Strunk and White Up In Here

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I did not use proper title case in the above blog title.  Keeping it!  Because I live on the edge.  The Grammar Edge.

For an English major, I have pretty appalling grammar.  I write like I talk.  I put commas where pauses go.  I end sentences with prepositions.  I say “talk” instead of “speak.”

It’s called narrative voice, people!

No, it’s called laziness.

Which is why I am filled with gratitude that my publisher has amazing copyeditors (copy editors?) who fix all of my dumb mistakes so Vassar does not revoke my degree.  I am a person who appreciates minutiae (job requirement for a librarian), but to have to go through another one of my dumb manuscripts looking for where I misused a semicolon; that seems like the tenth circle of hay-ull.

For those of you who have never had the benefit of a professional copy( )editor, let me share a small tool of the trade.  For each manuscript or series, they create a style sheet that documents the grammar rules that must be consistent in the document.  (Chicago Manual of Style, holla!)  This also includes character descriptions, place names, phrases, and other things that are unique to the book and must be kept consistent throughout.  (They also point out when I use the same word twice in one paragraph.  But since I don’t have a blog copy editor, I’m leaving it in.)

So, I’m working on my corrections for Kentucky Christmas (coming to an e-reader near you in December!), and I’m looking over the style sheet for Kentucky Home and marveling at the thorough job she did with the style sheet because under “Words/Terms/Phrases” we have items like bed head, Tilt-A-Whirl, perv, Greenbrier, and my personal favorite:

Handsome Farm Guy Calendar for Women Who Liked Their Dirty Calendars Modest

Which I hope you all recognize as sort of a throw-away joke from Kentucky Home, but which has been diligently documented on the style sheet.  And which is why I am full of pity and gratitude for copy editors.

Copy Editors 4 Life!

That’s it.  Carry on.  Sentence fragments.

Deadlines and Dogs

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I just turned in my edits for my novella, Full Moon Pie, which will be part of an anthology with Lori Friggin’ Foster, and I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate with pictures of the nicest dog in the world being tortured with wedding dress-up:

I don't know about this.

I don’t know about this.

This is Lucy, my friend Dana’s foster dog.

I just wasn't prepared for all that this would entail.

I just wasn’t prepared for all that this would entail.

She is a weiner-beagle, which means she has an excellent sniffer and she is small and long.

I just don't think I can look you in the eye right now.

I just don’t think I can look you in the eye right now.

She also has the patience of an angel!  Look at that face!  I’m dying.

I mean, you tied it around my neck.  I am powerless.  Powerless and adorable.

I mean, you tied it around my neck. I am powerless. Powerless and adorable.

The reason Dana and I were playing wedding dress-up is because Dana is getting married tomorrow!  Yay!  And we were hemming her wedding dress and Lucy was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Or the right place at the right time, if you are me.  If you are Lucy, it is the opposite.

How can you look at this face and deny me anything???

How can you look at this face and deny me anything???

She was super not into it, but she sat like a patient hound while we cackled and took a million pictures.

And then her inner Evil Overlord shone through and we were all smote.

And then her inner Evil Overlord shone through and we were all smote.

Anyway, Lucy!  And weddings!  And edits!  All of those things are happening.  Thank you for your kind indulgence.


(By the way, Dana, is it OK if I post pictures of your dog?)

But look how precious she is when she sleeps!

But look how precious she is when she sleeps!







Where the MAGIC happens

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So, I live in a sort-of two bedroom apartment.  I liked to call the second bedroom my “craft room,” and by “craft room” I mean a big room where I just throw a bunch of stuff on the ground.  Seriously.  It was like a gigantic junk drawer.  As any fan of the fiber arts knows, that stuff can get out of hand.

But this weekend, in a fit of productivity, I decided to make it a Writing Room.  And by Writing Room I mean a room that is mostly a horrific mess of fiber arts supplies, but one corner is an oasis of neatness and productivity and deadline-meeting zen.  Behold…

004Please note the empty bulletin board, which will soon contain notecards with character descriptions.  Because I can never remember what color eyes I give people.

Also, you can just see the clothes piled on top of the chairs stacked next to the printers.  That is my mending pile.  It has been that way for a year.  Fiber arts!

It’s a little sad, I know.  But I’m a little sad.  Not as sad as the fact that I just took down my Christmas decorations, also this weekend.  (When I get productive, I get productive, man.)  But because I bought my pink Christmas tree at a cheap-o discount store, it didn’t come in a box so I have nowhere to store it.  So I’m keeping it up!  Sans decorations!  I think it adds a touch of whimsy.

005I especially like the way the top tilts a little.  Seems appropriate.  For life.

OK!  I hope you all enjoyed this tour of the outer workings of Sarah Title HQ!  Onward!

Readin’, y’all

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So, I read one hundred books this year.  And I only wrote one.  Stop judging me!  Because technically I only wrote a novella, but I also edited the hell out of a whole book, so everybody shut it.

ANYWAY!  I keep a little journal (some of you kids use the Goodreads, I use a daggun journal) where I write a little about my impressions of the book and then one or two or zero stars, depending on how I much I liked it.  So I thought I would share some of my faves, which are the two stars.  I provided the links to Amazon because I am too lazy to do a proper plot summary and all that business.  What do you think I am, a writer?

In no particular order:

artoffieldingThe Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach.  I know, how obvious that a 500-page book about baseball would be on a romance writer’s list.  But I went to a small liberal arts college (I’m not sure if there were athletes where I went to school…I think there were athletes.  Does theater count as a sport?), and that’s where this book is set and it really spoke to me.  Compulsively readable, as we say in library world.  And Schwartz was such a great character, I’m surprised the author didn’t kill him off.  Because it’s literary fiction and sometimes that happens.  He doesn’t die.  Nobody dies.  Wait, that’s not true.  Anyway, it’s a good book.

arrangedArranged by Catherine McKenzie. I guess this is chick lit?  The author pretty much never mentioned shoes, so I’m not sure.  La.  For sure this would appeal to romance readers, even though it doesn’t follow the usual genre rules.  Because technically, it’s not a romance.  Anyway, a woman keeps having bad luck in love so she decides to join a dating agency, only it turns out to be an arranged marriage agency based on the idea that marriage works if people can be friendly and compatible, and not necessarily in love.  It’s funny and good and the main character is terrific.  Also, Canadian.


BaredToYouBared to You by Sylvia Day.  I know.  But I read 50 Shades and then I heard about this book and I read it and I was like, yes, that’s how you do it.  What’s-his-name is still a total alpha-hole, but his alpha-holeness is acknowledged and explored, and the heroine is not a total washcloth.  I mean, I liked it even when I’m not comparing it to 50 Shades.


lady awakenedA Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant.  Here’s what I wrote: “A historical romance that did not make me compromise any 21st century ideals.”  (Because remember that thing I said about the small liberal arts college?)  My fave kind of romance, where each character is made better and stronger by the love of the other.  I mean, they were sort of equals.


FineColorOfRustThe Fine Color of Rust by P.A. O’Reilly.  Such great characters, as one would expect from a small-town story.  But this town is not idealized – it is actually a shithole in the Australian outback – which makes everything even more appealing.  And you’ll want to have a beer with the narrator, who fantasizes about dropping her kids off at the orphanage so she can run away with a motorcycle man, but then organizes a campaign to save their shitty school in their shitty town.  And boy howdy did I cry at the end.


clays-quiltClay’s Quilt by Silas House.  Silas House is book group gold in these here Appalachian parts, but let me tell you, you can’t go wrong.  (Although I was the only one in my book group who fell in love with Clay – at least the only one who admitted it!)  Silas House, who is cute as pie, by the way, manages to write realistically about poor people in Kentucky without turning it into some kind of Appalachian gothic horror fest.  I love his characters’ Kentucky accents.


Authors and series I discovered:

Victoria Dahl – love those contemporary trilogies!  I glommed.

Sujata Massey’s Rei Shimura series – mystery series set in Japan.  The first books take place in the 90s, and I love watching people solve crimes without cell phones.  I glommed this one pretty seriously, for me.  I am a very bad series reader.

Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series – I actually only read one of these this year (bad series reader!), but these books are so great and so quick that I sort of can’t believe that.  But the notebook don’t lie.

Loretta Chase!  Everybody was right!  Love her!


Honorable Mentions:

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin.  I am an unlikely reader of inspirational fiction, but that don’t change the fact that I am.  And I had to throw this one in because it has librarians; specifically, packhorse librarians in Kentucky during the Depression.  So much about this book sounds annoying, but it’s not annoying.  It’s adorable.

Hush by Cherry Adair.  First of all, because I randomly met her at RT and she is AMAZING, and second of all, the heroine’s survival vest – where do I get one of those?  It had a frigging tent in it!


Apparently I also read a book called Mindless Eating.  I tell you what, it didn’t stick.


So, 2012 had a lot of hits for me.  I read a ton of romance, or so I thought.  I think I started a ton of romance, then only finished half of them.  That might be true of other genres as well, actually.  If I don’t write things down, it’s as if they never happened.  Anyway, my general impression of my reading is that I read a lot of romance, and a few really great ones.  That’s not terrible!  It’s like a metaphor for life!

What did all y’all read in 2012?

Newfangled webtraption

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OMG, I have a website now.  Right?  Fancy.  I’m the fancy kind of writer.  Next week I have a Barbara Cartland-style photo shoot set up.  I am renting a tiger.

But if you are sad and you want to hit it, old-school style, my old blog is still there.  I think there is theoretically some way to non-manually transfer those (three point six) posts to this blog, but, well, I have to write a book.  And by write a book I mean watch a Real Housewives marathon.

Anyway!  2.0!  Welcome!