Why does grammar matter to authors?

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

The Grammar Patrol writes monthly blog posts here about grammatical issues for writers. To kick off 2016, eFrog Press interviews them about their obsession!

 

You both seem to love grammar. When did you each first realize it was both intriguing and important?

J: I had wonderful teachers, Mrs. McManus in 8th grade and Mr. Utech in 11th grade, who really focused on the structure of language, a.k.a. grammar. I think that’s when I became a grammar geek. When we diagrammed, I loved taking sentences apart.

E: I, too, remember specific teachers. Miss Hoezel caught on in my 8th grade Honors English that I was guessing on possessive apostrophes and taught me the arrow method that Judith and I have taught to hundreds of students. And Miss Clark, 9th, had us diagram sentences all year. It may be a lost art now, and I might not be able to diagram more than a simple sentence—but that structure is parked in my brain.

 

Word processors have very good spell checkers and grammar checkers, so why should writers worry about grammar?

J: Since writing involves tons of revision, one has to understand the structure of language in order to come up with better ways to say things.  It’s crucial. Alert: Those electronic grammar and spelling checkers don’t spot everything. For example, they won’t distinguish between correct use of homophones (one/won, sleight/slight, role/roll, pore/pour).)

E: Computer checkers may catch simple errors, but we want to know the why, not just the what. And writers use complex writing to get across plots, emotions, and character traits. Humans have the brains to comprehend complexity. Computers don’t. Sussing out meaning from gorgeous long paragraphs may prove beyond their ken. And we sometimes disagree with the grammar checker’s recommendations. Many make the three periods in ellipses single-spaced (…—called a glyph), but they’re supposed to have a space on each side ( . . . ), as the Chicago Manual of Style recommends.

 

Once an agent sells a manuscript, an editor from the publishing house will clean up the grammar. Why do very creative writers need to pay attention to something as mundane as grammar rules?

J: Sadly, grammatical skills of publishing house editors vary widely. A writer’s best writing tool is his/her own knowledge and care.

E: When an editor receives a manuscript riddled with spelling and grammar bloopers, it automatically gets rejected, particularly in today’s competitive publishing scene. Even if the writing is strong and the ideas unique, it’s a no-go. As Lily Tomlin would say, “And that’s the truth.”

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What to Consider When Writing a Series: Part 1

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

L.C. Scott founded eFrog Press in 2011. She has a B.A. in English from UC Berkeley, an M.A. in Education from Stanford, and a doctorate in educational leadership from UC San Diego. During her freelance writing career she wrote dozens of magazine feature stories, chapters for textbooks, study guides for educations films and newsletters. For many years she created websites for small businesses and children’s authors. She has taught at the high school and university levels. Hershey: A Second Chance is her chapter book for struggling readers about a mischievous rescue Doberman and a young boy who loves him. Today she shares Part 1 of lessons learned when creating a book series.


Planning is Key

Some additional planning is needed when you are writing a series. At eFrog Press we have worked on series for children and for adults. Today we will share how authors came up with their series titles, series logos, and cover design.

Series Title is a Serious Decision

Creating the title of a series is a great opportunity to use key words to help readers find your books. Many authors do not start to make a profit until the second or even third book in their series is published.

The first series we worked on in 2011 was a collection of biographies for young readers about people who have made a difference in the world. We considered calling the series “Lives of Famous People” but these biographies were about people who were more than just famous—they had made an impact. People like Barbara McClintock, a geneticist and the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize on her own, were featured. And Jesse Owens whose impact is still being felt and whose life will be featured in a new movie RACE starring Stephan James, Jeremy Irons, Jason Sudeikis and directed by Stephen Hopkins, in theaters February 19, 2016.

So the authors of the different titles in this series chose A Spotlight Biography because these well researched books focused a light on interesting people who had left their mark. The next decision was how the series title would appear on each book cover. We wanted to use some kind of spotlight.

Barbara McClintock: Nobel Prize Geneticist   Barbara McClintock

Our first version is the blue cover with a spotlight coming down from the top. But then one of our cover designers came up with a beautiful modern cover with the spotlight over the top right corner. Now we have a nice template for all future titles in the series and the current titles look related.

Thomas Nast: Political Cartoonist cover  MotherJonesCover1  EastmanCover_200wide

Learn more about other books in A Spotlight Biography series for young readers.

 

Planning a New Historical Fiction Series

When we began working with retired professor and academic research librarian Richard Fitchen, he was planning a five-book fiction series about the history of the United States. He wanted a series title that reflected both the depth and breadth of these stories. After much thought, he named his series An American Saga. He loves history and political science and wanted to use story to engage readers and educate them at the same time.

The series title was actually easier to create than the series logo. The designer came up with many versions but all had an American flag. Since the books spanned centuries, the American flag changed in appearance—more stars and stripes over time. The author wanted a flag to span our country’s history, so he requested a furled flag so the number of stars was less clear.

An American Saga Series Logo

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So You Want to Write Romance: Hybrid authors will share their publishing journeys

Tuesday, October 13th, 2015
HeraHubLogoHera Hub, a spa-inspired coworking space for entrepreneurial women, will host an Authors’ Salon featuring two Southern California romance writers discussing their paths to publishing. Through eFrog Press I have had the opportunity to meet many authors and helped select the speakers and will lead the panel discussion on writing process, publishing, and marketing.  Details: Tuesday, October 20, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in Carlsbad. Register online at http://tinyurl.com/authorsalon. Can’t attend? A follow-up blog will share their wisdom.

 

There are so many ways to get published in 2015. Jan Moran and Judith Lown have published  traditionally as well as indie. Both also write romance but Moran writes historical and contemporary fiction and Lown focuses on the Regency Period. Both know how to write a compelling tale that keeps their readers turning the pages. They will be featured speakers at the October Authors’ Salon on writing and publishing romance (see details above).

SCENT OF TRIUMPH by Jan Moran_medMoran will talk about her historical novel, Scent of Triumph (St. Martin’s Press). A very long plane trip to Paris seemed much shorter as I read the ebook edition. I began to understand so much more about the perfume industry that, of course, I had to purchase a very special new scent. I was in Paris after all! As Moran said:

“I write stylish books for smart women. My characters are often running a business, and juggling their love life and family responsibilities. Like real people, they make mistakes, but they always save themselves in a creative manner. In both my contemporary and historical novels, I write for the modern woman who wants to enjoy all life has to offer.”

Much like her characters, Moran draws on her international travel and business experiences, infusing her books with realistic details. She also writes contemporary women’s fiction (Flawless, Beauty Mark, Runway) and nonfiction books (Vintage Perfumes, Fabulous Fragrances). I enjoyed Moran’s presentation at the SDSU Writers’ Conference in San Diego and invited her to be part of the Authors’ Salon. She also presented at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) earlier this year.

Judith Lown began reading historical Regency romance during a stressful time in her life when she was a social worker helping disintegrating families. She needed to escape during her free time, and began reading historical Regencies. Lown said:

“This genre was created by Georgette Heyer and her Regencies were marked by heroines of taste and courage and heroes who could more than hold their own with ladies who knew their own minds. Heyer despised sentimentality, cowardice, and both mindless conformity on one hand, and self-indulgent non-conformity on the other.”

BostonTanglefinal10.11.2015_medIn her newest title, Boston Tangle: Regency Comes to America, Lown transports three of her English characters from previous books to Boston where they interact with the upper class and, of course, there is a love story—a tangled tale. Lown’s heroine Drusilla Fortesque is a lady who knows her own mind and Lown laces her writing with wry wit and avoids sappiness. Heyer would be proud.

Judith Lown has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and her understanding of family systems theory helps her develop rich, character-driven plots. She is a dog lover and an active volunteer for the Greyhound Adoption Center which has inspired her to include a canine character in each of her novels.

During the panel discussion, authors will share their writing process (very different), their publishing paths, and advice to aspiring authors. If you do not live in San Diego County and cannot attend this stimulating evening (did I mention wine and dessert?), watch for a follow-up blog where I will share all their practical advice!

Do You Have Any Writing Rituals?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Friedrick SchillerSince I founded eFrog Press almost four years ago, I have worked with dozens of authors and am always intrigued by their individual writing processes. No two authors seem to have the same process. I think writers have more rituals than major league baseball pitchers although there is less scratching and spitting involved.

My all-time favorite prewriting strategy is from German playwright Frederick Schiller. Before he would begin writing, he would open his desk drawer and take a big whiff of a rotting apple he kept there for inspiration! (I did not make this up.)

I define prewriting as anything that happens from the time you decide to write until you actually put fingers to keys or pen to paper. Some authors have a music playlist that relates in some way to the characters or setting. I know when I was writing my doctoral dissertation, I could not listen to music with lyrics. The words seemed to battle with my own writing. So I listened to Andre Segovia’s classical guitar music and just like Pavlov’s dogs, when I would start the music, I would start writing.

MeissnerCoverSusan Meissner averages a novel a year and likes to begin her session reading the last few pages from the day before—not to edit but to reconnect with her characters and where she left off. By the way, if you have missed her last two novels, A Fall of Marigolds and Secrets of a Charmed Life, I highly recommend them. Her beautiful language and fully developed characters will sweep you away to another place and time.

 

Place

Think about where you write. Some authors need a clear space without interruptions while others thrive typing away at a busy coffee shop. Children’s author Lynda Pflueger blogged recently about setting up her writing cove just the way she wanted it. Here is how she got started:

First, I tackled my desktop and I removed everything that did not pertain to my writing. I often had to get up and search for a pen or pencil. So, I stocked up and filled an old coffee mug with a dozen pens and pencils.  I added a small note pad, ruler and highlighters. Then, I thought about the reference books I often use while writing.  That was the biggest clue I needed to get organized. Thirty minutes later, I finally found all of them. I had a bad habit of leaving them where I last used them.

Great advice! I have discovered that when I am stuck, simply moving to a new location may trigger new ideas and my writing flows again. Others prefer to always write in the same location.

 

Time

Another variable is when you write. Some busy parents with full-time jobs find early morning before the family awakes is the best time. Others reserve a full-day per week. Still others can only write late at night. Find your ideal time and calendar it.

Hera Hub, a coworking space for entrepreneurial women, offers a Writers Lounge for two hours per week. There is something special about being in a room where everyone else is writing. You feel compelled to sit still and write. I was stuck on my next book and in that confined environment my plot issue was resolved and a new character was born.

 

Creating Rituals

In addition to where and when you write, notice if you have developed any rituals—from pencil sharpening, to brewing fresh tea, to playing just the kind of song your main character would rock out to. If you want to create writing rituals, think about all of your senses. An author I recently met takes a meditative walk and then applies cinnamon oil to her wrists before writing. I know another author who keeps M&Ms (peanut, of course) on her desk—just in case chocolate is required.

 

Please share

What inspires you to write? Share your writing rituals—however unique they might be—in the comments below.

Literally Alliteratively Literary

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

The Grammar PatrolWe (Edith Hope Fine and Judith Josephson) are the Grammar Patrol. Both of us taught for years and are now writers, with thirty plus books between us, including our two popular grammar guides, Nitty-Gritty Grammar and More Nitty-Gritty Grammar. For close to twenty years, we taught writing and grammar basics and now we blog about grammar for writers.

 

Let’s turn literary. In More Nitty-Gritty Grammar we included some terms that don’t technically fall under the “grammar” category, but are things writers use to power up their writing—metaphors, similes, analogy, alliteration, hyperbole, and onomatopoeia.

Writers who use these techniques create writing that pulls readers in, making them want to read into the night. Literary writing soars.

 

Metaphor

dolphin metaphorMetaphors are figures of speech that compare, making two very different things seem the same. Think “is” for metaphor, even though the two ideas can’t be compared literally.

• Hank is a dolphin in the ocean, diving over and over through the waves.

• Ottilie was a mule when it came to changing her mind.

• My computer is as old as a dinosaur.

 

Simile

Similes are figures of speech that make two disparate things seem similar. Think “as” or “like” for simile.

• Mr. V’s voice was like chalk screeching on a blackboard.

• “Ew! This cooking oil is as smelly as old socks.”

• She has a mind like a computer.

• The professor’s lectures were as dull as paste.

 

Jesse Owens

In Judith’s new eBook biography of Jesse Owens (Jesse Owens: Legendary Gold Medal Olympian, eFrog Press), track and field star Jesse Owens inspired many metaphors and similes among sportswriters: “In college at Ohio State, track and field star Jesse Owens was the “Buckeye Bullet,” as swift as a cheetah.” (Watch this eFrog blog for more on this eBook.)

 

 

 

Analogy

Analogies compare objects or people, often with similar features. Analogies can help illustrate or describe.

• Dr. Au made an analogy between a stomach and a food processor.

• Beverly compared her high-strung client to a spirited racehorse.

 

Alliteration

Alliteration is the repetition of letters or sounds in words that fall close together.

festive finery

ten tall trumpeters

bubbles breaking in the brook

wandering willows

• No allowance until you come and clean your closet!

 

Alliteration loses its allure with overuse:

Billy Bob bought beer for baseball buddies at Bubba’s Bar.

 

Hyperbole

Hyperbole (hie PER’ buh lee) is elaborate exaggeration used for emphasis or effect. (Wow, that was alliterative!) Bill Watterson’s cartoon in More Nitty-Gritty Grammar has Calvin saying, “What a day. I feel like I’ve been run over by a train.” Then KAPOW! Hobbes streaks in, knocking him down. Smooshed Calvin says, “I mean now I feel like that.” Sweet Hobbes notes, “See? You should always save hyperbole until you really need it.” (We forgive Calvin for using “like” when he should have used “as if.”)

• I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.

• These new shoes are killing me.

• His brain is the size of a pea.

 

Onomatopoeia

Sleepytime Me by Edith Hope FineOnomatopoeia is all about sounds—words that echo real-life sounds. Straight from the Greek word onomatopoeia, it means “words that reflect meaning in their sounds.”

We were stuck for a strong illustration for “onomatopoeia,” so emailed Brooke McEldowney, creator of the quirky comic 9 Chickweed Lane. We almost fell from our chairs six weeks later when her strip featuring onomatopoeia appeared in the paper. “Buzz! Hiss! Osculate!” We discovered that Brooke had written “onomatopoeia” on a Post-it and stuck it on her monitor waiting for inspiration. Lucky us. Lucky grammar readers.

Other onomatopoetic words? Babble, sizzle, whippoorwill, screech, pop . . . In Edith’s new Sleepytime Me, a bedtime book for littles (Random House, 2014), piglets “wuffle.” You won’t find wuffle in the dictionary, but it’s easy to imagine plump piggies wuffling in their sleep.

Kids love onomatopoeia and making up sounds—a great way to lure kids into writing. Be on the lookout for other great examples of literary terms. Send us your favorites—your messages make us merry.

Please Share

How to you use literary devices to add sparkle to your writing?

How to Get the Most Out of a Writers’ Conference

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

I organized large conferences for many years, so I look at conferences a bit differently than the average person. Some participants would skip the luncheon (paid for by their employer) to go shopping. Others would skip sessions and stand in the halls to snack and chat with colleagues.

But as  a writer paying your own conference fee and attending to improve your writing, make connections, and learn how to get your book published; you need to be strategic.

A writers’ conference is an investment of time and money so be sure to use both wisely.

Money

First, money. Preregister so you get the lowest rate. Make your hotel reservations early so you can stay in the conference hotel. You’ll save on transportation and won’t miss out on evening networking opportunities. Blocks of rooms at the reduced conference rate run out early. Reserve as soon as you consider attending, and if you aren’t 100% sure you’ll go, mark your calendar so you can cancel by a certain date without paying a fee.

Plan Your Schedule

Review the conference program and highlight any workshops or events of interest. Then go back through time slots where you have more than one workshop highlighted. You can often make the decision the day of the workshop but now you are armed and ready with your finalists identified.

If consultations are offered with agents and editors, do your homework. Read their biography statements and make sure they work with your genre. Note any deadlines for advanced readings.

Network

At meals and breaks don’t just chat with your friends — you can talk to them at home for free. This is your opportunity to connect with the new people around you. If you are shy by nature, know that many writers are and most do want to network at conferences. Just smile at your neighbor and ask, “Tell me about your writing.” What writer could resist such an invitation?

If there are receptions, breakfasts, happy hours, or other types of networking events, attend. You might meet your new beta reader or even your future agent!

And don’t sell too hard. Yes, you have refined your elevator pitch until it is irresistible but give it a rest. When editors, agents, and other writers are mingling they want to relax and get to know you so it may not be the best time for your spiel. Unless, of course, an editor turns to you and says, “Tell me about your book.” Go for it!

Collect business cards from your new connections and make notes each night so you don’t confuse the fantasy author with the biographer. Send followup emails a few days after the conference to those you want to keep in contact with. Follow, friend, and link up with any people you enjoyed connecting with in person.

Work the Workshops

Divide and conquer. If you attend with friends, you can share notes from different workshops. Even better, share the costs of purchasing recordings of the sessions. I am still listening to the sessions I couldn’t attend at the recent 31st Annual SDSU Writers’ Conference. Some of the sessions I did not even highlight have been packed with useful information.

Wondering which conference to attend? Chuck Sambuchino’s post on “Which Writers’ Conferences are the Best to Attend,” lists a nice selection complete with links.

Above all, go, enjoy, and learn!

Share

Please share your conference strategies and your favorite writers’ conferences.

10 Reasons to Attend a Writers’ Conference

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

LC Scott, owner of eFrog Press, reflects on books, publishing, indie authors and writing in Take the Leap.

Last weekend I attended a wonderful conference—the 31st annual San Diego State University Writers’ Conference. Careful coordination ensured that writers at any level of experience gained new information and had the opportunity to network with fellow writers, published authors, literary agents, and editors from major publishing houses. There was a nice mix of major speakers, practical workshops, consultations, and networking time.

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-writing-female-student-working-laptop-image21751002

Should you invest the time and money to attend a writers’ conference? Here are my ten reasons why I think it could be worth it.

1. Meet other writers
Writing is a solitary experience. You sit alone at your computer typing away, persevering, but it is comforting to meet others who share your passion. There is something magical about meeting other writers. Imagine the power of being surrounded by hundreds (or dozens) of writers.

2. Meet published authors
I have heard dozens of authors speak and have never heard the same publishing journey twice. It is inspiring to hear how other real people fulfilled their dreams of publishing their book, whether through a legacy publisher or the indie route. You will learn about the many different ways to make your dream a reality.

3. Form a writing group
It is important to read to a live audience not made up of adoring (or critical) family members. Putting together a group of nearby writers to meet on a regular basis and critique each other’s work is invaluable—and free.

4. Discover beta readers
When your manuscript is “done” (note the emphasis), you need a few trusted readers to read your draft. You need feedback on parts that are confusing, boring, and even parts that soar. You do not want to delete the most powerful sections if you are asked to tighten the story. And, of course, you can reciprocate and read their drafts.

5. Speak with agents
Many conferences have literary agents available to meet with authors one on one. Sometimes you send a few pages before the conference and sometimes you get ten minutes to pitch your book. The job of a literary agent is to acquire works from promising authors so don’t miss this opportunity.

6. Meet with editors from publishing houses
Writers’ conferences are one of the only ways to meet with an editor directly without going through an agent or being miraculously found in the slush pile of manuscripts. Research the publishing houses represented so you can pitch to an editor who actually acquires books in your genre.

7. Learn about the publishing business—yes, it is a business

Some aspiring authors are a little starry eyed about publishing but it is a business first. Legacy publishers will not acquire your book unless convinced it will make money for them. And if you plan to indie publish, a very real option, you want to make sure that your investment in editing, cover design, formatting, etc., will be recouped by book sales. In addition, there is the matter of ISBNs, barcodes, copyright, contracts, and other legal issues. Do your homework.

8. Learn more about your genre
When you hear authors in your genre speak, consider reading their books and then connect with them through social media. Immerse yourself in reading books in your genre so you are aware of the sometimes-unwritten rules that passionate readers of this type of book expect the author to follow. And also be aware of when you can take risks and deliberately break those rules.

9. Discover current trends
After two or three days at a writers’ conference you will undoubtedly notice hot topics in your genre. Beware of blindly following trends. It can take years to publish a book (often two years) so the popular books now were pitched two or three years ago. Agents and editors are often looking for something new. Many writers with no real interest in teens jumped on the YA bandwagon because of the phenomenal success of the Harry Potter and the Hunger Games series. Agents and editors were gagging on stacks of YA fantasy and dystopian manuscripts—and probably still are. Write what you know and love.

10. Understand your role in marketing—including social media
Marketing is the key to finding readers.  Whether you are with a legacy publisher who connects you with their publicist or you are going it alone, you will have some role in marketing your book. Conference workshops showcase winning strategies from successful authors. You can learn how much marketing you want to do and how best to invest that time.

What have you learned at conferences?

Would love to hear how you have benefited from writers’ conferences. What has been most helpful for you?

Coming Soon: Tips on making the most of your conference experience!

Is Your New Year’s Resolution to Write a Book?

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Want to publish in 2015? The hardest part of writing is sitting down to do it.

As owner of eFrog Press, I often meet people who confess that they have always wanted to write a book, and some even have a few pages stashed away, yet have never realized that goal. The difference between those who actually write a book and those who want to write one is not talent or time. The difference is actually writing.

One eFrog press author also drives a limousine, leaving him with a lot of down time while he waits for clients. He writes on his iPhone while sitting in his vehicle. Time well spent! He completed a manuscript last year and is now is the revision process.

When to Write

Writing at workAre you a morning person or does your imagination come alive as the sun goes down? Choose the best time slot available in your schedule and block out at least two hours per week for writing. The two hours does not include getting up to boil water for tea, updating Facebook (even if it’s your author page), or bathroom breaks. You must be seated and producing text for 120 minutes—preferably consecutive minutes.

How you write doesn’t matter. I mostly compose in Microsoft Word but switch to a pencil and yellow legal pad if I’m struggling. Others love Scrivener or prefer to write with a gel pen. The important thing is to keep writing. Prefer to compose while standing? Whatever works for you is fine.

Writer’s block? (Look for an upcoming post addressing how to conquer this obstacle!) Get started and stay focused for 120 minutes. You may struggle to write anything worthwhile at first but hang in there. The second hour may be your breakthrough.

After four weeks of regular writing (480 minutes total), consider adding another writing block to your week. The only way you will ever complete your book is by putting in the time. The more time you invest, the quicker the book will be done.

Where to Write

Think carefully about your location. If you choose the kitchen table at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, will other family members likely need the space for breakfast? If you plan to use your home office desk, will the stacks of bills and blinking voice mail messages distract you? Find a quiet place to work with few distractions and turn off your wireless access on your computer so social media and email do not fight for your attention. Put your cell phone on mute and commit to staying put until your time is up.

Publishing a book need not wait until you retire and have more time. If writing a book is important to you, carve out the time and space now and make it happen.

Share Your Time and Space

When and where do you write?

 

eFrog Press Recommends Books for Holiday Gifts

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

LC Scott, owner of eFrog Press, reflects on books published in 2014. Next week she will focus on titles for children.

 

As I look back over books we have worked on at eFrog Press in 2014, I have some wonderful holiday gift recommendations for the readers in your life. Not sure how to gift an ebook? All of the big ebook sellers provide a simple process. I don’t mean a gift card. I mean there is a method to send a person a specific ebook that you think they would enjoy reading. For example, Barnes & Noble’s website allows you to select the book you want to gift and then click on “Buy as Gift” (to the right of the Buy Now button) to send the gift to the recipient. On Amazon, find the book you’d like to send and select the “Give as a Gift” button (to the far right of the page, under the Buy button).

So here are my recommendations.

Science Fiction


science fiction, futuristic
For a futuristic page turner, consider gifting Philippe de Vosjoli’s I AM the Other and his sequel, The CyberBardos. An unknown entity is taking over computer screens around the world and transmitting puzzling messages that inspire fear in some and awe in others. Governments, religious groups, and individuals struggle to make sense of the ongoing messages. The second volume may be even better than the first so put this fast-paced series at the top of your list for science fiction lovers. Available in print and ebook.

 

Classic Westerns


Will James Cowboys North and South
Prefer Westerns? Will James was a real cowboy who wrote and illustrated tales based on his own experiences in the Wild West. James published a 22-book set on the range and now, for the first time, Bareback Publishing has released four titles through eFrog Press as ebooks: Cowboys North and South, The Drifting Cowboy, Lone Cowboy: My Life Story, and Smoky: The Cowhorse. In the preface to Cowboys North and South (1922), James writes, “The cowboy’s life can’t be learnt in a day or even a year, it’s a life you got to be raised at to understand, and I’ve had it proved that in my work even tho it may be rough, all the folks of the cow countries are backing me in what I say, and I hear the same holler as I used to when riding the side-winding bucker ‘stay a long time cowboy.’” Written in authentic cowboy vernacular, these titles bring the West back to life and are accompanied by illustrations by the author. Now available as ebooks.

 

New Western


The Bone Feud
How about a rollicking new Western with scientific touches? Screenwriter and video game designer Wynne McLaughlin’s The Bone Feud is the real story of a bitter feud between two paleontologists as they scoured the Wild West for skeletal remains of undiscovered dinosaur species. Scientist-adventurers Edward Cope and O.C. Marsh inadvertently unleashed “dinosaur fever” across the globe, and their amazing discoveries became the subject of bidding wars by universities, museums, and even the great showman P.T. Barnum. Their story has never been told, until now. This book is a fun read with a strong thread of truth. Available in print and ebook.

 

Historical Fiction

Richard Fitchen Republic in TriumphAny historical fiction lovers on your holiday list? Richard Fitchen’s writing combines storytelling with meticulous historical research. As a former professor, social sciences bibliographer at Yale University, and research librarian and bibliographer at Stanford, Fitchen does his homework and is passionate about making history come to life for his readers. His An American Saga series is a bold undertaking following feuding American families through the centuries from the 1700s to modern day.

Republic in Triumph: Jessie’s America covers 1908 to 1964. Attorney Jessie LaBarre practices judo and serves as an advisor to presidents. She spurs the growth of civil liberties, labor relations, women’s rights, and collective security, and she paves the way for a revolutionary culture of automobiles and airplanes. Readers of this historical novel meet leading men and women of the tumultuous decades from Theodore Roosevelt to Lyndon B. Johnson. Her family’s nemeses, the Camerons, plot to destroy Jessie and her family. Although she wins some convictions against them in court, a ruthless new Cameron generation extracts a terrible price. Available in print and ebook.

 

Christmas Picture Book


'Twas the Late Night of Christmas
Need a gift for a family that celebrates Christmas? ‘Twas the Late Night of Christmas by Ann Whitford Paul and illustrated by Nancy Hayashi is a fun picture book that adults and kids alike will enjoy. This delightful retelling of the classic Christmas poem gives Mrs. Saint Nick a starring role and the recognition she deserves.

‘Twas the Late Night of Christmas and all through the house
Everyone was exhausted, even the mouse.
The children were whining. The house was a mess.
Mom slumped in despair from all of the stress.

The perfect gift for hassled parents overwhelmed by the crazy-making business of Christmas. View the book trailer and let Malcolm in the Middle‘s Jane Kaczmarek tell you more. Available in print, ebook and read aloud.

 

The Joy of Gifting Ebooks

The best thing about gifting ebooks is you can wait until the very last minute to make your purchases without paying for expedited shipping!

What are your favorite books to gift at this time of year? Share with us below in the comments.

 

 

 

Want to Write a Book? Workshop Introduces Strategies for Fiction and Nonfiction

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Writers' Workshop, Carlsbad, CaliforniaHave you always wanted to write a book to establish yourself as an authority in your field? Let eFrog Press help you get started. The Writers’ Workshop on August 16 in Carlsbad, California, is geared to meet the needs of writers of all levels of experience. In the morning session we will focus on simple, powerful techniques to improve your writing. See last week’s blog for more details.

But in the afternoon session you will have a choice of fiction or nonfiction.

 

Nonfiction: How to Organize Your Book and Connect With Your Reader

In the nonfiction session, author Julie Bawden Davis will share her secrets for organizing a nonfiction book and connecting with your readers—think future clients! Julie has written seven nonfiction books, four of which were published through large publishing houses and two of which are bestsellers. Her self-published titles have contributed to the success of her own business.

Attendees will have an opportunity to plan their own book. Julie has been to too many workshops where participants work on writing samples. She will give you direction while you work on your own topic or the first chapter of your existing draft. She will also share examples of her own writing and explain the decisions she made when organizing her books.

 

Fiction: How to Write Character-Driven Plot

Are you interested in writing fiction? Learn how to create a vibrant plot with twists and turns. Instead of forcing your characters into a rigid plot line, let your characters drive the story!  S. Woffington has experience writing screen plays and historical fiction but is currently working on a seven-book, young adult series. She has struggled with plot and learned some techniques she will share so you can avoid the pitfalls—especially for new authors.

Woffington is an experienced teacher and editor and loves to help new authors find their voices.

 

Calling San Diego Writers

So if you have always wanted to write a book, take the first step and join us. This hands-on workshop will provide you with some tools to begin. And on September 13 we will cover DIY publishing and book marketing. But first, register for the August 16 Writers’ Workshop and begin your book—or bring the first chapter of your existing manuscript and start fine tuning!