Showing posts from April, 2009

Two Items of Importance

1) TODAY (Thursday, April 30th) I'll be signing at the BYU Bookstore for Women's Conference from 4:00 to 6:00 pm. If you're around, drop by and say hi!
In addition to my novels being there, I'll have samples of the "Tabitha" perfume with me as well as cards for how to order my grammar book when it's available.
(And heck, it's nice having something to chat with! Signings can be lonely.)

2) I recently won a giveaway at The Ardent Sparrow. I hadn't heard of the site before I entered, but I'll definitely be back. It took me forever to pick something out of the over 100 possibilities of really beautiful jewelry.
I first narrowed my choices down to something like fifteen different items then had to cut it back from there. No easy task, I tell you.

No one asked for this plug, but I wanted to mention the site, because the jewelry is:
1) handmade
2) gorgeous and
3) affordable.

The moment I opened the package, two of my daughters gasped and cried out, "The…

WNW: Those Hook-Looking Thingys

We're working out the final bugs on There, Their, They're: A No-Tears Guide to Grammar from the Word Nerd. If I don't run into any more snags, it should be available to order on Monday. For those who pre-ordered at last week's conference, I'll ship them to you as soon as I get them in hand.

Today's topic is one I was asked about in my conference workshop last weekend:

How do you use single quotation marks?
This is gonna be fun, because I just might get a little wonky and out of control with it . . .

Note: We're talking U.S. punctuation rules here, not UK rules.

Here's the good part of using single quotation marks: you almost never need them.
Don't use them when you're describing a sarcastic line and using air quotes.
Don't use them for thoughts.
Don't use them to set apart regular dialogue.

In all of those cases, you want double quotation marks like this:

"When in doubt, use double quotation marks," Wanda said. "First off, they'…

2nd Annual Whitney Awards Gala

Right after the LDStorymakers Writers Conference ended, we had to hurry to get gussied up for the Whitney Gala in less than an hour. (Thanks yet again to Alison Palmer, who let me, Josi, and Heather crash her hotel room so we could dress!)

I got my hair cut two days before the conference (brilliant move on the timing, no?), and the stylist had a hey-day doing something to it that I didn't ask for, so I had to experiment with it for that night. It didn't really work, but hey, the night was fun anyway.

Here I am with my husband:

In case you're wondering, yes, that's the same blouse you saw in the bottom half of this post. (I'd worn it once, two years ago. Figured I might as well get some more use out of it!)

Here I am presenting the award for Best Historical Novel (won by H. B. Moore) with my beloved former editor, Angela Eschler:

Apparently, the best part of our presentation was the one unscripted part. Most of the presenters had silly puns and funny skits. Angela and I …

I'm Baaaa-aaack . . .

At least, I'm back on some level.

I don't know how active I'll be bloggy-wise in the next few days. There's still the whole re-entry process to finish after mom has being away from the family for two and a half days, but I needed to post about the weekend.

Lots of fun today (saving the best for last):

When Hearts Conjoin, by Erin Herrin with my good friend Lu Ann Staheli, goes to Karlene Browning.

And Michele Paige Holmes's upcoming release, All the Stars in Heaven, goes to Tink.

Congratulations to both!

Be sure to e-mail me your mailing addresses so the authors can ship the prizes. (Tink, yours should arrive in July after the book is released.)

The 6th Annual LDStorymakers Conference rocked. Absolutely and totally. In addition to hanging out with LDStorymakers who are some of my best friends on the planet, I got to meet tons of bloggers I've known only virtually (and each was just as awesome in person!). I don't dare list them…

We Interrupt This Bloggy Break . . .

for a brief announcement!

I've picked a title for the book. I have a cover designed by my good friend Crystal Leichty, graphic designer extraordinaire, and I've written, proofed, and uploaded the puppy to the publishing company.

If all goes well, I should have actual copies to put in the bookstore at the LDStorymakers Conference this weekend. That also means it'll be available for order online in just a few days.

Can I hear a woot, woot!

I sort of have two title winners.

Lara from Overstuffed was the first to suggest using "Word Nerd" in the title. I decided that was a must, since a lot of people know me by that lovely term.

So that's in the subtitle. Lara gets a copy.

The main title was suggested by Mel Henderson. Also known as my cool big sister. She got on a real title-suggestion roll there, shooting dozens into my in-box. She'll get a copy too.

The title is . . . (drum roll, please) . . .

There, Their, They're:

A No-Tears Guide to Grammar from the Word Ner…

A Giveaway, a Thank You, and a Break

Two friends from my critique group are getting close to new releases, and my readers get a chance to win one of their books!

The first is When Hearts Conjoin, the true story about the conjoined Herrin twins and their separation surgery.

As the ghostwriter, Lu Ann Staheli worked tirelessly with the twins' mother, Erin. Lu Ann did a ton of work to make the final product a wonderful account of the journey the Herrin family has taken so far. (Read an interview about her ghost-writing experience here.)

The book is now available for pre-order, and it'll be officially released in a few weeks. This fall, it'll be featured on Oprah. (You read that right!)

The second book up for grabs is by Whitney Award winner Michele Paige Holmes, who took home the Whitney for Best Romance for her first novel, Counting Stars.

Her next book, All the Stars in Heaven, will be out in June. Jay (from Counting Stars) attends Harvard Law and meets Sarah, a music student with a mysterious life and a s…

Writing Journey: Part XIV

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart V
Part VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IX
Part XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII

When Spires of Stone came out, I was smart enough to take a camera with me more often, so I actually have pictures of things like the LDS Booksellers Association Convention and my giant book cover poster and cool stuff like that.

As I think this series has shown, writing is hard work. It's not a journey for the faint of heart. And even when you cross the "finish line," you're really just beginning a new race with new challenges.

For this post, I thought I'd show some of the fun that has come with my writing journey. Because yes, there are a lot of perks.

Here I am at my LDSBA book signing:

And here's my gigantic book cover poster:

That spring was the 5th Annual LDStorymakers Conference, which Heather (H. B.) Moore and I co-chaired.

Lots of fun, that. Here I am with my co-chair Heather (far left) and the previous year's conference "queens," Josi and Julie:


Calling People Good with Titles

I lack the skill of inventing good titles.

It's one of several reasons I rarely bother coming up with a working title for my novels (the others include not wanting to go through mentally renaming my "baby" and the fact that marketing always changes it anyway).

BUT . . .

Some of you may recall that I'm working on a grammar, usage, and punctuation book. I'm not Strunk and White. I'm not Chicago. I'm not an expert.

But I am a writer and an editor and an English major who graduated cum laude. I'm affectionately known among friends as the Grammar Nazi. I do know a few things.

I'm writing the book because I've had so many fellow writers ask me questions, and when I offer an answer that's actually understandable, they tell me I should write a reference book on these things because they want it on their own reference shelf.

I'm in the final stages of writing it, and I hope to have it available real soon. Down the road, I'll likely do updates and…

WNW: Reader Edition

Since the inception of Word Nerd Wednesday, I've gotten lots of suggestions for issues to address. (Keep 'em coming! You can leave ideas in the comments or e-mail them to me.)

I'll discuss a just handful today.

Might Could
Erin brought up this particularly annoying phrase, used as:
I might could go to the movie tonight.

Might could is a dialectal thing, but it's definitely not acceptable in standard English. Depending on the quirk, I find some dialectal things intriguing rather than annoying. This one, however, bugs me, because it makes no sense.

It's like a some funky compound version of, "I might go to the movie tonight" and, "I could go to the movie tonight," or perhaps they're really meaning, "I might be able to go to the movie tonight."

But since when does could mean be able to?

In the mists
A malapropism is when one (incorrect) word is accidentally substituted for the word the speaker means. I love catching these puppies, because they…

Rant Update and More Ranting

First off, I have to thank everyone who encouraged me to not white-knuckle the rest of the school year and instead get my son out of that nasty English class now.

I contacted the principal via e-mail that very day (Tuesday). He didn't get back to me until Thursday (I was about to barge into his office and break down his door if he didn't respond soon). I couldn't tell by his reply whether he was willing to work with me. One thing he asked was whether I'd been in contact with the teacher about the problem.

No, I hadn't. And I still have no plans to talk to her, because anything I'd say would be a personal attack. (Not a way to endear my son to her.) This isn't a matter of a teacher singling out a student or parent and teacher collaborating to find a way through a behavior problem. It's a matter of teacher incompetence and attitude. Talking to her would be tantamount to putting a target on my son's chest.

That, and I have no desire to make this work. I w…

Temple Trivia: Logan

Of all my temple books, House on the Hill tells more about its temple than any other. The Logan Temple is almost another character, it's such a big part of the story. Even though there are more stories in that book, plenty more aren't in it. Here are two of my favorites.

Carpeting the Temple
The original plan was to purchase factory-made carpet. 1,516 yards were purchased, but that wasn't nearly enough. Worse, the order had pretty much depleted the supply available. What to do?

Superintendent Charles O. Card asked the committee for permission to use handmade carpets. As soon as it was granted, stake Relief Societies were called on to band together to make the carpets.

The women donated rags, which were torn into strips at rag-tearing sessions. The strips were then sewn together by color and rolled into balls. The balls were taken to a weaving machine, which created long strips of cloth. They then sewed the strips together carefully so the carpet wouldn't twist or bulge.

As …

Writing Journey: Part XIII

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV
Part VPart VIPart VIIPart VIII
Part IXPart XPart XIPart XII

Something a lot of readers don't know is that a copy editor can input errors and changes into a manuscript that the author never approved. This is why I'm freakishly controlling about my edits and proofs. I know that if a grammatical error or a typo slips through, most readers will blame me. After all, it's my name of the cover.

The majority of copy editors are very good at what they do. Since each of my books has gone through anywhere from one to three copy/line edits, I've had several copy editors, and only a few complaints. (Like the copy editors who inserted four misspelled words and added a lay/lie error . . . that was fun. I was glad I caught it at the last minute.)

I've really had only one really bad copy editor, and that was one of three I had for Spires of Stone.

An editor's job is to make the writer look good. They polish and smooth out the text and make the writer shin…

Where Book Ideas Come from

Recently, I've had several people ask where I get the ideas for my books. Some of my unpublished manuscripts are so bad they'll always be unpublished, but here's a book-by-book look at my published books.

I'll start with the most recent and go backward:

With most of my historical novels, I haven't had a clue about what the story will be until I learn about the temple and the area. Since I'm very big on the history being an organic part of the story, I need to know about the setting before I can come up with a plot or characters to fit it.

With Tower of Strength, I researched the settlement of Manti and the temple there for several weeks, making notes and marking spots in the text of several publications, but I really had no clear idea for a story.

Then one day as I was blow drying my hair, Tabitha showed up in my head. I heard her say, "It's Tab, not Tabby. I'm not a cat!" I grinned, knowing I'd found my heroine.

From that point, I knew enough …

WNW: Long-A has an E in It! Or: Diphthongs

When my third child had trouble reading, I was so proud.

Not because she struggled, but because of the reason: she was hearing diphthongs.

They confused the heck out of her, because teachers in the U.S. don't usually have a reason to address them. For that matter, a good number of teachers don't even know what a diphthong is.

They merrily go along, telling their students to sound out words: short A, long A, short I, long I. Remember, the silent E makes the short vowel long. All that stuff.

For most students, that method works just fine. After all, most English-speakers hear just one vowel sound in words like, cake, sky, and dozens of others.

But my kid didn't; she heard the diphthong. She recognized that a long-A isn't really an A. That a long-I isn't really an I. For that matter, that a lot of the "long" vowels and vowel pairs were not made up of a single vowel sound. She had the darnedest time trying to sound anything out.

A diphthong is two vowel sounds that…