Saturday, July 31, 2010

Bad Seeds: Lay and Lie

One of the Wordy Bird’s biggest pet peeves is misuse of the words lay and lie, and it's also probably the most common grammar mistake I see. 

Nestmate pointed at Baxtor. “Lay down,” he said. Baxtor laid down. Nestmate laid down beside the dog. Chickling laid on top of them.

What’s wrong with this?

“It’s lie down!” puffed Wordy Bird. “Not lay down. Unless you are actually laying the dog down, which you’re not.”

Lay is a transitive verb, so Baxtor cannot lay down—

Ok, let’s back up a bit. What’s a transitive verb? A transitive verb takes an object. For example: put. You wouldn’t say:

The dog put.

It doesn’t make sense, does it? A transitive verb must take an object for the sentence to make sense.

The dog put the bone down.

The opposite of a transitive verb is an intransitive verb, for example: run.

The dog runs.

An intransitive verb doesn’t take an object.

Lie is an intransitive verb, so it doesn’t take an object. Some of the confusion between the two verbs comes from similarities when they are inflected:

Lie, lay, lain

Baxtor lies down.
Baxtor lay down.
Baxtor has lain down.

But the transitive verb lay is inflected like this: lay, laid, laid

Baxtor lays the bone down.
Baxtor laid the bone down.
Baxtor has laid the bone down.

So when Nestmate wants the dog to be on the floor, he should say:

“Lie down, Baxtor. Good boy.”

Then he can lie beside the dog and Chickling will lay herself over both of them and everyone will be happy. Especially Wordy Bird. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Children of the Revolution

Publisher's Weekly provides a thorough and interesting article on The Digital Revolution in Children's Publishing.

How do you feel about e-readers and their effect on publishing? Excited? Concerned? Horrified? Frustrated? Indifferent? Resigned?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Musical Interlude

I know it's not Musical Interlude Wednesday, but Wednesday shot through before I knew it. Suddenly it was Friday afternoon and I was cleaning my office, possibly feeling a just little melancholy, listening to the rain and to this...

...and it made me feel better. I hope it makes you feel good, too. 

WB wishes you a chirpy weekend. 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New Page: ART

I invite you to visit a new page on my blog, 

which showcases some of my art and illustration works 
over the last ten or so years. 

Rejection is What You Make It

Firstly: Happy First Blogisheriversy to the Rejectionist who has invited us all to blog about "What Form Rejection Means to Me" .    

My first form rejection made me cry. I think. I really don’t remember it that well, though at the time I probably felt I'd never forget the sting. In the twelve years since then, I’ve had many rejections. Somewhere along the way, ‘positive rejections’ began to outnumber form rejections, and after a time I gathered a few non-rejections—um, I mean ‘acceptances.’ Form letter induced tears have given way to forced laughter, then grim-but-determined smiles, wry sighs, and now indifferent shrugs.

All of this is par for the course. And it’s a challenging course. It’s not for the faint of heart. It will:

·    bamboozle the uninitiated
·    overwhelm the lazy
·    shrivel up the gutless
·    stymie the passive aggressive faster than they can wail, “It’s not my fault, it’s theirs!”
·    quickly teach you whether or not you’re a quitter.

Achieving publication requires:
  • guts
  • stamina
  • passion
  • hard work
  • vision
  • professionalism
  • a hearty dose of mindless, blind faith that success is just around the corner… or the next… or the next...
  •  the belief that the journey, the lovely people met along the way, and the countless hours spent learning, creating, crafting, revising, and editing are worth the struggle
  • niceness.
Glorious and bountiful form rejections:

·   force you to be a better writer
·   teach you to accept rejection (any kind of rejection in *Life!*) with dignity, learn from it, shrug off any residual pain, and bloody just get on with it
·   tell you you’re probably gutsy, strong, passionate, hard-working, accepting, professional, and if you’re not already, at least on the way to being nice. And cool. And dignified. And visionary! And possibly slightly delusional, but that’s ok... You’re a writer.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In Other News...

A crazy busy week for me, so I'll be brief and share some interesting stuff I read today:
  1. Wow
  2. Really? C'mon now. Get real
  3. Good Will Triumph Over Evil

Monday, July 19, 2010

On Rejection and Snorkels

Today, another fun invitation from The Rejectionist to celebrate her First Bologospheriversy and all link and share What Form Rejection Means to Me.  

For those of you who haven't been paying attention, she asked us to share our writing space a couple weeks ago. Here's mine

In other news, which has nothing to do with writing but much to do with the rejection process, weeding, and with WB having some MUCH-needed watery fun, I went snorklin' yesterday at Black Point (RI). 

Even Baxtor Boo got in on the fun. 

Tips for Snorklin' in Tide Pools:

  • Check the relevant tide charts and plan your dunking for low tide. Dealing with waves crashing over barrier rocks and bubbles from said waves may decrease your underwater viewing pleasure. 
  • The view is vastly superior on a sunny day. 
  • Take an underwater camera but don't expect great closeups from the cheap-ish disposable kind. 
  • Don't freak out the locals. 

Spot the green crab!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Musical Intervention: Things You Can Do With Radiohead

It's Wednesday lunchtime in the middle of an extremely long week in which I frantically try to catch up after my Utter Computer Disaster, so time for a little music break. Those of you who know me may be aware I love: 

  • Offbeat piano music
  • The cello
  • And Radiohead (About the only music with lyrics I can listen to while writing. And which seems to lend itself brilliantly to instrumental covers.)
So here are great three takes ( including the original)  on one of my favorite pieces of writing music: Radiohead's, Street Spirit

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Dictionaries and Divine Madness

Do you ever have that situation where you suddenly wonder how to spell a word, a word you suddenly and achingly really need, because only it is the one that describes what you’re trying to say, so you pick up your Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate or your Concise Oxford—or probably your Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, because you really like that one best and it’s so full of fun words that you might happily get stuck reading for the next two hours when you should be writing—but because you know you shouldn’t be breaking the flow of your fabulous Stream of Consciousness writing by stopping to look something up in the dictionary, let alone editing what you’ve written previously instead of getting on with the actual plot (*Plot!*? Did someone say *Plot!*?) for the last fifteen minutes—which you did even though you know it’s Death to Progress—but then you find the word you were looking up in the dictionary ISN'T actually LISTED, even though you’ve used it all your life even (*amused horror*) at that embassy dinner you found yourself at years ago, so you start to wonder if you’re going batty and pick up your Chambers Dictionary of Etymology, certain that this Great Book will dispel your confusiosity and put your fears of lunacy and early dementia to rest, only to find that it ISN’T THERE EITHER and perhaps it was, in fact, one of those made-up words particular to your family, like ‘moggies’ which means ‘little rocks’ or ‘pebbles,’ or ‘bratters’ which are dowels, or or ‘bears’ and ‘windies’ which are code for farts, , so determined to settle this stupefying enigma once and for all, you turn the wireless router back on to Google it, even though you have a writing PACT with your writing-PACT-partner not to turn it on until at least 9:30, but it’s only 8:38, but you absolutely need to know if the word ***** really exists?

And then, you find your fruitless search for that oh-so-familiar word— a search which was really a diversion for having nothing to say and a possible new case of Writer’s Block—ends up dispelling said case of case Block, even if it just did result in another blog post. (Except for the bits you had to black out because you knew you were going to use them in your novel, the one you’ve been stuck on for a really long time.)

That happens to you, too, right?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Musical Interlude

Today, another staple from my writing and exercise playlists. I was extra excited to find this video, filmed in Australia. 

Please enjoy Andrew Bird's The Supine

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wordy B Raves a Bit About Weeding, Manure, and the Importance of Some Good, Hard Pruning Now and Then.

After some aerial combat with technology (Big raspberry, HP!), the Wordy Bird is back online. And with my brand-new, barebones, interim PC (thumbs up, Mac!) I’ve come into the garden. I'm an avid gardener. I like to watch things grow: plants, manuscripts, people, etc. I’ve also inherited a green thumb from Dearest Mother Bird. She and I can make just about anything grow.

Grown from a seed by Sarah F., one of my lovely RISD students,
and given to me as a seedling on our last night of class.
As Nestmate (Thoughtful, Steadfast, Funny, and So Perceptive Nestmate) noted the other day, gardening satisfies part of my soul. Gardening, like many things really soul-satisfying, is quite hard work. Just like all the things I love—hiking, kayaking, editing, marriage, parenthood, and, of course, writing—it’s a bit of a slog now and then, but worth every bead of sweat. Yes, yes, I know a gazillion writers before me have discussed the similarities between gardening and writing and… *Life!*. But that’s neither here nor there to me, because what I really want to talk about is weeding and pruning and the ingredients of perfect compost.

One of my favorite gardening activities, funnily enough, is weeding. And like gardens and *Life!*, manuscripts grow weeds. It’s easy to let them run rampant—whether they’re consistent grammatical issues or even whole plot points that threaten to engulf one's narrative without reason—and usually they'll do so quickly. I’ve been thrilled to see one of my favorite repeat clients brave enough to do some severe cutting of the bits that were overtaking her MS recently. The transformation and growth! (Hearty kudos to you, Ms. You-Know-Who-You-Are.) Happens to us all. I had to throw away half my MG novel last year, and another third of what was left a few months ago. It can be hard, but oh the relief. The liberation!   

Consider using your *Life!* weeds in your writing. I wrote all three of my Ginny Giles books by examining sources of my own discomfort. My RISD alumni will attest to the importance of Stream of Consciousness Writing. You’ll end up with a lot of weeds (persistent little buggers!) and overgrowth, it's true. Weeds make an excellent addition to writing compost—great stuff for growth! Pull those weeds out and throw them into something positive. What the hell else are you going to do with them?

Oh, I know they seemed pretty at first. Weeds can be seductively beautiful. But weeds (insidious little suckers!) are full of self interest. They care nothing for the beauty of the whole garden. Weeds choke your precious creation. They keep it from thriving. 

WIP's also need a good HARD prune, now and then. Look at your MS; what is not adding to the whole? What’s the thing that’s choking it? Which former beloved plot point is getting in the way? Weeds and overgrowth take over your *Plot!* if you let them. Don’t let them!

Sometimes even deadwood can have a little life left in it and sometimes weeds reject rejection. They creep back in, send out some shoots. Sometimes their roots are deep. Sometimes, alas, a dash of poison may be your last and only resort. But get rid of them (narcissistic little f*ckers!) you must, if you want your thing of beauty to thrive. It may take your style or *Plot!* a little while to recover, but it will thank you for the compost.

Friday, July 2, 2010

My Writing Space

Those you who've taken my RISD class will be very familiar with my thoughts on the importance of a special writing space. Wordy Bird wants to share her office space à laThe Rejectionist's visionary suggestionand she offers, in the wondrous spirit of sharing: some pictures, a video, and a soundtrack, which will all say more than words could. 

Because My Writing Space is also My Office & Place of Money Earning Employment, I spend A LOT of time in this room, so it's important the atmosphere be perfect. After all, a writing space is not just about the physical place and the stuff in it... it's about the atmosphere one creates in that place and the mental space a writer (and her co-dwellers) allow. 




Co-worker, Exercise Buddy, Best Friend... Baxtor Boo

Lord and Overseer, Mr. Crownell

A Typical Day

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Sense of Community

I rather like this idea:

After all, many writers tend to live rather solitary lives, at least while we are writing, and we spend uncounted hours in our writing place. I love the the idea of us all sharing and linking to each other. 

Tomorrow is the day!

P.S. I took this picture yesterday at Mystic Marinelife Aquarium in Mystic, Connecticut. I was very excited: a 'Birds of the Outback' exhibit! For a moment I felt like I was back home in Australia.