Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Looking for the perfect little something for your editor, or the amazing crit partner who catches every last mistake? Never fear, the grammarian gift guide is here!


Let the world know to mind their there and they're usage. This nifty tote can be customized for the recipient. Available from the Grammar Police Zazzle shop.


Every great meal can be just a little more educational with grammar rules dishes. Available from grammarRULES!

This set of tea-themed grammatical mugs could only come from one place--England, of course. Available from the Literary Gift Company.

Forget about Gale vs. Peeta. Where do your loyalties lie when it comes to serial commas? Available from TeamGrammar at Cafe Press.

A gentle reminder that proofreading matters. Carry on in style. Available from keepcalmbax shop at Zazzle.


Think that misusing apostrophes is no big deal? Think again. As this shirt clearly states, "Every time you use an apostrophe to make a word plural, a kitten dies." Help alert the world to this tragic problem. Available from LitLogic at Zazzle


What are you wishing for this Christmas?
Wednesday, December 18, 2013 Laurel Garver
Looking for the perfect little something for your editor, or the amazing crit partner who catches every last mistake? Never fear, the grammarian gift guide is here!


Let the world know to mind their there and they're usage. This nifty tote can be customized for the recipient. Available from the Grammar Police Zazzle shop.


Every great meal can be just a little more educational with grammar rules dishes. Available from grammarRULES!

This set of tea-themed grammatical mugs could only come from one place--England, of course. Available from the Literary Gift Company.

Forget about Gale vs. Peeta. Where do your loyalties lie when it comes to serial commas? Available from TeamGrammar at Cafe Press.

A gentle reminder that proofreading matters. Carry on in style. Available from keepcalmbax shop at Zazzle.


Think that misusing apostrophes is no big deal? Think again. As this shirt clearly states, "Every time you use an apostrophe to make a word plural, a kitten dies." Help alert the world to this tragic problem. Available from LitLogic at Zazzle


What are you wishing for this Christmas?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How Out of Tune Has Changed My Writing Life
by Michelle D. Argyle

I first developed the idea for Out of Tune last November (2012). I’ve always wanted to write a book about a girl who plays the guitar. That was pretty much the only thing I had to go on when I first started figuring out what this girl’s story would be. For some reason, I wanted her to sing country music. That led into the idea that her parents were country music stars, and then … well, there always needs to be a problem in a story, so what was this girl’s problem? She can’t sing. In fact, she’s so bad her own parents have asked her not to sing anywhere in public. Ever. Ouch, huh? I was so excited to start Out of Tune, but I actually didn’t get around to starting it until January of this year, so I’m pumped that it is now out in the world!

So how has Out of Tune changed my life? In many ways, I’ll tell you that. Here are some of them.

(1) I’ve learned to absolutely adore country music.

I’ll admit I’ve never been a huge country music fan. I don’t know why I chose Out of Tune to be centered on country music, but it just felt right. So I had to learn to love country music! And I did. It took about three months, but country is now one of my all-time favorite genres. It’s what I have my radio set to permanently these days. I’m not sure my husband really appreciates it, but oh well.

(2) I’ve learned that it’s possible to overcome things that seem innate.

What do I mean by innate? My main character in Out of Tune believes she is absolutely 100% tone deaf. After all, she can’t hear when she’s singing off key. She even has trouble keeping time, which can go hand in hand with tone-deafness. But, to Maggie’s surprise, she finds someone who believes in her enough to teach her how to sing correctly. This doesn’t mean, however, that it’s easy.

I did a lot of research for Out of Tune, and part of that research was learning that it’s possible to overcome tone-deafness. Amusia, however—true tone-deafness, where the person literally cannot hear tones—is the only instance when a person cannot learn to sing in key, but it’s rare.

(3) I’ve learned even if dreams crumble around you, that you just have to keep going.

Out of Tune was originally supposed to be published with my publisher, Rhemalda Publishing, but earlier this year they had to close their doors. Because Out of Tune has had such a rocky road (failed querying, rewriting it from scratch, and now losing its publisher), I decided to put it out there myself. It’s a story centered on following your dreams, and I felt that getting it out there no matter what was serving it the justice it deserves. Never, ever give up.


Michelle lives and writes in Utah, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. She adores cheese, chocolate, sushi, and lots of ethnic food, and loves to read and write books in the time she grabs between her sword-wielding husband and energetic daughter. She believes a simple life is the best life. Michelle writes contemporary Young Adult and New Adult fiction (and other genres when she feels like it).

 Twitter | Blog | Facebook

About Out of Tune


Twenty-year-old Maggie Roads’ parents are legendary in the country music world. She wants nothing more than to follow their example, but the limelight is not reserved for singers who cannot carry a tune, let alone keep a rhythm.

When her parents tell her they are getting divorced, Maggie decides it’s time to leave home and take her future into her own hands. Moving in with Cole, her best friend and sometimes boyfriend might not be the best of ideas, but she has to start somewhere.

Their off-and-on romance gets even more complicated when Maggie crushes on her new voice teacher, Nathan, who unlocks her stunning potential. A sensational music career of her own is finally within reach, but
Maggie might need more than perfect pitch to find what she is really looking for.


Have you ever begun a story with just a simple image, like Michelle's girl with a guitar? 
Thursday, December 12, 2013 Laurel Garver
How Out of Tune Has Changed My Writing Life
by Michelle D. Argyle

I first developed the idea for Out of Tune last November (2012). I’ve always wanted to write a book about a girl who plays the guitar. That was pretty much the only thing I had to go on when I first started figuring out what this girl’s story would be. For some reason, I wanted her to sing country music. That led into the idea that her parents were country music stars, and then … well, there always needs to be a problem in a story, so what was this girl’s problem? She can’t sing. In fact, she’s so bad her own parents have asked her not to sing anywhere in public. Ever. Ouch, huh? I was so excited to start Out of Tune, but I actually didn’t get around to starting it until January of this year, so I’m pumped that it is now out in the world!

So how has Out of Tune changed my life? In many ways, I’ll tell you that. Here are some of them.

(1) I’ve learned to absolutely adore country music.

I’ll admit I’ve never been a huge country music fan. I don’t know why I chose Out of Tune to be centered on country music, but it just felt right. So I had to learn to love country music! And I did. It took about three months, but country is now one of my all-time favorite genres. It’s what I have my radio set to permanently these days. I’m not sure my husband really appreciates it, but oh well.

(2) I’ve learned that it’s possible to overcome things that seem innate.

What do I mean by innate? My main character in Out of Tune believes she is absolutely 100% tone deaf. After all, she can’t hear when she’s singing off key. She even has trouble keeping time, which can go hand in hand with tone-deafness. But, to Maggie’s surprise, she finds someone who believes in her enough to teach her how to sing correctly. This doesn’t mean, however, that it’s easy.

I did a lot of research for Out of Tune, and part of that research was learning that it’s possible to overcome tone-deafness. Amusia, however—true tone-deafness, where the person literally cannot hear tones—is the only instance when a person cannot learn to sing in key, but it’s rare.

(3) I’ve learned even if dreams crumble around you, that you just have to keep going.

Out of Tune was originally supposed to be published with my publisher, Rhemalda Publishing, but earlier this year they had to close their doors. Because Out of Tune has had such a rocky road (failed querying, rewriting it from scratch, and now losing its publisher), I decided to put it out there myself. It’s a story centered on following your dreams, and I felt that getting it out there no matter what was serving it the justice it deserves. Never, ever give up.


Michelle lives and writes in Utah, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. She adores cheese, chocolate, sushi, and lots of ethnic food, and loves to read and write books in the time she grabs between her sword-wielding husband and energetic daughter. She believes a simple life is the best life. Michelle writes contemporary Young Adult and New Adult fiction (and other genres when she feels like it).

 Twitter | Blog | Facebook

About Out of Tune


Twenty-year-old Maggie Roads’ parents are legendary in the country music world. She wants nothing more than to follow their example, but the limelight is not reserved for singers who cannot carry a tune, let alone keep a rhythm.

When her parents tell her they are getting divorced, Maggie decides it’s time to leave home and take her future into her own hands. Moving in with Cole, her best friend and sometimes boyfriend might not be the best of ideas, but she has to start somewhere.

Their off-and-on romance gets even more complicated when Maggie crushes on her new voice teacher, Nathan, who unlocks her stunning potential. A sensational music career of her own is finally within reach, but
Maggie might need more than perfect pitch to find what she is really looking for.


Have you ever begun a story with just a simple image, like Michelle's girl with a guitar? 

Friday, December 06, 2013

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

rain

image: http://guardian.co.uk

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

  • The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. (Thank you, Henry Higgins.)
  • Air pollution is a cause of acid rain.


rein

image: http://equiword.net
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

  • To ride east, Eve and Ella rein left.
  • Free rein: freedom and speed, whee!


reign


image: http://royal-splendor.blogspot.com
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.


Mnemonics

  • King George reigns from a glittering, gem-covered throne.
  • Gorgeous Gordon reigns the giggling girls at Glenside High.


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.

This is an updated post from May 2012.


Do these distinctions help? What other homonyms trip you up?
Friday, December 06, 2013 Laurel Garver
Today we're tackling a set of fraternal triplets of language, the homophones rain, rein, and reign. Once again, I'll provide a definition, examples and mnemonic tricks to help you keep them straight.

rain

image: http://guardian.co.uk

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

  • The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. (Thank you, Henry Higgins.)
  • Air pollution is a cause of acid rain.


rein

image: http://equiword.net
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

  • To ride east, Eve and Ella rein left.
  • Free rein: freedom and speed, whee!


reign


image: http://royal-splendor.blogspot.com
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.


Mnemonics

  • King George reigns from a glittering, gem-covered throne.
  • Gorgeous Gordon reigns the giggling girls at Glenside High.


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.

This is an updated post from May 2012.


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

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

image credit: wikihow.com
Maybe you're coming down off the high of "winning" NaNo, or you tried and gave up, or you're just doing the usual ___ words-per-day, and suddenly find you simply cannot write. You're stuck. Panic begins to creep in. You think, I'll never finish! I'm a boring, talentless hack. Or worse, you become mired in apathy. Who cares about this dumb story? Why bother?

Here are a few things you should NOT do when this happens:

  • Stick your head in an oven like Sylvia Plath.
  • Delete the entire manuscript.
  • Sell all your possessions and buy a one-way ticket to an exotic locale.
  • Get started on a shiny new idea. Or three.  Or twelve.

Being blocked isn't worth dying for, and if you give up every time you hit obstacles, you'll never finish anything. A change of venue won't solve the real problem--you and your ideas. And many a writer has gotten waylaid in the Forest of Infinite Possibilities (aka Shiny New Idea Syndrome), never to emerge with a single finished manuscript.

Instead, try a more proactive approach to getting back on track.

Determine the cause of the stuckness

Getting stuck in a project is usually a symptom of two common writing maladies:  Writer's Block Wall and Writer's Block Desert. Take a look at the posts I linked for descriptions of the symptoms of each type of stuckness.

Generally, walls pop up when you stubbornly insist on continuing in the wrong direction. Deserts appear when you are burned out, or you need creative "food and drink" -- more raw material.

Pinpoint the wrong turn 

Sometimes we end up stuck because of a wrong turn that led to a dead end, a twisted forest path or a cliff with no guardrails. The only way to get the story moving again is to retrace your steps to where the wrong turn happened. I elaborate the causes and how to go about finding your wrong turn HERE.

If, after reading your manuscript and pinpointing where you think the story stopped working, you still have no idea where to turn next, let a trusted critique partner or beta reader take a look. Sometimes you are too close to the story to see the problem. My wonderful CPs have helped me find wrong turns that happened earlier than I initially thought. Getting help sooner rather than later enabled me to get back on track without having to toss out weeks of work.

Delve deeper

Sometimes we get stuck because we don't yet know the characters well enough to predict how they'd naturally react to story events, or we don't know our story world well enough to develop interesting plots. Taking time out to generate more raw material for your story can get it moving again.

  • Research more deeply the milieu of your story, not only the setting, but also the larger cultural forces.
  • Read up on psychological phenomena likely to effect your characters, from birth order and parenting styles to neuroses and full-blown mental illnesses.
  • Think through and plan the protagonist's inner journey of emotional change.
  • Research and develop associations for each character based on their upbringing, training and interests so you can better create character voices.
  • Develop all the characters, even the minor ones, and not just backstory. Give every character things to do, places to be, relationships, worries, plans and goals that engage them during the "here and now" of your story--even if much of that life happens offstage. The traces you sprinkle in will make every character feel more real. 
  • Experiment with handling a scene several different ways, using visualization first.
  • Practice riff-writing to flesh out an already-written section.

Feed your creativity

Think of your creativity as a pet. Or better as the "good wolf" of joy, hope, kindness, and courage spoken of in Cherokee legend that fights inside you for dominance. It will thrive only if you feed it. Here are some ways to do just that:

  • Spend time in nature. Studies show that it improves mood, increases energy, and reduces stress.
  • Connect with a friend or relative. Talk about favorite memories or traditions, overcoming obstacles, a "stranger-than-fiction" experience, or embarrassing moment. Human interaction is one the the best ways to jump-start creativity.
  • Create a movement journal in which you chronicle observations from people watching. 
  • Watch visually stunning movies. Beauty can be very healing.
  • Develop playlists of music that reflect the core emotions of your stories.
  • Read wonderful books and let yourself be carried away or analyze what you loved and found exciting.
  • Read terrible books and analyze what went wrong or simply be encouraged that you can do better.
  • Pick up resource books to encourage you. I talk about one of my favorites HERE.
  • Journal using writing prompts.
  • Write about your childhood (Anne Lamott's favorite creativity exercise).

What are your favorite strategies for getting unstuck?
Tuesday, December 03, 2013 Laurel Garver
image credit: wikihow.com
Maybe you're coming down off the high of "winning" NaNo, or you tried and gave up, or you're just doing the usual ___ words-per-day, and suddenly find you simply cannot write. You're stuck. Panic begins to creep in. You think, I'll never finish! I'm a boring, talentless hack. Or worse, you become mired in apathy. Who cares about this dumb story? Why bother?

Here are a few things you should NOT do when this happens:

  • Stick your head in an oven like Sylvia Plath.
  • Delete the entire manuscript.
  • Sell all your possessions and buy a one-way ticket to an exotic locale.
  • Get started on a shiny new idea. Or three.  Or twelve.

Being blocked isn't worth dying for, and if you give up every time you hit obstacles, you'll never finish anything. A change of venue won't solve the real problem--you and your ideas. And many a writer has gotten waylaid in the Forest of Infinite Possibilities (aka Shiny New Idea Syndrome), never to emerge with a single finished manuscript.

Instead, try a more proactive approach to getting back on track.

Determine the cause of the stuckness

Getting stuck in a project is usually a symptom of two common writing maladies:  Writer's Block Wall and Writer's Block Desert. Take a look at the posts I linked for descriptions of the symptoms of each type of stuckness.

Generally, walls pop up when you stubbornly insist on continuing in the wrong direction. Deserts appear when you are burned out, or you need creative "food and drink" -- more raw material.

Pinpoint the wrong turn 

Sometimes we end up stuck because of a wrong turn that led to a dead end, a twisted forest path or a cliff with no guardrails. The only way to get the story moving again is to retrace your steps to where the wrong turn happened. I elaborate the causes and how to go about finding your wrong turn HERE.

If, after reading your manuscript and pinpointing where you think the story stopped working, you still have no idea where to turn next, let a trusted critique partner or beta reader take a look. Sometimes you are too close to the story to see the problem. My wonderful CPs have helped me find wrong turns that happened earlier than I initially thought. Getting help sooner rather than later enabled me to get back on track without having to toss out weeks of work.

Delve deeper

Sometimes we get stuck because we don't yet know the characters well enough to predict how they'd naturally react to story events, or we don't know our story world well enough to develop interesting plots. Taking time out to generate more raw material for your story can get it moving again.

  • Research more deeply the milieu of your story, not only the setting, but also the larger cultural forces.
  • Read up on psychological phenomena likely to effect your characters, from birth order and parenting styles to neuroses and full-blown mental illnesses.
  • Think through and plan the protagonist's inner journey of emotional change.
  • Research and develop associations for each character based on their upbringing, training and interests so you can better create character voices.
  • Develop all the characters, even the minor ones, and not just backstory. Give every character things to do, places to be, relationships, worries, plans and goals that engage them during the "here and now" of your story--even if much of that life happens offstage. The traces you sprinkle in will make every character feel more real. 
  • Experiment with handling a scene several different ways, using visualization first.
  • Practice riff-writing to flesh out an already-written section.

Feed your creativity

Think of your creativity as a pet. Or better as the "good wolf" of joy, hope, kindness, and courage spoken of in Cherokee legend that fights inside you for dominance. It will thrive only if you feed it. Here are some ways to do just that:

  • Spend time in nature. Studies show that it improves mood, increases energy, and reduces stress.
  • Connect with a friend or relative. Talk about favorite memories or traditions, overcoming obstacles, a "stranger-than-fiction" experience, or embarrassing moment. Human interaction is one the the best ways to jump-start creativity.
  • Create a movement journal in which you chronicle observations from people watching. 
  • Watch visually stunning movies. Beauty can be very healing.
  • Develop playlists of music that reflect the core emotions of your stories.
  • Read wonderful books and let yourself be carried away or analyze what you loved and found exciting.
  • Read terrible books and analyze what went wrong or simply be encouraged that you can do better.
  • Pick up resource books to encourage you. I talk about one of my favorites HERE.
  • Journal using writing prompts.
  • Write about your childhood (Anne Lamott's favorite creativity exercise).

What are your favorite strategies for getting unstuck?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I can't be the only one whose weekends are often full of chores, chores, a tiny bit of fun, and more chores. There ought to be a way to get out from under the weekly press of it so I have more balanced weekends. I'm realizing my family members' attention deficit issues mean most of the organizing falls to me, because I have the strongest skills. Let me tell you, it gets discouraging pretty quickly.

Years ago I picked up a couple of household organizing books, and as the holidays approach, it's time to revisit them to prepare for the joys of entertaining. Because honestly, if you're prepared, it can be a joy.

For me the trick is to stick to one goal at a time. This week's comes from Streamlining Your Life by Stephanie Culp.

The number one rule of organizing, Culp says, is only organize what deserves your attention. And a lot of things don't.

Tip of the week:
Don't have too much stuff.

Simple, right? We hang on to stuff we don't need or haven't used for years for one of the following reasons:

I might need this someday
It's still perfectly good
Every ____ is precious (scribble, stuffed animal)
But it's an antique!
This might come back in style
A special person gave it to me
It's a piece of my history
Someday I'll take up this hobby again

All these excuses seem on their face logical, but they're actually emotionally-based decisions. Getting rid of "perfectly good" things we "might need" scares us. But hoarding to stave off a fear of deprivation actually CAUSES deprivation. Your life becomes captive to mess. You lose time and energy when you hoard.

What are your organization battle zones? What kinds of stuff are crowding your life? What excuses and emotions are keeping you fettered to belongings you don't need?
Tuesday, November 26, 2013 Laurel Garver
I can't be the only one whose weekends are often full of chores, chores, a tiny bit of fun, and more chores. There ought to be a way to get out from under the weekly press of it so I have more balanced weekends. I'm realizing my family members' attention deficit issues mean most of the organizing falls to me, because I have the strongest skills. Let me tell you, it gets discouraging pretty quickly.

Years ago I picked up a couple of household organizing books, and as the holidays approach, it's time to revisit them to prepare for the joys of entertaining. Because honestly, if you're prepared, it can be a joy.

For me the trick is to stick to one goal at a time. This week's comes from Streamlining Your Life by Stephanie Culp.

The number one rule of organizing, Culp says, is only organize what deserves your attention. And a lot of things don't.

Tip of the week:
Don't have too much stuff.

Simple, right? We hang on to stuff we don't need or haven't used for years for one of the following reasons:

I might need this someday
It's still perfectly good
Every ____ is precious (scribble, stuffed animal)
But it's an antique!
This might come back in style
A special person gave it to me
It's a piece of my history
Someday I'll take up this hobby again

All these excuses seem on their face logical, but they're actually emotionally-based decisions. Getting rid of "perfectly good" things we "might need" scares us. But hoarding to stave off a fear of deprivation actually CAUSES deprivation. Your life becomes captive to mess. You lose time and energy when you hoard.

What are your organization battle zones? What kinds of stuff are crowding your life? What excuses and emotions are keeping you fettered to belongings you don't need?

Friday, November 22, 2013

In this week's edition of Phonics Friday, we'll be tackling a trio of sound-alike words, all pronounced pȯr. We'll look at definitions, see the terms used in context, and learn some mnemonic (memory) devices to keep them straight.

image credit: hotblack at morguefile.com
Why bother? If you accidentally swap one of these legitimate words for another, spell check won't help you. It can't discern context, but merely if a certain combination of letters appears in its dictionary.

Poor

poor (adj.) - lacking resources, having little money; less than ideal, negative, bad. An expression of pity.

Examples
Hank's family was so poor, they ate meat only once a month.
The cafe service was so poor that we waited an hour for our meal.
Kay was discouraged by her new employee's poor performance on the job.
Poor Leo is hobbling around campus on crutches.

Mnemonic
The poor have too few cool things.

image credit: lisa solonynko, morguefile

Pour

pour (v., trans.) to make flow or dispense in a stream; to produce or give in abundance; to give full expression.

Examples
A waiter must pour wine with great care.
Travis decided to pour all his resources into the family ranch.
Over lunch, Violet poured out her worries to us.

Mnemonic
Doug will pour out our pungent southern punch

Pore

pore (V., intrans.) to intently study, gaze, reflect, or meditate upon; often used with over.

image credit: clarita, morguefile.com
pore (n.) a microscopic opening, as in the skin, (especially one through which molecules can pass through a membrane); tiny opening in the surface of plants or minerals.

the adjectival form of the noun is porous.

Examples
Renee loved to pore over European travel guides in the library.
How long have you been poring over your exam notes?
The dermatologist examined the pores on Mia's cheeks.
Don't take that porous bag; it will leak.

Mnemonic
To raise your geology score more, you must pore over ore.

Which of these terms trip you up most? Any other homophones you'd like me to cover?
Friday, November 22, 2013 Laurel Garver
In this week's edition of Phonics Friday, we'll be tackling a trio of sound-alike words, all pronounced pȯr. We'll look at definitions, see the terms used in context, and learn some mnemonic (memory) devices to keep them straight.

image credit: hotblack at morguefile.com
Why bother? If you accidentally swap one of these legitimate words for another, spell check won't help you. It can't discern context, but merely if a certain combination of letters appears in its dictionary.

Poor

poor (adj.) - lacking resources, having little money; less than ideal, negative, bad. An expression of pity.

Examples
Hank's family was so poor, they ate meat only once a month.
The cafe service was so poor that we waited an hour for our meal.
Kay was discouraged by her new employee's poor performance on the job.
Poor Leo is hobbling around campus on crutches.

Mnemonic
The poor have too few cool things.

image credit: lisa solonynko, morguefile

Pour

pour (v., trans.) to make flow or dispense in a stream; to produce or give in abundance; to give full expression.

Examples
A waiter must pour wine with great care.
Travis decided to pour all his resources into the family ranch.
Over lunch, Violet poured out her worries to us.

Mnemonic
Doug will pour out our pungent southern punch

Pore

pore (V., intrans.) to intently study, gaze, reflect, or meditate upon; often used with over.

image credit: clarita, morguefile.com
pore (n.) a microscopic opening, as in the skin, (especially one through which molecules can pass through a membrane); tiny opening in the surface of plants or minerals.

the adjectival form of the noun is porous.

Examples
Renee loved to pore over European travel guides in the library.
How long have you been poring over your exam notes?
The dermatologist examined the pores on Mia's cheeks.
Don't take that porous bag; it will leak.

Mnemonic
To raise your geology score more, you must pore over ore.

Which of these terms trip you up most? Any other homophones you'd like me to cover?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It's launch day for Michelle Davidson Argyle's Out of Tune, a New Adult novel about the country music business. Michelle will be back next month to talk writing with us, but for now, here's a teaser!


EXCERPT - OUT OF TUNE by: Michelle D. Argyle

Cole’s steady beat on the drum relaxed her. She could feel his eyes on her as she played, but she did not turn around. He would never know what this meant to her. She had wanted and dreaded this moment forever. She could only imagine what tomorrow would be like, with an audience full of strangers.

She closed her eyes as the music flowed into her. Iza came in on her fiddle, her notes weaving in and out like bright threads in a tapestry. Justin started singing the first lines and she tapped her foot, counting like Nathan had taught her. “Every beat is a physical thing,” he had said. “See the music, feel it, just like you’ve done your whole life. Pearls on a string—let each one slide through your fingers. Measured.”

Mandolin line. Then the bass started. Maggie’s turn.

When she came in, her voice was louder and stronger than it had ever been. Justin’s voice filled her up like honey. She swam through it, adding her own to his. Maybe he was a womanizer and constantly looking at her like he wanted to get her in bed, but he was an amazing singer. They smiled at each other as they melted into the song.

She had never been inside music like this before. The stage lights sparkled in her eyes and she understood for the first time in her life why musicians put up with all that travelling and recording, and the stressful nights like when her mom was puking her guts out with the flu—the real flu—but had to go on stage in five minutes. Maggie remembered her smiling as she wiped her mouth and shrugged. “It’s part of the singin’ life, hon. We don’t always get breaks when we need them.” She had patted Maggie on her twelve-year-old head and squared her shoulders as her makeup artist dusted some powder over her pale cheeks. Then she had left for the stage in a flutter of sequins and curls.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Blog  | Facebook | Twitter


Special Giveaway!
Thursday, November 21, 2013 Laurel Garver
It's launch day for Michelle Davidson Argyle's Out of Tune, a New Adult novel about the country music business. Michelle will be back next month to talk writing with us, but for now, here's a teaser!


EXCERPT - OUT OF TUNE by: Michelle D. Argyle

Cole’s steady beat on the drum relaxed her. She could feel his eyes on her as she played, but she did not turn around. He would never know what this meant to her. She had wanted and dreaded this moment forever. She could only imagine what tomorrow would be like, with an audience full of strangers.

She closed her eyes as the music flowed into her. Iza came in on her fiddle, her notes weaving in and out like bright threads in a tapestry. Justin started singing the first lines and she tapped her foot, counting like Nathan had taught her. “Every beat is a physical thing,” he had said. “See the music, feel it, just like you’ve done your whole life. Pearls on a string—let each one slide through your fingers. Measured.”

Mandolin line. Then the bass started. Maggie’s turn.

When she came in, her voice was louder and stronger than it had ever been. Justin’s voice filled her up like honey. She swam through it, adding her own to his. Maybe he was a womanizer and constantly looking at her like he wanted to get her in bed, but he was an amazing singer. They smiled at each other as they melted into the song.

She had never been inside music like this before. The stage lights sparkled in her eyes and she understood for the first time in her life why musicians put up with all that travelling and recording, and the stressful nights like when her mom was puking her guts out with the flu—the real flu—but had to go on stage in five minutes. Maggie remembered her smiling as she wiped her mouth and shrugged. “It’s part of the singin’ life, hon. We don’t always get breaks when we need them.” She had patted Maggie on her twelve-year-old head and squared her shoulders as her makeup artist dusted some powder over her pale cheeks. Then she had left for the stage in a flutter of sequins and curls.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Blog  | Facebook | Twitter


Special Giveaway!

Monday, November 18, 2013

by Crystal Collier
author of Moonless

One of my earliest memories was of snuggling up in my blankets, leaning on my pillow, and listening with rapt attention as my oldest brother told stories of “Super Goober.” He started a culture of storytelling among my seven siblings and I, a custom passed from the oldest to youngest.

I was the splitting point, the middle child. It was up to me to pick up where the older siblings left off. Because of that, I started telling my own stories. My youngest brother and sister would cozy up on my floor while I continued the saga of a fantasy world, expanding details and explaining the culture, answering questions and exploring until everyone dozed into sleep.

But those stories and characters didn’t die when we were too old for sleepovers. No, they continued to live in my subconscious, joined by dozens of others who popped up through the years.

So how do I develop characters?

Characters happen.

They’re a result of real world experiences combined with wishful thinking. My first solid character, Kiri, was born from intense pain. Life was not pretty on any front for me: home, school or church. Channeling all my troubles, I imagined a girl whose suffering was greater than my own. She was part who I wanted to become and part who I was. I built a world where she struggled to find meaning or a modicum of her own importance. And she was important. She was so important her entire world would cease to exist without her.

But she couldn’t see it.

She set a pattern for where and how my characters would originate. For the most part I meet them in my dreams, story dreams with fully fleshed out conflicts. Fueled by the character’s emotions, (emotions so potent I HAVE to explore them,) the story begins.

Where do you meet your characters?

Crystal Collier, author of MOONLESS, is a former composer/writer for Black Diamond Productions. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. 

You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

About MOONLESS
In the English society of 1768 where women are bred to marry, unattractive Alexia, just sixteen, believes she will end up alone. But on the county doorstep of a neighbor’s estate, she meets a man straight out of her nightmares, one whose blue eyes threaten to consume her whole world—especially later when she discovers him standing over her murdered host in the middle of the night.

Among the many things to change for her that evening are: her physical appearance—from ghastly to breathtaking, an epidemic of night terrors predicting the future, and the blue-eyed man’s unexpected infusion into her life. Not only do his appearances precede tragedies, but they’re echoed by the arrival of ravenous, black-robed wraiths on moonless nights.

Unable to decide whether he is one of these monsters or protecting her from them, she uncovers what her father has been concealing: truths about her own identity, about the blue-eyed man, and about love. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with the man of her dreams and risk becoming one of the Soulless.

Buy MOONLESS HERE or add it on Goodreads.

Enter Crystal's awesome giveaway! 
Monday, November 18, 2013 Laurel Garver
by Crystal Collier
author of Moonless

One of my earliest memories was of snuggling up in my blankets, leaning on my pillow, and listening with rapt attention as my oldest brother told stories of “Super Goober.” He started a culture of storytelling among my seven siblings and I, a custom passed from the oldest to youngest.

I was the splitting point, the middle child. It was up to me to pick up where the older siblings left off. Because of that, I started telling my own stories. My youngest brother and sister would cozy up on my floor while I continued the saga of a fantasy world, expanding details and explaining the culture, answering questions and exploring until everyone dozed into sleep.

But those stories and characters didn’t die when we were too old for sleepovers. No, they continued to live in my subconscious, joined by dozens of others who popped up through the years.

So how do I develop characters?

Characters happen.

They’re a result of real world experiences combined with wishful thinking. My first solid character, Kiri, was born from intense pain. Life was not pretty on any front for me: home, school or church. Channeling all my troubles, I imagined a girl whose suffering was greater than my own. She was part who I wanted to become and part who I was. I built a world where she struggled to find meaning or a modicum of her own importance. And she was important. She was so important her entire world would cease to exist without her.

But she couldn’t see it.

She set a pattern for where and how my characters would originate. For the most part I meet them in my dreams, story dreams with fully fleshed out conflicts. Fueled by the character’s emotions, (emotions so potent I HAVE to explore them,) the story begins.

Where do you meet your characters?

Crystal Collier, author of MOONLESS, is a former composer/writer for Black Diamond Productions. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. 

You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

About MOONLESS
In the English society of 1768 where women are bred to marry, unattractive Alexia, just sixteen, believes she will end up alone. But on the county doorstep of a neighbor’s estate, she meets a man straight out of her nightmares, one whose blue eyes threaten to consume her whole world—especially later when she discovers him standing over her murdered host in the middle of the night.

Among the many things to change for her that evening are: her physical appearance—from ghastly to breathtaking, an epidemic of night terrors predicting the future, and the blue-eyed man’s unexpected infusion into her life. Not only do his appearances precede tragedies, but they’re echoed by the arrival of ravenous, black-robed wraiths on moonless nights.

Unable to decide whether he is one of these monsters or protecting her from them, she uncovers what her father has been concealing: truths about her own identity, about the blue-eyed man, and about love. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with the man of her dreams and risk becoming one of the Soulless.

Buy MOONLESS HERE or add it on Goodreads.

Enter Crystal's awesome giveaway! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I admit it. I'm starting to give up on books more often than I used to. A wise friend of mine has a rule of thumb about finishing books: "if you're under 30, give every book 100 pages to hook you. If you're over 30, give it 50." I think she understands the natural impatience of youth, and the often natural stick-to-it-iveness of maturity. Sometimes we need to give authors a chance, sometimes we need to cut our losses and move on.

As I've set aside a few books, I got thinking about what makes me, personally, cut my losses. And as I did so, I realized a very helpful blog series might grow around these areas. So today I'll be simply laying out "the problem" and ask for your input as well. In future posts, I'll address how to avoid these pitfalls in your own writing.

Top ten reasons I stop reading


1. Riddled with errors

photo by verbaska, morguefile.com

Frequent errors in spelling, grammar, usage, syntax, punctuation, and formatting immediately pull me out of the story and make me want to reach for my red pen. Frankly, I don't want pleasure reading to feel like work.

2. Annoying voice


I really love witty, sarcastic narrators, but there can be a fine line between sarcasm and obnoxiousness. The ones that make me shut the book rather than read on are deeply mean-spirited types who always put others down, and/or are self-absorbed complainers.

3. No one to root for


Yes, characters need flaws to be realistic. But if every character is all flawed all the time, it's as boring as reading a book full of Mary Sues. As a reader, I simply stop caring if none of the characters has a redeeming quality to give hope for change and growth. Because change is the essence of plot, and hope the one emotion your reader most wants to have stirred. So sure, bring on the scarred and damaged, but if they're all about simply lashing out or wallowing, I'm moving on.

4. Garbled action


To use a theatre metaphor, fiction needs to be properly blocked. That is, the key characters and actions should be put in a focal place (not upstaged by the extras), and all movements should be presented in a manner that makes sense and flows. Action scenes with too much going on all at once, with no clear sense where the characters are, and how they are moving in space--and in relation to one another--is simply confusing rather than exciting.

5.  Cliched


If the story feels like I've heard it before, all the characters are standard types, and no one does anything surprising, I'm bored.

6. Predictable


The predictable plot usually flows out of clichéd characters and scenarios. Or perhaps the plot complications are too obvious and obstacles too easily overcome.Sometimes predictability comes about because the writer hasn't mastered advanced techniques such as narrative misdirection--getting the characters focused wrong information some of the time (aka "red herrings"). If I get to page 50 with no real surprises, I tend to give up.

7. Implausible


Plots that hinge too much on coincidence make my skeptic-ometer alarm peal. Random coincidences seem to happen all the time in real life, but dig deeper and there's often some history that led to the moment. Cheap epiphanies, in which characters "see the light" after one minor shake-up, do not a plausible story make. Real change is slow, incremental, and includes some failure and steps backward.

In this category I also lump things like "insta-love" and "insta-reform" (the latter crops up in religious fiction far too often).

8. Stilted


If the writing lacks naturalness, either the narrative voice or dialogue, it pulls me out of the story. Contemporary stories need to sound like they're recording real people. Historical fiction, fantasy and SciFi similarly need to reflect the milieu in which they are set.

9. Thin


Some novels seem like only the skeleton of a story. There's a plot, but it zips along so fast, I never catch my breath. The characters' personalities and relationships are superficial. Thin stories tend to have only a main plot (no subplots) and secondary characters that are all essentially extras, like Detective #3 in a police procedural TV show.

10. Bad fit for my tastes


I have no stomach for graphic violence, and I prefer not to ingest much foul language or graphic sexual content. The proverb "Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life," is something I consider when choosing reading material. I want books to help me become more empathetic, not harden me or encourage my vices. Others have different no-go areas and preferences.

What makes YOU stop reading? Any additional categories to add?
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 Laurel Garver
I admit it. I'm starting to give up on books more often than I used to. A wise friend of mine has a rule of thumb about finishing books: "if you're under 30, give every book 100 pages to hook you. If you're over 30, give it 50." I think she understands the natural impatience of youth, and the often natural stick-to-it-iveness of maturity. Sometimes we need to give authors a chance, sometimes we need to cut our losses and move on.

As I've set aside a few books, I got thinking about what makes me, personally, cut my losses. And as I did so, I realized a very helpful blog series might grow around these areas. So today I'll be simply laying out "the problem" and ask for your input as well. In future posts, I'll address how to avoid these pitfalls in your own writing.

Top ten reasons I stop reading


1. Riddled with errors

photo by verbaska, morguefile.com

Frequent errors in spelling, grammar, usage, syntax, punctuation, and formatting immediately pull me out of the story and make me want to reach for my red pen. Frankly, I don't want pleasure reading to feel like work.

2. Annoying voice


I really love witty, sarcastic narrators, but there can be a fine line between sarcasm and obnoxiousness. The ones that make me shut the book rather than read on are deeply mean-spirited types who always put others down, and/or are self-absorbed complainers.

3. No one to root for


Yes, characters need flaws to be realistic. But if every character is all flawed all the time, it's as boring as reading a book full of Mary Sues. As a reader, I simply stop caring if none of the characters has a redeeming quality to give hope for change and growth. Because change is the essence of plot, and hope the one emotion your reader most wants to have stirred. So sure, bring on the scarred and damaged, but if they're all about simply lashing out or wallowing, I'm moving on.

4. Garbled action


To use a theatre metaphor, fiction needs to be properly blocked. That is, the key characters and actions should be put in a focal place (not upstaged by the extras), and all movements should be presented in a manner that makes sense and flows. Action scenes with too much going on all at once, with no clear sense where the characters are, and how they are moving in space--and in relation to one another--is simply confusing rather than exciting.

5.  Cliched


If the story feels like I've heard it before, all the characters are standard types, and no one does anything surprising, I'm bored.

6. Predictable


The predictable plot usually flows out of clichéd characters and scenarios. Or perhaps the plot complications are too obvious and obstacles too easily overcome.Sometimes predictability comes about because the writer hasn't mastered advanced techniques such as narrative misdirection--getting the characters focused wrong information some of the time (aka "red herrings"). If I get to page 50 with no real surprises, I tend to give up.

7. Implausible


Plots that hinge too much on coincidence make my skeptic-ometer alarm peal. Random coincidences seem to happen all the time in real life, but dig deeper and there's often some history that led to the moment. Cheap epiphanies, in which characters "see the light" after one minor shake-up, do not a plausible story make. Real change is slow, incremental, and includes some failure and steps backward.

In this category I also lump things like "insta-love" and "insta-reform" (the latter crops up in religious fiction far too often).

8. Stilted


If the writing lacks naturalness, either the narrative voice or dialogue, it pulls me out of the story. Contemporary stories need to sound like they're recording real people. Historical fiction, fantasy and SciFi similarly need to reflect the milieu in which they are set.

9. Thin


Some novels seem like only the skeleton of a story. There's a plot, but it zips along so fast, I never catch my breath. The characters' personalities and relationships are superficial. Thin stories tend to have only a main plot (no subplots) and secondary characters that are all essentially extras, like Detective #3 in a police procedural TV show.

10. Bad fit for my tastes


I have no stomach for graphic violence, and I prefer not to ingest much foul language or graphic sexual content. The proverb "Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life," is something I consider when choosing reading material. I want books to help me become more empathetic, not harden me or encourage my vices. Others have different no-go areas and preferences.

What makes YOU stop reading? Any additional categories to add?

Friday, November 08, 2013

It's Phonics Friday once again, and today we'll be tackling a trio of sound-alike nouns, all pronounced pal-it, that are used in quite different contexts.

Let's take a look at definitions, see the terms used in context, and learn some mnemonic (memory) devices to keep the terms straight.

Why bother? If you accidentally swap one of these legitimate words for another, spell check won't help you. It can't discern context, but merely if a certain combination of letters appears in its dictionary.

Palate

Photo by luisrock62, morguefile.com

palate - n. the roof of the mouth; appreciation of taste and flavor, especially when sensitive and discriminating.

The adjectival form palatable and its antonym unpalatable are commonly used to describe food.

Examples

  • Smile Train is a charity that treats children born with cleft palate.
  • "The L sound," explained the ESL teacher, "is created by pressing the tongue against the palate." 
  • Because of his sensitive palate, Crosby was always called on to taste-test the soups and sauces.
  • Our hosts served fresh fruit as a palate cleanser between courses.
  • Thea does not find fast food palatable.  (adj. form)

Mnemonic
My PAL ATE what appealed to her PALATE.

Pallet

image: Wikipeda

pallet - n. a mat or thin mattress; a slab or framework  used for carrying things; a unit of goods that can fit on a standard frame used in warehouses.

Examples

  • During the hurricane, Deb had only her yoga mat to use as a pallet.
  • Forklift drivers spend their workdays moving pallets of goods around the warehouse.
  • Jim builds dog houses out of wood salvaged from old warehouse pallets.
  • Five pallets of medical supplies were delivered to the refugee camp.

Mnemonic
My PAL LET me sleep on his PALLET

image by jppi, morguefile.com

Palette


palette - n. a flat board used by artists for holding and mixing paint; a group of colors used together, as an artist might for a particular painting; a comparable range, use or quality of items.

Examples

  • Ette squirted dollops of blue, orange, black, and white oil paint onto her palette.
  • Roderigo used a palette knife to apply thick layers of paint to his canvas.
  • Our color palette for the guest room will be plum, pale mulberry, and charcoal, with touches of silver.
  • Yuko's music combined a rich palette of harmonies.

Mnemonic
My PAL ETTE put paint on her PALETTE.

Be aware that advertisers love to do word plays on palate and palette.
For example, "Tempt your palate with a colorful palette of summer fruit."
Remember that the "ate" version relates to taste, while the "ette" version is visual.

Which of these words trip you up? Are there other homophones (sound-alikes) that confuse you?

Friday, November 08, 2013 Laurel Garver
It's Phonics Friday once again, and today we'll be tackling a trio of sound-alike nouns, all pronounced pal-it, that are used in quite different contexts.

Let's take a look at definitions, see the terms used in context, and learn some mnemonic (memory) devices to keep the terms straight.

Why bother? If you accidentally swap one of these legitimate words for another, spell check won't help you. It can't discern context, but merely if a certain combination of letters appears in its dictionary.

Palate

Photo by luisrock62, morguefile.com

palate - n. the roof of the mouth; appreciation of taste and flavor, especially when sensitive and discriminating.

The adjectival form palatable and its antonym unpalatable are commonly used to describe food.

Examples

  • Smile Train is a charity that treats children born with cleft palate.
  • "The L sound," explained the ESL teacher, "is created by pressing the tongue against the palate." 
  • Because of his sensitive palate, Crosby was always called on to taste-test the soups and sauces.
  • Our hosts served fresh fruit as a palate cleanser between courses.
  • Thea does not find fast food palatable.  (adj. form)

Mnemonic
My PAL ATE what appealed to her PALATE.

Pallet

image: Wikipeda

pallet - n. a mat or thin mattress; a slab or framework  used for carrying things; a unit of goods that can fit on a standard frame used in warehouses.

Examples

  • During the hurricane, Deb had only her yoga mat to use as a pallet.
  • Forklift drivers spend their workdays moving pallets of goods around the warehouse.
  • Jim builds dog houses out of wood salvaged from old warehouse pallets.
  • Five pallets of medical supplies were delivered to the refugee camp.

Mnemonic
My PAL LET me sleep on his PALLET

image by jppi, morguefile.com

Palette


palette - n. a flat board used by artists for holding and mixing paint; a group of colors used together, as an artist might for a particular painting; a comparable range, use or quality of items.

Examples

  • Ette squirted dollops of blue, orange, black, and white oil paint onto her palette.
  • Roderigo used a palette knife to apply thick layers of paint to his canvas.
  • Our color palette for the guest room will be plum, pale mulberry, and charcoal, with touches of silver.
  • Yuko's music combined a rich palette of harmonies.

Mnemonic
My PAL ETTE put paint on her PALETTE.

Be aware that advertisers love to do word plays on palate and palette.
For example, "Tempt your palate with a colorful palette of summer fruit."
Remember that the "ate" version relates to taste, while the "ette" version is visual.

Which of these words trip you up? Are there other homophones (sound-alikes) that confuse you?

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

We all know where to turn for help with writing words correctly in our stories--a dictionary. But how about numbers?

How you should write time? 5 o'clock or 5:00 pm? And do you have to write out amounts in fiction, as in five thousand, or can you go with 5,000? What about ages? Dates?

Photo credit: dancerinthedark from morguefile.com
Unfortunately, there isn't one hard and fast rule for this. These sorts of decisions are what industry pros call "style." Every publisher has its own style guide dictating its preference for handling things like numbers. Agents and editors won't expect you to know this information ahead of time--they'll likely just ask for changes during the editing phase if you chose something other than house style. However, if you don't handle numbers consistently, you won't be making fast friends with the editorial department. And if you self-publish, you'll need to discuss "house style" with any freelance editing professional you hire.

For many years, I worked on publications that used Associate Press (AP) style, so I've had those rules pretty deeply ingrained in how I approach this question. Its style choices will feel more natural for some genres than others.

Clock time

AP usually handles time like this-- 4:43 a.m. or 11 p.m. (Note the letters are lower case with periods after each. AM and PM is right out.) If your story is, say, a mystery, thriller or SciFi full of time references, this is the format to go with. It's pithy and official looking.

In most other fiction, I typically see times written out as four o'clock or eight-thirty or half past two. For occasional references, spelled out numbers read more fluidly. The a.m. and p.m. distinction can be handled better through descriptors like morning, afternoon, evening, night.

I'd recommend against combining the two formats. Both "four forty three a.m." and "5:02 o'clock" just look stupid.

Quantities, amounts and ages

AP style says to spell out numbers under ten and use numerals for everything else. I can't think of a single novel that follows that rule. Quantities should be spelled out. Hyphenate a compound number when used as an adjective.

He came in sixth place.
Joyce won fifteen million dollars.
The kidnappers are demanding thirty grand.
I can give you twenty-two reasons to stay home. (note hyphen)
When Kit turned twenty two, she bought an electric bass.
The victim was an eleven-year-old male. (note hyphens)
I haven't been back to Viperville since I was eleven years old.


Dates

Calendar dates are another sticky area. AP handles them like this--May 5, 1999; June 13; Summer 2012. Commas are used only between day and year. Ordinal numbers are a no-no (notice it's NOT June 13th in AP).

I haven't seen any clear preference in fiction for how one handles numbers for the purpose of naming a date. Obviously spelling out the year will be too wordy, so I'd avoid that. As far as using the word or numeral, go with whichever looks better in context. Ordinal numbers will generally look better spelled out--and sound more like natural speech.

Kyle left for camp on June 23.
Which day should we go, the sixth or the seventh?
Joe-Bob remembered that awful lynching in April 1952.
Who wants to hike on February third?
The ambassador's letter was dated September 9, 2002.

The most important thing is to pick a style and follow it consistently. I'd suggest making an index card with your personal "style guide" and posting near your computer for quick reference.

If anyone knows of a definitive style guide all the major houses use, please me know!

Which of these areas have tripped you up? Would you argue against any of my recommendations? Why?
Tuesday, November 05, 2013 Laurel Garver
We all know where to turn for help with writing words correctly in our stories--a dictionary. But how about numbers?

How you should write time? 5 o'clock or 5:00 pm? And do you have to write out amounts in fiction, as in five thousand, or can you go with 5,000? What about ages? Dates?

Photo credit: dancerinthedark from morguefile.com
Unfortunately, there isn't one hard and fast rule for this. These sorts of decisions are what industry pros call "style." Every publisher has its own style guide dictating its preference for handling things like numbers. Agents and editors won't expect you to know this information ahead of time--they'll likely just ask for changes during the editing phase if you chose something other than house style. However, if you don't handle numbers consistently, you won't be making fast friends with the editorial department. And if you self-publish, you'll need to discuss "house style" with any freelance editing professional you hire.

For many years, I worked on publications that used Associate Press (AP) style, so I've had those rules pretty deeply ingrained in how I approach this question. Its style choices will feel more natural for some genres than others.

Clock time

AP usually handles time like this-- 4:43 a.m. or 11 p.m. (Note the letters are lower case with periods after each. AM and PM is right out.) If your story is, say, a mystery, thriller or SciFi full of time references, this is the format to go with. It's pithy and official looking.

In most other fiction, I typically see times written out as four o'clock or eight-thirty or half past two. For occasional references, spelled out numbers read more fluidly. The a.m. and p.m. distinction can be handled better through descriptors like morning, afternoon, evening, night.

I'd recommend against combining the two formats. Both "four forty three a.m." and "5:02 o'clock" just look stupid.

Quantities, amounts and ages

AP style says to spell out numbers under ten and use numerals for everything else. I can't think of a single novel that follows that rule. Quantities should be spelled out. Hyphenate a compound number when used as an adjective.

He came in sixth place.
Joyce won fifteen million dollars.
The kidnappers are demanding thirty grand.
I can give you twenty-two reasons to stay home. (note hyphen)
When Kit turned twenty two, she bought an electric bass.
The victim was an eleven-year-old male. (note hyphens)
I haven't been back to Viperville since I was eleven years old.


Dates

Calendar dates are another sticky area. AP handles them like this--May 5, 1999; June 13; Summer 2012. Commas are used only between day and year. Ordinal numbers are a no-no (notice it's NOT June 13th in AP).

I haven't seen any clear preference in fiction for how one handles numbers for the purpose of naming a date. Obviously spelling out the year will be too wordy, so I'd avoid that. As far as using the word or numeral, go with whichever looks better in context. Ordinal numbers will generally look better spelled out--and sound more like natural speech.

Kyle left for camp on June 23.
Which day should we go, the sixth or the seventh?
Joe-Bob remembered that awful lynching in April 1952.
Who wants to hike on February third?
The ambassador's letter was dated September 9, 2002.

The most important thing is to pick a style and follow it consistently. I'd suggest making an index card with your personal "style guide" and posting near your computer for quick reference.

If anyone knows of a definitive style guide all the major houses use, please me know!

Which of these areas have tripped you up? Would you argue against any of my recommendations? Why?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Curious about what I've been up to in my creative life? Today I talk about my current project, what sets this story apart, why certain themes emerge in my work, and how I write.

This is part of a Kidlit Blog Tour, for which I've been tagged by the lovely Melissa Sarno and Faith Elizabeth Hough. Thanks, friends!

What are you working on right now?

The Louvre (photo by priyanphoenix from morguefile.com)
I'm about 2/3 through a sequel to Never Gone, working title Almost There. The summer after Dani's junior year, she plans to take an art-filled, family bonding trip to Paris.  But a crisis arises with her grandfather, threatening not only her trip, but her mother's fragile mental health. Dani wants to keep their involvement to a minimum, but her attempts at quick damage control only get them more stuck. When her clever schemes to manufacture happiness for herself and others fall apart, can she trust God to redeem the mess?

How does it differ from other works in its genre?

Most YA fiction tends to separate kids from their families and never deals with inter-generational patterns of dysfunction. But so many kids experience this in real life. I tackle this from inside a faith tradition that calls us to have hope for the most seemingly hopeless situations. I also explore the joys and challenges of having a serious romantic relationship when you're young. Most YA books deal with starting brand-new romances rather than maintaining and growing them for the long haul.

Why do you write what you do?

I see kids struggling to be real in a culture that glorifies superficiality. When beauty, strength and charisma are idolized, all the ways we are broken never see the light, never have a chance to heal. Instead they fester under the surface, filling our lives with poison. I write about kids in crisis who learn to let go of their pretensions and falseness and allow God to remake them as people who humbly hope, believe, and love.

How does your writing process work?

So far, it has been largely voice-driven. I begin with a character who speaks to me and listen to what she tells me about her background and situation. From there, I daydream and research until I have a sketchy sense of some of the most important plot points. I write and rewrite the opening chapters until they let me go forward (and that can take a very long time). That draftivising process goes on into the story middle, which will at times call for more research until the events of the climax really gel. Then I write out notes about all the events needed to get me there and steadily create scene after scene. The back end of the book writes much faster than the beginning.

I always revise as I go, and usually begin to garner feedback from my writing group once I've gotten the opening to my liking. I find I need other voices to walk me through the story middle, and keep me from making wrong turns that are out of character, based on the opening.

Any departing words of wisdom for other authors?

Find a writing process that works with your lifestyle and temperament. There's not a one-size-fits-all way to make literature. If a process is truly uncomfortable, you'll simply stop. So find a method that's energizing and plays to your strengths. You're better able to tackle your weaknesses from a place of confidence than a place of doubt.

My nominees to answer these questions are C.M. Keller and Melanie Schulz.

Enter today to win a copy of 
my redesigned debut in paperback!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tuesday, October 29, 2013 Laurel Garver
Curious about what I've been up to in my creative life? Today I talk about my current project, what sets this story apart, why certain themes emerge in my work, and how I write.

This is part of a Kidlit Blog Tour, for which I've been tagged by the lovely Melissa Sarno and Faith Elizabeth Hough. Thanks, friends!

What are you working on right now?

The Louvre (photo by priyanphoenix from morguefile.com)
I'm about 2/3 through a sequel to Never Gone, working title Almost There. The summer after Dani's junior year, she plans to take an art-filled, family bonding trip to Paris.  But a crisis arises with her grandfather, threatening not only her trip, but her mother's fragile mental health. Dani wants to keep their involvement to a minimum, but her attempts at quick damage control only get them more stuck. When her clever schemes to manufacture happiness for herself and others fall apart, can she trust God to redeem the mess?

How does it differ from other works in its genre?

Most YA fiction tends to separate kids from their families and never deals with inter-generational patterns of dysfunction. But so many kids experience this in real life. I tackle this from inside a faith tradition that calls us to have hope for the most seemingly hopeless situations. I also explore the joys and challenges of having a serious romantic relationship when you're young. Most YA books deal with starting brand-new romances rather than maintaining and growing them for the long haul.

Why do you write what you do?

I see kids struggling to be real in a culture that glorifies superficiality. When beauty, strength and charisma are idolized, all the ways we are broken never see the light, never have a chance to heal. Instead they fester under the surface, filling our lives with poison. I write about kids in crisis who learn to let go of their pretensions and falseness and allow God to remake them as people who humbly hope, believe, and love.

How does your writing process work?

So far, it has been largely voice-driven. I begin with a character who speaks to me and listen to what she tells me about her background and situation. From there, I daydream and research until I have a sketchy sense of some of the most important plot points. I write and rewrite the opening chapters until they let me go forward (and that can take a very long time). That draftivising process goes on into the story middle, which will at times call for more research until the events of the climax really gel. Then I write out notes about all the events needed to get me there and steadily create scene after scene. The back end of the book writes much faster than the beginning.

I always revise as I go, and usually begin to garner feedback from my writing group once I've gotten the opening to my liking. I find I need other voices to walk me through the story middle, and keep me from making wrong turns that are out of character, based on the opening.

Any departing words of wisdom for other authors?

Find a writing process that works with your lifestyle and temperament. There's not a one-size-fits-all way to make literature. If a process is truly uncomfortable, you'll simply stop. So find a method that's energizing and plays to your strengths. You're better able to tackle your weaknesses from a place of confidence than a place of doubt.

My nominees to answer these questions are C.M. Keller and Melanie Schulz.

Enter today to win a copy of 
my redesigned debut in paperback!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 25, 2013

Last week I gave an informal presentation on using Goodreads and Twitter to a handful of my critique group members--all Gen X and Baby Boomers. Most of them tend to think of book marketing in purely brick and mortar paradigms, so book signings and school visits are where they believe all the action is.

Convincing them that social media is anything more than a time-suck hasn't been the easiest. Especially since making the most of some channels requires laying groundwork long before you have a book to sell.

Here are a few key benefits I pointed out for each of the two sites.

Goodreads (as a reader, pre-publication)
~A book-centric community
~Everyone on the site is naturally looking for reading material
~Learn what readers of your genre like and dislike
~Build relationships with those who like books similar to yours
~Win free books through the First Reads program
~Support other writers by posting reviews
~Build a network of support among readers and reviewers
~Develop goodwill in the publishing community

Twitter

~Easily access key influencers (best sellers, agents, editors)
~Find "your tribe" internationally
(tribe=group with natural affinities and interests)
~Easily connect to "your tribe"
~Share knowledge and encouragement (build goodwill)
~Generate traffic for a blog site
~Develop relationships with other writers
~Develop relationships with those interested in your topics and themes
~Listen in on important conversations
~Get great tips on writing, publishing, marketing
~Build effective presence in short bursts of time
~Utilize pithy writing rather than long pieces
~Support other writers easily through retweets

What other points would you add? 
Has using these sites opened special opportunities? I'd love to hear your stories!


Friday, October 25, 2013 Laurel Garver
Last week I gave an informal presentation on using Goodreads and Twitter to a handful of my critique group members--all Gen X and Baby Boomers. Most of them tend to think of book marketing in purely brick and mortar paradigms, so book signings and school visits are where they believe all the action is.

Convincing them that social media is anything more than a time-suck hasn't been the easiest. Especially since making the most of some channels requires laying groundwork long before you have a book to sell.

Here are a few key benefits I pointed out for each of the two sites.

Goodreads (as a reader, pre-publication)
~A book-centric community
~Everyone on the site is naturally looking for reading material
~Learn what readers of your genre like and dislike
~Build relationships with those who like books similar to yours
~Win free books through the First Reads program
~Support other writers by posting reviews
~Build a network of support among readers and reviewers
~Develop goodwill in the publishing community

Twitter

~Easily access key influencers (best sellers, agents, editors)
~Find "your tribe" internationally
(tribe=group with natural affinities and interests)
~Easily connect to "your tribe"
~Share knowledge and encouragement (build goodwill)
~Generate traffic for a blog site
~Develop relationships with other writers
~Develop relationships with those interested in your topics and themes
~Listen in on important conversations
~Get great tips on writing, publishing, marketing
~Build effective presence in short bursts of time
~Utilize pithy writing rather than long pieces
~Support other writers easily through retweets

What other points would you add? 
Has using these sites opened special opportunities? I'd love to hear your stories!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A phrase popularly associated with psychotherapy might be one of the best tools to developing a character your readers will consistently engage with. Keep it at the ready, especially when the plot thickens and action scenes become more frequent. Because those are the places where you'll be most tempted to leave your character's emotions behind. Places where your character is actually likely to have his or her most interesting interior world changes.

Call it your emotional pulse-check tool. Repeat after me:

Photo credit: anitapeppers from morguefile.com
"How does that make you feel?"

Your character has just met someone.
"How does that make you feel?"
The character's first impression might be fear, lust, or sudden peacefulness. Let that reaction come out in her posture, her attitude-filled thoughts, and/or her dialogue.

An obstacle arises. 
"How does that make you feel?" 
The character might react as decisively as you hope, but perhaps he naturally feels beleaguered at first. Unsure. Afraid. Wishing someone would advise or help. Moments like this separate realistic characters from the Mary Sues and Gary Stus, who never waver or falter--the kinds of characters who make readers roll their eyes and say "seriously? nobody really thinks like that."

An important battle is lost.
"How does that make you feel?"  
Watch where your character's heart leans in times of defeat. Is he first of all peevish because of wounded pride? Does his concern go first to his fallen or injured friends? Or is he righteously indignant that the evil ones prevailed and are free to continue hurting others? Don't assume a stock answer. Let your character reveal himself in all his complexity. Perhaps your hero is more narcissistic than he wants to believe, and realizing he over-values his personal pride could become a turning point in his emotional journey.

A love object declares his adoration. 
"How does that make you feel?"
If there have been numerous obstacles keeping your couple apart, let the heroine process them in a moment like this. Then the obstacles won't feel like annoying contrivances the mean author threw in their path for spite. Let her be stunned or tongue-tied, or even sarcastic and lashing out. No one believably does a 180 degree turn in an instant. The turn happens in smaller increments, often with some regression to old positions.

As I mentioned in the opening, be especially aware of incorporating emotion into action scenes. Clashing swords alone are not nearly so tense as when you can feel one of the sword-wielder's sweaty palms or icy surges of blood-lust. You wouldn't want to stop for a full-blown flashback, but flashes of back-story snippets can be extremely effective for making emotionally realistic action, especially when portraying a traumatized character.

Keep checking your character's emotional pulse throughout the story. Look for opportunities to work in
~physical responses, including gestures and emotion-based sensations
~attitudes, expressed in thought or speech
~processing, both logical and emotional

How might frequent emotional pulse-checks help you improve your story?
Tuesday, October 22, 2013 Laurel Garver
A phrase popularly associated with psychotherapy might be one of the best tools to developing a character your readers will consistently engage with. Keep it at the ready, especially when the plot thickens and action scenes become more frequent. Because those are the places where you'll be most tempted to leave your character's emotions behind. Places where your character is actually likely to have his or her most interesting interior world changes.

Call it your emotional pulse-check tool. Repeat after me:

Photo credit: anitapeppers from morguefile.com
"How does that make you feel?"

Your character has just met someone.
"How does that make you feel?"
The character's first impression might be fear, lust, or sudden peacefulness. Let that reaction come out in her posture, her attitude-filled thoughts, and/or her dialogue.

An obstacle arises. 
"How does that make you feel?" 
The character might react as decisively as you hope, but perhaps he naturally feels beleaguered at first. Unsure. Afraid. Wishing someone would advise or help. Moments like this separate realistic characters from the Mary Sues and Gary Stus, who never waver or falter--the kinds of characters who make readers roll their eyes and say "seriously? nobody really thinks like that."

An important battle is lost.
"How does that make you feel?"  
Watch where your character's heart leans in times of defeat. Is he first of all peevish because of wounded pride? Does his concern go first to his fallen or injured friends? Or is he righteously indignant that the evil ones prevailed and are free to continue hurting others? Don't assume a stock answer. Let your character reveal himself in all his complexity. Perhaps your hero is more narcissistic than he wants to believe, and realizing he over-values his personal pride could become a turning point in his emotional journey.

A love object declares his adoration. 
"How does that make you feel?"
If there have been numerous obstacles keeping your couple apart, let the heroine process them in a moment like this. Then the obstacles won't feel like annoying contrivances the mean author threw in their path for spite. Let her be stunned or tongue-tied, or even sarcastic and lashing out. No one believably does a 180 degree turn in an instant. The turn happens in smaller increments, often with some regression to old positions.

As I mentioned in the opening, be especially aware of incorporating emotion into action scenes. Clashing swords alone are not nearly so tense as when you can feel one of the sword-wielder's sweaty palms or icy surges of blood-lust. You wouldn't want to stop for a full-blown flashback, but flashes of back-story snippets can be extremely effective for making emotionally realistic action, especially when portraying a traumatized character.

Keep checking your character's emotional pulse throughout the story. Look for opportunities to work in
~physical responses, including gestures and emotion-based sensations
~attitudes, expressed in thought or speech
~processing, both logical and emotional

How might frequent emotional pulse-checks help you improve your story?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Never Gone has a new cover!
Additionally, the paperback interior has been redesigned and includes an interior illustration (which I hope will be viewable on Amazon soon.)




Dani’s dad can’t play peacemaker when he’s dead. Can he?

After her supportive father dies tragically, Dani has no clue how to cope alone with her perfectionist mother. 

Then she sees him: in her room, roaming the halls at church, wandering his own wake. Is it a miracle? Or is she losing her mind? 

Sunday school never prepared her for this kind of life after death.


Read an excerpt.
Add it on Goodreads
Purchase the e-book at Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, KoboSmashwords, iTunes
Purchase the paperback at CreateSpace, Amazon, The Book Depository

To celebrate, I'm hosting a giveaway.
Use the form below to enter

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Friday, October 18, 2013 Laurel Garver
Never Gone has a new cover!
Additionally, the paperback interior has been redesigned and includes an interior illustration (which I hope will be viewable on Amazon soon.)




Dani’s dad can’t play peacemaker when he’s dead. Can he?

After her supportive father dies tragically, Dani has no clue how to cope alone with her perfectionist mother. 

Then she sees him: in her room, roaming the halls at church, wandering his own wake. Is it a miracle? Or is she losing her mind? 

Sunday school never prepared her for this kind of life after death.


Read an excerpt.
Add it on Goodreads
Purchase the e-book at Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble, KoboSmashwords, iTunes
Purchase the paperback at CreateSpace, Amazon, The Book Depository

To celebrate, I'm hosting a giveaway.
Use the form below to enter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 17, 2013

By Tessa Emily Hall
author of Purple Moon

Like many teenage girls today, my protagonist, Selena, doesn’t have a very high self-esteem. She’s never been called beautiful, and often skips meals in order to be more pleased with her appearance. The thing is—if someone has a low self-esteem, they’re never going to come to a point when they’re pleased with their appearance. Why? Because they’ll always find something wrong with themselves. 

The pressure that society puts on us woman today is ridiculous. Just flip through a fashion magazine or even watch television commercials and you’ll see why. No wonder most teens today have a poor body image!

Although it is okay to wear makeup and jewelry and cute clothes, those things are eventually going to fade. As Selena’s neighbor in Purple Moon tells her, “all that material junk doesn’t define true beauty.” True beauty comes from developing your relationship with Christ; true beauty comes from being confident in who you are. 

What about you? When you look in the mirror, what do you see? If you have a negative perception of yourself, then I think it’s time for a little transformation of your reflection. And I’m not talking about the one in the mirror.

Have you ever seen someone and just knew, without even knowing them, that they had a low self-esteem? The reflection that you have of yourself will always reflect to others. 

The opposite is also true—it’s easy to spot those who have confidence. Even if they aren’t necessarily what’s considered “attractive” in the world’s eyes, these people know who they are in Christ, and other opinions cannot change that. 

What if I told you that you can be confident in who you are, without having to change your appearance? You don’t need a new image to create it—all you need is a new self-image. You will always act upon the image that you have perceived of yourself, and the only way to rise above a low self-esteem is to see yourself the way that God sees you.

“You made my whole being;
    you formed me in my mother’s body.
I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way.
    What you have done is wonderful.”
-Psalm 139:14 (NCV)

If you don’t find your reflection appealing, it doesn’t mean that it’s time to work out more. It simply means that it’s time to get a new perspective, to transform your reflection…

Of your reflection.

=====

Tessa Emily Hall is the 19-year-old author of Purple Moon, a YA Christian fiction novel published September 2013 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also the editor for the faith department of Temperance Magazine, a column writer for Whole Magazine, a contributing writer for More To Be, as well as the PR for God of Moses Entertainment. Other than writing, Tessa enjoys acting, music, Starbucks, and her Teacup Shih Tzu—who is named Brewer after a character in her book, as well as her love for coffee.


About Purple Moon

Selena's life isn't turning out to be the fairy tale she imagined as a kid. That hope seemed to vanish long ago when her dad kicked her and her mom out of the house. This summer might finally hold the chance of a new beginning for Selena ... but having to live with her snobby cousin in Lake Lure, NC while waiting for her mom to get out of rehab wasn't how Selena was planning on spending her summer. She soon begins to wonder why she committed to give up her "bad habits" for this.

Things don't seem too bad, though. Especially when Selena gains the attention of the cute neighbor next door. But when her best friend back home in Brooklyn desperately needs her, a secret that's been hidden from Selena for years is revealed, and when she becomes a target for one of her cousin's nasty pranks, she finds herself having to face the scars from her past and the memories that come along with them. Will she follow her mom's example in running away, or trust that God still has a fairy tale life written just for her?

Add it on Goodreads / Like on Facebook


Enter to win the Purple Moon Prize Pack! 

For more chances to win, visit the next stops on Tessa's tour:

Friday, October 18: Behind the Scenes: Brewer’s Coffee: A Splash of Ink
Monday, October 21: Purple Moon Excerpt: Farkle at the Park: A Slightly Nerdy Bookworm
Tuesday, October 22: Teenage Dating: Tell The World
Wednesday, October 23: Q & A: The YA Book Stack
Thursday, October 24: How Much of My Personal Life Did I Put Into “Purple Moon”?: Read For Your Future
Friday, October 25: Fairy tales & Happy Endings + Contest Winners!: Inspiring Daring

Thursday, October 17, 2013 Laurel Garver
By Tessa Emily Hall
author of Purple Moon

Like many teenage girls today, my protagonist, Selena, doesn’t have a very high self-esteem. She’s never been called beautiful, and often skips meals in order to be more pleased with her appearance. The thing is—if someone has a low self-esteem, they’re never going to come to a point when they’re pleased with their appearance. Why? Because they’ll always find something wrong with themselves. 

The pressure that society puts on us woman today is ridiculous. Just flip through a fashion magazine or even watch television commercials and you’ll see why. No wonder most teens today have a poor body image!

Although it is okay to wear makeup and jewelry and cute clothes, those things are eventually going to fade. As Selena’s neighbor in Purple Moon tells her, “all that material junk doesn’t define true beauty.” True beauty comes from developing your relationship with Christ; true beauty comes from being confident in who you are. 

What about you? When you look in the mirror, what do you see? If you have a negative perception of yourself, then I think it’s time for a little transformation of your reflection. And I’m not talking about the one in the mirror.

Have you ever seen someone and just knew, without even knowing them, that they had a low self-esteem? The reflection that you have of yourself will always reflect to others. 

The opposite is also true—it’s easy to spot those who have confidence. Even if they aren’t necessarily what’s considered “attractive” in the world’s eyes, these people know who they are in Christ, and other opinions cannot change that. 

What if I told you that you can be confident in who you are, without having to change your appearance? You don’t need a new image to create it—all you need is a new self-image. You will always act upon the image that you have perceived of yourself, and the only way to rise above a low self-esteem is to see yourself the way that God sees you.

“You made my whole being;
    you formed me in my mother’s body.
I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way.
    What you have done is wonderful.”
-Psalm 139:14 (NCV)

If you don’t find your reflection appealing, it doesn’t mean that it’s time to work out more. It simply means that it’s time to get a new perspective, to transform your reflection…

Of your reflection.

=====

Tessa Emily Hall is the 19-year-old author of Purple Moon, a YA Christian fiction novel published September 2013 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also the editor for the faith department of Temperance Magazine, a column writer for Whole Magazine, a contributing writer for More To Be, as well as the PR for God of Moses Entertainment. Other than writing, Tessa enjoys acting, music, Starbucks, and her Teacup Shih Tzu—who is named Brewer after a character in her book, as well as her love for coffee.


About Purple Moon

Selena's life isn't turning out to be the fairy tale she imagined as a kid. That hope seemed to vanish long ago when her dad kicked her and her mom out of the house. This summer might finally hold the chance of a new beginning for Selena ... but having to live with her snobby cousin in Lake Lure, NC while waiting for her mom to get out of rehab wasn't how Selena was planning on spending her summer. She soon begins to wonder why she committed to give up her "bad habits" for this.

Things don't seem too bad, though. Especially when Selena gains the attention of the cute neighbor next door. But when her best friend back home in Brooklyn desperately needs her, a secret that's been hidden from Selena for years is revealed, and when she becomes a target for one of her cousin's nasty pranks, she finds herself having to face the scars from her past and the memories that come along with them. Will she follow her mom's example in running away, or trust that God still has a fairy tale life written just for her?

Add it on Goodreads / Like on Facebook


Enter to win the Purple Moon Prize Pack! 

For more chances to win, visit the next stops on Tessa's tour:

Friday, October 18: Behind the Scenes: Brewer’s Coffee: A Splash of Ink
Monday, October 21: Purple Moon Excerpt: Farkle at the Park: A Slightly Nerdy Bookworm
Tuesday, October 22: Teenage Dating: Tell The World
Wednesday, October 23: Q & A: The YA Book Stack
Thursday, October 24: How Much of My Personal Life Did I Put Into “Purple Moon”?: Read For Your Future
Friday, October 25: Fairy tales & Happy Endings + Contest Winners!: Inspiring Daring

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

photo by jdurham, morguefile.com
My long-time readers might be a little disoriented, since the scenery has changed quite a bit around here. Laurel's Leaves now has a different color scheme, simplified post layout with click-through, and of course a cool slideshow. There are new tabs up top, separating my books from shorter magazine pieces, and offering other goodies like samples for blog readers. I expect to be adding other tabs in the next few months. The followers widget and search tools by date or tag have moved to the bottom, giving a cleaner look.

In addition to radically changing the blog design, I've also redesigned the cover for my debut novel. All this design tinkering is part of developing my author brand.

Brand is more than packaging. It's finding ways to marry content with form and presentation in a way that's winsome and emotionally meaningful.

Many of us, as we begin to move from single title to a body of work, have to stop and reassess our core strengths and messages. What do I want readers to think and feel about what I provide in terms of a reading experience? How do I build an overall aesthetic that communicates that?

Interestingly, one doesn't need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to these sorts of design decisions. Rather, learn from other authors whose look would be equally fitting for your work. After scouring the virtual shelves, I found a very different aesthetic had grabbed me by the throat, one based on some genre cousins in YA literary fiction.

I'll be back Friday for relaunch festivities. Meanwhile, have a look around!

What do you think of the new look? Have you developed a brand? How did you do so?
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 Laurel Garver
photo by jdurham, morguefile.com
My long-time readers might be a little disoriented, since the scenery has changed quite a bit around here. Laurel's Leaves now has a different color scheme, simplified post layout with click-through, and of course a cool slideshow. There are new tabs up top, separating my books from shorter magazine pieces, and offering other goodies like samples for blog readers. I expect to be adding other tabs in the next few months. The followers widget and search tools by date or tag have moved to the bottom, giving a cleaner look.

In addition to radically changing the blog design, I've also redesigned the cover for my debut novel. All this design tinkering is part of developing my author brand.

Brand is more than packaging. It's finding ways to marry content with form and presentation in a way that's winsome and emotionally meaningful.

Many of us, as we begin to move from single title to a body of work, have to stop and reassess our core strengths and messages. What do I want readers to think and feel about what I provide in terms of a reading experience? How do I build an overall aesthetic that communicates that?

Interestingly, one doesn't need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to these sorts of design decisions. Rather, learn from other authors whose look would be equally fitting for your work. After scouring the virtual shelves, I found a very different aesthetic had grabbed me by the throat, one based on some genre cousins in YA literary fiction.

I'll be back Friday for relaunch festivities. Meanwhile, have a look around!

What do you think of the new look? Have you developed a brand? How did you do so?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

This site is under construction

Beware of falling debris
(and dead links)


A beautifully refurbished blog 
coming soon!

image: North Safety Products (www.northsafety.com)

Thursday, October 10, 2013 Laurel Garver

This site is under construction

Beware of falling debris
(and dead links)


A beautifully refurbished blog 
coming soon!

image: North Safety Products (www.northsafety.com)