Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Editor Time: Comma, comma, comma...

original works by Christine I Steeves Speakman
...don't leave us hanging.  I know, I know, bad editor, bad editor. But, come on, you know you were singing it, too.

Hmmm, did I get those pesky little curlicues right or are they driving some of you up the wall right now?

Admission time: I am a writer and I hate commas.

Ditto Admission time: I am an editor and I hate commas.

Sorry, but they're a right pain the tushie. And who keeps changing the rules? But, or But. To, too - or - not to too. And I don't mean the pink frilly ones (tutu...what seriously, you didn't giggle, I know you did)

Look, let's face it, commas are needed. We've all seen the joking pictures on social media where without the comma you've become a cannibal cooking some family member. And, yes, I've read reviewers who have gone nuts over a misplaced, missing comma (psst, I can make note of this cause I review, too (comma? no comma?) a reader, I don't pay attention to the dang punctuation. If I do it's because the wording is confusing.

With that said, we can't ignore the comma. It is needed (and all punctuation) but we shouldn't be a slave to it. Oyyy, I can hear you yelling right now.

Look, if I've learned anything since grade school it's that the rules are always changing. None of them are written in stone...well, maybe starting sentences with a capitalized word and ending with some form of punctuation. Then again, who knows, someone might be working on changing that one, too.

I'll go out on the limb that the most common use of the comma is for a breathing pause, where the natural flow of the sentence breaks before carrying on. That makes sense.

But, what about those of us who had it drilled into our head that when starting a sentence with certain words they must be followed by the testy curlicue. Or is has to come before the 'too' at the end of a sentence. Yeah, those are stuck in my head. Well, it would appear those sticky rules aren't so sticky anymore.

Oh, but don't you dare take away my oxford comma, that one stays! No, if, and, or buts.

No one likes sloppy writing. No one likes reading a confusing sentence that could be helped by the wiggle hook mark. However, don't get all up in a panic because what's been drilled into your head isn't what's nailed in someone else's. Or that someone's gone and changed the rule, but you didn't get the update.

Our language is growing. It's a living concept of how we communicate. Take what you've learned and apply by common sense...common usage...don't get all hung up over it. Let the writers of the manuals battle over it, cause you know, you'll find a rule in at least one of them that agrees with you.

Write and have fun...heck, wear a tutu next time, pink or not.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Poetry Starts - Separate

original works by Christine I Steeves Speakman

Separate but in tune with all surroundings
Alone but in company of others
Standing with many
But only as one
The energy from outside sources flow
In by many channels
They travel through many limbs that lead but to one


 What is Poetry Starts?

...poems and prose from now back to teen years
...remembering a first writing love
...pumping the creative well yet again
...silencing the internal critic 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Roaming Ideas: Words

original works by Christine I Steeves Speakman

leaves shimmering in the sunlight like ripples in a pond - translucent

butterfly drifting like a tissue

clear cloudless day - clear, see for miles but seemingly a dome covering sky

breeze - warm but crisp - alive

moon - blue sky all the way there

sun - daylight starlight

grass - dew - dawn's, morning's magic pond - meadow

shadows of clouds airbrush against a canvas of blue, blue-white sky world

writer coming out of trance

city haze

writing lifeline tree tunnels

weeping willow - sagging with age

man - out on limb - like  leaf bouncing on branch in soft breeze - electric swaying unsteady

old man shuffle

city - human body

cars on road - blood in veins

overcast clouds- swirls, blue grey even though of silver

streaks of shadows - depths thickness - cloud upon cloud


brush strokes

horizon in the sky cloud meets lighted sky - border of sea of clouds

breeze - cool to cold - vibrant

skyline - etched against the backdrop

grass scented air


What are Roaming Ideas?

...random writings from now back to teen years
...writings free of editing and second looks
...pumps to my creative well
...shut downs and locking away of the critical mind

 What are Overly Done Paragraphs?

...more description then is ever needed
...snapshots of possibilites

What are Dear Diary?

...inserting myself into a fictional character, where does the path take me

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Editor Time: Guidelines? What are they?

original work by Christine I Steeves Speakman
Go ahead and call me a smart-arse, been called that before and will be again, I'm sure.

First please allow me to state...I am not perfect. I have read, re-read, re-re-read, and again re-re-re-read guidelines and I'm sure I've still messed something up at some point in time.

Second, the answer to probably the most often asked question-to-the-editor: what bugs you most; what should a writer do to get your attention; what is the major goof writers do; what turns you off a writer's submission more; what's the first thing any writer should do when submitting; any advice for a writer...answer: READ AND FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES!

Go back to first sentence...Yes, I know I'm a smart-arse.

No, this topic isn't something new, it's something I've heard and experienced in my twenty years online via multiple publishers, working with publishers, being a reviewer, and a member of various writers' groups. And asking the same question in my newbie years. Plus having high school teachers drill into my brain - read, then re-read what's being asked.

Seriously, though, failure to read and follow guidelines is the number one most commonly made mistake when submitting a request to anyone...publisher or reviewer. They are there for a reason...the same reason people make FAQ - frequently asked questions - documents. These documents, webpages, will either answer your questions or direct you on how to proceed...even when to proceed.

They're there to help streamline that site's manageability. To open the door wider and friendlier to those they are designed for. Imagine a children's publisher or reviewer or even a blog host opening an email request from someone who writes erotica, whose writing is more adult-themed...whoa, wrong place, wrong audience. Buh-bye.

Opposite is true as erotic site opens an email about a picture book of Teddy the Tiger's Terrific Picnic...huh? Now, unless Tiger is wearing the teddy and having some adult fun at the picnic, uhm, nope, sorry wrong marketplace. Buh-bye.

I know most of you have heard the comment - know your audience. And yes, sometimes I've asked - what the heck does that mean, there's a wide audience my article, book.

 Let the guidelines of the site you're looking into help direct you. Let's revisit the above situations.

That children's publisher, reviewer or blog host...they already know their audience. They're directing their materials to parents, grandparents, aunt/uncles of children...even to children themselves. It doesn't matter what else these adults may read, the site is family-themed...children-themed. Meaning - safe for all ages to visit and wander through. Their audience is not expecting to see some picture or read about a busty gal or groin-loaded guy.

Back to our erotic/erotica here is where mom and pop are searching for that busty gal getting it on with Mr. Groin-load. And, they sure don't want to run into the face of their child's Teddy-the-Tiger asking to go to the amusement park.

I can hear some voices now...well, the people behind the sites wouldn't let that happened, smart-arse.

They would politely let me know I have the wrong site and that's that.

Okay, sure...let's see how many emails a day; say at least five of them are wrongly sent; each email takes five to seven minutes to read and figure out WTH does this person want, wrong site; another ten minutes to write the reply, cause if you don't you'll get another email asking if the first was received or at least someone will complain to someone else that emails are never answered (without bothering to mention you didn't read the guidelines and sent to wrong place to begin with)...yeah, time gone that could have better spent if only the guidelines had been read.

Oh, my pet peeve of all non-read guidelines...sending a submission or whatever to be reviewed that is completely formatted in some fancy-pant font that is super ridiculous to read beyond a heading or paragraph.

Oh, and don't even bother telling me you're ignoring the guidelines cause you just KNOW I'll be super excited to read your request...yeah, nope hasn't happened in twenty years, don't expect it to happen in the next twenty years either.

Yeah, I know...I'm a smart-arse.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Poetry Starts - First Impressions

works by Christine I Steeves Speakman

How I wish you could see what I see.  The scenes that go by so that words cannot nor are not enough to describe them.

The sky is the ceiling

The floor is made of grass and water

The walls the hills

Oh how I wish you to see these things

The clouds hang from the sky like mobiles from the ceiling above.  You can see them floating there like ice cream in a cola float.  They're there almost solid.  You can see through them.  You feel as if you could walk in them surrounded by their softness.

Oh how I wish you could see how they drift down to meet the tops of mountains which are covered with the deep dark purple heather that has moulded itself to every shape.  The little spots of snow are there also.  Just reminders of  how high that hill really is.

The hills that roll by go on and on .  How long have they've been here.  Since time itself.  The hills are alive with everything.  The colours are there but anyway to describe them is just out of reach.

Oh how I wish you could see the valleys that lie between the tranquillity of those hills.

The fields so alive with the dark fresh green grass that they demand your attention.  The fields of bright yellow rape that jump out of the land to meet you.  The darker yellow gorse that grows along side the road inviting you to come see to smell the little flowers but beware their touch.  The patches of blue bells that dot the grass along the way so timid so strong.  To look down on all this is to gaze upon a live quilt.

But of course you can't forget the lambs sprinting along side their mothers their little tails beating strong as they nurse.  Beside them is the mass of brown shaggy hair of the highland cow.  All so peaceful.  The river beside them rushes by so cold and clear. It flies over the rocks in its way.  Everything is alive.  The colours are everywhere.  The highs of the hills fill you with wonder.  The flatness of the fields fill you with peace.  But to put them together is to make a masterpiece and that's just what God did.  He made a land that was meant to stay the same.  Changing as the times and people did but not changing at all.

Oh how I wish you could see what I am.  But in a way you do not watch it you live it.  You become one with it.


 What is Poetry Starts?

...poems and prose from now back to teen years
...remembering a first writing love
...pumping the creative well yet again
...silencing the internal critic