Friday, August 27, 2010

Besides writing...

What are your other hobbies/passions/addictions? Are they inline with writing or on a totally different planet?

Me?

I have a LOT of premium denim - Seven for all Mankind, True Religion, Citizens of Humanity, etc. I used to be very addicted to denim b/c at heart I am very much a jeans and T gal. At one time I owned around 40 but now I have maybe 15 or so pairs. And don't get me started on shoes...though now that I’m a mom these things have taken a backseat. I buy for my daughter instead. :)

I am addicted to skincare/make-up. I worked as a make-up artist at a spa in college as well as for Clinique and loved it. I can recommend a full skincare and make-up routine for practically anyone once I know a little about her skin.

I love to cook, which has resulted in my daughter having a fairly advanced palate. She will only eat foods with lots of flavor and depth. I LOVE Top Chef!

I'm into yoga, but I've been really bad since editing began. I take at a yoga studio that is amazing! This and ping-pong are the only two remotely athletic things that I can do, and both I do fairly well.

How about you? Brag a little! Writing can make us feel both talented and horribly untalented, sometimes on the same day. What are your other hobbies that require less…backbone/patience/coffee? :)

M.B.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mockingjay! Mockingjay! Mockingjay!

I feel like some raging fan screaming at a rock concert. I am so over-the-top excited to read this book. I haven't felt this excited since the release of HP 7, which, yes, I waited in line at midnight to get. I read that book the very night I bought it. And then again two days later b/c I thought I might've missed some important detail. I should be embarrassed, I guess, but I'm not. It is EXTREMELY rare for me to read a book more than once. And even more rare for me to read a book more than twice. I have read all HP's at least 4 times. I've read Hunger Games and Catching Fire both twice, and no doubt will re-read them again. I'm not sure what about books conjures this sort of excitement. I will likely have the book read in a few days and will post my opinion. I would love to know yours. I read often, but will rarely post my opinions. Mainly because I am a tough critic and authors have enough of those out there. As writers, I feel if it isn't positive, then follow mom's trusty rule.

My list of re-reads is short, but I thought in celebration of Mockingjay - which I will no doubt read several times - it would be good to discuss the books that have impacted us or resonated with us enough to re-read over and over and over.

(I'm starting from when I was young)

1. A Wrinkle in Time
2. The Bridge to Terabithia
3. Charlotte's Web
4. Pride and Prejudice (really most Austen)
5. The Da Vinci Code - don't blast me, you know it's a good book!
6. All Harry Potters - numerous times
7. The Lord of the Rings
8. A Christmas Carol
9. Libba Bray's Gemma Doyle trilogy
10. The Shining

There are others, of course, but these are the ones that come to mind. What about you? Have you read the HG's books more than once?

M.B.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What's the deal with -ing?

So, (have you noticed I start nearly all posts with "so" :)) there are two types of -ing phrasing that can be an issue in writing. It is important to note that BOTH are grammatically correct. What's the problem then? The problem is that writing is about storytelling and good storytelling should be tight.

Have you ever heard a story told by a long-winded friend or family member? They go on and on and before long you begin to wonder A - what's the point to this story again and B - when will the story end!

This is the issue with -ing phrasing. Again, storytelling should be tight and PPP’s, at least, can lend themselves to very long sentences that make no sense at all. Some are good, but too much can be as bad as over salting french fries - you're ruining them! :) But, I digress.

There are two types – gerund (or gerundive if you like to be fancy) phrases and present participial phrases (PPP).

What's the difference, you may ask? They are VERY often confused. I read a tweet today from a very public person in the writing world, that comments constantly on "gerundive phrases" when I would bet, yet again, my favorite pair of 7's the tweeter (Ha! I almost typed twit, on accident...maybe.) is talking about PPP's at least half the time.

Let's delve into them, shall we? Simply put, a gerund phrase functions as a noun, whereas a PPP functions as an adjective.

First, let's go over a few easy ways to tell the difference then I'll list a few examples:

1. PPP cheat - If the -ing phrase starts the sentence and ends with a comma followed by a stand alone sentence, then often not, it's a PPP. This type of sentence is commonly used, but rarely makes for easy reading. Check out the example below:
EXAMPLE: Washing the car, Jason hurt his back.

2. GP cheat - The -ing begins the sentence and is immediately followed by a verb. So you have – GP, verb, infinitive
EXAMPLE: Running a mile is great exercise.

3. PPP's can require commas for various reasons. If you can remove it from the sentence, wherever the placement, then commas are necessary. If you cannot and it is a vital part of the sentence then no commas. A GP will practically never require commas.

Now it gets complicated:

PPP - The bartender even saw Jason falling off the stage.

GP - Jason hates falling off the stage.

Okay - my brain is fried now. I hope this helps and that you can see why too many of the above can be an issue!

And now, links to give you more details and examples:

Purdue's GP explanation - http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/627/01/
Purdue's PPP explanation - http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/627/02/

M.B. :)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How and what do you line edit?

I am working on a final line edit and was curious -- how do most writers line edit?

I re-read each chapter and do the following:

1. Smooth out the writing adding anything necessary to make sure it flows correctly.

2. Check for typos.

3. Double check punctuation - though this one is a toughie for me. I'm a firm believer that most writers should go to a comma AA group. My crit group adds comma's to my sub's that I would never dare put there. This is again the drag of my day job. My undergrad was in Communication but specific to business. So, press releases, memos, public speaking, etc. And one of my lit professors despised comma's and I guess it stuck! :) I have to force myself to add them in.

4. Double check for repetitive words.

5. Double check for my overused words - "could" is really my verb of choice, not "was." Then there's the weed "that" and the worm "just." And let's not forget the over use of gestures! Some I allow to fly b/c they support the voice of my MC, but when able I trim.

I work for a printer, so typically I print a hard copy and place it in a binder with tabs for my chapter starts. I then take a red pen to the MS. Once I've line edited 10 chapters, I add the changes to the Word doc. I aim at at least 5 chapters a day.

How about you? What do you line edit out and how do you go about it? Give me some tips to speed up the process.

M.B.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Finally, finally, finally done!

Yes, I am super excited to say that I have completed the final revision of my current MS. I am exhausted, mentally and physically but it is done!

This was very much a rewrite as opposed to revision. In total, I would say I applied four revisions and this complete rewrite to the book, and oddly enough the word count didn't really move that much. Maybe 2,000 words.

So now, it is out with readers and hopefully soon I can begin the grueling query process. Wish me luck! :)

M.B.

Monday, August 9, 2010

What's your greatest writing vice?

Mine? This and sites in general. A book (other than my own). There are many, many, many reasons that I can come up with to not write/revise/polish/repeat. So what got me thinking about this topic?

I am a busy writing person. I have a critique group that requires 2 chapter reads a week. I have a critique partner (Hi!) that I critique a couple of chapters a week. And also, I have a few people that request that I read/edit for them. This weekend, alone, I critiqued around 60,000 words--all while my parents were in town! So, explain to me exactly why I am unable to edit MY work in that quick of an amount of time?

Laziness? Probably.

Fear? Definitely.

But ya wanna know the real issue here? (And I am betting my favorite pair of 7's that you are the same way. ) The issue is that I am unable to see my work objectively. And I do not mean, that I think my work is fantastic and therefore cannot see the weeds. Oh no, I see lots and lots of weeds. So many so that I spray killer on my work to death and then have to back away carefully to keep from inhaling the fumes! My current MS took twice as long to revise/edit as it did to write. Perhaps this is normal, even expected, but I do not do well with "normal." :) I prefer efficiency and productivity.

This is my place to reveal that I want to finish my current revision by Friday of this week. If I am able to post success then you will know that I have not been active on any sites, checked out any online sales, and definitely (scouts honor or whatever they do) haven't watched my Tivo'd Top Chef from last week. I am setting a goal.