Friday, September 28, 2012

Style Manual 4RV Way - part 1

by Vivian Zabel  

always use “curly” apostrophes, not straight
Rule 1. Use the apostrophe with contractions. The apostrophe is always placed at the spot where the letter(s)  has
                been removed.
Examples:     don't, isn't;     You're right.     She's a great teacher.

Rule 2. Use the apostrophe to show possession. Place the apostrophe before the s to show possession in nouns  
                   that end in other than s or s sound.  Place an apostrophe after a final s to show possession.
Examples:    a boy's hat; a woman's hat; one actress' hat; a child's hat; Ms. Chang's house;
                                two houses' doors                       

 Rule 3. Use the apostrophe where the noun that should follow is implied.
Example:         This was his father's, not his, jacket.

 Rule 4. To show plural possession, make the noun plural first. Then immediately use the apostrophe as needed ('s)
                      when word ends in something besides s and an apostrophe when word ends in s or s sound).
             Examples:        two boys' hats; two women's hats; two actresses' hats; two children's hats
                                     the Changs' house; the Joneses' golf clubs; the Strauses' daughter;
                                     the Hastingses' appointment; the Leeses' books

Rule 5. Do not use an apostrophe for the plural of a name.
Examples:        We visited the Sanchezes in Los Angeles.  The Changs have two cats and a dog.

Rule 6. With a singular compound noun, show possession with 's at the end of the word.
Example:         my mother-in-law's hat

Rule 7. If the compound noun is plural, form the plural first and then use the apostrophe.
Example:         my two brothers-in-law's hat

Rule 8. Use the apostrophe and s after the second name only if two people possess the same item.
             Examples:      Cesar and Maribel's home is constructed of redwood.
                                  Cesar's and Maribel's job contracts will be renewed next year. (Indicates separate
                                  Cesar and Maribel's job contracts will be renewed next year. (Indicates joint ownership of
                                          more than one contract.)

Rule 9. Never use an apostrophe with possessive pronouns: his, hers, its, theirs, ours, yours, whose. They
                             already show possession so they do not require an apostrophe.
Examples: Correct: This book is hers, not yours. 
                                Incorrect:  Sincerely your's.

Rule 10. The only time an apostrophe is used for it's is when it is a contraction for it is or it has.
Examples:        It's a nice day.
                                         It's your right to refuse the invitation.
                                         It's been great getting to know you.

Rule 11. The plurals for capital letters and numbers used as nouns are not formed with apostrophes.
She consulted with three M.D.s.
                                 She went to three M.D.s' offices. (The apostrophe is needed here to show plural possessive.)
                                 She learned her ABCs.
                                 the 1990s not the 1990's; the '90s or the mid-'70s not the '90's or the mid-'70's
She learned her times tables for 6s and 7s.

            Exception:       Use apostrophes with capital letters and numbers when the meaning would be           
unclear otherwise.
Examples:        Please dot your i's.       You don't mean is.
                                                         Ted couldn't distinguish between her 6's and 0's.   You don't mean Os.

Rule 12. Use the possessive case in front of a gerund (-ing word).
                    Examples:        Alex's skating was a joy to behold.
                                            This idea does not stop Joan's inspecting of our facilities next Thursday.

Rule 13. If the gerund has a pronoun in front of it, use the possessive form of that pronoun.
                    Examples:        I appreciate your inviting me to dinner.
                                            I appreciated his working with me to resolve the conflict.
Use the possessive form of nouns before gerunds, too.
                      Example:      I appreciated John’s working with me.

Chapter headings for manuscripts
      Have each heading for each chapter the same formatting:
                 incorrect:   Chapter 1 but Chapter two, CHAPTER III, Chapter 4, Chapter five
                 correct:      Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5

Comma or not to comma
and always use “curly” commas, not straight
            Commas really are not living entities that reproduce and decide where to live and where not to live.  Neither are they snow flakes that land wherever the wind may take them.  They are not decorations to be used or not as a person’s fancy may decide.  Commas actually have a vital and exact use in writing stories, poetry, essays, or articles.  Let’s visit Comma World and see if we can discover when and where commas should be used.
            Use a comma to separate three or more words in a series, and use a comma before the conjunction.
                  Error: Wolves are found in Alaska, Canada and Minnesota.
                  Correct: Wolves are found in Alaska, Canada, and Minnesota.

            Names directly addressed need to be set off by commas.
                 Error: Don’t run on the ice  Mary, or you’ll fall.
                 Correct: Don’t run on the ice, Mary, or you’ll fall.

          Commas should be used to set off conjunctive adverbs that introduce a clause or sentence.  However,
                internal or final conjunctive adverbs should be set off by commas only when they interrupt the flow of a
Error: Meanwhile the Everly Brothers introduced country harmonies to rock-and-roll.
                    Correct: Meanwhile, the Everly Brothers introduced country harmonies to rock-and-roll.

                 Mild interjections not needing exclamation points will need to be set off by commas.  These interjections
                 include words such as yes, no, well, okay, and oh.

                                  Error: Well you aren’t clear when you write.
                   Correct: Well, you aren’t clear when you write.

                                  Error: When I saw the hole in the offensive line wow I knew the safety would sack the quarterback.
                   Correct: When I saw the hole in the offensive line, wow, I knew the safety would sack the quarterback.

                                 Error: Oh no John don't do that.
                   Correct: Oh, no, John, don't do that.

            Another place commas are used would be between main clauses.  The comma comes before the conjunction
                 (and, or, nor, but, yet, sometimes for) joining the main clauses in a compound sentence.

                                    Error: Rabbits usually run when sensing danger but sometimes they freeze in place.
                     Correct: Rabbits usually run when sensing danger, but sometimes they freeze in place.
                Equal adjectives
should be separated with a comma.  One test is to see if the word and could be used
               between the adjectives.  If so, then a comma is needed.
                   Error: The velvet skirt fell in soft flowing folds.
                  Correct: The velvet skirt fell in soft, flowing folds. (Test: The velvet skirt fell in long and flowing folds.)
            NOTE: Adjectives that must in a specific order are not separated by commas.
                    Error: They have many, clever ways of surviving.
                    Correct: They have many clever ways of surviving.  (many tells how many clever)       

             A phrase adding nonessential information should be set off by commas.
                      Error: Wolves in pairs or sometimes in packs hunt animals such as deer and caribou.

                      Correct: Wolves, in pairs or sometimes in packs, hunt animals such as deer and caribou.

                     A comma is needed after introductory words. 
                    Error: To be sure smaller animals can make fierce pets.
                    Correct: To be sure, smaller animals can make fierce pets.

            A phrase that is essential to the meaning of sentence should not be set off by commas.
                    Error: Animals, falling into this category, include rodents and rabbits.
                    Correct:  Animals falling into this category include rodents and rabbits.

             A clause which doesn’t add essential information in a sentence should be set off by commas. (A
                   clause has a subject and verb that go together.)
                     Error: Clowns who usually cause people to laugh instill fear in some people.
                     Correct: Clowns, who usually cause people to laugh, instill fear in some people.

            One should not set off essential clauses with commas.
                   Error: The wolf, that is found in Alaska, is called the gray wolf.
                   Correct: The wolf that is found in Alaska is called the gray wolf.

            Non-essential appositives should be set off by commas.  (An appositive is a noun or pronoun - word,
                  phrase, or clause - placed after another noun or pronoun to provide more information or rename the
                     Error: The gray wolf a wild species of dog is also called the timber wolf.
                     Correct: The gray wolf, a wild species of dog, is also called the timber wolf.

            But an appositive essential to the meaning of the sentence should not be set off by commas.
                     Error: The writer, Mark Twain, writes about a young man who runs away.
                     Correct: The writer Mark Twain writes about a young man who runs away.

            Sometimes a name can be non-essential, and sometimes it can be essential.  If a person has only one
              brother, then the brother’s name would be non-essential.  If he has more than one brother, then the
              brother’s name would be essential.
                    Examples: My brother, Bob, lives in New York.  (“I” have only one brother.)
                                     My brother Bob lives in New York. (“I” have two brothers.)

             Ellipses show a pause in thought or speech, or show that speech trails off. A space comes before and after
                  the three periods. Ellipses should be used seldom.
“I never drink ... wine.”  

            A better way would be to revise to avoid ellipses:  "I never drink," he paused, "wine." Or maybe,
                       "I never drink, uh, wine."
Or just write, "I never drink wine."          

Ellipses at the end of a sentence do not have another period, just a space and the three periods.
              We wanted to go to Europe in the spring, but we’ll just have to wait ...

             The better way to write the above sentence would be delete the ellipses and just have a period.

 Do not add ellipses after any other punctuation: not after a question mark, an exclamation point, a comma, or any other punctuation.
Another note - use dashes and ellipses sparingly. Other ways to show hesitation or pauses in dialog is
                       possible. I know because I had to break myself of the same habit.
EM/EN dashes
               Em/en dashes should have a space before and a space after the dash. Dashes show a halt in speech or thought, something has stopped the flow abruptly. Dashes should be used as seldom as possible.
               No – I simply can’t.
            The better way is to revise so that the dash is eliminated:  No, I simply can't.
         Dashes and hyphens are NOT interchangeable. Do not use a hyphen in place of a dash or a dash in place of 
             an hyphen. Double hyphens do NOT make a dash, unless you have programed your word processor to
             cause that action. Using double hyphens or single hyphens in place of a dash makes formatting more

Exclamation marks
            Exclamation marks should be used sparingly, and never in narration or expository sections. When possible, information, action, or tags should show the strong emotion rather than a !. An exclamation point and a tag showing strong emotion should not be used together, or at least seldom.
            Incorrect: “You can’t do that!” Tina cried.              Correct: “You can’t do that,” Tina cried.
Incorrect: Roger jumped to his feet!                    Correct:
Roger jumped to his feet.

           File names should have title of manuscript and date of edits.
            Every manuscript/edited manuscript/revision should have a file name of title version date.
            Authors, after editing by lead editor is finished, is to send a “fresh” manuscript to the chief editor with
                 all edits and notations removed and all revisions finished. File is to be titled title of book, fresh ms,
                 and date:   
example:  Bugs and Company fresh ms 1-27-10

          For manuscripts, Times New Roman 12 is best, with one (1) inch margins all around.
Designer will determine font and size for book when she/he formats.

             Write numbers under 100 in words. Use numerals for 100 and over. If a number begins a sentence, either revise sentence
                    so number is moved, or write number in words.


Pronoun cases:               nominative ( subject)                        objective                                         possessive
1st person                             I                                        me                                       my, mine

2nd person                          you                                       you                                      your, yours
3rd person                           he, she, it                             him, her, it                            his, her, hers, its
1st person                            we                                        us                                       our, ours

 2nd person                          you                                       you                                     your, yours
3rd person                            they                                      them                                  their, theirs
            Nominative (subjective)  cases are used for subjects and predicate nominatives (nouns and pronouns that follow linking verbs and rename the subject) – never for objects. Appositives of subjects and predicate nominatives are also in the nominative (subjective case)
            Objective cases are used for objects only: direct objects, indirect objects, and objects of prepositions, as well as appositives for those objects.  Objective case is never used for a subject.
             Incorrect: Me and John want to go to the game.              Correct: John and I want to go to the game.
             Incorrect: The one who lost the game is him.                 Correct: The one who lost the game is he.
             Incorrect: The game was won by you and he.                 Correct: The game was won by you and him.
             Incorrect: Just between you and I, tomorrow will be fun.  Correct: Just between you and me, tomorrow will be fun.
             Indefinite pronouns are words such as each, someone, somebody, no one, everyone, all, etc. Be sure the pronoun which refers to an indefinite pronoun is the right case and person. Each, someone, somebody, no one, everyone, and everything are singular and require a singular pronoun. Check and be sure whether an indefinite pronoun is singular or plural.
            Incorrect: Everyone keeps their own books.                         Correct: Everyone keeps his (or her) own books.
                                                                                      Or    Correct: All the students keep their own books.

            Clear pronoun reference: Clear pronoun reference is a must, which means readers can easily recognize the antecedent for each personal pronoun. An antecedent is the noun or indefinite pronoun to which the pronoun refers. Pronouns should be close to its antecedent.
            It should not begin a sentence unless its antecedent is near the end of the preceding sentence or “it” refers to the preceding thought, clearly referred.
            Be careful that person pronouns are not confusing, that several males aren’t in the sentence or paragraph so that the reader doesn’t know to which noun the pronouns he, his, him refer.
      Incorrect:  The two men ran toward the burning car.  The flames trapped James. He couldn’t find a way to open
                        any of the doors. The fire sheared his eyebrows. It couldn’t be real.

      Correct:  The two men ran toward the burning car where flames trapped James. None of the three could find a way
                     to open any of the doors. The fire sheared James’ eyebrows. As the heat intensified, the man inside the
                     car couldn’t believe he couldn’t escape.


Part 2 will be posted Monday
4RV Publishing  
4RV Bookstore  

     NOTE: 4RV Christmas book sale begins Monday, October 1.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Book Marks, Post Cards & Chocolate

Here's an article I wrote when my book first came out and I was marketing using bookmarks and postcards. Just a little bit of humor...

This morning my bookmarks were delivered by UPS. Anxious to see them, I ripped open the box and there were my little gems, all lined up nice and neat. All 1000 of them.

Previously, I had ordered postcards, and they were lovely, too. All 100 of them.

Both proudly sported a drop-dead gorgeous book cover by the very talented Diana Navarro.

There the similarity ended. The bookmarks had a blurb, contact information and buying information. The postcards were blank on the back. So, I experimented with my printer, and printed contact and buying information on the back of them. Works pretty well, especially since I didn't mail them out because everyone I would mail to got an email sent to them.

Bookmarks are pretty easy to figure out: go to the local library, ask the local bookseller to hand them out, and use them for book festivals. Since I had so few postcards, I am limiting them to taking to the book festival this weekend.

So where does the chocolate come in? Well, for those of us chocolate lovers, chocolate is a must have in times of stress and distress.

With my first book festival this weekend, I am really stressing about how I'll do. I'm not sure what to say about my book, although I have a blurb I am working on memorizing (it seemed the smart thing to do), and hopefully will sell a lot.

And eat a lot of chocolate.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Marketing & Promo: Running a Contest by Stephanie Burkhart

A contest is a great way to drive Internet traffic to your sites so I thought I'd discuss a couple of tips today.

People love free and a lot of people will show up for a contest if your contest has a free prize. Now there's a pro and con here. The pro: by offering a prize for your contest, Internet lurkers will come, check it out, and even enter. You've exposed yourself to a broader audience and maybe even picked up a follower or fan. The con: they come, they go.

Say you decide to run a contest. Here are some things to consider:
Where will you run it?
On Twitter? Your Facebook Fan Page? Your website? Your blog?

Once you determine the location, what is the prize?
Popular items include:
A copy of your book, print/ebook
Gift cards to: Amazon, B&N, Sony, Target, Starbucks, Panera
If you make items like book bags or jewelry you could offer that
Coffee mugs/Mousepads

3rd, determine the criteria for an "entry"
Answer a trivia question
Leave a comment on a blog/FB Fan page
Answer a specific question (for example: who is your favorite author and why?)
Fill in a form (Google Docs)

Make sure you list the RULES.
How long will the contest last?
What is the prize?
How will you choose the winner?

I usually place everyone's name on a sticky note, fold it, put it in a hat and draw out a random name to pick the winner.

Lastly, don't forget to tell people about your contest. Send out announcements on your FB page, Twitter, Linked in, Google +, networks and your Yahoo Groups. Put up notices and news items on websites – Manic Readers is a great one that reaches a larger audiences. I also have pages on Deep In the Heart of Romance and Romance 4 Us where I put my announcements.

I'd love to hear what works for you. What prizes do you offer? How long do you run your contest for? How often do you have contests? Do you have a contest for Christmas?

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. A native of New Hampshire, she spent 11 years in the US Army and now lives in California. She's married with two young sons. Her books with 4RV Publishing include: The Giving Meadow and First Flag of New Hampshire.

Find me on the Web:







Friday, September 21, 2012

Kansas Book Festival 2012 - 4RV style

by Vivian Zabel  

The grounds of the Kansas Historical Museum set up for the book festival

          The minivan loaded with books and supplies headed north from Edmond, Oklahoma, its nose slightly airborne due to all the weight. The rain washed the vehicle clean all the way to Topeka by way of Emporia.

          Friday about noon, Melanie Robertson-King and Carla Ralston joined Jacque Graham and me at the Best Western Hotel. After we greeted and hugged each other, we moved our luggage to a suite where we had connecting bedrooms and began an old fashion slumber party -- but full of plain ol' hard work.

The table with 4RV YA, fiction and nonfiction with editor Carla Ralston, authors Janet K. Brown and Melanie Robertson-King behind publisher Vivian Zabel

Carla Ralston tries to stay warm
          Saturday morning, September 15, dawned cold, dreary, and wet. We hauled (well, mainly "they") boxes and boxes and boxes of books and materials from the van to our tables. Someone wanted pictures of what it took to set up. That's impossible. Take my word for it, with the help of 8 people, it took us over two hours, as we shivered and felt our feet become numb. Needless to say, the crowds stayed away -- until mid-afternoon when the sun decided to awaken and warm us a bit. Then the people began to flood the grounds, over 2000 of them. 

Galand Nuchols, Carla Ralston, Jacque Graham, Melanie King

          The book festival actually was a combination of conference and festival. Authors and other book related people held workshops in the museum and history center, found on two sides of the grass area where tents held a children's area, exhibitors, and special book signing area. 
The children's books table with gift bag for drawing

          4RV had two tables, and one table held nothing but a variety of children's books, and at the end the gift bag donated by Stephanie Burkhart for a drawing. We had several people sign up, and the woman who won loved it.

Janet K. Brown, Melanie Robertson-King, Galand Nuchols

          4RV had three new releases, with their authors present to promote their books, and one of our top editors at our booth: Melanie Robertson-King from Ontario, Canada and her debut novel A Shadow in the Past; Janet K. Brown from Wichita Falls, Texas and her first book Victoria and the Ghost; Galand Nuchols from Mt. Pleasant, Texas with her second 4RV book Leroy's Chance; and editor Carla Ralston from North Dakota.

          Also located in the exhibitors' tent were some of the award groups. They were looking for children's books and middle grade/young adult books, published in 2012. They left with three entries for the Bill Martin Jr. Award: My Cat, Porcupine's Seeds, and Rhino Crashes &Critter Classes. For the William Allen White Children's Book Awards, the representatives took First Flag of New Hampshire, Life on Hold, and A Shadow from the Past. Joining them soon will be Victoria and the Ghost and Leroy's Chance.

          We sold several books, more than usual at a book festival. All told, the Kansas Book Festival was a success for 4RV Publishing.

A few glimpses of the hard work:

Boxes under table after setup
Boxes under the other table after setup

       Hope these pictures give just a glimpse of some of the work involved.

Galand begins tearing down

Even husbands work - Charles Brown
Sisters help, too - Galand's sister

Melanie sells herself and her book

      And then there's the "job" of meeting, greeting customers and persuading them they want your book.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How Do You Get Your To Do List Done?

"How Do You Get Your To Do List Done?" by Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards

Sometimes my "To Do List" seems overwhelming. How about yours? Is your list longer than a roll of duct tape? Perhaps this idea might help.

Write down only the first five things you want to accomplish today. Make certain they can really be done in a day.

Prioritize your list. Are there any that you would feel really horrible, if you didn't get it done today? What? You say all of them! Oh my goodness!

Now put them in order from shortest amount of time to do it to the longest time to do it.

1. Start working on the one that takes the shortest amount of time.

2. When you finish doing it, start on the second one. When you have finished two jobs, recheck your priority list.

Are there any you think can wait until tomorrow? You say, "No way."

3. Okay. Continue working on your list. Do the third thing on your list.

When you finish it, reward yourself with a 15 minute breather. Cold glass of lemonade. Peanut butter sandwich or crackers.

Time to get back to your list.

4. Now tackle #4. If you hit a snag, and realize you have to go somewhere to get something to finish it, stop and go to number

5. When you finish #5, then go to the store and get what you need to complete #4.

6. Now finish #4.

7. When you have all 5 items completed for your "To Do List" for today, look in the mirror and shout "Hip Hip Hooray for me!

8. Celebrate.

Thanks for reading. Tell me how you get things done on your To Do list.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mom’s Choice Awards chooses Porcupine's Seeds

          On September 13, 4RV author Viji K. Chary received notification that her children's book Porcupine's Seeds has been named among the best in family-friendly media, products and services and receives the Mom's Choice Award.

             Congratulations, Viji, on the first honor for your book. The cover looks even lovelier with its seal.

          Congratulations, Bridget, for illustrating the book, helping it to be so honored.

Porcupine's Seeds can be found on the 4RV Bookstore, as well as on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and through any bookstore.