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Friday, September 20

For the Love of Words

by Margie Senechal

I do well with dialogue. I can write a conversation that makes you feel like a fly on the wall. However, ask me to describe what they were wearing or what the room looked like, and I'm searching for just the right words.

Which might be why I love rich writing by other authors. The authors who are able to play with words and make you see a normal scene in a totally different way. I've read a couple of such books recently. 

This week I fled through The Thousand Doors of January by Alix E.
Harrow. It's her first book and man, is it rich in words. I don't normally highlight a lot when I'm reading, but this time I couldn't hold back. Who knew I'd reference them today?



"Sometimes I feel there are doors lurking in the creases of every sentence, with periods for knobs and verbs for hinges"


"An old woman, hunched and seamed like a pale walnut, glared down at me."  Is there any doubt what that old woman looks like and in just a few words.

I might've said: It smelled of salt and age and adventure. It smelled like another world, an I want to return right this minute and walk those strange streets.

The old man's eyes remained narrowed and suspicious, a pair of damp blue marbles set in deep folds of flesh. Again, there's no doubt what he looks like and who thinks to use "flesh" instead of skin? I know I didn't. I might now. 

The other book I'm in the process of reading that's giving me the love for words is The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins. 

The rich scent of hazelnut curled with the steam from the opening in the cup's cover, and Grace's soul sighed with relief. She put the car in park, then took the tumbler between both hands and held it reverently as though it were a holy chalice.

This is how I feel when I get my first Egg-nog latte after a long day of work. Forget Pumpkin Spice, I'm waiting for Egg-nog. Oh yeah, back to my blog.

Time to wrap up because I have to get to work and my hair looks a bit like last year's basket liner and I'm tired of fighting with my kitten over the keyboard. Apparently, me being at the computer is a complete draw for her. Agh!

Anyway, suffice it to say, I think we learn best from each other. Have a great weekend!





Tuesday, September 17

On Learning to Mis-use Words ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash
When you grow up in a small town that likes to think it's part of the South you hear a lot of mis-used words and phrases. Or maybe that isn't an almost-Southern thing and just a human thing?

Phrases like 'he excepted the award' or the whole they're/their/there or site/cite/sight uses. There are even phrases. "That'll learn him/her" is a favorite, 'tow the line' (it's TOE, people), 'escape goat' (it's just scape, scape goat), or 'illicit a response' or 'for all intensive purposes'. Any sentence that begins 'Irregardless' (no, I don't care that's it now in the dictionary. Because it's only there because so many people were using it incorrectly!).

When I was in school, misusing words and phrases used to drive me crazy. In the fifth grade I actually argued with my English teacher because, as part of a spelling test, we were supposed to use the word 'one' in a sentence - she wanted only the American (as in primarily number usage) but I was on a British author kick and used it as 'one' being used for a 'person' (as in, "One should never put elbows on the table"). I used the right quotation marks, the correct comma/period placement. The sentence was grammatically correct. I didn't win the argument, even though she hadn't specifically stated she wanted the word used only as a number. And I'm obviously still annoyed about it or I wouldn't be using it as an example *mumble* years later.

Back to the point.

There are entire webpages created just to put on blast those misused words. 

I've always thought that part of learning was to be precise. Like how to properly use the word regardless or the phrase 'couldn't care less'. But what I've learned, especially since becoming a published author, is how to un-learn certain things. Because dialogue is boring if everyone speaks clearly and uses only proper English all the time. Even though I hate seeing and hearing words/phrases used incorrectly, I still don't always speak using proper English. I regularly forget to use the subjunctive when I'm speaking; I do remember is (usually) when I'm writing. Outside of language there are things that need to be exact. Math has to be exact because if 2+2 can equal anything then soverymanythings will go wrong. Language is a growing, living thing, though. Not that I want bebe to start saying things like 'I'm the escape goat' because, just, no. But to make a point? To make your dialogue part of characterization? Those are definitely reasons to mis-use certain words.

Not they're/their/there. We aren't crazypants. But irregardless of when 'irregardless' was added to the dictionary, a character speaking stridently and using that word could add a bit more oomph to a conversation.

I never loved words more than when I learned to misuse them. Or overuse them. Part of the fun of writing books that are (sometimes) comedic is the laughter. What would a fish-out-of-water story be without a few misunderstandings?


What about you? Love of the PROPER way to use a word? Or does it make writing (and reading) more fun when the phraseology is just a little...improper? ~ Kristina

Saturday, September 14

Autumn Booklover's Facebook Scavenger Hunt


AUTUMN BOOKLOVER’S
FACEBOOK SCAVENGER HUNT
September 13-16


Who doesn’t love autumn? Leaves whirling in the wind and rain outside, a comfy chair inside, you with your favorite book and a hot beverage. Play our fun and easy hunt and you could win one of five gift baskets or boxes loaded with yummy goodies to snack on while reading!

Plus, with 30 authors participating—most hosting individual giveaways of their own on the hunt—our autumn basket is overflowing with new books to discover and prizes up for grabs!

Make sure to enter my giveaway. Find the link to my Rafflecopter on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/JanaRichardsAuthor 


Authors Participating in the Hunt

Aldrea Alien • Alex Gordon • Amanda Uhl • Anne McClane • Anne Stone • Aubrey Wynne • Bernadette Rowley • Cara Bristol • Denise D. Young • Donna R. Mercer • Em Petrova • Emberly Hart • Grace Roberts • Jacqueline Diamond • Jana Richards • Judith Sterling • Karen Michelle Nutt • Katherine Gilbert • Kristine Smith • Rebecca Hefner • Samantha Holt • Shaylin Gandhi • Sierra Kay • Soraya Naomi • Stephanie Queen • Stephany Tullis • Tawdra Kandle • Teddy Cat Hester • Zoe Dawson • Zoe Forward

Friday, September 13

Love Is Like A Learning Tree by Liz Flaherty #WordWranglers

I intended to start this post with a quote, as I often do. The quote was "Love is like a learning tree." But when I tried to look it up to attribute it, I couldn't find who said it. I truly don't think I made it up, but there it is.

It is so different, writing and living from the vantage point of being--gasp--69 years old. I talk about age a lot, I think because it's so remarkable to me that being...er...old is so remarkable. What makes it so is how much you learn in the years it took you to get that way, even if it isn't your intent. Even if you don't realize its importance. Even if you forget much of it long before you're ready to.

All that knowledge is what gives the learning tree its branches, its leaves and needles, and the shelter of its shade.

That's what writing is like. It doesn't necessarily get better as we age--a source of much whining from me--but I think it gets deeper. Writing a book becomes the difference between the wedding and the marriage. While the wedding is all that is pretty and fancy and exhilarating, the marriage is profound, often not pretty at all, and not always exciting. But it's there the next day, and the next, and the next. The wedding gives a rush of wonderful memories. The marriage provides memories every single day.

And not all of them are good. There's more hurt inside a marriage than you'd think one institution can hold, and often it doesn't. Sometimes, like when you're in a story that isn't sustainable no matter how much you'd really like to write it, you just have to let it go. Those limbs are sometimes twisted, and when the leaves fall from them, they don't come back.

Learning gets selective as you age. I have an iPhone and I use a computer all the time, but I really don't know much about them. I'm pretty good with Word, but only because I have to be. If my phone won't do what I want it to, I turn it off and then back on, hoping the situation will fix itself. That's all I want to know. The electronic branches on my tree are pretty short.

I have some short writing branches, too. I'll never be good at conflict. I don't want to be an indie author--although I have a few twigs of it out there. I know that my learning has stopped far short of being able to keep up with the directions the romance genre has gone. I regret that, because I think if I could keep up, I might be happier with the way it is now.

But when all is said and done, I still love romance and still love learning. Like the marriage, I'm in it for the duration. The tree's still growing.
***
Going from heart to keyboard to publication was a long learning branch for The Healing Summer. I am so excited that it's really going to happen. Release date is October 30, but the Kindle version's available for pre-sale. 



When Steven Elliott accidentally rides his bike into Carol Whitney's car at the cemetery, the summer takes on new and exciting possibilities. Long friendship wends its way into something deeper when their hearts get involved. Feelings neither of them had expected to experience again enrich their days and nights. But what happens when the long summer ends? When Carol wants a family and commitment and a future, Steven isn't so sure. He's had his heart broken before—can he risk it again?

Tuesday, September 10

September's Theme Is Learning


Every so often, we Wranglers get off on a topic in our discussion loop and voila, a theme is born. Last month, we started talking about things we’ve learned as writers and decided that would make a great theme for September because, you know, school starting and all that. However, all the great stuff we said about learning has left me because I am hell-and-gone from my school days and unable to remember why I went out into the living room, let alone what we Wranglers discussed last month, so I’ll be flying by the seat of my pants here.

Although, come to think of it, I actually am sorta ready to speak to this topic because yesterday, I got the edits on Book 3 of the Four Irish Brothers Winery series back from my Tule Publishing editor and man… it was scary. Scary to the point that I was in tears (of course, I’ve been on the verge of tears pretty much since we sold our house, so it doesn’t take much to tip me over the edge). Until I had a chance to talk to her on the phone, where she pointed out, quite correctly, that nearly every comment she’d made said basically the same thing. 

It’s the same message she's had about every book in the series so far—develop your heroine more. I have figured out that in this series, for me anyway, the heroes—my intrepid and delicious Flaherty brothers—are the focus for me. Heroines get short shrift in the first draft of the books. It’s happened in every single book. It’s not that I don’t like my heroines—I do. But I just don’t show that on first writing. My lesson each time is “work on the heroine—show us why he’s in love with her because right now, I’m not seeing it.” 

Holly, the heroine in Christmas with You, is fierce and protective of her child and hungry for love. But she’s been hurt by a lot of people in her life who are supposed to love and protect her most. So she’s wary and that wariness comes out in snark and anger, which is okay except that she never really seems to come around when Aidan falls in love with her. Her walls should be tumbling down and they don’t. I need to show her inner struggle and then her redemption so that readers will love her like I do—like Aidan does. 

I’m processing, thinking, making notes. I’ve already started working on the revisions and they will probably be my project during the writer retreat that Liz and I are going on in a few days. Can. Not. Wait. Liz saw a lot of what my editor saw in this book, so it will be so good to have her right across the table from me while I work through revisions. I needs her wisdom and humor and magical tear-stopping abilities.

Writers are always in learning mode—whether it’s research for a new book, new words to learn, new stories to tell, new ideas to process, or old ideas that need a reboot. Just like in life, we never stop learning. All six of us will be talking this month about learning, but today, I’m asking you writers out there—what’s the last thing you learned that helped you be a better writer?
~Nan~

Saturday, September 7

The Fixer Upper by Maggie Mae Gallagher #WordWranglers


The Wranglers welcome Maggie Mae Gallagher today, here to spotlight her new book (and its wonderful cover!) 

The Fixer Upper

Abby Callier is more in love with Shakespearean heroes than any real man, and she’s beginning to wonder if there is life for her outside the pages of a book. It doesn’t help that her esteemed parents tend to view her as they would one of their science experiments gone wrong. On the eve of finishing her dissertation, she escapes her staid existence to live in the house she inherited from her Great Aunt Evie in the small town of Echo Springs, Colorado. Because, let’s face it, when a woman starts comparing her life to horror films, it might be time for a break.

Sheriff Nate Barnes believes in law and order and carefully building the life you want. In his spare time, he has been remodeling his house in the hope that one day it will be filled with the family he makes. But Nate doesn’t like drama or complications and tends to avoid them at all costs. And yet, when Miss Abigail Callier, his newest neighbor, beans him with a nine iron, he can’t help but wonder if she might just be the complication he’s been searching for all along. It doesn’t hurt that he discovers a journal hidden away by the previous tenant and decides to use Old Man Turner’s advice to romance Abby into his life.

Abby never expected her next-door neighbor, the newly dubbed Sheriff Stud Muffin, to be just the distraction her world needed. The problem is she doesn’t know whether she should make Echo Springs her home, or if this town is just a stopover point in her life’s trajectory. And she doesn’t want to tell Nate that she might not be sticking around—even though she should because it’s the right thing to do, the honest thing—because then all the scintillatingly hot kisses with the Sheriff will come to an abrupt halt. Did she mention that he’s a really great kisser?

Praise for The Fixer Upper:

"Maggie Mae Gallagher writes with warmth and a wonderfully compelling voice - I loved The Fixer Upper!" NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR HEATHER GRAHAM

“Maggie Mae Gallagher makes the reader forget the actual words on the page so they can just enjoy the story as it unfolds.” Nancy Berland, NBPR, Inc. President


Social Media:
Twitter: @magmaegallagher  https://twitter.com/magmaegallagher?lang=en

Excerpt:

Abby spent the next hour cleaning her new room as best she could for the night. She’d work on the full house and give it a proper cleaning come morning, but she’d spent the better part of the day in her Rover and could feel the onset of fatigue settling in her bones. There was a semimodern bathroom across the hall, with one of those claw-foot tubs she’d take advantage of when she wasn’t dragging her feet and ready to go horizontal for eight hours. 

Settled in for the night, she made herself a small picnic of her wine and cheese offerings and added hitting up the local market for all the essentials to her to-do list for the morrow. Her parents would only shake their heads if they could see her in her thermal pajamas, drinking chardonnay directly from the bottle that hadn’t even sported a cork, but a lid that twisted off.
She was toasting her own brilliance when she heard the creak of the front door opening. Grabbing her trusty nine iron, a little gizmo she’d inherited from an ex-boyfriend some years back, Abby cursed at her phone’s low battery. 
“Figures,” she muttered under her breath. 
She left her room, tiptoeing down the stairs, her movements muffled by her thick socks. She rounded the corner, and a beam of light blinded her. 
“Gah!” Screaming, she swung the iron, ready to take on her intruder. All the self-defense classes her parents had scoffed at hadn’t been for naught. Who knew that in a sleepy little mountain town, burglars and vagabonds were a problem? The golf club whizzed over the intruder’s head.
“What the?” a deep baritone barked.
She swung again, determined to fend off whoever the hell thought he could invade her aunt’s place with mischief on his mind. The shadowed outline of a large man loomed behind the beam of light. When he didn’t back off, only kept advancing, her internal panic button hit overdrive. The nine-iron connected with flesh with a thudded whack. 
“Ow, fuck, cut it—”
“Get out or I’ll call the police!” she swore, her pulse hammering, her grip on the nine-iron so tight her hand was fusing into a claw formation. She reared back to strike again when his next words halted the forward progression of her swing.
“I am the police.” 
She blanched, almost dropping her weapon, but then thought better of it. What if he’d lied to disarm her and then would attack?
Nice try, buddy. She wasn’t falling for it. 
“Prove it.” She wasn’t the atypical heroine who idiotically descended into the darkened basement, despite the light mysteriously not working, to investigate the strange noise. She’d studied horror films and knew she was not the dumb bimbo, but the smart woman who survived. His indicating that he was the police was a sub-plot straight out of a B horror film and was precisely the type of thing the killer would say.
She raised the nine-iron into a defensive position as the man moved to her right, flipping on the overhead light while pulling a shiny silver badge from his belt. He held it toward her so that light reflected off the silver star. Blinking as her eyes adjusted, Abby wondered if she was dreaming. Cornflower-blue eyes studied her, dressed in her flannel pink pajama bottoms, tank top, and fluffy purple robe. He was larger than the darkness had suggested, probably a good six-three, and lean. His dark midnight hair fell in curly waves to his jawline, which was covered in dusky stubble. There was a ruggedness to him, indicating that somewhere in his make-up he preferred life outdoors, and it showed. He reminded her of the men gracing the covers of the romance novels she’d hidden from her parents growing up, and still hid from her colleagues. 
She’d always had a bit of a thing for men in uniform, but the only defining mark that even suggested he was an officer was his black jacket with an emblem embroidered into the right shoulder. Otherwise, he looked like a mountain man, in a button-up emerald flannel shirt and blue jeans that rode low over his muscular hips.
Then she focused on the badge. Oh, sweet heavens! The badge read: Sheriff, City of Echo Springs. Why did this have all the beginnings of a campy horror flick? Woman goes to the wilderness to find herself, makes acquaintance with the local law enforcement, and then the army of dolls stuffed inside the home come to life, possessed by a demon spawn from hell, to try to kill the heroine.