Wednesday, May 26, 2010

THE ART OF JABBERING: Not Such a Bad a Thing—Well Not all the Time

My guest is romance author, Christie Craig. You may have read some of her books like Divorced, Desperate and Deceived and Divorced, Desperate And Dating.

I recently had the opportunity to read Christie’s book. Oh what a fun book to read, and laugh? Oh my goodness this book cracked me up. It’s a good blend of comedy and suspense. I love Christie’s sense of humor and her ability to infuse that humor in her writing and her word plays without losing that edge of danger needed for a good suspense story. Her characters are real and fun and tend to get into some wacky situations. You’ll love Precious, Texas and Shala, Sky, Redfoot, and Martha and her red Cadillac. Wait until you meet the guy in the pink bathrobe and smells like a skunk. You’ll be laughing your, um, head off. If you enjoy witty, sexy romantic suspense, you’ll love Shut Up And Kiss Me.

Christie shares with us The Art of Jabbering & Networking at Conferences.

Shala Winters, my heroine in Shut Up And Kiss Me is a bit of a jabberer, and guess what my hero can’t stand? Yup, you got it. Sky Gomez can’t stand a jabbering woman. In the book he states: He would walk uphill naked and barefoot through the snow and a bed of porcupine needles to avoid a jabbering woman. I bet you can figure out just how that works out for him too, can’t you? Basically, there is no escape, not even an uphill path through the snow or porcupine needles. Sky is stuck with Shala and her endless chatter. I make sure of it. Love in the making.

The crazy thing is that while Shut Up and Kiss Me is the perfect title for the book, I had originally given the title to an earlier book and another heroine who had a habit of talking a wee bit much. So I guess you could say, I have a tendency to write about heroines who aren’t afraid to talk. Now, how I have so much insight into this character trait is beyond me. I can hear everyone who knows me cracking up right now.

So, fine! I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a talker, and the ol’ foot-in-the-mouth moment is something I’ve experienced once or twice, maybe a dozen times. There was the time I stepped out into my backyard just in time to hear my next door neighbor, positioned on top of his ever-increasing CB radio antenna, yell down to my husband, “Hey, it works.”

And I yelled back, “It should. It’s big enough.”

Only to have my husband--after he finished laughing his butt off and after he picked his butt up from the ground--tell me they hadn’t been discussing the antenna, but my neighbor’s vasectomy. Yeah, I had my big toe stuck between my molars for about a week on that one. And for about a year, every time I saw my neighbor I swear he walked a little taller.

Ahh, but foot-in-the-mouth moments aside, jabbering isn’t altogether a bad thing. Not for my fiction, and especially not for me as a writer.

Here’s what I mean:

Jabbering -- Good For Fiction

Jabbering, or to say it another way, talking before you think-- saying what you mean before filtering it-- is one of the best keys to writing good dialogue. The heck with politeness and political correctness. Kick aside what people expect your characters to say, and let them do a little jabbering, and speak their minds. Just for fun, let me show you what I mean.

“How are you this morning?” Linda asked, as Jeffery walked into the boardroom with the other six members.

Jeffery paused. “I’m fine thank you.”

Now that’s just plain ol’ polite dialogue and frankly it’s boring. How about we spice that up:

“How are you this morning?” Linda asked, as Jeffery walked into the boardroom with the other six members.

Jeffery flinched. “How the hell can you even ask me that after what you did?”

Better, don’t you think? Or maybe let’s try.

“How are you this morning?” Linda asked, as Jeffery walked into the boardroom with the other \six members.

“I’m doing fabulous and as soon as I can get you alone and naked again, I’ll be doing even better.”

To write great dialogue let your characters say the truth, the hell with consequences. Hey, kids can get away with it, why not our characters. For example, my three-year-old son accidentally walked into the bathroom as my mom stepped out of the shower.

“Wow, I didn’t know you looked like that naked,” he said.
My mom grabbed the towel and covered herself. “Like what?”
“Like a fat lady,” he said in total honesty.

I didn’t say there wouldn’t be consequences, just the hell with them. Yes, I had a talk with my young son about political correctness, but let me tell you, it was funny, it was honest—my mom had gained weight and was hiding it behind her clothes—and while it happened more than a dozen years ago, the whole family still laughs at it.

So make you character’s dialogue memorable and maybe even funny by letting them talk with child-like honesty.

Jabbering -- Good for Verbal Networking

The art of jabbering is basically the art of carrying on a conversation--and being able to communicate with the editors, agents, other writers, and eventually your fans. Probably one of the best networking skills I’ve attained is the ability to talk. While some believe it was a natural talent, I beg to differ. I was a wallflower in high school. It wasn’t until I sold my book and was asked to speak at conferences did I learn the fine art of jabbering. So here’s a few tips and advice to shy writers trying to build their verbal networking skills.

  • At conference or any social event, pretend it’s your party and your place to make everyone else feel welcome.

  • Make the conversation about the person you are speaking to and not all about yourself. People love it when you show interest in them, and it makes the person curious about you. So you’ll usually get your time in the spot light as well. (This even works in pitch sessions. Ask an agent, so what types of books are you really wanting to see right now? Eventually the conversation will come back around to what type of book you have, but by then hopefully you’ll be relaxed a bit and won’t feel so nervous.)

  • Find the person who is standing alone and go greet them. I’ve made more friends by simply looking for the lone stranger in the room and introducing myself. Amazingly, a few of them were editors.

  • Don’t be afraid to try public speaking—unless it truly is your worst fear. Most speakers are nervous at first, but if you practice your talk, have confidence in what you’re saying, see it as opportunity to share your knowledge, chances are you might even learn to like it. Start out giving short talks to small groups and build up from there. Speaking at conferences is the best PR.

  • Have fun, smile and watch your body language. Nothing draws a crowd more than people having fun. We all want to join the party. A big smile says I’m open, friendly, and invites people to come and say hello. Closed body language, arms crossed, and avoiding eye contact of others keeps people back.

    Okay, so there you have it. Why jabbering isn’t altogether a bad thing—as long as you keep your foot out of your mouth.
Today, what I’d love to hear from you is some funny foot-in-the-mouth situations, or perhaps some of your tips on dialogue and verbal networking.

One commenter will receive an autographed copy of Shut Up and Kiss Me. So make sure you leave a comment.
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Back Cover Blurb:

WELCOME TO PRECIOUS, TEXAS...where fistfights serve as dinner theater and fire ants rain from the sky. The locals are usually very friendly, if a bit eccentric. No pictures please, or you may find yourself a guest of the county morgue.

Photojournalist Shala Winters already had her hands full bringing tourism to this backward, podunk little town, but her job just got tougher. Pictures can say a thousand words, and one of Shala’s is screaming bloody murder. Now she has to entrust a macho, infuriating lawman with her life—but she’ll never trust him with her heart.

Trusted or not, Sky Gomez isn’t about to let a killer get his hands on Shala’s Nikon—or any of her more comely assets, for that matter. Her mouth might move faster than a Piney Woods roadrunner, but all he can think about is how good it must taste…and how she’ll never escape true love.
Browse the features of the book HERE
You can find Christie Craig: Website Workshops Write With Us Writer's blog Facebook Killer Fiction

Christie Craig, an Alabama native, is an award-winning, multi-published writer, multi-published photo journalist, motivational speaker, and writing teacher. Her non-fiction articles and photography have appeared in almost three thousand national magazines. A Golden Heart finalist, and a finalist in more than fifty RWA-sponsored contests, she has gained a well-deserved reputation for writing romance fiction that has both witty humor and a suspenseful, sexy tone. Published by Silhouette in the 90s, she recently broke back into fiction in a big way, making four book sales in one day. Her seventh humorous single title romance novel, published by Dorchester, will hit the stands in June 2010.

Her non-fiction book, co-authored by Faye Hughes, released September 08, is The Everything Guide To Writing A Romance Novel and their second non-fiction book, a humorous self-help relationship book, Wild, Wicked and Wanton: 101 Ways to Love Like You Are in a Romance Novel is scheduled to be released December 2010. Craig’s latest writing adventure is the sale of a young adult paranormal romance series, Shadow Falls Camp, that will be published by St. Martins Press in the near future.