Wednesday, October 30, 2013


I know there are times when you want to scream, have a hissy fit, or throw something against the wall. (Just don't kick the cat.) We've all been there, but truly, did the tantrum help? The answer is "no," unless you want to count the fact you feel a little better after venting. That's okay. Really.
But did it solve your problem or turn a negative into a positive? No, probably not.

Years ago, when I played a lot of golf, I was a member of the WGA (Women's Golf Association) at the local Country Club. First, this was truly a kind of "country" club. Not one member was an elitist in any shape or form. Every member was just like me--a working person who could afford the low dues and who had time to play.

Since I was a member and had earned a fair handicap, I could play in the championship tournaments. Now, that didn't mean I played in the Championship Flight, but I could enter in the First Flight (There was a Second and a Third Flight, and I always worked very hard to stay above those.

So, the season's championship tournament began. The format was a two-person one-on-one...and there were six two-person groups. First round, half were eliminated. The second round, another half were eliminated. This continued over a period of days until only two players remained in each flight.

During the last round, I had survived and the First Flight trophy would go to one of us. The other player was a much larger woman than I. I am not tall or big, and I am not strong. I hit "short," but almost always in the middle of the fairway, and I worked on my short game all the time--chipping and putting--which is the key to winning or losing.

She and I played 18 holes and at the end, we were tied. She was not happy. I was ecstatic.
So we had to start over on #1 and this time, play Sudden Death.

First hole, we tied. She cursed a little.
Second hole, we tied. She cursed and threw a club.
Third hole--short Par 3, uphill.

My shot flew straight and true and landed just short of the green. She hit and landed in the water on the left. She dropped another ball, hit her Penalty shot, and landed on the green.

I lay ONE, she lay THREE. She became very, very angry, stomped around, threw things, cursed at the sky, and I stood to the side, thinking...I have beaten her. I chipped close and one-putted for a three, she two-putted for a five.

I win!

Why? She lost her temper. Yes, her anger and temper defeated her. She was a better player and hitter, but I took the trophy. She remained angry at me for, oh, about eight more years.

Righteous or moral anger against a humanitarian crime or sin is okay. We should be angry when the weak and defenseless are crushed.

But allowing our anger to overcome us for personal desires, something we work for and don't obtain, won't get us anywhere.

The best plan--stay cool and calm. Think through the problem. Can you fix it? Or is the problem out of your hands?

During the last few months, I have been frustrated that sometimes a release just doesn't sell.

Any attempt to find a reason fails, and the frustration builds. I know there's something more I could do, but for the life of me, I can't find a way.  

After a few weeks, I decided the problem is not worth agonizing over, and just let it go.

We do the best we can, and if it doesn't work...don't get mad. It won't help one bit.
My advice is to study the problem, devise a new plan, and go in a different direction.
Or forget it and move on.

But whatever you do...don't get mad. You'll lose every time.
Celia Yeary
Romance...and a little bit of Texas

Sunday, October 20, 2013


I love the commercial in which the old farmer comes out to spell "cow." I guess he's in a spelling bee. He spells, "Cow. C-o-w-e-i-e-i-o." {{Buzzz!!!}} He says, "Dagnabit!" This makes me laugh every time.

However, it's not a bad word to use when one is disappointed or frustrated. I, myself, say "dagnabit" on occasion, as when I dropped the jar of jalapeno peppers on my kitchen tile floor, or when I stuck my mascara wand into my eye.

In this case, I'm frustrated and disappointed that a few of my best stories are not big sellers. This may be a personal bias, of course, since I wrote them, but I do believe these stories of which I speak are truly much better than some of my others that sell very well.

Now, you might think I'd begrudge a novel or novella selling really well, when I know in my heart it's not my best work. Not true. I love everything I've ever written--I'd be a poor example of an author if I didn't--but I just know some are better than others.

Why is that? Why does a perfectly good story that gets good reviews and wonderful praise from my local readers...not sell on the commercial market?

Why? Because they have no or too little sex. Sorry, sex scenes are not what makes a good story.

Why? Because they have no singular one-on-one interaction between a man and a woman, a true romance story. Sorry, a true romance is fine--I like them, too--but they're not the only good stories out there.

Every story I've written tells a love story. But some of my full-length novels tell more of the story than just the love part.

CRYSTAL LAKE REUNION-A young woman in Houston owns a real estate agency with her mother. She loves her mother, and they've always been alone since her father died in combat when she was one month old. The problem is, she learns that her life is not as it seems when she goes to a small town north of Houston--Crystal Lake. There, she slowly learns that she is truly someone else. She meets a young doctor and even though she does most of the research and sleuthing to find her true heritage, he helps and encourages her along the way. It's unfortunate other families and other lives will be disrupted, but she is determined to learn the truth.
And she falls in love.
***This novel has been reduced to 99cents on my request.

HEART OF A HERO-- Matt Carrington escapes a terrorists’ prison while in the Army, but he has difficulty escaping the trappings of a demanding fiancĂ© and his own parents. To get away to think, he meets pretty, girl-next-door Lauren Delaney, the kind of woman he desires. But his fiancĂ© and his parents have other plans, and they determine to have their way—no matter what Matt wants.
Lauren Delaney is an independent young woman who quickly befriends the soldier hero who comes to town. Knowing he has another life in Dallas, she holds a secret, too. But she pretends neither have a problem in order to have the summer with him.
Kindle Version: $5.99
Both of these novels received very good reviews, and I'm proud of them.
Both have great covers--Crystal Lake Reunion was a P&E runner-up for best cover.
Both are set in Texas, as are all my stories.
Both have plots that involve other characters.
Both are contemporary Texas--big cities and small towns.

Thank you! Celia

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Self-Editing Isn't Hard--But It's Not Easy, Either

"She said, She thought, She heard, She felt, She knew...Noooooo!"
Writing a new manuscript is exciting. By the time I reach the end, though, I'm usually a little weary of the story. It's easy to think, "Whew! I'm glad that's finished!" But no...I'm not.

Even though I write for an Independent Publisher, my manuscript still needs editing. However, with an Independent Publisher, she nor her staff changes my story. It's as though I am self-publishing, but not doing all the technical work.

We are required, though, to do the basic formatting and editing. In addition, each of us is to have a reader to help find those nasty, elusive writing errors. And finally, an author/editor will help clean it up.

Before I get to that step, I use a set of Self-Editing Guidelines I've had for several years. These are easy ways to pinpoint common mistakes.
For now, we'll look at only one but very important error. Highlight your manuscript to find them and rewrite the sentence.

SEARCH AND HIGHLIGHT "Telling phrases" that indicate Passive Writing:

Wrong: She saw the waiter carry a tray of drinks past her.
Right: The waiter carried a tray of drinks past her.

Wrong: He watched her brush out her hair.
Right: She brushed out her hair.

Other words that also can be changed are:

What exactly is Passive Writing? In easy terms, Passive Writing uses weak verbs, and in this case, "telling phrases." This is another way to describe "Show...Don't tell."

Everything the character hears, smells, sees, touches, and thinks is reflected through POV.

If the author writes, "She saw him grab the money," the writing is telling...and also becomes passive. The writer is telling the reader what is happening.

Instead, the writer should allow the character's POV to explain the action.

(Wrong) She saw him grab the money.
(Right) "He grabbed the money," Mary whispered to Susan.

Even though I believe my writing is clean of such errors, I check anyway. To my surprise, I always find too many instances.

In the manuscript I'm working on now, I first highlighted "saw." Guess what? The word "saw" was highlighted 16 times in a 66,000 word novel.

Each must be reviewed, because all of them may not be an error. Using "saw" in narrative is almost always weak, but using "saw" in dialogue might be correct.

Example I:
Looking toward the west, she saw two riders approaching.
Change to:
Emilie looked to the west. Two riders approached.

Example II:
I'll keep this sentence as is, because it's dialogue:
"Some of the men kept their gazes on Lee, but a couple looked out across the pasture and saw the shooter mount his horse, turn, and ride away over a slight rise."

Example III:
She saw that Lee and Tex kept their horses at a lope.
Change to:
Lee and Tex kept their horses at a lope.

Other highlighted passive words in my manuscript:
watched-23 times
heard-30 times
knew-64 times.

I'm not surprised by these numbers, because it's a common way to write. You might try this test on a manuscript you're working on, if you don't already do so.
I write the same as I talk, and in speaking, I use these words often. But this fact doesn't make it right.

Years ago, a contest judge sent the document about self-editing. She said my story was good but filled with weak or passive writing. I've been forever grateful that she took the time to explain.

I printed the six pages for reference, and now the corners and edges are frayed. The pages have been read many, many times.

As a reader, too, I might find a novel that's too passive, but the story is interesting anyway. In that case, I overlook the errors and read on.
The main idea is to write an exciting or emotional book.

Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Greatest Weakness

We all have our weaknesses, but I'm not talking about craving  dark chocolate or cheesecake.  I'm referring to a personality weakness, a particular aptitude I have which is probably not good.

While finishing my bachelor's degree in education and biology (at age thirty), I inadvertently signed up for a class that sounded like classroom management. It appealed to me, not only for the content, but because a man I knew taught the class. In my thinking, if this gentleman, who had been a military man, taught anything about managing people, he would undoubtedly be an expert.

However, when the class began and each of us had an opportunity to introduce ourselves, I was startled by the reasons for taking the class. Most were males, and each once spoke of needing to learn more about "how to be a school principal and keep order."

No! Not me. I had no intention of being a school principal.

At the end of the first session, I spoke with the professor.

"I think I should drop this course. It's not for me, and I don't know how I misinterpreted the class description."

He answered, "No, Celia, you don't need to drop. You will find the information and discussions valuable in managing students. Plus, I'd like to have you in the class."

I remained.

Throughout the teaching and discussions, in which each of us spoke in response to a particular scenario, I thought I was doing really well. However, half-way through the semester, this professor spoke to me privately. What did he want? To point out my major weakness.

My greatest weakness, as it turned out, was "giving individuals the benefit of the doubt too easily."

Really? What's wrong with this? In my mind, nothing, but he tried to explain that for whatever infraction a student might incur, I had the tendency to say, "I'll let it go this time" or "I know you didn't intend to break a rule or act inappropriately, so I'd like you to think about what you did."

He said, "When I heard your answers in class, I imagined you patting the student on the head, saying, 'now, now, let's be nice. Please don't do this again.'"

I taught high school students for twenty-something years. Yes, I gave many the benefit of the doubt. In some cases, there was no doubt the student had to face some kind of punishment for his severe infraction.

It wasn't that I believed the story a student--usually a male--told me, it was that I weighed the costs of seeking punishment against the value of discussing the problem with the young man.

My professor and most of the men in the class saw things in black and white. You break a rule--you pay the price.

What does this have to do with writing romance novels? Or writing in general? Probably nothing, except it might come in handy when writing a scene that includes some sort of crime or  situation.

In the WIP, TEXAS DREAMER, Emilie McDougal King must take over the ranch business and the drilling of a possible oil well, and she's facing men who aren't too happy. Her husband's life was threatened and he is injured such that he must stay in bed and medicated. She's not a particularly soft-hearted woman, but she has no taste for being harsh, either. Instead, she uses charm--as much as she knows how--and compliments the men on their willingness to carry on and take orders from her.

But along in the story, another secondary character tries to harm her behind her back. In this case, she stiffens her backbone and does not give an inch. No benefit of the doubt for this person.

In conclusion, I think our characters sometimes act as we do in real life.

I think I'm an Emilie McDougal King. I don't jump to conclusions, but I don't let anyone run over me, either. In other words, nothing is black or white.

But most of those men and the professor in the class saw the world as just that--black or white, right or wrong, no in-between.

It was a lesson well-learned for me.