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Monday, December 29, 2014

If Only...So Many Regrets Once Again.

Happy almost New Year's Eve to you all. I hope you, unlike me, are sitting pretty on this cusp of the new year with absolutely no regrets. I unfortunately am loaded with them including the usual lament of my weak self control--Why or why did I have the extra piece of gingerbread cake with lemon
frosting yesterday?--and my laziness--Why didn't I finish my revisions when I vowed I would instead of sitting in the sunshine reading A Dance To The Music of Time by Anthony Powell? (A truly wonderful book, you should read it.)

I always have so many regrets this time of year, you'd think I'd learn, but, alas, I never do, hence here I am moaning and whining and, once again, wasting my time instead of doing what I need to do, which is to get more written, revised, and published. Note my flowery language and enjoy. I mean really how often do you get to read alas and hence in the same sentence? Okay, okay, I hear your moan and will henceforth cease and desist using archaic and yet lovely--to me at least--verbiage. It's tough to resist, after all I am in the middle of reading Powell.

Back to topic, which is staying on track with my writing and my calories, both equally difficult for one as weak as myself. Maybe it's my complete lack of stamina to see things through that makes the end of December and early days of January so bittersweet to me. Bitter because of all the lost opportunities and sweet because once again, I can start afresh like a newborn babe. And even though in my heart of hearts, I know my resolve to work harder, focus more, and stop eating cake will erode into nothingness, for a few weeks at least I will be full of zest and vigor to get things done.

So here are my writer's resolutions (don't worry, I won't bore you with my spartan goals diet-wise, they will be as dust in the wind long before my writing goals).

1. Finish my revisions on what started out as a middle grade story and is now, after a discussion with an editor, a young adult by mid-January.
2. Send it to above editor at my own expense for a solid content edit by mid-January.
3. While the manuscript is being edited, research possible agents.
4. Prepare a query letter to the 3 - 5 agents that my research indicates would be a good fit for my ms.
5. When I get my manuscript back, polish it up and query agents, hopefully by the end of January, beginning of February.
6. Continue revising another manuscript that started as a YA and is now a funny, time travel MG. Funny how I had to reverse my two ms.
7. Rinse and repeat my agent querying, fingers crossed I'll find one interested in taking me on.

This is my list and certainly not one you should consider following, however, you need to gird your loins (sorry, I love that phrase with all its strong visuals so had to add it), make a list specific to your writing needs and try your best to stick to it, as I will also try.

As to the other issue of diet, I don't know about you, but I've already resolved to break it, after all life's too short to not have cake.

Monday, December 1, 2014

My NaNoWriMo Adventure

Well, the month is over and I'm happy to report that I achieved my NaNoWriMo goal, which was not to write 50,000 words, but instead to begin and complete the first draft for a middle grade novel that's been niggling around my noggin for the past few months. The good news is that I was able to accomplish this while teaching my two college english classes, babysitting several of my favorite babies, and hosting the family Thanksgiving.

Now before you get all snappy and accuse me of becoming an obnoxious braggart, take a deep breath
and let me explain why I bored you with the above paragraph. It was not to show off (trust me, I'm far from impressed with myself), no I decided to tell you about this so that all of you writers and want-to-be writers can take heart that you too can accomplish your writing goal in a relatively short period of time without making yourself and your friends and loved ones crazy.

It also makes you realize stuff about yourself in regards to your writing.  I discovered that I'm not writing new material nearly often enough and my goal is to write new stuff at least three days a week. I'm not setting up a word count requirement because sometimes the words flow like a fast river and other times they're more like a heavy object in a slow moving stream of molasses and I refuse to add undue pressure on myself.

The reason for my limiting myself to completing the first draft regardless of length is because I always struggle with the first draft and this one was no different. My newly completed story,

Shadows or Hiding Behind Shadows, is about a 13 year-old-boy dealing with the recent death of his mother as he finds two girls from Mexico hiding on his family's south Texas ranch.  Since it's a
middle grade it's only 35,000 words, which is a good length for this type of book. My plan is to spend December revising and then sending it to an editor for comments because in January, I'm going to begin my search for an agent. I'm writing two posts this month and will talk about this process and why I've decided to find an agent, but for now, I encourage you to open your laptop, or break
open your writing pencils and join me in a year-long writing frenzy.

Come on, join me. I need the company. Dancing by myself is way too lonely.

And remember, no one likes a braggart.
Happy Writing

Gabriella Austen Author of sexy novellas

Susan Arscott Author of YA and MG fiction

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Poor Macbeth, If Only Murderers Today Would Feel Such Guilt

Yesterday, I was perusing a little Shakespeare, and yes I can hear you gnash your teeth, un-gnash them (you have to un-gnash in order to be able to to cry out you see) and cry out in an anguish so profound I can hear all the way through the airwaves into my living room, "Oh no, not Shakespeare again, what is wrong with you, can't you think about any modern writer.

To this I haughtily, or maybe snottily, or maybe some other word that rhymes with haughtily and means snooty, reply "Hah, I read more authors than you can imagine, some good, some bad, some beyond bad (for some reason I'm feeling the need for an abundance of adjectives). But sometimes I just need some of that old time literature, where writers could write, truly write beautiful lines and phrases and capture the essence of life's meaning. 

No doubt, you've slung your hands in front of your face as you mutter, "Whoa there, this is getting way too deep for any of us around here."

I bow my head in defeat and admit that you, dear reader, are right, this is too deep, we much prefer shallow superficial meaningless drivel. Hence, the lack of guilt in many of us (Is that you sighing in pleasure--or is it disgust-- at my smooth transition into today's topic. No matter, I am nothing if not persistent and ignore your groans.). As a lover of history, I understand the cyclical nature of humanity, and pray fervently on bended knee for this particular phase of constant showmanship to quickly fade into our past because I grow weary of it. 

Now before you get your panties in a wad, don't think I want a return to the dreaded and a wee bit hypocritical Victorian Age (Et tu Mrs. Brown, eh?), I want us to be free to love who we want and be what we want. All I ask is for us to remember the golden rule, surely you remember that one, treat others as you want to be treated. That's right, simple and clear. Which  means do not cut off some poor fellow's head unless you want to have your's taken in the same way, and don't shoot dozens of innocent people at a school or movie theater or shopping mall or anywhere for that matter unless you yourself want to end up that way. 

That's it, easy peasey, so let's all give it a go shall we. And by "all" I mean everybody across the globe. Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing to happen. 

I know my simple request will go unheeded,but a girl can dream can't she? As compensation for my not getting my wish, I get to end this however I want and I want to end with a little Shakespeare. And lest you think I'm as bad as the rest, rest assured I strive to always follow the golden rule, so send me whatever your heart desires and I will read it. How's that for fair? 

I have almost forgot the taste of fears.
The time has been my senses would have cooled
To hear a night-shriek, and my fell of hair
Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir
As life were in ’t. I have supped full with horrors.
Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts
Cannot once start me.

SEYTON comes back in.

Wherefore was that cry?
What was that cry for?

The queen, my lord, is dead.

She should have died hereafter.
There would have been a time for such a word.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

The full quote although dated

Only the end of the quote, but Patrick Stewart is the best Macbeth ever.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Desperate Times And All That

Okay Rita Bay, I pick up your thrown gauntlet and accept the NaNoWriMo 2014 Challenge. I've signed up and will write my book. I also write YA and MG (young adult and middle grade) and have two MG books in mind so I'm going to choose one and get that dreaded first draft written.

Why dreaded you may very well ask. Ah, well, trusty reader, to me at least the first draft is dreaded because every word fights me. Revision I like, editing gets tedious, but it's okay. No the part of writing I hate beyond all measure is the beginning when I sit in my chair and stare at the blank screen, each minute sending me deeper and deeper into a pit of despair along with the very real fear of never writing anything worth reading, a writer's worst nightmare, or at least mine along with showing up to a presentation naked, the very thought of which makes me want to curl into the fetal position, taking all my fat with me. Anyway, back to the rough draft.
First I feel like this:

And then after getting a few pages done, my emotion switches to this:

So, in an attempt to get a first draft written in a month,
I've decided to do the challenge because
what I really need to get that first draft written is this:

My next TWV post is on November 4 (Election Day for all of us in the US - be sure to vote) and no doubt I'll be full of good will and joy. It's the middle that's the rough part, so be thankful you'll be spared my angst and ire, which would surely be the theme of my post if it were later in the month. For other writers out there, I'd love to list you as one of my writing buddies, so send my a line via this post or one of my websites listed at the bottom.

My first YA novel, The End Of Normal (by S C Arscott) is at last out (as of yesterday) and available from any online book seller. It's only $3.98, so give it try. Check it out here.

A funny thing happened on my way to write the above column.The only image I could find for the 2014 NaNoWriMo 2014 is of a calendar with this emblazoned along the side: 50,000 words, 30 Days, You Can F*****g Do This. Now first off, I must be clear that this is not connected in any way to the annual writing challenge, it's a calendar from a completely separate company, it's also not free to use so I won't be showing it here. The problem I have is with the F* word. In my opinion the use of such words are a sad excuse for those not creative enough to write something original when trying to be witty in an edgy kind of way. It's a lot harder to come up with something different and many people don't even try, which is just plain pitiful. F**k is not original, it's tired and overused.

Oh, and right now my other site, Susan Arscott is getting a complete redesign, thanks Powered, but it will be available soon.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fall is Finally Falling

Sorry about the cliched title, it's the best I can do. Why such a lame excuse? Simple, I want to get all my work done as quickly as possible so I can spend my afternoon outside enjoying the lovely day. Now I know only too well that those of you living in climes more prone to chilly winters scoff at what we call fall down here on the gulf coast.

Well, scoff away my frozen friends. You can spout off, "I love real seasons," until your breath freezes in the air around you, it still won't make me yearn to move to one of the frozen tundra areas of our world, i.e. the northeast. Yes, the truth is out, I love hot weather, always have.

This isn't one of the old age things mainly because I'm not that old.
True I'll never see, well, never you mind what age I'll never see again because it's none of you business.

All you need to know is that, I have always loved hot weather. The only problem with where I live is that the heat is ruined by body wilting humidity. I know, I know, it's humid where you live too, or so you say. The reality is that unless you live along the gulf coast, your humidity is mere child's play. Down here, it's more than muggy, it's wet mohair stifling.

Anyway, enough of humidity envy. What I love about living here is that soon it will be fall, meaning the humidity will drop to under 40% and it will feel like a little bit of heaven right here on earth. And the good thing is, that despite occasional forays into yuckiness, the weather will stay lovely. Not California lovely, but still, not bad. So while you're gearing up for blast after blast of freezing, warm yourself with the knowledge that, except for a few bad weeks, this is what I'll be seeing.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Gotta Love That Angst

I'm not quite sure how I heard the name Josh Krajcik, I don't watch competition singing shows, so perhaps his name came to me by osmosis. Or maybe it was while I tripped merrily through the internet for versions of Etta Jame's At Last. How ever I found him, I want to share his singing with you because man oh man can this guy tear your heart out with his singing.  I love, love, love singers with angst in their voices and Josh Krajcik is anguish to the zillionth power. First up, his version of Etta James' At Last. 
Wow, this is how At Last should be sung. 

And, if that's not enough for you how about him singing one of the most beautiful songs ever, First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. To those judges at the end and their slightly snarky comments, I've always preferred my men a little rough around the edges, as do a lot of women.
He does Roberta Flack proud.

Is there anything he can't sing?
This guy's amazing.

Intrigued, I continued my search and found Let Me Hold You and am in love, musically speaking. I don't know if he won the competition, but he has certainly won me over. Love this guy.
Let Me Hold You

Saturday, August 30, 2014

At Last

Celebrate with me because I have sent in and received back the final proof of my upcoming YA book, End of Normal, under the name S C Arscott. It will be available on October 6. All I can say is thank goodness and damn that was a lot of work. A lot of work for a book that I hope is a success, but in a world overrun with books, some good, some great, some terrible, you never know, do you? 

Mentally I was through with Normal about a year ago and for those of you long suffering followers of this blog know, it kept resurfacing like the Dr. Seuss book The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. And just like poor Bartholomew, each revision request seemed (to me at least) more grandiose and crazier than the last. But, as with Bart (forgive me Bart for giving you an unasked for nickname, my fingers have trouble typing your whole name), the last revision request is finally completed and I am done. 

I now move on to a new project that I'm not going to talk about just now, I mean why ruin the surprise, right?

I apologize to those readers (of which now number in the triple digits - wowee) who read this blog with the expectation of a little humor (emphasis on little), but on this rainy beginning of the Labor Day weekend, my humor seems spent. Don't get me wrong, I'm not in the least grouchy. I let Vlad the cat (the grouchiest cat known to humankind, I mean come on Vlad, how bad can a spoiled cat's life be? Not bad, trust me, I feed him.) Maybe it's his name, Vladimir Putin, after all that is a tough moniker for any creature to carry, especially a tuxedo male feline.  How would you like to have to compare yourself to an often shirtless crazy Russian leader (I almost typed dictator - whoops) with a penchant for world domination. It's got to be tough. 
This is a facsimile of Vlad - Did you really think I'd have an actual pic of our cat? 

In order to keep you amused, I looked on YouTube for one of those cat videos people find so popular ( I don't, to me a cat is a cat is a cat), but didn't find one even vaguely amusing. The truth is I am not much of a cat person. Vlad was brought home by this guy I live with and he's the one that got Vlad hooked on getting canned food at 6:00p.m. Since most of the time I'm the only one home at 6, the feeding of canned food falls to me. Anyway, not finding a funny cat video, I give you something a lot more satisfying, the original version of Etta James' At Last. Enjoy. 

Sing it Etta

Also, My publisher, Champagne Books is holding a labor day sale, so take advantage of 50% off all ebooks, which make my novellas (usually a whopping $.99 a mere $.50), so if you've been holding out on ordering a fun, sexy, happy ending read, now's the time, so click my buttons (left, right, you name it I'm awash with buttons) and order away. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ideas Spring Eternal, Much Like Hope

I don't care, I'm doing it anyway.
I'm not going to pretend that scores of interviewers beg to know where my book ideas spring from, I'm not that good of a liar and even my fertile imagination boggles at such a stretch of the truth. However, despite the public's lack of interest in the origin of my ideas, I'm going to write about them anyway because, well, because I want to. 

One of my favorite idea-generating locales is art museums. Sometimes, I find a piece of art that seems to beg for a story. It's usually not the most famous, or largest, or even one many people actually look at for more than an instant that catches my eye and stirs my imagination. I find I'm more interested in the painting in the corner, the one most likely unknown. For instance, last week my sister and I spent five days in New York City doing what we both love--visiting art museums. For some of you, I realize the idea of spending hours looking at art is a serious waste of precious shopping time, but to Meg and I, it's a wondrous thing to do and no place better than NYC. That's not to say it's has the best art museums in the world, there are too many incredible places to say such a thing, still it's a fine city for museums. 

We went to the MOMA (home of an impressive collection of moderns, including Van Gogh's Starry Night), the Frick (all I can say is wow, what a collection of beautiful art including, are you sitting down, four Vermeer's, three in the permanent collection), the American Folkart (love, love, love folkart), the Neu (it has some Klimt's, sigh), and the Met, which has a little bit of everything. 

It was at the Met, where I found a gem of a picture that begs for its story to be told. This gentle family portrait caught my eye, so I looked closer at the little girl. 

Look at her face, her eyes, her expression. So sad and yet so compelling. The description explained that most likely the child was dead and the painting was done in honor of her. Oh my goodness, how tragic. With her story in mind, I pondered possible scenarios while walking  through the galleries, which seemed endless, so endless that my sister and I nearly laid down on the marble floor and took a nap-the only reason we didn't was the fear that the camera happy throngs snapping photo after photo would be too busy staring into their phones to notice us.

Anyway, I've done a brief outline of the little girl's story and once I finish my several projects, I will write a story about her and her family. 

So there you have it. And despite your lack of interest or desire to really know any of this, I quote Henry Fielding (the great 18th century English writer and magistrate who established the mechanisms of the modern novel through such works as Tom Jones and Amelia.) When I'm not thanked at all, I'm thanked enough, I've done my duty, and I've done no more. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Brevity is the Soul of Wit, or Is it Merely an Excuse For Keeping Things Short

Ah, what would Shakespeare have made of Twitter? Would he have stuck with his belief that being brief is a lot harder than rambling on and on and on? Personally, I think he'd have been one hell of a tweeter--short, succinct, and pithy would have been his style. And what's not to love about that.

The question, to me at least, concerns the art of brevity today as I write this post: is it better or is it merely an excuse for keeping it short. I have to admit, much as I love being brief for its own sake, today, I must stick to only a handful of lines because my time is running out. 
Back of you Lecherous Monkey

Doesn't that sound dramatic? Now you'll think I'm being chased by spies (what are spies in novel now--Russian? Syrian? Chinese? I don't know because I don't read spy novels as a general rule). Or by crazed monkeys in Voltaire's Candide, a truly weird story. 

Lest you've already leapt from you chair in an attempt to come to my rescue, relax and sit back down, even you, Mr. Chubby Superman. I've only been out of town and am leaving again tomorrow morning and am running behind on everything. Last week I was with my sister in NYC, having fun and enjoying ourselves. And tomorrow I leave for a friend's wedding in Tennessee, so you see it's not life or death, merely a little bit of life's joy, as Goethe said, Enjoy when you can, and endure when you must. To extend this a bit more, click on this silly 40 second video of Polonius muttering the famous advice on staying brief. 

A modern, and very brief, bit of Shakespeare.

Friday, July 18, 2014

A Quick Note

I'm getting ready to leave for my annual vacation with a group of longtime friends, something we've done for the past ten years. We eat too much, drink too much, complain about our weight too much and have an altogether lovely time. Anyway because I've been immersed in my revisions (yes, still, the never ending revisions for The End of Normal) I've not have time to write a blog and I can only imagine your disappointment. 

So I thought I'd provide a grammar lesson from a funny video someone passed on to me.

And remember:

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A Little of This and That

As I was writing my monthly blog post for The Writer's Vine, I ran across a couple of things I thought I'd discuss today, just because, well, no reason really, so for once we all must be satisfied with the parental sounding Just Because

First, I want to talk about the above cartoon, which although I didn't use it in my post for TWV, I wanted to talk about it somewhere because it made me laugh, and when something makes me laugh I have this compulsion to share whether you want it or not. How many times have we, wait, what's that you're saying? Oh, you have never been a fool for love and think it's best if I take all the embarrassment of heart-based actions on my own less than magnificent shoulders? Fine, I'll pretend I'm the only one who was an idiot over some clueless guy that barely knew I existed. Or maybe he wasn't the clueless one after all. Maybe it was me. 

Speaking of shoulders, reminds me of the second topic and question for today,have shoulder pads for women made a come back? Oh please say it ain't so because for those of you too young to remember them, they are a nightmare. Remember this look 

You may be wondering what sparked this fear of the return of the shoulder pad so I'll tell you, or better yet show you. What you're about to see is a kind of strange and yet kind of cool performance of a really old woman and borderline creepy young guy dancing. It's a PG performance, but it's still a little off. However, the best part, or perhaps the most frightening part, is that one of the women introducing the octogenarian and her speedo-clad partner is wearing a real 1980's suit, shoulder pads included. I kid you not, these shoulder pads look lethal. Beware. Cold Play The Hardest Part

That's it for today because that's all I got. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Two Pitiful Pilgrims Ready Stand Dejected And Thin as Slices of Ham

This week, while sitting in front of mirror (a place I avoid like the plague) at my hairdresser's I was forced to stare at my reflection. It's not the most frightening reflection ever or anything like that, it's just that my lips are the skinniest lips known to humankind. They're thinner than my deli-meat. Poor sad things remind me of, well, I'm not sure what they remind me of because I try never to think of them. They're such little bits of nothing, a tube of lipgloss last for years instead of months. 

Now, you may be wondering why all this angst over my lips. Simple, desperate for a blog topic I wandered across a video of plastic surgery gone wrong. What, my  morbid interest shocks you? Are you telling me that you don't glance at the photo of a botched plastic surgery? If you don't, then you should. It is absolutely fascinating the ridiculous, and often hideous lengths people go in the often futile hope of looking better. 

A year or so ago, I watched a BBC journalist explore the mystery of why people have plastic surgery. After she went through scores of procedures, she not only looked worse than when she started, she realized that people become addicted to plastic surgery because they keep pursuing an impossible ideal. After a time, they can no longer really see what they look like so they keep cutting away. 

For those of you with my same morbid curiosity about people destroying their looks, enjoy: Plastic Surgery Gone Horribly Wrong - Worst Plastic Surgery Ever - Versi...

Finger's crossed, I can think of a better topic next blog. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Help, I've Morphed Into an Elephant Seal

The good news, for me anyway, I certainly can't speak for you or anyone else, is that I have finished all my revisions for my books under contract.

It took me a long time to dig that tunnel, but now I'm out of here.
Now, I'm free to revise a fun time travel middle grade I've been working on for about a year on and off. Anyway, I have no great insights to offer today, mainly because my brain is fogged in from all the revision work I had to do. It's interesting how much effort it took to revise the two manuscripts I had thought were finished. You writers know exactly what I'm talking about. You send something to a publisher, they agree to publish it and then, bango eight months later you get your manuscript sent back so heavily laden with editing comments, it reminds you of a bloated elephant seal barking (or whatever that noise they make is called) and bleating about lack of character insights. 
Oh rats, I thought I was done with all that.
Of course, because I've spent the last six weeks sitting on my ever expanding derriere, I now not only moan like an elephant seal, I kind of resemble one at least from behind.  If you happen upon an enormous, flabby, gray creature barking and dragging through the streets, beware and be gentle. If it's not me, I guarantee its another writer in the middle of revisions. So be kind and give them some sardines or something. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Please Hold on a Little Bit Longer

Yesterday, I sent the final pages of my revised, and revised, and revised, YA novel The End of Normal to my editor. Pressing the send button felt nearly as wondrous as having babies—I’ve done both, so I’m qualified to make that comparison. The major difference between books and babies, I’ve discovered, is that babies only take 9 months to germinate while books (or at least mine) took a lot longer. I think the gestation period for The End of Normal was more in line with that of an elephant, which is 645 days. All I can say to those poor long-suffering, pregnant elephants is “Bless your poor pregnant heart.”  

Wow does that look uncomfortable.

Another way books are like babies, is that like having babies, original due dates are subject to change. Due to a variety of things beyond anyone’s control, The End of Normal will not be available until late July or August. Please check out my other website ( for updates. 

I know this is a lame blog, but I have another sexy short to revise and my editor is patiently standing by waiting so this is all the time I have. In fact, I sort of feel like a truant student. Anyway to keep you from shunning me forever as a loser-blogger, how about a little music. Or, even better, the wonderful Maya Angelou. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Weary of False Heroes.

I should be finishing the revisions my patient editor is waiting for, but I can't. Not yet. At least not until I put on paper a sense of outrage I feel after glancing at the editorial section of the Houston Chronicle. I hesitate actually committing because some will perceive my words as near heretical statements.

You heard me. Heretical.

Yes me, even mild, even tempered, consistently cheerful me can get riled up on occasion. And I am now. On page B12, covering over three quarters of the page, is a photo and text of a new graduate's commencement address. Part of the speech, what I can only assume the paper considered the most passionate section, is in italics above the photo.

Normally, I pass on reading such things, especially when I'm in the middle of revisions, but the nature of the italicized words and photo drew me. And, angered me. Not because the woman didn't deserve to graduate or because she was condoning something horrific like mass murder. No, I was angry because she painted herself as a hero facing the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, forever standing firm, never bending or bowing despite nearly insurmountable hardships, hardships she seemed to think were not of her making, but instead were cruelly thrust upon her.

What were these hardships? Four pregnancies, starting at age fourteen and ending at 25. All as a single person. Sad? Yes. Stupid? Certainly. Worthy of assistance? Of course. Hardships that only her courage enabled her to survive? Hell no. This woman deserves her diploma and all the accolades anyone gaining a Bachelor's degree deserves. What she doesn't deserve is the right to consider herself a hero.

I can hear you condemning me for my lack of sympathy. But I do not lack sympathy, I lack false sympathy for chest thumping false heroes. At the age of 14, this young woman chose to have unprotected sex. How heroic is that? The heroic person is the young woman that steps outside of the clique and does not get pregnant, does not have a baby at 14, does not have three more in the next ten years as a single mother, does not drop out of school. The courageous young woman graduates from high school, attends the college or training in her field of choice, graduates, and then starts a family. That is courage. That is something to brag about, to shower accolades upon.

For some reason the truly heroic woman is often ignored. We are often forced, through media, to focus on the bravery of the single mothers staying in school. These single mothers should receive all the help we can give them, but they are not the courageous ones. Those who choose to take the different path, the one less traveled, are the true heroes.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Zapping Those Pesky Words to Extinction.

Today, I want to talk about how to handle those words and phrases that seem to sneak into your manuscript uninvited and unwanted. I have no doubt, you didn't write the phrase "dragged her..." (add the body part of your choice, i.e. arm, hand, wrist, hair, leg, elbow--as you can see the list can go on and on) over fifty times in your 72,000 word novel. Neither did I. 

The problem is that between the time I submitted it to my editor and she actually began editing, somehow--my money's on osmosis--they appeared not once or twice. That would have been reasonable and acceptable. No, the dragging of some body part occurred 51 times. 51 times. How is that possible? Actually, now that I think about it, it had to fairies. Clap if you believe the fairies did it. 

What's that? Wrong line? Wrong story? Ah well. If it's not fairies, then the only logical explanation is that I wrote them, but don't you think I would have noticed? Clearly, I didn't. To make it worse, there were more, many more including shouting, yelling, crying, jerking, pushing, shoving--oh, well, you get the picture. No use destroying what little dignity I have left by beating my dead, overused, horse.

Okay, so here's how to handle such things.
Step One: Be ruthless. Get rid of them all, every one, or if you can't bear to part with every single shout, leave in a couple and no more.

Step Two: Use your search and replace feature. When I finished revising the first half of my manuscript (Come on give me a break. My heart couldn't take on the entire thing in one fell swoop. My merciful editor gave it to me in bite size pieces and just like the miniature oreos, they were much easier to handle.) 

Where was I? Oh yes, Search and replace. I checked every term I knew I'd overused and zapped them into extinction. How did I manage such a feat? Ask my thesaurus. Since it can't talk, and they say a picture's worth a thousand words, check it out.
Pretty sad, huh. 

The good news is that I've created a much better story, one with more interest and one without the usual suspects of tired and overused words. Let's twine together everyone.