It took me awhile to finish The Girl on Legare Street, not because the book didn’t keep my
interest but because my life kept getting in the way. A lengthy road trip gave
me the opportunity to finish the second in Karen White’s Tradd Street Series.
Despite a few writing style choices that made me cringe, I enjoyed The House on Tradd Street very much and
looked forward to reading the second book in the series. I wasn’t disappointed.
I’ve come to appreciate an intricately woven ghost story. Ms. White delivers.
In this second book in the series, once again Melanie
Middleton and Jack Trenholm combine complementary skills to solve a decades old
mystery. Melanie’s estranged mother Ginette Prioleau returns to town and buys
the old Prioleau home. An angry ghost haunts the Legare Street house and
threatens both Melanie and her mother. When Ginette begs Melanie for help,
emotional ghosts from Melanie’s past start causing all sorts of trouble. Not
only does Melanie struggle with feelings of abandonment, but she also struggles
with her feelings for Jack. Her love/hate relationship with Jack adds to the
suspense. Insert another woman in Jack’s life and Melanie’s mix of emotions
turns into a nasty concoction of denial, frustration, anger, and longing. It
makes matters worse that Jack’s other woman, Rebecca Edgerton, manages to stick
her nose into Melanie’s business.
If you read Tradd
Street, then you already know Jack is H.O.T. hot and easily distracted and
Melanie is a control freak. I grew tired of Melanie’s whining in Tradd Street and her attitude didn’t
improve much until the end of Legare
Street. I didn’t feel sympathy for this woman’s whiny attitude and stubborn
denial. Most of the time I wanted to slap some sense into her.
Despite my less than warm feeling for the main character, I
still wanted a happily ever after for the hero and heroine. I was disappointed.
Ms. White takes one and five-sixths books for Jack to kiss Melanie! She keeps
her readers anxiously waiting for the big moment when Jack and Melanie confess
their feelings for each other. Some very tense writing, but enough unrequited
sexual tension already. The important moment of reading satisfaction doesn’t
happen by the end of book two. Maybe so the reader will buy book three?
Legare Street is
romantic suspense. There is a hero. There is a heroine. There is intense
attraction between them. There is suspense. As a reader I want to fall in love
with the hero. Jack let me down. His actions caused him to fall from his hero
pedestal. If he loves Melanie, why would he do what he did? Ms. White pushed my
suspension of disbelief beyond credibility. I can’t give my whole heart to Jack
any longer and I’m not sure I want Melanie to give hers either!
Will I read the third book in the series? Yes, despite my
lack of sympathy for the hero and heroine, I intend to read the next book. Ms.
White writes a good ghost story with some great moments of suspense and some
very nice twists. But if I was Melanie I’d ditch Jack, and if I was Jack, I’d
forget about Melanie. On second thought, maybe those two deserve each other.
I have a
confession to make. Editing puts me to sleep. Seriously. Sometimes I’m in the
middle of self-editing my manuscript—my baby—when boom! My head hits the
keyboard. It’s embarrassing, but you know, I’ve read the story sooo many times
is it any wonder my mind is wandering?
One day the
nodding off scared me. My mind hyperventilated—started popping out questions
about my writing prowess. Like…Why am I falling asleep? What if my book is THAT
boring? What’s wrong with the plot? Is it not fast-paced enough? Are the plot
devices trite and overused? Are the characters unrealistic?
When my heart
rate finally slowed, I realized the plot didn’t bore me. No! My muse and I
created the story with loving care, blood, sweat, and tears. Okay, maybe no
blood, but there were a few tears. It had to be editing. Yeah, I’ll blame it on
Writing a fresh
story is fun. The characters practically create themselves. The conflict forms
out of their personalities and their choices. The dialogue flows as I hear in
my head what someone would say and how they would say it. The plot thickens at
just the right time. I love writing.
I don’t love
self-editing. I work with a wonderful editor, but my goal is to have my
manuscript as shiny as possible before I submit it to my publisher. I want my
editor to buff and polish, not do major surgery on the heart of the book.
Here are a few
things I’ve learned about self-editing. No worries, this isn’t going to get
technical with a dry list of the Unbendable Unbreakable Rules For Aspiring Writers.
No matter how many times I’ve edited a
manuscript, I can always find something else to “fix”.
over passive voice, verb tense, POV head hops, filtering, showing vs. telling,
and the bane of my existence, comma placement. But no matter how many times
I’ve gone over my story, I can always find an omitted word. And homonyms? Argh.
Similarly spelled or similar sounding words will do me in. Their and they’re.
Here and hear. Even now and know. Did you know the spelling and grammar check on
Word won’t alert me when I use the word “his” instead of “he”? Or “form”
instead of “from”? Or when I’ve used the word “look” five thousand times? (That
seems to be my favorite word.) The first draft is a very rough draft. Every
time I learn a new concept, the added knowledge requires another review of my
Self-editing is a structured, and
therefore, a highly redundant process.
I find it
overwhelming to tackle the abundance of concepts I should remember when I’m
editing a manuscript, so I have to have a plan. I’ve started going through my
stories in several passes. In the first pass, I check for grammar and
punctuation. I let the manuscript “rest” for a while and then in the second
pass, I check for consistency and plot continuity. In the third pass, I look
for redundancy, filtering, head pops, and telling. On my next but not
necessarily my last pass, I read the story aloud to someone, checking for flow,
credibility, and glaring inconsistencies.
This creates a
lot of repetition. By the time I work through it this often, I know my story so
well I can quote it in my sleep.
Edits should never be attempted at the
time of day when I’m most susceptible to falling asleep.
No, it isn’t
midnight. I don’t know what it is about editing in the afternoon that makes my
eyelids droop and my mouth stretch into a wide yawn. The same thing will happen
if I try to read in the afternoon, so it’s not just my stories. Thank goodness.
productive time of day is…well, right now. It’s 10:44 pm CDT and I’m churning
out this blog post without a single yawn or drooping eyelid. Editing at three
in the afternoon? I should know better. The middle of a Saturday or Sunday
afternoon is usually when I beg my wonderful hubby to brew me a fresh pot of
coffee so I can try to stay awake. I’ve learned to give it up and watch another
episode of Law and Order on Netflix. At just about nineish, either my editing
conscience will kick in or my muse will jump up and down in front of my face
and I’ll grab my Mac and tear up the keyboard.
I should always start the process with a
fresh attitude and a fresh pot of coffee.
tremendously time-consuming job of editing a 55k+ manuscript is something that
should never be approached when I’m in a foul mood. I give myself down time
between editorial passes so I can refresh my attitude. A strong pot of fresh
coffee always helps my sensibilities and I can tackle the job with renewed
When I discover a new concept in
generally accepted writing style, I shouldn’t knee-jerk and start editing every
unsubmitted manuscript on my hard drive.
When I first
discovered the concept of POV and head hopping, I dusted off all fifteen of my
unpublished manuscripts and went to work. It was painful, because after that I
discovered the concept of showing vs. telling and the process started again.
Then I heard the term filtering for the first time…
Well, you get
the idea. Now I work one manuscript at a time. After all, I can only submit one
at a time. Right? Two at the most. If both stories were contracted at the same
time, then there would be all those edits at the same time and then…
I truly believe the
editing phase of a WIP is where most writers give up. I don’t love editing and
I don’t love falling asleep in the midst of it. Self-editing is a necessary
process and one a writer should embrace with determination and persistence. As
a writer I want my finished product to be the best it can be, but I can’t do
what I need to do effectively if I’m half-asleep. So…If I start dozing,
somebody wake me up and pour me a cup of coffee.
I'm going to tell you a story about a reindeer. A reindeer in
spandex named Conrad. A reindeer in spandex named Conrad who didn't make the
cut at the North Pole.
Well, actually, he wasn't a reindeer. He was a giraffe. This
did not deter him from pursuing his dream. Not one bit. All of St. Nick's old
reindeer had retired with a pension of hay and hot chocolate. He had heard from
an unidentified source that Santa was recruiting new talent for the annual run,
so Conrad stole a rack of reindeer antlers from a hunting shed in Siberia while
the hunter concentrated on eating his borscht with a bent spoon.
The journey northward seemed endless, but at last he found the
fabled village. Billows of brightly-colored sparkles belched from the stacks of
the toy factory. Elves scurried and hustled about their business. The Day was
only weeks away. Conrad's blood pressure rose as he waited in line nose to rump
behind a long line of other smelly butts outside the staging shed where the jolly old
elf housed his sleigh.
The line stretched across about a hundred yards of freshly
fallen snow. "How long you been standing here?" he asked the mammal
ahead of him. He blinked when the animal turned its head. The other applicant
was not a reindeer.
"A couple of days… weeks… hours… I don't know." The
yak stomped a hoof in a mound of something that smelled vile. Wisps of steam
rose from the pile. "The old guy is kind of… slow." He slung his
heavy rack from side to side, dislodging a few tenacious flies. "Name's
Formaldehyde. But you can call me Al."
"Conrad. But you can call me Con."
"Nice to meet you." The yak studied Con's outfit.
"What's with the spandex?"
"Oh, this. Well…"
"Hey, if it's personal—"
"No. It's just… Okay, I ran away from the circus—"
The yak melted into fits of laughter. "Oh man, that's
rich. You ran away from the circus?
Why would you leave a good gig like that?"
Con cleared his throat, loosening the phlegm. "Well,
there was a little problem with dynamite and an elephant—"
"Whoa, buddy. Did you dynamite an elephant?"
"Of course not. I swear I never touched the
elephant." Con tried his best to look offended. "No matter what that clown says I never laid a hoof on
"Well, if you did, I wouldn't blame you. Elephants are
"Hey!" said a rather large pachyderm while turning a
malevolent eye on Al.
Conrad stepped back from the menace. He'd seen enough of
elephants to last him a lifetime.
The yak turned his back on the elephant and continued his
probing into Con's embarrassment. "What happened?"
"Well, you see… I swallowed several sticks of
"Okay, you got my attention. Why would you swallow
Conrad puffed out his cheeks. "It really wasn't my fault.
Lion Tamer was standing in the door of Pretzel Woman's trailer. You know, he
was always talking to PW. I think he had an itch for her. She could do this
thing… Never mind. It's not important." He cringed and shook his head at
the memory. "Knife Thrower stopped throwing knives after the… um…
accident, so he threw fireworks that looked like sticks of dynamite. Made for
an exciting show. Well, we had a new guy in the manager's office, and he got
mixed up. Ordered real dynamite. So when Knife Thrower was passing her trailer,
Pretzel Woman sneezed, and the Lion Tamer got a face full of spray. PW is known
for her bad breath. Lion Tamer backed into me, I tripped Knife Thrower, and
Pretzel Woman knocked the dynamite out of Knife Thrower's hand." He looked
hard at his audience. "Are you sure you want to hear this?"
Several animals nodded.
"Okay, well, I was yawning. I do that a lot. And I sort
of… you know… swallowed the dynamite."
By now the waiting hopefuls had gathered around them to hear
Con's sad tale of woe. Most of them stared at Con with wonder and awe reflected
in their eyes. After all, it's more customary to run away to the circus, than from
"Go on," urged an elk.
"But I'd had a lot of hay for supper, and you can imagine
the gas build-up—"
"Oh, yeah, man," said an alpaca. "That can be
Con stared at the alpaca. How much did he know?
"I belched, the dynamite flew out of my mouth, and the
elephant… It wasn't pretty."
"That's awful, man," the yak said.
"I had to leave. No one could be sure if I'd expelled all
the TNT yet." Con felt a familiar rumble in his gut. "Guys." He backed
away from them. "This can't be good."
A collective look of horror spread across the contingent of
would-be Christmas Eve replacements.
They don't call it the North Pole any more. It's more like…
the North Crater. And Con? There was no room on the team for someone with such
a ghastly gastrointestinal disorder. Word is that operations might resume in
time for Christmas next year.
Each week, Hilary at www.feelingbeachie.com
lists four statements with a blank for you to fill in on your own blog. If you
want to join the fun and come up with four fill in’s of your own, please email
them to her at email@example.com. If she
uses them, she will add you as co-host to the hop! This week’s co-host is Beth
Ann from It’s Just Life
– she came up with the last two statements.
Hilary would LOVE it if you could please help me spread the word about
this hop…. So, please tweet, Facebook share, and add the linky to your post…
This week’s statements:
1. When I ____ I _____.
2. I wish I was _______.
3. If the world is my oyster then ___________.
4. My favorite meal of the day is ________ and the food I think would be my favorite to eat then would be _______.
I _look back on my life so far__ I __don’t regret a thing.__
wish I was _on vacation. Right now! Right this very minute. I mean, I love my
life, but I seriously need a break from the usual routine!__
the world is my oyster then ___where are my pearls?______________
favorite meal of the day is __dinner________ and the food I think would be my
favorite to eat then would be ___something with lots and lots of cheese, like
Tex Mex or pizza or lasagna. You know, comfort food._______