Profanity in Writing: Is It OK?

Profanity in Writing: Is It OK?

Profanity sells!

That is a fact. Which is one of the reasons writers employ it. Some will say they do it because they want their characters to be real. But this argument falls flat when you view real life.

Sure many, not all, people swear. I was a sailor and learned to swear, but that doesn’t mean that all sailors swear (though they have that reputation). But the truth is that even those who do swear usually are mindful of the people around them. It is rare to find someone who swears all the time.

Personally, I don’t like swearing or any kind of profanity in writing. One critic read a recent book review in which I explained my 2 star rating of the book was partly based on the excessive profanity. It was a book that left me feeling dirty, and I don’t think I was able to finish it. In fact, I eventually threw it away.

 Back to the critic. He took exception to my condemnation of profanity. Called it absurd and proceeded to attack me personally because of my Christian stand. I replied to that critic that I felt that way about profanity before I ever became a Christian.

 This critic had also defended profanity in writing because “most” people swear. This is dubious at best. Perhaps if you are talking about an occasional swear word this might be true. But constant swearing? Kind of depends where you frequent.

 The truth of the matter profanity in writing has less to do with creating “real” characters and more to being a crutch. Instead of investing time and effort into creating believable characters some authors opt for profanity and graphic text. These are crutches usually designed to cover poor writing.

 The sad part of this is that I have read (or started to read) books that were well written. They had good plot and strong characters. But then they inserted profanity. Ruined the book which ultimately landed in the trash.

 If you have been around for awhile you may remember some of the classics of old. Rarely did you see a swear word. Actually the authors often used symbols for swearing, such as “#$@&%*!”. And I am going to say something that may astound you.

Using symbols in place of actual swear words is more effective than the swear words.

Did I really say that? Yes. And here is why.

The writing of fiction, whatever genre you are in, has a primary goal of connecting with the reader. And how does a reader connect with a book? His/her imagination! It is the author’s job to trigger that imagination, to excite it and pull it in. That is why so much emphasis is placed on strong characters and well developed scenes. When describing a scene the author doesn’t get bogged down in details but gives beautiful (or ugly) descriptions that leave it up to the reader to fill in the smaller details. That is why two or more people can read the same words and ‘think’ it described something altogether different.

Same thing with language. Using a symbol actually triggers the reader’s imagination. One reader will supply a word or phrase, while another reader will apply an altogether different meaning. They personalize the text, making it something they are familiar with in their own lives.

Unfortunately there are famous authors who have used profanity in their books. Why? I can’t read their minds, but all to often it is because profanity sells. And that is sad. Especially if they are able to create strong characters without it.

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R. Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page.

Virtual Book Tour: What is it?

Virtual Book Tour: What is it?

We have all heard of book tours where you contact a bookstore, library, etc. and arrange to spend approximately four hours (one session) autographing your book that someone buys. Although some say it has lost its effectiveness book tours are still around.

But what are Virtual Book Tours?

In the next few minutes I will give you an overview.

A Virtual Book Tour is:

In a traditional book tour you might spend hours driving from city to city to promote your book. But in a virtual book tour you make “virtual” appearances not at bookstores but on blogs, podcasts, websites and internet radio. These tours may last from 1 to 4 weeks.

It is an excellent way of promoting your book, your name, and your sales. Plus it will help your Amazon rankings.

So Exactly What is a Virtual Tour?

Well, a well-rounded tour can include any or all of the following:

  1. Book giveaways
  2. Book review
  3. Excerpts from your book
  4. Guesting on other blogs
  5. Interviews
  6. Guest appearance on radio
  7. Guest appearance on podcasts
  8. Social media contest
  9. Videos that are posted by blogs
  10. plus more

Remember, the more you include the more interest your audience will have in checking out your tour appearance. And it will be more fun than sitting at a table waiting and hoping for someone to stop by and purchase your book. (One of the drawbacks of traditional book tours is you may sit for hours and none or few people stop by. It can be a real downer. But a virtual tour is not that way.)

You have options not only regarding the ingredients of your tour but who does the booking. Search the internet and you will find a good number of marketing and PR services who offer booking services. I don’t know of any that are free, so find one that fits your budget.

Or DIY – Do It Yourself!

I am not going to cover the various services because I don’t know your needs nearly as well as you know. But I will show you a simple plan not original with me. I drew inspiration from another blogger Chris Robley, however I expanded on it.

Special Note

A virtual book tour is like a traditional book tour in that you are casting a wide net. The wider the net the more likely you will be to land a few fish. But to do this requires that new word: Targeted. In other words, just as a fisherman targets a particular place to do his fishing you need to target where the tour will take place.

That requires research. Visit the potential blogger, podcaster, or reviewer and learn who they are, what kind of books they are interested in promoting, who is their audience, and more. Then when you contact them show them that you understand their needs and their audience needs.


Just because you have done the research and properly contacted the people does not mean that they will be interested. Some may not write you back and others may send a “no thank you,” but it would be wrong to take this personally. Chalk it up to a learning experience and don’t remove them from future consideration for your next book. Do embrace the ones who are interested.

Getting Started:

  • Do Your Research of your targeted book blogs, podcasts, radio programs, etc. Make sure they are interested in literary works and, in particular, your topic. Put these potential visits in a list (some people use a spreadsheet, but use whatever works best for you).
  • Get to Know Them. Visit and make appropriate comments on blogs, etc. Keep detailed notes on their characteristics (not all are the same).
  • Book Your Tour. This is very important: Do not use mass emails in seeking to book your tour. Write to each separately keeping your request short, to the point, and respectful. This is a great time to show them that you are familiar with their blog, podcast, etc. And perhaps most important convey to them why you are a perfect fit for their audience.
  • Prepare! Know your subject.If you can arrange for the questions and answers before your appearance, do so. Most will accommodate you or suggest it themselves because it makes them, as well as you look good.
  • Stand. If you are talking to someone experts recommend (and I have found it to be true) that you think better when on your feet.
  • Keep emotions in check! I have done interviews where I felt I really flopped and I have done interviews where I thought I nailed it. The idea here is not to get overly down or up. Once it is done it is done. Move on!
  • Pray! This is listed last only because it is most important. Pray before, during, and after. If you know Christ as your Savior He is interested in your success – especially if you are doing what He wants you to do. So Pray.

But don’t end there. If you have your own blog write articles about your book. Make use of Social Media and enjoy yourself.

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R Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. Also subscribe to his blog.

Anchor Link Alert

If I had a subtitle for this it would read: The Problem With Anchor Links.

Do you use email marketing? Perhaps you send a newsletter to subscribers. Well this subject could be very important to you!

As you may know I am the editor of Writers World a newsletter devoted to issues concerning writing. I have been noticing a recurring problem with my newsletter for the past several months. I finally asked my email marketing provider MailChimp about it and they looked into the situation. And gave me a disquieting report.

Before I speak further let me explain the situation.

In my newsletter I offer writing tips, reprints of this blog, as well as publishing and marketing tips. In order to make navigation easier for my readers I placed a TOC at the top of the letter. In that TOC I created anchor text that linked to the appropriate title, thus enabling the reader to click on the link and go immediately to the article. Unfortunately it didn’t always work.

Back to the report. Upon investigating the matter MailChimp told me that while anchor links work within the MailChimp environment they may not work within certain email inboxes. Links going to URLS work fine, it is just the TOC links that have a problem.

The problem is that not all email providers are created equal. What that means is that some email providers recognize and use anchor links correctly, others may not. In fact, in one of my email inboxes the link absolutely didn’t work, while another inbox opened a new browser window and loaded the inbox.

Interestingly enough anchor links work in most email inboxes, but not all. But therein lies an additional problem. The subscriber may be using an inbox that is incompatible with the use of anchors.

Moreover, the problem is not just with MailChimp but with any email marketing provider!

What should you do?

In our case we removed the TOC and replaced it with text that informs the subscriber of the newsletter’s content. You may choose to leave it as is.

If you wish to read the report you can do so at: Anchor Report.

Book Review: The Knight

Book Title: The Knight
Author: Steven James
Rating: 5 stars

Before I bought this book I was not a big fan of books written in 1st Person. Nor am I in a habit of giving out 5 stars. Still not a great fan, but I did give this book 5 stars. Why? To put it simply, it far exceeded my expectations!
My previous experience with 1st Person novels is that the primary character usually has an ego problem, such as “look at me,” “I did this,” or “I did that.”
But Steven James avoided all the usual pitfalls and wrote a gripping story of mystery that had me from the start. At no time did I feel the character was being egotistical. I was never disappointed in the story.
However I was frustrated. Not because of any error on the author’s part but because he deftly misdirected my thinking and I never figured out the villain until he was revealed. Usually I am pretty good at solving mysteries, but not this time and that was frustrating.
Throughout the book I found myself pulling for Patrick Bowers, an FBI agent, as he tried to discover the killer. His life was in constant danger, a fact that kept me glued to the story. Added to that was his step-daughter he was trying to parent and his love life (he wife had died prior to the events of this book).
I have to say that I was thoroughly entertained and felt this book deserved a 5 star rating.
I was not compensated in any way for writing this review. In fact I purchased it a local bookstore.