What Fall TV Premiere Are You Looking Forward To?

I’ve been perusing the TV schedule for this fall, with all the series and season premieres. Gone are some of the shows I watched regularly, like Hart of Dixie and Revenge. And new ones have taken their place.

While I might find a gem among the lot of new offerings this fall, what I look forward to more is the return of shows I’ve grown attached to — ones that happily continue, at least one more season. What am I look forward to?

TBBTIt started with this one on Monday night — the 9th season premiere of The Big Bang Theory. It’s tough to keep a series going that long and keep the magic. But I think this series has done well because the characters have grown as the series has continued, yet they still have their quirks and challenges. Also, TBBT hasn’t fallen into the temptation of tangents, like a police procedural that gets lost in the weeds of a romantic relationship, or a medical drama that wanders off into politics, or — let’s face it — most J.J. Abrams shows. TBBT has a clear identity, while mixing it up enough to keep fans watching.

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CastleThen there’s Castle. I fully admit this is my catnip. A writer turned crime solver? A fabulous ensemble cast? Nathan Fillion? More, please. This show also demonstrates that the chemistry and interest need not die after the hero and heroine finally get together. In real life, there are still challenges involved in being a couple, especially if that couple works together in high-pressure situations as these two do. I do have a couple of suggestions for the show writers, though. We writers out here loved the references to real authors and especially the poker game, which has included such big-name authors as James Patterson, Steven J Cannell, and Dennis Lehane. Also, you might want to show Castle actually writing from time to time, so our families don’t think you just turn out novels in between family laser tag and book signings. Still, eager for another season!

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GrimmTwo fairy-tale based shows came out in the same year: Once Upon a Time and Grimm. Hubby and I watched the pilots of both, chose Grimm, and never looked back. This series has had a few bumps, in my opinion, but the ensemble feel of this show has grown. And we’re now attached to the story of not only the main character, but great supporting characters like Monroe, Hank, Rosalee, and Sergeant Wu. Also, I still recognize fairy tale plot lines from time to time, and I still have moments when I turn to the hubster and say, “Wow, didn’t see that coming.” For all those reasons, I’m ready to dive back into another season of Grimm.

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iZombieBut the show I’m most eager to follow again is iZombie, a comic-based show co-developed with Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars, anyone?) which premiered last year. It’s a great twist on the zombie story, with protagonist Liv Moore eating brains, experiencing her meal’s memories, and then using that information to help solve their murders. There are so many fun little references thrown in, the supporting characters are perfectly cast, and the script has great dialogue. This almost makes up for Veronica Mars having such a short run. Actually, I take that back — nothing makes up for that. Anyway, I’m still ready for some more iZombie. Coming in October…

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Miss FisherI would be remiss if I didn’t mention the series I’m currently catching up on, courtesy of Netflix. I discovered this Australian delight earlier this year and binge-watched two seasons. I nearly squealed with glee when I saw that the third season was now available. (Can’t get the show here in the States while it’s airing in Australia.) It’s Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, a fabulous show set in the 1920s and featuring larger-than-life Miss Fisher as a private detective. I confess to not having read the books by Kerry Greenwood, but this author clearly created an engaging character worth several seasons of a TV series. I hope it continues, but I’m savoring every episode of season three right now.

Your turn! What fall TV premiere are you anticipating with eagerness? What shows do you think you’ll give a trial showing? Anyone gems we might have missed that we should binge-watch on Netflix?

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The Golden Heart Speech I Wrote, But Didn’t Give

The RWA Awards Ceremony Program
The RWA Awards Ceremony Program

When you’re nominated for an RWA Golden Heart award, they tell you to write a speech. Even if you have absolutely no belief that you could possibly win, they repeat the need to have coherent words on a page to read just in case your name is called and you have to make your way to stage and say something into the waiting microphone.

Last Saturday night, when 2000+ writers and their guests convened for the annual RWA RITA and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony, the name announced for the Golden Heart, Young Adult category was Stephanie Winkelhake, a four-time finalist. My other fellow finalists — T.L. Summer, Diana Munoz-Stewart, and Mary Sullivan — and I applauded her well-deserved win. And I look forward to seeing all of our books on shelves in the coming years (so watch for them!).

But I still have this speech I wrote, and it seems a shame to waste it. So here goes nothing:

Who would you thank in a speech for an award you received? Have you ever delivered a victory circle speech?

Summertime Madness Book Lovers: My Picks

I’ve been immersed in YA reading this year, which is my favorite genre, of course. My TBR (to be read) pile looks like a crooked skyscraper. I completely relate to the “so many books, so little time” feeling.

So when humor author, and delightful conference roomie, Jess Witkins posted her recent book picks as part of the Summertime Madness Tag, I knew I wanted to play along.

Here are my choices for the questions included in Summertime Madness for Book Lovers!

1. Show a book with a summery cover.

Boys Like You by Juliana Stone. I’ve been reading through the young adult nominees for the RWA® RITA® awards, and this is the last one on my list, which I need to read pronto before the awards ceremony this Saturday, July 25.

Boys Like You

2. Pick one fictional place that would be the perfect destination for your summer vacation.

Narnia, please. I can’t wait to turn in my essay on What I Did for Vacation titled “The Real Lion King and Me.”

Magicians Nephew

3. You’re about to go on a flight to your Summer Vacation. But you want to read a book that lasts for the whole flight, so what novella do you choose?

Before there was Hunger Games or Divergent, there were dystopian stories like A Clockwork Orange, published in 1962 and featuring a teenage protagonist. Since I’ve never read this classic novella, I think it’s about time.

Clockwork Orange

4. You have a case of Summertime Sadness. What happy book do you pick up to shine a smile on your face?

I keep meaning to re-read A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck. It’s a middle grade book of short stories chronicling two kids’ summer visits to grandma in the country, and I recall laughing out loud as I read.

A_Long_Way_from_Chicago

5. You’re sitting at a beach all alone, which fictional character would be your beach babe?

Let me be clear: My real-life character would be my husband, who beats any book crush I’ve ever had.

But…if I must choose…Thorne Carswell from The Lunar Chronicles. He’s introduced in Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, but he’s a main character in Cress. He’s got that sassy swagger with a heart of gold. *swoon*

Cress

6. To match your ice cream you want an icy cool sidekick, which fictional sidekick do you pick?

Right now, I’m all over hanging out with a character in my current work-in-progress (working title: Daring Charlotte): Kat would be an awesome BF to have on a summer vacation. But if I’m going with a published choice, how about Hermoine? She’s smart, brave, fun, and socially conscious (SPEW, anyone?). Plus, I love cats, so Crookshanks would be welcome.

Harry Potter Philosopher's Stone

What do you think of my choices? And given these questions, what books would be on your list? Share your favorite answers!

Not a Pantser. Not a Plotter. I’m a Puzzler.

What’s your writing process?

It’s such a common question for authors, and one most writers I know give a great deal of thought. Because we don’t simply hatch one day fully grown as authors who know exactly the best way to write books.

The best writers learn story structure, prose techniques, characterization, emotional depth, and all the good “craft” stuff that makes our writing shine. Good writing can be studied and learned, and we all want that destination of a story well told. But HOW we get from Point A to Point B differs from writer to writer. It can take a while to figure out your own best practices.

When I began writing, I was pretty much a pantser — that is, someone who free writes, by the “seat of my pants.” The story just came out on the page, and I went wherever it took me.

After a while, I decided I was a recovering pantser, though still not a plotter — someone who plans storyline and characters and plot points and scenes in advance. Still, I dove more into outlines and timelines and character sheets.

Then I did something really weird: I drafted two novels out of order. That is, I came up with a general outline, then wrote a scene here, a scene there, another scene here. I didn’t write the story chronologically, but plugged in scenes as they came to me. When finished, I had to work out transitions and flow. But all in all, it sort of worked for me.

One of my writer friends, Jenny Hansen, calls it “story quilting.” Which is a great metaphor. I’m not the least bit crafty, though, so “quilting” was a bit hard for me to connect with.

Not a Pantser. Not a Plotter. I'm a Puzzler. via Julie Glover
I’m a Puzzler.

But I love puzzles. Whether it’s jigsaw puzzles or crossword puzzles or brain teasers or mysteries, I love a good puzzle. I like working on a section at a time, then moving to another, and then another, until it all comes together.

The other day I realized my current writing process is like working a puzzle — a piece here and a piece there, until I have all the pieces fitting together just so and a complete image forms. I start with a solid outline and major characters, like building the corners of a jigsaw puzzle first, but then I let myself write scenes in whatever order I want. Slowly but surely, I build the novel and see the full picture getting clearer and clearer.

Is this a typical way to write? No, it’s not. Which is probably why it’s taken me so long to fess up to this process working for me. But somehow, it does.

My takeaway is that writers should master their craft, but experiment with their process. When someone suggests “the way” to write, it might work great for that someone, but not so much for you. Be willing to try different things, and see which approach brings out your best story.

Maybe you’re a pantser. Maybe you’re a plotter. And maybe a few of you out there are puzzlers, like me.

What Are Female Superheroes Wearing? (And Who Fights Crime in That?!)

I still remember my now-teenage son, back when he was a little kid, asking me about superheroes. He was fascinated with them and loved a great superhero story. However, he looked at one of his action figures, turned up his sweet young face to me, and asked, “Why is Wonder Woman wearing her underwear?”

Good question, kid, I thought. Instead of answering, “Because she was drawn by a man who wanted his superhero to turn him on,” I scanned my brain for an answer that would ring true yet retain his innocence. My answer? “That’s her swimsuit. She was raised on an island surrounded by water, so she went swimming a lot.”

Not bad, eh? Kind of my own superpower to come up with that one on the fly!

But it’s still a good question. Why on earth are female superheros dressed like they’re about to film a sexually-laced hip-hop video instead of fighting crime and pursuing justice?

I’ve long been a fan of superheroes, starting with the classic TV series Batman, in which Adam West and Burt Ward POWed and KAPLATed their way to justice. Then there was Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, the cartoon Justice League (including the Wonder Twins—anyone remember them?), and even the not-so-well-done Shazam! and The Secrets of Isis that aired on Saturday mornings. I’ve seen numerous superhero movies from Christopher Reeve’s Superman to all but the last X-Men to Guardians of the Galaxy (a recent favorite).

As much as I love superheroes, I still don’t understand most of the fashion choices when it comes to women. So when I realized I had a superhero-themed costume party to attend this summer, a fellow attendee and I had this conversation:

Her: How come all the women superheroes have no clothes on? How can you fight crime in a thong…

Me: I’ve wondered that too. Like we’re sitting around and thinking, “Hey, I’m ready to go fight crime. But first I need to put on my strapless top so the criminals will have lots of cleavage to distract them and my breasts will jiggle properly when I’m running. And I need a thong up my butt, because nothing says ‘I’m fearless!’ like a willingness to floss your crack. And stiletto heels, please, because if a woman can’t run, jump, and kick in ridiculously high heels, how can she even bother to call herself a superhero?!”

Wonder Woman lasso
Here’s my lasso of truth! Tell me: Is this costume too revealing?

When I started actually shopping for costume options, I was shocked how many choices were preceded by the word “sexy,” as in Sexy Supergirl, Sexy Spidergirl, Sexy Wonder Woman. Really? We need to add more sexiness to that Amazon princess’s corseted look?

Stop the madness, people! This is no way to dress women in 2015! Or really any century, decade, or year.

No self-respecting crime-fighting woman would wear such get-ups. They are impractical for the physical feats expected of superheroes. They make the female class of superheroes out to be eye candy more than serious justice fighters. They don’t give the right message to young women who can be beautiful and powerful without being overly revealing. (Oh yes, you can, girl!) Moreover, they make emulating them for costume parties require a year-long gym membership and/or several pairs of Spanx.

Yes, there are some exceptions, and I applaud the creators of these more relatable female superheroes. I’d like to see more.

What do you think of the costumes for female superheroes? Who are your favorite female superheroes? How would you design a costume for superpowered crime-fighting?

Got a Word Named after You? Eponyms

Another Amaze-ing Words Wednesday, and I’m ready to enter the labyrinth of language where surprises await us each week. It’s time to feature another kind of word defined by its etymology: eponyms. Eponyms are words named after a person–real or fictional.

For instance, you’ve probably all heard of sideburns, named after Civil War Union General Ambrose Burnside who sported ridiculously long facial hair that grew from his ears to his mustache. Originally, such facial hair were called burnsides, and then sideburns. Or how about an atlas? Our bound collections of world maps were named for the mythological Titan Atlas who presumably held up the globe on his shoulders.

Let’s take a look at some other fascinating ones. These examples are from the fabulous book Anonyponymous by John Bemelmans Marciano, whose books I highly recommend to language lovers.

Boycott. British Army Captain Charles Boycott became a land agent for Lord Erne’s estate in the Irish countryside. A bad crop in 1879 threatened the lands of potato growers, and a Land League was formed that promised retaliation against anyone who attempted to evict the Irish tenant farmers. Boycott posted writs of eviction, and in turn was ostracized by his community. “No shop would serve him, the postman stopped delivering his mail, and even his church congregation gave him the deep freeze.” Thus, we have the word “boycott”–meaning “to combine in abstaining from, or preventing dealings with, as a means of intimidation or coercion.” As for Charles Boycott, he left the area before Christmas, and the British Prime Minister introduced legislation that met many of the Land League’s demands.

Frisbee. We can thank a pie maker in Bridgeport, Connecticut for this name. Originally the brainchild of drunk Yale students who ate a pie and started playing catch with the tin, it became popular across the Yale campus for students to purchase a pie from Mrs. Frisbie’s Pies of Bridgeport and then use the pie tin to play a game. Mrs. Frisbie was hardly complaining when her sales reached 80,000 a day in 1956. Meanwhile, Fred Morrison created the flying disc we know of today, which caught the eye of Wham-O. They decided the fun disc needed a fun name, so they adopted the one already in use where pie tins were flying through the air. Of course, they had to change the spelling, but that’s how we got the frisbee. Thanks to Mrs. Frisbie for such a great name. (If her name had been Mrs. Scherbatsky, would we all be tossing Scherbatskys?)

Guillotine. I’m sure you can already guess that some cold-hearted executioner is behind this one. Physician Joseph-Ignace Guillotin proposed a method of execution to the French Revolutionary body in 1789. He thought it would be more efficient and humane. I suppose that compared to some of the executions of the day, it was a quicker and thus nicer way to go. All this has led us to rather useful guillotines of today: the bagel guillotine; the cigar guillotine; and the paper guillotine trimmer. Thanks, Dr. Guillotin!

Jacuzzi. Candido Jacuzzi was a loving father who wanted to help his son who suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis. So he invented a portable pump that he could put into a bathtub to recreate a whirlpool. His nephew, Roy Jacuzzi, saw greater opportunity and began producing the pump as a product from their family business in the 1960s. The sales of jacuzzi pumps outdistanced the sales of their regular product–aircraft equipment–and took over.

Leotard. Jules Léotard invented two things–the flying trapeze and the one-piece costume he flew through the air in. Jules was a novice acrobat who did his routine on fixed bars, like everyone else. Then one day, voila! the notion occurred to him to let those bars swing. In 1859 he debuted his flying trapeze act and became an international superstar. He then redesigned the standard acrobat clothing into a single piece that clung to his body–aka the “leotard.” Circus performers, gymnasts, and ballet dancers can thank The Daring Man on the Flying Trapeze.

Mausoleum. A Persian satrap (local ruler) named Mausolos had a super-swank tomb. In 335 B.C. after he died, his wife/sister Artemisia was so broken up that she commissioned a whopping memorial so amazing that it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Eventually, as in 16 centuries later, earthquakes got to this architecture marvel, but to this day large tomb with statues and architectural finery are called mausoleums after the ruler Mausolos.

Paparazzi. Thanks to Lady Gaga, I can no longer say this word, but rather I sing it, “Papa, Paparazzi.” But this word came into use long before Gaga hit the scene. The classic movie La Dolce Vita (1960) from famed director Federico Fellini included a character who made a living taking secret photos of celebrities around town. Screenwriter Ennio Flaiano wasn’t sure what to name this character until he ran across English novelist George Gissing’s travel book By the Ionian Sea in which he mentions a lodging proprietor by the surname of Paparazzo. The photographer was thus named Paparazzo, and the term paparazzi came to mean those picture-takers who will do nearly anything to get a candid shot of a celebrity.

Ritzy. César Ritz started in Paris as a waiter, but through work and flair rose to become a hotelier himself. He co-managed London’s Savoy Hotel and then opened the Hotel Ritz in 1898. The Hotel Ritz, and César himself, were displays of luxury that captured the wealthy’s attention. Thus, a highfalutin’ place or person became known as “ritzy.”

Voltage. I’m sure you science types already know this one, but for the rest of us, let me introduce Alessandro Volta, a high school physics teacher from Como, Italy. He posited that electric current was produced by contact of the two different metals. Volta tinkered with electricity and, using his knowledge, developed the world’s first battery in 1800. Thus, the charge contained in the battery is known as its “voltage.”

Zeppelin. I credit Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin for keeping this term alive, since you almost never see a zeppelin anymore, but Led Zeppelin is heard all over the airwaves (and apparently on VP Candidate Paul Ryan’s playlist). The original word, however, comes from Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin, an aviator who worked with the Union Army Balloon Corps doing reconnaissance. After the Civil War, von Zeppelin concluded that he could build a motor-powered balloon with a hard shell and patented one in 1899. Zeppelins were used as commercial flights, bombers in World War I, and for civilian flights after the war. Perhaps we’ll see more soon with Goodyear’s announcement last year that they will be purchasing three zeppelins to add to their blimp fleet.

Did you know these eponyms? Were you even familiar with the word “eponym”? Do you have any others to share?

Sources: Anonyponymous by John Bemelmans Marciano; Everything You Know about English Is Wrong; Dictionary.com

Fast Food Names: Where Did They Come From?

Y’all know that I love tracing the etymology of words, phrases, nicknames, and much more. For today’s Amaze-ing Words Wednesday, we’re going to take a look at 10 top fast food restaurants (in the top 15 most popular according to Business Insider*) and how they got their names.

Arby’s. The Raffel Brothers, Forrest and Leroy, got the notion for a roast beef sandwich as fast-food fare after a trip to a Boston sandwich shop. They wanted to use the name “Big Tex,” but yeah, that was already taken. So they came up with the word Arby’s–a play on R.B. for Raffel Brothers. They also admitted that some might think it stands for Roast Beef. Source: Arby’s

Burger King. In 1954, the 22-year-old David Edgerton wanted to open a Dairy Queen. Instead, he bought the rights to open an “Insta Burger” restaurant that centered around a mechanical burger-cooking machine. Edgerton added the word “King” (Inspired by Dairy “Queen,” I guess) and a picture to go with it. The restaurant opened in Miami in 1954 as “Insta Burger King.” Three months later, business was slow and the machine was breaking down. A college friend, Jim McLamore, became a co-owner. The two designed their own cooking machine and dropped “Insta” from its name. Since that time, we’ve had “Burger King.” By the way, back in 1958 the fire-grilled hamburgers and milkshakes sold for 18 cents each. Sources: The Huffington Post – Burger King: A Short History; NNBD; Burger King

Chick-fil-A. In 1963 Truett Cathy invented the first fast-food chicken sandwich. That’s not all he invented. He made up the name “Chick-fil-A” playing on the words “chicken fillet” and putting the “A” on the end to mean top quality. Source: Cathy Family website

Jack in the Box. Why? Why? I don’t know. Robert Oscar Peterson opened a hamburger restaurant in San Diego in 1951. The building had a large Jack-in-the-Box clown on top of it. Why a clown? Sources don’t say. Perhaps it was just a cheery mascot and fun name. Peterson is credited with developing the drive-through speaker system, although he did not invent it. Source: Jack in the Box

KFC. In 1930 Harland Sanders operated a service station and decided to open up a restaurant in his front room for travelers. He served fried chicken, but it took up to 30 minutes to ready the “Sunday dinner” he provided to customers. Over the next decade, Sanders was given the title “Kentucky Colonel” by the governor for his contribution to the state’s cuisine, the pressure cooker was invented and Sanders discovered that it quickened his frying time substantially, and the Colonel perfected his secret recipe. His own restaurant was called Sanders Court & Cafe, but in 1952 he offered his brand of fried chicken as a franchise. The first taker was Pete Harman of Salt Lake City, and that first franchise was known as Kentucky Fried Chicken–since that’s where the Colonel originated his famous recipe. These days, the restaurant is simply known as KFC. Source: KFC

McDonald’s. All of my life, I’ve been told that Ray Kroc started McDonald’s. Not so, friends. Dick and Mac McDonald opened the first restaurant, which was actually called “McDonald’s Bar-B-Q,” in San Bernardino, California in 1940. It closed for renovations in 1948 and reopened as a hamburger restaurant simply called “McDonald’s” with a menu of 15-cent burgers, soft drinks, pie, and more. Ray Kroc discovered the brothers’ hamburger spot in 1954 and sold the idea of franchising to them. In 1960 he purchased exclusive rights to the name. Kudos to Ray for not renaming the restaurant “Kroc’s,” which would have been confusing with the shoes, right? Source: McDonald’s

SONIC. Troy Smith opened his first hamburger joint in Shawnee, Oklahoma in 1953. It was called Top Hat Drive-In. While traveling in Louisiana, he saw homemade intercoms at a hamburger stand there. He grabbed the concept, tweaked it, and introduced the model of ordering through speakers. Charlie Pappe joined him, and they expanded to four restaurants. Then lawyers informed them that “Top Hat” was copyrighted. They had to change the name! Since their slogan was “Service with the Speed of Sound,” they chose the word SONIC–meaning the “speed of sound.” Source: Sonic; Sonic-South Carolina

Subway. Fred DeLuca wanted to be a medical doctor. So of course, he did the logical thing and opened a submarine sandwich shop. Actually, the sub shop was the money-making idea of family friend Dr. Peter Buck, a nuclear physicist, who loaned Fred the money and became a partner in the business. The first sandwich shop, called Pete’s Super Submarines, opened in 1965 in Bridgeport, Connecticut (when DeLuca was only 17 years old!). Within 9 years, they had 16 sub shops in the state. An unofficial report online said that Pete’s Submarines sounded too much like “pizza marines” on the radio, so the restaurants became known as Pete’s Subs. It does not appear the word SUBWAY came into use until franchising began in 1974, and the name has nothing whatsoever to do with the New York City subway system. Sources: Subway; Subway Student Guide; Subway Development Group

Taco Bell. Glen W. Bell, Jr. first owned Bell’s Hamburgers and Hot Dogs in 1948 in San Bernardino, only a few miles from the original McDonald’s. He got the notion that selling tacos would be a good idea and added them to the menu in 1951. In 1954 he opened a Mexican-food only restaurant called Taco Tia with a partner (“Tia” means “aunt” in Spanish). Then he opened another chain called El Taco (“The Taco” in Spanish) with three partners. However, in 1962 he opened his own Mexican fast-food restaurant and called it Taco Bell in Downey, California. The name obviously indicates the type of food (taco) and the fact that this restaurant was his baby (Bell). Sources: New York Times; Baltimore Sun

Wendy’s. Before opening up his first restaurant in 1969, Dave Thomas operated Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants, turning four franchises around and making them profitable. He made quite a few pennies from this endeavor and used the money to open his own hamburger place with a square piece of meat hanging outside the bun. He named it “Wendy’s” after his youngest daughter Melinda Thomas, who was nicknamed “Wendy” by her brothers and sisters. Sources: Wendy’s; RoadsideAmerica.com

So which ones did you know? (I really thought that Taco Bell had something to do with its dinner bell on the logo!) What other fast food names are you familiar with? Do you know the origins of restaurants’ names?

*I choose to ignore the pizza places, breakfast and beverage spots, and Panera Bread (because that’s not very fast-foody).

Getting Back on Track and on the Road: #ROW80

As I noted last Sunday, we are going car shopping. Here’s a reminder of why we are replacing our car:

The driver who rammed into us was found responsible, and her insurance company called the car a total loss and paid us out.

While I usually use my Sunday post to say a little something about writing or life or whatever, today I am reaching out to readers to ask for your take on vehicles. We have always had small vehicles. My husband and I both drove Toyota Corollas when we met and married, and since then we have owned a Honda Civic and a Toyota Matrix as well. Now we are in the market for something bigger. We are looking at trucks and car-based as well as truck-based SUVs.

So here are my questions for you: What type of vehicle do you drive? (I’m not looking so much for make and model as size and type.) What do you like about it? What do you dislike? Would you change what you drive if you could and why? What do you suggest I pay attention to while we are out car shopping?

Hey, y’all are here, and I might as well gather up your fabulous wisdom as we hunt for the right automobile for our family.

Now for the goals. In last week’s ROW80 update, I proclaimed that nothing worthy of note had occurred with my writing goals. Life had interrupted, disrupted, and corrupted my schedule. But I swore to come back this week with check marks on my to-do list. And here I am! The goals:

  • Finish reading Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell. Check mark.
  • Cheer on the ROW80 participants. Check mark.
  • Edit at least 50 pages of SHARING HUNTER, my young adult contemporary novel. Getting into Margie Lawson’s lecture packet on Deep EDITS, so I’m working from that checklist. I got some changes made throughout the WIP as I searched beginnings and endings of chapters to shore them up.
  • Exercise at least twice this week. Um…
  • Read a couple of books written by fabulous writer friends. Still working on this, but I made a lot of progress compared to last week.
  • Scread the 196 blog posts that piled up in my queue. I have caught up with all of my blog reading (although you keep writing great posts and there are so many blogging buddies I still need to visit).
  • Submit a query for SHARING HUNTER. I did not submit a new query, but I did send in a partial submission in response to a request. I also researched other agents and will be ready for next week.

So while I’m not worthy of a gold medal, I’m getting back on track..and very soon will be back on the road with a new vehicle.

Remember to leave your car-buying advice below. And tell me how your writing is going? Are you destroying your goals or facing some challenges?

As always, give back-pats and buck-kicks as needed to my fantastic fellow ROWers. You can find them HERE. Have a blessed week!

Taking Hits, Losing Track, and Counting Blessings: #ROW80

I have been off-track for three weeks now! One week, I was diligently getting ready for church camp, writing curriculum, purchasing supplies, and preparing lessons. I did some writing, but I didn’t attack my ROW80 goals much.

The next week was camp. My summary is that I rarely had computer time and was on the internet for about two hours for the whole week. When I returned, I had 236 blog posts in my reading queue. *headdesk*

This past week has been a flurry of activity as well–very little of it writing. You see, my mother-in-law died last week. Moreover, as we were on our way out of town to see her as she lay dying, a lovely young lady slammed her vehicle into the back of ours and caused a five-car pile-up. This is our car.

Since it was 6 years old and the frame was very damaged throughout, it has been totalled. Although the insurance company has been wonderful (good customer service from State Farm), it has been another hassle to mess with.

Then a wonderful woman who co-taught at church camp with me a few years back finally died of breast cancer–much too young. My heart aches for this family.

And without too much detail, another friend received news that her husband has been behaving badly and is leaving.

In the wake of all that, I am asking What ROW80? It feels like I haven’t done anything on my goals in so long that I don’t even know where to start. I’m just trying to catch up on sleep, paperwork, laundry, etc. while managing the emotional stress of life.

All that said, I am grateful for the many blessings I have in my life. Let me count a few:

  • No one was hurt in the car accident.
  • The offending driver accepted responsibility and the insurance company claimed liability.
  • The offer for totalling our car was more than we expected to receive.
  • We still arrived in San Antonio with plenty of time to see my mother-in-law before she passed.
  • My mother-in-law passed peacefully.
  • My husband and his siblings are in agreement about arrangements, so there is no post-mortem family conflict.
  • My sons received a life lesson in saying goodbye to a loved one and grieving, and watching my husband walk them through that reminded me again how much I respect his wisdom and integrity.
  • My friends both have extensive support systems. The family of my friend who died and the woman whose husband has left have people to hold them up and care for them during their grief.

Somehow, no matter what you go through, having people who love you and whom you love back makes life manageable, hopeful, and even positive. Speaking of which, I do want to take a moment to feature two links from friends that you should know about.

First, romance author Roni Loren told her story about using photos on her blog and getting sued. Oh my! If you (somehow) haven’t seen her post, check it out HERE.

Love the cover!

And my fabulous blogger and real-life friend, Tiffany A. White, released her debut novel, a young adult mystery titled FOOTBALL SWEETHEART. Check it out HERE.

As for ROW80, forget goals. I’m not even listing them or any feigned progress. I’ll be back next week with checkmarks and happy faces!

Meanwhile, how’s your ROW80 going? Has life thrown you for a loop anywhere? Or let me live vicariously through you and tell me how wonderful your writing week was!

15 Euphemisms for a Basic Body Function

Since I deal with all kinds of language issues here on Amaze-ing Words Wednesday, and I felt inspired by a recent post by Natalie Hartford, today’s topic is an odd one. In fact, I fear just a little who will find my blog from searching for terms in this post.

However, I’m here to serve. And when you are on a first date, dining with your in-laws, or attending a White House state dinner, you do not want to declare the following words: “I gotta pee.” Also forbidden is the even more crass: “I need to take a piss.”

*head smack*


No, no, no. While I’m not always in favor of euphemisms, basic body functions are best expressed with some other terminology that is appropriate for public. So to help you be better prepared, here are 15 euphemisms for the basic body function of peeing.

“Excuse me, I need to…”

1. Go to the bathroom. Although a misnomer for restaurants since there is no bath in there, this phrase gets the point across without details.

2. Visit the loo. It’s not just for Brits anymore. The loo is a lovely term for the toilet that even makes you sound a little like Kate Middleton Windsor or Prince Harry.

3. Take a leak. This is a bit crass, but a perfectly acceptable option for camping.

4. Empty (or void) your bladder. This seems to be the preferred euphemism of medical professionals asking you to pee in a cup.

5. Eliminate. Another medical professional favorite for those who don’t want to even use the word “bladder” for obtaining a urine specimen.

6. Go the ladies’ or men’s room. While this makes it sound like we are excusing ourselves to a room reserved for a gender-based social gathering, it’s a very common way to refer to your toilet visit in public.

7. Use the potty. Particularly common with children, this keeps your toddler from yelling, “My pee is coming out!” at the top of his lungs during dinner.

8. Powder my nose. I don’t know any woman who visits the bathroom specifically to powder her nose. However, this was the way toilet visits were referred by women in the “old days.” Believe me, it’s in a lot of black-and-white movies.

9. Relieve myself. After all, it is a relief at times to use the restroom.

10. Go number one. Who numbered them? I don’t think that was a favor to the English language. I’d leave this euphemism out of your lexicon.

11. Answer the call of nature. *Ring* Nature’s calling you to use the bathroom. Will you answer? You’d better.

12. See a man about a horse. Yes, I’ve heard this one. I suppose a cowboy invented this euphemism for peeing.

13. Make the bladder gladder. I saw this one in both Esquire magazine and more recently on a Buc-ee’s billboard. I’m not so sure about it. Does your bladder have feelings?

14. Tinkle. While this is most certainly a euphemism, it doesn’t work for me. I’m reminded of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Tinkerbell with the sounds being too similar.

15. Take care of business. Now that’s getting down to the heart of it. You have personal, bodily business to attend to, and you must take care of it now.

And now for my next nervous moment…

So what euphemisms have you heard for peeing? Do you have a favorite from these? And remember that euphemism means “the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt”–meaning it’s supposed to sound better than the original term.

Because I know there are a LOT of substitutions that sound worse. I have three guys living in my house. 😉

Source: Dictionary.com