By Susan Mac Nicol (Guest Blogger)
Authors are always being given advice. By beta readers, by other authors, by grammar Nazis, by readers, fans, bloggers, editors, publishers-the list is endless. Most of it is well-meant, qualified advice which can go a long way to making your book better- or worse. It depends on how you, as the writer of said story, see things.
Take me for example. I recently submitted a book to one of my very good and trusted beta readers. As a good beta reader, it’s her prerogative to point out a few things that I might like to think about, in case I want to shake things up. One of them was the use of adverbs. Now, I have defended the poor misunderstood adverb on many an occasion, simply because I like them. I understand the whole ‘show not tell’ thing but honestly, if adverbs were undesirable, they wouldn’t be in the Oxford Dictionary would be, waiting there for the right moment to slyly jump out and say ‘Hi there, reader!’ (See what I did there?)
Anyhoo, she mentioned that I might like to review my MS and check I wanted these little buggers in there. To which I said, ‘You betcha.’ I don’t believe I overuse them (if I do, I’m sorry but as I said, I like ‘em) and I do feel they have a place in writing. That’s my prerogative as the writer. I see so many do’s and don’ts when it comes to writing that quite frankly, keeping track of them and people’s preference is exhausting. Good grammar -absolutely. Nit-picky issues- meh, not so much.
One of my books had the two MC’s using pet names for each other- Some readers loved it, others hated it. I’m careful how I do this, not over using them, and sometimes it works fine for their story.
This brilliant beta reader also said that recently there had been some forum discussion about the use of message or text speak in stories. You know, this sort of thing…
SusieWrites: Bring me chocolates home please. I’m having a bad day.
SusiesSpouse: No way. You eat too much of that already.
Apparently there is the view that it brings the reader out of the story and doesn’t add much and people don’t like it. Hmm, okay. See, again, I like this sort of thing in a story when I read, as long as it doesn’t go on for ages (like Mr Grey and whatsherface via email). If it’s being used at the right place, to tell the reader something he or she needs to know, then okie-dokie. So my short bit of message speak will be staying. Unless my editor decides it has to go and gives me a very valid reason. I will argue the toss though.
Of course there are places where I do listen to people (my husband just fell over flat on his back at that concession). One reviewer said I used the word ‘bloody’ too much in one of my books. I checked and yeah, maybe I had. So now I watch the use of this word. If something you are doing is blatantly wrong or grammatically incorrect rather than simply being a preference – it will be fixed. Readers expect a story to be the best it can be and as writers, we have an obligation to ensure it is.
So as a final thought on this subject- write what you want to write, in whatever way you feel is right for your story. As long as you’re comfortable with it, and thinks it adds value or says what you want to say, it’s probably right for you and your book.
Tragedy and horror shaped Jackson Grady's life, leaving him orphaned and scarred. At eighteen he's ready to claim his future, but who could love his disfigured face and damaged soul? Definitely not a big, burly, beautiful Irish Traveller who is entirely the stuff of dreams.
Dare Rowan didn't mean to become obsessed with the blue-eyed man he first saw across a field, but that porcelain skin and innocent air demanded another meeting. Jax has the face of a wounded angel, and the rest of the young man is as heart-breakingly perfect. Jax is beautiful in every way and teaching him about love and life will be something Dare will embrace. Like unwrapping and savouring the candy at the shop where he works, Dare will show this young man everything Jax desired but never thought he'd have, and take Jax to new highs while he holds him through the lows. Between them, they’ll find out just how sweet life can be.
“Who’s there?” he called out. Jax hated the slight quaver in his voice, not wanting to appear defenceless to a potential burglar. “I can hear you, so no use hiding. Just tell me what you want here. Or get the fuck out of my home.”
He wouldn’t tip his hand, telling the burglar he had a weapon. Let the bastard find out for himself, he thought grimly. The scuffling noise stopped and now all Jax could hear was someone’s steady breathing.
Jax stood straight and tall, hoping he looked intimidating in the dim light, where no one could see he wasn’t superhero material.
A quiet voice echoed from the darkness. “I’m not here to rob you or hurt anyone. I hope I didn’t scare you.” The voice sounded familiar and Jax frowned, trying to place it.
“I’m not scared.” Jax gripped the poker tighter. “Who the hell are you and what are you doing here?” He let out the breath he hadn’t known he was holding and scowled, reaching down to fumble for the table lamp. He switched it on and the room flooded with warm light. Jax momentarily closed his eyes, trying to adjust to it. When he opened them, a large, blurred figure stood by the door to the hallway. It was half open and Jax guessed the man had been trying to make a clean break away from whatever he’d been doing in the house.
Jax stepped around the huddled blanket on the floor and made his way closer to the other man.
If he was going to hurt me, he’d have done it already.
“Are you going to tell me what the hell you’re doing in this house?” he demanded. Something propelled him forward; he didn’t feel nervous anymore, simply curious. As Jax got closer, he squinted at the stranger, trying to see him more clearly.
“I came to return something.” The other man’s even tone sent a shiver through Jax’s body. “Something that was taken from you that didn’t belong where it was.”
Now Jax was sure he knew the person behind the voice. It surely couldn’t be who he thought it was, could it?He moved, closing the distance until he could see more clearly. The sight that greeted his eyes took his breath away.
God, it is Dare from the mall. Crap, he’s one sexy beast. Even if he might be a serial killer.
Jax waved the poker at Dare. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
Dare huffed. “It’s a long story.” He eyed the poker dubiously. “Really, a poker? That’s your weapon of choice?”
Jax snorted. “I can clobber you with it if you try anything. Come on, dude. Tell me what the hell is going on. Are you that desperate to have coffee with me?”
Dare laughed, a little shakily. “‘Dude?’ You love that word. It’s pretty cute when you say it. And yes, I’m defi-nitely partial to having coffee with you one way or another. But this wasn’t quite what I had planned.”
Jax blinked. His eyes felt gritty and sore and he had gunk bunging up one corner of his left eye. He reached up and rubbed it away softly. “How do you know I use the word ‘dude’ often?”
Dare gave a deep, indrawn breath. There was silence. Jax got the impression Dare had revealed something he wasn’t supposed to.
Jax grew impatient. “Are you going to tell me anything anytime soon? Because if not, I’ll call out for the own-er of the house and he can call the cops, then we’ll get the story—”
“No, no police.” For the first time Dare sounded panicked. “God, you’re so damn feisty.”
Jax got the impression that wasn’t a problem for this man from his admiring tone. Jax’s groin warmed more. Now his dick was standing at half-mast and it was the last thing he needed if he did have to call on Randy.
I’m getting a hard-on for someone who broke into the house. Could shit get any weirder?
“So, what’s the story, Mr Dark and Sexy? Do you actually have one or are you just an opportunistic burglar making something up?”
The chuckle that emanated from Dare’s mouth was low, and yes, still damn sexy.
“Really? You think I’m dark and sexy?” Dare’s face twisted into a grin. “I’m flattered. You’re something your-self.”
Jax went on the offensive. “Do you always hit on people whose houses you break into? What are you, like, the Flirty Burglar or something?”
Really? This god of a man thinks I’m something? And honestly—the Flirty Burglar. Face palm.
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Susan Mac Nicol is a self-confessed bookaholic, an avid watcher of videos of sexy pole dancing men, geek and nerd and in love with her Smartphone. This little treasure is called 'the boyfriend' by her long suffering husband, who says if it vibrated, there'd be no need for him. Susan hasn't had the heart to tell him there's an app for that...
She is never happier than when sitting in the confines of her living room/study/on a cold station platform scribbling down words and making two men fall in love. She is a romantic at heart and believes that everything happens (for the most part) for a reason. She likes to think of herself as a 'half full' kinda gal, although sometimes that philosophy is sorely tested.
In an ideal world, Susan Mac Nicol would be Queen of England and banish all the bad people to the Never Never Lands of Wherever -Who Cares. As that's never going to happen, she contents herself with writing her HEA stories and pretending, that just for a little while, good things happen to good people.