Some epic flame wars revolve around the Oxford comma. Grammar is as hot a topic as religion or politics, it seems. But we who publish online live in an age of English speakers
from many countries and cultures sharing their written words.

The British have some really weird preposition uses. Except it's not at all weird, just not what I'm used to. I'm going to talk about style and specifics in a series of grammar posts. Because it truly is more like guidelines, anyway. And the only real rule is:



Generally, The British like to add the "s" and the Americans and Canadians, don't.

That's it. There's no correct way. If you write for AP or The New York Times, they'll have a style manual for consistency and probably prefer no "s." I personally don't use an "s" but also don't give a crap if you do.

LESSON 1: If you are moving toward an anal insistence on perfect grammar, you are only really moving towards disappointment.

We Are Gods: Inventing eBook formatting

We are. The writers. And we have a new medium used in news ways and different things to consider. There is no “traditional” eBook format guide. We’re writing it. You and I. We are our own formatting gods.
Recently a writer I respect very much made a case for:
… adhering to publishing world standards … [it] speaks to upholding tradition and consistency … of respecting all the author’s work who’ve come before us ...
My own beliefs are diametrically opposed to his. Which does not mean I think his viewpoint is “wrong.” It’s simply a different way of thinking about these issues than my own. 

Indie writers are the "publishing world." A portion of it, anyway. We are publishers.
Paper book publishers all have their own formatting guidelines, often different from others. Those guidelines evolved, different in the 30s than the 60s than the 00s. 

As for respecting author's who came before, they just did what publishers required. Besides, if Shakespeare showed up today, he’d be Stephen King or Spielberg, not recreate the Globe theatre.Trad standards, developed for print books, aren't about tradition. 

They're about making the book work for readers while making a profit for the publisher.

That’s what new eBook standards will also be. What is new, now, will be traditional in a decade.


… limited to a minimum number used … one, two at most.

I agree. A bunch of fonts confuses the eye if they are too different from one another. But what’s a font?

Books, Trad or E, are limited by physical parameters. And devices change how much can be fit on a line. You might use Open Sans for most text and Open Sans Narrow for chapter titles because the font allows more characters per line. 

Or, you might use a font like Deja Vu because it has serif and non-serif versions. This can distinguish chapter titles from subtitles. 

… eReaders [render unpredictably] ... a font that may look fine on an iPad may not render the same way on a Kindle or other device…

Absolutely. The question for me was, what’s the program doing? I have a test title on Amazon and I load all kinds of variations of stuff in there to see what it looks like on multiple devices.

The choices seem to be based in these factors: 
  • serif or non 
  • normal or italic 
  • relative size

I create all my titles on Google Docs in Georgia because the program jumps from 14pt to 18 pt. Nothing in between. The 4pt difference is best for the way I format a time jump and usually shows up well no matter what I view it on.

I don’t have Word. I download an rtf file and upload to Amazon.

Spacing is an issue, also, as different programs can smoosh your lines together for a solid black body of almost unreadable text. Yeah, not user-friendly.
I got these numbers from an article on eBook formatting:
Line spacing 1.39
Add space after paragraph.

And I got this formatting from the same source:
left justify
no first line indent

All paragraphs should be indented. ...

Print books are indented to save paper. If there’s a space between graphs, it adds a significant number of pages. If there's no space and no indent, the book is one long paragraph. 

Indenting looks really bad on most cell phones or readers. IF you keep the extra spaces between graphs like Amazon does, it’s not terrible. But most programs don’t. 

Here’s a comparison between a Draft to Digital rendering and a Kindle rendering. -right click, open in new tab for full size-

The indent fatigues the eye, because we go back to the beginning, find the correct line, and then move in. Three processes. The block with space is less tiring because we go back and start reading, one process. 

We are our own publishers, we need to make these choices based on e-readers and our eBook readers. And what we see in other eBooks that works.  
Limit [word emphasis] to the use of italics. … removing all underlines, bolds, and CAPS.  

A page of print is a visual medium. I had a wonderful ARC reader send me 41 total pages of corrections on Dancing Men. Many of her corrections were about these issues. I ignored most of them. 

In my case, I write a lot of thought and memory. My stuff already has a lot italics. So I look for options because this can also fatigue a reader.< br/> Sometimes, you must emphasize a word in text or dialogue because it literally changes the meaning of the sentence:

"Don't give him any money."
"Don't give him any money."
"Don't give him any money."
I do use underline, because these days programs are subtler with the line and it gives me another way to communicate with my reader. I use it for strong emotions.
“Stop,” she said. “Stop. ... Stop it!”
I don’t have to resort to a dreaded adverb to convey her emotional state. We might be overhearing this and not know why she is saying or feeling what we hear. That last underline might prompt a character to get off a bus bench and peer down the alley. 

These are my personal emphasis parameters:

-Italics for memory - indent all of it

-Italics for thought. As normal text

-Italics for clarity. Emphasis indicates a change in tone in dialogue.

--Underline strong emotion or more intense action. Whap-whap! Whap!
Don’t underline punctuation like periods, commas, question marks. It’s confusing because it obscures spaces and ends. If you underline straight-backed for some reason I’m unable to imagine, do the whole thing. It’s one word.

Italics have traditionally been used for sounds. Bzzzzzzz. I write BDSM. There’s whappage. And shwipping. And cop stuff. There’s a lot of BAM! BANG! Comic book sounds. I like those, they give a fast visual to the reader.
Italics are visually softer. Underlining is stronger. I’m not italicizing pounding on the door unless it’s way escalated and it’s in addition to all caps and exclamation points and underlines.
But italics can also be insidious. Stephen King is a master of the insidious italicized sound. tap-tap-tap
These things are part of communicating story to the reader. These are our tools. 
Font color - One: black
I agree, unless you are writing non-fiction (even then) or a children’s book, maybe? Use black. Why? 

Because cutesy stuff like having the word 


in red as if it will be ... what? Bloodier? It’s the writer inserting themselves into the story - you come between the reader and the world you created. 

IMO. Maybe I’m a traditionalist, too. 

Back to color: I don’t believe it has to be the same shade of black. 

One of the best uses of tools I’ve seen was the chapter/section titles in the ebook of a very successful author who used grayscale quite effectively.

That’s one of those things I stole.

I’m going to avoid grammar and wind up, except to give my version of texting:

GRAMMAR: My grammar guidelines are: be correct in text and do what the hellever in dialogue. The best choice is the one that conveys clearly and sounds best in your reader’s ear.
I have willfully used a construction I knew violated some technical grammar “rule”—those evolve, too, you know—because my character would not speak that way or the text would be off-tone for the POV. Or I just don’t like it.
Drama advances with technology.”
From Drama 101. At first, stories were told around a campfire. You couldn’t move around too much or you’d be outside the light. Or you could go outside the light and make spooky noises. The first stage wings!
Jump forward. Moving pictures. No sound. Talkies. Color. Advances in special effects. Is there a visual we cannot show today?
The cell phone advanced storytelling and interfered with it. These days if you want to strand a character, you must explain away their cell phone.
We have new technology, new freedoms, as well as new restrictions, and we will evolve new forms.
Whatever you do, put the story first along with the reader. Strunk and White and your ego come last.
Mostly - never stop writing. And never let this kind of stuff stop you. Ever.

M/M Does Not Mean Gay (necessarily)

9 days, 19 hours and 0 minutes.

That's as much time as I have left to get Dancing Men ready for launch. So why am I wasting precious time writing a blog post?

Because that guy at the right has quit talking to me until I do. That's Hunter Dane, homicide detective. And very good at it.

He is the Main Character (I can hear Cam clearing his throat from a chair he's laying up in a chair with my Kindle in his lap, behind me.) in the Hunt Dane Investigation series and one of the protagonists in the Hunt&Cam4Ever series. The other being the redoubtable Camden Caulfield Snow. 

These men, if you've been following along, have a pretty hot relationship, sex-wise. They also have a pretty amazing relationship all otherwise, I think. It's an evolving relationship, title to title, things change. But the point here is:

Hunter Dane is not gay. (He also doesn't like labels and is rolling his eyes because he knows I'm going to do use one.) Hunt is a bisexual switch. That's two labels.


A lot of people think of bisexual as someone who is gay sometimes and straight other times. The thing about sexuality and gender is: it's a spectrum. It's probably the main reason Hunter hates being called that, even though he'll grudgingly go along. (He just said, "You're a fucking writer, make up a better word!")

Uh ... Homo sapiens sapiens? But I didn't make it up.

In the real world people are infinitely variable and sexuality is highly complex and under
very loose genetic control. Which means hardly any at all, being so highly adaptable to environmental circumstances. The fact is, we're all unique and there's hardly any place it's as obvious as in our sexuality.

As a writer, my job is to bring you the characters and stories being as true to both as I can be. Their story as shown in the books and shorts and appearances in other books, is not a romance. It's the story of the impact two people have on one another. (Aaaand Cam just dragged Hunt off toward -- oh man, it's a one-bedroom apartment.

Anyway, I know some people are sensitive to seeing certain kinds of things and would rather avoid the whole book if it has stuff they don't like. I know this because a person in the reviewer comments on one site seemed outraged that m/f sex had even been mentioned, quit reading and gave the book she had never read the lowest possible rating. So - serious trigger issue for some.

I write about all the stuff of my characters who I experience as just as real as anyone. But mostly, I write about love.

Now I have to go put my earplugs in.


DOMINANT: real or fake?

The Dominant’s Guide is a blog that mostly republishes the writings of Mistress Steele, aka F.R.R. Mallory who wrote Extreme Space, The Domination and Submission Handbook

There are some excellent articles on The Dominant Guide site and I rarely disagree with the Domme, but I think she’s jumped a few sharks with her post about “meretricious” Doms:

The Meretricious Dominant mimic’s the actions, attitudes and behaviors of others in order to lure people into positions of vulnerability primarily for cheap, easy sex with a kink twist.

I’m fairly certain manipulating others for the purpose of cheap, easy sex is a kind of universal thing and not really a function of being Dominant, meretricious or otherwise. But what’s she talking about here? What exactly is a “meretricious” Dom?

Today within the D/s lifestyle we see many ‘scheduled’ Dominants. These are the dominants who selectively schedule specific time periods to ‘be’ dominant. Which leads the observer to question what that person ‘is’ the rest of the time….

… Presenting this ‘temporary’ status as real status is the point where pretense, falsehood and insincerity come into play.

That they are unable to sustain dominant presence is often quite evident when one looks at their daily lives. Often there will be little or no other areas within their lives that they are in control of in any appreciable way.

I’ll counter this by looking at the other side, the submissive. A submissive in private or at a club can also be a judge, a business owner a cop or a football coach. That is, they dominate others quite effectively and comfortably in the parts of their lives that call for that.

But they also are people who derive deep satisfaction from surrendering themselves.
They don’t “sustain” a submissive presence. They can be as Alpha as anyone else. In other words, they “schedule” a time to express their submission in a way appropriate to their lives. Which is not when they have to rip a linebacker a new asshole for dropping an intercepted pass.

Why would it be different for a Dominant, who can be someone who avoids conflict and confrontation and would rather go along and get along?

You aren’t a “real” Dom because you control all aspects of your life. You are a real Dom when you interact with a sub in ways that satisfy the sub and you. And you can certainly choose to only do that during “playtime.” 

There is also, BTW, “neutral.” It isn’t necessary to dominate a server at a coffeeshop or submit to a friend while shopping. No one has to “be” a thing in a way another defines for them.

As for this:

Often there will be little or no other areas within their lives that they are in control of in any appreciable way.

It’s all an illusion, this control people think they have. It just means a section of rebar hasn’t flown off a truck on the highway to crash through their windshield and blind them. They don’t have their cancer diagnosis. Their high schooler didn’t run off with a college kid. Their stock didn’t tank. They don’t have bedbugs.


People are endlessly complex. And rainbows have no edges.