Sunday, April 28, 2013

Top Ten Romance Novels

I thought it might be fun to compare various lists of the top ten romance novels.
Browsing Bookshelves picked:
“The Boy Next Door” by Meg Cabot
“One Day” by David Nicholls
“Anna and the French Kiss” by Stephanie Perkins
“Can you Keep a Secret” by Sophie Kinsella
“Obsidian” by Jennifer Armentrout
“Bridget Jones Diary” by Helen Fielding
“This is a Love Story” by Jessica Thompson
“Arranged” by Catherine McKenzie
“Austenland” by Shannon Hale
“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green

Publisher’s Weekly’s Bella Andre chose:
“Bet Me” by Jennifer Crusie
“This Heart of Mine” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
“Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy” by Nora Roberts
“A Knight in Shining Armor” by Jude Deveraux (this was the only book to make it on two different lists)
“Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake” by Sarah MacLean
“The Duchess” by Jude Deveraux
“Whitethorn Woods” by Maeve Binchey
“Three Nights of Sin” by Anne Mallory
“Caressa’s Knees” by Annabel Joseph
“Wild Card” by Lora Leigh

Goodreads chose:
“Fifty Shades Freed” by E.L. James (This received 22976 votes. The book in second place got 8306 votes)
“Bared to You” by Sylvia Day.
“Lover Reborn” b J.R. Ward
“The Witness” by Nora Roberts
“Once Burned” by Jeniene Frost
“On Dublin Street” by Samantha Young
“Edenbrooke” by Julianne Donaldson
“Gabriel’s Rapture” by Sylvain Reynard
“Motorcycle Man” by Kristen Ashley
“Lothair” by Kresley Cole

And from Squidoo, the top ten romance novels of all time:
10. “Morning Glory” by LaVyrle Spencer
9. “Nobody’s Baby But Mine” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
8. “Lord of Scoundrels” by Loretta Chase
7. “A Knight in Shining Armor” by Jude Deveraux
6. “Flowers from the Storm” by Laura Kinsale
5. “The Bride” by Julie Garwood
4. “McKenzie’s Mountain” by Linda Howard
3. “It had to be You” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
2. “Dream Man” by Linda Howard
1. “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon

What do you think? Which books would you have added to the list?

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Just the facts please, ma’am.

For people like me, who hate finding factual or continuity errors in published books and movies, there are entire websites devoted to outing errors.
Here are some gems for you to laugh about.

Titanic (1997)
When this came out the director, James Cameron made much of the recreation of the ship, and the historical detail that went into the production. Therefore it's something of a mystery as to how this film has almost more technical errors in it than almost any other on record, including the fact that the location for the famous 'flying' sequence on the bow was strictly off-limits to passengers. Then there’s the scene where Jack is charming Rose with his tales of ice fishing in Lake Wissota. Had Jack been a real historical character this would have been a neat trick, since its artificial lake was created when a dam was constructed six years after the Titanic sank.

The Da Vinci Code
During the car chase in Paris, Langdon and Sophie head for Champs-Élysées to get to the American embassy before they turn for the train station Gare Saint-Lazare. Since the embassy in question is located at the north of Champs-Élysées near the Louvre that means they actually have already passed by the embassy while supposedly en route to it. This has been corrected in the French version but not in the English.

In the book Teabing is a die-hard British patriot, yet he refers to the sport of soccer. No Englishman would use the word soccer for the game of football. People keep trying to correct this - you've really got to accept it. It's nothing to do with Teabing being older - soccer may have been used in the very early days of the game, but the governing body of the sport in the UK is the Football Association, formed in 1863, demonstrating how that was the accepted word for the sport even then (otherwise it would be the Soccer Association). Likewise the international governing body, FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), formed in 1904 - no mention of the word soccer there either. And it won't be him changing it for Langdon's benefit, considering a) Langdon's intelligent enough to know what he means, and b) he's so determinedly English about everything else.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
In the chapter 'The Rogue Bludger', Harry breaks his arm in the quidditch match against Slytherin (and then Lockhart debones it). During the night in the hospital wing Dumbledore and McGonagall bring up Colin Creevey who has been petrified. Dumbledore claims "Minerva found him on the stairs" but further down McGonagall says to Madam Pomfrey "but I shudder to think...if Albus hadn't been on the way downstairs for hot chocolate, who knows what might have...", implying that Dumbledore actually found him.

There’s many more. Have fun Googling them.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The ten most common writing mistakes

These are the top ten mechanical writing mistakes
Proofing, improper word use, word choice, tense changes, special applications, copy and paste, long sentences, fragments, general statements, slang and abbreviations.

The top ten newbie author mistakes: lack of editing, dull writing, irrelevant detail, poor word choice, reliance on clichés, no sense of place, no shape or structure, poor dialogue skills, lack of technical knowledge.

This article concentrates on the business side of writing. And if you want to succeed as a writer, you do need to treat it as a business.
Procrastination, editing while you write, being too picky, overbooking, not giving your work time, not knowing what you’re worth, not saving money, not marketing your services, not following up, underestimating the client relationship.

And the top ten grammar errors.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

GMC for writers

Every good book needs a GMC. Goal, Motivation, Conflict. Every main character in the story should have this and this is what frames your book. Progressing toward the goal is what keeps your story moving and your audience reading.

Goal: What do they want? Typically a Happily Ever After
Motivation: Why do they want it?
Conflict: What is preventing them from having it?

The conflict needs to be strong enough that the reader is worried they won’t get an HEA and keeps reading. It should NOT be something that could be sorted out with a decent conversation between a couple of the characters. The solution also should NOT be something so unbelievable that the reader feels cheated. Obviously, the longer the book, the more intricate the plot. No one expects anything too earth-shattering in 10,000 words. But there always must be a conflict of some kind that the reader can see the characters working to overcome.

Ideally conflict is both internal and external and there can be tension between solving them. That is, to solve one conflict will make the other one worse.
The heroine is very poor and struggling to survive.
She wins the lottery.
But now the hero is afraid to marry her because he can’t offer the kinds of things her rich new friends can.

Begin your book knowing each character’s GMC. Keep referring back to them as you write so the story doesn’t wander off track. Make sure all is logical when you finish.

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Some advice about using song lyrics

The short version of my advice: Write your own song and quote that.

The long version.
If you wish to quote from books and movies, you are allowed to use a small portion as long as you reference your source. It’s called “fair use”. But “fair use” doesn’t apply to song titles. Even quoting just a few words can get an author into trouble as a well-known author found out a few weeks ago after her book was pulled off Amazon overnight until she’d paid a hefty sum for the right to use the words in her story.

The rights to some songs, especially very old songs, are in the public domain. You could check carefully then use one of them. Or you could get permission from the writer of the song you wish to use and pay the fee to use it. It will most likely cost you somewhere between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars.

Both of these courses leave you open to getting it wrong, making a mistake and ending up with a nasty fine. I suggest you write your own song. That’s the only guaranteed way of not making a mistake.

But if you still want to use someone else’s song, please read this article first:

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Dangling Modifyers

In a well written sentence the object of the sentence tells the reader more about the subject of the sentence. In its simplest form—
The sky (subject) is (verb) blue (object).

After reading the entire sentence we have learned more about the sky (the subject) from reading the object (it’s blue).

In more complicated sentences there can be adjectives, adverbs and clauses all thrown in as well, but the aim is still the same, to find out more about the subject of the sentence.

A dangling modifier is a word or phrase that modifies a word not clearly stated in the sentence. A modifier describes, clarifies, or gives more detail about a concept. In English sentences, the doer must be the subject of the main clause that follows.

A dangling modifier may be supposed to tell us about the subject, but somewhere in construction the correct noun got lost.

Unlocking his car door, his glasses fell to the ground.
Unlocking his car door is a dangling modifier. It is not attached to the subject of the sentence. In fact, the reader isn’t sure what the subject of the sentence should be. Is it the car door? The glasses? Or the person? Has he got magical glasses that can unlock the car door for him?

Unlocking his car door, Fred dropped his glasses and they fell to the ground.
So now Fred is the subject of the sentence and “Unlocking his car door” is no longer dangling.

“His glasses fell to the ground while Fred unlocked his car door”, is another way to make the sentence work.

Sometimes a dangling modifier doesn’t make sense at all.

A newspaper printed:
“After years of being lost under a pile of dust, Walter P. Stanley, III, left, found all the old records of the Bangor Lions Club”.
Poor Walter, spending all those years under a pile of dust!

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Proof of what we always knew about reading

There are times when it’s exciting to live in the smartest country in the world.

Researchers in Melbourne (my home town) have finally proven what librarians, school teachers and lovers of books have been saying ever since the first scroll was penned. Children who are read to when they are little do better at reading and numbers than kids who are are not read to, regardless of the wealth or poverty of their families, and regardless of the literacy level of their family.

The study followed children from a huge variety of circumstances from the age of four or five until they were ten or eleven. Children read to 0-2 times a week were average. Kids read to 3-5 times a week were six months ahead, and kids read to 6-7 times a week were almost a year ahead in reading and in numeracy.

You can read about the study here:

Or you could just find a little kid and start reading to them!

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.