Turkey Day Ramblings

Honestly? Until I received the reminder notice from one of my Yahoo groups, I completely forgot that I was supposed to be blogging here today! And then I sat down to write something out and realized I have absolutely no idea what to talk about. It being a few days before Thanksgiving, I figured I should probably write something holiday related. But what the heck does one say about Thanksgiving? I’m not really in the mood to write an ode to turkey. Besides, I don’t even like turkey. My family always had chicken for Thanksgiving. Christmas, too.

Yeah, I know. We’re weird.

Hmm. Let’s see if there’s a point to all my ramblings buried somewhere in here. That’s how I tend to write – blab on and on until my subconscious lets me know where it’s going. So thinking about different traditions did get me wondering about the rest of the world. That’s the beauty of e-publishing. Little things like country boundaries and oceans don’t matter quite as much. Do our European friends have a similar holiday? How about the rest of the world?

On the surface, it’s a pretty shallow holiday. Consume massive amounts of food, have leftovers for the next week, and get up insanely early the next day to join the shopping madness (and how Black Friday got mixed up into the whole Pilgrim-Indian-Turkey thing I’ll never understand). Although if you’re like my family, the leftovers aren’t usually a problem. I have a nineteen year old brother; it’s amazing how much food he can pack away over the course of a day.

But amid the madness of family, feasting and football, it’s always nice to remember the whole point behind the establishment of Thanksgiving. Of course, one day a year to remember the good things in life is hardly enough. I know that for me, I need to remind myself constantly. Otherwise, it’s too easy to become bogged down in the hard times and the problems in the world, large and small. So please, share with me! Let’s get some positive, encouraging thoughts going. What are your Thanksgiving plans? Any unique (or not so unique) traditions? How about something exciting or positive that’s happened to you recently? Or perhaps you’re just thankful that nothing exciting has happened lately. Sometimes life continuing normally is the biggest relief of all.

Following in the tradition established by earlier posts, I’ll give away a copy of one of my books – in this case, The Brass Box. So comment away, and I will do a random drawing on…well, I do believe it would be most appropriate to do the drawing on Black Friday.

So have a marvelous Thanksgiving, eat way too much food, and for everyone (even those who don’t celebrate Thanksgiving), I’m thankful that you read all the way to the end of my rambling post!

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One Writer’s Journey: Picking out a muddled sentence

Come with me on a writer’s journey.

Writing is a journey. The grail might be writing the One True Prose on the first try, but I don’t know anybody who’s achieved it. Especially not me.

So I plan, then I write, then I edit. Then I read. Then I plan, write and edit some more. A key aspect of self-editing that I’ve discovered is the ability to see the problem in the first place.

One of my problems is the muddled sentence.

I’m taking my example from Biting Nixie (it’s handy, and I know how it got changed for the better. Always good to have the answer book 🙂  ). Bo’s a male vampire, friend of the hero Julian.

The scene: Chaos.  Violence.  Screams. 

Gaunt, fiery-eyed men rampaged outside.  Skull-headed, unnaturally fluid men with teeth like jagged glass.  Evil-looking men, seemingly hundreds of them.  A knot of red fire and flashing knives, surrounding… Surrounding Julian and Bo.

Here’s the original next paragraph:

Bo held a limp bundle, fought ferociously with one bare hand.  The bundle seemed to have two blonde heads.  Then I realized it was two people, one a child.  Both were as limp as puppets.  Neither moved.

Here are the revised paragraphs:

Bo held a limp bundle in one arm.  The bundle had two blonde heads.  I realized it was two people, one a child.  They seemed unconscious…or dead.

Bo fought ferociously with one hand.  He wielded what looked like a long knife, or a sword.  The blade whistled through the air, forcing the gaunt men back.

First, how did I know there was a problem with the original? Well, it feels muddled. It takes a bit of thinking to picture what’s going on. Something–language, sentence structure, something–has come between  the reader and the story.

Once I know something’s wrong, it’s a matter of figuring out exactly what it is. In this case, there’s two different things going on in that first sentence. “Bo held a limp bundle,” and he “fought ferociously”. The tension surrounding Bo’s limp bundle is lost because you’re immediately distracted by his fighting. To fix it I used a variation on the old bra slogan–Separate and Lift.  First paragraph talks about Bo’s limp bundles. Second brings in the fighting.

Clarity is vital in writing. Actions convey emotion to the reader. For greater impact, the actions (and thus the emotions) must be clear, discrete–separate. Kind of like color pixels separated by black on a high def TV gives you a better picture.

This isn’t the One True Prose. But it’s a step on the journey to get there.

Win a Biting Love ebook! I loved Nikki Duncan’s November 4 post so I’m also staging a drawing for commenters.

What about you? Do you have a favorite book on writing, or a writing gotcha to share? Or a special writing tic?

Comment on any or all. Commenters through November 20 will be entered into a drawing for any ebook title from my backlist  (erotic humorous paranormals). Share this post! Comment (with the share link) to get another entry. Adults only, please.

Happy writing!
Mary

Drum Roll Please…And the Kindle Winner is…

The grand prize winner of the Amazon Kindle is…Sherry from Ohio! Congratulations!

And the winners are…Contest 2

Congratuations ladies! You’ve won a free ebook and the authors will be contacting you shortly.

Alison Paige – Iokijo

Anne Hope – Nicole

Lynne Connolly – Susan

Lissa Matthews – Nikki

Kate Davies – Sherry

Meg Benjamin – Natasha

Mari Carr – Archana

Vivi Andrews – Nancy

Sydney Somers – Sue

Julia Knight – Judy

Lexxie Couper – Daphne

Shelley Munro – Deanna

N.J. Walters – Pam

Must The Party End?

I know Halloween was over, but that doesn’t mean the fun here has to end, right? I say let’s keep it going…at least for a little while.

I know a lot of us are on Yahoo loops or blogs where the question What Are You Reading Now is asked often. At least I am. And it’s a fun question. I find a great deal of new authors through those conversations, but how about a new (or newer) question. Do your reading tastes change from time to time? Do you go in spurts where you read one genre and then switch to another? Are you consistently wide ranged?

Personally, I seem to jump around, and most recently I’m even jumping formats because it’s what is working best for my schedule. To keep up with what the oldest kid, I call her Chaos, is reading I have been chekcing out the audio books from the library. I am still a little behind her, but I am currently listening to the third Percy Jackson book on audio. I also recently listened to a Joseph Finder thriller on audiobook. It’s a great way to pass the time on a road trip, especially when it’s an engaging story.

As if audiobooks aren’t enough, and let’s face it they aren’t, I have a few paperbacks on my nightstand and then there is the eReader I have loaded with lots of great choices. My current read on the eReader is a Harlequin Romantic Suspense by Vicki Taylor. I just need more time to read in quiet to get through the last of it and move on to the next one.

And then there are the books I read to the youngest kiddo, we call her Destruction. She has most recently really gotten into the Magic Tree House books and we are reading a Merlin adventure one. Unlike the other books she often asks me to read (you know the ones you’ve read over and over and over and over until you have nightmares about reading them) I look forward to reading to her each night. I want to know what happens next in the story. LOL

What about you? What are your reading habits? How do you make time for all those stories you read? How diverse is your list? Or how select?

Commenters will be entered into a drawing for a their choice of either SOUNDS TO DIE BY or SCENT OF PERSUASION. (Both books are contemporary romantic suspense and are sexy reads. They are part of a series, but can be read as stand alones. 🙂 ) The deadline for commenting…let’s say Saturday at noon central time. That should give everyone plenty of time to come up with something to say, right? Oh, and if you’re on Twitter or Facebook, share this post (and tell me you did it) and be entered a second time for the drawing.

Nikki Duncan

And the winners are…Contest 1

Congratuations ladies! You’ve won a free ebook and the authors will be contacting you shortly.

D. McEntire – Laurie

Jayne Rylon – April  

Cathryn Cade – Julie  

Beverly Rae – Sherry  

Madelyn Ford – Judy  

Mary Hughes – Nicole  

Michelle Pillow – Jo  

Mandy Roth – Sue  

Nikki Duncan – Kirsten  

Sheryl Nantus – Heather  

Jodi Redford – Catherine

J.C. Wilder – Vanessa

Spook-a-Palooza Contest #2 – Win a Free eBook!

Contest 2 – Runs from October 26 – November 1 Midnight EST

The Prizes (13) are ebook downloads of:

Alison Paige – Little Red  /  Anne Hope – Broken Angels

Lissa Matthews – Cracklin’ Rosie  /  Lynne Connolly – Richard & Rose book – Reader’s Choice

Kate Davies – Ritual Love  /Meg Benjamin – Be My Baby

Mari Carr – Happy Hour  /  Vivi Andrews – Winner’s Choice

Sydney Somers – Primal Pleasure  /  Julia Knight – Wicked Lady

Lexxie Couper – Death, The Vamp  /  Shelley Munro –  The Bottom Line

N.J. Walters A Touch of Magick

Contest Rules & other info: 1. One entry per household. 2. Void where prohibited. 3. Employees or the family of Samhain Publishing are prohibited from entering. 4. You must be 18 to enter. 5. Twelve winners will be randomly drawn from all complete and correct entries. 6. Contest winners will be announced on this website. 7. By entering you are agreeing to join the Samhellion mailing list.

How to Play: Go to the websites of the participating authors (above) and look for their Spook-a-palooza icon.

(HINT: The icons are on of the following: Candy, Costume, Ghost, Skull, Scarecrow, Broom, Witch, Bats)

Once you find all 12 icons,  in an email list all twelve authors and their corresponding icons then send it to samhellion.contest at gmail.com.

Good luck!