Three Letter Word

OK. It’s official. I am in hell.

While playing with advanced find in MS Word 7 (yes, I do have better things to do but what can I say?)  I stumbled over an alarming trend in my latest chapter. The. That unassuming article – everywhere. So, of course, unable to leave well enough alone, I investigated my entire 45,078 first draft and was horrified by the vast amount of thes therein. Grand total of 2052 so far.5573590854_d7d2298ddb

I researched around and found a great resource in www.owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/. According to this post, the is a definite article. Like an adjective, it modifies nouns. In this case, specific or particular nouns. OK.  I checked a couple of my favorite fiction authors, calculated their use of the. They hardly use the three letter word at all.

Repeat words plague every writer, I’m sure, but this onslaught is horrible. My writing is suffering, that’s obvious. Am I trying too hard? Probably. But if I’m repeating a word why couldn’t it be a cool multi-syllable word like, say, minesweeper or necromancer? I mean, this is embarrassing.

 

So, what’s your repeat monster word and how do you control it?

Photo by Foter

 

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A-Z Blog Challenge Reveal

It’s almost A-Z to time again and, better late than never, I stumbled over the A-Z Challenge Reveal. Watch out, my beloved followers. Starting April first I’ll be peppering cyber-land with a blog a night. Short ones, I promise.themebadge

My theme this year is Colorado Road Signs as metaphors for the excitement and terrors of fiction writing. OMG, you say?  Believe it or not, you can learn a lot from road signs that has nothing to do with caution, law, or even addresses. And, if you don’t learn anything else, they can make you laugh!

Join us all as we thunder forward, writing two-hundred and fifty words nightly for the month of April, speeding toward our goal and breaking the literary speed limit.

tropical storm 1

 

 

 

ONWARD!

 

Button-fly Freedom Fighter

I am in hell. I’ve actually found something as horrifying as trying on bathing suits.

Trying on new blue jeans.the-blues-2

All my jeans, the staple of my wardrobe, have worn out at once. Worn jeans aren’t usually  a problem, but I wear my jeans to work, so strategically placed rips, bleach explosions, and ragged hems are verboten. I do have standards. Some jeans should never leave the house.

glass-button-webUnfortunately, women’s jean styles change every year. Every year. They cost more. Every year. And, seriously, do  I really want jeans with rhinestones and tacky stitching riding on my back pockets?  For crying out loud. A guy can still find a pair of Levis 501s without mortgaging the house.

Levi Strauss, a nineteenth century German immigrant, could never have imagined the twenty-first century jeans market. From 1853 to 1873, he perfected a brand of hard-working pants for miners. At first he used canvas, but the miners said the pants chaffed, so Levi changed to a French cotton cloth, called “serge de Nimes.” The fabric became known as denim, the pants earned the nickname blue jeans, and the rest is history.

The special pocket stitch design (sans glitter) appeared in 1873, and the company patented the strengthening rivets May 20, 1873 – the official birthday of jeans.

Added in 1936, the ubiquitous Red tab on the left pocket appeared as a forward-thinking marketing tool. Then and now, the undisputed coolness of Levi’s jeans could be spotted at a distance. levis-red-tag_l

So, I continue my quest. I am a jeans woman, a denim  partisan, a button-fly freedom fighter. I won’t allow fashion or lack of funds to stand in my way.

If old school misses jeans are still out there, I will find them.

What are your favorite kinds of jeans and where do you find them?

Jeans art – Foter. Glass button –  me.

Renegade Muse

Suddenly, after months of silence, my surly muse, Juan Reyes, deceased inter-galactic combat photographer from my first novel, dropped in unexpectedly.

kindle“OK, you’re going to have to knock this s**t off, girl. Back away from the Kindle and plant your butt in chair,” he says.

I see him standing behind me in the reflection of my tablet screen.  Juan’s bloodstained fatigues and battered camera bag are gone. This evening he’s as handsome and whole as he was in chapter one of my languishing first novel. His black dreads touch the velvet lapels of the red brocade duster he wore at embassy receptions. Vain and beautiful, his dark eyes twinkle with adult mischief.

“Netflix is great, but come on. You’ve watched movie after movie, marathons of entire seasons of House of Cards, Breaking Bad, and Orange is the New Black. Why do I get the feeling you are hiding from me? Aren’t you ever going to write again?”  He crosses his arms across his chest, assuming that belligerent stance I came to love after I wrote him into existence.

“Well, I thought I’d collect information on the structure of daring plots,” I hedge, turning toward him.

He backs away, holding up his hand. “Remember. Don’t try to touch me. I’ll be forced to deconstruct.”

Then he grins, fishes in his pocket and produces a red and white cigarette pack. Slowly, he peels the gold strip from the cellophane wrap and tosses the crumpled plastic over his shoulder.

“I love this bad habit. Perfect for someone already dead.” He takes a leisurely  puff, gesturing to me. “Want one?”

“Not as much as I used to,” I admit.

“Good. Now, you must break a second dangerous habit. Procrastination. It frustrates you. Constructive screwing around fills you with doubt. Letting others entertain you allows you to obsess about the merits of the first chapter of Lies and Legends without completing a damned thing.” He sighs. ” I mean, really. How many old episodes of the X-Files can you watch?”

I frown at him. “I gave up waiting for you.”

“Oh, please,” he sighs and frowns at me. “This is not about us. I thought you understood most writing you do without  me, using only your iron will and relentless sense of humor.”

Juan’s sudden mood swing startles me and so I wait.

He paces back and forth, irritable and uncharacteristically nervous, his duster rippling behind him. “Do you think you’re the only one with problems?”

I haven’t seen him so distressed and sullen since I forced him into celibacy in chapter twenty-one.

“We muses, we are in great demand now.  We are so busy we are literally running up our own backsides.” Giant sigh. “There is simply not enough time in the infinite universe.” He gestures toward the open windows.  “Do you have any idea what’s going on out there?”

I shrug. “I try not to think about it.”

“There’s an emergency in this world. Muses have been called.” He glances at the TV chattering in the living room. “Do you ever watch the news?”

“Only if I’m forced at gunpoint.”

“Well,” he says, lighting another cigarette with a flame at the tip of his finger, “at this juncture in time our calling is much higher than handing out prize-winning ideas to artists. World leaders, generals, politicians, religious figures – they all need inspiration more than ever.”

I stare at him.

Juan shakes his head. “I know what you’re thinking, but it isn’t true. We don’t try to influence one side or the other. Muses are always neutral. Our job is keeping the stream of human thought moving. Without us nothing ever changes.” He wanders toward the French doors, glancing out into the darkening sky.

I follow him, staying a safe distance. “So you aren’t necessarily a force for good?”

“Your species’ interpretation of the inspiration we send shapes everything for better or worse.” He leans against the door frame, his back to the stars edging over the horizon. “Some of us don’t care for  our new duties, I can tell you that. Most of our assignments are too morally ambiguous.  It’s a tremendous burden.  Personally, I yearn for the good old days when all I had to do was whisper in the ear of some distressed writer.”

He looks at me, a conspiratorial glint in his eyes.  “Some of us are thinking about making a change.”

“A creative revolution, a literary first strike, artistic anarchy?” I ask.orion

As Juan fades in front of me, I  see  Orion rising  through his wavering form.

“Perhaps. You’ll just have to pay attention. Get rid of that damned device, stop checking your email, quit surfing. Start writing. Changes are coming. ” He winks. “You  don’t want to miss them, baby.” He blows me a kiss. “Oh, and thanks for listening.”

“I’ll send you my bill,” I whisper to the darkness.

What changes are coming for your writing?

j-dub1980(THANK YOU FOR 100k+ Views) / Foter / CC BY-SA

Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com / Foter / CC BY

 

Reach the Beach

OK. So I took a vacation. On the beach with white sand and an ocean of cold beer.

photo (2)I could not write another word, worry about another query letter, or fret about the total lack of inspiration for my next novel. I had to get away.

The beach is one of the most ingenious and beautiful time-wasting distractions ever discovered. Pull off your scuffed boots, shimmy out of those jeans and faded t-shirt, grab the flip-flops and the tacky red bikini (I wish!), and reach for a week of absolute non-creativity. Find the perfect summer read inspired by the name of your hotel – in my case, The Blockade RunnerGone With the Wind still works, by the way. Drink some sweet tea and savor key lime pie.

You have entered the Bob Marley Zone, where it’s ok to leave your cell phone behind in your room and linger under an umbrella drifting from alpha to beta in wave fueled meditation. It is hard to leave this self-induced state of sanity when your week is up but, sometimes, if you close your eyes and breathe deeply, you can still catch a whiff of the sea.

bikini-thHow do you reach your personal beach?

Word Wizards

vision-quest_l

W – People who write are always looking for a way to be heard. When did you begin longing for an audience? It took me about a year of pounding the keys before I realized I was on my own. For a while, I felt terrible. How would I know if my writing was any good? Why write if no one read my stuff? The old if a tree falls in the forest thing. I hadn’t started reading chapters to my husband at that point, so I was completely isolated.

Unlike painting, music, or dance, writing isn’t a social expression of art. For the most part, writers work alone. But, at some point, they need feedback. I always swore I would never join a writer’s group  but, out of the blue, through a series of coincidences, I found out about a newly forming group at a local independent bookstore. yes-would-you-like-to-buy-a-book_lAfter one meeting, I decided it wasn’t for me but, again, another coincidence brought me back to the fold. It was the best thing that could have happened for my writing.

One of the great things about a good writer’s group is everyone gets it. Each member has doubts, setbacks, and triumphs. And, as I got to know my fellow writers, I learned so much from reading and critiquing their work. I read genres I would never have touched a year before, I poured over non-fiction, and I even read poetry. Forming a kinship of compassion and honesty with other writers is priceless.

So, thankyou, my Word Wizards. Our group has accomplished so much. In the last year, four of us finished our books. One of us is selling her non-fiction book and increasing  sales every month. WIPs are still evolving. Memoirs are being refined.

Next time someone tells you about a writer’s group, consider joining up. It might be just the thing you and your writing need!

 

Photo credit: ALL CHROME / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: 0olong / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Snowarama

S – OK, it’s getting to me. Have we been hurled into Winterfell? Where the heck is spring?

Yes, we need the moisture and we are thankful for the snow but come on, mother nature. Enough already. DSCN1381 - Copy

To celebrate our last snow of the winter (hopefully), I have created the world’s worst poem.

Snow falls to the ground,

making it hard to get around.

Snow falls in the ditch,

making tomorrow’s drive a b***h.

 

Is winter over  in your part of the world?