Monday, November 28, 2011

VARIANT Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Gratitude Giveaway Hop.

I had a tremendous response, and I'm grateful for each and every new (and old!) follower.

The winner of VARIANT, by Robison Wells, is Kristi from Books and Needlepoint!


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WNW: Turkey!

In honor of Thanksgiving, today's Word Nerd Wednesday is all about a favorite staple the holiday: turkey.

Until I did a bit of digging with my trusty OED, I didn't realize just how many definitions turkey has.

For fun, a sampling of 10 of the many definitions and phrases associated with the word:

1) Guinea-fowl
According to a quotation into OED dating from 1552 to 1601, it's a bird originally brought from Numidia (a former kingdom in northern Africa) to the country today known as, of course, Turkey.

2) Bird of which all the species are American, one type originally domesticated in Mexico.
The definition goes on about predominantly where in Northern America, but as long as they're also available in the freezer section of my local grocery store, I don't know that I care that many of them are from Missouri.

3) The wild version of the domestic fowl above.
Again, found in North America.

4) The flesh of the bird mentioned above.
Now we're talking Thanksgiving. Pass the cranberry sauce!

5) To "talk turkey"
Speaking frankly or without reserve. Getting to the hard facts.

6) To "walk turkey"
To strut or swagger. This one was new to me.

7) Cold turkey
Quitting a drug or other addictive substance all at once. Not something I plan to do with chocolate any time soon.

8) A cinematic flop
US slang that hails back to the early days of film, first showing up in print in 1927. This term also referred to disappointing theater or any other thing that was a let-down.

9) A slow, stupid, or inept person.
This is a newer use, going back only to 1951. I think in modern usage, it's morphed into meaning less a stupid or inept person and more of a silly or goofy one.

10) Turkey tomb
A rather gruesome yet humorous way to refer to a turkey pie.

(I'll take my pie with pumpkin and whipped cream, thanks.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chocolate Never Faileth: Corrections and Bloopers

The first typo I became aware of in Chocolate Never Faileth was brought to my attention by my friend TJ, who came to a signing for the book with his wife and kids. He told me about the typo. I didn't believe him. Or, rather, I desperately hoped he was wrong.

The book had been all I worked on for almost a year, shoving my fiction (and creative writing self) aside. At least three people proofed the thing, including me.

On the other hand, I'd already published seven novels. I should have known that mistakes and typos can (and often do) slip through, no matter how carefully the writer and the publishing team work on a book.

As I became aware of a few more errors in the cookbook, I put corrections on my website. Even so, I still get regular questions about the same issues over and over again. I assume that means they aren't finding the list of corrections on my site, so maybe a blog post will help.

They're on THIS PAGE. If I find more things to fix (knock on wood!), that's where I'll put them. Future printings should have these things fixed.

In the meantime, these errors leave us all scratching our heads, wondering how they slipped through and who added them in the first place!


A mystery individual added a new first sentence to the instructions. Just ignore "preheat oven to 350." (This is, after all, a MICROWAVE cake.) This is the error TJ told me about. I'm convinced that this sentence didn't exist in the galley proof I saw, and it certainly wan't in my original manuscript. I'm guessing that someone along the pipeline, right before sending the book to press, saw a cake recipe without an oven temperature and added it. We'll never know what happened. Just take a black Sharpie over that bit.


Here's a situation where my test kitchen notes match the printed book, but the recipe doesn't seem right. The utterly weird thing is that the cookies worked beautifully, multiple times at home (evidence includes the fact that the picture of the cookies on page 54 are from my oven). But as written, they don't work so great. I'm as puzzled as anyone here. Fat is missing, so add some, around 1/3 to 1/2 cup. I'd go with butter, but oil works too.


Somehow adding flour got inserted into the instructions for the topping. I get people absolutely panicking about what to do because no flour is listed in the ingredients.

No flour is correct; ignore that word.


This typo is in the anecdote above the recipe, which reads "Read Food Chocolate Cake." That should, of course, be Real Food.


The anecdote in the original printing states that the countries who claim this dessert as their own are New Zealand and Austria. That should be Australia. (Yes, I know the difference between the two!)

To date, these are the only issues that I'm aware of. The Brownie Cookie Bites and Heavenly Chocolate Bars are the two issues that people contact me about most.

Hope this helps if you use the book for holiday treat making!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gratitude Giveaway Hop

Yay! From today, November 17, through Sunday, November 27th, I'm part of the Gratitude Giveaway Hop!

It's a chance for me to say thank you to those who follow my online doings. As such, this giveaway doesn't have a bunch of hoops to jump through. No tweeting, FB-ing, blogging, or anything else. And no one gets more than one entry.

Why? To say THANKS to my followers!

Somewhere around a gazillion other blogs are participating, so you can enter to win stuff on all of them, too. To find the other blogs participating, visit I Am a Reader, Not a Writer, where you'll find a Linky with the full list.

Here's what I'm giving away:

Variant, by Robison Wells

It's garnered a ton of praise. It was listed as one of the best books on the Publisher's Weekly list for 2011 and got starred review in Kirkus. (Stars there are a very big deal.)

This book is a great read for anyone 12 years old, up to 110 or so. Boys will love it (my 16-year-old son couldn't up it down), but I loved it too, and I know lots of grown-ups, both male and female, who rave over it.

It's a GREAT Christmas gift for any reader in your life (even if you don't win!)


Are you already following me? Great! Say so in the comments, and BAM! you're entered.

If you're not already following me, do ONE of these:
  • Follow my blog using the Followers doohickey widget at the top of the side bar
  • Follow me on Twitter (@AnnetteLyon)
Leave a comment saying which way you're following.

(No, you don't get additional entries for following both the blog and my Twitter feed, but if you do, you'll get good karma points. :D)

If you're already following (THANK YOU! You're awesome!). Just drop a comment saying you're already a follower via the blog or Twitter, and you're entered.

The Gratitude Giveaway Hop runs from November 17-27. I'll post the winner on Monday, November 28th.

During this month of Thanksgiving, this is my chance to express gratitude to the people who support me online. Thank you for reading, for commenting, for supporting me all the years I've been prattling online. My blog would be pointless without my readers, and I'm grateful for each one.

The fine print:
1) Be sure that I have a way for me to contact you if you win. To do so, either leave an email address in your comment or be sure your Blogger profile has your email embedded.
2) If I can't contact the first name drawn, I'll draw a second name.
3) If the winner I announce on November 28th doesn't claim their prize after 48 hours, it's forfeit.

Happy blog hopping!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Choice to Write & Publish

Today I'm on my soap box about a truth and what it means to me. It has a few parts.

Part I: The writing and publishing life isn't easy.

Not everyone will tell you that, and not everyone who is told so believes it, but it's true. And the reality is that if you're going to walk the path seriously, you'll have to sacrifice something.

Some of what I've sacrificed: several hobbies and pretty much all television, with the exception of the news and the occasional Dr. Phil episode, prerecorded on the TiVo, watched while I fold laundry and do dishes. I've also sacrificed having a Martha Stewart house (if you can call that a sacrifice; I'm teaching my kids to do more, which prepares them for adulthood anyway).

What I haven't sacrificed is my family.

The truth is that a lot of people love the idea of writing and getting published, but don't like the reality of what that means. When push comes to shove, they don't have the drive to do what's needed before and after publication: work your tail off learning more, getting honest (sometimes harsh) feedback, attending conferences, networking, building a platform, promoting, and so much more.

Part II: If you don't want to do all those things . . . that's perfectly fine.

The published writer's life is not for everyone.

But please, if you decide it's not for you, don't pretend you aren't writing because of some noble reason like you're waiting to have the time because family comes first, that you'll write when your children grow up because they need you now, or some such. I hear those things a lot, sometimes to my face, and it's awfully close to saying I'm a bad mom.

My kids, I believe, would say I'm a great mom. (I totally am, so there.) On top of that, I've had plenty of experiences, including many spiritual ones, confirming that I'm supposed to be doing this.

Billions of people on this world means billions of paths. There's a good chance that your path isn't mine. And if your path doesn't include writing for publication, that's just fine.

I have a difficult time with people who put on a martyr act, as if they're somehow better, more righteous, more holy, for "giving up" writing, when the truth is, they never had writing to begin with, so they're really giving up nothing.

They never faced the terrifying fears of the blank screen, of rejection after rejection, of criticism, of deadlines, and so much more. They're never gone into and through the dark tunnels, coming out the other side. No, it's much easier to simply say, "Oh, I'd love to do all that, but my family comes first."

Guess what? My family comes first. But I still write. I still publish.

Part III: The writing life and the publishing life aren't necessarily the same thing.

I believe that writing without publishing (blogging, personal histories, journaling, poetry, short stories, essays, perhaps for yourself and your loved ones) is great. They have their place and can be fulfilling.

If the writing life (but not the publishing life) is where you are, where you feel happy, and where you're meant to be, embrace it. Don't pretend you're giving up something that, if you're being honest with yourself, you never really wanted in your heart of hearts.

Part IV: I couldn't have been as active on this path when my children were tiny.

Life has its times and seasons. No way could I have done some of what I do today when I had a nursing baby, for example. My kids are all in school during the day, and they no longer depend on me for the basics. They're all potty trained, can get dressed, make their beds, take showers, get themselves breakfast and lunch, and so on. There was a time when they couldn't do those things, and the job fell on my shoulders.

On the other hand, I still wrote when they were little, but the extent and purpose were somewhat different. (For starters, the biggest purpose for my writing was to keep me sane, although I still sought publication and had my first article published when my second child was a year or two old. She's in ninth grade now.)

Also: blogging didn't exist back then.

But being a novelist was always my end-goal. Not just one novel. A career as a novelist. Some days, the mountain feels as tall as it ever did. Every step I take presents a new one, a new challenge or goal. To use another metaphor, each lap I finish presents a new one; the race never ends.

Part V: Everyone has God-given talents, passions, and missions.

I believe that motherhood is one of mine. And that so is writing. But it's not everyone's.

If you decide that this particular path isn't for you, I'm sure you'll find another one, something that's what you are supposed to be doing. Hundreds of things could be your path, your mountain.

For some reason, writing seems to be a popular passion for people to lay claim to, then place on the altar, give it up, then sigh nobly and walk away from it.

The truth is that writing and publishing require all kinds of sacrifices, including things like ego, to keep going. Remember how I said it's hard? In some ways, walking away from it would be the easy way out. (I can't count the times I've said or heard writer friends say something along the lines of, "Why do I do this? Seriously, am I crazy?")

So I get a bit uppity when I hear people (especially mothers) claim that their children and their calling as a mother are why they never wrote. I don't buy that reason. (Or, rather, that excuse.)

I'm betting that most of those same people are probably investing time, money, and energy into something else (running marathons, quilting, photography, gardening, jewelry making, greeting card design, an Etsy shop, PTA, community theater, whatever). You could be putting the same time, energy, and money into writing, but choose to spend it elsewhere. Please don't pretend that your children are why you don't do it.

The truth is that to write, you'd have to give up your other passion. Is that a choice you're willing to (or are supposed to) make? No one can make that call but you.

All of those things can be worthwhile endeavors. They all require time, energy, and, often, money. Yet whatever is your priority you find time for. (This list his skewed toward women, but I could come up with another list for men that's just as valid.)

I used to be an avid scrapbooker. You can tell pretty easily by looking at my scrapbooks when I signed my first contract.

A friend of mine was a fantastic seamstress. She let her sewing machine get dusty and instead and picked up her laptop. Yet she's a fantastic mom, often skipping critique group and writing events to be at her kids' games (they're freakishly talented in many sports, and therefore have seasons that overlap and last just short of eternity). Beyond attending games, I see her always putting her role as mother first. Yet she still finds a way to write. In fact, I hope to be as prolific as she is some day. She's multi-published and multi-award winning.

I could go on and on with other examples: friends who write in spite of chronic illness, family crises, full-time jobs, and a thousand other potential roadblocks. (Note I said potential.)

Part VI: If you're meant to be a writer but are making excuses, stop it and get writing already.

But if you prefer the dream, the idea of writing and publishing, far more than the rigors of the reality, something else is probably more up your alley: maybe it's some other form of writing, like those mentioned earlier. Or it could be something else entirely. Everyone has a passion, a talent, a mission. Find yours.

I once heard a novelist speak to a church group and answer the question, "How do you find time to write?" This guy has since quit his day job and is a very successful, full-time writer who supports his family with his fiction, but back then he still had a regular, 40-hour a week career that paid the bills.

He asked the audience how many people had watched 30 minutes of television the day before. Most hands went up. He asked how many had watched one hour. A few hands went down, but most stayed up. Two hours? Fewer hands stayed up, but quite a few remained. Three? Still a good number of hands in the air.

Then his point: "Instead of watching any TV last night, I wrote."


At the writing retreat I recently went to, we had 20-minute sprints, contests where we wrote hard and fast to see how many words we could get in. My record was over 1300 words. That's about 6 pages, double spaced, in 20 minutes. Do that several days a week, and you've got a book in a few months.

Yes, my sprint pages need revision, but the point is, you don't need 8-hour blocks to write a novel. If you want it, grab it and find a way to do it. If you think you want it, but you don't really, figure out what you're here to do and do that.

But no more excuses, please.

Monday, November 07, 2011

WNW: Providing Education and a Future

Today's Word Nerd Wednesday is taking a somewhat more serious turn.

I have fun here on WNW, where we often discuss goofy language stuff or pet grammar peeves. But if you've followed me for very long, you know that my interest in language and words goes way beyond grammar.

I'm huge on bringing both adults and children into the 21st century through literacy and education. We're in place now where getting an education and knowing how to communicate (both read and write) are crucial to success.

Statistic after statistic shows that poverty is directly connected to education and literacy levels . . . especially the mother's. Increase the mom's education, and suddenly her children have a better shot at a happy, successful life.

That's why I'm joining bloggers during November to help raise funds for an LDS Philanthropies scholarship that helps single parents get degrees so they and their children can improve their lives.

From LDS Philantrophies (bolded section my emphasis):
During the month of November bloggers are uniting to help single parents like Megan. We can help bring hope with our goal to raise money for as many single parents’ scholarships as we can. At LDS Business College, each semester costs $1,800 or $3,600 a year, or $7,200 for a full two-year degree. There are 45 single parents currently in need. We can make a difference! Please choose to give and spread the word.

Why single parents?

• 28% of children now live with just one parent.

• 40% of children under 18 experience a parental breakup.

• 90% of single-parent families are headed by females.

• Single moms with children have the highest poverty rates.

• 60% of children living in mother-only families are impoverished.

• Single moms are more likely to be poor because of lower earning capacity.

• Single moms median income is only about 25% what a married couple make.

In recent years, LDSBC has placed 90% of its graduates.


Me again. To hear Megan's story, click the speaker icon at the top of the widget in the side bar. For more information on participating in the scholarship program or on raising awareness(including getting the widget for your blog), visit LDS Philanthropies.

Even five dollars can help. (Just think: if all the bloggers who post about the scholarship, and all their readers, each gave $5, that would add up to a lot!)

Use the widget in the left column of my sidebar, and please spread the word!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

WNW: Changing Names Doesn't Change Attitude

I've talked many times about how English (and all languages) evolve. Today's Word Nerd Wednesday is taking a slightly different angle.

Many people believe that language is power, that by changing how we refer to something, we'll change attitudes. That's just not true at all.

An easy example is the word toilet.

The word used to mean the place where a person (usually a woman) would primp: do her hair, spritz perfume, add her jewelry.

But when we got indoor plumbing, people wanted to refer to our, well, business in a manner what would sound nice. So they called the place where we do something entirely different than primp by the same name, the toilet.

Instead of thinking about bodily functions in a pretty, primping sort of way, the new word, toilet, took on the connotations of what we do there. (In other words, it adopted the ick factor.)

Dang. Toilet didn't work. We needed a new term. How about bathroom?

Well, sure, we bathe there, too, but we all know what it really means. That term took on the connotation toilet already had.

Trying again. What about restroom?

Okay, first off, no one rests there, and we all know it. The term is a somewhat a more formal version of bathroom, but it certainly has the same general connotations as toilet. Same with water closet, powder room, and any other term you come up with.

You can change the term all you want, but until we as human beings stop thinking of that particular behavior as anything but a bit gross, any name we give it will take on that same meaning.

A similar thing happened with language during the Civil Rights era. Black had a negative connotation, probably thanks to the bigotry of the day. So activists started using the word colored.

The problem: a change in term didn't change anyone's existing prejudice.

Later we went on to African-American, back to black, possibly back to colored at some point, and today I'm not sure what the politically correct term is.

But the point: anyone who was already prejudiced didn't change their mind based on whatever black people were called. Bigots needed to learn about black people and clue in from experience and education that they're deserving of respect just like anyone else. That doesn't happen from a change in name.

I've watched the same thing happen with handicapped people. Activists seem to hate the term handicapped, or at least the baggage associated with it.

Their predictable response: Let's change the term and thereby change people's attitudes!

You can already predict what's happened, right? We've ended up with things like differently abled and handi-capable. But have any of us changed our attitudes based solely on those terms? I doubt it. If we've changed, it's because of other types of social education, like being exposed to people who use wheelchairs and learning that they're people with hopes, dreams, and feelings (and intelligence!) just like the rest of us.

Chances are, the name didn't do a dang thing. Worse, the new terms are taking on the baggage that handicapped always brought with it.

I believe that the way to create social change is not to change a name or a term. All that does is carry people's baggage from the old term to the new one.

Instead, progress can be made far more quickly by focusing efforts on education and exposure, and possibly even by embracing the name. An example from the past is the way Mormons embraced that nickname, which started out as derogatory. They called themselves Mormons and showed people what that meant . . . through educating them.

Fighting a name is a waste of everyone's energy.


Amazon's famous Prime Day events are huge for so many reasons, and for bookworms, it's even better: books aren't high-ticket ite...