December 26

June Casagrande and Grammar

June Casagrande has a unique take when it comes to teaching Grammar to writers. She is the autthor of the weekly syndicated “A Word, Please” grammar column that runs in Southern California, Florida, and Texas. She runs the GrammarUnderground.com grammar tips website.  She has worked for the Los Angeles Times’ community news division as a reporter, features writer, copy editor.  She currently copy edits Special Sections of the Los Angeles Times and teaches copy editing online for UC San Diego Extension.

 She has also published three books, Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies, Mortal Syntax and It was the Best of Sentences, It was the Worst of Sentences, and I’ve read all three.

My all time favorite is Grammar Snobs.  I found it years ago, found it funny and informative. If memory serves, Grammar Snobs does focus more on AP style rules than any other style, but the lessons in it are helpful, make rules easy to remember and often funny.

Casagrande does mention her book Grammar Snobs a few times in Mortal Syntax.  Mortal Syntax doesn’t have the same amount of humor in it as Grammar Snobs, but it remains an informative reference guide on rules and usage, such as “I could care less”  or “I wish I was taller,” or “I rifle through my desk.”  She explains why it is or is not correct and if their are better alternatives to the usage presented.

It was the Best of Sentences, seems to lose all the humor that Casagrande had in Grammar Snobs. But the book is an effective source for any writer who wants to improve their writing skills.  On several occasions, Casagrande would start on a grammar lesson that I felt I grasped well, but she’d introduce the topic in a new way and twisted my way of looking at the concept; a different way of looking at without changing the way I knew it work. This book focuses on the sentence structure used, but you’re not having to diagram sentences.

Every lesson in all three books are told in short vignettes, making it ideal for a busy writer who has only a few minutes in line, a few minutes in the bathroom or a few minutes in the car to read. An entire lesson could be read in that short time.  The books are organized in a way so that they are great reference books.

I recommend all three books to anyone who does any type of writing.  Casagrande can make learning writing rules entertaining, and easily entertaining.  They’re all fairly cheap books to purchase as well.

December 17

A Book Cover

I value all my friends.  But I truly worship those who have artistic ability.  Sometimes they can draw something better than I can describe it, sometimes they can convey mood, emotion, and setting with a few clicks of the computer.  This time my friend Cynthia Martinez of YKM Reviews has made a book cover I could never come close to creating myself:

Isn’t it gorgeous?  I think she nailed Arabella and Regan in this image and caught the mood of my book. She used the exact same scene my mother used to make me a book cover for the same book. However, Cynthia had a completely different vision of that scene than my mother.

I’m picky and specific so poor Cynthia went through a few drafts to produce this one.  I’m sure she wanted to strangle me a few times but if she did, she hid it well.  The fact we communicated via email probably helped.

This is not an official cover but it could be.  Don’t you think?  But so could my mother’s.

My book is still being edited. Actually, right now, I’m barely holding onto the precipice of time. I want to start editing my book now, which I’m currently calling The Land of Blood and Sunlight. But I’m holding out, waiting for my self-mandated break comes to pass, December 26. What does it mean when you’re more excited about being able to edit a book than opening Christmas presents? Is it old age?

Anyways,  I’ll be printing this image out and hanging it on the wall, as I did with my mothers. Hopefully it will inspire me when the writing is slow, when I’m in a “I’m a horrible writer” mood or any other time.  And when the image isn’t needed for my writing, it’ll look pretty on the wall.

Simply because I think they deserve recognition, both Cynthia Martinez and my mother are willing to do some freelance stuff.  Cynthia is more into designing things on a computer, website, logos, book covers etc.  Mom is more into working at her easel, portraits, scenes, book covers.  They both worked on projects with me through online communication.  If you’re interested, I’d be willing to provide contact information for either artist.  Just get a hold of me.

December 4

Another book Podcast

The undead can really screw up your senior year … 

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancee. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war – and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction.

So my friends and I got back together and made another podcast.  This time we did a review on Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey. Olivia, Cyna and I also decided to make the podcasts a regular thing. As such, we’ve come up with Papercuts Podcast.”  Stealing from Cyna because she described it so well, i”we’ll regularly discuss YA literature and entertainment. It won’t always be straight book reviews – we’ve also got plans for tropes discussions, trailer snark, book vs. movie chats, guest reviewers, and hopefully some interviews in the future, so we’re really looking forward to getting this off the ground, and we hope you guys are, too.”

Since we’re still new to this, we’re still trying to figure out how to make this all work.  Any suggestions on improvements or topics you want to see us discuss are welcomed.
December 1

Writing is my forbidden fruit

The best way to motivate me is probably to tell me I can’t do it.  Geoffrey Chaucer wrote, “Forbid us something, and that thing we desire.”  My mind has been on Shadowed, nonstop since I forbade myself from working on the chapters.  It consumes my mind and this is what happens every time I take a break from working on any book.  And my body tells me that only by working on Shadowed will I find relief.

I’ve been trying to work on other writing projects.  However, I can’t seem to get past Shadowed.  Shadowed.  Shadowed.  It’s created a barricade on my mind, keeping me from putting pen to paper for creative fun.  I know that the demand to work on Shadowed will fade, probably by the middle of next week. At that point I won’t have a problem working on another story.  But until then, I’m reading books like mad, writing notes down so that I’ll know what I’ll be changing when I get back to Shadowed–new notes, not the notes that keep repeating in my head like a badly timed mantra. I clean, and sleep, and work. Waiting for the words to cease so I can work on another book, another story, another project.

It could drive someone insane.

But writing will always be my forbidden fruit.