Showing posts from September, 2010

WNW: Top Words for HS Grads, #11-20

Back in June I posted the first 10 of 100 words that Houghton Mifflin says every high school graduate should know. I still find many of them odd choices.
Today we're looking at the second set, numbers 11-20.
How many do you know well enough to use in a sentence? Use in a blog post this week? In a comment? How many do you think are bizarre to be listed on the top 100?

chromosomeNow that the human genome has been mapped and everything from the new Spider-Man series of movies to sci-fi novels talk about DNA, this one makes some sense. I suppose most grads would know this one simply because of the culture we live in or at least have some concept that it deals with genetics.

churlish Hmm. Why would modern high-school grads need to know this one? It's not like they're going to be visiting Pemberley any time soon.
circumlocution I'm most familiar with the second definition: avoiding a topic, evading it through speech. The other definition: essentially using a bunch of words when ju…

Chocolate Recipes & More

I got my author copies of Chocolate Never Faileth yesterday!!!
My children literally danced around the house, sang, and then personalized their copies with Sharpies.
(My son asked if they seriously all got copies, and I had to respond with, "Um, yeah. Actually, I've put aside copies of ALL my books for each of you kids." Apparently chocolate is the first one he particularly cared about.)
(Not that I blame him.)
Within minutes, my youngest begged to make something out of the book. Her first request (Easy Chocolate Pudding, page 87) was met with, "Sorry, we don't have whipping cream." She would not be deterred. She had to make something from the book. Right. Now.
So I helped her make my Sinful Chocolate Cupcakes (page 21) and Classic Chocolate Buttercream Icing (page 170) to go on them.
We used her copy of the book, so it's been officially "christened" in the kitchen, complete with a dusting of flour and a splatter of milk.
The kids enjoyed reading …

Compelling Characters: The Great Blogging Experiment

Today is The Great Blogging Experiment, hosted by Elana Johnson, Jen, and Alex. Visit the links to find all of the gajillion bloggers talking about this topic today. Should be fascinating to see how so many writers view characterization differently.
This is a huge topic, so I'm going to boil it down to what I feel are the basics that make up compelling characters.

I think the most compelling characters are the ones who are the most developed, the "roundest," as they often say. But those terms don't really do the concept justice.
Compelling Characters
They are not easily figured out by what they look like on the outside. They think, feel, and have depth, layers. (Like those from The Help.)
What others think of them isn't necessarily the entire truth. (How about that Mr. Darcy?)
Their background and past experiences have shaped and defined them, and those things impact the current story and how they behave in it. (Easy example: Harry Potter.)
A compelling character isn&#…

WNW: Most Common Misspelled Words

First, a housekeeping item: The redundancy contest winner! picked Dan's last entry: sheer mesh.
(Dan, please leave me your contact info so I can get you your prize!)
And now for some Word Nerd Wednesday fun: put together a list of the 100 most misspelled words. (Check it: MISSPELLED is one of them. hah!) They even have explanations to help you remember the correct spellings.
Find the full list HERE.
A few of my favorites:
acceptable For some reason, I tend to spell the ending with the other, similar-sounding suffix: ible. Since it made the list, I must not be alone.
a lot Okay, technically not A word. It's two words. But therein lies the problem: people commonly spell it as alot. There is no such word. Unless you mean allot, "to assign as a share or portion" (see Merriam-Webster).
calendar I know it doesn't sound like it, but this word ends in AR, not ER. A, people. A.
conscience/conscious A commonly confused word pair in addition to both words …

Chocolate Quotes

We're less than TWO WEEKS OUT from the release!!!
Last week we celebrated the upcoming release with fun anecdotes and trivia that are in the book. Today, it's time for chocolate quotes!

But first, a housekeeping item:
I have TWO cookbook signings scheduled for next week:
FRIDAY, October 1, 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm BYU Bookstore
SATURDAY, October 2, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm Ladies Night at the Salt Lake Deseret Book
Important: I will be bringing samples to both signings.
I also have another EIGHT signings scheduled at area Costcos throughout October. I'll post the schedule for those soon.

Now for a few of the fun CHOCOLATE QUOTES found in Chocolate Never Faileth:
-I have this theory that chocolate slows down the aging process. It might not be true, but why take the risk? -Man cannot live on chocolate alone. Woman can.-Chocolate: Here today . . . gone today.-For my birthday and Christmas, I’ll take anything in a size chocolate.-Readers Digest, in one of their weight-loss articles, wrote that the aver…

Top 5 Habits for Writers

(Read the past editions of my TOP 5 series HERE.)
Top 5 Habits for Writers
1. BIC. I can't remember which writer first said it, but BIC stands for the #1 most important rule for any successful writer: BUTT IN CHAIR. If you don't do that, you'll never get anywhere. A blank screen cannot turn into a published anything. (And as an addition to this, remember what Heather said in the comments last week, if you don't SUBMIT, you'll never get published.)

2. Be curious. My level of curiosity is rather funky compared the average person, but probably not compared to the average writer. Once it even got me the question, "Are you a nurse?" The answer: Um, no. I'm just weird and like reading about ways the body can die or get ill . . .
(I blogged about that one HERE.)
I say that if you're going to write, you need to have a bit of that child's wonder left in you, the part that goes, Why? How? Where? What if . . .
No matter the genre (serious non-fiction, personal…

WNW: The Apostrophe Song!

This error drives. Me. Crazy.
I addressed the issue right before Christmas one year begging people to NOT use an apostrophe on their gift tags (such as, "to the Smith's") because that implies ownership. (To the Smith's what? Their dog?)
With gift tags and such, we're talking PLURAL situations. Plural.
(Say it with me. PLLLLUUUURRRAAAL.) Plurals take an S.
And they take NO APOSTROPHE. That's possessive (ownership).
Therefore, you're giving cookies to a group of people all called Smith. Hence, the Smiths.
And you go to the store to by a bunch of bananas, plural. So you don't use an apostrophe, because that would make a single banana own something.
So: NOT banana's (you're buying the banana's . . . peels?) but bananas.
I found yet another fun video that showcases a peeve. Enjoy!

In other news, Lisa Loo over at Is That a Garage Door on My Ceiling? has moved into her house FROM a garage (hence the title of her blog).
She totally rocks. In totally unr…

In Honor of Chocolate and a Certain Cookbook

As we're only a few weeks out from the release Chocolate Never Faileth (squeee!) I decided to give a sneak peek into part of the book.

No, not into the recipes themselves (although maybe I'll post one or two in the next couple weeks, just for kicks).

I thought that showing some of the other elements of the book, the in-between stuff, would be fun. The book has lots of trivia, facts, and anecdotes I dug up, all centered on, of course, chocolate.

Below are four of many from the book. (Remember that you can now PRE-ORDER Chocolate Never Faileth through Deseret Book!)

True Story #1, about Lynn:
After being admitted at 18 weeks of pregnancy and spending over one hundred days in the hospital, Lynn broke the record for the longest stay at that hospital’s neonatal unit in hopes of saving the life of her unborn baby. Her daughter was finally born, nine weeks early—young but alive and with a good prognosis, weighing in at 3 lbs, 2 oz. Exhausted, Lynn returned home, craving a giant bag of pea…

Top 5 Pieces of Advice

Continuing my Top 5 series. (Click on the label to see the past installments.)
Top 5 Pieces of Advice I've Gotten on Writing

1) Write regularly. As Billy Crystal said in Throw Mama from the Train (and, okay, as pretty much every writing instructor teaches), writers write. Well, duh. But it's so easy to call yourself a writer without actually sitting your behind in the chair, planting your fingers on the keyboard, and producing something. Regularly.
How you define regularly is up to you, but you if you go weeks or months without producing anything, you're not a writer. You might be a hobbyist who enjoys tinkering with words and stories, but you aren't a serious writer.

2) Read a lot. This is right up there with #1. Stephen King in On Writing goes so far as to say he doesn't trust writers who don't read. I'm with him on that. My dear writer friend Luisa Perkins compares writing fiction to knowing a foreign language. Crafting fiction requires the writer to understa…

WNW: Department of Redundancy Department

Sometimes when I go over a first draft, I run into hilarious problems like dangling modifiers, inconsistencies, and repetition.
One common repitition problem in first drafts is writers repeating themselves by trying too hard to abide by the adage of "show, not tell."
So they do both: they tell something, then show it. Or vice versa: show it, then recap it by telling what we just saw. I'm guilty of this myself and must weed out repetition from early drafts.
An example:
Sue cried. Plump tears fells down her cheeks as racking sobs wrenched from her throat.
Do we really need to state that Sue cried? The tears and sobs sort of make that self-explanatory, no?
You might think that's an over-the-top exaggeration, but it's surprisingly easily for redundancies like that to slip in, even when they sound obvious and funny when they're pointed out.
Hence our friend: revision!
The other day, I stumbled across a fun blog post that viewed redundancy in a way I hadn't thought …

List Time

Therefore, it must be a Monday. Or a holiday. Or both.
With my colleagues over at Precision Editing Group, I'm speaking at The League of Utah Writers Roundup. The five of us are teaching an all-day workshop on writing, plotting, and editing on Friday, September 17. The other instructors are H. B. (Heather) Moore, Josi Kilpack, Julie Wright, and Lu Ann Staheli. It's gonna be awesome.I'm also teaching several classes at the Writers Conference sponsored by the American Fork Arts Council. They'll have a bookstore at the conference. Chocolate Never Faileth should be there for sale! Woot! See details and find out how to register HERE.Speaking of chocolate, we're a month away from the cookbook hitting shelves!!! (Yippee!!!)You can even pre-order Chocolate Never Faileth from Deseret Book now!Did you hear about that chocolate cookbook that's coming out soon? :-DAnd that a companion DVD will also be sold? On it, you can see me talking too fast and having fun with chocolat…

Top 5 Writers I Admire & Why

Continuing my Top 5 series I started HERE (based loosely on WD's Top 10 in the current issue):
Top 5 Writers I Admire, and Why
1) Barbara Kingsolver She is a true word smith, an artist. Her characters are deep and layered. Her plots are complex. And her language . . . dang, there are times reading The Poisonwood Bible where I reread paragraphs just to experience the beauty again, to roll the words around in my head. After finishing it, I put the book down half elated, half depressed because it was so good . . . and I'd never be that good.
But she's given me a level to shoot for. Even if I never make it, at least I'm shooting high and will get higher than I would have otherwise.
I admire writers who care about the craft and not just about getting published. Bestsellers sometimes sit on their laurels and let the craft slide a bit, knowing that their name will sell copies no matter what's inside the covers. Writers like Kingsolver don't do that.
2) Jodi Piccoult I hav…