Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Looking to Alter the Altar

Today's confusing word choice: alter vs. altar

An altar is a table or place which serves as a center of worship or ritual — often used with the to refer to the act of getting married.  Here's the altar at my little church at Christmas:

Sometimes people will talk about it a bit more figuratively:

A raised structure (such as a block, pile of blocks, pillar, or stand) on which sacrifices are offered or incense burned (as in the worship of a deity or of the spirit of a deceased ancestor) — often used figuratively to describe a thing given great or undue precedence or value especially at the cost of something else <He sacrificed his family life on the altar of career advancement.>

But when you use alter, you are performing an action - to cause to become different in some particular characteristic (as measure, dimension, course, arrangement, or inclination) without changing into something else  OR to become different in some respect :  undergo change usually without resulting difference in essential nature.

So if you want to see what happens when you alter an altar, here you go: 

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Tension I'm Feeling is Palpable and I'm Looking Forward to a Palatable Meal

Let's review:



And trust me when I say that searching images for this word can be a bit Not Safe For Work (or your delicate stomach).  Palpable is also something doctors talk about - as in, palpable tumors or bumps or cysts.  So I don't recommend looking too much at those pictures!


Here's a picture I swiped from my hubby's Facebook page (thanks, honey!) of a meal he was eager to dig in to.  I don't particularly find sushi palatable, but hey, he likes it...and so do plenty of other people.

When you are describing something yummy, delicious, or that will go down easy, PALATABLE is the way to go (think table, where you'd sit for some of that deliciousness.)

When you are describing something you can feel (either in reality or perception), PALPABLE is the way to go.  It's a cliche, but most often I see it used as the tension in the air was palpable.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Why Books Matter

This post has been circling in my head for a few weeks now.  I mostly think of the awesome things I want to say about ten seconds before I fall asleep.  So, it's taken awhile to get it down on paper (or, on the blog post, as the case may be).

{And here it is, February now, and I am just getting back to this draft to finish my thought.  Hmmm, must have been busy with holidays.  And snow.  And more snow.  And maybe a few books...  So please forgive the November and December references four.months.later <hangs head in shame>.}

Thanksgiving has just passed and in that tradition, I've seen lots of Facebook statuses, Tweets, and blog posts on what people are thankful for. And you wouldn't be surprised at the type of things listed: family, friends, good health, the Internet (well, okay, maybe that's just at my house...).

As this Thanksgiving time has been in the forefront, I've also been working on getting the newsletter (sign up here - I'll wait!) ready for December.  This month's Author Interview is with Rick Bettencourt.   As I read through his answers to the question about his favorite books growing up, it amazed me that there were some books we both loved and we both would read well past bedtime.

It started me thinking about what I read as a child and how it impacted my world. In an earlier post, I shared my love of reading, snuggled up to the heat vent in the kitchen.  But just as often, I'd be reading in bed.  At the kitchen table (if no book was available, the side of the cereal box would do in a pinch!). While watching TV.  And sometimes outside, in the little hiding places I found on the property.  (Although I never did get the hang of reading in a tub.) I could read in the car (I wish I still could without getting a headache and wanting to throw up! I can't even read a map in the car without feeling queasy now!)

Without books in my childhood, I'd never have imagined worlds with wizards and brave little girls from Kansas (The Wizard of Oz and all the sequels).  I'd never have tried to make maple snow candy (Little House on the Prairie and all the sequels).  I'd never have envisioned a family with two sets of twins and the adventures they had (The Bobbsey Twins). I'd never traveled the world with a reporter and his trusty dog Snowy (The Adventures of Tintin). I'd never dared to think a girl could live on her own and dare to defy the adults in her world (Pippi Longstocking). I'd never start to think of people of different faiths, different backgrounds, different genders as people just like me.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my love of, well, love stories.  I used to go to Whitlock's Book Barn and convince my mother (ok, whine and whine and whine until she agreed) that Harlequin romances were exactly what I needed to read.  (It also probably helped that she never read them - she'd probably never let them in the house if she'd actually read some of that stuff!) Of course, I got my hands on a Judy Blume book - I can't remember if it was Smart Women or Summer Sisters - that she had in the house, so she's not totally off the hook!

The person you are today is because of the things you have experienced in your life: the good, the bad, the boring, the exhilarating. And that includes reading: reading about different places, different people, different lifestyles - or even people just like you in similar circumstances -  and making that part of your human experience.

So, to all the authors out there, thank you for brightening your readers' worlds.  You are the magicians who make it all happen.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Author Interview - Pamela Fryer

Let's welcome this month's Author Interview, Pamela Fryer. She is the author of One Snowy Night Before Christmas, Once Upon a Christmas Carol, The Lost Finder, August Unknown, Last Rights, The Midnight Effect, and contributed to Romance Super Bundle and most recently, Love, Valentine Style.

I am especially happy to have her featured this month because she is the gracious winner of my 2013 Favorite Goof Contest!

Take it away, Pam!

1)      What were your favorite books growing up? Oh gosh, so many! I have to thank my mother for instilling in me my love of books by encouraging me to read when I was young. I read everything; Nancy Drew Mysteries, all the Lord of the Rings, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Tom Sawyer, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte’s Web…there are too many to list all my favorites here, but one series stood out to me: Barbara Van Tuyl’s A Horse Called Bonnie books. Rumor has it they will be released in Kindle soon!
2)      Now that you have, let’s say—some life experience, what would you tell your younger self? BUY STOCK IN GOOGLE!!! Oh, I guess that’s what I would say if I could time travel back to my younger self. So I guess if I could send thoughts back to my younger self, it would be “Be less afraid of failure and more afraid of not trying.” And BUY STOCK IN GOOGLE!
3)      Describe your typical day. Seriously, it’s totally dull. Being a writer is one of the most unglamorous jobs there is. In fact, I like to joke that when I worked as a receptionist, my day was much more glamorous. I always had a nice manicure, wore nice clothes and makeup, did my hair, and put on my most professional persona to greet my customers during the day. Writing is done in my sweat pants, no makeup, with my hair pulled back in a messy clip just to get it out of my face. I intersperse housecleaning to break up long stints in the chair.
4)      Who is your favorite character in your books? I know most writers say this, but my favorite character is always the one I’m currently writing. If I didn’t love them, (heroes and heroines alike) I couldn’t write about them. If I had to pick one favorite, I would say it was Celia Brown from Once Upon a Christmas Carol. I threw so much bad stuff at her, but she still didn’t lose her sanity.
5)      What do you do when writer’s block shows up, settles in, and makes itself comfortable? Writer’s block is my constant companion, even when I know my story’s beginning, middle, and end. Because I’m always looking for that element that will make it bigger, better, more. I’m always searching for the WOOHOO moment, the thing that makes a reader hold their breath or shout in excitement. What is a woohoo moment? Here’s an example (and you’ll have to be a Justified fan to get this) Raylan Givens finds himself across a table from Fletcher “The Icepick” Nix, an assassin who toys with his victims by placing a gun on the table between them and giving them until the count of 10 to grab it. When the victim reaches for the gun, Nix stabs the other player in the hand with an ice pick before taking the gun and killing them. We’ve already seen him kill someone this way, so I’m on the edge of my seat holding my breath as Nix counts down across from Raylan. I’m watching this thinking “No, Raylan, don’t do it! He’ll kill you!” But what choice does he have but to try? OMG how will my sexy hero get out of this one? And then, instead of reaching for the gun, Raylan pulls the table cloth toward himself, causing Nix to stab the table with the ice pick, and Raylan grabs the gun and shoots Nix in the shoulder. I threw my hands in the air and shouted WOOHOO! Honestly every time I watch Justified I say to myself, I wish I could write like that. Justified is constantly giving me my WOOHOO moment.
6)      Do you find yourself pulling details from “real life” or does your imagination rule the roost? It’s a mixture of both, because I have a wild imagination, but seriously, real life has some crazy shit! It really is true what they say, truth is stranger than fiction.
7)      What was the first manuscript you wrote (even if it never saw the light of day)? An 800 page rambling, implausible fantasy about a bounty hunter who seduced her skips, drugged them, and brought them back to the police station unconscious. Needless to say, it was not something that would give Janet Evanovich a run for her money.
8)      Have you ever pursued traditional publishing? Or did you go straight for indie publishing? I am what’s known as a Hybrid author. I made my first sales to small presses: Samhain Publishing and The Wild Rose Press as myself, and erotic works to Loose Id, Ellora’s Cave, and Lyrical Press under a pseudonym. There are a lot of benefits to being with an established publisher, and I am fortunate to have had wonderful experiences with all of them. But there are also a lot of benefits to being Indie, too. Ultimately, going it Indie fits perfectly with my personality because I like to be in charge, especially where my own career is concerned. I use the skills from previous jobs to handle much of it myself: I’m an expert in Microsoft Office, I write HTML so I can format my own books, and I spent twelve years as a professional web and graphic designer so I can create my own art. I learned valuable lessons from my publishing houses, one of which the value of quality editing. As an Indie author, I make a promise to my readers that my Indie books are as well edited as my contracted books, if not better. I always start with beta readers, I hire a technical editor and a content editor, and finally, I bribe an eagle-eyed relative to give me a final read before I push the giant red PUBLISH button.
9)      What Works In Progress are brewing?  Any target dates for publication? This is one of the things I love about being Indie; I can write whatever I want. I’m putting the finishing edits on a dystopian fantasy set in the future in which vampires have come out of the proverbial closet because of a zombie plague that threatens the human race, i.e. their food supply. My heroine is a virus-immune bounty hunter who hates vampires. When she’s hired by the richest man left alive to find his missing kids, she’s forced to work in tandem with a vampire. They get into all kinds of trouble. I loved writing this one because my heroine has some serious snark, and I got to use my potty mouth.
10)   How can fans reach you?  I have a website that I do keep updated. I can’t say the same about Facebook and Twitter. But I put it all out there on my website and my blog, and I have a newsletter readers can sign up for to get notified when I have a new release. http://www.pamelafryer.com, www.facebook.com/pamelasbooks. Thanks for having me! Like I said earlier, as a writer I just don’t get out as much as I should anymore.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Winner! A Winner!

I know I promised this some time ago, but I have contacted the winner of the 2013 Favorite Goof.  After all the voting was in, you chose Pamela Fryer's classic line:

Thanks to you, a major catastrophe has been averted, and a serious coo thwarted.

What she meant to write was: 
Thanks to you, a major catastrophe has been averted, and a serious coup thwarted.

Thanks for voting!