Blogger’s Blank Brain (Also known as Writer’s Block)

There are so many things one can blog about, keeping in mind, of course, the theme(s) of the blog—but, can one do so without becoming redundant, predictable and/or b-o-r-i-n-g?

I’d planned on doing an editing-related post.  Ech.  Yawnnnnn.  Didn’t feel like going there.  Nor did I much feel like patting myself on the back again re getting HA-HA-HA-HA completed.  Double yawnnnnn.  (Mind you, I’m so tired these days, everything seems to prove a major yawn, he-he.)

So, I got to thinking about simply posting about, well, posting.  Specifically, how to keep at it, particularly when you’re not feeling it.

The first thing: be realistic about how often you can do it.  Then, commit to it.  I offer a post Wednesdays and Saturdays.  That’s not unrealistic, except that I do have mom-care and a full-time job, never mind part-time editing.  So, maybe it’s not that realistic anymore.  Still, I’ll do my best [for as long as possible] and if I truly can’t post twice a week, I’ll make it known.

The same holds true for you: if you can’t stick with the schedule, let your followers know.  The good thing is that you can schedule posts ahead of time, but you’ll need to write a whack of them in advance; bear that in mind and, if doable, write a few in one sitting.

Stay on the theme of your blog, yes, but see if you can “stretch” that a bit— incorporate topics/concepts that are related, yet not.  If you have a blog about editing, for example, keep providing tips and examples.  But there’s nothing to stop you from reviewing novels/books from an editor’s POV, analyzing the editing involved, and perhaps even interviewing editors or writing about them.  Proofing?  That’s another component of editing.  Dig, dig, dig and ye shall unearth a sundry of subjects.

Do podcasts.  A YouTube vid.  Add graphics, photos, lists, comics, or something silly/fun (if it fits).  I haven’t the time to do anything but straightforward posts (I do say that ad nauseum but, sadly, it’s the vexing truth); that, however, doesn’t mean you can’t do something different/entertaining/enlightening.

Visit other sites for ideas (but don’t steal).  Link to other blogs or sites that may have something of note to share with your followers.  Showcase fellow bloggers.  Another option?  Ask your followers/readers what they would like to see.  Or allow them to post about their experiences, knowledge, opinions as they relate to the theme(s) of your blog.

Topics aside (and now that I’ve also reminded myself of the possibilities), don’t beat yourself up if nothing’s coming.  Just go with the flow and let the chips fall where they may (some days, I do so love clichés).  Put your feet up, sit back, relax; inform your followers you’re taking a bit of a blogger’s blank-brain break (but not too long, because you don’t want to lose credibility or followers).

. . . Well, well, well.  I just surprised myself . . . by writing a brainstorming blank-brain post. <LOL>

Taaa-Daaaaaaaaa!!

Hey, it’s Rey!  And, for once, I don’t have much to say . . .

. . . except that . . .

The Boss is excited—and the three of us from the Triple Threat Investigation Agency (JJ, Linda and l’il lovely me) are stoked—the cover of HA-HA-HA-HA, our most recent [super exciting] case is ready!  Can you spell w-o-o-h-o-o? 

The Boss, at first glance, thought it was a bit too green.  Linda wondered if maybe the rose should have been blacker and JJ was thinking a roulette might have worked, too.  Me, I’d have liked it to have a bit more pop but, you know, it’s pretty consistent with the others, so . . . drum roll puh-leeze . . .

drumroll

. . . taaa-daaaaaaaaa!

HHHH1a (1)

HA-HA-HA-HA-ing . . .

A little laughter and a little/quick update.

I signed the Next Chapter contract re HA-HA-HA-HA (the fifth book in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series), so now it’s a matter of waiting for it to receive a cover and be put on Amazon, etc. (Hopefully, those last few pages of research stuck at the end of the manuscript I submitted, mentioned in a recent post, will not be there, LOL.)

A little more laughter.  I’ll really have to focus on marketing.  Which means some serious reviewing of promotion principles.  And applying.

Wish me luck (coz, as Rey might say, I sure as bleep’ll need it).  <He-he>

A Personal Post

This one’s a difficult one . . . yes, it’s good to share, purge, vent . . . no, it’s not good to complain, cry . . . which I, truthfully, don’t wish to do but, alas, do (LOL).

The Ontario health system, LIHN in particular, has let me down re mom-care.  She has mild dementia and is considered “capable” of making decisions.  As such, she won’t be entering a home any time soon; yours truly can continue to take care of her, regardless of ongoing exhaustion and depression.  “Mom” has it great; she’s waited on and treated like a queen.  For someone who has always been self-absorbed and critical of everyone, she’s done well, and still continues to do so.

I, on the other hand, am not doing that well.  Given I have to take care of her—indefinitely, as the case may be—the aforementioned exhaustion and depression have increased twofold (who’d have thought that possible?).  Evidently, no one cares that the caregiver is so burned out, she can barely stand (or stand it).

As you may know from previous posts, I’ve given up years of my life for my mother, fully aware I’ll never receive a thank you.  That’s okay.  It is what it is.  But I, truly, no longer wish to sacrifice my life.  I’d like to experience it before I myself lay my head down to [perpetual] rest.

It’s exceptionally difficult to remain calm/ sane/ understanding/ patient / focused.  Is this a pity party (as someone called it)?  Perhaps.  Quite probably.  And all’s the pity that no one seems to understand.  Resulting platitudes are aplenty; requested [required] assistance is not.

I made some wrong decisions a number of years ago so, really, no one is to blame for this except myself.  Lessons learned (majorly and, maybe, a little bitterly).  May you make the right decision(s), whatever your dilemma, quandary, situation—or opportunity (which I hope and pray you are experiencing more than the others)—and may you find peace and joy in that.

Take care, my friends.

Do as I Say . . . Not as I Do . . . Ple-ease (!)

A quick post today.  As you may know if you read my FB posts, I finally submitted HA-HA-HA-HA (the fifth book in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency series) to Next Chapter. 

Was I proud?  Happy?  Relieved?  As Rey might say, you betcha!

Lo and behold, I went to cut and paste the epilogue of the next (sixth) book into a new Word document and what did I find?!  That I’d left 10 pages of research notes and the like at the end.  Groannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

<bleep>  I could have sworn I’d deleted those.  Where the <bleep, bleep> did those suckers come from!?  Great editor/proofer, huh?  I couldn’t catch a major faux pas in my own book.  I’m not sure whether to laugh hysterically or weep profusely. 

I’m slapping myself mentally for having been so dim-witted.  Like really? 

And that leads me to the message of this post.  Proof and edit before you submit something—again and again.  It will save in the embarrassment department, unless you’re thick-skinned, of course, and could care less.  I, however, do care . . . very much.

Be as professional as you can be, and take pride in that professionalism.  Do as I say, not as I do.  Groannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.

Times Change

And so do grammar rules.  As does the English language.  Just consider the new words/expressions we hear every year—thanks greatly to social media and technology.  In point of fact: dictionaries incorporate hundreds of new words every year.

Someone recently commented on that re a post I’d written—how grammar evolves/changes over time.  That got me to thinking, why not touch upon some things that have?

Things like . . .

♣  “Because” and “since”.

When I was growing up (way too long ago to want to admit when), you were not to use “since” to mean “because”.  It was a time reference only.

Shawn had been gone since lunch.

There had to be a comma before “because”.

John leaped to the left, because the golf cart was racing straight for him.

♣  “Each other” versus “one another”.

“Each other” was meant to be used for two people and “one another” for more than two.  I like this rule myself (and will adhere to it as an editor), but it truly doesn’t hold much water today.  It’s been said that good writers have used the phrases interchangeably since [at least] the 16th century.  Interesting.

♣  Sentence fragments.

These were a definite no-no.  But we often speak in fragments, as would our characters, so why shouldn’t we use them?  It’s all good; go for those fragments (save for dissertations, essays, and the like).

♣  Never ending a sentence with a preposition (and this “rule” dates back to the days of Latin, from which English stems).

Go for it.

♣  Never beginning a sentence with a conjunction, which, apparently, is based on 19-century teachers not caring to have students overuse conjunctions to start their sentences (how’s that for a run-on sentence?).

Feel free to begin a sentence with “because”, or “if”, or “when”, and so forth.  The same holds true for coordinating conjunctions like “but” and “or” (I recall those days when you would get a frown and a bad mark if you did, but I love that you [now] can).

♣  Never splitting infinitives (apparently, another “rule” from the days when Latin “ruled”, he-he).

Infinitives, by the by, are two-word elements that communicate one thought.  To split them might prove confusing; as a writer, you’re the best one to gauge whether to split or not to split (that is the question . . .  or something like that).

♣  Whom.

Who, er, whom, er . . . it’s a tough one.  A lot of folks don’t know how/when to use it.  The best thing to do?  Don’t use it; rewrite the sentence or check the rule and see if it applies to what you’ve written.

♣  They / their.

It’s quite popular to use “they” or “their” instead of writing out “he/she” or “he or she” (“she or he”).  It’s a plural noun, but a lot of people use it as singular.  I don’t like using “they” myself, unless I’m specifically referring to several people, but to each their own, er, his or her own.

♣  Two spaces after a period.

This dates back to the typewriter, when two spaces were preferred (something to do with typesetting).  I use two spaces (personal preference, and all that), but one space is now the norm.

Rules were made to be broken, as the saying goes, and a number re grammar certainly have been.  That said, they do have [some] merit, and it doesn’t hurt to be familiar with them.  Apply rules as you deem fit.

And, if nothing else, think consistency: ensure your writing is uniform and, above all, clear.

On that note, friends, fare thee well.

Where do I Put it?

Of late, I’ve been receiving manuscripts for editing with the same issue: misplaced punctuation in dialogue.  It’s like . . . uh, I’m not sure where to put it, so maybe I’ll just throw it there.  Looks good.  I’m good.

I like the exuberance I sense in people’s stories; it spills across the page/screen like an overflowing spring stream.  I don’t so much like that little time has been applied to give their [good] stories the proper editing/proofreading they require.  It seems that some just type, type, type and never return to reread what’s been written.  It’d be great to see the aforementioned exuberance applied—just a wee bit—to the “final product”. 

So, my dear friends and fellow writers, here’s some quick guidance on how to punctuate dialogue in North America.  Notice the placement of commas, periods, and other punctuation marks.

♦  “Say, what’s happening over there?”

♦  “Please stop making all that noise,” she said with a roll of the eyes, “and get ready for dinner.”

♦  “Hold on!”

♦  “Hey, what’s up?”  With a grin, Glenn raced over to the group.

Anything within quotation marks is separate from the rest of the sentence.  Use capitals for full-sentence dialogue/quotes.

When closing a quotation, ensure the period or comma falls within the quotation, not outside.

Utilize commas to introduce text, except when using “that”.

♦  With a shake of her head, Reena said, “It’s not good, John.  You’ll never get away with it.)

♦  Jake told us that “I’ve given up smoking once and for all, really and truly.”

When using a dialogue tag, you would use a comma before the closing quotation marks.

♦  “It’s gorgeous out today,” Jerry declared with a grin.

Dialogue tags, by the way, aren’t necessary if it’s obvious who is speaking.  So, per a couple of previous posts, please don’t feel that you need to add “she said”, “he said”, “Margaret said”, “Wilber said” every time a character speaks; readers can figure it out.  Really.

Don’t leave out punctuation that adds dimension to a sentence, like a question mark or exclamation point.

♦  “Don’t worry about it,” he said.

♦  “Don’t worry about it!” he said. 

The second one conveys more emotion, don’t you think?

Often, question marks, exclamation points, and em dashes fall within closing quotation marks—often, but not always.  It depends on the connotation.

♦  Here’s to Edgar, touted “the most likely to succeed”!

♦  Floyd declared, “I’ll win that award, no matter what”—and proceeded to immerse himself in the pursuit.

And single quotes?  Employ them within double quotation marks to denote quoted text within dialogue.

♦  Roger scratched his head and asked, “Was it Shakespeare who said ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ or someone else?”

♦  “Barry said, ‘I’m a real winner’.” 

Don’t forget that a new paragraph is required every time the character/speaker changes.  This will help define who is speaking and what is transpiring.  It also means dialogue tags can be kept to a minimum (and we like that).

One thing some writers seem to forget to do: search for rules.  Don’t take a stab (guessing) at what punctuation should be added to dialogue—and where.  Don’t place it wherever the mood (guess) strikes.  Look . . . it . . . up.  In other words, look . . . professional.  Even if there’s an editor down the road, it never hurts to learn something new . . . does it? <wink>

Hopping Happy

It’s Rey, hey!

And JJ, hey-hey.

Hey, that’s my word.

You have exclusive rights to it, Rey?  He-ey, it’s Linda.  We’re giving our Boss the day off.  None of us could agree (quelle surprise) as to what we should post about so, given it’s Easter weekend, we thought we’d simply share what we’re up to.  Nothing informative or educational or enlightening.

WPfreepickDOTesYesterday, Cousin Jilly (JJ, as you know her), Lindy-Loo, my best friend (for the time being), and I had a super quiet Friday.  JJ grilled fish, ahi to be exact, Linda prepared roasted potatoes with dill and crunchy green beans, and I made two salads—Thai and Greek.  They were particularly tasty, I might add.  Dee-lish, in fact.

WPall-free-downloadDOTcomThat’s my humble Cousin Reynalda for you.  Today, the three of us are coloring eggs . . . a new one for us.  My cous got the idea from a Food Network show she got caught up in, and Linda thought it might be great fun to do.  I’m not sure about it being “great”, but it’ll certainly be enjoyable (if not messy).

WPpublicdomainpicturesDOTnetRey’s heading to the mall to buy chocolate bunnies and stuff.  Given she’s the queen of sales, bar none, JJ and I are sure she’ll bring home some fabulous finds.  I just hope she doesn’t go overboard; those sales are also her weakness (as her monthly credit-card statements will attest to). 

Tomorrow, we’ll have an Easter barbecue with a few neighbors, then head to the North Shore around six.  A fellow P.I. is throwing a luau.  We are so in for that.

And there you have it: an effortless Easter weekend post.

May Mr. Bunny bring you lots of treats.

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Hau’oli Lā Pakoa!