Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Writing Wednesday: Use the Right Word!

I've ranted on this topic before, but it's cropping up again in my reading, both in my day job and my "real" life - writers using words that sound the same as the one they meant to use but give the sentence a different - or no - meaning.

As an example, INSURE / ENSURE / ASSURE crops up a bunch at work, people interchanging the words without understanding they don't mean the same thing. And I've almost given up correcting people on their usage of i.e. as opposed to e.g. - a simple correction for a co-worker I like turned into a back and forth exchange of defensive emails that went on forever.

(for anyone who's curious, i.e. means "in other words" and e.g. means "for example". We use them interchangeably when we shouldn't, and adding "etc." to the end of an i.e. list doesn't fix it.)

I'm not saying I'm always right. My point is that spell check can't fix these problems because they are real words. They just aren't the right words. Editors who rely too heavily on spell check will miss them too, because this isn't just a self-pub phenomenon (although it crops up more frequently in self-published books.) But you can't blame everything on the editor. This is YOUR book.

Ultimately, it's YOUR responsibility to use the right word.

I still have vivid memories from elementary school, where they tried to make learning the intricacies of the English language a “fun” experience, which is most definitely is not. (In fact, they may have given up completely on trying to teach some of these finer points as the mistakes in books and journalism are running rampant.)

Back then, however, there were usually crayons involved. And sometimes math. Like when you draw pictures of “butter” on the left and “fly” on the right with a big plus sign in between them? What does it equal? Butterfly! Ah, the beauty of compound words. Or, the beauty of a stick of butter that suddenly sprouts colorful wings, depending on the student’s sense of humor.

By fourth grade, the teachers tried to explain about homonyms, homophones, and homographs. Also with drawings, trying to show how words that sound alike can mean different things. Sometimes these words are spelled the same way, sometimes they’re spelled differently.

(No wonder English is such a tricky language to learn!)

So what’s the difference between all these homo words? And why should you care, now that you’re out of grammar school? (Hmmm, and why do they call it “grammar” school?)

Keep in mind, the Latin root “Homo” means “Same.” It’s what these terms have in common – they’re talking about words that have something that’s the same. They are confusing terms because they also mean something is different – meanings, spellings, and even pronunciation.


1. Homonyms are words that sound the same, are spelled the same but mean different things.

Think of it as a sort of math equation: Homo = same + nym = word.

Examples:

Bear arms; but don’t arm a bear.
Spring into action in Spring, my favorite season.


2. Homophones are words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings.

Think of it this way: Homo = same + phone = sound

Examples:

A bear without fur would be bare.
The plumber ducked under the pipe to grab his duct tape.


3. Homographs are different. And tricky, especially for non-native English speakers. These are words that are spelled the same way but are pronounced differently and have different meanings.

Again, with the math equation: Homo = same + graph = write

Say the following examples out loud, and see what I mean. The words look the same on the page, but when you know the meaning, you know they are pronounced differently.

Examples:

Tear a paper –or- cry tears of joy (the first “ea” is pronounced like “a” the second sounds like “e”)
Lead a parade –or- a ton of lead weight (the first is pronounced “leed” the second “led”)

But it’s not just the “ea” vowels that can be tricky. Sometimes a single vowel can change sound, too… like in “bass.” (Bass guitar, bass fisherman) It’s a homograph. Same spelling, different word entirely.

Cool trivia facts. But why do I care?

Well, Dear Reader, you should pay attention because homophone misuse accounts for MOST OF THE COMMON WRITING MISTAKES OUT THERE. Using a word that sounds like the one you’re looking for… but means something else entirely. This all-too-common mistake plagues every type of writing, from novels to text books to student essays to that report you were supposed to have on the boss’s desk ten minutes ago.

(If I had a quarter for every time I’ve seen affect/effect misused at work, I’d be a millionaire!)

The computer won’t catch these mistakes. Spell check is useless in the case of homophones, homonyms, or homographs. If you’re unclear about which word you mean to use, look it up. And don’t think your editor is mean when she corrects you.

Now share! What mistakes trip you up in your own writing? What mistakes drive you bonkers when you come across them in your reading? 

Happy Writing - and Reading - to ALL!




Monday, April 15, 2019

Monday Book Review: Forever in a Moment, by Charlotte O'Shay

Forever in a Moment, By Charlotte O'Shay
part of the Deerbourne Inn series, by various authors
Published April 2019, by The Wild Rose Press

About the Book:
A stormy encounter...

Samantha DeMartino's Christmas wedding is two weeks away when her fiancé calls the whole thing off. Word on the street: his cold feet are being heated by an old flame. With her well-ordered world in complete disarray, Sam's friends convince her to go on her honeymoon—alone. A week at a charming Vermont inn away from the city and her demanding corporate career could be just what she needs to figure out her next steps.

Between his twenty-four seven work schedule on his family's dairy farm and teaching tourists to ski, Jed Armstrong's too busy to think about how lonely he is...until Sam sings her way into his life during a Christmas blizzard. Now he has to figure out a way to convince her to stay.

Can a vivacious city girl find forever with a reclusive farmer?
Will her secret keep her from trying?

My Take:

Told in first person, Forever in a Moment take us to Willow Springs, Vermont on a honeymoon-for-one. The narrator's fiance dumps her two weeks before their Christmas Eve wedding, and New York City lawyer Samantha (Sam) DeMartino ends up heading to Vermont alone in a blizzard for a solo vacation rather than a honeymoon.

But then her rental car runs out of gas and she's stranded by the side of the road in aforementioned blizzard. Jed Armstrong rescues her, and ends up being her ski instructor the very next day. Tall and sexy, with blue eyes a girl could happily drown in, he makes Sam realize that losing her fiance Ben to another woman wasn't the worst thing in the world. She feels a sizzle in her blood just looking at Jed that she never experienced with the man she was supposed to marry.

Sam spends the week re-evaluating her life and her priorities, and the reader gets stream-of-consciousness ringside seats to her thought process. In the entire book, there are two (only 2) chapters told from Jed's first person point of view, one in the middle and one at the very end. They give us a glimpse into what the strong, silent guy is really thinking. Jed is simple and straight-forward, as compared to the whirlwind chaotic thoughts of the heroine. Fun juxtaposition, although I almost wish there had been more from his POV.

The setting is the fictional Deerbourne Inn in the fictional Vermont town of Willow Springs. It's part of a series by this publisher, all by different authors but set in this town with this Inn as central to the action in some form. In this case, Sam is visiting from New York City for the 10 days from Christmas through New Years and staying at the Inn. The town itself is a bit like Stowe or Woodstock, Vermont, with a walking town of gift shops and restaurants, and a small town vibe where residents all know and look out for one another. This author does a nice job of setting the atmosphere of the town and surrounding area. Jed's family own a large dairy farm just outside of Willow Springs and supply cheese products and baked goods to many of the restaurants in town.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, laughing along with the snarky self-deprecating narrator and applauding her inner turmoil as she uses the solo honeymoon to decide what she wants out of life. Set during the busy holiday week in Vermont, it's not really a "holiday" story, but more of a journey of self-discovery for one woman, and made a fun read even in spring. Highly recommend.

Grab a copy on AMAZON





Friday, April 12, 2019

Friday Feature: After Hurricane Nina series - 8 Hot Guys, 8 Uniques Stories, Each #99cents




That's right - all 8 books in the series are now available - and each on sale for 99 cents!

Find them all on one convenient AMAZON page 

Here's the blurb for my story in the collection:
On November 30, 2016, Hurricane Nina hit Bali, Indonesia. In the aftermath of death and destruction, eight strong sexy men will realize it’s time for a change in their lives. A resolution of sorts. A contractor, a personal trainer, a millionaire, a stuntman, a rock star, a thrill-seeker, an army veteran, and a trust fund prodigal will all find a way to conquer their loss and learn to love.

This is Quinn’s story. Resolution: To find his way back to the music.

Quinn MacDonald had it made. With a record label deal and their first single skyrocketing up the charts, his indie punk band is finally getting a taste of rock and roll fame. Bikini-clad women and bottomless bottles of booze fill endless days… until their hotel collapses during a hurricane. He’s still under contract but as far as he’s concerned, the music died along with the rest of his band.

Life has never been easy for Phoebe Snow. Working three minimum wage jobs barely keeps a roof over her head while she and her band struggle to get noticed. But on stage, nothing matters but the music in her heart. When her band plays a cover of one of his hits, Quinn is blown away. Can Phoebe be the inspiration he needs for more than just writing songs? 

And to entice you more, here's the first chapter from QUINN'S RESOLUTION.....enjoy!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Pandawa Beach, Bali


“And…cut! That’s a wrap for the day, people. Can we get those boys some towels?”
Quinn MacDonald shook the salt water out of his hair, listening to the director yell at the crew. He knew he looked like a sheepdog shaking the water from his tangle of shoulder length curls, but at this point he didn’t give a flying fuck.
He was hot. He was tired. And he needed a fucking beer.
Shooting music videos on a tropical beach sounded a helluva lot more fun when their manager pitched it back in London, where November had been miserably wet and cold.
Reality had him and his bandmates knee-deep in turquoise salt water under the relentless sun, banging on fake instruments for hours on end… well, all except Grubber who insisted on bringing his Gibson out into the ocean with him. Quinn’s throat blazed from screaming out lyrics all afternoon. He knew the final video would be overdubbed to cut out the crowd noises from the beach, but it wouldn’t look real unless he was actually singing.
Meanwhile the prima donna actor-turned-director kept taking breaks to flirt with anyone with boobs and sign autographs for gawking tourists, leaving the band standing in the ocean, and slowing the entire fucking process to a snail’s pace.
Not that Quinn knew anything about making a music video. This was the band’s first. They were a punk band, for fuck’s sake. Music videos were for sellouts, right? Except their record company deemed it necessary, and their manager pointed out that Green Day even made a Broadway musical out of one of their albums.
So here they were.
Bali.
Like anyone in their right mind would complain about being on a tropical island surrounded by hot chicks in bikinis. Quinn’s mind drifted to the woman in his bed the night before. Blonde with big boobs and a luscious German accent. Sabina? Sofia? Whatever the fuck her name was, she was a screamer. That part he remembered.
A giant splash caught Quinn off balance. “Dude, watch it!” He glared at Chuck Bellamy, his best friend since freshman orientation at Boston College, currently using his fake bass guitar like a paddle, splashing the hell out of the rest of them. George Hastings, who they still called “Grubber” from their rugby days, was cursing him out, trying to keep his precious Gibson dry. Chuck cackled at him and turned to attack the drummer, John Hayes, the two of them getting into a full-on water fight like five-year-olds on a sugar high.
Quinn’s annoyance faded as he watched them having fun. Fuck it. We’re in Bali. He joined the melee, leaping onto Grubber’s back and pulling him under the salty water, guitar and all.

The four met on the rugby field when Chuck and Quinn were freshmen and the other two were sophomores. The band’s name, Dead Ball Line, was the rugby term for out-of-bounds. It had been a goof at first, playing Green Day and Blink 182 covers at fraternity parties, pretending at being rock stars to score chicks. It wasn’t until they moved to London after Grubber’s graduation that they started adding Quinn’s original songs into the mix.
And now here they were on a tropical island, surrounded by gorgeous women in bikinis, shooting a music video for the album they’d finished recording last month. Quinn wrote each and every song on the album, relying on Grubber to flesh out the tunes and John to create the fast beat their fans craved.
If the success of the first single, No More Tomorrows, was any indication, the album would do well.
They’d finally made it.
Life was good.

“Great shoot today, Quinn.”
Oliver Brown fell in step next to Quinn. Twenty years older than the band, he’d been assigned by the record label to keep them on task. In the ten short months he’d been with Dead Ball Line, Quinn grew to respect the guy. British to the core, Oliver never lost his cool or showed too much emotion. His disapproving frown was enough to keep the guys in line at the studio, and he knew better than to restrict the band’s “after hours” activities. Boys will be boys, he’d say with one eyebrow raised. As long as they didn’t break any laws, Oliver left them to it.
The group trudged up the beach toward the hospitality tent to grab more towels and knock back a few beers. The water fight got a little out of hand, dragging several bikini-clad bystanders into the fray, as well as some of the film crew. After a long hot day in the sun, they’d all needed the release. Except, perhaps, the prima donna director, who was nowhere to be seen. Oliver said he’d hightailed it back to his swanky hotel on the other side of the island.
One of those bikini-clad tourists currently molded her body against Quinn, her arm wrapped possessively around his waist. She eyed Oliver warily, like he might try to take away her new toy. Quinn almost laughed out loud, but instead smiled and patted the generous curves of her bottom. “Why don’t you run ahead to the party tent and grab us some drinks, sweetheart. I’ll be along in a minute.”
She stepped in front of him and cupped his cheeks with both hands, pressing an open mouth kiss to his lips. “Don’t keep me waiting, mon cher.” She turned and sashayed ahead of them, hips swaying with a hypnotizing rhythm.
Both Quinn and Oliver stood transfixed for several moments. “French?” Oliver finally asked, breaking the spell.
“Swiss, actually.” Quinn smiled, digging his toes into the warm sand. “The French chick was two nights ago. Old news. So what’s the good word on the single, Ollie?” The new Billboard rankings released every Tuesday but with the sixteen hour time difference between Bali and Los Angeles, Quinn knew there would be nothing definitive until late the next day.
Except for the fact that Oliver always seemed to have an inside track.
“Still climbing steady. No More Tomorrows should definitely be in the top fifty this week. Fingers crossed, of course.”
“When we hit the top ten, do we get an upgrade for our hotel rooms? Maybe we could all stay at that fucking palace where the director is camped out.” Not that Quinn was actually complaining. The rooms were a step up from their shared flat in London, and the hotel’s location was close to the beach and bars, with nightclubs both on the roof and in the basement. With the band’s party-boy reputation, the label would’ve been crazy to house them somewhere expensive. Ten months ago, Quinn would’ve called his friends normal twenty-somethings. Since signing the contract with the record studio, they’d amped up their partying to an eleven, to the point where their bar bills exceeded their share of the take at every show they played, and their landlord was ready to kick them out of the building for violating the neighborhood’s late-night noise restrictions.
And the women… it seemed crazy to Quinn that women who didn’t know him wanted to jump in his bed because he was in a band. Granted, that’s why they started the band in the first place back in college, but he’d never thought it would be this easy.
Speaking of which… he started walking up the beach again, not wanting to lose sight of the blonde.
“Quinn, we need to talk alone for a moment.” Oliver’s hand was on Quinn’s arm, pulling him to a stop. Quinn glanced at him and realized the guy’s famously stoic British façade looked decidedly… uncomfortable.
A shiver of unease ran down Quinn’s spine. “Oliver? What’s wrong?”
He pulled back his hand, shoving both into the pockets of his pressed khaki shorts. “I’m not sure how to say this gently, so I won’t try. Your mum called while the band was filming. Laura died last night.”
“What?” Quinn’s feet rooted in the sand. “But the last I heard she was better. She invited me stateside for Christmas.”
Oliver shrugged, his expression overflowing with sympathy, handing a cell phone to Quinn. “You should call your mum back. The funeral is Saturday.”
“But we… How would… Can I even…” Quinn wasn’t sure what to say, let alone how to ask. The band was scheduled to stay through the weekend, play a few open air concerts so the director could add live concert footage to the video. But…
He had to go home. His cousin’s wife had been like a big sister to him ever since high school, encouraging him to pursue his music. Four years older, she and his cousin Ed were the only ones in the family to support his decision to leave college a year early, when John and Grubber graduated. Laura was the one who’d smoothed things over with his parents.
Cancer, however, was an indiscriminate bitch.
As usual, Oliver was one step ahead. “There’s a flight leaving the island tonight that’ll get you to Jakarta. From there you’re booked to L.A., and then a connector straight to Boston. It’s more than twenty four hours of flying, but you’ll make it in time.”
Quinn nodded along. He trusted Oliver with the details. Except… “I’m not going through London? That’s the faster way.”
“Winter storms all across Europe. They’ve shut down Heathrow. The travel agent and I were at it for an hour and a half. You’re circling the globe, and will have to sit around LAX for a few hours, but at least you’ll get to Boston for the funeral.”
A wave of a different emotion swept through Quinn, making his throat tight. Knowing that Oliver hadn’t been able to wave his hand to fix this, but had taken the time to make sure Quinn would be okay… as both the youngest of three brothers and the youngest of eight cousins, it had been a long time since he’d felt like more than an afterthought.
Laura made him feel the same way too.
But now she was gone.
He swallowed hard, trying to push his emotions to the side and focus on logistics. “Ollie, I only brought beach clothes on this trip. I’ll need a suit. Jeans. A coat. It’s fucking freezing on Cape Cod in November.”
“I’ll give you a credit card. Charge whatever you need to the record company.”
Another wave of emotion ripped through him. Quinn pulled the older man into a tight embrace. “Thank you. Seriously, the guys and I are so lucky to have you looking out for us.”
“Just doing my job, Quinn.”
“It’s more than that and you know it. And we appreciate it.”

After saying hasty goodbyes to his friends, and a very disappointed blonde in a teeny silver bikini, Quinn left the beach and hightailed it to the local airport. On the flight out of Jakarta, he overheard two of the flight attendants talking about harsh weather moving into the region over the next few days. Between his leaving and the rain headed toward the island, it was a good thing they’d finished shooting most of the music video. The additional concert footage would have to wait.
By the time Quinn landed in Boston, there were reports of a massive hurricane wreaking havoc along the coast of northern Australia, moving toward Indonesia. The international reporters called it a “tropical cyclone” which was apparently what they called hurricanes in Australia. Who knew?
He texted Chuck and Grubber, saying he’d made it to Boston safe, and apologized again for leaving them. The replies came fairly quickly, considering the distance. More girls for us, Chuck texted back. Grubber’s reply was longer. The locals say they never have problems with hurricanes. Just an excuse to party harder. Don’t worry about us. 
His thoughts so laser-focused on his own family tragedy, it hadn’t occurred to Quinn to worry about the rest of the band. Hurricanes hit Cape Cod all the time. No big deal apart from a little wind damage. A few shingles off the roof, maybe a tree knocked down. Making it an excuse for heavy drinking sounded like an awesome idea, and he felt a twinge of jealousy. Here he was back in the U.S. for a funeral, and they were partying their asses off.
Directly in the path of Hurricane Nina.
 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Writing Wednesday: BEYOND THE FALL and the possiblity of Time Travel

My guest today is author Diane Scott Lewis, whose most recent book is a time travel historical romance (and everyone knows I'm a sucker for a good time travel!!) 

Mark Twain first opened my eyes to the possibilities in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, which I first read in middle school. Diane Gabaldon has millions of fans wishing they could slip back in time to find their own rugged Highlander like her heroine does. Kids all over the world long for their own "Magic Tree House" to take them to famous points in history (and bring them home again in time for supper.)

What if time travel was real? Would you want to travel back - or forward - in time?

Diane grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, joined the Navy at nineteen and has written and edited free-lance since high school. She writes book reviews for the Historical Novels Review and worked as a historical editor for The Wild Rose Press. She’s had several historical novels published. When she's not time traveling, Diane lives with her husband in Western Pennsylvania.

Welcome to my blog, Diane!


Is time travel possible?

One source said, “they say all the stone circles and other places of sacred power, such as Delphi in Greece, Karnak in Egypt, were all built along ley lines, and crossings of ley lines, called nodes...if you employ the theory of quantum physics, you can time travel along these nodes, it may be possible to enter at one point/node and travel through time to another different point/node in a different place.”

In Beyond the Fall, my heroine, Tamara’s, relatives' grave sites are her accidental mode of travel. She tries to move an ancestor’s fallen headstone in a neglected cemetery, feels a burn, a vibration, faints, and wakes up in 1789.

About the Book:
In 2018, Tamara is dumped by her arrogant husband, travels to Cornwall, England and researches her ancestors. In a neglected cemetery, she scrapes two fallen headstones together trying to read the one beneath, faints, and wakes up in 1789, the year of The French Revolution, and grain riots in England. Young Farmer Colum Polwhele comes to her aid. Can a sassy San Francisco gal survive in this primitive time and fall for Colum, a man active in underhanded dealings or will she struggle to return to her own time?

Excerpt from BEYOND THE FALL:

 
“How do you feel? Nauseous, lightheaded?” Tamara asked.

“Naw, more like I’ve been shot by a musket.” Colum settled against the tree trunk with a wince. “I knew you were different from the start. With your strange coat fasteners an’ oddly-made shoes.” He blew out a breath. “An’ stockings that go all the way up. The bold speech.”

“And I still don’t know how I ended up here; that is in your...” Century? She wanted to tell him the truth. Pondering that, she gave him another drink from the wine bottle. “I shouldn’t be here. It’s impossible that I’m here at all. No one would believe the incident and I doubt could explain what happened.” She voiced the rants that scuttled through her head every night when she crawled into the Polwhele’s spare bed, praying that in the morning she’d wake up and be back in her familiar world.
The sun drifted lower over the hills behind Falmouth. Flickers of lights appeared in the town as lanterns and candles were lit. The breeze blew cold from the sea.

Tamara shivered again, and Colum handed her the jacket Lew had given him.

“No, we’ll need to share it.” She squeezed half behind him against the scaly tree bark, on his uninjured side, and covered them both with the jacket. His warmth and smell seeped into her, fluttering her senses.

Colum grasped her hand. “Where should you be, if not here? Describe that place. An’ not about the clothing.” He made an effort to grin.

She laughed to mask her pang of nerves. She sipped more from the bottle, the sweet wine relaxing her. His touch and nearness were too tempting, her barriers crumbling.

With a sigh and a stare up at the darkening sky, where the first star pricked out, she said, “What if I told you I fell from the stars?”
* ~ * ~ * ~ *

Grab a copy of BEYOND THE FALL on AMAZON -- only 99 cents!



Find Diane online in the following spots:   Twitter    Facebook   Website


And tell us, what do you think about time travel? 
Where would you go?
 
Happy Writing to All!