$0.99 Only Until August 31st
Corinne poured two glasses of iced tea, one for herself and the other for Uberon, and carried them to the miniscule front porch of her cabin. He thanked her with grave courtesy as he accepted the sweating glass. Sitting in her favorite deck chair, she flexed her aching bare feet.
“I should have worn sneakers.”
Uberon reached over, long arms extending to capture one of her feet. He pulled her foot into his lap and began massaging it. Corinne moaned with pleasure and took a drink of her tea.
“I want you to come with me,” Uberon said, his voice easing into the late afternoon heat as though it belonged amid the sounds of birds, insects, and the occasional yip of a coyote.
“To the Unseelie Court.”
“The Unsee—what?” He met her shocked gaze with equanimity.
“You have got to be kidding me,” she muttered and averted her eyes. “You cannot expect me to believe you’re an evil fairy.”
“Not evil, dark.” He did not mention that the distinction had more to do with the fair-haired characteristics of the Seelie Court than with any tendencies toward evil.
“Evil, dark, what’s the difference? And do not tell me you’re a fairy.”
“I am fae, what humans once called sidhe or sith.”
“This is insane.”
“Why should it be insane?” He released her foot and picked up the other one.
“B-because that’s just myth. You know, legend. Fairy tales!”
He shrugged, the movement of those broad shoulders capturing her attention. “And you are a witch. Why cannot I be fae?”
“I am not a witch,” she muttered, disliking his logic. “I have some extrasensory power that most people don’t. That’s all.”
“The fire-haired women in your matriarchal line each had such power. The talent skips a generation or two, but runs true back to the ancestress who took a fae lover and bore him a daughter.”
“What do you know about it?”
“I know the Erlking is your ancestor, for ’tis his fiery hair the daughters of his talent bear.”
“He is mated, has been for the past several centuries.”
“No more bastard children?” she scoffed.
“He would never betray his mate, nor she him.” He fixed her with his own mysterious silver gaze. “Nor I you.”
“This is preposterous,” Corinne protested and pulled on her foot. He held it with easy strength. Rather than engage in a futile struggle, she huffed and turned her head away to stare into the wooded darkness.
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
“Don’t quote Shakespeare at me, Uberon.”
“He was a human of great insight.”
She huffed again. “Okay, let’s say you’re really what you say you are—”
“—and you want to take me to your home, the Unseelie Court.” She finished the sentence and turned her head to glare at him. “How do we get there?”
His mouth curled in a slow, sexy smile. “Magic.”
“Don’t even go there,” she warned.
As I rev up for the Springfield Book Fair on Saturday, I need reminders to tackle the small stuff like this week's blog challenge. Thanks to Dee for that dope slap so that I got this written.
This week's writing prompt concerns the best writing advice I've ever received. That can be summed up in four short bullet points:
Ignoring the first three contributes to lackluster writing. That doesn't mean it won't be grammatically correct. A lot of amateur writers convince themselves that their work only needs someone to catch those typos and ensure correct grammar to polish it. As an editor, I know better. As a writer, I know better. As a reader, I know better. Good writing doesn't always follow the strictures of correct grammar. However, writing that consistently breaks the "rules" governing proper grammar demonstrates an ignorance of language and sloppy carelessness that offends. My teeth clench every time I read "I seen" or "her and I" or "between you and I."
I tell people that a good writer must know proper grammar in order to break the rules to great effect.
Oftentimes, I'm just speaking to the wind, for all the heed anyone pays my advice. Regardless, I'll continue with this short list of good advice.
Adverbs tell how something is done; they don't show. One can write "He walked proudly across the stage." It's grammatically correct. Yet using a more appropriate verb delivers greater punch: "He strutted across the stage." Of course, sometimes telling is the most expedient way to present what the author wants to say. In such cases, reserve adverbs for those passages when showing would occupy too much page space and cause the reader to lose focus on the advancing plot.
Active verbs keep the story moving. They add power. Sentence after sentence in passive voice drones, drags, and causes the reader to lose interest. However, when used sparingly (there's an adverb!), a declaration with a passive verb adds steely strength. If you're not sure whether what you wrote is active or passive, here's a quick guide: avoid using am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been, have, has, had, can, could, shall, should, will, would, may, and might.
Sensory detail adds richness and depth to immerse the reader within the story. Good writers appeal to more than just what the narrator sees, but involves the other senses of touch, hearing, taste, and smell. I find amateurs fail to do this especially in scenes involving lots of gore. They don't realize that blood and death stink.
Reader expectations, when violated, lead to brutal reviews. I have concrete examples of this. In The Barbary Lion, a paranormal romance that crosses over into abduction romance, the heroine reacts like a real person. The hero is a jerk of the first order. (He redeems himself. Mostly.) I didn't soften the characterization, which readers expected and for which they blasted the book. In Russian Gold, the heroine experiences of crisis of conscience and a terrible loss of self-respect for herself. Raised in the Midwestern heartland, she has values different from her more sophisticated urban friends and has a deep-seated need to earn the blessings she enjoys. So, she leaves the hero to earn back her self-respect and refuse to go back to him unless he gives up his criminal ways. I didn't see that as excessive or unreasonable for a normally moral woman, but readers did and--again--blasted the book.
Does this mean that I'll warp a plot if it doesn't adhere to reader-preferred expectations? Nope. I'm not that malleable. So, I'll roll with the punches knowing that I've employed the advice from others on writing well.
A few months ago, a client for whom I'd ghostwritten a book contacted me with an offer to write the next three books in his serial. This client had proven a challenge to educate as to what is and is not involved in ghostwriting. He wanted to negotiate a lower, bulk rate under contract for the next three books.
My rate had increased since signing the contract for the first book. I declined and responded with a counteroffer to write the second book in the serial at the same rate as the first, but stated the third and fourth books would be negotiated at the then-current rate if he wished me to ghostwrite them. He expressed concern at my unwillingness to "add value" and accept a lower overall per-word rate.
Truthfully, I thought I'd heard the last from him.
Surprise! Last week he contacted me, stating he wanted me to write the next installment. He offered a compliment: "The reviews for Volume One have been positive, so I feel good about completing the story." I went to the book's page on Amazon and read the reviews: really they're quite flattering and complimentary of the writing. Then he lowered the boom: "I can only pay you in $100 installments every 2 weeks. Instead of stopping work, I would like for you to work on the chapters back to back and just retain ownership of the writing until I have paid off the balance."
Okay, I replied, we can do that. I would retain ownership of the content until the project fee was paid in full. Only then would he receive delivery of the document and transfer of the copyright. I also specified the limits of service: drafting, one round of revision, and a final round of review and approval. After approval, my obligation is finished. Any errors or issues with the content are then his problem, not mine. I drafted a new contract and sent it to him.
This morning he wanted to lower the overall fee: "I have few chapters that are close to completion that would just need some editing and proofreading service. Can we negotiate a flat fee for this?" Again, I declined. His writing style does not match mine, and editing will not mesh them into a cohesive narrative. Readers will notice the egregious and glaring difference between his prose and mine. If he wants me to write the story, then I write the entire story. Besides, if the client writes well, why hire a ghostwriter?
I am quickly reaching the limits of my patience. Let me say this one more time: when you hire a consultant or freelancer, you do so because you have confidence in that person's expertise to perform a task that you either have not the skill or time to do yourself. Respect that contractor's expertise. A little respect goes a long way.
In other words, if a contractor doesn't value the service he or she provides, then clients most certainly won't. Hold your ground, assert your value, and don't accept insulting offers.
On Sale: $0.99 Through the month of August
“Well, hey, if it ain’t our resident author,” the waitress greeted them, cracking her gum between her teeth. Her bright eyes turned predatory upon examining the handsome elegance of the man accompanying Corinne. “And who’s this? Ain’t one of yer brothers, is he?”
“No, Tansy, this is Uberon,” Corinne answered with a laugh. “ He’s just visiting.”
Ignoring the cool look the tall man gave her, the waitress tapped Uberon’s shoulder and said, “Well, y’all can visit me any time, good lookin’.”
An unaccustomed feeling of jealousy surged through Corinne, spurring her to respond, “Get your own man, Tansy. This one’s taken.” The waitress lauged and leaned forward. "You let me know if he’s got any brothers.” She winked and got to business. “Y’all know what ya want?”
Corinne shook her head and relaxed, not quite knowing why she’d staked her claim to Uberon like that. It simply wasn’t like her. So, she placed a generous order that included a slice of the coconut cream pie that was the diner’s specialty. Tansy looked expectantly at Uberon who simply replied, “I’ll have the same.”
“Sure thing, handsome.” She winked at Corinne with irrepressible good nature and sauntered off to place the order.
“Forward woman,” Uberon commented in an undertone.
“Tansy wants a husband so badly she can taste it,” Corinne explained with empathy. “She barely managed to finish high school and good jobs are scarce around here. But she’s goodhearted; there’s no malice at all in her. She’d make some farmer a devoted, hardworking wife.”
“You are kind.”
Corinne shrugged. “Her prospects aren’t good. She deserves a man who will love her and treat her well—and there just aren’t that many eligible bachelors in Winterset. Most kids here grow up and leave for college and never come back. Those who don’t leave either can’t or they’re tied to family farms.”
She looked around the diner, silently noticing that most of the patrons were a generation or two older than she. She returned her gaze to Uberon’s and held it. “This village is dying. It’s too far from Athens to catch the university crowd.”
Uberon listened as his mate explained.
“About six or seven years ago, the village council decided to sponsor a farmer’s market to capitalize on what this area does have, a lot of vegetable gardens, farms, and old-fashioned handicrafts. The Christmas fair gets in some regionally acclaimed folk artists and visitors from a pretty large area, but it’s not enough to sustain a hotel or do more than add a temporary boost to the local economy.”
Corinne paused and realized she’d been lecturing him. Blushing, she took a breath and apologized. “Sorry, Uberon. I got a little carried away there.”
“You care about these people as a good queen should,” he replied.
“Queen?” she spluttered and shook her head. “I am no queen.”
His eyes took on a far-away look and he added so quietly she had to strain to hear the words, “I lost the caring of my people and left them to my son, who never cared at all.”
“Your son?” she echoed.
“Marog. He is dead.”
Overcome by sympathy as well as confusion, Corinne reached across the table and covered his hand with hers. “Oh, Uberon, I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.”
He turned his hand to curl around hers. He lifted it and leaned forward to press a kiss to the knuckles. “You bring me naught but joy.”
This week's writing prompt focuses--surprise!--on writing, specifically whether participating authors prefer to use first, second, or third person point of view (POV).
For those who don't know or may have forgotten, third person POV comes in more than one flavor. There's "straight" third person in which the author or narrator is an observer, offering opinions as aside comments as he/she reports upon the events happening in the book. There's third person omnicient, in which the author plays God. The author narrates the story and delves inside each character's head to reveal each character's thoughts, feelings, and motivations. I find that particular variety of third person cumbersome. Finally, there's limited omniscient which I prefer. In the limited omniscient, I reveal the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of some of the characters, generally the hero and heroine and a sprinkling of secondary characters when I think doing so adds depth or interest. Of all my books, only Rowan contains first person POV content and that alternates with third person POV chapters.
I read a lot of books, especially "new adult" romances, that are written in alternating first person POV. Most of those are written in alternating first person POV, which sometimes works and sometimes not, depending upon how well the author can express the thoughts, feelings, insights, motivations, and speech of separate people. Whether in singular or alternating first person POV, the reader gets a deeply intimate and limited view of the story because we're looking at events from that character's point of view.
I've noticed that newer, less experienced authors often default to first person POV. It's easier than third person, because only one character's perception of events matters. Done well, first person POV really packs a punch. Robert B. Parker and Sara Paretsky use first person POV to great effect.
Finally, there's second person POV which is seldom seen and for good reason. It's extremely difficult to do, much less do well. I cannot recall when I last read a book in second person POV, although many blog posts tend to take that conversational tone. I certainly wouldn't attempt to write a novel in second person POV.
I'd be interested to which perspective readers prefer.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
Looking for a place to swap blogs? Holly Bargo at Hen House Publishing is happy to reciprocate Blog Swaps in 2019.
For more information:
View Guest Author Posts
Book Of The Month
Book Cover Promotions