Saturday, July 31, 2010


Remember I am no expert. My knowledge on any writing topic comes from a few years of self-study, and lest you think I know a great deal, let me set you straight. I am no…Sorry, I’ve already said that.

Why am I writing about this boring topic? Lately, more lavish description than is needed or wanted seems to be creeping in some fiction. While our writing instructors tell us “less is more,” and encourage us to omit descriptive phrases, we still feel compelled to endlessly describe.

“Her lovely eyes resembled pieces of emerald, shadowed by long, lush lashes, set in an alabaster face worthy of the most beautiful of angels.” (I made that up.) First of all, this passage must be from the Hero’s POV. How many men do you know, or have ever existed had thoughts like this? “Her eyes sure were pretty, sort of green.” A cowboy might think; or a modern man might say this: “Her eyes were so pretty, I wish I had the words to describe them.”

AVOID detailed descriptions of characters. Elmore Leonard in his Ten Rules of Writing, says, In Ernest Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” what do the “American and the girl with him” look like? “She had taken off her hat and put it on the table.” That’s the only reference to a physical description in the story, yet we see the couple and know them by the tones of voice, with not one adverb in sight.

However, I need either some description of the characters in some manner, or none at all. Why? Because I visualize the characters, and unless I have a clue early on I’ll paint a picture of them myself. If an author waits until about the fourth or fifth chapter to finally let me know the girl is petite, buxom, with coal-black hair hanging almost to her waist, I might have her pictured her as tall, lithe, and blond. By that time I have so much invested in my version, the author’s description makes me irritable.

AVOID great detailed descriptions of places and things. We don’t need to impress our readers with the beauty of our story setting. If we go on and on about it, heaping up adjectives and adverbs along the way, we run the risk of losing our readers because they have become weary and slam the book shut.

Again, as a reader myself, I do need to know in some creative way the surroundings or setting of the novel.

Now that I’ve offered this advice, I’m still in the process of “how much description is too much.” Or maybe I should be learning how to include my descriptions without listing everything in one paragraph.

I do love to write. Here’s an descriptive excerpt from a WIP. Someday I hope to finish it. ~~From A Life Worth Living~~
“Mama, do we get cake? It’s daytime.”

Teresa said to her daughter, “Yes, I know, sweetie, but sometimes we get cake in the daytime when we have company.”


Teresa said, “Let’s say grace. Shall we?” She looked at Guy for his approval.

Guy nodded, not knowing what was proper or what was not. It had been a long time since he or anyone else he knew said grace over a piece of cake, let alone one hard biscuit filled with weevils, or one glop of tasteless corn mush for breakfast, eaten standing up, ready to run at a moment’s notice if shells began to explode around them.

“Mr. Reynolds? Would you say grace?”

Guy remained frozen, as terrified as he had been at times when he ran for his life, his rifle cocked and ready, through bombings and gunfire and thick, black, greasy smoke. He sat there, his heart pounding, his head bursting with the sound of weapons and explosions, visibly shaking and looking at the cake, seeing instead, blood, and men’s intestines spilling out, and hearing unearthly groans and screams.

Hell couldn’t be much worse, he thought. But he looked up and sought her beautiful blue eyes, the color of the sky in Brussels when the smoke cleared and the sun shone on the destruction of war that men inflicted on each other. God help him, he thought he would cry. No, he thought, with steely determination, I’ll not let her see my weakness and pain.

“Yes, ma’am. Let’s bow our heads.”

Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas
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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Clean Writing: The "Avoids"

Writing science research papers taught me the process of clean writing—manuscripts free of too many useless words. "Just the facts, ma'am." As a result, my first fiction manuscript was a failure. The editor told me my writing read like a textbook. That sort of hurt, but the statement opened a floodgate of words that's still gushing. I could use adjectives! And adverbs! And descriptions!
But also…too many useless words and phrases.
Still, I absolutely love to embellish sentences with adjectives, adverbs, and well…a long list of writing errors. If I remove the useless words in the previous sentence, I think it reads like a textbook. Where is that fine line?
AVOID USELESS WORDS: We consider good writing concise, vigorous, and active. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, as a machine should contain no extra parts. Fine idea. But an automobile is a machine. The first cars were little more than a buggy with an engine attached. They were unattractive and uncomfortable. The automobiles today contain endless useless parts, but we buy them because of those extra appealing parts.

I do agree, though, certain useless words or phrases need to go.
1. "there is no doubt but that" should be "no doubt" or "doubtless"
2. "this is a subject that" should be "this subject"
3. "the reason why is that" should be "because"
4. "owing to the fact that" should be "since" or "because"
5. "he is a man who" should be "he"

AVOID USE OF QUALIFIERS: A qualifier is a word or a word group that limits the meaning of another word or word group. The worst offenders are rather, very, little, and pretty.

"I should do pretty well on the exam, for I am a rather brilliant student, but if I make very many mistakes, I'll try to do a little better."

AVOID LOOSE SENTENCES: A loose sentence is one consisting of two clauses, the second introduced by a conjunction or relative. Too many loose sentences in one paragraph will sound mechanical and singsong. The compound sentence is the framework of writing, when used wisely and sparingly.

"The last concert of the season was given last night, and the hall was filled to capacity. Jane Doe was the soloist, and John Smith accompanied her on the piano. She proved to be quite capable, while he performed admirably. The concert series has been successful, and the committee was gratified. The committee will plan for next year's programs, and they will offer an equally attractive program." Blech!

Today's subject appeared because I've been in edits the last two weeks. A kind editor—in so many words--told me: You begin too many sentences with well, now, so, or why. In some cases, these words are acceptable, especially when included in dialogue. Southern people talk this way, but in narration, use sparingly.

This made sense to me, because when I talk with a friend—on-line or face to face—those little words pop up all the time.

"What did she say when you said her hair was orange?"
"Well, first she stared. Then her eyes sort of bugged out, and before I knew it, why, she started bawling."
"Oh, my goodness. Now, here's what you should have said, darlin'. You just do not want to make her any madder."
"So, what should I have said?"

And so, well, I need to bring this post to a halt. I need to make a little lunch, because the fact is that my husband is mowing this morning, and he'll be starving. There's no doubt, though, that he won't say an unkind word to me if lunch if just a little late.
(if you can edit this paragraph, you will receive an A+)

Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Maybe I Could Write a Vintage Romanc....

**Our first car was a 1956 Baby Blue Chevy with standard fins.**
With publishers asking for “vintage romances,” I believe I qualify to write one. First, though, vintage? The fifties? Not what I had in mind. Vintage to me means the Victorian Era, the Deep South before the Civil War, the Roaring Twenties, perhaps. But yes, the 1950 decade does fit the guidelines. It’s just that I remember the time so well—how can it truly be vintage? Oh, well, I will ignore my distress over this revelation and try to write a story. Now, let me see…what do I remember?
**Me in fourth grade--my smart-aleck period. Check out the saddle oxfords.**
I grew up on the South Plains, in the northwest portion of Texas. Often, I relive and reminisce about the place I called home, where the sand blew in the spring so hard that we wore headscarves to keep our hair down. We ran to the car with the sand stinging the backs of our legs because Mother didn’t allow us to wear jeans to school. A few of my classmates and I have kept in touch all these years, and we believe there, on the flat table-top Caprock, where the sky looked like a big blue bowl turned upside down on a sea of green cotton or brown plowed dirt, our roots run deep and strong and firm. There’s something sacred about it, holding the clean, pure air and sky and land in our hearts.
It was the best of times, “the Nifty Fifties”, labeled conservative, a classic American era, in which all was right in our country. But we, as well as the entire population, were in the throes of dying innocence.
**Ahhh, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. Lived too fast, too hard, died too young**
We might attribute the rumble of the approaching social revolution, which culminated in the sixties, to Elvis, the hydrogen bomb, the McCarthy hearings, James Dean and Marilyn Monroe.
America would never be the same.

**I was in high school before we could afford a television set.**
The fifties decade remains permanently imbedded in my heart and mind. With vivid clarity, I remember those years as a time of forming values and beliefs and a way of life. Our family was typical—a father who worked, a mother who kept house and tended to us girls, and we lived in a house built by our own Daddy’s hands. We lived the life we later watched on television, then in the form of sitcoms. Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver, Happy Days—weekly episodes of a family who ate dinner together every night—called supper in Texas—with the father in charge of the household, and the mother teaching the children to wash hands before eating and mind their manners.

**I swear! I had a dress just like this one!**
I just know I could write a romance novel set in the fifties. Now, to find the time.
Thank you! 
Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas

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Friday, July 9, 2010

DESTINATION: BERLIN-by Stephanie Burkhart

I'd like to introduce and welcome my author friend Stephanie Burkhart. Feel free to call her "Steph" for that is how we know her best. She is a very talented and versatile writer, and quite prolific, I might add. Steph is one of the most loyal and unselfish authors I know, and I know numerous ones in that category. She tirelessly cares for her family, but also looks after her fellow writers and friends. Her romances are set in far away vistas, those she knows well and remembers from her years serving in the U.S. Army in Germany. Please welcome her! Thank you for visiting us today. Celia

        Berlin 1988 and Now

I'd like to thank Celia for having me today as part of my "Destination: Berlin" blog tour. Just a little about me: I was born and raised in Manchester, NH with a hungry appetite for reading gothic romance, especially by Victoria Holt. I served in the Army for 11 years from 1986 to 1997 and spent 7 years in Germany. My time in Europe inspired two passions – my love of history and the paranormal. Currently, I live in California and work for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher.

Destination: Berlin is a "sweet" military romance. When the Berlin Duty Train is derailed in the middle of East Germany, American Corporal Sharon Cates must rely on help from an unlikely source – Soviet Jr. Sgt. Dimitri Nagory to make it to safety.

Destination: Berlin was the first book I wrote. It was released in 2001 and updated in 2007 with maps. The story was inspired by my own trip to Berlin on the Berlin Orientation Tour in July 1988.

So what was Berlin like in 1988?

First, I can't believe that was 22 years ago! How the time flies. In 1988, I was a 20 year old Specialist in the US Army on active duty. My job? 95B – Military Police.
I arrived in Berlin at 0600 am, after leaving Bremerhaven at 1000 pm the previous night. Travel to West Berlin through East Germany could only be a night and the windows in the train were covered.
I had a decent night's sleep and our tour guide met us right away. He took us to rooms on Roosevelt Barracks. After getting settled in, we were off.

Berlin was a divided city in 1988, and a wall still surrounded West Berlin. It was full of graffiti on the western side, barren facing east. The West was a thriving city with buildings full of color, parks, and the sounds of an urban hub.
One of the places I stopped to see was the Soviet War Monument in the American sector (Tiergarten). It was guarded by two Soviet soldiers. Historically, the Soviets arrived in Berlin first and thought the land the monument was on was going to go to them. When the city was officially divided, the land went to the Americans. They allowed the Soviets to guard it.

The Soviets were notorious for putting up war monuments in Berlin. The most famous is Treptower Park in East Berlin. It houses 5 mass graves with 1,000 soldiers buried in each grave. I had a chance to visit this park in 1988, but I had to wear my dress uniform (minus my nametag) to clearly identify my affiliation with the US Army.
The Americans had no monuments. In 1987 Rudolph Hess finally died in Spandau Prison. (Interestingly, the Americans, British, French, and Soviets switched guard duty on a monthly basis). As soon as he died, the British demolished the prison.
I also visited the Brandenburg Gate, looking at it from the west. The Berlin Wall was right in front of it, filled with graffiti. In 1990, I would have schnapps under the Gate itself while I celebrated New Years with my fiancé.
East Berlin was dull in color. Buildings were brown and gray, covered in soot from burning coal. The most modern buildings were from the 1950's and constructed in dull colors with panels of glass.
I visited Checkpoint Charlie, the only official place to enter East Berlin from the West. I also went to Wansee Lake, a natural border between West Berlin (the American sector) and Potsdam. I also walked on Freedom Bridge, where spy exchanges were frequently conducted. In fact, the Wansee and Freedom Bridge play a big part in the novel's end. hint, hint.
So what is Berlin like now?
I visited in 1990, 1991, 1992, and my last visit was in 1996. In 1996, East Berlin was gaining color and old sooty buildings were getting face lifts. The wall had been completely taken down, uniting two cities. Brandenburg Gate looked like new.
The four allies had left the city by 1996. Now, Berlin is the official capital of a united Germany. The history of Berlin is rich with accomplishments, yet tarnished by war, but one thing is true now as it was then – Berlin is a vibrant, international city which captures the heart of the German nation.

"Have you been to West Berlin?" asked Sharon.
"A couple of times."
"Where did you go?"
"I visited the old Reichstag, Spandau Prison, and the Soviet War Memorial."
"Which place impressed you the most?" Sharon asked.
He put the olives aside and stretched out his legs. "Spandau Prison."
"I went there last year before Rudolph Hess died. It was a fortress. The prison itself was an old brick building surrounded by electric and barbed wire. The walls were thick and sturdy, yet Hess was very frail. It didn't seem appropriate to the prisoner," Dimitri replied.
"What sector of Berlin is the prison in?" she asked.
"The British sector. Every month the guards of the prison rotated between the allies and I accompanied Major Orlov to inspect the Soviet Guards in July 1987."
"Hess was an old man, wasn't he?"
"Yes," said Dimitri.
"How did he die?" Sharon asked.
"He committed suicide," Dimitri answered.
"Do you think Hess should have had more freedom in his waning days? Maybe he would have lived longer," said Sharon. She was impressed with the fact Dimitri had seen the Nazi before he had died.
"Perhaps. Perhaps not. He was part of a nation that aspired to dominate the world and no country should be allowed to impose its will on another. That's why we aren't successful in Afghanistan," he replied.
"And why the US was unsuccessful in Vietnam," Sharon added. "The suppressed will always mount a resistance that will challenge the oppressor."
"Very true. The Germans found the French resistance challenging in the last world war," said Dimitri. He yawned. "I suggest we sleep here another night and go to Plaue tomorrow."
"Dimitri, one more thing."
"What happened to Spandau Prison?"
"The British demolished it. The allied government didn't want the prison to become a shrine for any of the neo-nazis," he answered.
"Well, I guess that's one thing our governments have in common."
"I guess," said Dimitri.
She sighed. She would have liked to have seen Spandau Prison. Now it was a slice of history only to be remembered in the books and archives of World War II.

Here's a link to Destination: Berlin's Book Trailer on You Tube: 

Destination: Berlin is a Print book only. Here's where you can buy it: Amazon:

Barnes and Noble:

Goodie Time: Post a comment. I'll pick two lucky winners out of a hat to receive an autographed postcard of the cover. Follow me on my blog tour and earn a chance to win an autographed copy of Destination: Berlin. To find out the dates on the blog tour visit my blog, "Romance Under the Moonlight."
Visit me at:

SG Cardin/Stephanie Burkhart Online

Romance Under the Moonlight

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Remember the 4th of July when you were a kid? I never once saw a fireworks display during my childhood. We had sparklers—and maybe a few of those tiny firecrackers that come in a roll. My parents actually let us shoot off a few of those. I allowed my son to do this, too, but I don’t think I would now.

My sister and I loved sparklers, and they were more fun when we played with them in the dark front yard with our friends. The Fourth of July has never been much of a holiday in our family. I adore fireworks displays, though, and always watch one of the extravaganzas on television. Now, I have a big screen television, so I can’t wait to watch one and turn up the sound. Love it!

I wish each and every one of you a very happy holiday!

If you need something to read this summer, check out my books on the sidebar, click on a cover, and it’ll take you to a Buy link. Now, isn’t that easy?

Celia Yeary
Romance…and a little bit o' Texas

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