In case you'd like to drop by, have a read, and leave a little comment love, I'm one of two authors featured in this week's Snapshots of Success article on Authors on Show, by the lovely and talented Suzannah Burke. Won't you come by and say "Hello"?
Welcome back for another installment of the Thursday Thirteen!
This week's post is actually writing-related, and I've been building it (very) slowly over the course of the last couple of months. So, why delay any longer? Here we go with
13 Frequently Misused/Confused Words
1) It's "Congratulations" NOT "Congraduations".
To be honest, this is one which almost breaks my heart. Thanks to Hallmark and their decision to put a bit of wordplay on cards meant for high school and college graduates, we now have a great many people who think "Congraduations" is how we congratulate people on any given accomplishment.
Please stop doing this. I will congratulate you for it. Otherwise...
2) It's "Definitely" NOT "Definately" or "Deafenitly" or any other variation.
I would like to blame David Gilmour for this, in part, thanks to the track called "Deafinitely" on his 1978 solo album. Unfortunately, this error is becoming more widespread each year, it seems. Grrrr... Just remember: if something is "definite" it is "finite" in space/time.
3) "Hanger" and "Hangar".
A "hanger" is what you put clothes on. A "hangar" is where you keep an airplane.
4) "Rein", "Reign" and "Rain".
Okay, this is a biggie. A "rein" is part of a horse's harness. To guide, slow or stop a horse, you pull on the "reins". To bring a situation under control, you "rein it in".
A king or queen, however, has a "reign" (think "sovereign") (Middle English regne, from Anglo-French, from Latin regnum, from reg-, rex king).
"Rain" falls from the sky.
5) Peak, pique and peek.
Three very different words with very different meanings. A "peak" is the top of something, say a mountain or the roof of a house (stand on the peak of a mountain and gaze down at the world"). To "pique" is to irritate, instigate or arouse an emotion, or is the state of emotion which follows this (a fit or state of pique). To "peek" is to steal a glance, to peer at something ("I took a quick peek but saw nothing").
6) "Break" and "Brake".
"Break" means something goes to pieces or someone is going easy on you ("give me a break!"). "Brake" means to slow something down, or the object used to slow something down.
7) "Heroin" and "Heroine".
That "e" makes a big difference. "Heroin" is a drug. The "heroine" is the female lead of a story.
Please help stop the insidious spread of this increasingly common mistake.
8) "Might" and "Mite".
"Might" is power, or means something could possibly happen. ("Mighty" is the adjective form of this word.)
A "Mite" is something very, very small.
9) "Your" and "You're".
"Your" means that you own something: Your car is a mess! Your house needs painting, etc.
"You're" is the contraction of "You are": You're looking good! You're going where?
10) Dilute and delude.
To "dilute" or to be "diluted" means to be watered down or spread out.
To "delude" or to be "deluded" means to be fooled or to confuse (directly related to "delusion/delusional").
11) "Clamor" and "Clamber".
To "clamor" is to shout or make noise. To "clamber" is to climb or struggle over an obstacle.
12) "Passed" and "Past".
Past is a time reference, used to indicate occurences in time prior to the present. "Oh, that's history. It's in the past." Alternately, past is used as an adverb: "He went past at a high rate of speed."
Passed means having traveled beyond something in physical space. "He passed me on the right! That's illegal!"
(There's a lot more to these two, but we'll stop here for the sake of space.)
13) "Bawling" and "Balling".
If someone is crying loudly, they're "bawling".
"Balling" is frequently used as a sexual euphemism, and thus is rather jarring if it appears in the wrong place.
All righty then. I feel better after getting that off my chest.
I'm sure many of you understand, and probably agree.
I appreciate that, truly.
And while we're on the subject of getting things off our chests...
Ciao for now!
There are people who are surprised by how much attention I'm currently giving to details in my WiP, 27 Stages. I am teased on a regular basis about the research I'm doing (real and fanciful), because I clearly enjoy cycling so much.
Well, there are many reasons I'm putting so much time and effort into this project. Not only is cycling a passion of mine (at least, as a spectator), not only do I want to write the best possible story I can and not only do I want people to read this and really and truly feel like they are there...
I also don't want a review like this:
Zosia's Review of Amorous Liaisons.
It's not that I feel the review is in any way unfair - far from it, in fact. I think Zosia has legitimate gripes and complaints. Absolutely legitimate. While the author of Amorous Liaisons seems to have done some research, it would seem she didn't dig quite deep enough. Granted, I don't have an in-depth/expert knowledge of ballet, but even I know (courtesy of a brief but intense love of the art while I was in my teens) some of the things this author got wrong.
My point being - when it comes to research, I think it's vital to go the extra mile. Don't sell your audience short. Don't skim over details which are important to the plot. Don't assume they won't catch if you're bluffing.
Because they will.
Knowing that a good portion of my target audience will, at the very least, be familiar with le Tour de France, I know I have to maintain a certain level of realism and detail in 27 Stages. If I don't, they'll catch me out on the big things. The members of my audience who know more about cycling (perhaps are even riders themselves) will pick on the smaller details, the lesser-known things. I know it. I expect it.
And I hope I can write this book well enough to avoid it. At least somewhat.
The only way to do this is to write to the best of my ability, to find common ground for everyone and to do as much research as I possibly can. And, in the meantime, I need to create a story that'll suck everyone in so they don't care if/when I go a little wrong.
Cross your fingers for me. I could use the luck.
And now, I've got to go do some research.
Even though I'm still promoting Ask Me if I'm Happy, I thought I'd let my current WiP, 27 Stages, "inform" this week's Thursday Thirteen. For those of you unfamiliar with it, 27 Stages is a story set against the backdrop of a multi-stage road cycling race (think: Tour de France), which crosses the European continent over the course of one month.
So allow me to present:
13 Real Places in 27 Stages
1) Lisbon, Portugal.
The site of the first stage - a time trial - and the start of the second stage.
2) Sintra, Portugal.
The Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais is where the time trial takes the riders before they return to Lisbon.
3) Granada, Spain.
Stage Three ends here and Stage Four begins here.
4) Lorca, Spain.
Where Stage Four ends, and where Abigail and Federico meet for the first time when he signs an autograph for her.
5) Barcelona, Spain.
Where Stage Five ends, and where we start to see the cracks deepening between Abigail and her husband, Charles.
Site of the end of Stage Six and the beginning of Stage Seven, and a pivotal rest day in between.
7) Pau, France.
Stages Seven and Eight end and begin here, respectively. A nearby mountain, the Col du Tourmalet - which features prominently in the history of the Tour de France - has a role to play in Stage Seven.
8) Torino, Italy.
Where Stage Twelve's team time trial kicks off, and where Abigail takes a stand.
9) Dongo, Italy.
Stage Thirteen ends here, with Adrie answering some of Federico's more, erm, delicate questions, and a team leader being (temporarily) sidelined.
10) Colmar, France.
Stage Sixteen begins here, with Federico paying a surprisingly small price for breaking a team rule, and Abigail dealing with the unwanted interest of an admirer.
11) Bonn, Germany.
Site of Stage Seventeen's end and Stage Eighteen's start. The rest day in-between proves...eventful, for Abigail and Federico.
12) Ettelbruck, Luxembourg.
Stage Twenty-One ends here, after a massive crash which alters the race standings - à la the "Stockeau Massacre" event in last year's Tour de France.
13) Alpe d'Huez, France.
A pivotal event happens on the descent of this mountain - an iconic climb which has featured in many Tours de France - and has repercussions for the race as well as for Federico and Abigail.
14) Paris, France.
Like the Tour de France, the fictional Tour d'Europa finishes here, with a series of laps around the Champs-Elysees.
And there you are. Thirteen very real places where my fictional race takes place.
And yes, I'm having lots of fun researching this story.
And yes, sometimes it can be a bit problematic working out the logistics.
But you know...
I don't mind making the effort.
Ciao for now!
Gah! I seem to be getting caught unprepared on a regular basis, as of late. I apologize for this, and for the fact that I'm resorting to this old chestnut for my Thursday Thirteen this week:
13 Things On Or Near My Desk
1) Altoids. Not that I need them. Heh. I have these on my desk because I cleaned out my bag to take it to work and forgot to throw them in again. Oops.
Mine doesn't look like this, but it's kinda close, I guess.
2) One of those alarm clocks with a built-in thermometer. The batteries are dying and I really need to replace them. Soon.
3) A spray bottle, full of water.
This is to deter my kitty - in a non-violent way - when she decides just absolutely needs to
a) stalk-and-chomp me
b) destroy furniture in my office
c) knock things off of any surface above floor level.
4) At the moment, the bottle isn't necessary. As you can see in the photo here, illustrating that the kitty in question - easily within reach from my desk - is trying to sleep. That is, she'd be able to sleep if I'd just stop taking pictures with...
5) The camera my mother gave me in London last November. This was a sort of "celebrate your book launch/Christmas" gift, I suppose.
Then she went home and sent me a bunch of home-made cookies for Christmas too.
My mom is awesome.
6) A Staedtler eraser. Not only is it good for erasing pencil marks, but it's also good for getting scuffs off of white shoes and walls.
7) My phone. It's almost always close at hand.
8) My other camera. I'm really not a gadget geek, but this was the camera I used in London before my mom gave me my new one.
9) My iPod - given to me by my stepfather several years ago. It's always plugged into my computer so I can listen to music all the time.
10) Yes, you read that right. I had a Prick Test done about a month ago.
That's what they call an allergy or "scratch test" here.
It took me a while to quit laughing at the thought of it too.
I'm soooo immature.
11) A 50-Lire coin.
Can you guess why I keep it around? Heh. It's a shame Italy had to go to the Euro, isn't it?
12) I still have four packets of the hot cocoa mix I brought home from London. Yummmmm...
Why they're on my desk is a question which will go unanswered, I suppose.
13) This picture. I printed it out as an 8x10 and put up on my magnetic board so I could enjoy it and draw inspiration for 27 Stages from it.
It is, of course, my man Fabian Cancellara, talking with former model-turned-pro cyclist Matti Breschel.
And there you go: 13 Things On Or Near My Desk.
Of course, there are always things I wish were nearer to my desk than they are.
Or at least closer to my knick-knack shelf.
You know what I mean.
Ciao for now!
I've done an interview with Carolyn Rosewood on her Moonlight and Roses blog today, where I talk about the inspiration for Ask Me if I'm Happy, a couple of scenes I enjoyed writing, and whether or not we'll see Emily and Davide in another book sometime in the future. Won't you come on down and leave a little comment love?
Thanks! I'll see you there!
Where does the time go? As usual, I've been caught unprepared - so here's a totally random collection for you all:
13 Random Thoughts
1) How do I keep forgetting the Thursday Thirteen? What's up with that? Or more to the point, why do I think about it and then forget it? Hmmm...
2) I've got to find a way to use this in the story. Ouch!
3) I've got to find a way to WORK on the story. ACK!
Blurry or not, this photo kills me. NOM! *happy sigh*
4) ACK! Team "Leopard" presentation is tonight! TONIGHT!!! WheeEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
5) Urp. Maybe a serving spoon of cheesy rice and then a bowl of Coco Pops wasn't the best lunch co-ordination I could have managed this afternoon. I'm definitely NOT a teenager anymore.
6) Sometimes, nothing cheers one up quite like blasting Falco's "Der Kommissar". Too bad I don't understand a word of it. Or would that make it less fun?
7) Time for the video! Wooo-hoooo!!!!
8) Thanks to my mother, I'll never again be able to listen to Muse's "Time is Running Out" without hearing Matt Bellamy's huge "whoop" before every line. Grrrrr...
For reals, yo.
9) Oh. My...
Fabian in a suit and tie with floppy hair.
If he put on glasses I think I'd spontaneously combust.
10) If I weren't married to the most patient man in the world, my crushes would surely drive him nuts. <see above and below>
Yes, it's true. It's all my fault.
11) "You go out there right now and make her leave."
"Listen, Bjarne, buddy - if I go out there, she'll NOM my leg. Again. You tell her to leave, or I'll go join the Schlecks - and the rest of the guys!"
12) I should get back to work. That story won't critique itself.
13) Thank god cycling season is getting rolling again. I need to do some, ah, research. Yeah, that's it. Research.
And there you go.
Another frightening look inside my head.
You should have known what to expect by now, shouldn't you?
And to my usual Thursday visitors I say, "Don't worry."
I just need to focus.
And while this isn't *quite* to my taste....
I reckon it'll be okay.
Ciao for now!
I feel like I'm slowly getting back on track after a very unproductive holiday-filled six weeks. It's been difficult -- much harder than I'd have anticipated, actually.
However, I'm determined to get back into the proper headspace for 27 Stages, and I made a little headway last night, thanks in part to a documentary Alle and I watched about Italian cyclist Fausto Coppi. Yesterday was the fifty-first anniversary of Coppi's death from malaria at the age of forty-one, and since Coppi was one of Italy's greatest cyclists, it is not a day likely to pass without commemoration in this country.
Just about every fan of cycling is aware of who Coppi is. The son of farmers in the Apennines in Northwest Italy, he rose to the heights of his chosen sport, fought in World War II, then returned to compete and achieve further acclaim as Italy worked to find its footing as a nation once again. Only his affair with a married woman -- while still married himself -- managed to tarnish his reputation in many eyes, and brought him into conflict with the laws of that time.
It's hard for me to imagine, now, that an extramarital affair could be punished by sending the participants to prison. It's hard to imagine how strongly he must have felt for "la dama in bianco" -- "the woman in white", as she was described in the press at the time -- that he would be willing to endure such public outcry (which included being spat on by spectators of the races he rode) and criticism (from no less than the Pope himself).
But he did.
He loved her and gave up his family and a good deal of his popular acclaim in order to be with her. Right or wrong, he followed his heart and did what he thought he had to in order to be with her. They dealt with the consequences, started their family (they had a son in spite of the fact they couldn't legally wed in Italy) and tried to go forward together. In the end, of course, it didn't work out the way they'd planned. Coppi died after contracting malaria during a safari trip in Burkina Faso. (The malady was misdiagnosed as influenza when it emerged after his return to Italy.)
In the last few weeks, I've seen this documentary and I've read William Fotheringham's biography of Coppi. Viewing what Coppi went through makes the prose on the page still more vivid.
After watching the documentary on television yesterday, Coppi has been on my mind even more: what he sacrificed and what he salvaged, who he loved and who he hurt, his own private losses throughout it all (his brother, Serse, who became a cyclist after Fausto did, died after crashing during the final sprint in the Giro del Piemonte in 1951).
And all of this gets turned over and over in my head, tiny elements sticking together and becoming a different whole.
I'm thinking a lot about what I've written so far in 27 Stages. Yes, it's fiction, but it's clear to me that the stakes need to be raised, the risks need to be greater than what I've written up to now. I know, if only because the reality is so much greater than anything I could ever invent, I need to do my damnedest to do the stories justice.
Because their stories deserve no less.
Author. Happily Married. Survivor of life with two deranged kitties.
Please note: Thanks to an increase in spam comments, I'll be approving the comments before they post. Sorry!