Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I've been called a lot of things besides my given name at various stages of my life: shortened forms of my name, teasing terms about some undesirable trait, cozy pet names, cool nicknames, and long-story monikers.

Those nicknames often say more about my relationship with the name giver than about my personality per se. Try this little quiz to see what I mean.

Match the set of nicknames with the name-giver.

1. Lore, string bean, Ethel
2. Lars, lone xylophone, Lenzel, Lorolla
3. four-eyes, coral-doral, brainiac, freak
4. blossom, love, hon
5. Laurie, pumpkin, bird, sweetie
6. whirl, whoa-whoa, wa-wul

A. school bullies
B. father
C. nieces and nephews
D. brother
E. school chums
F. spouse

Answers at the bottom of this post.

How'd you do? Notice patterns?

A sibling loves and hates you and often calls you the strangest things based on your shared history. Parental pet names tend to be sweet and innocent, while spouses and lovers use more poetic or even suggestive terms of endearment. Tiny people often can't pronounce our names, especially if they are chock full of Ls and Rs. Bullies target qualities they don't like, or try to concoct cruel rhymes (in my case, these tended to make the bully sound stupid instead of cruel). Our friends give us nicknames that create our identities in our peer group and give us a sense of belonging--often tied to shared history or shared associations. For instance, we called my college friend Dave "Darth," because his last name was Vater. He relished it, though his expertise was Chewbacca impressions. But you get the idea.

Pet names and nicknames in the mouths of your secondary characters can communicate lots in a small amount of space. Not only the relationship, but the level of education, temperament, and background. For example, my MC's grandfathers call her "love" and "pumpkin." Pretty obvious which one's a Brit and which one's American, right?

Nicknames friends give can be shorthand for shared interests or "long-stories" that can be revealed over the course of a novel. In John Green's Paper Towns, Quentin and Ben call their friend Marcus "Radar" for such a hilariously convoluted reason, you can't help but laugh and like these guys.

If you find yourself drawn to weird names, I challenge you to consider instead giving your character a weird or funky or long-story nickname instead. Because you plucky YA heroine is going to be an unemployable adult if she's genuinely named Shimmer. Just sayin'.

Tell me about your experience with nicknames and pet names. How do you use them in your writing?

Quiz answers: 1. D 2. E 3. A 4. F 5. B 6. C

This is a repost from Oct. 2010
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 Laurel Garver
I've been called a lot of things besides my given name at various stages of my life: shortened forms of my name, teasing terms about some undesirable trait, cozy pet names, cool nicknames, and long-story monikers.

Those nicknames often say more about my relationship with the name giver than about my personality per se. Try this little quiz to see what I mean.

Match the set of nicknames with the name-giver.

1. Lore, string bean, Ethel
2. Lars, lone xylophone, Lenzel, Lorolla
3. four-eyes, coral-doral, brainiac, freak
4. blossom, love, hon
5. Laurie, pumpkin, bird, sweetie
6. whirl, whoa-whoa, wa-wul

A. school bullies
B. father
C. nieces and nephews
D. brother
E. school chums
F. spouse

Answers at the bottom of this post.

How'd you do? Notice patterns?

A sibling loves and hates you and often calls you the strangest things based on your shared history. Parental pet names tend to be sweet and innocent, while spouses and lovers use more poetic or even suggestive terms of endearment. Tiny people often can't pronounce our names, especially if they are chock full of Ls and Rs. Bullies target qualities they don't like, or try to concoct cruel rhymes (in my case, these tended to make the bully sound stupid instead of cruel). Our friends give us nicknames that create our identities in our peer group and give us a sense of belonging--often tied to shared history or shared associations. For instance, we called my college friend Dave "Darth," because his last name was Vater. He relished it, though his expertise was Chewbacca impressions. But you get the idea.

Pet names and nicknames in the mouths of your secondary characters can communicate lots in a small amount of space. Not only the relationship, but the level of education, temperament, and background. For example, my MC's grandfathers call her "love" and "pumpkin." Pretty obvious which one's a Brit and which one's American, right?

Nicknames friends give can be shorthand for shared interests or "long-stories" that can be revealed over the course of a novel. In John Green's Paper Towns, Quentin and Ben call their friend Marcus "Radar" for such a hilariously convoluted reason, you can't help but laugh and like these guys.

If you find yourself drawn to weird names, I challenge you to consider instead giving your character a weird or funky or long-story nickname instead. Because you plucky YA heroine is going to be an unemployable adult if she's genuinely named Shimmer. Just sayin'.

Tell me about your experience with nicknames and pet names. How do you use them in your writing?

Quiz answers: 1. D 2. E 3. A 4. F 5. B 6. C

This is a repost from Oct. 2010

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thanks, blogging pals, for all the well wishes. As I enter my third week of recovery post-surgery, I can tell you it has been an eye-opening experience. And sometimes an eye-closing one. (Thank you, Percocet, for making me sleep 14 hours a day.)

Some random things I've discovered:

~One of my husband's students was having surgery at the same time. In the surgery-prep area (where they give you your stylish hat and put in your IV), he tried to chat with me, but I couldn't see him because they'd made me give up my glasses. Poor kid was about to have his face reconstructed after a rugby injury, so maybe it's a blessing I couldn't see.

~Robotic surgery is cool. I had a four-pound benign tumor removed through an incision that's less than an inch long. (It was removed in pieces, if you're wondering how that trick was achieved.)

~I'm a lightweight when it comes to anesthesia. The nurses wanted to send me home and I couldn't stay awake.

~Nausea and abdominal incisions are a bad combo. Ow.

~Best diet when the idea of food grosses you out: jello, apple juice, animal crackers.

~There are way too many steep stairs in my 3-storey, historic, urban townhouse. What gives? Weren't people shorter in 1907?

~Reading is actually more restful that watching movies or TV. Less data to process at once.

~You can't beat a Kindle if you frequently doze off while reading. It powers down on its own and never loses your page.

~The hardest thing to give up was managing my daughter. I was sure her teeth would go unbrushed, her homework unfinished or lost. She was fine, even if she got more screen time than I'd like.

~It's good for one's spouse to experience how the house runs without you (or more accurately, which things don't get done).

~When your ability to achieve is taken away, you realize how much being busy is actually a choice. And often it's a shabby substitute for deeper relationships.

How have your last few weeks been? What's new?
Thursday, March 22, 2012 Laurel Garver
Thanks, blogging pals, for all the well wishes. As I enter my third week of recovery post-surgery, I can tell you it has been an eye-opening experience. And sometimes an eye-closing one. (Thank you, Percocet, for making me sleep 14 hours a day.)

Some random things I've discovered:

~One of my husband's students was having surgery at the same time. In the surgery-prep area (where they give you your stylish hat and put in your IV), he tried to chat with me, but I couldn't see him because they'd made me give up my glasses. Poor kid was about to have his face reconstructed after a rugby injury, so maybe it's a blessing I couldn't see.

~Robotic surgery is cool. I had a four-pound benign tumor removed through an incision that's less than an inch long. (It was removed in pieces, if you're wondering how that trick was achieved.)

~I'm a lightweight when it comes to anesthesia. The nurses wanted to send me home and I couldn't stay awake.

~Nausea and abdominal incisions are a bad combo. Ow.

~Best diet when the idea of food grosses you out: jello, apple juice, animal crackers.

~There are way too many steep stairs in my 3-storey, historic, urban townhouse. What gives? Weren't people shorter in 1907?

~Reading is actually more restful that watching movies or TV. Less data to process at once.

~You can't beat a Kindle if you frequently doze off while reading. It powers down on its own and never loses your page.

~The hardest thing to give up was managing my daughter. I was sure her teeth would go unbrushed, her homework unfinished or lost. She was fine, even if she got more screen time than I'd like.

~It's good for one's spouse to experience how the house runs without you (or more accurately, which things don't get done).

~When your ability to achieve is taken away, you realize how much being busy is actually a choice. And often it's a shabby substitute for deeper relationships.

How have your last few weeks been? What's new?

Monday, March 05, 2012

Well, friends, I'll be at the hospital tomorrow for surgery and off my feet for a while after that. I might be back online in days or in weeks. It's hard to predict how recovery will go.

In the meantime, feel free to drop me some film recommendations. I tend to watch a lot of quirky independent films. My top favorite movies are Amelie, Lars and the Real Girl, and Amadeus to give you a sense of my taste. Please no gut-splitting humor; I don't want to pop any sutures. :-)
Monday, March 05, 2012 Laurel Garver
Well, friends, I'll be at the hospital tomorrow for surgery and off my feet for a while after that. I might be back online in days or in weeks. It's hard to predict how recovery will go.

In the meantime, feel free to drop me some film recommendations. I tend to watch a lot of quirky independent films. My top favorite movies are Amelie, Lars and the Real Girl, and Amadeus to give you a sense of my taste. Please no gut-splitting humor; I don't want to pop any sutures. :-)

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Today I've invited author Elle Strauss to talk about her latest release, a middle grade novel entitled It's a Little Haywire.

About It's a Little Haywire:
Owen True is eleven and eleven twelfths and has been "exiled" to the small crazy town of Hayward, WA, aka Haywire, while his mother is on her honeymoon. All he has to whittle away the time is the company of Gramps, his black lab Daisy, and his Haywire friends, Mason and Mikala Sweet. They don't look so hot this year, in fact, the whole town has gone to pot since the mill shut down.

Owen has his first encounter with a real life homeless man who ends up needing Owen's help in more ways than one. But how does a rich city kid help the small town's suffering citizens?

And what is Owen to make of the fog train and its scary, otherworldy occupants that appears out of thin air on the old tracks behind Gramps's house? Do they have the answer Owen is looking for?


Welcome, Elle!

As Owen revealed himself to you in the writing process, what surprised you about him?
I came across some old letters my eldest son had written to my parents when he was ten. His "voice" was so MG, I borrowed strongly from these letters to find Owen's voice.

I love your names in this story, like Mrs. Pershishnick, Gramps’s persistent lady friend. What are some of your favorite ways to develop character names?
Pershishnick is an actual last name of a family from my parent's small town. Too great not to be used! Naming characters can be hard. I knew with this book that the character names had to be as interesting to the reader as the story. I tried to imagine how they would sound read aloud.

While you are Canadian, you’ve tended to place your stories in the US. What special challenges has that posed?
Though I'm a proud Canadian, the facts are that the population of Canada could fit in the state of California. I've set most of my stories in the US because that is where my primary market is, though I usually always tip my hat to Canada by mentioning it or having a Canadian character in my stories.

The main challenges is in the differences in spelling, and some phrasing, ie: neighbour/neighbor, washroom/restroom

What is your favorite part of the writing life?
Working at home and not caring what time of day I get dressed. =)

What do you find to be the most difficult part of the writing process, and why?
Since I'm fairly new to Indie Publishing, everything about the process is new and there's so much learn, especially about marketing, a field I had zero experience with prior.

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on a new cover scheme for the Clockwise series, and prepping to release the sequel in April and the companion book in June.

Thanks for having me, Laurel!

Elle Strauss writes Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. She's a married mom of four, and lives in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, famous for beaches and vineyards. She's fond of Lindt's sea salt dark chocolate and hiking in good weather. Her young adult rom/com time-travel CLOCKWISE and contemporary/otherworldly middle grade IT'S A LITTLE HAYWIRE are now available on Amazon. You can visit her blog at http://ellestraussbooks.blogspot.com/.
Thursday, March 01, 2012 Laurel Garver
Today I've invited author Elle Strauss to talk about her latest release, a middle grade novel entitled It's a Little Haywire.

About It's a Little Haywire:
Owen True is eleven and eleven twelfths and has been "exiled" to the small crazy town of Hayward, WA, aka Haywire, while his mother is on her honeymoon. All he has to whittle away the time is the company of Gramps, his black lab Daisy, and his Haywire friends, Mason and Mikala Sweet. They don't look so hot this year, in fact, the whole town has gone to pot since the mill shut down.

Owen has his first encounter with a real life homeless man who ends up needing Owen's help in more ways than one. But how does a rich city kid help the small town's suffering citizens?

And what is Owen to make of the fog train and its scary, otherworldy occupants that appears out of thin air on the old tracks behind Gramps's house? Do they have the answer Owen is looking for?


Welcome, Elle!

As Owen revealed himself to you in the writing process, what surprised you about him?
I came across some old letters my eldest son had written to my parents when he was ten. His "voice" was so MG, I borrowed strongly from these letters to find Owen's voice.

I love your names in this story, like Mrs. Pershishnick, Gramps’s persistent lady friend. What are some of your favorite ways to develop character names?
Pershishnick is an actual last name of a family from my parent's small town. Too great not to be used! Naming characters can be hard. I knew with this book that the character names had to be as interesting to the reader as the story. I tried to imagine how they would sound read aloud.

While you are Canadian, you’ve tended to place your stories in the US. What special challenges has that posed?
Though I'm a proud Canadian, the facts are that the population of Canada could fit in the state of California. I've set most of my stories in the US because that is where my primary market is, though I usually always tip my hat to Canada by mentioning it or having a Canadian character in my stories.

The main challenges is in the differences in spelling, and some phrasing, ie: neighbour/neighbor, washroom/restroom

What is your favorite part of the writing life?
Working at home and not caring what time of day I get dressed. =)

What do you find to be the most difficult part of the writing process, and why?
Since I'm fairly new to Indie Publishing, everything about the process is new and there's so much learn, especially about marketing, a field I had zero experience with prior.

What are you working on at the moment?
I'm working on a new cover scheme for the Clockwise series, and prepping to release the sequel in April and the companion book in June.

Thanks for having me, Laurel!

Elle Strauss writes Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. She's a married mom of four, and lives in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, famous for beaches and vineyards. She's fond of Lindt's sea salt dark chocolate and hiking in good weather. Her young adult rom/com time-travel CLOCKWISE and contemporary/otherworldly middle grade IT'S A LITTLE HAYWIRE are now available on Amazon. You can visit her blog at http://ellestraussbooks.blogspot.com/.