By now, I'm sure all of you know my husband Scott who is a survivor of lung cancer -- caused by Agent Orange that he was affected by when marching and aiding soldiers in Viet Nam. He was a medic. Anyway, some of the same symptoms he had felt before, started coming back on him. When they took his last chest x-ray, his lung doctor and his oncologist saw something and they said it could be the cancer coming back. He was set up for a CT Scan to determine what it was. Before that appointment could happen he got an horrific case of pneumonia that put him in the hospital for a week. The doctor who treated him for his pneumonia also saw what the others doctors had seen and she too thought it might be the cancer back. When he came home from the hospital, his body was bone tired and of course all the information given him while in the hospital didn't help his emotional state. His CT Scan was done yesterday. He is feeling stronger each day although he is still coughing and coughing up some blood. Sunday during church he felt something in his chest. I asked him if he was alright and he nodded. Then yesterday, Monday, he told me he believed God healed his lung Sunday in church. Praise the Lord!
The week my husband was in the hospital, a friend of mine's husband (he too was a friend) got sick and God took him home to be with Him. Sad to say, we don't understand how God decides these things. Erick's body was sick and maybe God took him home so he wouldn't have to suffer things that would come later. We wonder as believers, why didn't God just heal Erick. I know his kids and wife would have loved to have him hear longer. It's sad, so sad...for his family, for his friends. We feel the loss so strongly, but we have to know God did what was best. Rena, we love you. We miss Erick too.
We also have a sad situation in my family, that I won't share in print...but know this too will pass. God will never leave nor forsake us...so we just continue to walk in faith in Him and know that our later will be greater than our past. So this sad situation we all shall put behind us and be here for the family member who needs us. Greater days are ahead!!
To put a smile back on your face -- we've been watching the growth of my new grandson, Elijah, mature in my daughter Molly's belly. Eli is giving her fits!! He is making his way to join the world soon. In fact his due date is July 21 - Paw-pa's birthday. We're not sure he's going to wait that long.
As a writer, I want to update you on my latest. The third book in The Samantha Cain series went in to my publisher, Oak Tara Publishing. My editor read The Truth Revealed and loved it. So its in the stages of being made ready for release. I don't have a date yet, but as soon as I do I will let you know. In the mean time, I'm working on a romance. Hopefully it will be ready for release before the end of the year. We'll see.
For you writers I have two things I'd like to share with you. Berries, Bridges, & Books Conference is coming up July 13th. I'll attach a copy of the registration for those who live in the area and wish to attend. Their conferences are always informative as well as fun. Sorry, it won't let me attach here. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will email a copy to you. That I've done, so I know it works.
Another thing for you fellow writers, I just went through an on-line class that Sylvia Rochester gave in RWA called take out the trash. I took notes cause I thought she did such an awesome job and all of us need help editing our manuscripts, taking out the things that shouldn't be there. I thought I'd share my notes with you. Her teaching was fantastic, just like her books. Go check her out at http://www.sylviarochester.com/. This is her website. She is a writer and a painter -- great in both!!
Words that clutter:
in spite of
for a moment
More often, the sentence would read better without the above words. TRY REMOVING IT.
Words that are redundant:
back - He turned back… He turned… She eased back into her chair, letting out a sigh that hissed exasperation.
up (when the direction is obvious) - He jumped up onto the porch. Better: He jumped onto the porch.
down (when the direction is obvious) - He looked down at this feet. Better: He looked at his feet. …no grass trampled down. Better: no trampled grass.
Redundancy in Punctuation:
“Help!” she screamed. Omit she screamed. The exclamation mark indicates the word was said with ferocity.
I won’t go into grammatical mistakes except to touch on the misuse of the comma. I find the rules change at the discretion of the editors. My advice? Give them the correct punctuation. Let them decided to accept it or not.
If a sentence has two independent clauses (i.e. each clause has a subject and verb) and is separated by a conjunction, put a comma before the conjunction. Example: Mary hit Sam, and Sam cried all the way home.
If a sentence has one independent clause and one dependent clause (no subject), do not use a comma. Example: Mary hit Sam and ran away all the way home.
Define indefinite words:
Name the object. Who are they? Quantify some, many and few.
If you mention an animal, don’t refer to the creature as a cat, dog, horse, etc. Give the specific breed, sex, color, etc.
If you mention a car, give the make, model, color, etc.
If you mention time, define the duration--ten minutes or whatever.
Check your adjectives? (Are they bland? Why? Choose adjectives that will play on the senses and add sparkle to the text.)
Cold – How cold? Icy, bone-chilling, numbing, frosty, artic.
Hot – How hot? Blistering, broiling, sizzling, scalding.
Rough – sandpaper, loose gravel, beard stubble
Odor or fragrance – Again, give me some examples. (fresh flowers – even name the flowers; stench of garbage; freshly baked bread)
Sometimes the use of a metaphor will give the reader an even better sense of description. (Like a belch from the briny deep, the sun’s rays scorched the garden’s tender sprouts.)
Show don’t tell:
What a character is experiencing—You can do that by giving the reader a vibrant description about a particular instance. Substitute robust, concrete adjectives, throw in a few metaphors, and the reader becomes an active participant in that particular scene--feeling, seeing, tasting, smelling what the character is experiencing.
Don’t worry if what you’re trying to show happened in the past. Indicate a scene break. Present the scene you wish to recall as though it’s happening now. When you finish, return the reader to the present by indicating another scene break. The reader will follow with no problem. You will not only show not tell, you’ll have kept the text active.
Choose your verbs wisely:
Do you tend to use the same words over and over? BORING! If I may use a cliche, variety is the spice of life. Check for those words that occur frequently throughout the manuscript and substitute another similar word.
Walked – try strode, ambled, sauntered, strolled, shuffled, staggered, etc.
Ran – jogged, scurried, scampered, hurried, dashed, rushed, loped, etc.
Cry – whimpered, sobbed, sniveled, bawled, wailed, blubbered, howled, etc.
Smile – beam, grin, smirk, leer
Did I hear someone say adverb? (modifier of verb or adjective)
I look at adverbs this way—too many rocks sink a boat. I prefer to throw my rock overboard in lieu of better cargo.
Tightening the manuscript further:
Check for words such as felt, knew, figured, and heard. Omit these words by explaining how the character felt and what he heard or saw. You don’t need to indicate a character looked at someone before speaking. That’s assumed. However, if the character looked away, this might indicate the character’s receptiveness.
Search for these words: began, started, knew, realized seemed, appeared. You don’t need these words to introduce an action.
She knew John lied. Better to say: John lied. POV tells us she knew.
She started to cross the room. Better to say: She crossed the room
She knew he hated her. Better to say: He hated her.
Are you using the correct word?
Spell check only checks for spelling, not usage. Here are a few examples. When in doubt, check the dictionary.
Then vs. Than – Then refers to time. Than means rather.
Affect vs. Effect – Affect is a verb. Effect is a noun.
Its vs. It’s – Its refers to an entity. It’s is the contraction of it and is.
Stationary vs. stationery – Stationary means immobile. Stationery is writing material.
Diner vs. dinner – Diner is a restaurant or a person who eats. Dinner is a meal.
Further vs. farther – Further means to a greater extent. Farther means actual distance.
Altar vs. alter – Altar refers to a raised structure in a church. Alter means to change.
Eliminate passive voice whenever possible. Do a search for any form of the verb to be. If the subject is acted upon, the sentence is passive. One way to remedy the situation is to let the object do the action. Remember, the use of was or were does not always make a sentence passive. Examples: Joe was hit by the ball. (Passive-the subject received the action.) The ball hit Joe. (Active-the subject did the action.) Joe was hitting the ball. (Active-the subject (Joe) did the action…was hitting is the verb.
What Else To Look For
White space – make sure you don’t have lengthy segments of narrative. Dialog helps to keep up the pacing. Perhaps you give more description than is needed.
Do your chapters end with a hook? What about the opening line(s). Did you have a smooth transition?
Did the scene(s) move the story forward?
Don’t divulge everything about a character, only what is necessary.
Is the dialog natural?
Too many tags? Not enough? Search for said. See if you can eliminate the tag.
Vary your sentence structure.
Are you consistent with the characters’ physical descriptions. Blue eyes can’t turn brown in a later scene.
Do the stakes increase as the story progresses?
Make sure your twists and surprises are plausible. You have to have a reason to drop a dead body from the ceiling, and the character better be someone pertinent to the story.
I enjoyed talking to you again. Remember, no matter how tough life gets, you can get through it all leaning on The Lord! He will never leave you nor forsake you...and that's a great thing to know.