Peg Herring's Blog – August 2009 Archive (21)

To Go or Not To Go

Conferences. I love them. Always have a good time. Always meet great people. So what's the problem?

For one thing, I live in the sticks. Attending any con is a major operation, requiring planes, trains, and/or automobiles in great abundance. It costs me five hours' travel just to get out of Michigan by car, and flying requires a puddle-jumper ride first and last, which adds a lot to the expense (and the nail-biting, these days).

Secondly, I have two books pending but… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 31, 2009 at 10:08pm — 1 Comment

From Zero to Sixty in One ARC

My ARC's for HER HIGHNESS' FIRST MURDER arrived yesterday afternoon, and suddenly life is teeming with things to do.

First, here's what it could mean to you. It's a Tudor mystery focusing on Princess Elizabeth during Henry's last year of life. If you'd like a copy of the ARC, make a comment on this blog ("Hi Peg I want the book" is good enough, or you can actually read something and respond.) One week from today (Friday, September 4) I'll put the names of everyone who has commented… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 28, 2009 at 10:33pm — 5 Comments

The Idea of Social Networking

Big arguments (um, discussions) on several groups I read concerning what's "best" for authors looking to sell their work: Facebook, MySpace, Crimespace, Twitter, etc.

I guess I have it wrong, because I don't necessarily join a group to sell books. Yes, I would like it if people everywhere bought my books, but I enjoy the hour I spend each morning reading comments, learning what others do and don't recommend, and writing my own admittedly idiosyncratic observations. Some sites connect… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 27, 2009 at 10:08pm — 9 Comments

Books We Hate

From time to time a book comes along that I not only hate but won't even pass on to others because I think it's just WRONG. This morning I got to the point in a book where I couldn't read any more of it, and I'm going to trash it, although I usually save books we've read to give away at my appearances.

The back of the book said it was "funny" and "sexy" and "splendid." I know enough not to believe everything I read, of course, but here's the thing. The intended sex in the book is… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 26, 2009 at 10:38pm — 3 Comments

The Word

When I was in high school, they called me the walking dictionary due to several factors: I always loved words, as did my mom, and I was on the debating team. My vocabulary was always being stretched by one or more of those things, and like coins deposited in a piggy bank, I kept adding to it.

Then I taught high school for thirty years, which tended to push me in the opposite direction. I had to keep putting things into terms that tenth graders could grasp, which meant I didn't use a… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 25, 2009 at 10:39pm — No Comments

What a Rush!

I wrote last week about giving up on a story I was trying too hard on. It felt artificial and difficult. Yuck.

But that feeling of oh-my-god-I've-got-to-write-this-down is now in high gear. Boy, have I missed it. My Other Idea is obviously the one I should have been working on all summer, because it has all the signs of a winner: monopolizing my mind, keeping me way too long at the computer, and making my friends and family wonder why I'm so distracted and disinterested in real life… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 24, 2009 at 9:14pm — No Comments

Giving Up

When do you give up on a story?

I've worked for months on 50 pages that an agent asked for, a sample of an idea I pitched to her. (She asked what I was thinking about writing, remember?) The idea is there, the characters are there, and I've put in the time. It just isn't working.

I don't know what's wrong with it. Maybe this isn't the time for me to write this particular story. Maybe I haven't done enough research to immerse myself in the time period. Maybe in my heart… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 21, 2009 at 10:04pm — 3 Comments

My Stuff and Yours

I've been going through stuff, doing the spring cleaning that never happened because spring just arrived in Michigan (a nice day, three days of rain, a nice day, etc.). It brings to mind George Carlin, one of my favorite wordologists ever. He claimed that my stuff was "stuff" but your stuff is "shit," as in "Get your shit out of the way so I can put my stuff down." So true.

What other people consider keep-worthy is a mystery. We've all had the experience of spouse or roomie throwing… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 20, 2009 at 10:28pm — 6 Comments

Imagine (with Apologies to John)

What is the future of reading? Imagine what a book will look like ten, twenty, fifty years in the future. Hard to do, I know.

It may help to imagine the past: some old scribe scratching away at a scroll and muttering, "Those idiots who slice paper into sheets are wrong, wrong, WRONG! People want a book that unrolls in front of their eyes. It's more satisfying."

It doesn't help to realize that we aren't even capable of imaging what possibilities await. Remember the guy who… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 19, 2009 at 10:40pm — No Comments

Idiot Tolerance

When you go through medical procedures these days, they often ask about your pain tolerance. I never know what to say, having not dealt with a lot of physical pain in my life. If I have a headache, I take something and it goes away. I don't know where that rates on a scale of 1 to 10.

What I do notice is that I'm losing my tolerance for idiots. It was never terribly high, maybe a 4, and now I find myself ready to scream at 2. Yes, I know we're not all educated to the same level; in… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 18, 2009 at 10:33pm — 8 Comments

Two Good Ones

The best of all possible worlds: I'm reading two books that grip my attention. They both happen to be historical, which you might have guessed, but very different in focus. One is set in India in the early 1900s, and while I didn't think I'd be terribly interested, I am. The other concerns Jan Hus and the Reformation. I"m afraid I haven't even taken note of the authors' names yet, but I will pass them on when I finish the books.

What's nice is that I look forward to stolen moments… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 17, 2009 at 8:44pm — No Comments

What Do Non-readers Talk About?

I had dinner yesterday with cousins I see about once a year, always a pleasant experience. But we always end up talking about books. She has discovered Louise Penny, to her delight, and he was reading a Civil War alternative history trilogy in which the South wins and the historical detail is fascinating. I threw in everyone from Clive Cussler to...well, me.

My question in today's title is rhetorical, but another question follows. Is any pastime anywhere as thoroughly discussed as… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 14, 2009 at 9:55pm — 2 Comments

Is That All There Is?

Not surprising for those who read here regularly, I have a complaint about a book I just finished. WHY DIDN'T SOMEONE MENTION TO THE AUTHOR THAT THE PLOT DOESN'T RESOLVE?

I have every sympathy for the pressures put on authors to get the next book done, and I know from personal experience that a writer can leave big plot holes when there isn't time to let the thing rest in a drawer somewhere until he can look at it with fresh eyes. But surely those who have agents and editors galore… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 13, 2009 at 10:57pm — 3 Comments

Forgive Them, For They Know Not

Had lunch with a friend who just signed her first contract, and I got a flashback. You're excited. You've finally done what you longed to do. You tell people you know, "I'm going to be published." And then, like in the Sinatra song, they spoil it all by saying something stupid.

"So you're going to be just like J. K. Rowling, huh?"

"When will I see your book on the NEW YORK TIMES Bestseller List?"

"I guess your husband can retire now that you're making all that… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 12, 2009 at 10:47pm — 7 Comments

Creativity Varies

I met with my web guy yesterday, and as usual, we ended up talking about a zillion things only marginally related to updating my website. We find similarities in our work, although he's a self-proclaimed geek and I'm SO not-geeky, at least in the technological sense. However, creativity is essential in his work, just as in mine. It's just that I work with words, trying to put them together just the right way, and he works with code, manipulating it to do ever more creative things in… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 11, 2009 at 10:44pm — No Comments

While Hubby is Away...

...something weird ALWAYS happens. So last night I'm relaxing on the couch when I hear what at first seems to be thunder. But the cat is upset by it to the point where she can't sleep, which is unusual for her. It goes on too long, so I start looking around. From the porch I can hear the rumbling clearly, but there is nothing in sight. I stand there listening to this insistent, hollow sound that can't be thunder, but the yard is empty.

I go back inside; the sound continues. I look… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 10, 2009 at 10:34pm — 3 Comments

How Patient Will a Reader Be?

I'm reading one of those books where you get bits and pieces about a dozen characters, all interesting but sort of vague, with a lot of background what-they're-thinking stuff and no clue where it's all going. Because it's a writer I trust, I'm willing to go along, knowing it will all come together in the end.

My gold standard of this type of thing is A TALE OF TWO CITIES. As a kid I remember being extremely frustrated with Dickens' description of the servants bringing chocolate to… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 7, 2009 at 10:45pm — 1 Comment

Alone at Last

My husband went to Canada this week, fishing. I believe Canadian fish are somehow more sporting fellows that United States fish. I'm not sure how they outclass our species. I suppose one has to meet the Canadian fish to spot the differences.

Anyway, with a whole, uninterrupted week, I imagined myself finishing off at least writing four projects. Of course I had lunch with two different friends, but lunch doesn't take that long. There are hours and hours both before and after that… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 6, 2009 at 11:30pm — 2 Comments

Sex in Literature...Really, This Time

We've all heard the gloating comments: when all other book sales are down over the last year or so, romance sales are up. Theories on why that's true abound, but it comes down to the old phrase, "Sex sells."

So how much sex is enough? How many ways can the act be described, and how many times can a reader get a charge out of the vocabulary, the phrasing, the details of who did what? I can't answer that, but I think that maybe "Sex sells" might not be quite right. It's the promise of… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 5, 2009 at 11:07pm — 7 Comments

And How About Those Apostrophes!

Pronouns are a mess, but the use of the apostrophe requires a Congressional committee or something. I've been tempted to take on the role of Night Grammarian, going around in a Ninja suit after dark fixing signs that say such things as "Kitten's for Sale" or "10 Items' or Less," or even "Mens' Clothing."

It isn't that hard, but it does require paying attention. My mom, a life-long English teacher, preferred to teach apostrophes this way.

First, reverse the adjective-noun order:… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on August 4, 2009 at 10:15pm — No Comments

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