Monday, July 28, 2014
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
A fellow author and friend from my historical critique group, Jen Black, posted a very informative blog, making reference to another site where she found the original post. It'd point you to Pat Holt's blog, but I'm not even sure of the date since I'm re-sharing this from my own personal blog in 2009. I'm camping, so I've scheduled this in advance.
|Now available as Sarah's Heart and Passion|
I've borrowed Ms. Holt's "headers" and used ones I can apply to myself. I invite you to do the same if you're an author:
We all have favorite phrases we use in our writing, the secret is to avoid over-using them. Word echoes, especially when you use the same word within one paragraph warn of redundancy and are best avoided. Here's a silly example: John placed his glass on the table and gazed at Vanessa. Tipping her glass, Vanessa smiled over the rim and sipped her drink. When finished, she lifted her glass in a toast. John hoisted his glass into the air.
Are we sick of 'glass?' I think this is one habit I've learned, but still slip into occasionally. Luckily, I have my critique group to help. Ask them and they'll tell you that I drive them crazy in my critiques of their work with highlighting echoes. It's a pet peeve when I read, but that doesn't mean I don't do it when I write.
2. Flat Writing:
I'm not so sure I've fallen into this habit, but Ms. Holt warns "it's a sign you've lost interest." I've seen this in books I've read, and often wonder the purpose of phrases that do nothing to propel the story and really add nothing to the plot. I suspect they may not really indicate a lost interest, rather are the author's attempt to reach a mandadated word count. *smile* My problem is not losing interest, it's losing the voices in my head who tell me what to write. When my characters fall silent, my fingers won't work.
3.. Empty Adverbs:
Boy, I'm trying to break this habit, and it isn't easy. Examples: actually, totally, absolutely, completely, continually, constantly, literally, really..) The list goes on and on, and for story telling, they seem appropriate, but replacing 'ly' words with stronger verbs is the answer in fiction writing. Of course, 'ly' words have a place. If you eliminate all, your writing will become too stiff. There's a secret here and I'm trying to uncover it. I think I've made progress.
4. Phony Dialogue:
What I gleaned from Ms. Holt is the need to make your characters unique. We all have distinct voices and habits, so try to convey those to the reader rather than have everyone sound alike. Speak with a unique voice for each character by not using the same phrasing, and make the dialogue realistic. Stop and think....would my character really say that?
As with 'ly' and 'ing' words, some 'ness' words sprinkled into the story have a place, but adding so many that a reader has to stop and absorb them or re-read is not a good sign. Examples: mindlessness, courageousness. Another habit we slip into is often adding 'ly' to 'ing' words in our descriptive tags...often described as "Tom Swiftees.: Poor example, but the best I can come up with: "That was a refreshing dip," the boy said, swimingly. If I do this, I'm certainly not aware of it.
6. To Be Words:
This has been a toughie for me but a common practice for English authors. In my opinion,'to be' words slow the pace of your writing and often move your tense to passive rather than unveiling the story in the present. 'Was, were, be, being, been...' are common examples of passive, but of course cannot all be eliminated. The secret is finding a happy medium.For me it doesn't make sense to indicate something might happen as opposed to showing the reader something as it happens. I.e., He moved to open the window. He opened the window. Of course I've sure you recognize, the window had been opened, as being passive.
I don't believe I fall into his habit anymore, but I sure have read the work of several authors, especially newbies who have. An example would be trying to 'list' everything on a buffet table. Before you name everything, the reader is yawning and may have tossed the book aside. "Cecile's stomach rumbled as she gazed at the eggs, potatoes, hot rolls, oatmeal, toast, jelly, butter, bananas, apples, pears,plums, and pots of hot coffee and tea on the table." Listing a little to give the reader is a much better idea...maybe her mouth watered at the hot baked bread, and then let the reader smell it by describing the smell of yeast.
8. Show Don't Tell:
Oh, Lord, have I come a long way on this one. I actually 'get' the concept. When I completed and submitted my first manuscript, my editor said, "You've written a beautiful story. Now we have to make it into a novel." I wondered at her meaning, but until you weave in the smells, emotions, actions by drawing the reader in and allowing them the experience, you really have only TOLD a story. The secret is SHOWING so when your heroine cries, so does the reader. Let the wind caress the reader's face, let them smell the flowers, feel the slap. If you aren't there yet, believe me, some editor will help you along. *big grin*
9. Awkward Phrasing:
I think the best rule of thumb is KISS (keep it simple, stupid.) If you are writing a sentence so long and so strangely worded that it requires more than one reading, you've failed this test. I believe I used to do this, but now I've learned from many editorial whippings to shorten sentences for emphasis and ease of comprehension. No reader likes to get to the end of a long drawn out sentence and scratch their head. Unless of course they have dandruff. *lol*
Speaking of scratching one's head... this one has me stumped. Just when I think I understand and follow the written rules of good punctuation, a publishing house decides to try to eliminate commas. I guess you have to follow your publishing guidelines, but my belief is: If you have two sentences joined together with 'and or but' you need a comma, and if there is a natural pause, a comma is called for. Commas also clarify things for the reader when one word follows another and doesn't make sense if read together without a pause. My mind is too numb from all these rules to give you an example, but I think you understand.
So...I encourage you to go back to the link and read Ms. Holt's full post, and Jen's too. The examples are all helpful and encourage continued learning. I know I benefited from reading them and I'm happy to pass along the wisdom.
Monday, July 21, 2014
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Here's the blurb:
Sarah Collins set her sights for California and a new beginning, but never imagines a war party's attack on the wagon train she joins. A sole survivor, Sarah must find her way back to civilization, and a man of half-blood happens along at just the right time and becomes her hero...or is the whole scenario only a dream driven by all the romance novels she reads as an editor?
Sarah wakes, her cheeks damp with tears. Like a dust devil in a dying windstorm, all traces of her handsome rescuer vanish with a farewell kiss and the annoying blast of an alarm clock...until he appears at her door as a new neighbor. Will Sarah find a way to win the love she tried so hard to capture in her dream without being declared insane, or will the sexy woman living an apartment away beat Sarah at her own game?
Previously published as Sarah's Heart and Sarah's Passion, this edition combines both stories
Monday, July 14, 2014
Here are a few additional excerpts from my Texas Devlins series showing the use of color:
From Dashing Irish – At a Saturday night social, Lil Crawford’s impression of the man her parents have forced her to accept as her escort:
Friday, July 11, 2014
(This article was first published at Western Fictioneers.)
In the Old West, Independence Day had the honor of being the most celebrated holiday of the year. Not Christmas, you ask? First, remember that Christmas wasn’t commercialized to the extent it is today, and second, December 25 is often not good traveling weather. But July 4th was an ideal time for celebration — good weather, and people needed a break from all their hard work in the fields, mines, or on the range.
THE FOURTH OF JULY IN TOWN, BOILED DOWN.- National salute from a 12-pounder, at sunrise, for which we may thank Charley Bowen’s patriotic gizzard.- Music by the Band from the balcony of the Court House, at 9 o’clock, a.m., and from the balcony of the Owyhee Exchange, a 7½ p.m. The boys toot their horns infinitely better than we had reason to expect.- Firecrackers, the delight of youth, but the bane of old age—plenty all day long.- Lots of folks went to Wagontown; our reporter hasn’t come to time.- Of those who stopped at home, comparatively few got beastly drunk, and few had heads put on them.- Banners flying, and ladies flitting around all day getting ready for the Ball.- Ball at night, huge success, both financially and otherwise.- Fireworks, no good.- Ball supper, at the Idaho Hotel, magnify.; good grub and well cooked, fault of Gus, chef de cuisine; served up in a style that can’t be beat, owing to the exquisite taste of Charley Umber, dining room captain.- Fine day; beautiful night. Finis.
THE WAGONTOWN RACES. Our Wagontown reporter furnishes us with the following account of the races, which took place there on the 4th and 5th.On the 4th, the saddle purse and 2d class racehorse purse were run for. Entries for the saddle purse: Muller, Lucy Cook and Springer’s “Molly.” Molly beat Mullet by 5 feet, and owing to a bad start Lucy Cook whipped both the others all the way through. Second class racehorse purse contended for by Gray Jack, Milty or Malheur and Nannie Hunt. Nannie won by 30 feet, chased by Malheur and Gray Jack bringing up the rear. A number of scrub races ended the sport on the 4th.On the 5th a match race came off between Louis Walker’s horse and Weasel, from Boise City, for $600 — Weasel winning by 22 feet. First class racehorse purse was then contended for by Billy Cheatham of Boise Valley, and Tom Walls’ Old Ben, of Wagontown. Betting two to one on Cheatham, but Ben won the race by 18 feet. Scrub races, to numerous to mention, ended the season’s races, which passed off in a highly satisfactory manner.Owing to a painful though not too serious accident to the rider of Charley-Come-Up, he did not run as was expected.
GOVERNMENT SALE. The subsistence and miscellaneous stores and articles on hand at Camp Three Forks Owyhee are to be sold at public auction to-day. Quite a number of our citizens have gone out to attend the sale.
It’s always interesting to see a contemporary account of an event that we’ve all read in the history books. People of the time don’t necessarily see things the way historians do, and this next item, in light of Troy Smith’s series How to Write an Indian When You’re Not One, Part 1 and Part 2, is quite telling. This is also from the July 29, 1871 issue.
RED CLOUD DEPOSED. Lieutenant Quinton writes from Fort Shaw, Montana, that Red Cloud has been superseded by Sitting Bull. It appears that Red Cloud returned to his people with wonderful stories of what he had seen and heard while visiting the Great Father at Washington. Red Cloud saw too much. The Indians say that these things cannot be, and that the white people must have put bad medicine over Red Cloud’s eyes to make him see everything and anything that pleased them, and so Red Cloud lost his influence. Sitting Bull is at war with all Indians who trade or deal with whites, and all those Indians appear to be afraid of him. He says he never will make peace with the whites.
A MAN NAMED JANSEN, in the employ of B. F. Hawes of Bruneau, met with a painful accident on Wednesday at Pole Creek, while hobbling a horse, by which he had the first joint of his thumb pulled off. He came to town at once in company with Joseph Byers, and on Thursday Dr. peters amputated the thumb immediately above the first joint.
We learn that Frank Hoyt of this place was thrown from the upper deck of a mule at Trout creek, on Thursday, and severely injured, though it is hoped not seriously. His head was bruised and it is thought that a rib or so were cracked.
LITTLE SIX-YEAR-OLD BESSIE’S FORTUNE. Little 6-year-old Bessie Lilienthal, who, orphaned by the death of her father, became a pet of her grandfather, Abraham Leffler, is the holder of one-tenth of the $150,000 ticket in the Louisiana State Lottery. Last week her uncle Adolph bought three on-tenth tickets of the Louisiana State Lottery. Across of No. 51,106 he wrote Bessie’s name...
IDAHO REPORTER. We have received the Idaho Reporter, just started at Blackfoot, in this territory, by a publishing company, ex-U. S. District-Attorney White, editor. The paper presents a net appearance, and will, we judge, be anti-polygamous. We wish it success.
CUSHING’S CIRCUS visited Silver City on Sunday and remained until Tuesday morning, when it moved on towards Boise City. It took in a good many dollars here as well as a great number of people. When we say took in a great number of people, we do not intend to say that it was a humbug, for the trapeze performance by the little boy and girl and the aerialist performances were worth one dollar, to say nothing of the extra twenty-five cents for a reserved seat. So far as the circus is concerned, it must be seen to be judged. We make no comments for the reason that we have never seen a circus before, and from the performance we think that the manager of the show imagined that no one else in Idaho ever did.
And a dance:
WE ARE REQUESTED by Judge P. A. Tutt, to state that a dance will be given by him at the Boonville house, on Monday night, July the 27th. The best of music has been engaged for the occasion, and everything that the market affords in the say of edibles will be placed on the supper table. This will be a rare chance for young gentlemen with downy mustaches and smooth tongues to whisper words of consolation in the ears of the gentle sex as they ride undisturbed, beneath the starry heaven from town to Tutts’ dancing hall at Boonville. The admission to dance and supper will be only three dollars.
A COMPANY of Chinese are building quite extensively on Jordan Street, near where Marshall’s blacksmith shop was burned a couple years ago.
SHERIFF Stevens’ residence presents quite an attractive and tidy appearance, with its new green-colored window shutter.
Mrs. Clare Lewis and Miss Emma Cox have made arrangements to lease the Miners’ Hotel and will take charge of it the first of August.
In that same issue, we see their humor when it comes to imbibing in certain beverages.
POST AND GRAHAM. The Avalanche office acknowledges the receipt of a bottle labeled “Strychnine,” from Jno. A. Post. And one labeled “Blue Lightning,” from Ed. Graham, with appropriate directions. Ferd took an overdose of the strychnine — which came near knocking him off his pins — so much for not following directions — but we happened to be present at the time and prescribed a dose of Blue Lightning and his equilibrium was immediately restored. The above gentlemen have each a large assortment of the very best quality of liquors.
- A number of tender-hearted chaps have organized a “Female Protection Society” in Silver City. In order to make a stand-off, the women talk of getting up an institution for the benefit of their male friends, calling it “A Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Owyhee.”
- Two artificial teeth and a fragment of a broken jaw were found in the parlor of the Miners’ Hotel the next morning after they Hyde-Borman wedding. The owner can get them by calling at the Avalanche office.
- Charley Weeks & Co. intend to have a regular coach on between here and Boise City with in a day or two at farthest in opposition to the old line — which, we understand ahs already put the fare down to $5.
- One Dr. A. Turlock was to have lectured in this city on Wednesday night last on “Human Nature and the Science of Medicine.” He failed to get an audience; also , to pay his printing bill.
- Matt Holms is running a branch of his Fairview saloon at the Mahogany mine and doing a lively business.
- Jerry Philips and Frank Hunt went out to the head of Sucker Creek last Thursday and brought in 25 sage-hens and chickens.
- There are five faro games running in town, besides monte, poker, &c., on the side. Quite a number of Boise sports are here and occasionally make it quite lively for the Owyhee boys.
- July 25, 1850: Gold was discovered in Rogue River, Oregon Territory.
- July 5, 1858: William Green Russell, his brothers, and ten other men discover gold in Cherry Creek in what is now Denver, Colorado.
- July 11, 1861: On the Missouri River near Fort Benton, Montana, the steamboat Chippewa, loaded with gunpowder and whiskey, exploded.
- July 12, 1861: Rock Creek, Nebraska – James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok killed Dave McCanles, who didn’t care for Hickok romancing his mistress, Sarah Shull.
- July 1, 1862: The Pacific Railroad Act authorized the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific Railroads to build the transcontinental railroad.
- July 1, 1863: Confederate General Stand Watie, in a failed attempt to capture a Union wagon train, fought against the First Kansas Colored, Third Indian Home Guard, Second Colorado Infantry, Third Wisconsin Cavalry, Sixth and Ninth Kansas Cavalry.
- July 10, 1863: President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Act of Congress to create the Territory of Idaho.
- July 3, 1865: Col. Patrick E. Connor, Fort Laramie, receives orders to protect the Overland Mail Company's stagecoaches from Arapaho Indians.
- July 10, 1866: The 13th Infantry Regiment established Camp Cooke, Montana Territory’s first permanent army post.
- July 8, 1867: Captain Eugene M. Baker and the 1st Cavalry kill two Indians and capture fourteen women and children, and two horses, near the Malheur River.
- July 4, 1869: Emilne Gardenshire won the title “champion bronco buster of the plains” in what some claim as the first rodeo in Deer Trail, Colorado Territory.
- July 26, 1870: Hickman, Kentucky - Charles Goodnight and Molly Dyer were married, then left for Rock Canon, Texas.
- July 3, 1871: Colorado - The Denver and Rio Grande Western Railway Company introduced Montezuma, the first narrow-gauge locomotive.
- July 5, 1881: Tombstone – Sheriff John Behan jailed Doc Holliday for the murder of But Philpot and an attempted stage robbery. Wyatt Earp paid the $5,000 bail.
- July 13, 1882: Strawberry, California - Black Bart (Charles E. Boles) attempted to rob a Wells Fargo stage but instead the driver, George W. Hackett, shot him. Black Bart got away but was wounded in the scalp, which left a permanent scar on his forehead.
- July 3, 1884: Montana Territory - Granville Stuart and his outfit hanged a rustler near Fort Maginnis, according to Teddy Blue (E.C. Abbot).
- July 3, 1887: Pecos, Texas - Rancher Clay Allison, renowned gunman, fell off his buckboard. The wheel rolled over his head and he was killed.
- July 1, 1892: The Dalton Gang robbed $11,000 from a train near Red Rock in the Cherokee Strip.
- July 20, 1889: Sand Creek Gulch, Wyoming – Ella Watson, known as Cattle Kate, and James Avrill were lynched for rustling.
- July 8, 1897: Skagway, Alaska Territory - Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith and Frank Reid were shot. Soapy died immediately and Reid died twelve days later.
May your saddle never slip.
Monday, July 7, 2014
But, while the windmill did wonders for Texas cattle ranches, I'd like to share with you a short video I took of the power of windmills in The Netherlands. At the Zaanse Schans, they had on display a 18th century laundry. The windmill powered the mechanism that agitated three tubs of wash. I was fascinated.
Friday, July 4, 2014
Relaxing along Yellowstone Lake at Storm Point
Hellroaring Creek Trail
Hiking to Shoshone Lake
The resident Uinta Ground Squirrel in camp. We named him Phil
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
|An early edition of Cosmopolitan|
|Hearst's International Combined with Cosmopolitan|
|William Randolph Hearst|