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Showing posts from February, 2010

Here's Where It Gets Fun

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Word has it that Band of Sisters will be shipping to stores on Monday. At what point it reaches shelves is yet to be determined, but we're almost there! Yippee!
The journey for this book began with that magazine article the summer of 2007, so Band of Sisters has been nearly three years in the making. In many ways, this release means more to me than many of my others. I'm not sure why.
Maybe it's because the topic wouldn't be shaken off until I wrote about it. Maybe it's because I felt so invested in the lives of my characters (and had more main characters than in any other book). Or maybe it's because the process simply took so much longer than usual.
Whatever the reason, I'm thrilled that the book is almost here for readers to get their hands on. Yesterday I got feedback from a reader/reviewer who received a PDF copy. I believe she's the first actual reader to see the whole thing (versus my early beta readers, critique group, editor, etc.).
Turns out . …

WNW: Reader Peeves

More Word Nerd Wednesday fun from reader comments and e-mails. On tap today:
Alyson of New England Livingmentioned a constantly confused word pair:
Affect/Effect
One of these words in a verb, and the other is (almost always) a noun. In a handful of cases it's a verb, but usually in formal situations, so probably not when you're writing a blog or a novel.
AFFECT is a verb. In other words, it implies an ACTION. Use that as your mnemonic device: they both begin with A: AFFECT mean ACTION.
Examples:How did reading that book affect you? His death affected her for the rest of her life.We anticipate the downturn of the economy to affect overall sales.
On the other hand, EFFECT is a noun. Think of it as the result of the action version. First something gets AFFECTED, and the result is an EFFECT.
The two words even happen in alphabetical order (another way to remember which is which.)
Examples:That book had a powerful effect on me; I cried.His death had a huge effect: she spiraled into depres…

Personal Wagons

In recent years, I've had a particular lesson hammered home many times:

Life isn't perfect . . . for anyone.

That's simply a fact, no matter what someone's life looks like from the outside. No human being will escape this life without their share of trials, unwelcome surprises, and burdens. 


But somehow, we either forget that, or we don't realize it, or, often, we simply don't believe it.

I've had people say to my face that I must have no clue what stress is like, that gee, I should be so grateful for having such an easy life . . . all because they see just a little piece of my existence from the outside.

While I might not have experienced theirparticular trial (one such commenter was divorced, and no, I've never been through that), I do have trials of my own. Everyonedoes. Just because I don't proclaim mine from the rooftop in neon lights doesn't mean they don't exist.

The same goes for other people. I continue to be stunned when I hear about lon…

When Is Writing Work?

I get this question asked a lot: Do I ever get sick of writing, and/or does it ever become work?
The answer is messy and convoluted . . . pretty much like the writer brain is.
I don't think I've ever gotten sick of writing during the drafting phase. Sure, I've stressed myself out during it, trying to get it done or worrying that the story won't turn out right, or that maybe this is the time I'll fail at writing a whole book.
But as for actually getting sick of writing?
Absolutely not. Drafting and the initial stages of revision are the best part of this gig. Drafting is when you're in the act of creation. It makes me alive inside. I love hanging out with my characters and watching them do their thing. Generally speaking, the happiest seasons I experience are the ones in which I'm regularly drafting. (I think my family prefers me then too.)
Took me awhile to figure that out, though. I'd get into a slump and hate the whole darn writing thing: it had become w…

WNW: Dangling Participles

A couple of weeks ago, Michelle Jeffries asked me to address participial phrases. Since that's a giant topic, I thought I'd start with the way participles are most often misused: the famous dangling participle!
They're loads of fun . . . really! They're easy to giggle over . . . at least when you find the mistake in someone else's work (or before yours gets in front of an editor).
I originally wrote about them on the Writing on the Wall blog about a year and a half ago, so for those who have followed that blog a long time, you may recognize parts of this.
So what is a dangling participle? It's a modifier, usually noun, pronoun, or phrase—basically any descriptor—that's in the wrong place for what it's supposed to be describing. Often that means it's too far away from it, or at least that something else is in the way.
Sounds confusing, so let's just ignore the definition for a minute and show some examples. They're the best way to learn anyway,…

A Happy List

At times, a list just feels good.
Some things that made me happy today:
1) Making quite a bit of progress at digging the house out from under some serious messes.
2) Getting a freelance check in the mail (which was a bit larger than expected, so double smiles).
3) Husband taking the day off work and saying, "This afternoon, if there's housework you want help with, let me know." (SERIOUSLY? WOOOOOOT!)
4) Meeting Emily M of Segullah for the first time. Even though we've corresponded a lot via e-mail, this was our first in-person meeting; we swapped some Whitney finalists to read. It was like chatting with an old friend. She reminds me of one of my cousins. (Emily, that's a compliment!)
5) Seeing Emily's post over at Segullah. Kinda made my day.
6) Wearing pants that make me look smaller than I really am (pants that hide those extra pounds that recently sneaked onto my waist . . . grrrrr).
7) Getting my Band of Sisters pass-along cards in the mail. They turned out gorg…

A Valentine Post from #3

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My three oldest kids have their own blogs that their friends and family read. #2 and #3 update theirs more often than my oldest, and it's been a great writing exercise for them.
#3, who is in 5th grade, has created a second blog for an alter-ego named Bob. He's got his own personality, and my daughter has this wicked sense of humor she uses when writing in Bob's voice.
I'm hoping she forgives me for doing this, but first, I laughed myself silly when I read it and second, it's Valentines Day weekend. I couldn't resist.
These are her words exactly as they appeared on Bob's blog, unedited or changed by me at all, but inspired by the picture you'll see at the end.
Enjoy!


valentines day . . . It doesn't deserve to be capitalized
You all know what time of year it is right? It's not quite the winter wonder land it was but it's not warm yet. It's just, uh, awful. It's cold outside but is there snow? NO! All there is , is just soggy slushy dirt…

WNW: Hopefully Unthawing

Today's WNW is one of those fun ones where we look at commonly misused words submitted by my trusty readers.


Hopefully
This one is so chronically misused that it's pretty much taken on the wrong definition in casual conversation. That said, I'd be hesitant to use it that way in professional writing.
Hopefully is an adverb, similar to slowly, happily, and randomly.
In other words, it's the manner in which something is done. Correct usage would be something like this:
Sarah looked up at her father hopefully as she handed him her birthday wish list.
But of course, we usually see things like:
Hopefully, we won't be late.
From a grammatical standpoint, that doesn't make much sense. No one is doing anything in a hopeful manner; the person speaking is merely wishing, hoping. But we aren't told how or in what manner they are hoping. So an adverb doesn't work there, but we use it that way in speech all the time.
(Picture another adverb there instead: Tenderly, we won…

Motherhood: Rocking It Out

There's a reason my children know all about Ed Grimley, Footloose, Anne of Green Gables, and so many other parts that make up the mother they know and love.
(It brings me no end of joy that my two oldest daughters adore Hitchcock. Hitchcock! I could sing!)
I show them older (as in 80s) TV shows, movies, and even YouTube clips under the guise of "educating" them so they'll be culturally literate. It's proven helpful for them when watching other shows or reading books and they get the inside joke, when none of their friends did, all because two months ago, Mom showed them whatever movie was referenced.
Totally rocks. (Kinda makes me look cool in their eyes, which doesn't hurt.)
And in some ways, it's made a difference with school: they see the point of studying Greek mythology and other subjects, because those things are referenced all the time in other things, and to "get" them, you have to know the original source.
My kids' first contact with mus…

Exciting Things Are Afoot.

First off, time for celebration! Both of my Whitney Award ballots are submitted. Done. Finito. Woohoo! My eyeballs are ready to drop out of their sockets, but I'm done! Now we all get to wait a couple more days to find out the results. Squeeeee!
Second, two of my bestest writer friends are featured in this month's issue of Mormon Artist magazine, Julie Wright and Robison Wells.
Julie is one of those people I call when I need a shoulder to cry on or someone to vent to, and she's always in your corner, cheering you on. Everyone deserves a Julie in their lives. (Plus, she's a great writer, to boot.) I don't remember when I first met Julie, but I can honestly say that she's one of the brightest spots in my life. Any time I see her, I can't help but smile, because I know I'll get a big hug and that she'll just ooze love.
Rob is in my critique group. He's another great writer, and he keeps us grounded. Among other things, he's great at big-picture p…