Thursday, June 26, 2014

Delia Latham: The Danger in Dandelions

I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they're like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day…fifty the day after that…and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it's—GASP!!—too late.
—Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Sometimes in my dreams, huge monsters shaped like L’s and Y’s chase me down book-lined streets and into a dark, creepy cemetery. Over its gate I glimpse a sign, painted in blood-red printer’s ink: Kill All Adverbs. Bury Them Here.
Well, maybe I’m stretching it a bit…but isn’t it true that adverbs have taken a great deal of flak in the writing community? In elementary school, we were encouraged to embellish our little stories and essays with “descriptive” words called adjectives and adverbs. They were touted as useful in making our writing more vibrant…prettier, if you will.

Now the poor adverb is on every Wanted poster in the world of writing. Literary bounty hunters are out to get them, at all costs.

This vendetta against adverbs is not a new thing. The revered Mark Twain even pronounced an unequivocal death sentence on them: “If you see an adverb, kill it.”

I’m inclined more toward Stephen King’s way of thinking. Adverbs are like dandelions on the lawn. Who hasn’t picked one of the fluffy weeds, made a wish, and blown its wispy “petals” into the wind? They’re pretty. They’re fun. They make us smile.

Trouble is, those wispy "petals" are actually seed heads. If they’re allowed to grow, they take over, and soon that beautiful lawn is choked out by dandelions. Because no matter how fun, or how pretty, they are still weeds. If we fail to uproot them, they soon become less attractive and more troublesome.

So let’s talk about why adverbs have made for themselves such a nasty reputation.

First, understand that they are not going to completely disappear from your writing. (See what I mean?) But like dandelions, which are pretty and we like seeing them now and then, they will, indeed, multiply if the writer does not maintain complete control. Stop and consider at every spotting of an adverb. Does it need to be there? Could your sentence be stronger without it?

Just as weeds left to spread can often be blamed on a “lazy” owner, adverbs are often a sign of lazy writing. Where you see an “ly” word, most of the time the writer is telling the reader something, rather than showing them. 

For example:

The little one ran quickly to his mother.

It does the job all right…I guess. Nothing is technically wrong with the sentence. We know the child went to his mother and that he wasted no time getting there. But instead of stating a dull, ordinary fact, the writer could have taken the time and made the effort to paint a sweet picture.

A huge smile revealed tiny white teeth and lit a bright love light behind the toddler’s blue irises. He bounce-hopped across the floor toward his mother, chubby legs churning like a wound-up cartoon character.

I like the way Arizona writer Kathleen Ewing sums up adverbs: 

“The reader doesn't want to watch your characters walking quickly or hear them speaking softly. Pick a verb with some starch in its shorts. Make characters jog, march or stride. Make them mumble, mutter or whisper. If you begin with a hairy-legged verb, you won't be tempted to accomplish the action slowly, urgently or hopefully.”
Oh, wait…did you catch that? That secret to active writing? The thing that puts your reader right there with your character, living the story instead of looking on from the sidelines while someone narrates events?

“Begin with a hairy-legged verb.” A strong, descriptive, active verb. That's the secret.

In the example above, my toddler bounce-hopped across the floor, short legs churning… So much more effective than “he ran quickly.”

Most of the time, the adverb adds little or nothing to a sentence—other than an extra word. If I scribble my number at a chance meeting when I’m in a hurry, there’d be no need to state, “She scribbled hurriedly.” The fact that I’m scribbling already implies a rush. If I’m pacing the floor at a tense moment, saying I “paced restlessly” is redundant. The action itself—pacing—implies restlessness. If my son is rushing out the door (he’s late, he’s late, for a very important date!), saying he “raced quickly out the door” adds an unnecessary adverb. If one is racing, it’s a pretty sure bet that he’s in a hurry, and moving as fast as possible.

In summary: Take time to come up with the perfect verb, and it won’t need to be modified by an adverb. Is it easy? Not always. Is it worth the trouble?

You decide. But hurry…you have 'lions on your lawn.


Writers beware: The Danger in Dandelions. @DeliaLatham on Write Right! #writingtips

What do adverbs and dandelions have in common? Find out at Write Right @DeliaLatham.

A dandelion on your lawn. What does it have to do with writing? @DeliaLatham on adverbs. #writingtips

Delia Latham is a born-and-bred California gal, currently living in the beautiful mountain town of Tehachapi with her husband Johnny and a Pomeranian named Boo. She’s a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend—but above all, she treasures her role as child of the King and heir to the throne of God. She has a “thing” for Dr. Pepper and absolutely loves hearing from her readers.

Contact her at any of the following locations:

Website; blog; Facebook; Twitter; Amazon author page

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Nike Chillemi: Mordant Modifiers Mock Me

Nike Chillemi

I love to describe. I started out in marketing in the bridal industry and loved to wax on and on about layers of white tulle. I'm so enamored of bridal, I gave my heroine's best friend forever (BFF) a bridal couture shop in my latest release, HARMFUL INTENT. Then I had to be real careful not to over describe that gossamer world. I might know and love that there are a gazillion shades of white, but I'd bore my readers describing them all. In my 1940s Sanctuary Point series, I chomped at the bit to portray the pristine, undeveloped landscape of that era, the aromas coming from the various ethnic kitchens in the village, and the latest 1940s fashion statement. 

There has to be a point where I put the brakes on. I don't want my next contemporary detective novel to come off like this...

"Druzilla rushed breathlessly into the chrome encrusted lobby of the super-deluxe luxury skyscraper with its
Italian-marble floor tiles. She clasped her Glock in her perfectly manicured hands in a police-style, double hand-hold while her heart rapidly pounded out a staccato rhythm. Advancing toward the steel elevator banks, her low-heeled boots tapped loudly against the tiles. She barely managed to overcome the churning in her stomach, but still forged ahead past the bewildered security guard who had, up until that point, been sitting nonchalantly at his desk. When the elevator doors opened, she spied the a middle aged, balding man in a double-breasted, pinstripe suit with an embossed, black-leather briefcase still clasped in his hand and a wooden handled, military stiletto sticking out of his back."

How many "ly" words are in that, not to mention hyphenated descriptives...let's not count them. You see, I have this teensy-weensy affliction. I desire that my reader will know exactly down to the most minute detail what my heroine and hero are feeling, what the room looks like and what aromas might be gracing the atmosphere. So, I must therefore put effort into restraining myself. I have even gone so far as to take an oath to banish adjectives and adverbs from the pages of my manuscript. That can be overdone too. There has to be a balance. Readers like to
use their own imaginations, but they also like to know what the author's vision is.

With great gnashing of teeth, I've learned to be a great deal more sparse in my writing. One advantage of cutting out those weasel words is the pace picks up…a good thing when writing suspense, which I do. Every story can use some suspense to liven the pace, so cutting modifiers, no matter how it hurts, can be a good thing.

Is this easy? No! Oh, those dreaded weasel words...alas, they still call to me…still haunt and plague me. Some writers fervently subscribe to the belief that more than one "many" is too many in a chapter. It also could be argued that it's way too few, except on those highly rare occasions when "many" is needed many times to make the author's highly salient point. Of course unless the author is obfuscating by using an abundance of abstract words that might tend to obscure the meaning rather than elucidate the author's point for the reader. No, we wouldn't ever want to do that, now would we?

And so, dear and gentle reader, I hope this clarifies everything for you.

About Nike:

Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.

Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series, set in the mid-1940s has won awards and garnered critical acclaim. Her new contemporary whodunit, HARMFUL INTENT released in the spring of 2014 under the auspices of her own publishing company, Crime Fictionista Press.

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Christian Indie Novelists (CHIN) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning). 

Betrayal runs in private investigator Veronica "Ronnie" Ingels' family. So, why is she surprised when her husband of one year cheats on her? The real shock is his murder, with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.

Ronnie Ingels is a Brooklyn bred private investigator who travels to west Texas, where her cheating husband is murdered. As she hunts the killer to clear her name, she becomes the hunted.

Deputy Sergeant Dawson Hughes, a former Army Ranger, is a man folks want on their side. Only he's not so sure at first, he's on the meddling New York PI's side. As the evidence points away from her, he realizes the more she butts in, the more danger she attracts to herself.

Sweet, askance romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully.

Purchase Harmful Intent on Amazon

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Mary Manners: Showcase Your Hero

Mary Manners

You’ve written a great story and fallen in love with your hero. Now you want everyone else to fall in love with him, as well. The big question is…how do you make that happen?

Any writer worth her salt knows the perfect hero can make or break any romance. Whether strong and athletic or analytical and creative—or any combination thereof—the success of your book sales, in part, depends on the manner
in which your readers connect with your hero. So, from a marketing aspect, what are some of the many ways to make your hero shine?

Begin by scheduling a blog tour. I don’t mean your typical tour in which you as the author or the book itself are the main focus. I’m talking about a character tour in which your hero—your special guy—is the center of attention. Think of each blog visit as a different talk show from various channels. Serious or quirky and full of humor, give your hero a grand entrance and seat him beneath bright stage lights and in front of an adoring crowd. Imagine fans have waited for weeks to meet him, their anticipation flourishing with each breath. The crowd is excited and restless. What would they most like to know?

Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Focus on your hero’s deepest, darkest secrets, his quirks and everything that makes him come to life on the page. Sample questions are usually provided by the blog host or hostess, but adding a few of your own, tailor-made to showcase your hero’s special features and aspects of his motivation, fears, and longings throughout the story should also be included. Six to ten appearances over a two to four week period surrounding your hero’s debut into the marketplace are a good number to aim for. Mix up the interview questions and reveal a fresh tidbit of information with each interview to keep the material vibrant and readers intrigued and coming back for more. Most importantly, be sure to banter during the interviews, just as your character would in real life. Think conversation…and fun.

Between blog visits and throughout the character tour, spice things up with a sprinkle of book quotes from the story. Book quotes are a quick, simple, and effective means of breathing life into your hero and sharing him with others. When selecting quotes, consider the lines your hero uses that grab a reader’s attention and make her senses tingle. Here’s an example:

Also consider which lines provide a greater insight into what makes your hero tick:

Post your quotes to social networks such as Facebook and Pinterest, as well as your website, across the book’s launch period. Be sure to include a buy link wherever possible that takes readers straight to the purchase site. Also, book quotes make great Facebook banners. Create several and rotate them every day or so to pique interest.

Good luck. You know what they say…I need a hero…

About Mary:

Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they've rescued from local animal shelters...Lucky and Gus.

Mary’s debut novel, Mended Heart, was nominated Best Inspirational Romance 2010, and was finalist for the Bookseller’s Best Award and her follow-up, Tender Mercies, was awarded an outstanding 4 ½ star rating from The Romantic Times Book Reviews and was also a finalist for the Inspirational Readers Choice Award. Buried Treasures, her third novel, was named Book of the Year by The Wordsmith Journal. Light the Fire, her fourth novel, took top honors for the 2012 Inspirational Readers Choice Award while her fifth, Wisdom Tree, continues to garner top ratings. Mary was named Author of the Year by Book and Trailer Showcase. She writes romances of all lengths, from short stories to novels—something for everyone.

Learn more about Mary Manners at her website: and at her author pages at and

Thursday, June 12, 2014

LoRee Peery: Write with Emotional Abandon

LoRee Peery

As an author I want to continue loving what I write. That involves constantly learning to show my characters on a deeper level. As I get into the heads of my hero and heroine to weave their story, I need to present an internal war regarding their emotional and spiritual struggles. Without getting close to how the characters feel, there is no story.

Inner conflict fights the power of attraction. People have feelings. That’s how we relate to one another. Our heavenly Father reaches us by touching our hearts and our minds. God created us as emotional beings.

Angst comes from backstory, how and where and what environment grew this person. Characters are people. When I’m involved in a project I sometimes look at life from my character’s viewpoint (usually the heroine’s), while I go about my day.

One of the funniest things I heard at the end of the year was an author who came home from shopping and told her daughter how much so-and-so would love a certain purchase. That so-and-so was the author’s heroine. What an example of being emotionally involved.

Something interesting has happened as I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words over the years. I not only write closer to the heart of a character, but as I live with these story “people,” I grow as well.

In this example from a story currently with my editor, I could have just written, “Simon missed his wife.” I believe a reader will identify with how he felt:

   Deena made him relive the loss of his wife. He wanted to be done with memories of Angelina. During their short six-month marriage, he’d taken their time together for granted.
   But another glance at Deena as she took a step back ended the resemblance. How could he not be drawn to this woman’s vibrant red lips, mysterious dark eyes, and caring personality?
   Then again, it was disconcerting to look close. Her eyes shocked him into remembering his wife. Their aborted time together. The way she had left him.

Can you experience the way he’s conflicted as he compares the two women?

Characteristics need to be dimensional and emotional. When we interact, we experience all kinds of sensual thoughts and reactions. If I don’t smile, shed a tear, grit my teeth in anger, or even jump up from my chair and dance a jig, my readers will skim in boredom.

Write Right makes me smile. I plain get an emotional kick out of the title of this blog. On the job for 20 years I was a proofreader/editorial assistant. I learned cut and dried RULES that I adhere to. My first draft at getting down a story is still often passive. Sometimes I’ve written a scene over and over, always finding places where I could do more showing than telling.

One thing authors, editors, and readers agree on is their desire for real, emotion through point of view character.

About LoRee:

A Nebraska country girl, LoRee Peery attempts to see God’s presence every day. Often that gift comes from nature, and she is most relaxed in the outdoors. The call of a cardinal draws her to look for the distinctive flash of crimson. A meadowlark’s melody always transports her to the farm where she grew up. A rainbow holds special significance, since one appeared the day of her father’s funeral and means the promise of the Lord’s presence in her life. She clings to I John 5:4 and prays her family sees that faith. You can find her at or the Pelican Book Group site

About LoRee's Upcoming Release:

Needing to finish her thesis in order to keep her job working with youth in a residential treatment center, Shana Arnold sequesters herself on Creighton Rice’s Nebraska ranch. She expects the secluded hideaway to provide a peaceful environment. What she doesn't expect is to become the victim of identity theft and a crazed home invader.

Creighton Rice has been content to live alone with his God - until he meets Shana. He's drawn to her, but must fight the attraction. Getting close makes him face a lifetime's accumulation of scars. Plus, Shana doesn’t share his faith. But when Shana's life is threatened, Creighton must protect her - even if it means letting her in.

Will Shana discover that even when a woman loses everything, she can regain courage and strength through faith in God, and can Creighton allow God to heal scars and open the door to a lifetime with Shana?

Watch LoRee's website and Pelican Book Group for release date.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Kimberly Rose Johnson: To Work With a Critique Partner or Not

For some writers the idea of allowing anyone to read their writing is more than they are willing to do. For other writers the idea of not having at least one critique partner look over and comment on their work is unthinkable. Perhaps you love critiques and want to have as many people as possible read and critique your work or maybe you fall someplace in the middle.

I fall into the middle category—although in the beginning I spent time in each of the other categories. I currently have three critique partners, and I believe without feedback from the various writers who’ve mentored me over the years, I never would have been published. God has blessed me with wonderful mentors almost from the beginning of my writing journey and they’ve taught me with love and patience even when I didn’t want to hear that I needed to keep working.

Although the critique groups I’ve been in have changed through the years, I’ve have the privilege of having one critique partner in particular virtually from the beginning. I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t always care for what she has to say. In fact, sometimes I’m downright annoyed, but I know that she has me and my story’s best interest in mind, so I sit back and chew on what she’s said. Yes, I’ve vented to my patient hubby more than once, but after taking time to think about her comment or suggestion I begin to see her point.

That is not to say a writer must take all critique comments and incorporate them into their work—ultimately it’s your story and no one knows it better than you. What I am saying is that there is value in critiques, and we as writers should be willing to learn from the people we’ve chosen to work with.
We need to be open to correction and instruction and not allow our feelings to be hurt when someone doesn’t agree with us, or suggests we didn’t hit the mark. Keep in mind our critique partners are there to help make our baby the best it can be, and if there is any doubt about their motivation perhaps it’s time to find a new critique partner.

If you’ve never allowed anyone, much less another writer to see your work, I encourage you to find a trusted writer friend that will be honest and fair to give you feedback. How else will you know if what you’ve written hits the mark?

Finally, critique partners can be so much more than what the word implies. They can be prayer partners, advisors, friends, brainstorming partners, cheerleaders, and a shoulder to cry on when the rejections come. We writers live a somewhat solitary life, and we need each other for encouragement as much as for help with our writing.

About Kimberly:

Kimberly married her college sweetheart and is a graduate of Northwest University. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two teenage sons and their yellow lab. Kimberly is an avid reader and loves romance, suspense and romantic suspense. She enjoys playing the piano, hiking and coffee with friends. She loves hearing from her fans. You can connect with her on her website at

About Kimberly's New Release:

Susan Hill isn't ready to forgive.

The small-town CPA can't forget how Blake Mitchell jilted her and left their hometown without an explanation. But when her first love returns to Leavenworth, the ruggedly handsome writer evokes conflicting emotions, especially when Susan meets the child she assumes is his daughter.

Since his parents' deaths six years ago, Blake's been raising his little sister on his own. But he's never forgotten the woman he left behind. Now, he can't undo the past, but maybe he can change the future…if he can convince Susan to give him one more chance.

Purchase A Romance Rekindled at:


Critique partner: Nice...or nightmare? Kimberly Rose Johnson shares her thoughts on Write Right!

Does the thought of a crit partner give you hives? Relax with Kimberly Rose Johnson  on Write Right!