Thursday, February 27, 2014

Remembering Dr. Seuss

I just found out today that Dr. Seuss's birthday is coming up in two days. He would've been 110 years old on March 2nd. :)  I thought I'd commemorate him on the the blog.because Dr. Seuss will always hold a special place in my heart. One of his books (I think it was Yertle the Turtle) was the very first book I read on my own. I remember sitting on my living room couch and painstakingly going though the book, word by word. When I finished, I was so proud, displaying the book to my mom.

Now, as an adult, I have new memories. Sitting with my kids and listening to the cadence of Dr. Seuss as I read them books like, Cat in the Hat, or Green Eggs and Ham (my favorite to read out loud).

Today, I want to share a few of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes. Feel free to add to the list by including some of your own in the comments.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” 
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

“A person's a person, no matter how small.” 
― Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who!

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It's not.” 
― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!” 
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

(I always think of this one when I am cleaning the house.)

“And this mess is so big 
And so deep and so tall, 
We cannot pick it up. 
There is no way at all!” 
― Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat

And if those weren't enough, here are some more. Thank you Dr. Seuss for a life of fun and rhymes.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tomorrow is #MSWL Day!

Just a little reminder that tomorrow on Twitter is Manuscript Wish List Day!

This great event put on by Literary Agent, Jessica Sinsheimer, and writer, KK Hendin, encourages agents and editors to share their wishes for what types of manuscripts they'd like to see in their inbox!

All day long you will see tweets from agents/editors, followed by the hashtag, #mswl. This indicates that they want to share their current wants and needs for their list.

A couple of things of note:

1) THIS IS NOT A PITCH EVENT.  It is simply a way for agents/editors to share with the writing community what types manuscripts they are seeking right now.

2) DO NOT @ an agent with questions in regards to their wish list. Go to their website if you need more submission information.

3) All is not lost if you can't follow during the day. Each agent/editor's wish list will be noted and included on the Agent and Editor Wish List page on Tumblr. Here is the link with more details and a few FAQs :

So follow along tomorrow if you can! And here's hoping an agent out their is seeking your exact type of manuscript!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Intro: Karen McCoy

Last week, I couldn't believe my luck when I was asked to join Operation Awesome! I look forward to contributing and learning as much as I can, especially with my first post on March 10.

Until then, here's a bit of background:

Though I live in Arizona, I was born and raised in California and still consider it home. I may be able to give Katrina a run for her money--I didn't see snow fall until I was fifteen. That same year, I received my first paycheck for writing-- $25 for an article in the local paper.

I first got the writing bug when I read The Babysitters Club series at age eight, but almost gave up after a bad grade during a creative writing class in college. Fast forward years later, to an HR training for my librarian job in 2008. Eight hours of duh. So I got out a pen and started my first novel, in my head ever since that first writing class.

Since then, I've completed it, and written three others. In 2012, I published an article in School Library Journal entitled "What Teens are Really Reading," and a post for the website Dear Teen Me. The following year, I wrote a chapter in Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror, available here. I'm currently working toward my MFA in Creative Writing from Northern Arizona University (NAU).

Some of my other interests include jazz dancing, singing, and traveling. I joined NAU's improv troupe, NAUghty Bits, and also write sketch scripts for them, which is tons of fun.

I keep up a blog, The Writer Librarian, and tweet on occasion. For more, you can visit my website here.

Thanks, everyone--I can't wait to get started!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cover Reveal for Donna of the Dead by Alison Kemper!

So I should start by saying that when I was younger, I was terrified of zombies. Couldn't watch even a trailer for a zombie movie without having nightmares afterwards.

But then Shaun of the Dead came along and cured me of my fear, with its wry humor and wit (sort of like when Professor Lupus teaches Neville to picture the scary Snape boggart in his Gran's silly hat).

Well, along came a book that also helped me see zombies in an entertaining light--or more precisely, a main character who slays them with her wit and wits. Donna is a hilarious and kickass heroine!

I know this because I had a chance to read the manuscript early on when Alison Kemper and I traded manuscripts, and now the release date of March 4 is almost upon us! With that in mind, I'd like to share the cover and blurb:

Donna Pierce might hear voices, but that doesn’t mean she’s crazy. Probably.

The voices do serve their purpose, though—whenever Donna hears them, she knows she’s in danger. So when they start yelling at the top of their proverbial lungs, it’s no surprise she and her best friend, Deke, end up narrowly escaping a zombie horde. Alone without their families, they take refuge at their high school with the super-helpful nerds, the bossy head cheerleader, and—best of all?—Liam, hottie extraordinaire and Donna’s long-time crush. When Liam is around, it’s easy to forget about the moaning zombies, her dad’s plight to reach them, and how weird Deke is suddenly acting toward her.

But as the teens’ numbers dwindle and their escape plans fall apart, Donna has to listen to the secrets those voices in her head have been hiding. It seems not all the zombies are shuffling idiots, and the half-undead aren’t really down with kids like Donna…

The Donna of the Dead page on Entangled has all the buying details, plus an excerpt! Go check it out!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Counting Down . . .

My full time job ends in one week and I get to be a stay-at-home mom. That's only five more days! Woohoo! \o/ Until then, my brain is and will continue to be totally fried from trying to get everything wrapped up before I leave. So, since I have nothing writerly to share, I leave you with this adorableness. Enjoy! :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Are scenes that are easier to write easier to read?

Happy Friday, OAers!

Much like Lindsay talked about the other day, I find myself working hard to write while life is cracking along at a pretty breathless pace. I drafted the end of my manuscript in one big burst of productivity last weekend, and now I'm busily rewriting a few scenes from the first third so it'll be ready for everyone to read. It'll be so nice to get this thing out there!

This manuscript has been a particularly tricky one for me to write. Which isn't to say it isn't fun to work on, because it is. But while some scenes fly off the fingertips, others crawl by a couple hundred words at a time. I come into some scenes raring to go, whereas some scenes just wouldn't get written if I didn't sit down and force myself to get going.

When a scene is more of a struggle for me, I'll finish it convinced the entire thing needs to be rewritten. What's shocking is when those are the scenes my readers love. Even more shocking, when I go back to that scene later, with some distance, and it's... actually pretty good.

But lest I get too confident, the reverse can also be true. Sometimes I'll write a scene in one sitting, and it'll feel great. But sometimes those are the scenes that get a surprisingly tepid reaction.

This is, of course, why beta readers are so valuable. The way your writing process feels day to day is subject to all kinds of external factors: your emotional state, how much sleep you got last night, whether a plot point or character motivation only makes sense in your own head. That scene that drove you up the wall might be the most important one in your book. And that scene you absolutely love might need to get chopped. In the end, sometimes we're way too close to see it.

How about you guys? Think of a scene or chapter your betas loved - was it easy to write, or was it like pulling teeth?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

It's a Scandalous Facebook Party!!

Hey all! :) My publisher is throwing a Masquerade Party for me and two of my fellow Scandalous authors, Tamara Hughes and Diana Quincy, over on Facebook tonight. We all have characters that hide behind some sort of mask, some literal, some figurative, and this is a really fun way to get to know our books and characters :)

It's going to be a blast and I wanted to make sure to give you a heads up because we are giving stuff away!! :D Come by and ask us anything you want, get some fun tidbits on our books, play some games and get some chances to win gift cards and prizes. I'll be giving away a Blood Blade Sisters necklace :)

Just come by the Scandalous Facebook page from 8-10pm EST tonight and join in the fun!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Time is a funny thing

I'm chopping through my extended absence, returning back onto the OA blog like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Minus the axe.

"Here's Lindsay!"

Time is a funny thing. There's never enough of it. And, as always, time is the first thing that races ahead when you've got a million things to do. You get trapped in an endless cycle of knowing you have ALL the things to do, but then you get pulled under. You drudge through the daily chores, but the things that you love can get pushed aside. And days/weeks/months have rushed past without you realising it. And while you've gotten some things done, others have slowed down (like reading and writing and blogging).

So how do you manage your creative life when other life bites you on the bum and steals you away?

Life is busy, but a notepad or a phone is wonderful for writing ideas, notes, scenes, blog post etc. And the fact that I can email myself the notes and copy/paste to a Word document makes the nerd in me smile.

Sometimes it's hard to get a solid block of writing time. Snatching twenty minutes to write is just as productive as sitting for an hour. Sometimes, when time is tight, I word war by myself to see how much I can get done in that time. Even if I've got an hour, I'll set my phone timer to break up the time.

Snatching ten minutes reading time is the norm sometimes. I do love holding an actual book, but this is where a Kindle or iBooks really comes into play. I have a book (or 1,000) on me all the times.

We often live our lives by our calendars and diaries. Or a to do list. I sat down at the weekend, looked at my diary and worked out blocks of time where I can write, blog, Tweet etc. Having it written down is an extra push to make it happen.

So that's me.

What about you? How do you make time to keep writing in your life when time gets tight?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Release Day for ELEVATED

Happy Release Day to the amazing Elana Johonson!

I'm always thrilled to see awesome writers explore the realm of Indie, and after Elana Johnson's dystopian trilogy (Possession) with Simon Pulse, I can't wait to read Elevated, which is her first YA Contemporary novel. The reviews at Goodreads are already rolling in and they look fabulous! It's proving to be an excellent first day. Well done, Elana! :-)

The last person seventeen-year-old Eleanor Livingston wants to see on the elevator—let alone get stuck with—is her ex-boyfriend Travis, the guy she's been avoiding for five months.

Plagued with the belief that when she speaks the truth, bad things happen, Elly hasn’t told Trav anything. Not why she broke up with him and cut off all contact. Not what happened the day her father returned from his deployment to Afghanistan. And certainly not that she misses him and still thinks about him everyday.

But with nowhere to hide and Travis so close it hurts, Elly’s worried she won’t be able to contain her secrets for long. She’s terrified of finally revealing the truth, because she can’t bear to watch a tragedy befall the boy she still loves.

If you would like to help Elana spread the word, or have an insatiable love for bacon, I'm sure it would make her day!

Link to Elana's Blog

TWEET: Buy ELEVATED, a new #YA #contemporary novel from @ElanaJ today to celebrate the release!

FACEBOOK: Buy ELEVATED, a new YA contemporary novel from Elana Johnson today to celebrate the release!


Monday, February 17, 2014

All Cons Great and Small

My last post, Conference Season Is Upon Us, mentioned some strategies for finding financial help to attend cons (conferences and conventions).

Today I'm going to list some cons, and I know for sure that I'm bound to miss some, so feel free to link to your overlooked favorite in the comments!

In no particular order, here are some venues you might want to check out:


Bouchercon: Murder at the Beach, Nov. 13-16, Long Beach, CA 
Sisters in Crime have a number of regional and national events throughout the year
Crime Writers Association offers the same sort of events in the UK
Mystery Writers of America holds a full day MWA University

Romance Writers of America has a national conference as well as regional chapter events
RT Booklovers Convention brings together romance writers and their fans

Children's, including YA:
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators has national and regional events throughout the year
YA Fest, April 19, Easton, PA
UtopYA Con, June 20-22, Nashville, TN
Austin Teen Book Festival, 2014 date TBA (in Sept 2013), Austin, TX
YALLFest, 2014 date TBA (in Nov 2013),Charleston, SC

World Horror Convention, May 8-11, Portland, OR

Science fiction/fantasy, including steampunk:
Hal-Con, Nov. 7-9, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America's events include the Nebula Awards weekend
Comic-Cons happen in virtually every big city now, but the biggest are in San Diego and NY
DragonCon, Aug. 29- Sept. 1, Atlanta, GA
CONvergence, July 3-6, Twin Cities, MN
Broad Universe promotes sff/horror writing by women and has an extensive calendar of cons*
FOGcon, March 7-9, Walnut Creek, CA
RavenCon, April 25-27, Richmond, VA
Megacon, March 21-23, Orlando, FL
Steamcon VI, Oct. 3-5, Bellevue, WA
Gaslight Gathering 4, May 2-4, San Diego, CA
The Steampunk World's Fair, May 16, Piscataway, NJ

*I seriously mean "extensive calendar of cons"--I should have just started here, and it would have saved me a lot of researching. A list of more steampunk cons can also be found here.

Online Cons:
IndieReCon, Feb. 25-27, with a focus on indie/self publishing
WriteOnCon, dates TBA (last year it was in Aug), with a wide range of genres & categories

Feel free to add your favorite con in the comments!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Writing about haunted houses and other spooky inspiration

What are your favorite subjects to write about? I love to write about the supernatural. Ghosts and witches and even a goblin or two always seem to sneak into my writing. I have lived in two haunted houses, traveled into the darkest regions of southern swamps and even fought off an alligator or two. All of these experiences have helped me to write my novel, River of Bones--a scary southern gothic filled with local myth and lore.
My first real experience with haunted houses happened when I lived on a historic farm. If you pressed your ear against a far wall--you could literally hear whispering and eerie cackling. On the outside of that wall was a simple flower garden. There was no reason to hear any noise from that wall. It was really unnerving. People would come to visit and listen to the strange sounds.
After some serious research we called our priest and then a paranormal team to explore the house. After the house was blessed, the investigators came in. They claimed it was haunted by the prior owners who had died in the early 1900’s. The team claimed the first residents were buried in the garden and were not at rest.
Not only was this news totally disturbing but I was horrified that dead people might be underneath my radishes and tomatoes plants! The very next day I hurried outside with my shovel and starting looking for gravestones. I scooped out shovels of dirt and dug for nearly a whole day and never found anything. Not even a piece of headstone. A search of death records and newspaper articles also turned up very little.
Later that summer on a smoldering day a car drove into the yard. Out stepped an older gentleman. I was packing my bags because we had found a house in town and frankly I was tired of all the creepy things that were happening in the house. The man walked up and shook my hand. He told me that he was the grandson of the original owners. I quickly asked him all the things I wanted to know about the house. He was very polite and after a cup of lemonade in the shade I had learned that his grandparents had both died suddenly of unknown causes. Before he left he tipped his hat back and said. “You know my grandparents are buried here don’t you?”
“Where?” I asked quickly.
“Over in the garden.”
I shook my head. “That just can’t be. I’ve searched the garden. There aren’t any headstones or coffins."
“Oh,” he said. “Not that garden.” He pointed to a rosebush on the side of the house near where we could hear the voices. “They’re in the flower garden!”
The hair rose up on my neck and needless to say the paranormal investigators were right. There were dead people in the garden--the flower garden--under my tulips.  We moved very quickly. I’ve always wondered what those voices were saying.  Perhaps they were telling me the tales that went into my novel, River of Bones….



Thursday, February 13, 2014

I hate you Marissa Meyer!

So recently I've been reading the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I read Cinder a while back, and just a few weeks ago read Scarlet (book 2), just in time to realize the third book, Cress, was coming .

So of course, I had to read Cress the day it was released.

 I have writing deadlines, for crying out loud! 

Marissa Meyer created a book that I just couldn't put down. I loved Cress, dang it. Loved her characterization (and now have a new book crush in Captain Thorne). And after reading it, I pulled myself back to my work-in-progress and felt very small.

 All of a sudden, my writing sucked. My characters sucked. I've been scowling at my manuscript, wishing it was better. Do you all do that? After you read a good book, do you pummel yourself with self-doubt?

 So... nooooo. I don't REALLY hate Marissa Meyer. She's now become one of my favorite authors. My daughter is now speeding though the books (she's finished the first two and is on the third).

My one complaint about Marissa Meyer is now that I have to wait until next year for WINTER to come out. :o)


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

International Book Giving Day 2014

Celebrate International Book Giving Day on February 14th!

Just a quick note to share that Friday, February 14th (Valentine's Day) is International Book Giving Day, which I think is awesome! :D In this day and age there are so many ways to get books (dollar stores, the dollar section at Target, used book stores, your kid's bookshelf, and so on) that it's easier than ever to share the book love. :)

Not sure how to participate? I've copied and pasted this straight from their website:

Three simple ways to celebrate International Book Giving Day!

1. Give a Book to a Friend or Relative.
Celebrate International Book Giving Day by giving a child a new, used or borrowed book.
2. Leave a Book in a Waiting Room or Lobby.
Choose a waiting room where kids are stuck waiting and there are few to no good books available. Purchase a good book, and deposit your book covertly or overtly in your waiting room of choice. The goal here is to spread the love of reading to kids, so choose a fun book, nothing controversial.
3. Donate a Book.
Wrap up a box of children’s books that your kids have outgrown and get them in the hands of children who could really use a book or two. Donate your books to your local second hand store, library, children’s hospital, or shelter. Alternatively, donate your books to an organization working internationally to get books in the hands of kids, such as Books for Africa.

You can find posters in other languages and a brief explanation of International Book Giving Day and this year's artist, HERE. Let's share the book love, ya'll! :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Staying Positive in a Negative World

Not a day goes by that I don't see an agent post something on Twitter about getting a nasty response to a rejection. Or an author bashing other authors over writing craft, word choices etc. It's disappointing, but I know it's the reality of life. People don't take rejection well. And don't vent their frustrations in perhaps the most appropriate ways.

From day one, I've decided that I'm not going to head down that negative path. When I put something out on social media, I want it to be positive, uplifting, and hopefully encouraging. It's too easy now a days to jump on the bashing bandwagon. Rip an author for killing a beloved character, or get angry at an agent for sending a form rejection on a full request. When I see people doing this I wonder, what are you getting out of that? Yes, you're venting a frustration, but is it furthering your career? It may feel good at the time, but are you going to look back at your feed and regret it? For most people, I'd say yes.

See here's the thing, this business is all about rejection. It first happens when you share your work with a CP who may not warm to your writing style. Then it will come when you query and you get rejection after rejection. If you're lucky enough to connect with an agent, it may appear during the submission process. And in turn from an editor who dislikes one of your favorite scenes. And just when you're at the golden point of publication, you may get negative reviews from readers.

Negativity is a part of  life, I get that. But how we choose to address that painful rejection of our work is totally in our hands. When I get a "no" from an agent, I turn the frustration into a driving energy to push my work harder. Make my craft better. When a CP rips into my manuscript, I step back from it and remind myself that they're not tearing me down as a person, rather challenging me to become a better wordsmith. 

The choice is in your hands on how you want to be portrayed in this business. You can decide to be that person who always shouts ugly things from the rooftops when they get a negative review or an agent turns them away. But, I have to ask, "Where is that going to get you? Who's going to want to work with you? Is that response going to get you published?" Maybe it will. Maybe it won't. But it will earn you a reputation that's for sure.

For me, I don't see the point in it. Put good out in the world and will come back. Now, let me clear: I'm not a total Pollyanna. I get pissed when I think my manuscript is there, and I don't get requests. Believe me, I can curse, and shout, and throw things with the best of them. But, I choose to do that in private. I've heard too many times how small the publishing world is, and I believe it.

So as a writer, I want to know how you handle your frustrations? Do you think it's okay to vent on social media when you have a valid complaint? Do you have good ways to deal with a rejection? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Have You Joined the Blog Blitz?

The Blog Blitz is the brain child of DL Hammon's at Cruising Altitude 2.0. The way it works is DL keeps an eye on all the bloggers on the list. When someone needs a boost or has fun news to share, he emails everyone on the Blitz team with a date and blog address. Our job as team members is to visit the Blitzee's blog on the scheduled day and attack their most recent post with positive comments.

The Blitzee is totally unaware that it's going to happen. I was Blitzed a few months ago and received over 150 comments in one day. It was a lot of fun. Lots of amazing people on the team.

If you'd like to participate, go here and add your name to the list. And maybe leave a note for DL to let him know what a great idea this is. :)

We're hoping to push our numbers to 500 hundred participants. Be sure to check it out!

Friday, February 7, 2014

TGIF - here's some writing music for your weekend!

Happy Friday, OA!

How many of you are settling down to a writing weekend? It's perfect weather for it here in New England: icy, cold, and slushy, generally the February standard around these parts. But that means everyone else is staying in, too. And in an old house like this, I hear just about every footstep overhead!

Having good writing music is super important to me for this reason. Writing music is distinct from my project playlists, which are best for long, brainstorming walks. Writing music, for me, is generally instrumental, evokes some kind of mood, and helps me drown out the din and concentrate. I know some of you are much better at finding your zen place amidst chaos (this is why I could never write in a cafe!) but for my fellow noise-sensitive writers, here's a recommendation for you. Which I tried to embed, but apparently am not HTML-savvy enough to do so...

This is one of my favorite tracks from Disparition, an instrumental (for now) solo composing project that, as described on their website, "combines a variety of electronic and industrial influences and techniques with interpretations of histories and geographies." In some pieces, like the above Ditmas, the piano melody is featured more strongly, while others have a more surreal electronic sound. 

And a lot of them are, to put it mildly, a horror writer's best friend, and have been fantastic for the eerier scenes in my manuscript. But even if your project isn't high on creep factor, Disparition still makes fabulous writing music.

If you'd like to check out more, the main page is here, with links to Soundcloud and iTunes. And if you'd like more of a taste, the (free!) album When Fourteen Suns is intended as a work aid for writing.

Enjoy, everyone! And if you'd like to share your favorite writing music in the comments, please feel free!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Blog Tour Wrap Up and Some Fun Stuff Going On :)

Well, my family spent most of last month sick, but I think we are finally on the mend (aside from this cold I seem to have picked up). I am soooo ready for spring! :)

While doing the sick thing though, I was also in the midst of my blog tour for my new release A Bandit's Betrayed Heart, the final book in my Blood Blade Sisters series. It's wrapping up now, but I was able to visit lots of great blogs and picked up some awesome reviews along the way :) 

For a full list of links of my stops, check out my Blog Tour page on my website. I was also able to chat with Babs Hightower on her Blog Talk Radio show last night. Here's a link if you want to take a listen :)

I did want to give everyone a heads up to a new feature my publisher has on their website. Entangled has a Steals and Deals page now (and a newsletter you can sign up for if you want to get notified of sales) that lists all the books currently on sale. If you like romance, it's a great place to check for new reads! 

And they are also celebrating their 3rd anniversary and are planning tons of fun things like sales and giveaways so be sure to check it out! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Conference Season Is Upon Us

Years ago, it seemed like conferences happened mainly in the summer, but perhaps as a beginning writer I just didn't have so many of them on my radar. Now that I have access to a larger network of writers and industry folk through social media, it seems like there are cons (both conferences and conventions) going on every week of the year.

And let's face it, as much as we'd like to go to every single con that comes our way, it's just not practical for financial and time-management reasons. So how can you balance the pros and cons (sorry, couldn't resist the pun) and find events that work for you?

If you have your heart set on a specific con but can't afford all the expenses, there may be options to help. If you are able to volunteer, there are often significant discounts in store for you (registration, parking, food, etc). But this doesn't mean you volunteer to man a table for an hour and then blow off other commitments, while expecting to get free admission (or free stuff)--most cons live or die by their volunteers, and you are genuinely a necessary cog in the machine.

Also, many workshops and cons offer scholarships. You may have to do some digging on the websites, because they're often not on the "front page", but there are funds available to those in need. One of the most extensive portfolios of scholarships I've seen recently is for the Clarion West Writer's Workshop. Regional chapters of national organizations, such as the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and Romance Writers of America, sometimes offer grants and scholarships for their national conferences too.

When I plan which cons I want to attend for the year, I try to keep "Return on Investment" in mind. If a favorite writer or speaker appears on the program, I'll certainly take a closer look and see if there are enough other opportunities to learn something, and meet new (and old) writer friends in person, to justify my time and money. The good news is that with so many different cons out there, some with a wide focus and some with a very narrow focus, that there is genuinely something for everyone.

My post on February 17th will list some places to find out about cons, and some that you might want to check out. Come back and see, and if you have a favorite writing or fan event and want to get it in the list, feel free to email it to me at strikingnotes (at) yahoo (dot com). Thanks!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Old English and Other Sins

One of the things that makes me cringe when I read my early writing is my inflated language and tendency to overuse adverbs.

Instead of saying, "He shivered," I might instead write, "Without thinking, he shivered unwittingly, sending a chill up and down his spinal cord."

For some reason, and I think this is fairly common, I believed that the fancier the language, the better received the work would be. I had excellent English teachers who encouraged me to choose strong, straight-forward words rather than flowery prose. Still, I managed to...

insert within my initial manuscripts verbosity fit to rankle even the most patient, longsuffering, and nurturing of English teachers. 

See what I mean? I think it comes also from reading too much. Can you read too much? Probably not in general, but if you read too much of the classics, or of fairy tales, or of anything old, you're likely to run into the same problem I had: a propensity toward flowery language and grotesque verbosity, the likes of which are rarely seen this side of 1800.

Sneaky little, old phrases and usages may find themselves squashed between your more modern lines of dialogue... like, "Upon seeing her, he ducked behind the conveniently located gumdrop barrel." Or maybe... "Initially he stiffened before softening under her magnanimous touch."  

Now, I'm not saying these are wrong ways of writing. I'm simply saying they are a very specific style of writing, and as writers we need to be careful our style of writing is conducive to the genre and age category. If you're writing regency romance, for instance, ignore this post entirely. Or go laugh to yourself about how liberating it is to use the word "thine" without having to mask it with irony.

But if you happen to write for kids, consider conscientiously filling your own mind with kid speak so that what seeps out when you sit down to write is more... palatable to your chosen audience.

What do you think? Have you ever read an old classic and wished children's writers still wrote like L. Frank Baum or Lewis Carroll?