Monday, June 30, 2008

Here's Owen - and Marvin - We found them!!!!! Owen Fiddler Interviewed

(Owen walks in, followed by Marvin.

Marvin reminds Owen to

snuff out his smoke, which Owen does reluctantly. They both take a seat.)

(Billie) - Hi Owen, Marvin.

(Owen) – Hey.

(Marvin) – Hi Billie, good to see you again.

(Billie) - I hope your day goes well. Thanks for coming, have a sip of ice tea or lemonade and chat with us. How’s the weather in your neck of the woods? How’s your investment portfolio doing? Getting any writing done? How’s the wife and kids?

(Owen looks at Marvin, confused. Marvin says to Owen) – Small talk, Owen, relax, that’s just Billie – she can get a bit facetious at times. (Marvin turns to Billie, says) – Weather’s fine, the investments are as falsely inflated as the stock market, the writing never stops, and the wife and kids’re – well, speaking for me, doing just fine. C’mon, Billie, I know you didn’t ask us here to discuss our favorite colors. (smiles and chuckles)

(Billie laughs with him) – Yes, well - now that we’ve got the chatty ‘how’d ya be’ stuff done lets get to some questions that I’ve been dying to ask and I know my Printed Words readers are holding on with their fingernails white with anticipation. Let’s start with this:

My definition of Irony: All is not as it appears to be. Is Owen a definition of irony? Does the braggadocio, full of himself, acerbic wit, curmudgeon cover insecurity or lack of self-confidence?

OWEN: Yup. All that. You pegged me right good, Ms. Williams. Hey, where have I seen you before … Playboy, right? March issue, 1997? So what’re you doin’ later?

(Marvin) Owen! For god’s sake, stow it, will ya? Jeez-o-Pete – sorry, Billie.

(Billie) Oh, no harm, Marvin. Owen, you DO live up to your rep, don’t you? My, what a charmer. But on a more serious note, and I’m talking to Owen now - by your own admission you take no responsibility for your actions, YOU SAY—and yet you do. You seem to be trying to set the record straight. You seem to be saying – “Hey, I fell off the turnip truck but it wasn’t the end of my life - it was only the beginning.” Isn’t that taking responsibility in some fashion?

(Owen lifts his eyes to the ceiling, stares for a moment, then sighs with a fall of his chest, looks pleadingly at Marvin who just stares at him, then looks at Billie) – Yeah. I guess you could say that. But really I’m not all that comfortable calling all this attention to myself. The only reason I agreed to let Marvin write my story was I figured maybe I’d get ahead some, you know – maybe make some money. Am I taking responsibility for my life by sharing my story with others? If I am, that’s just a plus for me according to you, I guess. ‘N thank ya kindly, Ma’am.

(Billie) - Do you believe in the oft-quoted message that ‘nothing happens by accident’? Do you think perhaps you were chosen to trod the path you trod in order to better understand the message that you were to write to others?

(Owen looks at Marvin as if to ask if he should answer – Marvin nods yes) – Okay, Look. There’s all this fuss bein’ made over my life story. I can’t figure it. I mean, there’s tons-o-folks you could write the same book about. Marvin picked me, he says, cuz I’m like some kinda average example. So, all this heavy stuff about troddin’ paths and all that (bleep)? I really don’t know. I’m just Owen Fiddler – nothin’ more, nothin’ less.

(Billie) - The things we see and dislike in others is a mirror of ourselves – or reflects what we don’t like in ourselves to put it another way or so I’m led to believe. You say in an interview I read recently that You (Owen Fiddler) represent those aspects we often abhor in others but fail to recognize in ourselves. Can you expand on this—I mean how do you mean this phrase? Do you mean if I hate my sister for being gorgeous that I have these same traits that make her appear gorgeous to me? Or because I joke that my other sister is a motor mouth that I am one?

(Owen) – Well, if the bra fits, wear it. Or, lie about it and stuff it with tissue. Gorgeous sister, eh? Think I could meet her?

(Marvin) – Oh-when! … we’re not on The Dating Game, pal. Keep it relevant, will ya?

(Billie – chuckles) – You guys’re a stitch. You know, the name Owen seems to say “ow(e)n up to your mistakes, ow(e)n what you say, ow(e)n what you write, ow(e)n what you project,” at least in my mind. Is that what you intended with the title of this book, naming it after yourself? Or do you mean you own the Fiddler?

(Owen turns to Marvin, perplexed, says) – She’s getting’ a bit deep for me. You named me, what the (bleep)’s she talkin’ about?

(Marvin) – Hmmm – actually, Billie, you are close in your assessment of the meaning of Owen Fiddler’s name. In a certain way, you are right on. However, the real meaning of the name, the more succinct interpretation as I intended it is … oh, how can I say it without unbagging the cat? Put it like this: Owen likes to dance, but he never pays the fiddler. Therefore, he is in a constant state of Owen Fiddler.

(Owen) – I’m getting’ a (bleep)ing headache. Is this all you got – ice tea and lemonade? I need a beer and a shot of tequila.

(Marvin) – Knock it off, Owen. Sorry again, Billie.

(Billie) – Quite all right. Now, you say that Owen Fiddler is not a religious book, but a highly spiritual book. Isn’t religion about inspiring, enlightening? And isn’t religion spiritual? Isn’t this just a fine/very thin line you are choosing so as not to believe in anything but yourself? Are you saying that all religions are nothing more then doctrine, rules, regulations and sermons of what not to do and how bad we are?

(Owen) – Well, I never been inspired by religion. Religious people’ve always struck me as robots. Reciting scriptures, all actin’ the same, rigid in their ways and habits – and super judgmental about anyone who isn’t exactly the same as they pretend to be. Bunch o’ nicey-nice folks afraid to have any real rip-roarin’ fun ‘n lookin’ down their noses at people that do.

(Marvin) – I’d like to interject a comment here. Because this is an important point. In fact, Billie, you touch on a few important points with your insightful inquiry. There is a radical difference between religion and spirituality. Allow me to explain with an example. Jesus was divine spirit incarnate. However, Christianity, the organized religion as we know and experience it today, two thousand years after His crucifixion, is for the most part a sham of a representation of what He taught and pointed His followers toward. Now before you denounce me as a heretic and organize an Owen Fiddler book burning with me strapped to a stake in the middle, please just stay with me for a minute.

Jesus did not found Christianity – His followers did, long after his death and resurrection. Jesus just loved people – He loved everyone equally without judgment and led them to the truth. And he bade us to follow His example. Can we say this of the religious community we have today? Is forgiveness, compassion and non-judgmental love for everyone the hallmark of the church that goes by His name? No. Never has been, at least not for sixteen hundred years or so. Wars are fought; throngs of innocent lives are slain, in the name of Christianity. Can there be any more supreme irony, any more of an obtuse oxymoron than the concept of a “Holy War?” Remember, it was the religious people of Jesus’ time that had Him crucified. They chose to liberate Barabas – a murderer, rather than let Jesus live. If Jesus were alive and walking the streets today, the religious would kill Him again. His spirit is too radical – too free – too liberated - far too spontaneous and wild to be confined by an organization. Religion fosters fear – fear of unbridled freedom, the kind of limitless freedom that Jesus was and is. I mean, we’re talking about a guy who could fast for forty days and rebuke the devil and then turn around and have a feast with thieves and hookers while enjoying a healthy wine buzz. I tell you, the Church would not recognize its own savior if he were to return today. He’d be declared the Anti-Christ and assassinated by the clergy.

And I’m not just picking on Christianity – the same can be said for Judaism and Islam. You asked earlier about irony. How’s this for even more irony – Judaism, Islam and Christianity, their devout followers all believe in and worship the same One God of Abraham. The Old Testament and the Koran are (in large part) just different scriptings of the same stories, parables, and theological tenets. So why then, are they killing each other? Put Moses, Mohammed and Jesus in a room together. Do you suppose they would argue, come to blows and try to murder each other over their different interpretations of The Way? I think not. Yet their so-called followers do just that.

(Marvin notices Owen has fallen asleep, snoring) Owen! Wake up! Show a little respect, for heaven’s sake.

(Owen jerks awake) Huh? Wha?

(Billie laughs) - I think I see what you’re saying. But let me ask you this - do you think by saying it’s not a religious book that readers will take a chance on reading it and find out too late that they have been touched by religion? That they believe in a higher power and perhaps even the good of most if not all mankind given the right chances?

(Owen) – I’m sorry, what’re we talkin’ about?

(Marvin looks at Owen as if he were a used cud of chewing gum) – That’s all right, I got this one. Ahem. Yes. Absolutely, that is my hope and intention. OWEN FIDDLER is a brave book, if I do say so myself. I took a chance on publishing it. The strictly religious community will probably eschew it as being mere filth. I mean, Owen cusses, gets drunk regularly and is prolifically promiscuous. I’m a writer of truths, and that’s just the way he is. And conversely, the book runs the risk of being considered (ironically) by the secular community as too “religious.” The book has characters in it drawn from Christian theology. Again, I’m being true to myself. I am a Christian – albeit a rather non-religious Maverick spiritualist version of the faith – in the eyes of traditionalists, at least. But the book is not preachy - it’s engaging, entertaining, sometimes humorous, often it tugs at the heart, sometimes it gets irreverent and even sexy. I would think that anyone of any faith or path or no particular path at all can enjoy and appreciate the story. The message is universal.

In my perfect world, OWEN FIDDLER would come to be known and appreciated as a valuable “crossover” book. A modern day parable that has meaning to everyone, whether they are “religious,” “Spiritual,” or follow the Law of Attraction, or even just honestly agnostic. I’m all about bringing people together in love. It’s a form of worship for me.

(Billie) - What does Owen like to do when he is not writing and thinking about where he has been, what he has done, and what he will do next. Waking up on any given morning what are your thoughts? Going to the grocery store – what do you contemplate buying? What is a typical Owen Fiddler day?

(Owen yawns – awake now, somewhat) – Most mornings my first thought is I need to puke. I hate getting up, having to go to my (bleep)ing job, working with those (bleep)ing (bleep)holes, bringin’ home less money than I got bills. My daily life sucks. I live for quitting time, getting drunk and scoring on whores. Cheap thrills.

(Billie) - I watch Judge Judy, as millions of other people do, nearly every late afternoon. She gets really upset that so many people don’t take responsibility for their own actions — everything is someone else’s fault – Owen, you are so typical of today’s society - what made you decide to jump on a band wagon and fess up to all that’s happened in your life and try to make everyone else see – you are what you chose?

(Owen) – Fessin’ up was Marvin’s idea. I only went along with it for the money. I ain’t to blame for all the (bleep) that’s happened to me. Uh–uh. No (bleep)ing way. (bleep)

(Marvin) – Owen! The language? Billie, can I jump in again right here? Nowadays everybody has some syndrome or another. No matter how stupid, wicked, spiteful or hateful the action taken, it’s because the perpetrator suffers from some syndrome or another. Not their fault, the “Devil made them do it.” Nobody’s taking responsibility for their actions anymore. Am I right? Isn’t that why Judge Judy is so popular? We’re all sick and tired of this blame-game finger-pointing society, but everybody figures it’s the other person, not themselves, that’s behaving irresponsibly. Well, take a good look at Owen Fiddler, ladies and gentlemen, because he’s the eclectic synthesis of all syndromes, the mother of all fault-finders. Mark my word, eventually some attorney will get his client exonerated of a rape or murder charge by using the “Owen Fiddler Syndrome” argument.

(Billie) – Owen, I can’t help but mention, and I hope you won’t mind sharing the spot light with Marvin Wilson – that you were awarded the Silver Avatar Award for excellence in spiritual books. Congratulations! Tell us a little about this award and how it makes you (Owen) feel after what you said about your book not being religious?

(Owen) – Well, yeah – thanks. I never had no award or nuthin’ before. Kinda surprised me, be honest. Marvin tells me I’m gonna have some kinda spiritual experience, meet up with God or some (bleep). And so the story goes, I guess, there’s supposed to be a purpose to my life that has some kinda spiritual message in it. For the life of me I don’t know what the (bleep) that could be, but Marvin swears by it. I ain’t read the book yet myself – not very big on reading – too much work. If they wind up makin’ a movie out of it, I’ll go see that. Marvin networks with lotsa writers, he got hip to this AVATAR website, or organization, whatever – supposed to be pretty prestigious if they grant your writing an award. Has to be a work with clear and insightful spiritual content. Well, we won the silver – which is pretty darn good for a novel, from what I hear.

(Billie) - Thank you so much for allowing me to put you in the hot seat and for answering my questions. I must mention one more thing. The video trailer up on One True Media.Com is absolutely beautiful. The soul of the characters, the mood or essence of the characters portrayed from Frenda to Kris to the devil grab the viewer as much as the beautiful musical backdrop. You did good Owen! Please give our readers a link to that video as well as some idea where they can buy your book – and check in on Marvin Wilson – the string master who helps you keep your truth for the rest of us.

(Owen) – Sure. And thanks. For the compliment. Ahm, just click on Owen Fiddler is Here! for the video. It’s pretty cool – won the New Covey Award, the trailer did. You can buy the book on or or at your favorite bookstore. For reviews, excerpts, info, and even a short live talk I do, go to:

(Marvin) Yes, and both Owen and I have MySpaces. His is at: and mine is - drop in and leave us a note, we’ll get back to you. Also, I LOVE getting emails from my readers, I’ve made so many wonderful friends since taking up writing – mail me at:

(Billie) - One final question, Owen. Even though you say you have a selfish point of view, that you have been a fool, I think it is all a charade and you are one heck of a decent, loving, and wonderful kind of guy —who has so much to offer. A clue to this is you are doing it in such a non-threatening way that you reach out and grab people and get them to listen. Do you agree that you are WAY smarter then you give yourself credit for?

(Owen) – I guess I’m not sure what you mean. Hardly nobody’s ever said such nice things about me before. (face reddens) ‘S why I do what I do. All the stupid (bleep), you know. I’m afraid of real intimacy. Not sex, y’know, I mean real love – all intimate and the heart laid open and exposed. I never liked myself, figured nobody could really love the real me, so I put on this macho tough guy loner image and stay toasted most the time. A guy’s gotta feel good somehow. Tell ya, though – it’s a lonely life, bein’ selfish. Marvin tells me I’m gonna wind up happy and really be all those nice things like you said. Seems too impossible to believe.

(Billie) - Well, believe it. I know what I believe, and your curmudgeonly old self really is, after all, just a cover up. Hey, you guys, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with you and you are welcome on my blog any old day. So, do come back—ya hear?

(Marvin) – Thanks so much, Billie. The feeling is mutual. You’re good people.

(Owen) – Yep, I’d have to admit I actually had me a good time. And with nothin’ but a lemonade to drink at that! Ain’t that somethin’? Hey, Billie - speakin’ of good times – can I get your number? Call ya later?

(Marvin buries his face in his hands)

WANTED! Please find them!

Do you know who these two men are?
They aren't related I don't think - but I need help to find them - they both promised to be here July 1 and you'll want to stop by for a look see. I promise you -- you will be entertained - If you see them on the street -- Please run (just kidding) stop and say hi for me and give them a big old hug will ya?
Hope I'll see you tomorrow when we talk Owen Fiddler with (you guessed it - Owen himself )- I'll leave you to decide which is Owen and which is none other then Marvin Wilson *sigh*. So come on over and sit a spell -- that's tomorrow July 1, 2008

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Good Rainy Sunday Morning

Hi All,
It's raining again except today it's more like fall then the inferno we've been having. Speaking of inferno - my friend Cricket Sawyer just got a contract from Forbidden Publications for her book Inferno - her sig line says Accidental Sleuths (think she copied me)
Incidental Romance (oh yah she's a romance writer I write mystery)
Heat Index, Inferno - (Guess she didn't copy me after all.)

But it's interesting Fires raging in California - Wild fires eating acres at a time -I remember my first Colorado wild fire - I was scared to death. As a Wisconsin girl, I never heard of a fire eating acres at a time - mile after mile of charred wilderness - animals fleeing with terror in their eyes not caring if they had to race blindly across wild freeways to get away from the all consuming fire. A most frightening experience for me - I can't imagine the fear the wild critters must have experienced.

Now we have all the flooding in Wisconsin and Iowa - heat that we aren't used to - and no where to run from the breaking levees and the roaring rapids of rivers gone wild.

I still think you may enjoy a little respite from it all and keep on the look out for Cricket's book. I have one Ancient Secrets coming out from Wings ePress, Inc. in September which I'll be shouting about soon. Maybe even have a contest or two for some goodies to take your mind off the heat and water of the summer.

Meantime be sure to come back to printed words on July 1 for Owen Fiddler and Marvin Wilson they'll be stopping at my blog as they talk about the new Owen Fiddler book - you will never meet two more disarming, curmudgeony, lovable guys then these two. So mark your calendars and be sure to come by.

Comments welcome!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

OH MY GOODNESS!!! Karen Salmansohn

Karen I'm so sorry - How could I not have seen that - I misspelled your last name - YIKE! it should have been Salmansohn Good grief I'm so sorry. I have Bounce Back and Enough dammit! right in front of me and I never saw what I did.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Karen Salmansohn is our Guest today-June 27, 2008

Q: From a red rubber cover on your newest release Bounce Back, to recommendations from such great minds as Depak Chopra I'm not at all surprised at your energy and success. Please tell our readers more about Bounce Back.

A few years ago I went through a series of tough setbacks -- so many challenges all at once -- I kept waiting for a Candid Camera crew to pop out from behind the planter in my livingroom! I was eager to understand the psychology of resliency for my own situation -- and while researching and testing out what I was learning it became a passion to want to share my resiliency tips with others -- and so I wrote this book. This book is a true labor of love. I like to think that these tips transcend specific problems and instead apply to any hardship, whether it be in one's love life, career life or health -- you name it. The book features 75 helpful, insightful, and dare I say FUN ways to overcome hardships. Each tip has a corresponding "Bounce Back Assignment" where I give readers a call to action. I also elicit a lot of studies, tests, and scientific research in my book because I loved reading these on a personal level -- to help myself and educate myself after my trauma -- and because my aim for the BOUNCE BACK BOOK is to really help as many people out there as possible to be more resilient during tough times -- and so to write simply aspirationally and inspirationally will only help folks so much! Writing informationally will TRULY help people be as resilient as they humanly can be!
Just reading the information and sample pages on your website made me rush right over and buy the book (shh don't tell, I bought a couple others you have there also). This book offers help for people facing all sorts of crisis in their lives. You use a very up beat and positive attitude in your advice. It's almost as if you say, "smile and the happy will follow." Is that your philosophy? I'm sure I'm putting it too simplistically - So, what is that attitude that I feel in your writing?

KAREN: You're on the right track. I believe that our lives are not the outcomes of our experiences, but how we interpret and then respond to these experiences. I say "When life throws you curve balls, hit them out of the park." For example, if you've been fired, consider starting up your own company. If you've been dumped on your toosh, dust yourself off -- and consider moving to Paris for a year! Basically you must keep your eye on the prize of happiness -- even in the midst of failure and setbacks. There will certainly be zig zags along the way, but if you keep your eyes on this happiness prize, you will emerge as a victor not a victim. As Henry Ford said, "Obstacles are just those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal."

When you aren't busy writing your next best seller where will we find you on Sunday morning at dawn, or Thursday for lunch? What is your favorite pastime?

KAREN I operate mainly out of my favorite little café called "Antique Café" in New York City. You can find me there almost around the clock! I'm usually chatting with people, or doing some writing. But I also love to read all sorts of books, especially philosophy books. I have big fat crush on Aristotle. In a way he is the world's first self help book author. He wrote about happiness way back in 327BC -- and what he says is still brilliant and relevant today. Indeed I am working on a whole book on Aristotle's philosophies on happiness. I also love working out, yoga, movies, art of all kind, traveling, cooking. I make a mean marinara sauce!

What made you leave an extremely successful advertising career for a writing career?

KAREN When I worked in advertising, our ad department clinched a very high profile client. At the same time, my art director's wife became pregnant. Nine months later, the baby was born, and we hadn't even completed our high-profile ad campaign -- because there were so many focus groups - ironically defocusing us from producing the TV spot. It was actually easier to produce a live human being than a TV commercial! At that point I knew that the slow moving and bureaucratic office culture wasn't for me. Although I got to express myself creatively through advertising, I wanted more independence and autonomy - so I quit and started writing books.

If you could give us one piece of advice that might change our outlook on life what would that advice be?

KAREN: It's all about how you look at your situations. Seek out the happiness in all of life's crappiness. Always look for the lesson to be learned. Think of yourself as a student not a victim. With the right attitude the worst of times can morph into the best of times.

Thank you so much for your time Karen. Please tell us where we can find out more about you, your writing and events where we might meet you in person.

Thank YOU! You can visit my website at, where you can purchase books and learn more about my experiences. There's also a shop there where you can buy adorable, inspiration totes, or what I call "Positive Emotional Baggage" that read "Be Happy, Dammit."

ALSO, I want your readers to know that if someone purchases my book they're eligible to enter my Bounce Back contest for a chance to a free Fairmont Spa vacation! (Yes! A fabulous spa package for 3 days/2 nights for two people -- and 2 personalized spa treatments for each person at Willow Stream Spa in gorgeous Fairmont Newport Beach, California. You will be indulged like never before in one of seven decadent treatment rooms appointed with oversized spa beds!) Simply buy THE BOUNCE BACK BOOK before July 1st and send me the proof of Amazon receipt to Then you have until August 1st to send me an uplifting story of glory over a tough time. Submissions should be between 400 and 1200 words and depict your personal tale of "woe" to "wow." Looking forward to hearing about your incredible come-back!!

Heeeeeeere Comes Karen

Talk about Bounce -- Karen has it -- her new book Bounce Back - check it out - she'll be here tomorrow for an interview - you won't want to miss her.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Write it Right - punctuation

How to Use English Punctuation Correctly

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

With the dawn of the Internet, the birth of Internet slang, and the growing age of SMS, many individuals are forgetting the fundamental aspects of English punctuation. Would you like to write a great paper for one of your classes? Maybe you need to submit a polished, impeccable proposal to your boss? If so, it will help to know proper usage of punctuation. Consider this article a crash course in English punctuation, and read on.


  1. End your sentences with a period (full stop), question mark, or exclamation point (exclamation mark or shout mark).
    • Use the period (full stop) to denote a full stop at the end of a statement. The period ( . ) is one of the most commonly used punctuation marks.
      • The accessibility of the computer has increased tremendously over the past several years.

    • The question mark ( ? ), used at the end of a sentence, suggests an interrogatory remark or inquiry.
      • What has humanity done about the growing concern of global warming?

    • The exclamation point (exclamation mark, shout mark)( ! ) suggests excitement or emphasis in a sentence.
      • I can't believe how difficult the exam was!

  2. Use the semicolon and colon properly.
    • The semicolon ( ; ) has a few uses.
      • Use a semicolon to separate two related but independent clauses. Note that, if the two clauses are very wordy or complex, it is better to use a period instead.
        • People continue to worry about the future; our failure to conserve resources has put the world at risk.

      • Use a semicolon to separate a complex series of items, especially those that contain commas.
        • I went to the show with Jake, my close friend; his friend, Jane; and her best friend, Jenna.

    • The colon ( : ) has multiple uses.
      • Use the colon to introduce a list. Be careful not to use a colon when denoting a regular series. Usually, the word following suggests the use of a colon. Use only after a full sentence which ends in a noun.
        • The professor has given me three options: to retake the exam, to accept the extra credit assignment, or to fail the class.
        • INCORRECT - The Easter basket contained: Easter eggs, chocolate rabbits, and other candy.

  3. Understand the differences between a hyphen and a dash.
    • The hyphen ( - ) was once a common punctuation mark on typewriters, when a long word might have been split between two lines. The hyphen is still used in a number of other areas:
      • Use a hyphen when adding a prefix to some words. The purpose of this hyphen is to make the word easier to read. If you were to leave the hyphen out of a word like re-examine, it would be reexamine, which would be harder to read. Understand that some words do not require a hyphen to separate the prefix from the word, such as restate, pretest, and undo. Let a dictionary be your guide for when to use the hyphen after a prefix. When you use a hyphen, the two words have to rely on each other. Example: re-arrange.
        • Cara is his ex-girlfriend.

      • Use hyphens when creating compound words from separate words.
        • The up-to-date newspaper reporters were quick to jump on the latest scandal.

      • Use a hyphen when writing numbers out as words. Separate the two words of any number under one hundred with a hyphen.
        • There are fifty-two playing cards in a deck. ("The amount is one hundred and eighty" is a common error in US English, where the "and" is usually omitted. Elsewhere in the English-speaking world, however, the "and" is usually included.)
          • Be careful with spelling out numbers above one hundred—if the number is used as an adjective, it is completely hyphenated, since all compound adjectives are hyphenated (I have one-hundred tapes). Otherwise, a hyphen should only occur if a number <100 occurs within the larger number, e.g., He lived to be one hundred twenty-one.

    • The dash ( -- or ) should be used when making a brief interruption within a statement, a sudden change of thought, an additional comment, or a dramatic qualification. It can also be used to add a parenthetical statement, such as for further clarification, but should still be relevant to the sentence. Otherwise, use parentheses. Keep in mind that the rest of the sentence should still flow naturally. Try to remove the statement within the dash from the sentence; if the sentence appears disjointed or does not make sense, then you may need to revise. There should be spaces before and after the dash in British English.
      • An introductory clause is a brief phrase that comesyes, you guessed itat the beginning of a sentence.
      • This is the end of our sentenceor so we thought.

  4. Use the double quotation mark and single quotation mark/apostrophe for different purposes.
    • The double quotation ( " ) encloses a direct quotation, whether made by a person or taken from a piece of literature.
      • "I can't wait to see him perform!" John exclaimed.
      • According to the article, the value of the dollar in developing nations is "strongly influenced by its aesthetic value, rather than its face value."

    • The single quotation mark or apostrophe ( ' ) has a variety of uses.
      • Use the apostrophe together with the letter s to indicate possession. Be aware of the difference in using an apostrophe with singular or plural nouns. A singular noun will use 's, whereas the plural version of that singular noun will use s'. Also, be mindful of nouns that are always considered to be plural, such as children and people — here, you should use 's. Be aware of pronouns that are already possessive and do not require apostrophes, such as hers and its (it's is used only for the contractions of it is and it has). Their is possessive without apostrophe or s, except as a predicate adjective, where it becomes theirs.
        • The hamster's water tube needs to be refilled.
          • A singular noun with possession.

        • In the pet store, the hamsters' bedding needed to be changed.
          • A pluralized singular noun with possession.

        • These children's test scores are the highest in the nation.
          • A plural noun with possession.

      • Use the apostrophe to combine two words to make a contraction. For example, cannot becomes can't, you are becomes you're, and they have becomes they've.
      • Use the single quotation mark within a regular quotation to indicate a quotation within a quotation.
        • Ali said, "Anna told me, 'I wasn't sure if you wanted to come!'"

      • Note that an apostrophe is not used with 's' to make a plural noun from a singular. This is a very common mistake and should be avoided.
        • CORRECT - apple → apples
        • INCORRECT - apple → apple's

  5. Indicate a break or pause within a sentence with the comma ( , ). This is another commonly used punctuation mark. There are several instances where you might use a comma:
    • Use the comma when denoting an appositive, or a break within a sentence that supplements and adds information to the subject.
      • Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, is the developer of the operating system known as Windows.

    • Use the comma when denoting a series. This is a set of three or more "list" items within a sentence. To save space in newspapers, some writers may omit the last comma.
      • The fruit basket contained apples, bananas, and oranges.
      • The computer store was filled with video games, computer hardware and other electronic paraphernalia.

    • Use a comma if your subject has two or more adjectives describing it. This is somewhat similar to a series, except that it is incorrect to place a comma after the final adjective.
      • CORRECT - The powerful, resonating sound caught our attention.
      • INCORRECT - The powerful, resonating, sound caught our attention.

    • Use a comma when referring to a city and state. It is also necessary to use a comma to separate the city and state from the rest of the sentence.
      • I am originally from Freehold, NJ.
      • Los Angeles, CA, is one of the largest cities in the United States.

    • Use a comma to separate an introductory phrase (which is usually one or more prepositional phrases) from the rest of the sentence. An introductory phrase briefly introduces the sentence, but is not part of the sentence's subject or predicate, and it therefore should be separated from the main clause by a comma.
      • After the show, John and I went out to dinner.
      • On the back of my couch, my cat's claws have slowly been carving a large hole.

    • Use the comma to separate two independent clauses. Having two independent clauses in a sentence simply means that you can split the sentence into two. If your sentence contains two independent clauses that are separated by a conjunction (such as and, as, but, for, nor, so, or yet ), place a comma before the conjunction.
      • Ryan went to the beach yesterday, but he forgot his sunscreen.
      • Water bills usually rise during the summer, as people are thirstier during hot and humid days.

    • Use a comma when making a direct address. When calling one's attention by name, separate the person's name and the rest of the statement with a comma. Note that this kind of comma is used rarely in writing, because this is something that we do normally while speaking.
      • Amber, could you come here for a moment?

    • Use a comma to separate direct quotations. A comma should come after the last word before a quotation that is being introduced. It is not necessary to use a comma in an indirect quote. A comma is usually not necessary if you are not quoting an entire statement.
      • While I was at his house, John asked me if I wanted anything to eat.
        • An indirect quotation that does not require a comma.

      • While I was at his house, John asked, "Do you want anything to eat?"
        • A direct quotation.

      • According to the client, the lawyer was "lazy and incompetent."
        • A partial direct quotation that does not require a comma.

  6. Understand the difference between parentheses, brackets, and braces.
    • Use parentheses ( ( ) ) to clarify, to place an afterthought, or to add a personal comment. Be sure to include the period after the closing parenthesis.
      • Steve Case (AOL's former CEO) resigned from the Time-Warner board of directors in 2005.
        • Used for clarification. Here, commas can replace the parentheses.

      • You will need a flashlight for the camping trip (don't forget the batteries!).
        • An afterthought. Note that the period (full stop) follows the last parentheses — not before the first. Also note that replacing the parentheses with a comma may not be entirely suitable here, and is better off with a period or a semicolon. And that if the parenthetical thought is an "independent" one, perhaps it should be a sentence in itself. The above example is one case: "...the camping trip. (Don't forget the batteries!)"

      • Most grammarians believe that parentheses and commas are always interchangeable. (I disagree.)
        • A personal comment.

    • Use brackets ( [ ] ) to signify an editor's note in a regular piece of writing. You can also use brackets to clarify or to revise a direct quote so that it appeals to your own writing. Brackets are often used to encompass the word "sic" (Latin for thus), suggesting that the previous word or phrase was written "as is", with the error intended to be displayed.
      • "[The blast] was absolutely devastating," said Susan Smith, a local bystander at the scene of the incident.
        • "It was absolutely devastating!" – the actual quote by Susan Smith.

    • Braces ( { } ) are most widely used in denoting a numeric set in mathematics. Though generally uncommon, braces can also be used in regular writing to indicate a set of equal, independent choices.
      • { 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 }
      • Choose your favorite utensil { fork, knife, spoon } and bring it to me.

  7. Know how to use the slash ( / ).
    • Use the slash to separate "and" and "or", when appropriate. The phrase "and/or" suggests that a series of options are not mutually exclusive.
      • "To register, you will need your driver's license and/or your birth certificate."

    • The slash is used when quoting lyrics and poetry to denote a line break. Be sure to add spaces between your slashes here.
      • "Row, row, row your boat / gently down the stream / Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, / life is but a dream."

    • The slash can replace the word "and" to join two nouns. By replacing "and" with a slash, you suggest that there is equal important to both characteristics. Use these replacements in moderation to place greater emphasis where "and" may not do so—as well as as not to confuse the reader. You can also do the same for "or", as in "his/her". However you should not use the slash to separate independent clauses, as shown below.
      • "The student and part-time employee has very little free time." → "The student/part-time employee has very little free time."
      • "Do you want to go to the grocery store, or would you prefer to go to the mall?" → "Do you want to go to the grocery store / would you prefer to go to the mall?This is incorrect.


  • If you write in a professional capacity, be sure to follow any guidelines or style guides provided by your employer. In some cases, their rules can be at odds with what you read here or elsewhere, but their rules always take precedence. For example, some companies use serial commas (a, b, and c) and others do not (a, b and c).
  • Many grammar experts believe that parentheses and commas are often interchangeable when setting off information. While this is sometimes true, there are some cases where a set of parentheses might be more suitable, such as in indicating one's personal thought.
  • Although dashes and parentheses have similar uses, remember that parentheses indicate a stronger "side notion" than dashes.
  • There are exceptions to the hyphen-dash rule. In making compound words, when one of the words is itself composed of two words, use an en dash ( – ) rather than a hyphen, as in, "He took the Paris–New York route." En dashes are also used between numbers, as in page numbers or years, to denote a range. ("A discussion on personal finance is found in pages 45–62.")
  • The placement of punctuation marks before or after a closing quotation mark varies. American English leaves the punctuation mark inside the quotation if it is part of the quotation, "like so." (Commas and periods (full stops) are always put inside the quotation marks for a sentence in American English, regardless of whether the quotation has punctuation at the end. Other types of punctuation marks are put outside the quotation if they are not part of the quotation.) British English tends to leave the punctuation mark outside the quotation, "like so".
    • At times, British English will switch back and forth between the inside and outside, depending on the context. For example, interrogative quotations may keep the question mark inside the quotation, as in, "Do you like this question?"

  • In formal writing, try to avoid excessive use of question marks and exclamation points. Most of your sentences should be declarative statements.
  • Dashes are usually considered to be informal. You might want to replace the use of a dash with a set of parentheses, or even commas. Similarly, limit the frequency of dash use in your writing; they should be reserved to emphasize a couple of important points.
  • If you decide against the serial comma in your work, make sure that the meaning of the sentence can stand without its use. Think about the classic example of a sentence in which the serial comma is needed: "My heroes are my parents, Mother Teresa and the Pope."
  • If you find that a sentence seems to drag on, find a way to add a comma or two, so that it is easier on the reader's eyes. If a sentence becomes too long, then consider splitting it into two or more sentences.
  • Never be afraid to have short sentences in your writing by splitting up long sentences that contain several points. Your reader will appreciate writing that is clear and concise with briefer statements, as opposed to a one-page paragraph with twenty words per sentence.


  • While using English punctuation appropriately may help your writing to flow much more smoothly, generally creating a more "intelligent" appearance, don't overdo it. It's best to err on the side of omission than to add several superfluous apostrophes and commas.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Meet Kim Richards

Thank you for stopping by today Kim. We're looking forward to hearing more about you and your book. So grab a cup a your fav and sit a spell.

EP: When did you seriously sit down, and say to yourself, I’m going to write a novel?

Kim Richards: I’ve been writing in one form or another most of my life. After my first marriage broke up, I decided I wanted to take writing seriously. Then I found out how much I still needed to learn so I went back to school and took journalism, started attending conferences and reading everything how-to I could get my hands on. I’ve been lucky to have found mentors online and some great critique groups along the way.

EP: What do you find the most difficult to write? Dialogue? Back story?

Kim Richards: The most difficult for me are transitions from one scene to another. I often get my point of view mixed up there in the first draft.

EP: Have you ever found that you didn’t like your Hero or your Heroine? If so, what did you do to change that?

Kim Richards: I’ve never experienced that. I have had a secondary character end up being my protagonist after I got to know the characters a little better.

EP: If you were to start again, with the knowledge you have now, what would be the first thing you do?

Kim Richards: I wouldn’t let anyone discourage me and I’d not let making money replace the writing. For me writing is something I need to cope with depression so it’s more than just an occupation. It’s my life and I need it.

EP: Do you have the support of friends and family? Meaning, do they understand when you are writing that you cannot be disturbed? Or do you have friends that think since you’re home, you don’t work?

Kim Richards: I do now and it’s wonderful. My previous mother-in-law used to ask when I was getting a ‘real job’ and I took business classes because I believed others who did not find writing an occupation. I’ve had to make it important to ME and shrug off what others think. And yes, when my sons were young, many of their friends’ parents would send their kids to my house after school. You simply learn to deal with it. I figured at least I knew where my sons were at, even if the house regularly got trashed.

The best thing I did for writing is get a ‘do not disturb sign’. I haven’t had to use it in years but it does get the point across when you can hang it on the door and just point to it when you are interrupted. At first people laugh; then they get the point.

EP: What was the biggest hurtle you had to overcome in your career?

Kim Richards: Taking myself seriously and believing my writing worthy.

EP: What genre do you write? Do you write more than one, if so, what?

Kim Richards: I write mainly horror, fantasy and some science fiction. However, if an idea comes, it doesn’t matter what genre it is. Sometimes you don’t see it in your story. I wrote a children’s book back in 2000, thinking of a fantasy market. It was another author who saw it as a kids book. It was published that way.

Death Masks is a thriller. When I wrote it, I had horror in mind. It wasn’t until I started to submit it, that I realized where it best fit. You have to write the story and then worry about what mail slot it fits in.

EP: How do you research for your books?

Kim Richards: I love research and have to be very careful or I spend more time doing that than writing the actual story. I start online but am picky about my resources. If a website doesn’t list resources of its own, I tend to skip it unless there’s a bit of information I think I need...but I focus the research on finding supporting documents (or the lack thereof). I always end up with new books on my shelf when I research. I’m full of what my sons refer to as “useless trivia”.

EP: How do you develop your characters?

Kim Richards: My stories usually start with a what if. When I start worldbuilding and researching, the characters form on their own from the culture, the setting—it often falls into place naturally.

EP: Are any of your characters a person you’d like to be? If so which one?

Kim Richards: Lots of them. They’re usually stronger or smarter or more admirable than I am.

EP: Who inspired you to write?

Kim Richards: Many, many people. An 8th grade teacher who taught me to write my dreams in a notebook; a high school teacher who taught me to journal; authors I’ve met; hokey stories I thought I could write better. It amazes me how there are many more people who do inspire me to write than discourage me, yet in the past it was the negative ones I listened to. Maybe they talk louder.

EP: What is the most humorous writing experience you’ve ever had?

Kim Richards: Meeting a man in an elevator at World Horror Convention. He saw my name tag and had read my science fiction novel out at the time. He lectured me on how I killed off his favorite character.

EP: If a new writer came to you for advice what would you tell them?

Kim Richards: Perseverence. Wrap it around your shoulders and tie it tight.

EP: Do you have a book coming out? If so what? Do you have a web site? Do you have a blog? My space?

Kim Richards: Death Masks is available from Eternal Press. I also have a story out in an anthology of dragon stories by another publisher.

Check out the trailer for Death Masks. The metal band is from my home town, Roswell, New Mexico. You can watch it here:

My website is: I’ll be doing a virtual book tour in June, 2008 so check there for the blog visit schedule. There will be prizes!

You can find me at Myspace, Livejournal, Facebook, Blogger, Good Reads and Writer’s Chatroom. All under the username Kim Richards.

I do have one announcement I’d like to make. I’ve just accepted the position of Marketing Manager for Eternal Press. I’m thrilled to be accepted on the team and excited about the upcoming possibilities for me and for the publishing house.

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions for the Eternal Press blog. Good luck with your writing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Meet Mirella Patzer - Author of Bloodstone Castle

Hi Mirella,

Your website kept me spell bound for the best part of an hour. What a delightful place to visit. Pull up a comfy cushion, dangle your feet in the pool and enjoy a glass of your favorite iced beverage while we talk.

Billie: Bloodstone Castle is a historical romance that takes place in medieval times. What about this era draws you in so that you will spend hours researching and writing about it?

Mirella: Ever since I was 7 years old, I was fascinated by fairy tales - kings and queens, knights and ladies, princesses and princes. I devoured every fairy tale book over and over again at the library. From fairy tales I progressed to other books such as Nancy Drew and other child hood favourites.. When I was 12, I read Gone with the Wind. Since then, historical fiction has always been my favourite. I think my love for medieval fiction stems from the fact that it can sweep me into another place and time. Life was more brutal back then. Lots of opportunity to learn about our fascinating past through novels. What better way to enjoy history?

Billie: Reviewers are raving about this Lyrical and rich historical novel of intrigue, danger, betrayal, seduction, adventure, and not the least of which is an exciting romance — How do you manage to wrap all this into one novel?

Mirella: I tried to write the sort of book I like to read. I like to be shocked, excited, intrigued, when I read a novel. This is what I tried to achieve with Bloodstone Castle. I wanted the reader to want to turn each page and read, read, read. So I added a little bit of everything - evilness, murder, love, and mystery. I wanted the novel to be something a reader can escape into. We are bombarded with responsibility, pressure, information, and hard work in our every day lives, so I wrote Bloodstone Castle for pure enjoyment and something one can escape into. I hope I have achieved this.

Billie: Please give us an over view of the story Bloodstone. Who are our main characters and why will I love them/or love to hate them?

Mirella: Beneath Bloodstone Castle, the home of Contessa Morena Monterossa, is a lost ancient Roman treasure. As a child, she was betrothed to Ernesto, the Duke of Savona who grew to manhood and became a womanizer and obsessive gambler. In Genoa, Amoro Dragone becomes Duke when his father is murdered. He learns his father's last wish was for him to marry Morena and end a long-standing family feud. Amoro swears to fulfill his father's last wish. This sets the tone for two men too fight for one woman for different reasons. It is a story about duty and honor, obsession and desperation. It is a tale about learning to trust and following one's heart.

Billie: Italy plays a big part in your novels. I have been told more then once that Italian is the language of romance — I recently bought a CD of Italian Love Songs and I must say you can feel the passion in them, but then Italians do everything with passion or so it seems. What first brought you to love all things Italian?

Mirella: Ah, wonderful question. The answer is simple. I am of Italian heritage. My parents immigrated to Canada in the late 1950's and although I was born and raised Canadian, my heart and love for the culture prevail. There are so many books about English royalty. I wanted to be different and share my passion for my roots through writing about it. My mother still owns vineyards there, and I hope to one day go back and buy a small apartment and visit Italy yearly.

Billie: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Italy isn’t the only country that appears in your books. I seem to remember reading that you also did a wonderful take on a German medieval duke or two. Give us a title and tell us a little about this work.

Mirella: When I decided to sit down and write a book, I decided that I wanted to write about famous women in history. Because of my love for Italy, I began to research historical Italian women. I fell in love with the story of Adelaide of Burgundy. Further research led me to her second husband, Otto the Great, who was German, and family. So what started off as a desire to write about Adelaide has turned into a trilogy or 4 book series on the women of the Ottonian Empire - Matilde, Edith, Adelaide, and Theophano.

Billie: My readers are in love with the printed words and you definitely have a way of making those words visual. Are your books available in print, e-book or both and where might readers be able to buy them?

Mirella: Bloodstone Castle will be available in trade paperback and ebook format. I'm also in the process of recording the unabridged version as an audio book which hopefully will one day be available on ITunes and other sites.

Billie: What does the future look like for Mirella the author? Where are you hoping to be five or ten years from now?

Mirella: I have recently retired from a 28 year career as a civilian manager with the Calgary Police Service. I hope to have published two more books in the next two years - The Orphan of the Olive Tree and A Crimson Mantle. I also see myself doing a bit of travelling to Germany and Italy to the locations I'm writing about. My dream is to visit the homes and towns of where my characters lived and died.

Billie: This might seem backwards, but I wanted our readers to see your books before they find out how long you have been writing with the goal of being a published author? When did you decide to pursue this dream and do you write full time now?

Mirella: I have been an avid reader all my life. I never aspired to be an author. I also never believed I had the ability to write. Then one day in 1995, I saw a tv commercial about a group of Canadian war veterans who were trying to raise funds to visit the Moro River and Ortona, Italy. This caught my attention because my mother is from there. In fact, our vineyards are on the shores of the Moro River. The Italian government also wrote asking for permission to erect a monument on our land. This really caught my interest and I began to research. It was then I learned of the Battle of the Moro River and how my mother and her family survived this major battle which occurred. My mother never spoke about the war. She was an 8 year old child. Since then, I have been able to have 2 conversations with her about what happened. It is so painful, I dare not ask her again. So I have been conducting research for several years now with the hopes of writing this story some day, but I'm still researching, so in the meantime, I dabbled in medieval fiction to get my writing career off the ground.

Billie: When you begin a new story, how do you start? Plot—character—idea—Theme—what?

Mirella: This depends upon the story. With my series about the Ottonian Empire, I use a year-by-year account as my plot. For Bloodstone Castle, I simply set out wanting to write a romantic suspense, so I chose the setting first and built a story around that.

Billie: Your characters seem to be as important as any other element in your stories they are well-rounded, believable people not cardboard cutouts. How do you go about developing them, how do you choose names to suit them or, does the name come first?

Part of the fun about writing a novel is creating the characters. All the names of my characters are actual Italian names in existence since medieval times with the exception of Amoro. That name I stumbled upon on a fantasy name website. It is not Italian, but sounds Italian. I liked it a lot because it closely resembles the word "amore" which means love in Italian, yet it seemed strong enough and unique enough for my hero.

Billie: Tell us about your works in progress, I’m assuming you have one or more. Which also leads me to ask do you work on more then one story at a time—or do you finish one before you begin another?

Mirella: I always work on two projects at once. Why? Simply for variety. It helps keep my interest and alleviate any boredom. So currently, I'm working on a novel entitled Orphan of the Olive Tree. It is an actual medieval romantic short story written by a queen in the 14th century. I've taken the basic plot and am expanding it into a novel that takes place in medieval Italy. I'm also currently working on A Crimson Mantle which is the first book of the Ottonian Empire about Queen Matilde who was Otto the Great's mother.

Billie: Every aspiring or seasoned writer needs a good editor, they seem in short supply. Tweaking your story before you send it out is so important, I understand you are an editor who does take on editing jobs for writers. Would you like to give us an over view of those services? And perhaps tell us why you feel it is important to edit or have your manuscript professionally edited before you send it out the first time?

Mirella: I first learned to edit when I joined a critique group. After receiving some excellent feedback, I became hooked. When you are critiqued and learn to critique the work of others, your own writing improves. We as authors are often blind to our own work. We cannot always catch simple problems or plot holes unless we have an independent person read our work. Self-editing is extremely important because your final product must be highly polished in order to make it out of a slush pile and get noticed. So my passion for editing was born from my participation in my critique groups. I enjoy editing because it is meticulous work and I think I have a good eye for finding ways to strengthen a manuscript. And editing is a task that always evolves and where you continually learn. Aspiring authors should take self-editing very seriously and do as much as they can to learn the basics. It really makes a big difference.

Billie: Thank you so much Mirella for taking time from a busy schedule to come and chat with us. One last thing would you tell our readers how they can find out more about you? Where can they buy your books, stay up to date on your new releases, and such. Do you blog? Do you have a page on any of the social networks like Ning, MySpace, or A Manic Readers page? (oops guess that was a bunch of things, but I know my readers will want to track you down and stock up on some great reading.

I really enjoyed visiting with you too, Billie. I really appreciate all your time and effort. Your questions were terrific. I would love to host you and any other authors who are interested at: Check it out and if you are interested, send me an email at: I have web presences at MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Gather, and many more. You can also learn more about me and my work at:

Are You Ready?

Mirella Patzer will be here tomorrow - you will not want to miss what this lady has in store for you. We'll interview her about her life and her newest book Bloodstone Castle so be sure to stop by and leave a comment.