My husband read a recipe aloud because he found the above words in the ingredients list. It made us laugh. We assumed it should say “crushed Cajun nuts”—so crushed spicy nuts. But if it hadn’t been a recipe, would it really be funny? Recently I’ve become aware by several Facebook groups how some of the terms we use jokingly can be offensive to others. They include “nuts,” “crazy,” “psycho,” etc.
Robert Spencer said, “’Crazy’ has been a word to portray those who suffer with mental illness as dangerous, weak, unpredictable, unproductive and incapable of rational behavior or relationships.” In his article, “Don’t Call Me Crazy,” he talked about how the definition should be changed. Read more here. And this article, “6 Reasons ‘Crazy’ Is Never A Thing You Should Call Someone – Regardless of Their Behavior” goes into more details why the word shouldn’t be used so casually.
Unfortunately, I found 12 instances of the word “crazy” in my novel published in 2016. Only one didn’t refer to what people were feeling, saying, thinking, or doing. Wow!
Language is always changing, and it is easy to resist change. But I think as writers we have a responsibility to consider making changes in what we write even when it is fiction. Even when it’s dialogue or thoughts of our characters.
Obviously, I doubt any writer is going to know all terms that are offensive to others, but if we don’t have open discussions, we won’t learn them. If you’d like to discuss this or other terms, feel free to do so in comments and I’ll reply.
Comparison can be great when looking to purchase a product, but how does it affect the creative life?
I read this on an independent comic creator’s blog: “Comparison can kill your spirit. The success of others does not equal your failure. When you’re making art that makes you happy, only you can declare your success or failure.” It’s the conclusion Michael Terracciano has reached, and oh, do I love that middle sentence.
Why is it so easy to compare? I wish I knew. We do it all the time in so many areas of our life—especially those where we’re unhappy or not completely satisfied.
But how does comparison help us? There’s always someone “better” or “worse,” so we may feel either depressed or good about ourselves. Neither position changes our work or our worth. Wait. Depression can change our work by us giving up and that’s not good for our sense of self-worth. Christy O'Shoney said, “Comparison is a terrible measuring stick.”
Fanny Flagg said, “Being a successful person is not necessarily defined by what you have achieved, but by what you have overcome.” Or the progress you’ve made.
Comparison of our previous work with our current work may be encouraging. I know I’ve looked back at older writing and thought, wow, I’ve learned a lot since then. Or, that needs editing, when before I thought it was “perfect.” As long as we don’t harp on “failures” of our past, but use them as touchstones to see how we are progressing, self-comparison can be helpful. David Schlosser agreed, “The only writer to whom you should compare yourself is the writer you were yesterday.”
William Blake said, “I will not reason and compare; my business is to create.” Maya Angelou said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” I see this so much in my writing life—the more I write, the more I want to write. And the more I compare, the less I want to write, so yes, I’d say comparison is the enemy of creation.
If you’re not familiar with the Manuscript Wish List website or the Twitter hashtag #MSWL, and you are submitting manuscripts to editors or looking for agents, now might be the time to check into one or both of these.
First, some basics:
The website http://manuscriptwishlist.com is a searchable site to discover what agents and editors are looking for. It also tells you a bit about the person, and provides submission information, or a link to submission information. New agents and editors are featured.
The hashtag on Twitter is a chance for editors and agents to tweet specifically what they are looking for. You may favorite or retweet these, but DO NOT use the hashtag yourself to pitch. The next #MSWL Day Is Wednesday, September 12th. On that day you can search for the hashtag #MSWL and watch what these professionals are posting. It doesn’t mean they aren’t posted on other days—this will just be a special focus day. Oh, and because posting with this hashtag is so easy, it may be more up-to-date than the site.
The easiest way to explain both of these is to show not tell. J
The website. I used their search box and entered “inspirational romance.” Eight names popped up. Let’s look at a few. First up is an agent, followed by an editor.
Elizabeth Poteet, The Seymour Agency. Her submission guidelines say: “We are looking for all sub-genres of romance, 25k-100k words. All books should end in a happily ever after or a happily for now (if the characters are continuing in a series.) For heat level and other helpful information please see the individual category guidelines at smpswerve.com.” There’s also a section on recent acquisitions.
Shana Asaro, Harlequin/Love Inspired. She says, “I am actively seeking category-length inspirational (Christian) romance for Harlequin's Love Inspired (contemporary romance) and Love Inspired Suspense (romantic suspense) series lines.” There are lists of what she’d like to see in submissions and what she’d not like to see. She also has some recent books acquired and edited by her, plus fun facts, and, of course, submission guidelines.
Just as information shared varies on these two pages, no two entries will be exactly alike. Pages usually include a picture. If you know a professional’s name, you can use the search box to see if she participates. Of course, do research on anyone you are interested in submitting to.
The hashtag. A recent search of the #MSWL gave me several interesting posts. First, from a few agents:
Lynnette Novak @Lynnette_Novak Sep 4
I’d love to see more adult fantasy and cozy mysteries in my box. Send ‘em over! Paste query and 1st 5 pages in body of email. Querylynnette (at) theseymouragency (dot) com. #MSWL
Naomi Davis @NaomisLitPix Aug 28
#MSWL - REALLY looking for diverse adult fantasy! Show me worlds inspired by cultures I have not yet explored through fantasy, show me main characters w/ unorthodox fantasy roles who may usually be considered "side" roles, show me older protags & established relationships!
And here’s one from a publisher:
Bienvenue Press @BienvenuePress 19 hours ago
Bienvenue Press is currently looking for #submissions for its Hometown Heroes Christmas anthology. Click the link for details. #amquerying #amwriting #books #MSWL https://bit.ly/2JbbIm1
You can see by these three examples that the specificity varies. Always do research on any editor, agent, or publisher. People have scammed #MSWL.
If you have other questions, feel free to ask them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.
SM Ford writes inspirational fiction for adults, although teens may find the stories of interest, too. She also loves assisting other writers on their journeys.