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.
~ * ~ * ~
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.



41 comments:

~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome to Over Coffee, Christie! Pull up a chair and get comfy.

Plenty of goodies and caffiene on the coffee.

tonya kappes said...

Hi Christie. Thanks for your advice, especially with all the conferences going on now.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hi, ladies. No need to enter me (regrettably); I'm dropping in because Christie asked me to post about this at my Win a Book publicity blog. Hope it brings you guys some new readers!

Mason Canyon said...

Okay, you got my attention with the guy in the pink bathrobe (no matter how he smells). :)

Love a little humor, romance and suspense all rolled up together. These are definitely going on my wish list. Enjoy the post.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

Christie Craig said...

Hi Tanya,

Thank you so much stopping in. I hope the advice helps a bit.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Hi Susan,

Thank so much for posting it. Hope you are having a great day.

CC

Christie Craig said...

HI Mason,

You will love Jose. He's hot even in a pink bath robe. Plus, he's having a tad of bad luck, and your heart kind of bleeds for him, but you still gotta love him.

Thanks so much for joining me today.

CC

Christie Craig said...

HI Sia!

Thank you so much for the warm welcome. And I'm tickled that you enjoyed Shut Up.

CC

~Sia McKye~ said...

What's not to enjoy? lolol! Now I have to go back and read a couple of yours I haven't read yet.

I'm gonna be MIA for awhile. The last few nights I've been getting up every 2 hours with the recuperating kid. Early this morning we had another *situation*. It's killing me. I'm starting to look like a Raccoon with the circles.

Tell us a bit about your workshops, Christie. You and Faye Huges do them. Are these in person? or online?

Faye Hughes said...

Great blog, Christie, on writing believable dialogue.

Faye

Edie Ramer said...

I cracked up a couple times reading this. I don't have the art of jabbering, but I've stuck my foot in my mouth quite a few times. I love the idea of pretending a conference is your party. I've helped other writers in my chapter. It feels good to do that and I've made some good friends.

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Sia, this blog was just plain fun and packed full of good advice. I am one who is always bound and determined to put her foot in her mouth. In fact one of my editors once said to me, "It's always something with you, isn't it?" LOL

Thanks for sharing another great book. I'm off to add it to my tbr pile. Cheers~

Christie Craig said...

Hi Sia,

Faye and I have done a few online workshops, and that is always fun. We've done a lot of workshops at conferences and I really love those. We do workshops at RWA national, RT, and a lot of local chapter conferences. Then both Faye and I do workshops on our own.

I guess you could say I'm part stand up comic, and when I give workshops that really comes out. I love to laugh and I think when you laugh you can learn more.

Christie Craig said...

Hi Faye,

Thanks for popping in.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Hi Edie,

Thanks so much for stopping by over here as well. Yup, you gotta play head games with yourself sometimes. After you start pretending something, it takes on a new life and before long you aren't pretending anymore. I love the saying, "If you think you can do something or think you can't do something, you are probably right.

Thanks for stopping by.

CC

Christie Craig said...

Hi Nancy,

Thanks for stopping in. I think a lot of writers get the, "It's always something with you," comment. I know it's that way at my house.

CC

VA said...

Christie I do admire someone who can turn a phrase and elicit humor. I try and think twice before saying anything, even when I'm mad so I have to think, but, boy oh boy do people let loose somethings that just have you saying, "What were they thinking?"

Never congratulate someone on their bundle of joy if you don't know there's a bundle. Or when the date is. That one kills me every time I see it.

Another is assigning placement of siblings within the family, "Hey, you must be the big sister." Ahh, no.

See. I told you was bad at this. Gotta check out the excerpt/ browse.

Thanks Sia.

Christie Craig said...

VA,

Thanks so much for stopping by. I'm a serious expert at putting the foot in the mouth. I can sometimes be good at snappy comebacks, but I try to think before I speak.

Thanks so much for sharing and stopping by.

Oh, I heard someone ask another person just yesterday if they were pregnant. She wasn't. Yikes. Big mistake.

CC

s7anna said...

Thanks for a great post. Congratulations on the new release.

*hugs*
Anna

Christie Craig said...

HI S7anna,

Thanks for stopping by. Celebrating a new release is a dream come true.

CC

Sandy said...

If you've visited Christie's blog you know her books are going to be a laugh a minute. Her Divorced, Desperate and Deceived was the first book of hers I read. It lived up to her blog. She had me laughing out loud. I'm dying to read more of her books.

Christie Craig said...

Hi Sandy,

Thanks so much girl. I love giving someone something to chuckle about. Life is way to serious.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

CC

Helen Ginger said...

I love the idea of conquering the joy of jabbering. Very good advice for writers and for the occasional character. Fun post. And now I want to read one of your books.

Helen
Straight From Hel

Olivia Cunning said...

I do love witty dialogue - reading it and writing it. I'm not the best at saying it. I tend to think of things to say the day after the situation arises. Does that mean I'm slow-witted? Don't answer that....

robynl said...

one day I asked the new cashier at our grocery store what grade she was in; yikes, I put my foot in my mouth. She said she was out of school and engaged to one of the new police men we had in town. I apologized but she said she has encountered that a few times before as she does look young.

Christie Craig said...

Hi Helen,

Wow. Thanks so much. That means that I did my job. I really believe there is a lot of joy to be had in jabbering.

Thanks so much for stopping by.
CC

Christie Craig said...

Oliva,

With the chuckle you gave me, you are not slow witted!! I always say I wish I could plot my own comebacks in real life, because while every now and then I can let go a real zinger, most of the time I'm wishing I'm said something, too.
Thanks for stopping by.

CC

Christie Craig said...

RobynL,

All I can say is one day that clerk will love it that she looks young. I know, she probably doesn't know it now. My daughter looks young and she's a teacher at a high school and she's always being asked for a hall pass when she's in the hall. Too funny. She just sighs.

Thanks so much for stopping in.

CC

TJ Bennett said...

I met fellow author Christie for the first time at a local RWA chapter meeting. She practices what she preaches. I was new to the area, nervous, and late to the meeting, so I didn't get a chance to participate in the meet-and-greet. I self-consciously sat through the whole meeting, not knowing a soul, and without anyone saying a word to me. But when Christie caught my eye and realized I was new, she marched right over and introduced herself. She gave me a great big southern smile and made me feel right at home. I was very grateful, and although I barely remember what the speaker said, I still remember Christie and her kindness.

When I saw her again a year later, at a different chapter meeting, we struck up a conversation right away and have been friends ever since. Christie is one-of-a-kind, and you'll be glad you bought her books!

TJB

Christie Craig said...

Hi T.J.

You are so sweet. Now where do I need to send that check? LOL.

Thanks so much for stopping in, girl.

See ya soon.

CC

~Sia McKye~ said...

Lololol! what fun the blog comments are. Boy did I need a chuckle.

TJ and Christie, I so remember being at chapter conference and not knowing but one person--my friend, Kat.

I learned a long time ago and many professional seminars, lunches, and dinners, that a warm smile is the best icebreaker there is. That and always introducing yourself to the people at your table and getting them to talk about themselves.

I'm the sort like Christie. At this conference in Ohio, I had a pocket full of Over Coffee business cards and started talking to everyone I could get too. Especially those who seemed by themselves. I made some wonderful friends at the conference. I so wish I lived a bit closer. It was like old home week at RT meeting up with those and many online friends I've made and the new ones too.

Christie, we just kept missing each other at RT, darn it! This [ ] close and no contact.

I need to get to the chapter closest to me--3 hours away

~Sia McKye~ said...

Olivia, I think we all have a *I shoulda said this* moments. I figure, it's a good thing we write because we can use those moments in our writing.

Slow witted? Pfft. Not you and wonderful to see your debut, Back Stage Pass, up at BEA!!

Anonymous said...

congrats onteh books
and great reviews
lov e the title
i am short so i get ask fo r id alot

kh

EmilyBryan said...

Too funny on the vasectomy story!

I had a similar situation once. My sister mentioned that her father-in-law had just had surgery, but failed to tell me what for. I saw him on the street later that day and commented that I hoped he felt as good as he looked after his surgery.

His eyes practically bulged out of his head.

Christie Craig said...

Sia,

I was looking for you to at RT. Next year, we won't miss each other! And by all means, check out your local RWA. I love my RWA chapters. I belong to five. Keeps me busy.

CC

Christie Craig said...

KH,

Oh, I know all about being short. I'm vertically challanged, too. LOL. Not that I get asked for my id anymore. Darn!

CC

Christie Craig said...

Emily,

That is too funny! Poor guy, knowing that the world knew his boys were in a world of hurt. LOL.

CC

Dana Fredsti said...

Hi, Sia and Christie!

Great advice re: how to handle social situations by introducing yourself to people who are standing all alone - I've been that person in the past and can't tell you how much I appreciated it when someone made the effort to connect. I like the 'pretend you're the hostess' trick too!

As for jabbering, I embarrassed myself so much when I was younger, I try not to stick my foot in my mouth these days. It took years to extract it...

Christie Craig said...

Dana,

I think we've all been that person at one time or another. Man...I can't imagine how hard it was to live for years with your toes rubbing on the roof of your mouth. LOL.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

CC

Dana Fredsti said...

I learned the value of clean feet. :-)

Christie Craig said...

Dana, LOL!!!

Did you floss between your toes?