Monday, October 19, 2020

Those Tricky Words

I just don't have time to do all I want anymore. Or should that be any more? English loves to keep writers on their toes with words like these. For example, if I'm surprised that someone ate every blasted cookie I baked that morning, I huff into the room with the empty cookie jar and demand, “Clarence, how could you eat all of these already?" But what about all ready? 

Why couldn’t English be more logical and clearer?
The problem about English, well about human language in general, is nobody “designed” it. And maybe I shouldn’t call it a problem at all, because like humans, language has evolved and survived as a most fascinating part of our world. English is all about life and how it changes. We borrow from other languages when people immigrate, conquer their neighbors, and marry into different cultures. Our language changes because new ideas, new inventions, new ways of doing things come into existence. This process is irregular and unpredictable, so it’s no wonder we’re confused about something as simple as word choice. 

Then there’s the fact that spoken English changes far faster than the written form, so we hear the “wrong” word choice a long time before what is “wrong” to set down on the page becomes “right.” One thing grammarians and linguists agree on is that we must have rules, otherwise, we definitely won’t be able to communicate with the written word.  

To continue in the tradition of the rule makers and followers, here’s a quick reference for those tricky words. I hope this list of some of the most often confused words and how to use them will come in handy when you’re editing. 

Refers to time
He doesn’t live here anymore.
Any more
Refers to quantities
I don’t have any more money.

Lying (Lie)
This verb doesn’t take an object. 
Brutus was lying on the rug. /Brutus lies on the rug every night.
Laying (Lay)
This verb takes an object. 
The hens are laying eggs like crazy./The hens lay eggs a lot these days. 
Note: Just in case you forgot all that boring grammar, the object is the noun following the verb. In the sentences for laying/lay the object is “eggs.”
All ready
Describes being  completely prepared
Dinner is all ready.
Describes something completed in time.  
I’ve already done that.  

Lose /lewz/
Present tense of to lose, a verb opposite of find
Did you lose your wallet?
Loose /lews/
An adjective meaning the opposite of tight.
I lost ten pounds, so my pants are loose around my waist.

A noun meaning something offered as helpful guidance in making decisions or taking action.
I should have taken your advice and not bought this car.
A verb meaning to offer someone guidance in making decisions or taking action.
I’d advise you not to buy that car.

Distance, but in a metaphorical sense. 
I want to further my career. 
Distance in a physical sense.
I can walk any farther tonight.
Note: This one is a slippery eel for a couple of reasons: Each one can be an adverb, an adjective, or a verb. And what is metaphorical anyway? Is “I can’t write any further tonight” metaphorical or physical? Tough call. Writers who can’t make up their minds opt for farther, and most readers aren’t going to nail you because they’re not sure either. This pair of words has caused no end of linguistic issues. In conversation you seldom hear further, so it seems that farther might be the winner here eventually. In the meantime, in written English try to make the right choice whenever possible.

A word used to describe someone famous.
Dr. Smoooze is an eminent surgeon.
A word used to describe something about to happen.
The fire is very close, so evacuation from the area is imminent.
Note: If you can hear that the “E” in eminent sounds more like the one in “every,” and the “I” in imminent is higher as in “impossible” that might help distinguish these two totally unrelated words.

If you can count it, use fewer.
I drank two glasses of wine last night, one fewer than the night before.
If you can’t count it, use less.
I drank less wine last night.
Note: Spoken English disregards this rule entire. Careful writers don’t. Not yet. 

A verb meaning to cause some change in someone or something. It’s a cause.
The loss of her beloved cat will seriously affect Prunella.
A noun meaning the result of some action or condition. 
Noun: Prunella’s breakdown was the effect of the loss of her beloved cat. (I hope the example is helpful in spite of the terrible sentence.)

Note: Effect is sometimes a verb as in “to effect change.” 

A noun meaning a basic rule or belief. Also chief.
Dinkle based his decision on the principle of do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Dinkle’s principle concern is honesty.
The head of a school. 
Remember the princiPAL is your PAL. 

A noun or verb meaning something positive said or given to another.
I love getting compliments about my hair. 
Let me compliment you on how lovely your hair looks.
A thing that completes or brings to perfection
That dress complements your complexion.
Note: These two sound exactly alike (homophones), but they are totally unrelated. It’s all about the spelling.

A verb meaning to end something or someone completely.
The blast destroyed the outhouse.
Cranky Mosley destroyed my self-confidence with his remarks.
A verb meaning to reduce by ten percent.
The llamas were decimated by the storm. Fortunately, the other ninety percent are safe. 

A verb meaning to surround completely.
The neighborhood was enveloped by smoke.
A noun meaning something made of paper to hold letters.
Don’t lick the envelope. Use the sponge.

Do you have other confusing words that send you off to the dictionary when you’re writing? If I’m seriously in doubt, I often avoid the tricky words and find another way to tell the story. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Self-Care for Writers and Ways to Connect During COVID


This year, 2020, I've noticed a certain trend in thinking in my fellow writers, creatives, family members, friends, and myself. We are, as a society, struggling to find our feet in the midst of COVID and all that's going on in the world. Many feel blocked or burned out. We are grieving life as it used to be. We are struggling to connect with each other. We are struggling to connect with our own creativity.

We need self-care and connection like we've never needed it before.

So, where do we start?

I can't say I'm an expert, but I think we start with rest.

But what is rest? 
Rest can mean sleeping, taking our days slow, paring down our to-do lists, reading that stack of books by our bed, watching movies, doing something creative that doesn't have anything to do with our "career" and has more to do with filling our creative well. Sometimes, rest includes daydreaming. Sometimes, it includes quiet, and sometimes, it includes loud music. It all depends on the person.

Exercise may seem like the opposite of rest, but in fact, I think it is a type of rest. 
Exercise, especially something like walking, bicycling, hiking, rowing, or anything with repetitive, continuous movement can give us space and rhythm without having to go anywhere in particular. Exercise with dance, martial arts, yoga or other activities requiring changes of movements can help us wake up and pay attention to our bodies' needs. Exercise can bring us joy (endorphins), and can help us create a rhythm to our days so we can actually sleep at night. 

Affirmations for our writing and our creative lives can motivate us. This can mean writing out and stating something like: I am a capable and creative writer. 
It's helpful to affirm that daily or sometimes several times a day. 

Another way to do this is with quotes. The quote at the top of the page is one of my favorites from Stephen King's On Writing: A Memoir of Craft. It reminds me of the joy of writing a story. I rewrite quotes in my journal and reflect on them. They help me reground myself in the reasons I write. 

There are many ways to practice self-care, so those are just a few. For more ideas for positive self-talk and self-care for writers, I recommend reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert or Keep Writing with Fey: Sparks to Defeat Writer's Block, Depression, and Burnout by Chrys Fey.

Finally, I recommend looking for ways to connect with other writers during COVID. 
While I realize the Conferences page on our website is a bit overwhelming, I am working to create an easier way to find conferences in each writers' local area. Many conferences are online now, so anyone from anywhere in the world can attend. Many of them are even free, or have cut their costs. 

You might also check out the local writers' groups in your area, or search for them online. I found two in my area, one of which is hosting free, online classes and virtual open mic nights so writers can connect with one another. I was terrified the first time I attended because I have some social anxiety, but everyone seemed to feel awkward with Zoom and finally, we all relaxed. I am attending a free class tonight, and I'm excited talk "story" with other writers. 

Many people are lonely and feeling out of sorts during COVID. Reach out and see if you can connect with someone. Say hi to a neighbor or go through a drive-through for coffee and try to cheer up the barista there. Zoom or call a family member, friend, or someone from your community you haven't seen in a while. It might brighten their day and yours. 
Example: I talked on the phone to a senior lady from my church a  few weeks ago, and it put a smile on my face for several days. We aren't best friends, but we've been chatting with each other about books for over fifteen years so we had some catch-up to do.

Look for Online Conferences HERE.
Also, if you know of conferences I don't have listed, please add them in the comments below. Thank you!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

IWSG October 2020

Hello world! 

It's Insecure Writer's Support Group Blog Hop Day, October 2020!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting! Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post. And please be sure your avatar links back to your blog! Otherwise, when you leave a comment, people can't find you to comment back.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

Hosted by our founder and Captain: Alex J. Cavanaugh

Co-Hosts this month:

OPTIONAL QUESTION: When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like?

Join our Reading Community with the Goodreads IWSG Book Club!

For October/November, we will be reading Animal Farm by George Orwell to study symbolism.
Discussions will take place in November.

Mark your calendars for the next #IWSGPit Twitter Pitch Event!

The next #IWSGPit will be in January 20, 2021
8:00 am - 8:00 pm Eastern Standard Time

Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On January 20, 2021, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favorite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query.

Many writers have seen their books published from a Twitter pitch - it’s a quick and easy way to put your manuscript in front of publishers and agents.


Writers may send out 1 Twitter pitch every hour per manuscript.

Publishers/Agents will favorite/heart pitches they are interested in. Publishers can either Tweet basic submission guidelines or direct writers to their submission guidelines. (Writers, please do not favorite/heart pitches.)

No images allowed in pitches.

Pitches must include GENRE/AGE and the hashtag #IWSGPit.

#C - children’s
#MG - middle grade
#YA - young adult
#NA - new adult
#A - adult
#AD - adventure
#CF - Christian fiction
#CO - contemporary
#F - fantasy
#GNC - graphic novels/comics
#H - horror
#HI - historical
#LF - literary fiction
#MCT - mystery/crime/thriller
#ME - memoir
#NF - non-fiction
#PB - picture book
#PN - paranormal
#R - romance
#SF - sci-fi
#WF - women's fiction
#UF - urban fantasy
#S - suspense