4 Common Issues You Can Fix (Before Your Copy Editor Does)

Red Pen 3I recently had the opportunity to guest post on Jami Gold’s fabulous writing blog. She has a ton of helpful information for writers, from beginner to pro. And she let me talk about one of my favorite topics: grammar.

But don’t start sweating. I hate diagramming sentences too. Instead, when I write about grammar, I keep things upbeat, practical, and simple.

Here’s a taste of the post, with a link to follow:

As Jami has pointed out, it’s worthwhile having a copy editor take a look at your manuscript. Poor grammar can interrupt the flow of your story, and no matter how good you are with language and grammar, we all make mistakes.

But you know what? Some mistakes I see in manuscripts are easily fixed by the author, if they know what to look for. Since no copy editor is above missing something themselves, and some copy editors offer discounts for clean manuscripts, it makes sense for you to correct what you can.

Let’s talk about four common issues I see in manuscripts and how you can quickly edit them yourself.

4 Common Copy Editing Issues to Watch For — Guest: Julie Glover

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Introducing Wednesday Word Tip

So a week and a half ago, I wrote a post on Blogging: What’s the Point? And then I skipped a post on Sunday. Which might have looked like I was backing away from blogging, but honestly, I just flat-out missed it.

Yet I have been thinking more and more about my blog and what I want to offer. So without further adieu, I’m giving this a shot!

Wednesday Word Tip

For a long time on my blog, I had Wednesday Words and then Amazing Word Wednesdays in which I gave grammar tips, explored words and phrases, and tried to make the hodgepodge language of American English semi-understandable. I’ve had a few people wistfully refer to those posts, with almost a nudge-nudge in their comments. And I appreciate that! I guess it means I was doing something right.

In the interest of time and to reach more people, I’ve decided to try out a Wednesday Word Tip — which will be a quick video with a vocabulary word, a phrase, or a grammar usage highlighted and explained. It could also be a book-related video. We’ll just see how this goes…

And I’m still working on A Round of Words in 80 Days! Here’s my weekly update.

ROW80 Update

We’re supposed to be all wrapped up by tomorrow, but I will probably need until the end of the week to feel really good about things.

1. Finish editing Sharing Hunter, young adult contemporary novelSo. Very. Close. My read-through showed a few issues, but nothing that stopped me cold. I’m tweaking now and super-excited about this story!

2. Edit, polish, and release two more short stories in my Paranormal Playground series. So let’s just move this goal to the next round, shall we? 😉

3. Read 12 books. Read Sass and Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler and Unleashed by Rachel Lacey. That makes 13 books for the round!

4. Attend RWA Conference and Day of YA in San Antonio and follow-up as needed. Just about done. A thread or two still dangling, but I can tie it all up pretty easily.

What do you think of videos and vlogging? What word tips would you like me to cover? And how was your week?

10 Words We Don’t Use Enough

The marvelous Jenny Hansen knows how much I love studying words and grammar, so she sent me a fabulous article on Important Infrequently Used Words to Know.

Among the words listed are some I’ve used with fair frequency, like alacrityegregious, gratuitous, hubris, poignant, sycophant, and veracity. But there are plenty I almost never use, like copacetic, fatuous, insipid, misanthrope, polymath, and unctuous — even though I know that they mean. (I won’t talk about the ones I had to look up!)

But there are plenty of other words I use, which maybe we don’t use quite enough. Here’s my own list of 10 words you might want to include in your vocabulary:

Boondocks. I thought everybody used this word, until I recently had a teenager read a story of mine and comment that she didn’t know that word and didn’t think anyone in her age cohort did. *sigh* It means way out there in isolated country. Like “I had to drive an hour outside of town to reach his lone shack out in the boondocks.” Although I’m more likely to use it as in, “Where is my car in this mall parking lot? Oh, yeah. I parked out in the boondocks.”

Conniption (Fit). So the word is conniption, but I never say it without immediately following with the word fit. What’s a conniption fit? Well, conniption means the full range of hysterics. So a conniption fit is what you have when you discover your two-timing boyfriend is at it again or your children have left another mess in the middle of your living room or the election ballot once again provides two completely unacceptable choices.

Hissy vs. Conniption Fit Mug - available from Zazzle.com
Available from Zazzle.com

Eschatology. Ever wonder when the world will come to an end and how? Then, you might be intrigued by eschatology, a branch of theology that deals with the end of the world’s history and/or humankind. It may sound a little depressing, but it’s quite interesting to hear all the theories of what a grand finale might look like.

FlabbergastedWhy go for simply “surprised” when you can amp it up and say you’re flabbergasted? Synonyms include “astonished,” “perplexed,” and “amazed.”

Gobsmacked. Need something even more than flabbergasted? Hello, gobsmacked. You gotta love a word that sounds like its meaning. Gobsmacked is like “surprised” on steroids. When you just can’t believe something, you’re gobsmacked.

Julie demonstrating "surprised," "flabbergasted," and "gobsmacked"

HippopotamiSure, you say hippopotamus, but do you look for opportunities to say hippopotami? Personally, I’m not entirely happy if I see a single hippo; it just sort of takes away from the pronunciation fun of punctuating that final long i. You can also extend the fun with other -us to -i words, such as cacti and octopi and radii and alumni. (Yes, I know you can also say hippopotamuses, but where’s the fun in that? 😉 )

That last entry is in honor of “Hip Jenny,” who is recovering from recent hip surgery.

Lackadaisical. Welcome to summer with teenagers! However, this word gets used in my house throughout the year. It means lazy, listless, idle, unambitious, slothful. You may live with someone who qualifies as lackadaisical or have a few days when you meet that definition yourself.

Persnickety. Got a nitpicking, finicky person in your life? This word entered my routine vocabulary with the arrival of my second son and his picky eating habits. But persnickety has come in rather handy in a number of other situations, when someone is a bit too fussy about this or that.

Rambunctious. Anyone who has children or has been to a rock concert needs this word. Google’s dictionary defines it as “uncontrollably exuberant; boisterous.” If you’re trying to imagine this word in action, just think Chuck E. Cheese. Pretty much everything going on in there describes rambunctious.

Surreptitious. I likely hear this word in mysteries more than any other place. Which makes sense, since it means “done in a secret way,” or on the sly. Surreptitious brings to my mind such actions as peeking, sneaking, and spying. That guilty pleasure of yours? Do that surreptitiously.

Which of these words do you use or want to add to your vocabulary? And what words do you use with some frequency that you don’t think we all use enough?

Are You Snarky? Synonyms for Sarcastic

Sarcasm often gets a bad wrap. Look up the word sarcasm on Google, and this is the first definition you’ll see: “the use of irony to mock or convey contempt.”

Indeed, one can be sarcastic with a mean motive. But what many people tend to call sarcasm today is really comic irony. Perhaps a better definition for modern usage is the first one given by Merriam-Webster: “the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny.”

Yeah, those last two are what I do. Not really the first.

In case you need some alternatives for the word sarcastic, here I come to the rescue!

Super Sarcastic Girl

Snarky. This has become my favorite. Although around since 1906, it’s been used more often in recent years. It derives from a word meaning “snort,” which is about the way a good snarky comment can come across.

Sarky. In case that word above just has too many letters, you can go with the British (or more specifically, Cockney) slang version of sarcastic — sarky. Which really just sounds like you’re too lazy to use three syllables and shortened it to two.

Quippish. You know what a quip is — “a clever usually taunting remark.” But did you know there’s an adjective version? Yep, it’s quippish. It’s not often used or even included in some dictionaries, but we can bring it back into fashion.

Witty. Let’s face it. If you’re good at sarcasm, you’re witty, which is defined as “showing or characterized by quick and inventive verbal humor.” You can be witty-mean or witty-funny, and that part is your choice.

Use your snarky, sarky, quippish wit with care. While studies have shown that “exposure to sarcasm enhances creative problem solving, the effects aren’t all positive; some people take sarcasm as truly insulting.

But if you’re looking for someplace to celebrate your sarcastic wit, you can share your sarcasm with me or you can check out the Sarcasm Society (also on Facebook).

And now here’s my un-sarcastic report on my progress for A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life.

ROW80 Update

1. Read 12 books. I read No More Christian Nice Girl: When Just Being Nice–Instead of Good–Hurts You, Your Family, and Your Friends by Paul Coughlin and Jennifer D. PhD Degler (nonfiction obviously). And I’m two-thirds through Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain. 9 2/3 of 12 finished!

2. Finish editing SHARING HUNTER, a young adult contemporary novel. Yay, I got quite a bit of plotting done this week! I’m working on summarizing scenes and seeing where I need to beef up and where I need to press delete. Call this week a win! (Finally.)

3. Edit one short story to publication quality. I found two teenage girls to read the short story and give their feedback. Once I get their comments, I’ll finish editing and polishing. On hold.

4. Publish and promote two short storiesMy Sister’s Demon is available on Amazon and coming soon to Barnes & Noble. Half done!

5. Stay on top of ROW80 sponsor duties. Visited 7 blogs this week. Lots of great progress and exciting news out there! Done.

So are you a sarcastic person? What word do you use to refer to yourself or others who use comic, or abrasive, irony? And how was your week?

P.S. I wasted a ton of time enjoyed spending time creating a superhero, which you can do as well at Marvel.com.