Showing posts from January, 2011

WNW: Homophones Edition

Another edition of Word Nerd Wednesday with homophones brought to my attention by my trusty readers.
Lightning/LighteningWhen a bolt of bright electricity shoots through the sky during a storm, that is lightning. When dawn comes, the darkness is going away and the room may be lightening.

Lead/Led I see these two words used interchangeably, both as the past tense form of what a follower does with a leader. The confusion likely happens because the past tense of the verb lead is led, which happens to rhyme with the metal lead.
Present tense: I walk through the forest and lead the way for those behind me. Past tense: I walked through the forest; I led the way for those behind me.

Anyway/Any Way If something happens in spite of someone's efforts, it takes place anyway. If you wonder whether something is possible, you may ask if there is any way it could come about.

Throws/Throes When Mark pitches a baseball, he throws it. When Janet is dealing with emotional turmoil, she could be in the throes of …

In Which Chocolate Upstages an Artichoke

For those who've asked, here's me on our local ABC affiliate's morning show, Good Things Utah, from Wednesday.
This clip has more than the 5 minute segment you'll find on their site. We have bonus material! It includes all the teasers they did throughout and (best of all) the fun at the end of the show when Angel Shannon was at the table to talk about an artichoke but the hostesses were passing around the cookie batter.

And in case you haven't voted yet, yes, I'm pestering again. I have two stories in the running at the Tweet Me a Story contest. You can vote for both (plus other favorites). My group, 13, had to use the word special in a story that consists of only 140 characters, including spaces and punctuation.
If you've voted already, THANK YOU!!! If you haven't voted, here's a HANDY LINK!

Word Nerd Needs Your Help!

Because I'm a nerd and like a challenge, I entered NYC Midnight's Tweet Me a Story contest.
The contest: Using a word they provide, using it exactly as written (so no making it past tense, shortening it, etc.) write a story that's no longer than 140 characters, including punctuation and spaces.
In essence: A story the length of a tweet.
Writers had to register in advance, and then we were placed in groups and assigned our word. We had 5 hours to come up with our stories, and we could submit up to three.
I was in group 13. Our word: special.
Something like 1,000 stories came in. The top 25 stories in each group were chosen by judges. They're now listed where readers vote to determine which ones proceed to the next round.
Here's where I need your help: TWO of my stories made it!
(Can I hear a WAHOOO?!)
Read my stories (and the other finalists in my group) HERE.
Then help me move to the next round. To vote for both of my stories, CLICK HERE.
Thanks in advance!!!
Post Script: …

Jane Austen & My Inner English-Major Nerd

It's no secret that huge numbers of readers (mostly women, granted) adore Jane Austen, and Pride and Prejudice in particular. (The A&E version and Colin Firth have nothing to do with that, right?)
Today, more than 200 years after her books were published, Jane's popularity is greater than ever. We've had more movie adaptations (you probably know Emma Thompson's Sense & Sensibility, but if you haven't seen the 2007 version of Persuasion, you're missing out.).
Many readers fall for Jane's romantic story lines. While I enjoy those, the English-major nerd in me enjoys other parts, too. I love knowing what society was like then and seeing how Jane's books are often pointed attacks on less-than-desirable elements of that society. (P&P is an excellent example.)
I could go on about the witty dialogue, which I find hysterically funny, but others, who can't stand Jane, find dry. (Chances are, if you don't think Jane's laugh-out-loud funny, th…

Reading: Who Can Find the Time?

When I mentioned in my last post of 2010 how many books I'd read during the year, I didn't expect many people to be impressed. I tend to be a slow reader, and while reading Whitney nominees and finalists has forced me to speed up, I'm still on the slow side.
I enjoy reading slowly. I like to savor the story, words, images, not rush through them. Even so, I somehow manage to read several dozen books a year. I average 50-60 books, although this year I topped 70, a record.
Two claims I hear from people annoy the bajeebers out of me: "I don't have time to write," comes in at #1, but a close #2 would be, "I don't have time to read."
First off, you already find time for what's important to you. If exercise is a priority, you make it happen. If it's photography or quilting or even your favorite TV show, you do it (even if it that means setting the TiVo).
No, you can't do everything in life. We all must make choices, even between good things.

Sample Sunday: Lost Without You

From the end of Chapter One of Lost Without You:

Christopher drove home, where his mother would be waiting for him. He knew something wasn’t right with him; the feelings surging through his body, the thoughts filling his mind, felt like something trying to take control over his body. He’d felt this way before, but not in years. He was younger then, less mature. This time, he’d handle it on his own. He pulled into the driveway and killed the car, but didn’t go in yet. Mother couldn’t see him like this; he had to calm down first or she’d ask whether he’d taken his meds. Rather, my poison.I’m fine—I don’t need any meds.He hadn’t needed them for nearly two years, but he’d taken them faithfully in spite of the side effects until March, nearly two months ago. He blamed his extra twenty pounds and receding hairline on those pills. Not to mention the headaches and nausea. And tossing and turning every night, unable to sleep. Poison—that’s what those chemicals were. Brooke deserved a man withou…

WNW: Their As a Singular Pronoun

A reader recently called me out on using their as a singular generic pronoun. (I forget who right now; feel free to claim the comment as your own!)
The issue: What pronoun do you use in a situation where the gender of the person acting either isn't known or isn't relevant? For example:
When an employee arrives . . .

The rest of the sentence is about the employee, who must sign in. What pronoun do you use?
When an employee arrives, ____ must sign in.
At one time, writers simply used he as the generic pronoun:
When an employee arrives, he must sign in.
But eventually came the complaints of sexism. (What if the employee is female?) That's when we started seeing a lot of he or she, just to be sure we covered our bases:
When an employee arrives, he or she must sign in.
That's seriously clunky and awkward, but it's better than the other weird compromise, s/he.
Others have opted to use she instead of he. That's annoying to me as a reader, because a) it's reverse sexism a…

WNW: Very Unique?

I hate that phrase. Gets my eye all a-twitchin'.
The reason is that unique means the only one or without its like or equal.
Therefore, unique is not something that can be compared by degrees, unlike like how warm, old, or bright something is. Those words can have very added to them and make sense. Something can be more (or less) warm, old, or bright.
Then you have words like unique that are absolute modifiers. That means the word, by definition, is not something that varies by degrees. It either is or it isn't.
It's absolute. (Hence: absolute modifier.)
So you can't be slightly dead. You're either dead or you're alive. (We aren't going into the technicalities of medicine and life support and all that . . . you know what I mean. And of course there's Miracle Max, but that's a different story.)
You could argue whether some words are absolute modifiers, like Jerry and George do in an episode of Seinfeld with dry. Jerry insists you can't over-dry somethi…

Sample Sunday: There, Their, They're

Sample Sunday is for authors to share a bit of their Kindle-published titles. I'll post a sample of Lost Without You sometime soon, but today I thought I'd put up a piece from my grammar book, There, Their, They're: A No-Tears Guide to Grammar from the Word Nerd, which is now on Kindle for all of 99 cents. Below is the section that discusses splitting infinitives: what does it mean to split an infinitive, and is it wrong to do so? (Check out the #SampleSunday hash tag on Twitter to read other samples from Kindle authors.)Splitting InfinitivesAt some point in history, grammarians and teachers decided that Latin, a dead language, should be our guide. Why it made any sense to use another language to prescribe English grammar, I’ll never know, but Latin is the basis for the argument that we shouldn’t split infinitives (and a bunch of other silly grammar “rules”).Here’s the crux of the old argument: In most languages, the infinitive or base form of a verb is a single word.Since…