Tag Archives: writing

IT TAKES A VILLAGE …

Thea here today wondering if you’ve ever had to name a town. You know, the kind of small town where everyone knows your name, and where its name needs to reflect its geography, or its picturesqueness, or its values, or perhaps some salient historical incident.

i mean, I keep lists of names. Don’t you? Including town names, but also estate names, male names, female names, hero/heroine names (vastly different than every day names), villain names, ethnic names among other things. Names are important. They have to have the right rhythm, vowels and syllables.

And your town has to be located in a correct geographical location — for me, at least, having now lived in 3 very different small towns: rural, suburban rural, and suburban bedroom.

How do you choose a name? How do you decide if Is the town a Shady Dale? (Too suburban development) An Ambleside? (Too cute) A Sugar Bush (too snow country), a Valley View (too suburban bedroom), a Centerville (too bland), a Jericho Springs (too gold rush country)? Or none of the above?

Is it a Hawk Cove (too made up), an Angel Oaks (too over 55 senior community), a Blooming Grove (too title of a play), a Red Creek (too unsubstantial)?

See what I mean? Your town is a character in your book. It has to have the right name.

I have spent months collecting names and ruminating on The Right Small Town Name. Not sure I have it yet, but I offer below a list of suffix/descriptives that might help you in your hunt for the perfect small town name.

lake
dale
cliff
bend
shoals
grove
brook
view
oaks
meadows
junction
line
landing
hill
vale
creek
bush
gate
cove
town
summit
shores
bay
woods
bayou
crest
falls
way
hollow
bush
pines
corner
mile
valley
side
summit
springs
ville
trace
shoals
mile
plains
vista
view
green

So, are you looking for the perfect small town name? Help! How do you choose?d

Thea Devine is the author of 27 erotic historical and contemporary romances, the latest of which, Beyond the Night, the sequel to The Darkest Heart, is available now as a Pocket Star eBook.

PIECES OF ME

Today is my younger son’s birthday. I’m away at a conference in Florida and so won’t celebrate with him this day.

Yesterday, someone said to me that he ought to write his memoirs.

Shouldn’t we all?

Or, as writers, don’t we, already?

How many times have you written an incident that’s happened to you? Or used a trait of a relative to define a character? Or made the neighbor next door a peripheral character in a book?

Come on, confess. I’ll start. I made my in-laws major characters in one of my early books. Here’s the thing. Members of my family read the book and nobody recognized them.

Really. There was also a cousin, a neighbor, people I’d worked with — not so you’d recognize them, but I’d written to their personalities or family history, or something in their current livesused

My husband and sons — I won’t go there. Maybe, maybe not. But the cat — I featured our Calico cat in one of my books because I promised her, before she died.

And aunts and uncles — fair game, where I could reorder life with them to my taste and say what I should have said thirty years ago.

Writing, as it were, pieces of my biography entwined with fictionalizing them.

I shouldn’t write my memoirs. I should say, read my books. There, you’ll learn all about me.

Beyond the Night, the sequel to The Darkest Heart is available now as a Pocket Star eBbook.

Don’t Be Guilty of #Word Crimes!

Hey there! Casey here!

Recently, Weird Al released another album which shot straight to number 1 on the Billboard Chart. Not since 1963 has a comedy album taken the top spot. Kudos to Weird Al!

And lucky for us writers, he’ s addressed a pressing issue - #Word Crimes! Please watch the following instructional video.

Be sure to laugh out loud if you feel so moved!

 

And then, please reflect upon Weird Al’s wisdom.

In an age where social media reigns supreme, it does seem like grammar is becoming a lost art. Sure, for us writers, solid knowledge of grammar is a must.  But it wasn’t until I chortled my way through this song, that I realized how many of these  mistakes also drive me mad.

Now, to be fair, before I began seriously writing, I’d forgotten some of those rules too. Comma placement continues to stump me. See the previous sentence – I probably used too many commas.  I don’t always punctuate dialog properly and the distinction between blond and blonde often baffles me (largely because publishers all handle it differently).

I am, by no means, a grammar nit-picker but one thing that does drive me nuts is spelling words wrong on purpose.

I’m looking at you SyFy Channel. For shame!!

I’m curious to know – which grammar mistakes drive you batty?

 

Should Writers Have Opinions?

Hey there fellow scribblers! Casey here.

Once upon a time, in the dark days before the Internet, writers used to be inaccessible Titans of Storytelling. There was a mystique, a veil of awe, that separated the reader from their beloved authors. Many times, a faceless (unless there was an author photo) God who churned out books we love and who solely existed to bring us readers joy.

An intrepid fan could contact a writer via their publishers, snail mail or by attending a convention, book signing or other public appearance. Even then, the hallowed author of your favorite books/series/universe was somewhat of a celebrity, often rendering you speechless. After all, chances were good that you’d approach the table, state your name so they could personalize your book, then you’d mumble something lame like – “I really love your books”, then move on**.

** quick aside – as a writer, we don’t think that’s lame at all. We appreciate knowing that readers enjoy our books.

Rarely did a reader learn or probably even try to discover the author’s political, religious or any beliefs at all. Nor as a reader, did we necessarily care – we just wanted them behind a keyboard churning out another book.

Ahh, how times have changed. Right?

Today, with multiple forms of social media, your friendly neighborhood author is just a mouse click away. The veil of mystique is shattered which begs the question – should author’s have opinions? How much is too much sharing?

Heck, do we even use our own names?

No doubt about it, there’s a fine line here between being yourself as a person and being a persona as a writer.

Some writers love to let it all hang out and are very vocal in their beliefs (example – Orson Scott Card). His very vocal views on homosexuality led to a firestorm that in all likelihood alienated fans. I know it made me think twice about him.

Other’s let the world know just enough about them to be enjoyable but don’t cross the TMI line (example – our dear friend Kristan Higgins). Since we Scribes know Kristan – we can say, yes, she is that down to earth, enjoys her man candy and loves her family. An ordinary person and a generous author with both her time and advice.

Does this mean writer’s shouldn’t have opinions? Are we not allowed to air our beliefs? Well, of course we’re allowed to have opinions and, hey, it’s a free country, right?Rooster Crowing

But again, it’s a fine line when it comes to what you say in public. So before you rant on Facebook or engage in a heated twitter battle, know the potential repercussions.

I like to apply the old adage – think before you speak (or type). And do unto others is also sound advice.

Put yourself on the other side of the fence – think of yourself as a reader too. Ask yourself:

  • Does learning that your favorite author has a total opposite view than you change how you see them?
  • Would you stop buying their books if they expressed/ranted about XYZ?
  • Do you really want to know XXX level of detail?

For me personally, as a writer, I’d rather walk on the positive side and keep my personal views to myself, especially in the political arena. During the last election, I un-friended people on Facebook (fellow writers) because of too much political ranting.

And when I apply the reader test to myself, I find I’d rather hear about when the next book is coming out and what my favorite author has planned next. It’s not that I don’t think writers should have opinions, but I’d rather save it for face to face conversations or private correspondence.

I say –  be polite, accessible but leave a little of that old mystique.  Let the reader enjoy your books without too much information ruining their good time.

What do you think? Do you like to let it all hang out? Have you ever faced repercussions? Or have you found a happy medium?

Procrastination Nation

TGIF!! Casey here. I’m on the final leg of Lachlan’s Curse and I can’t seem to stop procrastinating!

IMG_3952
Cat’s don’t procrastinate. They sleep with purpose.

Last Sunday, after a bout of writer avoidance, I completely re-designed my Casey Wyatt blog. For some reason, I just had to get it done.

Hey, at least the blog has a nifty, cool post slider! I’ve been wanting to figure that out for ages. See it here. This knowledge will help me when the Scribes update to a new, fresh look.

Anyway, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

Older son, knowing me so well, wanted to share this video all with all of you. It’s pretty damn funny. Sadly, I recognize myself in here! I bet you can relate too.

When the Sound Stopped

Thea here. Happy Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, everyone.

Now, you know I’ve confessed to being a tv-holic. But people, I can’t watch everything. So when some gremlin snuck into my remote and rendered my tv silent for four days, I was near to losing my mind. How was I going to catch up on Revenge, The Good Wife and Homeland? Was I really going to have to sit in my kitchen to watch Wendy Williams? Or raise the sound on that tv so I could hear and watch in the living room? What about Thursday, and Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal? The #@#$% tv was ruining my life.

You guys should understand: I watch these shows for research. There are writerly lessons to be learned from them. I got hooked on Pretty Little Liars because I loved the premise — and then the whole onion peeling of the plot was fascinating. And Scandal — the twists! the turns! The yes I will, no I won’t. Delicious. And the burning question: how could I apply those strategies to what I was writing?

Now I told John this. I won’t say how he responded except I will never ever try to explain my tv viewing habits to him again. I will be as kind as he was after we’d moved and I told him two months later I wanted to move back to the house we had moved from (he didn’t divorce me). In all fairness, the analogy of house:move=tv:research doesn’t quite equate, but you get the idea.

I really thought the solution to the silent tv was simple: something in the remotes, you know? There were two of them and my oldest son, John and I all fiddled around with them for days and nothing happened. We disconnected all cords and reconnected. Nothing got grounded. Score: TV reception perfect. Sound: 0.

I finally called the appliance store where we purchased it. Two days later, the repair person determined it wasn’t the tv, it was the cable box. He did not leave me hanging, thank goodness.

Listen carefully, people — this may save your tv viewing life. He disconnected the cable box from the tv and pressed the power button on the cable box for a minute. He then replugged the cable box and voila! SOUND!!!!!

People! It was Thursday!!! I had Grey’s Anatomy back. And I didn’t have to watch Scandal in the kitchen with an aching back. And this weekend, I and the Mentalist finally found out who Red John is. How do you put a price on priceless?

And life is back to normal. I know you’ll be happy to know I caught up on nearly everything, though John is absolutely certain I watch Vampire Diaries every day. (I wish). However I have taken on Almost Human and Hostages and I’m thinking about catching up on Blacklist, Dracula and Sleepy Hollow.

Really — you guys get it: too much is never enough, right??

Have you had a tv-is-ruining-my-life moment? How did you handle it? What did you do? What did your husband or significant other say?

Thea Devine’s books defined erotic historical romance. She’s the authors of 27 historical and contemporary romances and a dozen novellas. She was a freelance manuscript reader for many years, and is a Romanic Times Booklovers’ Romance Pioneer honoree. Look for the sequel to The Darkest Heart — Beyond the Night — in 2014.

Maine in My Mind

Thea today, with apologies again for being unable posting last week, and thinking how I’ve written a fair amount about how Maine has changed for me with the loss of family, neighbors and friends.

Curiously, I’ve only written one book set wholly in Maine, a Harlequin Blaze: Night Moves, even though we’ve been summering there for as long as we’ve been married, and John since he was a teenager.

In fact, one of the first things John asked me shortly after we met was, do you want to go to Maine with me?

I was a city girl, born in Brooklyn, living in Newark at the time. What did I know about Maine?

I came to Maine shortly after sunrise on a cool August morning where, on the Kittery Bridge, the temperature dropped another ten degrees as we crossed the state line. We’d driven all night and we had another two hours to go to get to the family camp on a lake in southwestern Maine. I had no idea what to expect. What I found was a cabin with a full living room and wood stove, a bedroom, a bunk room, bathroom, kitchen, electric and running water, and a screened porch that overlooked a lake.

All these years we’ve gone there, weeks and months at a time, with kids, family, friends, dogs, cats, alone. We’ve picnicked, antiqued, swam and canoed in the local lakes, gone to every local fair — imagine my youngest son, city-born and street-wise, chosen to compete in a pig scramble at one of those country fairs — and I’ve written good portions of several books up there at the little desk overlooking the lake that my husband rigged up for me on the porch.

I’ve loved it there in years past. What I especially loved was how time stretched. That everything had a pace and an hour, and that anything that needed to be done got done by four p.m., so we could sit on the porch and inhale the peace, the quiet, the calm, and just talk. Or not.

You might ask why we never moved there. I have no answer — we thought about it for years, we think about it still. I corresponded for many years with Mabel, our neighbor up the road before she died. She wrote wonderful stream-of-conscious letters about life in Maine during the winter. They kept Maine my mind and heart when I couldn’t be there.

I imagined living there. I thought about my characters living there, I dreamt up mysteries that haunted the woods behind our house, monsters that lived in the lake, secrets buried for generations in the attics and cellars of abandoned farms that dotted the hills, heroines returning to their roots, running from their bad decisions, heroes who were local, hard-bitten and wise.

And sweet sultry romance in a place where time moved slower, the air was clear, the water sparkled, where neighbors were always ready to help, and where, forty-seven years after the fact, people still know your name.

And maybe, after all these years, just maybe that’s enough.

What about you? Do you have a place out of mind where you love to go and might want to live? Have you ever acted on that desire?

Thea Devine’s books defined erotic historical romances. She’s the author of twenty-seven erotic historical and contemporary romances, and a dozen novellas. Her sequel to The Darkest Heart (June 2011), Beyond the Night, will be a Pocket Star release February 2014. She is a Romantic Times Romance Pioneer honoree.