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Showing posts from December, 2013

Me Being Rotten

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The worst spanking I ever got, I was four. We lived in married student housing in Cambridge, Massachusetts while my father attended Harvard. Being an internationally recognized institution, Harvard attracted students from all over the world. Occasionally, my parents would invite someone over for dinner. Of course, we girls were supposed to be on our best behavior. Our guest on this occasion, was a young Chinese man named Dam Wong. Being four, I found great humor in his name. I ran around the house saying, "Dam Wong. Dam Wong," in a singsong voice, giggling happily. "Stop that right now," my father said sharply. "You're being rude." I didn't. "I said to stop that!" I continued. Daddy sent me to my room before dinner. I calmed down a little, but started up again over our meal. I was sent to my room again. Instead of staying there, I sat at the top of the stairs saying, "Dam Wong! Dam Wong". "I—have—had—enough!" My fat…

The Lemon Chicken Tale

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When my eldest son was a teenager, he and his friends would make a circuit of their homes and have Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and New Years dinners at one another's homes. They often came over for dinner, depending upon what was on the menu. One year, I had a bumper crop of lemons on my tree, so I decided to make lemon chicken. I searched the internet for recipes, finally deciding to combine two to make the ultimate meal. I cooked the chicken and made a delicious, creamy lemon sauce to go over it. I served it with mashed potatoes and green beans as well as fresh bread. It was a feast! We sat there eating and I noticed that one of my son's friends had walked to the refrigerator and had come back looking guilty. Trying hard to hide something from me, he sat back down. When he thought I wasn't looking, he opened the bottle of ketchup and was about to squirt it on his plate when I caught him. “Well, the chicken is kind of dry.” “There's lemon sauce on the stove. Right the…

Show vs. Tell

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As some of you know, I have a writing group that I started a few months ago. We meet every other Friday and have a wonderful time sharing our work, talking about how to improve it, and just having fun.

Today, one of the members, a girl in her early 20s, said she had a problem not covering every moment of every day. She realized it was boring, but she didn't know how to get around it. We didn't have a lot of time to talk about it, as we'd talked about so much already, but it gave me a great idea for a post. Now, I simply need to organize my thinking so I can discuss it.

After hearing her read something she'd written, I realized she had two problems. First, the one she mentioned – telling every action. The other was that she didn't write dialogue, she told about it. Fortunately, she realized that lack herself, but said it was taking her out of the story to do dialogue. Instead, she wrote about it with the intention of going back later to fix it. For me, that would be a…

Music to Write By

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We're all about good books, good music and good fun at Dellani's Tea Time and What's Write for Me. Because we love music so much, and often find ourselves talking about it (even though we're writers) I decided to hijack Dellani's Tea Time for a special show on music to write by. We didn't have a chance to answer all the questions on the show, so I asked the guests and my co-hosts to answer the questions on their blogs. Here's the link. My co-hosts are Christina Giguere & Karen Vaughan. Our guests were Kemberlee Shortland, C. Margery Kempe and Troy Lambert.

What kind of music do you listen to when you write? 
I listen to a lot of classic rock and blues. I love guitarists and will listen to Jimi Hendrix, Joe Satriani, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Joe Bonamassa, Dave Gilmour and Carlos Santana almost non-stop.

Is there any type of music you won't listen to?
I'm not a fan of most rap, though there are a couple of songs I like. I'm also not a fan of twang…

Taming the Helping Verb

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Keep your verbs in the simplest form possible and try to avoid helping verbs. Sometimes, it's unavoidable, but as much as possible, keep your writing in simple past and don't add a bunch of other verbs to the lineup.
In case you don't know your Helpers, here's a list: am, are, is, was, were, be, being, been (To Be verbs) have, has, had (To Have verbs) can, could do, does, did (To Do verbs) may, must, might shall, should, will, would
Using helping verbs weakens the narrative and should be used sparingly. Why? This one, I can answer. Keep your writing as active as possible. Sometimes, you can't help it. A Helper is unavoidable in some cases. Avoiding the use of was entirely, as some misinformed authors try to do, is impossible. Was is the past tense of To Be – I am (present) I was (past). Some verbs must have a helper to be clear. Example: I was elected president of the student body. I elected president of the student body. Not only is the second sentence not really gramma…

Authors Are Sadists

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(Previously posted on Write Minds Authors)

All authors are sadists. It's a fact, we have to be. It's really not our fault. Stories need action, they need conflict, how better to provide that than to hurl our characters into some difficult situation and watch them claw their way back out? Hardly seems sporting, does it?
I suppose we could blame our readers, right? I mean, if the book hasn't got at least one good argument or a brawl, they feel cheated. If they feel cheated, they won't buy our books. If they don't buy, we don't make money – so, conflict, drama, hardship, pain, anguish, suffering – ensue. Yes, blame it on the readers.
It seems really mean to create these characters only to watch them suffer. We make them fall in love with the wrong person who breaks their hearts. We kill off their loved ones and chase off their dogs. We leave them hanging from cliffs, flip over their cars and have them attacked by psycho killers, rabid dogs or murderous biker gangs.…