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

Pushing On Through

I can't decide exactly how the victims die. The choices have been whittled down to three or four, and the final decision will change the course of the story, but I can't find out enough about certain murder methods to make that decision. I suppose it's only right that information on how to kill people is not readily available. My non-writing friends think I'm weird enough as it is, but it is only fiction, after all.

Anyway, I've decided to push through and write the story anyway,… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 30, 2009 at 10:37pm — 3 Comments

Ancillary Actions

I'd never used the word "ancillary" in my life until my first publishing days. Now I know and sometimes dread the word. Every job has aspects to it that outsiders don't know about or assume are done by someone else. Writers have a ton of ancillary tasks that not only aren't as much fun as writing, they actually take away from writing time.

First, of course is promotion, but there are a thousand things that come up. In my head I keep saying, "Maybe next week I can get back to my WIP."… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 30, 2009 at 1:49am — 4 Comments

Author Hours

I did a workshop on Saturday and as usual got the question, "Do you set regular writing hours for yourself?"

I always answer yes, but the sign on the door of my writing "business" would have to have some disclaimers:


M-F 7:00-11:00* ** *** ****

*-ish. If things are going well, I might continue until suppertime. If not, I wander the house from 9:30 on, doing little non-writing tasks and hoping the muse gets her butt back into the chair soon.

** Of… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 28, 2009 at 10:18pm — No Comments

Here's Another One

Yesterday I melded MACBETH and WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED AT THE CASTLE. How about this one:

Teaser: His body disfigured, his purpose unknown, he came toward the town. Was he back for vengeance?
For help? Or did his red skin signal a need for...blood?

Coming soon: The Return of the Count

Added by Peg Herring on September 24, 2009 at 10:00pm — No Comments

I Can't Explain It

The idea hit me sometime this morning, and I just had to share: two classic stories woven together.

Teaser: People are dying all over Scotland, and the blame, at least in the view of most people, falls on a certain woman. I feel sorry for her, because I can see the strain she's under. If only the real killer could be found. Oh! Could it be? Yup, it's me, Macbeth.


Added by Peg Herring on September 23, 2009 at 10:07pm — No Comments

Getting the Word Out (R)

This week I'm out doing library talks, and that means getting those ducks in a row. Do I have enough cards, books, handouts, and such? How will I look after a long drive on a hot day? And worst of all, will anyone care enough to show up?

Second-time authors aren't exactly hot properties, and while libraries are usually willing to let me do my schtick, there's no guarantee patrons will show up to watch. I combat the no-name problem by approaching with a theme rather than just "Come… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 22, 2009 at 8:59pm — 6 Comments

The Play's the Thing

I ditched work last week and visited one of my favorite places on Earth: Stratford, Ontario, Canada. In two days I saw three plays, and like the theater geek I am, two of them were pieces I'd seen many times before. I don't mind a bit watching Tony and Maria struggle against Fate one more time or seeing Bottom made even more of an ass than Nature made him at birth.

Plays are different than novels. (Duh!) For me, seeing a play again is a treat, while reading a novel again has little… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 21, 2009 at 10:38pm — No Comments

Good Men

I read two books recently from authors I admire, and it's mostly because of the protagonists, who are good guys. Not perfect, but good. Solid. Understandable.

First is Jim Benn's Billy Boyle. Billy is an Irish cop who learns, with the help of World War II, that he isn't as lazy as he thought. One gets a sense that if Billy had stayed in the States, missed the war, he might have become a cynical, take-what-you-can-get type of cop, but war makes him look at the world differently. I… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 18, 2009 at 10:30pm — No Comments

Growing Up

Remember when you were a kid and didn't realize that every day made you less of one? Me neither.

Writers experience a similar phenomenon, I think. While there are undoubtedly a few Mozarts out there who write instinctively and perfectly from the cradle, most of us grow over time, often without fully realizing it.

I've heard really successful authors hint that they recognize weaknesses in their early works, but there's no sense worrying about it. They're out there for everyone to… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 17, 2009 at 11:00pm — 3 Comments

True Confessions

I wrote earlier about early works and what we'd like to change. It's time to confess, and I'll start.

I began with plays, publishing four of them before I switched to novels. Looking back at them now, I see WAY too many words. I'd like to pretend that it was Shakespearean creation of mood, the verbiage weaving a spell for the audience, but in truth it was inexperience, and I'd love to get my hands on them and pare them down, especially the first one. I did learn over time, and they… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 16, 2009 at 10:30pm — 1 Comment

About a Writer's Confidence (R)

Exposing one's writing to the world is more terrifying than all the chainsaw massacre movies put together. Emily Dickinson said it: "How can you print a piece of your soul?" And yet, there is a compulsion in those of us who write to share that writing with others. We are tentative at first, but we can't resist handing that "piece of soul" to another person, hoping that he or she will say, "This is good." Often we're even okay with "This isn't too bad."

My first time story: I shared… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 15, 2009 at 10:28pm — 2 Comments

Names Again

How do you choose names for your characters?

It often bothers me when two characters in a novel have names that are too similar, and I try not to do that in my own work. I also try to use interesting names, or at least names that interest me. I can't make myself do the name-symbolism thing, like "Brick" or "Steel" for the alpha male character. I suppose my choices are limited somewhat by my upbringing, which is among mostly white, mostly European descendants. Lots of German, Irish,… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 14, 2009 at 8:32pm — 9 Comments

What's in a Name?

Two perspectives here: my own and some recent experiences.

First, mine. For some reason I don't understand, I often am called Pat (shades of old SNL skits!) If often happened in my years of teaching, not surprising since there was another teacher of similar build, coloring, glasses, and height who is named Pat. So Pat was called Peg and I was called Pat, and we laughed about it.

But since I became Peg the Author, I still run into people who call me Pat, and they didn't… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 11, 2009 at 10:23pm — 4 Comments

Speaking of Elephants

I'm reading the fourth in Jim Benn's Billy Boyle series, and the term "seeing the elephant" came up. I wasn't familiar with it but it wasn't hard to figure out that it refers to being in combat, the idea being that once a person has "seen the elephant" he's forever changed.

I love learning such words and phrases, whether they come from the past, from different sections of the country, or from social groups outside my experience. I recall that in 1969 my husband-then boyfriend-just… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 10, 2009 at 9:36pm — No Comments

It Ain't No Use

The irony of college football games introduced with a song by one of those hat-wearin' good old boys whose grammar should keep him out of higher education apparently escapes most people, but it bugs me.

I can give you the sociological explanation for "ain't," and I even understand it. Contractions, which are natural to every language over time, follow a general pattern of combining the verb with the negative: you aren't, he won't, they didn't. For some reason, the first person… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 9, 2009 at 10:26pm — 4 Comments

Brain Stutters

I taught high school speech for many years and observed a wide variety of "brain stutters," bits of nonsense that are sometimes irritatingly noticeable in a person's oral communication. Common, of course, are "um," "you know," "I think," and "uh" (my students used to count the "ums" of a certain teacher's instruction in order to counter their boredom with his class). Others are unique to an individual and have no logical connection to anything else in the sentence, like a man I know who adds… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 8, 2009 at 10:15pm — No Comments

The Fruits of Labor

I had a really good hair stylist once who left the business in his prime when he developed allergies to the products used in salons. His hands looked like the Russian mafia had used acid to get him to talk.

Another acquaintance was doing well in drywall, but the abrasive, gritty stuff he worked with each day eventually made him sick in addition to making his skin dry to the point of cracking and bleeding.

My dad was a farmer who loved his land, his machinery, and his work, but like… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 7, 2009 at 10:41pm — No Comments

The Helpful and the Not-So-Much

I got an email this morning from a woman who would like to review my book, which is nice ,at least one hopes it will turn out that way. I posted an "Available for Review" entry on a site that lets authors do that, and she responded. The Helpful People part is that she gave me three more book review sites I was unaware of, allowing me to expand my reach on the Net.

On the other side of it, contact with another Internet outreach led to a rather embarrassing situation where my note to… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 4, 2009 at 11:15pm — No Comments


I'm not one of those people who wins stuff. I always buy the obligatory tickets for 50-50 drawings, raffles (which in my area are usually for guns, 4-wheelers, or snowmobiles), and three-night stays at a local gambling/drinking/dancing hotspot, which for a couple as boring as we are isn't an enticement. I never win, so it doesn't matter what the prize is.

What I notice about winning is that winning itself is exciting, no matter what the prize. I spoke to an acquaintance yesterday who… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 3, 2009 at 10:22pm — 2 Comments

My Multiple Personalities

More and more, I admire authors who have twenty or fifty or more books out, but I do wonder if they forget what they wrote a while ago. I find it difficult to keep up. There's my first book, which many people I meet in a day in my little town have read and comment on. There's the second one, almost to the marketplace, which editors, proofreaders, and pre-readers have read and need to communicate about. There's the just-contracted one, which is in the first stages of editing, so I've just gone… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on September 2, 2009 at 11:04pm — 3 Comments

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