A Slice of Orange


Thursday Thirteen

February 21, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as

There is a movement in the blogging community called Thursday Thirteen (google it). Many writers blog these days, and we often run out of things to say. Well Thursday Thirteen celebrates this kind of blog fear. Pick a topic from apples to zebras and write 13 things. That’s it. And it turns out the process is strangely revealing. I recently did this for my blog on Valentine’s Day as a Singleton it was fun! So in the spirit of learning more about ourselves here’s my OCCRWA

(I know the picture should have oranges)

13. I joined OCC in 2005.
12. At my first meeting there was a sign that said OCC members had published something like 1700 books cumulatively. I remember thinking Holy COW!
11. It turns out that four of our members have published over 100 books. One has published over 200. We call them the 100+ club.
10. Although I love their books and am very proud of them I don’t have the intense need to wrap myself around any of these four women like a vine and cling.
9. I think this might be because none of them look like David Beckham.
8. Yes, I was quite delighted to hear that David and his family were moving to Los Angeles.
7. Unfortunately, despite my interest (and his wife’s diminutive size) I’m pretty sure I won’t be wrapping myself around David either.
6. You can tell Mrs. Becks is scrappy and her spike heels freak me out. (I’m a flip flops kind of gal).
5. So after nearly 3 years at OCC what have I learned?
4. Writers often go off on tangents
3. We love research particularly in the form of man candy. (You always need to keep the next story in mind, right? *innocent face*)
2. Never separate a writer from her chocolate.
1. Or her caffeine.

Words to live by people. Words to live by.

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Horton Wants to Hear a Who

February 19, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as

Monica Stoner, member at large

I’m reminded of phrases from my favorite writers. Any Rand, in Atlas Shrugged, Francisco talking to Dagny Taggart’s brother: “Words have an exact meaning.” Henry Higgins ranting in My Fair Lady “By rights they should be taken out and hung, for the cold blooded murder of the English tongue.” As a writer, it grates every time.

You hear it on newscasts and read it in newspapers: “The person, that works for the company.” If it’s a person, then it’s a who. The rules read as follows: (taken from http://www.grammarbook.com/grammar/whoVwhVt.asp)

Who refers to people. That and which refer to groups or things.
That introduces essential clauses while which introduces nonessential clauses.
If this, that, these, or those has already introduced an essential clause, you may use which to introduce the next clause, whether it is essential or nonessential.

The website gave some examples. In the interest of active writing, I would suggest going one step further. For: “She belongs to an organization that specializes in saving endangered species.” why not write: “She belongs to an organization specializing in saving endangered species.”? Reduces the word count by one but punches up the sentence. Our minds automatically hesitate on certain words, including “that.” When editing, I first go through to remove “that” plus any version of the “to be.”

So instead of saying “The group that is going to the museum.” try “The group going to the museum.” And so on. Of course once you start, your automatic editor will intrude when you’re reading for pleasure, and take some of the fun out of your stolen hours.

While I’m on an editing soapbox, let’s look at the word “laconic.” By definition, “laconic” means terse, of few words. The word has nothing to do with eyebrows, facial expressions, or any other body part. Unfortunately, some popular authors started the trend of such phrases as “he raised a laconic eyebrow.” Have any of you ever heard an eyebrow talk, tersely or otherwise? Because I certainly haven’t, nor would I want to. Eyebrows are supposed to stay quietly on my face, somewhere above my eyes.

Words have an exact meaning

For that matter, a phrase I’ve heard all too often recently is “mandatory spay/neuter,” referencing the removal of sexual organs from dogs or cats. Neuter is non gender specific, but is used for the sterilization of male dogs, most likely because the accurate word, “castrate,” is too painful for males to hear. Since this PC phrasing has been used to mitigate the importance of these surgeries, and to encourage more people to support the goals of animal rights advocates, it is doubly important to use the correct word. Spay. Castrate. Sterilize. If you want to speak collectively, neuter is appropriate. For impact, I’ve been known to use “Forced Sterilization.” If you want to sound a bit more knowledgeable, or just have fun, try Gonadectomy, a personal favorite of mine.

Words have an exact meaning and as writers we need to protect those meanings.

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Writer on the Verge

February 18, 2008 by in category Archives

So Many Books…

By Kate

Another lifetime ago, I was a book collector. My personal favorites were first edition mysteries and finely bound poetry and philosophy. Yes, me. Go figure. I used to scour the massive used bookshops on Hollywood Boulevard and the nooks and crannies of Melrose Avenue and La Cienega Boulevard where dozens of fascinating shops held the secrets of the universe bound in soft Moroccan leather.

One by one, as property values rose and rents increased, the stores closed. The bookshops are gone now. The marketplace for rare first editions and antiquarian books has moved to the Internet and eBay.

This weekend I spent two days attending the annual Los Angeles Antiquarian Book Fair, where those same dealers who used to own bookshops on Melrose come together with likeminded dealers from all over the world to buy, sell and trade their treasures.

There were hundreds of book sellers represented and thousands of books on display. Naturally, I saw many exquisitely bound editions of William Shakespeare and Walt Whitman and Jane Austen. One dealer sells books so ancient they look like petrified forest mushrooms on the shelf. Another sells clever, three-dimensional, accordion-style books designed by a Parisian artist. Still another dealer sells only mysteries and his display shelf featured first edition copies of Raymond Chandler and Earl Stanley Garner and a nicely preserved, full set of Agatha Christie’s mysteries.

I loved poking around the individual dealers’ booths, examining the books and discovering new treasures, but it was a bittersweet time for me. I miss the stores, miss the smell of old books, miss the wise counsel of the book dealer.

Sadly, the only thing more rare than the beautiful books I saw this weekend are the bookstores that used to sell them, so allow me to end my post with a public service announcement: SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL INDEPENDENT BOOKSELLER. We’ve lost so many, but there are still some great stores out there. Don’t forget them. You might pay a bit more for a book but the personal service is gratifying and the rapport you build with the seller is priceless. And hey, it’s a write-off!

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Phyllis Whitney………..

February 17, 2008 by in category Archives

I just heard that Phyllis Whitney died in early February at 104.

I can still remember finding one of her books, The Quicksilver Pool, in the library and getting so lost in the pages, I didn’t hear my mom telling me it was time to go home.

Now THAT’S a writer. Phyllis was still writing and publishing books until she was 94–most of us can only hope for a career like that! She said she wouldn’t stop writing until she got ‘old’. You gotta love that, too!

Phyllis Whitney’s books made me sigh, made me cringe and made me believe completely in her world. Her ability for scene setting made that world so real, that I lived every moment with her characters. Thankfully, her books will be around forever, and isn’t that a kind of immortality? As writers, we craft stories, choose words and create characters we hope will touch people. Just as I hope that right now, there’s a young girl in a library somewhere, discovering The Quicksilver Pool–(oh, and maybe one of my books, too!)

Phyllis also had some great advice for aspiring writers–

Ms. Whitney ascribed her success as a writer to persistence and an abiding faith in her abilities. “Never mind the rejections, the discouragement, the voices of ridicule (there can be those too),” she wrote in “Guide to Fiction Writing.” “Work and wait and learn, and that train will come by. If you give up, you’ll never have a chance to climb aboard.”

So thanks, Phyllis, for the great books, for the nudge toward writing you gave me, and so many others–and I hope right now, you’re on the best research trip ever, about to write a book for Heavenly Publication.

Maureen Child is the author of more than 100 books and novellas. At the moment, she’s rereading a couple of her favorite Phyllis Whitney books………….

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Writer’s Word

February 16, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as , ,
Keeping Track
by Jenny Hansen

Do you have critique partners? Editors? Agents? Family and friends that look over your Work in Progress?

I’m betting that you trade manuscripts with these people and that, for those of you who don’t know how to use Track Changes, you buy a lot of paper. And ink cartridges. And red pens (or whatever friendlier color you use to write in the margin and remind your critique partner to use an active verb).

Consider this article my Valentine’s gift to ease the bottom line on your purchases at Office Depot – we’re going to talk about how to use one of my favorite features in Word.

Microsoft Word’s Track Changes feature can be activated a few ways:

– Go to the Tools menu and choose Track Changes
– Hit Ctrl+Shift+E (remember, you don’t type the plus signs)
– Double click on TRK in the status bar at the bottom of your Word window.

Note: Your status bar is the area that starts with “Page 1” and “Sec 1.” On the right side of this status bar there is an area that says REC and TRK – these are grayed out unless they are activated. You may double-click on the TRK to activate the Track Changes feature (the REC is to record a macro, which is not covered here). You may double-click on the TRK again to toggle the feature back off. The darkened TRK in the status bar is the easiest way to tell at a glance that Track Changes is on.

When you turn on Track Changes, the following Reviewing toolbar will appear:

If you would like to turn this toolbar on and off separately from using Track Changes, simply go to the View menu and choose ToolbarsàReviewing, or right-click on any existing toolbar and then choose Reviewing from the shortcut menu. Since the Insert Comment and Reviewer Pane buttons are also accessible here, as well as a button to turn on Track Changes, this is an extremely great toolbar to keep on your screen.

Note: For those of you who are now using Word 2007, you do not have menus anymore –you have the Ribbon. You may add buttons and features to the Ribbon with the right-click method described above. Additionally, all the old shortcuts like Ctrl+Shift+E will work.

While the Track Changes feature is on, everything you do to a document is being recorded. The Reviewing toolbar has a great button on the far left that allows you to choose things like Original, Final or Final Showing Markup. This button is invaluable if you want to print out the manuscript without all the changes showing.

If you have set up your User Information in the correct tab in Options (located under the Tools menu) your initials will even appear next to the changes you make. If your critique partner decides to print up the document with the changes he or she will be able to tell your manuscript changes from that of your other critique partner who might be wild about head-hopping and adverbs.

My favorite part about the Track Changes feature is that the person receiving the critique can activate it on his or her own computer and choose to Accept or Reject Changes. Every change offered by a critique partner, editor or agent does not have to be accepted, as you know. At the end of the day, this is YOUR book.

Be sure to turn your Reviewing toolbar on and play with it – pass your mouse across all the buttons so that the yellow tool tip will tell you what each button means. As always, you can email me at jennyhansensmail@aol.com if you have more questions about the content in this blog.

In the meantime, Happy Writing! I hope Cupid was nice to you and your manuscript this month.

By day, Jen manages the sales and marketing for a national training firm (after 12 years as a corporate software trainer, it’s nice to be able to sit down while she works). By night, she writes women’s fiction, chick lit and short stories as Jenny Hansen.

She has been a member of OCC since 2001 and has served as the Orange Rose Contest Coordinator, as well as on OCC’s Board of Directors in a variety of capacities.

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