UPDATE…Sent out the winners’ copies in Goodreads Giveaway…

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So I went to the post office today to send out the copies to the Goodreads winners. One of the winners is in Australia and the postage was more than the book costs. I hope the winner enjoys it.

SH&RTNofWV Front cover

What’s that comma for?

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Although I’m not certain what the source was, I created this handy-dandy little checklist for comma usage early on in my writing career. I still use it from time to time, although more a gentle reminder than as a check_list. I hope you will find it useful too.

Comma usage blog

As an aid in using this checklist, I’m also including definitions of some of the terms used above. No offense implied should you already be familiar.

Restrictive and non-restrictive clauses: An adjective clause is restrictive when it limits the thing it refers to and is therefore essential to the sentence. Example: The store accepted returns that were less than sixty days old. If an adjective clause adds non-essential or extra information it is non-restrictive and should use a comma followed by which to introduce it. Example: Julia’s scarf, which was purchased three months ago, was not accepted as a return.

Introductory dependent clause: A group of words including a verb and a subject but does not express a complete thought and cannot stand alone, which introduces a sentence. Example: When I worry, I eat.

Example of non-restrictive clause in the middle of a sentence: The book, which was on the table, was on fire.

Appositive: A noun or noun phrase that renames another noun right beside it. Example: His hat, a billycock, was askew. His girlfriend, a short girl with flaming red hair, sat down beside him.

Parentheticals: A parenthetical is a statement or reference that is incidental and could be properly enclosed within parentheses (hence the name). Example: Parentheticals, for example, require commas.

Transitionals: Words and phrases used to connect one idea with the next. Example: The fingertips contain numerous nerve endings. To illustrate, pick up that branding iron.

Conjunction: A word used to connect clauses or sentences or to coordinate words in the same clause. Example: In his pocket he had a coin, a ring, and a piece of twine.

Independent clause: A clause (group of words consisting of at least a noun and a verb) that can stand alone as a simple sentence. Example: His car started smoothly and he took off for home.

My evolution in outlining…


Because I am not the most methodical of creatures, I often struggle with organization when writing a novel. I’ve used outlines, pictographs, spreadsheets, and mind maps. None of these has been completely satisfactory to me. So, I thought I would offer up to anyone interested in writing, some of the ways I’ve combined the usage of a few of these methods.
First off, I like an outline. It helps me understand the order of things including where they are and where they should be. Here is an example of my first outline for “Sherlock Holmes and the Whitechapel Vampire”

WV Outline Ver 5 0 (2)

Obviously this is a Word document and as such has its limitations, particularly when the structure of the story changes to any degree. When I started to write “Sherlock Holmes and the Body Snatchers” I decided I needed something a bit more dynamic, and so I attempted to use a spreadsheet form of outline


But this two was overly cumbersome when scenes or chapters needed to be rearranged. Then I discovered an inexpensive program that helps deal with these details. Again, I have to thank Jane Friedman for introducing me to it. It’s called Scribner, and here is a screen shot of it that shows some of the features.


What I like best about it is that I can take entire scenes or chapters and move them around at will. Also, if you are using it to actually write your work, its intended use, you can capture references, web sites, pictures, other files, etc., and have instant access to them from within the program. This is a colossal time saver, especially in the beginning when you are doing a lot of research.
So, across three novels, I’ve gone from a Word outline document, to an excel file outline to a specialized software application, all because my mind is less organized than a bowl of soup. I’m not promoting any of these methods, but each does have its advantages and disadvantages. I expect in my next novel, I will adapt the way I use these today into something different for the next book. Someday, perhaps, I’ll hit upon the perfect solution. I wonder if I’ll share it with the world, or keep it to myself. Hmmmmm…

Paths to Publishing…

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When I decided to re-boot this blog, one of the things I wanted to accomplish is to bring together some of the articles and blogs that I’ve found especially useful. But I didn’t want to just post other bloggers’ stuff. Even though I would naturally give credit where credit was due, I felt that would be plagiarizing, so I’ve decided that if I use another blogger’s graphics or articles, I would request permission to do so as well as link to the original article in their blog. I feel in doing this I’m being as ethical as I can possibly be.
And I’m thrilled that this first graphic is from a blogger I have the utmost respect for, Jane Friedman. I’ve been a fan of Jane’s blog since I started down this road and one of the most interesting graphics I’ve seen was one Jane developed that shows where on the publishing continuum a writer exists. I was actually surprised to find that I was to the left, graphically speaking, of the self-published authors.

Jane graciously has granted me permission to reprint her graphic, showing the Key Book Publishing Paths, in my blog. You can find the original article on Jane’s blog, here. I had planned to have the graphic only, but it apparently is not of high enough resolution to read as a jpeg, so I’ve decided to show the low-res graphic and provide the PDF of the graphic. I found it to be very interesting.

The Key Book Publishing Paths by Jane Friedman


Also, you may find Jane’s book, Publishing 101, an interesting read. I know I did.

 Next week I plan to post the first chapter of “SHERLOCK HOLMES and the WHITECHAPEL VAMPIRE” with commentary. Don’t miss it!! Tell your friends!!! Buy the book!!!!


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In conjunction with the upcoming release of SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE RETURN OF THE WHITECHAPEL VAMPIRE, on October 21, 2015

SH&RTNofWV Front cover

I am re-booting this blog and renaming it American Abbatoir…where murder meets mayhem, implying murder and mayhem on a grand scale.

The reason for the name change is that with the end of the WHITECHAPEL VAMPIRE trilogy,

perf5.500x8.500.indd SH&BS SH&RTNofWV Front cover

I plan to lay aside Sherlock Holmes for at least a while and move on to other creations wholly my own. But, I will be offering snippets of the three books over the course of time, along with commentary on the writing, because I will always be partial to Sherlock Holmes and indebted to MX Publishing for their support with these three books.

I also plan to share information on trying to find an agent for new work, the work itself, as well as commentary and editorial on what I’m currently reading, or have read recently. I plan to duplicate the posts on my WordPress blog on a second blog-site, to see which gets more traffic and will make long range plans on which to keep from the results.

I fully expect to post much more regularly to this blog than I’ve done in the past. I’m setting aside an hour or so per day, each morning, specifically to support the blog, searching for content, writing posts, etc.

The blog will undoubtedly also have a political bend to it as in the past I was an editorial cartoonist, regularly carried in a variety of small newspapers and was featured in USA Today a number of times. I’ve seen cartoons on other web sites and have wondered about the copyright infringements, but for my site I won’t have to worry, since I own the copyrights on any cartoons I publish here.

I sincerely hope readers find the site entertaining and sometimes useful and will comment often and recommend it to their friends. And buy my books….really, buy my books.

A story a week…

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I’ve decided to shake the dust off some old stories and pieces of stories I’ve written and give them a fresh airing. What I hope to get out of this are useful comments, whether complimentary or not, that I can use to get better at the craft of writing. Feel free to critique and to criticize what you see here. I’ll begin with something I wrote a couple of years ago and put up on Amazon’s, and Barnes and Noble’s self-publishing platform. So this one is a complete work, though I’ve not touched it in quite some time.




by Dean P. Turnbloom


I believe it was the Bard himself who wrote, “there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” and I am here to tell you it’s a fact. The story I’m about to tell is true, I swear it by all that is holy, and all that is unholy for that matter, for this isn’t a tale for the faint of heart. Be warned, for if you hear the cry of the Banshee…but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.

 Here, sit down, let me start from the beginning, so you can judge for yourself. I may not tell it well, but then who’s to say what’s worth the telling, eh? Sit. It’ll only take a little while. There, that’s better.


kGreat Article by David Schlosser…

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I liked this article so much I had to share it in its entirety…I hope I’m not breaking any blog rules in doing so…
Posted by on Nov 15th, 2011 in Blog
 David B. Schlosser is an author of award-winning fiction and non-fiction, and an editor of award-winning fiction and non-fiction.

I frequently hear from writers who are interested in a manuscript review or editing services, or who want to pitch an agent or publisher, and they tell me their book is 200 or 425 or howevermany pages long.

When I’m feeling indulgent and patient, I’ll spend some time explaining why I don’t care how many pages their manuscript is – and why they shouldn’t, either. What counts is the number of words in the manuscript, because that’s how “long” the work actually is.

Back in the day of Royals and Selectrics, “page” meant “page.” It meant, “About 250 words.”

Today, “page” means something so utterly removed from the typewriter days that it literally defies definition.

And if we’re talking about e-books, those things don’t even have pages.

As anyone who’s written (or graded) a high school or college term paper since the early 1990s can tell you, by tinkering with margins, fonts, line spacing – even leading, tracking, and kerning – an author can make a page whatever the author wants it to be.

That’s not necessarily what everyone in the publishing industry accepts “a page” to be.

To illustrate the difference between “how many pages” and “how long” a manuscript is, I altered several common formatting variables in a novel manuscript. You can see the details in the rest of this post, but the bottom line is this:

The difference between what two well-intentioned people mean when they talk about “number of pages” can vary as much as 185%.


Typefaces are an embarrassment of riches that cause a lot of embarrassment. Different word processors default to different fonts. You can choose among hundreds of fonts. Fonts that are easy to read on a computer screen (sans serif fonts) are not as easy or comfortable to read on paper as serif fonts.

Without changing anything in “how long” the manuscript is (same number of words, same page breaks for chapters, same headers), I altered the font and font size of the manuscript to show the impact of several popular fonts and font sizes on “how many pages” there are in the manuscript.


The difference in number of pages based only on changing fonts and font sizes varied from 316 to 492 – a variance of 45% from the average number of pages in this spreadsheet.

As for the rule of thumb about 250 words per page, the average words/page in this spreadsheet is 246.4 (not shown). Different, and common, fonts and font sizes can vary the number of pages in your manuscript as much as 43% around that average.


Without changing anything in “how long” the manuscript is, I altered margins from manuscript format (1 inch) to the defaults of various word processors (1.25 or 1.5 inches) to measure margin’s impact on number of pages. I also considered a few popular fonts that produce about the same number of pages in the formatted manuscript.


The number of pages in the manuscript increases by an average of 11% if your word processor’s margins default to 1.25 inches, and by an average of 24% if your word processor’s margins default to 1.5 inches.


Without changing anything in “how long” the manuscript is, I altered the formatting from traditional double-spaced lines and tabbed paragraphs to no formatting except paragraphs and tabs.


Within the unformatted manuscripts, the average number of words on a page varies from 414 to 545 – which is to say, a lot more than 250.

The number of pages varies between 173 and 228 – a 28% variance from the average number of pages – based only on font choice. These numbers are more dramatic, however, when compared to formatted manuscript:

Bottom line


The middle section of this spreadsheet – the white rows – is most compelling. If we look at the average number of pages in a formatted manuscript, considering various fonts and font sizes, and compare it to the average number of pages in an unformatted manuscript, considering various fonts (but not different font sizes), there is a 100% difference in the number of pages.

Two people talking about “how many pages” are in a manuscript may have a totally different interpretation of “how long” the manuscript really is.

Focus on the number of words in your work, not the number of pages.

The exception that proves this rule is that publishing pros – authors with multiple books and their agents, editors, and publishers – can shorthand “number of pages” because all of them operate on the industry-standard concept of a formatted manuscript.

You can learn more about proper manuscript formatting from plenty of books and web sites. A friend who teaches fiction writing at a university refers his students to the web site of author William Shunn, which you can reach by clicking here.