Sunday, September 18, 2011

Word

Posted by Melanie Bennett at 7:23 AM 26 comments
I am developing an irrational hatred for the phrase "at the end of the day." Maybe I just hear it too often lately, mainly from reality show bottom feeders. I hope that's all it is, and not something more insidious, like that my editing brain has now crept into my real life and is mentally rewriting what people say. "That's a cliche. Find a new way to say it."

My editing brain ruins many, many books for me now. That's bad. Good in the sense that I love the good books even better, but bad in the sense that I'm less patient with books than I used to be. But anyway, editing brain, you are hereby ordered to leave Real Life alone.

And now back to words/phrases people hate. I've bumped into a survey in a couple of different places that says the word Americans hate most is: MOIST.

MOIST! MOIST! MOIST!

Raise your hand if you cringed.

I didn't. That word doesn't bother me. It bounced off of me like I was a MOIST-deflecting Superman. Or something.

I can't think of a specific word I hate. But I can think of lots of words that I hate hearing pronounced the wrong way, and by wrong way I mean not how *I* say it. For example, there is no Z in resource. So why is suddenly everyone saying it like there is? If you are one of these people, are you Canadian? Is this why this is happening?

Anyway, back to the editing brain and the sound of words: last night I was reading a novel (self-published, sadly) that was making me angry. It contained this fraction from a sentence: "treated with careful care by Carol." I think it was not on purpose. And so when I read that aloud to my husband, he gently took the book from me, held it up and looked at the cover, and then calmly punched it.

I love him.

Friday, September 16, 2011

White Noise

Posted by Melanie Bennett at 1:52 AM 8 comments
It's a flood, man. The constant barrage of tweets and FB updates: buy my book, it's awesome, blah blah blah.

I try to follow back anyone on Twitter who follows me unless they're obviously a spammer. But sometimes the spamming is subtle. For example, there's one fairly successful YA writer who ONLY retweets nice stuff people say about her books. After a month of her in my feed, I've learned nothing about her as a person. Not a thing. So I unfollowed her.

And when random writers add me on Facebook, if their first three updates are nothing but marketing ploys, then I immediately hide them.

I get really tired of the Twitter folks who use it is as nothing but a marketing tool. IT WON'T WORK LIKE THAT, DUMMY.

And yet I think Twitter and even Facebook can be incredibly effective for marketing. For example, there are authors whose books I've bought that I wouldn't have otherwise picked up because I've followed them on Twitter for a while and I have a feeling that I'll enjoy their writing voice. I have never once bought a book from someone who tweets nothing but stuff about their own books or about someone else's self-pubbed book because they think the favor will be returned. It all comes off as a smokescreen to me.

And then there's the in-between, the writers who tweet about nothing but writing. I like to talk shop, too. But I need more than that connection point to really click with someone, even at a social media level. So the ones who wear me out with nothing but boring writing updates . . . unfollowed or hidden.

I think I react this way because I'm a classic extrovert, meaning I recharge by interacting with other people. People who don't offer real connection points . . . they just want something from me. In the circles I run in, they mainly want me to buy their book. In real life if you had a friend who always needed something from you without offering anything in return, that would be a toxic friend and ultimately, you'd probably let that friendship wither.

So that's what I do with social media relationships. The ones that don't offer some insight beyond the billboard of a writer's projects, I let those fade.

And amazingly, as many of those as I've let fall by the wayside, I still find some really fun connections.

Maybe that's why blogging is still my favorite thing. It forces more real reciprocity than "like" and "retweet" buttons do.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Research

Posted by Melanie Bennett at 8:40 PM 16 comments
I hate it.

Dang, I picked the wrong job.

I hate it but I do it.

Maybe I don't hate all research. Sometimes it's funny to me. I've had to explore floor plans for Antebellum homes, take a virtual tour of the Space Needle, and study diagrams of marionettes. I've definitely collected some bizarre bits of knowledge.

What surprises me most is that minutiae I have to research that doesn't have much to do with my story. I've spent an hour reading about the origins of steampunk to get a single, non-plot dependent sentence right.

But it pays off. I wrote an entire novel set in Seattle. I never even visited there until after I finished the novel, but I was amazed to discover that the result of all that research was that I walked around the parts of the city I had described and realized I got it right. Surreal.

Here's a top ten list of odd things I've learned while researching:

1. The homes in Audubon Place in New Orleans were protected by Blackwater operatives during the Hurricane Katrina chaos.
2. There are not a lot of spices that make great names for boys.
3. There are a lot of delicious-sounding places to eat in Seattle.
4. It's amazing how much money things will sell for in a New Orleans antique auction.
5. A surprising number of people skirt the foster system in New Orleans.
6. It's hard to research region-specific slang.
7. The cars that teens find cool are totally different between California and Louisiana
8. Any era you search between the 1960s and now, Converse All-Stars are always considered cool
9. The bad parts of Washington DC are among the worst in the country
10. The best research: sitting on Huntington Beach pier while your husband explains why the surfers are doing what they're doing.

What is the weirdest thing you've ever had to research?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Drum Roll, Please!

Posted by Melanie Bennett at 9:02 AM 1 comments
I just plugged in Ye Olde Numbre Generator and then . . .

I did a drum roll sound, but then . . .

The one I was doing with my fingertips on the coffee table wasn't dramatic enough, so . . .

I STOOD on the coffee table and did a drum roll with my feet like you do in high school football bleachers, and that was much better, but . . .

The baby girl was distracted and wanted to try, so I let her, and that was by far the cutest, so that seemed for sure like the best drum roll and SOOOOO . . . I clicked

GENERATE

and I got

#47

Which is Sheridan at Enjoy Birth (she's THE chief birth blogger on the Interwebz, btw) because LisAway (bless her) chimed in just a tidge after the deadline, and so YAY!!! Sheridan gets a book! And I know her in real life! WHICH MEANS I DON'T HAVE TO PAY SHIPPING!!!!!!!

Sheridan, I will have it for you, SIGNED, at the book launch on Sept. 22! Whoohoo!
 

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