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My Love-Hate Relationship with And

September 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Two weeks ago, I began a final edit of my first manuscript. About the third paragraph in, I felt like I was reading it for the very first time–I’ve read it about seven times. Turns out I have a real problem with the word AND. I must have used it every third heartbeat while I was writing. I used it where I should simply have put a comma, period, or nothing at all.

After editing my way through the rest of it, taking out about sixty or so dozen ANDs, I am amazed how much smoother it reads. That I read it so many times without ever noticing that glaring problem was disturbing. But, it’s fixed now! As I’m working on this new book, I’ve been hyper vigilant not to let the same thing happen. I’ve learned my lesson. While I think AND is an important word, obviously needed, there are definite advantages to finding a way to write around it.

Now, I’m curious if anyone else has a problem word?

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Write on Wednesday: Songbird

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment

This is my first time doing Write on Wednesdays. I’m excited to get started!

“The Write On Wednesday Rules: Get creative with the writing exercises – there isn’t a right or wrong. Please do try to visit the other members of Write On Wednesdays and leave a comment.

Write On Wednesdays Exercise 16:
Hadge says: Take a favorite (or even random play) song and write the story behind the lyrics, not something inspired by the lyric, but the flesh on the bones of the story. It gives lots of scope for interpretative writing. Use the lyrics or theme of a song for a piece of flash fiction (50 to 200 words). To clarify, write your version of the story behind the lyrics in a song”

Be sure to check out the other writers: http://inkpaperpen.blogspot.com/2011/09/songbirdits-write-on-wednesday.html

I chose to write about my favorite song of the moment: Grace Potter’s “Medicine.” Listen here:







He stopped talking when she walked in the door. He sat up straighter, forgot I was sitting across from him, and sat down his beer. As she sashayed through the crowd, men everywhere seemed to zero in on the silky hair, shapely hips and crimson lips. They stared, drooled, panted. She was a walking illusion. Sex in heels.

I knew the moment it happened. Her eyes met my husband’s as she glided her way past the other hungry men, focused only on him. Whispering silky words she took his hand, seducing him to the dance floor. Without a backward glance in my direction, he went willingly after his new drug of choice.

She may be what he thinks he wants, but I am not a woman to sit back watching what I love taken from me. Head held high, I sauntered over to where they danced. She saw me coming, eyes locking with mine in challenge. But, I had the one thing she didn’t: His heart. Reaching them I focused on my husband, took his chin, forcing my stupid man to look me in the eye. All it took was one look to remind him that she was fleeting, but I was forever.

I took back what was mine, threw her out of the bar, and put on those heels myself.

No Sycophants Allowed!

September 24, 2011 Leave a comment

When I began the process of finding an agent I purchased a book called Putting Your Passion into Print, by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to be published. It is as entertaining as it is educational.

One of my favorite entries in the book is about getting feedback on your manuscript. Should you let other people read it? Who should you let read it? What do you expect from them? They sum it up by saying, “stay away from obsequious sycophants! The last thing you want is people telling you your proposal/manuscript is good when it’s not. Be sure to let people know you want the you’ve-got-a-wart truth.”

I was reminded of the American Idol hopefuls who faithfully line up for hours each year only to be turned down. I always wonder why their support system failed them? Where were the friends and family to say, “we love you, but maybe this isn’t your thing. Let’s find what you are amazing at. Or, let’s get you some lessons.” If any of my brother’s ever set their sights on going on national TV and singing, I would have to dash their dreams firmly. Musical talent is a gene that was left out of my family’s make-up, sadly. However, that doesn’t stop us from singing! We just restrict it to the shower, car, or one drink too many karaoke night.

With this in mind, I have only let three people read my entire manuscript. I was careful to choose people I felt would be honest, even if it hurt. Because, this is my dream, and I’d never want to put my name on tone deaf writing. While I would always recommend listening with an open mind to anyone’s suggestions or concerns about your writing, it’s also important not to lose your voice trying to follow everyone’s advice. Take the critiques, learn from them, use them, but stay true to yourself at the same time. At least, that’s what I’m trying to do.

So, who do you get feeback from?

What’s in a Name?

September 21, 2011 Leave a comment

I spend a lot of time thinking about what to name my characters. Sometimes certain names stick out for different reasons. It can be that a name conjures up images of a sweet, caring person or a not so sweet, caring person. If a character changes as I write, perhaps turns evil, when at the start they were meant to be a neutral character, I change their name.

Researching names, what they mean, what time period they were most popular is fun to me. I really enjoy that part of my research when writing. But, I’ve often wondered if all the time spent on names is time well spent. When I read books the names are important to me, too. If I don’t like the name, sometimes I will change it in my head. If the name is difficult to say, I will shorten it.

I’m curious if other readers or writers have these name issues? Do you ever read books where the name just doesn’t fit for you? Or, do you ever change the names of characters while reading a book?

Cliff Jumping

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve often heard it said that great writing comes from sadness and heartache. Numerous authors, producing what became great works of fiction, were thought of as tormented artists. Through their works they expressed the grief or madness so present in their everyday lives. Edgar Allen Poe is one of the most prominent examples of this phenomenon. Another is Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Her well known short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” is one of my all time favorites. It is a journey through a woman’s battle with mental illness, and the way her husband’s ignorance contributes to her spiral into madness. If you’ve never read it check it out: http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/wallpaper.html

While I fully buy into this theory, and the proven results of literary genius, I believe happiness and joy lend to great writing equally. Although, perhaps in different ways. The journey to becoming a published writer is difficult, and at times downright depressing. But, when I become impatient with the process or doubtful of my abilities I am renewed by the people around me. As with most things, a solid support system is invaluable. I have this support system through close family and friends. When I have a day where I feel like shredding my manuscript and recycling my computer, I only have to call one of them to be reminded that all good things come through hard work.

If you are trying to climb that seemingly impossible publishing mountain, I encourage you to find your motivator. Following a dream can feel like jumping off a cliff, but like most adrenaline sports, the fun can’t begin until you jump.

Thank you to all of my motivators!

Character Driven

September 15, 2011 Leave a comment

I often wonder where in the world authors get their ideas. Some of my favorite novels are simple stories of tragedy, love and triumph. Others are outrageous tales of suspense and impossible adventures. But, in all of these the defining quality that pulls me in, and keeps me going back for more, are the characters. While I spend hours and hours and hours pouring over the intricacies of plot, I truly feel it would be all an exercise in futility without relatable and endearing characters that the reader can champion.

Most of the time when movies or books become timeless it’s because of the stand-out characters. Characters like Huck Finn, Jay Gatsby, Scarlett O’Hara, and even Harry Potter. Each of these characters are different, with their own triumphs and troubles, but the thing that ties them are the ways they impact our lives and our thinking.

At times I will say I just feel like finding a book that’s an ‘easy read.’ Meaning I don’t want to have to think too much. I just want to get lost in a fun story. Often these so-called ‘easy reads’ are the most entertaining. But, just as in Great American Novels these stories are held up by outstanding characters that I want to spend time with, getting to know, cry with, and laughing with.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say here is that, to me, character development is one of the most important aspects of creating a novel with staying power.

Persistent Characters

September 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Today I sat down to work on my new novel, but was quickly distracted by thoughts of the characters in my completed novel. I kept thinking about Ella and Riley, and new conversations or adventures they could have. They were running through my mind, until I had to give them my full attention. I put away the new work and went back to the old, supposed to be completed, novel.

So, for three hours this morning I worked on it, adding over two thousand new words before I was done. I truly am happy with the result from each addition. I’m glad I listened to them, but it left me wondering what will happen once the book is published. Will I ever feel it’s complete, needing no changes or additions? I suppose like most art forms, the artist can always find a flaw or a way to enhance the final product. Maybe it’s that Ella and Riley are the first characters I created that ended in a completed manuscript, that I have such a difficult time letting them go.

It made me think that these two characters might need a sequel. Maybe they have another story that needs to be told. How exciting!

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