Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Problematic Prose (Part II)

Today is part two of the Problematic Prose rounds!

Founder vs Flounder:
The word founder means to fall or sink down. The word flounder means to struggle clumsily and helplessly. Something that helps me: If a ship goes under, a diver might claim, "I found 'er!" Whereas a Flounder fish will flounder on the shore.

~ The ship foundered in the rough ocean.
~ The fish floundered in the sand.

Altar vs Alter:
The word altar means a shrine or place of worship. The word alter indicates a change in being.

~ The groom met his bride at the altar.
~ They vowed their undying love would not alter. (Not the best, but you get the picture ;)

Bated vs Baited:
Bated means to moderate or restrain. Baited indicates to hook or trap. Remember, if it has an "i" you use it to lure something/one in.

~ We baited out poles and waited with bated breath ;)

Lose vs Loose:
This is one we use on a daily basis yet is oftentimes hard to get right. The word lose means you can't find it or you didn't win. The word loose means you've released something or it isn't tight together.

~ If you lose your cash, you can't go shopping.
~ Because the the pens came loose from their package, they were 50% off.

Amount vs Number:
Another booger of an issue because these terms are often used interchangeably when they shouldn't be. Number refers to items which can be counted such as people, crayons, flying monkeys. The word amount means a measurable substance such as cough syrup or food coloring.

~ The amount of starch you add to the dinner is determined by the number of servings.

Principle vs Principal:
I still remember learning this in elementary school. Gotta love the good teachers who use mnemonics to help their kiddos! A principle is something that governs the way an item or person behaves or reacts; a law, truth or professed rule of action; standards. A principal is the man or woman who runs your school. My mnemonic device: Your princi-pal is your PAL. Easy, right?

~ The principal at Edgar Allan Poe Elementary was hired for his sound principles.

Did you miss Problematic Prose (Part I)? No worries! You can find it here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What Do You Get When Shame Eats Too Much Stupidity? A Pointless Blog Post.

Okay, so I know you've all been waiting anxiously by your computer, shouting at the screen for something amazing to pop up. This isn't it, but I thought you could kill some time while you waited.

It's quotable quotes day! ::throws confetti::

I didn't have anything really earth-shattering to blog about today. Honestly, between trying to post on this site and 2 others, as well as return a jillion emails and play on the social networking sites, my brain hurts. So, for today, I thought it'd be fun to pick a few random quotes that mean little to nothing...unless useless quoting somehow fuels your muse. In which case, You're Welcome.

Some of my favorite tv/movie quotes:

It's the so-called "normal" guys who always let you down. Sickos never scare me. Least they're committed. ~Selina Kyle AKA Catwoman. Batman Returns.

The following are brought to you, courtesy of one of my all-time favs, Steel Magnolias.

Ouiser, you sound almost chipper. What happened today - you run over a small child or something? ~Clairee Belcher

What's the matter with you these days, M'Lynn? You got a reindeer up your butt? ~Ouiser Boudreaux

He is a boil on the butt of humanity! ~Ouiser Boudreaux

There's so much static electricity in this room, I pick up everything but boys and money. ~Truvy

Then there's King of the Hill. Oh, how I miss thee, Hill family.

That boy ain't right. ~Hank Hill

This taste like turtles. ~Bobby Hill

Hoo-yeah! ~Peggy Hill

Look at that one, bouncing around in front of God and everyone. Would it kill a tree if she wore a bra? ~Hank Hill

This is what happens when shame eats too much stupidity! ~Dale Gribble

Let's not forget Juno!

I'm already pregnant, so what other kind of shenanigans could I get into? ~Juno MacGuff

You better pay for that pee-stick when you're done with it. Don't think it's yours just because you marked it with your urine! ~Rollo

Juno: I mean, can't we just, like, kick this old school? Like, I have the baby, put it in a basket and send it your way, like, Moses and the reeds?
Mark Loring: Technically, that would be kicking it Old Testament.

You should've gone to China, you know, 'cause I hear they give away babies like free iPods. You know, they pretty much just put them in those t-shirt guns and shoot them out at sporting events. ~Juno MacGuff

That ain't no Etch-A-Sketch. This is one doodle that can't be un-did, Homeskillet. ~Rollo

Friday, August 19, 2011

Screw Reading Rainbow. I Vote for Reading Robots!

Okay, so I recently discovered that text-to-speech programs are insanely helpful when it comes to editing and revisions. Yeah, the voices are robotic and somewhat reminiscent of a bad, futuristic 70's movie. Even still, hearing "Lola" read my MS out loud is handy. Here's why:

1) Lola doesn't read the words my brain insists are there -- I'm terrible for leaving words out when I write. No idea why. I think my brain just works faster than my over-sized, man-hands can keep up. (Yes, I have inordinately large hands and feet. We're not talking water skis here, but I'm 5'6, and I wear a size 10.) Anyway, it's really hard to for me to NOT see that word, because my brain thinks it's there whether it is or not. Lola doesn't let me skim.

2) Lola doesn't care that my sentence is one, long nightmare of a sentence -- She pushes right on through, letting me know, "Hey, genius, break it up!" I will say this though, she's great to pause in the right places. She recognizes ellipses, commas, etc. Way to go, Lola!

3) Lola lacks emphasis when she speaks -- This is a good thing! At the party in my head, all the characters have their own voices and inflections. I read my MS with these, but just because I see them doesn't mean it comes across in an obvious sort of way. Hearing someone else read it aloud, even Lola, let's me know if that sentence sounds like a distinct, I-meant-to-draw-that-out kind of phrase, or if it just sounds stilted. Without italicizing the words I want emphasized, more often than not, it's the latter. We all know the we can't italicize everything!

4) Lola reads to me for as long as I ask -- One chapter or ten, Lola keeps on going long after I would've quit. She's the Energizer Bunny of the robotic, text-to-speech realm, plus I don't feel like an idiot reading out loud to myself.

So, there are few pros for having a Lola of your very own. You can download my version of her here for free. There are upgrades available as well for different prices. I'll probably do this one day for the sake of entertainment. There are few joys as freaking awesome as typing inappropriate things in the "Try It" box and sending them to your spouse. Anyhow, they have a smooth talking guy named Rich. He's all suave in Johnny 5 (Short Circuit) sorta way. Then there's Claire. She's what the witch in Hansel and Gretel might've sounded like had it taken place on Alderaan.

My point is, uberhelpful + epic funny = All-time WIN!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Problematic Prose (Part I)

It's about the time again...though random and intermittent as it is. Wordsmith Wednesday!

Today I want to talk about the oftentimes problematic use of the following:

Okay, here we go!

Continual vs Continuous:
The word continual means something happens on a regular basis, but not at all times. The word continuous indicates an occurrence without breaks.

~The continuous beat of my heart keeps me alive.
~A continual routine of exercise makes it beat longer.

Disinterested vs Uninterested:
Believe it or not, these two are not interchangeable. Disinterested indicates indifference. Whereas uninterested means you simply don't care.

~Because Jill is a disinterested editor, she can make corrections without being biased.
~Jill didn't want to edit the latest sci-fi because she was uninterested in the plot.

Further vs Farther:
This is one of those I have to think about each time I use it. The word farther indicates a physical distance. The term further refers to a length of time, degree, or anything else but time.

~The farther we traveled from home, the further I fell into sadness.

Discrete vs Discreet:
Ohh, tricksy ones these are! Confession: Until recently, I'd never considered there was a difference. Sad, I know. Anyway, discrete means separate or distinct. Discreet means private, prudent, or circumspect.

~Interesting characters, good pacing, and a unique story line are discrete factors in a great book.
~To avoid spoilers, one should be discreet in discussing the novel.

Hanged vs Hung:
This one is pretty easy. Things are hung. People (who are executed) are hanged.
~A rope was hung around his neck before he was hanged.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Today's Top Story: Flying Monkeys Feed on Joy

(Photo: Greg Springer)

It's Quotable Quotes day again! On the agenda: Positivity. <--I had no idea that was a real word.

"Thoughts are energy. And you can make your world or break your world by thinking." -Susan S. Taylor

Now there's a true statement if I've ever heard one.

Like so many writers, I tend to live too much in my head. My friends laugh at me because I joke about being happy/sad/excited/angry/etc over a situation that never happened. I assume I know how something would go down in real life (should it occur at all!), and I react accordingly. The problem is, more often than not, it's not real. It's just a flying monkey in my brain, howling about how someone might steal his unicycle.

As sad as it is to confess, I've been angry with my husband for something he never did or said. I know him well, so I figure, "Hey, if I blah, blah, blah, he'd just come back at me with blah, blah, blah." BAM! Now I'm mad! No, it doesn't make sense, but that's the way my mind works. Flying monkeys, people.

Needless to say, I've had to learn to rework my brain.

"Yeah, but what does this have to do with your thoughts being energy and the rest of the sane world who doesn't flip out over nonexistent issues, you freakish woman?" you might ask on a really long breath. And my answer to that is, "A lot."

So many people stress over things that are way beyond actual fact. Just like me, they assume then the monkey kicks in. Take this thought for example: "What if so-and-so doesn't like my book? What if they give it a bad review? Maybe I should just scrap the whole project, give up on writing, and become a monk!"

Well, first of all, calm down and take a step back. Now then, you can go two ways here. A) Shut your brain off, which is super hard and oftentimes leads to death, or B) Rewire the crazy thoughts and direct them toward something useful or origami.

Seriously though, why worry about something that might never happen to begin with? Why get angry at someone who may very well LOVE your story? Why? Don't focus on things outside of your control, and don't worry about tomorrow--it'll take care of itself. When you do this, you carry that energy with you. And we've all heard it in various forms: You are responsible for the energy you bring into a room. Why make that energy bad?

My wonderful friend Chi and I have these unspoken rules.
* We only send positive vibes out into the universe. No doubting allowed.
* We say when this happens instead of if when it comes to goals. We expect it no matter what.
* We have guidelines in place so one never focuses too much on the outside world's idea of what works. Goodness knows that is never a great idea!
* After a fit of irritation, we take a deep breath and find the good things that are happening.

It's been pointed out in the past, your mind is a battlefield. Good thing is, you're the one waging war and you get to decide what thoughts are on the front line. Angry monkey or relaxing origami? Choose wisely though. I wholeheartedly believe your energy will carry you as far as you like!

What does your energy say about you?