Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Kitties

This is a post totally unrelated to writing, but I'm excited about it, so I'm blogging about it. ;) Hubby and I decided last month to get the kids kittens for Christmas. I am a total cat person; I adore kitties, and it's been a while since I had one around.

Anyway, hubby wanted to give cats to the kids on Christmas morning--wrap them up as soon as the kids woke up so they could unwrap them and be surprised. I wasn't sure how that would work, but in the end, here's what happened: we found a wonderful woman who had just moved into town with her husband and two kids, and had brought two cats and a litter of seven kittens with them. I talked to her and she agreed that if we came and picked out the two kitties we wanted, she would hold them for us. So last month, hubby and I went and picked out two kitties, and in the process, I made a new friend! The woman with the kittens has gotten together with me and another of my friends a couple of times for playdates, and that's been tremendous fun.

Last Wednesday, I went over and picked up the two kittens. They were the last two left, and as such, they've bonded and they play together and fall asleep cuddling and do all sorts of cute kitty stuff. So I packed up the kittens and took them to my sister's house, because my sis volunteered to kitty-sit until Christmas Eve.

This was when I first picked them up:

video


My kids have already named the kittens, though they don't know it. We asked, hypothetically, if they ever got female kittens, what would they name them? I've been reading the Harry Potter series to my kids at bedtime for the past eight months or so (we're currently on book six), and my daughter immediately said Lily, and my son decided on Tonks. So Lily and Tonks it is.

Lily is the gray and white kitty here (held by my three-year-old niece, who is thrilled to have them at her house right now):

















And Tonks is the tortoiseshell here:























My sister keeps giving me updates on them, and I'm so, so excited to bring them home next week and to see the kids open them on Christmas morning. (The kids know they're not allowed to go downstairs on Christmas morning this year; they have to come straight to us and wake us up. I just need to remember to add in that it should not be four in the morning when that happens. ;))

So that is what I am going to be doing on Christmas Eve night--picking up kitties. :D

Do any of you have special plans for the holidays?

Friday, December 16, 2011

how Taekwondo is like writing

My son has been taking Taekwondo since we moved to Tennessee this year. He did karate a little bit before that, but there was no karate dojo here that did the same form he had been learning, so he switched to Taekwondo. He loves it, and I've been watching him learn more and more and taking him to belt tests and a tournament and a gazillion classes.

Well, my husband and I recently decided to start taking Taekwondo, too. Hubby's been wanting to do it forever, and I always thought it would be neat, but didn't know if I had the motivation for it. However, I suck at exercising on a regular basis (I really, really do), and I have a heart condition (a mild form of it) and my cardiologist tells me I need to be exercising several times a week. So doing Taekwondo, I'll not only learn self-defense (which I've wanted to learn for ages) but I'll be holding myself accountable to the exercising.

After a couple of classes (and giving my legs time to adjust--all that kicking made them soooo sore), I'm fumbling with where the heck I'm supposed to put my feet and how to hold my arms and the teacher keeps saying, "Relax! Taekwondo is all about relaxing!" and I'm O_O.

I do have a point to all of this.

I went to a Taekwondo class to do it with my son, and he was in the back of the room, working on his moves with someone else, since he's several belts down and learning all sorts of patterns. And he always makes it looks so easy. The kicking, the punching, the various blocks and turns...and there I am, flailing my way through the basic moves and growing ever more impressed with how much my child has learned.





I got to thinking about how it's like writing. How when a person first sits down to write their very first book, it's a lot of flailing around and trying to find your footing and figure out what in the world you're doing. You read published books, or you read a friend's manuscript, and you wonder how you're ever, ever going to know how to do it that well. Or do it at all. And it doesn't always end with the first book. Maybe you're writing your tenth novel and you read something amazing and you realize how much you still have to learn and you wonder how your books are going to stand up among all of the books that are so incredible.

Sometimes it all comes back to perseverance, and determination, and knowing that there's always room for improvement, and you're going to make mistakes. It can be overwhelming when you think of how much you still have to learn, so much of the craft you still have to know. It's okay. You'll get there. One step at a time, one key stroke at a time. You'll slowly learn the movements and how everything fits together and why you're doing certain things and avoiding other things. You'll push yourself to new limits and learn and do things you didn't think you could before. If you give up because things look hard or you don't think you'll be able to push yourself that much, who knows what stories you'll miss out on? You have a story (or stories!) to tell, and only you can tell it. You'll figure out how if you just keep at it.

Now I just need to remind myself of this when I go to the next Taekwondo class...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Also: "Confessions" Christmas Sale on Smashwords

From now until December 28th, I'm having a Christmas sale on Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School) in ebook format on Smashwords. Smashwords sells it in pretty much every type of ebook format--Kindle, EPUB, PDF, RTF, and more.

With a coupon code you can get the ebook for $0.99. If you're interested, you can click on the link below and enter coupon code WV49Y at the checkout.

Confessions on Smashwords


For a reminder of what the book is about:


 Write what you know.

Persephone "Sephie" Benson scoffs when her creative writing teacher throws that little gem out there. Maybe this advice would work for a professional skydiver or a baseball star or a ninja princess. It's not so great for a high school student who doesn't even know what to do with the rest of her life. Add in being the oldest of six girls, having Responsibilities with a capital R, and living in a town the size of a tick, and you've got a recipe for boring soup.

At least, that's what Sephie thinks until her senior year. Now, her grandfather is losing his house. One of her sisters plays a starring role in the local high school scandal. Even things with her best friend Joey aren't the same.

As Sephie deals with the changes in her life, she finds that nothing is quite what she expects—and that sometimes, the most extraordinary life can be the one that seems the most ordinary.

Grammar Daze - breath/breathe

I am long, long overdue for a Grammar Daze post. November and December have been insane—November because of all the writing, and December because my kids have a gazillion holiday activities. My son takes Taekwondo, my daughter does dance, and between the two of them, there are potlucks and testing and performances and parades. I haven't been this busy with activities for them…well, ever, I think. Hello, December!

I never even said how November ended up going for me: it was fantastic. I got two books finished—well, I finished one and my co-author and I finished a second. I only have one novel left to finish now, and I made a lot of progress on it.

How is December going for you? 


And now for today's Grammar Daze:


breath vs. breathe


I come across breath and breathe being done incorrectly quite often. You know that grammar rule that says if you add an "e" to the end of a one syllable word with a short vowel, it makes the vowel long? Pin becomes pine, mop becomes mope, quit becomes quite, and so on and so forth. And then you learn about words like have and come and you realize that it's a bunch of crap because for every rule in English, there are a million exceptions.

Or maybe that's just me. 

We're not going to even get into the fact that "ea" can say EEEE or EHH or AY.

Anyway. This rule of adding an "E" at the end to make it long applies for breath. By itself, the word is short. Breath is said like bread. But, voila, add an E to the end, and breath becomes breathe with a long EEEEE sound.

Breath and breathe are not interchangeable.

Breath: noun (Person, place, thing, idea.)

Breathe: verb (It's what you do.)

To remember this, we can use the example that breath sounds like bread. There is no E on the end of either word. Both breath and bread are nouns. If you can change out breath (no E!) for bread and it makes sense, you've got the right word.





Likewise, if you're trying to make someone breathe (what they do), try substituting "bread."

If you're saying, "Just breathe, honey, it's going to be okay," then try putting bread in that sentence.

"Just bread, honey, it's going to be okay."

This doesn't work, so we add an E to make it 'breathe'.  This might get confusing because when you say "breathing," you're dropping the "E" at the end of "breathe" to add "ing". The word you're using is still breathe, though.

Happy writing!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Interview Swap/Book Giveaway

Sherri Wilson Johnson also interviewed me for her website. I hadn't known when this week the interview would go up, but it turns out it's today. ;)  She's also giving away a copy of my book, Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld, to one commenter.

If you want to check that out, that's here:

Giveaway/Interview

Meet Sherri Wilson Johnson

Today I'm happy to welcome my friend and fellow OakTara author, Sherri Wilson Johnson, to my blog. Her novel, To Dance Once More, was recently released.



Hi! I am Sherri Wilson Johnson. I love to spend time with my family, ride roller coasters, eat ice cream, and read and write. Writing has been a hobby of mine since I was a little girl. As a young adult, I began writing Inspirational Romances, which quickly became my favorite pastime and grew into a calling. I took the writers course through the Christian Writers Guild and have never looked back. I write heart-warming Inspirational fiction (Historical and Contemporary) that challenges readers to have faith even in life's most difficult of storms. Pure Romance is usually the main theme of my books but they have so much more to them than just that. I love to sprinkle in suspense and mystery, as well. Although my primary focus is ministering to women readers, I am a former homeschooling mom so much of what I write is suitable for the Young Adult market.

My debut novel, To Dance Once More (OakTara), is set in Victorian-era Florida, bringing the romance of the beach, Victorian times, and debutante balls together (some of my favorite things). I hope to prove that true love still exists and that it is worth the wait. I never shy away from speaking candidly of the purity of not only the heroine but of the hero, as well, because I believe in today's world, we need to encourage both men and women to live pure lives. I believe that writing is so much a part of who I am that I must use it to share what I am passionate about. I desire to point others to Jesus through my words.

To Dance Once More: When Victorian debutante, Lydia Barrington, accidentally discovers that her father has promised her to the son of an unscrupulous businessman in payment for his own debts, she must make the biggest decision of her life…to concede or to fight. To Dance Once More explores the possibilities for a young woman, who longs to find God’s will for her life, yet is faced with a decision that will change her life forever. If she follows her heart, she disobeys her father; if she abides by her father’s wishes, she betrays herself.

My next book, Song of the Meadowlark (OakTara), will be out in May 2012 and the sequel to To Dance Once More should be out by the end of 2012. I am also polishing a third novel, After the Raging Storm, and working on a legal mystery and a sequel to Song of the Meadowlark. In addition to fiction, I also write homeschool resources and Bible studies, which I self-published, and are available on my secondary website www.sherrijohnsonministries.com. I guess you could say that there will be plenty of books to read in the future and I would be honored if people chose them for their libraries.

* What was the major driving factor that led you to write your story/series?

I have worked with teenagers for years through volunteering at church. I have seen the pressures these teens go through to conform to the world and how they believe that love is the same thing as sex. I want teens everywhere, including my own two young adult children, to know what true love is.

* What do you hope readers will gain from reading your book? I hope my readers will come away from reading To Dance Once More feeling challenged to live a life of purity, encouraged to think of others before they think of themselves, and to never let a day go by without telling people how much they love them.

* What character would you most identify with? Lydia, the main character. She's a little on the mischievous side and it takes her a while to realize when she's being selfish. I deal with the same issues.

* What advice have you received that's had the biggest impact on your writing and who gave that advice? My writing instructor through the Christian Writers Guild, Norm Rohrer, advised me to "show, not tell" when writing. He said instead of using the words "was" and "felt" to find a way to demonstrate the character's feelings or actions. Also Gail Gaymer Martin advised me to replace "said" and "asked" with an action.

* Other than finding time, what was your greatest challenge while writing your book?
Besides my Chihuahua, my greatest challenge is staying focused on the project I'm working on at that moment instead of flip-flopping to other projects.

* If you could meet any author, past or present, who would it be and why?
James, the brother of Jesus, who wrote the Book of James in the Bible. He's full of spice and tells it like it is and I have learned so much from him.

Readers can find me on:
Facebook
Twitter
 

Websites: 
Sherri Wilson Johnson and Sherri Johnson Ministries
Amazon Link
Book Trailer

Friday, November 25, 2011

To brand or not to brand: that is the question.

I'm going to talk about branding in this post, and I think I'm going to do another post talking about career writing, because in some ways this has also got me thinking about writing in general.

First: branding.

I've been thinking about branding a lot lately. Many people say that authors need to stick to one genre, at least while they're establishing their writing careers. It makes sense, right? Readers will maybe read a book by you and like the type of book it is, so they'll look for or expect more like that. Certain agents or publishers only take certain genres.

Knowing this doesn't stop me from writing the stories that come from my heart or the characters that rampage through my brain. Sometimes I stop and think, "What if no one wants to read story C because they've read story A and liked it, and C is so different?" I shrug and move on with whatever I'm writing.

I have two books already published, and they're different from each other. Restoration Book 1: Awakenings is YA inspirational fantasy. Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School) is contemporary YA.

If I'm looking at it from a looking-for-a-brand perspective, I can go okay, two novels of different genres isn't so bad, and they're both YA. And I consider that my publisher is going to continue publishing the Restoration series, so there will be more YA inspirational fantasy to add to my writing resume.

Then I look at the finished manuscripts sitting on my computer. I have, almost ready to go for publishing or submissions or whatever I decide to do with these, the silliest, most fun story I've ever written, and the darkest, most intense story I've ever written.
                                                             
My Kingdom for a Newt is a YA fantasy book, a mishmash of fairy tales and magic and very lighthearted. It was wonderful to write, the release my brain needed from the intensity of other stories I was writing. I had a blast and thoroughly enjoyed the characters. They were some of the easiest ones I've ever written.

In contrast, I have two books, Rising 1: Resistance and Rising 2: Rebellion. This is one story, but it was so long I had to divide it into two books. This Rising duology is considered secular adult fiction. It's also speculative fiction—not quite fantasy, not quite science fiction, and not quite steampunk, but hints of each. It has been loads of fun trying to pinpoint a genre here. These two books have consumed my brain for almost two years. The first book is written, polished, edited, and ready to go, but I'm not doing anything with it until I have a draft of the second book done. (I'm almost halfway done with this draft.) In these two books, I have pushed myself out of my comfort zones, made myself cry—and let me tell you how weird this is; I never make myself cry with my own characters, even when I write painful, heartbreaking things. I have been to the point of such frustration with the characters so many times because they have been the most difficult ones I've ever written.

So I sit here and look at the wild differences between these books. The only similarities between them would be that they both have fantasy elements. I've gone back and forth deciding which one I would want to come out first. Would I want to release the Rising duology first? Would I want to release the Kingdom story first, since it's quick and easy and lighthearted, and the last book I released was rather lighthearted? But if I do that, people might be in for a shock if I released the Rising books following that and people go, "Who are you and what did you do with the lighthearted author?" 

I love writing stories that address deep character issues. Sometimes these character issues come out in lighthearted ways, and sometimes it comes out in very intense ways.

And I have no idea what stories might come in the future.

Maybe I'm never going to be the writer with a brand. Maybe I'm going to spend the rest of my life writing whatever story and characters come to mind and maybe some readers will like some books and some will like others. Maybe I won't be popular or gain as many readers if I don't have a very specific set of books. 

So now I ask you all: Do you have a brand when you write? Do you want one? Do you read authors who write in several genres, or do you prefer to read authors who write only one thing? I'm very, very interested to know what all of you have to say on the subject.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful

It is the end of Thanksgiving day here in the US of A. I spent time with my wonderful family, including my cousin, his wife, and kids, who came to town for the occasion. I hadn't seen them since 2006, so that was a lot of fun. I had lots of delicious food and too much coffee. (I'd say there is no such thing as too much coffee, but alas, my body says otherwise.)

I have so many things I am thankful for. I am thankful for my savior Jesus, for my supportive and amazing husband, for my beautiful children, for my extended family, for incredible friends new and old, for good health, for the second car we were able to buy this year so that I have a vehicle, for my house out of state selling, for a house to sleep in and food to eat and for all of the fun things I am able to have and do, and for coffee and a computer to write on and music to listen to. And for socks, because I do so like having something to help keep my feet warm.

And I'm so thankful to have gotten to know a lot of you fellow bloggers. I can't wait to see what the next year brings. I know I've said it before, but it's incredible to have a chance to be part of a writing community who is so supportive of each other.

I am so incredibly blessed.

I hope that all of you have been having a wonderful day, and happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate that today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Whhhhaaat.

You guys. How is it already halfway through November? O_O It's a time warp, I tell you. Or a blue police box.



As I've started NaNoWriMo week 3, I have passed 40,000 words for the month and accomplished one of my goals: I've finished one of the three incomplete novels I had going before November. *throws confetti* One down, two to go. (And one of the two remaining is co-written, so it's shared work.)

What have you been up to during the first half of November? If you're doing NaNo, how's that going for you? If you're not doing NaNo, what have you been doing?

I still can't believe it's almost December.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NaNo: end of week 1, start of week 2.

I do not know how coherent I am going to be doing a blog, so I'll say that my brain feels something like this:




As I said before, I'm using NaNo to finish or make serious headway on stories I've already started, so I'm bouncing between novels and counting everything I write toward my NaNo words. It is day 8 and I have written 25,810 words so far this month.

O_O

I don't know what it is about NaNo--maybe so many people writing and so many of my friends writing so much that the part of me that loves writing challenges kicks into high gear--but it is a great time for me, personally, to reach goals I've been struggling with during the year.

Right now, my characters are all clamoring for attention and they won't. shut. up. This is a good thing, considering I've spent a good half of the year begging them to talk to me, but they won't shut up to the point where I haven't slept much this month and my eye keeps getting a twitch from lack of sleep. Or maybe all the caffeine.
 
NaNoWriMo is for some people; it works for some people, and if you're on the sleep-deprived crazy train with me, I'm sorry. Er, I mean GOOD FOR YOU! >_>

But if you are one of those lovely writers not participating, GOOD FOR YOU too! Part of writing is knowing what you want to do and what you're up for doing, and every single person writes differently. Last year, my pathetic attempt at a NaNo novel fell horribly flat, but it was good for me because I got back to work on the book I really wanted to finish.

So I'd like to take a moment to cheer on all of you doing NaNo--you can reach your goals!--and a moment to thank all of you not doing it for having patience with those of us who are.

You are all awesome. :D

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy First Day of NaNo!

For those of you not doing NaNo, HAPPY NOVEMBER!

For those of you doing NaNo, HAPPY NANO! How is your first day going? Feeling good? Excited? Nervous?

Since I'm "cheating" this year and working on projects I already have going, I'm doing my word count based off of anything new I write this month for those projects. So far today, that's only 150 words. ;) I'm off to a late start. My husband talked me through something this morning, preventing me from chopping 4,000 words that I wrote this weekend. Then he said, "It's like Disney said. Keep moving forward!" And that's what I'd already been telling myself. Keep moving forward, keep moving forward...

And look, someone has it on youtube! So for your first day of NaNo, here is your Disney moment of "keep moving forward" from Meet the Robinsons.





Or you could go with Dory from Finding Nemo and instead of saying "just keep swimming" say, "Just keep writing, just keep writing..."

You can do it!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I'm heeeere! A brief update on NaNo, Awakenings, and a quick Grammar Daze of Simple Past Tense Vs. Past Perfect Tense

*checks date of last blog post*

*winces*

I have been writing my books like a madwoman and that has consumed all of my brain energy. I pull up my blog from time to time and stare at it in a braindead sort of way and then get back to writing my novels. Where does the time go? Honestly, how can it already be almost November? (And NaNoWriMo, for those doing it! I'm Laura_Josephsen on NaNo. For those of you doing it, I'd love to find you on there! I'm not going to be using it traditionally this year. Most years, I start a novel from scratch, but I already have several that desperately, desperately need to be finished, so I'm going to be setting my word count goals on completing stories instead of starting them. ;) I know, this is technically cheating, but if I can use the motivation of a word goal for NaNo to help me finish things, I'll consider it a success.

My husband, after watching me do NaNo the last three years in a row, refers to it as "NaNoLoseYourMindo," and anyone who has participated in it before knows how accurate that can feel. In honor of the fun and yet mind-sucking month of crazed writing, I've made this badge/icon/award thing for any of you participants. In honor of you and the upcoming month, feel free to grab this and plop it on your blog or whatever.




Next, my co-author on the Restoration series, Faith King, and I are selling our few remaining copies of Awakenings version 1.0, since version 2.0 was just released. For information on that, you can see Faith's post about it here: Awakenings 1.0 Collectible Copies

And because I am sooooo dreadfully behind on blogging and my Grammar Daze posts, this week's month's Grammar Daze is going to be on simple past versus past perfect tenses. These are something I see confused a lot--mostly, people (I am guilty of this too) get so caught up in writing their simple past stories that they forget to put appropriate things in past perfect tense.

Simple past is the tense that the vast majority of stories use.

Simple Past Tense: My vampire squirrel attacked unsuspecting citizens once the sun went down.



The verbs are in simple past. So if you're using simple past to tell your story (rather than present tense, which some people use), this is going to be what's happening right now in the story. Your vampire squirrel just, at this moment, attacked these people.

However, if, in the narrative, you're telling someone that your vampire squirrel did this yesterday, or last month, or a year ago, you change it to being past perfect, where you basically add "had" or "have" before the verbs.

Past Perfect Tense: My vampire squirrel had attacked unsuspecting citizens once the sun had gone down.

A lot of the times I see this missing (or miss this in my own stories) is when a chapter or a scene starts out by backtracking, but not using the proper tense. For example:

"After three days, the characters were sick to death of tromping through the mystic swamp. Their first day, they were bitten by so many giant mosquitoes that their eyes almost swelled shut, and then the local witch made an appearance and tried to turn them all into bananas."




And maybe there's a bunch of this, telling what the characters had been doing those first three days, and then the story picks up with the characters NOW. The problem is that this started with "After three days," which implies that those three days are already gone. That means this first paragraph should have said:

"After three days, the characters were sick to death of tromping through the mystic swamp. Their first day, they had been bitten by so many giant mosquitoes that their eyes had almost swelled shut, and then the local witch had made an appearance and had tried to turn them all into bananas."

Some people have pages and pages of this, and so you just need to pay careful attention to what time your current story is in and whether it might be better to take the sequence in chronological order. You could put this entire thing in simple past tense if you were only to take out "after three days" at the beginning and move it until after all the stuff they did during the first few days. It would then look like this:

"Their first day in the mystic swamp, they were bitten by so many giant mosquitoes that their eyes almost swelled shut, and then the local witch made an appearance and tried to turn them all into bananas. After three days, the characters were sick to death of tromping through the swamp."

I hope that makes some sense.

And that's all from me for today! I have to get back to writing Story A so I can work on my co-written part of Story B this weekend. My poor co-author put up with me totally neglecting our story last weekend because the characters of Story A were eating my brain. Yes, I have Zombie Characters. (Okay, no, they are not literally zombie characters, because that is not my thing, but the way they consume my brain, sometimes I wonder. ;))

I hope you all have a FABULOUS weekend!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Re-release Pic and Pay It Forward Blog Hop!

First, I'm pretty sure I've shared this before, but it is totally worth posting again, especially as NaNoWriMo is coming up, and even if you're not doing NaNoWriMo, but you're working on a book--go have a look at it.

Jim Hines' "Stages of Book Love" Graph

Second, my copy of my relaunched book, Restoration Book 1: Awakenings, (co-written with Faith King), came from my publisher today, which was really cool.  Here's a picture, courtesy of my eight-year-old son. ;)




















(I know some people were looking at getting it at some point, so I'll mention quickly that Amazon is currently selling the paperback and ebook here for under $6 ; they've been slashing the price all week. The paperback usually sells for almost $19.)

The book came right when I was busy trying to whack a fly with a flyswatter. I had been making fudge and truffles, and it kept trying (and failing) to land on my food, so I cornered it in a window. The stupid bug was hiding behind plants and I'd been trying for ages to kill it, moving plants and smacking all over the window, but I just couldn't get it. The doorbell rang at the same time my little brother woke up, and I'm standing on this bench in the dining room hitting at the window and shouting, "WHY WON'T YOU DIE!?!" *smack smack smack* "...Zach, can you get the door?"

Third, because I have been so out of the loop this week, between being sick (I'm feeling much better; thank you for all the well-wishes!) and writing like a mad person, I didn't even know there was a blogfest going on, but I wasn't too late to sign up! This blogfest takes place today, so here we go!





The way this works is that I get to share three blogs that I enjoy reading. (Ack! It is so hard to limit this to three!)

1. Donna Weaver over at Weaving A Tale or Two. She's an awesome, encouraging person with lots of fun stories, writing advice, book reviews, and other cool things happening on her blog.

2. Barbara Kloss over at ScribblesNJots, who is super, super amazing and another incredibly encouraging person.

3. Mooderino over at Moody Writing, who has fantastic advice and thoughts on writing.

Go check them out, and there are lots of other people participating in this today, too--feel free to blog hop away!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Writing. Lots of writing.

Guess what I've been doing the past week? Besides being sick and feeling like I was going to cough up my lungs a time or two? Writing. Writing a lot. Like, I typed out 4,000 the other day when I was sick and feverish. It was awesome. The writing, I mean, not the being sick and feverish.

Right now, I am in the middle of juggling writing several stories. This is a very good thing for me; I write so much better and quicker when I can bounce back and forth between multiple novels. It's even better right now because my co-author, Faith King, and I have picked up writing the fourth book in our Restoration series again, so we're bouncing the file back and forth, taking turns writing, and that's excellent motivation for me. My brain goes: I have to write when it's my turn so that I can get the file back to her for her next session, and then I have to write on my other stuff before she sends it back to me. For the way I write, it's like winning the motivation lottery.

Next month is NaNoWriMo. (Ahhh! How is already almost November again!?) I am not planning on doing it traditionally this year--I hope to use it to finish, or make a lot of headway on, my current novels. Are any of you doing it?

So I listen to songs on repeat while I write. I know some people can't do music while writing, or can only do soundtracks. I listen to a huge variety of stuff.

Anyone have any current songs you're listening to a lot?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Writing Expectations

I was talking to a friend the other day about expectations in writing. I mean, people who have never read a book by you before might not have expectations. They might--they might expect that your book will be good. They will probably at least hope that your book will be good.

If you've written a book and people have read it and liked it, then you have set a bar for yourself, right? The next book has to be better. And you think about how much work went into the first book, and how proud you were when it was finished, and how sometimes you weren't even sure how you'd managed to tell the story, so how are you supposed to do it again!?

Now you have to start all over again. From scratch.

Don't get me wrong: there is an incredible excitement that comes from a new story and new characters (or revisiting old characters from a new perspective, in the case of sequels). But if you start to think about what you have to do to make this one more, to make it better, to make it exceed expectations, to make it use less italics, you can really stress yourself out.

Sequels can seem even more this way. When you have a standalone book, you still might feel like you need to exceed yourself on the next book, but with sequels, you might feel the need to exceed in your writing and your previously created world. Either way, it's a lot of pressure we put on ourselves as writers.

Pressure isn't always a bad thing. It can push you to keep going, to improve, to make your writing better--if it's channeled constructively. It can also crush you under its weight if you're not careful. It can suck you into the despair of I won't be good enough this time. Look at my last polished manuscript. Look at the hours I put into it and the three thousand revisions it got and look at how nice it is. Look how messy this book I'm working on right now is. It's never going to be that good.

There became other fears once publication was involved. What if the next book isn't good enough to publish? What if no one likes it?

I've been finding that if I focus on whether the books I'm currently writing are better than the ones I previously wrote, it takes away my joy in writing the story and makes me stall on writing at all. I need to be able to let the story come out, to follow the characters and see what adventures they take me on, and if I'm holding this giant ball of expectation over my head, it's going to be a huge struggle to write anything.

Should we always be trying to grow and improve and make our writing better? Absolutely. Should we have no expectations on ourselves? Of course not. Should we be putting so much pressure on ourselves to try to outdo ourselves that we lose faith with what we're writing? No. Like so many, many things in writing, there's a balance, and learning how you work best, and learning how to improve without letting your writing dry up or giving yourself a panic attack.

Sometimes, we just need to give ourselves permission to write. To write knowing it won't be perfect, and parts of it will probably be horrible and in need of a lot of work, and that all this book needs to be right now is written on its own standards. The more you practice writing, the more you learn and grow, and your writing will likely reflect that growth anyway.

Do you put a lot of pressure on yourself when you're writing? Do you find it makes you focus better or does it make your writing train derail?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fear in Writing Characters. Also, Artwork!

I have this thing with artwork. I find it very, very inspiring--kind of like I find music inspiring when I write. There are certain songs that come to "belong" to certain stories or characters, and listening to those songs helps me so much when writing those characters or that story.

My friend Holly (who has done artwork from my books before, and who did the cover art for Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School), made more art from the books I'm currently writing. There are two books for this particular story, because it got too long to cram into one book. The first book is written, polished, betaed a gazillion times, and edited a gazillion more times. The second book is the one I'm writing, and so having art of my two main characters to look at makes me giddy and inspired more than I can say.

And because I am totally sharing her talent whenever possible, here is my friend Holly's art of my two characters, Lachlan and Brenna, from my books Rising and Rising 2.

Photobucket
Brenna and Lachlan, Rising and Rising 2 © Laura Josephsen
Art © Holly Robbins


This also gives me a chance to talk about fear in writing characters. Those two characters portrayed above? When I first realized that in order to do this story justice, I needed to use their points of view and tell their story, I was terrified. I have never been scared of writing characters before, because exploring characters gives me the opportunity to get out of my head and into theirs, and to delve deep into a lot of things, and I love that.

Delving deep into Lachlan and Brenna's heads was daunting and scary, because I knew it was going to push me out of all of my comfort zones. Writing quite a lot of parts of Rising was already difficult and emotional and intense, and I knew that Rising 2 was going to be even more so. My characters have been through a lot, and I'm only adding to what they're dealing with. I worried that I wouldn't be able to do justice to their story. I worried that I was going to cross some lines that I might not be comfortable with. I came to realize, though, that to not tell their story would be unfair. Characters aren't cookie cutter people. I couldn't just say, "These characters would only do this, because that is ALL I am willing to write." Well, I could, but it would have made for a really flat story and characters who weren't true to themselves.

Characters aren't me. I may not like what they do. I may not be comfortable with what they do. I may not agree with with it. But because they're not me, they're them, sometimes that means stepping way, way outside of my comfort zone to do justice to who they are and what their story is.

Nine months after realizing I was going to need to write their points of view, I am not terrified of writing them anymore. I am excited about it, and I'm plugging my way through the first draft of their story.

My questions to you today are: Have you ever been scared of writing a character? Did you do it anyway? Do you think that you could write a sympathetic character who behaves in ways that you completely disagree with?

I know there are a lot of people who write characters they disagree with, and by the end of the book, the character has seen the error of his/her ways based on what the author thinks is correct. That's fine. But what if the character never thinks what they're doing is wrong? People aren't clear-cut, and characters aren't either.

I'm very, very interested in others' thoughts on this, since I've spent many months contemplating a lot of this.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Circle of Writing

I have this circle when it comes to writing. It kind of goes like this:






























Everyone writes differently, of course, and even when I'm not writing, I'm doing something writerly (shh, it's a word). If I'm not writing, I'm editing and revising, or working with my publisher (or in the case of my last book, self-publishing), or getting feedback from betas and making more revisions. Sometimes I'm editing books for other people, which actually helps my writing immensely.

But over the past ten years of writing, I've noticed something about how I write. When I get through a novel, my mental energy for coming up with plots and pounding them out on the keyboard seems to have reached its limit. I struggle to type even a hundred words.



















Know what else I've learned? I can't force it. I've had to learn there's a difference between "persevering even when I don't feel like it" and "my brain really just needs a refresher." There's a definite difference there--it's something you learn to distinguish.

After I finish writing a novel, my muse goes on vacation so I can recharge. Even though I'm still working on edits and everything, it can be frustrating not to be writing. I miss writing. I want something to come out when I put my hands on the keyboard and open a document file. I'm supposed to be a writer, right? But it's been three weeks, and no new story. Three months, and no new story. Oh, look, now it's five months and that second book I was supposed to have already written? Yeah, it's not written yet.

Inevitably, though, if I keep working on cleaning up other projects, let my brain rest on the writing front, watch some movies, read some books...a new story comes in and clobbers me over the head, and then I'm back to pounding away on the keyboard. I know I can type a huge amount at once if I need to. I also know that some days, getting out just a little bit can be like pulling teeth.

On my best day, when I was on a deadline, I wrote 10,000 words. Some days, I'm doing good to get out two hundred.

Writing isn't easy--anyone who has written even half a book can tell you this. Sometimes it is frustrating, and annoying, and you just want to throw your book against the wall or shout at your characters for being so uncooperative.

And some days, the writing flows and the thrill of excitement hits you. The characters are doing their thing and you're just going along with it, and everything seems so easy.

No matter whether I'm in a difficult stage or an "everything is working wonderfully" stage, I really do love being a writer. I love it that I can tell a story that was never told before. Sure, there might be things similar to it, but nothing that is exactly like mine. I love the words and the characters and the uniqueness that belongs to each one. I love learning new things--from my writing and from others' writing.

If you're in a writing slump right now, remember that it won't last forever and that sometimes you just need a refresher. If you're on a writing high right now, I hope you are having a blast. Beyond anything else, even when you are tired, and exhausted, and frustrated, I hope that you can look at what you do and remember why you love it.

I also read two encouraging blog posts about writing and stories today, so I'm going to link those here.

Susan Kaye Quinn posted about the lies we tell ourselves as writers: Four Nasty Lies We Tell Ourselves About Writing

Peggy Eddleman wrote about the need for stories: The Need For Stories


Where are you with writing right now?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Grammar Daze Guest Post - Misused Words: The Epic Fantasy Edition

Hello everyone! I am not Laura. I am Emily Kate Johnston, a friend of Laura’s. Laura has awesomely let me do a guest post here, and I will be continuing her theme of “Grammar Daze”, but with my own twist to indicate my style of writing. I’m totally cribbing the paint drawings, though. Those are the best part!

Misused Words: The Epic Fantasy Edition

The chief problem with word misuse in Fantasy is that the more epic your Fantasy gets, the more you draw on older words, and the more you draw on older words, the more derivations, combinations, linguistic shifts and plain old confusion can muddle you up. Personally, I love the way that words do this, but at the same time, I am also a fan of using words correctly.

(I should also mention here that as a patriotic Canadian with a patriotic English mother, my linguistic tendencies have a definitely British slant. I’m all about the o in foetal, the u in colour and the extra a in encyclopaedia (and I sort of love that JRRT spells connexion with an x, even though I don’t do it myself). So keep that in mind.)

Let’s begin with something that might occur in your Fantasy setting. You have a Queen and some knights, some courtiers and some palace servants…and depending on your politics, you make also have a royal council. This seems as good a time as any to talk about the difference between the word “councillor” and the word “counsellor”.

Councillor and Counsellor

A “councillor” is a person who is a member of a council. A “counsellor” is a person who provides advice. This seems fairly straightforward, until you remember that a member of a council who has given you advice has counselled you, and that someone who ignores the words of their counsellor could also be ignoring their councillor and is, in either case, keeping their own counsel. Perhaps I should start this explanation again…

Okay, so a councillor is a member of something; a group of people who sits somewhere and chats. If you type the word “councillor”, think about what that person belongs to. If it’s a summer camp or a high school guidance department, you have probably used the wrong word (you are also, for the record, writing my kind of epic fantasy and we should totally talk!).

For the history buffs, “counsellor” is the older word, predating “councillor” by about a century.

Prophecy and Prophesy

Another word combo that can be problematic is “prophecy” and “prophesy”. The difference here is that the former is a noun and the latter is a verb. So if you prophesy, you are making a prophecy. This can be remembered one of two ways. The first is the same way you tell “practise” from “practice”: the “ice” (or the “c”) is the noun. The second way is one I invented just now, and only works if you pronounce “prophesy” with a “sigh” at the end (instead of a “see”…both are acceptable, but I think it makes the whole thing needlessly complicated). Anyway, “sigh” is a verb too, and in addition that, it’s also what I tend to do when a character prophesies (prof-a-sighs), because it drives me a bit crazy.

I can only think of one example of this off the top of my head. At the very end of “Caprica”, Sister Clarice says “I am going to prophesy now”, which is great, except she pronounces it “prof-a-see”. On the other hand, she’s English, so maybe that explains it.

Nauseous and Nauseated

For my third I am going to pick two words that aren’t technically “epic”, but are still a personal bugbear of mine: nauseous and nauseated.

Now, a quick look at dictionary websites will tell you that “nauseous” has come to mean the same as “nauseated” thanks to usage patterning. Even though I championed linguistic shifting just a few paragraphs ago, this is where I draw the line. It’s a thing.

If something is nauseous, then it makes something else feel sick. If something is nauseated, then it feels sick. As my mother liked to put it: if you are nauseous, you are making someone else nauseated.



I encourage you all to stick to your guns on this, lest we end up with another “I could care less”.

That’s it from me for now! Come on over to my blog where you will find…well, not much, to be honest, as it’s a work in progress, but there are links to my book reviews and short stories. So it’s a start!

Emily Kate Johnston is an aspiring writer, an obsessive grammarian, a compulsive reader, and a classic procrastinator. You can find her at her new blog, Emily Kate Johnston on Wordpress, just as soon as she comes up with something cool to launch it with. In the meantime, she does a lot of book reviews.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Grammar Daze - dialogue tags

Today's topic is dialogue tags! Dialogue tags are those little tags you put when using quotation marks. He said, she said, she exclaimed, he asked. Those are four dialogue tags.

"I want to go to the mall," she said. <-- she said is the dialogue tag.

"Are we done yet?" he asked. <-- he asked is the dialogue tag.


Here's the thing about dialogue tags: first, if they start with a pronoun, the pronoun is never, ever capitalized. Second, not everything can be a dialogue tag.

A dialogue tag is part of the sentence in quotation marks—even if that sentence ends with an exclamation point or a question mark. I think that's the thing I've seen throw people off the most. Here are some examples:


Correct: "Can we go to the mall?" she asked.

Incorrect: "Can we go to the mall?" She asked.


In this context, she asked is not a sentence by itself. It cannot be capitalized. You just have to imagine that the question mark is a comma when there are quotation marks right after it. Same goes for exclamation points.


Correct: "I'm so frustrated right now!" he said.

Incorrect: "I'm so frustrated right now!" He said.


When using dialogue tags, you use commas instead of periods:


Correct: "I have a dog," she said.

Incorrect: "I have a dog." She said.

Correct: "My dog likes to eat car tires," Billy said.

Incorrect: "My dog likes to eat car tires." Billy said.


There have been debates about what exactly you can use as a dialogue tag. People will use all sorts of things: said, responded, replied, answered, asked, questions, queried, exclaimed, babbled, chattered, told someone, sighed, yawned, snapped. Those are just a few. I had one editor give me a helpful piece of advice: if you can't do the action to speak the words, it's not a dialogue tag. For example, you could probably yawn and say, "Yes," at the same time, right? So you might be able to write:

"Yes," I yawned.

But some would argue that it would be a lot better if "I yawned" was its own sentence and not a dialogue tag:

"Yes." I yawned.

And if you had an insanely long sentence, you are very unlikely to be able to yawn the whole thing. If you're unsure about something, see if you can say it while doing the action and whether it should be a dialogue tag or not.

When you have something that is not a dialogue tag, you treat it as a separate sentence. You do not use commas instead of periods before the quotation marks and you do capitalize after question marks and exclamation points. Some examples:


Correct: "I know that!" Her voice was angry. <-- Her voice was angry is not a dialogue tag. It is a sentence by itself.

Incorrect: "I know that!" her voice was angry.

Correct: "I just want to get out of here." He sounded tired. <--Again, not a dialogue tag.

Incorrect: "I just want to get out of here," he sounded tired.
You could add words to both of those to make them dialogue tags and have them be correct.

"I know that!" she said, her voice angry.

"I just want to get out of here," he replied, and he sounded tired.

Happy writing!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

An Experiment in Synonyms

Synonyms are so important when writing. It can get annoying to read the same word over and over and over and over and over and over (have I made my point yet?) and over again in the same sentence or paragraph or even the same page or chapter. Some words are so unique that if I see them more than once in a book, I'm going to notice. One thing I always try to pay attention to when I'm editing—whether I’m editing my book or someone else's—is word usage. Everyone has certain words they use all the time, and once I pinpoint overuse of those words, I try to suggest synonyms for some.

One way or another, my husband and I got on the subject of various words used for laughter. Hubby had some very particular thoughts about what came to mind when he heard each one, so we thought it might be interesting to write down his thoughts vs. the dictionary's definition.

Here's what we ended up with.


Cackle
Hubby's first thought upon reading the word:
A witch's laugh.

Definition from Merriam-Webster:
1: to make the sharp broken noise or cry characteristic of a hen especially after laying
2: to laugh especially in a harsh or sharp manner
3: chatter



Chortle
Hubby's first thought upon reading the word:
Somebody choking and laughing at the same time, where things are coming out of your nose. (Like when you laugh milk out of your nose.)

Definition from Merriam-Webster:
1: to sing or chant exultantly
2: to laugh or chuckle especially in satisfaction or exultation


Chuckle
Hubby's first thought upon reading the word:
Forcing laughter out.

Definition from Merriam-Webster:
1: to laugh inwardly or quietly
2: to make a continuous gentle sound resembling suppressed mirth


Giggle
Hubby's first thought upon reading the word:
A high-pitched girly sound. Kind of like a horse neighing.

Definition from Merriam-Webster:
to laugh with repeated short catches of the breath


Guffaw
Hubby's first thought upon reading the word:
"Isn't that the guy on Aladdin?"

Definition from Merriam-Webster:
a loud or boisterous burst of laughter


Snicker
Hubby's first thought upon reading the word:
A nice candy bar or a giggle for boys.

Definition from Merriam-Webster:
to laugh in a covert or partly suppressed manner; titter


Snigger
Hubby's first thought upon reading the word: "Don't call me that!" Also, making fun of somebody, laughing behind their backs.

Definition from Merriam-Webster:
snicker


Titter
Hubby's first thought upon reading the word: To almost fall off of a cliff; right at the edge of falling.

Definition from Merriam-Webster:
to laugh in a nervous, affected, or partly suppressed manner; giggle; snicker


Here are some words that mean "laugh" that I'd never heard of before: cachinnate, boff (boff as a noun means "hearty laughter," whereas boff as a verb means "to have sexual intercourse with", so if for some reason you ever use this to mean laughing, be careful about context ;)), horselaugh.

Every time I think I've found words I use too much, I always end up finding more every time I edit. Do you try to pay attention to your particular "catch words" when you write? Are you still trying to pinpoint yours? I find words so much fun. :D

Thursday, September 8, 2011

O_O

You know how I mentioned last week was long? Yes. Well. This week has been long, too. My family has been dealing with scabies (tiny mites that live in your skin and cause itchy red bumps).

I've also been writing and doing edits for others and homeschooling and my poor, poor blog is just sitting here, looking all woeful and neglected. *pats blog consolingly*

I am so, so, so behind on reading blogs, too. So tell me, lovely readers and fellow bloggers, what have you been up to? Have you read anything recently that you loved? Seen a movie/tv show that you really enjoyed? How's your September going? I hope you all are doing amazingly.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Contest for My Book

This week was a Long week with a capital L. Soooo long. It put me terribly behind on blogging and replying to comments and reading blogs and generally doing much online. I didn't even get this week's Grammar Daze written, even though I know what subject I'm tackling next. I will do that soon. Not today, though, because today is my birthday (I'm 28, wheeee) and I'm vegging.

I did want to make everyone aware that Laura Pauling is doing a giveaway for my book, Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School) right now, and you can check that out here: Laura Pauling's Contest.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Grammar Daze - effect/affect

Tara Tyler asked that I do a post on effect and affect, so I'm going to do that for this week's Grammar Daze.

Effect is typically used as a noun. (Noun = person/place/thing/idea.)

Affect is typically used as a verb. (Verb = action word. It's what you do. To be or not to be. Or in this case, to affect or not to affect.)

An easy way to remember the distinction is to use alliteration. In this case, we'll use effect and elephant. They both start with E and they're both nouns.

If you want to know whether you should use effect or affect in a sentence, replace the word with elephant to see if it's the noun that you need. If it is, use effect.  Like so:

The effect was enormous.

Effect is the subject of this sentence. To be sure, replace it with elephant.

The elephant was enormous.





Now, for affect. People are affected by things happening. In this case, we will find another verb that starts with A. Let's go with assassinate.

It will affect us.

Let's see if this works with an alternate verb.

It will assassinate us.







In a few cases, effect is used as a verb. In this case, it's usually to show achievement of a final result, as in: "They will effect a new law."  As I said, most of the time, you'll use effect as a noun.

Happy writing!
 

Guest Post on Outlining (or a lack thereof)

Today, I did a guest post for Dia at A Tale of A Strange Land. You can check it out over there if you'd like. ^_^

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Short Story ~ "Homecoming"

A while back, for my friend's birthday, I wrote a short story that took place several years after the events in  my novel, Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School). I figured that now that Confessions is published, I'd go ahead and post it here. It'd probably be good to have some kind of sample of my writing on my writing blog. :p

This can be read as a standalone snippet, even if you know nothing about my novel. ;)

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Homecoming


I knew it was a bad idea. I had known it was a bad idea from the moment I dragged Joey into it, and not just because he told me, "This is a really bad idea."
"There are some things," I said as I moved a mop bucket out of the way, "that have to be done even if you know it's not the best idea." I kicked off the high heels that I had forced my feet into and breathed a sigh of relief. "Even wearing these things once or twice a year is too much."
"Remind me why I'm here again?" Joey asked.
"Because this is Cass's last year for the homecoming dance and it's going to be ruined if I don't do something."
"Still not sure why I have to be here."
"To give me a boost, of course." I pulled a screwdriver out of my purse and motioned Joey over to the wall.
Joey rolled his eyes. "Sephie, you do realize that we should be chaperoning this dance, not unscrewing vents so you can crawl into them." He pointedly went to the side of the room and dragged over a stool from the corner. He set it below the vent and waved at it. "Ta-da."
"Oh, come on. Where's the fun in standing on a stool? We're supposed to be all James Bond-like and everything."
"We're supposed to be inside the gym. You know, chaperoning." He enunciated each syllable on the last word. "Most girlfriends would drag their boyfriends to the janitor's closet to make out."
"I can stuff a broom and a mop in a closet at my house and make out with you there sometime if that will make you happy." I stepped up on the stool, which was a little tricky in my dress. I unscrewed the corners of the vent cover and lifted it carefully off the wall. I tucked the screwdriver back into my purse and stuck my hand out behind me. "Megaphone."
Joey handed me the megaphone we'd acquired from Coach Jenson's office. I grinned at him and shoved the megaphone into the hole. I pulled a foghorn—also from Coach Jenson's office—out of my purse and shoved that up there, too. 
"Here, hold this for me." I handed Joey the purse and hoisted myself into the vent.
The janitor's closet was right on the other side of the gym, so it wasn't hard to find my way to one of the vents that overlooked it, especially when all I had to do was follow the noise.
I peered through the slats down to the decked-out gym. I could see a swirl of colors and hear the loud music and voices of high school kids as they danced and laughed.
I dragged the foghorn forward and let it blast. My ears rang as the noise echoed loudly off of the narrow vent walls. Very, very loudly. So loudly that I could barely hear it when the music in the gym come to an abrupt stop. That was my cue. I held the megaphone up and spoke into it, pitching my voice higher and deciding to go for an Irish accent.
"Ahem. Excuse me for interrupting the party, but there's something very important that needs to be addressed." I was sure that people were looking around to see what the hubbub was all about, and I wondered if they would realize my voice was resonating from a vent on the wall or if they would assume it was coming from the intercom. "There is a certain young man here tonight who is utterly miserable. I won't name names—Evan Moore—but I'm pretty sure the misery is mutually shared by this girl he knows who is also here tonight."
I could almost picture my sister Cass turning so white that her freckles stood out. I cheerfully continued, "Now, I have to tell you, this young man has sure had moments in high school that made me wonder about him. There was the time he apparently stuck erasers up his nose and said he was an alien. There was the time he somehow locked himself into his own locker. There was the time—you know, I won't go into that one; it was pretty embarrassing. But he also turned out to be a pretty nice guy. He never teased this girl about the braces she had to wear for two years, even when certain sisters teased a lot. He never forgot her birthday and he totally wins points for making a giant marshmallow snowman with her on her back deck using like a hundred bags of marshmallows."
My hearing was pretty much back to normal and I could hear the whispers and murmurs and laughter below me in the gym. I cleared my throat and finished, "I'm not exactly sure what the fight last week was about, but I know that it was almost impossible to get her to come to homecoming today. I know that they're both out in that gym looking like someone killed puppies in front of them. I know that they've been through too much to let one fight come between them. I also know that if they don't work things out, certain sisters might go crazy and lock them in a tiny room together until they talk it out."
My next words were so serious that I almost dropped my high, fake accent. "High school is confusing and complicated, and then suddenly it's over and everything that happened in high school starts to feel so distant. The important thing is having people who stick by your side through it and after it. I've found there's not much that can stand between you and someone you love—as long as you don't let it."
If that didn't make them both stop and think about things, I didn't know what would. I started to lower the megaphone, changed my mind, and added, "Seriously, Evan, fix this or your car is subject to being plastic wrapped."
There was a burst of laughter from the room below, and as I maneuvered myself around in the vents, the music in the gym kicked back on. Pulling the megaphone and the foghorn with me, I made my way back to the janitor's closet.
Joey shook his head as soon as my head poked out of the vent. "That," he said firmly, "was the worst accent I have ever heard. I couldn't tell if it was supposed to be Scottish or British."
"Irish, duh." I handed him the megaphone and foghorn before turning around and climbing out onto the stool.
"Worst. Accent. Ever."
I reclaimed my purse from him and he handed me the vent cover so I could screw it back in place. "It was a great speech, though, right?"
"Cass is going to kill you."
"Not if Evan gets me first." I jumped off the stool and shoved my feet back into my high heels. "Look at it this way: it will give them something to unite about. Maybe they'll make up just to see how they can get back at me. And—" I grabbed the front of Joey's suit and tugged him toward me for a long, breathless kiss. "There, you can't say I never made out with you in the janitor's closet. Now let's get this stuff back to Coach Jenson's office! We're supposed to be chaperoning!"
"That's what I—oh, never mind." Joey grabbed my hand and we ran through the high school hallways toward the coach's office. "You know, I would have thought that after going into our third year at college, we'd be done with high school shenanigans."
"Admit it. You're having fun."
There was a wicked gleam in his eye. "Maybe a little."
And that was reason number one thousand and one that he was still my best friend after all these years.
"Besides," I told him after we had returned the megaphone and foghorn and headed back to the gym, "Evadne still has a couple more years of high school and then Ariadne and Daphne have to get through it. We have years of potential high school shenanigans left."
"At this rate, your sisters are going to ban us from everything high school related."
We stopped just inside the gym doors. My eyes skimmed over all of the dancing students and I smiled when I saw Cass and Evan talking earnestly at the side of the room. I nudged Joey and nodded toward them. "Maybe not."
Joey slipped his hand into mine as Cass and Evan finally walked onto the dance floor. From across the room, Cass saw us and she pointed at me and then gave me an 'I'm going to kill you later' look.
I waved cheerfully at her and mouthed, "You're welcome!"
"Oh, yeah," I said happily, leaning against Joey, "years of potential high school shenanigans."

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Confessions from the Realm of the Underworld (Also Known as High School) and related characters © Laura Josephsen

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Grammar Daze - loose/lose and stared/starred

HI, EVERYONE!

I decided that I'm going to have Grammar Days Daze (because, really, don't you ever feel dazed when it comes to grammar?) on my blog where I will address grammar or spelling issues that I come across while writing/editing.

Today, I am going to briefly talk about two things that drive me slightly insane when I read them written incorrectly.

stared vs. starred
 and 
lose vs. loose

Let's examine these, shall we?

to stare: to look at something very intently
to star: to play the lead role in something 
a star: someone who stars in something; also, a giant ball of gas way out in space

The past tense of to stare is stared.
The past tense of to star is starred.
A star has no past tense, because if a star (person) is past, they've fallen out of stardom, and if a star (giant ball of gas) is past, it's probably gone supernova or something.


































Lose means to have lost something.
Loose is the opposite of tight. 
Loose is also to release something, as in: I let my giant saber-tooth giraffe loose downtown and it ate the mayor.
















If you misuse loose/lose, your readers might get the wrong idea.








































Happy writing!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Awards!

This week, I've been given three awards. Two of them were the Liebster Award. I got one from the amazing Barbara Kloss and another from the fantabulous Tara Tyler. THANK YOU to both of you!

Liebster apparently comes from German with multiple translations, meaning 'dearest' or 'sweetheart'. It was meant to be given to bloggers with less than 200 followers.






 Here are the rules:

1. Thank the giver
Again, thank you to Barbara and Tara!

2. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog--and follow them!

*Jenna Cooper at Finding the Right Way
*Tonja's Musings
*Becky Taylor
*Faith at Tangled in My Own Endeavors
*Annikka Woods at Writing in the Woods

3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.

4. Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.


Next, the super awesome Donna Weaver gave me this award:















Thank you, Donna!!

I think maybe I'm supposed to answer questions about myself? But as Donna said in her blog, I've answered quite a lot in other award posts. If anyone wants to know something about me, feel free to ask. In the meantime, I'll take my cue from Donna and share a quote.

"A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for." ~ John A. Shedd.

So get out there and sail your ships into the known and unknown! Brave the waters and the storms and go on an adventure. And have fun! :D