Sunday, January 27, 2013

Five Things That Really Annoy Me!

Here I am, early Sunday morning, writing about things that never fail to annoy me. And these are things that never go away. They're always there, staring me in the face, and no one will alter the situations.

NUMBER ONE: The Amazing Shrinking Newspaper--please don't tell me I can read all the news I want on-line, because I already do that. However, I want my daily newspaper thrown at my house for a very good reason. For decades, we have eaten breakfast at the island which I designed for our house in 1989. To get the proper dimensions, I opened two sections of the newspaper and laid them on the floor side-by-side with generous space between them. This nice big island allowed us to sit on the bar stools, read the newspaper, trading sections, while we ate our Cheerios. (On weekends I actually cook breakfast--under a little duress, but I do it.) But the newspaper is gradually phasing us out, pushing subscriptions to the on-line newspaper every day, and also mentioning the expense of physically throwing the paper to individual houses. If they think reading the paper on my computer while I eat Cheerios is going to work, let me tell you--it won't work.  In addition, I want the daily crossword puzzle.
The newspaper has become thinner and the pages are narrower, giving us even more room on the island.

NUMBER TWO: Apostrophes in Contractions Turned the Wrong Way.  I've written about this topic so many times, it should be evident by now. But no, I still see this often, especially at Christmas when the word 'Tis appears in many ads. Rule: If you use curly quotes, please remember that the tail of the apostrophe in a contraction is ALWAYS turned to the left, even if the contraction is at the beginning of the word. I'm still seeing this error in digital books far too often. The author must take the time to correct it, because Word will automatically turn it to the right, as though to enclose the word in quotes, and the writer must manually change it.
The best solution? Use straight quotes and avoid this problem altogether.

NUMBER THREE: Improper Use of Pronouns. This error seldom happens if there's only one "object" in the sentence. "Adam asked Alice to dinner." This is correct, of course, but an error may occur when an additional person is included. "Adam asked Alice and I to dinner." Not everyone can recognize the error, because it does happen. "Adam played the piano for her and I." Uh-uh. Most often, the error occurs in confusing "I" with "me." I've heard politicians do this, and commentators on news programs, persons being interviewed, and car salesmen in television commercials. It seems that many have an aversion to the word "me," maybe thinking it sounds uneducated.
NUMBER FOUR: Names repeated too often in written dialogue. I'm an expert about this topic, because I am the queen of repeating names. When we have a conversation with a friend or spouse, we don't call the name every other sentence. In fact, we may not do it at all. Therefore, in writing dialogue, the author must identify the person speaking some other way. When I'm writing, I'm unaware I'm using the names so much, but I know to edit and re-write to correct the error.

NUMBER FIVE: Rude Drivers. Why does a driver roar up behind you when you have your right blinker on to either exit off the interstate or turn right at the next corner, and zip around you to be in front so he can turn first? And he barely makes it. And he causes me to hit my brakes so he won't take the front bumper off my vehicle. Rant over, but it happens often to make me wonder what possesses a person to do this? There's no reason for it. All he accomplishes is moving forward one car length...or thereabouts.

Now, everyone have a nice day. If you have a rant, be my guest. I'd love to hear it.        

Monday, January 21, 2013


By Celia Yeary

Stop and think—do you sabotage your own success? This can happen on many levels, most of them subconscious, but all are self-destructive. How do I know this? I’ve done so many things to make myself fail or at least feel like a failure, I can’t even count them. We can’t address all the ways we writers knock ourselves down, but we can discuss a few. You might be able to add to this list.

Is Your Attitude Positive or Negative? Ever hear the saying: “Can’t never could do anything.” I do admit I often say, “Well, I just can’t do that.” Maybe the statement is in response to rewriting a story that seriously needs an overhaul; to a ten-day blog tour; to spice up a manuscript; to take a workshop that I really need. Instead, be the Little Engine That Could and tell yourself, “I think I can.” Doesn’t that sound much better than “I can’t?”

Is Your Book The Best It Can Be? Does it have reader appeal? Pretend you’re someone else reading your book. (I pretend I’m a lady I know who is rather hard to please—will she like my book?) Does it have urgency, intensity, and enough drama to capture a reader’s heart? Does your own book interest YOU? Remember these principles, and you may just write a Best Seller.

Do You Treat Yourself As Well As You Treat Other Writers? Now, this is simple. If you have a writer friend who is faltering, what do you do? Don’t you try to bolster her confidence, telling her that she is competent, that she is as good a writer as anyone else, and that you have Confidence in her? Then, why not tell yourself these things? Then act that way.

Do You Play At Writing Instead Of Taking It Seriously? By serious, I don’t mean act that way. The one thing you DON’T want to do is lose the joy of writing. Why write if it makes you miserable? Remember how excited you were when you first realized you were a storyteller, and you wanted more than anything to succeed? We need some level of obsession to take ourselves seriously and make others believe it, too. If writing is your dream, then make it happen. Write!


Friday, January 11, 2013

Should Characters Be Consistent and Predictable?

Contrasts--the element that makes a character three dimensional and somewhat unpredictable.

This definition is mine--I just made it up. Like the woman in the furniture commercial who interviews for a job: "I designed this chair at Haverty's," and she flips her hair, intimating that she is brilliant and should get this job. An interviewer would not expect an applicant to make such a statement. The female in the commercial immediately becomes the focus of the clip--not the furniture store. But she does get our attention.

Melanie in Gone With the Wind is the epitome of a predictable female character. She's always sweet and kind, nauseatingly so to a great extent. When does Melanie come alive? She grows in stature as a character when she must protect the others in war-torn Tara by picking up a pistol and killing a Union soldier who is trying to rob and rape them. We cheer for Melanie at that point, because..she has surprised us. And perhaps we like her better for it.

This photo is a study in contrasts--of objects, not personalities. But it does show the impact of unpredictable objects in a setting. If the black trunk were not in the photo, we'd see all green and probably pass over the photo. But it's the contrast that makes us stop and look.
I'm reading a romance by Pam Crook in which her heroine is 100% unpredictable. We know the character is not really a nun at the beginning--I don't know how, but we just know. As the plot progresses and becomes increasingly tense and complicated, suddenly the heroine acts seemingly out of character and does some physical things that really surprise us. In carrying out these acts, the heroine almost becomes...the hero. Good reading.
When we read...or write...romances, we expect conflict. Any good fiction writer has learned this lesson early on. In romance novels, we expect conflict between the hero and the heroine. If that is absent, there is no story. I'll amend that statement: if conflict is absent between the hero and heroine, there may be a story...but most likely it's like weak tea--bland, tasteless, and colorless. But I digress from contrasts.

Do we expect our heroes and heroines to act entirely out of character? No, not particularly, but I say that in doing so, the character will make a greater impact on us as readers.

In Kat and the U.S. Marshal, Kat Cameron is living and acting like the town society leader and benefactress. Why? Because that's the persona she wants to portray--act like a lady at all times, as her mother tried so hard to teach her. But when Marshal Diego Montoya arrives, events force Kat to revert to her wild days of following her brother around on the ranch. She dons pants and boots, and buckles on her Colt .45 to help her lover Diego nab the suspect in the act. This is her true persona--the ladylike aura is more of an act.

Which story remains in your memory because of a character who surprised you? Was the character male or female? Was the contrast believable?

Happy reading and for you authors, happy writing!

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
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Saturday, January 5, 2013


This phrase has been used many times. Some dieticians believe if we eat dessert first, we won't eat so much of the entire meal. Therefore, a person can lose weight using this method. This pretty much astounded me, because sugar is the main cause for adding pounds.

But let's not go there.

I Googled the question, "Should we eat dessert first?" I found no true answers except "Life is short--enjoy the good things first."

At first glance, this doesn't seem like the greatest idea in the world, and a little depressing, but I believe the phrase does carry a deeper meaning. That meaning is probably different to each person.

How do you feel about this concept?

Consider this: In elementary school, what did we do as soon as we got to school? We sure didn't have recess first. Our teachers placed us in our rows of desks, and we began working right away. After a couple of hours of toiling over numbers or letters, we were rewarded with recess. Suppose we had recess at the beginning of each day? Then, we'd have nothing to look forward to except school work.

My dear sister-in-law lives in an assisted living facility. When she sits down to eat, if the dessert is beside her plate she'll push the plate back and move the dessert forward. Nurses have the tendency to say, "No, no, eat your meal first." Her family replies, "What's the harm? Let her do what she wants to." I love this attitude for the elderly. Let her eat dessert first.

A lady I know in town said they eat dessert first when they eat out. The reason--just to enjoy a treat first--a little present for themselves. When we eat out, the waiter/waitress always asks at the end of the meal: "Did you save room for dessert?" No, never. However, I have eaten lunch out with friends, and instead of that standard salad or soup or sandwich, I only have dessert. Why not?

I wonder, as busy as we all are, if we stick to the same mundane routine day after day we will soon become burned out. Why not close the computer, get a bowl of ice cream or a cup of hot chocolate, kick back in your recliner and read a book?

Why not treat yourself once in a while? My generation--certainly not Generation X, because mine goes back just a little bit further--was taught to do chores before playing. We had to dress and make our beds before coming to the breakfast table. We had to dry the dishes before playing.

Now that I'm older, I don't feel guilty when I let something go. In my late twenties, I worked on a four-year degree while being a wife and a mommy. During the day at school, my mind was only on classes because I knew my children were cared for or in school, too. When I arrived home with books and study assignments, those were put aside. My children, my husband, and the housework came first. At night, when everyone else went to bed, I sat at the dining room table in our small West Texas house, spread my books and papers out, and worked and studied, often until two or three am. I had to. There was simply no time to treat myself. During this time, my husband worked two jobs, often sixteen hours a day. Of course, he had little downtime, too, but he could go to sleep at a decent hour.

At this moment thirty minutes before lunch, a pie I baked this morning sits on the stove. It's a buttermilk/coconut pie, and the smell of the sugar, vanilla, and toasted coconut is driving me crazy. We'll have a snack of peanut butter and crackers and a banana. But first, I'll cut a thin slice of that pie and eat it right there at the stove. I cannot resist.

Anyway, I have learned very well how to kick back and make myself happy. Really, I'm very good at it.

Do you ever eat dessert first? Or just have dessert for lunch? Try it if you haven't--it won't hurt you.

And your day may be just a little brighter.

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas
My Website
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