Peg Herring's Blog – December 2009 Archive (23)

Not a Clue

Wouldn't you like to just grab some people by the coat and tell them how it is?

"Why is it so long before you book comes out?"
I don't know.

"Will they release it in paperback?"
I don't know.

"When will it be available as an audiobook?"
I don't know.

"Why don't you tell them you want...(any of the above) done differently?"
That I know. Because my name is not Nora Roberts.

Added by Peg Herring on December 31, 2009 at 10:38pm — No Comments

Formatting, the Dreaded Art

I'm a recovering English teacher, so I know the basics. Still, every publisher has a formatting guide, and NONE of them agree on how one must submit work. So, no matter how carefully an author sets up a MS, there's a point where she must go back and "fix" the things the publisher wants done another way. To quote Robert Frost, "It couldn't be called ungentle, but how thoroughly departmental."

Ellipsis: space before and space after, or no?

Quotation marks around a phrase at the… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on December 30, 2009 at 9:49pm — 3 Comments

Looking at the Stars

Wilbur Daniel Steele wrote a short story about a pastor who visits an observatory, looks through a telescope, and loses his faith when he realizes how large the universe really is. That's kind of what visiting a chain bookstore can do for an author.

I know the stats on books published, but when I walk the aisles and see the number of authors in my genre and then the number of genres total, look at the number of books each author has to offer, and when I consider that most of them… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on December 29, 2009 at 8:11pm — No Comments

Kinda Sick of Sick

I think I've hit the wall on serial killers. The book I'm reading, dubbed not-put-downable by lots of critics, languishes on my night stand, very probably because I don't care any more how many ways there are to die screaming.

I have the same feeling I had as a much younger woman when I began to realize that I didn't want to wade through sex scenes, no longer cared how the author described the fitting together of male and female anatomies. Enough. I get it. I'll skip to where the… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on December 28, 2009 at 8:57pm — 3 Comments

Five Gold Rings: You Win

The last one is easy: relax and enjoy the day!

If you've followed instructions, you looked at your future, your past, your present, and your personality. (BTW:The 20 "I am" statements tend to start with stuff that anyone could have revealed about you, move to deeper stuff, and end with stuff you're afraid is true.) Now you should be ready to look forward with a realistic image of what you are and what you want.

Added by Peg Herring on December 25, 2009 at 9:40pm — No Comments

Gold Ring Assignments: Getting Harder

Today's challenge isn't a question; it's a job.
List twenty statements about yourself that begin with "I am..."
Do it all in one sitting and don't let yourself stop until you've got twenty. (These probably should not be shared.)

Added by Peg Herring on December 24, 2009 at 10:33pm — No Comments

Question 3 for Gold Ring

What one thing could you do today to make yourself a better person?

This one reminds me of the prayer somebody told me about: "Lord, you know I've been really good today. I haven't slandered anyone with gossip or been grumpy or hard to get along with. I haven't even given anyone a dirty look. My thoughts have been kind and my attitude toward my fellow human beings is positive and forgiving.

But it's almost 6:00 a.m. and I have to get out of bed now, so I'll need your help… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on December 23, 2009 at 9:13pm — 2 Comments

Second Gold Ring Question

Who in your life had the most influence on you as a reader/writer? I'm not talking about writers here, so don't say Shakespeare or John Irving. I mean who interested you in the printed word.

Aside from my teacher/reader/mother, I'd have to say our elementary school librarian, an elderly lady with the construction of a stork and a penchant for rococo jewelry. She read to us, and I couldn't wait to be able to devour those stories myself and not have to wait until next week to know the… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on December 22, 2009 at 9:53pm — 3 Comments

Five Gold Rings...Ba Dump-Bump-Bump

(Muppet version.) With five days until Christmas and a need for effort-less blogs, I'm going to ask five questions, one per day. Answer here or in your head, whatever works.

Question #1: Where do you want to be as a writer five Christmases from now?

Added by Peg Herring on December 21, 2009 at 10:32pm — 4 Comments

Wiping Away the Fingerprints

It's that last read-through before I let Someone Other get a peek at my work. Generally it involves removing all traces of myself from the MS: cutting out little asides that are me, not my characters; removing words and phrases that ring of author rather than authenticity.

Here, too, I ask myself if I'm sure of my facts, usages, and vocabulary. For example, I found I'd used the word "alibi", and although it wasn't in conversation, Elizabethans didn't have the word and it sounds… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on December 18, 2009 at 9:21pm — No Comments

What is Your Physical Price?

Okay, here's a question: in what physical way do you pay for being a writer?

Me? Right now, two very irritated ulnar nerves, but it varies, and variety is, after all, the spice of life!

Added by Peg Herring on December 17, 2009 at 10:12pm — 2 Comments

Piling On

Okay, I'm griping about newscasters again, and I know it isn't fair. They're somewhat extemporaneous and we have our leisure to analyze their words. But didn't anybody take a class in public speaking?

The one that set me off last was "Minimally, he will receive a sentence of no less than ten years at the very least."

And maximally, I will be throwing up no more than ten times at the very most.

Added by Peg Herring on December 16, 2009 at 10:20pm — 1 Comment

Who Loves Ya, Baby?

Jeff Marks' book, INTENT TO SELL, was my constant companion for several months when my first book was contracted. I'm sure there are other good tools out there, but that one, subtitled "Marketing the Genre Novel" was a good starting point for me, minimizing my newbie mistakes as much as possible. The most valuable thing I learned, (and the news is everywhere but I just needed to absorb it) is that nobody cares about your book more than you do.

A few more people care about HER… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on December 15, 2009 at 10:35pm — No Comments

The Twist that Won't

I had a twist I wanted to add at the end of my WIP, but it was giving me trouble. I'd worked out most of it, but I wanted a delay in one plot event (a murder...what a surprise) that would create some irony and a more satisfying conclusion. I was ranting about it at the breakfast table, and my husband, who never reads my stuff or offers an opinion, listened, knowing it was important to me because I've hardly left my office for three days.

His comment? "You're making it too… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on December 14, 2009 at 11:37pm — 2 Comments

The Dreaded Read-Aloud Phase over. I read the whole darned thing, which took days and days, a lot of water, and a lot of stopping to fix what my ears heard that my eyes didn't. (Funny how eyes don't hear a thing!)

It's one of the most valuable things a writer can do, and it's also boring. But how clearly those repetitive phrases pop out. How easily you spot a point where there's not an adequate segue. How plainly you see that a character would not use that vocabulary, that tone, that phrasing at that… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on December 11, 2009 at 9:58pm — 4 Comments


I had a friend in teaching who claimed that she only found contentment when she took on adaptability as her mantra. As teachers we make a plan, but human institutions never completely conform, so that plan has to change. Once she accepted that, she could relax a bit when things didn't go the way she'd mapped them out.

I'm finding that trait worthwhile as a speaker as well. I have a dozen topics that I have outlined, practiced, and presented enough times that they're polished, but… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on December 10, 2009 at 11:08pm — No Comments

I Am Not a Flake!

Everyone in Michigan has the same thought this morning: snow. It's here, it's on its way, it's going to continue. Deal with it. Driving home from Petoskey the other day, I saw those first gentle flakes fall. Each one was tiny, fluffy, and light. The next day I shoveled several inches of the stuff off my sidewalk. The tiny-fluffy-light thing was totally somewhere else.

Everything big is made up of things that are small. (Isn't that profound?) Like the Walrus and the Carpenter, we… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on December 9, 2009 at 10:49pm — No Comments

Casting Your Characters

My upcoming book finaled in a contest once, and part of the last step was to suggest actors who might play the roles in the story. This was difficult for me because I don't know the names of any actors under the age of forty. In fact, I don't know the names of many actors still living. Luckily my children were able to help, and I came up with a girl reminiscent of young Elizabeth, Ron Howard's daughter. (You see, I have to put them into a generation I can identify with!)

It's a… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on December 8, 2009 at 10:24pm — 3 Comments

Seven Kinds of Stupid

My spouse is gone away for a week, so I'm doing a lot of channel surfing, reveling in the fact that I can. What I notice is that the commercials for whatever TV shows you watch reveal what kind of stupid the MADmen think you are. For example:

1.Sports-Apparently everyone who watches sports can only think of two things: Will my team win?" and "Can I get a bigger, meaner-looking truck than my neighbor?"

2.Game shows-Obviously a favorite of the idle and the aged, if you pay… Continue

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

If You'd Read This One First, Then What?

I'm reading a book by an author I like very Since I like her current work, I went back to find her earlier books and, well, the one I bought just isn't as good.

Of course there's a learning curve, and some authors climb to better writing over time while others plummet downward, racing to keep a book a year in the hands of readers. And not every book can be a gem. But this book, unfocused, too cute in places, and unsure of what tone it wants to strike, got me thinking… Continue

Added by Peg Herring on December 4, 2009 at 10:22pm — 7 Comments

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