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Showing posts from May, 2009

Writing Journey: Part XVI

Catch up on the rest of this series HERE.
So I waited nervously for my big, scary revisions call from my new editor, Kirk.
The phone rang. I answered, my heart picking up its pace. He asked how I was doing, shooting the proverbial breeze for a few minutes. I wasn't so good at shooting the breeze. My leg was bobbing up and down with nerves. I grabbed a pen in a death grip then found some paper to take notes with.
And then things got interesting. 
See, with my publisher, each manuscript gets three readers evaluating it, and each reader fills out a gigantic form (something like 12 pages long) about the manuscript. I still have the evals from my first five books.
Kirk didn't send me the evals for this one. I still don't have them. I've never laid eyes on them. 
Instead, we discussed them over the phone. I wasn't sure what I thought of that at first. On one hand, it's nice to see directly what someone said about the manuscript, to get criticism or praise from the horse…

WNW: The Ryon's Tale?

Funny story connected to an interesting linguistic phenomenon.
First, the language part, then the story.
It's commonly known that many Asian languages (such as Chinese and Japanese) don't have the typical [r] and [l] sounds that we have in English, and that native Asians learning English as a second language often mix up the two and/or struggle to make them sound different at all. Many can't even hear the difference.
This fact is often used for jokes in television and movies, such as a Japanese person intending to say, "clap" but who instead says, "crap." There are cruder examples, but I'll spare you.
According to our favorite online encyclopedia, the Japanese R is pronounced much like a soft Spanish R, where you flap your tongue against the palate behind your teeth. It's not at all like the English R. Plus, Japanese has no comparable L sound.
The article also states that the Chinese "R" really isn't one in the English sense. Instead, i…

I'm a Nerd Elsewhere, Too!

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I first "met" Jordan McCollum in bloggy land. I learned a lot about blogging and her philosophy on motherhood (one close to my heart) from her personal blog, MamaBlogga (see the link below).
Not long after, I got to be the guest-judge for Scribbit's monthly Write Away contest. The judging was totally blind; I was sent the entries without any author names on them. As I read through them and marked them up, putting them in various stacks (maybe, definitely no, etc.), one entry stood out from all the rest. I deemed it the winner.
I found out later that the winning entry was Jordan's. Dude, the girl can write.

Shortly thereafter, she came to one of my book signings and kept me company for a good half hour. (So did Wonder Woman . . . thanks for that! It was so fun!). 
I discovered during our chat that Jordan was an actual linguistics major (Hello!!! One of my favorite subjects ever . . . even though I'm an amateur and don't have a degree in it).
Then I about passed out…

Sherrie's Soothing Sounds

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Update: If you tried to enter Sherrie's giveaway but couldn't get the comment form to work, try the new link below!
My first contact with Sherrie Shepherd was through her blog. I think I found her through Motherboard, but I don't remember for sure.
She is an absolute doll. Extremely talented, gorgeous, skinny, and even a marathon runner. (And I love her anyway! You can't avoid adoring Sherrie.)
My first contact with her music was when I was looking for something to use on my book trailer for Tower of Strength. 
All the free music sites I was listening to just didn't hit the spot, and some other sites I found just had bad recordings. Nothing quite worked. And then Sherrie gave me permission to use her arrangement of "Come Thou Fount/If You Could Hie to Kolob" on the trailer (it's cut short on the trailer, but it'll give you an idea):


Bingo. It was perfect. I became an immediate fan.
I pre-ordered her new CD of inspirational piano solos, Solitude. Thanks …

Writing Journey: Part XVI

(I'm not going to link all the other parts anymore. Just click on the "Writers Journey" label to read them!)
Last time in this series, I talked about when the idea for Tower of Strength hit me like a bolt of lightning . . . and then how I had to wait a week to begin it.
For this book, the original drafting was pretty enjoyable. I had a lot of fun writing about Tabitha and Samuel individually as well as together. They both had some fascinating issues that I'd never explored before.
As always, though, a few moments crept in that gave me fits when my critique group saw them. I remember having to rewrite one scene (the one where Will sort of wrecks the printing room) several times to make it work. I've since heard from several readers that it's one of their favorites. (So yay for revisions!)
One big problem I ran into is something I've mentioned several times before, but THIS POST was my biggest rant over it.
This challenge began when I discovered (yes, I disco…

Some People Like Me!

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Two posts in the last two days have put smiles on my face. The most recent was from long-time friend Tristi Pinkston, whom I'm known for five or six years now. She's a riot, and I love being around her and even getting the occasional e-mails along the lines of, "Is this sentence using lay/lie right?" or "What about this comma?" 
When my grammar book, There, Their, They're: A No-Tears Guide to Grammar from the Word Nerd, Tristi was the very first person to order it from the site. Her copy arrived yesterday, and then she posted one of the coolest things ever. Go check it out. It brought me much joy, even if the first paragraph is entirely fictional.
One piece of very good news for people wanting to order online:My husband created a new e-store where you can get the book for about half the shipping costs as the "real" site. Instead of four or five dollars for shipping (on an eight-and-change dollar book, hello), it's only two bucks for shipping…

WNW: (Parentheses) and [Brackets]

A little while ago, Heatherlyn asked two questions about parentheses.
1) How do you handle punctuation with parentheses, particularly with question marks?

The vast majority of the time, the punctuation will go outside the parentheses:
Jen accidentally dropped her cell phone into the toilet (no big loss; she hated her phone anyway).
The comment inside the parentheses is just that: an aside. It's not a sentence in and of itself but part of the larger one. Because of that, you end the big sentence with a period on the outside of the closing parenthesis.
With commas, put them on the outside. There might be a situation where inside is correct, but I can't think of one. 
As for question marks inside or outside the parentheses, the answer to that is: it depends.
Ask yourself: Is the inserted (parenthetical) thought a question itself, or is the full sentence the question? That'll tell you where the question mark belongs.
A question mark goes INSIDE if the parenthetical is a question:Jen a…

Family Time: Priceless

This weekend, we made the leap and bought an annual pass that will allow us to camp whenever we want without having to pay the fee to get up the canyon.
This was big for us. For a variety of reasons, we haven't camped in years. We used to go more, and I thought our older kids at least had happy memories from those times, especially the trips we took with my in-laws and the ones we went on with my dad. It was a bit startling when #3 said she had no memory of ever sleeping in a tent. She'll be ten soon.
What the what?
Then I remembered that one of our big camping trips was while my sister and I were both 8 months pregnant. I was pregnant #3. Of course she didn't remember sleeping in that tent. (Fun night of sleeping that was, let me tell you.) So yeah, it had been too long.
We picked an early weekend in the season mostly because we wanted to avoid the Memorial Day camping rush  and because so many other weekends are already getting sucked up for the summer with things like Girls…

On Inspiration

I've chronicled how some of my characters and stories "show up" in my head fully formed. Several readers have found that interesting. 
Let's debunk a myth right now: For me, such "inspiration" does not drop from the sky out of nowhere, even if that's how it appears in the moment.
In every case, there's been a lot of work done beforehand. I've done weeks of research. I've come across kernels of ideas or facts that might work well in a story. I dwell on those for days, trying come up with ways to use them in a plot. I might run across a news story or read something in a book that sparks an idea. I think about types of story lines and characters. As best I can, I immerse myself in the location the book will take place to get to know its "personality."
All of this is effort, which is entirely in my head, is major part of my creative process at work. 
It helps me uncover dozens of puzzle pieces that then float around. I have to sort through…

WNW: Celebration! It's HERE!

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Finally! After a number of techno-delays, There, Their, They're: A No-Tears Guide to Grammar from the Word Nerd  is officially available for order. Time to par-tay!
To order, visit the e-store by clicking on the pretty cover image on the sidebar. (The cover should show up on that page in a couple of days.)
Thanks to Tristi and Heather of the EO, who already ordered their copies!
For those who pre-ordered at the conference, I'll ship them to you just as soon as I have them in hand. Those lucky people don't have to pay for shipping. Booyah for them! Their copies are on the way to me as I type.
And of course, Lara and Mel will get their free copies as a thanks for their help coming up with the title.
No great WNW lesson today. I'm too excited to think along those lines. But if you really need a word nerd fix, check out Jordan McCollum's blog
She's an even bigger word nerd than I am, and I mean that as the highest possible compliment!
A recent post of her explained pass…

Random Claims to Fame

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I happen to have some friends and acquaintances from years gone by who ended up doing cool "famousy" things in the entertainment industry. It's reached a rather annoying level for family members when I watch LDS movies, because I yell out, "I was in a play with her!" or, "I went to high school with him!" or I start telling a story about so-and-so.

Just for the total gee whiz of it, here's a list of some of people I have connections with--my random claims to fame.

Tayva Patch
She pulled my hair on stage. Rather, she pulled my wig. I was Rapunzel and she was the Baker's Wife in Into the Woods.

We had a separate wig piece clothes-pinned to the wig that she'd pull off in one scene. Each night before I climbed my tower, I clipped it on. Before one show as we got dressed, she said, "Thanks so much for having the hair piece there. I keep wondering what I'd do if it wasn't."

Of course, Murphy's Law kicked in. That very night, the …

Writing Journey: Part XV

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart V
Part VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IX
Part XPart XIPart XIIPart XIIIPart XIV
Many times over the years while doing events for my temple novels, I'd have people excited about one book or another specifically because of the temple it features. Maybe their daughter attended Utah State in Logan, or the reader was married in St. George or their parents were married in Salt Lake. 
But I frequently got one  question: What about Manti? 
Turns out that Manti is one of the most popular temples. More people seem to have a personal connection with it than to the others.
"It's next," I said every time.
But yeah . . . no pressure on writing a book about that one. 
As I'd done with three prior temples, I spent time seeking out sources about the Manti Temple and the founding of the city. I found a couple of books and two master's theses, all with great information.
But I ran into a couple of problems. 
First, most of the information I found was either abou…

WNW: Quotes Marks and Italics

Last week's Word Nerd Wednesday talked about using single quotes and double quotes in dialogue. What it didn't go into was when to use quotation marks and  italics in titles.

That's today's topic, a section pulled from There, Their, They're. (For today, let's forget the no-tears guide part; I'm about to cry over all the delays I've had trying to get the book here. Soon, I promise! Soon!)

Quotation Marks versus Italics
First and foremost, never, ever use quote marks or italics when a title is actually acting as a title.

In other words, don’t italicize or put quote marks around your title on your own title page. The title is being a title, not being referred to, so it doesn’t need to be set apart.

Have you ever seen a title on an actual book italicized?

Ever seen a magazine article title with quotes around it at the top of the piece?

Didn’t think so.

On the other hand, when you’re referring to your own work, then your title is not behaving as a title. That's …

A Note to Gymnastics Parents

As the gym has extremely limited seating for parents, please keep in mind that the handful of chairs that line the one available wall are to be claimed by people who will actually use them. Simply stated, they are for the parents.
Note that a one-year-old does not need their own chair. Kudos to you parents with multiple small children for taking your older child to gymnastics class and juggling the other one (or two) on the sidelines.
But be aware that your toddler who spends the class period wandering the gym and jumping on equipment that shouldn't be touched anyway is not using the chair you saved for them. When they do spend time near you, it's on the floor munching fruit snacks, driving toy cars across pads, playing with their dolly, or possibly hanging out on your lap. They're never on the chair.
Furthermore, when a parent who is at least ten years your senior (although, thanks to chipmunk cheeks might not look it) comes looking for a chair to sit on and there is only on…