Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cjpetterson@gmail.com cj

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Lyrical Pens has a special treat for all you readers and writers today…

cj Sez: …A guest post written from the perspective of Anastasia Pollack, the protagonist character in Lois Winston’s novel GUILTY AS FRAMED. Read on, folks. This is going to be interesting.

This Jersey Girl is Here to Stay
By Anastasia Pollack

My author Lois Winston recently relocated from New Jersey to Tennessee to be closer to family. Lois was born and bred in the Garden State and except for a stint in Philadelphia and its suburbs, has lived in New Jersey her entire life. Until now.

  When Lois created me, she created another Jersey Girl, maybe because she never had a daughter of her own, only sons. And although Lois had the temerity to make me a reluctant amateur sleuth instead of one of the heroines in her romance novels, for which I’ve never forgiven her, I’m glad she chose New Jersey for the setting of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries

  When you grow up in New Jersey, you develop Jersey ‘tude. You have to in order to deal with all the insensitive comments from the rest of the country. We’re the butt of many a late-night comedian’s joke—even those who happen to live here. I have no idea why. I’ve been to most of the other forty-nine states in the U.S., and in my opinion, many of them fall far short of New Jersey.

  Out-of-staters think we’re nothing but strip malls. To them I say, come visit Westfield or Haddonfield or Princeton or Summit or Chatham…I could go on and on. We have dozens and dozens of quaint towns, many of which have been used as settings in movies and TV shows. And no matter where you live in New Jersey, within a relatively short time you can be in the mountains or down the shore. (Yes, we call it down the shore. Other people go to the beach or the seaside but not those of us from the Garden State.) Plus, if you live in the northern half of the state, as I do, you’re a short train or car ride from Manhattan. Theaters and museums galore!

   Jersey has culture, sports, and cow pastures. Horse farms and high-rises. We’re home to the famous and the infamous. We probably have more authors per capita living in New Jersey than any other state.

  We even legally own the Statue of Liberty, but try telling that to New York. However, since they usurped our national landmark, we took their beloved football teams. That’s right, folks, for those of you who live in other parts of the country, both the New York Giants and the New York Jets play in New Jersey.

  However, because we’ve had to put up with so much negative press and razzing for so long, those of us from New Jersey have had to develop a tough hide. We’re also known for our sense of humor, which runs more toward snark than Minnesota Nice.

  I’ve had to channel my inner Jersey Strong to cope with what Lois has dumped on me—kidnappings, Mafia loan sharks, a communist mother-in-law, and more dead bodies than I can count at this point. I cope with it all by channeling my Jersey ‘tude and sense of humor. 

  But right now, I’m getting a bit nervous about whether Lois will allow me to continue living in New Jersey or if she’ll force me to move to Middle Tennessee. She tells me you can take the girl out of New Jersey, but you can’t take New Jersey out of the girl. That sounds ominous. I’m hoping she’s only toying with me. But if she isn’t, I just may go on strike and give her a whopping case of Writer’s Block. We fictional characters do have some tricks up our sleeves. 

cj Sez: Thanks, Anastasia. New Jersey owns the Statue of Liberty? Wow. (That's my learn-something-new today.) A whole lot of good information there. Please take a minute or two and introduce us to your creator and multi-genre author, Lois Winston. 

  USAToday and Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Learn more about Lois and her books at her website www.loiswinston.com where you can also sign up for her newsletter and follow her on various social media sites.

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  And, of course, we need to introduce Anastasia’s latest mystery, Guilty as FramedAn Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 11

  When an elderly man shows up at the home of reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack, she’s drawn into the unsolved mystery of the greatest art heist in history. 

  Boston mob boss Cormac Murphy has recently been released from prison. He doesn’t believe Anastasia’s assertion that the man he’s looking for doesn’t live at her address and attempts to muscle his way into her home. His efforts are thwarted by Anastasia’s fiancĂ© Zack Barnes.

  A week later, a stolen SUV containing a dead body appears in Anastasia’s driveway. Anastasia believes Murphy is sending her a message. It’s only the first in a series of alarming incidents, including a mugging, a break-in, another murder, and the discovery of a cache of jewelry and an etching from the largest museum burglary in history. 

  But will Anastasia solve the mystery behind these shocking events before she falls victim to a couple of desperate thugs who will stop at nothing to get what they want? 

Buy Links

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cj Sez:  That’s it for today’s post. Thank you so much, Lois Winston and Anastasia Pollack, for stopping by and sharing those fascinating facts about New Jersey.

  Authors, if you’ve got a new book (or an old one that needs a bit of a boost) you, too, are invited to do a guest post. You can answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cjpetterson@gmail.com 

  You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Prayers going up for your health and safety this year.
cj

P.S.  The Haunted Bookshop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER my author-graphed books or any book of your choice on-line from an indie bookstore, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us 

➜ Follow me on . . .           
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6

Sunday, September 18, 2022

On hiatus . . . but

Lyrical Pens blog is on hiatus until October 9 … but

you can still contact me at

cjpetterson@gmail.com or at my Facebook page.

 

COMING ATTRACTION 

  Coming to Lyrical Pens on October 2...a guest post by Anastasia Pollack, the protagonist in book 11 of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Series from Amazon bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston.

(Lois writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction.) 

 cj

  No inflation here: THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA, my fast-paced, exciting suspense/thriller ebooks, are now low-, low-priced at $2.99.

P.S.  The Haunted Book Shop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us   

➜ Follow me on . . .           
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6


Sunday, September 11, 2022

Remembering and honoring . . .

cj Sez: Today is a day to remember the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and to honor all the victims in the buildings and the first responders who rushed into burning infernos to rescue as many people as they could.

Photo Credit @Heath Satow

  At the Rosemead, CA, City Hall - The sculpture consists of an iron beam pulled from the rubble of the World Trade Center held up by two stainless steel hands. The hands holding it up are constructed from 2,976 individually crafted stainless steel doves - each representing a victim of the attacks. (Ironworkers)

  Burned into America’s collective memories—like The Alamo and Pearl Harbor—the September 11 attacks were a series of coordinated terrorist attacks. Nineteen members of al-Qaeda hijacked four passenger-filled, commercial airliners and committed murder and suicide. Two aircraft were deliberately flown into the World Trade Center buildings in New York City, a third tore into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia, and the fourth crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people.

  I will never forget where I was that awful day. Do you remember where you were?

§§

  The political jabberwocky being produced in the news media every day is making me crazy. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m being exposed to the following kind of propaganda: 

Gaslighting Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster

“The meaning of GASLIGHTING is psychological manipulation of a person usually over an extended period of time that causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one's emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.” 

  How to protect *oneself? Read and listen with an inquiring mind to more than one source of information/news media.

§§

For readers and writers
  From a Google search:  The difference between *oneself and one's self is not just a matter of grammar. The meaning is different. While “oneself” means that someone does something to or for themselves, “one's self” refers to the “self” that belongs to “one.”

  Because I cringe when I read: “We lead all the way yesterday, and we won!” The past tense of the verb lead is led, not lead, (Yeah, I know, the correct spelling of the past tense of read is also read. We all know the English language is difficult.)

§§

Lyrical Pens blog will be on hiatus until October 9 … 

but you can still contact me 

at cjpetterson@gmail.com or at my Facebook page.

  
  That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for your health and safety.

cj

  No inflation here: THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA, my fast-paced, exciting suspense/thriller ebooks, are now low-, low-priced at $2.99.

P.S.  The Haunted Book Shop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us  

➜ Follow me on . . .           
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6 

Sunday, September 4, 2022

It's all about reading . . . and writing

cj Sez: If you’re in the Mobile area today (Sept 4), throw your wheelbarrow in the trunk of your car or back of your pickup and head on down to the original location of The Haunted Book shop. Why? Because there’s a spectacular sale going on to celebrate their move to new quarters and recent re-grand opening:

  Okay, here’s a little history about one of Mobile’s favorite independent bookstores: The Haunted Book Shop.   https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/ 

  The Haunted Book Shop carries the name of the beloved former bookstore that operated in downtown Mobile from 1941 to 1991. That bookstore was founded by Adelaide Marston (later Adelaide Trigg) and Cameron Plummer and named for their favorite book, The Haunted Book Shop, by Christopher Morley. The current owner, award-winning author Angela Trigg and the granddaughter of Adelaide, re-opened the shop to loud applause of local customers who greatly missed the convenience of a downtown shop.

  Carrying new and used books, the services of The
Haunted Book Shop are more than local…they’re just an email away from any reader looking for a special book. Their signed book stock certainly includes local authors but also books from internationally famous authors like R. L. Stine.

§§

  I was searching through my archives for ideas for today's post and thought these questions might evoke some interesting answers: 

…Do you have a huge to-be-read pile on your nightstand threatening to topple over?


… Is there one particular book you can point to as THE BOOK that captured your imagination and started you reading more and more and maybe thinking about being a writer?


… As a child, did you have a parent read to you?

… Did you have a home library of books?

Here are my answers:

… Nope, I have a small TBR pile and another small list of TBR Kindle books. I’m a very slow reader…unless I get “in the zone” and then I might read all night.

… Yep, THE BOOK for me is Last of the Mohicans, by James Fennimore Cooper. At age ten or so, when it was still safe for a kid to walk the city streets at night, I spent some wintery evenings crunching through icy snow to go to the library in Detroit and find a quiet corner to read a few chapters. Based on the French and Indian war and touching on interracial love, the story whetted my appetite for exciting adventure. Of course, I had to see the movie and fell in love with Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis).

… Nope. Or at least I can’t remember that either of my parents read to me. 

… Nope, no home library, although I do remember reading comic books and being
fascinated by some Golden Books. I don’t think the Golden Books were mine, though.

  All of that is to say, don’t compare your writing or reading life to anyone else’s. Sometimes, all it takes is a single story to bring about a love of books and spark one’s imagination.

  I do believe I can point to my not being introduced to reading as a child as at least one reason why I am such a slow reader and writer. But I love the lyrical syncopation of words and syntax, and I continue to write and publish.

  What sparked your love of reading and/or writing? Can you pinpoint a single story? Or was it the cumulative effect of childhood experiences?

§§

  By the by, as the masthead at the top of the page says, if you have a book (new or old) you want to promote with a blog post, drop me a note. We can arrange a blog date…the only caveat is that this site is PG 13.

§§

  That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for your health and safety. 

cj

No inflation here: THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA, my fast-paced, exciting, thrillers ebooks, are now low-, low-priced at only $2.99.

P.S.  The Haunted Book Shop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER, contact The Haunted Bookshop here:


➜ Follow me on . . .           
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6 

Sunday, August 28, 2022

So, how much do you know about apostrophes?

cj Sez: How to properly use an apostrophe in some plurals has always plagued me, especially when input from critique readers challenges me.

  I always have to get on the Internet and search for verification, so I decided to go to THE source for writers: The Chicago Manual of Style. I thought I'd share some of my findings with you. 

  A Google search for how to use apostrophes gave me the following excerpts of questions from wordsmiths and answers provided by a CMOS correspondent:

Plural Names

Q. My boyfriend and I are having a battle royal over the use of apostrophes in plural names. In his PhD dissertation he repeatedly refers to a family by the name of Wallace. When he refers to them in the plural, he insists that the correct form is “the Wallace’s,” which seems entirely incorrect to me. I hold that it should be “the Wallaces,” just like “the McDonalds” or “the McPartlands” or “the DeVitos.” He is backing up his position with the example “the G.I.s,” which he insists should be pluralized as “the G.I.’s.” Please help. This is ruining our dinner conversation! 

Shame on this school.
Correct plural is Veterans!!
A. Usually in such arguments, the woman is right. Yours is no exception. The plural of names of persons and other capitalized nouns is usually formed with the addition of s or es. An apostrophe is never used to form the plural of family names. Write “the Wallaces,” “the Joneses,” the “Jordans,” etc. See paragraph 7.8 of the sixteenth edition of CMOS for the full statement of the applicable rule. As for G.I., Chicago style is GI (no periods), the plural of which we write as GIs. See 10.4 and 7.14.

Possessives and Attributives

Q. When indicating possession of a word that ends in s, is it correct to repeat the s after using an apostrophe? For example, which is correct: “Dickens’ novel” or “Dickens’s novel”?

A. Either is correct, though we prefer the latter. Please consult 7.15–18 for a full discussion of the rules for forming the possessive of proper nouns. For a discussion of the alternative practice of simply adding an apostrophe to form the possessive of proper nouns ending in s, see paragraph 7.21.

Q. I have suddenly become an editor and am having trouble on a daily basis with the numeric use of decades. First, is “the 90s” or “the ’90s” correct? We often see the apostrophe omitted these days. Next, if a sentence contains the phrase, “Perhaps the 70s best director . . .” (meaning, the best director of that decade), “70s” is both plural and possessive. Should it be “70’s”? “70s’”? Other than reconstructing the sentence, what’s an editor to do? 

A. Strictly speaking, ’90s, with the apostrophe, is correct.

"The ’70s’ finest director was Martin Scorsese, particularly for his work on Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore and Taxi Driver."

Note the apostrophes, both of them. You are always free to write “seventies’ finest.” Or, “The finest director of the ’70s was assuredly Francis Ford Coppola, for his work on the first two Godfather films and Apocalypse Now.” 

***

cj Sez: By the by, instead of popping for $50+ dollars to buy The Chicago Manual of Style, it may be available to use for free at your local library…it is in mine. 


  And FYI, The Associated Press Stylebook used by journalists has different rules.

(Note: The CMOS citation numbers in the answers are from the Sixteenth Edition.)

  Hope you found a nugget in this post that you can use.

§§

That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for your health and safety during these uncertain times.

cj

No inflation here!! The ebooks of THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA, my fast-paced, exciting thrillers, are now low-priced at $2.99. 

P.S.  The Haunted Bookshop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER my author-graphed books or any book of your choice on-line, contact The Haunted Bookshop here:  https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us 

➜ Follow me on . . .           
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6

 

Sunday, August 21, 2022

The rise and fall of a story

cj Sez: Let’s talk a bit about story and story arc. What follows in this post are excerpts and tidbits of information that I’ve gleaned from many sources over the years.


  First let’s agree that a story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end. What often may be missed, especially by new authors, is that it also needs a story arc—a rise and fall of tension and emotion. Ideally that would happen in every scene, but certainly in every chapter and absolutely an overall arc that carries the reader and character development from the beginning to the end. 

  The term “story arc” was coined in 1988 in relation to the American TV series “Wiseguy” and sometimes unfolds over many episodes. In terms of what authors do, the Oxford English Dictionary defines the term this way:  a story arc is “(in a novel, play, or movie) the development or resolution of the narrative or principal theme.” 


   The graphic is attributed to Kurt Vonnegut . . . part of a presentation he gave to illustrate the story arc of “Cinderella.”

For fun or for research, analyze your favorite stories, and see if you can identify the arcs that keep you turning the pages.

§§

Readers and writers:  If you’re in the Mobile, AL, this is for you:  


  The Mobile Public Library is celebrating 120 years of
service, and on August 25, the organization will host a special author event for best-selling author Carolyn Haines at its designated Literary Landmark, the Ben May Main Library. 

  Haines, a multi-genre author—suspense, horror, mystery, Southern Gothic, humor, the popular Sarah Booth Delaney series and the cat-detective Trouble series—has written more than 70 books. She will discuss her literary career and inspiration, and there will be a question and answer session, followed by a book signing and reception.

  Carolyn Haines is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alabama Library Association and the Harper Lee Award for Distinguished Writing. She was inducted into the Alabama Writers Hall of Fame in 2020.

§§

  That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for your health and safety during these uncertain times. 

cj

  No inflation here: THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA, my fast-paced, exciting thrillers with a smidgen of romance (ala Jane Bond) ebooks, are now lower-priced at $2.99.

P.S.  The Haunted Bookshop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER my author-graphed books or any book of your choice on-line, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us

P.P.S.  Sorry, pre-signed copies of THE BIG FANG are not yet available at The Haunted Bookshop, but I’m working on that.

➜ Follow me on . . .           
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6

  

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Re-introducing The Haunted Book Shop

cj Sez: The Haunted Book Shop moved to a new, larger location and had their spectacular, grand re-opening over the weekend.

  With a friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable staff on duty, The Haunted Book Shop has universal appeal for all of Mobile’s residents and visitors. It even has a special place set aside for the kiddos. As one guest reported: “I think the children's book corner was the hit of the evening. The tent stayed full the whole time I was there.”

  A ton of people walked through those inviting red doors during Mobile’s Friday night Art Walk. Be sure to stop by the shop if you’re in the area of Conti and Joachim streets. You’re sure to find that special book you’re looking for . . . but if not, they will order it for you.

  P.S. Their beautiful, book-store cat, Mr. Bingley, was recently voted, in a city-wide contest, “The Cutest Cat in Mobile.”

§§

  I need to share a recent (and lovely) review of THE DAWGSTAR by Susan Y. Tanner: 
 
 “Be careful what you wish for! Scientist Mirabel wants ‘something more’ from her career or maybe she just wants a new career. What she doesn’t want or expect is to be caught up in a deadly conflict of nations that’s somehow linked to her recent sighting of a mysterious light in the sky. Nor does she want to be caught up in remembered passion with her once-upon-a-husband, CIA special agent, Sully. Or does she?

“Mirabel’s goal is to find out who is behind the spate of deaths around her. Sully’s goal is to keep her safe while identifying the traitor within the organization that has been his life…and might just be his death. As much as this is a story of global conquests, it is also a story of the ties that bind even when we wish they wouldn’t. I fell in love with Ms. petterson’s beautifully flawed characters and, once again, I feel compelled to say 'more Mirabel and Sully, please'.”

Thank. You. Susan!

§§

For Readers and Writers 

  Whether you’re writing a report for work or starting a new story:

§§

  That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for your health and safety during these uncertain times.

 cj


No inflation here: 

THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA, my fast-paced, exciting thrillers with a smidgen of romance (ala Jane Bond) ebooks, are now lower-priced at $2.99.

P.S.  The Haunted Bookshop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER my author-graphed books or any book of your choice on-line, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us

P.P.S.  Sorry, pre-signed copies of THE BIG FANG are not yet available at The Haunted Bookshop, but I’m working on that.

➜ Follow me on . . .           
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Tis the rainy season in Mobile

cj Sez: I’m watching my grass grow and my flowers drown:


  This has been going on for weeks…almost 10 inches of rain fell in July…and believe it or not, a meteorologist says the 38 inches Mobile has received so far this year is a less-than-normal rainfall total. Doesn’t seem like it to me. I have to wear boots to squish through tall, soggy grass on my way to feed the birds in the mornings. ‘Course come Oct (the usual driest month), I’ll be complaining because I have to water my plants.

§§

  The Mobile Public Library is such a great resource. One of the community groups I belong to wants to investigate applying for a grant and asked if I’d share my editor expertise in reviewing their application. I needed physical examples in my hand so I picked up three books on grant writing from the library. 

  What I’m discovering is that getting a grant proposal approved is a tough nut to crack, and it’s not just because of the application language and format. Seeking local company sponsorships and donations might be the better way to approach fulfilling their need. We’ll see.

§§

  I’ve been asked to update my author bio with some specific information. I’m hoping that means one of my short stories has been accepted by the editor of an upcoming 2022 anthology. More info to come.  

  I’m still procrastinating on my novel. I thought I had finished it and am in the midst of editing it for the nth time. I really do want to finish the task but somewhere along the way, I’ve lost my enthusiasm for the project. I’m waffling on just about every aspect of the story. 

  One way I’m trying to recharge is to read other authors’ stories. Maybe one of them will start my creative juices flowing again. Or maybe I need to write a short story to submit to a magazine. Being rejected used to get me working harder.

§§

  That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Raising prayers for your health and safety.

cj


  Grab 'n go: I’ve lowered the prices on my fast-paced, exciting thrillers that have a smidgen of romance (ala Jane Bond) ebooks. 

  Buy THE DAWGSTAR and DEATH ON THE YAMPA for $2.99 now.

P.S.  The Haunted Bookshop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock.

 TO ORDER my author-graphed books or any book of your choice on-line, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us 

P.P.S.  Sorry, pre-signed copies of THE BIG FANG are not yet available at The Haunted Bookshop, but I’m working on that.

➜ Follow me on . . .           
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Sometimes I need an interpreter

 cj Sez:  A public service announcement: Beware the stingy things of summer

§§

From the Lyrical Pens archives:

  Some years ago, a friend sent me the following quote from a fellow blogger, Sol Sanders:  “Perhaps the glory of the English language is that it so expressive. Its remarkable heterogeneous origins have given it an almost limitless vocabulary. And American English, particularly, has used that tool with an enormous flexibility to make it the international means of communication. One is able with a minimum of linguistic dexterity to capture every meaning, or almost every nuance.”

  Mr. Sanders’s comments were part of an introduction to his 2014 essay on “The Language of Deception,” i.e., what today’s journalism and media do with the English language.**

  The gist of his post is even more evident today as journalists and media people sometimes overcomplicate their sentences with words that muddy their meanings rather than clarifying them—changing nouns into verbs and, perhaps, calling a shovel a “hand-held, earth-moving tool” or a mother “a birthing person.” That certainly isn’t “a minimum of linguistic dexterity.” My take on this is that media and journalists are employing an old trick of confusing the issue to persuade readers to their (the writer/editor) points of view

  Turning nouns into verbs can seem a clever way to create uncomplicated sentences, but those words can also confuse the issue. One such usage I particularly dislike is “impactful;” a noun turned into a verb turned into an adjective by attaching “ful” on the end. What the Sam Hill does that mean?

  The truth is the English is a living language. It’s constantly evolving as we create new words and new definitions to compliment and interpret new technology. The caveat is that the generations cease to understand each other at an almost exponential pace. Many times I seriously need an interpreter to understand teen-talk, and I think if I often texted (a noun turned into a verb because of technology), I’d forget how to spell. I sympathize with teachers who deal with this on a daily basis.

  For me as a genre writer, the gloriously expressive English language is what makes my craft so fascinating.

  Yes, I do use nouns as verbs. Yes, I deliberately obfuscate, and here I add the disclaimer that it’s for the sake of mystery. As I've said many times, I am drawn to the syntax, symbolism, and syncopation of a well-drafted sentence that is the hallmark of successful mystery/thriller/suspense novelists and short story writers. It’s using that “minimum of linguistic dexterity to capture every meaning, or almost every nuance” that appeals to me, and, I think, to readers of those genres. Readers want to try to decipher the code, find the clues, and solve the crime. I like trying to confuse the issue.

  I’m still working on my craft, and every day I learn a new bit of English language. And that’s okay with me, because my personal motto is to learn something new every day.

§§

cj Sez: Here's proof that I do things besides write and blog. I was very happy with the way this quiche looked…and it tasted good, too. Send me an email if you'd like the recipe. 

  That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Lifting prayers for your health and safety.

cj




  Young'uns are getting ready to return to school…a sure sign the summer is waning. Whether enjoying a stay-cation or vacation, the lowered prices on my fast-paced, exciting thrillers with a smidgen of romance (ala Jane Bond) ebooks will give you a few more hours of leisure reading. 

  The ebooks of DEATH ON THE YAMPA and THE DAWGSTAR are now $2.99.

P.S.  The Haunted Bookshop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER my author-graphed books or any book of your choice on-line, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us 

P.P.S.  Sorry, pre-signed copies of THE BIG FANG are not yet available at The Haunted Bookshop

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Sunday, July 24, 2022

Muggle words don't have any magic

 cj Sez:  Something to consider for readers and writers . . .

A confiscated Facebook post

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  I’ve touched on repeated words in manuscripts in earlier posts, but I still find them in my WiP. Not as many, but they’re there (alongside those typo gremlins), so I’ll have another go at this.

  First drafts are usually full of the words that are top-of-mind, the ones with which we are most familiar. The words we use every day. These familiar words allow us writers to push through the draft rather than take time to search our minds or a thesaurus for better ones.

  It’s when writers get into the rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite editing that we see how our familiar words/phrases simply can’t live up to the task of enriching our manuscripts. They rise to the surface as trite or overused. 

  One solution is to use a writing software program to “Find” how many times a word is repeated. I search my entire manuscript for some word I find too often during a quick review, and then replace or delete (most often delete) the offending repetitions. This software feature often leads to word choice or phrasing improvements that I didn’t see before.

  I usually start my search with the words I know I use too often, but one creative writing instructor I know suggests starting with the verbs . . . the “to be” verbs (is, were), but also says don’t worry about occasional usage. Next go to active verbs. I find a lot of look, smile, walk, glance, shrug, frown, et al.  How many are too many? If they begin to annoy me when I see them in the text, there are too many.

  I can’t forget to check for nouns. I find dozens of coffee, latte, mouth, eyes, eyebrows, hand. I also check for “then” and “while.” Too many of these can mean poor transitions and a lot of complex sentences, which tend to slow down the reader.

  Elmore Leonard’s ten rules* for writers have been published many times. Number 4 of his list is about adverbs: “Never use an adverb to modify the verb "said" . . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange. I have a character in one of my books tell how she used to write historical romances "full of rape and adverbs".  (* https://bit.ly/3OK6UGd  )   

  Mr. Leonard is not alone in offering this advice. That bit about the writer “exposing himself” is the taboo…the writer is telling the readers what s/he wants them to think or sense about the character. Some adverbs are necessary, of course, but writers should be mindful about intruding into the reader’s version of the story. Instead of a bunch of adverbs, find strong verbs that don’t need an “ly” helper. 

  Adjectives can be major snags also. Characters are often gorgeous, handsome, tall, sexy, ripped; and rooms are large, tiny, or trashed. Not a lot of magic there. Instead of those muggle words, try to describe something/someone in a way that invites readers into the story, respects their intelligence, and lets them use their imagination. (That’s called deep point of view.)

  Here are two of my favorite examples:

… The opening line of BRAVE NEW WORLD by Aldous Huxley. “A squat, gray building of only thirty-four stories.”  By comparison, the reader is able to visualize that all the buildings in Huxley’s new world are skyscraper tall except that particular one. The building is shorter and uglier than all the others in this new world. The line is almost a threat, if not a promise of strange things that will happen in that building.

“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 Burke, THE NEON RAIN

  The more often I search for/replace overused words, the fewer I find because I’ve learned to recognize my tendency for repetition. Perhaps you will have the same result.  What are your favorite overused words?   

  By the by, as I mentioned earlier, a computer software search is one way to clean up repetitious words, but after that’s done, I also like to read the pages out loud. Try a few pages. See if plot holes, rough spots, stilted dialogue, and repeated phrases don’t just jump off the page at you. 

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  I hope you enjoyed Kaye George’s “Smashing Stereotypes” post last Wednesday as much as I did. Definitely a learning moment for me.

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   That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Because I still have a bit of bronchial cough residual from last December, I’ve started wearing a mask again when out in crowded spaces. Lifting prayers for your health and safety.

 cj
I found the meme about $2.99 on Facebook and couldn't resist using it . . . 

  Whether stay-cation or vacation, the lowered prices on my ebooks are just in time for your summer reading pleasure—fast-paced, exciting thrillers with a smidgen of romance (ala Jane Bond). 

The ebooks of DEATH ON THE YAMPA and THE DAWGSTAR are now $2.99. 

P.S.  The Haunted Bookshop has signed paperback copies of my books in stock. TO ORDER my author-graphed books or any book of your choice on-line, contact The Haunted Bookshop here: https://www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com/contact-us   P.P.S. Pre-signed copies of THE BIG FANG are not available at The Haunted Bookshop

➜ Follow me on . . .           
➜ Amazon:    Amazon Central Author Page
➜ Goodreads: https://bit.ly/3fcN3h6