Pulling Weeds from your Writing Garden

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Photo cred. Pixabay

Weed Words. Even the most experienced writers find those pesky repetitive words that creep into their manuscripts.

One of my personal weed words is “now.” I honestly had no idea how often I used it in my writing until a friend of mine pointed it out in a text! At the time I was shocked by her comment. Did I really use that word so often? A quick check of the manuscript I was in the process of editing confirmed her accusation. I had a serious weed word problem!

So what are these weed words? Well, they are exactly what they sound like–words that worm their way into your writing repetitively, without your knowledge. Because we are the creator of those words, our brains are immune to “hearing” them in our mind. Therefore, repeated words can fill our pages and make our writing look lazy.

The good news is, there’s a relatively easy fix for this problem! To highlight a particular word within your manuscript, simply type that word in the upper right hand corner of your Word document and hit ‘enter.’ That word will appear in yellow and you will literally get a visual of your attachment to it. (One trick that I use is to type only the first few letters of the word, in case you’ve used different tenses.) I’ve heard varied suggestions of how often to allow that word to appear–anywhere from only once per chapter, to once per page. My personal opinion is to ask myself how common that word is within our daily speech, and decide from there.

So, how do you know which words are your weed words? Well, some you will just have to discover on your own. Ask beta readers or critique partners to read some of your work and make note of any they notice. Otherwise, check out this comprehensive list of commonly overused words at the Writers Helping Writers website. (It’s listed as ‘Crutch Words.’) This site is a great resource with lots of downloadable pages to help writers get organized with their writing!!

How about you? What are your weed words that seem to crop up in your writing? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Happy writing, friends!

Flash Fiction: The Shoe

Darien ran a hand through his short ebony hair. The dance was lame.

Well, not really. The dance itself appeared to be fun. But going along with Jimmy’s idea to go stag with two other couples had been a mistake. Darien stood alone and bored against the wall of the dimly lit high school auditorium. The rest of his classmates pressed in a mob in the center, their bodies a unified mass as they convulsed and gyrated. Music vibrated the scuffed wood floor. Every pore under his dress shirt broke out in sweat. He needed some air.

In the lobby he leaned against one of the glass display cases that lined the hall, his ears full from the silence. He ran another hand through his hair. So stupid, Darien. If you couldn’t get a girl to go to the dance with you, why would any dance with you now? He smacked the case and heard a rattle, turning to see what he’d disturbed.

Most of the cases held trophies and awards won by the current student body at East Washington Adams High. This one just held black and white pictures and tattered banners that belonged to some guy that had once been Captain of the football team, then crowned Prom King. He’d gone on to fight in World War II as some big shot general, and donated a ton of money to his alma mater so they could build this wing. Whoop-de doo. If Darien couldn’t even get a date to a dance, there was no hope he would ever get a display case in his honor. Pathetic life.

A growl slipped from under his breath as he rested his head against the wall, eyes closed, listened to the steady patter of rain on the roof. Again, why am I here? His stomach clenched tight.

“Hello,” a gentle female voice said.

His eyes shot open, quickly followed by his jaw.

Before him was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen. Her skin was pale, much more so than most girls in school. Light hair swept up, her dress looked different from the other girls, too. Fancy, but pretty. Bright red lipstick highlighted full lips that curled into a smile and every sweat gland along Darien’s hairline decided to awake. She was gorgeous.

She was the kind of girl he’d dreamed of for years.

He swiped a hand across his forehead and swallowed. “Uh, hi.”

“Care for a dance?” she said. Continue reading

One Book, Two Book, Three Books… This isn’t Dr. Seuss!

Yesterday I gave an update on my monthly challenge, so today I thought I’d update where I am with my writing. I do realize I still have that ‘Watch Me Write’ section on the sidebar of my blog, promise! But here’s a bit more in depth look at where I stand with my writing.

Orphan Princess – This is the manuscript that has been in my agent’s hands since early 2016. I did just send it out (once again) to another beta reader who caught a few more grammar/spelling errors (ACK!), and a publisher has asked me to do a minor revision to include a theme that aligns with their company before they will read the entire manuscript. The plan is to tackle these things within the next two weeks and see where that leads.

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The Prophecy Tails – The idea for this trilogy came to me around Christmastime last year, and I successfully knocked out book one in the series by late February 2016. Book two quickly followed, with that rough draft completed by late spring. I did begin writing book three at the start of our move this summer, but it got waylaid and I haven’t revisited it since. It’s about 25% finished. My goal is to finish that rough draft by participating in NaNoWriMo in November. We shall see if I can get this entire series drafted by the end of the year!! That will mean 2017 will be a year of revision. (*blink, blink*) Continue reading

My #WIPjoy September Update

Some of you might remember I took up an August challenge to write Flash Fiction every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. At the end of the month I was pleased with how the challenge of meeting that goal really helped push me toward more blogging. So, I decided to dive right in and take up another monthly challenge for September–this time through the daily #WIPjoy Twitter post! 

Because this is shows up in my Twitter feed, you may have missed many of my updates on my WIP. So I thought I’d give an update on how it’s going and which WIP I chose to focus on for this month! 

The Book – Almost 2 1/2 years ago I self-published a series of six novellas titled ‘Now I Sleep’. Over time, I realized I wanted to get the series professionally edited to ensure my best possible work was available. At the suggestion of my amazing editor–Nadine Brandes!–I decided this past spring that I would combine the six novellas into one single full length novel. Although the info for the individual novellas remains on my website (under the Books section), it will be updated once the revisions and edits are complete. ‘Now I Sleep’ is a YA Sci-Fi fictional work that takes place in present day, as well as in the future. 

The Tweets – Surprisingly, I’ve actually done quite well keeping up with this! I will admit, consistency is my Achilles Heel, but the encouragement I’ve seen on Twitter has helped motivate me to stay up a few extra minutes before bed, to be sure I got that tweet done! I have missed tweeting twice, but made up for it the next day. I’ve made a number of new contacts on Twitter and hope to join in with the next #WIPjoy, once it comes around! 

The UpdatesThe good news is, this challenge has kept me on my toes and helped guide me in my edits/revision on this book! Major things were cut, major things were added and it helped me focus in on the themes and struggles that may have been glossed over within the series. I’ll follow with a few of my favorite tweets from this month, in case you’re curious to see what this book is about!!

I’m already on the lookout for my next monthly challenge for the month of October! If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below! Or tell me about a challenge you’ve joined in this month or year! Oh, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter if you haven’t done so!! 

Happy writing, friends!

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Book Review: A TIME TO SPEAK by Nadine Brandes

Here it is!! My review of the second book in the Out of Time series by Nadine Brandes!! Eeeppp! The first book had been on my mind for a few weeks once I’d finished, and of course I couldn’t wait to dive right into this one! Read on to hear all about this faith-based YA dystopian series!

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Synopsis: 

What happens when you live longer than you wanted to?

Parvin Blackwater wanted to die, but now she’s being called to be a leader. The only problem is, no one wants to follow.

The Council is using Jude’s Clock-matching invention to force “new-and-improved” Clocks on the public. Those who can’t afford one are packed into boxcars like cattle and used for the Council’s purposes. Parvin and Solomon team up to rescue the people. Instead, they find themselves on a cargo ship of Radicals headed out to sea. What will the Council do to them? And why are people suddenly dying before their Clocks have zeroed-out?

The Review:

Okay, I’ll cut right to the good stuff: “A Time to Speak” by Nadine Brandes gets 5 out of 5 stars! This middle installment of the Out of Time series avoids the lag of the dreaded “middle book syndrome” and delivers a fantastic plot with characters that make you wish you could jump right inside the story!  Continue reading

Flash Fiction Friday: Making a List

“Think we should give her a second chance?”

“I don’t know. She flushed her brother’s homework down the toilet, and snuck an extra cookie last night.” The small man with pointed ears adjusted his green cap.

His female counterpart scrinched her nose. “Please? She’s usually a sweet girl.”

He nodded. “Okay, but tell her parents this is the last chance.” An alarm sounded, a spit of paper from the machine. “Oh no! Jimmy Frey’s on the Naughty List. Again!”

“Two weeks before Christmas? The big guy won’t be happy!”

“Grab a reindeer, Alice. We’ve got work to do!”

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2016

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Photo cred Unsplash by Annie Spratt

A3 Post – The Doctor Knows Best

Hey guys! Remember how I announced that I would be writing the Fantasy/Sci-Fi column at Almost an Author? Well my first post – ‘The Doctor Knows Best’ – went live on Friday! Click here to read my Doctor Who influenced post about the importance of strong character traits!

Have any thoughts to share? I’d love to hear them below in the comments!

Happy writing, friends!

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Image cred fanpop.com 

Flash Fiction Friday: The Making of a Prophecy

“Hide.” Mother pushes me between our bed and wall.

“Why, mama?”

“The prophets of The Supremacy say you’re the one. That when you grow up you’ll lead the revolution to set our people free. They’re afraid.” She smooths the side of my face.

“Of me?”

“Yes.” A noise outside. “Shhh!” She stands. The door opens, men speak. “His father took him to the planet Drein-”

A blast. She falls, eyes open. Mama’s dead.

Men gone, I creep out. Heat fills my chest, a tremble, pain, agony.

They will pay.

Tears hot on my face, I vow to kill them all.

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2016

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Photo cred Pixabay

My Month of Flash Fiction

It’s September! Which means absolutely nothing to me, when it comes to colored leaves, Pumpkin Spice lattes, and crisp temperatures, since I now live in the desert! But I’m excited to learn all the things that Arizona has to offer for the fall months!

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Photo cred Unsplash by Daniel Cheung

September also means my month of writing Flash Fiction has come to an end. For the month of August, I decided to post a Flash Fiction story every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, to challenge myself in writing more FF. I’m happy to say I (mostly) succeeded and it’s done! But no worries. I’m not going to stop writing FF all together! The plan is to stick with FF Fridays and maybe sneak in an extra story or two here and there.

I will admit, this challenge was harder than I thought it would be. “What a fun challenge! It will be easy to write 3 stories a week!” I naively thought to myself a full month ago. Oh how little I knew back then. Not that this past month was torture to get through – it was quite fun rising to the challenge of coming up with a new story practically every other day. But it definitely wasn’t easy!

Here are my stats in My Month of Flash Fiction: Continue reading

Flash Fiction Wednesday: The Question

A lazy stroll through the park, crisp autumn air, leaves fight then race. His fingers squeeze mine, let go. He’s on his knees.

The box, small and black and velvet, open in his hand. Gaze expectant. “Will you marry me?”

A thousand tiny strings grab onto my heart, yank, pain and elation at war.

What about the fight we had yesterday? The way he picks his teeth after popcorn? His mother hates me. Children haven’t been discussed. Would he always part his hair like that? He gulps when he drinks.

Eyes meet. Those strings pull, release. I gasp.

“Yes.”

 

©Laura L. Zimmerman 2016

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Photo cred Unsplash by Jacob Rank