Apr 26, 2011

A Tale of the Tell

Poker players say that everyone has a tell; something or some movement that they instinctively do when confronted with a good a hand, a bad hand, or a bluff. Poker players don sunglasses, hats, tape their hands to their sides, I even saw an ad for a poker helmet.  It looked like a biker's crash helmet that guaranteed to hide all your tells. There’s a website, www.Poker Tells.com, that helps new poker players learn how to spot these behaviors. The website defines a poker tell as:

“Any behavioral pattern that a player exhibits which can tip you off to what they hold.”

Poker players go out of their way to make sure these uncontrollable slips in truth don't come through. 


Because if you saw a poker player scratch his nose every time he had an unbeatable hand you'd fold.
If you saw that same poker player cluck his tongue when he was bluffing you'd call the bluff.

People are the same way.

When I was a little girl my mom always knew when something was bothering me. I would twirl strands of my hair around my finger. Over and over and over again these strands of hair would flip around my index finger until I got whatever was bothering me figured out in my head or my momma would ask me, “what’s bothering you?”
My husband sucks in his lower lip and his top lip goes paper white when he’s angry.
One of my brothers says “Not a problem.” When he’s doesn’t know the answer. He also ends a lie with the phrase, “I believe.”
My oldest son folds his hands in his lap and rubs his thumb when he is disappointed or his feelings have been hurt.
My middle son scrunches up his eyebrows when he feels left out.
My youngest son cocks his head and grins a thirty-two-tooth grin when he’s been caught doing something he shouldn’t.
These are all tells and in my current Work In Progress I use a handful of these tells to breathe three dimensionality into my characters. The characters become believable to the reader and even better they become signs to my reader when a character is lying, hurt or done something they shouldn’t. Tells let you experience the character without being told what they are feeling or what they are hiding.

So I ask you:

What tells are you using in your Work In Progress?
Are tells part of your character worksheet?

If you aren’t using tells look around; start observing those closest to you and make a list of their tells.
Your characters will thank you.
Your editors/agents/critique partners will thank you.
Your reader will thank you!
Trust me.
A male can only run a frustrated hand through his hair so many times. And there’s a physical limit to how many times a female can bite down on her lip without causing a deformity.

Now go study your tells.

Apr 15, 2011

The Cream Always Rises!

What the heck does that mean?

If milk is left by itself, it homogenizes. While getting its homogenization on, the lighter fatty portions rise to the top. Need a visual? Oil and water. The fatty oil sits on top of the heavier water. Once the homog party is done the fatty portions are skimmed off the top and made into … yep, cream!
Yummy cream!

So, what’s that gotta do with books?

Traditional Publishing vs. Indie publishing.

Shh, put the pickets down. Take of the team shirts and just listen…

I’m not taking a side.
And I’m not saying one is the water and one is the oil… because they’re both amazing platforms and, yes, the cream always rises to the top.

The cream is the author.

You know there just is no way to write an Indie publishing piece without mentioning Amanda Hocking. Many say she’s a flash in the pan. Many say she’s the exception to Indie publishing. I don’t think so and  --if you believe the New York Times-- St. Martins Press bet at least 2 million dollars and a 4 book deal that she isn’t.
We can argue price point, and quality and “flooding the market” but in the end, Ms. Hocking had to deliver a damn good story.
Does that take away from traditional publishing?


I think all of us at one point in time picked up a book and ten pages, ten minutes or ten chapters into it, closed the book looked at it and said, “What the hell was the publishing house thinking!”
To that reader, not the cream.
To another, maybe the cream of all cream.

The Cream Skimmer = The E-reader.

I love e-readers because I get the sample pages! If you don’t have me in those first sample pages then, sorry, I’m not buying the book. I don’t care if you’re Traditional, Indie or meat on a stick! I’m not buying ya.

All of that to say: Write the best book you can. Then Revise, Edit, Polish, Revise, Edit, Polish and submit.

Submit to the agents.
Submit to the editors.
Submit to the Betas.
Submit to the Indie’s.
Submit to the process.

But ultimately the person who decides whose book is the cream are the readers. And when they speak, trust me, the whole world listens … and then picks out a team t-shirt with a hot dude on it. But, that’s another post.

Apr 8, 2011

Julia Roberts on Benadryl ... or I could be editing under the influence.

I’ve been kind of MIA the past couple of weeks.
And unlike school, I don’t have to give you a reason,
But what fun would there be in holding back the adventures of Mindy if I didn’t share this with you?

I have a book that I’m currently revising.

I have a cold due to allergies.

I have editing for the book and Benadryl for the allergies.

YAY! Problems solved.

I thought so too, until I put the two together.

Lemme just quote Julia: Big Mistake, Huge, BIG!

The book I’m working on is an Urban Fantasy for young adults. It’s got some ah-ma-zing scenes and some OH-MY-God characters that I’ve been layering the past couple of months. I’ve been polishing and shining and making glimmer ready for my all-time-pinch-me-I-must-be-dreaming dream agent’s query inbox. I really want this agent! I really think I would make a great addition to her catalog of clients … and here’s where the Benadryl enters.


This is probably what you’re thinking:

Oh no she didn’t?
This poor girl did not just say what I think she said.
Did she just QUI??? (That’s query under the influence for all you non-writers.)

Don’t worry.
I won’t keep you in suspense.
You can breathe …
I did NOT QUI.

However, the edits that I did do under the influence ... well, if there were a literary walk of shame I’m still walking home.

So here I am, two weeks’ worth of allergies and a Benadryl hang over, with an even bigger job of revising. To quote another amazing woman (Mrs. CJ Redwine)who is single-handedly inspiring a Jersey Shore type lingo for writers:

I will not be GTL’ing in the near future. (Gym,Tan, Laundry)
I will be RPL’ing for a few more weeks + 2. (Read, Polish, Layer.)

Hopefully the end result will look more like Julia Roberts on date night as opposed to Snookies’ hair bump.

Cross your fingers.
I'm going back in!
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