Peg Herring's Blog – August 2007 Archive (23)

To Macbeth or Not to Macbeth

I have a book coming out in January called Macbeth's Niece. I don't know where my idea for the story came from, but most writers don't, I suppose. We don't choose to write about a particular subject. A plot forms in your head and you can't stop thinking about it until you write it down.

Anyway, Macbeth's Niece sold, so now I'm asked all the time, "What's the name of your book?" The first thing I noticed is that "Macbeth's Niece" is very hard to get across verbally…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 31, 2007 at 10:43pm — 1 Comment

Oh, So You're an Author!

I was pretty quiet about wanting to publish until I got my first contract. In a small town, announcing that you've written a book is an invitation to "Who does she think she is?" comments behind your back. Once I got that contract, however, it became necessary to come out of the book closet and start down the endless road of marketing and promotion.

The most surprising thing is how many phone calls I've gotten from people who have also written a book. They want to know how I got…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 30, 2007 at 9:24pm — No Comments

The Picky Reader

I admit it; I've become a picky reader. Becoming more aware of writing as I practice the craft, I am increasingly intolerant of writers who are sloppy and formulaic. In the last two days I've started no less than five books only to drop them in the give-away pile an hour or so later. It's something I never would have done in the past, but I've decided that there's too much good writing out there to waste my time on junk.

I've ranted here before about secondary characters who have no…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 29, 2007 at 10:14pm — 2 Comments

Ya Gotta Have a Gimmick

More and more we hear as authors that there has to be a reason for people to notice your work. Good writing? That's nice. Great characters? Sweet. But what's the hook? Why should people pick up your book and not one of the other 89,999 that will be published each year?



It's not fair that books have to be shilled as well as skilled, but who said life was fair? What's an author to do if she refuses to dress up in period costume, follow people around bookstores dinning them…
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Added by Peg Herring on August 28, 2007 at 9:53pm — No Comments

Enough Oldies for a While..Back to Blogging

I'll still take more oldie stories if you've got one, but I'm back to ruminating on writing. I'm doing research for a sequel to Macbeth's Niece, and it reveals what a quagmire I've gotten myself into. You see, there's the real Macbeth, who lived and died a king and never murdered anyone that we know of, and there's Shakespeare's Macbeth, the character that most of us know. After he died (not killed by Macduff or anyone else at that battle, which was not at Birnam Wood), his stepson…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 27, 2007 at 10:35pm — No Comments

All's Fair in Love and War

The life of a GI is pretty lonely over here. A guy gets to thinking of a girl at home, one who is true to him, who waits patiently for the day he comes back so they can get married and start a family. Unfortunately, I didn't have a girl like that. But Bill, the guy in the next bunk, had Sue.

Sue wrote to Bill every day, and he seemed to get stronger as soon as that envelope was in his hand. I would ask him to read the letters aloud, and as he read, I imagined Sue writing those things…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 24, 2007 at 11:00pm — No Comments

No Time to Talk

First of all you need to understand: I'm a dancer, not a fighter. It was all so innocent to begin with. I'm at a club down on 43rd, dancing for the ladies. I gotta tell ya, they love it when I get in the groove on a Saturday night. I got the physique, the walk, the dance moves--everything a woman's man needs.

So I'm dancin', and this girl comes over and starts dancing with me. We are like liquid together, sliding around the floor in perfect sync. All of a sudden this guy steps up and…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 23, 2007 at 11:49pm — No Comments

Writing and Research

I couldn't say which I enjoy more: writing or doing research so I can write. Whether it's looking up song lyrics for the silly game we've been playing for the last week or so or serious research for an upcoming book, I jump in with both feet and usually spend hours without realizing it.

A library pulls me in and keeps me all day, and suddenly I…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 22, 2007 at 7:30am — No Comments

At the Shelter

You can't imagine what it's been like. When we first started dating he was so complimentary. He seemed like the perfect man. Then gradually he changed. He started saying he didn't want to go out in public because he saw envy in other men's eyes. He thought other guys pretended to be his friend just so they could get to me and take me away from him.

Things got weirder and weirder. He became obsessed with the idea that I might leave him, and he insisted that he couldn't live without me.…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 21, 2007 at 7:00am — No Comments

Speaking of Earl

They were the best of friends, and what one didn’t think of the other did. I think they started planning while they were still in high school. Why else would one go away right after graduation and the other stay behind?

She hung around my store, lonely, like me. I really felt…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 20, 2007 at 10:24pm — No Comments

Great But Not Real

Journal entry, day 17: " It's been hard, these last few weeks. I have to project an image that is totally false, and I have to be convincing. I'm not doing well, so it isn't hard to seem nervous, but I must be careful not to overdo it and pretend too much.

My nervousness isn't what people think at all. She was going to leave me, so I killed her. I buried her body eight feet down in my garden and covered it with two feet of soil. Then I killed a stray dog, laid it in the hole, and…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 17, 2007 at 10:34pm — 2 Comments

Confessions of a Candy Store Criminal

"Priests can't tell what people confess, right? What I say in here is secret and you can't repeat it even if they put you in jail or whatever? You've heard what I told the girls, and most of it is true, but there's more, if you can keep it to yourself.

“Good, ‘cause I really need to talk to someone and my parents are...well, they’re parents. ‘This is for your own good’ and ‘You’ll understand when you have kids of your own.’ I’m not having kids, ever. In fact I’m thinking of becoming a…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 16, 2007 at 10:23pm — No Comments

A Complaint, and Quite Rightly

Letter to the Editor

New York Times

Sept. 12, 1963…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 15, 2007 at 11:00pm — No Comments

Death in the Church

"I found her just as you see," the priest told Detective Corse. "I suppose it will be a simple funeral. No one will come."

"She worked here at the church?"

"Yes, she cleaned the place. We'd just had a wedding, you see, and the last I saw her, she was Hoovering up the rice. Makes a beastly mess, you know, rice." The priest examined the stone floor rather than meeting the detective's gaze.

"Looks to me like someone pushed her and she hit her head on the altar," a young…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 14, 2007 at 10:33pm — 2 Comments

The Real McCoy

He didn't look like much when he walked into the poolroom. Skinny, kinda gawky looking, a real rube. We figured to have some fun with him, but the guy was focused: no drinks, no "friendly" game, no small talk.

"I'm looking for someone," he said in a soft drawl that had to be deep South, maybe Mississippi or Arkansas. "He owes me some money."

What happened next is the stuff of legend. Our local tough guy came in the door, stopped when he saw the plow-boy, and smiled in a way…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 13, 2007 at 10:51pm — No Comments

Understanding Dawns

"I don't know what we're going to do about her, Doctor. Every morning she gets up, packs that suitcase, and away she goes, up and down the streets of Brownsville. Everyone in town thinks she's deranged.

“And don't bother to call her by her name. She only answers to that horrible nickname people used to call her when she was young. My lord, she’s 41 year old and she’ll never get a husband if she doesn’t snap out of it. She doesn't pay me any mind, but she'll answer when her daddy talks…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 13, 2007 at 4:04am — No Comments

Does Life Interfere with Writing or Vice Versa?

It seems like I never have enough time to write. Things crop up, things I want to do or have to do, things that seem like they will not take long but somehow soak up a whole day. Certainly I can't complain about my husband saying, "Let's go out to lunch," or my friend calling to say we should visit another friend whose husband died. Life is life, and it makes its demands.

It's just that I always feel like I should be getting it on paper, making the story better, becoming the writer I…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 10, 2007 at 11:04pm — No Comments

Odious Billy Joe

The nice young preacher stepped onto the witness stand. The defense attorney, Merri Pason, approached, dark eyes downcast until the last moment, when they rose to lock on the nervous man's gaze. "You were there? On the bridge that day?"

"I, uh, saw what happened, yes. I was too late to stop him." The witness appealed to the watchful courtroom, the young couple from Tupelo, the listless mother, and the defendant, a young girl who seemed not to care what went on around her. "He jumped…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 9, 2007 at 10:10pm — No Comments

Creating Secondary Characters

It isn't easy to make people come alive on a piece of paper. Secondary characters need to act in certain ways to advance the story, but what kind of person does what you need done at a particular spot in the plotline?

The book I'm reading right now has a character who is obtuse and smart-mouthed for no apparent reason, in fact there are good reasons why he would NOT be that way. He's a county sheriff, for one thing, so he should be polite to his citizens for job security. He's trying…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 7, 2007 at 9:52pm — No Comments

Time for Reading

Since I started writing, a strange guilt plagues me whenever I read: I feel like I should be writing instead. A really good book overcomes this guilt, because then I consider it research, honing my craft by reading expert writers.

My own study of what I want to write and how I will do it makes me intolerant of what I consider mediocre work, so that I often don't finish a book if it hasn't grabbed me by fifty pages or so.

I've been trying to expand my knowledge of writers'…

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Added by Peg Herring on August 6, 2007 at 10:35pm — 3 Comments

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