Monday, September 27, 2010

Cast Your Novel!

With the fact that one of my favorite book series' is finally being made into a movie (the Plum novels by Janet Evanovich), and everyone's been cast, I thought we'd discuss who we'd cast to play our main characters in our novels (published or unpublished) if they were made into a movie. I know this can be controversial if you're a well known author (they picked who to play XYZ character from that book? That's completely wrong! I didn't picture them like that!)

But, this is just for fun. I'll start off, then everyone can join in. Please share the name of your book (if you desire--this isn't required), the name (first only) of the character you're casting, and the person you'd like to play them. You can choose as many characters from as many of your books as you want.

And, if you want, for fun, you can cast the lead character of one of your favorite books. :) Have fun with this!

For Homebody, I'm going to cast Amanda and Rick, my lead characters. I actually haven't given much thought to my other projects, so for now, I'll just post for Homebody.

For Amanda, I picture her as Anne Hathaway. Ms. Hathaway has a down to earth appearance, though quite beautiful, and from what I've seen of her acting, could pull off the range of emotions I've put Amanda through in Homebody. 

Photo of Ms. Hathaway from:

Rick is a bit of a different casting choice. This actor struck me as the perfect Rick the moment I saw him. No way around it, he'd be the perfect choice, and probably the only one I'd allow if I had a hand in the casting of my book. The actor is Jeffrey Donovan. While he currently stars in Burn Notice, which is a primarily an action series, I've spotted him in other roles since I started watching the show (Hitch, for instance, with Will Smith). I think he would have the versatility as an actor to portray Rick who, while he's not the most macho of men, has his moments in my book.

Photo of Mr. Donovan was procured from:

An aside, I also think that if Vince Flynn's Mitch Rapp series were cast, Mr. Donovan would make an awesome Mitch Rapp. He's shown an aptitude for action, so pulling off that role should be no sweat for him.

Okay, now it's your turn! 

Until next time, 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Writing Update: September

I thought as a way to keep myself honest and to offer encouragement to others, I'd try to do a monthly update on my writing projects and what I'm attempting to accomplish. I'm going to plan to do this on the 3rd Monday of each month, but it may occasionally be more or less frequent.

Photo from: everRiviere via DeviantArt
Truth be told, lately I'm feeling a little discouraged. Everything I'm trying to do is taking a lot longer to do than it should. (It would help if I wouldn't get distracted by games--have you figured out how addictive Spider Solitaire and Soduku are??) In the winter, I'd hoped to have my book Homebody out to agents before I had my baby.

Little Xander was born in July. He'll be two months old tomorrow.

I'm still editing.

I was fortunate to finish reviewing a critique while on vacation at the beginning of the month and taking appropriate action on it, but as of this writing, I'm still working on the second critique. Then, I've got someone who's agreed to do a critique of it if I mail her a copy. *sigh* Maybe by Christmas, this book will be ready to go out to agents. Which may mean that a couple agents I'm wanting to target may be reopened to queries, so that could be a good thing.

In the interim, I've got two other projects that are sitting: Cora's Song and Beyond Dead. I've started the rewrite on Cora's Song, and it's coming along, though I stopped working on it for a while right before my son was born. Beyond Dead I thought I may be able to find time to whip into shape so it could go to Port Yonder Press in January when they open up submissions.

Right now, I'll feel lucky if it makes it there for 2012 submissions.

On the good front right now, I continue to write reviews for Christian Children's Book Review, and I feel that's going well. Getting back into the swing of things where that's concerned after having my son have been interesting, but I'm sure I'll get the hang of it before much longer.

Other than that, I can't think of anything. Just need to keep my nose to the grindstone and get things done--difficult when one is managing a household and raising two kids under two years of age!

Until next time,

Sunday, September 19, 2010

School and the Impact on a Writer

Okay, I did it again! I'm participating in the blog chain (see links on the right for the full roll). This may turn into a regular thing, so stay tuned.

Photo from: LeoNn via DeviantArt
September's topic is "It's All About School".

I had what you'd call a "unique" school experience. From kindergarten through 5th grade, I went to public schools. After that, I was home-schooled until my parents split up, which happened to be in my senior year. Technically, I never finished high-school (there, I've said it publicly!) because my parents never ordered my final year's curriculum, and I don't have a diploma or GED. However, I did go to college and completed my degree in Journalism.

Having that "unique" experience has definitely shaped me. If I'm not careful, I revert to a hermit state, which is good for the writer, but not so hot for relationships. I hated being home-schooled, and spent much of that time as a hermit, leaving my house for the rare doctor's appointment, 4-H meetings, to go to the library, and when I was forced to leave by either of my parents. (That's probably an exaggeration, but not much.)

That alone time coupled with the fact that, since I was home-schooled, I had more time on my hands meant my imagination had a lot of room to roam. Most of my reading material consisted of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, thus feeding my mind with adventurous capers and mysteries, plus a little bit of romance thanks to Nancy and Ned, and occasionally Nancy and Frank Hardy in the so-called "Supermysteries" that were produced in the 1990s.

When the publisher began slowing down their output of the books, I had to do something! I turned to fan fiction. Shortly thereafter, when I realized what was happening and there wouldn't be any new books, I decided I'd create my own stories and characters. It was in my mid-teens that the character Amanda O'Flannigan was born, who stars in some of the stories I write now. While Amanda was most decidedly a clone of Nancy at the time, she's changed over the 12 - 15 years I've been working with her, becoming more sophisticated and complex. Other than physical looks, she's nothing like the original I wrote about all those years ago.

Photo from: IvanJS via DeviantArt
It's all because of school. Had I not been home-schooled, I may not have discovered my love of writing, at least not so early in my life. So while I still lambaste my own experiences, and I still wish some things had been different, I do have to acknowledge that I may not have become who I am now--a writer--had I not had those experiences.

And you know what? I don't think I'd change that one bit. Not even if it meant I'd been able to go to a prom, graduate with my peers, be able to go to a high school reunion (which my 10th reunion would have been this year, come to think of it.) I like who I've become.

Until next time,

Monday, September 13, 2010

Keep an Eye on the Stupid Things

Through the experience of submitting work to agents/editors and having work submitted to me as a free-lance and PYP editor (and from having a friend/crit partner/mentor who knows all), I’ve learned some interesting points. Most of them you can find on any good blog or website, but few folks write about the “stupid things” that can trip you up.

Linda Yezak
I’m not going to say that these things can keep your manuscript from being accepted, but by the time your masterpiece hits the submission trail it should be spit-shine perfect. It should reflect not just your writing abilities, but also your professionalism. Finding too many of these unprofessional “stupid things” in someone’s piece can tip the scales of whether I will accept the work or not–and I’m just a newbie with few submissions. Can you imagine what it’s like for a seasoned pro with hundreds of submissions a week?

So, after you’ve perfected all the major stuff that makes up a great novel and before you pray over your piece and send it out, check for some of the stupid things:

Chapter Headings–make sure they’re uniform all the way through. That includes having them on  same place on the page. If you type Chapter One on line sixteen, then all the chapters should be on line sixteen, too. If you type Chapter 1 on the first page, don’t have Chapter Thirty on page 385. If you have chapter titles, don’t have chapter one’s title Like This and chapter thirty’s title Like this. Uniform location, type, capitalization and font all the way through.

Numbers–in general, these should be spelled out. Of course, there are exceptions. No one expects you to type out seven hundred thirty-seven million, five hundred thousand fifty-three. I’m not even sure how to do it. Where do the commas go?

Generally, numbers under 101 should be spelled out. Different style manuals have different rules, so consult the manual preferred by the agent/publisher you’re submitting to. (Port Yonder Press prefers The Chicago Manual of Style, the heavy hitter of most publishing companies, while many Christian publishers prefer The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style. One or both of these should be on every writer’s desk–or at least a copy of Polishing the “PUGS” by Kathy Ide, which hits the high points of most major style manuals including Chicago and Christian Writer’s.)

Contemporary Jargon–until the powers that be recognize “alright,” it’s not all right to use. Spell it out in its two-word form. “Okay” is different. Sometimes it’s okay to use OK, but usually the preference is to spell it out. Again, check your style manual and the preference of the folks you’re submitting to.

Holy Pronouns–if you write Christian fiction and refer to our Savior and Lord, decide early whether you’re going to capitalize Him and stick with it. And not just “Him,” but You and His also. Jesus shouldn’t be the Messiah in one place and the messiah in another, Savior here and savior there. Check your manual; be consistent.

Only–this word can be an adverb, adjective or conjunction, but the placement can change a sentence’s meaning entirely. Watch how you’re using it; make sure you’re modifying the word you intend to modify.

Using the example I found on (“I cook only on weekends”), I’ll show you the difference in meaning with different placements of  “only.”

    Only I cook on weekends (no one else cooks on weekends).
    I only cook on weekends (I don’t do anything else but cook).
    I cook only on weekends (I don’t cook during the week).

Punctuation–this is a biggie. I’m going to assume you know how to punctuate a sentence, so let’s get to some of the annoying things.

Overuse–ellipses and dashes can be overused so easily, and when they are, they lose their effectiveness. In dialogue, ellipses are used when a thought tapers off, and dashes are used to illustrate an interruption. In prose, dashes are used to set off a thought, idea or something that would otherwise be parenthetical. Exclamation points should rarely be used. They illustrate shouting, anger, excitement, but overuse dilutes their power.

Quotation Marks–unless you use italics, full quotes should be used around “things” you want to set apart in your sentence in prose. Not partial ‘quotes’ but the “real deal.” Also, periods and commas go inside the quote. Other punctuation has different rules depending on whether they’re part of the quote or speaker’s dialogue. While we’re at it, keep an eye out for open quotes: In dialogue or any time you use quotation marks, be sure you close the quotes.

Apostrophe Direction–this is the one few ever pay attention to. I never did, until I read about it in one publisher’s submission instructions. This is obviously somebody’s pet peeve, and can be one of the stupid things that’ll trip you up. But I seriously doubt it’ll prevent acceptance.

You use the apostrophe when you’re leaving out a letter in a word or making a contraction, and usually it’s faced in the right direction. But when you’re omitting the first letter, the apostrophe is faced in the wrong direction. It’s a pain, but it’s not too difficult to change ‘nough said to ’nough said. Just type ‘’ together and delete the first one. Okay, okay, I know. Petty, picky, peevish. But now that you’ve read this, I bet it’ll drive you nuts too.

This micro-proof reading should be the last thing you do before you pray over your work so all the corrections you’ve made will be checked, too.

Good luck!

Linda Yezak is a two-time finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest as well as a two-time judge in the contest and a judge for smaller competitions. She has been published in Christian Romance Magazine and her review of Riven by Jerry Jenkins was published on the Tyndale website for the book (under the “Reviews” tab). Linda writes blog posts for several sites including AuthorCulture, 777 Peppermint Place, PeevishPenman and VibrantNation. Her first novel, Give the Lady a Ride is currently being considered for publication. She is an editor for Port Yonder Press, a small, traditional publishing company, and a free-lance editor.

Thanks so much for sharing your pet peeves, Linda! Apostrophe direction drives me insane, too, so I shut off "curly quotes" in Word when I'm writing--it keeps the direction neutral!

And for you, my delightful reader, I hope you've enjoyed this respite with our guest bloggers. I'll be back two weeks from now with a fun little post before I get back to the important business of harder-hitting posts. Thanks for your support and readership during these few months as my family and I have adjusted to having another child in the house!

Until next time,

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Winner of "The Women in Jesus' Life"

Hello, dear readers!

I want to thank Mindy again for being so gracious and agreeing to an interview, as well as the giveaway for her book. I apologize for the lateness of this winner announcement; I was on vacation last week, without easy access to the internet.

Anyway, my toddler did the honors this morning, and our winner is...

Tracy Krauss!

Tracy, please contact me through the "Contact Me" box on the right with your mailing address and we'll get your book out to you.

Thanks to everyone!

We've got one more guest post coming up from Linda Yezak this coming Monday (please make her feel welcome), then we'll resume whatever normalcy Word Wanderings has had in the past. I see a post reviewing the book "A Date You Can't Refuse" by Harley Jane Kozak in our future, and my thoughts on conflict with it.

Until next time,

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