Do You Use Ellipses with Confidence?

Do Ellipses Confuse You?

I use ellipses often in dialogue in my novels, and I have never been totally one hundred percent clear on the correct way to show them… A lot of questions come to mind when you start thinking about them.
            Q.    Do you create an ellipsis by typing three periods?
            A.    The answer is—yes, an ellipsis is made up of three periods
Q.   Do you put a space between the periods?
A.   Yes—no—maybe. No one seems to agree on one way or the other. Some say you should type three periods with spaces between each, but others say just type three periods.  Alternatively, hold down Ctrl and Alt and hit the period button and Word will insert an ellipsis.
Q.   Is there a space between an ellipsis and adjacent words and/or other punctuation marks?
A.   Same as above—some say yes, others say no.
Q.   Is it necessary to put a period after an ellipsis?
A.   I hate to say it, but the experts don’t seem to have a definitive answer. I personally do not—but I do put a space between an ellipsis and a new sentence. Putting a period after an ellipsis does seem to cause some confusion, and I have seen works with four periods—and the writers seem to think they are making an ellipsis. I’ve even seen five or six……
So basically, it seems you can create ellipses any way you want, unless you are writing for an organization that specifies how they want you to do it, like Associated Press Style. They want to see a space between ellipses and adjacent words.

So what is an ellipsis used for?

They are used to indicate missing words, lines or paragraphs in quoted passages. In fiction, they are used in dialogue to show uncertainty or unfinished thoughts or sentences.
The Chicago Manual of Style states: “Ellipsis points suggest faltering or fragmented speech, accompanied by confusion, insecurity, distress, or uncertainty.”
After a few minutes, Audrey stopped sobbing and blew her nose noisily. “I’m so sorry,” she whimpered. “I’m not usually so…”
“I… I don’t know. I thought… It’s a special watch.”

Ellipses vs Dashes

So how do you know when to use an ellipsis and when it is better to use a dash?
The Chicago Manual of Style says dashes should be used for more confident and decisive pauses.
So, you can use an em dash to indicate a pause, or break in your train of thought, or a change to another train of thought in the same sentence.
“And a word of warning—if I were you—I’d keep away from that Powell fella.”
“Please—don’t apologize.” Riley smiled at her.



In my latest novel, WAY OUT OF LINE, Hal moves to Zimbabwe, in Africa, to hide from the authorities with his friend Demetrio, after they escape from prison in Texas.

He is not really a felon, but was given a very long sentence for statutory rape because Trent’s parents were influential in the community. Just for making love to Trent–the love of his life.

She lied about her age. She was really only fifteen, under the legal age of consent in Texas. She beats herself up about it every day–if only she could have known how severe the consequences would be.

In Zimbabwe, Hal learns about rhino poaching and witchcraft.

This video of a street puppeteer in Zimbabwe is awesome–if they had a talent contest there he would definitely qualify.

Hover your mouse pointer under this text for the link.

Hover your mouse pointer under this text to find out where to buy the book.


Earthquakes in Texas?

An earthquake triggers a Texas prison break in my newest novel WAY OUT OF LINE.

When she read the first draft of this novel, my editor, Jude, didn’t think it was a good idea–because she didn’t think Texas had earthquakes–but actually, they do.

The largest earthquake ever to hit Texas was the Valentine Quake in west Texas on august 17th, 1931. Measuring 6.4 on the Richter scale, it could be felt in an area of 647,000 square kilometers in Texas and 518,000 square kilometers in New Mexico. Several buildings were damaged, but thankfully, no deaths were reported as a result of this quake, although if it had occurred in a densely populated area, the results could have been disastrous.

Several other earthquakes have occurred in Texas over the years, the most recent being on May 17th, 2012 where a magnitude 4.3 quake rattled east Texas in the early morning hours.

I lived in San Diego, California for a few years and experienced a few temblors, including the Northridge quake in the north Los Angeles area in 1994, that destroyed bridges on the freeways and resulted in the death of 54 people. (Yes, we could feel it all the way down on San Diego).

They are scary, but I think I would personally rather be caught up in an earthquake than a tornado if I had to choose one of the other.

More info on earthquakes can be found at the USGS website.

Purchase a copy of WAY OUT OF LINE at  and ASIN:1475218346

Happy Reading!

We Have a Winner!

Thanks to all who entered to win an eBook copy of WAY OUT OF LINE.

The winners are Sherry S. and Amelia R.

Congrats, guys, and hope you enjoy it!

If anyone belongs to Goodreads–I’ll be giving away a print copy there soon.

WAY OUT OF LINE EBook Giveaway

Congrats to Monica, who won an eBook copy of WAY OUT OF LINE. I really hope you enjoy it. Sorry to those who did not win–but here’s another chance.

I’m holding another competition to give away another two eBook copies of WAY OUT OF LINE.

Here’s the info about the book:

Two kids from Texas–a sizzling romance–one stupid mistake. Intrigue, terror and undying love culminate in the vast African Wilderness.
Trent lied about her age. Hal was convicted of statutory rape. Two lives, ruined. Hal never forgets his first love despite a brutal existence in prison, a desperate escape, and a chance for a new life in Africa.
Trent can’t forget Hal, nor can she forgive herself for his fate. She seeks solace and expiation in a religious cult. Her parents kidnap her from the cult to have her deprogrammed, but instead, she is taken by a militant group and held for ransom at their camp in Mozambique, Africa.
Hal and his friend, Demetrio head into the wilderness to rescue her. At the end is violence, death, and maybe another chance for Hal and Trent.

To win, subscribe to this blog, and comment on this post to say you want it. I’ll hold a drawing to determine the winners.

The competition will close on June 21st at 10:00pm Eastern US time, and I’ll announce the winners the following day.


P.S.If you don’t want to enter to win, buy a copy at .

Those Darned Dashes

It hasn’t always been clear to me how and where to use dashes and parentheses, so I decided to make a point of understanding them and sharing my findings.
A hyphen is used to show words that have been broken at the end of a line of text. It is also used to join two words, which may create a new meaning. I think we all know how to use hyphens, but here are a few examples: serious-minded, self-serving, etc.
A dash is not the same as a hyphen. A dash is longer than a hyphen. An “en dash” was so named because it was the same width as an “n” and an “em dash” was the same width as an “m”. For reasons unknown to me, when the typewriter was invented, its keyboard only had a hyphen, no dashes. (Maybe there just wasn’t enough space for them.) Or—maybe there just wasn’t enough space for them—and computer  keyboards apparently couldn’t accommodate them either. (This example shows how dashes are interchangeable with parentheses.)
Dashes are actually quite useful. An en dash is used in place of the word “to” when combining numbers or dates. Example: I was at high school from 1965–1970 or She waited from 1:00 – 2:00 before leaving. An en dash is also used to join words as in September–November. 
An em dash may be used instead of a comma, semicolon, colon, and parentheses and may indicate an interruption or change in thought. It also adds emphasis.
Fear—a living breathing thing heightened the pain.
I remembered something—oh never mind—it’s not important.
Great idea—let’s go down to the bar—I’m buying.
If you cannot create an em dash with your software, it is okay to use two hyphens side-by-side as in –.
The “two em dash” is used to show letters missing at the end of a word. Doct—- Smith was the keynote speaker.
Three em dashes may be used to show a name has been omitted, as in Doctor ——, who wishes to remain anonymous.
The other question is — do you put a space between the words and the dash? Generally it seems no spaces is more correct, but I’ve seen it done both ways.

In Word, you can program your computer to type an en or em dash. Just go to INSERT, SYMBOLS, NORMAL. Highlight the em or en dash and click on SHORTCUT KEY. Hold down ALT or CTRL or SHIFT and any key you want to assign, then click ASSIGN. Now your computer is programmed to type the dash you want when you hold down and hit the correct two keys.
Using the en dash is a no-brainer. The em dash is a little more controversial. Some grammar authorities feel that the em dash is overused. Personally, I think it is less disruptive than parentheses.
The Chicago Manual of Style
Associated Press Style Essentials
Purdue OWL
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation