Saturday, April 10, 2010

Welcome Celia Yeary

Just When You Think You’re Safe….

My writing career, if I may call it that, began in 2004 on an impulse brought about by severe boredom. Soon, I had a novel-length story written. Smugly, I said, “It’s a wrap!” Well, no, it wasn’t at all. I knew nothing about the intricacies of writing fiction. The knowledge I had would fit into a thimble, and even that, I based it on my scientific research papers.

The first big shock was something called Point of View. Since I’d only been a reader of fiction, rather than a writer, POV puzzled me. I talked with two would-be-authors and asked about this term. Each of them explained…and explained…and showed…and finally told me one day it would just click, like a light bulb turned on. Actually, this happened, but alas, I dealt with only two POVs—the hero’s and the heroine’s in third person.

Since I’ve always been a self-learner, I began to rely on Writing Books for enlightenment. One neat little book was totally devoted to “mastering point of view.” Just what I needed. Do you know how many Points of View exist? At least six: Unlimited POV, First-Person POV, Inner Limited POV, Second-person POV, Outer Limited POV, and Combo POV. Then the writer may combine any of the six with “Multiple POVs and Challenging Perspectives.”

How did I deal with this conundrum? I pretended only two categories existed. Since I wrote romance, I felt fairly confident. So far, not one editor has asked me why I mixed Inner Limited POV with Unlimited POV.

My second learning experience was Passive Writing. Although I didn’t know the term, I did learn that all of us had probably studied it in high school, and knew it as Active vs. Passive Voice. Well, I took care of that right away by going to the Spell Check Options in Word, opening Check Grammar, and making certain every little box contained a little blue check, especially the one titled “Passive Writing.” From my first editor, I discovered the Find button, typed in the little word “was,” indicating a passive sentence. In my first editing experience with this real editor, she located 972 times I’d used “was.” Well, that’s a close approximation. Why did the publisher ever take such a messy manuscript?

The third, and last, learning episode for now is “formatting.” A new phenomenon is sweeping through the e-presses community. Earlier, the guidelines stated only a few requirements: a particular font, double-spaced, one-inch margins, and page numbers. Now that I’m working with two publishers, and maybe before long a third, I’m wondering why e-presses can’t standardize their formatting requirements? Each one has a long, detailed list of tasks the author must accomplish. (I do appreciate the publisher stating “do the best you can—we don’t expect you to be an electronic genius.) I admit I spent two entire days trying to change my “curly quotes” to “straight quotes.” When I learned how, I shoved my desk chair back, stood, punched my fists into the air, and yelled, “Yeee-haw!” My husband came running to make certain I had not lost my mind.

Thank you, Prairie Chicks, for inviting me to be a guest blogger. I love to do this! And thank you, visitors, for stopping by. If you will leave your e-mail address in your comment, you might win a pdf of my latest release from The Wild Rose Press, Texas Blue—a Western Historical novel based in 1880 Texas. If you’d rather, you may have a pdf of my first release, All My Hopes and Dreams, also a western Historical novel based in 1880 Texas. (Be sure to write your e-mail with spaces and AT and Dot.)

You may visit me at:


Rebecca J Vickery said...

Hi Celia,
Sometimes I think POV came straight out of my darkest nightmares. I still don't quite grasp the subtle intricacies and just try to write an understandable, non-confusing story without jumping from one character view to another without rhyme or reason. Glad to hear I'm not alone. Love the blogging.

Janet said...

Welcome to The Prairies, Celia! We're so glad you're here - and a great post, too. Yes, as unpublished, shiny-bright new writers, we all go through the learning curve. Mine was, like yours, about POV. What do you mean I can't have everyone and the dog tell us what they're thinking? I learned the hard way - critiques and lot's of rewrites.

But that's the great thing about this 'career' - you're always learning, always getting better.

Looking forward to the discussion today - wonder what other writers had to overcome after their first kick at the can?

Linda Swift said...

Good morning, Celia, I loved the blog today. And I certainly agree with every word you said. And I, too, have lamented the formatting rules being different in every publisher's guidelines. I am very sympathetic for the editors who have to read those single-spaced manuscripts. I have read both your books and they are wonderful stories which I highly rcommend to anyone who hasn't yet bought them. Good luck with these and your future books. Linda

StephB said...

You've tackled the 3 things that all new writers have to master. POV, passive voice, and formatting, POV and passive voice being the big ones. And what I don't get is that I still see big name authors head hopping, switching POVs in the middle of a scene. Grrr...

I agree, there's a bit of a learning curve, but once mastered, it will mature you as a writer.

For me, learning how to "Self-Edit" not just POV and passive voice, but going deeper, looking at plot and characters that was a challenge. I have several books on how to self edit.

Very inspirational for newer writers, Celia.


Maggie Toussaint said...

Hey Celia,
In general I'm not a fan of everything being the same, but the different formatting requirements for different publishers are enough to drive me over the edge. Somehow it all works and most of us don't come completely unhinged. Though maybe we have and we just don't know it.

Good points about POV and passive writing. On the straight quotes/curly quotes thing, I found a short cut. If you save your word doc as a rtf file, then use Find and replace, putting first a single quote in the find and another single quote in the replace, then hit replace all - that will do it easily. Then repeat the exercise for double quotes. Then if you need to change from straight quotes to double quotes, do the exercise in reverse, changing your file type to a doc file, and using find and replace.

Happy Saturday!

Celia Yeary said...

Rebecca--I don't know why that's such a difficult concept, but believe me, I had a hard time understadning it. I have it now, although I still slip up. Gentle editors are a blessing!!Celia

Celia Yeary said...

Thank you, Janet! My learning curve was about as steep as you can go. But I'm a self-learner--maybe all writers are--and like a dog with a bone, I won't let go until I understand. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

Linda--Yes, we more "mature" authors can understand the difficulty of reading all those single-spaced ms, can't we? Just when I thought I had everything figured out, then I started seeing all these different formatting guidelines. But hey--now I think I'm an expert!Thank you, thank you, for the kind, generous words about my books.Celia

Celia Yeary said...

STEPH--We become proficient in a hurry, don't we? Writers must learn and learn and conquer, or we get nowhere. I'm almost ready to place myself in that "experienced group." Thanks for the comment and the advice-- Celia

Celia Yeary said...

MAGGIE--where were you when I needed you??? I did break the curly vs. straight quote code, with the find and replace. One publisher provided the neatest, most efficient, and clear set of guidelines--with a check sheet--and buried in all those pages, I found that little bit of information. It was like magic. Now if I can only remember how to do it the next time. Thanks for stopping by--I know this is one of your busy days. Celia

Joanne Brothwell said...

Hi Celia,
POV is something that still baffles me, and so far my only strategy is to wing it. I'm pretty sure this will be self-sabotage in the end, won't it? *sighs*

Thanks for hanging with the prairie chicks!

joannebrothwell AT sasktel dot net

Melinda Elmore said...

Hi Celia,

I have struggled with these issues too. I am so glad you went over this but I would love to learn more about it

Can you suggest any sites or books I could get to use

If so please email me,

Thanks Celia for such a wonderful post

Walk in harmony,

Sharon Donovan said...

Celia, pov was the hardest thing for me to grasp until one day, it magically fell into place. When authors first start writing, we want the world to know what every character is thinking and doing. This is easy for the writer, but very confusing to the reader to keep jumping in and out of heads! While I used to be one of them and thought it quite enlightening, I have done a complete 180.

Celia Yeary said...

JOANNE--Fortunately, with my first novel, All My Hopes and Dreams, I had a "dream editor." She was the kindest, most easy-going woman I've ever encountered as an editor. She never once scolded me--as I've had a couple to do--and my POV was not good. I had learned quite a lot be the time I submitted this, and had POV down to some degree, but she found numerous instances--in some cases I had to rewrite the entire section. But she held my hand through it all, and now, I think I have it down pretty well. And...I love hanging our with the Prairie Chicks! Celia

Celia Yeary said...

MELINDA--if I had something specific, I'd make a list for you. but I've learned in bits and pieces, something from this book, something from that one. Thanks for stopping by--if you have any one particular question, e-mail me. Celia celiayeary A Yahoo Dot Com

Celia Yeary said...

SHARON--same here. But when you were only a reader, before you wrote fiction,did you notice anything odd about no POV? The older romance books, as well as others, seem to use the Omniscient view--frowned on today. I didn't begin to see it until I began to write. Now, I often want to edit some book I'm reading. Thanks for your comments--

Sharon Donovan said...

So true, Celia. There are so many times I want to edit a book which is one of the reasons I got into writing. I began thinking, "I can do this better than some of the published works out there on the shelves!"

Redameter said...

FunnY I never had a POV problme until I wrote a western with a crowd of people in a saloon and trying to figure out who's POV I should use.
I have found using the villian's POV sometimes makes it more scary, getting to know him can really bring the story to life.

Very intersting blog. I enjoyed it.

Mary Ricksen said...

I still struggle at times. So for me, it's always a learning experience. Just when I think I got it, I find something I didn't know!

Stephanie said...

Hi Celia,
I know not to use "was", but did not realize the reason why. Thank you for explaining.

Silver James said...

Hi, Celia. As anyone who's followed my writing journey knows, I am the self-proclaimed Queen of Multi-POV. I know it's wrong. I know I will have to edit hard, but I can't help myself. I HAVE to know what every character in a scene sees, thinks, feels, and does. How else will I know who's the important one? I've tried limiting myself to one POV when I'm writing the first draft but I often discover the scene lacks...tension. Not to mention Iffy, my Muse, runs off and sulks. The words dry up until I relent and go back to the "wrong" way of writing.

Thanks for dropping by the Prairie today with a most enlightening post!

Joyce Henderson said...


This is funneee! How many of us began like you did? Read a good romance and said, "Hey, I can write as well!" Debatable, eh?

I know way back in 1984, that's exactly how I started. POV, plotting, characterization, scene setting... Whazat?

My first books were published by a NYC house, requiring none to very few edits. I've always written 3rd person, multiple POVs. That's what I prefer to read. Not to say I don't read others. But hey, my world, my rules!

Then I sent a book to The Wild Rose Press and that editor prefer only two POVs, those of the h/h. Ack! I had twelve. We compromised to six.

Writing for publication is a craps-shoot at best, and agonies of the damned at worst. I had several careers prior to writing Romance, and I'm so glad I found writing.

Born in Texas, raised in Southern California, I, too, write historical, Celia, in Texas and So. California. Best of luck as you move on in your career. I love what I do, and I bet you do too!

Celia Yeary said...

RITA--I can see in a saloon there might be many POVs! And oh, yes, I love a good villian with his/her own POV. In All My Hopes and Dreams the villian is the MIL, and she really moves the story--without her, the story fell apart. She caused all the havoc and mayhem. I had to petition the head ed to keep her in the story. And who did most readers comment about? Old Felicitas, the MIL, the witch. But, I had to redeem her in the end. She became a grandmother and I had to sweeten her up. Thanks for stoppiing by--Celia

Celia Yeary said...

MARY--it is a daily struggle, isn't it? Like you, I think, okay, not I have it! But there's always somethyng, and of course, that's how we learn and improve. Thanks for you comment! Celia

Celia Yeary said...

STEPHANIE--Uh-huh, it took a a while, too. What was frustrating, though, was when I realized we'd learned Active vs. Passive voice way back in high school. And I mean waaaay back. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

SILVER--perhaps that's the mark of a good writer--one who wants every character to have his due. In fact, that's a good way to really get the plot going, maybe, listening to each character instead of seeing him through the H or H's POV. But I can see that would be trouble down the road, though, when you had to fix it all. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

JOYCE--amen to all that! I'm glad, too, I found writing after early retirement. I'm not good at knitting socks, crafts, painting, etc. This is perfect for me.
And you're a Texas girl! I'm glad you stopped by--thanks. Celia

liana laverentz said...

I'm probably what you'd call the POV police. It's so ingrained in me now that I notice violations everywhere I go. There are probably some in my own books, but not for lack of hunting them out :) Sometimes you just read what you think you wrote, instead of what's there.

I'm rambling. Time to go...

Liana Laverentz

connie said...

Hi Celia

A friend pointed out I had no POVs to speak of and I (in much humbleness), had to ask what POV meant.

Now I have so many POVs, self- editing will take an ax. Tweak? Ha!

I am so grateful to all you pros who say they also have the same POV as I have! When one of us says something, from their POV, all us listeners use our POV automatically, so why should characters get away with remaining silent?

Anyway, I appreciate your blog and knowing I am following your trail -all the way to the publishing bit I hope - although I know for certain I don't want to know what "curly quotes" are.

Congratulations on your publications and thanks for setting my mind at ease.

And that's my POV!


constancesampson at hotmail dot com

Celia Yeary said...

LIANA--thanks for your "ramblings."I'm getting better about it, and have even tried to explain it to another writer, thinking I knew what I was talking about! Always the teacher. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

CONNIE--I love our POV! And thanks, but I'm not exactly a pro. I do have published novels, but I still consider myself a babe in the woods. Next time I blog, I'm talking aobut rejection. Now that's something all of us need help with, too! Or maybe it's just me. And good luck with your quest in the publishing world. Celia

Casey said...

Hi Celia,

Great post, as always. I didn't have a clue about POV when I started writing, either. And when I teach my classes, most of the newbies don't have any idea what I'm talking about. It's hard to wrap your mind around it, since many of the books we've all read in the past were so "okay" with multiple POVs. I kept one that was like that just so I can go back and read it for a "refresher" before I teach POV. LOL I always enjoy your posts so much.

Cheryl P. (Yes, it really is me, I see now that my son has used my computer and this will show his name instead of mine.) LOL

Linda LaRoque said...

Hi Celia, I'm with you and most everyone else. I'd never heard of pov until I started writing. My biggest thing though was learning a little description goes a long way. My first book read like a travel log. You know how I love the Texas landscape. I tried to share big passages of it with readers. Oops!

Celia Yeary said...

CHERYL--I thought "Casey" sounded familiar. Thanks for visiting.I've often wondered why twenty years ago POV meant nothing, and writers could do as they please. Now? POV is such a major issue. I cannot figure it out. Love ya--Celia

Celia Yeary said...

Linda--I understand the "travelogue" comment--I have been so guilty. I wouldn't give it up until I read a WIP a few years ago from a local person. I told her, your first three pages sound like a brochure from the Chamber of Commerce about your town. Her reply? "Oh, it was, basically. I wanted to give the readers a real feel of the area." And so, I learned a lesson. Thanks for coming by--Celia

Celia Yeary said...

Dear Prairie Chicks--I am so grateful and truly blessed to be on your blog today. I had a wonderful time, and I wish, oh how I wish, my blog could be a fraction as successful as yours. And!!!! to be followed by Julie Garwood is outstanding. I will certainly tune in and learn from one of the "big girls." Yeah!! I will draw for a winner today and send her a pdf of Texas Blue. Thank you again--Celia--"Romance, and a little bit 'o Texas."

Laurean Brooks said...

Sorry I'm late, Cela. There are HOW MANY POVs???!!! And I thought I finally had POV conquered.

Funny how you now notice POV changes in every book you read, now that you know.

I just finished a book by a well-known author. I swear she switched POV for everyone in the room. So, if it's so important, why can some get away with it? LOL

I had a lot to learn about both passive and POVs.

I enjoyed this, Celia. Thank you for sharing your writing journey.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Celia, I've been blessed in that I've never had a problem with POV. It's something that came easily to me.

Now passive writing... och!

If it weren't for those squiggly green lines and my crit partners, my writing would be riddled with passive writing.

Thanks for the excellent post.


Janet said...

Wow - I stepped away from the computer for a bit today and I see I missed a rousing discussion. POV must be a big ticket item for writers!

Thanks so much for being here, Celia, and sharing with us this great article that got us all thinking and talking. If you could drop me a line at the Chicks' e-mail with the name of the winner (or post in this comment section), I'll create a Winner's Post for tomorrow for everyone to see.

Again, thanks and best of luck with your publishing career :)

Diane Craver said...

Great post, Celia. I agree about the formatting - I wish all the publishers used the same guidelines. I had the same problem with POV and passive writing when I started writing.

Annette said...

Interesting that I also suffered from some of those same learning curves!

Celia Yeary said...

LAUREAN--I'm glad you made it! Just remember what one editor said about mixing POVs like the big ones might do. "She can do it, but you can't." In other words, until we hit the big time, we're bound by stricker rules. Isn't that always the way it is? Thanks for you comment--Celia

Celia Yeary said...

ANITA--yes, thank goodness for those little green squiggley lines. How did earlier writers get along without them? thanks for stopping by--Celia

Celia Yeary said...

DIANE--thank you for visiting! Yeah, those guidelines are time-consuming, but once we get the hang of it all, it's not bad at all. Talk later--Celia

Celia Yeary said...

Greetings from Central Texas--Thank you, one and all for visiting with me here on Prairie Chicks. I loved your comments and the fact that we all share these dreaded writer's roadblocks. It's nice to know we're all in it together, and I appreciate the support so much.
The winner today is CONNIE!! I'll contact you, Connie, to ask which of my three books you'd rather have--Congratulations! Celia

Danielle Thorne said...

Figuring out how to format those darn manuscripts is ALWAYS a yee-haw moment. You are so lovely and so humble, Celia! Congrats!