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Tips and tricks to improve your writing.

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Creepy Collection Release!

Posted by jenny.wendorf@rocketmail.com on October 16, 2016 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (12)


The Creepy Collection is in print! A collection of scary tales, different from the rest. 15 award winnings authors and poets weave tales of murder, magic, mystery, and madness. 

Order today!

A number of distinguished authors have come together for this venture. Many of them are known for other works, and Inkception Books is proud to showcase their work in this latest creative endeavor.

Ken MacGregor -- Ken MacGregor's written work has appeared in dozens of anthologies and magazines. His story collection, "An Aberrant Mind" is available online and in select bookstores. He edits an annual anthology (Recurring Nightmares) for the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers. Ken is an Affiliate member of HWA. He has also written TV commercials, sketch comedy, a music video, and even a zombie movie. Recently, he co-wrote a novel and is working on the sequel. Ken lives in Michigan with his family and two cats, one of whom is dead but still haunts the place.


Kay Elam -- A born and bred southern belle, Kay Elam took a circuitous route to writing. Her previous career was business management and sales which, as it turned out, included a lot of creative writing. A winner of the Open Door Writing Award in Short Story, she's had stories published in multiple anthologies including The New Frontier by Inkceptions Books. Currently she is working on a murder mystery series set in Nashville. She can be followed on Twitter at kayelamwrites and on her blogwww.kayelam.com.

Randee Dawn -- Based in Brooklyn, Randee Dawn is an entertainment reporter for publications including Today.com, NBCNews.com, Variety, The Los Angeles Times and Emmy Magazine ... at least by day. At night she opens up a vein and lets the contents run all over the page, with short fiction published in outlets including 3AM Magazine, Eternity Online and podcast in Well-Told Tales. After being granted unprecedented access to the Law & Order: SVU set, she co-authored (with Susan Green) The Law & Order: SVU Unofficial Companion in 2009, and published a collection of dark short fiction shots (often served with a lemony twist), Home for the Holidays in 2012.

Brad P. Christy -- Brad P. Christy is the author of the short stories: Miseryland, Krampus: The Summoning, 'Twas the Fifth of December, and Cape Hadel. He is a member of the Writers' League of Texas, and was a finalist in the WLT 2014 Manuscript Contest - Young Adult category. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing and English, and now resides in the Pacific Northwest with his wife.


Michael Osias -- Some of his short stories have been published in e-zines such as Youth Imagination and Fabula Argenta. He feels fortunate to also have a story in print in the anthology Pandora's Box published by Inkception. You will find a sample of his poetry in 'These Human Shores' volume 2, published by the International Poetry Fellowship.


Pandora's Box Going On Sale

Posted by jenny.wendorf@rocketmail.com on July 31, 2016 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Pandora's Box is now going on sale for 8.99$. For a limited time only.

The gods entrusted Pandora with a box gilded in precious metal and bound by an ancient magic. They commanded her to never let it open. This command, this seed, grew her curiosity until Pandora could no longer resist. Pain, pestilence, and death spewed out from it’s lid and into the world. And the story becomes myth, and is retold throughout the ages… This anthology project is a compilation of stories and poems from a number of different genres. From Steampunk, Neo-western, to "Now" Fiction they delve into the mystery found within the human soul. Today, or eons past, we investigate that one single choice, the choice to know, which changed the world. Featuring: Stephanie Bryant Anderson, Connie Post, Cynthia Bracket, Sophia Argyris, Jennifer Steen, Meg Tuite, D I Harrison, David Allen Jones, Bud Smith, Ian Rene, Conrad Schafman, John Swain, Jonathan Treadway, Isidora Zecevic, M. Kari Barr, Mika Sugano, Brad P. Christy, Micheal Osias, DM McCaig, K.B. Timmermann

Tips on Writing Software

Posted by jenny.wendorf@rocketmail.com on September 17, 2013 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Here's a great blog article on writing software available in the marketplace:


The Power of Words

Posted by jenny.wendorf@rocketmail.com on June 1, 2013 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (1)

I absolutely loved this blog article written by Nathan Bransford. He discusses the power of words, not because of the sounds themselves, but because of the ideas they contain. Like a magic spell, words have power.


Weaving a Scene With the 5 Senses

Posted by jenny.wendorf@rocketmail.com on May 30, 2013 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (1)

There are two major ways to write anything.

Scene which is active and utilizes the 5 senses and allows the reader to experience the story nearly firsthand.

Summary which tells.

Actually BOTH have a place in fiction. However, newbie writers have a tendency to rely too heavily on summary. They do this because they don't understand the difference between the two, and even if they CAN recognize it, they don't know how to change what they are doing.

SHOW don't TELL. Yes, you hear it everywhere, but few new writers really know what that means. I have to do this quick today but here's a comment I gave to one of my clients. She relies heavily on summary interspersed with dialog. This is extremely normal for many writers. They don't want to "tell" and they keep things almost active. They avoid backstory like the plague (which is okay) but even their active storytelling is still telling becaues they are TELLING what happened. They are not using the 5 senses and allowing the readers to experience the story.

He opened the door. 

"Hello, Mr. Carver."

Mr. Carver felt rather confused. "Hello?"

"Can I come in."

Mr. Carver invited him in and they argued about what he was doing here.

Now, it's not all telling. But, the only sense there is sound. Dialog brings the sound. Notice that when I take it out, that it's completely inactive narrative summary. It reads like a fairy tale... this happened... then this.

He opened the door. Mr. Carver felt confused. Mr. Carver invited him in and they argued about what he was doing here.

Now, this could be fine if it's a quick slightly humorous intro to the argument itself where perhaps there are many images and sounds and textures portrayed. However, for many writers, this summary (with added dialog) comprises the entire story. So, it's like I'm hearing, but I'm blind. The answer is images. Images. Images. We are visual creatures. Images should make up MOST of the content in an active scene. 

First picture the scene in your mind. You're holding that picture in your hand. It's REALLY there in front of you. Your characters are there, the furniture, the house, the porch, their expression, their posture. As the story unfolds that image changes and as it does you as an author have a duty to inform the reader because YOU are the only one who can see the picture.

A typical scene might go like this

[intro summary backstory to give context to the coming scene]


[summary of character's active thoughts]

[dialog (sound)]


[dialog (sound)]

[image with texture]

[summary inserting main's emotional response]


[dialogue (sound)]

[summary with a little bit of backstory]

Mr. Carver didn't want to open the door. He didn't like guests in any of their intrisive varieties at any time of year. Normally when the doorbell rang he took his laptop and his warm Dr. Pepper, and moved to his bedroom, but this morning his cat peed in there--everywhere. The smell could make a sailor vomit. No, he couldn't go in there. And this guest, this person, who kept ringing simply would not go away. 

Who could it be? A child playing a prank? A humanoid robot (because the ring occured each 5 minutes and 38 seconds on the dot)? The idea of who it was perplexed him. He had no friends. His family never came to visit. They knew him.


Mr. Carver whirled around in his twisty chair, eyes furious. He glared at the door. He hated it, every inch of off white painted wood, it's curling rather useless weather stripping, the bit of decorative metal which framed it's lonely peephole.

He stood from his chair, tightening his fists in anger, paced. He was resolved. He would do it, finally do it. It was the quickest way. He would tell them to 'scat', 'get the hell out of here'. There was nothing else to it. The fast way to be alone again was to finally give in and open the stupid door.

He did.

"Wow, Mr. Carver!"

"What on Earth are you doing here?"

"I came to talk to you."


The man, the pest, wore a mismatched suit and red striped undershirt. His green tie matched the little bits of green dyed curls in his mane of blonde hair. His face could be considered ruddy, with two fat cheeks and a Cheshire grin. Perhaps his appearance was supposed to shock. Was he from a circus? Some sort of clown?

"Whoever the hell sent you, tell them to shove it. I'm not interested."

"Not even in, the chance to win a billion..."

"Not for any money."

"... a billion bottle tops?"

Mr. Carver was not a man easily surprised, but this did it. Who the hell would do this? Dress in this fashion, stalk a man of his age and profession, merely of offer him a bilion bits of trash? But, in some strange facet of his mind, he was curious. 

"Why the hell...?"

Mr. Carver sagged his weight against the door frame, his mind turning around itself again and again, quite befuddled. The clown-man took this for invitation and stepped inside. His big red floppy shoes were soon crossed over each other, stretched out, as he rested himself on Mr. Carver's leather couch. He took a hand and pet the smooth soft black hide.

"Nice set up you got."

The Bugger of an Ellipses

Posted by jenny.wendorf@rocketmail.com on May 26, 2013 at 1:55 AM Comments comments (0)

So I work as a freelance editor, and really there are so many pieces of useless information that you have to understand if you want your manuscript to look professional. Heck, in many cases the professionals get confused. There are gray areas, there's confusion, and many times it matters what country you are publishing from, what nationality the author is from, or even... the character.

One that I'll touch on today is the ellipses. Ellipses, what are they? In a formal school paper, they indicate that what you are quoting continues either from the beginning or the end or, that you've deleted something. Mostly though, in fiction, we use them in a less scientific and more emotional way. They indicate a pause... but only a certain kind. They can be used to trail off, like to depict a character lost in thought, but be sure that he doesn't complete his sentence. This is shown by the regular three dots.

"I put my dog to sleep. It's really put me to sleep. I mean..."

He's sad. This is not an interruption. If someone is interrupted or for some other reason the sound breaks off suddenly use an emdash or a dash with a space on each side.

"I am not going to pick up that--"

"Yes you will!"

"I am not going to pick up that - "

"Yes you will!"

Em-dashes look more professional than dashes with spaces. In your word processor you can find em-dashes in symbols, advanced symbols, and then look for the longest line which is centered, not ( _ ). An ellipse can also indicate a total change of thought or subject. This is key where people or talking, or in internal monologue when people typical think and speak in fragments.

"I don’t want to... no I... well okay."

"I have never seen a car so... my toe!"

Notice you would not write: "I have never seen a car so beautiful... crap, my toe!"

They are both complete sentences and they don't need an ellipses.

"I have never seen a car so beautiful. Crap, my toe!"

Other forms of ellipses are: ..., .... ...? When do we use them? Well, we don't need to use them frequently in prose. .... Comes at the end of a text which has been copied which continues, but the last copied sentence is a complete thought. (...?) This variation is more frequent in dialog and indicates that a trailing thought is inflected upward, a question.

"I wanted to head to the movies tonight. Did you...?"

He nodded as if wishing to say not only she could come with him to see a show, but that maybe they could be sweet on each other, too. You could just write, 'I wanted to head to the movies tonight. Did you?' The meaning is slightly changed. The previous ellipsis indicates he's sort of drawing out the words, like he's not sure of himself. These are really the times you need an ellipses like this. It's actually better to use them sparingly so that when you do use them, they really stand out. One common newbie mistake is using an ellipsis or a semi-colon, or a dash where a comma would do. You've got to think of the underlying meaning. Say it out loud. How long is that pause? What does changing the pause's length do to the syntax (underlying meaning) of the sentence? (...,) This is not common at all in prose.

"Hey...," she fidgeted. "Let's go to the movies."

"Hey," she fidgeted. "Let's go to the movies."

I suppose it works, but only in that situation. No, on second thought just use the dang comma. See what I mean about gray areas? Just because something exists in an archaic literary sense, doesn’t mean it’s standard practice to use it. Honestly, I think the comma there works just fine. However, if you disagree and you HAVE to insert the ellipsis, that would be a situation where it would need to be enclosed in a comma. For instance, I commonly see:

"I love to bike, and rock climb..., and shoot a gun."

Nope. Regular ellipse would do. Also notice the space. Spacing ellipses is also one of those gray rules that everyone under the sun has an opinion about. In "The Brief Penguin Handbook" it states that there should be a thin space put between each dot . . . Many people know the space rule, but not that they should make those spaces a size or two thinner so that the ellipses doesn't go on forever. Yes, I hate how that looks... unnatural. It's too long, and publishers are looking for ways to cut down a lot of unnecessary paper usage. The 2011 Associate Press Style book states that an ellipsis should have a space on each side ( ... ). But this is mostly for journalists. If you choose this route just be consistent. I personally prefer a space at the end. This is what GINGER recommends, and honestly I think it makes more emotional sense.

"Go get the... not that! G-O..." Not: "Go get the... not that! G-O... "

You don't want to space between the ellipses and the quotation mark, or the comma, period, or question mark if you're using one. This is because a word processor will see the space and think that mark can be divided, like for instance of it's at the end of a line of paper. Why space at all? Well, you don't technically have to, but if you open a published book printed from any of the major publishing houses you will see that most of them space their ellipses with at least a thin space either in between the dots, after, or after and before. That extra space makes us pause, and it brings emphasis to the next word.

The human eye and mind will pause and really pay attention to the next thing said. So ellipses are good. Just don't over use them. Commas and periods should always be the standard. In fact, commas are starting to take over places where semi-colons and dashes used to be required. It just depends on what you are writing.

Something artsy-flowy, like literary fiction, could simply do with commas and less other stuff. They are more lenient and out-of-the-box. In fact, check the punctuation in Louise Erdrich's "The Round House," 2012's National Book Award winner, and you'll see what I mean. Something less artsy, like hard science fiction or non-fiction, will require you to really stick to those hard and fast punctuation rules. It really just depends on the psychology of your audience. What will they tolerate? And, what is your style?

Okay... I'm seriously off topic now. Oops! Ellipses are awesome! But, use them right please. Makes my job easier.

How Description Works

Posted by jenny.wendorf@rocketmail.com on May 10, 2013 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

A writing friend of mine recently related to me that he would love to use more description in his stories but that when he does, people generally tell him to cut down and stick with the story at hand. He laments, and actually chooses to not describe in order to please the masses. Yes, he is very right that you don't want to be long winded. You don't want to rattle on and on and bore your readers to tears. However, description done the right way is an incredible asset to a story, and it separates an ametuer from a pro.

The problem is, too many ameteurs don't know how to pull it of, so they shirk it altogether. This saddens me because if you read the best Fiction today, the National Book Award winner for this year being one example, description is the glue that holds the thing together.

Here's a short excerpt from "The Round House" by Louise Erdrich:

“Cappy was a skinny guy with big hands and scarred up knobby feet, but he had bold cheek bones, astraight nose, big white teeth, and lank shiny hair hanging down over one browneye. Melting brown eye. The girls loved Cappy, even though his chin and cheekswere always scrapped and he had a gap in one eyebrow where his forehead had been opened by a rock. His bike was a rusted blue ten-speed Doe had picked up at the mission. Because their house rattled with tools on every surface, Cappy kept it halfway fixed. Still, only first gear worked. And the hand breaks gave out unexpectedly. So when Cappy rode, you’d see a spidery kid pedaling so fast,his legs blurred…”

This book was amazing, and it was the National Book Award Winner for 2012.

The key as far as balancing description and detail, is to make it pay rent. Make the description do many things at once.

First and foremost it should describe.

Second, it sets the mood. Don't just describe the first thing that comes to mind. What is the character of this story? Think Edgar Allan Poe, or Jack London, or Khalid Hussaini, or Barbara Kingsolver. Do you want to scare the reader or be mysterious, fun and quirky, profound, unique, gritty or hard nosed?

Third, when you describe, focus on the five senses. Sight is good, but don't forget smell, taste, touch, and sounds. Keep things active. Try to avoid passive voice and your description will not feel so laborious to the reader. Use fewer adjectives and more fine tuned, colorful and specific nouns and verbs. Nouns and verbs are the engine of description. If your description relies on too many adjectives it will feel to readers like funky flowery perfume: unnatural and overdone. If your verbs are action oriented and specific (stumbled, stuttered versus was clumbsy) then you will describe without it actually feeling so much like description.This is the equivalent to "showing" and not "telling". Don't tell us she's poor, show us by her dirty fingers nails and ear grinding Brooklyn accent.

Fourth, select images that reflect a metaphor...AND that metaphor should mirror one of your story's themes. In a story about eventual redemption, a character might have stains on their clothes. A cup might have a crack. Anything. Have the character look at it. What does it remind them of? Draw it into the theme, use it for all it's worth!

Fifth, be unique. Many people describe boring items in a boring way. This is usually why description is...boring. This is where writing meets art. Something I've done extensively to improve my descriptive power, is to go and sketch a real scene, a character, an event, in words the way an artist would sketch something for practice. Freewriting also helps. Go to the mall, sit there, take one glance at a person and sketch them in words. Physical appearance, personality, brief personal history, emotional state, motives...practice, make it up. Find the interesting and sort it out from the mundane. The more you practice this the more you can do this in your stories...AND you can even use these sketches in your stories.

There you go! Good luck with your description!