Homophones: Some Commonly Misused Words

Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently. English is full of these little confusing gems, which can cause people a lot of difficulty when it comes to the written word. Spell check likely won’t catch homophones, because the word you’ve used is spelled correctly, but is just the wrong word for the sentence. Here are a few homophones that often cause a lot of confusion:

Principle/Principal

Principle: an accepted code of rules, like the principles of mathematics, or a person who has strong moral principles.

Principal: first and foremost, or highest in rank, like the principal of a school.

Peek/Peak/Pique

Peek: to take a quick look, like peeking around the corner.

Peak: a summit or the top, like a mountain peak.

Pique: to provoke an emotion or reaction, like to pique his curiosity. Continue reading

3 Twitter Tips for Authors

Twitter is a great platform for writers. I’ve been on Twitter for almost five years now, and I love using it for sharing, conversing, and learning. In case you didn’t know, I’m a bit of a social media lover in general – and I work in social media as part of my day job. Social media may be still a relatively new industry, but it’s a powerful one; and it’s not going anywhere. Twitter is one of the powerhouse players in this realm of social media. 

At the end of this month, I’m going to be teaching a seminar on how writers can use Twitter. If you’re near the central Virginia area the last weekend in January, you should totally check out the Agile Writer Conference. There will be plenty to learn besides just social media – everything from drafting characters to self-publishing on Amazon and even tips for NaNoWriMo.

Anyway, I’m going to share with you a little taste of what I’ll be talking about at my seminar. Even if you can’t make it to the Agile Writers Conference, I hope these tips can help you to feel more confident on Twitter. So let’s dive in:

Use a Picture of You as your Avatar

If you’re running a company or a business, it makes sense to use the logo as the avatar (also known as profile picture). But if you’re a writer trying to build your brand and reach new readers, then it’s best to use a picture of yourself. Please don’t use the cover of your book as your avatar. People want to connect with people, not objects. People want to follow you as a writer, not just your latest book. Continue reading

Writing Tip: Get out of Balance

It’s good to have a balance in all things, right? Like a well-balanced diet – not too much protein, not too many carbs, lots of vegetables. Or a good work-life balance – yes, you want to advance your career and make money, but not at the expense of neglecting your family.

Balance and moderation are good things usually. We could all probably do with more balance in certain areas of our lives (like finding that perfect balance of staying connected on social media without letting kitten pictures on Instagram or trolls on Facebook suck up all of our time and mental energy).

Anyway, as lovely as balance and moderation are, sometimes you have to get out of balance to achieve a goal or to grow yourself in a certain area. For example, one of my goals for 2017 is to get out of balance with my dedication to writing. Continue reading

New Year, New Goals

I always like to start out the new year with a list of goals and a renewed vision. I prefer the term “goal” rather than “resolution,” because to me a resolution sounds like something so permanent and inflexible that if you mess up just once, you’re done. A goal, on the other hand, is something that you are always progressing towards. A backwards step is okay, as long as you take another step forwards again.

One of my goals for this year is to blog more. I’ve been blogging regularly once a week for several years now, but I want to do more. So every Monday, I will be sharing a picture, a quote, or a track of music to help inspire you and get your week off to a positive start. Whether you’re looking for story prompt ideas or just an encouraging word first thing in the morning, check out my blog every Monday for my #MondayMotivation!

On the story writing side of things, I’ve got a plan in place to publish several works this year. I just sent my sci-fi novella off to an editor (my first time hiring a real editor! Whee!) I’ll also be rewriting the historical fiction I drafted last year, and also releasing some short stories. Stay tuned for more info as I progress with these stories!

Last year, I got through less than half of my intended reading list (although I did read a few books that weren’t originally on the list). This year I’m going to be more diligent about reading, because every good writer is first a good reader.

So those are my goals for 2017. What are some of your goals for this year? Write more? Read more? Subscribe to my newsletter? 😉 Please share!

The Nitty-Gritty of Writing: Grammar Rules Matter

I’ve written some posts before about those boring basics of writing, like punctuation, capitalization, and troublesome words like “it’s” versus “its.” In today’s world of texting abbreviations and rapidly-changing slang, it seems almost pointless to bother with proper grammar and spelling. But if you want to be a professional writer of any kind (or even just sell a few books on the side), this boring stuff matters.

Yes, that’s what editors are for. Us writers are the artists who construct heroic characters and amazing worlds, so why should we bother with accurate spelling and making sure the tenses match? Isn’t it an editor’s job to fix all that tedious stuff?

Well, yes, it is. Which brings up an excellent point: if you’re planning to publish a book – even self-publish – you should hire an editor. Getting your mom to glance through your manuscript, even if your mom was an English teacher back in the day, is not the same thing as having a professional editor go through your work line by line. Continue reading