Wednesday, March 26, 2008

To Post or not to Post

There's been an interesting discussion on a list recently. This is an author's readers list. The question seems to be, how complete should a work be before you post an excerpt to tickle a reader's fancy.

Some of the writer's have posted excerpts from a WIP, with the caveat that it is unedited. I don't think any of them mean unedited as in first draft, just unedited from the standpoint that an editor from a publishing company has not blessed it yet.

Some members say never post unedited work. Others say, I did edit, it's not a first draft. Often, especially with e-books, with you want timely reviews to promote your book, you might have to send an ARC before final reviews.

Also, with a series, it can be excellent promotion to post snippits from the next book in a series, while it is still a WIP, to spur interest and anticipation.

What do you think? Would it put you off a work if you found a mistake? Is it dangerous or good practice? What about those works that are out in "finished" and "Edited" form but have typos?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Life Wisdom

I don't have an author for these but I love them and they're all true.

1 * Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.
2 * Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
3 * Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle
of it.
4 * Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.
5 * If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
6 * If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably
worth it.
7 * It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning
to others.
8 * Never buy a car you can't push.
9* Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you
won't have a leg to stand on.
10 * Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.
11 * Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.
12* The second mouse gets the cheese.
13 * When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
14 * Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
15* You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world
to one person.
16 * Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once
17* We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and
some are dull. Some have weird names and all are different colors, but they
all have to live in the same box .
18* A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour. Have
an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today

Monday, March 24, 2008


1. It's Rinda's Birthday!! Everyone go to and wish her happy birthday. (She also acquired an agent last week!) A double happy birthday.

2. Zokutou's word meter is back up. If you need a word count graphic for your blog or website, this is the best. Just go to the site and get one. Even I learned to use it, with Rachel Vincent's help and I'm sure frustration because I was so dense.

3. It's spring and I just like spring and all the blossoming trees. Now I want flowers in my yard so I need to go get annuals and put in some color.

4. Keeping up with everything is frustrating right now but I'm making progress with everything.

5. Not exactly a hooray but we found out steroids and Bi-polar disorder are not compatible, something no doctor has ever said. Lori is Bi-polar with asthma and lupus. What do they use to treat asthma, pneumonia and lupus? Steroids. Why were all her bi-polar symptoms off the chart after she got home and was treated for pneumonia with steroids? Things that make you go Hmmmm. or run screaming in the night. Why do all doctors not know this or do they just not care?

Saturday, March 22, 2008


I read a short story today, one that placed in a contest. It was a killer. The story illustrated what makes good writing great. It's not the clever plot twist or ironic dialogue. It's the insight into character, use of the senses, all the senses and great imagery to put the reader in the setting. It's the ability of story to stay with you after you finish reading. Matheson did that in "I am Legend." This writer did it in his story.

Remember it's the details that count. Dean Koontz creates imagery like very few writers. King understands characterization. But the devil is in the detail, the smell of a room, the sight of a hand, the feel of a dream that make a story stay with you days or months later.

Sure, I'm a big fan of humor in the midst of darkness, rapid fire witty dialogue a la Dorothy Parker or even Buffy. It goes along with the genre I enjoy writing. But it you can combine those things with the imagery and sensory detail, just think how much better it would be. Then in addition to defeating the evil villain, let the main character actually look at what he/she is doing, or killing or wanting and evaluate their lives, change within, how much better could that be?

Friday, March 21, 2008


I just watched "I Am Legend" with Will Smith. Totally lacked the impact of the Matheson story. I'm not sure why the screenwriter felt the need to change the story that much. I think the only thing that was the same was the presence of a virus and a girl.

The movie was good and I like Will Smith. But Matheson's story left you really thinking about Neville realizing that to all the others, he was the monster who killed their kind, he was the boogie man, the thing that went bump in the day to hide from and be afraid of. In the movie he never really seemed to understand that the vampire was trying to save his mate.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Elephants, crocodiles, giraffes, Oh My!

Had to go for total silliness today. Stole this from a friend on eternal press readers group.

The following short quiz consists of 4 questions which test your intelligence. The questions are NOT that difficult.

1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?

Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door. This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.

2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?

Did you say, Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close the refrigerator?

Wrong Answer.

Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door. This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.

3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference. All the animals attend.... except one. Which animal does not attend?

Correct Answer: The Elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator. You just put him in there. This tests your memory.

Okay, even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your true abilities.

4. There is a river you must cross but it is used by crocodiles, and you do not have a boat. How do you manage it?

Correct Answer: You jump into the river and swim across. Have you not been listening? All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting. This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes

Don't you love a smart alec?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Depth, Surprises and Collage

First, the surprise. The Collage Contessa visited me. To the left is a collage by Kris, the collage contessa. Go visit her site for more cool stuff.

She does good work. She even does home made business cards, so cool. She home schools in her spare time. Now I'm whining about meeting my book deadline, working full time and keeping up with OWFI Contest. I'd better stop complaining. I could not home school on top of everything else. I love doing collages but haven't in a while. Maybe I should do miniatures.

This morning on the way to work in the rain I listened to a flute concerto played by James Galway. There's something about the tonal quality when he plays, a depth to the notes that others don't achieve. I don't know if it is his playing, his flute or both. It's as if a deeper value comes under the notes to make them soar. In a painting it would be like the difference between a good painting and a dutch master where the light from the painting lights up the room instead of the room lighting the painting. See Girl in a Pearl Earring.

That's what I'd love to do with my writing. Kim Harrison does it, both with the depth of her characters and the sensory richness of her scenes. She doesn't simply have two dimensional vampire, witch and pixie. These are people you know with back stories, and personalities and emotional baggage. Plot isn't everything, as important as it is. It's the personal flaws and mistakes that tell us as much about the characters as their actions do.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

New Stuff

First, I bought myself an expensive present and I love it. I got an Amazon Kindle, an ebook reader. If you want to read all about it just go and you can get all the skinny. Let's just say I like the idea of carrying 150 books in my purse.

Next, I put my books on CD's to sign and sell at conference along with the World of Myth anthology. Jeff burned the cover ontothe CD's and it looks cool. I should have the CD covers shortly. Will anyone buy, who knows, but it will be fun to have something there. And later, I can use them elsewhere, and as contest prizes until I have a paper book in my hands.

Now I'm trying to find a way to juggle writing, work, Lori's problems, OWFI, my sister's major surgery (mastectomy), my grandson's major surgery (Harrington Rods), on the same day, in Atlanta and Dallas respectively. Don't think it's possible.

But, once again I'm going to try to hit at least 700 words at lunch every day so I can see progress on the book and not feel so out of control.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Distractions are the enemy of productivity. We all get distracted and it's so easy because we are all so connected to the internet, cell phones, Blackerries, Palm Pilots, GPS. Everyone knows where and when we are. But is that a good thing for a writer.

If you are writing your first book do you need to be able to look up literary agents, guidelines and etc? Not really. The first thing you need to do is write, finish that book, stay away from the internet. You can get caught up in (above) cool digital pictures from or any number of You Tube videos, or conflicting rules of writing.

The only way to finish the book is to write it. No matter how appealing a new market might be, you have to have a finished manuscript to submit. You may be the best writer since Stephen King, but unless you are Stephen King, an editor will not buy your manuscript based only on a synopsis when it's your first book.

I'm working on the sequel to "Privy to Murder" called "Bloody Murder." Plotting is not as big an issue as applying the seat of the pants to the chair and getting the writing done. I have distractions, some I hadn't counted on since I said yes two years ago, not knowing I'd be under contract for a book with a deadline, so now I have to meet all those obligations, and I will.

There is still no magic solution. I have to write it, in spite of family, books I want to read, other obligations. So, the magic key to publication-finish the manuscript. That's actually the easy part.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Calling for Ethics

This country is having an ethics crisis. You see it in politics daily. The latest, the modern day Elliott Ness, crime fighting governor of New York, has been accused of transporting a prostitute over state lines. It is not as if he is some Joe Blow who can claim ignorance of the fact that this is a felony offense, not to mention the moral aspects of the incident. This is someone helping run our country. Tune in any talk show and you can find more examples.

What does this have to do with writing. The lack of ethics has sneaked into writing with multiple incidents of writers claiming work is original when it is not. Outright plagiarism, lifting paragraphs from one document to another. Well published writers have been accused, not just desperate beginners, hungry to be published and too greedy to put in their time.

Are people getting lazy?
Do computers make it too easy to go online, search, cut and paste?
Are we greedy?
Are we too impatient to create our own words?
Is it the fault of e-book access?
Did no one teach this generation of writers right from wrong?

I don't have answers except it's up to each of us to pay attention to fair use and read other's works for information and inspiration only, so we can then create our own original work, preserving the integrity of our profession.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Edit it

How do you edit yourself? It's hard. When you read your own work you see what you meant to be there, not always what you actually wrote. Reading out loud helps me see typos and repeated words because when I have to say it out loud, I pay more attention to each word.

Reading from the end to the beginning because again you have to pay attention.

Keep your eyes peeled for those repeated words, unnecessary words, redundant phrases, typos and phrases you love.

In dialogue, I seem to adore well, just, seems. Well, let me just say, I have a list of about twenty to thirty words and I will do a search and find (search and destroy) for those. I love to repeat words, it seems, for emphasis.

Why is this a problem? Because if every sentence of dialogue starts with just or well, boooring. And the characters appear wishy washy. Plus, if the character seems to hesitate, have him simply hesitate instead of appearing so hesitant to hesitate.

Everyone has their own favorites, the ones you leave in the first draft and cut mercilessly during the second draft. What are yours?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

To say or not to say.

Warning-potentially adult words.

There seems to be an ongoing discussion these days about language in romances and what should be said or not said. The F___ word seems to be high in contention. First, I wonder if some of the objections come from the older writers/readers who are really not into graphic language. Next would be the born-again generation.

To me, a love scene/sex scene that is rife with words like dick, penis, pussy get boring and take away some of the romance. I want to know what they are feeling, sensual stuff not an anatomical description. There are ways to write a love scene that are lovely, not pornographic. Having said that, hot sex is a turn on for some and seen more and more in romance genre's'.

Next, I go along with Rinda Elliott here. If you have a kick-ass heroine fighting a demon who's blood will burn flesh, and she is splashed with said blood, what do you think she will say--"leapin' lizards?," "Oh poopy?" The language has to fit the scene and she is more likely to scream "oh fuck" than something more mild.

At the same time, for language to be effective, it needs to be used sparingly. If your characters use the f___ word in every sentence, or every other word, they become ineffectual, boring and sound as if their vocabulary went on hold at age ten-or younger. Use your skills as a writer to convey what you want your characters to say with more imagination than say a series on Showtime. Of course, some of the series on Showtime are excellent, but you know what I mean and have seen those reality show where the people become unintelligible because every other word has to be bleeped out.

Trends change-romances have evolved from bodice rippers where the girl falls in love with the man who kidnaps and rapes them (must have been a male fantasy.) Language evolves. As writers we have to decide what's effective for our characters and our readers.

Monday, March 3, 2008

The Art or The Craft

"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master."--Hemingway

Are we artists or craftsmen? Where does our satisfaction come in. An visual artist can put painting on the wall, good or bad. A musician can play on the street and be heard. Even if an actor doesn't make it to Hollywood or New York A-list status, an actor can act in little theatre, regional productions and even amateur plays.

A writer is dependant upon being published in order to share their work on a large scale. Yet, most writer's goal is to be published. I'm the same way, in spite of the odds against it. If you want to make money from writing, write non fiction, so much easier to publish and pays better.
If you love fiction, make the actual process your friend, your goal and your pleasure. That is where the most satisfaction will come in.

Focus on the actual writing, not having written and now being published. Pay attention to how you feel as you create a world, bring characters alive and essentially play God. It's fun, and scary and so satisfying.

I'm not advocating writing and then putting it in a drawer. By all means, when that best seller is done, send it out. But know that for every NYT Best seller out there, there are hundreds of mid list books or small press books that never see the Times and thousands of wonderful books that never make it to either print or ebook status. Learn to enjoy the doing more than the being done. If you write, you are a writer.

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