#Author Spotlight – Dean Koontz

author spotlight

Rumored to be worth over $145 million, Dean Ray Koontz is most definitely a successful author. Born in Everett, PA in 1945 (72 years of age), his novels are generally described as suspense thrillers, although he frequently infuses his stories with horror, fantasy, and sci-fi aspects as well.

His official website notes he has sold over 450 million copies of his works, sixteen (paperback) of which were included on the NY Times bestseller list as number one. He used numerous pen names early in his career including Brian Coffey.

His childhood less than standard 50’s Cleavers, Koontz was the product of an abusive alcoholic father and his defiant “physically diminutive mother.” Koontz discovered the Catholic faith and converted while in college. Father Brown by G. K. Chesterton(And btw, he gives a shout out to English writer and Catholic convert G.K. Chesterton who wrote about the fictional Roman Catholic priest and amateur detective Father Brown. Father Brown is a featured English series on NetFlix.) I find this connection fascinating since I innocently wandered into Mayhem & Mass recently and the review brought a comment from fellow blogger, Angela of Books and Opinions, LLC who also noted G. K. Chesterton as being a favorite ol’ English author. (Freaky, huh?)

Graduating in 1967, Koontz went on variously teaching English in high school and working for a federally funded poverty program. It was during this time that he began writing in earnest and in ten years his major breakthrough novel, Whispers, was published in 1980. Of course, since I’m usually late to the party, was just introduced to Koontz through NetGalley with a book I recently read and reviewed called The Whispering Room. It was just released on November 21, 2017 and I still think the newest of his books.

When I mentioned to my son that I was reading a Dean Koontz book, his eyebrows shot up. “I’m surprised you’re reading Koontz, mom, he’s a horror writer.” (Not considered my usual genre. True.) And, perhaps this might be considered that, but more so psychological thriller and suspense. (Also, gripping, thoughtful, and perhaps sci-fi coming true.) After I posted my review, one of our old Navy friends, Kitra, saw the review on Facebook and noted, Just an FYI he grew up in Ted’s little town, donated a lot to the library in honor of his English teacher. Was happy to see that.”

Dean Koontz - author - Happy Holidays photoDean Koontz is currently living in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, and their golden, Ms. Elsa. You’ll have to read her story, which is related in typical humorous Koontz style here.

Mr. Koontz has joined my favorite authors list and I’m looking forward to his next well-crafted novel. Have you looked into his books lately? Which was your favorite? (Info gleaned from Wikipedia and the Dean Koontz website.) ©2017 Virginia Williams I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!

Hello Again – a Book Review

Hello Again by Brenda NovakTitle: Hello Again (Dr. Evelyn Talbot Novels)

Genre: Currently #639 on Amazon Best Sellers Rank for Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Women Sleuths

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Publication Date: To be released October 3, 2017

Source: St Martin’s Paperbacks and NetGalley

Title and Cover: Hello Again Nice cover, not sure it conveys the location or the genre

Apparently there is nowhere you can hide if someone really wants to find you. This book is textbook serial killer, psychological profiling at it’s best. Continue reading “Hello Again – a Book Review”

MS Word Spelling and Grammar Checker, Grammarly–or Both?

Grammar NaziLate to the party again? Sometimes I never get there at all! It’s not as if I haven’t heard of Grammarly before, just that I’ve been quite content to finish my thoughts and then run the Spelling and Grammar checker under “Tools” in my very old MS Word (2003) program. But there are advantages and disadvantages to the simple Spelling and Grammar checker on my equally old (POS) computer. I wonder if the newer word (2007, 2010) .doc and .docx have a more complete command of the language? Currently, I must “add to dictionary” constantly slang terms, colloquialisms, and common blogging expressions, as well as the idioms commonly used for sailing or popular historic word usage (from my grandfather’s manuscripts). So, I thought I’d look into the fuss over Grammarly.

MS Word Spelling and Grammar Checker

Spelling-Grammar checkPart of the reason I continue to stick with MS Word Spelling and Grammar checker is that it also gives me Readability Stats, including passive voice phrases (8%–that’s acceptable at under 10%). This is the Flesch Reading Ease score for this document (55.5%–I’d prefer to see 70%) as well as the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level score (at 8.9 or freshman in high school–should be easy to read–I’m good with that), about which I’ve previously written and I try to keep my posts within a certain level.

Paper Checker

There are a number of free, but limited, independent spell and grammar checkers out there available for download. One is Paper Checker. It is easy as copy/paste. And while it invites you to paste the text of your paper (or upload a file), I didn’t see any word limit. The Terms of Service, which you must agree to, were last updated February 20, 2014. After pasting (or uploading) your text, just select “Get Report” and you’ll immediately receive your analysis. This is not a program I’ve personally used and I’d assume is limited. (That is, don’t expect to upload a novella size text for analyzation. OOPS! Word doesn’t recognize that word [analyzation] either).

Grammarly

I signed up for the Grammarly Extension yesterday, intending to use it for this post, but almost before fully “signed in,” asked to upgrade to “professional.” I’m not sure about you, but I get really ticked when immediately asked to upgrade before I’ve had a chance to use or understand the program. The free version is available to download for your browser on Chrome, Safari, and Firefox and is compatible with Word and Outlook. Is the “FREE” version that cheesy? Well, let’s see:

Grammarly Pros:
  • The naysayers insist it is not that great at telling you if you have the correct word.
    1. Free Grammarly for Word currently uses 100 grammar rules to apply to your document.
    2. Punctuation correction.
    3. Will work with WordPress(?) as well as Facebook. (I have yet to prove this.)
    4. Grammarly can scan a document and highlight those words (thesaurus) that could be replaced to strengthen the text. (Upgrade to premium)
    5. Grammarly now corrects out of order pronouns; i.e., Her children and sheShe and her children…
    6. Word spelled correctly but used in the wrong context is caught. Examples: lose/loose, affect/effect, lie/lay, there/their/they’re
    7. The biggee according to Bill Winterberg, Journalist out of Atlanta…The service goes beyond the basic spell check and grammar check built into the word processor, as Grammarly can identify correctly spelled words that are used in the wrong context. (According to the Grammarly website.) (Is this, or not, another upgrade to premium?)

 

spell checkAnd that alone will separate the men from the boys… or writers from blogger/hobbyists. (“Major” improvements have been added over the past year, according to my new email.)

Mercy! So, are there any cons? Yes…but these may not all be cons–just more incentives to upgrade:

Grammarly Cons:
  1. If you are busy writing in real time, you may lose your train of thought if you are constantly interrupted. I normally complete my text and then test. I have enough interruptions without contending with my program constantly second-guessing me.
  2. You don’t get off that easy–you’ll still need a command of the English language and grammar rules so you can decide when to accept the suggestions made by your software. I routinely use contractions; Word Spelling and Grammar catches those and apparently must be ignored every article.
  3. You must be online and connected to use the software. (Another reason I like to work in MS Word and test when I’m ready.)
  4. Blog writers, students, journalists, and others may edit content according to their profession. (For free, I was given a choice of student, professional, or other.)
  5. A writer may select their specific genre to receive the best analysis. (Upgrade to premium.)
  6. Text can be analyzed to provide results that separate writing from casual, academic, technical, or business. (Upgrade to premium. The first upgrade is $8.75/month when billed annually.)
  7. The plagiarism notification is available after upgrading to premium.
  8. Premium Grammarly currently uses 250 grammar rules to apply to your document and ensures text incorporates the standard for writing based on the pre-selected genre.

Conclusion

This is a test. This is only a test! If you use Grammarly for Word and are totally sold, see something here I missed, see something here I’ve incorrectly interpreted, please let me know. I’m just getting started on yet another piece of software I’ve been made aware of and never used. First, I’ll run this through my usual–MS Word Spelling and Grammar. Then I’ll paste in Grammarly.

NOTE: I tried uploading in both options:

  • Paste
  • Upload

The paste checker came back with two (2) “critical” issues, 14 advanced issues, which are only accessible through an upgrade to premium.

Upload was done twice. The first came back with 5 critical issues, the second with 6, both suggested 24 advanced issues. (Items suggested were adding “the” in front of upgrade…)

(A) Although it says formatting will be saved with upload–was not. (Formatting was saved with copy/paste.)

(B) Ignoring a suggestion results in an “undo” arrow.

(C) Oxford commas are suggested.

Unless I upgrade to premium, I don’t see a real advantage for me over the current MS Word Spelling and Grammar checker. For some great, additional and current details, however, including comparison of free and premium, see here, and let me know what kind of spell and grammar checker you prefer.  Is it Grammarly? ©2017 Virginia Williams – Photo attribution: 123RF I Love Likes and Comments--Please Share!

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