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Prologues and Epilogues: Yes or No




This month’s topic is prologues and epilogues: yes or no, and can you have one without the other — or, more properly, should you have either or both.

I have never written either a prologue or an epilogue — at least, I’ve never published a book with a part so-labelled, so I decided to check out my stack of library books :


First one: The Secret Game, a non-fiction book about a basketball game held during World War II. This book has both a prologue and an epilogue. Yes, I read both, but, then, history is not my thing, and I figured I could use all the help I could get.

Book two: Latest novel by Danielle Steel. No prologue, no epilogue.

Book Three: Oldie but Goodie by Elizabeth Cadell, one of my favorite writers: ditto — no prologue, no epilogue.

Book four: Mystery set in Victorian London, first of a series: Prologue but no epilogue. Yes, I did read the prologue.

Book five: An oldish novel by author Ann Hood: again, prologue but no epilogue. I haven’t read this one yet, but when I do, I’m sure I’ll read the prologue. I don’t skip beginnings, nor do I skip endings. Middles, now – -I might skip some there if the book is slow, but I aim to give everything I read a fair chance at the start.

I don’t skip beginnings, nor do I skip endings. Middles, now – -I might skip some there if the book is slow, but I aim to give everything I read a fair chance at the start, so I always read the prologue and first few chapters, even if decide not to read the rest of the book. And I might very well read the last chapter and the epilogue if I’m interested in how the plot turned out.

So how close have I come to writing either one in one of my novels?  Not so close. I briefly considered a prologue for Broken Bonds, but it turned into a 5000 word first chapter. I also considered — again, briefly — labelling the final, short, chapter of Rob’s Rebellion as an epilogue, but, again, decided against it. Why? Simply because they have a bad reputation. Ah, well. Clearly not everyone feels the same.

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Finding Their Voices: Using Language to Build Character


Broken Bonds was the first novel I wrote with more than one point of view. The final version has five point-of-view characters, the four characters involved in a romantic relationship and the antagonist who is the “villain” in the political plot. There are three aliens and a Terran: Major Brad Reynolds, a major in the Terran Federation Guard, Ardaval Namar, an BrokenBondsCoverAleyni scholar and teacher, Imarin Namar, one of his former partners, involved in government, and Nidrani Namar, another former partner, a woman, and a musician. As well, there was Senator Hank Manning, a member of the Terran Federation senate.

I wish I could tell y’all that I was wonderfully methodical about this, but, alas, it would be a lie. Ardaval and Brad had appeared in a previous novel, Relocated, so their voices were pretty clear to me. I had little trouble finding a voice for Imarin and Hank Manning, but Nidrani was slower to come clear, and I ended up searching out clothing I thought she might wear to help me out.

I pay attention to grammar, sentence structure, word choice, pet phrases, how formal or informal they typically are in their speech,  pet phrases, etc, but a lot of it involves my being able to “hear” my characters.

One of the things I did was collect up all of the pieces from each character’s point of view and put them together. Then I read through them for consistency of voice and to make sure that they sounded distinct.

I do use grammar and word choice with far more intention for minor characters, where there is less time and space to paint a full picture.



Skye Taylor
Marci Baun
Margaret Fieland
Victoria Chatham
Beverley Bateman
Dr. Bob Rich
Rachael Kosinski
Judith Copek
Helena Fairfax
Rhobin Courtright
A.J. Maguire


September Round Robin: Strange writing practices


This month’s theme ism what writing practices do you have that you think are eccentric or at least never mentioned but you find helpful?

Of course, I firmly believe that all my writing practices are entirely normal, natural, and average {grin}.


Well, maybe there are one or two things.

I never listen to music when I write, which I gather is somewhat unusual. I’m a fairly serious amateur musician — I play the flute and the piccolo — and in addition,  I’m very auditory. When I turn on the music, I listen to it to the exclusion of anything else. I do, however, find myself whistling (no particular song) when I’m concentrating. I also talk to myself. This morning my spouse asked me if I found my responses enlightening. I answered yes.

I’m a native New Yorker, born and raised in Manhattan. My mother was very fond of classical music. She and her friends had subscriptions to the New York Philharmonic, and when one of the group couldn’t make it, she would sometimes take me.  I would try to pick out the voices of the individual instruments from the sound of the orchestra as I listened to the music. I got pretty good at it, too. But it did leave me unable to ignore most music when it’s playing.

Another habit of mine that may be unusual is that I put *** FIXME **  with a comment into the text of whatever I’m working on whenever there’s something that I need to come back to. This makes it easy to search for whatever it was that I wanted to deal with later.

** NERD ALERT ** I earn my living as a computer software engineer, and I picked up this particular habit from some open source software that I was porting to a proprietary operating system. The debugging information involved a then-new scheme, and the code (not all of which would work with our software in any case) was peppered with the original coder’s comments, prefaced with — you guessed it — FIXME.

The other thing I’d like to mention is something *everyone* should be doing: backing up your work. I keep copies  of my work in a cloud — I use Google drive — which not only backs it up, but also makes it accessible on any computer. This has saved my ass more than once, most especially the time where my now happily former computer suffered a head crash. The computer wouldn’t boot up, and I was forced to restore the original copy of the OS, minus all the software I’d installed and, most importantly, any documents I’d saved on my computer.


Check out the posts of my fellow bloggers:
Skye Taylor
A.J. Maguire
Beverley Bateman
Dr. Bob Rich
Rachael Kosinski
Anne Stenhouse
Connie Vines
Helena Fairfax
Victoria Chatham
Margaret Fieland
Rhobin Courtright


Writers To Do list for the new year

rndrbnlogo This month’s topic is what one (or two) projects do you hope to accomplish, and what will stand in your way?

Gosh, a confession — I have more than two things I want to accomplish, and thereby hangs a good deal of my problem: too much to do and too little time to do it.

I have a day job, so I do my writing in the evening and on weekends, but you’d never know it from my project list.

First: I’m part way through revising another science fiction novel, one that would be a prequel to my Novels of Aleyne science fiction series — the fourth novel in the series, “Rob’s Rebellion,” came out at the end of December. I keep getting side tracked (read on for at least some of the reasons why). But I’d really like to get this novel revised and submitted this year.

I also have a fantasy novel I set aside about a year ago that has about a quarter of the first draft written. This would be my first fantasy novel, and I’m excited about it. However, it keeps falling to the bottom of my to-do list.

I’m one of six authors of a poetry anthology that is out of print because we didn’t renew our contract with the publisher. We want to republish the print version and then put out an ebook. I’m on the line to do the formatting. I started, but I’m not done. Oh, yes, and a couple of us are contemplating putting together another anthology.

Why? Well, I also work as an editor for a small print house, and I’m editor for a wonderful Young Adult novel. This, at the moment, is at the top of my list. I owe my author the next round of edits (mostly typos, with a few questions — the manuscript is really in great shape), but if I find an error in a chapter, then I have to go back over it again until I read it without finding any errors. I’ve discovered that this is the only way for me to find all (or most) of the errors.

So this weekend I’ll be working on the edit (I’m up to chapter 27), trying to promote my latest sci fi novel, and work on the formatting of the poetry book.

Anyone want to sign my petition in favor of 36-hour days?

Check out the posts of my fellow bloggers:
Victoria Chatham
Margaret Fieland
Skye Taylor
Diane Bator
Beverley Bateman
Connie Vines
Bob Rich
Rachael Kosinski
Judith Copek
Kay Sisk
Anne Stenhouse
Hollie Glover
Helena Fairfax
Fiona McGier
Rhobin Courtright

The Little People Did It

ring finger

ring finger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a ring given to me by my spouse when we were first together. In general, it never leaves my finger, which is why I was surprised and distressed to discover it missing some months ago. It vanished overnight. I went to bed with it on, and woke up to find it missing. Did I remove it somehow in my sleep? I don’t know.

I searched everywhere for it, but, alas, it was gone.

A couple of days ago I returned to my room to discover the ring, lying in a pool of cracker crumbs, in the middle of my bed. Again, it wasn’t there when I left, but when I returned, there it was.

It’s back on my finger. I have no explanation for how it got onto my bed — other than:

yes, the Little People must have returned my ring.

I’m thrilled to have it back.

Where I was this past week:

On the 4RV blog, blogging about How do you know you’re done with your draft?

On Jean Drew’s blog with an interview

On the Poetic Muselings blog, blogging about What we write about

On Exquisite Quills, posting a couple of excerpts, one setting the scene and another about that first kiss


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Smarmy Voices

One of the most annoying ads on TV right now is the one on our local stations for the ASPCA. They are urging us to contribute to save the abandoned kittens, puppies, and the like languishing in their shelters. They need funds in order to save them.

I have nothing against saving animals (I write as one of our seven dogs trolls the floor for any dropped goodies); what I object to  is the blatant manipulation of the ad. Specifically, the tryly annoying, cloying voice-over.

809421303_2865011867_0“Don’t,” I want to say. “Simply speak in a normaloice and ask us to contribute. You’ll have a far greater response.”

At least, that’s my theory. As for me, right now I cope by hitting MUTE.

My poem, The Wayfarer, published

My poem, The Drive Home published

Check out Brad’s interview

How to Conduct On-Page SEO for your Blog by Kim Willington

How to Conduct On-Page SEO for Your Blog

Search-engine optimization is an important way to help your blog get traffic. It encourages Google to push your site higher in search results when visitors are looking for content that’s related to your blog. Taking advantage of every opportunity to optimize your blog “on page” — or on the site — can maximize your  ability to rank well and get  more visitors to your site.

Here are some basic steps for conducting on-page SEO for your blog:

Title Tags

The title tag on your page is what search engines will pull and display in search results. Title tags are pulled for each page on your site, and each title tag should be unique for each page. Duplicate title tags can hurt your SEO efforts as much as missing title tags. Keep your title tags short and to the point, using your primary and secondary keywords.

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions show up under title tags in search results. If you don’t write them yourself, the search engines will automatically populate it for you, usually with the first line or two from the page. By writing your own descriptions, not only will you help search engines rank your site better for the keywords you want, but you’ll also have compelling copy that will entice readers to click through to your site.

Alt Tags

Photos are an important part of your SEO strategy, as well, and they help your site rank for keywords overall and in image searches. You can optimize your photos by naming them with keywords and using alt tags, text that appears over the photo when you hover the cursor over it. Alt tags also tell search engines about the content of your photos — important since there is no other text there to provide the information.


Headers — using H1, H2, and H3 tags (and so on) — help to divide your page into readable sections, and they also tell search engines about the content of your page. Use your keywords in your headers for maximum SEO value. Using headers is akin to bolding your words — it tells readers and search engines what is important on the page.

Keyword Density

Finally, using keywords in the body of your copy is very important, and the number of times you use those keywords can have a significant impact on page rank. Keyword density refers to the number of times you use your keywords compared to the number of words in your content. There is no magic formula for keyword density, but a good rule of thumb is to use your keyword (s) once every 100 words in your content. It is important not to overuse your keywords, as this can negatively impact your SEO.

On-page SEO is critical to helping your blog rank higher in search results and get more  traffic. These  on-page SEO basics can help your site start generating traffic from day one, encouraging rapid growth. Of course, on-page SEO is only one part of your overall SEO strategy, so these tips should only be seen as first steps for marketing your site.

What else do you include in your on-page SEO? Share your tips in the comments!

Kim Willington is a freelance writer and researcher for, where she has recently been researching methods of live customer support. In her spare time, she enjoys antiquing and taking long walks with her retriever, Spencer.