128 Words to Use Instead of “Very”

[Cross-posted from my publishing blog.]

Advertisers like to make infographics. Some are useful, some not. This one came to my math blog, for which it didn’t fit at all. But it looks useful for writers.

It’s always wise to have another person proofread your story. I don’t know anything about the company that made the infographic, but you can usually find a friend (or hire someone locally) to check your work.

Proofreading tip: Before sending out your manuscript (or self-publishing), do a search for very and try to replace each one. Also search for words ending in ly and for the being verbs (am, is, are, was, were, been) and try to eliminate most of them. You can’t get rid of them all, but each one that you replace with a more vibrant word will make your story that much stronger.

Master proofreading tip: After you’ve done the searches, load your file into a program that can do text-to-speech and listen to the whole thing while reading along. You’ll be amazed how many little errors slipped through the editing stage.


New Fantasy Novel by Homeschooled Teen Author


Magic is a Treacherous Guide

As a child, Terrin of Xell was almost devoured by a spirit from the Dark Forest. She knows better than to trust magic. But when her friend Chris was accused of a magical crime he didn’t commit, she couldn’t let him face banishment alone. So she and her friends get caught up in a quest to recover an ancient relic, with only magic to guide them.

And everything is going wrong.

First, Chris went missing, his trail washed away by spring rains. Now Arnold’s injured, and the countryside buzzes with rumors of war. In the forest, the wraiths—tiger-like, reptilian creatures—grow dangerously aggressive. Then Terrin starts seeing visions of a madwoman in the shadows.

Are Terrin and her friends being hunted?

Or has the magic decided to turn against them?

After a long year of editing, formatting, proofreading, sweat, and tears, Teresa Gaskins’s new book Hunted: The Riddled Stone ~ Book Two is finally available in paperback or ebook format at booksellers all around the Internet:

Hunted is the second book in The Riddled Stone, a fantasy series by homeschooled teen author Teresa Gaskins. To celebrate the release of Hunted, the ebook version of Banished‌—‌the first book in the series‌—‌will be on sale for 99 cents through the end of June.

Homeschool Self-Publisher: Pictures on Kindle

Pictures on Kindle cover

I’ve been wanting to start a new series of blog posts on the things I’ve learned about self-publishing for homeschoolers: tips, links, resources, mistakes to avoid, stuff like that.

Someday, when things settle down a bit.

But for now, there’s a new book out that’s on discount for about another week, according to the author:

It’s a great resource, and I highly recommend it if you want to publish ebooks that contain images (or even just an author photo, which every book should have). I don’t know what the final price will be, but it’s definitely worth the current 99-cent charge.

And while you’re shopping, Aaron’s From Word to Kindle is also very helpful. But he’s currently revising the book, so you might want to wait on Version 3. You can read quite a few of the revisions for free at the From Word to Kindle blog.

Blogging 101: Want More Blog Traffic? Be Useful!

want traffic, be useful

My daughter originally started her blog to showcase her stories, and I thoroughly enjoy reading them. But recently she bought a new computer, so she wrote a review of the Windows 8 operating system, with tips on how to navigate the new interface — and look what happened to her blog traffic.

Moral of the story: If you want to bring more traffic to your blog, be useful.

Assignment: Solve a Reader’s Problem

Think about what your readers want or need:

  • to find good homeschooling resources
  • to discover what a homeschooler’s life is really like
  • to find great tips and practical advice
  • to laugh
  • to be entertained
  • to know the latest news
  • to hear new viewpoints
  • to think deeply about a topic
  • to learn how to ________
  • to improve their skills at ________
  • to know that they aren’t the only one who struggles with ________

Write a blog post that solves a reader’s problem, either one from the list above or something else you think of. And then come here and give us (in the comments) a link to your post so we can all enjoy it.

Another Writing Milestone

chica usando ordenador

[Photo by Olga Berrios via flickr.]

My daughter continues to put me to shame with her writing output. After she published her first novel this summer, she dug right into writing the sequel. She took a month off for NaNoWriMo (by the NaNo rules, you have to start a brand-new book, so she tried something different: science fiction), then jumped right back into The Riddled Stone, Book Two.

And today she finished it!

Of course, there are still several months of editing to look forward to. She’s decided to tackle the first round of editing on her own, which I consider a sign of her maturing as a writer. Then we’ll have to go through it together to catch the typos (there are always typos) and make sure everything makes sense. And then do typesetting, and create a cover, and all that — it will be several months until the book is ready for the public. But she’s making great progress.

And by the way, you don’t need a Kindle to read her first book, Banished (The Riddled Stone, Book One). You can access it on your computer, tablet, or smart phone using Amazon’s Kindle Cloud Reader or a Kindle Reading App. Or if you’re a member of Amazon Prime, you can borrow the book (or my math book) for free.

Snow for the Holidays

photo by Noël Zia Lee

WordPress.com offers a special treat for the holiday season: Snow on your blog. 🙂 If you’d like to make it snow, follow these easy instructions:

  • Go to your dashboard.
  • Navigate to Settings » General.
  • Check the box next to “Show falling snow on this blog.”
    (It’s way down at the bottom of the page.)

If you had snow on your blog last year, WordPress.com remembers your setting: It’ll still be on for this year.

Now, I’d better go change my header photo to make it look like winter…

Writing Tips from a Student Blogger

photo by dougwoods via flickr

photo by dougwoods via flickr

My daughter, Princess Kitten, just finished her fourth year of NaNoWriMo. In addition to working on her novel, she wrote a blog post of tips for other young writers:

An excerpt:

Sometimes it’s hard to get started. After all, a blank page is pretty scary. It’s kinda like a zombie—only instead of eating your brains, it eats your creativity. I wouldn’t be surprised if, second to writer’s block, a blank page was a writer’s worst enemy.

Go read the whole post on Kitten’s blog!