Friday, April 29, 2011

If I knew then what I know now

Ten things I wish I knew two years ago:
  1. adverbs are not my friends
  2. the passive tense is...passive
  3. present participles are like salt, they add flavor when used sparingly
  4. grammar and spelling count
  5. my crutch words include 'that' and 'could' - I used Wordle to identify them
  6. my characters smile too much
  7. I have a strange obsession with eyes - why not noses or fingers or ears?
  8. there's always a better verb
  9. there's more to POV than meets the eye (see item 7)
  10. 'he said' and 'she asked' disappear - unlike 'he opined' and 'she queried' or 'he remarked' and 'she inquired'

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The meth dealer next door

Every so often I’ll turn on the national news and a reporter will shove a microphone in a neighbor’s face. Now, this neighbor has four teeth, a mullet and rose tattoo declaring his eternal love for Dawn. He is shocked, SHOCKED, to learn the guy next door is a serial killer who has been sawing up bodies out in the shed.

Or perhaps it’s a woman who comments on the meth dealer across street and the hole in the ground where his house used to be. The woman has never met a bra (and should have). She wears a dirty tank top. Her hair straggles. Her teeth snaggle. She smokes on camera.

When I see these people, I pray, “Please, don’t let them be from Kansas City.” I love my home and do not want the rest of the country to think the heartland is populated with meth-dealing serial killers and their clueless neighbors.

It was Pennsylvania’s turn yesterday.

If you’ve not heard, a local news station in Middleburg skewered a high school English teacher of 33+ years experience because she writes erotica in her spare time. She is published under a pen-name. Until this hard-hitting expose, no one knew the 10th grade teacher moonlighted.

The neighbors turned out - parents spewed vitriol, students climbed on soapboxes covered with “holier than thou” stickers, school administrators had no comment, and reporters wondered on-camera about what kind of people are teaching our children.  

Thank God it wasn’t Kansas City. If I lived in Middleburg, I’d be red-faced with humiliation. This is worse than a toothless mullet. This is more embarrassing than a snaggle-toothed, saggy-boobed smoker.

I’m guessing the mullet and the snaggle-tooth are unaware of the impression they make on me. More likely, they don’t care. Do you think the good folks of Middleburg realize how ignorant they seem? Do they know the rest of the country now thinks they’re backward? Do they care?

I don’t read erotica. I’d never heard of Judy Mays until yesterday. I’m not going to buy her backlist. But, I am supporting her on Facebook. You should too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ranting - just a bit

A few things I find disturbing:

People PAY to listen to Charlie Sheen's manic rants.

People I know and love plan to get up at 4 a.m. to watch the wedding of people they don't know and never will.
The next James Bond movie won't be released until 2012. What happened to feeding my Bond fix every two years?

And then there is this - Levi Johnston has a book deal. That's right, the boy whose sole claim to his fifteen minutes is knocking up Bristol Palin has a book deal. He claims, "I’m doing this for me, for my boy Tripp and for the country." Yes, because the country is sitting on the edge of its collective seat waiting the hear what lessons this oh-so-responsible young man is going to share. Who is going to read this book? Enquiring minds want to know!

Monday, April 25, 2011

A good day...

It's raining here - off an on - the kind of rain that reminds me of Paris. A rain that can't make up its mind. A rain that makes me want to burrow under the covers. I didn't.

No matter that the kiddos had the day off and slept 'til ten. I did things today. I ironed shirts. I did laundry. I ran errands. And, I wrote. 2,000+ words.

Now all I need is another 20 or so rainy vacation days.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Let me count the ways...

I joined an on-line critique group. The upside has been some incredibly helpful advice about Point of View and pacing. Not so helpful was the reader who wanted me to add a tag after every line of dialogue.


"Hello," said Eden.

"Hi," Romy said.

"How are you?" Eden asked.

"Fine thanks," Romy replied. "And you."

"Just fine," Eden said.

See Spot sit. Sit Spot sit.

Having ten people offer comments on the same 250 words has been enlightening. Some love my descriptions. Some suggest I use too many adjectives. This reading and writing thing is subjective.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wind, Sails and tired cliches

It happens. If I were a blonde country singer, I might say " happens." You're rolling along, wind in your sails (and voila, a tired cliche already), and it happens. Something unexpected. Something unwelcome.

I could go a bit cliche crazy - lemons and lemonade, God closes a door, opens a window. I could quote Nietzsche. I won't.

Shit happens. You have my permission to moan about it for a day or two (and in case you hadn't noticed, this is my day), then you get on with things. Like 1,250 words a day.

Monday, April 18, 2011


And so the world ends, not with a bang but with a pfft. That would be the sound of a motherboard shorting out.

It was much more civilized than the sounds I made - primal scream, recitation of four-letter words, the thunk of my head hitting my desk - repeatedly.

Yes, I upload to Google docs but I like having my WIPs on my laptop. There are places and times I don't have internet access. I still write and I admit, I'm not the best at remembering to upload.

I cradled my laptop in my arms like an injured child and hurried to the closest IT fix-it shop. "Look,"  they waved a bent electric thingy in my face, "Someone has yanked at this." Remind me again why I had children...

Oh right, so there would be someone around to complain about what I serve for dinner and break my stuff.

I bought them there very own refurbished laptop - windows, DVD player, etc... - and explained that my computer was officially off-limits. Their response was so ungrateful I shudder to repeat it. They surveyed the dull gray casing, opened the screeen and pushed a few buttons. "What? No video chat?" and "It's slooooow," and "Why didn't you get us a Mac?"

I think there's a parenting lesson in there somewhere. I missed it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weekend as a verb

Why do I think that I am actually going to get any real writing done on the weekends? Or, maybe it's just this weekend... How is it one child had a meet half-way to Iowa (really) while the other had a game half-way to Oklahoma (I exaggerate - but not by much)? Throw in church, swim/dive sign-ups, laundry and errands and my weekend is over with very little time for tapping on the keys.

I did pass off the first 20,000 words of A Roaring Scandal a friend with a critical eye. She is honest enough to tell me what needs fixing and nice enough to do it kindly. I also pulled out Working her Magic, re-wrote the first five pages and submitted them to YA Lit Chat. That was actually very inspiring so I've been re-writing chapters with "what I know now that I didn't know then." - stronger verbs, fewer adverbs, no passive voice, etc... I am also going to (gulp) re-write the hero. I have a paranormal idea I've not yet seen written. And, somehow between book one and being well on my way in book three, I have overcome my aversion to the delete button. A good thing. Working her Magic needs several scenes deleted.

Then there's Prairie Gothic - at least another week before I can hope to hear anything. Fingers crossed (which makes it harder to type). It remains a happy distraction.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Have I mentioned my MS is on sub? I have? Three times? Sorry. The thought takes up quite a bit of brain space. It's distracting.

I have been working my way through a new stack of bedside table books. Each one edited by a woman who has Prairie Gothic in her hands (or her in-box). So far I have to say that agent extraordinaire is a genius. The books are well-written engaging stories. They too are distractions.

Also, I have discovered Twitter. Well, not exactly discovered it - more like I actually downloaded the app to the trusty Blackberry and started following my favorite authors. Would it count as stalking if I started following editors???

Finally, Cassandra Clare's new book is sitting on the beside table BEGGING to be read.

With all these distractions you may well ask about my WIP? The word count exceeds 20,000 and that is with some serious deleting. I am going to channel Lawrence Block and start adding to that count daily (just not 1,250 words).

Saturday, April 2, 2011

On the beside table

My MS on sub is YA (to my non-publishing obsessed friends - my novel has been submitted to editors at a variety publishing houses. It is written for young adults).

I have always loved YA. Always. Somehow, I never aged out of it.
YA embraced paranormal long before Stephanie Meyer dreamed of glittering vampires or Harry Potter took up residence under the stairs.

YA isn't afraid to address serious issues - from eating disorders to sex to abuse to death.
YA writers are frequently brilliant.

A few of my favorites?

Cassandra Clare - her paranormals are creative, wise-cracking, steam-punk fun. Her new book City of Fallen Angels will be released April 5. I can hardly wait.
Suzanne Collins - dystopian, reminiscent of The Running Man and totally amazing. If you haven't read The Hunger Games, go buy a copy. Now. I'll wait. Read it, then you can thank me.

For the Urban Fae obsessed, Melissa Marr and  Holly Black are must reads. They write gritty novels with unexpected twists and turns. I recently discovered Julie Kagawa and am awed.

And, for those with a taste for realism, read the unbelievably amazing novel, The Book Thief or one of Simone Elkeles books (my oldest daughter is a HUGE fan. She also LOVES Meg Cabot).