This whole growing and getting better thing? Apparently it never stops. Always something new to learn. Or sometimes to unlearn. It’s true for everything I do. I had it brought home to me this week in my professional life as a website designer/developer that there are technologies I need to be more on top of. And it’s true in my writing life as well.
I was reminded of it again last week when I got the edits for my July 1 release of the second in my Market Center Mysteries series, Wired for Murder.
I’ve been writing for something like thirty years now and I’ve been published for at least twenty-five of those. My first book was published in 1990 so you can do the math.
Time and again in my writing/publishing career I’ve had to unlearn bad habits. And it seems that even as I unlearn one, two more pop up. It’s a professional game of “Whack-a-Mole.” Or “Whack-a-Crutch-Word.”
A few years ago an editor pointed out to me I was overusing the word “that” in my prose. Every fourth of fifth sentence had a “that” in it. So I went through the manuscript and eliminated as many of them as I could. And I’ve been hyper-aware of every “that” ever since.
Later a different editor told me I used far too many dialogue tags that weren’t just a plain, simple “said.” I would still argue that there is a place for tags like “agreed,” “argued,” “begged,” etc. I realize now they need to be used sparingly.
But it appears that once again I’ve developed a few “crutch” words and phrases. This time it was in an attempt to reduce the number of dialogue tags overall. But In the edits for Wired for Murder, the editor pointed out that my characters either nodded or shrugged something like every third sentence. Way too often.
So now I have a few more words to add to the list of things I search for in the editing process. Just when I start to think I’m getting good at this whole writing thing I’m reminded that there’s always more to learn. And unlearn.
And I’ll always need an editor to save me from myself.
The Business Technology Exposition at the Market Center is set to open with a major new product announcement from one of the biggest companies in the computer electronics business. Before that event, though, the president of industry-leader MegaComp has a very public argument with a man who accuses the company of stealing the concept for a technical process from him.
Heather witnesses the argument, along with security officer Scott Brandon, an ex-cop and her romantic interest. Because it appears the disagreement will end peacefully, they don’t intervene, and in fact, the accuser does walk away with nothing more than harsh words exchanged. The new product announcement goes off without a hitch. But when the accuser returns a phone call from Heather, she becomes an unwilling audience to his murder and later finds his body in a private section of an exhibitor’s booth.
Heather is more than happy to leave the investigation to the police, but she’s the person everyone talks to and she soon learns more than she wanted to know about the victim and all the people who really didn’t like him very much.
Karen McCullough is the author of a dozen published novels and novellas in the mystery, romantic suspense, and fantasy genres as well. She has won numerous awards, including an Eppie Award for fantasy, and has also been a four-time Eppie finalist, and a finalist in the Daphne, Prism, Dream Realm, Rising Star, Lories, Scarlett Letter, and Vixen Awards contests. Her short fiction has appeared in several anthologies and numerous small press publications in the mystery, fantasy, science fiction, and romance genres. She has three children, six grandchildren (plus one on the way) and lives in Greensboro, NC, with her husband of many years.