Stuff Laura’s reading

I’m reading Dreyer’s English …

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I’ve recently acquired a copy of Dreyer’s English, and I’m enjoying it quite a bit so far. Dreyer’s funny, well aware of the foibles of copyeditors and authors alike. His comment about writers’ pet sentence constructions was, like, a huge mental relief, because my until-recently-unconscious love of a particular sentence structure is the bane of my existence right now. It was nice to know I’m not the only writer in the world writing different sentences in the same exact way, over and over again.

Dreyer is not a proponent of two spaces after a period, and that … well. Sorry. I’m old, and I’ve been typing since I was eight, so thirty-odd years of habit are going nowhere.

But here’s a story: I got into a silly Facebook “fight” with someone over the two spaces after a period–one of those silly things that was all in good fun, no big deal.* Except at some point it stopped being fun, mostly because I realized I actually don’t care. Like, I do this out of habit. I was taught to as a kid, whatever. Some editors care, some don’t; the ones who do care are usually kind enough to say so in their guidelines, which means I do a find and replace. Because money will always trump any stylistic preference I have.

I do use the Oxford comma. I do not care. You can tell me I don’t need it. You can bring up AP style. I refuse to skip the comma before the ‘and.’ You and those strippers dressed like JFK and Stalin can go skipping the Oxford comma all you want, it’s cool. I’ll be over here with my babies, tucking them in at the ends of lists.

On the whole, I don’t want to be a dick about grammar. In high school, first quarter I would always get a B in English, and it was entirely due to how the curriculum front-loaded grammar every year. Drove my mother nuts. It wasn’t until I started teaching grammar that I started to really get it–one of the best ways to learn something is to teach it, I think–but I still don’t want to diagram a sentence.

And, you know, nobody has perfect grammar. Nobody catches every typo (I think it was Neil Gaiman who said the easiest way to find a typo in your published book is to open it. Because that will be the first thing you see). But, at least in the case of this book, it’s fun to read about people whose job it is to try.

(Oh, and one of my other favorite things so far in the book: “Sometimes sentences don’t need to be repunctuated; they need to be rewritten” (25). Ain’t that the truth.)


*For the record, the battle lines fell pretty much generationally. Gen X and above are pro-two spaces, the youth of today are all one-spacers. It was kind of hilarious.

Dreyer, Benjamin. Dreyer’s English. Random House, 2019.

Story promotion: “Mary In the Looking Glass” is out today!

Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up to No Good is available for sale today!  If you didn’t get in on the Kickstarter, you can pick up a copy here, and here, or check here for more options!

My story in this anthology is “Mary In the Looking Glass,” and if you’re thinking that sounds familiar, you’re right.

I think most girls go through the super-creepy stage–I know I did, and my son came home from elementary school for about three years running with stories about his female friends who were, they claimed, possessed or haunted or casting spells or what have you.  And that’s when you first hear about Bloody Mary in the mirror.  I never had quite enough nerve to chant her name three times, whether in front of the mirror or not.  The idea of seeing something moving in the mirror–behind me, off in the corner, in the shadows–was extremely enticing but also terrifying.

“Mary In the Looking Glass” is about the enticement.  It’s a love story (so many romances from me!).  It’s also about looking for the reality at the center of things, of asking yourself what you can really know about anyone.

(If you knew me back in junior high, this is the story you all knew I’d write someday.  Forget the steampunk and the science fiction; this is exactly where 6th grade Laura’s authorial ambitions were leading.)

Randomnicity (mostly ranting edition)

Wherein I rant, and also let you know about the Broad Knowledge pre-order!

First off, Broad Knowledge: 35 Women Up to No Good is up for pre-order at Amazon.

I’m in this!  And it comes out November 20th!


In other parts of life …

We’re planning to sell our house, now that my mother-in-law is living with us, and to that end we are fixing some stuff up, per our realtor’s advice.

First, all 23957349687967 of our books went into storage.  Yeah, okay, I have an iPad, whatever.  This really opened up the living room–it’s huge, now, without the book cases taking up an entire wall.

Next came paint.

Way back when we built our house, we chose a paint color that was, in theory, a reddish brown.  In fact, it was pink.  Not bubblegum pink or anything, but certainly not any shade of brown.  We weren’t exactly thrilled, but whatever.  We dubbed the place The Little Pink House and went on.

Now we’ve had it painted a light gray.  I actually like it, but the first day I came home from work after it was done, I had to sit in the driveway and stare at it for a few minutes due to cognitive dissonance.  I live in The Little Pink House.  But it’s gray.  But it’s supposed to be Pink?  But look!  Gray!

Yeah, I’m a weirdo.

Shortly after we built our house, we painted the inside of it.  I wasn’t working at the time, so I painted all the bedrooms (chalkboard green, medium gray, PURPLE).  My Dad helped us paint the living room (maroon and cream), and the husband and I painted the kitchen (bright yellow).  We loved it.  When the kid came along, he loved it.  But, you know, not everyone is us, and potential buyers want a blank slate, and so we hired some painters to paint the house interior antique white.  They spent two days and did a really good job.

The rooms look much bigger.  They’re brighter.  Turn on a light and whammo, it’s showtime!

hate it.

When I come home, I want a den.  A cave.  A hobbit-hole, if you will.  I want a refuge from the world and the demon fireball in the sky; I want to curl up with my books in my bed and feel cozy to just this side of claustrophobia.  I don’t want “light” or “airy.”  I want “dark” and “protective.”  Blankets, books, and a dark colored bedroom.

(I also don’t want to paint a goddamned house again, so when we buy something else and the entire place is antique beige, I am going to have a civil war of laziness vs. my desire for a chalkboard green bedroom.)

(That said, the child has requested we paint his new room purple, so I’m screwed anyway and might as well buy some green paint, too.)


Oh, and Google is discontinuing Inbox, which I use all the time, and I am Not Pleased because I like bundling.  I like being able to create my own bundles for email.  The thing ain’t perfect (no matter how many times I tell it Joe Hill’s newsletter is a Newsletter, it still sorts them into Promos), but it worked really well for my purposes, and now I’m going to spend 6 months finding an alternative app and learning to use it.

Ugh.

So far Airmail looks relatively promising, but I’m going to try Spark once they sort out the bug that’s keeping me from adding my gmail account.


If you are reading this from the Carolinas, I hope you’re safe and unscathed.

How to Be a Good Beta Reader

In which I natter on about beta-ing because why the heck not?

I see a lot of writing advice, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen any beta-ing advice.  So I thought I’d write down my tips for being a good first reader/critiquer/beta reader.  Obviously your mileage may vary on this, as with any advice, but these are the things I try to do when I’m critiquing, and they’re the things I appreciate from a critique.

Continue reading “How to Be a Good Beta Reader”

Back from hiatus

So, first thing: The Kickstarter for Broad Knowledge and Sharp and Sugar Tooth funded!  Thank you to everyone who backed these books; I’m super excited to be a part of this, and I honestly can’t wait to read both of these.

In other news, I have been Not Around Here because real life got hectic again–we have moved my mother-in-law and her dog in with us, and so the entire family has been engulfed in purging, cleaning, house-selling, house-preparing, moving, and now the preparations to get our current house sold and our now-bigger gang moved have begun.

There will be painting.  And a new sink.  There is already dog hair, but that’s made up for by the occasional dog-head leaning on my leg to ask for scritches.  She’s pretty cute.

Anyway, that’s a big change, but it seems to be going well.  Fortunately, the husband and I have always gotten along with our respective in-laws.  Not so fortunately, my mother and mother-in-law also get along with one another, and, god help us, seem willing to team up into some sort of child-spoiling grandma fusion–I went shopping with them for clothes for us and they came home with two toys and a bunch of free Harry Potter merch from Target for the boy.

And so, that’s where I’ve been.

Women Up to No Good – Excerpt!

Wanna read an excerpt and find out what influenced “Mary In the Looking Glass”? (I’m just saying, the most common refrain from the few people who have already read this is “Where the hell did that come from?” Well, except for my mother. My mother knew exactly where that came from.)

If you head over to the Kickstarter updates page, you can read an excerpt from “Mary In the Looking Glass,” and read a little bit about where the idea came from.  You can also read about the stories from Damien Angelica Walters and Rachael Sterling.

While you’re over there, you can check out excerpts and some more blurbs from some of the other cool authors and stories included in the anthologies.  And, you know, donate to the cause!  There’s a new reward up–the chance to have your story critiqued by A.C. Wise.