Of Sibilant Words & Surprizes

Friday, April 22, 2011

Is your work-in-progress a sarcophagus in disguise? Or perhaps a sacristy,  providing shelter for  sacred cows you worship out of a sense of familiarity and the fear that if you change one thing then nothing else will remain sacrosanct?

Maybe you have performers in your cast of characters who are sappy, maybe even salacious, but you’re reluctant to execute a search warrant on these suckers and cast them into the sea of forgetfulness. If that amounts to sacrilege, how about starting a file for extra bit players and saving them for another book?

In writing, nothing is sacrosanct; changes happen all the time and most often they improve our stories. It’s a savvy writer who knows when he/she has to sacrifice a favourite; maybe it’s that sarcastic girl, or the saturnine old man or perhaps the satyr, who chases everything in skirt. Fact is, invasive surgery may be the only saving grace for a manuscript that’s  not going to survive as is.

Our babies have to be a salable, super-duper piece of work before we send it on its way. Knowingly keeping superfluous characters and plot lines is an act of sadism directed at yourself. Why be short-sighted and risk dejection and perhaps humiliation when the rejections inevitably flood your inbox?

Your subconscious niggles at you. You know on some level that you need a shoehorn to pry the useless parts away from your WiP -  your critique partners tell you so, other reviews on your writing network say so, but you get snippy and shrewish and decide against changing anything.

Worst mistake you can make. 

Sticking to your guns when you know you’re wrong  is almost as bad as using the withdrawal method as a means of safe sex or using a cannon ball in a shot put contest. 

Are you one of the smart writers who knows how to take sensible advice or do you sabotage yourself and stymie your novel with your stubbornness? 

S is also for surprises. I have a book to be released soon.  (See cover for Dissolution in the sidebar) I’m going to have a contest for which my publisher has graciously agreed to give me two copies of the new book and one copy of the current book (Contraband) as prizes. So stay tuned for that.

On my other blog, The Readers’ Suite, I have an anniversary coming up on May 11. I’ll be giving away books that I’ve read once, so keep your eyes peeled for additional information. 

To those who observe Good Friday, have a holy and contemplative day. 

Stewed Peas
Today we’re gonna talk about Stewed Peas. In keeping with our habit of dropping the ‘ed’ on our words, Jamaicans call it Stew Peas. It’s a rich stew, filled with kidney beans, beef, pigs’ tail, corned pork. Some people even add chicken feet. I’m a purist, so my response to that is Yuck!
Stewed Peas
The peas and meat are boiled together with coconut milk (optional). This can be done in a pressure cooker. 

When the ingredients are cooked, the pot is ‘seasoned’ with scallion, green scotch bonnet pepper, thyme, pimento, salt, and any other seasoning of the cook’s choice. Little dumplings, called ‘spinners’ also go into this wonderful stew. My mother used to cook this every Thursday when I was a child.  This meat dish is served with fluffy white rice and is best eaten hot. Cold stew can be unappetizing. Red Peas Soup is similar in makeup, except that ground provisions also go into the mixture. 


  1. That can be one of the hardest parts about getting critiques. Before anyone joins a writing group, they better make sure they know how to take constructive criticism. You can't be too attached to your story or you won't be able to improve it. Great post!

  2. PS) Congrats on your novels!!! I added you to my "glad tidings around the blogosphere" on my sidebar. :)

  3. Laura true. I find myself hanging on to stuff until someone knocks some sense into me by pointing out facts I cannot ignore. :)

  4. Cool! Thanks, Laura. Appreciate it.

  5. Wow. Congrats on working all those "s" words into your post. Impressive!! And congrats on the upcoming release of your book - look forward to hearing more.

    Happy Easter to you too.

  6. Thanks, Liz. I was too lazy too anything else today. :)

  7. Love, love, love your new look!!!

    I hope I'm a sensible and smart writer. Sometimes I fear I might be stubborn and senseless :(

  8. Thanks, Carol, I love the blue too. I guess we all have a little stubbornness in us.

  9. JL Campbell I am ever so glad I threw mu tantrum about the editing advise. Otherwise I might never have met you. You're wonderful.

  10. Hi, Wendy,

    Glad to have you here and I'm happy to help in any way I can.

  11. So I shouldn't be using the withdrawl method? I hope that I don't display a stubborn attitude when it comes to my writing.

  12. Love all your "S's"! On the way to the airport last night we were playing a game - one of the questions was how many songs could we name beginning with "S" - it wasn't too easy!

  13. Clarissa,

    Depends on what you're using for. :D

    Cass, thanks for dropping by. Sounded like you had a challenging game then.


Don't be shy, I'd love to hear what you think.