Wednesday, February 14, 2018

My Fairy Tale Has A Fairy-Tale Ending

Come closer, child, and hear the wondrous tale I have for you.

Okay, I don't have a tale.  But if you are looking for a list of fairy tales, Wikipedia has got you covered.  I was kind of surprised to see The Wonderful Wizard of Oz listed as a fairy tale but Jack and the Beanstalk and Little Red Riding Hood was more what I was expecting.

But today's blog post is about fairy tales.  Well, actually, it's about hyphenation, but fairy tales are more fun, right?

And it's Valentine's Day, so some of you curmudgeonly types may think love stories are fairy tales, but us die-hard romantics believe! But if you are looking for a new twist on the fairy tale, check these out:

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs


Red Riding Hood

Sleeping Beauty

These are super fun fairy tales, very quick and with a bit of a bite. There are several more available and more planned.

Another series to follow the fairy tale format is Laurie LeClair's Once Upon A Romance series. The series starts with the three King sisters and their happy-ever-afters.

Fairy tale is a noun, by the way (remember, this post is about fairy tales writing editing hyphenation, so back to business!). Yes, nouns can sometimes be two words.  (And as a noun, it's two separate words.)  "Read me this fairy tale," says the little girl in her annoying singsong voice.  

When it's an adjective, it's hyphenated: Everyone wants their fairy-tale ending. 

That little hyphen does such a big job: it changes how a word should be used. Sometimes it goes from the noun form (fairy tale) to adjective (fairy-tale ending). Sometimes it goes from the noun form (a jump start) to the verb form (we had to jump-start the car). Sometimes it goes form the verb form (we lifted off) to the noun form (after lift-off, we enjoyed the ride). And when it's missing, sometimes our brains can get caught in trying to decipher what was meant: there's a difference between the man operated machines and the man-operated machines.

Welcome to the English language, where nothing is simple. 

And Happy Valentine's Day!

(I couldn't resist these geeky Valentine's cards, so enjoy!)

Thursday, February 1, 2018


No, that's not me trying to stay awake. It's me wondering why extra body parts are involved in those actions. Okay, maybe not extra body parts, but extra words.

Take, for instance, nodding. 
Is there any other body part that nods besides your head?


Can you shrug anything but your shoulders? (That's not counting shrugging a coat on or shrugging a shirt off)

Leo's got a shrug AND a nod going on here...

Can you blink anything but your eyes?

In these cases, her/his/my head, her/his/my shoulders, and her/his/my eyes act as filler words.  They aren't (generally) necessary for the reader to know what is going on. Maybe I should call them killer words, because I'm going to kill those little darlings for you. (Well, if I'm copyediting.  If I'm proofreading, I will just suffer silently.)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Alternate Reality Part II

As a follow-up to my Alternate Reality post, I wanted to see whether anyone is watching Counterpart on Starz.  Here's a snippet from the IMDB page for the show:

Counterpart is an espionage series about a mysterious world hidden beneath the surface of our everyday existence...

Howard Silk (J.K. Simmons) is a lowly cog in the bureaucratic machinery of a Berlin-based United Nations spy agency. When Howard discovers that his organization safeguards the secret of a crossing into a parallel dimension, he is thrust into a shadow world of intrigue, danger and double cross...where the only man he can trust is his near-identical counterpart from this parallel world. The show explores themes of identity, fate and lost love, posing the eternal question, "What if our lives could have been different?"

Sounds like fun, right? A whole world to explore, with yourself as a mirror to the what-if questions in life.

 I've loved everything I've seen J.K. Simmons in (Oz, Law & Order series, Juno) - although he's such a good actor that I haven't dared to watch Whiplash yet. And the characterization between the Howards is incredible: the way they walk, talk, hold themselves makes it easy to see which Howard is in the scene.  

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Alternate Reality

You might have guessed (if you've ever thought about it before - and really, why wouldn't you?), that I was quite the reader as a kid.  I read the expected Little House on the Prairie series, The Wizard of Oz series, the Tintin comics (man, I loved those!). But girls grow up and want to learn about the world around them...and so I started reading science fiction.

Okay, it may have been because it's what my older brothers were reading (although I don't think we read the same books exactly). I know at least one of my brothers was a big Lord of the Rings fan, and (sit down before you continue) I didn't read them until just before the movies came out. I think we did have our Robert Heinlein in common, though.

I had other favorites that I couldn't pass up: Robert Silverberg and Anne McCaffrey come to mind as authors I read everything I could get my hands on.

But there is one book that came out in 1992 (well after my youth - I was in my twenties at that point) that really made me think about what a book was.  It was a book of short stories entitled Alternate Presidents. (I can hear some of you just groaning...or desperately wishing...for an alternate president or two in the last two decades.)

The introduction starts like this:

Playing the Game of WHAT IF?
One of the joys of science fiction is that it gets to ask the question What If?

I would say that any fiction gets to ask the question What If?  You, the author, take the reader on that trip into what-if. You provide that alternate reality where people can explore the what-ifs in the world, whether that's in the safety of someone they relate to or the eye-opening experience of relating to someone they never thought they could. Sometimes that alternate reality makes our reality more bearable; other times, it gives us a chance to see the world from a different point of view.

So on those days when the words just won't come, or those characters have minds of their own and won't do what you want them to, remember that you are providing your readers with the opportunity to explore the what-ifs in the world...and the world would be a poorer place without your gift to it.

Keep writing!

PS- I just checked Amazon to link to the book, and it seems there is a whole series of Alternate Histories: Presidents, Kennedys, Warriors, Outlaws, and Tyrants.  Keep your eyes out for them online or at your favorite book sales!