Peg Herring's Blog – October 2008 Archive (18)

So How Did I Do?

Remember my pledge to spend this week on my WIP? Here's the progress report.

I did work on it, and it is coming along. The plot is coming together, moving from the original, vague idea of two parallel stories into a concrete blend. The characters are speaking to me, telling me what I've made them say that isn't right, adding depth to themselves through familiarity.

However, I never seem to get done as much as I expect, and it never seems to go as smoothly as I imagine.… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 31, 2008 at 9:34pm — No Comments

Loud Reading

It's not easy to explain, but the best way to write well is to read, and the best way to read is aloud. I don't know why it works, but reading your work aloud allows you to step away from being the writer and be a listener. As such, you'll hear repetitive phrases, awkward constructions, and even plot hitches that silent reading as the author doesn't give you, I suppose because you know the work too well.

One tendency I have is to use my characters' names too often. When I read aloud,… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 30, 2008 at 9:03pm — No Comments

These People Know Mystery

I just returned from Magna Cum Murder in Muncie, Indiana, and I have to say that it brings back memories of my first week at college. I came from a small high school where I was the smart girl to a mid-sized university, and it was an eye-opening experience to find so many around me who were just as smart, and even a lot smarter than I. I loved the stimulation, but I knew I had to be on my toes.

That's how Magna is. You know your favorites in mystery, you know the characters and the… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 27, 2008 at 10:58pm — 5 Comments

The Story That Fights Back

I've promised myself that I will finish my current WIP before beginning anything else, but this one is fighting back. Although it's a great story and very entertaining inside my head, it resists me when I try to write it. The timeline doesn't work, historical fact gets in the way, and I've taken so many wrong turns that it's impossible to see where I am at any given point.

I know from experience that I can't rush a story, so I've let it "rest" several times. Now I'm determined to… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 24, 2008 at 10:20pm — No Comments

When Do They Start Asking Me?

Since I started this publishing thing, it seems like I'm always asking people for something, which is my least favorite thing in the world (well, at least in the bottom ten, along with colonoscopies and people who cut me off on the freeway). Raised to be a rugged individualist, I have a natural aversion to asking for favors, yet I have to ask media people to cover my "events," ask publishers to take a look at my writing, and book lovers to buy my books. So I can't help but wonder when it turns… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 23, 2008 at 11:01pm — No Comments

Oh, That Feedback!

Yesterday's post was about wondering what the audience is thinking during and after I speak. Well, two answers came since then that help. A lot.

I got an email from my webpage from a listener at my latest Reading Romance talk, and a personal email from the person who arranged my latest Write, Edit, Publish Workshop. Both were positive and specific, telling me what they'd heard from participants and what their own response was as well.

That's very helpful. I'm not one for… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 22, 2008 at 10:43pm — No Comments

Audiences: What Are They Thinking?

As I speak to more and more groups, I find myself wondering on the way home, "What did they really think?" It's not a question one should stress over, but it is helpful to consider the audience's post-speech behavior and comments. Did they bolt for the door at the end or stand around and chat? Did the comments about the talk seem genuine or dictated by societal politeness? ("It was very nice," is damned faint praise.) And was the non-verbal feedback positive?

Non-verbal feedback… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 21, 2008 at 10:38pm — No Comments

Magna, Here I Come

I was offered a chance over the weekend that may be too good to pass up. Friends are headed to Magna Cum Murder, and they said, "Come with us." Now, I'd said no earlier since I have no book to push at a mystery con, but things seem to be falling into place. Turns out I'll be halfway to Muncie on Thursday. I can hook up with a friend who's driving down, stay with them, and maybe even get on a panel. My short story is now in a mystery anthology, DYING IN A WINTER WONDERLAND, so I have something… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 20, 2008 at 10:08pm — No Comments

Little Old Bag Lady, Me

Okay, I'm not very little, and I'm not that old. But I've got the bag thing covered.

My presentations have become more varied as time passes. Libraries and groups that liked the Mystery Talk want me to return, but I can't keep doing the same speech over and over. I expand my topics periodically, but new libraries and groups may still want the original speech. In order to deal with the "which speech am I getting ready for" problem, I have developed the Bag System. For each new topic I… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 17, 2008 at 10:15pm — No Comments

If This Is Thursday, We Must Be In...Where Are We?

I wrote last week about easy jobs, and one that used to look easy to me was public speaker. On the surface, the person breezes in half an hour before her speech, checks out the sound equipment and lays out some materials, and then talks for an hour or two. Afterward she gets a nice check and goes home to count her earnings. Since I love to talk, it seemed like money for nothing, lunch for free.

It does get a little hectic, though, now that I'm doing it. Scheduling is not particularly… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 16, 2008 at 9:56pm — No Comments


The big news on television this morning was that Madonna and her husband, Guy Ritchie, are splitting. How sad.

No, I'm not sad about the divorce; in fact, I could not care less. I couldn't have guessed the name of the man Madonna is married to this week if they hadn't told me.

What's sad is that we consider it news. A private matter between two people becomes fodder for discussion, and millions of Americans buy magazines, tune in to television shows, and talk over their… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 15, 2008 at 10:50pm — No Comments

You Created Him, Now Deal with Him

I've seen it lots of times. An author creates a character who is startlingly unique: lovable but odd enough to make readers want to know all about him. But how does his uniqueness work within the story, how does it make the story go?

Unique character traits have to move the plot along or they're worse than wasted, they're showing off. But as your English teacher taught you all those years ago, the world an author creates has to have rules, and the rules have to make sense to the… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 14, 2008 at 10:05pm — No Comments

A Season You May Not Know

I know not what others encounter, but in the Midwest, October is Fly Season. As a sort of farewell to good weather, flies show up in large numbers, apparently get drunk on cider that's set too long, and harass humans until we go half mad with useless attempts at extermination.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, you try keeping your plot coherent when you're being dive-bombed, buzzed, and crawled upon. I begin every day with a hand-vac and clean up whoever I can catch, but… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 13, 2008 at 10:53pm — No Comments


Everyone's a little scared. Life may change, big time, for a lot of people. We can't help but consider what those changes might be, what it means for us.

While I don't spend a lot of time fearing the future (It will come and neither you nor I can stop it), I did start thinking about other times in history when change came along to sweep out established patterns. It can't have been easy to be a settler on any frontier, an investor in sailing ships that often didn't return, a believer… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 10, 2008 at 11:02pm — No Comments

Easy Jobs

I don't think there are any. Every time I've taken a close look at what a person does, I find there are pitfalls. As a teacher, I used to envy those who taught in private schools, thinking they had all "good" kids and lots of parental support. In a summer workshop with teachers from all of the United States, I learned the problems of private school teachers: the entitlement some parents think paying tuition gives them, the my-dad's-rich-so-you-can't-tell-me-what-to-do attitude of some students,… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 9, 2008 at 11:11pm — No Comments

The Short Story vs Those Long Ones

People who don't write assume that short stories are easier than novels, and I suppose in a way they are. They're short, so there isn't the investment of time that a novel requires. Writing a short story takes days rather than months, and editing takes minutes rather than hours.

Still, a short story isn't easy, and it has its own rules. First is a single plotline; the writer hasn't got time to dally with secondary characters or subplots. Focus has to be on a single story, and… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 8, 2008 at 10:56pm — No Comments

Character Continuity

I'm reading a book by famous author Oh-My-God-Can-I-Make-Money. I can't say it's bad; things are moving along well enough, but two things bother me. One is that I'd be really confused if I hadn't been warned ahead of time that it's set the future. There are hints but not enough of them to help, so they make it harder, not easier, to follow the plot. Not a big problem; once I put it together with the heads-up I was given, I can deal with that.

More problematic is the lack of character… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 7, 2008 at 10:55pm — No Comments

Missing in Action

We've been without the internet for several days, which is always traumatic. The good news upon coming back is that I've learned that MACBETH'S NIECE will be published in large print in April. That's a good thing because as a "sweet" romance, it appeals to people who might need a bit of help eyesight-wise. Still, being "isolated" from web friends and colleagues is nerve-wracking. What am I missing, what should I be doing, who's trying to contact me?

I'm currently doing a tiny-tour of… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on October 3, 2008 at 9:59pm — No Comments

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