Friday, May 28, 2010

Telling Actions

So I went to this concert. I won't drop names, but here's a picture I took. :)

We had fabulous seats (not to brag or anything), so we had a great view. Both my husband and I love his music. I already know he's married with kids. Said to be a devoted husband. He's handsome. An amazing guitar player. And a great sense of humor.

How could I possible like him more? I found out at the concert.

He singled out all the kids near the stage and made a point of getting them one of his guitar picks. How awesome is that?

So what does this have to do with writing? Everything. When we create our characters, how do we show that our MC is who we say he is?

Something as simple as giving a kid some attention can add depth to make them believable and real. What have you done in your book to show your readers who your MC is?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dear Grammar Nazi

Dear Grammar Nazi,

I am your biggest fan! I'm starting a fan club because you speak English so good. . . . or is it well? No wait, good, right? I think . . .

Dangit! Now I forgot my question.

You're 4ever Fan!

Johnny B. Good

Dear Mr. Good,

I'm honored. Truly I am. And that's a very good question you didn't ask.

That reminds me of a story I never told. About a good well that welled water well. So well, in fact, that the welled water tasted really good. Gooder . . . er . . . I mean better than water that wasn't from a good well. And well, that good well sold well when they put it up for auction because the welled water was so good. The owner made a good profit.

Is that as clear as mud? . . . Get it?!!! Mud?! Water?!! Cause the water in the ground would make mud?!!! Oh, I do crack me up.

Alas, for real help, I must defer to Grammar Girl again. She explains this concept well. And what with the explanations of linking verbs vs. action verbs . . . well, suffice it to say, you have it on good authority that it is okay to say "I'm good" when someone asks you how you're doing. You do not, however, have my permission to say "you speak good." Ever. And I mean that.

Most sincerely,
The Grammar Nazi

P.S. Upon reflection, I wish to modify my response. When a language is invented that is called "Good," then you may say "you speak Good." Until that time, please refrain.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mystery Driver

Okay, okay, for all my old followers (like 10 of you), you know I have this fascination with personalized license plates. I keep seeing ones I'm dying to share with ya'll.

So I had this fabulous idea for a blog game. I will post a license plate, and we, the literary bloggers of the world, are going to solve the mystery of why they put that on their car. Build a characterization and back story. Fun, no?

The rules:
  1. Only post ONE bit of information per comment (so the story can grow)
  2. Try to build off previous posts where possible
  3. Keep it clean (children's lit, right?)
  4. HAVE FUN!
I'll try to pull it all together in a posting later in the week.

So here's an example:  WYLD ELF

1st comment: This is a girl. For sure!
2nd comment: She watched Lord of the Rings and developed an unhealthy fascination with Orlando Bloom.
3rd comment: Is there such a thing as an "unhealthy" fascination with Orlando Bloom? *sigh* Okay, okay, she has pointed ears.
4th comment: Her mother read "Where the Wild Things Are" to her as a child.

Well you get the idea.

So we'll see how it goes, and maybe this will fizzle, but all I have to say is CHINESE TAKE-OUT, baby!

This week's License Plate:   OHH MAN

(And yes, 100% authentic)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pay it Forward

So Friday, I got this amazing wonderful surprise. Here's the story:

A week ago, B. Miller started this fabulous Pay It Forward Giveaway (that I so totally wish I had come up with). Go check it out if you haven't heard about it.

ANYWAY, Courtney, the Southern Princess, as a break-off from that, honored me with a Pay It Forward post. She listed 3 bloggers she would love to hang out with in a non-virtual way, and I was one of them! For those of you who haven't read my profile, she and I are fellow princesses after all. And royalty must stick together what with the paparazzi and everything. But what a lift in my day. So much more than honored. *insert cheesy grin.*

So I wanted to spread the love and choose three people that I would love to spend time with in a non-virtual way. Normally, I would list you all, but that would be a long post that no one would finish reading, so here we go with three:

Jenny Matlock: I have been rolling at her garage sale posts, and her big heart just shines through. Though we've never met, I wanted to pull up a lawn chair, pour a tall glass of lemonade with one of those little umbrellas in it, and chat about all the interesting people who stopped in. And she refers to her husband as Mr. Jenny. How can you not want to meet someone who does that?

Lydia Kang at The Word is My Oyster: When I found out she's an Internal Medicine Doctor, I felt that instant she-knows-what-I'm-going-through connection because my husband is on his first year of his Internal Medicine Residency. She does this fabulous post called Medical Mondays, and her posts are always thought-provoking and fun. I'm never disappointed when I visit her blog. Plus, she's working on the secret to getting 25 hours out of a day. I so intend to be around when she learns it as I'm sure she will!

Vicki Dixon at Ron Empress: Okay, maybe I'm cheating a little on this one because we have met before, but she is that wonderful. First, her writing is beautiful. Like, I'm-green-with-jealousy-because-my-writing-will-never-be-that-beautiful beautiful. Next, I always hear about the coolest contests from her. And finally, It's from her encouragement that I started a blog at all. She has been a huge support to me in this endeavor we're on. Go visit!

So what catches your attention on a blog and makes you want to go back? What makes you feel connected to a blogger you've never met?

Friday, May 21, 2010

"Oops!" in Context

A single word can say a lot. Take the word "oops." By itself, we know that somewhere a mistake was made. Something happened that the speaker didn't want to have happen.

But add a little context to that single word, and OHHH the meaning that can result. For example, I was cutting my husbands hair last night. "Oops!" What do you think the word says now?

I'm handwashing my finest china. "Oops!" Have a picture in your head?

A doctor in the middle of bypass surgery. "Oops!"

A circus performer on the tightrope. "Oops!"

The possibilities are endless. The word never changes, but give a little context and you hardly need to say anything else. The reader gets it.

Go on . . . share your own "oops" context.

Note: My husband's hair grows fast, so no worries!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dear Grammar Nazi

Dear Grammar Nazi,

I always have trouble deciding when to use lay vs. lie. I've almost given up on the issue. Please help me!

Yours truly,
[name redacted]

P.S. You would LOVE Larry the Cableguy. Git R Done!

Dear [name redacted],

As far as 'lay vs. lie' goes, I would be lying if I said the misuse of these didn't concern me. I have lain awake many a night worrying about it. When I received your question, I lay there for hours wondering how best to lay down the law. I laid my pen and paper next to me in case inspiration hit. It didn't.

Lucky for me, Grammar Girl already laid out the rules. In the end, I highly recommend you purchase "Grammar for Dummies" as even Grammar Girl confesses to looking these words up every time she uses them. Tonight, I can lie down in peace, knowing there is one less person in the world misusing these words.


The Grammar Nazi

P.S. Larry the Cableguy is a favorite of mine . . . an unending source of material!

Do you have a question for The Grammar Nazi? Send them to rjljohnson [dot] janet [at] gmail [dot] com.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Chinese Take-out

I have this thing about Chinese. When I love it, I LOVE it. And when I don't, buy yourself some earplugs, because I am not afraid to express my opinion. Needless to say, I'm always a little reticent to try new places. More often than not, I'm disappointed. So instead of eating Chinese, I dream of the good stuff from where I grew up.

The thing is, my husband doesn't have my reservations. To him, it's all more or less the same. He's happy with whatever, he'd just like something.

So, tonight, I gave in. Called a few friends, got a few recommendations. And gross. Blah. Blah. Blah.Yicky. Picky. Snort.

"I'm sorry I even suggested it," my husband said.

And then the epiphany came. From my own mouth even: "Well, you never know if you don't try."

I know, you're all probably thinking, 'Well duh!'

I wonder how many things I've not tried because I didn't want to be disappointed. Learning a new skill. Sending off the next query. Taking risks with my characters. Bidding on that full manuscript critique over at Do The Write Thing. Whatever.

How about you? Is fear of disappointment holding you back?

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I want to thank everyone for stopping in and entering my Kick-off Fiesta, and especially those of you who spread the word. Hey, twenty entries is a GREAT start for my first week! And wow, who knew that a guilt complex came with choosing a winner (even when I didn't do the actual choosing)?

So, according to, here are the winners:

1st Prize: One copy of Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market.

Stina Lindenblatt

2nd Prize: One copy of Janette Rallison's book Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To Do List.

Jessie Oliveros

3rd Prize: Two Willy Wonka Chocolate Bars with, count them, TWO chances to win a Golden Ticket.

Sharon K. Mayhew

Congratulations! And come back soon ya'll, ya hear?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Awards, Tags, and Stuff

Last Chance to enter my Kick-off Fiesta is today! Easy peasy contest . . . just go leave a comment on that post. You don't want to miss your chance to win some Willy Wonka chocolate which might hold a Golden Ticket! Entries end tonight, Wednesday, May 12 at midnight EDT.

So in other news, I have been inaugurated into the blogging world with my first award. Woo hoo! Lydia Kang gave me the Beautiful Blogger Award. Go check out her blog. She's a lot of fun, and she does a Medical Monday where she describes bizarre medical disorders (she's also a doctor). One of my favorite features!

So in the spirit of the award, I pass it on to:

Jessie Oliveros
B.J Anderson
Stephanie Thornton
Beth Revis

And I was also tagged by Laurel to answer some questions. So here goes:

Where were you five years ago?
-Living in Kansas City where my husband had just finished his first year of medical school.
-One child (and I thought THAT was hard!)
-Attending my first SCBWI conference and getting my first manuscript critique from an editor (Let's just say that I haven't touched that ms since then).
-Joining my first critique group.

Where would you like to be in five years?
-Living closer to family with my husband OUT of residency and fellowships.
-Agented, published, and able to spend more time on writing.

What is on your to-do list today?
-Write this blog.
-Pick up my oldest from kindergarten.
-Take care of two cuties.
-Edit my almost-ready WIP.
-Critique some chapters for my critique group.

What snacks do you enjoy?
-Little Debbie's Oatmeal Cream Pies
-And wait, did I say cereal?

What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?
-Pay off student loans.
-Buy a house.
-Start a scholarship fund for my kids and extended family.
-Start a publishing company.
-Spend some time traveling and doing charitable work abroad.
-Boy, there's too many things to list, but I'd love to do payback within the writing community.

I pass this on to the following bloggers:
Tricia J. O'Brien
Noelle Nolan
Becca Rogers
Karen Zupancic

So just looking at my crazy days . . . what would you do with a full day to yourself? And since we're most of us writers, let's assume we're NOT going to write. I think I'd go for a long walk. Maybe go visit some museums. Find a partner to play some tennis. Go shopping!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Another Give-away!

The Ron Empress, Victoria, is having a giveaway over at her blog. Go check it out! She's giving away Guy Gavriel Kay's latest novel, "Under Heaven." The novel got a starred review from Publisher's Weekly and looks to be a good one.

Don't forget to enter my own give-away. You have until midnight EDT on Wednesday, May 12!

And a thanks to Kirsten Hubbard at Wandergirl. I won the book Hold Still by Nina LaCour AND a moleskine sketchbook in the epic Spread the Awesome event! It feels awesome to win guys. Seriously, go enter!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Salad Dressing Faux Pas

Don't forget to enter my Contest! You have until Wednesday, May 12 at midnight EDT.

So I'm staring at a bottle of salad dressing, and my blood pressure is rising by the second. I can't get past the little line that says: "Less Calories than our regular dressing."

Aaaaaah! Did no one proofread your nationally marketed product?! Seriously?

Fewer calories, people! Fewer!

So, yes. This is my secret OCD pet-peeve. I have to bite my tongue to keep from correcting friends, and any random strangers who may unwittingly confound "less" and "fewer" in my presence.

Less --> an uncountable mass (fat, sugar, water, chocolate, stupidity . . . you get the idea)

Fewer --> anything countable (calories, ice cubes, people, mistakes)

Easy as pie.

My husband tells me I missed my calling as a member of the grammar nazi. But I can be laid back . . . I present my cavalier use of "snuck" instead of "sneaked" as evidence.

Anything drive you up the wall? What are your pet peeves?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Beginner's Blunder

Don't forget to enter my CONTEST! You can enter until Wednesday, May 12, midnight EDT .

Warning: This is a scary story. Readers with weak stomachs, or who cringe easily might want to stop reading now.

So a good hard four months of writing, and it was done. My very own, very first book! It was beautiful. A classic. Destined for greatness. I just knew it.

My darling husband gave me The Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market so I could learn all about the submission process. And boy did I do my homework. I picked just the right agent, and sent off my perfectly-written and copy-edited query, and can you believe it!? She requested a partial!!!

If only I had spent so much time on my book. Seriously, are you ready for this? I'm more than embarrassed to admit it.

I sent my first draft.

No, not by accident. Just because I really thought my book was that wonderful. *blush*

I guess my first hint that my book needed work should have been the pained look on my mother's face whenever I asked what she thought of it. That was 8 years ago, and I think I've learned a little bit since then, but I still look back and wonder, WHAT WAS I THINKING!?!

Anyone else out there make a now-laughable beginner's blunder? I mean, surely I'm not the only one. . . . right? . . . RIGHT?! I'd love to hear your stories.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Kick-off Fiesta!

As promised, to kick-off my blog, a writerly give-away. Hurray for free stuff!

To enter, all you have to do is be a follower and leave a comment on THIS blog entry. Easy peasy. If you care to spread it around, you get total brown-noser points. But it won't earn extra entries in this random drawing of names.

So the prizes:

1st Prize: A copy of Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market

If you already have it, or don't need it, mention it in the comments, and I'll make sure you don't win it.

So this book is what started me on the path. After I finished writing my first book, my husband gave it to me for my birthday, and I've been learning ever since. Wow, I was so ignorant back then, but more on that next time. I definitely recommend it for all starting out children's writers.

2nd Prize: A copy of Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To Do List by Janette Rallison. Here's the description from Ms. Rallison's website:

A PC school principal turns West Side Story into a comedy of errors.

Sixteen-year-old Jessica dreams of Hollywood fame, and when Jordan moves into her small town, she dreams of him, too. He’s a movie star’s son, and hey, he's gorgeous to boot. Jordan has always wanted to get out from the shadow cast by his superstar father, but now that he and his mother have moved so far away from LA, how can he get his divorced parents back together? Jessica convinces Jordan the way to get his father to come for a long visit is to be a part of the school play. And if she’s “discovered” in the process, all the better. Things go wrong when she lets Jordan’s secret identity slip, and grow even more disastrous when the principal tries to change West Side Story into a gang free, violence-free, politically correct production. 

Seriously, I was crying from laughing so hard. I confess, I had my doubts when I started it, but I liked her other stuff, and so I tried it. SO glad I did. Fun, hilarious read. Just so you know, it's paperback, but only because it's not available in hardback.

3rd Prize: Of course I saved the best for last. CHOCOLATE! And not just any chocolate. This is Willy Wonka chocolate with not just one, but TWO chances to find a Golden Ticket and win a trip around the world!

I know, I know! It's all I can do not to rip them open right now! Whoever wins will have to report back on whether they found a Golden Ticket or not. ;)

You all have until midnight EDT on Wednesday, May 12th to enter. Happy hunting!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Split . . .

Since I started this blog, I always knew I wanted to start a second one dedicated to writing. I visited lots of other writing blogs, debated the format with my husband, imagined the design and topics, and finally pushed it off, worried I'd have nothing of import to say. I kept waiting for inspiration . . .

and I finally got it: If I wait until inspiration strikes, I'll never do it. 

Sigh. Not exactly what I'd hoped for, but there we are, nevertheless.

So I'm taking the plunge. Dedicating this blog to writing, and creating a new blog to keep my family and friends updated on my wildly exciting life as a wife and mother. (If I say it enough times, surely it will be true. Right?) You can link to it here.

I know, I can hear the groan . . . why not create a new one for writing, thus sparing many of you the pain of changing bookmarks and blog links, etc. But it's selfish really. This way, I'll already have a few followers to build from. :) 

If you don't already follow me, feel free to join! And as a heads up, to celebrate the kick-off of my writing blog, I will host a writerly give-away on the next post. Woo hoo! Free stuff!

Thank you to all of my current followers, to all you other bloggers, my family, and all my friends who have been such a support and inspiration in this crazy dream I have of getting published.