Monthly Archives: January 2010

Fantasy Man Friday

It’s been a strange week, not necessarily bad, but strange. The Saints are going to the Superbowl for the first time since the franchise started. This news had me so thrilled, I completely blocked out the rejection letter that was waiting for me on Monday morning. Who cares about rejection letters when the SAINTS are going to the SUPERBOWL!! It still doesn’t bother me that much. I’ve resigned myself to my first manuscript never seeing the light of day (which is as it usually is for writers).

The rest of the week flew by in a blink. Soccer games, editing my 2nd manuscript, working on query letters and synopses…it’s been a busy week.

So now I need some down time. I have another game tonight (I think…I’m hoping it gets cancelled!), but I’ll ignore that for now. You know what would help me relax? You got it. A sexy man with rippling abs and bulging…um, biceps.

Doesn’t he look…relaxed? He’d probably look more relaxed without those trunks or whatever they are. And look…he has HAIR on his CHEST! Like…well, a man! This really isn’t helping me to relax, you know. If anything, I feel warm. *fans herself*

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Hiding from Grammarians

I’ve mentioned before how I sometimes slip into Cajun Woman mode (except without the tights). I swear, I’m educated. I have a degree and all! But there are some things I just can’t make myself learn to do, or rather…okay, I’m lazy!

I actually took Advanced Grammar in college. For one semester, I was an English major! Er, of course, I also tried my hand at Psychology (twice), English Education, English, and then finally settled on  History. As you can see, the English portion of my education was mighty. I could actually go back now and would only need 3 or 4 classes to hold a BA in English. Why aren’t I doing that?

Because I suck at grammar. Oh sure, I’m better than some people (like my nephew), but I’m nowhere near as proficient as I should be for an aspiring author. I write because I love words. The punctuation just gets in my way. My poor critique partner no doubt tears her hair out over my mistakes, but I do try…most of the time. My love of writing is more from loving how words fit together. I love the fluid ebb and flow of great prose. I devour witty, fast-paced dialogue. I hate punctuation.

I love words so much, I sometimes go overboard. I admit it, I can be a bit wordy at times (I hear your shocked gasps), which is why I have my brainstorming partner read my stuff for me. Um, okay, so I did use ‘coils of passion’ and got soundly bashed for it. It went something like this:

Brainstorm Buddy: You know I love you, right? But…”coils of passion”?
Me: I was trying to sound theatrical!
BB: Yeah, but “coils of passion”?
Me: Okay, so it is that bad. I’ll change it.

Now, my critique partner, on the other hand…poor lass. I can’t tell you how often I get my chapters back with commas taken out, semi-colons added, commas added…She’s the best. She’s an English teacher, which I’m telling you now, has no doubt saved me endless embarrassment at the hands of editors and agents. Without her grammatical and practical input, I think my hopes of ever being published would be dead. Grammar. Meh. I curl my lip at grammar! I bite my thumb at thee!

But don’t let this drivel fool you into thinking I don’t care about some grammar. I do. There are some things that drive me insane and I just can’t take it anymore. Your/You’re…OMG (I can’t even type it out) OMG don’t do this to me. I beg you! So just because I brought it up, here’s an article about apostrophe usage for everyone’s benefit. I’m going to peruse it further because I know my critique partner will thank me for it, lol. http://bvs-romance-writer-u.com/blog/?p=154

How about you? Are you a grammarian? Are you a word whore? (I am) Are you a bit of both?

P.S. I take no responsibility for any grammatical errors in this (or any other) post. I just spent ten minutes explaining how awful I am at grammar. Read at your own risk!

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Cursing a Blue Streak

Yesterday I happened across an article about Lori Foster’s upcoming release, Back in Black. Since I absolutely love (LOVE) those SBC guys, I’m eagerly anticipating this novel. The article, however, wasn’t so much about the book as it was about characters and how their language makes them more authentic. Specifically, how some characters’ use of “coarse” language makes them more genuine. You can read it here: http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Unabashedly-Bookish/Type-Dirty-to-Me/ba-p/462476

Now, let me just begin by admitting something to you all: I swear like a sailor, or rather a sailor’s daughter. Yup, my stepdad who raised me, was in the Navy. I once told him that since he never got any tattoos, swore, or drank himself silly, I had to do it for him. It isn’t that I drop the F-bomb with every other word, but I do use it a lot. I’m sorry if this lowers me in some of your eyes, but it’s just the way I am.

When I’m reading, I’m not offended by the characters’ use of poor language. If anything, for me, it adds to the authenticity of the story. I imagine how I would react in similar situations and think, “Yes, I would definitely be screaming that word at that moment.” You’re walking along a dark, deserted street minding your own business (never mind that you shouldn’t be doing that in the first place because it’s stupid and dangerous). Some fiend (I do love that word), jumps out and accosts you. Do you scream “Oh my!”, or do you let loose with a big, fat “Fuuuuuu-“? (I’ll substitute my favorite word with “fudge”). The latter seems the obvious selection.

I understand a lot of people would rather not read/hear swearing. I respect their choice, and curb my tongue in their presence. However, when I’m reading, I don’t mind salty language. Yes, it’s coarse and, in some people’s opinions, the markings of a lack of education. Yet these words are part of language. They have roots in the history of our language.

Now, for those of you who think I’m completely uncouth, when I’m unable to use the language I’d prefer to, here are samples of my substitutions:

Son-of-a-biscuit-eater!
God bless America!
Fudge!
Fudgesicles and brownies! (when I’m really upset)
And then there are the foreign swear words I use when nothing but the real word will do. I wouldn’t say I pride myself with a large vocabulary of foreign swear words, but I can curse in German, French, and Spanish.

How about you? How do you feel about such language in books you read? For the writers, how do you feel about using them? Do you feel as though there’s a big no-no stamped on such language? What are some of your favorite non-swear words?

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The Dread Pirate Query Synopsis

Now that I’ve finished my 3rd manuscript, it’s time to get back to editing and polishing my 2nd manuscript. I’ve had one partial request for it, but it’s not ready to go out yet. This worries me. I don’t want to be forgotten, but I also don’t want to send out anything without going over it with a fine tooth comb.

However, that isn’t the point of my post today. No, today’s post is about the query and synopsis I have to write for the 2nd manuscript. Is there anything scarier than writing a query, or a synopsis? I don’t think so. Well, maybe snakes, but that’s it. I can avoid snakes by not going into their habitats. Queries and synopses are something completely different. They’re necessary in this business of writing.

What’s so scary, you may ask. Well, the query is  your introduction to an editor/agent. It’s the first thing they see. Your entire manuscript is pretty much judged on the query. You have to condense your story down to its rawest elements while grabbing the curiosity of the agent or editor. It should be easy. You wrote the story, after all. You know it front to back, have slaved over it, given it life. But breaking it down to roughly two paragraphs…meh.

The query is the first thing you submit to agents/editors who accept submissions. It’s the selling point of your entire manuscript. Think of it as a blurb you want to see on the back of your book. It contains the basic elements of the story while drawing in the reader, making them want to read more.

The synopsis is a horse of a different color. It gives you more room to expand on those basic elements you touched upon in your query. You get a chance to describe the plot, the characters, and the ending, but you have to do it in such a way that it draws in the agent/editor. You want them to want more.

Again, none of this should be difficult. You wrote a book. You know the essentials (and a lot more): who, what, when, where, how, and why. It’s taking everything you know, and putting it in a different perspective that always causes me problems. I feel like I’m leaving out something important, then if I put what I think is important, I feel like the story sounds flat.

I’ll get through it. I know I will. I’ve done it before, I just dislike it a lot. How about you? Do you dread the query/synopsis? Are you a pro at writing them?

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Hell Has Frozen Over

I’m sure you’ve all heard the news by now. The Saints are going to the Superbowl. Oh, I’m sure most of you don’t care, but for the state of Louisiana, this is a very big deal. We’ve waited 43 years to have our faith in our team vindicated.

We’ve worn bags over our heads, had to listen to the games on the radio rather than watch them due to black outs, had to endure ugly ragging by opposing fans. We’ve been the underdogs of the NFL. We’ve had our heritage, even our tragedies, turned into taunts. We’ve suffered countless close calls, bad luck, and dismal performances for years.

We’ve seen lads we consider ‘ours’ (the Peyton and Eli Manning) go on to other teams and win big. We’ve watched them closely, cheered for them when they won Superbowls, been loyal fans to them because they’re from here, because their dad played for us.

And now. We’re going to the SUPERBOWL. 43 years of faith, 43 years of disappointment, 43  years of hopes and dreams have finally coalesced into a winning season for us. Oh trust me, we’re all hoping we win. If we do, there will be…mass hysteria in the streets. There will probably be a serious lack of people at work the day after the Superbowl.

I didn’t even see the team celebration after the field goal last night. No, I was too busy screaming my head off. I could’ve just…exploded, I felt so much joy. Now, in the morning light, I can hardly believe we did it. It seems like a dream, like I’m going to wake up and realize the Vikings did win after all. But no, this is reality.

So now, I can’t help but wonder…If the Saints can make it to the Superbowl after 43 years of fighting tooth and nail for respect, how can I doubt that good things happen? I feel…buoyed by hope, because if the Saints can make it to the big game, then I can get published. It might not happen this year, it might not happen next year, but it will happen.

That’s what the Saints do for this area (Not just New Orleans, or even Louisiana, but the entire Gulf Coast). They give us hope that even though life seems to beat you down time and time again, you can get back up and achieve the highest of the highs. We can become something more. We can all be champions.

Geaux Saints.

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Fantasy Man Friday

It’s the end-of-the-week wrap-up. I’ve fought a cold all week, but it finally seems to be leaving me. Thank goodness. It was bad enough that I didn’t get any writing done for nearly two days. Horror of horrors!!

Now, however, I’m ready to get back in the groove, get some writing done, surf for some really hot guys…you know, hard work. This weekend is also NFC and AFC Championship games. I’m not going to dwell on my boys in black and gold. No, I can’t. I’ll get nervous, and be worthless the rest of the day.

On to more exciting things! Perhaps my cold would’ve gone away if I had stayed in bed, but there are so many things to pull me out of bed (like work, reading, writing, etc.) that I didn’t stay. However, if I had rolled out of bed, turned and saw this:

I would have most definitely changed my mind. In fact, I think I’m changing my mind right now. See how he’s reaching out to tell me not to leave him? As if I’d even imagine it! Look at those eyes! That 5 o’clock shadow! Meh…I’m going back to bed!

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The Art of Distraction

We all face it at some point or another. You’re sitting down determined to work on your manuscript. You have your favorite drink at the ready, a comfortable chair, the perfect playlist going, you open your WIP…then promptly open solitaire. Well, it may not be solitaire for you, but it is for me.

I let myself get distracted. Not because I don’t want to work, but because I need to clear my head. I can start working on my WIP, but if I force myself to stay at it too long, I begin to lose the thread of the story which in turn ruins the rest of the story for me. This is when I need a distraction. Letting my brain take a break from my imaginary world is essential in keeping myself motivated.

It doesn’t even have to be a game. It could be something as simple as walking around the house, or going outside for some fresh air. Just something to clear the cobwebs from my head. These are moments I really look forward to since while leaving the desk for a few minutes allows me to think of the story without staring at it.

Is there anything worse than staring at a screen and trying to figure out how you’re going to get the story where you want it to be? Well, I’m sure bamboo shoots under the fingernails would be slightly worse, but I don’t know. It can be agonizing to know where you want the story to go, without knowing the how. Take ten to fifteen minutes to relax and clear your mind. Think about something completely different for those precious minutes. Play a game, take a walk, read that next chapter of the book you’ve been putting off, anything to get your brain juices flowing again.

What do you do to distract yourself when you feel ‘stuck’, or can’t find the right words for your next scene? Are you a diligent-can-write-2-hours-straight kind of writer, or are you a twenty-to-thirty-minute-spurt kind of writer?

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