Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Will I Write Your Book?

Invariably, someone will come up to me at a talk or book signing and tell me they have a great idea. Ideas are wonderful. I have lots of them, too.

This someone tells me their idea would make a great book.

Yes, the plot sounds entertaining and it probably would make a good movie, too, if they could get a filmmaker interested in it. I've always thought several of my own books would make good movies.

Next, this someone asks if I will write their book for them.

My answer is always the same. No, I will not write the book for them.

"But it's a terrific idea!" says this someone (who is afraid someone else will steal their idea and make a million dollars with it).

Ideas are all over the place--like pollen in the springtime. For whatever idea an author has cooked up, another author has used the very same idea.

Ideas cannot be copyrighted. (This is a fact.)

Writing a book takes a lot of time. Each word must be typed into a document. The document will then need to be edited. There are many factors involved in a good edit besides punctuation and spelling errors.  The book must be structurally sound, dialogue should flow in a natural manner, there should be variety in the author's choice of words, and length of sentences. Verbs should be active and not passive.

There are people who will write a book for someone else, but they need to be paid to do it, because it is work to sit down at a computer and type for hours and hours. It is not an easy job. I give this someone the name of a friend who has a business writing books for other people.

After editing, the book needs an eye-catching cover. Finally, it needs to be marketed, which is the most difficult job of all.

Odds are the author will not make a million dollars.

My someone goes away, rather disappointed.

I go home, turn on my computer, and happily type out another chapter using my own idea.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Our Changing Vocabulary

I bought this book many years ago because I always wanted to write historicals. It took a while before I had the nerve to do it but I succeeded. I love writing historicals! I love research! However, English is constantly evolving and English Through the Ages ensures that my characters speak words appropriate for the time period in which the story is taking place. also gives the dates that most words were in use and I often use it just to be sure because it's quick.

Nevertheless, reading the lists of words in English Through the Ages for the time period during which my novel is set gives me a better idea of what life was like then--what was new, fresh, and contemporary.

For instance, the word cerulean was born about 1670. I love that color. Ethereal was also in use at that time as well as jaded. Wonderful descriptive words!

Transmogrify was in use by 1660. That would be terrific for a paranormal.

Then there's homemade. Homemade was in use by 1660. That surprised me. I would have thought almost everything at that point was homemade. I guess Mom's homemade biscuits have always tasted better than the ones that anyone else makes.

So if you're going to write historical fiction, I strongly suggest you get a copy of English Through the Ages.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Respect the Power of Moving Water

      I snapped this photo from the pier at Ocean Grove on Monday. The waves were huge and dangerous. That much water barreling toward someone can knock them down. Deadly rip currents can pull people way out. There have been many rescues and some drownings at the shore. After Labor Day there aren’t any lifeguards at the beach, but the weather is still warm and some people will risk their lives to cool off. 

     As I stood on the pier, the waves slammed into the pilings and the force shook the entire pier. I didn’t stay there long. Hurricane Lee is not near New Jersey, but it stirred up those waves. Angry water is something to respect and avoid. 

     The first hurricane I remember as a child was Hurricane Donna in 1960. That hurricane did not make a direct hit on NJ. It was 80 miles east of Atlantic City as it went by. But the water level at Sandy Hook reached 10.1 feet above mean low water. Only Superstorm Sandy went higher at 13.21 feet.

     I grew up in a house on a hill over a lake that drained into Raritan Bay. When Hurricane Donna went by, the water from the bay came into the lake. The lake rose to within a foot of the top of the hill. The French doors blew open with a gust of wind, but we managed to shut them again and put a chair up against them to prevent them from blowing open again. Then a tree fell on our neighbor’s chimney. 

     My mother ordered us to put on boots and raincoats. She figured we would have to evacuate. Fortunately, the water receded and Hurricane Donna moved on to Long Island and New England. We were safe.

     The fresh water fish in the lake died. My brother and I tried to save some of them by filling up buckets with fresh water and putting the fish into the buckets. But it was hopeless. All the fish died. 

     Never underestimate the power of moving water. Stay safe.