Monday, April 30, 2012

Grammar Police Monday - Which vs. That


Today, I'm going to tackle the proper use of which vs. that. Before we get started, commit this to memory: Which needs a comma(s). That does not.

Ex: My first car, which is in the driveway, is red.
Ex: The dog that stole my hotdog ran away.

Next, you need to understand the difference between a restrictive clause and a nonrestrictive clause. A restrictive clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence. If you took it out, the sentence wouldn't make sense or its meaning would change. A nonrestrictive clause is one that adds additional information, but could be left out without losing anything vital. *Nonrestrictive clauses are set off with commas. Restrictive ones are not.

Let's apply this to our examples...
Ex: My first car, which is in the driveway, is red.
Ex: The dog that stole my hotdog ran away.

In the first example, 'which is in the driveway' is additional information. We already know which car—my first car. In the second example, the clause must be restrictive, because removing 'that stole my hotdog' takes essential information from the sentence.

Now add 2 + 2...
If 'which' needs a comma, and nonessential information is set off with commas, then 'which' is used for nonessential clauses and 'that' is used for essential ones. Simple. :)

Grammar Girl does a nice job of explaining this.
Grammarbook does a fair job, too.

One last tip
'Which' and 'that' refer to things. 'Who' refers to people.*

*Grammarians disagree on this one. Some say using 'that' for people is also correct. Ex: The people that vandalized the school were all students thereHowever, you would definitely be correct using 'that' when referring to collective nouns such as jury, committee, audience, crowd, class, troop, mob, family, and couple.  Ex. The jury that found the defendant not guilty was biased in his favor. On the other hand, references to specific people like 'Mary,' 'the president,' and 'my mom' would use the pronoun 'who,' not 'that.'
 ~~~~~

*Blospot.com bloggers - consider turning off word verification (aka 'Captcha') to make it easier for your visitors to comment. Here's a great tutorial video that will lead you through the whole thing. Besides grammar, it's my current crusade. 

What's Captcha? Not sure if you have it? You can read more about it here. :)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Oh, My Hero! Blog Hop


Rules: Post a picture of your hero with a character interview that has at least 5 questions. Then hop around to get to know all the participants' swoon-worthy heroes!

I wasn't sure which character I wanted to use. The hero of my first two manuscripts I know very well, but my third manuscript is the one I'll likely debut with sooo, even though I don't know that hero as well, I decided to interview both. 

Please bear with the almost-but-not-quite photographs. I got as close as I could, but you'll have to use your imagination a little. 

My first hero (second to create, but first to interview) and the be-still-my-heart love interest in my current WIP, Come Back, is Seth Emerson. He's younger than this model, but just as handsome. His typical attire is light brown trousers, a cotton work shirt, boots, hat, and—in winter months—a worn, leather duster stretched across his broad shoulders. His horse's name is Cyrus, and his heroine's name is Rebecca.

New Mexico Territory, mid-1800s...

Do you believe in love at first sight?
"I'd have to say no. I think love is something that comes with knowin' a person." 

What do you value the most in a potential love interest?
*adjusts hat* "I think kindness and virtue top the list."

What about looks? Don't you want someone beautiful?
"Well, sure. What man doesn't? You asked what I valued most. A good woman is what I value most. If she's easy on the eye, that's an added blessing."

Have you met anyone who measures up? 
"Yes. Becca's everything I've ever wanted, and more. Problem is, I don't think she wants me." *sighs* "And that's probably for the best."

How would your friends describe you in one word?
"Well...Most of them would say I'm quiet. A loner." *grins and blushes* "Better not ask them when they're roostered up, though. No tellin' what they might say." 

If you won a million dollars what would you do with it?
"That's easy. I'd buy a nice spreadgood landand a few hundred head of cattle. I've always dreamed of having my own ranch."

Are you a morning or a night person and why?
"Morning. I like the quiet. Watching the sun come up and light the mountains. Mm. It's hard to describe." *gets quiet for a moment* "It almost makes me think I could go back home. Almost."

If you had 24 hours to live what would you do/ where would you go?
*solemn, unblinking gaze* "I'd go apologize to Rachel."

###

My second herothe heartthrob of An Honorable Man and To Have And To Holdis Dr. Miles Barrett. He looks quite a bit like the gentleman here, but is clean-shaven and has green eyes. He's also better-dressed. (He has his own private tailor.) I'll turn it over to Miles...

What is the first thing you notice about a woman that you find attractive?
"Her physical traits catch my eye. Her figure. Her hair. Her eyes. I am a man, after all. But it's her demeanor that either loses or holds my attention."  

What's your idea of the perfect date?
"Hm. Dating is a fairly new concept for me, but I suppose a nice dinner out—good food and good wine—and engaging conversation with a lovely lady would top my list."

Do you believe in love at first sight?
"I didn't before I met Lauren."

How would your friends describe you in one word?
*chuckles* "That would depend on which friend you asked. Walter would probably say I'm dull."

If you won a million dollars what would you do with it?
"I already have a million dollars, and I can assure you: the truly important things in life cannot be bought." 

What do you value the most in a potential love interest?
"Honesty...modesty...and a capacity for forgiveness." 

If you had three wishes, what would they be?
"I'd need only one. A cure for my illness."
###

Thanks for taking the time to get to know my heroes. To visit the other blogs in the hop, click here and scroll down to the link list. 

*And blospot.com bloggers - consider turning off word verification (aka 'Captcha') to make it easier for your visitors to comment. Here's a great tutorial video that will lead you through the whole thing. (Besides grammar and editing, it's my current crusade. What can I say...)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Just Released - The Light Tamer by Devyn Dawson


Jessie moved from New York to North Carolina one week after school let out for summer break. Her newly single mother and Jessie move in with grandma Gayle. Being a teen in a retirement area, is one more thing to add to her 'this sucks' list. It's bad enough to have to move, but even worse her alcoholic father left them as he went on a quest to be an artist in Greece.

Things begin to look up when she is reintroduced to Caleb, the dorky boy that saved her life one summer at the beach. Caleb is no longer scrawny and nerdy, he is now tall, dark and handsome. Caleb is a Light Tamer.

Jessie and Amber become fast friends. Amber is a no frills girl, her snarky comments and sassy attitude will raise a few eyebrows and have you laughing out loud. Amber is rough around the edges, a light tamer with only two years left to find the one she is bound to. Her father's surfing accident left her dad paralyzed and her brother dead. 

This paranormal romance will keep you on the edge of your seat with humor, romance, and determination. Fall head over heels for Caleb and Jessie. 


(Synopsis provided by the author.)
  ~~~~~
Today, I'm pleased to introduce Devyn Dawson and her new YA Paranormal book, The Light Tamera self-published book just released on Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble. Devyn has graciously agreed to answer some questions about her book and herself, so I'll turn this over to her. Enjoy the interview, and then sign up below to for a chance to win a free e-copy of the book.

Who is your favorite character in The Light Tamer and why?  
I really like Amber - she comes across as sarcastic but she is really a sweetheart.  She lost her brother when she was 14 and I did too.  I think I relate to her, and understand why she does things she does.

Do you have a favorite scene?  
I like the ‘tucking in’ scene - you’ll have to read the story to know what that means. :)

Now about you...
Name two things within arm’s reach.   
Homemade granola and a Micro Korg.

What is the weirdest food you've ever eaten?  
My niece made some brussel sprouts that were broiled - she found it on Pinterest and I told her that not every recipe on there is good…. The point was made.  LOL

If you had unlimited money and space, what one thing would you add to your house or apartment, and in which room?  
I’d add a giant library office - the kind with sliding wooden ladders and shelves for all of my first editions of books (I have unlimited money, so I can get them all).  It will have a high tech fireplace with fancy lights and a waterfall.  I’d also have a secretary that can help me - he’ll be handsome too and smart, and makes great coffee.

What's the most unusual or outrageous thing you've ever done to understand and perfect a character's POV?
Not in this book but in my werewolf books - I will throw a treat out to my 3 black labs and watch how they react.  Only one ends up with the treat  (well, until I get the vibe of werewolves) - I end up giving them all a treat after the torture. 

Is there anything else about your book or yourself you'd like people to know?  
I appreciate everyone that finds enjoyment in my books.  When I was diagnosed with Narrow Angle Glaucoma and had five operations on my eyes…I knew it was time to write a book.  I’ve written four, and I’m thankful every day for that one routine exam.  Please take care of your eyes.

Thanks for visiting, Devyn, & best of luck with your new book.
Thank you for having me!  


Devyn writes paranormal YA books about the characters that live in her head. You’ll usually find her either writing or reading and sometimes doing both. She has always been the ‘eccentric girl,’ the one with the big imagination and colorful stories. She was born and raised in Oklahoma City, a place she’ll always call home, yet lives in the lush green and humid climate of North Carolina. In high school, you would have found her and her personalities entertaining her audience (everyone); her love for theater and creative writing earned her many awards. She was Goth before Goth was a style, she dreamt of being Star from The Lost Boys and knew Keifer would one day find her and they’d fall madly in love.

You can find Devyn Dawson & information about her books here:
Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook



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Monday, April 23, 2012

Grammar Police Monday - Who, Whom and Other Pesky Pronouns

Who's on first?

When to use who vs. whom is a grammar issue that stumps a lot of people, but it's really not that difficult if you know the rule. Use whowhen you are referring to the subject of a clause and whom when you are referring to the object of a clause. The subject is the one doing the action, and the object is the one having the action done to them. 

Ex: Paul hit Allan. 
In this sentence, Paul is the subject and Allan is the object.

Now that you understand that, I'll give you a short-cut way to figure it out. 

He = Who and Him = Whom. 

If you would use 'he' in the sentence, then use 'who.' If you would use 'him,' then use 'whom.' Who hit Allan? (He hit Allan.) ...Paul hit whom? (Paul hit him.)

While we're on the topic of subjective and objective pronouns, let's touch on some problems with them. First, I'll give you a list of each. Subjective pronouns are used when they are the subject of the sentence. They are I, you, he, she, it, we, and they. Objective pronouns are used everywhere else. They are me, you, him, her, it, us, and them.  

Take the sentence: '___ did it.' If you can fill in the blank with it, it's a subjective pronoun. (I did it. He did it. They did it...blah blah blah) That's easy, right? Problems usually arise when sentences get more complex. 

Which is correct?
1. Her mother and her went to the store.  
2. Her mother and she went to the store.

The answer is #2, because 'she' (part of a compound subject) is doing the going, so you use the subjective form. And you could flip it and say: She and her mother went to the store.

Another one that stumps people is this:  
Mary is taller than (I / me)
Which one do you choose? 

Choose 'I.' How do you know? 
Easy. Just mentally complete the sentence.

Mary is taller than I am
(am is a verb, and I is the subject of that verb)

One last item... Reflexive pronouns - myself, himself, herself, itself, themselves, ourselves, yourself, yourselves- should be used only when they refer back to another word in the sentence. 
Ex: I worked myself to the bone.

Incorrect: My brother and myself did it.
The word myself does not refer back to another word.

Correct: My brother and I did it.

(Source: Grammarbook.com )

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Convince Me - Kindle vs. Nook, Amazon vs. Barnes and Noble


Okay. I'll admit it. I'm an Amazon/Kindle snob. I've been shopping at Amazon.com for years, so, naturally, when e-readers got popular, I bought a Kindle. (And, yes. I did compare the various readers before making my choice.) I like the features of my Kindle Keyboard, and I like the user-friendly web design, the reader reviews, and the service at the big A. 

When my mom (the little traitor) bought a Nook and asked me for help, I found it difficult to use, and I found Barnes & Noble's website difficult to navigate. Of course, if she had wireless in her house, it might help. *pointed stare at mom*

Now before you assemble a torch-carrying mob and head my direction, let me say: I do like B&N for their in-person service, namely helping me order books in the past, and I love their stores. I also like some of the features of Nooks I've seen (such as page numbers), and, if I'd been using their website longer, I might not find it so confusing. But, by and large, I'm pretty sold on Amazon.

So. If you're reading this and you like B&N, Nook and or Goodreads, speak up. Pretend you're a salesman, tout the benefits, and win me over.

For comparisons, try these links:
Kindle vs. Nook vs. iPad: Which e-book reader should you buy?
Social Networks for Bookworms - Goodreads vs. Amazon's Shelfari

Monday, April 16, 2012

Grammar Police Monday - Irregular Verbs

Today, I'm tackling the subject of conjugating verbs. If you're like me, you write more properly than you speak. The problem is: we often hear things that aren't grammatically correct, and then translate them into our writing without realizing it.

Conjugating English verbs is fairly simple. Most verbs add -ed to for the past and past participle tense. Let's take the infinitive 'to play' as an example.
Now in sentences:
Today, I play.  ~  Yesterday, I played.  ~  In the past, I had played.

That was easy, right? Problems usually arise when dealing with the pesky verbs that don't follow the rules. Ex: Swim, swam, swum. Let's start with one that many peopleeven the fairly grammar-consciousoften get get wrong: properly conjugating the infinitive 'to drag.'

The present tense is 'drag.'
Ex: Drag that chair over there, would you?

The past tense is 'drug,' right? Nope. It's 'dragged.'
(And don't worry. I'm not laughing at you. I correct myself on this one all the time.)

Ex: I scowled at my roommate sitting with a Coke in his hand and his feet propped on the coffee table, but I dragged the chair where he wanted it anyway.

Are you freaking out and dreading combing through multiple manuscripts for this mistake? Don't. To fix, simply do a document search for the word 'drug,' then replace any you used to mean dragged  with 'dragged.'

Another verb can-o-worms is 'lie' versus 'lay.' Not only is the past tense of one the present tense of the other, but these verbs are not interchangeable. (For the sake of this lesson, we're going to exclude the 'lie' that means to be untruthful.) Here are the basic tenses of both.
Notice the verb 'lay' requires an object. That is the key to keeping them straight. You can lie down, but you can't lay down (present tense). To lay, you'd have to have something in your hand.

Examples for 'lie': Today, I lie down to take a nap. Yesterday, I lay down to take a nap. In the past, I had lain down to take a nap.

Now 'lay': Today, I lay the pen on the desk. Yesterday, I laid the pen on the desk. In the past, I had laid the pen on the desk.

Hope that helps. For a list of irregular verbs and their basic tenses, click here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What Inspires You?


Lots of things can inspire us to write--ranging from the obvious to the unexpected. I've been inspired by books, movies, and stories of real people's lives. I've been inspired by objects, nature, and photographs. I've even drawn the inspiration for an entire scene from a single word.


When I'm stuck and the words won't flow, looking at a picture similar to what I see in my head can get me going again--especially if I'm describing setting.


When I find myself getting into ruts with my sentence structure, taking a break to read for pleasure or browsing through some randomly-generated sentences can get me thinking outside the box again. Sometimes, I'm just plain exhausted and need to take a break. In that case, I either read or sleep.


That's what inspires me. What inspires you?



(The photos in this post were purchased from Fotolia.com and are royalty-free.)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Grammar Police Monday - New Series

I've decided to add a new series to my blogging schedule called Grammar Police Monday. Each week I'll highlight a grammatical error or two and show you the way to correct them. Let me know what you think. If you like this, I'll keep it going.


We all should be forgiving of mistakes in quick, unedited correspondences such as emails and blog comments; but when it comes to professional writing of any sort, authors need to put their best foot forward. If an editor read your WIP right now, for how many grammar crimes could you be ticketed?

Grammar faux pas #1 - 'than' versus 'then.'
Often it's nothing more thenthan a typo, but some writers misuse these words.

'Than' is the word you want when making comparisons. 
Ex: I'd rather relax on the couch than move furniture.

If you are talking about time, choose 'then.'
Ex: I'll finish arranging the furniture; then I'm relaxing on the couch.

Grammar faux pas #2 (and one of my favorites) - Subject/verb agreement.
We must pair singular verbs with singular nouns and plural verbs with plural nouns. The problem is: verbs don't form their plurals by adding an s as nouns do. For some folks, this is really confusing.

For example, the plural of 'guinea pig' is 'guinea pigs.' That's easy. Just add 's.' But when it comes to the verb 'run,' that IS the plural form. The SINGULAR form is 'runs.'

Let's take a look...
My guinea pig runs across the floor so fast I can't catch him.
When I turn them all loose, my guinea pigs run in different directions.

(I haven't had a guinea pig since I was a kid. And mine rarely ran. She just sat on my shoulder, eating celery and watching TV with me.)

*Adorable animal intermission*

What's often at the root of mistakes with subject/verb agreement is improperly identifying the subject so one can choose the right verb.

Is this correct? The use of cell phones and pagers are prohibited.

At first glance, you might say 'yes,' but look closer at what is actually against the rules--the subject of the sentence. Is it 'cell phones and pagers'? Nope. It's the USE of them. ('of cell phones and pagers' is a prepositional phrase, so that can't be the subject.)

The correct version is: The use of cell phones and pagers is prohibited.
Or more simply: The use of cell phones and pagers is prohibited.

If you'll mentally mark out the modifiers and prepositional phrases, stripping the sentence down to it's subject and verb, the correct answer will often become clear.

Here's another one that stumps people. Neither of us are going.  
Is that correct?

No. When either and neither are subjects, they always take singular verbs.
The proper way is: Neither of us is going.

For a detailed lesson on subject/verb agreement, click here.

Thanks for visiting. : )

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Blurbs - What They Are & How To Write Them

Okay, so I'm a little late with this week's post. What can I say. Wednesday snuck up on me.

At some point in your writing career, you will probably have to write a blurb. You know - the paragraph or two on the back of a book that tells a little about the story and, hopefully, entices people to buy it and read it.
  • A good blurb doesn’t tell much of the story, and it shouldn't be a total spoiler. 
  • It introduces your protagonist (or hero and heroine in a romance) and the major conflict.
  • Keep it brief, but make it strong — every word counts. 
  • It should leave the reader wanting more.
Here are a few good links on writing blurbs. Enjoy. = )

5 Tips on How to Write a Blurb For Your Book

How to Write a Back Cover Blurb For Your Book

Gotcha Blurbs: Easy & Fun to Write



Monday, April 2, 2012

Okay, Okay. I'll Do It! - Lucky 7 Meme

 
Recently, I said I wouldn't post parts of my WIPs online, but after thinking about it, I've reconsidered. So go on. Have your fun. Laugh. Scoff. Call me names and say, "I told you so." = P

I was tagged by Ashley Barron. You should check out her blog. She's got some great tips and some interesting author interviews.

For authors tagged by the Lucky 7 Meme, here's how it works:

1. Go to page 77 of your current WIP (work in progress)
2. Go to line seven
3. Copy down the next seven lines or sentences as written and post them on your blog or website
4. Tag seven other authors
5. Let them know they've been tagged

My current WIP doesn't yet have 77 pages, and the one before that would reveal a spoiler, so I chose to use my first WIP titled An Honorable Man. As luck would have it, the random spot came at a major turning point in the plot and made for a perfect teaser.

Here goes... 


Miles looked at the lovely young lady sitting next to him. The sunlight coming through the window shimmered off her flowing, flaxen hair and made her blue eyes sparkle. They were such trusting eyes. How would he ever tell her about his past, his illness, about the danger she was in? He wished the meal could last forever. Once Lauren knew his secrets, her life would never be the same.
“I hope I’m not spoiling any plans you had with Sally,” he said.
"You’re not. She had some seminar to go to. I was facing a boring weekend of sitting around the apartment.” Lauren laughed. “I suppose I should thank you for rescuing me."


*Peeks out from behind laptop* 
There. I did it.

I know you're really gonna hate me, but I'm wimping out on 4 & 5. Not only am I having trouble finding 7 people who haven't already been tagged, I'm knee-deep in the gift critiques I donated last week. So. If you're reading this and you'd like to play, feel free. And if you'll let me know when you get your lines posted, I'll gladly link it here.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

April is...

- A blog about special needs parenting & advocacy

In case you didn't know, April is autism awareness month. As a mother of two children with autism, I'd like to encourage you to take a few minutes and learn about this disorder. It may not be what you think. And, being a spectrum disorder, it's not the same from one affected person to the next.

The main thing I want you to take away from this is that individuals with autism are often very productive members of society, but they interpret their world differently and have special needs. And so do their families. 

For information, visit Autistic Self Advocacy Network & Autism_Society.org

And here's a great blog post I found:  
Autism awareness is not enough: Here's how to change the world
"Put fences around parks, or at least part of the park. It’s not that I am too lazy to keep an eye on my son, but really, if I mess up for even a minute, he could end up as a hood ornament."
(I can SO relate to that!)

You might also enjoy reading books like Thinking In Pictures by Temple Grandin, an author who has autism.