Guest Post: Exercise and Be Fit for any Writing Problem

11:37 AM / Posted by Lisa Yarde / comments (0)


I once knew a woman who was famous in her local gym. This lady was reminiscent of a female Ironman.  She is whom you want to know when you need to open a stubborn pickle jar.  She works out four times a week.  So I asked her one-day for advice on my abs.  In reality, I was just making conversation.  I anticipated that she would tell me to do a couple hundred crunches and to stop eating so much Taco Bell.

I will never forget her reply.  She said, and I quote:  “Do you want to work on your obliques, or your abdominus muscles? “  Apparently, there are six different muscles that make up the stomach region.  Each muscle has a specific function.  In order to target the desired region, I would need to alter my exercise regimen to concentrate my efforts.  Well, in just you were wondering, it was my rectus abdominus that I wanted to tone.   However, to get the chiseled look that I was hoping for, it would take a daily routine of consistent effort.

Writing is much the same.  It takes a concentrated, regular effort.  In the course of my duties at Grammarly, I have been able to talk to many successful writers.  They have shared some writing exercises that have helped them to overcome writing problem areas.  Here are a few exercises that will have you metaphorically opening pickle jars with the best of them.

Problem 1: Flabby Phrases
Target Exercises:  On the website of The Purdue Online Writing Lab, three activities are featured that are designed to help you to identify and eliminate wordiness from writing.   The previous sentence is wordy, right?  After practicing with the activities, I am more aware of unnecessary and redundant information.  A better sentence:  The Purdue Online Writing Lab features three activities designed to help you eliminate wordiness.  Try your hand: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/exercises/6/9/

Problem 2: Zits and Imperfections
Target Exercises:  Spelling and grammar errors do more than detract from a document.  These small errors can cost time and money.  If you send a manuscript full of errors to a publisher, it will decrease its chances of being accepted.   If you become aware of errors that you regularly make, you can seek to avoid these negative habits.  Use this free proofreading service.   Cut and paste a paragraph or two into the box.  The free version provides a list of probable errors that have been detected in your document.  For example, it may suggest that a subject and verb agreement error exists.   Check each sentence in the paragraph until you find the problem.  As after a workout, you can reward yourself to a banana.  I am sure potassium is good for writers, too.                                                 
                                     
Problem 3: Flat characters
Target Exercise:  The Writer’s Craft offers seventeen ways to get in touch with your characters.  They cheated a bit, because the first four are really the same: Read, read, read, and reread books.  When you choose a few books to focus on for this activity, include a couple that you did not like or did not finish.  By doing character sketches, you will notice what characteristics attract and repel you. Once you have researched the characters in several published novels, you will have a better idea of what types of characters maintain and repel the interest of the reader.  Jodi Cushing posted a list of one hundred questions.  After 100 questions, you will probably know your character better than you know your partner!

If you are willing to do the work, you can tone your writing muscles.  These are only a few of the most common problems that writers face.   Do not suffer through rejections without investigating whether a little exercise might not help you.   Consult with a developmental editor and ask them to make suggestions for improvement.   Equipped with the knowledge of your flaws, you can target each one with the appropriate exercises.  You won’t even need to buy a gym membership!

Bio: Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.

A guest post from Grammarly.
All images courtesy of Fotolia

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Flash sale - Sultana series, each book at $0.99, only on Feb. 1

12:00 AM / Posted by Lisa Yarde / comments (0)

Sultana: The Bride Price, book four of the Moorish Spain series, makes its debut in spring 2014. Just for one day, get caught up on the first three ebooks in the series, each 99 cents,only on February 1. That's right, all three books in the series including; last summer's release, Sultana: Two Sisters, are on sale today only at my website and all the retailers below

Sultana, book one
iBookStore
Barnes and Noble's Nook
Kobo
Smashwords











Sultana's Legacybook two
Amazon
iBookStore
Barnes and Noble's Nook
Kobo
Smashwords











Sultana: Two Sistersbook three
Amazon
iBookStore
Barnes and Noble's Nook
Kobo
Smashwords



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Final cover art - Sultana: The Bride Price

11:33 AM / Posted by Lisa Yarde / comments (0)

It's finally here; the cover artwork for the next in my Moorish Spain series, entitled Sultana: The Bride Price, which will be available in the spring.



Sultana: The Bride Price is the story of Sultan Muhammad V of the Nasrid Dynasty, the only son of Yusuf I and his Christian wife Butayna, as told in Sultana: Two Sisters. The novel follows the course of history in which Muhammad V married his paternal first cousin, a woman whose name was not recorded in any of the sources, whom I have called Jazirah. As the novel opens, Jazirah is a headstrong and determined fourteen year-old; I expect any descendant of Fatima, the heroine of the first two novels would have been little different from her stalwart ancestress. Needless to say, Jazirah and her new husband don't fare very well at the start; if you've read my previous work, you know this already because you also know I don't write about historical figures with rosy, happy lives. Returning for this novel are several of the characters from Two Sisters, most importantly, Butayna and Maryam, whose continued conflicts are resolved in a dramatic way that aligns with their history. Muhammad V also has his own drama to survive within and outside of the harem's walls of Alhambra.

As with my other historical fiction works, the credit for this cover goes to Lance Ganey, whom I have the joy of working with for four years now. The original, public-domain artwork I sent him was Ferdinand Max Bredt's In a courtyard, Tunis (1921). The central figure drew me because she's much as I envisioned a young and beautiful teen-aged Jazirah. Lance superimposed the figure over a beautiful background of Alhambra's Court of Lions, which Muhammad V ordered construction on beginning in the early 1360's.

The ebook and paperback versions of the newest novel will be available within a short span of each other; ebook always first on all sales channels, followed by the paperback assuming all goes well with Ingram Spark. Four books down  and two more to go before I wrap up this series that has meant so much to me. I hope readers will be as excited as I am when Sultana: The Bride Price makes its debut.     

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$25 Amazon gift card: About Sultana-Two Sisters

7:00 AM / Posted by Lisa Yarde / comments (7)

UPDATE: THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN CLAIMED, CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNER!

Time for the final giveaway of a $25 #Amazon gift card by email to a lucky reader of Sultana: Two Sisters, the latest in my Moorish Spain series set within Granada's Alhambra. You must be able to answer the following 3 questions to win  -  the gift card can be used for anything you may purchase from Amazon. This giveaway is open internationally. 

Here are the rules:

  • First person to provide the correct answers to all 3 questions in a comment on this blog post OR my Facebook page wins
  • Leave your email address in the comments section to be considered in the drawing. 
  • This contest doesn't require you to follow The Brooklyn Scribbler blog or Like my Facebook page (although I'd love it if you did!), but you must have read the book. 
Now, questions from Sultana: Two Sisters.


In Sultana: Two Sisters (2013), former friends face off in a deadly rivalry, each fighting for the love of one man and the right to place a son on the throne.

1. Where was the heroine Esperanza Peralta born?

A. In northern Spain, at Pamplona
B. In southern France, at Toulouse
C. In central Spain, at Talavera de la Reina

2. Esperanza and her friend Miriam each enter the Sultan's harem as slaves, but which of the women arrives there first?  

3. What is the relationship of the hero of this novel to the heroine Fatima from the first two novels in the series?   

Thank you for playing and good luck! All the best in the New Year! 

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$25 Amazon gift card: About Sultana's Legacy

7:00 AM / Posted by Lisa Yarde / comments (2)

UPDATE: THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN CLAIMED, CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNER!

The fourth giveaway is here. One lucky person among the readers of Sultana's Legacy, the second in my Moorish Spain series set within Granada's Alhambra must be able to answer the following 3 questions to be considered in a drawing to win one $25 Amazon gift card -  the gift card can be used for anything you may purchase from Amazon. This giveaway is open internationally. 

Here are the rules:

  • First person to provide the correct answers to all 3 questions in a comment on this blog post OR my Facebook page wins
  • Leave your email address in the comments section to be considered in the drawing. 
  • This contest doesn't require you to follow The Brooklyn Scribbler blog or Like my Facebook page (although I'd love it if you did!), but you must have read the book. 
Now, questions from Sultana's Legacy.


In Sultana's Legacy (2011), the heroine Fatima faces off against a powerful enemy and loses almost everyone she holds dear, as she tries to protect and preserve her family.

1. As the novel opens, what is the name of Fatima's sister who lives at Malaka with her? 

2. How does Fatima's father meet his end?

3. Fatima has her favorites among her son Ismail's children in Gharnatah - what are the names of those favored grandchildren? 

A. Leila and Yusuf
B. Muhammad and Asiya
C. Samir and Jamilah

Thank you for playing and good luck! Next and final chance to win a gift card will be on Friday, Jan. 3 , for readers of Sultana: Two Sisters. Happy New Year! 

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$25 Amazon gift card giveaway: About Sultana

7:00 AM / Posted by Lisa Yarde / comments (3)

UPDATE: THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN CLAIMED, CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNER!

Time for the third giveaway, especially for readers of Sultana, the first in my Moorish Spain series set within Granada's Alhambra. As with the previous contests for On Falcon's Wings and The Burning Candle, I'm offering a $25 Amazon gift card by email to one reader who can correctly answer 3 random questions about the novel - the gift card can be used for anything you may purchase from Amazon. This giveaway is open internationally. 

Here are the rules:

  • First person to provide the correct answers to all 3 questions in a comment on this blog post OR my Facebook page wins
  • Leave your email address in the comments section to be considered in the drawing. 
  • This contest doesn't require you to follow The Brooklyn Scribbler blog or Like my Facebook page (although I'd love it if you did!), but you must have read the book. 
Now, questions from Sultana.


In Sultana (2011), the heroine Fatima is a Moorish princess wed to her paternal cousin Faraj, a move which precipitates a civil war between Fatima's family and their former allies.

1. What is the Moorish name of the city where Fatima grew up?

2. Which of the following men is Fatima's father?

A. Muhammad I
B. Muhammad II
C. Muhammad III

3. What is the name of Fatima and Faraj's firstborn son?

Thanks for playing and good luck! Next chance to win will be on Friday, Dec. 27 , for readers of Sultana's Legacy. Merry Christmas! 

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$25 Amazon gift card giveaway: About The Burning Candle

7:00 AM / Posted by Lisa Yarde / comments (4)

UPDATE: THIS PRIZE HAS BEEN CLAIMED, CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNER!

Ready for the second giveaway? For readers of The Burning Candle, I'm offering a $25 Amazon gift card by email to the first lucky reader who can answer 3 random questions about the novel - the gift card can be used for anything you may purchase from Amazon.This giveaway is open internationally. 

Here are the rules:

  • First person to provide the correct answers to all 3 questions in a comment on this blog post OR my Facebook page wins
  • Leave your email address in the comments section to be considered in the drawing. 
  • This contest doesn't require you to follow The Brooklyn Scribbler blog or Like my Facebook page (although I'd love it if you did!), but you must have read the book. 
Now, questions from The Burning Candle.


In The Burning Candle (2012), the 12th-century heroine Isabel de Vermandois marries a man older than her father and does her duty, until forbidden love gives her the courage to choose her own destiny.

1. What are the full names of Isabel's mother and father? 

2. How many sons does Isabel have with her husband Robert de Beaumont?

A. Two, separated by three years
B. Three; twins followed by another boy  
C. Four; only three live because the villain stabbed the fourth son

3. In the novel, Isabel has one friend in England, Amieria - what is the name of Amieria's famous father?

Thanks for playing and good luck! Next chance to win will be on Friday, Dec. 20 , for readers of Sultana. Happy holidays!

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