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Talking Volumes.

book clubAn author’s life is pretty solitary.  Much of my day is spent conversing with the voices in my head rather than actual people. Most of the time, the introvert in me doesn’t mind the one-on-one time with my fantasy world, but sometimes I need to get out of my cave—if not for my questionable mental sanity, then at least to find out what the Kardashians are up to.

Now, I don’t do well in large groups—I believe I already mentioned the introvert part.  There’s also the sticky widget involving my low vision.  If I meet you at a party, church or a school concert, chances are I won’t recognize you when I meet you again at the supermarket.  Even if I’ve met you more than once.  If you’re appearing out of context, forget about it.  My messed up mind just won’t make the connection.  It’s just easier for me to avoid meeting new people rather than to have them think I’m a snob.  It’s a philosophy that works well for me despite the protests from the rest of my family.

One day, a couple of years ago, I found a note in my mailbox.  Attached to it was a library card.  The note was an invitation to a book club my lovely friend Allison (aka Allifun) was kicking off.  Obviously, the book club would consist of other women.  Many of whom I didn’t know because I don’t play tennis in the neighborhood.  (Low vision, remember?)  I was skeptical and very reluctant.  What if these women were all funnier and smarter, had nicer houses or killer shoes, the introverted part of my brain screamed. Worse, what if I blindly knocked something over or tripped over my own feet?

But, there were BOOKS involved.  I love books.  Also, the possibility existed that wine would be served at these so called meetings.  And if I was really lucky, the occasional morsel of chocolate, too.  Surely I could get over my phobias for books, wine and chocolate, right?  You betcha!

TVlogoI’m so glad to be a part of Talking Volumes—yes we even have a name. Not only have I made some fabulous friends—even if they do have nicer homes and better shoes—but I’ve read some remarkable books.  Books I might have never bothered with if they weren’t that month’s selection.  Thanks to Megan, I’m hooked on Will Trent, a character created by Karin Slaughter.  Thanks to Maureen, I’m hooked on Pinot Grigio, but that’s a horse of a different color.  Donna introduced us to Louis Zamperini and his amazing true story in Unbroken and Kathy selected one of my favorites:  The Language of Flowers.  Jeanne cooked an Asian buffet the night we discussed Girl in Translation and Dana created a meal of bugs (made of gummy worms) and “Scalped” potatoes when we read Follow the River.  Chris always hosts when her mom is in town so that Nana Marilyn can join in the fun. 

The girls with their autographed copies of GAME ON.

The girls with their autographed copies of GAME ON.

Here’s the crazy thing, we actually read and discuss the books when we get together. I know, who does that, right?  Not every book chosen has been one I’d read on my own, but they’ve all left me with something to think about.  I plan my writing schedule around book club.  In the past two years, I’ve had to skip reading only one book because of a deadline, but it’s first on my TBR pile.  Best of all, I’ve found a group of friends who share a common love:  the joy of the written word.  Thanks ladies for letting me be a part of your club.  And welcome, Kim!

Check out the Talking Volumes booklist

What about you? Are you in a book club?  Do you have any book suggestions for Talking Volumes? 


He Said, She Said

I’m in the middle of drafting the first of two manuscripts I’m contracted to develop in the next eight months, so things are a little crazy on the writing front.  And the home front, but that’s best left for another time.  The thing about this business is the game is constantly in-flux.  Self-promotion through social media (blog tours, tweet parties and Tribes–oh my!), indie-publishing, small press publishers.  It’s crazy.  I know this because I spent last weekend at Georgia Romance Writers’ annual Moonlight and Magnolia Conference.  It’s always a wonderful weekend, with lots of informative craft workshops.

But this year I came away a little intimidated.  Why?  Because I realized there really is no right or wrong way to write, as long as you do it well.  Okay, Keynote Speaker, Julia Quinn actually said this, but my independent perusal of the workshops and seminars backed this up.  Each year, I go to these conferences looking for the answers and formula for how to write well.  When, really, all anyone can give me is guidelines.  Because what it takes to be a successful writer is to actually get your butt in the chair and write.  Keeping up with the trends will drive me crazy.  (In my case, it’s a short drive. 🙂 )

However, there is one trend I’ve begun to notice more frequently: the lack of attribution or tag-lines (he said, she said) for dialog runs.  Have you noticed that as well?  Now, some writers are genius at not using the word ‘said’ at all, instead using action tags to convey the identity of the speaker.  Elizabeth Hoyt is one of those geniuses as is Kathryn Ashe.  Suspense writers Karin Slaughter and Kendra Elliot are masters at this as well. Others, like Julia Quinn, still use said (and giggled, shrieked, drawled, screamed, etc.) along with an occasional adjective to describe the speaker.  But, something I’ve begun to see all too often lately is no tag-line or attribution at all.  It’s kind of confusing for the reader, don’t you think?  My question is, how did this get started and is this practice effective?  Inquiring minds want to know.  Or at least desperate writers trying to slog through a manuscript.

As I said, (tag-line) I’m chained to the computer, so my thoughts are mostly on writing, but I figured this might be a fun thing for we writers to discuss.

What are your thoughts and do you have any good examples of what works and what doesn’t?

A Week in the Life of a Writer (Spoiler Alert: It’s Boring)

Okay, crazy week.  I’ve been writing 3,000 words a day and completely drew a blank about what to write for my blog entry.  My brain is fried!  I don’t even remember what I did this week.

I think I went to book club on Monday night.  It seems so long ago.  This month we read a fabulous suspense novel, Criminal, by Karin Slaughter.  The book takes place right here in Atlanta, flashing back between the mid-1970’s—a pivotal time in our city’s history—and the current day.  It was a great read.  Bad news, though:  it’s the seventh book in a series and now I am dying to read the six volumes that precede it.  Alas, no time.  I’ll just have to cram them all in between finishing the two books I am contracted to write.  Next month, it’s Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn.  Anybody read it?  I hear it’s fantastic.

Tuesday was 9/11.  A somber day at our house because we all remember that day vividly since we were living in Washington, D.C. at the time.   It was also my dog’s twelfth birthday.  She’s by favorite member of the family right now.  That should tell you how this week has been.

Wednesday was ladies night—yea!  I don’t usually head out to bars mid-week—or the weekends for that matter—but it was my friend’s birthday and they are all regulars at a local, up-scale watering hole.  Attention all you writers with writer’s block:  bars are great places to get the words flowing again.  And you don’t even need to drink!  At least two story ideas dropped in my lap just by watching the antics of the customers.  Really, the bartender alone might be able to carry off an entire trilogy. 😉

Thursday was chiropractor day.  Not for me.  For Curious George.  My daughter’s pony.  Yep, I’m an idiot.  I pay for the horse to receive chiropractor treatments. Pretty sad considering my back is killing me from sitting in this chair seven hours a day for the past two weeks.  But, the whole process was fascinating to watch.  And when it was over, my pony—oops, I mean my daughter’s pony—gave me a really nice snuggle.  He then proceeded to drool carrot slime down my favorite shirt.

And now, it’s Friday.  The word count will be lower today. It’s a football night after all.  I’m not sure who the Titans are taking on this week, but the band and I will be cheering loudly.  And, that’ll be just the warm-up for college games on Saturday and the NFL on Sunday.

Next week, I start all over again.  I’ll try to do better and come up with a blog idea next time.  For now, enjoy some football!  GO VOLS!!!

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