IWSG AIRING OF THE PET PEEVES

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Insecure Writer’s Support Group

It is again the First Wednesday for IWSG, and the August 2 Question: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

Alex always comes up with the most entertaining questions! I have an entire menagerie of pet peeves on all three subjects, but space requires me to limit to one, so I choose:

Pet Peeves When Reading

Pet Peeves involving Dearest Husband/Significant Other/Love of My Life (just to clarify, all the same man)

  • I am engrossed in a thrilling “what’s going to happen next” book.
    Coe: “Hey Lee – watch this amazing [insert stupid sports game of your choice] replay!”
    Me: “Yup. Pretty amazing.” [grumbling while I attempt to regain my literary reverie].
  • We are both engrossed in a thrilling “what’s going to happen next” book.
    Coe: “Hey Lee – here’s some really great dialogue you can use in your book.” Proceeds to read really great dialogue aloud.
    Me: Yup. That’s really great dialogue. But I can’t use it, because that would be plagiarism, and that’s against the law.”
    Coe: “Well, you could change some of the words.”
    Me: “Indeed. I could do that.”

On the non-Coe list of peeves:

  • Authors setting up Rules, then not following them, particularly in the paranormal genre. But this is applicable to others, i.e. the history in historical mysteries sets up Rules. When characters behave outside of the historical time-frame, they break the Rules, thereby taking me out of the story and causing a big eye-roll. (BIG TIME author guilty of this).
  • Getting into a well-crafted story, with good character development, lots of twists and turns, then being cheated by an irritatingly sloppy, rushed wrap-up. (More than one BIG TIME author guilty of this).
  • Characters who make one moronic decision after another, on the pretext of “moving the story forward.” It particularly peeves me when those characters are female.
  • Writing about any specialty, (i.e. police work, firefighters, firearms, medicine) without doing the research. I know movies and television are completely disassociated from reality (for example, handing a criminal/terrorist a handgun with an empty clip, and the criminal/terrorist is SURPRISED that the gun isn’t loaded. Anyone who has handled a firearm would KNOW the clip was empty. Ammo is heavy). Again, I am rolling my eyes and looking to spend my hard-earned book money on a different author.
  • Coincidence to explain anything. Coincidences cause me to stop reading. Life is too short to waste time on coincidences.

That said, it is no coincidence that our fabulous co-hosts will have many more insights on these subjects and none of them will include crabbing about Coe. Do stop by:

Christine Rains
Dolarah @ Book Lover
Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor
Yvonne Ventresca
LG Keltner

Posted in It's the Law, IWSG | 10 Comments

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

and it was amazing!

A_rainy_night

Sunday. The air hung hot with muggy heat that sucked the strength right out of you. Anyone with a brain was inside, air conditioning blasting full force. Coe and I had eaten an early dinner and I puttered around cleaning up and shuttling loads of laundry from the washing machine to the dryer.

Suddenly, the 5:30 sky turned black as midnight and thunder rumbled in the distance. A patter of rain skipped across the patio. Oh happy day! A storm to cool the temperature. I stepped outside to the covered porch, immensely enjoying the rain that sprayed across my face as the surprisingly brisk winds blew the gentle rain sideways. And then, a miracle occurred.

The power went out.

My bliss was short-lived. Coe was beside himself. How would he ever know who won the golf tournament? (because, it would never be reported on the news once the power was back on or printed in the sports page in tomorrow’s paper, or available for unlimited freaking repeat viewing on the DVR.) What was he going to do for the next eternity, while waiting for the power to come back on, because he still has an original Kindle and the lanterns and candles I set up didn’t provide enough light to read by. And would the candles heat up the house(!) before the air conditioning came back on? And would the fuses blow with all the appliances in full-use mode?

As is my wont, I donned my super-power costume (it makes me look a lot like Catwoman – probably because it’s so dark) and set about averting crisis. I loaded his book to the correct page on my backlit Kindle. I pretended to turn off enough switches to save the fuses. I assured him that I still had internet access on my phone and would keep him apprised via Chicago Trib alerts (there is no amount of sports minutia that the Trib finds unworthy of an “alert”). Then, I filled my wine glass and opened my own Kindle book via my tablet.

And there we sat. For an hour and a half. Just being together, reading our books, with our pets resting comfortably (a constant concern to both of us). No noise. No television. No humming of the AC. No dinging of the dryer. No nothing. Just the peaceful sounds of rain and thunder. The flickering of candlelight. A complete disconnect from the crazy.

It was amazing.

Posted in Enjoying the Journey, Just Killing Time | 2 Comments

I Say BICFOK, You SAY BICHOK

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Oh how fast the first Wednesday of the month rolls around! Every month, Alex announces a question that IWSG members can include in their post.

Pffffft. I use the question for the basis of my post, because every question he poses gives me fodder to go on and on and on . . . .   And possibly, I’m a bit reluctant to blab about my insecurities, which are more likely to be fodder for a mental health professional. Or wine night. One of those.

To wit, the July 5 Question:

What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?

Two words. BICFOK or BICHOK. Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard. Or, butt in chair, hands on keyboard.

I say tomato, you say tomahtoe. It’s all the same.

typewriter stormy night

Sit down and write the damn thing.

More eloquently, I offer the following inspiration:

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” – Margaret Atwood

“Don’t be paralyzed by the idea that you’re writing a book. Just write.” – Isabelle Allende

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” ― Stephen King

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” – Terry Pratchett

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard.” ― Neil Gaiman

Yes. It’s that easy, and that hard. And that’s the most valuable lesson I’ve learned.

Many thanks to our awesome co-hosts, who will further elucidate valuable lessons here:

Posted in It's the Law, IWSG, Just Killing Time | 9 Comments

Three Years Down the Rabbit Hole

alice-and-cheshire-cat

 

Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?”

The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”

“I don’t know,” Alice answered.

“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

 

 

I firmly believe that most of life’s idiosyncrasies can be summed up by one scene or another from Alice in Wonderland.

 

“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

 

This aptly describes my feelings about my forays into the internet world, as I mark the end of my third year fumbling about this very strange place. Reflecting on my two pithy goals when I launched on July 27, 2014 are somewhat naively amusing. To wit:

 

Two things are going to happen before this summer is over. One, I am launching this website. Two, I am making serious advances on my mystery book. Unless I am dead. Then the pressure is off.

 

I certainly did launch the blog, and by the grace of all things holy, have kept it online, despite the many, many times I have thought, “screw this, I’m never writing again and I don’t need the pressure of maintaining this stupid website.” It’s like cutting bangs. When those scurrilous thoughts tormented me, I just stepped away, poured a glass of wine, kept my hands off of the scissors and the delete button, and waited for the demons to depart.

 

I will always write. I know this about me. It’s the only way I can kill people and not go to prison. And I like my little space in the netherworld, although sometimes its feels like I’m on an cerebral treadmill.

 

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”– Queen of Hearts to Alice

 

Indeed.

 

The second challenge, to make “serious advances” on my mystery book requires a bit of self-delusion nuance in analysis as to whether it has “happened.” In terms of physically writing the mystery/suspense novel, I’ve made more progress on my WIP in the last three months than in the last three years. It has been a disorienting, Alice in Wonderland-y journey. I’ve been tall and I’ve been small, but I still have my head.

 

And I’m convinced that I’ll continue to make further progress if I just heed what is perhaps the best writing advice of all:

 

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” King of Hearts to the White Rabbit.

 

And if you find a bottle marked “Drink me” you might be well advised to stick with the Pinot Noir.

Posted in Enjoying the Journey, Making Progress | 4 Comments

It’s Like I’m Psychic!

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Insecure Writer’s Support Group

So when I said I was quitting social media and internet stuff, I didn’t mean my writing internet stuff. I love this first Wednesday blog hop. This is like a virtual writer’s conference and totally justified in terms of time and effort. Plus I count this as writing. And as bonus points for me, this month’s topic is quitting, which I have been doing left and right and center.

Today’s introspective question is: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

Oh Alex Alex Alex. Did I “ever” say “I quit”?

Just last week. And predictably, every few weeks, or so.

But it’s always just a big, fat lie. I have always been a writer and I will always be a writer. I don’t really “come back” because it is simply impossible to leave.

Based upon my own experience and observation, I think writers “quit” because:

  • we’re stuck on our project
  • we’re bored with our project 
  • we’re caught up in other life issues
  • we’re frustrated because the first draft is a crappy first draft and not a brilliant finished product
  • we’re frustrated because our brilliant finished project isn’t finding an agent/publisher
  • we can’t be all things to “all people” all the time and something has to go, and it’s never “all people”
  • we’re overwhelmed by the sheer volume of books in a bookstore and we just know our own book sucks and will never be published [to wit: last week, a best-selling Wall Street Journal author released her new book, second in a series, with basically the same premise as my WIP. The obvious response? That’s It! I don’t have a chance! I QUIT!]*  

Writers “come back” because we’re writers. It’s like breathing. Or drinking wine. It’s what we do. It’s who we are. No matter what. [ok – maybe just me on the wine part]. 

*[said best-selling author’s book does not contain the really cool fraternity aspect of mine, so really, the stories are nothing alike. There are millions of authors writing lawyer books. I can, too.]

Today’s awesome co-hosts of the IWSG are also writers who have plenty more to say about quitting and coming back, so check them out:

JH Moncrieff,
Madeline Mora-Summonte,
Jen Chandler,
Megan Morgan, and
Heather Gardner

Posted in Idle Threats, It's the Law, IWSG, Unreliable Witnesses | 20 Comments