Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

file5601297827370Gosh, I hope I make sense here. I spent all day at the courthouse and I am flat wore out.

Calm down, y’all, it was only jury duty. But you know, listening to lawyers all day is very tiring. They talk, talk, talk, talk, TALK. They can’t just skip all the repetition and get to the point.

But I can, friends. Which is why I’m directing you to my short-and-to-the-point post over at the Muffin: Making the Most of 25 Words.

And I also want to give a shout out to Canva which I used to make the graphics for that post–for free. All sorts of fun things over there, so take a look when you have a minute.

As for me, I’m sticking a fork in it, y’all. I’m done.

Eating Kindle Crow

So I love The Andy Griffith Show and this particular episode is easily in my Top Five:

I love the humor, I love Opie, and as always, I love the message. But it’s the tag line at the end that I love the best: “Well, you and Aunt Bee are having fried chicken. And I’m having crow.”

My crow-eating story begins when Youngest Junior Hall gave me his old Kindle this Christmas.

You see, I refused to buy a Kindle. I got way up there on my high horse and declared that I would not support Amazon. No Kindle for me. No, sir.

But I had friends with ebooks and they were on Kindle. And there were free books all the time, and they were offered on Kindle. So I downloaded the free Kindle app and put it on my laptop. That was showing ’em!

Except…I have trouble reading on Precious the Laptop.

I love Precious, I do. But she’s a bit long in the tooth. She weighs a TON and she loses her zing after a couple hours and…well, snuggling up with her in bed is just not conducive to sweet dreams and such. So all those books in my Kindle library on Precious the Laptop sort of just…languished there.

Unread.

Ignored.

Unloved.

And then Youngest Junior Hall gave me the Kindle. And we moved a lot of my books to that device. “Oh,” I said. “That’s nice, John. But I’ll probably never read ’em.”

“Maybe you’ll just use it for the games,” he said. “But you’ll have the books, for when you want to read them.”

“But I won’t read ’em,” I said.

“Whatever,” he said.

And then I had to go out of town for a while and I didn’t want to take my library books…so I grabbed the Kindle. And I finally finished the delightful Anywhere But Paradise by my friend, Anne Bustard. I finished it because it was so easy to read on my Kindle.

Yeah.

So now I owe Youngest Junior Hall one of his favorites. I reckon John will be having my world-famous mac ‘n cheese. And I’ll be eating a big helping of Kindle crow.

Catching Up (And So It Begins)

file0001845637670First day of February and I haven’t changed my calendar yet. (Or put away all the holiday stuff. Or returned my overdue library books…)

It looks like my word for 2016 is not going to be CHALLENGE. It’s going to be another C-word: CATCH-UP. And so I’ll start with the Muffin post I shared over the weekend (and forgot to mention until just now.)

I’ve probably written about the subject of finding your own style (and voice) numerous times; I suspect that means I have slip-ups and fall into that old trap of comparing myself to others, falling short, and then trying to write all fancy-schmancy. You can see what I mean in “Stepping Out in Your Own (Writing) Style.”

Fortunately, I always find my way back to me (and my own personal style). I suppose that’s why I used the Popeye quote (“I am what I am.”) instead of getting all fancy-schmancy and quoting Shakespeare.

But I could’ve quoted Polonius from Hamlet, if I’d wanted. I mean, I know the fancy-schmancy quotes, even if I don’t go around spouting them:

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Yeah, Mister Man would probably roll his eyes if I threw that quote around. But I bet he’d drop off my library books, if I asked real nice.

 

The Search For the Great Beginning

file000495818648I came across a post, “Ten Great Openings to Recent YA and MG Literature by Jim Woehrle” over at Nerdy Book Club and of course, I had to read it. I mean, great openings? I was hooked.

There is nothing in my writing that I spend as much time on as my opening. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog post over at WOW!Women-on-Writing or one of my full-length manuscripts. I agonize over the beginning because…well, the beginning is almost everything.

The first line–or lines–must hook the reader. And those introductory words set the tone for all that follows. A good beginning is golden, and can make up for a multitude of messes that come later. But a bad beginning? There is no later with a sucky start.

Sometimes, when I’m stuck on the beginning, I’ll just start writing the meat of the post or story or book. The ending will often help me when I go back to write the beginning. But other times, I just can’t get anything right if I start out wrong.

And I can feel it in my writing bones when I’ve nailed a beginning. In fact, I’ve come up with a great first line with no idea for a story when suddenly, the story takes off. Just because of a great beginning.

So, I’ve read a couple of those books recommended by Jim Woehrle, and I’ll add a few of them to my To Be Read list, based solely on the beginning. And now, how about you?

Do you write your beginning last? First? Any tips on those 0h-so-important first lines? And what’s your recommendation for a great beginning? Because I often learn from reading, and besides, I just love a great beginning!

 

Back with a Bang (And Lisa Ricard Claro)

Wait a minute.

Wait just a dang minute. Is it January 19th already?

Well, before we get all “Sunrise, Sunset”, let’s join my very special guest today, Lisa Ricard Claro (who, I might add, is well worth the wait we’ve had here).

Lisa Ricard Claro-300x481If you’re a regular reader at the blog, then you know Lisa. She comments all the time, and I suspect many of you have followed her, just because you’ve enjoyed her wit and warmth. You also know that she released the first novel in her Fireflies romance trilogy last year (and you may even know that her second book is due to release  in a few weeks). But did you know that she’s parlayed her writing skills into yet another writing venture, as an editor?

Yep, Lisa’s got a new gig: Ricard Writing and Editing! And she’s here today to give us the scoop. (And a surprise!)

1. How and why did Lisa the Writer decide to add a Lisa the Editor hat?

Hi, Cathy. Thanks for inviting me to be here.

My editorial business grew organically. Other authors requested my services as a copy, line, and developmental editor, and as a writer of back cover blurbs, queries, bios, etc. Eventually, it became apparent that I had developed a viable business. More than that, I love doing it, love helping other authors.

2. Editing is  so challenging, though. What’s the hardest part about your work as an editor?

My type-A personality is my biggest foe. I perform my editing work at a snail’s pace because I’m a perfectionist and don’t want to miss any detail. My speed doesn’t affect my clients, because I meet deadlines and don’t charge by the hour, but by the page. It sure makes for sore eyes at the end of the day, though!

3. I’ll bet! But there has to be a favorite part of editing work, right?

I love helping people! I’m honored when an author entrusts his/her work to me. As an author myself, I understand what a gift that is. Helping others succeed is fulfilling in ways that nothing else can match. And honestly, I love doing it.

Ricard_websize logo

4. So who are the writers who need your services? What do you tell a writer who has a critique group or partner about spending money for editing services?

All writers will benefit from the skills of a good editor. Authors are too close to their work to view it with the objectivity required to search and destroy those things that weaken it. Also, authors submitting work to agents/editors want to be sure they’re sending polished manuscripts.

Industry fees vary widely, so it isn’t surprising that authors balk. It’s tempting to trust your critique partner(s) to set you straight. But do those trusted associates know the correct use of em dashes to denote action in the middle of dialogue or why the incomplete sentence you think is brilliant slows the pace of that third paragraph in chapter three? Beware, especially, of critique groups where everyone has a differing opinion.

Example: A client asked for a comprehensive edit on her novel. I sensed she wasn’t ready for that full service and suggested a ten page test (recommended for new

clients). After completion of this, she opted to trash the whole manuscript and return to her original version of the book. She had made so many changes based on the opinions of people in her critique group that she had subjugated the theme of her novel. She benefitted from one pair of eyes that cut through the layers to see the story she wanted to tell.

5. Excellent answer, Lisa! Now here’s the next next tough question: do you have another hat in store for 2016? Lisa the Publisher? Lisa the RWA President? Lisa the Sommelier? 

Have you been reading my diary?

Publisher may happen. I’d like to self-publish a Fireflies novella for Christmas, but that’s just a gleam in my eye. As to RWA president—you are an optimist! I’d be honored to hold that position, but it’s nowhere on the horizon.

No new hats for 2016. I don’t have room for any. My novel, Love to Believe, book #2 in the Fireflies series, releases January 30th, and book #3 releases July 30th. I’ve been contracted to write a first grade book for an educational market, and I’m in the middle of my current WIP, a romantic mystery. As for the editorial business, I’ve got jobs in the queue and am, of course, open to new clients.

The only new thing is a workshop proposal for the Georgia Romance Writers conference in October. No word on approval yet. Since launching my editorial business, I’ve learned that a lot of authors are unaware of the different types of editors and editing. I know of one author who paid hundreds of dollars to an editor only to discover that the service she received was primarily copy editing. She assumed “editing” meant the whole enchilada—copy, line, and developmental. She was wrong. The workshop I’ve proposed will arm authors with the knowledge required to hire the right editor for the service they need. I believe it will be valuable to most. Maybe that’s a question for your readers: Does this sound like a worthwhile workshop?

If your readers have other questions, they might find the FAQ on my editorial website to be helpful, or they may send me an email. I’ll answer questions in the comments here on your blog, too, Cathy.

Thanks for having me here!

Thanks for dropping in, Lisa! I need a little of whatever you’re having to get my work done!

And now for the surprise: she’s giving a 10% discount until the end of February for any of you who mention you read about her business here at the blog (and that’s on top of her regular discount for military). Wheee!

I’d say best of luck to my wonderful friend in her new business, but you don’t need luck when you have mad skills. So get that writing done, and then go take a look at Lisa Ricard Claro’s to find what kind of editing you need. And be sure and tell her that Cathy C. Hall sent you!