Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Care to share your scariest moments on this most auspicious day? For me, watching The Shining, no matter how many times, sets my heart to racing. Or reading either The Tell-tale Heart or Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short storyThe Yellow Wallpaper. Spooky.

Have fun tonight!!!


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Proofreading 101 cont'd: homonyms

Today's topic: homonyms.

I'm sure most of us are straight on synonyms and antonyms. Homonyms, in case you're wondering, are those pesky little pairs of words that often trip us up when writing. A homonym is one of a group of words that share the same spelling or pronunciation (or both) but have different meanings. Good editors and proofreaders should catch them but why give them the pleasure? Writers are editors too.

Here is an example:
Two ships pass in the night.
Did the two ships go past each other?
Or did they go passed each other?
When writing, if we're lucky, our thoughts gallop along and we haven't the time to waste thinking about whether it's proper in this case to use "past" or "passed". However, during the editing process, when we typically have more time to reflect, we should know the answer.

Think of this pair of homonyms as follows:
  • "Passed" is always a verb, formed by adding -ed to the present tense verb "pass" (technically, then, "passed" is a past participle of the verb "pass").
  • "Past" can be a noun (meaning what has already happened, as in yesterday or days of yore), an adjective (meaning "former", as in "this past week"), a preposition (as in "half past nine"), and an adverb (meaning "beyond" such as "I walked past the store"). BUT "past" is never a verb.
So the answer to the above question is....

....drum roll please...

Past! The correct answer is "Did the two ships go past each other?" In this case, "past" modifies the verb "go", so it is an adverb.

However, it is also true that the two ships "passed" each other.

Confused! I know I am!!!

For a list of commonly confused homonyms, visit this link. Good luck!

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Nancy Drew revisited

I'm writing this post in reference to a previous one on the subject of Nancy Drew novels.

box setMy daughter recently picked up a boxed set of Nancy Drew mysteries, none of which I recognized from my teenage years. She devoured the first book in days, during which time I learned that Nancy Drew has been updated. She now has a cell phone and a laptop, and I'm quite sure sometime soon she will be sporting an Ipod (if she doesn't have one already!).

Of course, I began thinking about the author of the Nancy Drew books, Carolyn Keene. Although it is possible, strictly speaking, that she might be alive after all these years, I had a hard time believing that in her golden years she'd be as hip as the protoganist appeared to be in my daughter's edition. So, what does one do when met with such a burning question? Why, of course, I wikipedia'd Carolyn Keene.

What I discovered is that Carolyn Keene is a pseudonym for the authors of the Nancy Drew mystery series, published by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Stratemeyer hired several writers to write the novels in the series and paid them the initial paltry sum of $125 per book. And the poor starving artists were required by contract to give up all rights to the work and to maintain confidentiality.


The Stratemeyer Syndicate also published The Rover Boys, The Bobbsey Twins, The Hardy Boys, The Dana Girls mystery series, also written by Carolyn Keene, and Tom Swift (among many other series).

In 1982 Simon & Schuster purchased the syndicate. I wonder how much money Stratemeyer Syndicate made in those days. And whether we'll ever find a complete list of the ghostwriters' names.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

India sweeps North America!!

For all those North American fans eagerly awaiting the release of India Grey's The Italian’s Defiant Mistress, the wait is over. Hallelujah!

Presents cover

India is a featured author over at Harlequin Presents, and her book is available from the usual shops, newstands, and online bookshops, including Amazon,, Barnes & Noble, etc.

You've no excuses. And, believe me, you won't be disappointed!

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The year's last warm day

The year's last warm day is bittersweet. On Friday as I walked up the hill to my daughter's school, a light film of sweat on my skin, the sun hot on my bare arms and legs, I welcomed the cool, autumn wind promised by the leaves underfoot. Now that Thanksgiving has passed, and we've dug out our sweaters, jackets and fleece, I am already in mourning. No longer will I write with the windows wide open, the sounds from the street outside keeping me connected with the real world. Now the house is shut up tight, and here I sit, with only leaves, all shades of ocher, dancing outside my window.

Autumn is a lonely season.