Words That Give Me Trouble

Words-That-Give-Me

Writing keeps me humble. There are words I worry about now in my writing that I used to not be concerned about. Since I’ve claimed aloud to be a writer, I feel the spotlight on all my written words. Sometimes I come up short.

Memory and Age

Memory and age begin to take a toll. Words that I used to spell or remember the definition of without a second thought now fall into the “need to look it up” category. Some words I’ve thought to be synonymous aren’t quite equal when examined. I continually learn of words I have used incorrectly all my life. It happens often enough that I’m losing my confidence.

Mark Nichol’s list

After creating an account on StumbleUpon last week, I stumbled upon Mark Nichol’s article, “50 Problem Words and Phrases” https://www.dailywritingtips.com/50-problem-words-and-phrases/. In today’s blog post, I’ll share a few examples of words that give me trouble.

  1. Compare to / compare with – Compare to implies only similarity; whereas, compare with   implies similarity and contrast.
  2. Each other / one another – Use one another when more than two are involved. (Who knew?)
  3. Jealousy / envy – If I am jealous of you, I resent your having something. If I envy you, I   covet something you have. (I’ve didn’t realize there was a difference until reading Mr. Nichol’s article cited above.)
  4. Since / because – As stated by Mr. Nichol in his article, “Informally, these terms are  interchangeable, but in formal writing, since should be used only to refer to time.” (This one from Mr. Nichol’s article was new to me, too.)
  5. Transcript / transcription – Mr. Nichol stated, “A transcript is a thing; a transcription is the process of creating it.” (I know I’ve been guilty of using “transcription” when I  should have written “transcript.”

I need to keep Mark Nichol’s list of “50 Problem Words and Phrases” handy as I’m writing. The more I read about the sometimes subtle nuances of words, the less confident I am in my writing.

chicago-manual-of-style-008

Self-Editing The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina

I’m having flashbacks of the days when I had to follow the 1,000+-page gold standard of American English, The Chicago Manual of Style, as I self-edited the manuscript for my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.* That’s when I began to realize that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.

Writing-keeps-me-humble

Writing keeps me humble.

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. (Among other things, I’m reading Camino Island, by John Grisham.)

If you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time and a better memory than I have for spelling and proper word usage.

Janet

*Shameless Plug:  In case you haven’t purchased a copy of my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, please look for it at any independent bookstore. If it’s not on the shelf, please request it. If that doesn’t work, you can order it from Amazon.com.

 

Some books I read in February

On February 21 I posted a blog about some of the books I read in January. I think in the future I will blog about the books I’ve read in a given month at the end of that month or first couple of days in the following month. I have good intentions, but you know what they say about those!

“Exploring North Carolina” is one of my favorite shows on UNC-TV. The host, Tom Earnhardt, never fails to educate and entertain as he explores the varied and rich geography, geology, flora, and fauna of the state. Although the vast majority of my books come from the public library, Mr. Earnhardt’s book, Crossroads of the Natural World: Exploring North Carolina with Tom Earnhardt was a book I knew I wanted to own. It’s the kind of book from which one can learn something new every time it is read. As if I needed any encouragement to visit every nook and cranny of North Carolina, this book makes me wish I could spend all my time doing just that.

Now that Sue Grafton is nearing the end of the alphabet, I decided to start reading her books. I read A is for Alibi in January and plan to continue reading my way through her popular alpha series. I couldn’t help but notice how telephone communications have changed since A is for Alibi was published in 1982. It almost places the book in the historical fiction genre.

Another case that falls into the “so many books, so little time” category is John Grisham and his books. I finally got around to reading Gray Mountain. (Yes, Sycamore Row is still on my “want to read” list — which is growing far faster than I’ll ever be able to keep up with.) I thoroughly enjoyed Gray Mountain. I love the way Mr. Grisham gets his points across regarding social justice issues without beating us over the head. In Gray Mountain, he puts a human face on how surface mining has scarred so much of our nation’s coal-producing region.

I was delighted to win a copy of The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement, by the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II with Johnathan Wilson Hartgrove. I participated in the Moral Mondays Movement in North Carolina in the summer of 2014, so I was eager to read Dr. Barber’s book. Even though I pride myself for staying informed about local, state, and national politics, Dr. Barber’s book opened my eyes to some historical connections that I had not made. This book shines a light on dirty politics in North Carolina but gives strong hope that this current grassroots movement will persist.

The Dark Road to Mercy, a novel by my fellow North Carolinian Wiley Cash, is primarily set in Gastonia, North Carolina and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It is the sad tale of two young sisters abandoned by their father and then left in a children’s home when their mother died. Long lost Dad shows up and wants his daughters. Thus begins a tale that will keep you wondering what’s going to happen next and what the final outcome will be. If you want to read what inspired Mr. Cash’s book, read his author page on Amazon.com. I’ll be on the lookout for his next book.

David Baldacci’s The Guilty was the next book I read in February. Mr. Baldacci did not fail to give the numerous twists and turns for which he is known. This whodunit is a true page turner. As a Southerner, I think the accents were at times overdone, and I was surprised he made the mistake of having a character ask another character, “What do y’all want” when obviously speaking to one lone individual. Also, I’ve never heard a Southerner use the term, “Yous.” On a positive note, he did spell “y’all” correctly, which is something some Southerners don’t do. The deeper I got into the fascinating story, the less I noticed the vernacular. Not sure how I’d feel, though, if I were from Mississippi.

Perhaps I am just sensitive about the accents because use of accents and brogues in dialogue is something I’m struggling with in my fiction writing. I’m dealing with Carolina backcountry settlers from Scotland, Ireland, and France and slaves from Africa in my historical novel manuscript titled The Spanish Coin. Since I’m a novice writer, who am I to criticize someone like David Baldacci? I’m striving to strike a balance between giving characters authentic voices and overdoing vernacular to the point that it distracts the reader from the story. It is a writing skill I must master.

Now I’m afraid this post is too long. Do I need to blog about what I’m reading more often than monthly?

Submitted My Author Proposal to Arcadia

I have submitted my author proposal to Arcadia Publishing for a vintage postcard book covering the piedmont section of North Carolina. I sent the proposal to the acquisitions editor electronically a few minutes ago. It felt good to mark that as “DONE” on my to-do list. I have been doing the necessary research to write the postcard captions a little at a time, so I’m well on my way to having many of the captions written.

The book I have proposed to Arcadia Publishing should be a good companion book to my first vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I anticipate that it will cover 32 counties in central North Carolina. I proposed the following three chapters in the book: Metrolina, The Triad, and The Triangle.

I’ll post on my blog as soon as I know if Arcadia Publishing gives me the go-ahead to write The Piedmont of North Carolina.

Striking a balance in life

With my “Writing Plan of Action” in place as of yesterday, today I turn my attention to striking a balance. I have the luxury of not depending upon my income from writing to keep me afloat. I would have drowned a long time ago if that had been the case! My income from writing thus far officially qualifies it as a hobby, according to the Internal Revenue Service. That means it does not matter how much writing puts me “in the red” financially; it’s just a hobby.

Don’t get me wrong; I would love to be able to make a living by writing. That’s what all writers dream of and aspire to, but few of us achieve that level of success. It would be marvelous if my historical novel manuscript, The Spanish Coin turned out to be “the Great American Novel,” but how often does that happen? I certainly won’t gain fame or fortune writing vintage postcard books like The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, but it is a thrill to see my name on a book as the author.

As I jump into my new “Writing Plan of Action” this week, I want to keep all facets of my life in balance. Writing and everyday life tend to leave no time for playing the mountain dulcimer. I’ll never become proficient at playing that lovely stringed musical instrument from the Appalachian Mountains if I don’t practice.

Playing the dulcimer a few minutes each day, studying the Bible, visiting the sick and homebound, walking the dog, quilting, sewing, doing needlework, and reading for pleasure are all things I need to make time to do. Those are the activities that tend to get squeezed out as I get absorbed by the self-imposed demand to write, write, write.

Tomorrow I will make yet another attempt to strike a balance in my life.

A great bookstore in Raleigh!

I finally got to visit Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh! What a wonderful independent bookstore!

Window at Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh.
Window at Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh.

I went in and introduced myself to Ted. I showed him my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, and he immediately placed an order for several copies. They should be on the shelf at Quail Ridge Books & Music by now. If you live in the Raleigh area, please patronize Quail Ridge Books & Music and thank them for making my book available to their customers.

Entrance to Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh.
Entrance to Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh.

Quail Ridge Books & Music hosts an amazing number of author events. Perhaps someday I will be fortunate enough to be invited to have a book signing there. They had a display about upcoming author events. I counted 37 author events the store is hosting before the end of February. That is extraordinary!

Thank you, Ted at Quail Ridge Books & Music!

A nice find in Sylva, North Carolina

My sister and I have enjoyed shopping at the used bookstore in Sylva, North Carolina, that is operated by the Friends of the Jackson County Friends of the Library. It is a marvelous store and the volunteers there are always very helpful and welcoming.

I knew there was another bookstore in the small town of Sylva — City Lights. We just never had taken the time to visit it. I’m not sure why. It is a gem and another example of a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains that supports an independent bookstore. I love the Indies!

We visited City Lights Bookstore in Sylva in December. I met Chris, the owner. There was only one copy of my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, remaining on the shelf. Chris asked me to autograph it. I was pleased to be asked to sign the book, although autographing my book is the most unsettling thing I do. It doesn’t look like the signature of an author. It lacks flair. It’s legible. It’s not pretty. It seems silly, but I think I need to practice writing my name. I have fairly good penmanship until I put pen in hand to autograph a copy of my book.

City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, North Carolina.
City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, North Carolina.

City Lights sells new books and used books. It shares a building with City Lights Cafe. In futures trips to Sylva, we’ll make time to visit both bookstores and give the cafe a try!

2014 was an exciting writing year for me

Most people take December 31 or January 1 to reflect on the last year. Leave it to me to wait a few days. I can procrastinate with the best of them! Looking back on 2014, I realize what an exciting writing year it was for me.

I celebrated the following firsts: (1) My first book, a vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, was published on August 25 by Arcadia Publishing; (2) My first author event was held at the public library in Harrisburg, North Carolina, on September 11; and (3) My first book launch was held on September 21.

In the last three months of 2014, I had additional author events at public libraries in Cabarrus and Haywood Counties, North Carolina.

Two whirlwind trips to the mountains of North Carolina in December to promote my book, to thank bookstore owners for selling my book, and to introduce my book to other bookstore and gift shop owners were my first forays into commercial book promotion.

In my spare time, I have done a bit of research in preparation for submitting an author proposal to Arcadia Publishing for a Piedmont North Carolina vintage postcard book in 2015, but most of my time has been spent promoting the Blue Ridge Mountains book. That book is my primary focus. I have two author events scheduled in April and May. With the holidays behind me, it is time to turn my attention to lining up additional author events this spring and summer.

Last week I took time to write a 1,899-word piece to enter in the Southern California Genealogical Society’s 2014 GENEii Nonfiction Writing Contest. I’ll talk more about that and my subject matter in another blog post this month. The winner will be announced on May 1, 2015.

Sometimes I don’t think I get much accomplished. It’s gratifying to take a few minutes on December 31, January 1, or even January 4 to remember what I did in the last year. Will I be as productive in 2015? Stay tuned!