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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Tidbits ...and Have a safe and happy Labor Day

cj Sez: Sending all y'all my best wishes for a safe and happy Labor Day holiday.

My publisher, Simon and Schuster, is among the industry giants stepping up to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey…

Help Offered to Libraries, Bookstores, Shelters
As Texas’ coast awaits the second landfall of the Harvey storm system—which at this writing has produced close to 50 inches of rain in some areas—Simon & Schuster’s education and library marketing department has announced help for damaged libraries.
Any Texas public or school library damaged by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey can have 250 “Best of” titles to help restore collections. Librarians who need information on the offer are asked to email

This from a Crimson Romance editor:   “An editing tip: I've noticed this summer, throughout submitted manuscripts and my own reading, a growing tendency to emphasize specific words in a sentence. Save this move for those times when the italics are needed to keep the reader from misunderstandings if they were to read it another way.

“Most of the time, the stressed words only serve to lock the reader into how you would (arbitrarily) read it, taking away the reader's autonomy. It wears folks out mentally to have to perform the book to a rhythm that might not be their own.

“It also makes your characters sound alike, and the poor italics must cover so many other technical jobs (book/magazine/movie titles, self-thoughts, foreign words), it makes your manuscript look intimidatingly busy.”

James Lee Burke “tells” his readers what is happening here….or does he?

“The evening sky was streaked with purple, the color of torn plums, and a light rain had started to fall when I came to the end of the blacktop road that cut through twenty miles of thick, almost impenetrable scrub oak and pine and stopped at the front gate of Angola penitentiary.”
James Lee BurkeThe Neon Rain

cj Sez: Every adjective in that sentence works with the verb to carry the action forward. The reader is on the road with the character, sees what the character sees, and ends up where the character does. Burke could have told his readers something to the effect that “It was raining the evening I drove twenty miles through a thick forest and stopped at the end of the blacktop road in front of Angola penitentiary.” Instead, we read a fantastic opening line, and a wonderful example of showing not telling.   

Burke’s poetic descriptions are not purple prose. They grab readers and drag them into his story. There is a beauty in the drama, yet the ominous intensity of the moment is conveyed.

Showing vs telling? Yes there are places in a story where some narrative telling may seem appropriate to move the story along, but perhaps not as many as you might think. Showing does a lot to appeal to a reader’s intellect as well as improve pacing. I suggest you can write your descriptions, tell your readers everything, then re-write in a way that shows them. How to do that, you ask? Read, read, and read some more. Get familiar with how your favorite author handles the task. It just takes practice …writing and re-writing and re-writing and re-writing, and . . .

There's nothing like rejection to make you do an inventory of yourself.                              James Lee Burke 
I’ve had a few of those. (Makes for elephant hide skin.)

That’s all the tidbits for this post.’Til next time, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. 

Please continue to pray for strength, courage, and comfort for the victims of Hurricane Harvey and all those volunteering to help with rescues.

A brief word from my sponsors:
“Bad Day at Round Rock” short story in The Posse anthology @

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  1. Wow! So many great things in this post. Simon and Schuster are on the ball and it's important children have access to good books. Do you remember when Tracy delivered books after Katrina? They were packets put together by SCBWI regional members and meant a lot to the children to help settle them.

    James Lee Burke's descriptive paragraphs are a wonderful to learn to write and a joy to read.

  2. cj Sez: I do remember Tracy's book delivery, and hope that SCBWI is stepping up again. Thanks for stopping by....and for the comments.


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