Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pluperfect, Shmluperfect...

Is it possible that correct grammar and word usage has changed over the years? I don't consider myself old exactly but am dumbfounded by this newfangled English that I see in my son's phonics book. Is it possible that there is a newer "modern grammar" from what I was taught &*&^ years ago?

For example, the word swim. I learned the tenses to be swim, swam, swam. I was told over and over again not to say swum. Under no circumstances was I to write "swum" on a school paper lest I invoke the wrath of Sister Angela in fourth grade. But swum is exactly what my kids are being taught to say under the guise of the pluperfect tense (which I do realize is a valid tense, just not in this case!)

Another is the word swing. I learned swing, swung, swung. They are learning, and it kills me to even write this...I'm cringing even now...SWANG. Yikes. It even looks wrong. Swing, swang, swung? Seriously? Even if it's right, I won't be using it and I'm thinking of making a $0.25 fine at my house if I hear it.

Am I the only one that finds this weird? Have the rules changed? Are there any words that just don't seem right to you?

**Ha ha...just as a footnote: when I spellchecked this entry, the only spelling mistake it found was swang!**

Monday, June 28, 2010


In my absence from the computer world, I've been watching more television. I've caught up on my usual shows like Top Chef, The Good Wife and some brainless TV that shall remain nameless. But in my channel surfing, I happened upon a new reality game show that has me truly appalled.

The show is called Downfall and it airs on ABC...the premise being that contestants have a certain number of time to answer trivia questions; meanwhile several prizes are lined up on a conveyor belt that they can win. Keep in mind that these are relatively big prizes that include grand pianos, appliances and cars to name just a few. As the time passes and the contestant can not answer the trivia question, the prizes roll off the conveyor belt and are thrown off the roof of a skyscraper only to break into pieces at the bottom. Yes - the show destroys perfectly good items all in the name of entertainment.

So I have to wonder: is this the kind of entertainment America wants these days? Really? In this terrible economy, with people struggling to make ends meat, do they really find it fun to watch things crash into a million pieces? It's horrifying to me. It's unconscionable. But mostly it is sad that the public sense of interest has fallen to such a bitter low. No wonder book stores are closing. No wonder libraries are closing for one day a week. It makes me sick as a writer to think that people are watching that junk on TV, because it can only mean one thing: they are not reading or using their imagination.

Creativity has been thrown out the window along with the baby grand piano and the new car I saw fly off the roof. I better get my computer back before I become even more jaded!

Friday, June 25, 2010



Yup, can you believe it? So, yes, I've been MIA this week biding my time until I could get online for a moment. And now that I'm here, it seems to be Friday again which means it's time for Favorite Friday!

This week, I want to share with you one of my favorite pieces of sage advice: When someone shows you who they are, believe them. Simple, right? You'd think so, but I have to remind myself of it constantly. I always want to believe the best of people and make excuses for their behavior. But since I've applied this wisdom to my everyday life, it has saved me a world of headaches - and probably heart-aches too!

So what is the best piece of advice you've ever gotten?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Favorite Friday

For the summer months, we're going to lighten the mood a bit. In that vein, I've decided to be fun and introduce Favorite Fridays (just for fun and to learn more about all my friends out there!)

As writers and wordsmiths, we all love words. We like the way certain ones fit together perfectly and the way others make us feel. We like the way they sound in our head and the way others sound spoken in a crowded room. Words are fabulous! So this week, I want to know your favorite word. I'm sure you have at least one - you know, the word you love to use and work into conversation. I have several. One of my favorites is panoply. It just sounds fun rolling off the tongue. Try it! But my all time favorite is ferhoodled. It is a Pennsylvania Dutch word as in, "I was so ferhoodled by his sudden affection that I laughed when he leaned in to kiss me!" I love it, love it, love it! Just saying it makes me smile.

So please share - what is your favorite word?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Summertime, summertime, sum-sum-summertime!

Well, with summer break having started, I find (as I expected) less and less time to write let alone blog. And frankly, I've missed you all over the past week! I keep looking out to the backyard at the cushioned chairs under the umbrella and tell myself: "Go sit down...just for a minute." But then (inevitably) I hear the "mom, where's my flip flops? Mom what's for lunch? Mom, the baby's messing up my toys..." And sitting down just never happens. So instead, I've implemented twice daily trips to the library so the big ones can browse and read, the little one can listen quietly to story time or whatever is the program du jour and I get to SIT DOWN and think and imagine to my hearts content.

I'll be checking in with all your blogs soon to see what you've all been up to - even if I have to sneak into a closet (where no one can find me) to do it!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tuesday was a good day...

Aside from being sick (apparently an untreated sinus infection can lead to bronchitis...who knew?), I have had an awesome week!

Perhaps one of the most exciting moments came as I checked my e-mail on Tuesday while listening to the last half hour of Good Morning America. There I was reading and deleting with the pleasant hum of George Stephanopolous in the background and baby still sleeping. Then I heard "...hottest new book this summer, author Justin Cronin..." I just about dropped my coffee as I ran for the television. And yes, there he was: my college creative writing professor! Yup, it's true. He's written the new novel THE PASSAGE which, now that I've seen the spot on GMA, I have seen EVERYWHERE!!!

Now, yes, I know. I didn't write the book. I know this. But somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I feel validated. I feel hopeful. I just need to keep at it. Keep writing, keep editing, keep the queries flowing. I feel re-energized.

Tuesday was a good day...

In case any of you would like to check out the trailer for the book, here it is:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Joe Cool Author...

I was reading an article by Elizabeth Sims (author of the Rita Farmer Mysteries) regarding how to handsell your book. Yes, you read correctly: HANDSELL. She went a step further than listing marketing suggestions and the "create a presence on the internet" line. She suggests that authors become more assertive - bordering on aggressive (her word, not mine) - when promoting their book at signings, booths or even from the trunk of the car!

Now the article was fascinating! Engage the would be reader in a conversation about themselves (the type of fiction they enjoy or an upcoming holiday), mention your book, physically put it in their hand and voila: book sold 6 out of 10 times. Add the offer of a personalization to the would be recipient and make it 8 out of10. Sounds great...sounds like it would work on me - I'd surely by a book if the actual author handed it to me to look at. After all, how would you get around it? How would you look the author in the eye and put his/her book down and say "no thanks." It's like when you happen upon a Girl Scout cookie booth. Once you stop to look, there's absolutely no way you can walk away without buying at least one box of Thin Mints!

My only problem is that I, myself, could NEVER follow through with this plan. Though a bundle of fun once you get to know me, I'm painfully shy at first meet! There's no way I could just hustle up a conversation about Mother's Day and suggest that my book would be the perfect gift (no matter how much I believe that's true...)

I do think that selling yourself is as important a factor in how successful your book becomes, but it just seems unfair that writers (who thrive in small, poorly ventilated rooms with nothing but a computer screen and a cup of coffee) have to also excel at small talk and ad-lib performances! If you research famous writers you'll likely come up with words like recluse or private. Heck, you even hear of pseudonyms and ghost writers - you never hear of a ghost singer because performers like the spotlight.

Reading Ms. Sims article led me to wonder: Am I in the minority as a shy writer nervous about self-promotion? How did you overcome your shyness to get out there and talk up your book?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Passionate beginnings...

A big THANK YOU to all of you wonderful folks out in bloggerville who follow and read my blog!

Seriously, I've been thrilled to receive so much feedback and advice regarding my various posts lately - I couldn't be happier to find so many new friends among my followers and to hear so many different points of view. What a treat it is to log on each day and see what all of you are up to!

That being said, as I've been sifting through the MANY blogs I follow, I've been intrigued by all the diversity among us - the many backgrounds, locations and occupations that have led us all down the same path: writing. It doesn't matter if we hail from the US, Australia, England or Canada; it doesn't matter if we are math teachers, stay at home moms, social workers or engineers - we all find ourselves sitting in front of a computer screen creating people and situations that seem so real we can hardly type fast enough.

I can still remember my favorite book series growing up. It was The Trixie Belden Book Series. I read it as a pre-teen and adored it so much that I set out to write the next book of the set right then and there at age 11. Although that didn't work out quite as I had hoped (wink, wink), it did inspire a love of writing and creating that I never lost. I wrote my first novella in 8th grade (which left my teacher speechless wondering what type of Catholic School values she had instilled) and continued with short stories through high school and college. I took every writing class I could get my hands on whether it was business writing, creative writing or didn't matter so long as I was WRITING. I have kept every piece ever written and enjoy looking back at them from time to time if only to see evidence of my growth as a writer.

Remembering my own beginnings has left me to wonder: how did each of you first know that you were destined to be a writer...when did you first discover your passion?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Repressed and Depressed

Ok. I am extremely frustrated with my current main character. It seems I have done such a good job portraying the teenage daughter of an alcoholic that now I can't break through! She is such a repressed personality that even I am having trouble getting to know her! The things I want her to do - the things I wish she'd do - just don't suit her...yet. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm writing War And Peace or just going in circles.

So I spent my long weekend (which, let's face it, is a REALLY long weekend for stay at home moms) sitting in the backyard managing play dough and dueling light sabers and trying to channel my WIP. Maybe it's back to the drawing board, but I really hope not. I'm hoping that she comes up with something truly stirring and soon or else this might just be the "work in progress" that doesn't progress.