This is for the folks from the Pike’s Peak Writers’ “Write Your Heart Out” event, but you can play along anyway.

IF YOU KNOW THESE BOOKS OR HAVE PLAYED THIS GAME BEFORE, DO NOT BLOW IT FOR THE REST OF THE PLAYERS IN THE COMMENTS. ¬†Email me personally if you like and I’ll confirm how smart and/or cool you are ūüôā ¬†Also, if you¬†do know these books, you can still play–just don’t cheat and look up the passage before you take a shot at it.

The exercise: ¬†I provide three samples from bestselling writers’ work. ¬†You punctuate, capitalize, italicize, and paragraph them. ¬†Then you send me an email at, and I send you back the “correct” answers along with the author/book titles. ¬†(Or you can wait a week and come back here and I’ll post them.) ¬†When you get the answers back…try to work out why the bestselling author chose differently than you did.

What’s the point of this? ¬†There are a ton of benefits to doing this exercise that I won’t get into here–but for my purposes at the workshop, it’s to reinforce that a) not all professional authors do things the same way, and b) professional writers break rules when it’s to the readers’ benefit.

Thanks for stopping by, and I have a coupon for you, for the first episode of¬†Alice’s Adventures in Underland: ¬†The Queen of Stilled Hearts. ¬†Click here¬†for the Smashwords link. ¬†Your free coupon code is¬†KX26N.

Thanks and have fun!


pam tibbs was hackberrys chief deputy her mahogany colored hair was sunburned white at the tips and it hung on her cheeks in the indifferent way it might have on a teenage girl she wore wide ass jeans and half topped boots and a polished gun belt and a khaki shirt with an american flag sewn on one sleeve her moods were mercurial her words often confrontational her potential for violence seldom registered on her adversaries until things happened that should not have happened when she was angry she sucked in her cheeks accentuating a mole by her mouth turning her lips into a button men often thought she was trying to be cute they were mistaken at noon she was drinking a cup of coffee at her office window when she saw dany boy lorca stumbling down the street toward the department bent at the torso as though waging war against invisible forces a piece of newspaper matting against his chest before it flapped loose and scudded across the intersection when danny boy tripped on the curb and fell hard on one knee then fell again when he tried ot pick himself up pam tibbs set down her coffee cup and went outside the wind blowing lines in her hair she bent down her breasts hanging heavy against her shirt and lifted him to his feet and walked him inside i messed myself i got to get in the shower he said you know where it is she said they killed a man she didnt seem to hear what he said she glanced at the cast iron spiral of steps that led upstairs to the jail can you make it by yourself i aint drunk i was this morning but i aint now the guy in charge i remember his name danny boy closed his eyes and opened them again i think i do ill be upstairs in a minute and open the cell i hid all the time they was doing it say again i hid behind a big rock maybe for fifteen minutes he was screaming all the while she nodded her expression neutral danny boys eyes were scorched with hangover his mouth white at the corners with dried mucus his breath dense and sedimentary like a load of fruit that had been dumped down a stone well he waited although she didnt know for what was it absolution dont slip on the steps she said



 there were about thirty six men sitting around when warwick came inwearing a pair of old jeans tucked into high rubber boots hall had been listening to harry wisconsky who was enormously fat enormously lazy and enormously gloomy its gonna be a miss wisconsky was saying when mr foreman came in you wait and see were all gonna go home blackern midnight in persia okay warwick said we strung sixty lightbulbs down there so it should be bright enough for you to see what youre doing you guys he pointed to a bunch of men that had been leaning against the drying spools i want you to hook up the hoses over there to the main water conduit by the stairwell you can unroll them down the stairs we got about eighty yards for each man and that should be plenty dont get cute and spray one of your buddies or youll send him to the hospital they pack a wallop somebodyll get hurt wisconsky prophesied sourly wait and see you other guys warwick said pointing to the group that hall and wisconsky were a part of youre the crap crew tonight you go in paiirs with an electric wagon for each team theres old office furniture bags of cloth hunks of busted machinery you name it were gonna pile it by the airshaft at the west end anyone who doesnt know how to run a wagon no one raised a hand the electric wagons were battery driven contraptions like miniature dump trucks they developed a nauseating stink after continual use that reminded hall of burning power lines okay warwick said we got the basement divided up into section and well be done by thursday friday well chain hoist the crap out questions there were none hall studied the foremans face closely and he had a sudden premonition of a strange thingcoming the idea pleased him he did not like warwick very much fine warwick said lets get at it



 no fainting in the middle of the road said a voice close to my ear as a heavy arm landed across my shoulders and gave me a squeeze i looked up to see mals familir face a smile in his bright blue eyes as he fell into step beside me cmon he said one foot in front of the other you know how its done youre interfering with my plan oh really yes faint get trampled grievous injuries all around that sounds like a brilliant plan ah but if im horribly maimed i wont be able to cross the fold mal nodded slowly i see i can shove you under a cart if that would help ill think about it i grumbled but i felt my mood lifting all the same despite my best efforts mal still had that effect on me and i wasnt the only one a pretty blond girl strolled by and waved throwing mal a flirtatious glance over her shoulder hey ruby he called see you later ruby giggled and scampered off into the crowd mal grinned broadly until he caught my eye roll what i thought you liked ruby as it happens we dont have much to talk about i said drily i actually had liked ruby at first when mal and i left the orphanage at keramzin to train for our military service in poliznaya id been nervous about meeting new people but lots of of girls had been excited to befriend me and ruby had been the most eager those friendships lasted as long as it took me to figure out that their only interest in me lay in my proximity to mal now i watched him stretch his arms expansively and turn his face up to the autumn sky looking perfectly content there was even i noted with some disgust a little bounce in his step what is wrong with you i whispered furiously nothing he said surprised i feel great but how can you be soso jaunty jaunty ive never been jaunty i hope never to be jaunty well then whats all this i asked waving a hand at him you look like youre on your way to a really good dinner instead of possible death and dismemberment mal laughed you worry too much the kings sent a whole group of grisha pyros to cover the skiffs and even a few of those creepy heartrenders we have our rifles he said patting the one on his back well be fine a rifle wont make much difference if theres a bad attack mal gave me a bemused glance whats with you lately youre even grumpier than usual and you look terrible thanks i groused i havent been sleeping well what else is new