You have the sexiest grammar I’ve ever seen…

A few days ago I updated and reactivated my online dating profile.  Let’s face it; I moved to a new city.  At this point the people are work with are all, well, the people I work with, and I’m just starting to meet people outside of work.  Going on a few dates might open that door a bit more, so I decided to go for it.

Of course, within a day or so I got what we’ll call the “first bites.”  I suspect these are the guys who send a message to any new female face that shows up on the site, probably without reading her profile at all.  While it seems like a waste of time, that doesn’t bother me as much as their very common grammar and writing errors.  (I know, you’re not surprised.)

Some typical problems include a lack of punctuation and/or capitalization, texting shorthand, and the usual there/their/they’re and your/you’re challenges.  They are usually short on complete sentences as well, or just short in general.  I have my mail settings arranged so that someone has to write at least 50 characters to send me a message.  Fifty characters!  That’s short.  “Hello!  I like your profile, please check out mine.” That’s it!  Obviously “I think you’re interesting” is more characters than “u r cute,” and that’s basically the point.  Believe it or not, I had a guy who didn’t hit the 50 mark on the first try.  How do I know?  Because he held down the exclamation point until he had enough characters.  Seriously?  Why on earth does this guy waste his time (and mine) when I’m clearly not going to respond?

Are you on a dating site?  Want some advice?  Take the time to do a grammar and spelling check before you send a message!  Ladies, this applies to us, too. If you want a quality guy, make sure he thinks you are a quality girl.  When a guy sends me a grammatically correct note that is also free from spelling errors, I will take the time to check out his profile.

If a guy mentions correct grammar and/or spelling as a requirement in his profile, I will send him a message.  🙂

Tethered

Where do you like to write?  If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you know that I like to work on my laptop in lots of different places, including outside.  Unfortunately I’ve become tethered, at least for now.

Over the past several weeks, my computer has been warning me that my battery is no longer working efficiently.  I’ve been putting off getting a new one, hoping to eke out a bit more use from the thing.  It’s gotten to the point now where I can’t rely on it.  It only lasts for a very short time before it shuts me down.

Fortunately the writing-related stuff I’m working on can be done tethered.  Most of the time, I save writing outside for short stories or novels.  Right now I’m working on query letter revisions and choosing agents for submitting said queries.  I’m also developing my NaNo novel, but that (by requirement) can’t be written down, so a laptop is unnecessary.

As much as I chafe at being attached to the wall, I can’t use it as an excuse for procrastinating on writing.

Open Spaces

I was reminded tonight of one of the biggest (and best) differences between a big city and a small one.  I could hear crickets.

Now, I know those of you who live in Houston (or any other big city) are probably thinking “We have crickets here!”  Yes, yes you do.  And there are open spaces in your cities, too.  Houses have yards, apartments have empty spaces, and there are plenty of parks.  The difference is that your crickets are hard to hear over all the other noises, and if you walk 100 yards in any direction, you’ll see more houses, yards, and buildings.

Tonight I walked about 50 yards down from my apartment complex along the lovely trail that follows the Sioux River.  I wasn’t in a great mood (it happens sometimes when you move alone to a city where you don’t know anyone) but when I passed a big space behind my complex, the crickets distracted me.

That’s right, the crickets were so loud that I noticed them.  And it made me smile.

The weather here is gorgeous tonight, in the low 70s with a cool breeze and enough clouds to make the sky interesting.  I live in a place where I can drive a block or two to a restaurant or a store, and yet I can still walk a little distance down the trail and feel like I am in the middle of nowhere.  I still miss my friends (which started the whole crummy mood) but the crickets reminded me that I have good reasons to be where I am.

Why didn’t I do that sooner?

The first draft of my query letter is finished, and I don’t know why I kept putting it off.  Once I started thinking about the novel, the important pieces of it and the interesting elements that I wanted to share, it just seemed to fall into place.  Usually, if I’m procrastinating on something, it’s because I think it will be hard or I don’t want to do it.  In this case, as so often happens, it wasn’t nearly as hard or unpleasant as I anticipated.

Of course, it’s just a first draft.  It’s going to need some major revisions before it’s sent.  A query letter is the first (and often only) impression that a potential agent gets, so it needs to be flawless.  At least the first step is done!

With a Little Help…

I need to write a short, intriguing summary of Dragon to go in my query letters.  The one I wrote for the “Novel Synopses” tab is nice, but not good enough.  I have a new one, and I’d love your feedback!!  Here it is:

“Do you ever feel like you’re in the wrong body?”  Ann Waters reached adulthood living with the constant sensation that the shape of her life didn’t match her true nature.  When an heirloom necklace brings on dreams filled with flight and fire, she suddenly finds herself feeling closer to whole and yet brimming with questions.  The gift of the dragon pendant eventually leads her to a new realm where she discovers secrets about her true self and takes on a mission that only she can complete.

So… what do you think?  Should I share more of the plot, or less?  Do you have any suggestions regarding grammar, word choice, etc.?   Would you read the book if that was on the back?

Thank you in advance for your kind assistance and constructive criticism!

Lame Posts

I have a confession to make and a question to ask.

First, the confession.  The only thing I could think to blog about tonight was lame.  It wasn’t writing, blogging, or even reading related.  I trashed it only part of the way in – none of you wanted to read that.  I’ve written unrelated posts before (most recently during my moving adventure) but this one was particularly random.

Second, the question, aimed primarily at the bloggers.  If you start a lame post and realize that it sucks, do you trash it or post it anyway?  I know a couple of you mentioned a few days ago that no post is a better option than a bad post – is this the general consensus?

Nothing is New

Today I was reminded that there is no new tale, as every tale has already been told.  There is simply a new way of telling an old tale.

Writers, do not despair.  This does not mean that your creative efforts are in vain.  Yes, there are echoes of other stories in yours, and yes, there are similar characters and relationships.  It is this way for a reason.

Don’t think of this as copying, since it is not.  You are not telling the same story.  Rather, think of it as an ability to reach to a human truth, a universal concept to which others can identify.  It is the same as a gathering, where one personal tale leads another to tell a similar one, and another contributes their experience.

Find the right connection, the right truth or person or experience, and your tale can echo not just in other tales, but through generations as well.

Finding Writing

I make cryptic notes.  Most of my writing ideas stick in my head until they get written in full, so I don’t often make detailed outlines or character sketches.  The best I usually do is jot a quick note to myself, just enough to reignite that spark of thought when I need it.  Here is an example from my outline for this year’s NaNo:

Fun scenes: Kiwi falls through the chimney

This is enough for me, while the ideas are fairly fresh and not on a page.  Once the scenes are fully fleshed, though, they vacate my head.  It makes it fun to re-read my own writing months later, but it also makes it really interesting when I find the notes years later.  I hoard notebooks; many of them made it through the purge and the move.  Today I sorted through the last few boxes and stumbled across some writing notes.  Here’s what I found:

I don’t think I did anything anyone else wouldn’t have done.
The world happened all at once.

It took sitting on the floor for a few minutes before I realized these were notes from the early development of With Honor.  This prompted a quick flip through the notebook, which also contained bits of my master’s thesis, Dragon, Burden of Knowledge, and even some revisions of Butterflies.  All in all, a fun discovery!

Have you ever stumbled across notes that took you back to the development of your earlier works?

That awkward moment when you realize you forgot to blog…

Last night, as I was falling asleep around 11pm, I realized that I forgot to blog.  This leads to a very awkward decision, due to several factors.  Here is how the final decision stacked up:

1.  I’m supposed to blog nearly every day, and I’ve missed a lot of days in the past couple of weeks.  One point in the “write it!” column.

2. I’m about to fall asleep, and if I get up, log on, and take the time to blog, my brain will get reactivated and it will take a bit to fall asleep.  One point in the “skip it!” column.

At this point, we’re tied.  This warred in my head for a bit, each argument adding sub-arguments, before I had a final realization:  I have no idea what to blog about.  The reason I didn’t blog right after work was a lack of ideas, and that hadn’t changed.  This was the final piece, another point in the “skip it!” column.

And with that, I fell asleep.  My apologies for the lack of blog, but my rest was a higher priority at that moment.  🙂

Even Non-Fiction Needs Stories

I am greatly enjoying the non-fiction book that I am currently reading.  It was mentioned in an earlier post, thanks to its intriguing first sentence, and it has lived up to the promise of that opening line.

It also led to a realization for me: stories are important in non-fiction.

Obviously, these stories aren’t made up.  (Otherwise it wouldn’t be non-fiction, right?)  True stories can be just as captivating as imaginary ones, and peppering a non-fiction text with them helps bring the reader along and illustrate important points.  In the case of this book, I’ve read about Las Vegas showgirls, a battle between an eagle and a cormorant, and some of the earliest attempts at human flight.  The stories can be personal tales of the author, like the encounter with a murre in the middle of the road.  (“That’s how I found myself walking down a country lane in pitch darkness, talking soothingly to the seabird chewing on my hand.”)  They can also be true stories of others, as in the oft-repeated tale of Frank Chapman’s birding excursion in the streets of late-1800’s New York City.  On this trek, he documented over 40 native species; the birds were not on branches, but dead and mounted on hats.

Storytelling is our main way of communicating with each other, and the use of stories in non-fiction shouldn’t be surprising.  It turns out the best science (or history or any other subject) writers are as good at turning a tale as some novelists.  Theirs just happen to be true.

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