Friday, January 28, 2011


If you need a quick read to fill a few moments before tackling a big project, I have five from which to select, and each is very short. Hope you enjoy one or two.
LOVE HAPPENS-available now on the LASR site under Free Short Romance Stories.

I have three on The Wild Rose Press with my other books. Each is 1500 words. Download any or all.

One Free Read is here on my blog, on Page 2. At the top, click on the tab "California Cousins."
Another at the top is "A Permanent Memory."
Thank you!
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas


Monday, January 24, 2011

The Worst Mistakes Writers Make

What are some of the worst mistakes writers make? Even though I have several published novels and short stories, I'm still a novice at this writing business. Editors point that out to me quite often, but usually the errors have to do with punctuation, spelling, POV, sequencing, or incorrect usage of a word.

But what other mistakes do we make concerning description, location, or objects? I learned early on in my Western Historical novels that certain things weren't available, and I had to do more research to satisfy not only my editor but to make the story believable. In one manuscript, I used "cash register" but learned the machine didn't exist at that time. In another, I used the wrong kind of train--an oil-burning engine when oil hadn't yet come into use.

We could go on all day about errors we've made or we've read in novels or productions. I'm engrossed in the PBS series of Downton Abbey, and even though it's purely British, I thoroughly enjoy it. However, from a discussion on the Historic Authors loop I learned the production is "flawed" with too many errors concerning historical facts. What these mistakes are, I wouldn't know and frankly, don't care. I'm simply enjoying it for the superb acting, exquisite costumes, and intriguing plot line. But the experts' enjoyment is dampened somewhat because they can spot the flaws.

Oh, if we could only write a perfect novel and make everyone happy.

I came across a website titled HearWriteNow, a writing resource site. There I found a series of eBooks about myriad topics, and each titled "33 Worst Mistakes Writers Make about--horses, or weapons, or ballet dancers, or any city, or hunting, or blind people, or Mother Nature…." I never found an end to this list. Here's the link to the site if you're interested in checking it out.

I also have a link to an Online Etymology Dictionary that has been invaluable to me. When I use a word such as "okay" in a western historical, or "gee whiz," or many other terms, I stop and look up the origin. You're welcome to use this.

Keep writing even though you might make errors. Remember you can find the correct usage in many places. I hope these two will help--if you need help!

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
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Friday, January 21, 2011

How to Write the Perfect Excerpt

Excerpts—we love them, don’t we? There’s no better way to sample an author’s writing style than to read an excerpt. One entire Yahoo Group is devoted to “Excerpts Only for Romance Writers and Readers,” and many authors and readers post there on a daily basis.

However, there is a right way and a wrong way to post the perfect excerpt. Many writers have their own methods, from very long, to very short, somewhere in-between, at times concise, and at others, rambling. What is the best method of selecting a sample of your writing? How can you entice a reader to read your full excerpt? Choose one that contains dialogue or action, not just narrative, and keep it short and simple.

Consider the short story. The guidelines are: limit to a specific time, place, event, interaction, or character’s evolution. It is, in fact, a mini-novel, complete with a beginning, middle, and an ending, i.e., an abbreviated novel.

Attention span is the amount of time a person can concentrate on a task without becoming distracted. Continuous involvement without any lapse at all is as short as eight seconds. The average adult who is engaged in an interesting activity or topic will remain focused for twenty seconds. People are also capable of longer periods up to two and a half hours when they are doing something enjoyable or motivating, such as watching a movie. Researchers have found that the modern adult’s attention span shortens as time goes on. The phenomenon of instant gratification in our technological world deters the attention span even more.

Now consider the excerpt. The guidelines are perhaps the same as those for a short story: one idea, one interaction, in one short time frame, wrapped up with a beginning, middle, and an ending, approximately three hundred words—a mini-short story with a hook at the end.

Here’s a test for you. How many words are in this article to this point? (310) How long did it take to read it? (Average adult-one minute.)

EXAMPLE from a short novel for the Wayback, Texas Rodeo Series-Title: Showdown in Southfork.

Excerpt: Cody and Marla

Smiling lazily, he looked her up and down, at her short white shorts, pink stretch T, and red flip-flops. With that salacious grin, he continued back to her hair, hanging to her shoulders in a tangled mass of curls, but right now, there was no time to brush it properly. Some day she would just get it all whacked off and stop worrying about it.

“Stop staring,” she demanded.

“Well, I can hardly keep from it since you’re standing right in front of me.”

“Oh,” she muttered, straightened, and moved to the side.

Cody kept staring at her even though she’d moved out of his direct line of vision.

He drawled, “You know, if there’s anything I like in this world, it’s a woman with red hair.”

“It is not red. And if there’s anything I hate in this world, it’s a man saying my hair’s red. For your information, it’s strawberry blond.”

“Strawberry blond. Whadda you know? Now, I like that even better.”

Narrowing her eyes at him, she said, “Well, I’m just as pleased as punch.”


This short excerpt has three parts: Beginning: Cody stares at Marla while she watches him. Middle: they have a short argument. Ending: She has the last word. It contains 260 words. Reading time: 20 seconds.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
New Releases
Texas Promise-eBook-Desert Breeze Publishing
Making the Turn-print & eBook-Wings ePress

Saturday, January 15, 2011


This is not our house, but the road is similar.

We've had a worse-than-usual winter, but I recall one several years ago here in Texas that became worse for us than it should have been.

The weather stations from Austin and San Antonio blasted us with the news that Central Texas should prepare itself for a big ice storm. We thought we'd be fine--just stay in the house, off the roads, and this, too, shall pass. Plus, I always keep a good store of food, so we had no worries about that.

By dark, ice had coated everything with extremely thick layers. Our huge ancient live oaks worried us, because the ice was so heavy even enormous limbs bent to the ground. We retired for the night, hoping none of the limbs would break off.

Little did we know that would not be our biggest worry. We woke up around 7:30 am, began to stir around, but before we could even get the coffee on, the electricity went off. In the winter, even when the sun is up there somewhere above the thick, gray clouds, it is dark. Our house is all-electric, so that meant no coffee, nothing. The power has gone off numerous times over the twenty years we've lived here, so we thought all we had to do was wait a while and it would come back on.

We ate Cheerios and yogurt and settled down to ride it out. But what do you do if there's not even enough light to read in the daytime, no internet service, no stereo, no TV, no…nothing. We noticed a couple of trucks inching down the road, but our driveway is long and made of concrete--iced over. Anyway, the garage door openers wouldn't work and we know what a hassle it is to unhook them to open manually.

The house became colder and colder. By noon, we were cold but not that uncomfortable. My husband started hauling firewood close to the back door--a huge pile of it and built a big fire. That warmed the living room some, but you know a fireplace does not heat an entire house.

We both changed clothes and added a layer of thermals underneath our clothing. Our water comes from a well, brought to the surface by…yes, you guessed it, an electric pump. Of course, we conserved what water we had--especially in the toilets.

For lunch, we ate peanut butter and honey sandwiches and apples. Maybe the electricity would return soon. We wandered around the house like zombies, trying to find something to do in the dim light. I opened the blinds all the way to the top of a window, pulled a chair close, and I could read a little at a time.

I searched the house for candles and grouped a few on the table between our lounge chairs. The one book I could read was by Sandra Brown and I had checked out the large print edition by mistake. That came in handy when reading by candlelight.

By four o'clock, my husband went to the shop and dragged out a Coleman stove we've had since the sixties. He found about a cup of fuel and brought both to the back screened-in porch, set it up on the table out there, and fired it up. (The Coleman people should use us in a commercial) By hand, I opened a can of Progresso vegetable stew poured it into a pan, and we heated our dinner. By flashlight, I peeked into the refrigerator for cheese to add to crackers.

After dinner, we quickly changed into sleeping clothing with our thermals under that, added our sweaters and coats, and…now what? Hours until time for bed with nothing to do. Aha, he remembered a small transistor radio he had from the fifties--yep, he never throws anything away he thinks he might need. We settled down in front of the fire in our loungers, put up our feet, drew on our blankets, and prepared to listen to the radio.

Very little would come in clearly enough to listen, except one station out of San Antonio. The NBA team, the Spurs--OUR team--was playing someone in a playoff game. That was our entertainment for the evening. When it was over, well, there was nothing else to do except go to bed and hope the electricity would come on.

We did, with extra blankets piled on, and slept fairly well. The next morning, we woke up to beeps and flashes. Do you know how many things in your house has a little light on it or sound on it? Our bedside clocks, the microwave, the oven, the computers, the TVs--three of them--set up a little chorus. The refrigerator hummed. Two lights came on we forgot to turn off the day before. The heater fired up.

Guess what we did? Made a pot of coffee as fast as we could, ran to our desks, turned on our computers, and connected to the outside world.

We only got an inkling of what others go through during severe disasters. My heart always goes out them.

Stay safe and warm! And be thankful for your blessings.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
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Texas Promise-eBook-Desert Breeze Publishing
Making the Turn-print & eBook-Wings ePress

Saturday, January 8, 2011

READERS' ANSWERS to the Question: What Makes a Good Blog?

Last week I asked the question: What makes a good blog? Twenty authors commented, and others commented on Yahoo loops. Several authors said the same thing, which meant the ideas were important.

The visiting authors:

Terry Spear; Adelle Lauden; Linda Swift; Skhye Purington; Steph Burkhart; Morgan Mandel; Cynthia; Miss Mae; Maggie Toussaint; Cheryl Pierson; Keena Kincaid; Paula Martin; Mona Risk; Pauline Holyoak; Diane Craver; Danielle Thorne; Jennifer Hudson Taylor; LK Hunsaker; Connie Chastain; and Savanna Kougar.

The most often mentioned answer was "a catchy title," one that would get the reader's attention and pique their interest. Another most often named was tags--something I often forget. Photos seemed to be very popular, as well as something different from writing topics.

One reader said, "A reason a visitor doesn't comment might be the difficulty of signing in, especially copying those little curly letters." I agree with this one hundred percent. About one out of four times I try to sign in an author's blog, the process becomes tedious. Much of the time I will not leave a comment.

Other suggestions: keep the blog current, don't stray into controversial subjects, promote your blog, and reflect what you write.

Keena Kincaid suggested a unique view: "Show energy and passion in your blog. People who like to blog often get more visitors, too."

Thank you for the ideas, and while I know they're important doesn't mean I remember to use them enough. I'll make notes of these, and hope to write an article soon.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
New Releases
Texas Promise-eBook-Desert Breeze Publishing
Making the Turn-print & eBook-Wings ePress

Monday, January 3, 2011

What Makes a Successful Blog?

This question is often tossed about in discussions, but I've never read concrete rules on how to create and maintain a good blog. The best advice I heard once was that the blogger should have an identity, some facet of the blogger's personality and interests. I do believe a blog about romance books shouldn't espouse a cause of any kind. Those blogs have a place, and I even read a few now and then. But for the writing and publishing business--stick to business.

For a reference, I studied the stats for my blog between May 2010 and January 2011. The results are surprising. Bottom line, I don't know why readers view my blog, leave or don't leave a comment, or why certain blogs become big hits.

It's still a big mystery, but I do have one encouraging comment: "Many readers view and/or read your blog but do not leave a comment." I always keep that in mind.

The guest blogs' stats are varied. A guest may get many comments, but only a few more pageviews. (Note: I block my own pageviews.) The numbers indicate how many readers open the blog, whether they read it or not. The conclusion here is that I find no commonality among the higher numbers.

Are you curious about my top blogs for a six month period?

Number One blog from these six months: One of my blogs titled "The Victorian Age in America," on June 3, 2010 got 18 comments. Nice, but get this number of pageviews: 497.

Number Two blog of this period: Destination: Berlin-by Stephanie Burkhart, on July 9, 2010 got 13 comments but pageviews? 362.

Interesting, isn't it? If you were a guest on my blog during these six months, I'll tell you your stats if you want to know. E-mail me.

But why did a post about the Victorian Age get so many pageviews? I have no idea.

I haven't formed any solid conclusion to my findings, but I do have a few conjectures on what influences a reader to check your blog: (1) A blog is visited because of the topic, the guest, or the blogger herself. (2) The more a blog is promoted, the more visitors and/or pageviews (3) Curiosity about the unique title.

Do you have any idea why a blog is successful? Please share with all of us--we need it!
Thanks and I'm hoping for many comments and/or pageviews.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
New Releases
Texas Promise-eBook-Desert Breeze Publishing
Making the Turn-print & eBook-Wings ePress