Adjectivals Part 1: pre-noun modifiers

Emily Leverett

I’ve always thought that the English language, in its grammar, bubbles with tension. Why? Because unlike several other languages (primarily romance languages), we put some of our adjectivals before our headword nouns.

Example: the sharp, biting watermelon …. (what? what is it!) … wine burned his tongue.

See? we can delay our nouns, making the moment more tense when we don’t know for sure what the noun is going to be. It’s small, grammatical tension, but it’s still tension.

Pre-noun modifiers are exactly what they sound like: words/phrases that describe and come before a noun in a phrase.

There are three kinds of pre-noun adjectivals* I’m going to look at today: adjectives, nouns, and participles.

Single word adjective and noun modifiers do come in a specific order. We usually see adjective(s), noun(s), headword. There can be multiple adjectives or nouns, and they can be mutli-word phrases (like mutli-word).

Adjectives: […]

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To Be Or Not To Be?

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

To be. Is, are, was, were. The most used verb in our (or probably, any) language. It has a purpose and a place in writing and in speech. But use it too much, and suddenly your stories become bland and dull. Want to know how I know? Because my editor challenged me to take every instance of the verb “to be” out of the story I owe him.

John Hartness, you’re a cruel man and I love you for it.

You see, I agree with his assessment. The problem with “to be” lies in its calm. When someone screams or leaps or scrambles or argues, something happens. I, the reader, ride along on the wave of action the writer creates. If I use various forms of “to be” instead, I run the risk of my action falling flat. Let me illustrate.

With “to be”:

She was dark haired, and her […]

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Do Launch Parties Work?

Gail Z. Martin

Launch parties seem to be everywhere nowadays: at bookstores and libraries, at conventions and on Facebook. Costs range from minimal to pricy, and the effort of planning, promoting and hosting a party is one more thing that takes a writer away from writing. So, are they worth it?

I’ve held and attended a lot of launch parties. On the whole, I’d say that they help to sell books, especially to people who might not have otherwise purchased that particular book. The party atmosphere lends itself to making an impulse purchase amid the food, decorations and festive atmosphere. There’s also a touch of guilt involved; after all, the author is your host, and it would be nice to buy a book to thank him/her. But I think that the real incentive to purchase comes from the ability for readers to feel like they’ve gotten to know the author through the personal […]

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The Hard Work of Writing

Melissa Gilbert

I’m not perfect, and I’d be willing to bet you aren’t either.

But, I am someone who feels the need to be perfect—or as close as possible—especially when it comes to writing. I could revise the same piece forever and it still not feel perfect to me. I often wonder if people who have created a “masterpiece” still see flaws. What did Michelangelo think of his work in the Sistine Chapel? How did Mozart feel about his symphonies? Shakespeare? Dickens? (You choose which one.) These people are people, just like anyone else. So what makes them so special? What makes their work so wonderful?

In all honesty, I don’t know. Hard work? Natural talent? Divine inspiration? Luck of the draw? Most of those things we aren’t able to control. However, we can control and improve ourselves through hard work and dedication to the art. That’s what I want to talk […]

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David B. Coe: Different Books, Different Roles


Hello again, Magical Words! I’m baaaccckk!

Today, I launch what I have been calling the 2015 Summer-of-Two-Releases Virtual Tour. Over the course of the next five weeks, I have two books coming out: On July 21, Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth and (for now) final Thieftaker novel, will be released by Tor Books under the D.B. Jackson pseudonym. And on August 4, His Father’s Eyes, the second volume in The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, will come out from Baen Books under my own name.

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s two novels, in two separate series, under two bylines, coming out from two publishers. When we (my agent, Lucienne Diver, and I) sold the second series, we didn’t envision this kind of summer. We hoped that the books would come out far apart. But in publishing, things don’t always work out according to plan, and really, […]

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Commonly Confused Words – One Word or Two?

Melissa Gilbert

Two weeks ago, we started talking about words often confused, and we’re going to continue that today. Today, however, we are going to talk about words that sound the same but can be written as one word or two.

Always – All Ways

Always: this spelling is used when you mean forever

All Ways: this spelling is used when you mean that you have tried all of the different ways


Alright – All Right

Alright: this spelling is used when you mean OK (note: this is a non-standard word that some people don’t consider a word at all!)

All Right: this spelling is used when you mean that everything is right or as it should be


Already – All Ready

Already: this spelling is used when you mean that something has happened

All Ready: this spelling is used when you mean that something is completely prepared


Altogether […]

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Ah, Con!

Misty MasseyMisty Massey

Well, another successful ConCarolinas has come and gone. I’m a little sad this morning, since for the last three days I’ve been surrounded by a thousand of my closest friends, so it’s a little quiet around here now that we’ve all gone home. *laughs*

But one of the nice things about going to cons, either as a writing professional or as a fan, is all the great ideas you come home with. During breakfast Sunday morning, I was asked if I’d had any new projects come my way, and at that moment, I hadn’t. An hour later, I had. It can happen just that quickly. (Before you ask, the new project is still in its birth throes, so as soon as I have solid information to share, I promise I will. It’ll involve some of you, after all, so feel free to be excited!) One writer I talked to received […]

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