My Published Words

Welcome to Amazing Words Wednesday, the day we enter the labyrinth of language and see what fabulous fun we can discover together.

Normally it’s something about grammar, word play, etymology, famous quotes, etc. But today I got into the maze, turned a corner, and voila, there it was! The Goblin KingThe Goblet of Fire. Okay, actually it was this:

Orange Karen Cover

If you follow my blog, you know I’ve already mentioned the Orange Karen Tribute Anthology–oh, maybe three or twenty times. But tomorrow feels rather special to me because I finally get to share my wordsmy languagemy story with readers.

Tomorrow, April 11, is the official release day for this anthology featuring short stories from various genres. My YA contemporary short, COLOR ME HAPPY, is among them.

Karen DeLabar
“Orange Karen”

I began writing over four years ago, but this is the first fiction piece I’ve had published. And the cause is such a good one–supporting our marvelous writer friend, Karen DeLabar, as she continues to battle the fallout of Toxic Shock Syndrome.

But I thought I’d share some other words of mine today as well. Because while this is my first fiction piece in print, it isn’t the first thing I’ve had published.

You see, I made an appearance in the December/January 2001 issue of Child magazine. Was I giving parenting advice? Oh no. I was asking for it. I had read all of the What to Expect books, but the pregnancy/motherhood books that most helped me gain perspective were the Girlfriend’s Guide books written by Vicki Iovine. She had an advice column in the magazine, and I submitted a question. Yep, I was Sleepless in Texas.

Child Magazine page

And then there was the 2011 DFW Writers’ Conference. Penguin Promo had a booth in the exhibit hall. Several days beforehand, they ran a contest for t-shirt slogans. The prize was simply that your slogan would be chosen, sold at the conference, and you would receive a freebie. I submitted a few slogans, and one was chosen to grace the front of a shirt.

T-shirt: I'd grovel to publish my novel.
I’d grovel to publish my novel.

So having been “published” already, should I really be that exuberant about the release of my short story?

WELL, I AM.

I’m thrilled to start my fiction publications with a short story, in the YA genre, among a group of quality authors, and for the benefit of Karen. What better way to have a “debut”?!

If you would like to read my words–and/or those of the other 38 authors involved in this project–here’s where you can buy, starting Thursday, April 11.

Amazon print book: ORANGE KAREN: TRIBUTE TO A WARRIOR

Amazon ebook: ORANGE KAREN: TRIBUTE TO A WARRIOR

Also be sure to mark this a “Want to Read” on Goodreads and post a review (if you do that sort of thing).

Remember that all proceeds go toward helping Karen pay her medical and rehabilitation expenses. And a massive thanks to Christina Esdon, the leader of this project, who has been gracious at every turn and a delightful person to work with.

So what were the first words you ever had published? Have you ever written in to a magazine or newspaper? Have you ever come up with a slogan? Which of your words are you particularly proud of?

Prepped for Prepositions

I take requests. Today’s Amaze-ing Words Wednesday topic comes from Juliana Haygert, a Brazilian author living in the United States and writing English quite well, I think. However, English prepositions can get a little tricky, so she asked for a little clarification.

A preposition expresses spatial, temporal, or other relationship. In other words or where something is–such as in, on, before, among, under, with, and so on.

Here are some frequently used prepositions:

pic from Towson University

One of the first things you notice about prepositions is that most of them have antonyms. When possible, it may be easier to learn them in pairs. For instance, over and under, above and below, on and off, with and without, before and after. Of course, some prepositions, such as through, don’t have a perfect opposite.

Also, concerning usage, the preposition itself is usually enough to tell you where or when something is. We tend to add unnecessary words, such as saying “off of” when “off” is sufficient or “in among” when “among” will do the trick.

Again, prepositions express relationships–specifically in the following areas:

Location — such as in, on, under, above, below, atop, between, among.

Time — such as before, during, after, until, since.

Direction — such as toward, away from, into, across.

Figurative Location — such as with,  for, against (like claiming during an argument, “I’m with him,” “I’m for that,” or “I’m against that.” You don’t have to be physically there to be figuratively there in these examples.)

We tend to confuse prepositions at times, not knowing whether to use in or into, of or from, and that sort of thing. In conversational English, it may not matter all that much whether you get this exactly correct since meaning can often be derived from context and tone. However, in writing you need to make sure you’ve mastered the proper preposition. Ask yourself which question you are answering: Location? Figurative location? Time? Direction? Then choose the preposition that best fits. Here’s a great primer in the form of a rap song called The Preposition Dance: Puna Style. These three guys demonstrate the meaning of prepositions in relationship to a chair.

By the way, we English speakers and experts can argue from now until Buck Rogers’s day whether one should use between or among in certain scenarios. Having attempted to debate the nuances of that choice, and being fairly stubborn with my position, I have concluded that, between you and me and among all of us, it depends. So if I proofread your writing and see a specific instance, I will have an opinion. But a general rule is that two things requires between and more than two requires among.

There is one preposition that has caused me pause when I consider how people adopting English as a second language would learn its usage: by. It can express location, such as “Put the umbrella by the door.” It can express direction, such as “Let’s run by the store.” It can also express time, such as “I’ll be there by 8:00 p.m.” And it can express figurative location, such as “The novel by Stephen King.” It’s a multi-faceted preposition that I suppose one learns best by listening and practicing.

Here’s one more fun video to practice prepositions. This is The Preposition Dance from Obie Leff of Sing to Learn, with a group of 5th graders dancing along with the lyrics. Get up and join in as you listen! The moves are easy-peasy.

What questions do you have about preposition usage? What prepositions give you pause?

Source: Roane State Online Writing Lab; Towson University; Dictionary.com