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Monday, July 11, 2011

Welcome Author Mimi Barbour

An Author’s Confusion

    Hi there…I’m Mimi Barbour, an author who’s had four books published, (3 novellas and 1 full-length with another full-length being released this holiday season) and I’m here to admit a horrible secret. There are still rules in the grammar of a well-written book that throws me into a tail-spin. Simple things to those who know the answers. For instance, when is it proper to use words such as ‘because versus as’. Or ‘while versus as’. Or when is it proper to write the word ‘when versus while’? Just thinking about it makes my brain want to leave my body and find a hidey-hole.  I was probably getting it right half the time, and I’m pretty sure that’s just the law of averages. So I looked up the guiding principles and became even more confused.  Only, let’s face it, it’s not like we can leave these words out of our books, is it?
     Another problem is when to use commas. Okay, I do work hard at getting them placed properly, and I think I’ve done a good job. Until I get the first revised copy from my editor to work on and see all the red marks throughout the pages. Sigh!! Even when I read another’s work, I see places where they’re either used or missed, and I shake my head and wonder why. 
     Another little glitch that gets to me is when to use capital letters for names. I was always under the impression that if your character was talking to someone and using their name or a pet name, it had to be capitalized. Not so! I recently found out that’s not true. The one truth I can cling to on capitals is that the first word of every new sentenced has them. Yess!! I’ve got that down pat.
     Oh right—Emdashes. This is perplexing to the point of rashes at end of a frustrating day of writing. I finally figured out the difference between hyphens and emdashes. Easy-shmeasy! When to use them and when to ignore—that is the question. But now I find it’s imperative to pick the perfect spots to drop in these little teasers. In my first draft, I spatter them literally in page after page. Thank heavens I do a second read (and third and fourth, an…). Each time, I dispose of more of the little blighters until only a few are left. But are they in the most appropriate spots? Are they emphasizing emotions or conflict in the best possible way? Wish I knew. I just go by my intuition…and my editor.
    Right! Lest we forget, the Exclamation Mark. This sign makes my eyes water. In my first draft, I go crazy with all the Oh!’s and Good God!’s, but with each read-through, most of these get cleared away by using better verbs and stronger sentences. Except, let’s face it, we do need to use them periodically if we want to be true to a normal person’s thoughts—don’t we?
     It’s all so confusing. The more I research, the more difficult it becomes. My ultimate decision has been to read as many well-written books as I can lay my hands on and learn from the masters.

What do you do? Have you taken special steps to unravel these mysteries? I’d love to hear what helps you in solving these dilemmas.


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MIMI BARBOUR  - Author of THE VICARAGE BENCH SERIES lives in Qualicum Beach and writes her paranormal romances with tongue in cheek and a mad glint in her eye. If I can steal a booklover’s attention away from their every-day grind, absorb them into a fantasy love story, and make them care about the ending, then I’ve done my job.”

Traveling forward in time, Dani Howard's spirit becomes magically united with reporter, Troy Brennan. He's everything a girl could want in a man, and during their time together, she falls deeply in love. Though she must return to her own body, she gains his promise to come to her birthday party in seven days time where they will meet in person and continue their romance.
Troy can't believe he's fallen for a sixteen-year-old spirit invader. He's so infatuated that when renowned author, beautiful Ellie Ward, comes on to him, as attractive as he finds her, he's honor bound to stay true to his young love—or is he?

So this is what the inside of the pub looks like. I’ve wondered.”
“Why would you care?”
“Being it’s a sanctified adult area, all kids want to know what goes on here. Some of my mates got phoney cards and have tried to get in, but they were I.D.ed and thrown out.”
“And so they should be. It’s no place for youngsters.”
“I’m a youngster. I’m here.”
“Yeah! But you’re with me, and if there’s any nonsense going on you shouldn’t see, I’ll close my eyes.”
Erupting giggles tickled him. He lowered his head and stared at the beer-foamed glass in his hand so no one could see the silly grin fighting to appear on his face.
Dani, the bane of his existence, made him laugh more than anyone else he’d ever known. And she was only sixteen years old.
“I’m not a child, you know. And I’m almost seventeen.”
“So tell me, Miss Methuselah, how did you get inside me? Are you ever going to explain? I’m thinking to take out a long-term lease if you’re planning to homestead.”
She teased right back.” You’ll have to co-sign for me, ‘cause I’m underage.”
“Whoa! I’ve never met anyone who can play the age game better than you. You’re an adult when it suits you, but reverting back to childhood when you feel the need doesn’t bother you at all.” He loved hearing her cheeky laughter, but not nearly as much as he liked the warmth flooding over his internal self. Exuberance filled him, and he had to admit to getting hooked on the high.
“You are so easy, Troy. I’m gonna hate to leave you. But I guess I’ll have to, since tomorrow’s Saturday, and that’s the day we’ll be able to undo the switch. Right. Here goes—and don’t interrupt, no matter how silly it seems. The fact is – well, it really is the rose bush.”
“You’re still trying to feed me that baloney. The rose bush! I thought we settled that subject. Next you’ll be saying it’s magical.”
“It is.” Her voice strongly emphasised the last word.
He filtered through his senses systematically. And was forced to accept one thing. She was telling the truth. A magic rose bush! “Holy cow!”
“According to my uncle’s notes, if I understood them correctly, and I think I did, I read them twice and—”
“Right! He’ll have my body near his rose bush—the one I pricked my finger on, at precisely twelve noon each Saturday until the changeover occurs to get me back there. He’ll prick my finger in hopes that you will also prick yours at the same time. He knows I’m aware of the magic and how it works, because he’ll know I read all his notes about a similar case he investigated last year. I accidentally knocked them off his table, the notes that is, and probably didn’t get them back in their correct order. It’s what started this whole thing.”
“And you’re sure it’ll happen?”
“No. But it’s what I gathered from going through his papers, and it worked for two other women who had the same experience.”
“Great! Tomorrow! We’ll be there early.”

He had hurt her feelings.
     She shut herself off, hiding away so he couldn’t feel the devastating ache that clutched at her and made her gasp. Tears, a physical reaction to release overwhelming pain, weren’t available to her. Emotions too advanced for a young girl tore away rose-coloured glasses, wounding, maturing. Her almost seventeen-year-old psyche had started connecting to him in a way that confused her. Every moment she’d shared his life, little bits of her soul had shifted to him until there wasn’t much left he didn’t own.


Anonymous said...

You could sign up for a workshop with the Queen of English :-) The Queen's August workshop on Savvy Authors is titled Punctuating Your Way to a Contract. I'll cover all those preplexing punctuation marks during the week-long workshop.

You could also join me in Savvy Authors Author chat room on 7-13-2011. You could ask about because and as, etc.

MM the Queen of English

Mimi Barbour said...

Thanks MM. I'm sure that would help tremendously. Instead of relying on the expertise of my wonderful editor.

Lilly Gayle said...

The biggest problem I see with authors today (authors I critique,authors I read, and my own personal writing) is when to use "Like" and when to use "as if."

I know modern slang demands Like but sometimes, it just doesn't work.

Mary Ricksen said...

You made me feel wonderful when you told us about the editors red marks for commas. I am not alone!!

Clover Autrey said...

I love em-dashes and probably use them way too much.

AJ Nuest said...

Okay, you ready for this one? I don't even know how to GET an emdash into my manuscript. I see them all the time and sigh wistfully, wondering how they got there, but too embarrassed to ask. Oh and get this! In my next book, I used the word lame. No, not lame like a horse, lam-ay like the shiny gold fabric. Still can't figure out how to get the accent over the e. Thank goodness for the patient editors at WRP. I let them fix all my flubs. We're good that way. I write it, you fix it. :-)

Joanne Stewart said...

I do my best. I follow my intuition based on things I've learned over the years, then I don't worry about it too much. So long as my manuscript isn't sloppy, I think a good book will speak for itself. Otherwise, I'll drive myself crazy. lol

Jannine Gallant said...

Oh my, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to comment on the word "like." I swear my daughters use it after every other word when they're talking. Makes a literate mom want to rip her hair out! I'd like to find a deep hole and bury "like" for good!

Hey, AJ, I just found the emdash a couple of months ago, so you aren't the only one who feels stupid about things like that! Go to "insert" and "symbol" on your word program. All kinds of cool doohickeys there.

Great post, Mimi.

Lynne Marshall said...

What you said, plus -
using that instead of who if a person is involved.
Myriad. No need for "a" before and "of" after. Just Myriad.
Hey, that would be a great title for a book - Just Myriad.
Has anyone ever been named Myriad?

Thanks for a fun and informative blog, Mimi.

Calisa Rhose said...

Oh my gosh!!!!!—yep that is my two largest flubs...and that. When I send a chapter (or two, or three) to my cps I can count on one thing every time- that the marvelous author-chick Christine Bell will go through with a wet wipe and smudge away almost every ! — ... I have in there. And there are a lot. And that's after I delete/replace some. She thinks I'm a fan of ellipses. Heck, I didn't even know what that dotdotdot was called until I met her! Commas- I won't go there. Just when I think I have it right someone proves me wrong. While, because, as, when (add as well/also/too)—again—if if feels right, do it... I say!

Vonnie Davis said...

I am comma challenged. My CP tells me I have an odd way with a comma. Well, I have an odd way with most things, but we don't need to go there, do we? My agent does a major edit when she reads my manuscript. She uses Tract Changes (the bane of my existence). We go through 2 or 3 complete edit sessions before she deems it good enough to submit. In short, I hand her a mess; she makes it shine. She takes out every "that", "had", "just" and--gasp!!--most of my commas. As for exclaimation points, she says every book should have two. I take care of that requirement in the first page. Gramma rules: don't 'cha love 'em?

Mimi Barbour said...

Thank you, my friends, for all your wonderful comments.You left me laughing and feeling - soooo much better. Okay I went to put an exclamation mark after better and automatically backed up and deleted it. My editor's got me trained—finally!! (oops! don't tell...)