Saturday, January 24, 2009

Our complicated English language (from Linda's point of view)

English is undoubtedly one of the most complicated languages in the world, and we authors can attest to this. Having done well in school, especially English, I usually don’t run into problems with my spelling. However, there are certain words I stumble over—words the typical spell-check program won’t catch. Words like chose, choose, breath, breathe, lose, loose, and so on.

When writing, I do a lot of reasoning when words like these pop up. Should I type choose or chose? My character is faced with a decision. She needs to pick which way to go. Well, the word I don’t want is chose (rhymes with hose) because that’s past tense, so the correct word is choose. Okay, good so far. Now I need a word to indicate that she stands to misplace something. Since we’ve established that chose rhymes with hose, the word I need should rhyme with choose. She will loose her mind if she’s not careful. No? The correct word is lose? Like loser? Oh, man! Loose has a harder s sound, like goose, but the word choose has a z sound like lose (with one “o”). What gives?

No wonder people from other countries have a hard time learning our language!

How about breath and breathe? My character needs to take a moment to inhale and exhale. She needs to do something that rhymes with eat. I guess she needs to breath. Eat doesn’t have an e at the end of it, so breath has to be the right word, but that doesn’t look right. It is supposed to be breathe.

See what I mean about this crazy language of ours? Not everything is consistent. So, what is an author to do? Many times I consult my big, fat Websters, other times I rely on my critique partners to catch my blunder, but these methods aren’t foolproof. What I’ve chosen to do is make a list of my most troublesome words. The act of writing them down reinforces something in our brain so chances are the naughty word is less likely to go unnoticed next time. I don’t know if there’s scientific proof to back this up, but it works for me. What works for you?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Writers Write...Right?

I’ve always loved quotes. You know, those wonderful little words of wisdom from various sources that just make you stop for a moment and think.

My grandmother must have passed that down to me. Her tattered, well-read Bible was filled with quotes. They were scribbled inside both covers and on the blank pages at front and back. Even the margins of a printed page wasn’t exempt if a particular scripture brought to mind some witty little saying she’d heard or read – or even dreamed up herself. (Hey, maybe Granny gave me the writer’s itch, too!)

Whatever the reason, catchy little phrases, words of wisdom, proverbs … to me, the really good ones are like gold nuggets – hard to find, but their value far outweighs all the time and effort invested. When one of them really strikes a chord in my mind, it resonates – and I never forget it.

One such little gem is straightforward and succinct: Writers write.

The first time I saw it, I thought, “Well … duh!” (I know, that’s really profound.) But come on … does there even exist a more useless waste of two words? Of course writers write – they’re writers!

Then I got really serious about my own contributions to the writing community, and I finally saw the light. Because no matter how pristine my intentions, every day is a brand new commitment to my chosen field. Back when I was writing in a notebook or pecking out words on a cantankerous old typewriter with four little ones playing at my feet, it didn’t seem so hard to just sit down and do what I needed to do …write.

But then there was the advent of the personal computer – oh, sweet bliss! No more messy eraser ribbons. No more black smudges all over the page. No more retyping an entire page to correct an error I missed in the initial edit. Could life be any sweeter?

Oh, yes, it certainly could.

I was ecstatic when I discovered the World Wide Web. Those pesky trips to the library for research? A thing of the past! Everything I needed was right there at my fingertips – I just had to go online and get it. A multitude of information readily available … along with games. And online shopping. And e-mails. And on … and on … and on. That little CPU box holds a veritable plethora of things that have nothing to do with writing. And for a natural procrastinator like me, they spell d-e-a-t-h to a writing career.

Shopping is a real killer. You tell yourself you’re doing a great thing … after all, you won’t spend as much time away from writing if you just go online and order that blouse you’re looking for in a particularly hard-to-find shade of cantaloupe crush. Uh-huh.

Do you know how easy it is to while away an hour or two playing Boggle online? I have done exactly that in what felt like only ten or twenty minutes. And it’s so easily justified! Any number of writer’s workshops will tell you that in order to write effectively, you must sharpen your mind with a variety of stimuli. The occasional break from stringing words together is good for you. It stimulates! It inspires! It refreshes the thought process for when you return to your manuscript.

And that's the kicker. Returning to your manuscript. I have become the world’s best at finding just one more thing to do before writing. And then just one more.

So, along with a couple of other favorites, I always keep those two words in gargantuan, vividly colored letters somewhere on or near my desk:


It’s not a definition any longer. It’s a reminder. I cannot call myself a writer if I don’t write. I’ll never see my name on the cover of another book … if I’m too busy surfing the web to write one. And though I may eventually find that perfect blouse in exactly my size, color and price range, my chances of wearing it in an author photo are nil … if I haven’t done the one thing that qualifies me as an author.

Write. Because that’s what writers do.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Redigo's Choice by Kasandra Elaine

Now available from The Wild Rose Press

"Redigo's Choice"
by Kasandra Elaine


"A poor Texas cowboy, a wealthy Mexican socialite, a whirlwind romance, and a secret marriage: the ingredients of a perfect love story, but for Redigo and Marianna they mean nothing but trouble. Marianna's father is determined to tear the lovers apart and devises a well-organized plan of deceit and lies to remove John Redigo from his daughter's life. His plan succeeds and Redigo and Marianna are torn asunder and for years they lead separate lives. It's during these years that Redigo meets Addie Murphy. They both work on the Lazy M Ranch and have been friends for years but finally realize their feelings for one another are much deeper than just friendship. They discover love is good in the later years of life. Everything seems wonderful and Redigo and Addie look forward to growing older together. That dream becomes clouded when Redigo's daughter from his brief marriage to Marianna comes into his life. Now twenty-five years later, an older and hopefully wiser man has to decide if he will risk life and limb to rescue the love of his youth from the man now trying to take her life and steal her fortune. Does Redigo rescue the lady and rekindle the love of his youth or does he realize the last love is the best love?

PRINT ISBN 1-60154-391-3
(312 Pages)
Rating (sweet)
Read An Excerpt
Soon to be available in print

Rejection Never Felt So Good!

I'm happy to report that I received a rejection letter from The Wild Rose Press today for partial manuscript, The Choir Girl.Here's the many reasons why I'm actually happy about this:

1) I told my critique partner, Kassy, about a week ago that I hoped TWRP rejected this manuscript because after re-reading it before sending it in, I felt that the writing was horrible. I think I described it as, "thirty-two thousand words of crap." Anyway, I didn't think that I would actually get that far when I submitted the query. The fact that an editor of a BIG NY publisher asked to see my manuscript was amazing.

2) I'm also happy that the editor sent me a genuine rejection, rather than a form letter. That's another first. In this rejection letter, she went into detail about what was wrong with my manuscript. Let's break it down:

3) There's too much narration that focuses on the past, rather than the current story. TRUE. When I murdered this novel a few months back, I mentioned that the entire story was based on something that happened in the past, how they were currently dealing with the past, and how the past will effect their future. PAST x 3 = YUCK. You can't create a story with past in the past, past in the present, and past in the future. It just doesn't work. Too much drama.

4) The dreaded POV shifts - head hopping - run rampant. I try really hard. I really do. But POV kicks my ass! I'm writing this beautiful scene with so much emotion, and I can only show you one side. Who's side do I show? And if I don't let the readers see some movement or facial expression on the other person, then it comes across as though they have no emotion. Both characters have to be involved in the action and emotion, but only one can have thoughts. I've been working with Kassy on POV for years. I don't know if I'll ever get it.

5) Christian fidgets too much. I'm going to have to go back and re-read the scene she mentioned, but I think I know what she meant. This is most likely one of those unintentional things. This is why it's good to let many people read your work before submitting because a scene can read one way to one person and another way to another person. I had to re-write chapter one because a member of my critique group said he disliked Ima because she snooty and self-absorbed. This is totally not the impression I wanted to give my selfless, church social director.

6) The progression of the romance needs work. This is most likely because the manuscript is not finished. Several chapters needed to be added in the middle to show this progression.

All in all, I think this was a very well-written rejection from an editor who cares about unpublished writers. How are we supposed to know what we're doing wrong if no one tells us? Thank God for TWRP!

Now I can lay this novel to rest. I murdered it. I resurrected it. But after receiving such a rejection, I feel that I don't have the passion for the characters that I once had. They aren't talking to me anymore, so anything further that I wrote about them would be strictly my words. I don't like my words. I like to let the characters do the talking.

Farewell, Christian Hogg.
Farewell, Ima Rayburn.

On to new projects. There are new characters in my head that need to have their stories told.