Monday, July 30, 2012

Word Battle

Round 1: Lightening vs. Lightning
The words lightening and lightning are only one letter apart in spelling and pronunciation, but worlds apart in meaning.
Lightening- Lightening is the present participle of either of the verbs lighten (as in lightening the load, lightening his hair), and as a verbal noun is also used with specific reference to a stage of pregnancy.
Lightning- NOUN : Flashes of light seen in the sky when there is a discharge of atmospheric electricity in the clouds or between clouds and the ground, usually occurring during a thunderstorm. ADJECTIVEvery fast and often very sudden
Round 2: Choose vs. Chose
These two words often get confused because they don't follow the typical rule of using "-ed" for past tense. Here’s a nifty rule from Grammar for Geeks:
  • Use 'chose' (rhymes with "so") for past tense
  • Use 'choose' (rhymes with "blue") for the current tense
Round 3: Loose vs. Lose
Loose:  Not fastened, restrained, or contained: loose bricks. Not taut, fixed, or rigid: a loose anchor line; a loose chair leg. Free from confinement or imprisonment; unfettered: criminals loose in the neighborhood; dogs that are loose on the streets. Not tight-fitting or tightly fitted…
Lose:  To be unsuccessful in retaining possession of; mislay: He's always losing his car keys.To be deprived of (something one has had): lost her art collection in the fire; lost her job. To be left alone or desolate because of the death of: lost his wife. To be unable to keep alive: a doctor who has lost very few patients. To suffer loss. To be defeated. To operate or run slow. Used of a timepiece.

Round 4: Neither vs. Either
Either and neither are used in almost the same way as "so" and "too," but they are used with negative verbs.  Either and neither are both singular adjectives meaning "one or the other of two." Neither of course means "not the first one and not the second one."
Neither Kyle nor Jane likes mustard.
Either Mom or Dad is going to the grocery store. (One or the other is going, but not both.)

Monday, July 23, 2012

How an Online Writing Contest Brought Me to Tears

First off, I want to say how wonderful it is when an “author who’s made it” decides to give back to all of the unpublished authors in the world.  Whether it’s through critiques, kind words, or blog contests. It's in these types of situations where people like me can receive feedback on their work, network with other writers, and get work in front of agents they might not otherwise have had the opportunity to work with.   These writers rock and are in no way  responsible for what brought me to tears.
You see, these contests are super high stress because most of them only allow a certain number of entries.  And as the control freak, high energy person that I am, these contests bring out the worst in me.

Imagine a contest with a 50 entry max limit where hundreds of people are trying to enter.  For example, when I tried to make it into the Writer’s Voice contest in May, I counted down the time in seconds until I could hit send on my entry.   I was all set.  Everything pre-filled on the entry form. ALL. I. Had. To. Do. Was. Hit. Send.  The second it was the right time, my computer chose that exact moment to go all funky on me and within minutes the first entry window to enter was full.  I was yelling at the computer, my heart beating like I'd run a marathon, and my hands were violently shaking.  All over a timed contest just to make it into a contest!
Well on this journey of mine, I am determined to leave no stone un-turned.  So I’ve been “trying” to make it into any and every contest I find.  And the reason I say “trying” is because I can never seem to get it done without some sort of technical snafu that ultimately causes a hysterical I-only-have-seconds-to-figure-this-out freak out session.  Something always goes wrong!  My computer freezes, I somehow manage to be over the character limit, I don’t format my pitch correctly, etc.  It’s like some higher power is determined not to let me into these contests without having a nervous breakdown first. 

So, let's get to how I was reduced to tears by such a contest....  It began at 0900. The contest only accepted the first 25 entries and I just HAD to be one of them.  

I knew days before that Brian, Thomas, and I would be driving on a highway at the entry time.   So before the contest, I got ready.   I filled out the email, followed the guidelines, and saved it as a draft.  I quadrupled check everything! By this point I should have been a seasoned pro at online contests, but boy was I wrong. 

Everything was set. All I needed to do was hit send.  Easy as pie, right? I set multiple alarms counting down to the 0900 mark.  At 0830, I made Brian pull into a Starbucks so that I was 100% certain I would have cell reception. I had thought of everything!

0900 rolls around, I hit send…automatic rejection. WHAT? WHY?  
I received an automated response...I'm over the 250 character count.  WHAT?!  I followed all the rules!! It's only 250 words, I promise!

I keep hitting send like a deranged lunatic. 
Email goes through…
Why was I over the character limit you ask? Come to find out, I was using “rich text” instead of “plain text” and there were invisible characters adding to my entry.   If you’re anything like me, right now you’re thinking Huh?  Seriously, these kinds of problems always happen to me.   Needless to say, I was just completely frustrated, exhausted—DEFEATED.  I keep feeling like I I'm screaming, begging to be let through the proverbial publishing door, but no one ever seems to be on the other side. 

Cue the tears….
They didn’t last too long. (Brian can attest to that)  I had my little pity party, but then decided Screw the Door! I’ll just have to go find a window somewhere….