Monday, December 22, 2014

Since You've Been Gone

Okay, that post title maybe could be read as "Since I've Been Gone" considering it's been so long since I've actually posted on a regular basis.  But I've been busy working (to which the hubby can attest) with occasional breaks for playing hard:

I went ziplining! (Back when there was greenery!)

Road trip to Denver included a visit to Casa Bonita
So that's my excuse...

I wanted to share something but first we have to talk about this meme that's made its way around not too long ago:

{And I've just spent thirty minutes looking and it's nowhere to be found}
{After a few days, I decided to try to find it a different way.  Time spent looking: five minutes.  Geesh!}

Here's a writing exercise: write a scene revolving around the sentence, “She told him that she loved him,” adding the word “only” before different words. You can check out some of these posts to see one author's take on the exercise (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

Let's do the same exercise with since and because.  In my copyediting, I tend to suggest because over since when there's a relational thing going on: because this, that happened.  I suggest since is better used as a notion of time passing: since then, this happened.  I know that in speech, we are less apt to use the words that way, but there are plenty of instances in the exposition where the change is a good thing. So, on to the exercise: this time we'll switch out the since for because and see how the sentence changes meaning. 

Since you've been gone, I read all the time.
Because you've been gone, I read all the time.

Since you've been gone, we've had a party.
Because you've been gone, we've had a party.

Since you've been gone, I've never felt better.
Because you've been gone, I've never felt better.

Or, to borrow Kelly Clarkson's words:
But since you've been gone, I can breathe for the first time

But because you've been gone, I can breathe for the first time

Alright, readers: got any more good ones to share?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What Are You Made Of?

While my husband and I were on a two-week trip (Denver for Thanksgiving; Wisconsin for a Christmas party - yes, we will travel for a party!), I saw this sculpture:

It's a metal sculpture made up of letters, in the shape of a person.  I thought it was a really cool idea - to think about what people are made up of, and how words are used to describe people.  I'd like to say I had time to stand and reflect on the sculpture, but in truth, I had ducked out of the rental car, run across the road, took some pictures (that I hoped would come out okay), and then ran back to the waiting car after the hubby had turned around and drove slowly so I could hop back in.

What made it even cooler? Guess the name of the park where I saw this sculpture:

Yup, that's Atwater Park!

Monday, December 1, 2014

2014 Mystery Phrase Update

Way, way back in January (you remember January, right? well, if not, don't worry - the next one is right around the corner) I awarded the 2013 Favorite Goof and briefly mentioned the 2014 contest.  And here we are, at the beginning of the last month of 2014 and it occurred to me that I haven't given you any updates!

My mystery phrase (it's still a mystery to you!) didn't show up as often as I thought it would - just 21 times in the 100+ titles I've worked on so far.  But it was weird how it would show up in bunches: 5 times in January, 3 times in August, and 3 times in October.  Throughout the rest of the year, it was just once or twice a month.

We'll have to see how December pans out - and what I decide the "prize" will be!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Find Your Peeps

Yes, I know it's been awhile since I last posted (but hey, not quite a month...just really, really close to it).  I've had some ideas and thoughts to share, but not necessarily the time to get them down intelligently (although that's not a prerequisite for any blog, but I at least like to try...)

Anyway, let's talk about peeps.

Okay, despite the fact that Peeps are my mother's favorite Easter candy and I have actually made a Peep-like marshmallow myself, that isn't what I meant by peeps.  What I meant was more along the lines of friends, like-minded people you know (or get to know).

Last night was a meeting of my local chapter of the Editorial Freelancers Association (not to be confused with the American Honky-Tonk Bar Association).  It was a small group last night, but we had a great time and closed down the library (yup, that's how we roll).

After I left, I was really energized and realized how much that simple act of getting together with other editors can offer so much: tips on tools, business ideas, the comradeship of people who get what I do. etc. Even though there were editors of all types, for all kinds of clients, we were the same - editors.

So if you get a chance, or if you've been on the fence about joining a writer's group, or a critique group, or going to a writer's conference - take a deep breath, and just do it!  Go find your peeps!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Black and White Truth of Story

Somewhere in my Internet travels, I clicked on a link (like we all do), and landed up here.  Apparently, someone had lots of time on their hands and wanted to make a point.  And I think they make it well.  The article talks about staging scenes for films, but I think there's a case to be made for staging scenes for books as well here.

Harrison Ford and Alfred Molina (yup, the same guy from Chocolat)

Now, I am not a huge fan of Raiders of the Lost Ark (I know, I know - I should be, but I missed the movie mania when I was 12 and therefore did not have it as a part of my cultural upbringing).  I've seen it, but it was probably ten or more years after it was released that I finally got around to seeing it.  And it might have even been on something like TNT, so it was all cut-up and "formatted for television." (Ick.  Not the best way to see any movie, especially one you haven't seen before.)

But I was absolutely mesmerized by the first ten minutes (that's all I allowed myself; otherwise I would have watched the whole thing instead of getting back to work).  Without dialogue, without color, and with a new soundtrack, your eyes are drawn in. I understood the drama; I could feel the heat of the jungle; I could see the dangers and feel the excitement.    

It made me think about how authors can use staging, not visually, but with description (yes, that dreaded "Show, don't Tell" mantra).  How those details can give the reader the truth of the story or how it can just seem like recycled plots.  How those mannerisms can make the reader identify with the character: believe what they believe, feel what they feel, find themselves in the character (even if at first glance the reader and character are complete opposites). 

So check out the link and if you've got the time and inclination, watch the whole film (yup, the entire movie in black and white and no dialogue).  See if you are drawn in; notice how the camera cuts away or draws out a scene.  (I noticed it took three minutes to actually see Harrison Ford's face! It felt like forever!) And think about how to create that tension and anticipation in your manuscript.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Author Interview - J.S. Scott

Let's welcome author J.S. Scott.  She's the NY Times and USA Today Bestseller author of the Billionaire's Obsession series, The Vampire Coalition, The Changeling Encounters, The Pleasure of His Punishment, Big Girls and Bad Boys, and The Sentinel Demons.

Thanks for stopping by.  Let's get to the questions.

1)      What were your favorite books growing up?
A:  I loved anything fantasy as a child, and my favorite series as a kid was The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.  I also loved The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings. I started reading romance as a young teen.  My mom read Harlequins, and I swiped them when she was done.  I started on romance very young, and I’ve been a romance addict ever since.  

2)      Now that you have, let’s say—some life experience, what would you tell your younger self?
        A: Life is way too short to be negative, or to dwell on anger, resentment or past hurts.    
3)      Describe your typical day.
        A:  My life has changed dramatically since I’ve left medicine to pursue writing on a full-time basis.  I’m still trying to catch up with myself, so I spend almost all of my time working.  I get up, (coffee is a must before I can even function) and then I try to answer emails and questions.  Right after that…I’m writing.  I usually have a daily goal or word count that I have to make myself accomplish.  If I don’t do that, I’d never get done on time as I tend to get distracted with other parts of my job as an author.  I try to take a break every hour or so just to stretch, and I break for dinner.  If I haven’t reached my goal, it’s back to the computer for me. I scheduled myself really tight this year.   
4)      Who is your favorite character in your books?
        A:  I’d have to say that I love all of my characters, but Simon and Sam Hudson were two of my favorites.  Sam was rather heart-wrenching because he wasn’t physically damaged, and he hid his emotional pain.  But he was so broken until he found Maddie again. 
5)      What do you do when writer’s block shows up, settles in, and makes itself comfortable?
        A:  I heard an author once say that there really is no such thing as writer’s block, and I have to agree.  Some days are better than others, but I think it’s really necessary to just make myself write.  My work that particular day may take more editing and changes, but even if I think my writing is awful that day, I just keep writing.  I find that the best ideas come when I’m “stuck” and just feel like I’m writing nonsense.  I think some days the ideas and words flow better than others, but it’s important to just keep writing until the ideas start flowing again, even if I think it’s junk. I’m an author every day, but some days need more editing than others.  : )   

6)      Do you find yourself pulling details from “real life” or does your imagination rule the roost?
        A:  Personally, I know my general ideas spring from life experience.  When I wrote Simon and Kara’s story, the idea came when I was thinking about how difficult it was back when I was in college, and what a tightrope I walked back then.  If one little thing had happened when I was on such a tight budget, I would have been in a real predicament.  The story went to imagination at the point, it was a “what if something had happened” scenario.  I think I would have a hard time not pulling on some personal experience for my books, but once I have an idea, my imagination runs wild. 
7)      What was the first manuscript you wrote (even if it never saw the light of day)?
         A:  A lot of my work never saw the light of day.  I started writing romance in my early twenties, and I’m sad to say I can’t even remember the titles.  I finally tossed them all because I never completely finished them.  I had convinced myself I could never be a writer, that I wasn’t good enough.  But I never lost the desire or the dream. 
8)      Have you ever pursued traditional publishing? Or did you go straight for indie publishing?
        A:  Many years ago, I had a manuscript that I’d nearly completed. I sent out a lot of queries, and every one of them was a rejection except for one.  I think it was a Harlequin line that wanted to read the whole manuscript.  At the same time, I was accepted into the Respiratory Therapists program, and I knew I’d have to work full-time while I went to school full-time.  I put aside that dream of writing and went the safe route, knowing I’d always have a job and an income if I went to college.  I don’t regret that.  It was the sensible thing to do.  But I always wondered what would have happened if I would have been able to finish and submit that manuscript—until I started writing as an indie.  Now, I think it was fate, and everything worked out exactly as it was supposed to be.  I’m very happy as an indie author. 
9)      What Works In Progress are brewing?  Any target dates for publication?

A: I’m thrilled to be working on a new series for Montlake Romance, an Amazon imprint, called The Sinclairs.  It’s a spin-off series loosely connected to my self-published Billionaire’s Obsession series.  I have a Sinclair novella coming out with Montlake on October 14th entitled “The Billionaire’s Christmas,” and the first full-length Sinclair book, “No Ordinary Billionaire” will be released March 31st, 2015. In between my Montlake books, I’ll still be releasing my self-published series, The Billionaire’s Obsession and The Sentinel Demon series.  Both of those series will have a new release at the beginning of 2015.  
10)   How can fans reach you?  
Twitter – Tweet @AuthorJSScott
Newsletter:  For updates on new releases, sales and giveaways please sign up for my Newsletter by going to:

Friday, September 5, 2014

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Have you ever had to write that dreaded first day back in school essay, What I Did On My Summer Vacation?  I don't really remember writing one myself, but I do remember the my son wrote when he started second grade.  My husband and I heard about it at the parent-teacher conference a few months into the school year.  She was a bit skeptical about his story: how the truck he, his cousins, and his grandparents were in caught on fire.  Unfortunately, it was a true story  - but not a tragic one. It was just a small engine fire (no explosions) and didn't impact their camping trip too much.  Besides, it made for a great story (even if the teacher didn't quite believe it at first).

But nothing like that happened on my summer vacation. Nope, it was just days of driving, relaxing, drinking, eating, and having a great time with my husband.  (Although I was hit with a bit of mommy-guilt for not taking my son to college for his last year.)

We started off by driving up to Boston and had dinner with the hubby's boss and his wife.  While we waited, I started what was clearly going to be trend for vacation:

This is a Moscow Mule, I believe.  The magic ingredients of ginger beer (not to be confused with ginger ale), vodka, and lime juice were served in a chilled copper mug.  I had two of these (one before dinner and one with dinner) and it quickly became my favorite drink.

On Saturday, we meandered up from Boston to Wentworth by the Sea, New Hampshire.  It was a great hotel, with both a regular indoor pool and an outdoor salt water pool.  I'm not much for pools, but it was nice to hang out poolside:

Okay, so that one wasn't a Mule, but it was still tasty.  It was some kind of lemonade concoction...very nice on a warm summer day.

And we did some tourist stuff: walked through downtown Portsmouth, NH to shop and eat.

We took a day to head to Portland, ME.  It's been a long time since I was in Maine (apparently I was about 5 or 6 the day we went to Maine for dinner...but that's an entirely different story!), so I was looking forward to checking out the downtown area.  Unfortunately, nothing we saw from the car excited us, so with the help of all-knowing Google, we found something we thought we'd like: lighthouses.

So we drove across town and hit the shoreline.  We drove through some picturesque streets, and noticed several For Sale signs.  Again, with the trusty help of Google, we found out the asking prices and OUCH!!  These little postage stamp parcels of land = at least $750,000 and more often over a MILLION dollars.  And the houses were so small and sometimes looked so worn-out, it's hard to imagine anyone buying it would want to keep that structure.

We got to a lighthouse and parked.  My experiences with lighthouses is limited (okay, I don't recall that I've ever been to a lighthouse), so I wasn't sure to expect.  The walkway to the lighthouse was this:

Big slabs of rock with gaps.  Unsteady, bumpy rocks.  With gaping holes.  

As we made our way back to shore, a woman passed by and advised that we take our shoes off and walk barefoot for better balance.  

Not that you can see it, but this is a picture of my sandal down one of the gaps.  Yup, it slipped out of my hand and down a fissure.  Luckily, my hero the hubby was there.  He found a stick (an interesting feat considering there weren't any trees around) and was able to grab it up for me.

We had some great meals:

And of course another Mule - this time a Maine Mule.  (Don't ask me why they are different - it's got the same stuff in it!)

After our time in New Hampshire, we drove back home.  We had a few days before a big church event my husband was co-chairing.  So we kept up the relaxing with occasionally working on the event.  And then we spent Saturday working the event and Sunday recovering from the event.  With Labor Day the next day, we even got one more day of relaxing before it was time to get back to the real world.

But the real world did come knocking...vacation was over.  And I'm working my way back into the groove. I might even get a week or two.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Something You Ought To Know

Gather around, children, for today's lesson.  It's something you ought to know about aught.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there was the turn of the century.  Amazing things happened:

1900: Kodak Introduces $1 Brownie Cameras: The Brownie camera was the first hand-held camera that was cheap enough and simple enough for even children to use, making photography accessible to the masses. (Now we take pictures with our's so simple even a child can do it. And in return, the masses have given us photographic proof of the weirdness of people )

1901: First Nobel Prizes Awarded: A pacifist at heart and an inventor by nature, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel was the inventor of dynamite. Not wanting to go down in history for creating such a deadly device, Nobel created a will that left the bulk of his fortune to the establishment of five prizes (physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace). On December 10, 1901, five years after Alfred Nobel's death, the first five Nobel Prizes were awarded. (No relation to the Darwin Awards, but still kind of important.)

1902: The Teddy Bear Is Introduced. (I couldn't imagine my life without my teddy bear.)

1903: Produced by Thomas Edison but directed and filmed by Edison Company employee Edwin S. Porter, the 12-minute-long silent film, The Great Train Robbery (1903), was the first narrative movie, one that told a story. The Great Train Robbery's popularity led directly to the opening up of permanent movie theaters and the possibility of a future film industry. (And that masterpiece led to such gems as Showgirls and Sex Lives of the Potato Men - and I'm happy to say I've avoided watching at least one of those.)

1904:  New York City Subway Opens (the city wouldn't be the same without it, would it?)

1905: Freud Publishes His Theory of Sexuality (I ain't touching that one with a ten-foot pole.)

1906: Kellogg's Starts Selling Corn Flakes (ever see The Road to Wellville?)

1907: First Electric Washing Machine (thank goodness we don't have to take the wash down to the river anymore!)

1908: Three Year-Old Pu Yi Becomes Emperor of China (proving that not only does a toddler rule the home, he can rule a country).

1909: Plastic Is Invented (and where would we be without plastic? I mean credit cards, of course.)

But something else happened, too.  It wasn't the 1880s or the 1890s anymore.  It was the 1900s now.  So a new word was needed to talk about the decade.  Okay, maybe not a new word (it's been around since 1821 at least), but one that probably didn't get used too often: aught. The aughts, plural :  the ten year period from 2000 through 2009, 1900 through 1909, etc. (Surprisingly enough, there are six other definitions for aught.)  

And now that we've gone through our own turn of the century, we get to revive the use of aught when we talk about those years between 2000 and 2009.  Can't you just hear some old-timey voice saying, "Back in aught eight, I danced in Beyonce's video for 'Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),' so I know how to dance, you pipsqueak."

Monday, July 28, 2014

This Is Where I Work

Ever seen Lifehacker's How I Work series? Or their Featured Workspaces like this one or this one? They've inspired me to share my office space.  So here's where I work:

The master command chair: I bought this at Staples.  It's supposed to be rated for an 8-hour day.  But after awhile, that seat wasn't so comfortable anymore.

So I had to find something that would make those editing hours easier to deal with. So I found this soft but firm seat cushion, the Wonder Gel Seat Cushion:

But what about that editing? It's easy with this three-screen setup: the laptop plus two external monitors:

 A different view of the monitors and the keyboard:

The Fellowes Tilt N Slide Keyboard Manager was the answer to my desk dilemma: how to get a keyboard  that didn't need to be screwed into my desk but would be able to tilt for ease of use. This adjusts at three different levels, and has a sliding pad for the mouse. It's so much better for my wrist and arms.  Bonus: very Star Trekky.

 And best of all, it just screws onto the desk shelf.

What I'd really like someday is a multi-screen setup like this: 

 or this:
or this:

But those are just dreams for now...

Friday, July 11, 2014

Can You Trust Your Ears?

When I was  kid (eons and eons ago), I sang along to the radio.  Of course, most of the time I had no idea what any of those words actually meant.  I still cringe when I think of my parents listening to me belt out (off-key and way out of tune) lyrics that no six-year-old should be singing ("Ruby, don't take your love to town" and "Lay you down and softly whisper pretty love words in your ear, Lay you down and tell you all the things a woman loves to hear." Bonus points if you know the song/artist.  I'll give you a hint: my parents liked country songs.)

My favorite one was from when I was a bit older and started listening to my brothers' rock and roll stuff.  Bruce Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light" was just chock full of stuff I didn't understand, but what got me (and apparently a whole bunch of people) was the line "cut loose like a deuce," which I (and countless others) heard as "wrapped up like a douche."  And of course, I had no idea what that meant.  So I can only imagine the pleasure everyone who heard me sing got from that one.  My only consolation now is that I clearly wasn't the only one.

(And just for some more fun, run down this rabbit hole: Am I Right - Misheard Song Lyrics)

So it shouldn't be any surprise to me when I come across those auditory errors when I proof manuscripts.  Some common ones include:

for intensive purposes  - should be for all intents and purposes
phase - should be faze
hone in - should be home in
you've got another thing coming - should be you've got another think coming **

**Part of the confusion on this one rests on the shoulders of Judas Priest (as if they didn't get enough grief in 1989 when they were named defendants in a lawsuit over subliminal messages in their albums that caused two young men to commit suicide).  The song "You've Got Another Thing Coming" was a big hit in 1982 and from then on, we can blame them for the auditory error and the misuse of the phrase as it was intended.

But I ran across this really cool video that describes how what you see can affect what you hear, and what you hear can change your perceived vision.  Check it out:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

We're All Nerds

I am sure that you are a nerd.  I don't know what kind of nerd (math, chemistry, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Marvel, anime, Star Trek, Star Wars...the list is endless) you are, but I'm sure there's something you are nerdy about.

If you've never seen Wil Wheaton's response to a young girl who was having trouble at school because she was a nerd, here it is.  And it is awesome.

But that is not why I am posting today.  I am posting today to share this gem - Talk Nerdy to Me.  I was a little shocked at how many of these nerds I recognized (even if I don't share in the love of that particular thing.  I admit I have never seen Dr. Who, in any of the incarnations, although I've been thinking that I should.)

Enjoy! And celebrate your inner (or outer!) nerd!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Author Interview: Kelly Ilebode

Let's welcome this month's author, Kelly Ilebode. Her titles include In Search of Grace; the Manor at Echo Lake Trilogy - Dragan's RedemptionAaron's Revenge, and The Legacy; Kelly and the Angel; and most recently, The Turning Point.

So, Kelly, let's get to those questions:

1)   What were your favorite books growing up?

I struggled with reading in my early years.  So much so, I was under the misguided impression that I hated books.  My fourth grade teacher told me that it was not the fact that I hated books; I just hadn’t read or felt for characters in the books I was choosing.  He handed me The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander—I was hooked.  From that moment on, I devoured books.   I think I read almost every Nancy Drew book and I became (still am) a huge J.R.R. Tolkien fan having read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings so many times.   Terry Brooks’s Sword of Shannara Series is another favorite.  My foster mother, having very little money, had a hard time keeping up with my appetite for new books.  One summer she found an old library that was closing and bought over 100 Harlequin romance books for 10 cents each, which I then read over and over again. 
2)    Now that you have, let’s say—some life experience, what would you tell your younger self?
I would tell her to relax.  I look back at my younger self now and realize she was a very uptight, insecure person.  I would tell her that it all works out in the end whether she worries or not.  Life is too short to wait for anything.
3)      Describe your typical day.
My days start early and are long.  I am up between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m.  It starts first and foremost with the coffee—then the pets (they know that until they small coffee, Mom won’t talk to them.)  Coffee in hand, I answer emails and check the social media sites—then I write.  My laptop is always on and open, so that I literally find pockets in my day to put fingers to keyboard.  Not the most productive but with three extremely active kids and a household to run, that is how I work.  I would love to go to bed by 9:00 but usually it is around 11:00.
4)      Who is your favorite character in your books? 
Aaron Reynell in Dragan’s Redemption/Aaron’s Revenge/The Legacy.  He is the most confused character, yet he has the courage to be open enough to “find himself.” 
5)      What do you do when writer’s block shows up, settles in, and makes itself comfortable?
Knock on wood, it has never happened.   My issue has been finding the time to get the voices out of my head and onto paper.
      6)      Do you find yourself pulling details from “real life” or does your imagination rule the roost?
I am so into my writing and some of the characters have a bit of the world around me, but not always with the intent of being there.  I am not sure if an author can separate themselves completely, can they?  It is the life experiences that we live and breathe that breathe the life onto those blank pages.
     7)      What was the first manuscript you wrote (even if it never saw the light of day)?
The Messenger (the first book in a trilogy) that I started to write for my children.  It is officially done but I consider it still in the works, and now my oldest daughter is helping me fine tune it.
      8)      Have you ever pursued traditional publishing? Or did you go straight for indie publishing?
Ah, the wide, wonderful dream of traditional publishing.   After more than one hundred query letters (the majority with no response), I chose to go the self-publishing route as Indie publishing was my Plan B.  It was nerve wracking in the beginning but now, no regrets what so ever.
9)      What Works In Progress are brewing?  Any target dates for publication?
Kelly and the Angel – The Flight of the Sparrow; October 2014
10)   How can fans reach you? 
Facebook:   Kelly Ilebode, Author
Twitter:  @Kellyandangel