Watch Your Languages

You’ve heard the old saw about “Write what you know.” Yeah, it’s a load of pickled garbage. Write whatever stirs your imagination, what you are inspired to write.

But do keep things as accurate as you can. Don’t have people walking from Point A to Point B in the same time it would take them to drive that same distance nonstop. Unless you set the scene ahead of time with an earthquake or other natural disaster that caused the two points to move closer together.

Don’t have your French Cavalier saying that things are okay. That phrase popped up mid-1800s in the United States, and there’s still debate about where it originated. And don’t have your Regency lovers arrange to meet in Trafalgar Square. That battle happened in the Regency period, but the memorial square came along in 1845 or so.

And don’t have your characters using a language incorrectly. My own historicals are mostly in English, with a touch of French now and then. The current work in progress takes place in France, so there’s a bit more French involved. The hero does not speak French. The heroine does not speak English. They discover a means of communication by use of Latin. Viola!

I’m not putting in whole sentences in Latin with the English translation in parenthesis afterward. But now and again I am putting in a phrase or two. Which means I’ll need someone who does speak the language look over the manuscript for me. Luckily I am not using any dirty words that need a translation. On Scribophile, one writer recently wanted her half-Spanish hero to talk dirty in the throws of passion in Spanish. The call went out for a translator.

The first thing the translator asked was which country the hero came from. Spanish is spoken as the official language in more countries than English is. Consider the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand versus Spain, Mexico, Central America, and most of South America. And just as there are difference between a boot in the US and a boot in England, there are differences in Spanish from Spain to Mexico and Peru.

Speaking of Scribophile, there’s a great group there called Lingua Franca where Scribophile members can ask for language help. With my connections in my work place to several bilingual folks, I was able to assist someone with a term of endearment in Arabic. That ability to help is what this group is all about. Helping each other means we help ourselves.

Language can be difficult even if you have spoken that brand for years. I recently saw the phrase “won’t cow-tow to him” in an otherwise wonderful read. How can you tow a cow when they don’t have wheels? Yes, I was able to insert the correct kowtow, and to be fair, that comes from Canton or Mandarin Chinese by way of American English.

Homonyms are another tricky trap for writers, and even words that aren’t exact sound-alikes. For instance, you might think it is correct to suggest someone take a different tact with a friend to convince them of some needed change. While you would want to use tact, there really is only one version of it. What you mean to say is, try another tack, as in changing course. Like sail boats do when heading into the wind.

So now I need to be very careful after calling out these types of errors. Guess I’ll spend my first day of retirement tomorrow double checking my work. The shoo is on the other foot, as it were. I’ll be back on Sunday.


A Balanced Life

When I woke up on August 10, 2011, I knew I had 190 pounds of ugly, limiting, aging fat to lose. I started on Medifast, and lost 71 pounds in two years. Then life threw me a curve ball or two. I’m still down by 50 pounds from my starting weight, and I do my best to stay low-carb and high protein. The biggest change has been in my physical activities, and that’s what I need to focus on the most.

Because I simply needed cheap, filling foods, I allowed myself to add fruit, 1 slice of bread, a bite of sweets, a sip of beer, hello slippery slope! My runaway food is peanut butter. My second runaway food is sugar-free chocolates. I have placed myself on strict portion control with peanut butter, and will have to do the same for chocolates soon.

What has this got to do with writing? Well, in a few short days, my dream of being a full-time writer is going to come true. I am retiring from my day job, and the pension is enough to allow me to not work elsewhere. There are red flags all over the place. Sitting is a dangerous way to spend your day. I want to live a long time and get as many of my story ideas written out as possible. I know the Creator will help me in this if I do my part.

Last year at this time, I had lots of activities that I enjoyed. I walked during the weekdays at work, and sometimes when I got home. My husband would walk with me, and we’d meet the same neighbors out with their dogs or just walking. Then the weather turned too hot, right about the time Mike got a full-time job. Understandably, after a long stretch of unemployment, he wasn’t up to walking after work. But he enjoys his job and has lost weight just from working. He is not as hungry and doesn’t eat as much as he used to. Stress eating is a thing of the past for him.

I also had to give up walking the sweet dogs at the local humane society, because we couldn’t afford the gas to drive out there. Now that I want to get back in, the society has merged with another and the rules are different. I need to go through the training again and there just hasn’t been time.

More carbs plus less exercise for 6 month to a year equal 20 pound of fat back in my life. Finances are much better, but still subject to fluctuation. Mike finished his 90 days of probation, and became eligible to health insurance, a huge factor in my ability to retire now. But the pay increase that was expected will come along shortly. Still for a month, we have been a little short at times.

Once all the dust settles on the money picture, I will be back on Medifast. Once I stop commuting, I will be less stressed. And once I have my own day to plan out, I will be writing and exercising and volunteering for fun things I want to be doing. And I want to reward myself when I reach my goal weight with getting to learn to ride horses, for one thing.

I plan to use the last Sunday of every month’s blog to write about The Balanced Life. I make myself accountable to my readers to share my weight and my emotions, my progress and my road blocks. You are very important to me in this endeavor. And if you want to share what worked for you, please do!

I’ll be back on Thursday with more story fun.

Google-Fu: What did YOU Google today?

Scribophile has become my writing home, sweet home. My buddies there understand when I post that I need reassurance as a writer, they all bought my “friend’s” book and will no doubt buy the next two in the series. We talk about finding time to write in our busy lives, and tricks to get away with more time than the family thinks we take. As I showed recently, we post pictures of beautiful people who inspire us to write our novels. And we help each other with difficult research questions. For me, that was figuring out where Napoleon was and why he wasn’t where I wanted him to be. Sheesh.

But for simpler questions, we do our own research. We turn to Google. So when someone started a thread asking “What did you Google Today?” the answers were as wide and varied as our group’s ages and cultural make-up.

I was looking up movements of the French Armies in the early 1800s, groups of gods in Greek, Roman, Norse, Hindu, and Japanese Shinto religions, musical notes, signet rings, diet products, typing benefits, hand writing to improve memory, famous parrots and suggested reading titles.

The rest of the group’s searches included yoga positions, men in uniform, hot and sexy military men, and dog tags. There was a search for brown paint colors, road rash, ethics of dating your employer, and VCH piercings. (Not for the squeamish or under 18.

Many searches were for personal interest, and not so much part of a story. Big horse race and Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack, fun fall outdoor scavenger hunts, and football.

Lots of us spend time on dictionary sites and thesaurus sites. Someone needed another word for tears. The name of a character in Metamorphosis got some screen time, the history of gay bars, and an abstract about mental imagery as an emotional amplifier in bipolar disorder. Yeah, that is so not me.

The last mentioned search was performed by the same person who washed her hands in carbolic soap and tried to describe the smell. Sex toys and cattle ranching made the list. Attractive foreign exchange students as well.

And this song: Little Red Ridinghood by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. That takes me back to my teen years. But this cover? Totally modern, and a dreamy song. Thanks, Amanda Seyfried!

And of course, fresh eye-candy for the Candy Dish. I’ll be back on Sunday.

What are Writers Reading?

If you are a beginning writer of any fiction, you will get advice that often includes this: Read. Read a lot, read everything, not just your genre. Reading keeps the mind working, and if you hit a wall with your writing (the dread writer’s block) then reading might let your back brain work out the problems and smooth the way to your happy ending.

The question of what you are reading comes up frequently in my on-line writers group, Scribophile. I do not get paid to talk about Scrib so much. I just heartily love the site and my group of romance writers there. But I digress.

Here are some recent favorites mentioned in the thread about what’s being read. I will put my own answers first, as due to my beloved’s pushing books at me, I have finished Lady Chatterly’s Lover (eh) and am slogging through Pamela or Virtue Rewarded;_or,_Virtue_Rewarded. Fanny Hill beckons me from afar. I did pause in Pamela to read Intensity by C.C. Koen. Had fun with that read, and cried a bit too. Delightful female buddies story with a hot alpha male and some very believable villains. I am probably going to take another break (not only was Pamela written in the 1700s, but the writing style in letters only is making me twitch) to read Warm Bodies. Loved the movie, and husband says the book is better. Awesome!

Back to the writers on Scribophile. One person commented she loves historicals, anything before plumbing and electricity. But in contemporaries, her recommended book is Reckless by Skye Jordan. That’s a major yum on the cover, and the synopsis has me clicking the buy now button!

When I heard about the Effington Family, I laughed. Really? Effing what? But Victoria Alexander turned that silly name into a great series of Regency romances, and that puts them on my must read list. I love Regencies! The first one is titled The Wedding Bargain.

Catherine Bybee could be reading my mind and coming up with the best combination of my current interests in books. A set of standing stones cause a woman to travel to 16th century Scotland where she meets a shifter. Yeah, well, just go with it. I would certainly give this one a chance. Highland Shifter. She has quite the list of books, so she must be doing something right.

Humor will drag me in to most stories, so when someone recommended Tracy Brogan’s Crazy Little Things, because it’s funny, I expressed interest. A contemporary romance, it comes with a big cast of eccentric characters, an added bonus.

Second chances are what my life has been all about, so Elisabeth Naughton’s Wait for Me sounds good.

Say you’re in the mood for a time-travel Civil War bride story. Tracey Jane Jackson saw you coming, and has a whole series of such stories, highly recommended by my writer-friends. 

I’m going to wrap this up so you can get back to reading or writing, but I have to mention an author who comes up on the reading lists over and over. Jaci Burton certainly has delicious covers, and her Play by Play series will satisfy the sports fans out there.

Have a fun time picking through this selection, and I’ll be back on Thursday.

The Candy Dish

In my Scribophile romance writers group, Writers Who Love Romance, we have a thread in the group forum called The Candy Dish. Because, as you can expect, we are predominantly female, this thread is full of male eye candy. We do have eclectic tastes, and we do post females now and again.

Recently a new member admitted she hadn’t looked at the thread because she thought it was a visual writing prompt involving a delicate crystal bowl and designer sweets. When she took the plunge and looked at the contents, she was hooked.

We have our favorites, and recently I devoted a post on a group blog I write for to David Gandy. He’s one of the writer’s inspiration for her main male character, and that’s exactly how the Candy Dish started. We posted our muse for whatever story we were writing.

I’ll just share a few of the links to these delightful gentlemen. You can thank me later.

We do like showers and pools.

We appreciate smiles. We can get into that serious gaze. And we know we need to embrace a healthier life style.

Who doesn’t like a man in uniform?

Just ask, we’ll take one for the team.

Heaven help the working man.

I could do an entire post on the fascination for men in kilts.

We try to keep the pictures to a PG17 rating, but this one might be pushing that some.

Enjoy the candy, and I’ll be back on Sunday.

C.C. Koen Releases Intensity

I am awash in talented friends in the writing field. So when one of those friends agrees to let me help her launch her first publication, I get all excited and break out in a happy dance. The cover is lickable!

Featured image

C.C. Koen writes contemporary romance with a twist. An avid reader who enjoys mystery and suspense, her stories will never be what you expect. Determined to find adventure in her dreams and life, she enjoys skydiving, sailing and any activity that challenges her. Teacher by day, romance writer at night produce an active imagination that comes to life in her writing. I asked her when she knew she was a writer, and what happened then.

I guess I’m still awaiting verification that I’m a writer. My debut novel, Intensity, will be released Oct. 13. I will feel like a writer if someone actually reads it and enjoys it as much as I do.”

How did this book idea come to you?

Intensity came to me as I was driving to work. I wrote an article about the experience, Take Your Time, but Hurry Up! A Newbie Author Selfie published at Savvy Authors.”

Intensity spoke to me on a very personal level. Hopefully readers will be able to relate to the trials and tribulations Serena and Linc go through and find inspiration in the tale. Both characters have gone through a lot, and although their experiences might not be exactly like our own, I think readers will realize that life events influence our actions and our future. At times, road blocks appear and seem insurmountable, yet the challenges in life are what make us who we are, and eventually we can overcome them. That’s what I want readers to experience and why I fell in love with the story.”

Here’s the back-cover blurb:

What would you do to improve your life?

Twenty-one-year-old Serena Thomas is faced with a tough decision. Unable to get ahead of debt and loneliness since her grandmother’s death she finds a new job, placing the sheltered virgin in an underground escort business. She tells herself it’s just a temporary life choice, but destiny has a different plan. She meets a mysterious and gorgeous man, who happens to be her new boss. Will Serena fit in or will she be left all alone again?

Lincoln (aka: Linc) Jefferson has an unusual life. He established The Lounge, an exclusive escort club for very personal reasons. A place where the women say who, when, and what type of sex they’re willing to have. The escorts possess all the power and the money. It’s a business Linc guards at all costs. Trying to maintain the secrecy is a constant challenge and one that’s tested when he enters into a relationship with Serena. She tempts him unlike any woman, even though he’s surrounded by beauty on a daily basis. The more time they spend together the harder it is for him to keep his secrets. Will Serena stand by his side or will she abandon him?

Sparks and passion fly, taking these two on a journey neither could have expected.
I’ve had the great pleasure of reading some of the work at Scribophile, and I can’t wait to read how it all works out!

Now, for a silly question: What would be your FMC’s favorite flavor of ice cream?  And your MMC?

This is such a great question because my FMC actually goes on a junk food shopping spree and comes home with three of her favorite types of ice cream: Chunky Monkey, Cherry Garcia, and Chocolate Therapy by Ben & Jerry’s.

My MMC would devour any flavor of ice cream, especially if he gets to lick it off Serena’s lips” 
Thanks, C.C. and be sure to look for this steamy romance tomorrow, October 13, 2014.

You can find it at Amazon:

Barnes & Noble:




Readers can preview the first six chapters of Intensity at Smashwords:

Scribophile: Great for Writers, Bad for Readers

Two of the best things that ever happened to me as a writer are Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Scribophile . RWA lets me meet other local romance writers, many of them published, and take on-line courses and attend a monthly meeting with speakers and contests and lots of fun. Scribophile lets me waste hours every day in the forums talking to other writers from around the world, critiquing other people’s writing, getting critiques for my writing, and the brownies are all virtual.

The bad thing about RWA is the cost, but it’s not unreasonable. I have been blessed with a scholarship that allowed me to attend the meetings while I weathered my worst financial situations. The bad thing about Scribophile is that once you start looking for errors in writing, you start to notice how many got past the editors of published books.

Passive verbs are not totally eliminated, but use with caution.

Filter words get in the way of letting the reader experience what the character is experiencing. She felt the cold vs. She shivered in the cold.

And so many writers struggle with dialogue tags and formatting, but it’s easy.

These are just a few of the things you learn while critiquing and being critiqued at Scribophile. And a common lament is that you then can’t read for pleasure without smacking into these bad habits that people ACTUALLY WERE PAID MONEY FOR WRITING!!! Ahem. Excuse me. (Overuse of exclamation points is something I have to work on.)

Without permission, I can’t quote directly from any books, but I can list those books. Considering the flap over Elora’s Cave and that blogger who ran afoul of them, I think I’ll let you look for yourself.

And to give you an even clearer idea of what you are looking for, here are the Bulwer Lytton contest. You may recall Snoopy on his dog house typing something about the weather. Well, here’s the original source. “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” — Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830) Yes, that is one sentence. Yes, that is really poor writing for this day and age, but nearly typical for the time in which he lived. Still, Jane Austen wrote better.

And the 2014 winners. Be sure to catch the Purple Prose section. Good stuff.

I’ll be back on Sunday.