Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Top Ten

As an author I have tremendous number of “Thank you’s” to pass out this year . . .

1. To my mother for making chicken & dumplings, pumpkin bread, and lemon meringue pie. And leaving them all with me last Thanksgiving so that I would not be too broken-hearted about spending the holiday alone (with the exception of some spectacular furries) as I madly endeavored to meet my Dec. 1st deadline for Exile.

2. To Robert & Aurelia for detaching themselves from the Asyan Forest, climbing the Gate (despite Aurelia’s fear of heights), crossing the frontier, traversing the desert, and arriving at Darzai all of 24 hours before said terrifying deadline.

3. To my editor, Angelle, for miraculously reading all of the first draft of Exile in about 12 days and returning it ready for revision before the start of Christmas Break.

4. To my Dad for answering umpteen million questions about highly important literary factoids such as . . . “How exactly does one change the oil in a car?”

5. And to my sister for answering similar such questions about medically relevant literary factoids like “What color does someone’s skin turn after they’ve had a central line?”

6. To my cat, Dance, for informing me that she much prefers when I spend the entire summer attached to my couch typing away than when I disappear for days on end having exciting adventures to which she is not privy.

7. To the internet for permitting me to find a plethora of facts about highly non-academic subjects, such as different types of flavored lemonade.

8. To whatever amazing person realized that I was an Oregon author (even though I do not live anywhere near Portland—the social hub of various writing groups—or near any hubs of any writing groups whatsoever) and nominated Academy 7 for the Spirit of Oregon Award.

9. To Beth for helping convince Salva to do what he didn’t want to do (even though she and I now realize he was completely justified in his reluctance).

10. And to Salva. For going home anyway.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Do Princesses Get a Bad Rap?

Me: Do you think princesses tend to get a bad rap?

Aurelia: A what?

Me: My friend and I were talking about the color pink and how, at a certain age, pink tends to become “uncool” because it’s associated with little girls. And well, considering the whole “Disney Princess” phenomenon (i.e. girls walking around in miniature Disney princess costumes until they generally no longer fit in the ones sold off the shelf, do you think princesses face the same anti-little-girl backlash as, say, the color pink?

Aurelia: I’m not a fan of pink.

Me: OK, but that wasn’t exactly my question.

Aurelia: And I think some princesses deserve a backlash.

Me: Again, not my question.

Aurelia: Also a lot of Disney princesses rock!


Aurelia: The littlest mermaid doesn’t let anything intimidate her.

Me: True.

Aurelia: And Belle is very intelligent.

Me: She is.

Aurelia: And I’m rather fond of Jasmine. She knows Aladdin is being an idiot, and she—

Me: OK, I think we’re getting off track here.

Aurelia: No, actually I think I’m agreeing with you. Because you’re talking about marketing, and it’s silly to market fairy tales and strong heroines (princesses or not—Mulan is quite as awesome as Jasmine) to only little girls. Look at the villains in these stories: the evil queen in Snow White, Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty, Ursula/the sea witch in The Little Mermaid. These are some of the creepiest, most insane examples of cruelty in film. Or literature, for that matter. Any character who can defeat them is clearly more than a token in a McDonald’s happy meal.

Me: I agree.

Aurelia: I said you did.

Me: And you agree that people do have a tendency to underestimate princesses?

Aurelia: Well, yes. It’s no big achievement to be a princess, but it is rather an accomplishment to survive being one without—say—winding up with your head spiked on London Bridge.

Me: Not very appealing.

Aurelia: No.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Idiotic English Language

The inspiration for this post comes from two personal experiences. First, the nightmarish adventure of trying to teach students how to correctly punctuate dialogue. They often do quite well, but . . .

How many times must one repeat “No, the punctuation comes before the final quotes!?”

Or “You need a comma to introduce the quote.”

Or “You can’t have a period in the middle of a sentence.”

Or “It is OK to have an exclamation point in the middle of a sentence.”

Or “Just because the quote is an exclamation doesn’t mean you need an exclamation point at the end of the sentence.”


You get the picture.

Meanwhile, this week, I am reading Girl in the Arena by Lisa Haines.

Which has no quotation marks in any of the dialogue.

Nope, not one set!

Each quote is started off with a dash. And that’s it.

What a concept! Do you know how much easier it would be to teach writing dialogue with this system? As a reader, it was distracting at first, since I wasn’t used to it.

But after half the book, I’m fine.

As a teacher, I am in awe. Absolutely, one hundred percent in favor of simple.

While we’re at it, let’s “simplify” a few of the other time-sucking annoyances within the English language.

I hereby announce that there should only be one spelling of "there.”

Think of all the hours which could be saved from a. teaching the difference, b. reteaching the difference, and c. fixing the errors for people who can’t catch themselves even though they know the difference between there, their, and

And let’s make up our mind about its and it’s; to, too, and two; and threw and

Even more valuable, how about a whole different way to spell the words though, through, and

To quote the sovereign of the English language:

“When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste."

Any language beautiful enough to create that is surely powerful enough to withstand a few small simplifications. So . . . what would you like to change?

Monday, November 1, 2010


Me: Umm . . . Aurelia?

Aurelia: Yes?

Me: It was report card weekend.

Aurelia: I know. It's OK.

Me: It is?

Aurelia: Yes, because your technical web designer, Dawn (aka DMS Graphics), has been working hard to update your website,, with a brand new "Fun Fluff" page, new reviews for Academy 7, a new Publishing & Submissions Tips page via your Writing Friends and Resources page, and an updated faq page.

Me: Dawn is awesome!

Aurelia: Yes, she is. As is Maria, your artistic webdesigner.

Me: Maria, is awesome times two.

Aurelia: I particularly like the picture she chose to go next to the question about writers' block on the new faq page.

Me: That was my idea!

Aurelia: So . . . I will forgive you for your failure to blog. This weekend.

Me: Thank you.

Aurelia: But I will not be hearing next Monday about how this was "Conference Weekend." Right?

Me: Umm . . . right.