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Too Much Salt Kills the Broth

Too Much Salt Kills the Broth

It is a fact that, when writing descriptions, less is more. If you overload your descriptions with too many adjectives and pile them on, the reader’s eyes glaze over. I’m one of those readers who mutters,” Oh, for heaven’s sake,” and skips whole paragraphs or even pages.

I once read three paragraphs at the beginning of a book about the moon. The author was in love with moonrise and she just couldn’t shut up.

I just couldn’t continue.

Another funny thing is the F word. It has the effect of making words and even thoughts disappear. Too many F words in a paragraph and your eyes glaze over and you come to the conclusion that there isn’t a cogent – or sane – thought in the entire paragraph.

Most people, however, who use the F word liberally think that it peppers their words, gives emphasis to their ideas, and makes people pay attention.

It does the exact opposite.

It’s like salting a good broth too much. It ruins it.

Once More Into the Breach, Y’all

Once More Into the Breach, Y’all

I’ve always maintained that I’m not a programmer, developer, or coder. I haven’t a clue what I’m doing in the back end of my website and prefer to NEVER go there. I don’t DO PhP and I don’t mess with CSS, either. (I was really proud of myself when I finally got HTML, but wouldn’t you know, I hardly deal with HTML.)

I use the Genesis framework for WordPress to run my website. Genesis makes everything easier for coders, developers, and programmers and is very security conscious. If you’re not a coder, developer, or programmer you’re pretty much lost. My website has stayed the same for years because, well, I’m pretty much lost. However, I just discovered that I could change from the Genesis framework and Genesis child themes and go to something a heck of a lot more user friendly.

Color me thrilled.

I finished the book on Christmas night, so it has been put away for awhile to percolate. I don’t touch it during this time. My mind, however, is still thinking about it so I will be making notes to make sure I said certain things, or that character issues are spelled out, that descriptions are adequate, that sort of thing. January 15th I will start the final read of the book on my Kindle. I’ve already had the computer read it to me, so that’s done.

All of that frees me up to screw up my website to my heart’s content.

So, if you see things that look weird or broken, don’t panic. That’s just me messing everything up and hopefully having a wonderful time doing it. 🙂

Are Writers Nuts?

Are Writers Nuts?

I was listening to the podcast of a well-known and popular author the other day. I respect him as an author and a public speaker. However, he managed to surprise me with a comment.

He said that all writers and actors are nuts. 

The reason? Well, in order to dig deep in their portrayal of characters, actors often re-visit old traumas. Instead of allowing these traumas to heal they use them, constantly peeling off the scab, refreshing the sadness, pain, or angst involved in a particular trauma. Writers, too, feed off of their own experiences of pain in order to convey them with authenticity.

His point was that we shouldn’t listen to actors when they tell us how to vote or think about cultural topics because these people are not psychologically healthy. In that same vein, neither are writers.

You’re probably going to be surprised when I say that I partially agree with him.

Of all the literary genres, romance is probably the healthiest one for writers. I’ve often wondered about horror writers. What must being terrorized/being a terror do to the human psyche? You see, I believe that a writer has to feel what he writes. He has to experience it. Otherwise, what you have is a surface kind of writing that never truly reaches you. You don’t feel a connection.

I don’t read “literary fiction” because I don’t want to be depressed. It’s my feeling that the author probably has had a significant experience in her life and replays it in words.

Do I revisit certain pain points in my own life? Yes. I can’t help but do so when something comes too close. For example, a certain scene in To Love a Duchess tore me up. Not because it was identical to something I experienced, but because it resurrected certain feelings. Anyone who’s ever read Tapestry will know that I replayed a lot of personal angst in that book.

Does that mean that I consider myself psychologically unhealthy? Nope. I’m pretty centered with my head screwed on straight. I write romance so I get to experience lots and lots of joyous emotions. In other words, all the good things that can happen to people. I am, however, cognizant of the dangers of writing and of going to those dark places all the time. Writing is sometimes painful and that isn’t a confession you’ll hear a lot when you visit writing forums. Writing pulls emotions from the depths of you.

A couple of years ago I had the idea for this really fascinating, creepy story. I couldn’t finish it because it scared me to death. Yes, I can scare myself. Maybe I was giving voice to something within me that should have remained buried and undisturbed. (And maybe that’s why I wonder about horror writers.) 🙂

What’s your opinion? As a reader, have you ever read something that made you certain the author had experienced a version of it? As a writer, do you wonder about how “deep” you get into emotions?

Technology Woes

Technology Woes

I had the most fun this past Thursday and Friday doing something odd on my computer.

As you know if you’ve read the blog for any length of time I dictate the first draft of every book. It helps me get the words out of my brain and onto the page. Plus it saves my wrists. I occasionally get carpal tunnel pain and I don’t want it to increase.

I’ve used Dragon NaturallySpeaking since it first came out. I’ve also used ViaVoice and every other speech to text program there is. I’ve always come back to Dragon because I think it’s the best. Right now, they are the only company that makes a speech to text program for Mac. 

Well, in late October they announced that they were no longer going to support Dragon for Mac. That means that they aren’t going to continue to generate new versions, either. I think, from what I’ve read, that the problem begins at Apple, not Nuance – who makes Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Something about Apple limiting developer access to certain functions on the Mac, etc.

I’ve always thought that Dragon for Mac was a poor substitute compared to Dragon for Windows. I absolutely adored Dragon for Windows because it was simple, easy to correct mistakes, and the voice recognition ability was superb. Dragon for Mac is like a wagon next to a Jaguar. It’s pretty much a pain. I’ve been thinking of getting a Windows laptop strictly to run Dragon for Windows, but then the other day I thought about installing Parallels again.

Parallels is a program that you put on Mac that allows you to run the Windows operating system. When I first used it years ago it was a disaster. I couldn’t get it to work. I don’t know what the problem was. Last year when I bought this iMac I went whole hog, if you’ll pardon the expression. I bought a super loaded machine. I have a 2 TB fusion hard drive and RAM out the wazoo. It has one of the best video and sound cards you can buy. In other words, it was probably overkill. However, if any machine can handle a virtual operating system, this one can.

I am thrilled to report that I installed Parallels, then Windows 10, then an antivirus software program, and then Dragon for Windows. Everything works. Everything works beautifully. Maybe it was the new, improved Mac operating system, Mojave. Maybe I just figured out how to install it correctly. Maybe it was just luck. I don’t care what it is – it works!

Anyway, pardon me for being technical, or pseudo-technical. I’m just happy I got everything to work. It was an absolute pleasure working on Friday and I just kept dictating and dictating. I’m dictating 6000 words a day and if I can find the software that makes it easier, I’m all for it.

Right now I’m bopping between the two operating systems because I can dictate directly into Scrivener from Dragon for Mac. However, I am ready for the next update to Mac’s operating system to cause problems with Dragon. That’s the way it normally happens.

Oh, if you’ve never used Dragon Anywhere I highly recommend it. It allows me to dictate on my phone and that really helps when I am in the backyard or having to wait in my car for some reason. Like all Dragon products it’s not cheap, but it’s really worth it. 

Have you ever used Parallels or Dragon for Mac or Windows? Are you a Windows person or a Mac person? 

Page Proofs – Shudder

Page Proofs – Shudder

Someone asked me once – during an interview – what I disliked about writing. My answer, stock though it was, was that there are no bad parts of writing. I think I still stick with that answer, but I have to admit that there’s one part of the whole process that drives me absolutely bonkers.

Page proofs. Ugh.

When I write a book for my publisher, the process is segmented. I send the manuscript to her, she reviews it and returns it (a four month process). I make the changes and it goes back to her. She passes it off to the copyeditor. The copyeditor makes changes and sends it to me. I approve, reject, or add changes and back it goes again. The third part of this 4-6 month process is when I get the page proofs. Those are pages that look exactly like the book, with two book pages on each proof page. They used to be sent to me next day air. Now they’re electronic. My tired little eyes are so happy about that change. There’s a reason I read ebooks more than paperbacks – it’s easy to change the size of the type.

The reason page proofs are so much a pain for me is that I have to check every single word and read slowly. I see sections where I wish I’d changed the wording. It doesn’t flow as well as I’d like. Unfortunately, it’s way too late to change anything major at this stage. By the time I’ve gotten to the end of almost 400 pages I’m a little depressed because I know every single one of those pages where I could have done better. (This is normal for writers, I think. I believe that there are more “down” moments than “up” moments for writers. Writing is a case of accepting those and just moving on.)

All this is to explain that I’ve been doing page proofs for the last two days and I’ve finally finished them. Yay! Nothing is as grueling as page proofs to my eyes and my psyche. 🙂

When I write a book that I publish myself I can do all those steps at once. I actually do a page proof kind of thing by reading the finished book on Kindle, before it’s published. That way I can see what it looks like in the final stage. By the time an independently published book is live it’s had all these stages (with me being editor and copyeditor), but it’s been done in a smaller amount of time. I think that system has spoiled me a little for the “traditional” publishing process.

I’m in the process of writing a new book now and the process starts all over again. I won’t get to the page proof stage on this book until next year. (Thank heavens.)