Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Sucker for Romance

It's a pretty well-known fact, I think, that I am a sucker for romance.  Always have been. At least, if you know me, you'd know that. And if you didn't know it, now you do.

My last post included my trip to the RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference in Denver. One of the reasons I went was to support one of my authors who'd been nominated for a RITA award.  About four hours before the award ceremony, she tells me that the winning authors AND their editors go up and say a few words (just like every awards show you've seen on TV). Now, never in a million years did I ever think I'd be having to go up on stage and speak to hundreds of people, including some of my favorite authors! I was in a panic...did I want her to win or not? Now I wasn't so sure.

Yes, I was sure. I wanted her to win.

So I prepared.  I had a few hours and jotted down a quick note:

As an editor, you always hope the manuscripts that come across your desk will be well-written, have great characters, make you feel all the emotions, make you laugh (in the best way possible, and not in a oh-my-God-this-can't-go-out-into-the-world way) and make you cry at the right time. I am so honored that all of that and more came to me in Evelyn's book, Dare and a Deposition. Thank you to the judges for your time and commitment to the process, but most of all, thank you to Evelyn for letting me be part of your journey. 

So, that's what I wrote down. I had some more ideas in my head, because there was more I wanted to say. But having never been to this ceremony before (or watching it online, which, apparently you can do), I wasn't sure of the tone of the night. Was it serious? Crazy? Laugh-a-minute? Tug-your-heartstrings? So I kept my thoughts to myself - didn't write them down so I wouldn't say them out loud unless I read the room and felt it was appropriate.  Or maybe so if someone saw my little speech, they'd be surprised by the ending.

That someone was, of course, my hubby. He came to Denver with me and worked that week with his guys in the area.  He wanted to support me for the award ceremony and generally support my career. Unfortunately, he wasn't feeling well that week, and the day of the ceremony things came to a head. He actually was at a Urgent Care clinic that afternoon, getting some tests run. By the time he was done and back at the hotel, the award ceremony had begun. I was in the banquet room, waiting for him, and he was out of the room, trying to find me. After about ten minutes of miscommunication and missed opportunities and missed connections, we finally met up and I took him to our table.

At this point, it's past dinner time...and neither of us have eaten. I don't know about you, but I can be rather...cranky when I haven't eaten.  And I was nervous. And I was worried about the hubby - because he wasn't feeling well and he hadn't eaten either. We were both stressed, to be sure.

But you know what? He came through for me in true romance-book-hero fashion. He was there. He cared enough about me to do his best to support me, even when he felt like crap and just wanted to grab something to eat and go back to the room to sleep. And he's always been that way. He's always been supportive of my choices and encouraged me to stretch, to grow.

So, to end my little speech, I wanted to thank my husband for always being there for me, for encouraging me to pursue this path, even when he didn't think it would necessarily go anywhere or work out well. I wanted to thank him for putting up with the deadlines and accepting that all my authors were the most important authors ever, and I needed to give up cleaning the bathrooms to make sure that those commas were in the right place. (Just kidding...I never actually really clean anyway!) And I especially wanted to thank him for being my body dummy when I had a problematic scene where I couldn't quite figure out where the guy's hands were in the sex scene. 

And all I could think of was that famous (well, for people of a certain age, I guess) Emmy award speech by Kristie Alley, where she thanked her husband for "giving her the big one." I was sure I was going to channel my inner idiot and say it just like she did:

But I'm kind of okay with that. After all, if you can't admit to loving your partner in a room full of romance junkies, where can you?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

More Adventures...

Well, it's been a busy few months. I can't believe it's actually been three months since my last post! I've been on another adventure since then, have another planned, and completed a major project on my list of things to do.

So, about my adventure... I went to RWA in Denver this year. I joined as an associate member, which is what you do when you're an editor, not pursuing a career in writing.  One reason I went was to cheer on one of my authors who had been nominated for a RITA award (totally check out Dare and a Deposition for a great read!).  I also wanted to meet some more of my authors who were going to be there. I had a wonderful time, did a little fan-girling over some of my favorite authors (whether they were my clients or not!), and helped out at the trade show, representing the EFA. I sat in on some interesting seminars and picked up some cool tips to keep in mind while editing.

And it didn't hurt that because it was in Denver, I got to see my boy and my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law.

One of the elevator doors at the Sheraton

Sarra Cannon getting ready for her seminar on Getting Things Done.  She did a great job!

At the IT'SUGAR store at the 16th Street Mall

More from IT'SUGAR

Hey, everyone needed to check Facebook!

The EFA booth on Saturday

I totally grabbed Carrie Ann Ryan when she was walking by on Saturday morning!

I saw this in the restroom at a local bar

My next adventure: Well, it's a bit of a repeat of a previous adventure.  Yup, I'm headed back to the the Niantic Book Barns. This time, it's an EFA meeting at the library, a quick lunch in town, and then time at the book stores.

Major Project Completed: I've been thinking about updating my website (it's been a couple of years!) and decided to hand off the project to someone else.  That's right, I hired someone to take that over.  And I'm so happy with the results. You'll have to check out the website, and if you are interested in any updates for your site, Ogden Studios can help you out.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Book Adventures, Part I

On the second weekend of April, I convinced the hubby to take a road trip up to Burlington, MA.  The purpose: Talkbooks Author Signing Event.

I had two of my authors there: Cali MacKay and Jen Davies. And there were several other authors there I'd either heard of or read. 

So we headed up on Saturday afternoon, with the plan to stay overnight and head back in the morning. We got there late enough in the afternoon that the early birds had cleared out. In fact, Cali was pretty much out of books by the time I showed up:

An almost empty author's table
 I found Cali right away, and funny enough, Jen was across the aisle from her!  They'd actually talked a bit before the show started and it turns out they aren't that far from each other.

I got to meet Jen (finally!). Her book The Witch's Heart is a nominee for the RONE award (Reward of Novel Excellence). If you want to support an indie author, go ahead and register to vote!

As I walked around, I purchased some books, talked to some new authors and some favorites (I got to tell Julia Kent how I stayed up until 1 a.m. reading her Shopping for a Billionaire, pretty much laughing my butt off) and made plans to have dinner with Cali (and our husbands).

Somehow, I didn't get a photo of me and Cali, but I did get a picture of my dinner at the funky place she suggested, The Friendly Toast.

Breakfast for dinner - you bet!
We sat and ate, and talked, and talked and talked.  We were there for two hours, and I think Cali & I could have spent another two hours there without running out of things to talk about!

But the hubby and I had decided to check out The Black Panther, so off we went. I have to say, it was a pretty good movie, and I suspect watching it will help fill in some blanks for the next Avengers movie.

If you ever get a chance to attend a book signing, I'd encourage you to do so. As an author, it's a great chance to meet fans or gain new ones. As a reader, it's so cool to see the people who write these stories that entertain and enthrall us.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Book Adventures Part II

Okay, okay...careful readers of the blog will realize there hasn't been a Book Adventures Part I. There will be, I promise.  But that was last weekend, and I wanted to share my book adventures from this weekend, so I'm jumping ahead.  Hey, haven't you should start your story in the middle, right?

So, this weekend the hubby and I took a bit of a road trip.  I've been wanting to check out the Niantic Book Barn. (Technically, there are four locations.) And considering he wanted to take a long-ish drive in his new car, a plan was hatched.

This was the first warmish weekend this spring, so it was a nice ride up. And the Book Barn was pretty easy to find - not far off the highway exit. So I went in while the hubby fussed around with his car.

Like any good used (and even new - hey, I won't discriminate!) book store, here are the cats.  They were comfy-cozy when I saw them, so I left them to their own devices. This particular couch was upstairs, where I wandered into the Books/Publishing/Wordsmithing section.  I've never seen them before, but here's actual copies of the Chicago Manual of Style - both the 12th and 14th Editions.

When I started editing, the 16th Edition was in use (now the 17th is out). It was kind of cool to see the changes between editions.

I found a few other gems, too:

Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing    


I, of course, purchased them.  I had to buy something, right?

But that book barn was actually not the main book barn.  About 30 seconds down the road, on our way to find lunch, we found the main location.  Food could wait, we figured.

This was even bigger and better than the first one we stopped at. I mean, they had a panda poster:

Live goats (okay, not my best photo...but I never claimed to be a great photographer!)

Interesting and unique outbuildings

A decent selection of romance (okay, I might be a bit biased when they have a nice selection of Barbara Freethy books - even ones I haven't worked on).

Water features:

Hey, there's a cutie here, too!

Gargoyles and wind chimes:

But hunger prevailed.  We found a cute place (between the book barns, so it wasn't that difficult) called East Coast Taco.  It was kind of busy, but the food was pretty good. And the place itself was pretty cool, too.

I mean, a place with license plates from Aruba, Virgin Islands, and the Cayman Islands is not what you typically find in a New England town.

All in all, it was a pretty good day. And...considering we were only twenty minutes away, somebody decided we should go have a donut at Krispy Kreme. (Hint: it was not me.)

Anybody need a paper hat?

My and the hubby at Mohegan Sun...location of Krispy Kreme (and just a few poker machines).

So if you are ever in Niantic, CT, check out the Book Barn (any of the four locations) and enjoy a great day out!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

I need help! Send in the ... (fill in the blank)

It's funny how issues come up in bunches, and then they disappear for a long time.  Recently, I've had three or four manuscripts with the same issue, one I haven't had for a few years.  So let's talk about Calvary vs. cavalry. They are spelled differently and one (Calvary) tends to be capitalized in most instances. But they continue to be confused.

There's the (mostly) religious definition:
as a place: place outside ancient Jerusalem where Jesus was crucified (or in Hebrew, Golgotha)

OR a cross with the figure of the crucified Christ typically flanked by two other crosses with figures of thieves and set out of doors as a shrine

It is also an experience of intense suffering; a trial or ordeal (which doesn't have to have the religious undertones).

Then there's cavalry. And when you're talking about getting help, or support, or reinforcements, this is what you are looking for.

This noun has several meanings:

1 a obsolete :  horsemanship <the art of cavalry> 
  b obsolete :  knighthood <the cavalry of the court> 
  c :  horsemen <a thousand cavalry in flight>

2 a (1) :  the component of an army that maneuvers and fights on horseback (2) :  a similar component that maneuvers on horseback but fights on foot 
  b :  the component of an army mounted on horseback or moving in motor vehicles and having combat missions (as reconnaissance and counterreconnaissance) that require great mobility 

And frankly, those two are the most familiar to me (and probably you, too).  But there's a third meaning, which I had never seen in use:
3:  deep chrome yellow. This is a moderate orange yellow that is redder and lighter than yellow ocher — called also cavalry, chrome yellow orange, medium chrome yellow, middle chrome yellow. And try as I might, I can't find a swatch online that identifies as cavalry. 

Have any of you used cavalry as a color? Inquiring minds want to know!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

My Fairy Tale Has A Fairy-Tale Ending

Come closer, child, and hear the wondrous tale I have for you.

Okay, I don't have a tale.  But if you are looking for a list of fairy tales, Wikipedia has got you covered.  I was kind of surprised to see The Wonderful Wizard of Oz listed as a fairy tale but Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood was more what I was expecting.

But today's blog post is about fairy tales.  Well, actually, it's about hyphenation, but fairy tales are more fun, right?

And it's Valentine's Day, so some of you curmudgeonly types may think love stories are fairy tales, but us die-hard romantics believe! But if you are looking for a new twist on the fairy tale, check these out:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs


Red Riding Hood

Sleeping Beauty

These are super fun fairy tales, very quick and with a bit of a bite. There are several more available and more planned.

Another series to follow the fairy tale format is Laurie LeClair's Once Upon A Romance series. The series starts with the three King sisters and their happy-ever-afters.

Fairy tale is a noun, by the way (remember, this post is about fairy tales writing editing hyphenation, so back to business!). Yes, nouns can sometimes be two words.  (And as a noun, it's two separate words.)  "Read me this fairy tale," says the little girl in her annoying singsong voice.  

When it's an adjective, it's hyphenated: Everyone wants their fairy-tale ending. 

That little hyphen does such a big job: it changes how a word should be used. Sometimes it goes from the noun form (fairy tale) to adjective (fairy-tale ending). Sometimes it goes from the noun form (a jump start) to the verb form (we had to jump-start the car). Sometimes it goes form the verb form (we lifted off) to the noun form (after lift-off, we enjoyed the ride). And when it's missing, sometimes our brains can get caught in trying to decipher what was meant: there's a difference between the man operated machines and the man-operated machines.

Welcome to the English language, where nothing is simple. 

And Happy Valentine's Day!

(I couldn't resist these geeky Valentine's cards, so enjoy!)

Thursday, February 1, 2018


No, that's not me trying to stay awake. It's me wondering why extra body parts are involved in those actions. Okay, maybe not extra body parts, but extra words.

Take, for instance, nodding. 
Is there any other body part that nods besides your head?


Can you shrug anything but your shoulders? (That's not counting shrugging a coat on or shrugging a shirt off)

Leo's got a shrug AND a nod going on here...

Can you blink anything but your eyes?

In these cases, her/his/my head, her/his/my shoulders, and her/his/my eyes act as filler words.  They aren't (generally) necessary for the reader to know what is going on. Maybe I should call them killer words, because I'm going to kill those little darlings for you. (Well, if I'm copyediting.  If I'm proofreading, I will just suffer silently.)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Alternate Reality Part II

As a follow-up to my Alternate Reality post, I wanted to see whether anyone is watching Counterpart on Starz.  Here's a snippet from the IMDB page for the show:

Counterpart is an espionage series about a mysterious world hidden beneath the surface of our everyday existence...

Howard Silk (J.K. Simmons) is a lowly cog in the bureaucratic machinery of a Berlin-based United Nations spy agency. When Howard discovers that his organization safeguards the secret of a crossing into a parallel dimension, he is thrust into a shadow world of intrigue, danger and double cross...where the only man he can trust is his near-identical counterpart from this parallel world. The show explores themes of identity, fate and lost love, posing the eternal question, "What if our lives could have been different?"

Sounds like fun, right? A whole world to explore, with yourself as a mirror to the what-if questions in life.

 I've loved everything I've seen J.K. Simmons in (Oz, Law & Order series, Juno) - although he's such a good actor that I haven't dared to watch Whiplash yet. And the characterization between the Howards is incredible: the way they walk, talk, hold themselves makes it easy to see which Howard is in the scene.  

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Alternate Reality

You might have guessed (if you've ever thought about it before - and really, why wouldn't you?), that I was quite the reader as a kid.  I read the expected Little House on the Prairie series, The Wizard of Oz series, the Tintin comics (man, I loved those!). But girls grow up and want to learn about the world around them...and so I started reading science fiction.

Okay, it may have been because it's what my older brothers were reading (although I don't think we read the same books exactly). I know at least one of my brothers was a big Lord of the Rings fan, and (sit down before you continue) I didn't read them until just before the movies came out. I think we did have our Robert Heinlein in common, though.

I had other favorites that I couldn't pass up: Robert Silverberg and Anne McCaffrey come to mind as authors I read everything I could get my hands on.

But there is one book that came out in 1992 (well after my youth - I was in my twenties at that point) that really made me think about what a book was.  It was a book of short stories entitled Alternate Presidents. (I can hear some of you just groaning...or desperately wishing...for an alternate president or two in the last two decades.)

The introduction starts like this:

Playing the Game of WHAT IF?
One of the joys of science fiction is that it gets to ask the question What If?

I would say that any fiction gets to ask the question What If?  You, the author, take the reader on that trip into what-if. You provide that alternate reality where people can explore the what-ifs in the world, whether that's in the safety of someone they relate to or the eye-opening experience of relating to someone they never thought they could. Sometimes that alternate reality makes our reality more bearable; other times, it gives us a chance to see the world from a different point of view.

So on those days when the words just won't come, or those characters have minds of their own and won't do what you want them to, remember that you are providing your readers with the opportunity to explore the what-ifs in the world...and the world would be a poorer place without your gift to it.

Keep writing!

PS- I just checked Amazon to link to the book, and it seems there is a whole series of Alternate Histories: Presidents, Kennedys, Warriors, Outlaws, and Tyrants.  Keep your eyes out for them online or at your favorite book sales!