Tuesday, November 30, 2010

10 Signs of an Approaching Deadline

10. Your normally loquacious imagination now mumbles "Umm..."

9. You've worn a path in the carpet from your pacing.

8. You notice you're typing more typos than actual words.

7. You have to describe a sunset. The only word that comes to mind is 'pretty'.

6. You're drinking cold coffee.

5. The manuscript you swore yesterday was near-to-perfect now reveals itself as riddled with errors.

4. Your knowledge of rudimentary grammar and spelling seems to have disappeared along with your typing skills.

3. Your closest relationship is with your thesaurus (see #7).

2. You're convinced this manuscript is the one that will give away that your previous success was an error and you actually have no talent at all.

1. You promise yourself you'll never put yourself through this again. You know you're lying.

Monday, November 29, 2010

More Than What Meets The Eyes

As writers we're often exhorted to 'show not tell', but that old maxim can be deceiving. Certainly 'showing' is great, but we need to remember there's often more to showing than what our characters can see.

Imagine your character is walking down a hallway. Of course she can see the walls and any decor, but what about her other senses? Is there the faint aroma of furniture wax or perhaps a whiff of another woman's perfume? Is there the reminder of last night's fish dinner in the air, or does the heavy dust of a long-abandoned hallway cause her to sneeze? Or maybe that sneeze is because of her allergies; letting her know that a dog or cat is somewhere in the house.

So our character is walking along the hallway, but what does she hear? The creak of floorboards might be spooky or might tell her that her husband still hasn't gotten around to fixing the squeak in the floor. Maybe she hears a radio playing and she knows she didn't leave a radio on. Maybe she can hear the rattle of pans in the kitchen informing her that her beloved boyfriend is cooking her dinner.

Do her shoes sink into plush carpeting? Does she trip over a wayward toy left by a small child? Does she run her hand over the paneling in the hallway counting the grooves since the light has burnt out and the hallway is dark?

Don't forget taste as it can play a part as well. Does she just realize her gum has gone stale? Did she find a chilled martini waiting for her on a hall table? Or, were her taste buds readying themselves for dinner only for her nose to tell her nothing is cooking?

Sometimes walking down a hallway is just a way to get to another room. But sometimes, what our character experiences in that hallway can be the beginning of a whole new chapter.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fun Friday

Since today is the day many of you will be starting your holiday shopping, I thought I'd bring you a few shopping-related images.

First, a few shopping bags....

And now, some interesting shopping signs...

Enjoy your Friday. Enjoy your weekend. See you Monday.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thirties Thursdays Thanksgiving*

Here are a few images I discovered from a menu for Thanksgiving dinner 1930, in the Hotel Eagle, which was located in Brunswick, Maine. I found it fascinating.

This is what's on the top of the menu, since it's rather difficult to read!

For those of you celebrating, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

*Thounds like I'm lithping, dothen't ith?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

Many writers are thankful for this...

While others are thankful for having plenty of this...

Others are grateful to be able to look up and enjoy a view like this...

While some are lucky enough to revel in this...

Most writers will always be thankful for this...

While some will always be grateful for this...

And no matter how it comes, all of us are thankful for this...

and that magical moment when we hold our first this.


Here's my gift to those of you who, tomorrow, will be enjoying this...

I know you think what you're going to eat is this...

But, what if it's really this?

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

10 Winter Writing Tips

Very cold weather in my little corner of British Columbia is somewhat rare. Remember, if you will, pictures of this year's Winter Olympics when we had cherry blossoms in February! Right now, however, we're having unseasonably cold weather. Today we're dealing with it feeling as if it's -17° C (that's 1.4° Fahrenheit).

Therefore, as I sip my hot coffee (keeping the mug far away from my keyboard) I give you 10 things to write or think about when it's cold:

10. A scene taking place on a beach. Think fruity drinks with little umbrellas and swarthy cabana boys.

9. Characters enjoying tall glasses of lemonade on a front porch as a large dog snoozes in the shade of a giant elm.

8. Embrace the cold. Since your fingers are chattering on the keyboard, write a character with a stutter. What the heck.

7. Watch a movie that takes place in a warm climate. Tell yourself you're watching it for dialogue study. See if you can convince yourself.

6. Put on your fingerless gloves and imagine you're actually on the Siberian tundra writing the next novel that will set the world aflame with its intelligence and insight. No, I don't know how being on the Siberian tundra will help, but hey, it can't hurt.

5. Admit grudgingly that the cold makes all the Christmas commercials a touch less irritating.

4. Realize making stew for dinner is a win on two fronts. First, the family enjoys a nourishing meal. Second, you get to stand over a hot stove. Appreciate how, in the winter, this is a good thing.

3. Remember how hot you were last summer and how you prayed it would cool down. Now remember 'Be careful what you wish for...'

2. As the wind howls around the house and the power flickers, get out the flashlights and the candles. At my house, there is something called 'the ugly candelabra' which is truly hideous. It was a prop in a play many, many years ago and I took it home when the theatre company was ridding itself of excess props. I've taken a great deal of ridicule over the years for keeping it, but when the power goes out; what gets grabbed? Uh-huh.

1. Always be grateful that you have a roof over your head, a working furnace (or fireplace) and a warm drink when ever you want. So many do not.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Right Ending

Every writer has a smile on their face when they reach the end of a manuscript. I'm always surprised (and a tad disappointed) that there aren't spontaneous parades. Reaching the end is great, but then your inner-editor starts to niggle "Is it the right ending?"

Here are some questions I always ask before I snarl "Yes," at my inner-editor. Please remember, I write mysteries so many of these questions are genre-specific.

1. Is the timeline correct?

2. Have all the red herrings been revealed as such?

3. Is this resolution (i.e. the identity of the killer) stretching the boundaries of believability?

4. Is the final step to uncovering the killer's identity believable?

5. Have the sub-plots been resolved?

6. Does the ending come too abruptly?

7. Should the ending actually be 20 pages earlier, because nothing happens there?

And always...

8. If I was reading this book for the first time, would I want to read another book by this author?

If the answer to #8 is "No" then I've got a whole new set of questions.

How do you know your ending is the right one?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fun Friday

For all of you with bird feeders....keeping the squirrels out might just be the least of your problems...

Don't worry, these pictures weren't taken by me. But I certainly wasn't surprised by them!

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thirties Thursdays

Every decade coins its own slang and the 1930s gave birth to quite a few. Many of these phrases are still used today, although some have taken on different meanings. Here are a few phrases you might have heard in the US during the 1930s.

  • Abercrombie - A know-it-all.
  • Abyssinia - "I'll be seeing you".
  • Horn – telephone.
  • Apple – A big city.
  • Blow Your Wig - become very excited.
  • Broad/dame/doll – A woman.
  • Brodie - A mistake.
  • Gat/rod/heater/convincer – Gun.
  • Big House – Prison
  • Cadillac – An ounce of heroin or cocaine.
  • Canary – A female singer.
  • Cats/ alligators – Swing music afficianados.
  • City Juice/Dog Soup – A glass of water.
  • Chicago overcoat – A coffin.
  • Crust - To insult.
  • Doss - Sleep.
  • Gobble-pipe - A saxophone
  • Sourdough - counterfeit money
  • Togged to the bricks - Dressed up.
  • "Murder!" - Wow!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Too Much of a Good Thing

I can appreciate the beauty of this...

and the peacefulness of this...

and the relaxation of this...

and the romance of this...

and the cuddliness of this...

If that's all there is in your plot, it's going to be dull.

So, remember to add a bit of this...

or a flash of this...

or even...this!

and then your readers will appreciate this.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

10 Signs of a Bad Writing Day

10. You've been transcribing your handwritten draft and a glance at the computer screen tells you you've just typed 5 pages of gobbledegook since your hands were one key over the entire time.

9. Your coffee is cold.

8. You've given two characters the same name.

7. A character is in two places at once. And no, he/she does not have magical powers.

6. Thinking cold coffee is better than no coffee, you pick up your mug to discover a bug doing the backstroke. Hopefully, you make this discovery before you've swallowed.

5. If you write mysteries, you realize you've given three characters the same motive.

4. You decide to purge and replace your usual suspects of over-used words. Your first search comes up with over 1,000 hits.

3. You just spent ten minutes watching the dust motes float in the air. No, you weren't thinking about your story - you were watching dust motes.

2. You emit an ear-splitting primal scream, causing your cat to attempt to attach itself to the ceiling. He returns to the floor with cold revenge flickering in his eyes. Be afraid.

1. You empty the bug swimming pool of coffee and get yourself a fresh cup. You spill it. And now, you're out of coffee.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wisdom of the Sheep

Click, click click.

Sheep #1: Ahem.

Click, click, click.

Sheep #1: Ahem.

Clickity-click click click.

Sheep #1: AHEM!!!

Writer: (stopping typing) Yes?

Sheep #2: Hello.

Writer: I'm busy. I don't have time for you now.

Sheep #3: Like that's ever stopped us.

Writer: (sighing heavily) Yes?

Sheep #1: Pray tell, who are they? (pointing a hoof towards another flock of sheep)

Writer: They're a new project.

Sheep #2: We know that. We're not stupid. Look at them - they're lambs.

Sheep #1: Their wool is pristine.

Sheep #2: Their hoofs are spotless.

Sheep #3: They're precious.

All the Sheep: And you're spending all your time with them!

Sheep #1: What about us?

Sheep #2: You love us.

Sheep #3: You've said so.

Sheep #1: More than once.

Sheep #2: Were you lying?

Sheep #1: Because that would be hurtful.

Writer: I'm sorry. I'm attracted to new projects.

Sheep #1: We've noticed.

Sheep #2: This is a problem.

Writer: Why?

Sheep #1: Look around you. How many flocks of sheep do you see?

Writer: Well...there's the new flock I've been spending time with.

Sheep #1: And...

Writer: And the three flocks of 14 sheep over there - those are the three games I'm working on.

Sheep #2: And...

Writer: Way over there is the short-story flock.

Sheep #3: (squinting) Why, they're wasting away.

Writer: (ashamedly) It's been awhile since I've worked on that.

Sheep #1: And...

Writer: And what?

Sheep #2: There's us!

Writer: Of course.

Sheep #1: Mind some advice?

Writer: What if I do?

Sheep #1: You'll get it anyway.

Writer: Fine. Bleat away.

Sheep #1: You can't keep popping from flock to flock. Make your choice. Stay with one flock until you're finished.

Sheep #2: Then move on.

Writer: But...

Sheep #1: You may think you're moving forward - but you're just jumping over the fences between flocks. If you'll notice, none of us have left.

Sheep #2: You're just adding more flocks.

Writer: But, it feels like I'm moving forward.

Sheep #1: Have any sheep left?

Writer: No.

Sheep #1: Pick a flock.

Sheep #2: Stick to it.

Sheep #3: Finish it. Then move on.

Writer: You're right.

Sheep #1: Aren't we always?

Writer: I'm feeling a bit sheepish.

Sheep #1: Don't start.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fun Friday

As many of us start to reluctantly begin to think about holiday shopping, I thought a few parking pictures would not come amiss this Friday. I've got a selection of parking signs to be aware of and a few pictures of (I would suggest) parking-don'ts.

Have a great weekend - see you on Monday!