Tag Archives: writing

#IWSG – For Writers of All Ages

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. I just learned about this fun group from Shannon Lawrence, who is a fellow writer and blogger. Just the title of the group screamed that I needed to check it out. This group was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh so writers could virtually gather to express their thoughts about writing. It looks intriguing so I have joined in.

Our co-hosts today are Christine Rains, Dolarah @ Book Lover, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Yvonne Ventresca, and LG Keltner!

The question for this month is: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing? Let’s take a look at these one at a time because each one raises a different set of Pet Peeves for me.

READING: When I read a book that has gone through all of the gyrations to reach publication I have high expectations. My number one issue is misspelled words. I can accept a couple, especially in a manuscript of 100,000 words, but when I see multiple instances of spelling errors my hackles start to raise.

A manuscript goes through the mill before publication, and if an author has done due diligence it would have been seen by the author, spell check, critique groups, beta readers, editors (line and content), publishers, early prints, and then reprints. By the time a book is into the mainstream it should not have spelling errors.

Editing: When I’m editing my own work my pet peeve is that I’m too hard on myself. I do endless comparisons of my work to great writers I aspire to write as well as. I remind myself that they have their creative greatness and I have mine. If I find myself being too hard on me, I set it aside and come back later when I’m not thinking of a Jane Austin novel.

WRITING: In this area I tend to not be too hard on myself. The entire process of writing is, in of itself, a process. Like all writers, I start with an idea then progresses through a vast journey of discovery. When I first started to write I thought, “This will be easy. I just put words to paper and, voila, a book appears.” I laugh at myself. Just getting started was a huge learning curve, and today I continue to learn my craft. If I had to name one thing that is difficult for me it would be to write everyday. Getting in a few days a week is a thrill, and I hope one day life will allow me to write daily.

As a reader, what are your Pet Peeves?

#IWSG

@TheIWSG

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The Yampa*

The wagon train had left her station hours ago. She had worked through the rest of the day cleaning the horse dung and the human stench from the walls. Once a month they came through, sometimes twice in a month, and Margo never got used to it. The humans had a smell about them that reminded her of the dead rats she found in the barn sometimes.

Satisfied, she went back upstairs then out the window to sit on the roof. This is where she spent most of her time staring into the sky wishing for home. In the years spent in the southern hemisphere she could see her home cluster in the night sky, but here in the north she could only see the local sun. Only ten more years and she could go back south. Ten more years of being in this dust bowl serving the wagon trains that kept pushing to the west carrying those petty humans into the frontier.

Stirring out of her own mind she turned to go back inside. Mid-stride Margo met the blunt end of a shotgun in the gut. “Hello Margo. Been a long time wouldn’t you say?”

“Kate. What in tarnation are you doing here? How did you find me?”

“You are a slippery one Margo. I’ve been hunting you for the past couple of centuries. I have to admit you found yourself one hell of a place to hide. How did you find this dump anyway?”

Pushing past her, Margo went back through the window. “Believe it or not, I crashed here. Been stranded for at least a couple hundred years.”

“Come on Margo. You can’t expect me to believe that you, our top pilot, crashed on this rock. You’ll need a better excuse than that.”

“You know me Kate. Weird shit happens.”

“Weird shit my ass. Is that your excuse for the string of dead bodies you left all over the home cluster? Is that your excuse for decimating Corkerelle? Give me a break.”

Margo couldn’t help but laugh a little bit. “You have no idea do you Kate? You have spent all this time looking for me and never stopped to wonder if it was really me? Wake up Kate. Look around you. What do you see?”

“What are you talking about Margo?”

“I’ve been here for eons watching these humans scrape across their globe. They drag their sorry souls over the land and darken every corner of it. Right now, they drive their wagon trains out west in a thirst for riches and in their wake; they leave only a stench and rot. Did you smell the trash heap on your way in? Did you see what they do? Doesn’t it look even a little familiar? How long ago did Corkerelle happen? Think about it Kate, could I, one solitary being really destroy an entire planet? Think back, Kate. Remember what it smelled like?”

The shotgun began to weigh more than Kate remembered when she first pointed it at Margo. “They came here, didn’t they? They came here to do it all over again didn’t they?”

“Oh, they’ll try alright, but there will be bloody hell to pay before they can cross the Yampa.”

*****

They had celebrated that night once they arrived at the edge of the Yampa. It had been a long trek across the eastern plains and everyone was ready for fresh water and time to dance. They had made it. Living to see the Yampa River was all they had prayed for and here they were. Smiles were served all around and the music played late into the night.

The warmth of the rising sun pushed the gentle breeze through the camp. The air licked at the canvas capes that draped each wagon ruffling the bare threads. The horses had long left the area along with the cattle. A few stray dogs were all that remained behind. Silence filled the morning breeze. The celebrations from the night before were just echoes fading into the distance. Crawling out of the red masses, the tiny machines had done their job and marched back toward the water. The next wagon train was due in just a week and they needed time to recharge.

*The Yampa originally appeared on the blog: KJ Scrim, Writer and is used here with permission from the author.

© KJ Scrim 2015 – All rights reserved – No part of this story may be used or reproduced, graphic, electronic,or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or my any information storage retrieval system without written permission from the Author.

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A Word Game

Words, words, words, words, words, words,

more words, words, words,

her words,

my words.

She fed me my words on a platter then dropped it.

The platter cracked and my words spilled on the floor.

~©K.J. Scrim 2014

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Give It Back

I recently took a writing class (yes, I do claim to be a writer and sometimes I actually write good stuff), and during the class the facilitator asked for volunteers. I am usually the first one to send my hand to the sky like a blazing rocket and this day was no different. I answered the question with my usual blondness (no, I’m not blond and I do know that blondness does not define smartness) and was so off track that a search plane was sent out to find my brain.

After I crawled back under my rock and let the rest of the class go on without me, I was pleasantly surprised that our lovely facilitator was giving 7 books to the 7 participants and would these be passed to the rightful winners. Mine never came. WHAT? I was pointed to as person #5 and should have received a book.

OK, so my answer to the question really sucked, but I did stick my neck out, and I did suffer the consequences of being squashed under a rock, so after all that, I really would have enjoyed the last pick of all the books that went around. You know the book…the one that is really stupid that no one wants because it was written in 1972 and is about the soft puffy cotton balls of ancient Egypt. Hey, I don’t care. I deserve the worst book in the pile for the worst contribution of the class.

I at least deserved a book. Alas, that would not come to pass. I, once again, stuck my neck out (I do love to get my head lobbed off) and asked if the books had made it around yet. After all, there could have been a single book lost between people in a state of panic. It could be just laying there wondering if it would be claimed by some sorry soul or find itself in the pile for the closest donation center. The attendees all looked about, milled about, or studied their books, not admitting to having a book they didn’t deserve.

There is one person out there, and you know who you are, that has my book. I was looking forward to reading about the cotton balls of Egypt, and may have found my life complete by it, but it just wasn’t meant to be so. I will remain diligent knowing one day, sometime in the future, you, the stealer of my book, will peacefully move on and that book will find its way into my library where it will rest peacefully between “Blonds are for Better or Worse” and “Thieves Suck”.

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Kind Of….

The catastrophe here in Colorado is something that I would expect to see in a movie. It is beyond a catastrophe and the floods are still surging into Nebraska.  My post today is actually not about the strife of the flooding, loss of life, nor the property lost to the poor people who have suffered.  These stories are already written and have the event well covered. This post is about the live news coverage and the on the spot reporters who, in their vast array of word knowledge, could only KIND OF put their words together.  Don’t get me wrong, the reporters are brave souls who venture out and face dangers in every type of disaster and l, for one am glad that they were out there and not me.  What they do is quite heroic in its own way.

A news report came from one of the many flooded areas. The reporter told her listeners that there was water kind of everywhere. Really?! The camera shot most certainly showed water all over the place. Do rivers and streams only kind of go over their banks?  Throughout this report, and others, I heard the newscasters say, “kind of” more times than I could count.  The water kind of went through the house behind me….  This car kind of came down stream…. Raw sewage is kind of leaking into the flood waters….  The water WENT through that house and destroyed it, there IS raw sewage in the flood waters, and vehicles of every kind DID float into houses, and pile up everywhere.  There is, and was, no kind of about it.

These two little words are a non-commitment that gives everyone an excuse out.  A person should commit to the situation, “the car floated down stream.” This simple statement commits the speaker to the fact that the car did indeed float down the stream, but what if it was already there?  What if there was no floating involved?  This lack of confidence, in terms of speaking, has permeated our culture.  Are we so afraid of saying that something IS?  Have we lost the confidence in the use of the word “is” that we now have to fall back on “kind of”?  Take these famous quotes (Shelley, Einstein, Buddha), and how they are completely deflated when there is that added piece of uncertainty.

Go forth and kind of prosper.

Imagination is kind of more important  than knowledge.

The tongue like a sharp knife kind of kills without drawing blood.

The rivers in Colorado didn’t kind of overflow their banks, they did. Let’s take those two words and put them to better use.  Colorado is a proud state and will be a stronger community.  The flood waters are receding but the mud remains everywhere.  Are the people kind of taking care of it?  No, they are tackling it.  They have shovels, buckets, and strong backs that will scrub every nook and cranny where the mud is.  I hope that the media does more than kind of follow the clean up.

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Filed under Arbitrary Thoughts, Language, Quotes

Do Not Mock Me

There you are, sitting in front of me, mocking me.  Do you not understand what it takes to decorate your face with just black ink?  How am I to write upon you when you are not giving me any expression or meaning?  I have needs too you know? Are you amused when I wince uncomfortably searching for just the right word, sentence, or structure?  I am a writer who crafts words to put on you while you laugh each day that I struggle to fill you.  Be wary my white friend.  The day will come when you laugh too much, or taunt me into a cruel corner.  I will crumple, shred, and send you into oblivion without a thought then turn my back on your pitiful pulverized mess and pull a clean sheet from the stack.  This new paper will not disrespect me, and  I will continue to write whether you are a clean slate or a small mount of powder in my waste bin.  I am a writer and I will fill your face with my words, and laugh at your weak attempts at ridicule.  Now, step aside, I have a story to write.

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A Work in Progress

I recently completed editing my Great Grandfather’s book that was about his life as a railroad man in the early 1900’s.  It was inspirational to read his words and be a part of something he started to write when he was 70 years old.  Grandpop was 70 while he was writing his book and is now long dead. It is only now, in 2013 that his book is nearly ready to publish.  As I sit to write my own book I wonder about his time writing. He wrote everything in longhand and then my Great Aunt would put the words to the typewriter.  Correspondence was by snail mail so each leg of the writing was done over months rather than the minutes.

Today, we have spell check, auto correct, email, blogs, tweets, friends, and a plethora of other outlets.  The overwhelming variety can be blissfully tiring.

The railroad business was mixed with brutality and bliss and he had a unique perspective as he was one of the builders who found the lay of the land and supervised the workers who laid the track.  It had rainbows of color that are perfect for story writing.  His detailed descriptions of the mundane brings his time on the railroad to life.  He loved this work and it took him through hostile lands both here and abroad.  He fought swamps and deserts, along with rebels and farmers.  He went so far as to be a founding father of a small town just so a railroad station could be built there.  He had moxsey.

Here’s to my Great Grandfather.  I will dedicate my book to you.  It will be done before I’m 70.

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