Peg Herring's Blog – September 2008 Archive (21)

Off the Track While Keeping Track

Someone should have warned me that one of the most important things about being an author is having an efficient, extensive filing system. Not only do I have to keep track of what I named the girl next door who walks the dog in case I need her in the next book, I also need comprehensive lists of who showed up at my workshops and where they might want to hook me up with another engagement. Not only do I need elaborate timelines that include both real dates and the fictional events I've attached… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 29, 2008 at 10:18pm — No Comments

Dying in a Winter Wonderland

Remember last week, when I posted about songs getting stuck in my head? Well, here's another one.



I'm part of a new anthology called DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND. It's very cool, and the profits go to Toys for Tots, which is also cool. The stories are all holiday-related; mine is called "Happy Holidays Times Three" and concerns three not-so-wise men who plan to profit from the holidays in a non-legal way. They run into a snag, however, in the form of a dead body that won't go… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 26, 2008 at 10:19pm — 2 Comments

The Whole Blurb Thing

My wildest dream right now is that a famous author, a highly regarded reviewer, and a national newspaper will all call me within the next month and say, "We hear you have a book coming out. Can we please, please, please write a blurb for it?"



Blurbs seem to be an essential these days, but if you don't know anybody with a big name in the industry, it's hard to ask for one. I know lots of writers, but very few who write what I write. So does a historical murder author use an… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 25, 2008 at 10:30pm — No Comments

Writer's Block? You've Got to Be Kidding

Writer's block is not a problem for this girl. I have so many ideas I can't get to them all. They remain in my computer under file names like "Carrie" or "Trauma girl" or even "started novels." Most of them will probably never see an end, simply because of two very large problems: Life and Writing.



First, Life doesn't want you to write. Life wants you to do stuff: dust, visit, pay, go, help, eat, shop, watch, chat, scrub, make, transport, sew, mow, and grow. There's more of course,… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 24, 2008 at 10:45pm — No Comments

The Writer's Mind vs the Reader's (R)

I've been reading a book by an author I like a lot, but this one has been a real trial. Too many characters, too much obscure information, and a shift between first and third person that creates the feeling that I'm reading two different books. I'll finish it because she's good and I know it, but it won't go on my list of her best.



At the same time I had the experience of two people reading one of my works with two different results. The first one didn't finish, simply gave up with… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 23, 2008 at 11:01pm — No Comments

Recycling

If only I'd kept my clothes from the seventies, my kids' toys from their early days, the furniture from my first apartment. Everything seems to come back into vogue, and I can't help but think I could have made a fortune on Ebay. I saw a skirt in a store last week that is almost identical to one I used to own. Star Wars, He-Man and Barbie stuff goes for pretty pennies, and all those goofy things I threw in the trash call to me now, "We're collectors' items, ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!



Plots… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 22, 2008 at 9:16pm — No Comments

My Dad's Wisdom

My dad was a high school dropout, but in those days it wasn't considered a problem. You went to school until you figured you'd got enough education, and then you went to work. His English was a little sloppy, lots of phrases like "I seen" and "he don't." I suppose that lowered some people's estimation of his intelligence, but I never met anyone any wiser than he was. And I'll take wisdom over intelligence any day.



Two things my dad tried to teach us stick with me and help me cope as… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 19, 2008 at 10:35pm — No Comments

Old Dogs & New Tricks

Current wisdom says that we must keep learning or lose brain power. Where a few years ago they were teaching that the aging brain was like cement, hardening to unchangable, now advisers recommend learning new things to fend off the zombie-like conditions we see in nursing homes. It isn't enough to learn to play golf better; you have to learn to play something altogether new. At a time when a lot of us have the leisure to do the things we like, we're supposed to leave our comfort zones and tread… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 18, 2008 at 8:44pm — No Comments

Where Do You Fit in the Writing Spectrum?

There is in every aspect of life a continuum, and we all fit on it somewhere. I once read an article that told of asking people where they fit on the range between ugly and beautiful. Most felt they were on the plus side of center, and yet on any scale, 50% have to be below and 50 above. So a bunch of homely people are deluding themselves about how scary they look.



I suspect it's true for writers as well. I've never met anyone in the business who admitted to being a below-average… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 17, 2008 at 10:49pm — No Comments

Fagedaboudit...Temporarily

Stop watching the news. Change the button on the radio when the song is done. Turn your head as you pass the stack of papers full of doom. Just stop.



I know it's not realistic, responsible, or right. But I'd sure like to have oh, let's say three days without hearing about anyone who's homeless, starving, injured, going bankrupt, or suicidal.



Maybe that's why historicals appeal to me. The events I write and read about are over; the people long removed from whatever pain and… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 16, 2008 at 9:42pm — No Comments

Variety (R)

As I read through the posts on several writer/reader forums I've joined, it strikes me that we're different. Now isn't that profound?



Different means that a book I like, for example, Craig Johnson's A Cold Dish, made a reader post that she'd given up on it because it took too long to tell the story, and a book I find corny and in fact irritating is someone else's "brilliant read." If you've read earlier posts you can guess which authors I don't care for in the mystery genre, and my… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 15, 2008 at 10:30pm — No Comments

How Can I Keep from Singing?

It's a blessing and a curse in our family. We hum or sing aloud if we're not careful, and it doesn't matter where we are. As a kid, I used to subtly (I thought) remind my mother not to break into song in J.C. Penney's or in the stall of a the public restroom. Now I do it, and although so far I've managed to limit myself to a dignified hum, I know my genetics. It's only a matter of time until I'm singing golden oldies in full voice as I stroll the malls and sidewalks of America.



There… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 12, 2008 at 10:39pm — No Comments

Serendipitous Charity

How do you get involved with a charity? There are so many of them out there that there is no way a person can care about/contribute to/work for all of them, so most of us zero in on a few that are dear to us. But what's the appeal?



I've just done a short story for a mystery short story anthology which will benefit Toys for Tots. When the call went out for submissions, I liked the theme (*Dying in a Winter Wonderland*), but I also responded to that charity. Why? We know they do good… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 11, 2008 at 10:41pm — No Comments

That Crazy Generation Gap

Someone posted to a group that he quoted the line "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun" to his agent. The agent looked confused, so he explained, "It's a line from Noel Coward." The agent said, "Who?"



It's another age thing. We find that people we have to deal with every day are so much younger than we that they don't understand us, and vice versa. I've learned to nod when people say things like, "You know, like the dress Eva Longoria wore to that award show."… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 10, 2008 at 10:15pm — No Comments

Getting Noticed

All the advisers recommend it: find a way to get noticed. They're not wrong, but it isn't easy to do. They have suggestlons, of course, some that anybody could have come up with and others that nobody would want to.



"Dress in an attention-getting way." With perfectly straight faces, I've heard people advise that you dress like your character for signings and appearances. With a not-so-perfect face, I try to be politely non-committal. Maybe some can do that, and maybe it's appropriate… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 9, 2008 at 10:23pm — No Comments

Choosing the Day You Die

You don't get to; at least most of us don't. There's no "off" switch that you can hit when you've had enough. Juliet says "If all else fail, myself have power to die," and she means it. Most of us are more Hamlet than Juliet, and "conscience does make cowards of us all."



Aging is a process of accepting what you can't do and what you will accept as you wait for the end of life. How much does your knee or hip or shoulder have to hurt before you let someone slice it open and replace… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 8, 2008 at 10:18pm — No Comments

In the Flesh or On the Net?

There's a lot of discussion these days of virtual book tours vs. get-in-the-car-and-drive events. I know not what others may think, but as for me, I show up in person when possible.



A name on the net is just a name. A picture helps, live-chats help, and web cams help, but you matter more when they've met you, when you feel more like a friend and less like a presence. It's psychological, of course. We all like to feel that we're important, and when important people travel to visit us,… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 5, 2008 at 10:39pm — No Comments

Burying Your Head in the Novel

My dad used to comment from time to time, not always fondly, that there was no talking to me when I had my nose in a book. I think my husband would alter the statement these days: there's no talking to me when I have my nose in WRITING a book. When things start to click I disappear into my office and pay no attention to what anyone else is doing. I bring pages of editing to the breakfast table, unable to delay the process until after cereal. In the passenger seat when we travel I work on grids… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 4, 2008 at 9:53pm — No Comments

Hating Your Job

The people there are nuts. The working conditions are lousy. The pay would be laughable if you didn't need it so much. All in all, you hate your job.



Yesterday a woman asked about retirement. Did I like it? Yes, very much. She sighed. "I just can't decide." I suggested that if she couldn't make up her mind, she wasn't ready to retire. "Oh, I'm ready," she assured me. So what's the holdup? As we walked away, my husband, who knows her better than I do, commented that it's the money… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 3, 2008 at 10:28pm — No Comments

The Young vs the Old

I'm not sure when I began thinking of myself as old. Retirement certainly contributes, and people asking what it's like in that tone of "You're done being useful, so what do you do now to occupy the time until you die?" Salespeople calling me "ma'am" instead of "miss" was a big clue. And a group of elementary school kids I worked with recently pronounced me Grandma, even though I haven't yet earned that title. So yeah, I guess I'm in the "old" category if we're choosing up… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 2, 2008 at 10:55pm — No Comments

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