My drug of choice is writing--writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Writer is Sick

Clearly dying.
Got a post, a little over half done, and it could have totally been up by noonish today, but I need to crawl back into bed with some cough syrup and get my rest.  

I'll rearrange the usual posting schedule to get this one up next week on a day that's usually more fluffy.

Seeing as I have NO idea what I'm in for here, this might be a very light weekend.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Devil's in the Details--By Claire Youmans

The Devil's in the Details

I was recently in a place where I could buy REAL bagels. So I did. Quite a lot of them. Just because it's bread cooked in a ring shape does not mean it's a bagel. Like pretzels, there is a water bath involved. This is mandatory. Without that bath, the crust does not bake properly crisp and the product lacks bite. I loath the bread-ish doughnuts that lack that bath which are popularly passed off as bagels.

It's that little detail of the proper water bath that makes a bagel a bagel. It's a detail, but don't try to omit it, or you're SO NOT toast at my house.

Along the same line, those pesky bits of word usage, of punctuation, of grammar, are the devilish details that plague writers. If prose is not smooth, if there’s no continuity, if words are incorrect, if the punctuation doesn't help the reader understand how the text is read, if spelling errors about, if the formatting isn't consistent -- the reader's attention is jerked out of the story and into the way the story was crafted. That harms the reader's experience and spoils the story -- whether the reader realizes this is happening or not. It's very important to rewrite, edit and copy-edit to make reading the story the best experience it can be for the reader.

This has been bugging me a lot lately. Facebook is currently giving me a hard time by constantly changing my correctly chosen and spelled words into contextual gibberish. Repeatedly. After correction. In secret, so I won't know until tomorrow, or maybe never. It also insists on capitalizing in their entirety certain words, no matter how many times I tell it not to.  BUDDHIST is one.  FRENCH is another. Today, it started doing this with MARY. Am I experiencing Ghost-in-the-Machine messages from a French Buddhist named Mary? There’s a plot for you. Somebody run with that.

So I am not "sharing" anything that is badly written any more. I don't care if it's funny, or pertinent, or even important. I want my readers' experiences, like my bagels, to be crafted to the best of standards, so I now find it important to hold those standards high all around. If you’re a writer, a real writer, someone who is telling a story, communicating with others, shouldn’t you?

A bagel shop is where one buys bagels. This is where one buys books: The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow Boy. Book Two, Chasing Dreams, is coming!

Claire Youmans



Facebook:  The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy

Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Toki-Girl-Sparrow-Boy-Claire-Youmans/dp/0990323404/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top?ie=UTF8

If you would like to guest blog for Writing About Writing we would love to have an excuse to take a day off a wonderful diaspora of voices. Take a look at our guest post guidelines, and drop me a line at chris.brecheen@gmail.com.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Best Heroine FINAL ROUND

Who is the best fiction heroine?

It all ends.

Two months ago, I casually started taking nominations for a "best heroine" poll I thought would be dying down by late February. The names flooded in. Too many for a single poll, and even too many for a poll with semifinals, we had to do quarterfinals just to narrow down the options enough for a single, large final poll.

This is that poll.

Our poll is ten names. Each of you will be given four votes. Please remember that there is no "ranking" system for votes so each vote you cast beyond the first will "dilute" the power of all the others. You should vote for as few as you can bear to.

Since it's already late April, this poll will stay open into May even as I collect nominations for whatever our May poll is going to be (suggestions welcome in comments). However don't tarry–this poll will close on May 13th.

One reminder that I always need to put on our more popular polls. This poll is about books. It is not about movies. There have been some great movie adaptations of almost all of these titles, but stick to voting for the BOOKS. This may go well for characters like Eowyn, who were given less agency in the movie adaptation, but try not to let a mad crush on Emma Watson after her U.N. speech influence a vote for Hermione.

The poll itself is on the lower left of the side menus–just below the "About the Author."

Since I can't really stop shenanigans, I welcome shenanigans all flavors. The main one is of course that Polldaddy tracks your IP for a week so you could vote from multiple computers or vote again after a week, but people have also enlisted friends, family, and even author sub Reddits or Facebook communities to join in the fun.

Best Heroine (Semifinal 2) Poll Results

Thank you to so many who took the time to vote. Seriously, that's about twice as many votes as normal.

Lisbeth Salander (~sniff~), Kantmiss Everdeen (that one was a surprise), and Lyra Belacqua will not be going on to the final round. So here is our mega list for the final round. I even waited to see if the Honor Harrington/Lisbeth gap would get a little wider, but they proceeded to get two votes each, so I had to just call it.

Jo March–Little Women
Cordelia Naismith–Vorkosigan Saga
Eowyn–Lord of the Rings
Honor Harrington
Hermione Granger–Harry Potter
Laura Ingalls–Little House Series
Charlotte–Charlotte's Web
Anne Shirley–Anne of Green Gables
Keladry of Mindelan

Don't touch that dial! Our final round poll will be up later today.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Thank You. Yes YOU!

Yesterday you (all of you) were able to help me fund a group of 2nd graders in one of the highest poverty schools in Oakland get a set of brand new literature readers. While we got them close to their goal, a matching charity (Oakland Reads) pushed them over the edge.

$628 is from multiple donors.
We helped push them over the edge,
but that is not all us.
Here at Writing About Writing, 10% of every penny I make (through donations or ads) goes to local children's literacy charity. In this case another local charity Oakland Reads 2020 was matching the funds, and we helped Ms. Costello's 2nd graders get the books they need.

While I can't tell you exactly how much I gave because I no longer disclose W.A.W.'s finances on the blog (for a host of reasons), and it would be a trivial exercise to "reverse engineer" how much I made if I tell you what my donation was, suffice to say that it was a non-trivial amount.

(I also stuffed the same amount into Hen Wen for the day when we can hire a web designer and really take this blog up a notch.)

Thank you all.  Thank you so, so much. Thank you for reading. Thank you for donating. Thank you for turning off your ad blocker for this domain. Thank you for sharing your favorite posts. You are literally helping the world be a little bit better by reading snarky writing advice.