Friday, August 15, 2008


The last week has included extensive road miles. Last Monday, August 12, I launched out from Lubbock and headed toward Austin, a good six hours away, so that I could attend a three-day, business-related seminar. You might ask why I didn't fly. After all, the company is paying for it, right? By the time I added up the alternative travel costs--the flight, renting a car (if I'm staying three days, I am not riding around in a taxi), and gas for said rental car--I would have spent well over twice as much, even considering the extra cost for my time. Besides, I like driving and six hours wasn't too bad.

Before I left town, I stopped by the library to pick up a couple audio books, which is interesting for someone like me. If any of you were with me during my days on the Writer's Digest Forum, you may remember my little rant about people who listen to an audio book and then say they "read" so-and-so's novel. I didn't come by this attitude all on my own. It is something I picked up after reading Stephen King's On Writing. So, to be consistent with Mr. King, I only selected unabridged audio books, and I have not included those books on my blog.

In the process, I noted an interesting observation about listening to unabridged audio books: taglines, while usually overlooked in a reading session, become annoying during an audio experience when overused. Here's my example. One of the books I selected was High Profile by Robert B. Parker. One of the things I like about Parker's writing is that he keeps it simple. The sentences are short and laser sharp. In his dialogue, he leaves little room for confusion on the part of his reader by supplying an abundance of taglines. While reading his books in the past, the taglines whizzed by like the yellow lines on a highway--there but blended in with the rest of the landscape. Listening to this novel through the stereo speakers, the liberal application of taglines hit my ears like a barrage of military fire. By the time I finished, I was practically shell-shocked. I'm not dogging Mr. Parker's writing. His Jesse Stone novels are pure enjoyment. The character of Jesse Stone is well done--hard, smart and realistically flawed. Based on my experience, though, I recommend reading them instead of listening to them.

So then, the main thing I took away from that experience was to be aware of my own personal use of taglines. Should I ever get published, and subsequently have the novel recorded into an audio book, I don't want listeners to go through the same experience.

While I was in Austin, I received good news. The editor of Flash Fiction Online, after reviewing my story "Beyond The Pale", extended an offer for publication. Once the story is published, and I have more information, I will post a link so that you can see it. So keep your eyes glued to the sidebar of my blog.

Today, I'm back up in Hereford, which means more road miles away from home and more time to listen. For this trip, however, I enjoyed listening to the latest from Third Day, one of my favorite CCM rock bands. Somehow, listening to the distortion of guitars, the thump and bang of drums, and the raspy vocals of Mac Powell, all bring a sweet comfort to my weary soul.


  1. Interesting post... funny about the taglines. I am currently doing the 'do we like each other enough to work with each other' tango with a small press editor. She asked for revisions on the sample she saw, specifically asking for a conversion from present to past tense and inclusion of more dialogue tags. One of the ways I edit is to read my story aloud; hence, the relative sparseness of tags. Because they do get in the way, like those super tall speedbumps, of reading out loud.

    I'd been resisting the tags (this revision was tougher for me then the tense conversion), but they DO help when reading the word.

    Congrats on the acceptance. Excellent, excellent news. Peace, Linda

  2. Love Third Day, Stephen. Another thing we have in common.

    Your thoughts on the taglines really resonate with me. While in Rhinelander, I wrote a flash that's almost entirely dialogue. I read it out loud in class and realized I'd hardly used any taglines at all. Nor did I need them. The class understood who was speaking.

    When I got home, I stripped out even more of them and sent it off to Flash Fiction Online. Let's hope I have as good of luck as you had there.

  3. The drive to Austin is one of my favorites -- especially when I am able to make the drive alone like I did this past weekend.

    Just me, my daydreams, my music, and the open road.


    Maybe part of the joy of the drive is knowing that my beloved Austin is awaiting me at the end of my journey.

    Keep Tammy weird.