The EFC Writer – FRAGMENTS

 

Welcome to the EFC Writer — a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing (or not doing, as the case may be).  

 

TODAY’S TOPIC: EVIL, EVIL FRAGMENTS (SORT OF)

Remember all those conversations we’ve been having about independent and dependent clauses? It turns out I actually had a reason for filling your head with all that stuff, and here it is: YOU’RE WRITING TOO MANY SENTENCE FRAGMENTS. Stop it, okay?

FRAGMENTS are incomplete sentences, that is, sentences that are missing either a subject, verb, or complete thought. Fix sentence fragments with a bit of clever punctuation, a few more words, or even another sentence. Let’s look at some examples:

Donna wants to remember. But can’t.  The fragment is obvious, right? Check out this easy fix: Donna wants to remember but can’t. Problem solved! 

The Doctor likes food. For example, jammy dodgers and fish fingers with custard. Can you fix this one? Try this: The Doctor likes food, especially jammy dodgers and fish fingers with custard.

 

FOR GRAMMAR GEEKS:

Listen, guys. I know fragments can be cool sometimes. They’re especially awesome in scenes with a lot of dialogue, especially if your character stammers or has a stutter. PLEASE BE CAREFUL, though. There’s a fine line between intentional fragment use and thinking you don’t need to use the rules of grammar because you’re just a naturally talented writer. You can’t compose a symphony without learning to play the instruments, you can’t be a chess master without first learning how each piece moves, and you can’t be the next Shakespeare unless you know the basic rules of grammar. So. Use fragments in moderation (mainly in dialogue), and don’t ever, EVER use them in formal or technical writing. Please? For me?

MERRIAM-WEBSTER DEFINITION:

fragment

noun frag·ment \ˈfrag-mənt\
: a broken part or piece of something

: an incomplete part

Full Definition of FRAGMENT

:  a part broken off, detached, or incomplete

 

Resources/Further Reading: Grammar & Style at Your Fingertips by Lara M. Robbins

Have a suggestion or request for an EFC Writer topic? Want to complain about something? Want more info about EFC Services?

E-mail me: everyfreechance@gmail.com with EFC Writer in the subject line.

 

melissasig

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Gina’s Review: Another Summer by Georgia Bockoven

 

Another SummerAnother Summer (The Beach House #2)
written by Georgia Bockoven
published by HarperTorch, 2001

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
This book series is like Pringles: 0nce I pop, I can’t stop. I love the characters because I would be friends with them. I’d love to sip margaritas on the beach with them. Bockoven has a way of making each storyline flow and feel real. You root for the characters and want them to find their happy ending. My favorite storyline had to do with the pair that met at their school reunion. I know it’s been done before in many books, but this one just made me smile. Summer beach reads should have that feeling. You want that balance of realism and the smell of the ocean. And since I love a good romance, it is perfection.

GOLDEN LINE

“If the destination was a broken heart, at least she would always have the memory of the journey.”

 

everyfree5

Would I recommend it: Absolutely. It is one of my favorite summer reads. This whole series so far has been summer reading perfection.

ginasig

About the book – from Goodreads: If you’re lost and lonely…come in.The quaint little beach house perched on the Pacific’s edge is a haven for those seeking refuge from life’s tempests. This season the tenants renting the secluded cottage by the sea are different — yet each is searching for something. A young mother wracked with guilt and despair over a tragic death; a beautiful, successful lawyer denying the passion she’s never known…and always desired: a little boy with no laughter in his life; a man and a woman parted for twenty year, who never stopped loving each other, This is where they bring their pain, their broken hearts, their courage, and their dreams. And in this magical summer, this is where their dreams will come true.

 

efchappy

The EFC Writer – Complex and Compound Sentences

 

Welcome to the EFC Writer—a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing (or not doing, as the case may be).

 

TODAY’S TOPIC: Complex and Compound Sentences

We’ve already established that good writing utilizes more than just simple sentences (check out my post HERE to learn more). Now let’s chat a bit about how to polish your prose. First up, compound sentences:

COMPOUND SENTENCES are just two simple sentences stuck together. Use either a semicolon or a conjunction (and, or, nor, but, yet, for, so), and voila! Instant sentence upgrade! Let’s try it!

SIMPLE: “Clara is cool. I like Rose better.”  COMPOUND: “Clara is cool, but I like Rose better.” COMPOUND: “Clara is cool; I like Rose better.”  Still totally easy! Be careful, though—hooking too many simple sentences together will make your prose sound like it was written by a three-year-old.

COMPLEX SENTENCES hook a simple sentence (an independent clause) to at least one dependent clause (a dependent clause is a group of words that doesn’t form a sentence on its own). Use words like although, while, that, who, or because to link your clauses. Ready to give it a go?

SIMPLE: “Clara is cool. I like Rose better.” COMPLEX: “Although Clara is cool, I like Rose better.”

SIMPLE: “Clara is cool. I like Rose better.” COMPLEX: “I like Rose better because the Bad Wolf story arc is awesome.”

Can you identify the different clauses? In the first example, “I like Rose better” is the simple sentence and “although Clara is cool” is the dependent clause. The comma is just another added bonus to help you figure things out. Nice, right? In the second sentence the word “because” links the two clauses to form a complex sentence.

So. Take some deep breaths. You’ve probably been writing sentences like these forever . . . all I’ve done is given you some fancy grammar lingo so you can impress your friends at parties (because everybody’s impressed by grammar, right? RIGHT?!). Ahem. Anyway. Take a look at some of your own writing; see if you can level up your simple sentences!

FOR BONUS POINTS: Can you figure out how to write a compound/complex sentence?

FOR GRAMMAR GEEKS:

According to Lara M. Robbins, “The most effective way to use a compound sentence is to juxtapose your thoughts to show contrast or to equate your thoughts to show balance.”

The words you’ll be using to hook those complex sentences together are either subordinate conjunctions (although, while, because) or relative pronouns (that, who), and officially you ought to be calling those dependent clauses “restrictive clauses.”

Complex sentences are awesome for showing which clause or idea is more important, so keep that in mind when you’re writing.

MERRIAM-WEBSTER DEFINITION:

sentence

noun sen·tence \ˈsen-təns\

Definition of SENTENCE

1:  a group of words that makes a statement, asks a question, or expresses a command, wish, or exclamation

Full Definition of CLAUSE

1:  a group of words containing a subject and predicate and functioning as a member of a complex or compound sentence

Resources/Further reading: Grammar & Style at Your Fingertips by Lara M. Robbins

Have a suggestion or request for an EFC Writer topic? Want to complain about something? Want more info about EFC Services?

E-mail me: everyfreechance@gmail.com with EFC Writer in the subject line.

 

melissasig

efchappy

Story Time with Sara: Little Green Dragon by Erin Kurt and Laara Exsnar

storytime

The Yummy Adventures of Celia and Cedric: Little Green Dragon (#3)Little Green Dragon
written by Erin Kurt and Laara Exsnar
published by Create Space, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: OK, so if you read my review of the first book in this series, The Yummy Adventures of Celia and Cedric: Amazing Apples, you realize that I really didn’t think very highly of the book. I did however, say that I would give the series another chance . . . and I did.

The children, Celia and Cedric, are MUCH more relatable in Little Green Dragon than they are in Amazing Apples. One of my biggest problems with the first book is the unrealistic dialog for the children. The children’s dialogue and activities are much more age appropriate in this book. The file I received to review wouldn’t open in the Kindle App for Ipad, but once I transferred it to an actual Kindle device I was able to see the illustrations (albeit in black and white) and the recipe at the end of the story. Both elements truly complement the story. We actually make green smoothies in my house, but we may be calling them dragon juice from now on . . . IT’S just more fun! 🙂
I enjoy that the children are pretending the little dragon is chasing them, and my son enjoyed that part too. My criticism comes only from the fact that at the end of the story the kids pretend they are drinking the green dragon in their smoothie drinks. My son asked me why the children would want to drink the dragon. I replied that he was chasing them so they wanted to make him go away. My child said, “But Mom, he was only playing, it was not nice of them to eat him . . .” My husband is vegetarian, so our family discusses how some people eat animals and some don’t, so perhaps that’s why my son brought this up . . .  but I can’t help but think he has a point. Instead of having the children drink the dragon, we imagined that the green drink was a magical potion that would turn them into little green monsters so they could play chase with the dragon.
everyfree3.5

Would I recommend it: I would recommend this fun little story with a recipe, especially if you are looking for a fun way to introduce more leafy greens into your preschooler’s diet.

sarasig

About the book – from Goodreads: Celia and Cedric meet a new friend! In this new adventure, they meet the Little Green Dragon, who becomes a fun playmate and an inspiration for a yummy new recipe. Celia and Cedric enjoy the Little Green Dragon’s smoothie and you can, too! This is the third book of “The Yummy Adventures of Celia & Cedric” series. Other books in the series are: “The Yummy Adventures of Celia & Cedric: Amazing Apples!” “The Yummy Adventures of Celia & Cedric: Eat Dirt Balls!”

efchappy

Melissa’s Review: From a Killer’s Mind by Jason Helford

From a Killer's Mind

From a Killer’s Mind
written by Jason Helford
published by Jason Helford, 2013

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonSmashwordsGoodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
I . . . I’ve never read anything quite like this book, and I’m honestly not sure if I enjoyed it. I had to stop reading several times (mostly right before bed) because I was afraid I’d have nightmares. You know how you sneak a peak at car accidents as you drive past, feeling guilty all the while? This book is like that. It’s awful and disgusting and gory and I couldn’t not finish it.

Helford’s got a bit of work to do with his prose, but if From a Killer’s Mind is anything like others in its genre, I’d be surprised if he can’t find a publisher after a few more rounds of editing. For starters, let’s get rid of about half the occurrences of “deep seated” whatevers and figure out a different way to say that. I’d also recommend ditching that pesky passive voice (you all know how I HATE passivity) and then just doing some general tidying up (for example: my mind is still reeling from John’s trip to the grocery store, not because of what he did, but because I’m pretty sure he never bothered to take all that frozen food out of his back seat).

As for the story, well, I’m left feeling both overwhelmingly sad and overwhelmingly disgusted. I’m pretty sure that’s what Helford was going for.

GOLDEN LINE

“John darkly wondered if he was yelling into an empty kitchen, screaming at nothing but himself, but he pushed that thought back down and continued.”

everyfree4
Would I recommend it: I’d definitely give this book a NSFW/NSFL warning, but if bloody, icky gore tossed with a giant dose of insanity is your thing you’ll love From a Killer’s Mind. 

melissasig

About the book – from Goodreads: 
“Fans of Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs and Shane Stevens’ By Reason of Insanity may find a new favorite author here.”
-Kirkus Reviews

John has been a successful serial killer for his entire adult life, committed to his craft without detection or disruption. He’s spent years perfecting his process and meticulously planning out each kill, honing his abilities to horrible heights; however, when one kill doesn’t go as planned, his confidence is shattered, and his dark life starts down an even darker road, to either his salvation…or his ultimate downfall. John finds his private sanctum infiltrated by chaotic characters from the most unlikely of places, putting him through an existential crisis of the soul. As John loses control, his true crucible begins.

From a Killer’s Mind, the debut novel of writer Jason Helford, is a mind-bending, scary, and emotionally honest trip through the life of a serial killer, laying bare the killer’s soul for all readers to see. The remarkable twist at the core of this novel is something that will leave you open-mouthed, shocked, and completely hooked, until the very last page.

 

efchappy

Books ‘n’ Bloggers Swap


 

This is my third Books ‘n’ Bloggers Swap, and I am so excited to take part again this year!!!

(Check out my last two reveals here and here.)

 

The Swap Objective

 

Send your partner THREE books:

 

A book you love
A book you haven’t read but are interested in
A book from your partner’s wish list

(And you can also throw in extra goodies, too!)

 

Go over to Chaotic Goddess Swaps and check it out.
Sign-ups end August 24!

 

efchappy

Gina’s Review: Balm by Dolen Perkinds-Valdez

Balm

Balm
written by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
published by Amistad Press, 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
This was definitely not one of my favorite books. I don’t know if the author was trying to make the characters unlikeable, but I didn’t like any of them. I thought the story started promising but in the end was too depressing and fell flat. I was bored and ended up just skimming to try and finish it. I had high hopes for this book, but it didn’t leave me feeling much of anything.

everyfree2.5

 

Would I recommend it: Not particularly.

ginasig

About the book – from Goodreads: The Civil War has ended, and Madge, Sadie, and Hemp have each come to Chicago in search of a new life.

Born with magical hands, Madge has the power to discern others’ suffering, but she cannot heal her own damaged heart. To mend herself and help those in need, she must return to Tennessee to face the women healers who rejected her as a child.

Sadie can commune with the dead, but until she makes peace with her father, she, too, cannot fully engage her gift.

Searching for his missing family, Hemp arrives in this northern city that shimmers with possibility. But redemption cannot be possible until he is reunited with those taken from him.

In the bitter aftermath of a terrible, bloody war, as a divided nation tries to come together once again, Madge, Sadie, and Hemp will be caught up in a desperate, unexpected battle for survival in a community desperate to lay the pain of the past to rest.

Beautiful in its historical atmosphere and emotional depth, Balm is a stirring novel of love, loss, hope, and reconciliation set during one of the most critical periods in American history.

 

 

 

efchappy

The EFC Writer – Simple Sentences

 

Welcome to the EFC Writer—a series of quick, easily digestible writing tips based on some stuff EFC Services editor Melissa Ruiz is seriously annoyed you’re still doing (or not doing, as the case may be).  

 

TODAY’S TOPIC: SIMPLE SENTENCES

It’s like this: you’re using simple sentences too often. Yeah, they’re easy to write, and yeah, they’re easy to understand, but you’re not in the fourth grade any more. It’s time to level up. The first step is making sure you know what simple sentence actually are. Here’s one:

Die!

Here’s another one: Dumbledore dies.

I can keep adding words (“Dumbledore dies a surprising and heartbreaking death in the Harry Potter series.”), but the structure stays the same: simple. You probably use simple sentences when you’re talking, so this structure can be okay for character dialogue as long as you’re not using it too often. Too much simple structure makes your prose read like a primary school report, and we both know you’re better than that.

Take a quick peek at your latest draft. Are you using simple sentences all the time? More than half of the time? More than you think I want you to? Hmm? Hmmmmmm?

Next time I’ll show you some quick ways to grown-up-ify (YES. It’s a word. TRUST ME, I’m your editor!) your sentences. *grin*

 

FOR GRAMMAR GEEKS:

Simple sentences are great for clarifying tough topics and adding variety to your prose, but use them too often and you run the risk of sounding like a tween. You WANT to write about complex ideas and relationships, and simple sentences just can’t hack that sort of depth. Stay tuned for next time, when I’ll introduce you to compound and complex sentences—two great ways to change things up and mature your writing.

 

Further Reading/Sources: Grammar & Style at Your Fingertips by Lara M. Robbins

Have a suggestion or request for an EFC Writer topic? Want to complain about something? Want more info about EFC Services?

E-mail me: everyfreechance@gmail.com with EFC Writer in the subject line.

 

melissasig

efchappy

Story Time with Sara: The Yummy Adventures of Celia & Cedric #1: Amazing Apples by Erin Kurt and Laara Exsnar

storytime

 

The Yummy Adventures of Celia and Cedric: Amazing Apples! (#1)The Yummy Adventures of Celia & Cedric #1: Amazing Apples
written by Erin Kurt and Laara Exsnar
published: 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange  for an honest review.

Did I enjoy this book: 
This book was not my favorite. There’s a lot of character introduction and background information given, but it sort of overshadowed the story itself. Also, I am the first to admit that I LOVE children’s stories that sneak learning into the story, but here there was no sneaking. In fact, there was no real story. There was no conflict or drama at all. It felt like a flimsy construct created for the sole purpose of delivering random science and health facts about apples. My favorite is how they were sitting at the dinner table and one child comments, “Did you know that apples have boron in them, which helps keep your bones strong?” Followed by, “Mom, can you remind us why Vitamin C is good for us?” I know my kids can totally relate to dialog like this . . . <eye roll> Further, the cover states that this is a “Read and Bake” series, so I was expecting there to be a recipe for the Apple Cake Celia and her Mom baked. I did not find it. It actually sounded yummy and I was interested in baking it with my kid . . . perhaps it was just missing from the file I was sent for this review. I think there may have been a formatting problem because there were no illustrations either.

everyfree2.5

Would I recommend it: Uh, as of right now I would say not really. I want to read some of the other books in the series and see how the characters and the stories pan out. I think the premise is a really cool idea, so I would be willing to give the series another shot, but I was really not a fan of this particular book.

sarasig

About the book – from Goodreads: Celia is bored. And with everyone in her family busy she doesn’t know what to do…until her dad gives her a task that leads to her best day ever; the day she meets Cedric and their yummy adventures begin!

 

efchappy

Guest Review: The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank

The Last Original Wife

The Last Original Wife 
written by Dorothea Benton Frank
published by William Morrow, 2013

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
Looking for a good, undemanding, beachy read? Dorothea Benton Frank’s The Last Original Wife is a great choice. A southern tale of marriage gone stale and a woman’s search for her roots, The Last Original Wife entertained me without making me dig. I enjoyed it.

Leslie is the last of her friends to be married to her first husband, Wesley—oh, yes: Leslie and Wesley: how’s that for cute? But some neglect on Wesley’s part segues into betrayal by omission: Leslie discovers her husband has neglected to mention the 22 million he squirreled away in their joint bank account.

How come I never have that kind of problem? 

everyfree3

 

Would I recommend it: If you like a good vicarious tale of come-uppence with a dash of gentle romance, you’ll enjoy The Last Original Wife.  It is a non-taxing, feel-good summer read.

 

~ Pam, guest reviewer & EFC Short Story Contest Winner ~

 

About the book – from Book Depository: Experience the sultry Southern atmosphere of Atlanta and the magic of the Carolina Lowcountry in this funny and poignant tale of one audacious woman’s quest to find the love she deserves. Leslie Anne Greene Carter is The Last Original Wife among her husband Wesley’s wildly successful Atlanta social set. But if losing her friends to tanned and toned young Barbie brides isn’t painful enough, a series of setbacks shake Les’s world and push her to the edge. She’s had enough of playing the good wife to a husband who thinks he’s doing her a favor by keeping her around. She’s going to take some time for herself–in the familiar comforts and stunning beauty of Charleston, her beloved hometown. And she’s going to reclaim the carefree girl who spent lazy summers with her first love on Sullivans Island. Daring to listen to her inner voice, she will realize what she wants . . . and find the life of which she’s always dreamed.The Last Original Wife is an intoxicating tale of family, friendship, self-discovery, and love that is as salty as a Lowcountry breeze and as invigorating as a dip in Carolina waters on a sizzling summer day.

 

efchappy