3 Online Resources for Homonyms

The grammar police on Facebook are forever posting memes and updates checking our use of homonyms. Why? Well, the misuse of homonyms can change the entire meaning of a sentence. The misuse of homonyms can also confuse readers. Writers need to be aware of homonyms for presenting copy (text) that is readable and easily understood by readers. A few common offenses:

  • to, too, two
  • they’re, their, there
  • sight, site, cite
  • compliment, complement

There are three really good online resources to reference while writing.

Alan Cooper’s Homonyms

Enchanted Learning’s List of Homonyms

English for Students

As a bonus here are resources for homographs (words spelled the same with different meanings) and homophones (words spelled differently but sound the same).

Your Dictionary’s Common Homographs

Grammar in English’s List of Homophones with Sentence Examples & Homophone.com

Confession: We’re all guilty of misusing homonyms, homophones, and homographs. Autocorrect on our smartphones doesn’t make it any easier. Hopefully, these resources will make the process better for us.

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Are You Leveraging Your Book Reviews?

Book reviews posted on Amazon and other sites, including compliments posted on social media are pure gold. Are you leveraging reader reviews of your books? Are you making the most out of them? Here are a few tips:

  • On public sites like Amazon and Goodreads, copy and paste reviews into graphics you can make with a tool like Canva.com. Share those reviews on social media and tag the reviewer if possible.
  • Copy and paste them onto a page on your book’s site.
  • Before publishing your next book, use a few reader reviews on the back cover, on the inside and wherever it helps to boost confidence in you and the next project.
  • If you have a reader newsletter, pull a few and include them in your messages.
  • Post them on your Facebook and Twitter cover images.

Maybe you can even tweet a few out so that your readers see that you recognize them as valued.

Readers are rarely rewarded for their devotion. You can leverage your reviews for marketing, but you can also leverage them for fan support. And the fans surely deserve the support.

5 Things Your Copy Editor Wants You to Know

A great copy editor is worth their rate. The work of copy editing is arduous and often unappreciated. However, they are a necessity.

Before you turn your work over to one, here are five things you should know:

  1. Self-edit your work before turning it over to a copy editor.
  2. Hire a proofreader after the copy editor has returned your edited document.
  3. Communicate with your copy editor. If they’ve returned your document, and you don’t quite understand why they have made a change, ask them.
  4. Copy editing is not a substitute for bad writing. It serves to correct grammar, punctuation, and misused words.
  5. Copy editors will not re-write passages or eliminate entire passages of your work.

Lastly, if you’re using a style guide, then you’ll want to apprise your copy editor in advance. In fact, discuss before procuring a service.

Increase Your Online Book Reviews

Do you have a book listed on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads? If so, if you don’t currently have many reviews under your listing(s), there are a few things you can do to increase them.

  1. Every time someone sends you a direct message on social media or an email praising your book, ask them to repeat their kind words by posting on the sites carrying your book. Give them direct links to make it easier and move them to an immediate action. Make the ask while thanking them.
  2. Create a graphic using a tool like Canva.com that contains an image of your book with a request for reviews. Post the graphic on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and supply a shortened link to the site in question. Use a scheduling tool to post the request a few times each month.
  3. If you have a newsletter, then ask every time the newsletter is released to your subscribers.
  4. Ask fellow authors to post a request on your behalf. Do the same for them.
  5. If active with your publisher, then ask their PR and social media team to make the request for you as well.

Another way to get reviews is to ask at your book signings or when you visit with book clubs. Send a message to book clubs that featured your work. Ask them for the feedback on any of those sites.

How have you solicited reviews from readers? Let me know below in the comment section.

Spell Check and Grammar Check Mistakes and Hacks

Using spell check or grammar check is tricky for writers. We cannot possibly catch every last error on our own, so relying on the spell checker or the grammar checker is almost a necessity. However, spell check and grammar check do not catch everything and sometimes create a few problems. Here are a few mistakes we make with spell check and grammar check.

  • Using the “find” and “replace” features to change misspellings and case-sensitive spellings in one full sweep with the “change all” feature. Don’t do that at all. Patiently check each instance found before replacing.
  • Trusting spell check and grammar check to correct or autocorrect your text.
  • Not running spell check after you’ve completed your document.
  • Relying on spell check’s spelling suggestions or flags for words it says are not words but are words.
  • Relying too heavily on grammar check’s flags on dialogue and other forms of sentence structure (quotations, questions) important to your work.

Here are a few hacks to assist you in using both tools wisely.

  • Keep a running list of words spell check calls out (using the red squiggly lines) as you write. Go online or use your dictionary to verify the spelling. Sometimes spell check says words are spelled incorrectly or that they are not words.
  • Check your document to make sure proper nouns are all spelled the same.
  • Check your homonyms (example: they’re, their, there) manually. Spell check and grammar check do not always get them right.
  • One of your misused words will not come up as misspelled with spell check. When in doubt, check your own use of a word by using the dictionary.
  • Change all words with apostrophes manually. Use the “find” feature to locate them, but change them one-by-one.
  • Spell check and grammar are unforgiving with slang and colloquialisms. They will suggest edits to dialogue written intentionally.

While these hacks won’t make you an expert at using spell and grammar check, they will assist you in cleaning up your copy (text) with as few problems as possible.

Have a ‘Date’ with Your Characters

Talk about finding inspiration in the oddest place. The Grey’s Anatomy character Dr. Richard Webber (episode “The Room Where it Happens”) chastises the surgeons working with him in surgery to humanize the person on the operating table. He tells them to give the person a name, a story, a past, and some interests. Each surgeon around the table does as he commands, and in the process, the viewer learns something more about the surgeon. What if you had an imaginary date with your novel or story’s characters that forced you to know them so well, you make yourself disappear?

Quite often, we recycle the same character in different versions, because the character is a direct (or indirect) reflection of some part of ourselves and our experiences. Force yourself out of a comfort zone by forcing your characters to be anyone but some part of you. How do you do it? Date them.

Dr. Webber made the person on the operating table his late mother. He gave the person his mother’s face, name, her love for the cello and classical music, and he gave the unconscious patient his mother’s no-nonsense disposition. Some of the other surgeons scoffed at his command, but one got it immediately, and at the end of the surgery she tells the others that the person who consents to the surgery does so with the hope of living. It changes how you fight for them as a surgeon.

Writers are physicians and surgeons in a way. We diagnose plots and prescribe endings for each of our characters. Here are a few questions to answer about your characters:

  • Where are going on this imaginary date with your character? Did you choose the place or your ‘date’?
  • What is your character wearing? Why? What do you have on?
  • How does the character feel about the date? How is s/he expressing their feelings? Do you believe them?
  • How does the character feel about you? How do you feel about the character?
  • What internal battle is your character fighting? Do you want them to win or lose? Why?

Just keep asking yourself questions and creating information about your character based on this one ‘date.’ Don’t be concerned about how absurd they could become or how dull. Just fight for them so they can live on your pages. Authors who do well, who achieve success, write fully-formed characters.

Don’t feel like you have to do this for just the main characters. Experiment with minor characters too, because they help drive a story along.

Think of some of your favorite fictional characters. What do you like about them? Share in the comment section, please.

Maintaining Blog Content in 2017

Blogging can be a chore. Many of us don’t have time to maintain them yet we have tons of ideas for topics. The beauty of blogs is that they can draw new readers to your site, and they can provide useful information. Here are 10 ways to maintain your blog this year. They are simple ways.

  1. Use the NOTE app on your smart phone to jot down ideas and outline blog posts. When you’re ready to write the post, then you can send the note to your email account to copy and paste into a blank post update on your blog.
  2. Compile a list of 12 guest bloggers, and sit down and email them an invite.
  3. Save your money and explore the idea of hiring someone to write blog posts for you. Hire a ghost-blogger.
  4. Take the first two or three paragraphs from an article you like and copy them in a blog post, then link the rest of the article back to its original source.
  5. Use photographs and video on your blog. Give credit to the photographer and owner of the video content. Write one or two brief sentences introducing the photo or video.
  6. Write holiday and observance blog posts in one sitting. It is totally okay to write your Easter and July 4 posts now and schedule them for later.
  7. Use a social media scheduling tool to recycle old content to share again on Facebook and Twitter.
  8. Market your products in blog posts. If you have a new book coming out, write those posts in one sitting. Give readers links, dates, and even discount codes.
  9. Do list posts. Those are easy and fast. For example, do a list of your top 5 bloggers each month. Or write a list of 5 authors you’ve discovered.
  10. If you use WordPress.com, then utilize the follow feature to find content from other blogs to re-share on yours.

Yes blogging can take time, but blogging is one of the best marketing tools ever. You can write in short form or long form. You can talk about your work and services, and you can use a blog to share your interests. Also, blog content can be the gift that keeps on giving. Post something today that people will still find on the internet years later.

If you have a blog, drop the link in the comment section, please.