Monday, January 25, 2016

The Issue of Tone

I had a situation recently where I texted someone an important bit of news. This news would have been better received had I delivered it by phone or in person, but due to extenuating circumstances at the time, a text was necessary.

This reminded me of the aspects of modern communication that I dislike. With texts, email, and social media you can't always interpret the sender's tone. It's difficult to judge inflection and genuine sentiment. A message might sound aloof, unkind, or impatient, even though that isn't the author's intent. 

It also, of course, causes me to consider the role tone plays in our writing. What is tone? One definition says it is how it feels, sounds, and/or is interpreted. Tone can take shape through word choice, sentence structure, and a writer's attitude and style. A writer’s tone can be sarcastic, serious, funny, sad, and so on. I believe that tone also plays a role in a writer’s voice. 
Writing gives us an opportunity to employ an appropriate, reader friendly tone. We may not always directly consider tone during the process, but it does factor into the mix. Our words, whether informal conversation or published work, send an impression to others. The revision process can help us assume the correct tone.

With that in mind, I do the following before submitting:

  • Consider the audience and publication.
  • Get input from from critique partners.
  • Read it aloud. The ear is a great editor, catching things the eyes miss.
Regarding texts, emails, and social media, it is impossible to convey our intended tone 100% of the time, no matter how many emojis we use. So I've adopted an informal policy, "tone insurance", if you will. Some of the same points above apply.
  • I don't respond to emotional questions or issues in haste. If it potentially stirs my emotions, I wait and pray until I'm sure to respond rationally.
  • I read my response aloud because I want to hear how it might sound to the recipient. It also slows down the process which allows me grace and space as I consider my reply. 
  • I get a second opinion from someone who offers an outside and fresh perspective.
While not foolproof, these simple steps have polished my work and helped keep my foot out of my mouth. Can anyone relate? 

What steps do you take to ensure proper writing tone? How do you think others perceive your writing tone?

Happy writing,

Monday, January 18, 2016

Your Turn!

As you know, I often feature my writer/blogging friends through announcements, interviews, and book spotlights. Since it would take years to get to everyone, I came up with an alternative. How about a mini interview right now? 

If you are game, kindly answer one or more of these questions in the comments: 

  • What's the craziest thing you've ever done? 
  • Favorites - Coffee? Tea? Chocolate? Vanilla? 
  • When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
  • What's the best writing/other advice you've ever been given?    

Don't be shy - it'll be fun to get to know you better!  :)

Have a great week! 

Happy writing, 

Photo credit: Free Images

Monday, January 11, 2016

Susanne Dietze - Austen in Austin Giveaway!

Congratulations to Susanne Dietze! Her latest book, Austen in Austin, releases January 15. She's here today to share about the book and two special giveaways. Be sure and check out the details below.

Congratulations on your book, Susanne! Can you tell us a little about Austen in Austin and how it came about? 

Thanks for having me, Karen! I belong to a group blog, Inkwell Inspirations. One day we were chatting about Jane Austen adaptations—I can’t remember if we were chatting about movies, heroes, or books inspired by Austen’s works. But Anita Mae Draper, who writes western romances, said she might like Mr. Darcy better if he wore a Stetson. That was all it took: a few of us were inspired to write western-set novellas inspired by Austen novels, characters and plots.

Eight of us joined the project. We talked titles and I jokingly suggested Austen in Austin. It stuck! Now we’re thrilled to have two volumes of Austen in Austin releasing this year with White Fire Publishing! I’m included in the first volume, releasing January 15.

Each of the stories is set in historical Austin, Texas, around a fictional ladies’ finishing school, the Jeannette C. Austen Academy. The characters have a bit of overlap in each other’s stories, and even between the volumes.

Sounds like this collaboration was quite an adventure. How did Jane Austen's books influence your story? 

I love Pride and Prejudice, so it was a treat to write a P&P-inspired novella. The title, One Word From You, is taken from a quote spoken by Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet. Like Mr. Darcy, my hero Will Delacourt has family money, but in the spirit of 1880’s Texas, he’s also the owner of a railroad. My heroine Eliza Branch is modeled after Elizabeth Bennet, but unlike her Regency-era counterpart, Eliza is able to earn a little money to help her family by writing for a newspaper.

Our hope is that any lover of historical-set Christian romance novellas will enjoy them. If a reader is acquainted with Austen, she will recognize bits of dialogue, etc., but a reader doesn’t need any Austen experience to follow the stories. They are retellings with a Texas twist, and the characters have different names and occupations than the iconic Austen characters that inspired them.

It sounds wonderful. I am looking forward to reading this book. :) Thanks so much for stopping by today, Susanne. Wishing you and your fellow authors much success! 

Thank you Karen!

More About Austen in Austin 

These four Texas-set novellas based on Jane Austen's novels are available in paperback and e-book, and the individual novellas are also available as e-books.

Discover four heroines in historical Austin, TX, as they find love--Jane Austen style. Volume 1 includes:

If I Loved You Less by Gina Welborn, based on Emma. A prideful matchmaker examines her own heart when her protégé falls for the wrong suitor.

Romantic Refinements by Anita Mae Draper, based on Sense and Sensibility. A misguided academy graduate spends the summer falling in love . . . twice.

One Word from You by Susanne Dietze, based on Pride and Prejudice. A down-on-her-luck journalist finds the story of her dreams, but her prejudice may cost her true love . . . and her career.

Alarmingly Charming by Debra E. Marvin, based on Northanger Abbey. A timid gothic dime-novel enthusiast tries to solve the mystery of a haunted cemetery and, even more shocking, why two equally charming suitors compete for her attentions.

More on Susanne's One Word From You  

Urged by her family to marry for the sake of their dwindling finances, Eliza Branch prefers to pay for the remainder of her time at the Austen Academy by writing for the local paper. There’s plenty to write about now that railroad baron William Delacourt has come to Austin. His proposed northbound line may be good for local business, but she’s still stinging from his terrible first impression. If the rumors about William are true, then he deserves to be skewered in print. But when Eliza’s pen gets ahead of her conscience, it’s William who makes everything right—and the reasons behind his sacrifice just might be the story of Eliza’s lifetime.

Buy Austen in Austin Volume I

Buy One Word From You e-book by Susanne Dietze

Susanne's Contest Info 

Visit Susanne's website January 11-15 to enter. Prize package includes: paperback copy of Austen in Austin Volume I, The Jane Austen Devotional, and a pink dot notebook. Please visit her site to fill out the entry form.

Another Austen in Austin Giveaway 

Now through January 15, visit Inkwell Inspirations to enter for another great prize package.

About Susanne

Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others. A pastor’s wife and mom of two, she loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. Susanne is the author of five new and upcoming novellas; her latest, One Word From You, is in White Fire’s Austen in Austin Volume I. Find Susanne at the following links: 


What's on your reading list for the new year? Do you have any questions for Susanne?

Happy reading and writing,


Monday, January 4, 2016

Meet the Blogger with Susan Wicker

Happy New Year! Susan Wicker from Writing Straight From the Heart is here to kick off the Meet the Blogger feature for 2016. Susan's blog is a gem; it combines wonderful commentary with lovely photos, showcasing her interests, daily life, and assorted adventures. It's one of the most warm and inviting spots in the blogosphere. :)

Welcome, Susan! Why did you start blogging?

In 2009, I went to see the movie “Julie and Julia,” about the late chef extraordinaire, Julia Child, and a blogger who decided to make many of the chef’s recipes. At the time, blogging was a total mystery to me. However, the blogger in the movie had so much fun sharing with many people via her computer that I wanted to learn more about blogging. Plus, I love to write. It’s actually one of my life’s passions. To think of sharing my writing with people in Blogland was and is, immensely satisfying. Soon after I saw the movie, a free blogging course was offered at a local library and I signed up for it.  As a result, it helped me start my blog, “Writing Straight from the Heart.”  It was October and love at first sight. I’ve been blogging ever since.

It's true, your blog illustrates how much you love blogging! How long have you had your current blog? 

As previously noted, I’ve had the blog since autumn of 2009, so this past fall will make it seven years since starting! 

Congratulations, that is a great milestone! What is your blog about? 

My blog is about slices of my life.  Baking, cooking, crafts projects, day trips, entertaining, flowers, gardening, grand parenting, interior decorating,  my love for cranberry glass as well as other colored glass,  and everything in between, including life’s ups and downs, are all fodder for my posts. 

It's a wonderful blend of lovely photos and your writing. What benefits have you gained through blogging? 

There have been numerous benefits. Blogging has helped me develop discipline in my writing. It’s something I do every day and look forward to. Having written more than 2,100 daily posts, I’ve learned to write fairly quickly and, hopefully, accurately. It goes without saying that meeting people throughout the USA and in numerous other countries has been a huge benefit. The people in Blogland are totally phenomenal. Having a blog helps when submitting freelance articles. It shows editors one is serious about writing and has a following. I've learned so much about other people and their opinions and ways of life. It has been totally awesome. It's also a benefit to get comments on posts from readers all over the world. This is so very exciting to me. My followers as well as others who make comments, I consider my very dear friends.

There are so many great benefits, aren't there? What projects are you working on right now? 

Currently, I write feature stories and take photographs for a weekly newspaper and have done this for a few years now. I also work with teenagers who are in an independent living program. Naturally, I’m always encouraging them to write. Another big “project” are visits from  my little three-year-old granddaughter. Among our many activities together, a favorite is reading tons of books. Maybe she will be a writer some day, too. 

Maybe she will! You can teach her a lot about the writing process. What might people be surprised to learn about you? 

It might surprise people to know that I have taught Creative Writing to incarcerated male inmates as well as to teenage mothers. Both experiences were challenging but extremely enlightening. 

I never would have guessed! What advice would you share with a newbie blogger?

My main advice would be to simply write! Write what is in your heart and don’t be afraid of anyone criticizing you.  The more practice you have at your craft, the easier it will get. You will find unparalleled joy in sharing your writing with others.

Thanks for visiting with us, Susan!

Thank you, Karen!  
More About Susan 

Born in Massachusetts, Susan is one of five sisters who remain close to this day. Her ninth grade English teacher told her she had writing talent and encouraged her to develop it. She majored in journalism at the University of Arizona, and worked as a newspaper reporter for small town and metropolitan papers. After she married and had two children, she worked in human services and continued as a freelance writer. Now a proud grandmother, she writes for a local newspaper.

Visit Susan's Blog

Did any of your teachers encourage your writing when you were young? Have any questions for Susan? 

Happy writing,


 Teacup photo credit: Free Images