Peg Herring's Blog – November 2008 Archive (19)

Football, You Bet!

I confess, I'm a fan of football, maybe even a fanatic, the derivation of the slightly less connotative word. First is comes the NFL. I actually become depressed when the season ends. Next come college games, where I don't care so much who wins but I watch anyway. I've even been known to watch arena football and other crazy offshoots. This has gone on for years, and lately I've noticed some interesting things.



These days I enjoy games where I don't really care who wins. Where once it… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 28, 2008 at 10:35pm — No Comments

Holiday, Schmoliday

All you office workers, truck drivers, and construction people, enjoy the holiday. All you writers, I hope your brain allows some rest, but don't count on it.



It's more likely that your fertile (shall I say, febrile?) brain will choose this purported "down time" to hit you with the best subplot ever, a great character quirk, or even a whole new book idea. And you know from experience that if you don't write it down...



That's the problem with creativity; it has a mind of it… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 27, 2008 at 9:29pm — No Comments

Required:10% Inspiration

I guess Edison said it, something like: "Genius is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration." That's true, but that dash of inspiration is SO necessary. I'm willing to work really hard on my writing, but there has to be a spark that makes me want to do so, make me feel, as one writer put it, that I am the only one who can tell the story.



One thing that helps is professional magazines. Over the last week, I got no less than four, and I set them aside, a little daunted at the task of… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 26, 2008 at 10:30pm — 2 Comments

Not-Shopping: the Newest Craze

With a bad economy, not-shopping has become cool. Instead of people bragging about how they found the Toy of This Year's Quest for their little darling or the latest gadget-that-we'll-never-fully-decipher for their spouse, we hear comments about cutting back made with a tone of "I'm such a good person for doing this." Newspapers are full of chatty little articles about how to have a scaled-down Christmas: play board games at home instead of going on expensive vacations, create homemade gifts… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 25, 2008 at 10:13pm — No Comments

Home and Not Home-Where Do You Want to Be?

Thanksgiving is travel time for a lot of us, and it brought up the question in a recent discussion of why we seem to want to be wherever we aren't. When we're home we imagine all the great places we could be, and when we're gone for more than a few days, we picture the idyllic peace of home. So which is best?



It's all a matter of timing. My husband's tolerance for away-from-home time is a bit shorter than mine, but we do pretty well for three weeks on our annual vacation, three days… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 24, 2008 at 10:15pm — 2 Comments

Dealing with People You Can't Stand

I've read tons of advice on the subject, which boils down to understanding their motivation and therefore not being offended by the modus operandi of the jackass. I can understand all day, but that doesn't make facing such a person any easier.



Admit it. There is stupidity, arrogance, and envy in the world, and some people operate from one or more of those almost exclusively. We all have to deal with those people to some degree. They may be coworkers, customers, even relatives. They… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 21, 2008 at 10:16pm — 2 Comments

The End, Finally

I don't think there is an end to most of my written work. Obviously when something goes to publication, I have to say it's finished, but until that point, I never feel like I'm done with it. However, I made a big step toward the end of my WIP this morning: a rough draft that, in spite of its holes, feels like a complete story.



There is lots still to do. Characters morphed during the course of the story and now have to be adjusted in their entrances. Details have to be added that… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 20, 2008 at 10:13pm — No Comments

In the Mood for...What?

I mentioned last week that I'd read a friend's manuscript and enjoyed it a lot. One reason is that it was different from my usual reading. In other words, not a mystery.



I love mysteries. I read them, write them, even think them. Items on the evening news revolve in my head and I start figuring out how that could be a plot for the next project. It usually doesn't happen, because I have way more plots than I have time to write them. (Probably a good thing.) I may have reached a kind… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 19, 2008 at 10:17pm — No Comments

Characters Who Keep Getting Bigger

If books are like our children, so are the characters in them, and it seems like there's always one in my stories who needs attention. He demands that he become more than I intended him to be. A guy I needed for just one turn in the plot won't leave after his hour on the stage has been strutted and fretted away. In MACBETH'S NIECE it was Banaugh, who started out as Tessa's escort to Macbeth's castle and ended up staying through the whole book, providing all kinds of help for her and finding… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 18, 2008 at 10:08pm — No Comments

Sequels from Shakespeare

I really don't know where the idea of MACBETH'S NIECE came from. Of course I taught the play for years, and that may have been the beginning, but who knows what makes a particular plot evolve in a writer's head? First came the idea that the man may have had family in the castle who were concerned for him but unable to change the course of events. Then came the notion that it would be a young woman who has her own problems to deal with, related to her status as the king's niece but not directly… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 17, 2008 at 10:39pm — No Comments

If You've Got Odds and Ends on a Table...

I loved George Carlin, naughty as he was. I guess it's hard to see the world as clearly as he did and remain nice. Lately I'm finding that to be true for myself as well. And he loved words, loved playing with words, loved wondering why words mean what they mean and convey what they convey. What author can resist a guy like that?



Anyway, he would ask sometimes, "If you have odds and ends on a table and something falls off, is it an odd or an end?" A single word is an amazing thing. It… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 14, 2008 at 11:27pm — 2 Comments

Compulsivity...Compulsiveness...Being Compulsive

It's the subject of movies, TV shows, and family humor: the things that some of us have to do the way we like to do them. My kids hated playing Scrabble with me because I can't stand it if the tile isn't exactly inside its little square. A friend at work was visibly upset if one of us sat in a different position at the lunch table. And before computer-generated papers I've seen students copy and recopy an assignment until it met their standards, even if there was only one small… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 13, 2008 at 11:00pm — No Comments

It's All My Mother's Fault (R)

Really. I mean, the woman started reading me Edgar Allen Poe when I was still too short to reach the kitchen faucet and get my own drink of water. She would often appear in our bedroom doorway with a book and share a snippet of poetry or prose that had grabbed her imagination, and it was usually something spooky. She talked about words and the usage of words, why things were better said this way than that. And she put into my hands at about age thirteen the most unlikely of English teacher… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 12, 2008 at 10:20pm — No Comments

Any Writing Is Good Writing, Maybe

I'm a proponent of doing whatever it is you want to do well. How to get to Carnegie Hall...ba dump bump.

It's true. Genius and talent and all that are great, but practice is better. The more you write, the better the quality, with one caveat. Mindless writing will never improve.



I talk to people all the time who tell me how much they write, and they often sound boastful when they say, "I've got notebooks full of stories." One man told me he'd written 75 short stories in the past… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 11, 2008 at 10:36pm — No Comments

Getting the Details Right

As they'd say in a certain comic strip, "Arrrgh!" An author who wrote a very nice blurb for my upcoming novel noticed an error that should have been detected months ago, by "helper readers," by the first editor, or, of course, by the author herself. Luckily, is it something that can be fixed with a sentence, and I have another chance to edit before the ARCs come out. But such things start me wondering, "Will it ever be truly right?"



Stories abound from authors who've made a mistake… Continue

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

Character & Plot: Working Together

Did you ever notice that as you write, you see where a character has to go in order to make the plot work? And did you ever notice that as you write, the plot has to respond to what a character would or would not do? Holy Holistics, Batgirl!



It's bad when a character says or does something inappropriate, something that it's obvious the writer needs in the story at that moment in time. A perfectly nice girl throws a fit in public that in reality would make her never leave home again.… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 6, 2008 at 11:00pm — No Comments

She Did It, He Did It, I Plan to Do It

The manuscript I wrote about yesterday? It was as good at the end as it was at the beginning (Applause). I mentioned that it pulled me along, and that led to completion in a couple of long reading sessions. Again, it's wonderful to find a book where the prose, the characters, and the action work, make me want to read rather than merely giving me a few minutes' diversion before starting my day or going to sleep. It's as if the authorial world is divided between "read" and "HAVE to read" books.… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 5, 2008 at 11:46pm — No Comments

Books That Pull You Along

A very talented friend gave me a manuscript to read, and I'm hooked. After half a century of reading (OMG!) I find that most books are time-passers, not reading adventures. I know the plotline after a few pages, and if the author surprises, it's with invented devices, incidents meant to be funny, or characters that are grotesquely unusual. I read to the end, but I never feel the "what's going to happen?" question forming in my head. With this one, I want to find that out.



A good… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 4, 2008 at 10:45pm — No Comments

Christmas in November

It's kind of like that, anyway. After a month of dial-up and fruitless calls to my internet non-provider, I'm waiting for a new group of clever but non-communicative men to come and put in a better system. I haven't been this anxious since I was six and hoping for that cheap guitar.



My husband is exhibiting Grinch-like qualities, predicting that they'll be unable to hook us up. It's probably because he won't do dial-up and therefore hasn't been online since September. That's enough… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on November 3, 2008 at 10:33pm — No Comments

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