Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Editing for Grammarphobes Returns

I don't know about you, but I have missed doing my Editing for Grammarphobes blog posts, so I've decided to bring them back occasionally. Here's something I ran into last weekend while working on a piece for my freelance account. I have seen it written the wrong way several times and want to set the record straight.

When referring to the holiday decoration, which one is correct — luminarias or luminaries? 

According to the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, eleventh edition, luminaria is right.

A luminaria is a "traditional Mexican Christmas lantern originally consisting of a candle set in sand inside a paper bag."

The plural luminaries refers to either "a person of prominence or brilliant achievement" or "a body that gives light," especially a celestial body.

Photo courtesy of the Frugal Monkey blog

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

What the Heck is New Adult Fiction?

Maybe I’m in a foul mood because of the effects of Chicagoland’s roller coaster weather having clamped down on my head like a barometric pressure gauged vice. We’ve gone from the fifties to almost ninety the very next day. Curse you, global warming!

Recently, I discovered yet another new fiction genre. As if Young Adult, YA Paranormal, and YA Historical Fantasy were not enough, now there’s New Adult, which focuses on the years after college, through getting the first job and possibly finding one’s soul mate. Pardon me, but in our youth-obsessed society, don’t more than half of the books out today deal with those subjects anyway?

Is New Adult supposed to be more serious than Chick Lit or just an older form of YA? From what I can gather, NA is for those YA readers who have started to grow up.

My beef with the whole thing isn’t that these books exist. Many have interesting premises, and I’m sure are great reads. My problem is that this sort of marketing is pigeon-holing authors and their work. For example, just because there might be a small element of the occult in a novel doesn’t mean it’s automatically “paranormal.”

But back to this New Adult thing. These works used to be called “coming of age” novels.

Eons ago, back when I was young, I couldn’t wait to start reading what I thought was “real literature” — novels written for adults. Judy Blume was great, but I was chomping at the bit for a more grown-up experience. Now, it seems the reverse is true. A recent study found that fifty-five percent of YA fiction is purchased by readers over the age of eighteen.

It’s probably escapism — I get that — but at some point, don’t they want to read literature about older, more complex issues?

One of my favorite books is Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler. I first read it when I was a young mother dealing with all the daily struggles that entails. The protagonist was much older than I was then, much older even than I am today, yet I completely identified with her and learned some valuable lessons along the way.

What do you think? Why do so many adults read YA?

Photo courtesy of Breathing Fiction

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Farewell to The Office (sniff, sniff)

Me: Hello, my name is Karen.
All: Hi, Karen.
Me: And I’m an Office addict.

It began innocently enough early this year when my youngest son and I were ill with terrible sinus infections. Clogged heads and drippy noses, we plopped ourselves in the family room, he on the sofa, me on the love seat, unsure what to do. TV, of course, but what to watch? Bored of our regular programs and unimpressed with the current movie choices, we scanned Hulu Plus.

The Office.

I had seen a few episodes before, but never was able to watch it regularly between the kids not being quite old enough and my husband being unable to relax while viewing. It reminded him too much of work, you see. Now in junior high, my son was of an acceptable age, and we started Season One.

By the time the three-day illness subsided, we were on Season Three and desperate to figure out when we could see the rest. After all, we did have to rejoin humanity, and there was school and work to tend to. We watched an episode each day after he came home from school, sometimes even two, before homework. What else was there to do during those cold winter days in Chicagoland? They had pulled us in, and we had to know what happened next.

As the seasons passed, I fell in love with Jim and Pam as they fell in love with each other. I watched Michael Scott grow from an awkward office buffoon to a sad victim of Jan to owning his own paper company briefly to finding his perfect match. I laughed out loud at the Jim versus Dwight pranks, the constant abuse of poor Toby, David Wallace’s Suck It invention, Stanley’s mistresses, Angela’s cats, Phyllis’ wedding to Bob Vance of Vance Refrigeration, anything Kevin said, Creed’s shadiness, Meredith’s drunkenness, Andy’s tattooed bottom, Darryl’s dance moves, Oscar’s know-it-all-ism, creepy Gabe, and Ryan and Kelly’s make out sessions in the annex.

Then there was Dwight Schrute, dorky with his beet farming, Battlestar Galactica-loving self, complete with quirky phraseology, “superior” intelligence and genetics, and yet occasionally, a surprising vulnerability, especially during Angela’s engagement to Andy. This season’s “Dwight Christmas,” an austere Schrute family holiday, and his joy at playing Belsnickel was sublime. “Impish or Admirable?” will forever be a part of our family holidays. Dwight is truly one of the greatest TV characters of all time.

I haven’t felt this sad about an impending season finale since the last episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show so many years ago. The original British version of The Office only lasted two seasons, a mere fifteen episodes. This one closes out its ninth season this week. How could that be? Americans never outdo the Brits in television or film. That’s just a fact.

The Office wasn’t about car chases or explosions, although Ryan did start a fire in the Dunder Mifflin lunchroom once. The fate of the world did not rest upon anyone’s shoulders. There were no quests. They just sold paper, and we loved them for it.

Through their antics, I think each of us could see a little of ourselves. The camaraderie of their work family. The humor in everyday life. The beauty of Jim and Pam’s story was not the big moments, some huge declaration of love, but rather the subtleties—the look on Jim’s face when he glanced over at Pam at the reception desk, the way she rested her head on his shoulder on the boat at Niagara Falls.

It is true that everyone has a story. The writers, cast, and crew of The Office told theirs with wit, humor, and a whole lot of heart.

Thank you for nine awesome seasons.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Perfect Mother's Day Present

I’m surprised I like being a mom as much as I do.

This is a shocking thing to read, I’m sure, especially with the impending holiday, but there it is.

When I was young, I fantasized about having my own job and apartment like Mary Richards on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Sure, I had played with baby dolls, but only briefly before I discovered that Barbie had career choices. I had the airplane and the grocery store. My doll needed a cool ride to work, so I got the Corvette, too.

I had never even thought about having children until I met my husband. Then my first son was born, and I fell in love utterly and completely. I finally understood. Then it happened again, when my youngest arrived, and I haven’t been the same since.

The joy of seeing him take his first steps, then walking across the stage to receive his diploma. Teaching him how to play ball, then watching as he scores the winning lacrosse goal. The pride of listening to them play the drums and electric guitar. And feeling your heart break right along with theirs as you attempt to hug the tears away.

Motherhood has given me two best friends, but really better than best friends because I have literally been there since their first moments of life. I cherish every moment I have with my sons.

There have been three phases of great love in my life. First, my parents, then my husband, and lastly, my boys. Each a different kind of love, each building on intensity. My sons have learned from me, sure, but I have learned far more from them.

My mother passed away when my oldest was almost three. There was so much I wish I could have shared with her throughout the years. But then again, I’m pretty sure she knew because she had felt it too when she held me in her arms all those years ago.

Those same feelings that all of you moms out there have felt.

They are the true gifts of Mother’s Day.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

New FB Page, New Editions, New Everything

Today, I am beginning my Month of Fun, a celebration of the second edition releases of A Whisper to a Scream and Until My Soul Gets It Right. Even "A Bibliophile Christmas" received a makeover.

I hope you will join me at my new Facebook page. It is brand new, so the only LIKE right now is my own, but I am hoping members of my old page will make the switch soon. To entice everyone to make the move, I am running a giveaway all month. LIKE my page and then click on the blue giveaway link for the chance to win Amazon gift cards and signed books. At the end of the month, I will announce the winners on my new page and delete the old one.

Also by the end of the month, this bigger-than-I-could-have-ever-thought second editions project will be completed. My plan was to launch them and then devote all of my work time and energy (besides what I have already committed to for my freelance account) to writing the third Bibliophiles book.

Here's the thing. 

I also have another idea for a novel that will be completely different and not a part of the Bibliophiles series. I don't want to reveal the topic since I am just beginning the research, but if I can pull this off, it will be something really special. All I can tell you right now is that it is an issue that hits me in the core of my being, and I cannot let it go.

What am I supposed to do?

Since both books-to-be are nagging at my psyche, the only reasonable thing to do is write them simultaneously. I'm one who believes in following my muse, so I think it will work. Some days, I will be in a Bibliophile mood, while others are bound to feel more like the topic-to-be-named later. I am really looking forward to these projects and will keep you posted on their progress.

In the meantime, please don't forget to drop by my new FB page for all the latest news about the Bibliophiles, as well as my short stories and flash fiction.

Thanks much,