So not a lot going on.

Which is amazing, frankly.

I was asked recently about going back to get my PhD, and I had this immediate reaction of NO WAY IN HELL that was even more visceral than my usual reaction to the idea of more grad school, so of course I started poking at why I reacted so much to it. And the answer is … I don’t even want to think about anything life-upending this year.

We have had a lot of upheaval in the past two years. Scott’s dad died, his mom moved in with us, my aunt and cousin moved back down, the kid started middle school, I had a health scare, we evacuated for a hurricane, I changed jobs, Scott has had job fluctuations galore, we sold our house and bought a new one, let’s not even discuss politics and climate change …

It’s been a lot, yo.

Recently I’ve been feeling super overwhelmed. Just a lot of … stuff. But slowly I’m getting a handle on it, I think? I also started reading the Bullet Journal book, which is making me think about my planner and how I need to adapt it, rethink how I’m using it, and get back into thinking about what I do every day. And also figuring out what parts of my routine I need to adjust or drop entirely.

I finished a story, started sending out novel submissions. I have a lot of ideas for my day job, and I’m excited about them. I’m getting a routine at home.

If 2019 is a year of settling (as in, things are settling, not I am settling for anything) … well, that would be awesome. And I would like to not do anything to disturb that, if at all possible.

(knocks wood)

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Stuff Laura’s reading

I’m reading Dreyer’s English …

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.

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”

Hello, there; it’s been a while …

Life has been a bit more up and down than is even usual for me, resulting in not a whole lot of content blogging.  First we had Irma and the evacuation; then I had a health scare that knocked everything sideways for a couple of months.[1]  I feel like I’m just now getting myself back on track after all that mess, and it’s March.

I’m also staring down my birthday later this week, which is always a fraught experience.  Although, really, I have been dealing with the decrepitude of old age for, like, months now, so it’s not as bad as it’s been in the past.  Usually I don’t mind my age much, but birthdays get to me.  Age is just a number, but a birthday is a date and cannot be ignored.  ONE YEAR CLOSER TO THE GRAVE!  Or something like that.

Anyway.

All of that is to say that I will, I hope, have a few more not-promotional blog posts coming your way soon (although I have a couple of promotional posts, too, whee!).  I’ve been watching ACS: The Assassination of Gianni Versace and, of course, Jessica Jones; I’ve been reading stuff, and–this is hilarious–I have been playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  No, seriously, my video gaming has thus far been Lego games, Pokemon (DS and N64), Mario Kart, Mario Party, and an ill-advised foray into the motion-sickness hell that is Epic Mickey.  I’ve never played one of these quest-y games where I don’t know the plot already–or, when I did, I got so sick I had to stop before it got really good.

So I have things to write about.  Stay tuned.  :)

1 [back]I am fine.  All is well in Laura-land.