Thursday, May 31, 2012

Today we're tackling a set of fraternal triplets of language, the homophones rain, rein and reign, as requested by Tricia O'Brien at Talespinning. Once again, I'll provide a definition, examples and mnemonic tricks to help you keep them straight.

rain (n) - watery precipitation; water that has fallen from clouds, rainwater.

rain (v, intrans) rained, raining - to fall as water from clouds; to fall like rain; to send down rain

rain (v., trans) rained, raining - to pour or administer abundantly

Examples:
Hugh never understood that Adele song. How can rain be set on fire? Is it acid rain?
It rained all day, so the hike was postponed.
Jag rained blows on his opponent.
Denise loves the disco song "It's Raining Men."

Mnemonics for rain with an A:
The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. (Thank you, Henry Higgins.)
Air pollution is a cause of acid rain.


rein (n) - strap on a horse's bridle attached to the bit that allows a rider to control and steer the animal; restraining influence.

(with free or full) opportunity for unhampered activity or use. 

rein (v, trans.) reined, reining - to control or steer, as with a bit and rein; sometimes used with in.

Examples:
Pull the left rein to turn your pony left.
Jed kept a tight rein on the meeting.
Stacy was given free rein over the party planning. She could do whatever she liked.
Chloe, you need to rein in your campers. They're making a huge mess in arts and crafts.

The expression "free rein" specifically means "without guidance" and "full rein" means "without control." They are metaphors based on the practices of letting a horse instinctively find a trail or run at top speed; the rider leaves the reins loose and long (versus tight and short) in either instance, not steering or slowing the horse's free movement.

Mnemonics for rein with an E:
To ride east, Eve and Ella rein left.
Free rein: freedom and speed, whee!


reign (v, intrans.) reigned, reigning -  to exercise dominion or rule, like a monarch; exert dominion, sway or influence; to be predominant or prevalent.

reign (n.) royal authority, ruling power, dominion; the period of rule or dominion.

Examples:
Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in honor of reigning for 60 years.
King Xerxes reigned from 519 to 465 BC.
Jessamyn reigns over the entire school like an evil queen.
Chaos reigns when those kids are left with a sitter.
Rebels continued their reign of terror for five months.
Reign of Fire was a film about dragons ruling the earth.

Mnemonic for reign with a G:
Gorgeous George reigns the giggling girls.

Increasingly, I've seen people use the expression "free reign," which I'm not entirely certain is a homophone error so much as a new expression with a slightly different meaning than "free rein." It is usually used in contexts of someone exerting total control or behaving like a dictator and taking no direction from anyone.

image credits: rain - http://guardian.co.uk ; rein - http://equiword.net; reign - http://royal-splendor.blogspot.com.


Do these distinctions help? What other homonyms trip you up?
Thursday, May 31, 2012 Laurel Garver
Today we're tackling a set of fraternal triplets of language, the homophones rain, rein and reign, as requested by Tricia O'Brien at Talespinning. Once again, I'll provide a definition, examples and mnemonic tricks to help you keep them straight.

rain (n) - watery precipitation; water that has fallen from clouds, rainwater.

rain (v, intrans) rained, raining - to fall as water from clouds; to fall like rain; to send down rain

rain (v., trans) rained, raining - to pour or administer abundantly

Examples:
Hugh never understood that Adele song. How can rain be set on fire? Is it acid rain?
It rained all day, so the hike was postponed.
Jag rained blows on his opponent.
Denise loves the disco song "It's Raining Men."

Mnemonics for rain with an A:
The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. (Thank you, Henry Higgins.)
Air pollution is a cause of acid rain.


rein (n) - strap on a horse's bridle attached to the bit that allows a rider to control and steer the animal; restraining influence.

(with free or full) opportunity for unhampered activity or use. 

rein (v, trans.) reined, reining - to control or steer, as with a bit and rein; sometimes used with in.

Examples:
Pull the left rein to turn your pony left.
Jed kept a tight rein on the meeting.
Stacy was given free rein over the party planning. She could do whatever she liked.
Chloe, you need to rein in your campers. They're making a huge mess in arts and crafts.

The expression "free rein" specifically means "without guidance" and "full rein" means "without control." They are metaphors based on the practices of letting a horse instinctively find a trail or run at top speed; the rider leaves the reins loose and long (versus tight and short) in either instance, not steering or slowing the horse's free movement.

Mnemonics for rein with an E:
To ride east, Eve and Ella rein left.
Free rein: freedom and speed, whee!


reign (v, intrans.) reigned, reigning -  to exercise dominion or rule, like a monarch; exert dominion, sway or influence; to be predominant or prevalent.

reign (n.) royal authority, ruling power, dominion; the period of rule or dominion.

Examples:
Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in honor of reigning for 60 years.
King Xerxes reigned from 519 to 465 BC.
Jessamyn reigns over the entire school like an evil queen.
Chaos reigns when those kids are left with a sitter.
Rebels continued their reign of terror for five months.
Reign of Fire was a film about dragons ruling the earth.

Mnemonic for reign with a G:
Gorgeous George reigns the giggling girls.

Increasingly, I've seen people use the expression "free reign," which I'm not entirely certain is a homophone error so much as a new expression with a slightly different meaning than "free rein." It is usually used in contexts of someone exerting total control or behaving like a dictator and taking no direction from anyone.

image credits: rain - http://guardian.co.uk ; rein - http://equiword.net; reign - http://royal-splendor.blogspot.com.


Do these distinctions help? What other homonyms trip you up?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


It's no small task to create characters that live and breathe on the page, that don't hamstring your story by behaving in a way that seems implausible. You can spend weeks dreaming up the physical details of your characters, mentally filling her closet and his iPod playlist only to discover you don't really know your characters, especially what they want, and more importantly, why.

What motivates a person, makes him choose this action and not that one, makes her invest in a relationship in a particular way--this is the deep stuff of characterization. I've found that simply observing people going about their business of living is not enough to train me to understand character motivation. And because motivation is the building block of solid plotting, it's essential to get motivation right.

I've found it especially helpful spend some time reading in the social sciences, especially psychology, child development and sociology. When drafting my first novel, I read heavily and talked to experts about the grieving process and grief therapy, and even attended a day-long grief workshop. Surprisingly, the research  also suggested a slew of plot ideas I never would have considered otherwise.

What a counselor might call symptoms are, for writers, the natural consequences of inner motivation and the stuff of great psychological storytelling.

What tools have you found helpful in developing characters?




Tuesday, May 29, 2012 Laurel Garver

It's no small task to create characters that live and breathe on the page, that don't hamstring your story by behaving in a way that seems implausible. You can spend weeks dreaming up the physical details of your characters, mentally filling her closet and his iPod playlist only to discover you don't really know your characters, especially what they want, and more importantly, why.

What motivates a person, makes him choose this action and not that one, makes her invest in a relationship in a particular way--this is the deep stuff of characterization. I've found that simply observing people going about their business of living is not enough to train me to understand character motivation. And because motivation is the building block of solid plotting, it's essential to get motivation right.

I've found it especially helpful spend some time reading in the social sciences, especially psychology, child development and sociology. When drafting my first novel, I read heavily and talked to experts about the grieving process and grief therapy, and even attended a day-long grief workshop. Surprisingly, the research  also suggested a slew of plot ideas I never would have considered otherwise.

What a counselor might call symptoms are, for writers, the natural consequences of inner motivation and the stuff of great psychological storytelling.

What tools have you found helpful in developing characters?




Wednesday, May 23, 2012



Announcing the release of Closed Hearts, the sequel to Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn.


Book Two of the Mindjack Trilogy

When you control minds, only your heart can be used against you.

Eight months ago, Kira Moore revealed to the mindreading world that mindjackers like herself were hidden in their midst. Now she wonders if telling the truth was the right choice after all. As wild rumors spread, a powerful anti-jacker politician capitalizes on mindreaders’ fears and strips jackers of their rights. While some jackers flee to Jackertown—a slum rife with jackworkers who trade mind control favors for cash—Kira and her family hide from the readers who fear her and jackers who hate her. But when a jacker Clan member makes Kira’s boyfriend Raf collapse in her arms, Kira is forced to save the people she loves by facing the thing she fears most: FBI agent Kestrel and his experimental torture chamber for jackers.


Now available!
$2.99 Ebook at Amazon (and Amazon UK) and Barnes and Noble
Request a Kindlegraph
Paper copies available at Amazon or get signed copies from the author

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling YA novel Open Minds,  Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy, available on AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iTunes. Susan's business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist," but she mostly plays on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.




Mind GamesOpen MindsClosed HeartsIn His EyesLife, Liberty, and PursuitFull Speed Ahead


CLICK HERE to join the Virtual Party for Closed Hearts
(including bonus content for the Mindjack Trilogy and writerly guest posts) 

and/or 

ENTER TO WIN prizes below

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Wednesday, May 23, 2012 Laurel Garver


Announcing the release of Closed Hearts, the sequel to Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn.


Book Two of the Mindjack Trilogy

When you control minds, only your heart can be used against you.

Eight months ago, Kira Moore revealed to the mindreading world that mindjackers like herself were hidden in their midst. Now she wonders if telling the truth was the right choice after all. As wild rumors spread, a powerful anti-jacker politician capitalizes on mindreaders’ fears and strips jackers of their rights. While some jackers flee to Jackertown—a slum rife with jackworkers who trade mind control favors for cash—Kira and her family hide from the readers who fear her and jackers who hate her. But when a jacker Clan member makes Kira’s boyfriend Raf collapse in her arms, Kira is forced to save the people she loves by facing the thing she fears most: FBI agent Kestrel and his experimental torture chamber for jackers.


Now available!
$2.99 Ebook at Amazon (and Amazon UK) and Barnes and Noble
Request a Kindlegraph
Paper copies available at Amazon or get signed copies from the author

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling YA novel Open Minds,  Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy, available on AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iTunes. Susan's business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist," but she mostly plays on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.




Mind GamesOpen MindsClosed HeartsIn His EyesLife, Liberty, and PursuitFull Speed Ahead


CLICK HERE to join the Virtual Party for Closed Hearts
(including bonus content for the Mindjack Trilogy and writerly guest posts) 

and/or 

ENTER TO WIN prizes below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 21, 2012

If you've ever used the expression in my post title, you probably got a few sideways looks. Or perhaps a snarky comment about gaining exposure in gentlemen's clubs.

I'm sure we've all seen fur sprouting in some strange places--like humans with bear bottoms or bearfeet.

Some homophone errors are, frankly, more troublesome than others.

Today we'll learn to distinguish two fraternal twins in English, the homophones bare and bear, looking first at definitions and use within sentences, then providing some mnemonics to help you keep them straight.

bare (adj.): lacking a natural or usual covering, lacking clothing, naked; lacking a tool or weapon; open to view, exposed; scantily supplied, destitute; having nothing left over or added; devoid of amplification or adornment

Examples:
I wouldn't want to walk on hot coals with bare feet.
The baby ripped off her diaper and ran bare-bottomed.
Susan had to kill the mouse with her bare hands.
The reporter laid bare their secrets.
Detective Smitherson searched the bare room for clues.
Those homeless families lack the bare necessities to live.
Ken was stunned by the bare facts of the case.

bare (v, trans.): bared, baring
to expose, make naked, uncover.

Examples:
Desmond wanted to bare himself, body and soul, to his beloved Ekaterina.
Do you dare to bare your figure this swimsuit season?

Mnemonics:  You ARE BARE if you have no hair.
You ARE BARE naked under your clothes.



bear (n) a large, shaggy mammal (family Ursidae) with a rudimentary tail and paws that eats primarily plants, fruits and insects, as well as flesh; a burly, uncouth, shambling person.

Examples:
The bear gobbled up honey, just like Winnie the Pooh.
If you camp in Yellowstone Park, you have to hide food from the tame bears.
Snickers liked to sleep on the bearskin rug.
Josiah was a bear of a boy who galumphed around campus.

Mnemonic: A BEAR has rounded, fuzzy EARs

bear (v, trans.) bore, borne, bearing
to move while holding and supporting something, carry; to be equipped or furnished with something; to behave or conduct; have a feature or likeness; have as an identification; hold in the mind or emotions;

to give birth to, produce; to permit the growth of;

to support the weight of, sustain; allow or accept.

Examples:
Kevin will bear the responsibility of finding his brother a job.
Holden bears a grudge against his parents.
Grin and bear it.
Pippa bore a resemblance to her father.
Louisa could not have borne taking anything less than first place.

Mnemonics: Your EAR will BEAR sound waves to your brain.
Your EARs BEAR the weight of your sunglasses.

bear (v., intrans) bore, borne, bearing
to produce fruit, yield; go in a direction; be situated; support a weight or strain (often used with up).

Examples:
Rotten apples was all the tree bore.
Bear left at the next intersection.
Gloria is bearing up so bravely after her diagnosis.

Mnemonic: The sound you HEAR in your EAR tells you to BEAR due EAst.

image credits: http://sunspotstudio.comhttp://www.killsometime.com

Do these distinctions help? What other homophones trip you up?


Monday, May 21, 2012 Laurel Garver
If you've ever used the expression in my post title, you probably got a few sideways looks. Or perhaps a snarky comment about gaining exposure in gentlemen's clubs.

I'm sure we've all seen fur sprouting in some strange places--like humans with bear bottoms or bearfeet.

Some homophone errors are, frankly, more troublesome than others.

Today we'll learn to distinguish two fraternal twins in English, the homophones bare and bear, looking first at definitions and use within sentences, then providing some mnemonics to help you keep them straight.

bare (adj.): lacking a natural or usual covering, lacking clothing, naked; lacking a tool or weapon; open to view, exposed; scantily supplied, destitute; having nothing left over or added; devoid of amplification or adornment

Examples:
I wouldn't want to walk on hot coals with bare feet.
The baby ripped off her diaper and ran bare-bottomed.
Susan had to kill the mouse with her bare hands.
The reporter laid bare their secrets.
Detective Smitherson searched the bare room for clues.
Those homeless families lack the bare necessities to live.
Ken was stunned by the bare facts of the case.

bare (v, trans.): bared, baring
to expose, make naked, uncover.

Examples:
Desmond wanted to bare himself, body and soul, to his beloved Ekaterina.
Do you dare to bare your figure this swimsuit season?

Mnemonics:  You ARE BARE if you have no hair.
You ARE BARE naked under your clothes.



bear (n) a large, shaggy mammal (family Ursidae) with a rudimentary tail and paws that eats primarily plants, fruits and insects, as well as flesh; a burly, uncouth, shambling person.

Examples:
The bear gobbled up honey, just like Winnie the Pooh.
If you camp in Yellowstone Park, you have to hide food from the tame bears.
Snickers liked to sleep on the bearskin rug.
Josiah was a bear of a boy who galumphed around campus.

Mnemonic: A BEAR has rounded, fuzzy EARs

bear (v, trans.) bore, borne, bearing
to move while holding and supporting something, carry; to be equipped or furnished with something; to behave or conduct; have a feature or likeness; have as an identification; hold in the mind or emotions;

to give birth to, produce; to permit the growth of;

to support the weight of, sustain; allow or accept.

Examples:
Kevin will bear the responsibility of finding his brother a job.
Holden bears a grudge against his parents.
Grin and bear it.
Pippa bore a resemblance to her father.
Louisa could not have borne taking anything less than first place.

Mnemonics: Your EAR will BEAR sound waves to your brain.
Your EARs BEAR the weight of your sunglasses.

bear (v., intrans) bore, borne, bearing
to produce fruit, yield; go in a direction; be situated; support a weight or strain (often used with up).

Examples:
Rotten apples was all the tree bore.
Bear left at the next intersection.
Gloria is bearing up so bravely after her diagnosis.

Mnemonic: The sound you HEAR in your EAR tells you to BEAR due EAst.

image credits: http://sunspotstudio.comhttp://www.killsometime.com

Do these distinctions help? What other homophones trip you up?


Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Friends sometimes ask me, 'Don't you get lonely sitting by yourself all day?' At first it seemed odd to answer No.Then I realized that I am not alone; I was in the book; I was with the characters....

In order for a book (or any project or enterprise) to hold our attention for the length of time it takes to unfold itself, it has to plug into some internal perplexity or passion that is of paramount importance to us.... It's fun to be with [these characters] because they're wrestling with the same issue that has its hooks in us. They're our soul mates, our lovers, our best friends. Even the villains."

--Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (p. 46)

Do you find your writing hours a companionable time with your characters? What do you think of Pressfield's prerequisite--that to enthrall us enough to write them, they must plug into our issues or passions?
Thursday, May 17, 2012 Laurel Garver
"Friends sometimes ask me, 'Don't you get lonely sitting by yourself all day?' At first it seemed odd to answer No.Then I realized that I am not alone; I was in the book; I was with the characters....

In order for a book (or any project or enterprise) to hold our attention for the length of time it takes to unfold itself, it has to plug into some internal perplexity or passion that is of paramount importance to us.... It's fun to be with [these characters] because they're wrestling with the same issue that has its hooks in us. They're our soul mates, our lovers, our best friends. Even the villains."

--Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (p. 46)

Do you find your writing hours a companionable time with your characters? What do you think of Pressfield's prerequisite--that to enthrall us enough to write them, they must plug into our issues or passions?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I've hit the point in a manuscript where the protagonist and her companions enter a whole new world that's supposed to reveal a lot to them about the nemesis. In my literary/contemporary story, it's an ugly, rarely updated home of a packrat grandparent; but for another writer it might be a new planet or a hidden fairy world. The issue is the same--if you approach it with a lot of straight description, your readers are likely to get bored.

Your particular setting may be incredibly important to establishing your story world, but that alone won't make it interesting. What makes a setting interesting is how your characters interact with it.

Instead of simply telling us the dimensions of a cave and the color of the rock, have a character run her hands along the rock and describe that sensation. Have the sidekick comment on the smell or jump back from a sound.

People your scenes and have the setting effect them in some way. Try to mix up the kinds of interaction with the setting--physical contact, movement through it, curiosity about it, exploitation of it  (a comfy chair rested upon, available food consumed), spoken comments about it, as well as attitudes, memories or associations stirred by it.

Stay attuned to your characters as you move them from place to place in your story, and you'll begin to find ways to keep their perceptions and actions in the mix when it comes to description.

When reading, do you persevere through long, static descriptions, or tend to skim them? What authors have you seen use this interact-with-setting technique well?
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 Laurel Garver
I've hit the point in a manuscript where the protagonist and her companions enter a whole new world that's supposed to reveal a lot to them about the nemesis. In my literary/contemporary story, it's an ugly, rarely updated home of a packrat grandparent; but for another writer it might be a new planet or a hidden fairy world. The issue is the same--if you approach it with a lot of straight description, your readers are likely to get bored.

Your particular setting may be incredibly important to establishing your story world, but that alone won't make it interesting. What makes a setting interesting is how your characters interact with it.

Instead of simply telling us the dimensions of a cave and the color of the rock, have a character run her hands along the rock and describe that sensation. Have the sidekick comment on the smell or jump back from a sound.

People your scenes and have the setting effect them in some way. Try to mix up the kinds of interaction with the setting--physical contact, movement through it, curiosity about it, exploitation of it  (a comfy chair rested upon, available food consumed), spoken comments about it, as well as attitudes, memories or associations stirred by it.

Stay attuned to your characters as you move them from place to place in your story, and you'll begin to find ways to keep their perceptions and actions in the mix when it comes to description.

When reading, do you persevere through long, static descriptions, or tend to skim them? What authors have you seen use this interact-with-setting technique well?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In response to a comment on my post "Funky Favorites and How to Spell Them," I'm going to be regularly featuring a pair or group of homophones to help you get better mastery over when to use which terms.

Mastering homophones is a lot like learning to tell fraternal twins apart. You know Jody and Judy aren't identical--each has a slightly different height and build. But until you know each girl as an individual, you're going to continue getting confused. It's a lot less helpful to know Judy is "the tall one," because you won't know who's who when one girl is alone. Better to learn that Judy has hazel eyes and straight, brown hair, runs hurdles in track and loves to crack jokes, while Jody has brown eyes and wavy, caramel hair, plays flute in the band and is more likely to read than speak up.

So, onto our fraternal twins, phase and faze. I picked this pair because a CP recently caught me using the wrong one in my manuscript. We'll start with a definition, then discuss usage.

phase (n) a particular appearance or state in a regularly recurring cycle of change; a distinguishable part in a course, development, or cycle.

(There are a few additional definitions for less common, technical uses of the term here.)

phase (v, transitive)  to adjust so as to be in a synchronized condition;  to conduct or carry out by planned phases; to introduce in stages —usually used with in.

Examples:
As a noun
The moon phase is waxing gibbous.
I know Shane has been awfully cranky, but it's just a phase. He'll get taller soon, too.
In this phase of my career, I'm making a lot of valuable connections.

As a verb
We phased the start times so the group would arrive at 10 a.m.
Ted would prefer to phase in the new procedure.

The key characteristics of phase are its relation to TIME, to PROCESSES and to PLANS.

faze (v, transitive) to disturb the composure of : disconcert, daunt.

Examples
Most people would be terrified to go into that pit of snakes, but Troy wasn't fazed.
Maddie's short skirt seemed to faze the judges.

The key characteristics of faze are it is ONLY A VERB, and it has to do with DISCOMFORT, or LOSING ONE'S COOL.

Do these distinctions help? What are some other homophones that confuse you?
Thursday, May 10, 2012 Laurel Garver
In response to a comment on my post "Funky Favorites and How to Spell Them," I'm going to be regularly featuring a pair or group of homophones to help you get better mastery over when to use which terms.

Mastering homophones is a lot like learning to tell fraternal twins apart. You know Jody and Judy aren't identical--each has a slightly different height and build. But until you know each girl as an individual, you're going to continue getting confused. It's a lot less helpful to know Judy is "the tall one," because you won't know who's who when one girl is alone. Better to learn that Judy has hazel eyes and straight, brown hair, runs hurdles in track and loves to crack jokes, while Jody has brown eyes and wavy, caramel hair, plays flute in the band and is more likely to read than speak up.

So, onto our fraternal twins, phase and faze. I picked this pair because a CP recently caught me using the wrong one in my manuscript. We'll start with a definition, then discuss usage.

phase (n) a particular appearance or state in a regularly recurring cycle of change; a distinguishable part in a course, development, or cycle.

(There are a few additional definitions for less common, technical uses of the term here.)

phase (v, transitive)  to adjust so as to be in a synchronized condition;  to conduct or carry out by planned phases; to introduce in stages —usually used with in.

Examples:
As a noun
The moon phase is waxing gibbous.
I know Shane has been awfully cranky, but it's just a phase. He'll get taller soon, too.
In this phase of my career, I'm making a lot of valuable connections.

As a verb
We phased the start times so the group would arrive at 10 a.m.
Ted would prefer to phase in the new procedure.

The key characteristics of phase are its relation to TIME, to PROCESSES and to PLANS.

faze (v, transitive) to disturb the composure of : disconcert, daunt.

Examples
Most people would be terrified to go into that pit of snakes, but Troy wasn't fazed.
Maddie's short skirt seemed to faze the judges.

The key characteristics of faze are it is ONLY A VERB, and it has to do with DISCOMFORT, or LOSING ONE'S COOL.

Do these distinctions help? What are some other homophones that confuse you?

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

I've been wanting to simplify my blog template for a while. I loved the retro-style wallpaper I had running in the background, but it has begun to feel too "noisy" to me. I tinkered with a number of colors until I landed on this delicious-looking green. It's a bit more spring-summer, less autumn.

I figure I can keep changing the color scheme as the fancy hits me. It's one six-digit hexidecimal code in one line of the HTML. Easy-peasy.

How often do you change the look of your blog? Do you only do major redesigns, or only tweaks like this?
Tuesday, May 08, 2012 Laurel Garver
I've been wanting to simplify my blog template for a while. I loved the retro-style wallpaper I had running in the background, but it has begun to feel too "noisy" to me. I tinkered with a number of colors until I landed on this delicious-looking green. It's a bit more spring-summer, less autumn.

I figure I can keep changing the color scheme as the fancy hits me. It's one six-digit hexidecimal code in one line of the HTML. Easy-peasy.

How often do you change the look of your blog? Do you only do major redesigns, or only tweaks like this?

Monday, May 07, 2012

In celebration of the official release of A Spy Like Me, Laura Pauling is hosting a three-week blog series: A Spies, Murder and Mystery Marathon.



Authors galore, guest posts and book giveaways almost every day!

Gemma Halliday, Cindy M. Hogan, Elizabeth Spann Craig,
Nova Ren Suma, Elisa Ludwig, and Anne R. Allen....Just to name a few!

And here's why she's celebrating!



Stripping your date down to his underwear has never been so dangerous.

After dodging bullets on a first date, Savvy must sneak, deceive and spy to save her family and friends and figure out if Malcolm is one of the bad guys before she completely falls for him.

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Smashwords

Head on over to Laura’s blog for the start of the Spies, Murder and Mystery Marathon. You won’t want to miss this sizzling series as we head into summer. Stock up on some great thrilling reads! If you dare…

I read an ARC of A Spy Like Me and really enjoyed it. Here's my short review:

This complexly-plotted story is sure to please teen readers. Savvy's narrative voice draws you in immediately. I like the fact that she has moments of both competent self-assurance and bumbling insecurity like any teen. She's not so perfect you can't relate or so flawed you stop rooting for her. Pauling makes her exotic locale work hard for its keep, not only making use of well-loved Parisian tourist sites, but also gently poking fun at icons of French culture including mimes and chefs. The mysterious love interest keeps you guessing as much as the carefully woven threads of clues in this fast-paced spy romp.
Monday, May 07, 2012 Laurel Garver
In celebration of the official release of A Spy Like Me, Laura Pauling is hosting a three-week blog series: A Spies, Murder and Mystery Marathon.



Authors galore, guest posts and book giveaways almost every day!

Gemma Halliday, Cindy M. Hogan, Elizabeth Spann Craig,
Nova Ren Suma, Elisa Ludwig, and Anne R. Allen....Just to name a few!

And here's why she's celebrating!



Stripping your date down to his underwear has never been so dangerous.

After dodging bullets on a first date, Savvy must sneak, deceive and spy to save her family and friends and figure out if Malcolm is one of the bad guys before she completely falls for him.

Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Smashwords

Head on over to Laura’s blog for the start of the Spies, Murder and Mystery Marathon. You won’t want to miss this sizzling series as we head into summer. Stock up on some great thrilling reads! If you dare…

I read an ARC of A Spy Like Me and really enjoyed it. Here's my short review:

This complexly-plotted story is sure to please teen readers. Savvy's narrative voice draws you in immediately. I like the fact that she has moments of both competent self-assurance and bumbling insecurity like any teen. She's not so perfect you can't relate or so flawed you stop rooting for her. Pauling makes her exotic locale work hard for its keep, not only making use of well-loved Parisian tourist sites, but also gently poking fun at icons of French culture including mimes and chefs. The mysterious love interest keeps you guessing as much as the carefully woven threads of clues in this fast-paced spy romp.

Friday, May 04, 2012

How would you characterize "favorite" books? I tend to think of them as ones I read over and over. Perhaps they take me to wonderful places I want to revisit again and again, or they allow me to spend time with characters I love.

But then there's this other kind of "favorite": books created a shift in my life--either how I understand the world or how I want to live in it. But these are not necessiarily the kinds of books one can read over and over. You read them, they change you. Were you to approach these texts again, you would not experience the same tectonic shift, because you're already different. But by golly, you sure want other people to experience that transformation, too.

Here are just a few of my "tectonic shift favorites," and themes they touch on:

Cry, the Beloved Country, Alan Paton (injustice and atonement)
Dead Man Walking, Helen Prejean (justice)
Glittering Images, Susan Howatch (authenticity)
The Heartbreaker, Susan Howatch (redemption)
The High Flyer, Susan Howatch (authenticity)
Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (regret)
Sapphira and the Slave Girl, Willa Cather (powerlessness)
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte (courage)
Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott (grace)
Witchwood, John Buchan (deceitfulness of sin)

What are some of your "tectonic shift favorites"?
Friday, May 04, 2012 Laurel Garver
How would you characterize "favorite" books? I tend to think of them as ones I read over and over. Perhaps they take me to wonderful places I want to revisit again and again, or they allow me to spend time with characters I love.

But then there's this other kind of "favorite": books created a shift in my life--either how I understand the world or how I want to live in it. But these are not necessiarily the kinds of books one can read over and over. You read them, they change you. Were you to approach these texts again, you would not experience the same tectonic shift, because you're already different. But by golly, you sure want other people to experience that transformation, too.

Here are just a few of my "tectonic shift favorites," and themes they touch on:

Cry, the Beloved Country, Alan Paton (injustice and atonement)
Dead Man Walking, Helen Prejean (justice)
Glittering Images, Susan Howatch (authenticity)
The Heartbreaker, Susan Howatch (redemption)
The High Flyer, Susan Howatch (authenticity)
Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (regret)
Sapphira and the Slave Girl, Willa Cather (powerlessness)
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte (courage)
Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott (grace)
Witchwood, John Buchan (deceitfulness of sin)

What are some of your "tectonic shift favorites"?

Thursday, May 03, 2012

You don't have to be on the Internet long to find that spelling is in decline. In particular, I see a handful of common expressions consistently misspelled, or a homophone incorrectly used.

Here's a quick round-up to help you keep your blog--and your writing--error-free.


Whoa - /interj./ slow down, hold on; an expression of awe and wonder. Comes from the verbal command to a horse to halt.

Neo's first reaction to his power in The Matrix was an awed "Whoa." 

Common misspelling: Woe, woah. I saw this latter one in a published book this morning and wanted to cry. How exactly would you pronounce this bugaboo?

Voilá  -  /interj./  French for "there it is," and pronounced in the French way: VWA-la. Usually used to express an unveiling or "ta-da" moment.

Mix together the two ingredients, and voilá, dinner is ready.

Common mispellings: Phonetic wa-lah and vwa-la, and viola (which is a musical instrument and a flower similar to the pansy).

Psych -  /interj./  just kidding; fooled you. A shorthand way of saying "I've pulled a psychological trick on you."

Tina told the chess club captain, "I'd love to go to the prom with you. Psych!"

Psyched - /adj./ excited

Jed was so psyched about his trip, he packed his suitcase a week early.

Psych out - /v./ to intimidate or unnerve.

Keisha tried to psych out her opponent by humming "Taps."

Common misspellings: Phonetic sike; psyche (a term used by therapists to refer to a person's inner being and emotions, pronounced SIKE-ee.)

Trawl - /v./ to search and gather. Derived from the term for fishing with a net.

I need to trawl for websites that can help me solve this problem.

Common misspelling: Troll (monster that guards bridges; also, a creep, someone who harasses others online).

Ado - /n./ fuss, commotion. From Middle English, pronounced uh-DOO. Made famous from Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing.

Without further ado, I present today's winner!

Common misspelling: Adieu (French for "goodbye" or "farewell").

Copacetic - /adj./ all right, quite adequate, just fine. This term might come from French Creole for "in good form," though linguists can't agree. Break it up and it's easy to remember: cop / ace / tic.

The venue seemed too small to me, but our saxophonist claimed it was copacetic.

Common misspellings: Copasetic, copecetic, copesetic, copesthetic.

Which of these trip you up? Do the explanations help? What other misspellings to you see often?


Thursday, May 03, 2012 Laurel Garver
You don't have to be on the Internet long to find that spelling is in decline. In particular, I see a handful of common expressions consistently misspelled, or a homophone incorrectly used.

Here's a quick round-up to help you keep your blog--and your writing--error-free.


Whoa - /interj./ slow down, hold on; an expression of awe and wonder. Comes from the verbal command to a horse to halt.

Neo's first reaction to his power in The Matrix was an awed "Whoa." 

Common misspelling: Woe, woah. I saw this latter one in a published book this morning and wanted to cry. How exactly would you pronounce this bugaboo?

Voilá  -  /interj./  French for "there it is," and pronounced in the French way: VWA-la. Usually used to express an unveiling or "ta-da" moment.

Mix together the two ingredients, and voilá, dinner is ready.

Common mispellings: Phonetic wa-lah and vwa-la, and viola (which is a musical instrument and a flower similar to the pansy).

Psych -  /interj./  just kidding; fooled you. A shorthand way of saying "I've pulled a psychological trick on you."

Tina told the chess club captain, "I'd love to go to the prom with you. Psych!"

Psyched - /adj./ excited

Jed was so psyched about his trip, he packed his suitcase a week early.

Psych out - /v./ to intimidate or unnerve.

Keisha tried to psych out her opponent by humming "Taps."

Common misspellings: Phonetic sike; psyche (a term used by therapists to refer to a person's inner being and emotions, pronounced SIKE-ee.)

Trawl - /v./ to search and gather. Derived from the term for fishing with a net.

I need to trawl for websites that can help me solve this problem.

Common misspelling: Troll (monster that guards bridges; also, a creep, someone who harasses others online).

Ado - /n./ fuss, commotion. From Middle English, pronounced uh-DOO. Made famous from Shakespeare's Much Ado about Nothing.

Without further ado, I present today's winner!

Common misspelling: Adieu (French for "goodbye" or "farewell").

Copacetic - /adj./ all right, quite adequate, just fine. This term might come from French Creole for "in good form," though linguists can't agree. Break it up and it's easy to remember: cop / ace / tic.

The venue seemed too small to me, but our saxophonist claimed it was copacetic.

Common misspellings: Copasetic, copecetic, copesetic, copesthetic.

Which of these trip you up? Do the explanations help? What other misspellings to you see often?


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

A family member put someone in contact with me who's seeking a writing mentor. I have to admit I'm a bit clueless about how to even get started.

So here are my questions for you, dear readers. Feel free to reply to any or all of them.

Have you been mentored? How did/does that relationship work?

Do you mentor someone? How did you get started?

If you'd had a mentor at the beginning of your journey, what do you wish this person had helped you with?

What resources are helpful for developing a mentoring relationship?
Tuesday, May 01, 2012 Laurel Garver
A family member put someone in contact with me who's seeking a writing mentor. I have to admit I'm a bit clueless about how to even get started.

So here are my questions for you, dear readers. Feel free to reply to any or all of them.

Have you been mentored? How did/does that relationship work?

Do you mentor someone? How did you get started?

If you'd had a mentor at the beginning of your journey, what do you wish this person had helped you with?

What resources are helpful for developing a mentoring relationship?