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

Where Does the Time Go?

Here's the picture I had in my mind: I had a book signing last weekend at a Renaissance Festival. This weekend is Sleuthfest. In between were four full days, Monday through Thursday, in which I had nothing to do but write. In my head I would finish editing the book I've wanted to change around a bunch AND finish up the sequel to MACBETH'S NIECE so it could lie fallow for a few months before I began the editing segment.

You've probably guessed that neither of those things happened.… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on February 29, 2008 at 6:17am — No Comments

Posts Missing Due to Walking on the Beach

It seems the lovely place I rented for the week has one problem: no Internet. So for those of you dying to know what I'm doing, I'm enjoying 75 degrees warmer weather than at home, I'm walking on the beach, and I'm working on the sequel to Macbeth's Niece. I did get word that Five Star is ready to look at Her Highness' First Murder, so I'm pretty excited about that. I'll check in whenever I'm near the public library again.

Added by Peg Herring on February 28, 2008 at 3:07am — No Comments

Weekend Warrior, My Version

The weekend was devoted to a huge Renaissance Festival, where I was ensconced at a table to sign books. It seemed to me that at a place where people gather who love history would be a good venue for publicizing MACBETH'S NIECE. I was both right and wrong.

Of course, it rained first thing. Hard. My "signage", as the manager called it, was destroyed as I spent my time on protecting the more valuable books I'd set out. (My hair we won't even mention.) Around noon the rain cleared, and… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on February 25, 2008 at 9:27pm — No Comments

Writing on the Road

Travel certainly inspires, but sadly some of the words that come to mind don't make for great literature. Here are the messages I would like to have sent yesterday, cleaned up a bit now that I'm removed from the situation:

The lady in the blue car: "If your call is important, pull over and talk to the person on the other end with the courtesy of giving him/her your full concentration. If it isn't, HANG UP and drive that car like you know where you are." (This message would have to… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on February 22, 2008 at 8:57pm — No Comments

Getting Better

I went from 5 degrees to 40 yesterday, so things are looking up. As the temperature improves, I shed the weight of winter: wool coat, boots, gloves. I even washed Michigan off my car so that the wheels and brakes can move without the scrape of ice globules.

As I said earlier, drive time is when I think about a story and look for ways to tell it better. Immersed in the typing-and-composing thing, I often lose the big picture: where is the story going, what are the characters learning that… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on February 21, 2008 at 10:40pm — No Comments

Dashing Through the...Plot?

Day One of the trip was uneventful, though I'd been warned of snow squalls and lake effect accumulations. I visited a few libraries along the way and arrived to find that my books had been shipped to my son's house as planned. Now I have copies to sell at my events, always a good thing.

As I drive, I work on plot knots, and I'm amazed at how my brain picks them apart when it's uninterrupted by "home thoughts" and such. The sequel to MACBETH'S NIECE had become too complex, too bogged down… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on February 20, 2008 at 10:01pm — No Comments

She's Leaving Home

It's time for the "Did I forget anything?" moment and the goodbyes. I'm planning to visit libraries on the way south today and then spend the night with my son and daughter-in-law. The biggest problem right now is books. I sold every copy I ordered and have a waiting list here at home, plus I have none to take on the tour. (NOT complaining about that!) It's just that I have to figure out how to get more. Between us my son and I have a plan.

The other concern in Michigan in February…


Added by Peg Herring on February 19, 2008 at 10:24pm — No Comments

The Tour

It's not an original idea, but it's topical. I'll blog for the next few weeks on a tour I'm making to promote my book, attempting to present an honest view of an author's life on the road.

Today is packing day, and what a challenge! I'm heading from Michigan to Florida, so I need clothes for warm weather and everything in between. I'm signing at a Renaissance Festival so I need trappings for a booth: sign, decorations, prizes, etc. I'm doing several talks, so I need audience handouts,…


Added by Peg Herring on February 18, 2008 at 10:31pm — No Comments

That Whole Wildest Dreams Thing

Last night was my book launch party. It's a very small town in a low-income area, but I counted on having at least twenty there, friends who would support my publishing efforts and hand over a check even though they seldom buy hardcover books and probably not romances. I'd presold books as Christmas gifts and figured that most of those who wanted one had gone that route, so my sales would be low.

We ran out of books. Twice! The ones I brought sold, then my husband brought in another…


Added by Peg Herring on February 15, 2008 at 10:38pm — 2 Comments

It's Been Done

I do presentations to reading groups at libraries and colleges, and in the course of preparing for them, do a bit of research on the types of books available in certain genres. It's surprising to find that whatever one might think of in the line of mystery, it's probably been done.

Vampire detectives? We've got 'em. Sleuths who've been gelded for one reason or another? Yup. Females masquerading as males, ex-soldiers suffering from delusions, police detectives with amnesia, and of…


Added by Peg Herring on February 14, 2008 at 10:09pm — No Comments

Submission Editors Don't Read Much

Someone sent me a link yesterday to a blog written by an editor ( that reinforces what six years in this busines has taught me: editors (and agents as well) don't read much before deciding if your work will be rejected.

I don't blame them. They're deluged with material, since the computer has made writing a book possible for almost anyone. They know what they're looking for and over time have honed their…


Added by Peg Herring on February 13, 2008 at 10:38pm — No Comments

He's ... Oh, What Is the Word?

Yesterday I wrote about letting characters grow inside your head until they are people. The next step is finding the words to convey that character's "personhood" to a reader.

It certainly isn't enough to tell what he looks like; in fact, some excellent authors refuse to write much physical description at all. Who hasn't been taken out of a story by too much detail about eye color or dewy skin? It's wise, at least in modern writing, to toss in details as casual references rather than…


Added by Peg Herring on February 12, 2008 at 10:57pm — No Comments

Growing Characters

I've read all the advice about how to create good characters, and I've put it to use. I write backgrounds for them, read their dialogue aloud to be sure it sounds authentic, pay attention to the changes that they go through as the story progresses. But there's one more thing that has to happen, and I haven't got a lot of control over it: they have to grow.

Like children under the old tabula rasa theory, characters are blank when we create them. "I need a guy who can tell the other guy…


Added by Peg Herring on February 11, 2008 at 11:07pm — No Comments

What the Heck Is a Book Launch Party, Anyway?

Mine is next Thursday, February 14th, which is a cool day to launch a romance, I think. I had not planned a party, since I live in the sticks and didn't think anyone cared. I am unashamed to admit that I was wrong, very wrong.

The local Friends of the Library called to say they'd like to host the launch, and it has become an Event, with a capital. They've done a lovely job of planning, and people assure me daily that not only do they plan to attend, but they look forward to…


Added by Peg Herring on February 8, 2008 at 11:12pm — No Comments

The Learning Curve...or Is That a Precipice?

Okay. I wrote a book. I found an agent. The agent found a publisher. The publisher released the book. We both dug for reviews and got some good ones. We offer the book in all the right places. Sounds like we've done it all, right?

I guess not. Now I'm supposed to become some sort of sales analyst and track where people are buying the book and how I reached those particular people. From that I should extrapolate a way to reach even more people and get them to buy the book. I'm told…


Added by Peg Herring on February 7, 2008 at 10:03pm — 2 Comments

Calgon, Take Me Away

Never having been one for long soaks in the bathtub, the old slogan never meant much to me except visions of pruny skin and a ring to clean afterward. But writing, now there's something that takes you away.

The world is often unkind, as many, many poets have said far better than I can. Things happen to us that might drive us crazy. But for some, writing becomes catharsis, therapy, and hiding place, all in one. Focus on your characters. Make their lives worse than yours if it makes you…


Added by Peg Herring on February 6, 2008 at 11:10pm — No Comments

I Couldn't Put It Down

I read a lot, but there's a moment in some books where the story grabs me and won't let go. I want/need/demand to know what happens, and I'm reluctant to do anything else until I find out. This morning I tore myself away from Jack Reacher's perils to do the work of authoring, but it wasn't easy.

Of course it's not the same author for everyone. Books that thrill me may leave you wondering what all the hoopla was about. Lee Child's work, Laura Lippman's, Victoria Thompson's-- are just a…


Added by Peg Herring on February 5, 2008 at 10:44pm — No Comments

Monday, Monday

I like Mondays. The slate is clean (sort of) and enthusiasm is high. I make a list of the week's target tasks, both personal and professional. It's an odd mix: "clean cat pans" is right next to "design new workshop" and "tighten Chapter Six." It works for me, though, as I work through my week on a schedule of my own choosing. Sometimes I think about all the years I spent in education, answering bells, shifting gears every hour: "Speech class now," "Oh, now it's world history." "Am I ready…


Added by Peg Herring on February 4, 2008 at 10:50pm — No Comments

You Baited That Hook, Now What?

The crime novel I'm currently reading is in danger of being tossed. Several years back I stopped believing that I have to finish any book I start, and this one would already be gone if a friend hadn't recommended it. I trust her, so it has to get better, but right now I'm pretty unhappy with the author's coyness.

Teasing the reader, giving her the tiniest snatches of information in a jumbled mess of characters, events, and unexplained flashbacks, becomes irritating to me after while.…


Added by Peg Herring on February 1, 2008 at 9:40pm — No Comments

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