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Suck Shaming!

Okay, I know I said I wasn’t going to complain about fiction, but… this just pushed me over the edge. I won’t mention the specific book this came from, just the SPELLING CRIME that came from it. I have to assume this book is self-published (there’s nothing wrong with that, I’ve done it myself), because no editor or cover artist worth their weight would let something like this go by.

Let’s say the title of the book is supposed to be “Many Countries.” Sure, fine, whatever — not an overstimulating title, but it gets the point across. This book was called, in giant, shiny letters, “MANY COUNTRY’S” Not only did they get the plural wrong, they added that supremely annoying, completely incorrect POSSESSIVE. Between those two things together becoming more and more common, I think I’ve ground my teeth to dull nubs.

Many country’s shitty fucking writers who can’t even follow elementary style rules on the cover of a damn BOOK? That’s the first thing a reader sees! How many people are going to see that glaring error on the cover of a book and go, “Oh yeah, give me some of that! I bet the rest of the book is polished like a bestselling classic!”

Unless they are completely ignorant of the same rule? None.

YOU SUCK! STOP IT! TAKE A FREAKING ENGLISH CLASS!

Editors Are Actually Your Friend!

I’m grouchy after all that stuffing of words into my freelance piece. Seriously, I was up half the night adding fluff that didn’t sound like fluff just to make it to the word count. ARGH. Now I’m going to take the day off and just veg. I need to post something that isn’t just griping about shitty writers!

The TITLE! On the COVER!

Keeping in Theme With My Previous Rant, I Introduce: SUCK SHAMING.

This is going to be about so-called journalists and other professional writers who we count on to report the news every day. I’m not going to come after anyone’s personal blog, fiction, or other writing. Just the “Big Boys and Girls” who you expect to be held to a higher standard. When I run across one that yanked me out of my reading, I’ll share it with you.

From The Washington Post, Aug. 4

“Within hours, the photo had gone viral on the Internet as commenters compared the incident to other recent police controversies also captured on camera, particularly the Nov. 22, 2014 of Tamir Rice by Cleveland police.”

Can anybody find the EGREGIOUS error in that sentence? Setting aside the fact that it borders on run-on.

Now, the author, Michael E. Miller, is a cute ginger, and I feel a little bad for criticizing… wait, NO I DON’T! Dude! “…The Nov. 22, 2014” WHAT “of Tamir Rice?”

I see at least ONE OR TWO examples of this EVERY DAY. IT MAKES ME NUTS! Am I an over-sensitive grammar fascist? Well, no, not exactly. Most little things I let go. But things like this that force me out of the narrative MAKE ME INSANE.

So, Mr. Miller and The Washington Post, you are today’s recipients of my SUCK SHAMING!

yousuck

So what are you guys up to? I’m trapped in freelance hell trying to expand a barely 1000 word piece into 2700 WORDS. Most of the papers I wrote in GRAD SCHOOL weren’t 2700 words. The difficulty is the BRUTALLY BORING topic, about which I can’t find enough information to fill 2700 words. Even if I cut and pasted every article I’ve found about this topic so far, I still wouldn’t get 2700 words.

It’s due tomorrow. And not nearly worth what I’m getting paid for it. DAMN YOU, FREELANCE GODS! *shakes fist*

What is WRONG with writers today?

I have been bashing my head against metaphorical walls what seems like every day lately. Why, you ask? Because I can’t believe the absolute rot that is passing for “professional” writing.

Now, I’m not talking about personal blogs or websites. I’m not perfect, and I don’t expect anyone else to be either. Your blog is your playground. Mis-spell your little heart out.

This rant is about professional websites and blogs. The spelling and grammar mistakes aren’t the common ones that pop up and may almost be understandable. We are talking egregious errors like not capitalizing the names of places, books, movies, and even people. Not bothering to do something simple like match a multiple noun with the correct kind of verb. For instance, BLOGS DO something. A singular BLOG DOES nothing. See what I did there? Then there’s spelling that blew my mind — on top of the increasingly common problems with there/their/they’re and the like. It seems like people don’t even run a simple spell check anymore! WTF?

The biggest source of my ire was the sources of these errors. The one that stands out the most is the New York Times online. THE NEW. YORK. TIMES. And the Washington Post. And the Wall Street Journal. I realize print journalism is dying, but don’t they still have editors at national news organizations? Don’t they have even the slimmest of journalistic standards? I work in freelance internet content creation, and I’ve learned to expect the lowest common denominator reading that stuff. I do my best to make sure my articles have proper style — it seems the professional thing to do, even if I do make less money because I take my full time to complete articles. I’d rather take my time, run grammar and spelling checks, and then let it sit for a while before coming back and reading it several more times just to make sure.

When it comes to fiction, at least one more set of eyes (besides my own) reads my pieces before they get to the editor. Then the editor does her thing, and we could pass it back and forth four or five times before it’s polished. A lot of times, I don’t want to read a story again, EVER, by the time it’s published. Seriously — I’ve scoured the thing no less than a dozen times, gone over it with a fine-toothed comb, to the point that it doesn’t feel like a story anymore. It feels like a bunch of words mushed together.

But I do the work. That’s part of the job. I don’t want someone ripped out of my writing because of some ridiculous grammar, punctuation, or spelling mistake. There are a million other things that could go wrong with a piece of writing: someone might not like the story itself, or my writing style, of the way I put together information in an article, etc, etc, ad nauseam. There are always rewrites possible before publishing, when it comes to freelance work, but many clients don’t want to bother. With fiction readers, you only get one chance to put your work in front of a reader. If you blow it, you’re done. The client won’t hire you again, and the reader will never pick up another one of your books.

I swear, I dread reading the news online or self-published fiction. People — get a first reader! Run a spell check, at least! Argh! I realize I have weaknesses, and I’m actually considering taking a class in proper writing style, just to sharpen up. I think everybody else should do the same!

Hey, strangers!

And here I am, back from the dead again. *sniffle* That statement actually sort of makes me sad in itself. I was a wild Deadhead back in my younger days (forgive me if you’ve heard this before.), used to spend most of my springs and summers following shows around when I had the dosh. Slept in my car, or a few times camping, and even fewer times just crashing at a rest area… but that’s another story. Anyway, this past weekend was the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead, and the final shows. It makes me misty to think about it, although the music will never stop, and honestly, I did my real mourning (and I mean REAL mourning), back in ’95 when Jerry Garcia died. Anyway. The Dead is dead. Long live the Dead.

Wow, talk about a tangent! So I’ve been in absentia for quite a long time now. Life has been happening, and I just haven’t given my writing the love or attention it deserves. That’s starting to change. My kinky alter ego is beginning a whole new series of kinky little (and not so little) stories that will probably be self-published on a pretty frequent basis once things get going. She has her own blog at asangreyblack.wordpress.com, Facebook, and Twitter. I expect a ton of new kinky material to be forthcoming soon!

And in less wild, more boring news… I got THE BEST review on a freelance project I did last week. The damn thing took me FIVE days and hours of research on properly writing privacy and security policies for websites, but I finally finished all 1300 words, and the client LOVED it. I’m so happy! I’m going to reward myself with a trip to the movies Friday. Guess what I’m going to see? Is it Magic Mike XXL? Well… I’m tempted, because  Joe Manganiello is TOTALLY MY WEREWOLF HUSBAND…

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I’m sorry, were we talking? Oh, right! Movies on Friday. No, no, sadly, I don’t have the money to see a lot of movies, and I must limit myself to the ones I MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN. So the lucky winners are:

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minions

BANANAAAAA!!! Yeah, that’s right, you caught me. The badass vampire/kink writer is a total Minionac. (That’s a Minion Maniac, for those of you not in the know. Slightly less weird than those guys who are obsessive about My Little Pony.) But I have been squeeing over the ads for this movie since… well, since I knew they were making the movie. I’ve already seen a ton of clips here and there, so it may very well be that I’ve seen the whole movie, but I DON’T CARE! I MUST GIVE THEM MY MONEY SO THEY WILL MAKE MORE MINION STUFF!!!!!

Ehem. My reward for hard work, is all I’m saying. :D

The… what the hell day is it? Ugh. 13? When did I post last? #31DaysofHalloween

I am trapped in freelance/NaNo Prep HEELLLL. Which is SO much better than any other kind of hell I could be trapped in. I’m in the middle of this gigantic freelance project, and really scrambling now to finish my character development for my NaNo novel, so I can get down to plotting! OMG!

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Oh, the foul wind of responsibility!

Anyhoo… LET’S SING!

On the Thirteenth Day of Samhain, My True Love Gave to Me:

Thirteen Bloodshot Eyes
Twelve Howling Ghouls
Eleven Chomping Skulls
Ten Roooooaaaaads to Salem!
Nine Looming Gargoyles
Eight Empty Graves
Seven Hungry Werewolves,
Six Unraveling Mummies.
Fiiiiiiive Screeching Bats!
Four Pumpkin Donuts,
Three Thirsty Vampires,
Two Shuffling Zombies,
And a Severed Head in a Bare Tree!

I’m afraid I didn’t have time to color every line today… for reasons I already whined about.  But I did procrastinate take a break today and create a little book cover for NaNo — like a soundtrack, it’s inspiring. Check it out:

SECRET   Canva

And yes, that is Tom Mison of Sleepy Hollow. He has such a sexy face, and while my hero is much more butch and large than Tom, there was something about that shot that really touched me. Love this little piece. And just for the record, yes, my heroine wears corsets, but she doesn’t wear top hats. As far as I know, I haven’t seen her in the bedroom yet, and considering her other kinks… anything is possible.

Well, I have to go finish some more work-work before I move off to getting some outlining done, so I’ll sign off for today. OH! NANO IS UP! Follow the link to see more about “All’s Fangs in Love and War!”31

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I’ve been a baaaaaad girl! And no, you don’t get to spank me! ;)

But I’ve been so involved in other things (like writing) for the past few days, blogging has fallen by the wayside.

So let’s catch up!

FIRST, AS USUAL, THE SINGING!

On the Seventh Day of Samhain, My True Love Gave to Me

Seven Hungry Werewolves,
Six Unraveling Mummies.
Fiiiiiiive Screeching Bats!
Four Pumpkin Donuts,
Three Thirsty Vampires,
Two Shuffling Zombies,
And a Severed Head in a Bare Tree!

I recently stumbled on some new outlining theories, and I’m finding them interesting, but I wonder if any other writers out there use them, as they are rather complicated. They’re spreadsheets based on Larry Brooke’s Story Structure and Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat Beat Sheets.

There are two spreadsheets, both designed based on the above gents’ work, made by Jami Gold. One is a Master Story Planning Worksheet, and the other is the Story Planning for Pantsers Romance Beat Sheets If you poke around Jami’s site, you’ll find all kinds of materials to help you plot out your story and character arcs. Which… Looking at the former now, I think may be far too complicated for for the 50k version of my novel I’ll be writing for NaNo.

In which case, I need to try one of the simpler ones on her site if I’m going to go that way along with my usual Marshall Plan Action Sheets.

I think I spend too much time planning. But I can’t just write by the seat of my pants — I inevitably end up stumbling in the middle that way. The beginning and the end are fairly clear, but that mid-section needs to have meat! I need to put in some time on that tomorrow. Anyone familiar with these formats? How do you outline your writing?

KINKY SMUT!

I knew that would get your attention.

But first: THE SINGING!

a-black-scary-house-happy-halloween

On the Fifth Day of Samhain, My True Love Gave to Me

FIIIIIIVE Screeching Bats,
Four Pumpkin Donuts, 
Three Thirsty Vampires,
Two Shuffling Zombies,
And a Severed Head in a Bare Tree!

In other news, I’ve decided to move my 30 Day Happiness Challenge posts to a second post when the regular daily one runs long so you aren’t forced to watch me try to improve myself when you really want to read about books, writing, and SMUT. :D

imageedit_1_7819208677

Well, I wrote the first 6 pages of a new kinky smut story for my alter ego, A. Sangrey Black. It’s a sequel to my/her popular short “If Wishes Were Shadows,” and stars the same characters. It was one of those stories that hit me like a brick… while I was sleeping. Writers sometimes are blessed with these, tales that simply bust fully formed from the subconscious, and stick. I woke up in the middle of the night, turned on the little flashlight in my Kindle, and scrawled the rather rich outline in the nearest thing I could find — my journal. Somebody will have fun with that if they ever find it someday. I sketched out the sex scenes as I had dreamed them, and feeling a little… turned on by them myself, called the idea good.

So I started writing yesterday, and six UNPLANNED pages full of video games and sex somehow inserted themselves in. I don’t know if it could be turned into a plot, exactly, but… you know I wonder, how much plot do people want in their smut? Do they ever just want smut for its own sake? There was some plot in “If Wishes Were Shadows,” maybe even enough to hang and entire novel on… but at the time it felt like a short story, and came out that way. It was my first foray into BDSM (FUN with vampires, believe me!), and I don’t think I was entirely sure of myself. But I had written this kind of kink before (back in the fanfiction days), so I thought I’d put that to use in “original” fiction.

Next comes… so to speak… the part I actually dreamed about, and it is HARD, DARK kink — as the original story was. I don’t think my publisher really warns readers enough. This isn’t what usually passes for BDSM in erotica these days. It’s goes to a far darker place, a place where it would be unacceptable for humans to go, but when you’re talking about vampires, it feels like something different. They are indestructible. They have a different relationship with pain and pleasure, a different kind of sexuality. I’ve always loved exploring that in fiction. BUT readers should really know ahead of time that it might not be to their taste, especially if they like things in the style of 50 Shades.

ANYHOOO… I seem to have forgotten my original point. Right — fully formed story from subconscious, like Athena from Zeus’ skull (ew). At the same time, I’m developing my NaNo novel, and trying to crank out as much freelance work as I can so I’ll at least have a little money for Christmas!

TALK ABOUT BUSY!!!

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Books of My Life, 31 Days of Halloween, and 30 Day Happiness Challenge!

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On the Fourth Day of Samhain, My True Love Gave to Me

Four Pumpkin Donuts (not gross, but I can’t stop thinking about them!)
Three Thirsty Vampires
Two Shuffling Zombies
And a Severed Head in a Bare Tree.

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Day Three: Reach out to someone you know and praise them. Yeah, this went well. I told my mother she was a kind, funny person. This was the resulting conversation:

Mom: Are you talking to the cat?
Me: No, the cat is upstairs. And the cat is not named “Mom.”
Mom: Oh! Well, thank you, that’s very sweet. We really need to clean up down here. (Down here being my basement office.)
Me: You can’t just take the nice sentiment?
Mom: Well, that’s what I’m thinking about.

And… that’s my relationship with my mother, boys and girls. BUT I did my duty, and I’ll continue to do it tomorrow.

One Meaningful Thing That Happened to Me in the Last 24 Hours: My cat was doing her thing, being an excellent mouser, but whenever I have the opportunity, I save the potential victim if I can. Last night, I chased the frantic twosome everywhere until they had some kind of wierd Mexican standoff in the middle of the kitchen floor. Seriously. Elsie was just lying, crouched down in one corner, while the mouse sat right in the middle of the floor, staring at her. I thought it had to be dead, but maybe it figured out that if it didn’t run, she wouldn’t chase it. Anway, I took one of the old plastic bowls with holes in them we use for exactly this purpose, plunked it down on the mouse, slid a piece of thin cardboard beneath, and took it outside to the woods. I barely moved the cardboard before the mousy was GONE.

Saving a life, no matter how small, is very meaningful to me. And we always praise Elsie, as she’s always agitated and upset when we take her prey away. It’s not her fault I’m a Buddhist and a softie!

Three Things I’m Thankful For: 1.) My Cat, 2.) Books, 3.) Coffee

~~~~~~

Anyway, I did this thing I found in Entertainment Weekly yesterday, that I’ve always found interesting. (If you want to see how my favorite author of all time, Diana Gabaldon, did it, you can find it here. And yes, I have every one of her recommendations on my TBR list. *G*)

Read the rest of this page »

The 3rd Day of Halloween and Day 2 of the 30 Day Happiness Challenge

On the Third Day of Samhain, My True Love Gave to Me

Three Thirsty Vampires
Two Shuffling Zombies
And a Severed Head in a Bare Tree.

W00t!

10660150_751841564886522_5848497325654354255_nDay Two: Write down one meaningful thing that happened to you in the last 24 hours. This is a tough one. Meaningful… how? In a profound way? In a simple way? In a shallow way? I mean, my life is fairly uneventful as a rule, and profound things don’t happen often. Simple things do, like waking up in cool weather with my window still open, snuggling under my heavy blanket. That happened this morning. In a shallow way, it’s “meaningful” that I’ll be getting a pair of boots that I’ve coveted for a long time that a friend needed to sell almost brand new for a reasonable price, and I came up with the money, which I sent out today… I don’t know if these things count.

Three Things I’m Grateful For:

1. The ability to write. I may not be one of the Great American Novelists, but I feel honored that I have at least some small talent with which to tell stories and express myself.

2. Books. It’s a damn broad category, but my life would be completely bereft without books. I adore them.

3. Cheese. I love cheese.

That’s just how I’m rolling today, folks!

It’s… Almost Friday. Day 2 of the 31 Days of Halloween, 2014 Edition! And the 30 Day Happiness Challenge.

I wasn’t around yesterday, so I didn’t get to share my new song! (I make it up as I go along, so… enjoy the madness. *G*) I also changed the holiday to Samhain (Sowen) for both rhythm and spiritual purposes — to include those pagan folk who celebrate this great season as a wonderful Holy Day!

On the first day of Samhain, my true love gave to me
A Severed Head in a Bare Tree

On the second day of Samhain, my true love gave to me
Two Shuffling Zombies
And a Severed Head in a Bare Tree.

Yay! It’s so wonderful here in the Adirondacks this time of year. The leaves are right at their explosive color peak, we stopped for fresh, handmade apple cider donuts at the orchard stand up the street, and I’m snuggled up at my computer in my favorite black watch flannel nightgown, wearing my fingerless writers’ gloves against the chill. My favorite weather! This is also my most productive writing time of year — I am a happy camper in the autumn. And did I mention I LOVE HALLOWEEN?

nosferatu-coffin-o

I mentioned The 30 Happiness Challenge in the title. Well, I believe it originated with Pop Sugar, based on some “happiness reasearcher’s” appearance on the Oprah show. That aside (not a fan of this kind of thing as a rule), and borrowed this version from a great book blog called Herding Cats and Burning Soup. It can’t hurt to work hard on changing your attitude!

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WELCOME TO DAY ONE

Three things I’m thankful for:

1. My family — without their love and support, I honestly don’t know where I would be right now.

2. My heath — As precarious as it remains, I am so much better than I was a couple of years ago!

3. My computer — My entire universe revolves around this precious thing: My work, my social life, my Geeky Habits. This machine is a universe that I live in and love.

Well, that was nice! I can’t wait to see where this 30 day thing takes me!

~~~~~~~~~~

Today’s Goals:

* Write article (1,000 words due tomorrow)
* Write out short story I outlined
* Continue work on new novel — today, finish character notes, if possible

And of course, to read before bed. :D Have a great one, everybody!

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