Friday, May 30, 2008

Word Choice and Lightning Bugs

Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”

We must make word choices everywhere. Maybe word choice is not so important in conversations where specific words are soon forgotten and only the overall message is saved in the brain, but word choice becomes more important when it is delivered in writing. Have you ever read something you wrote the day before – a sentence, a scene, an entire chapter – then realized it makes no sense?

I buzz through a first draft and leave word choice repair for the revision (which I’m currently working on with my middle grade mystery). After critiquing a friend’s manuscript this week and marking Word Choice in many places, I started to think I was being too picky. Then I read Mark Twain’s quote, on the same day that I saw the first lightning bug of the season. Word Choice is only one tool in manuscript writing. But I don’t want to turn any cute lightning bugs into lightning in my manuscripts.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Tennessee Renaissance Festival

Last week I stepped into my time-travel machine (a big yellow school bus filled with middle school students) and journeyed to the 16th century, aka the annual Tennessee Renaissance Festival. This was my first encounter with a renaissance festival. Wow, it almost seemed like I had stepped back in time, sort of like reading a favorite novel.

After alighting from our time-travel machine, our first stop was the jousting field. This was the most popular event with the crowd. Knights on horseback raced across the field in full armor. I immediately thought of one of my favorite movies, A Knight’s Tale. My younger companions must not be great fans of the movie because they were done with the joust quickly and ready to move on to perusing the vendors’ wares, mainly the jewelry.

The fire-eating comedian was a big attraction. I must say this is the first time I have ever seen someone perform this feat in person. Very impressive. I wonder if he had to go to school to learn this or if he apprenticed? My companions were completely enthralled with this, perhaps because lots of middle school boys were also at this show.

Queen Elizabeth I was in attendance to take commoner’s questions on life as a royal in her day. To take a quiz to learn more about the queen, click here.

There is also a real live castle on the grounds open for tours.

If you could travel to any time period in a real live time machine, where would you go?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Rejection Accessories

Rejection is a part of everyday life. It starts with playground politics, then advances to dating and relationships before proceeding to workplace advancement. We each have different coping mechanisms to deal with this.

Rejection letters (the thanks, but no thanks letters from publishers and agents) are an expected part of my writing life. I log them in and tuck them away with my growing collection. Occasionally, the letters arrive in groups or happen to show up on the same day that I encounter other excitement such as running into the steps in our garage crushing the bottom one and/or burning half the dinner I made from scratch because the bottom rack of my oven is too close to the burner (something I would know if I used the oven more often).

On days like this, there is only one thing to do. Accessorize. I put on every single piece of jewelry that I own, well almost. Why does this make me feel better? I’m not sure. But I do know that women have been adorning themselves for many years. Shells that were pierced to be strung as beads dating back to the Middle Stone Age have been discovered. Egyptians fashioned gold into many forms of jewelry over 5000 years ago.

So what keeps you on an even keel when rejection shows up?

Everyone writer faces rejection. Click here to read snippets from rejection letters received by some famous authors.

Blogger’s note: I did not receive any rejection letters this week, but the running into the steps thing and burning half the dinner were both all too real.

Speaking of bling, click over to author Brenda Novak’s annual Online Auction to benefit Diabetes Research. The auction takes place every May and offers handmade jewelry, autographed books, and lots of other fun stuff for writers and readers.