Friday, July 28, 2017

If Women Ruled the World or something

A recent article brought this blog to mind: 'If women ruled the world. . .'

All right, all right, I'm not insinuating that women can't drive. Far from it. I tool around in a full-sized van, 6600 pounds, thank you very much and I can park the puppy in a rat hole. Do remember, I'm from Texas and things are bigger here than in other parts of the world -- rat holes included. But gals are normally handling a number of things while trying to park and I think it's only fair we should get a bigger parking spot.


There would be a little 'bill' equality . . .


Tools would be simpler.


Now, you're talking my talk.
Don't ask, 'where's the beef?'. More importantly, where's the duct tape? No woman's purse is actually complete without duct tape. Want to know how to hold a fence in place? Duct Tape. Keep air from leaking out of a tire? Duct Tape. Prevent anything from flapping in the wind? Duct Tape. Okay, I rest my case.


And for traditional tools . . . I say, 'Who needs 'em' I have hung many a picture with a shoe, and no, I don't measure before I put it on the wall. Hang and bang--that's my philosophy. And I can screw anything in place with a butter knife or better yet a metal nail file.
Make sure to get a heel with serious heft to it, however. If you're going to bang away, you want it to be effective.





Oh, and not the good butter knife, for crying out loud. That's like your kids buffing the dog clean with your good kitchen towels. Keep an old - we don't have the rest of the silverware set anymore - butter knife in your special tool drawer. Don't have one. Hit any Saturday morning garage sale. A .25C max.

















Hiking boots would actually LOOK good.




Toilet seats would stay in their proper position.



And guys would have the right toolbox.
Guys, if you're going to help 'make em', then roll up your sleeves and wade in.




Why? Questions with no answers

Why, Why, Why?

Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are dying?

Why do banks charge a fee on "insufficient funds" when they know there is not enough money?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?




Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?

Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when you throw a revolver at him?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Whose idea was it to put an "S" in the word "lisp"?

If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

Why is it that no matter what color bubble bath you use the bubbles are always white?


Is there ever a day that mattresses are not on sale?


Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator as though it has been magically refilled? Magic is the mom, folks.



Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum one more chance?

Why is it that no plastic bag will open from the end on your first try?

How do those dead bugs get into enclosed light fixtures?

When we are in the supermarket and someone rams our ankle with a shopping cart then apologizes for doing so, why do we say, "It's all right?" Well, it isn't all right, so why don't we say, "That really hurt, why don't you watch where you're going?"


Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table you always manage to knock something else over?



In winter, why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?

How come you never hear father-in-law jokes?

The statistics on sanity is that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of your three best friends -- if they're okay, then it's you.


Friday Funnies - I don't have the answers to these questions. Not sure the answers exist. However, if they made you smile or even laugh, then the questions have served their Friday purpose.

Do drop by my porch again.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Readers For Life

#readersforlife, RWA supports literacy. As of 2016, $1M raised for fund. Outstanding. 2017: Orlando, When: Saturday, July 29, 3:00–5:00 ET pic.twitter.com/kAkcc4C4tf

— K.M.Saint James (@LoneStarMeander) July 25, 2017">Readers for Life

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Don't Slow That Pace


Slowing the pace or resolving a major character conflict at the end of the chapter or scene gives your reader an opportunity to:

1) put down your fabulous writing
2) turn off the light
3) and dream about some other author's characters



Not quite a Kiss Goodbye - but too close for any aspiring author who has designs on a Best Seller list.
Make your readers hang around and hang on, forcing them to read through what would be a natural place to break.

How?

Use strong hooks.

As writers, we WANT to finish the thought, to build to the end - always pushing the conflict up the next notch. BUT - and it's a huge BUT, resolution is the last thing that needs to happen at the end of a chapter. Break the action right in the middle, leave the reader asking the question, ‘What happens next?’ or even ‘OMG, I’ve got to find out more.’; and you’ll provide all the incentive readers need to keep . . . well, to keep reading.

Character answers are a must.
Readers won't tolerate being left hanging or in the dark - indefinitely.


But like good whiskey - a shot at a time is the best way to enjoy.

Instead of wrapping a chapter - Weave the answer through the beginning of the next chapter or scene. Leave the thread dangling until the reader absolutely needs to know. There is power in the payoff with this technique.

Certain notable authors published their works as serials: Louisa May Alcott in A Long Fatal Love Chase, early Louis L'Amour works, and YA author, Gary Paulsen, started his work in 'shorts'.

THE POINT?

They believed and used . . . the HOOK.


If you're unfamiliar with STRONG HOOKS, then familiarize yourself with the above listed authors. Sometimes oldies really are golden.

Still not convinced?

Are you watching this season's AGT?
Before every commercial break . . . here's what's coming -- stay tuned, don't leave the room, keep watching.
How about the news? Pick any station broadcast. They honestly spend more time telling you what they're going to tell you, than the actual 'telling' of the news story. Why? . . . here's what's coming -- stay tuned, don't leave the room, keep watching.

What do these major entities know that is important to writers?
Stay tuned, don't leave the room, keep . . . reading.


If you wrap the scene up, put a bow on it, give the package away . . . guess what? Your readers aren't forced to 'stay tuned and keep reading'.


From my WIP - The Grave Digger - protagonist, Emma McBride has come to town to visit her godfather, Gus, who owns The Red Belly Bar. Gus is Emma's closest living relative, and the man who has protected her for years. To catch up on the latest news, Emma is pumping Margot, long-time friend, and the godfather's secret crush.


“Burke? Who is Burke?” Emma searched her memory, drawing a blank, but not liking the fact that some man, some stranger had convinced her godfather what was best. “Is that one of the infamous card buddies?”

“No.” Margot seemed to draw out the answer. “I thought Gus had spoken to you of this matter.”

“What matter?” Tension knotted in Emma’s stomach. She might only happen through town twice a year, but she checked in on a weekly basis. “What is it I don’t know?”

“Gabriel Burke, he runs the business. Each day, for the last six months. Shortly after your last visit, he came.” Margot's snow white brows knitted in concentration. “No one expected him to stay. Then one day, he is a partner with your godfather at the Red Belly bar.”

With a nudge against the china, Emma pushed away the remains of her snack and focused all her attention on her companion. “Exactly how sick is Gus? And tell me the straight of it. ”

Confusion then a bit of anger sparked the older woman’s gaze. “I do not keep the secrets from you, child. But it would seem your godfather has kept too many.”

* * *

If storms came in the form of gauzy lace shirts then the gypsy-like creature, who’d just whirled through the Red Belly bar’s front door, appeared to be a heavy-duty downpour. Faded jeans hugged all the right curves and stopped above a pair of slim ankles. Some nonsense of strappy leather sandals crisscrossed her feet. Pure California or some reincarnated flower child was Burke’s first thought. Until she pulled free the wide-brimmed hat and shook her head. A waterfall of blonde strands unfurled like golden silk down to her slim waist. Then the woman turned and Gabriel Burke stopped thinking at all.

This scene is in Chapter One, the closing of Emma's POV and her scene, and then the opening into Gabriel's POV and his scene. *** marks the spot. The conversation is designed to leave the reader asking questions. It's already established how much Emma loves her godfather, how she visits this specific town to spend time with her godfather, even how Emma expects - as we often do - that her godfather will live forever. Now, she's learned he's ill. That someone - some stranger - has influenced her godfather's decisions. Someone who's only been in town a short time, and now has partnership in her godfather's bar. You bet she has questions, and so does the reader.

Share a hook from your WIP, or one from your favorite books.

As always, you’re welcome to drop by my back porch. It’s heating up here in the deep south. BBQ is on the grille (Veggies, too) and beer in the cooler. Drop on by anytime.

Until next time
~Sandra

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bungling your Blogging - TAKE I

In my daily perusal – read – of a multitude of blog and websites, I’ve discovered some uh-oh moments. Despite the type of blog, the number of individuals involved with the blog, or the purpose of the writing, the mistakes exist. No Grammar Police hat worn here. But I will say that on-page mistakes threaten our reader's pleasure.

Good writing is hard work. More importantly, easy reading is harder work.


GOOD GRAMMAR -- Wait! Don't stop reading yet.

I know . . . I know . . .The word GRAMMAR should be issued in a whisper.
Ears snap closed like a gator before his midnight snack.
Patience, Padawan - this could be useful information.


I’m aware of the Kurt Vonnegut Tweet circulating that condemns the semicolon as a useless brush with higher education and writers would do well to exorcise (not quite Linda Blair in The Exorcist, but close) the tiny punctuation mark from their prose.


Well, you caught me. I did go to university. I did study English (English Composition minor). So, I’m guilty of exercising - not exorcising - advanced punctuation. However, if you don’t know the difference between a semicolon (;) and a colon (:) and when to use each, then you have a writer's duty: learn it.

WHY? Is that your writer's duty?


Q: How can you possibly break grammatical rules if you don’t know them?
A: You can’t.

Kurt might have hated the semicolon, but the man knew how to use it before tossing it out of his literary realm.



Brief explanation –
Use a semicolon to bring together two complete sentences (related sentences) without a conjunction.

**The hard-drinking party girl closed down the bar; her next day was spent hugging the ceramic throne.**
Two related sentences. Same subject in both sentences. Second sentence demonstrates the result of the first sentence.

The much-maligned semicolon certainly sports more uses than the one above, but to strengthen writing without sending the brain into grammatical shock – pick out one aspect of a semicolon and develop the habit.

Painless? Not necessarily.
Guaranteed writing growth? Probably.
Stronger reader comprehension? Absolutely.

And if you’re taking the time to share your thoughts, advice, information with readers, make it worth their reading while.

I’d planned a short discussion on comma and phrases and clauses and then realized . . . there is no such thing as a short discussion for the comma.

Lengthy subject: The Chicago Manual of Style, 7th Edition, dedicates fifty-five (55) pages to the use of the comma.

Please, if your version of the manual style has a different page count on the ubiquitous comma, don’t notify me. I’ll take your word for it. Suffice it to say, the comma covers a great deal of written ground. If unfamiliar with the comma, consider some of the suggested reading listed below.

However, grammar lessons isn’t over – in this knock-out round, let’s discuss,


Subject – Verb VS. Subject - Predicate


I chose this picture because I’m envious of anyone with this conditioning. Ring-side managers would need to call out paramedics/chiropractors if I even managed to get my leg in this position.

Yet, the picture is accurate for many of us (I’ll include myself here, thank you very much) in readily knowing and understanding the difference between Subject – Verb and Subject – Predicate.

For bloggers, who venture to amazing places, enjoying delicacies I can often not pronounce or engage in hang-gliding, sky-diving, rock-climbing that I’d not be brave enough to try; for the newbie writers finding their literary feet; for the article innocents preparing for the world of submission and rejection, I beg you to learn the basis of sentence structure for Verb VS Predicate.

Simple sentence:
She danced.

She is the subject.
Danced is the verb. (A verb that shows action.)

I said it was a simple sentence, but now it gets a bit trickier.

What if the verb didn’t show action? What if the verb was one of those sly ‘state of being’ verbs?

Forms of to be

be, am, is, are, was, were, been, being

Other Linking Verbs

appear, become, feel, grow, look, seem, remain, smell, sound, stay, taste, turn

Simple sentence:
She tasted.

What? What did she taste? Isn’t taste an action? I always thought so, but if it’s an action verb, why doesn’t the sentence seem complete?

Because taste is a tricky linking verb and now needs a predicate to modify – to complete the sentence.

She tasted the sweet flavor of the season’s first apple.
She tasted the bitterness of defeat.
She tasted salty. (Tasted salty? Who would think that, much less write it?)
As he nibbled her neck, she tasted salty.

Don’t wrinkle your nose. If you’ve read a handful of romance books, you’ve encountered something similar.

The point is:

What comes after ‘tasted’ is vital to sentence comprehension, which means ‘tasted (verb required for a predicate) the sweet flavor of the season’s first apple’ is in fact a PREDICATE.

A PREDICATE or better known as that which modifies the subject of a sentence. In this case, the subject is ‘she’.

All right, before your brain explodes from grammar TNT, I’ll remind you that as a writer, you must possess – and actually – read grammar HOW TO books.



A few healthy examples : The Chicago Manual of Style













English Grammar for Dummies






Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips.




If you want to be considered a Professional Writer, even a semi-competent writer, then EARN IT!

Homework doesn’t end just because you are an adult. If anything, it’s a more serious form of homework.
Whether Ms. Smith gave you an A on a writing composition isn’t nearly as important as if your readers enjoy the stories you share, the information you impart, or the wisdom you reveal.


Don’t bungle your blogging.


Oh, and if you've been paying attention, you'll have a read a number of colons (:) in this blog: find them.



Summer is in full 'steam' on the back porch. Do drop by again.

Texas sayings

~Watch your step! Cacti, tumbleweeds, and an occasional armadillo might be ahead.

~Welcome to the land of tar-bubbling summers, gas-guzzling pickup trucks, standard Stetson headgear, and mile-high hair.

~Welcome to the Lone Star State, and Romance With A Texas Twist!

Quote of the Day