April 2014 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: April 2014 (Page 1 of 2)

Writing Mistakes: Weakness in Writing

When we write, we tend to put our thoughts on paper in the same way as they come out of our mouths. Unfortunately, this is a terrible habit of which writers need to cure themselves immediately.

How many times in your conversation do you use words such as “like”. “It was, like, so awesome when we went there. We saw, like, a thousand birds who were, like…” and so on.

The words that come out of your mouth may sound fine, but putting them down on paper will make your writing read poorly. It’s time to cure yourself of words that make your writing–and your speech–weak.


This word is evidently the bane of many readers’ existence. It’s called passive voice, and it basically describes things that happened in the past instead of telling them how they are happening NOW.

For example:

Wrong: “Harvard was slammed into the wall by the angry gorilla.”

Right: “The angry gorilla slammed Harvard into the wall.”

The first tells you what happened, but in the past. The second tells you what is happening right now, and paints a picture that you can envision as you read.



Pronouns are often thrown around liberally, and none more so than “it”.

“It” can describe any number of things, from “cheesecake” to “octopus semen”, but how you use “It” is important.

For example:

Wrong: Barbara slid her hand along the bannister. IT was hard and wooden.

Right: Barbara slid her hang along the hard, wooden bannister.

Often you can combine the two clauses into one, simply eliminating “it” and making your writing stronger.

It Was

Bam! Two weaknesses in one! “It was a cold and stormy night…” is the classic way to start a horror tale, but it’s poor writing that shows weakness. This horrible phrase is both passive (was) and a vague use of (it).

Instead, try to start the sentence with something stronger.

Wrong: It was a chilly winter…

Right: A chill hung in the winter air…

Was (Verb)-ing

Using “was (verb)-ing” (example: was fornicating) is weak sauce!

It uses the passive form of past continuous, which in itself is already weaker than the simple past tense.

Wrong: Jane was dancing on Arlo’s grave all night long.

Right: Jane danced a jig on Arlo’s grave all night long.

Had Had

There are almost NO instances when you should be using “had had”. It may crop up once every 200,000 words or so, but try to avoid it even then.

Wrong: William had had enough of Fallow’s ejaculations.

Right: William had grown weary of Fallow’s ejaculations.

Multiple Prepositions

Can you put something “down on” a surface? Sure you can, but wouldn’t it be better to just put it “on” the surface?

Once again, there may be the occasional exception to this very solid rule, but NEVER use two prepositions together.

Wrong: Carly spiked Bob’s head up over the volleyball net.

Right: Carly spiked Bob’s head over the volleyball net.


This is a tough one to deal with, and I’m finding myself having a hard time with it.

Basically, some explanations just aren’t necessary. For example, “he shrugged his shoulders”. What else could be he shrugging? Can you shrug knees, hands, or eyeballs? Doubtful.

Try to avoid explaining things when they’re unnecessary.

Wrong: Janet slipped on a banana peel in the darkness of the night.

Right:  Janet slipped on a banana peel in the darkness.

Multi-Word Verbs

This is a pet peeve of mine, but it’s not one that’s strictly right or wrong. It goes along the line of adverbs, or “Running quickly” when you should be saying “dashed or sprinted”.

Multi-word verbs include winners such as:

  • Cut down
  • Turn down
  • Look after
  • Came up with

All or most phrasal (multi-word) verbs can and should be replaced with single word verbs.


Architects vs. Gardeners: Which Are You?

This week I won’t be able to do a “Writing Mistakes” post on Monday (fingers crossed for Wednesday), so this will have to fill in.

I was doing my daily Goodreads (link to profile) browsing when I came across a very interesting conversation between writers. It was based off a quote from the great George R.R. Martin:

I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners.

The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up.

The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows.”


This set me to thinking about the way I write, and it made me realize: I’m an odd combination of both.

When it comes to telling a story, I really can sit down and just let the story take me wherever it wants to go. That’s how I wrote the first half of my novel In the Days  when I started it all those long years ago. I knew where it was going, but I had no idea how I would get there, what would take me there, or who I would meet along the way. All I knew was that I had this character, Deucalion, who had to somehow make it to the end of the book.

Or did he? Could I kill him off a-la-Senor Martin? Would he HAVE to survive? Truth be told, I had no idea what would happen, but the story just flowed when I sat down to write.

Of course, as I wrote, I found that more and more things needed to be planned and laid out. I added interesting plot twists, intriguing actions in the background that had to be justified, and explanations for what happened in the story. I could have come up with them on the spot, but I think I would have missed a few had I not written them down.

This is where the architect-style writing comes in handy. Being able to lay out a clear structure or framework for the story helped me to keep track of all of the important details, and I could add or remove as I went.

Friend and fellow writer Peter J Story told me about his character, Grak:

I knew how Grak would end when I made my outline and I knew major points along the way. However, as is the way of nature, strange things started popping up that are quite crucial to the development of the character, but which were never part of the outline.          They just sort of came to me suddenly when I started on the chapter.”

He sounds a lot like me, creating a rough outline of where things go, but letting the story sort of tell itself as it progresses.

Is there a right or wrong way to write?

In an article posted on Fantasy Faction, there was an interesting point about how the two types of writers tend to stick to different styles of writing.

For police procedurals, thrillers, mystery novels, and pretty much any story where detail is of paramount importance, architects tend to rule supreme.

For fantasy, stories of epic adventures, and stories where little details may not be as important, that is the gardener’s realm.

So which are you?






Anyone? Is there anyone there? Does anyone care?

The world around me doesn’t seem like they remember I exist. Alone, solitary, lonely, miserable, cold.

Standing, sitting, talking, crying; what am I doing in this cage? This cage of cruel device, not my own making. Imprisoned in this cell of solitude, my lonely tears to keep me company.

The world has shut me outside their notice, forgetting that I am. I long to be remembered, but my cage is warded against my muffled pleas. “I exist,” beats off lifeless walls, and falls spent at me feet. People passing by ignore my tear-stained face as I raise it in passionate pleas. Life is a cruel mistress.

I bend to her whim, but she treats me with disdain. Shall I yield to her ceaseless cadence and fall into the unknown? Shall I break free from this invisible enclosure, to rise into existence.

I am spent. Whether in vain or not, I shall never know. Yet, here I toil to be released, fruitless efforts bound in chain.

No one notices. No one cares.

Selfish in their own pursuit of happiness, never looking to see if there is one to make happy.

Actions spawning cruel reactions, uncaring feelings generating ire. No one notices the trail of broken hearts, beaten souls, and trodden feelings left in their wake. Solely focused on their own joy and life.

Unknowingly they evict from their lives the ones who don’t mold to their pleasure; uncaringly they ignore them when they try to reestablish contact. Cages are erected, bars are set in place. Only to those who remain contained therein the sordid case is visible. Helpless, desperate, struggling vainly to escape.

The perpetrator continues unaware. Unaware of the pain he has caused, that he has imprisoned innocent, that he leaves a soul to lie in the dust. Unaware that his turn is coming.

The circle always completes, and what one starts, one always finishes, though the ending may be different from the original thought.

Beware how you treat those around you, for life deals with an equable hand. Life takes no pleas for mercy, only deals out what she has been meted. Beware.

Writing Mistakes: The Famous Adverb

A wise man once said:

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” –Stephen King

The adverb modifies your verb. It’s what ensures that you run “quickly”, you smile “happily”, and you roll down the stairs “jokingly”.

Why is the adverb a writing mistake? Well, technically it’s not. It’s actually an important part of speech in many cases, but it may need to be removed from creative writing as much as possible.

Why is this? Let’s take a look at a simple sentence with an adverb in it:

Jane ran quickly through the park.

Nothing wrong with that sentence, right? It implies speed, haste, and moving at high speeds.  But why not try:

Jane (sprinted, dashed, raced, tore, hustled) through the park.

Shorter, less wordy, and actually brings to mind an action.

Verbs are strong words. They convey action or a state of being, but in this case we’re talking action. When you think of the words “sprint”, “dash”, or “race”, you immediately picture a sprinter like Usain Bolt or Maurice Greene tearing down a track.

On the other hand, when you hear the word “run”, you think of a much slower pace, probably closer to jogging than sprinting. Adding “quickly” on the end doesn’t really do much for your mental image, just adds another word to the mix.

And that, dear friends and fellow readers/writers, is why the adverb is a weak word nine times out of ten.

I’m sure that we can all come up with sentences where words ending in “-ly” help to make the writing stronger, and if so, good for you! (Imagine me patting you on the head.) But, for the most part, using adverbs just makes the writing weaker and wordier.

Adverbs are like the “passive voice” of writing–using “Bob was listening” instead of “Bob listened”. There’s something wishy-washy about passive voice (something I’m still learning the hard way), so it’s time to trim it from your writing.

Is it really so hard to eliminate all or most “-ly” adverbs from your writing? Truth be told, it’s not as difficult as you might think.

“Bob raced quickly” is actually just “Bob raced” (using quickly is unnecessary thanks to the word “raced”)

“Wilhelmina Hamburger smiled happily” is actually just “W.H. smiled”

Let’s get a bit more complicated:

“He smiled sadly” could be changed to “His was a sad smile”

“He struck the ground forcefully” could be “He pounded his fist into the hard earth”

And so on, and so forth…

In your writing, cut the fluff as much as you can. Adverbs are fluff in most situation, so use your Wolverine Claws of Editing Might to slice them out!


Taking Rejection Like a Man

Today I got my first rejection letter–of sorts.

I had sent a message to an admired member of a forum I frequent, asking her to review my book. Of course, I did it with the hope that she’d honestly like it and have good things to say about my maiden effort. With her “stamp of approval”, the other members on the site might say, “Ah, that looks interesting. If she likes it, it’s probably pretty decent.”

Huzzah me, right?

Unfortunately, this is what she sent me:

Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I can’t give it a good review.

There is a lot wrong with it still and a bad review would hurt your blossoming career. I do not want to do that to you. I know how hard you’ve worked.

Might I suggest getting a really good editor to give it a go over? The bones are there they are just buried under some issues that someone with an eye for literary detail can sort out fairly easily.

I’m more than happy to reread it after it has been re-edited either by you or someone with a little more experience in that department. At which point I’d be happy to give an honest review.


I have no idea what mistakes are in my book–whether grammar, punctuation, style, or plot–but I thought I went over it pretty well and did all the editing? Does that mean that my writing itself is the mistake, or did I miss something?

Pretty stinging for the first rejection. Hard to hear from someone like that that my first attempt at being a novelist fell a bit flat.

So how did I handle it? Surprisingly, I handled it pretty well.

Thanks for being honest and telling me that it needs work. I totally understand that it may not be your thing, and that there are parts of it that aren’t as good as they could be.

I’d have to say that I handled this rejection better than I handled the last one–someone telling me that the entire prologue was written in a style that so annoyed them that they couldn’t even read past the first half.

That doesn’t make the rejection any less tough, but I think I’m getting thicker skin. It’s always hard to get that first “No”, but now I have, and I’m ready to move on to the next ones. Here’s hoping that they’re few and far between!


A Brilliant Mind

The hewn rock walls made better doors than windows, but sunlight still filtered in through the many cracks near the front of the cave. The mouth was covered with a hide of a massive furry mammal, blocking all but a few of the rising globe’s rays.

I awoke to the tune of our 500-pound alarm clock, trumpeting out Taps. I nearly clubbed him over the head, but remembered in just the nick of time that he was nearly five times my size. Good thing I hadn’t rolled out of my sleeping furs into the charming arctic climate that pervaded our land.

I crack my beady eyes open and stare at the remains of last night’s dinner. Cold meat. That’s pretty much all we have around here. We have no way to warm it up so we eat it cold. Not the best but we make do. Our teeth get pretty strong after all the chewing and chomping we do. Jaws get tired, though.

I wonder what we can do to make the meat hot. Let’s see, lava pit? Nah. Makes your stomach feel a bit rocky. Steam cave? Tigers get at it too easily.

These things filled my mind as I rolled out of my blankets and into my clothes. More blankets only these tied somewhere. Now if only I could find where this hunk of fur tied off at.

After groping around for a few minutes, my primitive brain kicks into gear and I remember how to do it. I tie the thong around my waist and drape my blanket over my shoulder. Ready for the day.

I push aside my door, and step outside into the sub-freezing temperature. It so cold we don’t even get penguins here. They’re all way down near the bottom of the ball we inhabit in the warm climate. Man, what I’d give for a permanent vacation there.

I yawn and stretch my arms, my armpit moisture freezing. Great so now I cant put my arms down again. I waddle over to the main cave a short distance away, trying to warm up again so I can put my hands down.

“Hands up!” yelled Eez.

“Very funny.” Everyone got a huge kick out of that one. Man Eez can’t even make up a funny joke but the rest of the clan think he’s God’s comical relief for mankind.

I think God was in a bad mood when he created Eez. Ugly as the proverbial duckling, with brains to make a sweet couple. Seems like he had fallen out of the ugly tree and hit all the stupid branches on the way down. He was so ugly most people thought he scratches his arse and his head at the same time.

“So what are we supposed to do today?” Chief Ooz asked. He scratched his hairy chest and the flakes descended like snow. He shed about 3 pounds a day just scratching himself.

“I think we need to find something to give as an excuse for making the women do all the work. They’re beginning to think we haven’t been searching for adjacent continents like we’ve been telling them.” Everybody got a good laugh at that one. The womenfolk were so easily deceived. The looks of amusement changed to slightly bewildered glances.

“Uhh, what’s a continent?” Uud’s guttural voice broke the silence.

“You don’t know what a continent is?” I asked snidely. “Maybe you should ask Maa what is if you don’t know.” All the rest of the menfolk snickered condescendingly at his ignorance. We didn’t know either but it sure hurt our manly ego to confess that.

Uud looked a bit put out and stood up. He wandered off into the arctic forest, ashamed and humiliated before his ever so brilliant peers. He makes Eez’s smarts shine like the sun in arctic winter. Uud is so dumb he makes Eez look like the cave clan genius. We probably wouldn’t see him again for a while. At least until he had wrestled his pride to accept being humiliated in front of his peers.

I had been multitasking, both snickering at Uud and putting my primordial brain to work.

“Here’s the plan guys. When the women ask where we’re going were going to say, and I quote: We’re off on a hunt. Then they will all become awestruck at our extreme manliness and leave us alone. Then we prepare our weapons and head off to play a good game of golf.”

“And just how do we get our golf stuff out of our caves without the women noticing?” Chief Ooz was especially intuitive today. The pile of skin had become a small mound.

“Hang on, I’m thinking about that one.” Man all these tough questions and I had just woken up. “Okay, new plan: we actually hunt today. After all our meat supply is getting low and I need a new blanket.”

All the men looked at their own blankets. Most had holes of some sort, and a few were just big holes filled with small bits of fur. While what I had said was penetrating their tiny, archaic brains, I pulled a chunk of meat out from my pocket that I had been saving from a few days. Gnawing on the hard hunk, my jaw soon began to complain. Cold meat just wasn’t too good for a happy jaw.

“Alright men,” Chief Ooz said, “Here’s the plan. We’re going for a hunt. Grab your gear and be ready to move out by the time the snow melts on the rock over there.”

“What a great plan,” Eez enthused. He too was gnawing some meat he had stashed away in his garment. A chorus of applause greeted the chief’s proposal. Everyone forgets how exciting a hunt can be until they are actually doing it. Then their primal cerebrum kicked into gear and the complaining began. I was glad the chief could take recognition for my brilliant plan. After all, that was what every man wanted, for someone else to take his credit. Always happens. Whoopdeedoo.

My fellows shuffled off to their caves to make the excuses to their women and grab their gear. Of course knowing these men I wouldn’t be surprised if it took a bit longer than expected. Most had to ask a neighbor to help them find their arse, and even then sometimes it took a while. Sometimes it could take a whole troop of them. Maybe they could form a Democratic Party.

Women, of course, were much smarter than the men, myself excluded. They actually could do something right without having to sit and think about it for an extended period of time. The only thing is they didn’t come very good-looking these days. Most made Eez look like God’s gift to womankind. But they came in handy so I wasn’t complaining.

It’s funny how even the dumbest of men can be so verbal about something they don’t even understand. I heard arguing outside my cave and ambled outside to watch Eez and Uud arguing over hearth space. What they used the space for, who knew. What the heck was a hearth anyways? Maybe one of those things we need to ask a woman about. Nah, too painful for our manly ego.

Another couple of men joined sides just for the sake of it, clueless as to what it was about. The shouting increased in volume until the grunts and snorts could be heard in the chief’s cave. Then all hell broke loose in the form of our alarm clock.

He decided to join the argument and sent a blaring trumpet through the camp. Everyone clapped their ears onto their hands and ducked to avoid the fallout of expectoration that was sure to follow. Eez wasn’t fast enough. He stood there dripping phlegm. The alarm clock had taken Uud’s side. You could hear Eez’s brain rattling damply inside his head.

The chief came out of his cave and grunted loudly for the men to get ready to go. He had to repeat himself, as most of them men were a little hard on hearing already, and the noise of the alarm didn’t help any. Finally he resorted to clubbing one of them over the head to get them moving. It worked. The man rocketed toward his cave, obviously eager to be off. He didn’t see the wall though, and mid-flight couldn’t change his trajectory. The cave smacked his head with its wall and he bounced off like he had been batted by the pinch hitter in the giant’s baseball league.

I think the guys got the hint because they scattered like a stampeding herd of three-toed sloths and reappeared in only half a phase of the moon, if my calculations were correct. They all had their weapons at the ready, generic clubs to the man. Each looked vaguely similar, in the aspect that it came from a tree of some sort, but there the similarities ended. Every club varied in shape and size according to the skill and dexterity—or lack of it—of its owner.

We set out on our grand adventure of escaping the menial tasks the women wanted us to do by pretending to go hunting. I guess maybe we’d actually have to hunt after all, since they expected us to bring something back. They had told us so plainly last time. Not a man had escaped unscathed from their cruelties. Bell peppers. There are 248 different vegetables in the world. Pigs eat 246 of them. The ones they don’t eat are bell peppers and one more that I can’t think of offhand. Pigs must have some sense.

As we strolled along, or ambled, or waddled, or aped, or whatever each of these characters did, I took time to stare at the charming blue sky. The birds flew by, singing merrily as they glided through the frosty air. The pterodactyls cackled gleefully as they cut short the tune of some unfortunate bird. And the Tyrannosaurus Rexes just snickered loudly as they caught the pterodactyls swooping low. Ahh, the chain of life. Bloody thing.

Suddenly the stillness of the frigid morning was sliced by the bellow of a bull mammoth. Us guys looked at each other. Great, here was our chance to prove our manliness to each other and the women. Whoever was the bravest would be grunted about in every cave for at least a few days. To these buffoons, brave meant idiotic. Whoever nearly got himself killed and survived, he won the contest in idiocy or bravery as they called it.

Well, I could be as dumb as the next man. I decided to ask the mammoth the time. I ran towards him to attract his attention so he could stick his ear down where he could hear what I was saying. I think he got a different idea, what with my club swinging wildly above my head, and me yelling at the top of my lungs. He bent down to hear my question and swung his trunk at me like he was trying our for the nearest giants’ baseball team. He’d probably make it.

I didn’t have time to get out more than, “What t…,” before he hit me upside the head with what had to be the nearest cave. Mammoth trunks are just squishy little deals. No mammoth could hit that hard without some sort of weapon. Had to be a cave. I bet the guys would tell the women about the size of the cave, too.

But that all came later. Right now I was just trying to concentrate on not smashing into the nearest ice wall. I flapped my arms wildly like I had seen Oud do, rest his soul. The same thing happened to me that had befallen him, and my head tore a huge hole in the wall. My body decided to follow and make the hole bigger.

Finally I decided to stop breaking the ice, and broke my forward momentum on a wall of rock beneath it. Probably broke my neck too. I groaned and tried to stand up. Gravity was a pain is the ass and head and just about every other body part I had. I sagged back down top the icy floor, literally freezing my butt off. I tried to stand and actually managed to drag myself halfway up the wall before going limp and crashing to the icy floor. At least I fell in the direction of the exit.

A brilliant idea struck me like an 18-wheeler. What is an 18-wheeler? What is 18? And what is a wheel? Man, I must be punch drunk. I pulled myself up the wall, peeling the top three layers of my skin off. I again flopped towards the exit. At this rate it would take me about fifteen more flops to get out. What the hell is fifteen? My brain was going through weird stuff.

Finally, I made it outside my hole and watched the fierce battle between moronic mammal with teeth, tusks and trunk, and moronic mammal/primate with wooden sticks. You can guess who was winning.

I saw my fellow men being thrown around like leaves in a particularly nasty thunderstorm, and my blood boiled. Just enough to get some feeling back in my limbs. Maybe if I stood and watched long enough I might get all sensation back, and my brain might get some blood going through it too.

But camaraderie got the better of sense and I struggled to remain upright as I dragged myself towards the fray. I half jumped, half limped onto the trunk, and set myself for a fling. It came, throwing me high in the air. What our poor woolly creature did was throw me in the air straight above his head. Now had my chance to do something really great and bring down the mammoth. I braced myself for impact and readied my club. I dropped like the remains of a primitive pigeon spat from a pterodactyl’s mouth. My guts nearly flew out. I clamped my hand over my mouth to keep them down.

You know how they say the higher you fly, the larger hole you make in the impacted surface? Well I was hoping the thing that would get the hole would be the mammoth. Seems he had other plans. Tricksy beast that he was, he sidestepped my freefall with all the speed of tree sap after having been exposed to the frigid air for three years. But it was enough, as he had tossed me incredibly high.

As I plummeted towards the ground, I had the presence of mind to throw my club at the beast and yell, “Oh, crap.” I saw the ground flinch and make space for me as I smacked in a full belly flop directly into the hard, ice-packed earth. Well, that definitely took the wind out of my sails, blew a bit of sense into me and my breath out of me.

I tasted the metallic tang of frozen acid rain. Acid rain? We don’t even have a wheel yet much less a car to pollute the earth. How is this possible? And why the heck do I always say thing that mean absolutely nothing to me when I just finished getting my brains pounded out. Must be a sign of forward evolution.

Groaning, I again tried to stand with much the same luck as I had experienced in my self-excavated cave minutes before my experiment at flying. Sagging back to the floor I wished I had something to lean on. Aha, there lay Ooz’s club, as prostrate as he was, and as unmoving as well. Probably as smart too, I snickered to myself. I again tried to stand up using the club for support. Seemed just as I was about to be upright, gravity took hold on me and threw the club as far away as he could. Gravity was one sick puppy.

I decided to leave the undignified method of rising and falling, and revert to the much more refined method of crawling. Or in this case dragging myself over the ground to escape the crater I had dug for myself.

As I neared the brim of my pit, I felt the mammoth reach out his tusk for me. I thought he would tell me the time now that I had shown no hostility and endured his playful jostling. He did, but in a voice so loud in threw me back to the bottom of my crater.

“Could you say that again, jut a bit more quietly this time?” I asked politely while trying to climb the ridge again. You are always polite with animals at least three time your size. Mother Oog raised her son to be a polite little scrap, and always kind to his peers. Peers are those who could whale on your arse without breathing hard. We respected those few, Chief Ooz being one of them. He hadn’t gotten his chieftainship without working for it.

The mammoth developed a sore throat or something because he clammed up like the proverbial…well…clam. He just rolled me back down to the bottom of the crater, ignoring my protests. I felt like he was playing with me before he ate me, which was something mammoths seldom did. Eat people, I mean. Finally I had enough strength to totter upright and stepped on the mammoth’s trunk. So much for manners.

It got over its sore throat in a heartbeat and let out a roar of rage that nearly sent me tumbling back down the hill. I scrambled away from his rage and hustled for the nearest cover. Which sadly was beyond my eyesight, but at least I got out if the way of his swinging trunk. The cover still eluded me but I got out of the beast’s poor eyesight.

I stood there wondering what to do when I heard a rumbling. I looked up just in time to see a large chunk of ice and rock disentangle itself from the hole I had created and succumb to gravity. Today was shaping up to be my lucky day. First I take chunks out of cliffs. Then I learn to fly, the hard way. Now I get to get crushed by a large piece of earth? Oh yeah, this was my day.

I guess the dude who looked out for me was on the job and not snoozing like usual. On its trajectory towards the top of my hairy head, the rock/boulder bounced of a projection in the cliff and changed direction. It headed straight for the blind, befuddled pachyderm. I nearly yelled a warning before I realized what was going to happen.

The noise sounded like a rock hitting a large empty shell of bone. That is exactly what it was, only make that a boulder hitting the large, tough, but very empty brain of an enormous mammoth. The mammoth stood there looking puzzled for a moment. It hadn’t quite hit him yet that he had just been brained by a boulder at least as big a he was. Then it sunk in and he decided it was the cue for him to keel over, unconscious. Did a heck of a job of it too, shaking he ground with his massive bulk.

None of my buddies were awake yet and I knew this was my chance for glory and fame, at least until my fellow cavemen’s brains were overloaded and the small memory driven out. I quickly seized my chance for glory and leapt over to where the mammoth lay, out of it. He wasn’t quite croaked yet and still breathed, but I could change that. It took a few leaps, but I got there without tripping over my rather oversized feet.

I grabbed my club and wielded it to the best of my limited ability. You can give me the point for that I tried. I gave him such solid whacks you’d think he’d be dead. Of course solid for me wasn’t quite the same as a solid thwack for him. He was more used to the redwood-tree-falling-on-his-head type of whacks. No matter. I just had to wake my buddies to get them to help.

Then I had a brilliant idea. I could invent the wedge. Why hadn’t I thought of it before? I grabbed some sharp rock and placed it ever so roughly behind the left ear of the prostrate mammal. Of course, I had to get around that ear first, a task that took me a good long while. Finally I got it in a position where I could give it a real solid whack. I held it in one hand and swung ever so violently with the other.

That day, I invented the yell of the idiotic handyman that tried to swing and missed, pounding his poor thumb. It was so loud it nearly woke my sleeping or unconscious cavemates. But being incredibly deaf, as well as having a think layer of fur inside and around their ears, they remained prone and blissfully unaware of the drama taking place around them. I believe I started an aria on the theme of my extreme bravery in the face of adversity six times my size. We tend to exaggerate.

I decided to change tactics. I wound the ear of the beast around my sharp rock and used the floppy thing to hold my rock steady. Wham! I smacked the rock a good blow, expecting it to penetrate the skull of the poor mammal that lay powerless at my feet. I hadn’t reckoned on the skull being so stubborn. It dented it real nice, like one fingertip or something. This could take all day.

I swung at that rock like it was going out of style. Eventually it entered the skull after much pounding, leaving a hole big enough to fit my finger in. What they didn’t tell me was that when you took the rock out, it closed up on your finger dangling inside looking for the brain. I also invented the yell of the woe-is-me-idiot-who-just-did-something-really-stupid. I was on a roll today. I banged around for a bit longer trying to open the hole more.

Finally I could see inside. I looked for the brain. It was like searching for the proverbial oblong shaped rock chip in the pile of leftovers from yesterday’s excavation of your new cave. I tried as I might to find it but the little thing eluded me. Just imagine trying to find a pea on a plate in the dark with one finger. Quite the proverbial camel through the eye of the needle. Where was I getting all these proverbs from? This was great fun.

I located the thing and squeezed it with all my strength. It made the sound an overcooked egg does when you throw it at a large wall. Smelled pretty bad too. I had succeeded in something no one else had ever done before. Killing a mammoth single handed. Inventing two different kinds of yells, along with the wedge. Yes, sir, I was going to get acclaim for at least a few days.

I climbed on top of the mammoth and struck a dignified pose. I rested my hand lightly on my club, trying to look as refined as possible. When my buddies awoke they would see me astride the dead pachyderm and get what had happened. It might take awhile but they’d get it. Now I just had to wait for them to wake up.

“How long is this going to take?”


Writing Mistakes: Silly Slip-Ups

We all make mistakes, but some of them are just plain ridiculous!

Like a part in my novel where I typed “the wound had head” instead of “the wound had healed”. Or where I accidentally wrote about the “top water PIMP supplier” where I should have said “top water PUMP supplier”.

Those little mistakes are so annoyingly hard to spot, but they’re the ones that stand out the most to readers. Here are a few of the more common slip-ups that you’ll find in writing that could stand to be improved:

Too many commas — That, to be certain, is one of my biggest weaknesses in my writing. It’s hard to know when and when not to use commas, even if you’re a professional. Want to avoid this silly mistake? Check out Purdue’s Guide to Commas for even the most punctuation-impaired! Too many is just as bad as too few.

Etc. — Try to avoid the use of etcetera as much as possible. Instead of saying “apples, oranges, etc.”, just say “fruits”. Using etc. means you’ve run out of something to say, and you never want to convey that as a writer!

Over-descriptions — Do you really need to say that the man “sprinted quickly” when the word “sprint” already denotes running very fast? If the sky is blue, do you have to write it? Trim down those descriptions as much as possible.

Less vs Fewer — Use “fewer” when the noun is listable, finite. For example, “Bob has FEWER apples than Jane.” Use “less” when it’s indefinable, like “Bob has LESS intelligence than Haskell.”

Prevaricating — Prevaricating (saying, “I think”, “I believe”,  “I am of the opinion”, etc.) makes you look hesitant and weak. Don’t be spineless, but say it with conviction!

Affect and Effect —  Tough one, this. Affect and effect are both nouns and verbs.

  • To affect (verb) is to change
  • An affect (noun) is an act or artificial pretense.
  • To effect (verb) means to make something happen.
  • An effect (noun) is a result.

Than and Then — This is an easy one. “THAN” is used to compare two items (Bob is bigger THAN Earl), while THEN is used to describe sequence (Amy ate lunch THEN murdered her coworkers).

Could of — NEVER, EVER SAY COULD OF!! That’s just noob writing AND speaking, and it makes you look like an idiot. It’s “could have” or “could’ve”.

That — I was told THAT there were too many occurrences of the word “that” in it. Simple rule of thumb: if it can be said without “that”, remove it. For example, “Bob said THAT Jane was uglier than a pig on a spit” could be better written as “Bob said Jane was uglier than…” etc.


Simple, easy to make mistakes, but they definitely stand out in your writing.





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I Am Now a #1 Bestseller

This is a short post just to thank everyone for their amazing support in helping me with my free promo day yesterday. In short: IT WAS SUPREMELY SUCCESSFUL!

Over the course of 24 hours, more than 600 copies of my book were downloaded. During that time, my book went from ranked roughly #200,000 the day before all the way up, up, up.

By midday, I was ranked in first on Amazon UK:


By the time the afternoon was drawing to a close, I had actually ranked #1 on Amazon.com!


It was ranked very highly in the Top 100 for Amazon’s action/adventure category, and this morning I was still on the Top 100 even though the price returned to normal.

Thank you all so much for helping me reach this small modicum of success. I am so happy to see my new novel so well received in my official launch and have people around the world enjoy my work.

To sum it up:

You Rock!

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In the Days by Andy Peloquin FREE on Amazon

Prepare yourself for an epic adventure set in a land forgotten by time: the mythical realm of Atlantis.

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The Empire of Atlantis is the most powerful nation in the world. Peace reigns across the continent, and an age of prosperity and enlightenment has made the Empire the center of the globe.

Empress Tatho reigns, with her Historian and Chancellor Deucalion by her side. Their world is rocked when a mysterious figure predicts doom and destruction. Can they avert the disaster that is soon to strike, or will they be destroyed along with the rest of the continent.

To complicate matters, assassins hired by a mysterious hooded figure plague their steps. Hoping to avoid a knife in the dark, the Empress and her most trusted travel to discover the secrets of an outpost in the middle of the barren, desolate Province of Bermuda. Could it lead to their deaths, or will they uncover a secret that many have died to protect?

They hoped to escape the threat, but it follows them on their journey. Will they return to the Capital City in one piece? Can they escape the plots that promise only death?

Coming Sunday, April 13th, In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent is FREE. Get your hands on it while you can, and let your friends know about this glimpse into what could have been the end of days for the civilization of Atlantis. The epic fantasy thriller is one you cannot miss!


Click here to check out the book on Amazon


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Or, leave a comment below and tell me what you think. Love it or hate it, I want to know!

Words that Make Your Writing Weaker

No matter what you write, you want it to be strong. It’s how you get your point across in emails, make friends on social media, or share your thoughts via a blog. Strong writing is the opposite of the crap you see on Twitter, Facebook, and all those other sites where “ppl rite like ths”.

Want to tighten up your writing and make it stronger? Ditch these words:

  • Just. Very rarely will you need to use it. Unless you “just” returned from the moon, you can ditch the word.
  • Very. Is it “very” important? It sounds good when spoken, but it’s weak when written.
  • Really. Same rules apply as with very. It doesn’t add anything to your text.
  • Perhaps. Unless you’re writing a conversation between two people, don’t use perhaps or maybe. They’re weak words, and they show your uncertainty.
  • Amazing.  There are lots of awesome words, but amazing isn’t one of them. It dilutes the “amazing-ness” of your writing.
  • Quite. This word is total writing fluff. It’s quite useless to add it to sentences.
  • Got. Have you got the time, or do you have the time? Which sounds better?
  • Literally. Even if something literally is what you’re saying it is, you don’t need to use the word.
  • Things.  Stuff and things are two words to always stay away from, no matter what you’re writing about. They’re just too generic and casual.

Bonus: Adverbs. Stephen King tries to use as few adverbs as possible, and look how his writing comes out. According to a Stony Brook University Study, books that have a lot of adverbs sell poorly. It’s the books with strong nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and determiners that do best. If someone is “walking silently”, couldn’t they be “ghosting, sneaking, or prowling”? Ditch adverbs to tighten up your writing!

Thanks to: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229369

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