Peg Herring's Blog – July 2008 Archive (23)

Raise Your Hand If You're Hiding from Life

Why do we write? The pay is lousy, the hours before a computer are long, and forget about fame in the current state of publishing where some dumb celebrity or crooked politician will sell anything his ghost writer puts on paper before a real writer gets anywhere. I have a theory that writers find more satisfaction in the world of their own creation than there is in the real one.

Most of us participate in reality. We have jobs, families, and social obligations. But in that other world… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 31, 2008 at 9:47pm — No Comments

Merry, Merry Second Calling

Just got word that my second book has been accepted by my publisher, and of course I have to analyze that feeling.

I doubt if I'm quite as excited as the first time. First, nothing beats the initial feeling of vindication and support a writer gets with publication with a traditional house. It's knowing that it isn't just you, or you and your spouse, who believe in your work. It's success on the best level.

In addition, at the second call you know how much work you're in… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 30, 2008 at 9:56pm — No Comments

I'm Taking Over, and It's For Your Own Good

I've tried to avoid it, but the time has come. Someone needs to step in and save us from ourselves, and apparently no one else is willing. The political candidates can only natter on about the economy and war overseas, but what about the things that are really messing up America?

Cell phones: I decree that there will be two types and only two. One has everything on it from GPS navigation to motion picture capability, FX included. The other will simply make phone calls. It will have… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 29, 2008 at 10:51pm — 2 Comments

Getting It Ready to Go

It's exciting and unnerving to send out a manuscript, perhaps more so when you know what you're actually doing. The first time, we may think that the MS is perfect, the agent/editor will gasp and say, "This is exactly what I've been searching for," and we will be on the way to reader adulation. By the tenth or hundredth time, you've done some research and you know a few things.

First, it probably isn't perfect. No matter how many times you check, you'll probably miss something that… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 28, 2008 at 10:23pm — No Comments

He Said/She Said-STOP THAT!

I've blogged before about editing and how for me it has to be in layers. One of the zillion or so trips through a WIP will be a search and destroy of "-- said," sometimes known as dialogue tags. Several things need to be considered.

First, do you need to say who said it? The best thing is to have the dialogue itself indicate who is speaking. If there are only two people in the room, it can be assumed they take turns speaking (proper punctuation helps the reader keep track, too). It's… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 25, 2008 at 10:51pm — 2 Comments

Know Your Genre & Subgenre

It's hard to pinpoint, pigeonhole, and particularize a book. It may have elements of romance, mystery, adventure, suspense, paranormal, and historical. My book, MACBETH'S NIECE, has all of that. But agents and editors want you to tell them in a word what to call it. This is because they have to have a word to tell their marketing department which has to have a word to tell bookstore owners. "What shelf will it go on?" is the question. Nobody said it was fair, it just is.

Some… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 24, 2008 at 9:46pm — No Comments

Turning Into an Old Bag

It's not me, I swear! In my former life, when I taught English, history, and speech, headed up the yearbook staff and the drama department, and directed three choirs, I learned to compartmentalize. I had a bag for each activity, so I could grab it and go when the time came to shift gears. People used to call me the Bag Lady, because I never entered the building unencumbered by a bag or four.

I haven't changed much. I still have a multitude of tote bags, each with a specific purpose.… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 23, 2008 at 10:11pm — No Comments

When You're Sick of Your WIP

It usually happens when it's most important, like when your agent says, "Yes, I'll look at that." or your editor says, "Take one more look before we chisel it in stone." (That's why it takes so long -- all that chiseling.) I look at the three hundred or so pages stacked on the table before me and think, "I don't want to read this thing again. I'm tired of these people, and they're going to have to stay the way they are."

It's a problem. If you read your work one more time, chances… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 22, 2008 at 10:17pm — No Comments

Authors With Egos

Most of the people I've met in the writing profession are wonderful: intelligent, helpful and fun to be around. But there's a minority who amuse and sometimes irritate: those who believe they wrote the only book(s) that will ever matter.

Most of us recognize that we're in a business where tastes vary. Along with those who love my book, I've met people who damned it with faint praise or dismissed it altogether. One woman told me recently that it was too much work to read a historical… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 21, 2008 at 11:08pm — No Comments

Mend Your (Writing), Lest You Mar Your Fortune

It's a line from Shakespeare, and correctly done it's "Mend your speech ..." As writers, we communicate on paper, but we still need to consider words, individually and collectively.

I used to teach high school, and often a student would object to my request that they clarify a sentence like "Mr. Jones saw several worms looking over his tomato plants." Invariably the cry would be, "But people know what I mean."

Possibly. But as a writer, your job is to make the job as easy… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 18, 2008 at 9:30pm — No Comments

Serious Editing

If you read my blog very often, you've read this before: the first step in editing is time. When your first draft is done, you get a feeling of relief. There. It's down on paper. It's done. However great that feeling may be, don't let it lead you to the mailbox. This is NOT the time to send your work to an editor, an agent, or even a friend. First it needs to sit for a while.

Walking away from a piece of writing is essential. I'm not sure how long it takes to be able to look at it… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 17, 2008 at 10:41pm — No Comments

Atmosphere (R)

How is it that some authors grab you by the sleeve and won't let you go, while others only provide a pleasant diversion that can be set down at any moment to do something more pressing?

Laura Lippman does it; Barry Eisler too. It could be in Lippman's case that she writes as I think, pulling up details that seem like they came from my own brain, but in Eisler's work I have no frame of reference, being neither Asian nor a hired assassin. So it must be something else, and I call it… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 16, 2008 at 9:53pm — No Comments

Read This or Else! (R)

My writing career has changed how I judge a book. One reader of my blog commented that we must keep reading, both to learn and to refuel. I certainly agree. Reading is key to writing. Extending that thought, both reading and writing are key to thinking, and we as a nation lose ground with each non-reader who graduates high school. By non-readers I don't mean people who can't read; I mean people who consistenly choose to do something else.

It's hard for teachers today to decide what… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 15, 2008 at 10:17pm — 2 Comments

Where Do You Go To Think? (R)

I have two places conducive to thinking, and they are as different as can be. First, I think in the car, preferably on a long trip and preferably alone. The automatic process of driving seems to calm my conscious mind and let the deeper thoughts arrange themselves into viable plots and possible characters. I particularly like the drive across Michigan's Upper Peninsula, which is both beautiful and remote, allowing lots of time to work out plot knots. I carry a small recorder and talk to myself,… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 14, 2008 at 10:41pm — 3 Comments

Do We Get More Strange the More We Sell?

It seems there are two types of famous writers, and I'll begin by saying I admire both types. One type finds something that works for them and then repeats it. I've heard a few admit that it's tough to come up with new stuff after the third or fourth book, but the good ones do it. Mediocre writers' work may bore some readers after while, but there seem to be enough who don't get bored to make the repetition profitable.

The other type of writer tries for something different each time.… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 11, 2008 at 10:25pm — No Comments

My Modest Proposal ... and You Can Call Me Crazy If You Like

Here's the scenario: Author sends MS#1 to Publisher A. She waits six months, hears nothing, sends MS#2 to Publisher B. Waits eight months, hears nothing, sends MS#3 to Publisher C. Finally, after a year and a half, she gets a "No thanks" from Publisher A on MS #1. Undeterred, she sends it to Publisher D. Still waiting to hear from B and C. If Author is really on the ball, she now sends MS#2 to Publisher A, but the details of who's got what are beginning to get murky.

Does that sound… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 10, 2008 at 10:34pm — No Comments

Shameful Secrets: Who Do You Like?

It's just like junior high. You have a crush, but it's embarrassing to admit it. You promise yourself you won't tell anyone, but somehow it comes out.

So I'll confess first. I like George Michael. I know, I know! Can't help it; love his music, think he's cute. Now what has that got to do with reading?

Some are embarrassed to admit they read romances and mysteries, as if they should be reading "better" stuff. I have two arguments: first, even serious readers need to gear… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 9, 2008 at 10:37pm — No Comments

Why Couldn't Shakespeare Write Shakespeare?

I get really aggravated when people say that someone other than WS wrote Shakespeare. Reasons given are that he only had an eighth grade education, had no experience with royalty and the lifestyles shown in the plays, or that the collected works are simply too great for one person to have written.

Let's take the education thing first. Who in the world thinks that education has anything to do with genius? I've known plenty of idiots with PhDs and lots of scantily-school people who are… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 8, 2008 at 11:01pm — 3 Comments

Mysteries and the Detroit Tigers

You'll have to forgive me, but I watched a four-and-a-half hour baseball game yesterday, and it's turned my brain. Here's how I compare the Tigers to a mystery novel.

Characters: both a baseball team and a novel need characters that we want to see succeed. We have cool guys like Magglio and Marlowe, brash guys like Granderson and Magnum, and tired old workhorses like Jones (Todd) and Jones (Barnaby), who get the job done even if they drive us nuts while they're at… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 7, 2008 at 11:17pm — No Comments

Why Are You Reading Blogs on the Fourth of July?

Well, I'm writing this as I wait for my pies to bake. I'll take them to the church pie social then head for the Alumni Tent where I'll set up displays and greet people from all over the US. It's what we do on the Fourth. If it sounds corny to you, you don't get it. But if you don't "do" the Fourth, you're probably spending your day off at the computer.

I know a real city girl who hates the whole rural thing: long distances to any sort of cultural event, stores that aren't open 24/7,… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on July 4, 2008 at 10:40pm — 5 Comments

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