed to say that I haven't really been able to use them yet. I've thoroughly looked over these things and I refused to send them back for a refund because I know that they are going to work. The items are: Write Any Book in 28 Days and Earn Quick Cash Writing. They are both fabulous writing aids, and I suggest that you purchase both of them! Now, since I already have them, what's my excuse? I better get off my bum, as Nick might say, and get busy, because that's just what I've been doing--using excuses! Starting tomorrow: NO MORE EXCUSES!! There you have it, ladies and gentlemen!

Before I close today, I have a story that I think is worth your while to read. It circulated on the internet quite some time ago, but I kept it because it touched my heart so deeply. I thought I'd share it with you today, and if you like it as much as I do, then please, pass it on. It's entitled "The Cab Ride. Here it is:


So I walked to the door and knocked. 'Just a minute,' answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940s movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing,' I told her. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.'

'Oh, you're such a good boy,' she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?'

'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly.

'Oh, I don't mind,' she said.. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice.'

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she continued. 'The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

'What route would you like me to take?' I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now.'

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

'How much do I owe you?' she asked, reaching into her purse.

'Nothing,' I said.

'You have to make a living,' she answered.

'There are other passengers,' I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said.

'Thank you'

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift?

What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.

But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.


Until next time...stay safe, stay well, and may God bless you all.


Please visit my other blogs:
Cynde's Daybook ~and~ Usurper Exposed. Thank you!

Friday, April 3, 2009

"The Dreaded Writer's Block!"

Let's say you're a writer that likes the basics, and you either have a sheet all ready in your typewriter, or a notebook full of paper, and it's blank and pristine; plus you have your sharpened pencils lined up; your favorite pen with two refills is by your side; and you have plenty of delete-o or white-out at the ready. You must have brought in five different beverages so you wouldn't have to get up and fix yourself something once you started writing; and you have snacks and a sandwich ready; yet still...that big, blank page is staring right back at you. Your forehead is starting to get moist, your heartbeat is accelerating, and you've noticed now that you've even started wringing your hands. This couldn't be happening to you, could it? Yes, it could. It happens to the best of us. What you have is a problem that is commonly referred to as the dreaded "writer's block!"

So what should you do? There are several tips to choose from, but let me list just three, and see if they appreal to you:

1.) Whip the paper out from your typewriter or the notebook, and just use a new piece.
2.) Scream at the top of your lungs, and pray that someone comes to your rescue.
3.) Simply give up! Your family and friends told you that you'd never make it as a writer anyway, so obviously they were correct.

Hmmm...actually, number one has some merit, especially if you change the color of the paper, but the others are ridiculous--unless you're looking for an excuse to get out writing anyway.

Let me tell you a secret: writer's block is not fatal. There are so many simple tips and tricks that writers keep coming up with, and they think of more all the time. There has to be at least one that will help you out of this predicament. Let's list a few and see what your favorites are:

  • Take a walk - Change your scenery, get some fresh air, and stop thinking about writing. Take 10 minutes and hunt for squirrels or something silly!

  • Take a shower; change clothes - Get a fresh, clean start.

  • Stop blaming yourself - Getting writer's block is nothing unusual, and once you have conquered it, it won't be so scary the next time around, if there is a next time. It's no one's fault; it could come as a result of stress because you feel you don't have enough time to complete an assignment, you don't understand your task, or the topic may just bore you to tears!

  • Give up and give in - Resign yourself to the fact that you have to write this assignment, maybe because it could mean the difference of whether you get promoted or not, but it's an important assignment nonetheless. Consult your boss, teacher or whomever has given you the task and find out exactly what is expected of you, then commit to doing the best job you can, with a good attitude.

  • Talk to an animal (stuffed or otherwise) - You'd be surprised how receptive a stuffed friend is to your ideas. Furthermore, real dogs and cats are usually pretty good listeners, too. I've shared many a problem with my furry friends throughout the years, so why not work out this problem with one of yours? To the right is my cat, Momma Kitty, and she's the mother of all the feral cats that hang out around our home. Someone dropped her off out here about eleven years ago, and it took a long time to gain her trust enough so we could at least feed her and her little ones. We even find homes for the "tinies." (that's another story that I'll share with you some day--it's really good!), and now we are very close to Momma. Dion (my husband) and I are about the only ones that can get near her, but that's ok for now. I love her more than you can imagine, and she even rescued me from a snake, but that's another story, too. She's the one that I "talk" to about my stories, work out my plot twists with, get ideas from (hahaha), and generally confide in. She's my best (animal) friend, and I adore her! Back to the article...

  • Listen to new music - Try some new music that is instrumental, so that your mind doesn't have to compete with the lyrics, then set it on repeat and start writing. The music will help you to relax so that your creativity can flow.

  • Stretch - You are probably so tensed up that you aren't able to relax. Start by stretching as many muscle groups as you can, while you are still sitting. Then try relaxing each group afterwards. Take a deep, cleansing breath and fill your lungs to capacity and beyond, then hold it until you aren't able to any longer, and exhale until you think you have exhaled everything inside of you. After that, fill your lungs with fresh, clean air again, and you'll be amazed at how revitalized and refreshed you feel.

  • Write a bunch of junk - Write a funny story about you and your husband "for your eyes only" or a spoof on something that you've always been wanting to write, but be sure to finish it.

  • Find a new spot to work - Remember when you've stayed at the lake or you slept upside down on your bed, and you've always slept better than you've slept in months? Relocating and finding a new spot to write works the same way. It will make you feel like you've gone to a writer's retreat, plus it's guaranteed to spark something inside you, and you'll feel like you've been given a fresh start.

  • Try word association - Write out five completely random words. Then write five more words. Study the words and see if any of them associate with each other or you can make a sentence out of them. If that starts you going, then you're writer's block has ended. How cool is that?!

  • Write a different section of your story - If you developed writer's block while working on the beginning of your story, try working on the middle. If you were at the middle when you got stuck, why don't you try working on the end? If the end of the story made you draw a blank, then do some editing or work on your title or a cover email--anything other than the part that you would have been working on.

  • Do a single chore - Try doing a household chore (nothing overly physical--just something that gets you in touch with your physical side), such as sweeping the floor or cleaning out the refrigerator.

  • Make yourself adhere to a senseless rule - Making a pointless rule that you have to think about and stick to within your writing, such as: no eight letter words in the last sentence of the paragraph or you can't end sentences with words that begin with vowels, makes you focus and changes your perspective.

  • Try freewriting - Sit down and write whatever comes to mind, even if it's gibberish, for about 10 minutes to start, and don't stop for anything! Don't go back to correct misspellings, incorrect grammar, the wrong word or anything. Just keep on writing! As long as your hand is moving, your brain will think it is writing...and it is!

I hope that these tips have helped in some way. I do have a few more up my sleeve if you ever need one for a rainy day. Just visit me again and ask me if you ever need one, but you know what? I don't think you will!

Until next time...stay safe, stay well, and may God bless you all.


Please visit my other blogs:
Cynde's Daybook ~and~ Usurper Exposed