Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cyber Monday Sale

In honor of Cyber Monday, all my self-published ebook titles in all ebook formats are on sale for 15% off at Smashwords. Use the codes below to get your discount.

XM57B for Table for Four

QB88U for Timeless Love

RZ37V for Tales from the Ramayana

FK72F for Hardship and Hardtack by my alter-ego, CF Duprey

Place your orders soon -- these coupons are only good for Monday, November 28th and Tuesday, November 29th.

Play safe and enjoy!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Posted at the Scribes

My turn to blog at the Sizzling Scribes. So the post you would normally see here? Is there!

Play safe,

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Busy writing

How goes your NaNoWriMo? I got sidetracked a little last week by my day job and a little this week by reading (!). I know, I know. How dare I let such things tear me away from my work in progress?

Alas and alack, it is far too easy to be swayed by things like deadlines, books that must be read, and NCIS (which, along with Big Bang Theory, are my two TV weaknesses. Superman had kryptonite, I have Mark Harmon, what can I say?).  While I hit just under 10,000 words that first week, last week's total wasn't even a quarter of that. And this week's not turning out so hot either.

But the week ain't done yet and I'm not throwing in the towel.  C'mon -- say it with me, "I can do this, I can do this, I CAN do this!"

NaNoWriMo -- you no scare me! I'll beat you yet!!!

Play safe,
Diana :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

The best laid plans of mice and men...

Yep, they’re awry all right. Because of my day job, I’ve had precious little time to write this week. But today is a day off and I planned to get a lot of writing done.

Yeah, right. This morning I finished off the scene I’d started and then… they all stopped talking. I’ve two sets of romantic lovers in this one and neither set wants to move the action forward. I’ve got a great villain and several minor characters who are all standing in the wings with their arms folded across their chests and pointing at everyone else in the group.


Last week I wrote just over 9000 words. This week I’m barely over 3000. Never going to hit my mark at this rate!

My header mentions stubborn characters. I can be just as stubborn back. I’m going shopping all day tomorrow with my daughter and won’t be back to the mss till Sunday. That’ll show ‘em!


Play safe!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

To Be or Not to Be a Writing Workshop

I know I said I'd postpone these until after NaNoWriMo, but a fellow writer pointed out a problem many newbies have when drafting their first story and I thought perhaps I should address it now rather than wait till the end of the month when the novel is completed and the mistakes run through the entire manuscript. What problem, you ask?

The problem with the verb "to be."

This is the laziest verb in the English language. It's like the word "thing." We use it to substitute for all sorts of ideas, concepts, and actions and, while it works just fine in dialogue, it has no place in descriptive writing.

Conjugate the verb: "I am, you are, he/she/it is, we are, they are" and in past tense, "I was, you were, he/she/it was, we were, they were" and you begin to see the problem. I have to admit, the past tenses, "was" and "were" are among my favorite words -- and did you notice the "are" that slipped into that sentence? Heck, the word "is" slipped into the first paragraph of this post.

Eprime is a style of language that completely erases all forms of the verb "to be." Journalists know it well and learn to be masters at creating sentences that move rather than just sit there. Writers need to take a lesson from them and abolish all forms of "to be" as much as possible.

Taylor Mali once stated that "English has no equals sign" -- this verb serves as the linguistic equivalent. And yet, in telling a story, we use metaphors and similes to show comparison so we don't need "to be." Sorry, Shakespeare, but for the purposes of modern storytelling? You're out!

TIP for use AFTER NaNoWriMo:

If you use Microsoft Word 2003, a simple use of the "Find" command will help you locate (so you can eliminate) this habit word.

1. Open your manuscript.
2. In the lower right corner, there's a little dot between the arrows. Click it and a menu of icons pops up. Choose the binoculars. Alternately, choose "Edit" from the menu bar, then "Find".
3. Where it says, "Find what," write in the word you want to find (I usually type  was   in that space).
4. There's a box beside "Highlight all items found in" -- put a check mark in it.
5. Click on "Find next"
6. You'll see two things happen.
6A. First, you'll get a number for the total times you used that word (my worst was 1763 uses of the word "was" in a 235 page document. ). Record that somewhere so you can gloat later when you get rid of most of them.
6B. Close the dialogue box by using the "close" button. DO NOT click on your mss or you'll be starting all over!

You'll see the instances of the word are highlighted in your document in black. If you click on any part of your document, they all go away. To keep them, proceed with step 7.

7. On your toolbar, click on the highlight button. It has a small down arrow beside it and you can click that to change your color if you don't like the default.
8. SAVE.
9. Now you have all the instances of that nasty habit word highlighted and you can go through and rewrite your sentences.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

I'm sitting in Medley's Cafe in Prattsburgh, NY listening to Lisa Bigwood singing her songs to an audience of 35-40 people, which is about how many the restaurant will hold. The art on the walls are original pieces by a local artist who has already sold several of the framed acrylic-on-canvas pieces.

What strikes me most about all this is that art, in many forms of expression, is alive and well in small-town America. For every huge rock group selling out stadiums to screaming fans, there are dozens of garage bands playing gigs at local bars and taverns. For every record contract handed out by big-name producers, there are hundreds of musicians making CDs and performing live at festivals and cafes. For every superstar author on the bestseller lists, there are thousands of writers meeting readers and signing books at local, independent bookstores. 

The future of our artists lies in these small venues. It's in places like this where we can get up close and personal and where we can look into the singer's eyes as she sings, where we can hold a conversation with the artist or the author, where we can purchase their CDs or artwork or books and know the money goes directly to the artist. It is here where stardom takes a backseat to artistry and where talent can be given the freedom to share their artistic visions. It is here where the magic between artist and audience happens on a daily basis.

Do I have a point to all this tonight? Not really. More musings and observations than points to be made. I do think the artistic community would be better served there were more smaller venues and fewer arena-type Superdomes. For one thing, audiences would have a wider variety of artists to experience rather than just a few who start to sound/look the same after a while. And if there were more venues, artists would benefit by having more places to play/show their work/sell their books. A win for audiences and artists alike!

Okay, done musing for the night. Wrote 2287 words total today (1904 on my novel. Would've written more, but went to Medley's for inspiration instead!). Remember to turn your clocks back if you're in the States.

Play safe -- and support your local artists!

Friday, November 04, 2011

How are you doing?

I've been writing at odd times over the past four days and now have 5196 words written towards my goal of 50,000 by the end of the month. I know the spirit of NaNoWriMo is that you write all those words on ONE novel but I started the month with nearly 30K of a novel already done. Getting that first draft done by the end of the month would be VERY good for me. I could then edit in December and have it ready for my proofreaders by the first of the year. Yes, this is one I'm planning to self-publish. I'm having a lot of fun with it -- hope you will, too!

So my "extra" words are going to this blog and to the writing workshops I'm lining up. There are a LOT of workshops -- 37 at last count. What can I say? I've been presenting these for a very long time! I'll resume posting them at the end of the month with some geared specifically towards editing. Getting several prepared ahead of time gives me a nice "distraction" when I need to walk away from the work-in-progress and assures us all that there will be workshops available over the busy holiday season. ;)

Keep writing, my fellow NaNoWriMo writers!
Play safe,

PS. the 252 words of this post bring my total to 5448 after four days of November. I should be at 6664. A little over 1200 short. Will have to make it up in novel-writing tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Sorry, just love the date today. Had a class end at 11:11 today and the kids wanted to wait till 11 seconds after the time to leave just to say they had. What can I say? We're easily amused.

My husband wanted to take me out to dinner (who am I to say no?) and as we're sitting in the restaurant he starts rattling off all the other errands he needs to do and places he needs to stop. I just rolled my eyes and told him if he wanted to do all that he should've told me and I'd have brought my laptop. This IS NaNoWriMo, you know!

First place we stopped was Staples and I went in and bought a pad of paper for the car and a pen (my car has both, his car has neither). Figured I'd stay in the car while he went into the various places he needed to go and get some writing done. Ended up writing a post for the blog...and here it is: :)

November 1, 2011
11-1-11 :)

So "quad ruled" means graph paper. Who knew?

NaNoWriMo starts today and so far I haven't written a single word on my story. I blogged and I re-wrote an old lesson plan in workshop form for the writing workshops that pick up again in December. Now I'm writing this (how many words per square inch? Can one determine that with a graph-paper steno pad? And since when is a steno pad graph paper? Doesn't it usually have regular lines with a red line down the center? And while we're on the subject, why "steno pads" at all anymore? No one takes dictation using those undecipherable squiggly lines in today's offices. There are no stenographers. It's a dead profession.

So why call these pads "steno pads" if there are no stenographers? Why not just call it a 6x9 pad? I'm betting my kids don't understand the reference and they're in college. It's just a left over term from a time and a job that no longer exist).

Okay, after that somewhat long digression, returning to NaNoWriMo. Fifty-thousand words is the goal. I need approximately 37,000 to finish the novel I've already started. If I write the additional 13K here and in preparing the writing workshops, can I add the two totals together to make my 50 thousand? Why not? It's my writing and I think I should get to make the rules.

So, 50 K. By November 309th. 37K on my story, 13 K on or for the blog.

I can do that. Piece of cake, right?

Now to figure out how many words fit in a square inch...

PS. I bought two new pens at the same time I bought this 6-pack of Quad-ruled Steno Pads (hey, my husband is shopping and I'm stuck tagging along. I have to have something to write with!). I'm usually a strict black-ink kinda gal but the pens at the counter caught me in a whimsical mood. I writing with a very comfortable Bic 537RT clicky pen -- in purple. And because they had a special and I could get them cheaper if I bought two, I got a second one in teal. I'm such a sucker!

But the purple pen against the blue lines of my quad-ruled pad does look quite stunning...wish you could see it!

PPS. 1180 words for the day on the blog. Only 11,820 to go!

NaNoWriMo Day One

Yes, this is usually a workshop day but I'm taking a hiatus during the month of November to finish a novel. I'm already at 29,000+ words and my thought is to join the rest of the writing world in a writing frenzy for the next thirty days. If I hit the 50K mark, this'll be one done puppy!

No, not giving hints as to what its about, but I will give encouragement to all of you who are writing this month. Take some time and post in the comments whether you're participating or not and what your goal is. Mine? To finish this novel at around 65,000 words. That's "only" 36,000 words to go...

Need some convincing or a push to get started? Here's a link to the Official NaNoWriMo site. And check here for writing prompts to get you on your way.

Forget playing safe for the month...forget playing! Now's the time to write about it :)