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Is the F-word a bomb?

August 31, 2017 by in category The Extra Squeeze, Writing tagged as , , , , ,
Is the F-Word a bomb? | The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

What does the Extra Squeeze Team think about the F-word?

Is the F word a bomb?

We’ve read books with it all over the place and yet notice that readers object to it.

Does anyone really like using it?

Would another word do?

When was it necessary?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.

Is the F word a bomb?

What kind of fucking question is that?

What kind of friggin’ question is that?

What kind of question is that?

Actually, this is a great question and one I am happy to weigh in on because the use of the F-word had an impact it had on my career.

I began my career as a romance writer (I was fired from this gig because I kept killing characters before they fell in love. My editor suggested a genre change.) I never used the F-word when I wrote romance. When I moved to contemporary women’s fiction I used it sparingly in these longer, more intricately plotted books (the word was only uttered by bad guys).


When I upped the ante and moved into a male dominated genre – legal thrillers – everything changed. Writing became tighter, characters multi-faceted, plots ‘torn from the headlines’ were much grittier. In my writing the F-bomb was spoken by hard charging attorneys and socially marginalized criminals alike to underscore their tenacity for fighting for justice in the former instance or illustrate disdain for the system in the latter.


Hostile Witness* was the first book where I really let loose. Lots of male thriller writers used the word, why not me? My editor at Penguin/Putnam had no problem with it and approved the book. When the Hostile Witness was traditionally published, I received no letters of complaint.


Then came the Internet. I republished the first three books of the Witness Series* and readers started posting reviews as easily as they clicked their Kindle. I remember the first bad review I received because of my use of the F word. It said, “The language in this book is vile. I will never read this author again.”


That stopped me cold, so I went back to the files and searched how many times I had used the F-word. I was shocked and embarrassed by what I found. In my quest to establish myself as a hard-edged thriller writer, I had gone overboard. Using profanity to the degree I had took the reader out of the story at best and offended them at worst. I asked myself, was there a better way to write a scene? A better way to inform a character? Had I been a lazy author and fallen back on a word rather than my skill to get a point across?


The answer to all these questions was yes. Now I use the word friggin’ or cut the word off at Fu­ — and let the reader’s mind fill in the blank. Bottom line, I took the review to heart, objectively looked at my work and made an informed decision before I re-edited the book. Did I lose anything by banning the F-word?

(F-word deleted) no.


*Hostile Witness is Free to readers.

**Sign up for my mailing list and get Hostile Witness and the Spotlight Novella, Hannah’s Diary, Free.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

The Urban Dictionary defines ‘F-bomb’ as “the strongest weapon in one’s verbal arsenal” (a bit extreme, but it makes the point). Is it necessary to use in fiction? No, not necessary, but sometimes appropriate. The plot, the scene, the character, the action, the tone can all come together to make the F-word the only adjective or expletive that works. In that case, it should be a shocker – a strong, realistic part of the narrative rhythm. The word should be chosen with consideration and, by all the writing gods, don’t overuse it. Repetition strips the word of any value; it just becomes distasteful, silly and embarrassingly adolescent.

It wasn’t long ago a writer would never consider using the word, nor would a publisher let them, although the F word was understood to have the strength of a bomb.

from The Maltese Falcon (Dashiell Hammett, 1930)

The boy spoke two words, the first a short guttural verb, the second ”you”.

“People lose teeth talking like that.” Spade’s voice was still amiable though his face had become wooden.

Great, right!? There are so many options for word smithing around the F-word but that requires thought and skill. Too many authors take the easy way out and use it as verb, adjective and noun. That’s just lazy or the mark of a poor writer.

I recently ran across this Amazon review:

I gave it 5 stars, because the writing, the sense of humor the detective has, and the story! All great! In fact, you are such a good writer, you don’t need to use the “F” word as much as you do! Your characters are great without it!

Such a good writer…you don’t need to use… the reviewer said. That’s exactly what I mean.

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array

Well, a bomb is something designed to explode on impact, so I guess if you want to f-bomb effectively, it needs to be unexpected! In that case, it’ll only detonate properly in the most delicate, sweetest and appeasing of godly novels! But, of course, readers don’t always like to be shocked so hard that they fall off their chairs, and using language that is not in-keeping with the story will only make it jar, in my opinion. As writers, we aim to torture and make our readers emotional from time to time, but there’s intent and then there’s intent.


I don’t mind using swear words – their offensiveness changes over time, and the F-bomb (being polite for you all here), is hardly the most offensive word or phrase out there at the moment. In some novels it’s absolutely appropriate to include swearing, and the target readership will reflect that. I do think over-reliance on a single swear word is a negative thing though. There are so many varied ways of swearing, and it’s up to the author to come up with setting- or character-appropriate vocabulary. In my fantasy novels, I frequently use ‘follocks!‘ (an obvious portmanteau of f**k and boll**ks), because it conveys the emotion I want, but also carries humour and sets the imaginary world apart from this one.

What do you think of using the F-word in fiction?

Ever wonder what industry professionals think about the issues that can really impact our careers? Each month The Extra Squeeze features a fresh topic related to books and publishing.

Amazon mover and shaker Rebecca Forster and her handpicked team of book professionals offer frank responses from the POV of each of their specialties — Writing, Editing, PR/Biz Development, and Cover Design.

Do you have a question for The Extra Squeeze? Contact us here.

We're Taking Questions | A Slice of Orange
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Things That Make Me Go Mmmrrh … Stepping Out

August 27, 2017 by in category Things That Make Me Go Mmmrrh ... tagged as , , ,

Things that make me go mmmrrh ... | Geralyn Corcillo | A Slice of OrangeIan Fleming is best known for his James Bond books, yet he is also the author of the iconic children’s classic Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car. Agatha Christie changed the face of literature by mastering the whodunit, yet I’ve also enjoyed her more dramatic novels published under the name Mary Westmacott. Both of these unparalleled authors stepped out of their comfort zones (well, assuming a writer can EVER feel comfortable) to write remarkable and memorable stories that didn’t happen to fall into the genres they made famous. So, I consider myself in very good company with my latest release. Even though my four novels and five short stories to date are all Romantic Comedy, I have a contemplative, serious short story in the Love Unlimited anthology. My contribution, “In Her Space,” tells the story of a 64 year-old woman who lives quietly, content with all she has survived in life. But things change when she discovers a homeless young man living under her house.

This idea for a story first came to me when my husband Ron and I spent many nights crawling under our neighbor Grace’s house, trying to get two opossums out before the exterminators came. (We got them out and relocated them to safety.) And we are often bringing food and blankets to homeless people who live in the park near our house. Hmmm … Then these seeds of an idea blossomed and took shape when I heard a story on NPR about the Mortuary Services in the army, the soldiers who are quite literally responsible for going onto battlegrounds and collecting the body parts of fallen soldiers so that the soldiers might be sent home.

So, here I am, a romantic comedy writer with this idea for a story about … all sorts of heart-wrenching stuff. Then, a few months ago, fellow writers asked me if I wanted to be part of an anthology that celebrated love in all of its many incarnations. And suddenly, mmmrrh … I had the perfect opportunity to write my story.

Love Unlimited is a free ebook anthology that’s burning up the charts on FREE downloads on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and Google Play.  Eleven authors share stories that cross generations, cultural backgrounds, and borders in order to warm your heart, tickle your funny bone, and envelop you in the wonderful and complex human emotion the world calls “Love.” Download for free and enjoy!

And you can see what you think of my more serious story. This story is a BIG DEAL for me because it is not romantic comedy. It is hopeful and sweet, though. Yeah, there is tragedy and memories of bad stuff, but it is about the triumph of spirit and connection. I don’t think I could ever write something with a downer ending!

Have you ever stepped out of your genre? Who are some of your favorite writers who have gone genre-hopping? I’d love to hear all about it in comments!


When she was a kid in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Geralyn Vivian Ruane Corcillo dreamed of one day becoming the superhero Dyna Girl. So, she did her best and grew up to constantly pick up litter and rescue animals. At home, she loves watching black & white movies, British mysteries, and the NY Giants. Corcillo lives in a drafty old house in Hollywood with her husband Ron, a guy who’s even cooler than Kip Dynamite.

 And she loves to connect with Readers! Check out her monthly post here on A Slice of Orange and drop by to see her daily posts on Facebook and Twitter where she would be thrilled to comment back and forth with you. And you can sign up for her RomCom Alerts emails to get access to exclusive content, deals, freebies, contests & more!



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Featured Author of the Month: Rebecca Forster

August 24, 2017 by in category Featured Author of the Month tagged as , , ,

Featured Author: Rebecca Forster


Rebecca Forster marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then Rebecca wrote her first book and found her passion.

Now, over twenty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system.

She earned her B.A. at Loyola, Chicago and her MBA at Loyola, Los Angeles. Rebecca has taught the Business of Creativity at University of California Long Beach Writers Certificate Program, UCLA and UC Irvine extension. Married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, she is the mother of two grown sons and spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.

On A Slice of Orange, Rebecca’s column The Write Life appears on the 15th of every month, and as a part of The Extra Squeeze Team, the last day of every month.  A few of her books are listed below.

Series: A Finn O'Brien Thriller


Buy now!


Buy now!
Series: The Witness Series


Buy now!


Buy now!


Buy now!
Series: The Bailey Devlin Series
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Scrivener for iPad/iPhone: September @OCCRWA Online Class

August 23, 2017 by in category Online Classes tagged as , , , ,

Now that so many people are working on their iPhones and iPads, Scrivener came out with an operating system to do just that, and Rebecca Schiller will be here in September to show us how. This is an exciting development and I know people have been waiting for this class, me included!


About the Class:

This course will teach you to write anywhere using Scrivener for iOS. Similar to Scrivener for Mac or Windows, Scrivener for iOS has a different user interface specifically designed for the iPad and iPhone. Learn how to use its unique features and work or edit your manuscript while on the go. This course will consist of ten lessonsfrom setting up Scrivener and Dropbox on your iPad or iPhone to syncing your work with your desktop version. You’ll also learn how to create projects, use all the features specific to the iOS platform and more!


Rebecca SchillerAbout the Instructor:

Rebeca Schiller is a freelance writer and blogger. She discovered Scrivener in 2010 and uses it exclusively for all her writing. She is the creator of the Simply Scrivener blog and writes about her writing trials and tribulations at


Enrollment Information:

This is a 2-week online course that uses email and Yahoo Groups. If you do not have a Yahoo ID you will be prompted to create one when you join the class, but the process is not difficult. The class is open to anyone wishing to participate. The cost is $15.00 per person or, if you are a member of OCCRWA, $10.00 per person.

Enroll here:

Linda McLaughlin
OCC/RWA Online Class Co-coordinator


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