Sunday, October 14, 2018

America, a poem by Patricia Crandall published by The Back Road Cafe! Good reading.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Review-Getting Nudge By Carolyn Howard-Johnson,

Excerpted from the newest book in Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers,  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career.
You need only a few essentials in your Amazon tool box to build the traffic crucial for your reviews to be seen—and to convince readers to buy your book. How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically: The ins and outs of using free reviews to build and sustain a writing career helps you get the reviews that influence Amazon’s sales ranking and this section gives you everything else you need to maximize them.
Amazon sales rankings are dandy little aids for evaluating how your book is selling. Not that you should fixate on that, but having an indicator that your book might need a little sales boost is nice. And—when those ratings are nurtured—they prod Amazon’s algorithms to lead people who read books similar to yours to your Amazon buy page.
The problem is that most authors and publishers know little if anything about how those rankings come about. That isn’t their fault because I doubt if Jeff Bezos, the brains behind the entire Amazon model, knows exactly what his algorithms measure. If they’re anything like the rest of the Amazon site, they change from day to day anyway. You don’t need to know the magic behind them; you do need to know what they are and how to prod them a little:
§  Find your sales ranking (or rankings) on your book’s buy page under “product details.” Often called “metadata,” these details are the specifics for your book like ISBN, publisher, number of pages, etc. Scroll down a bit to find this section on your page.
§  If you have a ranking of 24,800, that means that 24,799 books listed in your category are selling better than your book and that up to millions of books in your book’s category are selling less well.
§  The lower your sales ranking number for your book the better. Sales rankings for your Kindle (e-book) page will not be the same as the one on your paperback page.
Note: When the pages for your paper book and e-book are digitally connected properly, your reviews will be the same on both pages. (There should be a link on each page pointing to the other.)
§  If you market and promote, your efforts may lower those rankings (lower is good!). If so, celebrate because this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the marketing you are doing does not improve your rating at all, though it should contribute to your overall branding effort.
§  Don’t try to translate a drop in your ratings to the number of books sold. The algorithms are a lot more complicated than that.
§  Sales rankings fluctuate (sometimes wildly) during the day.

Warning: Do not spend a lot of time checking your ratings. They should be used as indicators. They shouldn’t become an obsession. It’s best not to obsess, but if you can’t avoid it, and others provide services available for pinging ratings to you in your e-mail box.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. All her books for writers are multi award winners including both the first and second editions of The Frugal Book Promoter and her multi award-winning The Frugal Editor won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award.
Howard-Johnson is the recipient of the California Legislature’s Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award, and her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen” and was given her community’s Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. 
The author loves to travel. She has visited eighty-nine countries and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her Web site is

Monday, August 6, 2018


One stands tall,
two stand small.
Flaxen hair,
pin-eyed stare,
basket of strawberry flowers.
Three pretty maids
all in a row,
within an hour.

 by Patricia Crandall

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Tricky Sentence Structure by Mary Deal

Let’s analyze a sentence from a story:

The story: Two women discuss a visit to a doctor. The one who saw the specialist is fine and found to be in good health. She tells the other....

The cardiologist said my heart was strong enough to last another fifty years.”

The parts of the sentence that don’t jibe are the words said and was.

The word said implies something already spoken and is being related in the conversation. This word is correctly used.

The word was is past-tense and ambiguous. Used as it is in this sentence, it implies something has changed to the woman’s health since she visited her doctor; was healthy then, but now....

As stated at the top of this article, we know that the woman’s health is still fine, so the bit of dialogue must accurately show that as well.

Though the dialogue talks about something that happened in the past—the conversation with the doctor—the health condition has not changed in the present. The correct way to write that bit of dialogue is:

The cardiologist said my heart is strong enough to last another fifty years.”

The word was is replaced with is, implying the woman’s heart remains healthy.

Simple nuances like these go undetected by most, even by many avid readers. Misuse of certain words and phrases are part of the colloquial way our English has evolved over time.

To be grammatically correct with past, present and future tenses in writing, we need to be astute and analyze our sentence structures and make them cohesive.

Mary Deal

Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery:
Gift Gallery:*

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Inside the End Quotes by Mary Deal

Much confusion exists about what goes inside or outside of the end quotes in dialogue.

To digress briefly, the only sentences that should be included in quotation marks are something that someone said. Quotes are used a lot to set off passages taken from other writing. Though allowed, quotation marks are being over-used to draw attention to words and phrases other than dialogue. Considering dialogue, quotes can also be used to set off a repeated portion of something another person said. An example:

~ His response to revealing the secret was that it was “deep and dark.”

Now consider this sentence:

~ San Francisco is known as “The City by the Bay.”

In the examples with quotation marks, I would immediately wonder who said that. Yet, it isn’t written as dialogue. The correct way to set off a title or information other than dialogue is to present it in italics.

San Francisco is known as The City by the Bay.

Having clarified that, what follows is the correct positioning of the end quotes on various forms of dialogue.

All punctuation, whether statement, question or exclamation, belongs inside the end quotes.

Where did you go?” she asked.

In the above sentence, the question mark must follow the question, then the end quotes. Even though we use a question mark instead of a comma, the sentence continues with she asked.

We went to the movie first.”

I don’t believe it!”

I told you, I did it,” she said.

Notice in the last example above that the sentence wasn’t complete until after the word said. A comma was used after it, then the end quotes. The variation from the sentence above with the question mark is that a question mark always follows a question, regardless that there is more to the sentence.
Then we get into a person relating something someone else said. That’s where you find single quotes inside double quotes.

When she became obstinate, her mother said, ‘Go to your room!’”

In this example of dialogue, the sentence within a sentence – Go to your room – is set off with single quotation marks. Notice that the exclamation point ending the dialogue goes inside both sets of end quotes: The exclamation point, then the single end quote to end the dialogue within dialogue, and then the double end quote signifying the final end to the entire string of dialogue.
The exclamation point belongs with the string Go to your room, so belongs inside the single end quote. In the cases where an exclamation point should end the embodying string of dialogue, the exclamation point would be placed between the single end quote and the double one, like this:

I hated that he quietly said, ‘It’s over’!”

Notice here, too, the lack of a period after the repeated dialogue. Someone else said It’s over but it is not the end of the whole sentence that is being spoken in anger. So the exclamation point belongs after the single quote mark but inside the double end quotes.
For most writers, the simple rule is that all punctuation goes inside the end quotes. When it becomes more complicated is when you begin to quote dialogue where one person is telling what another person said. Then many more variations exist.
Much to any writer’s chagrin, instruction for proper usage of quotation marks could fill many pages. It’s wise to have a reputable book of punctuation nearby and seek out the exact examples and solutions you may need for your prose.
To assure your punctuation won’t get your prose rejected, I highly recommend The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors and Publishers.

Mary Deal

Author, Painter, Photographer
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery:
Gift Gallery:*

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Those S and ES Endings

These endings have always troubled me until I finally decided to get it right. Compare the versions and pick out the correct usages in this name ending with the letter s.

The Joneses came for dinner.
The Jones’s came for dinner.
The Jones came for dinner.

John Joneses car stalled.
John Jones car stalled.
John Jones’s car stalled.

That Jones’s girl.
That Joneses girl.
That Jones girl.

The correct sentences are:

The Joneses came for dinner.
John Jones’s car stalled.
That Jones girl.

Some tips:

When a name ends with an s, and when speaking of the family as a group, add es, as in Joneses.
When speaking about something John Jones owned, it is his property and, therefore, an apostrophe and s shows ownership, as in Jones’s.
When speaking about a person in the singular, use only the name Jones.
However, when speaking about a group of girls all named Jones, you would write that sentence: The Jones girls. Notice that the name stays the same but the s is added to the word girl, stating more than one exists with that name.

Mary Deal

Author, Painter, Photographer
Amazon Best-Selling Author
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery:
Gift Gallery:*

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Rules of Grammar by Mary Deal

The rules of grammar are to, first, benefit a reader.

Grammar is standard format to which good writers will adhere. Secondly, it provides all writers a standard to follow that makes the written word fluent. Proper grammar is the backbone of all written prose, regardless some be written in colloquialisms, laced with foreign words, slang, or any other variation.

See it this way–

An avid reader picks up a book written according to the rules of grammar. They read through the book quickly and immensely enjoy the story because nothing impedes their reading experience.
Yet another well-read reader opens a book only to find grammar flaws such as poor format, incorrect sentence structure, irregular or incorrect speaker tags and beats, and other jarring errors. It’s difficult for this reader to enjoy the book because the author did not follow the rules of correct grammar that make for a smooth read and which is constant in all good books.
Poor grammar and composition in an otherwise great story deflates the reader’s enthusiasm. The reader may think twice about having to pick their way through a plethora of errors in any new book by that author. Some will not complete the read of the present book.
Our school system requires all graduates to have studied English grammar. I’ve found that many have forgotten what they learned. Too, it’s erroneous to believe that because we studied grammar in school that we know how to write.
Truth is, few remember.
Another truth is that most writers have never been told how to write a story of greater length. Writing a story or book length manuscript is different in the real world than composing high school or college papers.
A short cut to learning proper grammar is as I always recommend: Get your hands on a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style and a thesaurus. Any time you have difficulty, for example, composing a sentence or deciding whether to use a colon or semi-colon, or need a more descriptive verb, refer to these thorough and concise research aids.
Don’t ask a friend to help you sort out grammar inconsistencies. Friends may not be able to solve your problems and then leave you to make an arbitrary decision.
You can post your questions on a website. Others will reply with a variety of answers, but whom do you believe? If you’re sure the friend you ask is a professional with grammar, then go ahead and trust their response if they seem certain.

An inexperienced writer having to relearn grammar all the while writing a book will surely destroy a friendship if that writer constantly expects the friend to advise them all along the way.

At some early point, every writer must take responsibility for learning how to make their stories as perfect as possible.
Two other references I always recommend – I could recommend many but will skim the best off the top of the list here – are:

Writing with Clarity and Style by Robert A. Harris

Complete Stylist and Handbook by Sheridan Baker

Should you feel you are knowledgeable enough to write your opus but you encounter problems along the way, then to the list above, I would suggest you freely refer to my book, Write it Right – Tips for Authors,The Big Book.
Particular information found here is meant for writers who progress nicely, but find problems that should be smoothed out in order to compose fluid prose.
Maintaining a library of reference books to guide you is best. Many books offer bits of information about this and that, but no one book will solve all of your problems.
Those able to write stunning prose based on her or his current knowledge or ability may not need a lot of books. Any questions they have can be researched in reference books or writing reference sites on the Net.

Any early uncertainties about writing abilities overall could be solved with a course or two in writing to give some sort of foundation or base from which to begin.

 Mary Deal

Author, Painter, Photographer
Amazon Best-Selling Author
Eric Hoffer Book Award Winner
National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist (past)
Pushcart Prize Nominee
Global eBook Awards Nominee
2014 National Indie Excellence Book Awards Finalist
Global eBook Awards Bronze
Global eBook Awards Silver
Art Gallery:
Gift Gallery:*

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

SPRING CONCERT by Patricia Crandall

 Melodic soft voices
drifting in harmony
as dark-suited boys
and white organdy girls
wear gentle expressions
of spring

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Infinity, a poem by Patricia Crandall

                                                                                    In drifting waves
                                                                                    A jewel of a lake
                                                                                    Unable to rein in my gaze


Monday, March 5, 2018


Icy tunneled roadways
give shelter from wintry winds
where tousled, snow-fingered limbs
harbor iced patterns
on fragile leaves
yet to fall off armies of trees.
A tree-lined lake        
mirrors blue and gold
(ice and sun).
The brightest star shines
higher than its counterpart,
(a quarter moon). At night,
moonlight showers
are white-gold
like a husky’s fur.
In the woodland,
early spring moves slap-dash
through a running brook.
At dusk, birds share
bounteous feeders.
New snowflakes fall
on the frozen ground.
At the roadside,
snow-capped mailboxes
and snow-shelves
bank along the passageways.
Patricia Crandall

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Best of Fiction on the Web is now available to buy

The big day has finally arrived. Here are the links to buy copies of the book:

If you asked for a free copy, you will receive it at the beginning of March.

What next?

- I've attached a press release - please spread it far and wide! Let's try to get people excited about this wonderful charitable anthology.

- You can also direct people to this web page:

- When you read the book, please leave a review on Amazon.

Monday, February 19, 2018

AMERICA, by author Patricia Crandall

Jet streams pass over
a cherished heritage
Eagles soar beneath,
symbols of righteous freedom.
I retain
one part of the main,
New York
industrious and powerful.
Vacationing south, I
traveled wide
of New England’s crowning vistas
and meshed through warm, flat straights,
wending into Florida,
poignant with crowded sunshine
and Mickey Mouse.
I am
desirous yet to see
Colorado Rockies
California style
all territories united.
you have aged well, being
worthy of infinite beauty and greatness.
And through all the dark
you give us light.

by Patricia Crandall

Chances are You Will Want to Come to New York City

In 1958 Her streets were paved in yellow brick leading to Fifth Avenue and 42 nd  Street. You might have seen a zealous couple dance-walkin...