Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Grammarly Deets #3

Last week the topic was passive words, the week before ... overused words. This week I'm focusing on unnecessary or excess words. Yes, we use them when we talk or write an informal email, text, etc, and no one much cares. On the other hand, whether it's fiction or nonfiction, when it counts, (as in you're trying to get published or earn that A+ on your latest school assignment) be more concise, i.e. get rid of excess words. Sometimes, the solution is to simply replace an expression that contains three or more words with a more specific term. Example? in front of can sometimes be replaced with before or ahead. A few other examples are: at the back = behind; out of = from/away/beyond
off of = off.

Of course, I'm not implying these all must be changed. Remember, you are looking for concise writing, writing that expresses what you want to say in a smooth, flowing manner. This attracts readers. This keeps them interested to read to the last page. 

One tip that comes to mind in searching for more exact synonyms is to use the thesaurus feature in Word. It's helped me when I draw a blank on replacements. However, I'm passing along this link which gives 50 wordy expressions with their one word substitutes. Caution: I don't favor all of them. For instance, replacing in order that with so. (refer back to last week's post on passive words.)

So (haha!), there you have it. Go forth and chisel away at those wordy expressions and enjoy your week!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Weekly Deets -- 8.24.15

It's Monday morning and I'm attempting to jump start my week. Protein and fiber included in breakfast (I'm usually not so vigilant; most of the time it's coffee and more coffee.) to get the energy juices flowing. Then I stare at the current WIP and ... and ... okay, so I decide to pop in here to write a post. After all, I totally skipped last week *gritting teeth being reminded of bad habits, i.e., procrastination*. Seriously though, this is writing calisthenics, which will get me going on that WIP. I'm 99.99999_% sure of it!

So, topic for the week? I've been thinking about the whole representation-publication-because-I-want-a-career process. I've trudged through nearly fifteen years of it, faced the battlefields, hurdled the obstacles, picked myself up and, well, trudged on some more because that's what we do if we want something badly enough. And I want it. I want it baaaaad. *maliciously grinning while drooling* Anyway, returning to my original thought. Let's go far back in time ...the image in my brain is a caveman writer, chiseling out his story on a stone tablet, and then Dino the dinosaur traveling miles and miles to deliver it to the Bedrock Publishing Company. No. Wait. That's the Flintstones. Wrong story. Oops. Seriously, you get the picture and you know it hasn't always been easy to get your writing out there to somebody, anybody, like it is today. 

Up until the nineties, the process was quite simple, well, not simple as in easy, but there was one way to do things. Only one. You wrote a story. You wrote a query to introduce the story. (Remember, all of this needed to be typed ... on a typewriter, folks. Ever seen one?) You printed off your story, your query letter. Searched for an envelope. Oh yeah, almost forgot, you needed a copy of the Writers Digest, (actual book, cause there wasn't a computer and internet, or any modern technology to go searching through, right?) And last year's copy wouldn't work. No, no, no! Writers Digest  was, and probably still is, released once a year. You needed access to the current one because editors come and go so quickly in the land of publishing, don't they? So, you found an agent or publisher you thought would like your story, and then you sent your work to said agent/publisher. Don't forget, you had to include a SASE for their response. Yeah, they don't flip the bill for that. And then you waited. And waited. And waited some more. Really this should sound familiar. Even through cyberspace communication, you wait, and wait. 

If you were lucky you got a positive response. Maybe the person you addressed wanted to see more (if this was a full-length MS), in which case, NOW you were about to spend a whole lot more on additional chapters to print, or even the whole thing! This, on a possible yes-we-want-your-story from agent/publisher. And if no? Well, you started over. *sigh* Yes, today seems so much easier and cost-effective, if only the market wasn't flooded with so many wannabe authors. Still, we try, don't we? Because that is what we do if we want something badly enough. 

Happy writing! Enjoy your week and above all, if you write it, they will come. Or at least if you keep subbing your story, they will ... eventually ... we always hope. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Grammarly Deets #2

This week I'm focusing on what I call air filler, those words you really don't need because they fatten up your writing with air and no substance. They keep you from sounding concise. Concise is good, very good. It makes your writing move at a smooth pace and keeps the reader interested enough to keep reading. No bogging down, here, folks! Every single word you write should have purpose. 

Anyway, here's a list of passive words to watch out for and change/omit whenever possible or when they occur too often: 

a bit, a little, about, actually, almost, almost like, already, appears, approximately, basically, close to, even, eventually, exactly, fairly, finally, here, highly, just, just then, kind of, mostly, nearly, now practically, pretty, quite, rather, really, seemed, seems, simply, slightly, so, somehow, somewhat, somewhat like, sort of, suddenly, then, there, truly, utterly, very, AND any other -ly word should be examined.

Now, you ask, do you have to trash each and every passive word you find? No, not at all. In truth, it's not possible, or sometimes not even favorable. Sometimes, those words fit. And heck, we are writers -- here's where you pull your shoulders straight and tip your chin up because you're proud to be one -- but also human. A few of those words here and there aren't going to make your writing crappy. A ton of them lingering about and you'll be wearing the sign "AMATEUR" in bright green neon letters! *grin*. So, erase away! Edit, change, omit, polish your work until it's crisp, clean, consise, and colossal! How's that for alliteration?

Until next week, happy writing ... and editing!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Weekly Deets - 8.13.15

Middle of August blues? I know, plenty to get blue about, right? For kids it's soon or already the start of ..... okay, won't say that six letter word, but I don't have to, do I? That goes for teachers, too :-) I had the same vibe up until two years ago when I retired. Now? I can do a little dance and say, "nanner, nanner, nanner!", right? 

So, what else? Who gets down in the dumps this time of year? Boaters! My older daughter is one. She laments that the boating season in Ohio will be over in another month or so. (It's not the weather so much as the Portage Lakes agenda. They lower the water level every couple years. Too difficult or impossible to go putting around when that happens. Then, it's time to store the boat!)

Hmm ... anyone? Swimming, golfing, or just enjoying the nice, warm, sunny days ... it's closer to autumn, and after that ... da, da, da, DA! Winter. Burr, cold, ugly, not so much fun. All those outdoorsy activities conducive to warm weather will be gone until next year. 

The real torture this year was that "summer" as we define it, didn't arrive until late July, here in northeastern Ohio. We had rain, lots and lots of rain. And clouds, and more rain, and thus cooler temperatures, i.e., definitely not summer. It's been a total cheat, but hey, what's that saying? Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. Well, gee, what exactly can we do about it but talk and complain? 

I do have a suggestion, or two. Fortunately, we live in a time when grass huts or sleeping under a tree or in a cave is not the norm (unless you are on some reality show like Survivor, but really, who wants that?) So, the comfy indoors is our domain, complete with every modern convenience possible. Great time to catch up on that favorite TV show you've been missing while enjoying the great outdoors. Binging on an entire season will take time. I did this with seven seasons of True Blood. It took me exactly three weeks. I'm cross-eyed from the experience, but heck, I so enjoyed it. Besides that, the wonderful fall lineup of shows will arrive soon. Can't wait for new episodes of Castle. OR you can read a book! Yeah, that rectangular-shaped object with front and back covers and all those wonderful pages in between with fantastic words, clever words, action words, emotional words, words, words, words! It's euphoric and totally satisfying. I learned that if you read even six minutes a day, it makes you calmer. I'm all about calm. Anyway, you should try it :-)

Now, as I bring this lengthy, non-stop, never-pausing-for-a-breath post to an end, let me close with a quick (did I say quick?) summary of the past week's events. It is titled "Weekly Deets", after all. How about I make it a bullet point checklist to shorten things up? Okay, got it.

  • August 3: shopped for a new vehicle (hubby's car is hitting the dust at 14 years old)
  • August 4: bought a vehicle, and it's a beaut! First SUV. My mantra? Don't wreck it!
  • August 5: writing seemed to encompass the day (got to catch up sometime, right?)
  • August 6: nada, except maybe more writing *grin*
  • August 7: family evening -- chance to take a cruise around the lake on that boat!
  • August 8 & 9: relaxing around the home front -- grilling, chatting, and so on with hubby :-)
  • August 10 to NOW: okay, definitely writing! How is it I never seem to move fast enough?!
That's it! Enjoy your summer remainder and get outside! Before you know it will be ... brrr ... yeah, I won't say that six letter word either!

A Deadly Deed Grows -- great summer romance and suspense.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Grammarly Deets #1

I am starting a new post idea ... we'll see how it goes. Many of these will be familiar but maybe a few will prove new and useful. Okay, so what am I talking about, you ask? (Now, take a look at the post title ... um hum, yeah, that's it., aka, writing tips.)

This will be short but otherwise noteworthy, I hope. 

Tip #1: cull your writing by searching for these overused words: would, could, start to, only, about to, begin/began/begun, that, as. Consider eliminating or replacing some of them. Don't be discouraged. Some of these changes can be really simple. For instance: example 1: Use he walked away. instead of he started to walk away. Example 2: Use she saw the possibly instead of she could see the possibly. Others may require a bit more clever rewording. 

To help move the process along quickly and smoothly my suggestion is to use the find or search function in your document and attack one word at a time. Make changes where they fit and be sure it reads okay, (not just changing them because you think you need to get rid of all the overused words). 

Okay, that's it! Next time I will talk about some common passive words you should tackle. 

Enjoy writing ... and editing!

Author of:
A Deadly Deed Grows
Dying to Dream
Whips, Cuffs, and Little Brown Boxes

Monday, August 3, 2015

Weekly Deets (or more like MONTHLY this time around!) 8.3.15

Busy week, great stuff, and more great stuff. Enough stuff to make me super happy, super excited, and super optimistic! First, I was offered a publishing deal which made me waver back and forth about what to do. So, I decided to take a risk and maybe be just a bit pushy ... okay, maybe hugely pushy, but it was worth it. Squeakiest wheel and getting the most oil, you know. Back on point: I decided to email the agent who had my full, AND by the way, she's the one who I really wanted to have represent me. I asked her for advice and pressed the point how much I wanted an agent to help me with my career. Going it alone was not really in my best interest any longer. I guess I may have done a teensy bit of groveling ... okay, a lot of groveling, but it paid off. Yes. It. Paid. Off. 

This brings me to #2 round of great stuff: I have an agent! Yepper. I am no longer flying solo, which is a really big deal. Really, really BIG deal. When Jessica answered my mail (and, by the way, she suggested I pass on said publishing offer) I was over-the-top excited. You see, we sort of have a history together. Back in February I participated in a Twitter contest called #adpit. Jessica requested a partial of my manuscript. Circumstances didn't create the deal, then. But fate wasn't about to give up on us! Fast forward to July, and another opportunity came about. This time it was on #pit2pub, also a Twitter contest. I took a chance and asked her if she'd be willing to look at the revised work. She said yes and I was stoked.

Soon, she wanted to set up a time for THE CALL. When we talked it was like fate brought us together. We clicked. I know that sounds cliche, but it's true. Most times, I am extremely nervous talking to people I don't know. (my childhood shyness and insecurity at its best) But not this time. Turns out, I felt very comfortable. I like her, really like her. She's enthusiastic, energetic, quite knowledgeable about the publishing industry, and she had such wonderful things to say about my writing. I'm impressed with her powerful ideas on where to get GRAVE MAKER BLUES published. We shall see. I have every confidence in her. So, thank you, Jessica Schmeidler and Golden Wheat Literary. I think we make a great team!