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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Cardel

Read. Dream. Write. Repeat.

Updated: Nov 17, 2018

November 2018

Pumpkinly Spiced?

You can make anything an adverb by adding ly. That doesn’t mean you should. In the season of over-indulgence of all things pumpkin, I thought it fitting to discuss the overuse of adverbs. Editors loathe adverbs. Especially adverbs used with dialogue tags. For example: he said sweetly; she yelled loudly (that’s a double no-no because it’s redundant); he said softly, or coyly, or angrily, or whatever-ly. It’s poor writing. Make it clear by the action how they are speaking. In other words, show don’t tell. This is true of adverbs in other places too. Did he walk quickly or did he rush? Did she smile sadly or did her eyes tear up?

Writing Tip of the month: Go through each page of your manuscript and highlight the adverbs. See if you can find a more active way to say the same thing.

Here is a great chart I saw on Facebook with suggestions on replacing very:

Query Queries: It is important to include word count in your query. So, here is a list of average word counts by age group. If your word count is way out of the range—either too long or too short—you could get a rejection based on that alone.

ADULT: 80-90K


MIDDLE GRADE: 20-55K (Depends on subject matter and age range.)

PICTURE BOOK: 500-600 words (shooting for standard 32 pages)


Posted by John David Anderson

(Middle Grade)

When cell phones are banned at Branton Middle School, Frost and his friends Deedee, Wolf, and Bench come up with a new way to communicate: leaving sticky notes for each other all around the school. It catches on, and soon all the kids in school are leaving notes—though for every kind and friendly one, there is a cutting and cruel one as well.

The voice of the main character, Frost, is so engaging, and the story is very real. So many MG books make the characters seem too young, but this is spot on. The heart of the story is that words matter. And I love that!

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth

(Young Adult)

Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth have grown up in enemy countries locked in a long-standing fight for dominance over their shared planet. When Akos and his brother are kidnapped by the ruling Noavek family, Akos is forced to serve Cyra, the sister of a dictator who governs with violence and fear. Cyra is known for her deadly power of transferring extraordinary pain unto others with simple touch, and her tyrant brother uses her as a weapon against those who challenge him. But as Akos fights for his own survival, he recognizes that Cyra is also fighting for hers, and that her true gift—resilience—might be what saves them both.

I may have to add this duology to my favorites. The world building is so well done. And I love Cyra and Akos. I read the sequel, The Fates Divide, and was sad when it ended. I know the story is good when I miss the characters.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon


Claire is catapulted from 1940’s Scotland into the intrigues of 1740’s Scotland that threaten her life, and may shatter her heart. Marooned amid danger, passion, and violence, Claire learns her only chance of safety lies in Jamie Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior. What begins in compulsion becomes urgent need, and Claire finds herself torn between two very different men, in two irreconcilable lives.

So good. The historical detail is so well done, you feel like you’re there. I loved these characters and didn’t want to stop reading. (I must note that some scenes are sexually explicit.)

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