To Schmoop or not to schmoop, that is the question and Gangster Slang, Damon Suede style

November 18, 2013

Welcome back to the Tarnished Souls Blog Tour, and a post about gangster slang.

These dates, plus a few additional, make up the tour

Giveaway: Two winners per blog stop.

One random commenter will win an ebook copy of Tarnished Gold or For Men Like Us. Another commenter will win a swag pack, with signed bookmarks, and a couple other goodies. Winners chosen on November 27.

Gangster Slang and romance, Damon Suede style

Writing any piece of fiction requires myriad decisions, many made before a single word is set to the figurative paper. Each piece you write must have a consistent tone, as well fully realized characters and plot. A period piece or historical, two different things, requires and author to set each scene, to place readers in the period you want them in, so there is no question in their minds that these characters live in, in the case of Tarnished Souls, 1934, and that they are really gangsters. Without a careful setup, believable characters, a world built to accommodate the story, all you have is a costume drama. You have to bring in a flavor of the times—the clothing, hairstyles, places, music, and even language. When you toss in a couple of gangsters, you add a layer of language that I found extremely interesting. To create the proper tone, I tapped a very clever friend of mine.

Damon Suede and I often beta read for each other, and bat ideas around. He’s a font of knowledge about many different eras, genres, and has a particular interest in the entertainment industry. He once wrote a play about gangsters, so he was the one person I wanted to talk to about this book.

Tarnished Souls would be a different book had Damon Suede not beta read for me.  While he saw the characters as raw, he also saw them as too refined. He encouraged me to create them with more authenticity, while forgoing the traditional idea of a romance novel.

I struggled with that, because I wanted this story to be about a romance between Frankie and Gent. They’d had a relationship before the story begins, and this story felt like it should be about continuing that. Damon saw it much differently, and I came to understand that the story required something different.

The first thing I had to do was to let go of the traditional romance, where guys speak to each other with terms of endearment. These guys are from the tough New York streets, and despite the number of years since that primitive introduction to life they received in Hell’s Kitchen, no amount of life takes that out of a guy. They are fundamentally scrapers, roughhewn, more likely to take what they want rather than to ask nicely.

I dedicated the book to Damon. He is on every page. His marvelous insight helped me create the characters this story demanded. He asked me some hard questions and the answers resulted in the  stripping away of the schoopiness, particularly in a scene between Mac and Gray, the subjects of the next Tarnished Souls book. That set Mac and Gray up, and gave the interaction between Frankie and Gent depth and a quality I’m not sure I would have tapped without Damon’s help. Then I tackled the year’s old feelings between these two men.

Damon read the first draft of Tarnished Souls: Frankie and Gent, then called me with what was the first of many calls to do with the project. Don’t ask for Damon’s help unless you want his honesty. He’s all about the story and how best to achieve the goals you set for yourself.

He pointed out that I had entered Romancelandia, (no one says that word quite like Damon,) and in doing so, I had misrepresented the characters.

“They are mobsters, they wouldn’t talk like that,” Damon said. “These are he-men, no schmoopy talk.” (If you know of or read Damon’s work, you know he has a language all his own. LOL)

We discussed, for the better part of three hours that one time, the importance of authenticity in their language and expression of feelings. Mobsters feel, yes, they care. But they don’t fall into the “I love you forever” realm. Open expression, in any situation, could get them killed. Gangsters don’t have a place at the romance table, as we know it. They unashamedly demand their own table, full service required.

I’ve written fifteen plus romance novels, many Regencys. The language used in those is quite different from 1934 Los Angeles mobster-land. In Tarnished Gold, where I used 1920s slang to affect the mood of the times, but very little of that translated to Tarnished Souls.

In the first draft, I had Gent tell Frankie what a nice home he lived in. After Damon read it, the line became, “You live in kippy digs.”

Aside from the easily deciphered meanings of some slang, words like vig and snipe not so much. Vig is vigorish, as in “Those loans make you good vig.” Excessive interest on a loan. Snipe is a cigarette butt.

In Tarnished Souls, guys carry rods, and no, that doesn’t refer to their private parts. They knock off or ice people, and even bump them off. Women are sometimes broads or chippies, and people earn simoleons and greenbacks, dough and scratch. They sit around after a long day, and punch the bag or chinwag, when what we do is talk. They make their bones (commit their first kill) and when they’re tired, they’re joed out.

A friend of mine isn’t something cozy. He’s a connected guy, an associate of the mob. A friend of ours is a made man, fully invested in the mob. Two different things, both situations that can get them killed.

Frankie is sent for, which is what brings Gent to him in California. No mobster wants to hear those words. As Lefty explains in Donnie Brasco, “When you’re sent for, you go in alive, and you come out dead, and it’s usually your best friend who kills you.”

I bought several books on slang, and with them, combined with Damon’s enormous help, Frankie and Gent came alive, as did the historical period.

Many bits of slang from those days live on today. Beat it and you’re aces, have a looksee and dough.

I’ve included a slang glossary in the front of Tarnished Souls. Buy the book and take a peek. Think you’ll recognize porking or moxie?

As fully invested members of the Sebastiani crime Family, Frankie and Gent struggle with what I’ve come to see as an almost robotic loyalty to the mob, to the old ways, to the man who brought them to that way of life.

My next post will dig into that loyalty—where it comes from and why it’s so important. Check back here at 6 pm, for my final article – Mob Loyalty

Here’s the blurb for Tarnished Souls: Frankie and Gent:

Hollywood’s Golden Age is not all glitz and glamour. Mob boss Frankie Monetti controls the unions and the studios, which makes him and the syndicate very rich. But after five years, Frankie runs afoul of the law and those who put him in power.

Primo hit man, and Frankie’s lifelong friend, Arvin “Gent” Vitali, goes west with orders to clean up the mess and then bring Frankie back to New York to answer for his double cross. But as the noose closes tighter around Frankie’s neck, Gent questions where his loyalty truly lies. Is business just business or is freedom worth the risk?

Purchase Tarnished Souls: Frankie and Gent

Schedule for Tarnished Souls: Frankie and Gent Blog Tour

November 14 –The Rainbow Studio

November 18 – Dreamspinner Press Blog

November 18 –Brita Addams

November 19 –Sid Love

November 20 –Joyfully Jay

November 21 –You Gotta Read

November 25 –Jacob Flores

November 26 –The Novel Approach

December 3 - J.P. Barnaby

December 4 - Lynley Wayne

December 5 –Michael Ruptured

About Brita Addams:

Born in a small town in Upstate New York, Brita Addams has made her home in the sultry south for many years. In the Frog Capital of the World, Brita shares her home with her real-life hero—her husband, and a fat cat named Stormee. All their children are grown.

Given her love of history, Brita writes both het and gay historical romance. Many of her historicals, as well as few contemporaries, have appeared on category bestseller lists at various online retailers.

Tarnished Gold, the first in her Tarnished series for Dreamspinner, received honorable mention, and is a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, historical romance category.

Brita and her husband love to travel. They’ve taken no less than twenty-five cruises and countless long car trips, as well as completed a Civil War battlefield tour, and visits to many sites involved in the American Revolutionary War. Their 2013 anniversary tour of England, Scotland, and Wales gave Brita fodder for many new tales.

On a trip to Hollywood, California, Brita stood in the footprints of some of her favorite actors—Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, Tyrone Power, and many others, at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and has even kissed Mickey Rooney.

A bit of trivia—Brita pronounces her name, Bree-ta, and not Brit-a, like the famous water filter. Brita Addams is a mash-up of her real middle name and her husband’s middle name, with an additional d and s.

Readers can find Brita Addams at any of the following places:

Website

Blog

Twitter: @britaaddams

Facebook

Fan page

Goodreads

Pinterest

Booklikes

Monthly column at The Novel Approach

Here’s the blurb for Tarnished Souls: Frankie and Gent:

Hollywood’s Golden Age is not all glitz and glamour. Mob boss Frankie Monetti controls the unions and the studios, which makes him and the syndicate very rich. But after five years, Frankie runs afoul of the law and those who put him in power.

Primo hit man, and Frankie’s lifelong friend, Arvin “Gent” Vitali, goes west with orders to clean up the mess and then bring Frankie back to New York to answer for his double cross. But as the noose closes tighter around Frankie’s neck, Gent questions where his loyalty truly lies. Is business just business or is freedom worth the risk?

Purchase Tarnished Souls: Frankie and Gent


Schedule for Tarnished Souls: Frankie and Gent Blog Tour

November 14 –The Rainbow Studio

November 18 – Dreamspinner Press Blog

November 18 –Brita Addams

November 19 –Sid Love

November 20 –Joyfully Jay

November 21 –You Gotta Read

November 25 –Jacob Flores

November 26 –The Novel Approach

December 3 - J.P. Barnaby

December 4 - Lynley Wayne

December 5 –Michael Ruptured

About Brita Addams:

Born in a small town in Upstate New York, Brita Addams has made her home in the sultry south for many years. In the Frog Capital of the World, Brita shares her home with her real-life hero—her husband, and a fat cat named Stormee. All their children are grown.

Given her love of history, Brita writes both het and gay historical romance. Many of her historicals, as well as few contemporaries, have appeared on category bestseller lists at various online retailers.

Tarnished Gold, the first in her Tarnished series for Dreamspinner, received honorable mention, and is a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, historical romance category.

Brita and her husband love to travel. They’ve taken no less than twenty-five cruises and countless long car trips, as well as completed a Civil War battlefield tour, and visits to many sites involved in the American Revolutionary War. Their 2013 anniversary tour of England, Scotland, and Wales gave Brita fodder for many new tales.

On a trip to Hollywood, California, Brita stood in the footprints of some of her favorite actors—Clark Gable, Henry Fonda, Tyrone Power, and many others, at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and has even kissed Mickey Rooney.

A bit of trivia—Brita pronounces her name, Bree-ta, and not Brit-a, like the famous water filter. Brita Addams is a mash-up of her real middle name and her husband’s middle name, with an additional d and s.

Readers can find Brita Addams at any of the following places:

Website
Blog

Twitter: @britaaddams
Facebook

Fan page
Goodreads

Pinterest

Booklikes

Monthly column at The Novel Approach

10 Responses to “To Schmoop or not to schmoop, that is the question and Gangster Slang, Damon Suede style”

  1. Deborah H says:

    This book sounds really good! Going on my tbr book list for sure. (Tarnished souls) I loved the little snippet.

  2. Debra E says:

    Sounds like an interesting read. Using the “wrong” slang, especially in a period piece, can definitely distract me from a story. Good luck with the book!

  3. Trix says:

    I still say “moxie” all the time, because I’m apparently from another era…

  4. Brita Addams says:

    Deborah, Thanks for coming by. I hope you like the book. You can read an excerpt on my blog: http://britaaddamsblog.blogspot.com

    Debra E. Yeah, the slang took a lot of research, because you have slang, and then you have slang. Damon was invaluable with that. Thanks for the good wishes.

    Trix, moxie is an interesting word, isn’t it. I remember my Boston relatives saying it all the time.

    Thanks for coming by.

  5. Cia Nordwell says:

    I write a lot of sci-fi or paranormal fiction and trying to keep the correct colloquialism to the right species, and not letting my non-people be too ‘human’ without a reason is always a challenge. Period pieces, mixed cultures… they all have their own slang. Great article to show just how much thought some authors put into their stories to make the tiny details just right.

    Good luck with your release. I hope it does well!

  6. Brita Addams says:

    Hi Cia,

    I can’t imagine the task of non-human speech. I have to admire that effort!

    I believe to do something, you have to do it right, so I do put tons of research into my historical pieces. To do them justice you have to make every effort to know what they covered buttons with in 1815, or what a mobster called a cigarette in 1934.

    I so appreciate your good wishes. Thank you for coming by.

    Best.
    Brita

  7. Andrea M says:

    This has given me a lot of appreciation for what authors do. As a reader, I enjoy the finished work but from now on, I’ll definitely be thinking of everything that goes into a good book.

  8. Brita Addams says:

    Hi Andrea,

    I liken a good book to a childhood experience. I used to think, really think, that on Thursday, my clean clothes magically appeared in my closet and dresser. Every week, like clockwork. Only after my mother made me iron my father’s handkerchiefs,the pillowcases, and even shirts, did I realize how hard she worked.

    Indeed, books don’t happen in a vacuum. They do take a lot of work, and not only by the author, but the editing team, the cover artist, and all those other people who help make it happen.

    I hope you enjoy this one.

    Hugs,
    Brita

  9. Doris L says:

    My husband watches anything with a mobster theme but it just doesn’t hold my interest, but reading your posts makes me want to read your story. Great job!

  10. Brita Addams says:

    Hi Doris,

    I hope you do read the book and that you enjoy it. There’s something about a 1930s mobster I just love. :)

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