Peg Herring's Blog – May 2008 Archive (20)

Do Too Many Plots Spoil the Author?

People are often surprised when I say that I have lots of writing projects finished, some that I've never even tried to sell. I guess they assume that an author has one idea at a time, works it out, and then maybe sits down to figure out another. Of course lots of authors, even great ones, only had one or two. As Jimmy Durante used to say (but not about plots) I've got a million of 'em, in many stages of development at any given time.



There are lots of crazies like me in the mystery… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 30, 2008 at 11:02pm — No Comments

The Telephone Game

Elderly Relative is in a nursing home. Bought her one of those phones with pay-as-you-go minutes; she couldn't manipulate the tiny keypad. Bright idea: buy her a Jitterbug. Big numbers, lighted dial, voice activation.



Expensive? Well, a little, but she'd have a generous provision of minutes each month to make calls she needed to make, and we'd know she could reach us if she wanted anything. She was very, very happy.



Daily occurence (sometimes repeated several times): Our… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 29, 2008 at 10:19pm — No Comments

It's a Readers' Market

I got a magazine yesterday from the Historical Novel Society, a wonderful organization. It lists the newly-released titles in the genre, and the list is amazing. Compiled by century, the list gives teasers about book after book concerned with history: people and places and events to capture the imagination, entertaining and teaching at once.



The sheer number of historical novels being released each month is daunting for an author, but what a treasure trove for readers! I find myself… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 28, 2008 at 9:58pm — No Comments

Save Us from Info Dump

Once again, I"m stuck in a book where the author thinks I care how much research she did. It's a mystery, but we keep stopping to reflect on the history of certain famous buildings, the eccentricities of certain famous people, and the operating processes of certain organizations. Any one of those things might be interesting except for two things. First, they have nothing to do with the story, and second, they're so obviously pasted on that it's like being hit in the face with a wet… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 27, 2008 at 10:21pm — 2 Comments

Is Blogging a Time Sink?

Well, yes, in some ways. I find that it takes me at least an hour each morning to read my email and write the blog. Is that a bad thing? I don't know.



What I get from blogging is hard to define. Of course I get responses sometimes, and that's fun because I get to "know" people who react to a topic I've chosen. But the real benefit is more personal, and I can only liken it to the journal-keeping of earlier centuries. Many, many people kept journals in the days before computers, and… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 26, 2008 at 11:28pm — No Comments

William the Bastard and Reality in Fiction

A lot of the fun of writing, for me anyway, is learning about people. Sometimes I get to know characters I've invented, a matter of letting them settle into my head and become what they are. But others are real, and therefore research comes into play.



I do talks on historical novels, and I'm always surprised that some people are offended when I admit that authors "make up" facets of characters who actually existed. "How dare you" comes through in their expressions and voices. "You… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 23, 2008 at 10:50pm — No Comments

Outlines, Timelines, and Deadlines

I recently wrote that I've had trouble with my WIP, which finally started to move forward again just this week. I thought today I'd share my view of "---lines," although it's a strictly personal view.



I don't outline. I let the story wander where it will, and then I go back and make sure it arcs and flows and makes sense. I know I would be bored by making a plan and then following it step by step, and besides, I often find that things don't work out the way they should when the… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 22, 2008 at 11:09pm — No Comments

Mind, Body, Spirit=Character

I've been hearing a lot about Tai Chi lately from a family member who is immersed in it. She speaks of the mind-body-spirit connection and the balance that must be achieved among the three for peace and healing. It occurs to me that writing good characters requires that same balance.



Mind: we have to know many aspects of a character's mind: how smart he is, how much of a thinker, how he views the world, and how he views himself. This can be difficult with characters other than the… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 21, 2008 at 11:00pm — No Comments

AuthorFest 2008

I'm heading to AuthorFest in less than a month, June 14th from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm to be exact. It's at the Schuamburg Twp. District Library in Schaumburg, IL, and it promises to be an interesting day. I'll get to meet some old friends, face some people I've "met" online, and talk about writing. What could be better?



There are four panels: Romance: What's Selling and How to Write It

Secrets to Writing Pulse-Pounding, Page-Turning Mysteries

Power Networking Session: Agents,… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 20, 2008 at 10:37pm — 2 Comments

Still Dialin' It In

I'm still on dial-up after a full week of trying to get my wireless back. Last week I whined about how hard it is, but here is the up-side of lousy Internet service:



I had a whole week in which I could only write the story. There was no stopping to look up spellings, exact dates, and battle locations, which means my WIP has a lot of *** markings for me to go back to later. Still, the story is what counts, and it's kind of "non-distracting" to have ONLYstory in mind. It will be… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 19, 2008 at 11:02pm — No Comments

It's Character That Matters

I've been having a terrible time with my WIP. The plot I'd envisioned didn't seem to want to happen. The history was a mess (but then, history always is). I've set it aside a dozen times to let it percolate, but nothing worked.



Then I got the character. I knew I didn't have her quite right, but I couldn't make her come into focus. She has to be different enough from my former protag to be her own person, but everything I tried made her lifeless or overburdered the plot with… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 16, 2008 at 11:12pm — No Comments

Get 'er Done

I know, I hate that phrase, too. Should be "Overdone."



Still, for writers, it's apt. The problem for 99% of those who want to write a book is getting it done. The first few chapters sail along, and then you hit a snag. That snag, just like the one in your nylons, can be the ruination of the whole.



Most who know about writing agree that the solution is to keep writing. Yes, time away can help, and I've mentioned here before that a walk or a drive is my way of unknotting… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 15, 2008 at 11:09pm — No Comments

Missing the Connection

If you read this blog regularly, you've probably figured out by now that I'm having Internet connection problems lately. No one seems to know if it's trees, weather, or outside interference, but our computers have become confused and inoperative most of the time.



So what do computer junkies do when they have no Net? Growl about it, mostly. I'm writing this using an ancient dial-up connection that I kept just for such emergencies, but even it doesn't always come when… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 14, 2008 at 10:35pm — No Comments

When You're Published They Think You Really Know

Of course the real line is "When you're RICH..." but it still works. As I travel around, hawking my book and talking about anything people want me to talk about, I get lots of questions from people who'd like to be published. "How do you write a query?" "Do I need an agent?" "How long does it take to write a book?" "How do you know what will sell?"



I have no answers. I have an experience, and I have lots of author acquaintances who have had experiences. None was exactly like mine, so… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 12, 2008 at 10:30pm — No Comments

Freneticity

I made up the word, but if Shakespeare and Poe can do it, so can I. My definition is "the feeling that the pace of life has surpassed one's ability to absorb it."



Marketing a book can be all-consuming. The author should do so many things that she might have to give up some other things in order to cope: things like eating dinner and bathing. Every time one thing is handled, another comes to mind. The newly-published author should be visiting/contacting bookstores, libraries, and… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 9, 2008 at 9:57pm — No Comments

Readers Appreciate the Simple Things

I'm reading a book by Beverle Graves Myers. Her protagonist, Tito, was castrated as a youth so that his beautiful operatic voice would not change. Ouch. Bev's plots are good and her history fascinating, but I'd like to comment on an aspect that might be overlooked. She remembers to remind the reader periodically of who the characters are.



I'm always reading more than one book, and I read in snatches: fifteen minutes here, a half hour there. Plots are easy, at least the good ones are.… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 9, 2008 at 12:00am — No Comments

When People Say, "I Don't Read"

As a reader, you probably turn your estimation of that person down a notch. We're a bit snobby, we readers, and we think that anyone who doesn't read is a few books short of a bookshelf.



I spoke on the topic yesterday at the request of a local organization. I began unsure of how much the average reader knows about the average non-reader, and I learned that my audience hadn't thought about it much. We tend to think non-readers can't read. As an educator of many years' experience, I've… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 7, 2008 at 10:55pm — 2 Comments

Ghost Reading

I confess, I'm a doubter, a worrier, and a fretter. I've spent my life trying to internalize my father's advice: "If you worry and it doesn't happen, you worried for nothing. If you worry and it happens, you didn't change anything by worrying."



I'm better now, being older and having lived through enough stuff that I realize Dad was right. Still, when my writing isn't in front of me I find myself fretting over its inadequacies. "There isn't enough character development for Ms. A. I… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 6, 2008 at 10:20pm — No Comments

Get It Into Your Thick Head!

I'm a member of several chat groups, and I find them helpful. I learn who is doing interesting stuff, who will be where, and who likes what type of reading--sometimes ad infinitum.



How many adages do we have that speak of differing tastes? We know there are wide variances among people, and yet we spend time and energy trying to make them read what we read. Someone says he doesn't like police procedurals. Immediately there are multiple responses detailing why the police… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 5, 2008 at 10:55pm — No Comments

Marketing Again

Once again, getting my face out there has convinced me that it's vital to get your face out there. I spoke to a small group last night, for free, and didn't sell one book. That could be depressing after a long drive, but after my talk, a woman who had sat quietly to one side came up to me. "Have you ever considered speaking at ***?" She named a library in a town where I'd encountered a disinterested and snotty librarian. After three tries, I'd given up on him.



Her next comment… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on May 1, 2008 at 10:29pm — No Comments

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