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Showing posts from May, 2011

Flash Fiction Fridays: Parenthood Month Draws to a Close

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


A big thanks to Jules Carey, Stephanie Haddad and Camille LaGuire for their great stories this month. Please join us next month as four writers explore the theme of "escape."



Nicky
By Karen Wojcik Berner

At approximately three o’clock, on the morning of December 22, cries of “MOM. M---O---M!” woke Sarah. She got up, almost walked into the bedpost, and shuffled to Nicholas’ room.

“What’s up sweetie?”

“My head hurts. I can’t sleep.” She bent down and checked his forehead. He was really hot.

“I’ll get the thermometer. I’ll be right back.”

Sure enough. 102°F. “Let me get you some medicine to help bring your fever down and help with the pain.”

Nicky sneezed and looked at her through watery eyes.

“Let’s get you some decongestant too.”

“Will you stay with me?”

“For a little bit. I’ll be right back with your medicine.” 
Sarah re-tucked him in and put a cool patch on his forehead. She stroked his hair and sang softly to him. He fell asleep fairly quickly, bu…

Chat with Sarah today on Breakout Books

Dawn Judd over at Breakout Books has been posting interviews with characters from various novels. Today, Sarah Anderson, the overwhelmed stay-at-home mom from A Whisper to a Scream, gets a chance to have a conversation with someone over the age of six. But the children are not taking too kindly to someone else having their mom's attention.
Here is the link.

Editing for Grammarphobes: What the Heck?

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



Language is fluid. It evolves and changes as generations add their own words to the mix. Many people write like they speak, which causes trouble when certain statements have been uttered incorrectly.

Watch out for these phrases in your writing.

Wrong: That’s a mute point.

Correct: That’s a moot point.

Mute means silent and incapable of speech. When something is moot, it is debatable, doubtful or has little or no practical value, which is what the speaker wants to say, right?


Wrong: Nip it in the butt

Correct: Nip it in the bud

The phrase refers to stopping something while it is in its early development, not while it is up someone’s posterior.

Wrong: bob wire, barb wire 
Correct: barbed wire 
Unless they are your neighbors down the street, bob wire and barb wire do not exist. The fencing material is called barbed wire.

Flash Fiction Mondays?

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


I am pretty excited this morning, which is unusual for a Monday. Over the weekend, the winners of the WOW! Women on Writing's Winter 2011 Flash Fiction Contest were announced, and my story, "Sheep Boy," received an Honorable Mention. 


It was the first flash fiction contest I have entered, so I am happy I get to build up my microfiction street cred. It is such a great form and a wonderful challenge, especially for novel writers. Focusing on making every word count helps writers of all styles tighten up their prose. 


I added the contest icon to the right, so you can read the winning stories. Just click on it, and the link will take you to the WOW! site. 


I will be posting "Sheep Boy" for next month's Escape theme, as it is better suited for that than this month's Parenthood.


Speaking of June's theme, I still need two more flash fiction pieces on your interpretation of Escape. The deadline is 5/30, but it can be extended to 6/8…

Flash Fiction Fridays: Mother and Child

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



One Frayed Corner 
By Stephanie Haddad


The moment I saw the blanket, I loved it. Mama found it at the bottom of the bin, hidden beneath the donated coats, just one frayed corner sticking out. It was blue and soft, a well-worn square of cotton and wool.

It was also warm. The warmest blanket I’d ever held.

“Here, Chloe,” Mama said. “Someone nice wanted you to have this.”

I swept the soft fibers across my cheek, happy to have something just for me. The hunger in my belly, the fear in my heart, both disappeared as I clutched the tender cloth to my chin.

“I love it,” I whispered, thrilled by the fabric’s absorption of my breath. Mama smiled and kissed my forehead, shooing me back to our corner of the shelter.

That night, I slept well, tucked into my fuzzy blue cloud. I was protected from the chilling draft and the other children’s muffled sobs as they in fright, clutching clumpy, tear-stained pillows in their fists. I slept soundly until breakfast.

With my blan…

Since When Was This Part of the Deal?

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



I was almost done styling my hair, fluffing the strands at the base of my skull.

“Me see too?” My then-toddler son was growing tired of waiting.

I handed him my hand-held mirror. He smiled immediately upon seeing his face, moving the glass from the left to the right, then upside down, all the while his eyes sparkling. He was absolutely delighted with himself.

When was the last time you looked in the mirror and were happy with what you saw?

It is not only you being super-critical, you know. Every form of media, from television to magazines, has decided to be tough on us also. You see it all the time. A major publication flaunted Hollywood moms, bragging how fabulous they look after regaining their pre-pregnancy shape. Adulation simply for fitting back into a size-two designer gown for an award show really bothers me. Like it doesn’t matter what kind of parent you are, how successful you might be, how intelligent you are. It only matters what you look like.

Pyle Releases Chilling New Novella

Image
Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



It might be spring in the United States, but author and friend of the blog Daniel Pyle has a new novella sure to send shivers down many spines.

A raging snowstorm has stranded Tess and Warren in their mountain home with no power and little heat. When an accident leaves Tess coughing up pools of blood, Warren has no choice but to brave the storm in search for help.

He's afraid he'll be too late.

But what he should be afraid of are the creatures slinking through the blizzard and watching his every move.




In his review, Joe Hemple writes,"Daniel Pyle seems to start with a bang and never let go! Freeze is quite a great quick read, clocking in at about 111 ePub pages, and I read it in one sitting! Pyle creates a story in which what ISN'T being told to you stands out and adds to the suspense. Every room that is entered, every breath that they take an implied sense of urgency is displayed. There are not that many characters in the book, and I cons…

Flash Fiction Fridays: Parenthood Month Continues

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



Learned in the Cradle
by Camille LaGuire


Ryan was a carefree sort of man, even though he was poor. He never gave a thought to money or savings, or what would happen the next day. This, in spite of the fact that he had a wife and an elderly father to care for.

"Where'd you learn to spend so freely?" said his wife in exasperation, the third time he'd overspent his pay.

"I learned it in the cradle," he said. "Dad was a free and easy man himself when I was young. Always spending the milk money. But we pulled through, didn't we, Dad?"

"Well, you'd better rethink it," warned his wife, "because we'll be having our own child soon."


That was her way of telling him she was expecting, and he was delighted. The prospect of a child affected him strongly. He began to take care of his money and pay attention to his spending. When he toted it up, he saw what a loss they'd have had from his wasteful w…

Editing for Grammarphobes: Good Versus Well

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



How many times have you heard the following statement on television or in conversation?

He played good.

Too many times to count? Well, it is wrong. The correct usage is as follows.

He played well. 

But why?

“Well” is an adverb. Adverbs describe verbs. When used as an adverb, “well” means “skillfully.”

“Well” as an adjective means “healthy.” You would not say someone played healthy, would you?

“Good” is an adjective. Adjectives describe nouns, not action verbs.

Examples

She did a good job.

My breakfast tasted good this morning. 

Coming Friday 

Parenthood month on "Flash Fiction Fridays" continues with a great fable from Camille LaGuire.

Editing for Grammarphobes: It's All Academic

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



The graduation season is upon us, with the first of universities having bestowed degrees upon their seniors this past weekend, and will remain well into June.

But, how does one cite academic degrees and honors? What about the terms for academic years? Capitalized or not? And what is to be done with honorary degrees?

The words for the four years of high school or college — freshman, sophomore, junior and senior — should be lowercased.

Examples 

Joe Smith is a junior in high school.

Susie Jones completed her freshman year at Northwestern University. 


When academic degrees are referred to in general terms, they should not be capitalized. Remember to use an apostrophe for bachelor’s and master’s.

Examples 

Bob has a master’s degree in chemical engineering.

Katherine has a bachelor’s degree in English. 


However, the names of academic degrees and honors “should be capitalized when following a person’s name, whether abbreviated or written in full,” according to The C…

Flash Fiction Fridays: Parenthood

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Today begins Parenthood month, a topic near and dear to my heart. The relationships between parents and children and their long-term ramifications are at the core of both A Whisper to a Scream, and my work-in-progress, How Long 'Til My Soul Gets It Right?After doing the research to create Whisper's Annie Jacobs, the PR executive who would trade it all in for a baby of her own, I am very aware that each child is a miracle and am grateful for my own two sons. Jules Carey starts us off with a brief moment in which everything can change just that quickly.




Three and a Half Minutes 
By Jules Carey


Molly had run out of ideas. She kept smacking him, over and over, pounding her little son’s back. Was he turning blue? No, it hadn’t been that long. Had it? She wished for someone to be there who knew what the hell to do. Nothing she did worked.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

She had heard that the brain could only last four minutes without oxygen. How long had it been? The p…

Editing for Grammarphobes: Was Versus Were

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



Reader JeanK. raised a great question regarding the use of was versus were in last Wednesday’s post entitled “Miscellany.”

“If I was...” or “If I were...” Which is correct?

Well, Jean, after doing some research, I found it is a matter of subjunctive versus indicative mood. The subjunctive is used to express wishful thinking. The indicative should be used for statements of fact.

Example 

If I were president, I would never make any cuts in the national budget for the arts.


If you have a hard time remembering this, think of “If I Were a Rich Man,” the famous song from the musical Fiddler on the Roof. Jean, along with several grammar columnists, refers to this when in doubt. Handy, right?

Thanks, JeanK., for bring this up. Please keep those comments coming.



June Flash Fiction Fridays Theme Announced 

Calling all flash fiction writers! The June theme is...drumroll, please... Escape.

Are you up to the challenge? Remember, 500 words or less on your interpretation of…

Editing for Grammarphobes: The Play's the Thing

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



Saturday, my husband and I attended Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of The Madness of George III. Harry Groener treated the audience to a formidable performance in the title role, as he brought us down the descent with him and back up again, only to hint at another impending spiral downward yet to come.

It was powerful, and sometimes uncomfortably intimate, to witness this in a small venue. Groener brought majesty when necessary, but his true brilliance was at the feeble times when King George’s illness affected him the most, through his body, his slurred speech, and, most poignantly, through the vulnerability that shone in his eyes.

Playwright Alan Bennett created a character with so many layers, one could not help but be intrigued and awed by him. That is good writing. In two and a half hours, my heart ached for this man and what he had to endure.

Novelists can learn a lot from the theater. Playwrights do not have the luxury of several chapters…