Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Immersion Excursion

Have you ever picked up a book and read it from front to back in one sitting? Those are the books you discover by surprise.

Maybe you've experienced a story written by an author you'd never heard of, or one who created a one hit wonder and never wrote another word. How sad. I've read a few myself and now I ponder what glued me to my seat long enough to read an entire story without a break, not even for a bite to eat.


One common element shared by the quick reads I've discovered are the dialogue sequences. They're not thrown together simply to provide white space, making the pages less daunting. I recall meaningful dialogue, the kind which delivers progress in character development and plot.

And remember, the importance of dialogue is as much about what is said as it is about what is not said.


The setting is another element which completely immerses me into a story. It must be vividly clear to me where I am while experiencing the story. Recall Middle-earth in Lord of the Rings, Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series, and the land of Oz in The Wizard of Oz. All unique worlds, very distinct and memorable.

Don't be afraid to share your world. It makes the difference in the reader feeling welcome. When a visitor comes to your house, do you give them a tour or do you confine them to one room?

The 8 senses

When I was in high school, there were only 5 senses we were taught in health education and those were: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste. Today, we include the senses of time, space, and the unknown. I give examples of each in a post I shared back in 2011.

When you use this technique, I am so focused and entertained, I have no interest in being tantalized in the real world with seeing, tasting, smelling, or anything else. It's like magic to me because the words show me what I already know, therefore, I'm relating on a whole different level, entranced!

Detail in Descriptions

When I read something familiarly exquisite, I stick around. That means I feel comforted when I encounter the details of an item in a story such as a Sesame Seed Biscotti or French Vanilla flavored coffee. Don't be lazy. Share the details. 

The added details give me a sense that I belong where I am; therefore, I have no interest in moving away from the story. I'll keep going because the comfort level is more enticing than putting down the book to go and find something general and bland which I hadn't thought of just yet. 

I further share Dialogue, Detail, and Description in an earlier post.


This is an element I don't read about often, but I know what it is and what it does for me. Voice is something that is important when you read a lot of books. It will save time for the reader when they finally discover the one voice which speaks to them like Vincent Price reading "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe. The way he dramatizes the reciting of the poem could be likened to an author's use of words and choice of cadence in the structure of their sentences.

It's difficult to immerse myself to this length these days because I work full time. But, I remember the days of middle school summer when I blazed through tons of Harlequin romances and wondered where the time had gone. I miss those days. I could immerse myself into another world, and these were the very elements which invited me to stay.

So, what keeps you on the page and turning until the very end?

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

When a Writer Questions an Artist

What happens when a writer questions the written words of a truly talented artist? Something completely unexpected and rather embarrassing is the answer.

One thing I would never do is question a literary icon about intent when it comes to his creations. If you don't understand allegories or metaphors, you have no business correcting someone about their artistic work on a technical level. My new hero is Don Henley (Eagles), for his answer to John Soeder in 2009 while being interviewed for The Plain Dealer. This man dared to correct an artist's choice of words.

The interview question?

On "Hotel California," you sing: "So I called up the captain / 'Please bring me my wine' / He said, 'We haven't had that spirit here since 1969.'" I realize I'm probably not the first to bring this to your attention, but wine isn't a spirit. Wine is fermented; spirits are distilled. Do you regret that lyric?

Assuming by "spirit" Henley must be referencing the wine in his written words, Soeder belittles the artist with his obnoxious question about regrets.

I love Henley's response:

Thanks for the tutorial and, no, you're not the first to bring this to my attention—and you're not the first to completely misinterpret the lyric and miss the metaphor. Believe me, I've consumed enough alcoholic beverages in my time to know how they are made and what the proper nomenclature is. But that line in the song has little or nothing to do with alcoholic beverages. It's a sociopolitical statement. My only regret would be having to explain it in detail to you, which would defeat the purpose of using literary devices in songwriting and lower the discussion to some silly and irrelevant argument about chemical processes.[1]


This must have been a memorable moment for Mr. Soeder as he mentioned it while announcing his retirement back in 2012.

Don Henley and I locked horns, too, because I had the nerve to ask him about the wine-spirit confusion in the Eagles hit "Hotel California"; you can read all about it on Wikipedia.[2]

I'm making a correction here. You didn't "lock horns" with Henley, Mr. Soeder. What happened was something of the nature "he ate your lunch."

Let this be a lesson to the critics out there. Don't always assume your corrections mean anything to the Poet/Songwriter/Artist. We all love music, but if you want music to love you back, treat it with the respect it deserves.

1. Soeder, John. "Don Henley gets into the spirit talking about 'Hotel California'" The Plain Dealer March 20, 2009: T14


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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Righting the Write Words - Part 2

After my last post on Righting the Write Words I received a couple of emails about similar words which were not covered in that post. So, now I have a part two! Thanks for your suggestions. Remember, these are ways I remember how to use the words, and not necessarily the best ways.

These are words we all come across from time to time, and I'm sure, if not for a split second, you question yourself on which word to choose. If you're like me, you skip on over to to look them up.

I'll try to keep them in alphabetical order, so if you made a suggestion and it didn't start with "A", by all means, scroll down! And there you go.

Now, for part 2 of Righting the Write Words!

Advice is a noun and it's what your husband gives to the guy who is getting ready to take your daughter on a date for the first time.

Advise is the verb and it's what your husband does when a guy is getting ready to take your daughter on a date for the first time.

Ades are fruit drinks.

Aides are people who help.

Aids is what someone does when they help.

AIDS is an acronym for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

Aisle is a passageway.

I'll is a contraction of "I" and "will".

And, isle is the last four letters of my name! Why is it so hard for people to spell Carlisle? It's the name "Carl" and the word "isle" which means a small island. You don't spell my last name Carlyle or Carlile. It's Carlisle!

Board is a piece of wood or a group of people.

Bored means I'm just not interested in what you're saying right now.

Device is a noun and can be anything from my iPad to this interesting piece of code that's tracking your IP address as you read this text. Just kidding, but that would be a device.

Devise is a verb and it's what I did to create that IP tracking code. I devised the plan and invented that device.

Discreet means careful or confidential.

Discrete means individual or distinct.

Tim just says it's where he parks his car. In discreet. Get it?  

Eh hem, anyway...

Foreword is an introduction to a book written by someone other than the author. I never did get this one. It's like a son writes a foreword on a book his mother wrote and it's about her son who has A.D.D.

This is a story from the point of view of a mother dealing with a son who acquires a condition known as A.D.D Attention Deficit Disorder. The son is deeply sorry for the pain he inflicted upon his parents during these very trying times, but alas, her story is intriguing and you will be emotionally touched, as was I. -- Author's loving son.

Forward is the opposite of backward.

Hangar is a shed or shelter for airplanes.

Hanger is what you use to hang up your clothes.

You hear sounds and you sit here to listen to them.

Lead is a metal element (noun - pronounced "led") and it's confusing because...

Led is the past tense of lead (verb - pronounced "leed"). See? Confusing!

Naval pertains to ships.

Navel is your belly button or a type of orange. But why? I never understood this. What does your belly button have to do with a type of orange?

Ordinance is a law.

Ordnance means military weapons and ammunition.

Peace means calm.

Piece means a portion of something.

I called Farmers & Merchants Bank some time last year to inform them of a grammatical error on a sign outside their branch office. Piece of mind was not what I believed they meant to convey to the public. The next day, a whole different message was up, something about discounted jumbo CDs.

Peak is the top of a mountain.

Peek is a verb and means to glance furtively.

Pique means to wound someone's pride or to excite interest.

Than is used for comparison.

I thought you were smarter than that.

Then is used for everything else. Not really. It's used for time, sequence, and in addition to.

  1. She wasn't home then. (time)
  2. Then I came back. (sequence)
  3. It cost $500.00. And then there's the tax and shipping. Then you need to tip. (in addition to)

A vial is a small container for holding liquids.

Vile is an adjective which describes something or someone as being repulsive or depraved.

And finally, my favorite!

Who vs. Whom

Who refers to the subject and whom refers to the object. Sure, that's confusing, so here's my test to decide which to use.

If you can replace the word with "he" or "she" then who is correct.

If you can replace the word with "him" or "her" then whom is correct.


Who wrote the letter?
She wrote the letter.
Her wrote the letter.

Whom did the principal scold?
The principal scolded her.
The principal scolded she.

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Lunch Date with Zaxby's Chicken

Just a quick journal-like note for my friends out there in the blogosphere. Today is a sad day…

It's my half day, so I'm off at 12:30 this afternoon. My husband promised to have lunch with his workout buddies so they're all going to goat balls, which is a nickname I made up for this Greek restaurant they all love and I hate.

Anyway, so I have no friends today. My only option is to grab something on the way home, so I pick up a plate of 5 chicken fingers from Zaxby's. I figure these will go well with the rice Tim made the other day, so I pass on the fries, "Just the fingers, thanks," I answer back at the intercom.

When I arrive home, to my dismay, what little rice is left in the rice cooker is hardened and inedible. So, now I'm left with chicken fingers and nothing else. I contemplate making tomato soup, but I'm too lazy.

I dunk the fingers in Zaxby sauce and Ranch dressing and wolf them down. With some food in my tummy, I figure I will get a good start on the afternoon with a great blog entry for you all. And then it happens.

The voices in my head stop talking. I have nothing to say, therefore nothing to write about. All I can think about is the fact I had nothing to eat but Zaxby's chicken and I'm all alone [insert favorite sad face here]. So I figure, maybe I could share my lunch with you! Here's to having great company.

So, what did YOU have for lunch today?

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Righting the Write Words - Part 1

I've been running into plenty of these situations lately where writers are ignoring the rules of grammar or just not proofing their work as diligently as they should. I've made these same mistakes, so don't go all whiny on me about my being some sort of snot for posting this. Grammar is very important to me, and as a reader, if we're going to have an intimate relationship, please learn to keep it clean.

It's okay with our drafts, because our spellcheckers don't always alert on these commonly mistaken words. This is more a simple reminder for myself. The more I preach it, the more likely I am to pay attention when selecting my words. I'll start with the obvious, and I'm providing some more words toward the end of this post, those I had to look up to remind myself of the meanings.

So here they are!

Contractions examples:

Who's is the contraction of who and is and shouldn't be confused with the other.

Whose is the same as asking who will take ownership of something.

"So, whose idea was it to put the goldfish in the toilet?"

It's is the contraction of it and is and shouldn't be confused with the other.

Its is actually the possessive pronoun like his and hers and indicates belonging.

"When were you going to tell me about the new dog and its seven puppies I found in the garage?"

There, their, and they're examples:

  1. I ran like hell and I left my keys over there.
  2. The looks on their faces tell me I shouldn't go back.
  3. They're bound to come after me at some point.

To, two, and too examples:

  1. I'm heading to the store.
  2. I'm buying two loaves of bread.
  3. Would you like to come, too?

And more confusing words

Whether - used to introduce an alternative.

"I didn't know whether to laugh or cry."

Weather - it's what two boring people talk about when they have nothing interesting to say.

"Yep, looks like rain. Been some nasty weather around lately."

Affect - is a verb meaning to have an influence on.

"Her stupidity is affecting my ability to do my job."

Effect - is a noun meaning a cause of change brought about by an agent.

"He had a major effect on the outcome of that game."

Loose - is an adjective meaning not fastened, contained or restrained.

"Your dress is too loose. Maybe try a smaller size?"

Lose - is a verb and has many meanings such as not to win, to mislay, etc.

"Check mate, you lose."

Accept - is a verb and has many meanings among which are to receive something.

"I accept your apology."

Except - is a preposition meaning 'with the exclusion of'.

"You can have all the Eagles albums except their greatest hits."

Elicit - is a verb meaning to bring or draw out/gather information.

"Don't try to elicit a confession from me. I told you already, I didn't do it."

Illicit - is an adjective meaning not sanctioned by custom or law.

"She performed illicit sexual acts on the stage."

Passed - this is the past tense of the verb to pass.

"He passed me the ball and I ran it in for the touch down."

Past - the time before the present, no longer current.

"In the past, we would just draw straws and the person with the short straw was shit out of luck."

Complement - to complete, make whole, or bring to perfection.

"That blue color complements your eyes."

Compliment - an expression of praise, admiration, or congratulation.

"She's always fishing for compliments."

Dependent - relying on or requiring the aid of another.

"My schedule next week is dependent upon my mother's arrival."

Dependant - one who relies on another, especially for financial support.

"As my dependant, my daughter will remain enrolled in my health care program until she finishes college."

And, to avoid any confusion in the future, remember this:

A councillor is a member of a council (noun), which is a deliberate body of people.

A counsellor is a person who counsels (verb) others.

Are there other words you find yourself looking up to ensure you're using the write one? Affect and effect are my problem ones. I look them up every time I want to use one or the other, because I never remember which is witch.

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