This month’s Work-In-Progress Wednesday guest is Danica St. Como.
Today is National Grammar Day. What are your top 3 grammatical pet peeves?
DSC: While I don’t profess to be a grammar maven, my own bugbears include:
Homophones: I get a little nuts when I read a passage in which words are used incorrectly—even “big name” authors who one would assume have topnotch editors. Words such as rein, rain, reign. Your and you’re (you are). They seem like simple issues, but the wrong word can definitely take the reader out of the moment.
Word combinations such as had had and have to. “She’d [she had] had to make the trip.” Why not simply, “She had to make the trip.”? Have to… What does “I have to go shopping” really mean? “I must go, I need to go, I should go, I want to go…” To have something means possession, in a sense: “I have a dollar.”
The ubiquitous “and.” In truth, my sentences tend to run on—it’s something I need to rein in. However, some authors seem to believe that if they add an “and” every so often, that seventeen-line sentence will be just fine. I’m not referring to doing it on purpose, for effect, but to adding the little “and” bugger everywhere.
MJ: MARCH is also National Literacy Month. Do you take literacy levels into account when you write?
DSC: Not necessarily literacy levels, as such. However, if my beta readers have an issue with a passage, I take a second look to see if my wording might be out of place/time for my targeted audience—my responses (silly TV commercials from times gone by, movie quotes from less-than-blockbuster movies, etc.) may not be understood by a younger crowd. Phrases from childhood that are really made-up words with no association to the rest of humanity (or readers), may cause a reader to think, “huh?”
MJ: If you didn’t write, what would be your creative outlet?
DSC: I was a freelance ceramist, years ago. I would be tempted to work with clay and paint again.
MJ: Other than writing, what would be your dream job? Why?
DSC: Traveling, and being paid for it. I love to drive.
MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space.
DSC: If it weren’t for the books and boxes and stacks of paper crowding me, I actually have the most wonderful, open, airy office, with four large windows. My daughter’s suggestion for “rearranging” my office requires the use of a snow shovel, an open window, and a Dumpster on the other side that open window. What do you think she’s trying to say?
MJ: What do you love most about your WIP hero?
DSC: He’s a realist, but also hopeful that he can have a future with the woman he loves. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to convince her.
MJ: What do you least like about your WIP heroine?
DSC: She can be somewhat snarky on occasion.
MJ: What genre is your current WIP?
DSC: Contemporary erotic romance/suspense.
MJ: How did you come up with your hero and heroine’s names?
DSC: When I develop a character, first I decide on a “look,” and an ethnic ancestry. Then I begin to research names until I find one that calls to me. I look up the meaning of that name, decide whether it suits the character. I’d decided early in the story’s development that my heroine was Irish, Abigail O’Connell, my hero Italian, Niccolo “Nico” Ferrari. The Irish gal, Abigail O’Connell, was introduced in earlier books. She was a pivotal character in Above the Law, but needed her own story.
MJ: How did you choose the setting for your current WIP?
DSC: Saving Nico is the sixth book of the Men of Sanctuary series. All the stories revolve around a training camp, Sanctuary, located in western Maine, run by two retired Marines and their woman, a federal agent. Maine can be unbelievably beautiful, but also rugged and dangerous. I thought it was a suitable setting for a training camp that caters to military and civilian clients.
MJ: Can you tell us about your current work in progress?
DSC: Here’s the blurb for Saving Nico [Men of Sanctuary 6: Saving Nico]
Game Warden Abigail O’Connell moved from upstate New York to Maine after the death of her fiancé, Marine spotter Pietro Galletti. While babysitting at the Sanctuary lodge for her friends, Marine scout sniper Nico Ferrari arrives under secretive circumstances. Hot lust blooms, throwing the pair together—but Nico can’t, won’t, admit to Abby that her fiancé was his spotter, and he watched him die in Iraq. He also won’t admit that he fell in love with Abigail through Pietro’s letters and photos, and never expected to find her in western omigod Maine. When the truth does come out, Abby is devastated for more than one reason.
MJ: And what is the title of your current release, and where can readers purchase it?
MJ: And how can readers keep up with your busy publishing schedule?
MJ: Thanks again for joining me, and best of luck with your books!