Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wednesday Word: Flibbertigibbet

flibbertigibbet |ˈflibərtēˌjibit|nounfrivolous, flighty, or excessively talkative person.ORIGIN late Middle English : probably imitative of idle chatter.

Another one of those colorful words that need to come back into common use.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Vintage Monday: Fruit Crate Labels

I picked these vintage fruit labels up in the Los Alamos Depot Mall during a road trip many years ago. The obvious hilarity of the middle one comes thanks to out ever-evolving language. The first one makes me wonder how long have melons been a slang for breasts.

Mother, of course, is always kind and caring and makes you eat your fruits and vegetables.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Status Update

I've been editing Dead in the Desert (sequel to Dead in L.A.) for over a week, with short breaks for cover designs. My brain is fried, but I'm close to finishing. Of course, I'll have to immediately jump on editing a novelette.

My writing process has changed since I started. I penned Hanging Loose and Last Stop in a thorough, chapter-by-chapter way, so I was able to send them to my trusty beta-partner, Josephine Myles as I went. The problem with that method was that I write slowly and even halfway through the end seemed unreachably far away. During Last Stop I lost steam twice, and was in the danger of not finishing at all. I had to seriously rally to get back on track. And that book is only 55,000-words long.

So now I rush toward the finish line—as much as a turtle can rush. If something threatens to bog me down, I leave it for later. I write "naked dialogue" without tags or beats. Often times, instead of going into details, I give myself stage directions. If I notice word repetitions or other things that need fixing, I highlight them and move on. I leave notes to remind myself of things that might need research or checking details in previous books.

The end result is that I have two passes of edits before sending the MS out for beta. First, I go through the story and fill in all the wholes, do all the fine-tuning. Next, I compile the story into a mobi format and upload it onto my Kindle app. Then… I do nothing for a few days, because at the point I just need a damn break. When I finally get around reading the story, I highlight problem areas, take notes, and follow it up another round of edits.

Interestingly, in case of every story comes a point when I just hate the whole damn thing. That's when I know I'm almost done.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wednesday Word: Persnickety

persnickety |pərˈsnikətē|adjective informalplacing too much emphasis on trivial or minor details; fussy persnickety gardeners she's very persnickety about her food.• requiring a particularly precise or careful approach it's hard to find a film more persnickety and difficult to use than black-and-white infrared.ORIGIN early 19th cent. (originally Scots): of unknownorigin.

Lovely word. Conjures up and image of a maiden aunt with a sharp nose and severe expression, pruning roses.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Vintage Monday

I collect old things, mostly photos and postcards, I'm not sure why. The attraction is both visual and tactile. The soft rag paper of these old cards is much more pleasing to the eye and touch than more recent glossy color ones.

Postcards were the twitter of a pre-computer age. I recently started sending postcards to friends, for the fun of it.

I fell in love with old Paris through the photographs of Bresson, Brassai, and Kertész at an early age. If a blue Police Box ever materialized in my living room I'd ask the Doctor to take me to Paris hundred years ago. Of course, we'd probably end up in ancient Greece in the middle of a Dalek invasion.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Antisocial Media

Facebook is a strange place. It's supposed to be a venue to keep in touch with people you know in some capacity, and it probably works that way for personal accounts. However, when you open one under your pen name, you're Alice jumping down the rabbit hole.

At first you happily accept all friend requests because you assume they're from people who at least heard of your books, possibly even read and liked them. So you're nonplussed when semi-nude self-portraits of young women start showing up in your feed. You look at the persons' timeline and find feeds with hashtags like nakeygurl, sexygurl, notop, etc. Now you're not against boobs, have a pair of your own and are quite fond of them too, but you have strong suspicion that these young ladies don't read your books. You begin to wonder where they found you and why they sent that friend request in the first place.

However, those cases are the outliers and even provide some comic relief. Most of your "friends" will be other authors spamming promo and asking you to like their pages. You don't mind clicking that button if it's someone you actually know and had meaningful exchange with before, but complete strangers? Who don't even write in your genre? You start to wonder whattafrak is going on.

The problem is that authors are constantly told they MUST be active on social media. It works for somepeople who are charming and outgoing, and the lovable dorks with penchant for expired food. Unfortunately, a lot of us are socially awkward introverts. That makes the whole social media thing difficult, but it's no reason treat Facebook and Twitter as your personal billboard.

Experts will probably tell that you need to promote yourself aggressively. I'm no expert but I know people don't like to be screamed in the face. If all you do is post self-promo, you'll find yourself ignored faster than you can say spam. On Facebook people can remove you from their newsfeed without you knowing it, so you won't even realize you're shouting in an empty room.

So here's my suggestion: try to be social. Post tidbits of your personal interests, let it be knitting, gardening, or NASCAR racing. Interact with others. Respond to their posts, assuming you have something to say. Promo sparingly. Just be careful: social media is also a great way to make an ass of yourself in public.

Oh, and young ladies looking for sugar daddies: m/m authors rarely look for boobery and even if they did, they're too poor to be any use to you.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wednesday Word: Gruntled

gruntled |ˈgrəntld|adjective humorouspleased, satisfied, and contented.ORIGIN 1930s: back-formation from disgruntled .Just comes to show you that language is a living thing. And that logic can be used in the service of humor, because if disgruntled is a word gruntled must be one too, right?Although I can see why it isn't more popular. "I'm positively gruntled with the service in this restaurant," has a strange ring.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Men: The Team

More like boys than men, especially the back row. I think that's an ancient basketball ball.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Just a Random Rant

Every time I hear an author says they write from themselves I get ranty. Most of the time the hidden meaning behind that declaration is that they don't want to deal with pesky stuff like being edited. That's just damn right foolish, in my opinion. Artistic integrity, purity of voice, blah, blah, blah. Do these people seriously think their writing is flawless? Especially brand new authors?

Not all editors created equal, but a good one—and right one for you—will help you get better at what you do. It stings to hear that something in you writing doesn't work, and the first instinct is to kick against it. At least that's how I am. However, considering the feedback has always resulted in an improvement for me.

What really rankles me about the "I write for myself" statement is that it implies that the person uttering it is above us rabble that care about commercial success. I'm sorry, but the starving artist ideal is a big pile of stink. (Personally, I don't even aspire to be an artist, but a craftsman. My goal is to entertain.)

There's a strange notion floating around that it's somehow not right to earn money with something you enjoy. As if you only deserved to get paid if you hate your job. Suffering and self-sacrifice is pre-requisite. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wednesday Word: Mumpsimus

mumpsimus |ˈməmpsiməs|noun ( pl. -muses)a traditional custom or notion adhered to although shown to be unreasonable.• a person who obstinately adheres to such a custom or notion.ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: erroneously for Latin sumpsimus in quod in ore sumpsimus ‘which we have taken into the mouth’ (Eucharist), in a story of an illiterate priest who, when corrected, replied “I will not change my old mumpsimus for your newsumpsimus.”

This word is too cool for...words. I'd love to use it, but people would think I'm making up stuff.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wednesday Word: Whicker

whicker |ˈ(h)wikər|verb [ intrans. ]utter a half-suppressed laugh; snigger; titter half-loony whicker of nerves.• (of a horse) give a soft breathy whinny the palomino whickered when she saw him and stamped her foreleg.move with a sound as of something hurtling through or beating the air the soft whicker of the wind flowing through the July corn.nouna snigger; a soft, breathy whinny.the sound of something beating the air.ORIGIN mid 17th cent. (in the sense [to snigger, titter]): imitative.

Okay, this word needs to be used more often, and not just for horses.