Tag Archive | Florida writers

When Something You Write Makes You Cry

sea of destiny coverI just got done writing one of the saddest books I’ve ever written. Unusual for me, because most of my work is pretty upbeat. It might be intense or action packed, even hot and steamy, but not sad. I don’t mean depressing, because the story is one of hope and it has a happy ending. However, I had a lot of moments when I found myself in tears.

Crazy. I’m the one writing it, and it’s making me cry. Does that make sense? When we write something that moves us to tears, is that a fair judge of how our readers will be affected? Does it make us even crazier than we thought we were? Or is it something else?

I like to hope that what I’m writing creates an emotional response in my readers. I want my words to excite them, get their imaginations moving and energize their senses. A story is more than just words on a page. They become meaningless and dull if they don’t go somewhere. What if that somewhere is dark, murky, frightening? Or conversely, light, humorous, whimsical? Sometimes that place is sadness, remorse, resignation.

The story I wrote hasn’t really got a title yet, so let me give a brief synopsis. Kyle, a 34 year old single father, is still grieving after the death of his wife, Margo. She died from cancer five months prior to the beginning of the book. Haunted by his inability to fix the situation and make her well, he buries himself in work and the responsibilities of raising three children alone. Seeing him heading toward an early grave himself, his boss (who is also a good friend) forces him to take a month off to get himself together.

At his boss’ insistence, Kyle books a cruise and takes his children and housekeeper/ friend, Carmelita, with him. The first night at dinner, he meets Emily. Beautiful and vivacious despite the fact that she’s recently finished chemo therapy, Emily captures his heart. His children love her, Carmelita likes her, everything is perfect – until he discovers that Emily, too, is dying. By the time he finds out, he’s already falling in love.

Kyle’s past comes back to haunt him and he makes a disastrous mistake, thus jeopardizing his relationship with Emily. Tortured by guilt and self-doubt, he falls into a very dark, emotional place. It is a story of regret, rebirth, renewed faith, resignation and remembrance. It also made me cry like crazy.

I felt compelled to update this many moons later. This story, which at the time didn’t have a title, is now called Sea of Destiny and I am currently sharing it on Cereal Authors blog. You can find the posts here.

Write it Right or Yes, Viriginia, Mechanics Count

When I was a child, I couldn’t spell. I’m still spelling impaired and love spell check above any of the other features of my word processing program. I am, however, glad I have a good background in punctuation, because word processors are woefully inadequate there. Rule of thumb, if Word corrects your punctuation, it is probably wrong. Second rule of thumb: If you rely on Word to correct your punctuation, you need a lot of help.

I can remember saying to my mother, “But they know what I mean! Why is it wrong?” Because it is, genius. It simply is. There are rules and conventions in spelling and punctuation that we have come to expect. When they aren’t there, they interfere with the message we are trying to convey. I don’t remember my mother’s exact words, but that is the essence of what she told me.

As a high school A.P. English teacher, I got a lot of that same attitude. My students could not see the importance of spelling, neatness and punctuation until their essays came back covered in so much red ink they looked like they’d been slaughtered by Attila the Hun. I couldn’t seem to stress enough, mechanics matter!

Spelling is one of the most ignored conventions in writing. Of course, with the onset of massive text messaging, we ignore spelling completely and go to how it sounds. Abbreviations, typing it in quickly, getting the message to the other party fast – all this becomes more important than saying it right. If you send me a text message, I’m likely to send back the reply “???” Sorry, I don’t speak gibberish. Look it up. Dictionary.com is free.

The second most ignored convention is comma placement. Commas crop up in all the wrong places, but get left out of all the spots they belong in. Certain commas are expected. When using direct address, use a comma. “Brad, look at that!” Or “Look at that, Brad!” The comma is there to let the reader know that the comment is addressed to Brad. The speaker is not saying “Look at that brad.” He or she wants Brad to look at something.

Another anticipated and neglected comma is the one used to separate items in a list. “The big, black, ugly, smelly, dirty, nasty dog ran over and jumped on me.” While on occasion, one may dispense with commas to separate, it’s not considered a good idea. If the list is very long, as in the sample sentence, the commas have to be there. They just have to, that’s why!

Commas before the word ‘and’, can be debated until the cows come home. Many will tell you that comma is a must. Others will tell you that it’s completely unnecessary and redundant. Choose a method, side with one team or the other and be consistent.

I realize that sometimes the creative juices flow and the urge to get something down now is very compelling. We all go through manic writing phases . We hammer away at the keys and stay up half the night to get the story down. I understand this well. However, putting aside mechanics for speed is not a good idea. Figuring that you can go back later and neaten it up is fine in theory, but not in practice. It is impossible to read through and get all the errors on your own.

Sometimes you can bribe a friend or two to look over something you’ve written. I guarantee if it’s too terrible, they will get tired of it and quit. So, pay attention to the mechanics as you go. It makes less of a mess later and won’t take so long to neaten up. Finishing isn’t as important as getting it right as you go along.

What’s the point of this article? Am I trying to make people feel bad or insult their intelligence?

No. I am pointing out that each error we make as writers damages our credibility. Make your work as easy to comprehend as possible. Don’t interfere with your message by carelessness.

Interview with Dellani Oakes

Interview used by permission of Second Wind Publishing and the author 

Second Wind: I am joined today by Dellani Oakes, author of the historical romance novel, “Indian Summer” available through Second Wind Publishing. Hello, Dellani, and welcome.

Dellani: Thank you. I am delighted to be here.

SW: What inspired you to write this novel?

D: When I moved the Florida twenty years ago, I was overwhelmed by the wealth of history. St. Augustine, as the oldest established city on the east coast, holds an extra special fascination for me. I wanted to bring a bit of that history alive.

SW: Why the time period, 1739? I’m guessing that’s significant.

D: Yes, it is. There was a great deal of enmity between the Spanish and British in Europe and Florida gave them another venue in which to fight. The British were constantly trying to take over the fort in St. Augustine, the Castillo de San Marcos. In 1740, they very nearly succeeded.

SW: Why all this fuss over Florida? Grant you, it’s pretty country, but with the climate and the diseases the mosquitoes carried, why would anyone want such an untamed place?

D: I asked that very question too. What I found during my research was that St. Augustine was a strategic military position. The Spanish were shipping their treasures from Mexico and Central America. They used the trade routes along the Florida coast. Those waters were full of pirates as well as British warships. Imagine what the British could have done to the Spanish trade routes if they controlled those waters instead?

SW: An interesting historical twist.

D: Yes, I think I just gave myself an idea for a new novel.

SW: Now that we’ve established a bit of the history, tell us about the story itself. Was there really a Gabriella Deza daughter of the Spanish governor?

D: No, there wasn’t. I tried very hard not to pattern her after a real person and did hours of research to find a name not common to the area. If Gabriella resembles any historical person, it’s purely coincidental.

SW: Give us a brief synopsis of your story.

D: The story opens in the spring of 1739 and Gabriella is almost fifteen. After an accident injures both Manuel, her father’s confidential aid, and Governor Deza, Gabriella is staying at the hospital to help care for them. She overhears a conversation between two British spies. They are talking about an attack on St. Augustine.

SW: What does she do?

D: She runs to tell her father, but he’s unconscious. Instead, she goes to Manuel. However, after a brief and very embarrassing conversation with him, it slips her mind.

SW: How could talking to Manuel make her forget something that important?

D: He is nearly naked, very handsome, well built and charming. Keep in mind, she’s only fourteen and he is an older man. She’s so flattered that he has shown interest in her, she simply forgets.

SW: How much older is he?

D: Manuel is twenty-one.

SW: Isn’t that a little old for her? She’s just a child.

D: Perhaps by today’s standards, but back then girls married young and their husbands were often even older than Manuel. It wasn’t unusual for a girl her age to marry a man in his thirties.

SW: Does she ever remember the conversation she overheard?

D: No, but when she is sick with a fever, she reveals everything to Manuel and her father. Armed with this information, they set a trap for the spy, but by mischance, Gabriella is caught in it. She is kidnapped by the spy, escapes and is rescued by a band of friendly Indians. Now Manuel must find her and get her back. Then he has to bring the spy to justice so they can be married.

SW: I trust it all works out?

D: You’ll have to read “Indian Summer” to find out. But I will say I do like happy endings.

SW: Dellani, thank you so much for talking with me today.

D: I’m delighted to. Thank you for inviting me.

 

Dellani Oakes’ book, “Indian Summer” is available at http://www.secondwindpublishing.com It is also available at Amazon.com

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to my weblog!  I am a newly published writer of historical romance, contemporary romance, crime romance and science fiction.  My first novel, “Indian Summer”, is available at www.secondwindpublishing or Amazon.com.  For those who like e-books, it will also be available soon on Kindle.

I’ve been interested in writing my entire life.  I can’t remember a time when I had any other ambition.  Until I got married and had a family, the dream was strong.  However, due to having to raise children and concentrate on their needs, I set aside the idea of writing seriously until about seven years ago. 

Since then, more than thirty novels are finished and waiting for editing, and at least that many more are still swimming around the guts of my computer waiting to be finished.  One day, maybe I will get to them, but for now they wait patiently until I do.

Thank you for dropping by!  If you’d like to read more about the other authors represented by Second Wind, please visit our group blog http://secondwindpub.wordpress.com/  or visit the publisher’s website www.secondwindpublishing.com