Author & Editor, Traci Sanders

Hey, everyone. I had sent this post out before it was my day for the tour. But I’m doing it on the right day today. My special friend Traci Sanders is doing a tour of her new set of books specifically designed to help writers. Traci and I became friends when I asked her to be my editor. I’d watched her for a while on our Facebook group forum, Writers and Authors…and Readers https://www.facebook.com/groups/writersandauthorsforum/ and liked what I saw her posting. She’s a great lady and knows her stuff.

Traci Sanders is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies.

An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children’s, romance, and nonfiction guides.


Her ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through her own writing or editing works by other authors.
 

TIP 145: Getting tense

 

The following tip, and many more like it, can be found in Before You Publish: Tips on grammar, writing, and editing, now available in digital and paperback format.
You can think of this as a reference guide, rather than a book you need to read from cover to cover. It will become your new go-to guide for all things writing, grammar, and editing. The tips are easy to follow and explained in simple terms that anyone can understand and put to use right away.
This tip is about an important topic many authors find challenging. Some authors may not even realize they are making this one detrimental mistake.
Sometimes even readers don’t realize what’s missing or wrong with the story. They just know something isn’t quite right. Then they submit reviews such as:
“I just didn’t connect with the story like I hoped I would.”
“It was an uncomfortable (or confusing) read for me.”
“This wasn’t an enjoyable read for me.”
“This was a nice story, but it contained a few errors which were distracting.”
Then there are the more intense readers (English majors/grammar police/those who “could have written it better”) who will pick up on the tense problems right away—especially if they ARE authors or editors, or have a great deal of experience in professional writing. 
Readers SHOULD get an author’s best work! Therefore, paying attention to tense shifts in writing is just as important as correcting grammatical errors. 
Here are a few examples of tense shifts. Sometimes they are subtle. See if you can spot them.
Example 1:
His fingers traced the outline of my lips and he leaned in to me. An electric charge surges through my body at his touch and butterflies are dancing in my stomach. Then, in one smooth motion, he blessed my lips with his own. It was warm and soft … perfect, just as I’d remembered. Notice the paragraph begins in the past tense. Then in the second sentence, the author moves to the present tense as if the kiss is taking place in the moment. 
Example 2:
It has been six months since we had seen one another. I have no idea what to expect or what he is expecting. The plane lands and taxis around the lot. On pins and needles I keep my eyes locked on the gate. Finally, he came into my view and all my worries disappeared. He was back in my arms where he belonged. This paragraph is all over the place, but I see it in fiction writing all the time. First, it’s in present tense and halfway through that sentence, the tense shifts to past. Then it jumps back to present in the second and third sentence. And in the last two sentences, we are back in the past. I highlighted the key words to help you spot the differences in tense this time. 
Here are 5 tips to avoid tense shifts in your writing:
Before you do the final proof, click on the “Find” feature in Word. Type in “ing.” The program will find any words ending in “ing” to allow you the chance to change them if needed. The same can be done with “ed” depending on what tense your story is supposed to be in. 
During the final proof, read one line at a time, checking the verbs for tense shifts. Take breaks every few chapters to be able to come back to your story with fresh eyes. Read your story out loud and you will more likely hear the shifts more accurately.
Read other books. A lot. See if you can spot tense shifts in the books you read. I’ve even noticed them in traditionally published children’s books – by Scholastic! The more you study other books, the more you learn what NOT to do and how to do it right. The more you practice in your own writing, the more proficient you will become in this part of the craft.
Be sure to check your dialogue as well. Tense shifts can sneak into dialogue just as easily. 
Be sure to get an extra set of eyes, if not two, on your document. Others tend to find our faults better than we do. 
Here is some add-on advice on this topic, shared by Stephen Geez:
This is an important tip, Traci. It boggles more than my mind how often story-tellers don’t keep present and past tense clear. I’m thinking of lots of common mistakes at the more advanced level, too, but I’ll limit this to two examples:
A lot of writers don’t realize that a shift in tense (especially with participles) requires staying in that shift for the rest of the sentence unless specifically shifting back. Even fewer realize it is proper (and preferable) to continue that shift for the entire paragraph (another of the umpteen criteria for proper paragraph breaking). For example: “She had had every possible kind of bad blind date.” If the paragraph will go on to describe a dozen examples, many writers will continue to manually shift every sentence: “She had had no-shows. She had had run-and-hides.” etc. When the first sentence of a paragraph has any combo of have/had, the rest of the paragraph nearly always should not have any. Thus: “She had had every kind of bad blind date. Men failed to show up. Others ran and hid.” etc.
Once the first sentence shifted us, the rest can (usually should) be simply in past tense.
When you have a paragraph freckled with hads and haves (which you can Word search to look for yellow blemishes), it’s time to revise everything after the shift. Now, the next paragraph is an auto-reset, so you need to shift again if you intend to continue the same pattern.
Another common one is a form of comma error. With present participles (evidenced by those ING endings Traci pointed out), you can go all day adding those clauses with a comma to start each, and they always reflect the tense of the opening clause.
Thus a past example: “He always RAN to the store, PAUSING to greet neighbors, ENJOYING the sunshine, SINGING a happy song…”
Thus a future example: Someday he WOULD recover and RUN to the store again, PAUSING to greet, ENJOYING the sunshine, SINGING…”
The first set of ings are put in the past tense by RAN and in the future tense by WOULD…RUN.
Here’s the kicker that’s critical to know, a comma rule: When you start an ING clause with a comma, it throws it back to the sentence subject. When you omit the comma, it attaches it to the nearest previous noun, which can void (in rare examples) the tense string I just described.
Thus: “Bob found Fred WALKING in the park” with no comma before the ING means FRED WALKING (Bob could have been biking when he found him walking). A comma in “Bob found Fred, WALKING in the park” throws the ING verb back to the subject Bob. We know Bob was walking, but maybe Fred was TAKING a nap in the grass.
Traci started with the basics because many need to sort that out. However, even if that much is clear to you, never forget the abundance of more advanced nuances that can and should come into play. Practice the proper, discover the nuanced, and enjoy the wonder in how the finer wordsmiths manipulate all this into art.
Thanks, Traci. You sure are hitting a lot of my head-shakers. Be sure to check out Traci’s new books. Like I said…she knows her stuff.

How Biased Can the News Media Be?

The news media hasn’t liked Donald J. Trump since he first started campaigning for the office of President of the United States, and still he won. They continued to ridicule the candidate and his family all through the campaign process, and still he won. Did that stop the news media? No! They continued their vendetta against the man, and his family, all through the campaign, and still he won the candidacy for the Republican party. Did that stop them? Again, no! And President Donald J. Trump won the election for President of the United States of America. Did Hilary Clinton’s labeling of his followers as “deplorables” dissuade the public? No! The public took on the label and now proudly wear it on T-shirts, websites, in social media, and anywhere else they can do so.And after all this…what is the news media doing now? They are going to every disgruntled person they can, near and far, in the U.S. and abroad to find every negative comment they can about our new President.HOW BIASED CAN YOU BE?What ever happened to truth in reporting? What ever happened to the integrity of the reporter? They are allowed by law to report anything they want to report. This freedom was initially given to them by our government because at that time they were trying to represent the words of the people…all the people. Is that true today? No! They don’t represent me and my thinking. They don’t represent the majority (and I do mean the majority) of people I know on social media from all over the world and all walks of life. All the news media seems to want today is to stir up any dirt they can find or keep any wound (that they probably opened in the first place) festering. I, for one, am sick of it.We, the people, do not need the “News (and I use that term loosely) Media.” We have social media to find out what is going on around the world. And if the “News” media thinks we need them to tell us what the world is saying, or even what our fellow citizens are saying about anything, they are sadly mistaken. The majority of people on social media have friends all over the world. They have friends in high places, and they have friends who have friends in high places. I’m not alone in that. You think we can’t find out what is really going on in the world?All the reporters want to do today is talk to anyone who is against President Trump. I listened to it for half an hour this morning. Did they one time talk to anyone who is rooting for the new President? No! At the beginning of his campaign, I was not impressed with Donald J. Trump. But the more I learned about the man, the more I softened. I still wanted another candidate, but when that candidate was taken out of the running, I had to chose another. I continued to listen. And the more the news media slammed Mr. Trump, the more I began to wonder what was going on. I didn’t trust the news media even then, and the more they kept up the witch hunt, the more I disliked and distrusted them.Biased reporting. Do we need it? NO! I can go to my friends and acquaintances on the social media all over the world, high places and low, and find the truth about what’s happening to them, and to their communities.Biased reporting. I don’t need it. I will pray for our new President, Donald J. Trump. I’ll ask God to protect him, especially from the “News” media.

Source: How Biased Can the News Media Be?

A Writer’s Work Is Never Done

Since my book, His Perfect Love is now published and available on Amazon, Kindle, Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble Online Store, I’ve begun to work on my very first published novel. My first three books where written before I knew anything about writing, and I’m in the process of correcting them now.

Chapter one of A Very Present Help is rewritten and has gone through a thorough critique from my fellow author critique partners in the American Christian Fiction Writers. And I’ve come to believe that it’s harder to change a writing style from an already published work than it is to write the story in the first place. But the story is worth it, and I believe my readers will be pleased.

Having said all that, you now know why I haven’t been making many posts here on Niume. My days are very filled with writing related work. My very first newsletter came out yesterday, which I’m pleased to say was received well by all my subscribers. Great reviews on that (as well as His Perfect Love LOL) and I’m encouraged.

Please hop over to my website and subscribe to my monthly newsletter, if you’d like to keep closer tabs on me and what I’m working on.

Source: A Writer’s Work Is Never Done

No Cost of Living Increase?

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It would seem that our government officials have no idea what goes on in our country when it comes to cost of living. They say there is no increase in our cost of living; therefore, there is no need for our Social Security benefits to increase. Then they decide to give us a measly 0.3 percent increase, but at the same time, they increase our payments to Medicare and therefore steal it back from us. A measly 0.3 percent.

Am I not a citizen of the greatest country on earth? Did I not work and earn my Social Security benefits? Did I not pay into the system every year of my working career? And now I’m rewarded by not so much as a dollar increase in order to keep up with the rising costs of food, clothing, housing, medicine, medical treatment, transportation.

They say there’s no increase in the cost of living. Do not those in government shop at the same stores where we citizens shop? No, I bet they do not. If they did, they would see the increase in our cost of living expenses.

President-elect Donald Trump, if you really want to make this country great again, start here.

I suggest that you put all government employees, everyone in any office of the government in charge of our country, on the same Social Security and Medicare that the citizens are “enjoying.” No more voting themselves raises that our country, nor its citizens, can afford. Take a hard look at the salaries the government officials are earning—did I say earning? I’ll bet we can cut the deficit by reducing those salaries to a reasonable level. No more government paid vacations, under the guise of working. There are so many ways money can be saved, waste can be cut. You know it, and every citizen in this country knows it. Tradition in our government is fine if the government can afford it. We can’t. Not any more. Not with the deficit staring us in the face. President Trump, please change this. Make our country great again. Help us.

Back to Social Security. I have observed the cost of living steadily rising for more than a year. Food, housing, gas (although that is down at the moment), medical care. If your eyes are truly closed, or perhaps blind, hear this. THERE HAS BEEN A DISTINCT RISE IN THE COST OF LIVING FOR THE PAST TWO YEARS. Whatever system is being used to determine the rise, or in this case the lack thereof, is broken. Go back to the old one. My old pastor used to always say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Good and sensible advice.

Something needs to be done. Picture this. What if everyone on Social Security stopped using credit cards, debit card, checks, and larger bills to pay for everything? What if we all decided to turn our money in for coins: quarters, half dollars, silver dollars (if you can even get the last two anymore). What if we started to pay for everything in quarters? I mean everything. We get to the cash register to pay for our groceries, which that day comes to $65.00. We take out a box from a tote bag and start counting out 260 quarters. We go to the gas station and buy $25.00 in gas, walk into the little attached store to pay for the gas and count out 100 quarters. Then we go to the electric company to pay our electric bill of $150.00 for the month and count out 600 quarters. Do you think we would get someone’s attention to the fact that we retired folk are contributors to the economy? Do you think that maybe some of these businesses might get a little perturbed with our government if they hear why we are paying our bills with quarters instead of business as usual? To get your attention.

The government tells the young people that the system is broken. Who broke it? It’s not broken. It has been robbed! Money was siphoned out for other purposes, continually. I for one demand my money back. It has been used where it should not have been used, and someone needs to give it back.

How about if we make complaints to every government official via their email once every morning, noon and night? How many constituents does the average official have receiving Social Security benefits (without an increase for the cost of living, I will remind you)? That would be a lot of emails to wade through every day.

Yes, this is a bit farfetched, but something has to be done to get the attention of those in charge of our government. Those who can and should make changes so that the people on Social Security, who have worked all their lives and paid into the system, those who should be getting increases just as much, if not more, than those working in the government are getting. They should at least be able to pay for their expenses monthly without trying to decide if they will go without food or medicine, without a new jacket or give up the car and walk everywhere with their old, possibly arthritic legs and feet.

No increase in the cost of living. Whom do you think you are kidding?

And one last question. If there’s no increase in the cost of living, why did our payment to Medicare increase?

 

The Meaning of Christmas

I thought I’d share my favorite Christmas Carol with you today. Some may argue about the meaning of Christmas, calling it a pagan holiday, and one cannot dispute the fact that it is where this celebration of Christmas came. Regardless, the tradition of Christmas was born and has been celebrated ever since. Many Christians use the opportunity to teach others about God sending His Son, Jesus Christ, for the sake of redemption. That’s why I celebrate this time of year, even if it wasn’t really the Lord’s birthday. But then…can we be absolutely sure when Jesus Christ was born? I choose to use Christmas for God’s honor and glory. You choose what you want.Anyway, this is my all time favorite Christmas Carol. I wish I could sing it for you, but then my voice isn’t what it used to be either at my age. Just enjoy the words, and think about what Christmas really means to you. And if you don’t know the tune, check it out on YouTube: https://youtu.be/yxDZjg_IgocMegan Romer, a World Music Expert, says this about the carol. The Wexford Carol is a beloved traditional Irish Christmas carol. It is also known as “The Enniscorthy Carol”, as it was originally collected by a folklorist named Grattan Flood in Enniscorthy, a town in Ireland’s County Wexford, as well as “Carul Loch Garman” (the Irish translation of “Wexford Carol”). The lyrics, which are in English, date back to the 12th century. As is the case with all very old songs, the history is a bit hard to track, but it appears that the lyrics were added to the tune much later, and it is not believed that the lyrics were originally in the Irish language. Some reverse translations have been made by contemporary Irish trad musicians, but the English lyrics are actually the most traditional ones.The Wexford CarolGood people all, this Christmas time,Consider well and bear in mindWhat our good God for us has doneIn sending his beloved sonWith Mary holy we should pray,To God with love this Christmas DayIn Bethlehem upon that morn,There was a blessed Messiah bornThe night before that happy tideThe noble Virgin and her guideWere long time seeking up and downTo find a lodging in the townBut mark right well what came to passFrom every door repelled, alasAs was foretold, their refuge allWas but a humble ox’s stallNear Bethlehem did shepherds keepTheir flocks of lambs and feeding sheepTo whom God’s angel did appearWhich put the shepherds in great fearArise and go, the angels saidTo Bethlehem, be not afraidFor there you’ll find, this happy mornA princely babe, sweet Jesus, bornWith thankful heart and joyful mindThe shepherds went the babe to findAnd as God’s angel had foretoldThey did our Saviour Christ beholdWithin a manger he was laidAnd by his side a virgin maidAttending on the Lord of LifeWho came on earth to end all strifeThere were three wise men from afarDirected by a glorious starAnd on they wandered night and dayUntil they came where Jesus layAnd when they came unto that placeWhere our beloved Messiah layThey humbly cast them at his feetWith gifts of gold and incense sweet.This last verse is a bit out of place, as we learn from the Bible that the wise men came long after the Child was born and found Him in a house. We further learn from Herod’s actions that Jesus could have been around two years old by this time, but they did come…and they did find the Child…and they did present kingly gifts to Him.Merry Christ to all of you, and God bless you in the New Year.

Source: The Meaning of Christmas

May Your Christmas Be Filled With Blessings

This picture isn’t exactly the normal type of photography we see here in the Art Sphere, but I loved the way my photograph of the front of our house came out. You see, I’m originally from the north. Born in Wisconsin and lived a great part of my life in Illinois. I was used to snow at this time of year, every year. Blizzards, slush, shoveling sidewalks was all a big part of my life for many years. Now, having lived in the south for more than twenty years, I miss that snow. Oh, not everyday, and not the slush and freezing part of it, but you know…the beauty of the falling flakes, the way it lays on the bows of trees, rosy cheeks. Yes, the whole bit.Several years ago, I decided to make my Christmas decorating theme “Let It Snow.” I’ve stuck with that every year. This year, I think I’ve managed to really capture it. There’s a blizzard out there! LOL

Source: May Your Christmas Be Filled With Blessings

A Great Day in the Life of an Author

Yesterday was so exciting, I finished my outside Christmas decorating and received a box full of my new novel, His Perfect Love. The virtual book launch party on Facebook went off beautifully. And now it’s time to send off gifts to those who had their name pulled out of the hat just for attending and having some conversation. I’d be very pleased if you would take a minute or two and check out my new novel available on Amazon and Kindle.  https://www.amazon.com/His-Perfect-Love-Sharon-Connell/dp/1505782139/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480876539&sr=1-1

Source: A Great Day in the Life of an Author