Books by Melissa Bowersock

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Kindle Countdown

In case you haven't heard, Amazon has announced a new promotional tool for authors enrolled in their Kindle Select program. It's called the Kindle Countdown and it works like this. For four days, you can list your book at a sale price that starts at the lowest point ($.99) and the price then goes up in increments each day until it reaches its normal price. It's all about grabbing the book at the sale price before it goes up. 

In  order to kick off the Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend, I decided to give it a try with my latest book, Stone's Ghost

Stone's Ghost is a modern ghost story about love and loss and friendship, mistakes and consequences and redemption. Here's the description from the back cover: 

Matthew Stone doesn't believe in ghosts … until he meets one. He owns a successful business in Lake Havasu, Arizona, home to the famed London Bridge that was brought over stone by stone and rebuilt over the Colorado River. He has a gorgeous girlfriend, a doting mother, and more money than he needs, but no time for stories about the ghosts who were transplanted from England with the famed bridge. When a chance encounter with a female ghost leads to unexpected friendship, Matt and the ghost are forced to rely on each other as they confront the pasts that haunt them.

And here's the deal. Beginning on November 29, the book is available for only 99 cents. But you have to act quick, because the price goes up the next day. And the next day. And the next day. Here's how it breaks out:

Increment                                                 Duration           Price                %  Discount
1    November 29, 2013 at 8:00 AM (PST)           16h                $0.99                    81%
2    November 30, 2013 at 12:00 AM (PST)         16h                $1.99                    61%
3    November 30, 2013 at 4:00 PM (PST)           16h                $2.99                    41%
4    December 01, 2013 at 8:00 AM (PST)           16h                $3.99                    21%
End December 02, 2013 at 12:00 AM (PST)                  Original list price $4.99

So are you ready? In shopping mode? 

On your mark, get set, GO!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Love at First Sight -- Holding that New Book

You may remember back in January of this year when I wrote about a writer-friend who was on the brink of having her first novel published. Helping her to reach this milestone has been particularly gratifying because of the story involved. She wrote her book about 20 years ago. Over time, it was accepted by two different traditional publishers, but each time the deal fell through. The first publisher went under and the second reconsidered based on some issues of religious content. I don't know how many other queries she might have sent out, how many rejections she may have received, but all writers know the doldrums that settle in during that time of no forward movement. It becomes a quagmire of depressing self-talk, low self-confidence and hopelessness. It becomes less painful to shove the manuscript into a drawer than it does to continue the quest.

Luckily, her family refused to accept defeat. That's when I was brought in to push things along. I did some light editing, formatted the book for CreateSpace, designed a simple cover with their template and the book was born. Unbeknownst to the author, proof copies were ordered and a surprise party was organized.

Lured to the party location under the guise of celebrating a totally separate accomplishment by someone else, she had no idea of what was to come. I understand that when "the bomb" was dropped, she was completely stunned. She laughed, she cried, wiped her eyes, shook her head, looked at her book again and cried some more. 

I envy her that feeling. I envy her seeing her own words on paper, bound, for the first time. But I don't envy her the wait she has gone through. This was, quite literally, the culmination of a life's work. She is 83 now; certainly there were times when she thought she would never see this day. 

But the day has come. And it was love at first sight.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Punctuation and Quotes - Rules of the Game

Punctuation and quotes go together like … love and marriage? Not always. Sometimes it’s more like Frankenstein and … Miley Cyrus.

I know, some people find the rules of punctuation to be vastly overrated and too annoying to bother with. Hey, I’m a rule-breaker, too. I protested at peace rallies during the 1960s; I marched and wore love beads and—well, you know. But strangely, when it comes to writing, I’m a Punctuation Nazi. Why? Because it serves the story.
Those rules are there for a reason; they help you convey the interaction of your story clearly to your readers. There’s nothing worse for a reader than having to stop, go back and work to figure out what the writer is saying. You want your reader to stay blissfully immersed in the story, not grumbling unhappily as s/he reads back over the last sentence to tease out your meaning. So in order to serve your story and keep your readers (and me!) happy, here’s a refresher on punctuation and quotes. However, before I start, let me stress that these are the AMERICAN rules for punctuation. More on that later.

1. Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks, whether you’re using double or single quotes.
This is probably the most common mistake made with quotes. I can’t tell you how many times I have sent e-mails to the TV game show Jeopardy! about this, but they continue to use incorrect punctuation. I boil every time I see a clue that says something like this:
This man was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and known as the “British Bulldog”.

Argh! The period always goes inside the quote mark. Here are some examples of the correct way to do it.

The traffic sign changed from "Walk," to "Don't Walk," to "Walk" again almost immediately.
Jeff said, "It’s time; let’s go."
Sheila told Chad, "Jeff said, ‘It’s time; let’s go.'"

2. Use double quotes for dialog, then single quotes for quotes within quotes. Note that the period goes inside all quotation marks.
Chad said, "Henry said, ‘We have plenty of time.'"

3. The placement of question marks with quotes really just follows logic. If a question is within quotes, the question mark should also be within the quotes.
Jeff said, “Would you hurry up?”

In the above case, the question mark goes inside the quotes along with the question being asked.

Chad asked, “Do you agree with the saying, ‘He who hesitates is lost’?”

Here the question is the larger sentence and the question mark goes outside of the saying in single quotes. In addition, only one ending punctuation mark is used with quotation marks, and the stronger punctuation mark takes precedence. Therefore, in the above case, no period after lost is necessary.

4. When you have one question outside quoted material and another one inside quoted material, use only one question mark and place it inside the quotation mark.
Did Sheila say, "Can I stay awhile?"

Even though the main sentence is a question, having a second question mark after the quote is unnecessary.

5. Use quotation marks to set off a direct quotation only.
"When will you be here?" Henry asked.

The above is a direct quote, quoting a speaker verbatim.

Henry asked when you will be there.

This is not a direct quote. It is attributed to another, but not his exact words, so no quotation marks are required.

Now, the caveat I mentioned before is that the UK, Canada and Australia rules can be the exact opposite in rules 1 and 2. Across the pond or across the border, they put the punctuation outside the close quote (as in that Jeopardy! clue that drives me nuts) and they swap quotes on inner dialog--single quotes for the initial dialog, double quotes for the interior dialog. Sometimes. It's not a hard and fast rule. You'll see it both ways.

What's a Punctuation Nazi to do? Consider the source and roll with the punches. As long as the usage is consistent, it should still tell the readers what they need to know.