Archive for December, 2005
December 30, 2005
Happy Birthday, “B”!
Today is my little girl’s birthday, the day I remember so much of the baby who left my body, after camping in for ten long months, and grew into a courageous woman.
She is the child who went beyond her teenage years gaining wisdom and depth. This is the girl my future son-in-law held in such high esteem he asked my permission to propose. This is the woman who is raising two daughters of her own with such love tears come to my eyes when I see them interact. This is my friend, my daughter, who I have loved for twenty-eight years and pray she will always be in my life.
Happy Birthday, “B”. I love you.
Sloane said @ 10:46 am
December 29, 2005
Oh My God, I got The Call
I am in utter shock. Yesterday at 12:31 central standard time I opened my emails to find Terese Ramin from Triskelion Publishing offering me a contract for my latest work, Teddi Turns On. Tears ran down my chubby cheeks as I whooped and stamped my feet right before I jumped around my little office like a crazed Samoan at a fertility ritual. Without hesitation I emailed Terese a resounding YES!!!! and I would send a proper acceptance once my mind reconnected with my body.
Unfortunately the “B” was at work so I could only leave her a message on her cell phone as I pounded out an email to Studly. Then I had to plague Beth and Yasmine, my CPs, right before the Brazen Vixens were notified of my great news. All of these people have been so supportive I felt it was important to let then know their time and effort hadn’t wasted. Each and everyone was elated and wished me well.
Today my throat is still sore from screaming which became a croak when I opened another email from Terese with my contract. Of course the ferility dance got kicked up a notch. But I’m now back on level ground and ready to greet this new pase of my life with joy.
What a year. I have a daughter who is proud me, a man who truly loves me, granddaughters and a son-in-law who think I’m cool, and a contract with a respected publisher. God has given me more than I could ever want wrapped into one awesome year.
May 2006 bring you all your most pleasant surprises and the happiness you need.
Sloane said @ 10:10 am
| Hot Damn
December 23, 2005
Tis the Season
To Everyone Around the World,
A very Happy Holiday to you all and may your New Year be healthy, kind, and everything you need. May your Higher Being bless you all.
I’ll be off line until January 5 enjoying some quality time with Studly and my kids.
I love you, Studs, “B”, and the crew!
Sloane said @ 10:28 am
December 22, 2005
Foregt the guy with the lampshade
Characterization isn’t about the ass at your last holiday party everyone laughed at then dissected on the drive home. It’s the life of your hero, heroine, and all secondary characters in your novel beyond their height, weight, and eye color.
Let’s do a cast call.
Johnny the Hero
Liz the Heroine
Fred – Johnny’s best friend
Pam – Liz’s best friend
Marge – Johnny’s mother
Of the above group, the only roles needing a characterization are the stars and supporting cast. The Walk-Ons are too minor to worry about.
Beth Anderson spent many a long night explaining why writing a characterization is important. Since we don’t have forever here, I’ll crunch it down.
The writer must know the history of their characters. Their past events are what make them be the people they are today. It is what has driven them to be honest, strong, or steal. You won’t know why your hero runs into the burning building to save the heroine if you don’t understand his history.
So how do you so this? Very easy but time consuming. Don’t fudge on this. It’s too important to writing a novel that will impress an editor.
The stars need an extensive characterization. Following is the process;
1 – Park yourself at your computer. Each characterization will take several hours so relax and enjoy.
2 – Choose one of the lead characters.
3 – Imagine you are that person. We’ll use Johnny for the example.
4 – Just type. Bang out his life starting from boyhood. Write in his voice. It’s amazing how your phrases will alter as he ages. Bring him up to the starting point of your novel. Include every detail no matter how unimportant it may seem. Let your mind run on and you will be Johnny, living the high points of his youth and what drove him to the man where your story begins. You’re in Johnny’s point of view. Did he pee his pants in third grade? What really happened? What did he see, smell, and feel inside?
Don’t worry about punctuation, grammar, or spelling. Just type. No one else will ever read your work.
Do this with your heroine as well.
You have finally finished your stars. It’s time to begin on your supporting cast. They’ll take much less time as they aren’t nearly as important. You don’t have to start in their childhood. Type up a brief bio, something similar to an obituary of a famous person.
I took Beth’s method one step further to help me drizzle the backstory into my novel.
Below are the four easy steps;
1 – Print out each characters history.
2 – List all the highpoints on a separate sheet of paper. The order doesn’t matter.
3 – As you write your novel drop in a line or two of backstory at the appropriate time to enrich the action of your character. Use only the most important lines of their backstory. You know the rest and the reader doesn’t care.
4 – Cross off the line as it’s used and write next to it which page you’ve inserted it.
This method will help you build stronger characters with real motivation your reader and editor will love.
December 21, 2005
Push em back, push em back, way back!
It’s a great Bears (Go Team!) defense team cheer and precisely what you should do with backstory when you’re writing fiction.
What’s backstory? It’s the life chronicle of your characters. All of your characters. Every person in your novel has a past. They think, feel, and act based on their history. Some backstorys are important like the hero and heroine while others are so minor they don’t matter in the full scope.
You’ve written your characterization, which is Thursday’s talk, and now you’re good to go. Wrong!
My Brazen Vixens online group is always willing to read a member’s work and constructively correct the flaws. Kate Lang, (check out her blog at katelang.blogspot.com for a great read) the leader of our pack, sent me an insightful e-mail after reading my first chapter.
“A suggestion is to perhaps cut back on backstory a little. I’d like to see your heroine’s issues be a mystery to me as a reader. After reading the first chapter there’s no mystery. I understand her, I understand her issues, and I know her history. Let her be more of a mystery, don’t tell me everything, let it come out in dribs and drabs.” Kate’s words made me think.
Beth Anderson and Yasmine Phoenix, my critique partners, are brutal with sloughing off. At our next meeting I broached the subject. They both agreed it was “too much, waaaay to soon”. These buds made me think even more. To these three authors I am forever grateful.
This is what I finally learned;
If little Johnny peed his pants in third grade and the teacher shamed him in front of his class, we don’t care. It’s only important as a brief mention or a thought timely planted in the story. Johnny knows what he did and the reader only wants an indication if it brings out some deep dark secret which leads him to act as he does in your book.
This is what I finally figured out to correct my problem;
1 – List all the high points from your characterization. (Don’t panic; remember on Thursday we’ll discuss characterization.) Skip the height, weight, etc. You only want the important events, ie;
a. Johnny peed his pants
b. He feels shame whenever he wears brown
c. He won’t talk in front of groups
d. He has a fear of public bathrooms
Get the idea?
2 – Write your story and drop in a line of backstory here and there but only where it’s appropriate.
3 – Cross out the line from your list after you’ve used it and note in the column which page it’s on.
This method taught me to sprinkle in the backstory for the proper effect and not put the reader in a coma.
Don’t worry, there will be pages in your book with plenty of backstory, but if the timing’s right it’s fine.
December 20, 2005
And then along came Jones…
Just a gigolo everywhere he’ll go is our very own Forrest Landry (check out his blog at forrest-landry.blogspot.com, dry wit is his specialty) who has joined the That Whores and come out to admit he is an And Then Gigolo. So Forrest, today is dedicated to help you shake your habit or else it’s the 2×4 with spikes. What can I do? I teach these authors everything I know and they still know nothing!
And then along came Jones… Good line if you like the Coasters’ old song but in writing it’s a major no-no. And then is a filler and shows a lack of writing ability. If you want to be a published writer you must know your grammar.
Let’s look at an example;
Jeff stood, shoved back his chair, and then stomped from the restaurant.
It should read;
Jeff stood, shoved back his chair, and stomped from the restaurant.
Jeff stood, shoved back his chair, then stomped from the restaurant.
Either way works and is grammatically correct. By using and along with then your throwing in an unnecessary word which makes the sentence weak and unprofessional.
Here’s the thing, we all speak one way but must write another. We use all kinds of word combinations Webster would freak over. Hey, he’s dead so who cares? Your editor, dear author, the person you want to impress with your vast talent. Kick the habit and it will help you get published.
Back to the highlighters and yet another new color! Will the excitement never end?
Go through your manuscript marking every and then .
Re-read each sentence using and or then. You might be surprised to discover neither word is necessary as a comma may suffice.
Don’t lose heart. My first mss reminder me of kindergarten and the first finger painting class. I used every color in the spectrum and then some. I should have framed a few pages from that old mss. They would have served as a healthy reminder of how far I’ve come.
Tomorrow we’ll work on backstory and controlling it. Until then, Happy Writing!
December 19, 2005
And that’s about that!
As promised I’ll explain the That Whores, Jenna Howard and Sherrill Quinn. Check out their sites on the links page. These two fine authors have just come out of the closet admitting a that lust. I’m proud of you little Vixens. It took incredible inner strength to admit you have a problem. Now quit using it improperly before I beat the hell out of you both with the 2×4.
See the title of this blog? That’s the correct usage of the word. That is defined as the one mentioned, indicated, or understood. So if you write;
There was an important English test in Johnny’s class yesterday. The one boy that sweated over that test was really stupid.
You’ve almost got it but the sentence should read;
There was an important English test in Johnny’s class yesterday. The one boy who sweated over that test was really stupid.
That refers to a specific test therefore it is correct grammar.
Another incorrect example is;
He glanced up and saw that mounting passion had tinged her cheeks.
It should read;
He glanced up and saw mounting passion had tinged her cheeks.
Yes, I know there’s an ‘ing’ word but sometimes they are necessary.
That can also refer to people replacing who and whom. You should only use that in this manner if your characters are talking, as in the example below.
“The man that saw you is kind of cute,” she said with a wink.
We could go on forever with examples but you have the idea and it’s time to shrink your manuscript even more. You get to use a new highlighter color! Aren’t you excited?
Go through your mss and mark all the that‘s.
Re-read each sentence aloud omitting that. You’ll be surprised how much better the sentence will sound.
It’s very important you break yourself of the that habit. It shows a lack of professional writing skill and English grammar. Editors don’t like writers who are lacking.
December 16, 2005
Honey, I Shrunk My MSS!
Today is adjective day. Wait your turn you ‘that’whores until Monday. My sweet ‘and then’ gigilo, you have to wait for Tuesday. To everyone else reading here, I’ll explain on the above mentioned days about these insane people.
Adjectives are necesssary when you write, but they are a tool you must keep in control. They are best used in love scenes or when you need to soften the character’s thoughts or deeds.
Following is an example of what not to do;
Her hands were flying, tossing everything into the drawers.
It should read;
Her hands flew as she tossed the clothes into the drawers.
The new sentence is clearer and shows more action. Look on the bright side; your reader won’t stop mid-book to run for the toilet and it’s one less reason for the editor to send you the standard form rejection slip.
Go through your mss with a highlighter in a different color than you used for the adverbs. You’ll love the how pretty your pages look. I guarantee, unless you’ve had some serious 2×4 time, there will be an inordinate number of highlights.
Poor Beth just about pulled the last of her blonde hair out when she read my first draft with all the flowery crap. The dear hung in there and taught me to slowly read aloud, sentence by sentence, what I’d written. If the line was sing-song or gagable, it got a rewrite or the axe. Believe me, it won’t kill you to delete.
To thank her for all her hard work, and it was, I sent her a bouquet from the florist. The card was signed by ‘Ly’ and ‘Ing’. Her husband wasn’t happy and wanted to know, “Who the hell is this Ingly guy, and why’s he sending you flowers?”
Have a great week-end and I’ll be back Monday.
December 15, 2005
Lose Those Old Friends
Let’s talk about adverbs.
When I first started writing fiction, mystery crime writer Beth Anderson foolishly offered to read my WIP. Beth noted many first-timer mistakes and made it her job to teach me. A better day there has never been. She laboriously went through the mss marking all the corrections in thick red ink. At the end of it all she wrote me a note apologizing if she had hurt my feelings.
Not a snowball’s chance. It was the best education I’d ever received because Beth took the time to explain how adverbs weaken the sentence and feel of the scene unless it’s an emotional time for the H/H.
Here’s an example of what not to do;
“You can be very outspoken,” he softly commented while tenderly reaching for her hand.
Makes you want to stick your finger down your throat doesn’t it? Imagine if there were twenty-five plus ‘ly’ words on the same page. Bad ratio to the 250 words on every typed manuscript page.
This is what it now reads;
“You can be very outspoken,” he said as he reached for her hand.
Simple, cleancut, and ready for the editor. Here’s the solution;
Go through your WIP.
Highlight every adverb in the color of your choice.
Re-read your sentences, one at a time. Can you say it better, smoother, stronger by eliminating the dreaded “ly”?
Keep your adverbs to two a page and only if they are necessary. Chances are you can and your novel with be a thousand percent better.
December 14, 2005
As Time Goes By
Sometimes in our individual world sadness abounds. There’s nothing we can do to alter the course of the universe and stop certain events from happening. It’s just a simple fact of life.
Nine years ago this evening, 6:05p.m. central standard time, I lost my best friend, my lover, the man who had filled my soul. My husband.
This is a day I have no humor. In my house there is no music, no cooking, only work and tears to help me get past these dreaded twenty-four hours as I hold the image of his long hours of dying close to my heart.
Every year on this day I’ve made it a point to reflect on our life and how good it was, only surpassed by a stronger effort to ignore the arguments and any negative occurances which took place. It’s amazing how those unhappy incidents have diminshed over the years.
I’m not one to hang crepe, elevate a mortal man to sainthood, but Chuck was a Good Man. He used to complain I should tell people he was well endowed, not exactly his words, or anything else but he was good. To him it meant he was boring. Nothing was farther from the truth. He’d grown up as a very poor boy in Oklahoma with a mediocre education. After years of floundering, he took charge of his life and became a man of substance, quality. He loved his life and family, especially his “Little Girl”.
Today our daughter called, to remember Dad. She was upset I seemed to have forgotten this horrible anniversary. Again, nothing was farther from the truth. We hung up not the best of friends but I could do nothing to overcome the privacy I must retain. Because you see, all I have left are the silent memories of a life now gone.
Sloane said @ 12:14 pm