Saturday, December 31, 2011

WIN a signed ARC of LADIES IN WAITING

You -- yes, YOU! -- have the chance to win a rare signed LADIES IN WAITING ARC. Do you want to find out why Eliza is dressing in drag and pretending to keep notorious actress Nell Gwynn as a mistress? Do you yearn to know whether sweet Beth escapes her mad, syphillitic mother's clutches? And most important, will Zabby bed King Charles? Yes, we are deep into the YA world now, and anything goes, especially when I can use 17th century slang for obscene acts and body parts. (I personally can't think of any that count as obscene, but you know the censors...)


Use this handy-dandy entry form to enter. (This is my first time using a google doc form, so I hope it works!) The contest runs from now until January 15th. Good luck!


Friday, December 30, 2011

My Future is History!


We turn our attention from fairies (and sociopaths in the swamp) to history. Next year, I'll have two historicals coming out from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and so this blog will be taking on a decidedly antiquarian slant. Fear not! Though fairy magic will be gone (until you convince enough of your friends to buy the first two Green Hill books so I can write another sequel) there is plenty to titillate you in Seventeenth Century England, the setting of my upcoming Ladies in Waiting.

You'll meet King Charles II, the merry monarch more famous for his mistresses than his governance. There will be plagues and fire, murder and seduction, bosoms, codpieces and cross dressing, and perhaps the most peculiar incident of fellatio in history, involving a countess and a mummified saint.

As you can see, this blog is also becoming decidedly PG-13. Prepare for ribaldry!

Book giveaways soon!

XO
Laura


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Me: I'm back!

The Rest of the World: You were gone?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Darling Two-Tailed Demon Cat

Mothers can't have favorites (in public anyway) but authors certainly can. The Bake-Neko is one of my favorite characters in Guardian of the Green Hill. How can I resist a two-tailed demon cat who looks like this:

and says:

You did the great magic, did you not? Surely that was all for me, lovely me? I imagine you heard of my great beauty and unsurpassed softness and decided you must stop at nothing to do me this favor. And I, in return, allow you a glimpse of me.”

Or, when he finds the heroine unclothed:

The protuberances and declivities of your species don’t interest me. Or perhaps you hide your ungainly hairless body in natural shame, for beside lovely me, what an unsightly creature you are. Still, as there must be admirers and admirerees, I do not begrudge you your existence.”

The quintessence of cathood, my Bake-Neko considers himself the supreme being, but he's gracious enough to occasionally help out the less-fortunate and less-furry. The Bake-Neko (or bake-neko, or bakeneko) of Japanese folklore is a confusing creature, sometimes benevolent, sometimes downright wicked. So of course he fits in well with the morally ambiguous fairies. According to some legends, a cat can become bake-neko if it lives a certain number of years (I've read anything from 13 to 100), grows an unusually long tail, or weighs more than one kan, which is a little over 8 pounds. So apparently, every cat I've ever owned is a bake-neko. Sometimes they live peacefully with humans and bring luck and riches to their companions. Sometimes they eat the woman who owns them and take her shape.

And, because all writers have to have cats, here is my own little neko, Whiskey:

XO
Laura

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Guest Post -- JRo's Pet Words


I'm very happy to have MG and YA writer JRo (Jaye Robin Brown) as my guest on The Omniscient Third Person. I too definitely indulge my inner gangsta on occasion, usually when I'm alone in the car and I can crank up the crunk without scarring my Little Guy for life. What does one of her pet words have in common with one of my favorites, odsfish? They're both minced oaths. I think I'll write about them one of these days. Visit JRo at her blog, http://www.jayerobinbrown.blogspot.com/ XO, L


I’m excited to have a chance to blog about words. Because words are power. Words can create entire worlds, paint pictures, and fill us with intense emotion. Words are also fun. Made-up words or words that just roll around and squish over your tongue. Words that make you giggle. Words are good medicine.

So, in no certain order, in stream of consciousness style, I give you a few of my favorites.

Juicy – Just say it. Juicy. That rounding of the mouth, the “oo” sound – the thought of ripe fruit, yellow-packaged gum, or a hot babe.

Obstreperous – This one requires a deepening of the voice. Imagine a British nanny, harrumphing her way across the page, complaining (her glasses on the bridge of her nose) about “controlling that obstreperous child.” I love this word. In a recent art project where my Art I students picked three words to describe themselves and made a collage with those words, my loud and uncontrollable sophomore girl picked this word for herself. And it’s perfect.

Shizz – Okay, this is one of those made-up words brought to us by pop culture icon, Snoop Dog. But it’s just fun to say, “That is the shizz!” It feels naughty. Like you’re cheating, because it’s a five letter word not a four letter word. It brings out your inner gangsta and makes you want to walk with a hitch in your stride. Fasnizzle my schnizzle, yo!

There are about a bazillion more most excellent words in our language. And don’t get me started on French – now there’s a language with some pretty words. But I’ll stop here, hoping you have a juicy day that is totally the shizz, even if you are feeling a bit obstreperous.

@jayerobinbrown

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Great Price on Kindle Under the Green Hill

My wonderful publisher has set the Kindle price of Under the Green Hill at only $2.99! With the second book in the Green Hill series out now, this is a great opportunity to catch up on the first one. Thanks, Macmillan!! I'm not sure how long this special deal will last, so get while the gettin' is good!

XO
Laura

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Meet the Cover Characters


There are a lot of people (and fairies, and demon cats) on the cover of Guardian of the Green Hill, so I think I'll introduce you to a few of them. Today we have the star of the show, Meg Morgan.



Both Under the Green Hill and Guardian of the Green Hill are to a certain extent ensemble pieces, but Meg is the main character. She's twelve (she was older in earlier versions, but I'm a little old-fashioned and forget how elderly a thirteen year old girl can really be) and is an adorable little worry-wort with a mother-complex, who will take the weight of the world on her shoulders if it means saving those she loves.

In the first book, she took her older brother's place when he was recruited to fight in the fairy Midsummer War. Now she's feeling pressured to take over for her ancient great-great aunt Phyllida, the current Guardian, mediator between the human and fair worlds. Meg is brave, clever, loyal... but she doesn't know if she's ready to be saddled with a lifetime of responsibilities. Of course, she's a much better candidate than the psychotic artist who is scheming for the job!

In the cover art, she's shown drowsing in a bluebell wood. I hope you all know to stay away from those! They're as bad as mushroom rings. Meg has had several artistic incarnations, and though this version doesn't look exactly as I picture her, I love her pose, her tomboyish angles, her vulnerability. Can you imagine sleeping with all those things looming behind you?

XO
Laura

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Guest Post -- Shanan the Book Addict's Pet Words

Today, Shanan the Book Addict pays a visit to talk about some of her favorite words -- and they are doozies! If you'd like to write a guest post about your pet words, email me!

For the Love of Words

My grandmother was a huge reader and a huge lover of words. I remember one day she taught me a word that has stayed with me ever since. I try to use it every chance I get (which is not very often). It is probably my favorite word in part because it is fun to say. The word is sesquipedalian ([ses-kwi-pi-dey-lee-uhn, -deyl-yuhn])--the big word for people who love big words. It is positively poetic.

Another word that I love the sound of is serendipity ([ser-uhn-dip-i-tee])--an aptitude for making desirable discovery by accident. How can you not love a word with an alliteration in the definition? Oh wait there is another word I love – alliteration ([uh-lit-uh-rey-shuhn]). The word itself sounds okay – but the commencement of two or more words of a word group with the same letter is a lot of fun. It allows me to say Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers which always gives me a reason to smile.

BAM! Head in hand – I almost forgot another of my favorite words, onomatopoeia ([on-uh-mat-uh-pee-uh, ‐mah-tuh‐]) or a word for words formed by imitation of a sound made by or associated with its referent. I remember learning this word in school and having them show clips of the old Batman shows where they put words like BOOM! across the screen during the fight scenes.

My teachers also liked to teach with puzzles (or maybe they just knew I liked learning with puzzles?). Whatever the reason, some of my favorite puzzles involve creating palindromes ([pal-in-drohm]) or words, lines, verse, etc. that can be read the same forward and backwards. Madam, I'm Adam or Poor Dan is in a droop or if I want to be boring the word level (which ironically is the one I always remember first).

I remember winning a contest in one of my grade school classes to find and list the most oxymorons ([ok-si-mawr-on, -mohr-on]) or a figure of speech where two or more words come together to form an apparent contradiction for effect. Since I love seafood (and live in the desert so I do not get to eat it enough), my first example was always Jumbo Shrimp.

So I hope you enjoyed the trip through some of my favorite words. I hope they make you smile too.



Friday, October 28, 2011

Things That Were and Now Are Not

I'm editing DELUSION now -- a romantic fantasy (or adventure fantasy, or historical fantasy) about two stage illusionist sisters in WWII London who flee the Blitz and discover a secret all-male college of real magicians in the countryside. I thought I'd occasionally post about some of my pet words or paragraphs that wind up on the cutting-room floor. (For some of the more risque examples, see this post.)

Today I cut the word CROCODILE. "She barreled past a crocodile of little boys who looked at her in thrilled amazement." Not the toothy reptile, but the line of small school children. Generally children in a crocodile walk two-by-two, with an adult fore and aft. Think Madeline and the twelve little girls in two straight lines.

My editor claimed -- no doubt correctly, because she has impeccable editorial judgement -- that hardly anyone alive today knows what a crocodile is, and I happily agreed to take it out and substitute the word "line." (Well, not entirely happily. To be perfectly frank there is still a small part of me that wants all my manuscripts to be 300,000 words, and filled with as much arcana as possible. But still, pretty happy, in the grand scheme of things.)

But I'd love to know... did you know the term? Would you balk mid-narrative if you read it?

XO
Laura

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Neighbors the Unicorns

I'm not particularly worried about truth.

An odd thing for a person who revels in the pursuit of knowledge, I suppose. But my early training taught me to question everything, and while in most people I think this usually leads to a quest for pure facts, in me it produced a rather blasé attitude toward the truth. If everything could be wrong, why commit to one thing and call it a fact? The idea that absence of proof is not proof of absence allows us to consider the possibility of almost anything.

I also don't particularly worry about belief. I don't believe in much, but I do love to think things, which is almost like believing. Take, for example, this photograph of a herd of unicorns on the hill across from my house:

Of course, I know they're probably horses, and I could always hike over there and prove that they are horses. But I really enjoy thinking that they are unicorns. If you pinned me down (I'd give you a good fight, but I'm out of practice so you might try it) I'd probably admit that I don't actually believe in unicorns. But should silly little things like truth and belief get in the way of my enjoyment?

That's one of the things I love most about writing fiction – and reading it, for that matter. I can wholeheartedly believe in something I know isn't true.

What do you believe in, or pretend to believe in, or wish you could believe in, even though you know (or assume) it isn't true?

XO
Laura

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

GUARDIAN OF THE GREEN HILL is released today!


Should I pretend I'm all jaded and blasé that my second book is releasing today, or should I admit that I've spent the whole morning communicating exclusively in squeals and giggles, with a big silly grin on my face? Actually, I get like that every time I realize I've actually been published, that you can find my books in bookstores, that kids have curled up under the covers with their flashlights, refusing to go to bed because they have to read one more chapter of Under the Green Hill.

Now, O glorious day, the sequel, Guardian of the Green Hill, is out! Authors are never supposed to ask you to buy their books (so gauche!) but between you and me, I'd really love it if you bought a copy of Guardian. Or checked it out of the library. You'll like it, because it has:

  • Fairies (of course!)
  • Danger, deception, murder, grief
  • Puppy love (to make all that bad stuff better)
  • Brave and noble, terrified and confused Meg Morgan
  • The deliciously nasty (but ultimately lovable) Finn Fachan
  • A talking goat
  • The return of the learned Wyrm
  • A lovely two-tailed demon cat
  • An insane artist
  • A pig-snouted giant
  • The terrible, shocking, unexpected death of a favorite character (and I'm not telling!)

You don't have to read the first book to enjoy Guardian of the Green Hill. All you need to know is that the Morgan children and a couple of their friends went to England and got caught in a fairy war. Now that Meg has emerged victorious, she is faced with the terrible responsibility of taking over for her great-great-aunt Phyllida, the Guardian who mediates between the worlds of humans and fairies. But a wicked relative wants to steal the Guardian's power, and targets Meg.

You can buy it here:

Or you can ask your favorite bookseller to order it for you (if it isn't already on the shelves) which is my personal favorite method!

 
XO
Laura



Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Ani DiFranco Fantasy



Lee's writing is very good and thoughtful, full of rich stories, details and characterizations. If you are looking for something different, not your typical romance and like the meandery feel of storytelling, then you would probably like this book. I found while reading this that I wanted to listen to Ani DiFranco music.”


Ani DiFranco! Thank you, Coreena, for giving me a new fantasy. I've always dreamed of having Brightwing made into a movie (it is the most cinematic thing I've written) and imagined who might play the lead roles. Now I know exactly who I'd want to do the soundtrack. You're so right, Coreena – Ani DiFranco would be absolutely perfect.

Ani DiFranco's music provided the soundtrack for my college years, the hymns of my age of discovery, the anthem for a love affair that haunts me still. Oh, if she could ever write songs for Lucy and Edgar and Mallory's twisted triangle of devotion and violence and solace...

I interviewed Ani DiFranco for my first official writing assignment, for the Cornell Daily Sun. She was at the time the most exciting person I'd ever met, indie before anyone knew what indie was, exuberantly, lyrically left, with words that clutched me and a voice that rent me. Yeah, I probably had a little crush on her. I became a fan of her early music – Imperfectly is my favorite album. But I tend to get stuck in musical eras and never advance. Funny, if I have a favorite author I always rush to get their new book, but with a musician, I stick to whatever songs I first discover. So I know none of Ani DiFranco's post-2000 work. Are any of you fans? I'm going to pick up a couple of CDs at her Righteous Babe Records web site, and I'd love to hear which albums are your favorites.

XO
Laura

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Hermit Creeps Out of Her Cave


I think I would make a pretty good hermit. I go through periods (happy periods, mind you, not withdrawn or depressive episodes) where I feel almost no need to have any contact with people. Historically, this used to be fairly easy, and even a smart career path. You move to a mountaintop, grow a beard (well, in my case I'd have to make do with not shaving my pits) and suddenly you're mysterious and wise, and people hike up to ask your advice. Which does sort of defeat the purpose of being a hermit, I suppose, but it must be gratifying.


These days, it is much harder to get away. Avoiding actual, physical people for a few days is easy enough. But there are so many virtual (real but intangible) people in my life – followers and facebook friends and fellow-forumites – that it takes more than a trek up a hill to escape, even for a while. It takes a tremendous amount of willpower not to check Twitter or stop by Verla Kay's Blue Boards. (Which might mean that I'm not truly in hermit-mode.) Facebook made it easy now that it has stopped sending me email alerts about everything, but the compulsion to be connected is still occasionally at war with my need for solitude.

Which is a roundabout way of saying I'm sorry I haven't posted for a while, or kept up with any of my other social media. I've been working on a few new projects, enjoying the weather, worrying about a chicken, contemplating life, the universe and everything, and so I had to step away for a couple of weeks.

It got me to thinking, though, how one goes about being a truly reclusive writer. I mean, you have to be famous before anyone cares whether you're accessible, right? Are you a recluse if no one is seeking you out? And these days, is it possible to be famous in the first place without being accessible?

Sometimes I fantasize about dropping off the face of the e-earth, deleting all accounts, and having my name appear nowhere except the covers of my books. Do you? Would you? Could you?

XO
Laura

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Under the Green Hill is Out in Paperback


I can hardly believe it has been almost a year since my first book, Under the Green Hill, was released. Now, just a few days ago, they've released a stunning new paperback edition.



Macmillan/Square Fish has done an amazing job of revitalizing the series, with a brand-new cover by Jon Foster. He also did the cover for the sequel, Guardian of the Green Hill, which will be out in about three more weeks. The interior line art in both books is by David Wyatt.

For the paperback edition, Square Fish has included a long and intimate interview with yours truly, and a sneak peek at the first chapter of the sequel.

I'm so very happy that people are still discovering Under the Green Hill. I had this lovely review not long ago. I hope this new paperback edition will entice a lot more readers into the treacherous and exciting fairy world that lies Under the Green Hill!

XO
Laura

Monday, September 26, 2011

Guest post -- Jen's Pet Word: Feedback


Today we engage in a little group therapy with my guest, Jen from Jenaissance, and her Pet Word (one of those annoying, feral pets): feedback.

Here's a word I can't stand: feedback. I'm not talking about it in a technical sense -- “We've got feedback on mike one!” In that context it's a perfectly good word. It's the other usage – the touchy-feely, politically correct, don't-take-it-personally – that drives me nuts.

Full disclosure: I'm what we like to refer to as “mentally interesting.” This means I've had more than my fair share of group therapy. For the uninitiated, that would be a “safe environment” where you come together to “dialogue” about your issues and receive “feedback” (aha!) from others. Yes, there is a lot of Kleenex involved.

As you can imagine, we're a bit fragile in our sensibilities. In other words, we don't respond well to criticism (more Kleenex!) Therefore, we receive “negative feedback” from our peers. It's an excellent opportunity to practice our “I” statements. “I feel that perhaps you are not being as assertive as you might be.” This is negative feedback; it's our personal opinion given in the hopes of providing you with some clarity. (I'm good at this, aren't I?) “Stand up for yourself, already!” is not seen as productive.

Now lest you think it's all mean girls on Xanax, there is also “positive feedback.” This is when someone tries to come up with something nice to say to you, usually at the behest of the group leader. It generally happens after several negatives have been shared. You know, the kind of things grandmas say. “I feel it was very brave of you to share today.” It's sort of the therapeutic equivalent of saying someone has a nice personality.

“Feedback” is such a non-confrontational term that it's been happily co-opted by human resources departments everywhere. It's got multiple applications – it can be used to describe your performance, advise on your projects, and tell you that the company's being downsized starting with you. It's the kinder, gentler approach. Okay, it's the approach the least likely to get you sued.

Now that I have shared, I feel that this has been a useful and informative endeavor. I think that I have achieved my purpose, and take satisfaction in that. Thank you for your participation. Please feel free to leave me your feedback in the comments.

Thanks for being my guest this week, Jen!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Some LANA HALLIDAY Reviews

Not a lot of people review short stories, so I want to express my special thanks to the bloggers who took the time to read -- and write about -- my short story, LANA HALLIDAY. If you'd like a review copy yourself, just let me know, or it is 99-cents on Amazon.


Wendy at Minding Spot said:
"The characters are quirky and likable, and the story is well-paced and cleverly crafted. I loved it!"


Anachronist from Books as Portable Pieces of Thought said:
"Lana Halliday was a girl after my own heart -- clever, devious, not afraid of getting dirty, always there when her friend needs her the most."


Jen at Jenaissance said:
"Lana's that girl we all want to be -- she knows what she's got, she's not afraid to use it, and she does it all with style.  She manages the men with such efficiency that not only do they not notice, they think they're the ones pulling the strings."


Thanks Wendy, Anachronist and Jen!


XO
Laura 









Friday, September 23, 2011

Did I miss a Brightwing winner?

I have a feeling I missed a winner from one of my blogger-friends' Brightwing giveaways, but I can't track them down. I filed away in my memory that I had three signed hard copies to mail out, but when I went through my records I could only find two outstanding winners. Am I imagining things? (Force of habit, eh?) Did I delete an email accidentally? Well, if I owe you a book, please let me know! In the meantime, I'm going through old emails again. If I missed you, whoever you are, if, in fact, you exist, I'm sorry!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pet Words – Fairy (and Fairie, and Faery, and Fae)


Fairies are elusive beings, and their name is almost as mysterious as the creatures themselves. In Under the Green Hill (out now) and its companion, Guardian of the Green Hill (out in October) you'll learn a lot about fairies, but nothing about their name, so I thought I'd spend a little time on their many titles here.

Fairies are known shape-shifters, so it is only fitting that their name has many variants: fairy, faery, faerie, fae, fay. Which is right? Find a fairy and make them tell you! The word comes from Latin fata – the Fates – and before that, probably ultimately from a word meaning “to speak” which also gives us the word fame. How the title for the three women who were responsible for everyone's destiny became the word for the courtly and monstrous creatures known as fairies is slightly beyond me... but I guess that's what centuries will do to a word.

(Originally, fae meant the creatures themselves, and the -ery suffex meant their home, the Land of Faery – cf bakery, nunnery, rookery – and also their peculiar ways – cf knavery, tomfoolery. And that, my dears, is the first time in my life I've ever used cf, which is an abbreviation of Latin conferre, meaning compare.)

To make matters worse, it is often considered bad luck to say the word fairy directly. Saying their name is a sure way to call them – which is the last thing any sensible person wants. Fine if you get a wee pixie, but what if you get a Nuckelavee? (He's a sort of skinless sea-centaur who eats humans.) So people would call them the Neighbors, the Good Folk, the Wee Folk, the Fair Folk, the Gentry, the Green Men.

For the next few weeks, I'll be having a lot of fairy-themed posts here, to celebrate my two upcoming Green Hill releases. Do you have a favorite fairy? (You can say it is Tinker Bell – I won't laugh. She's malicious enough for the Unseelie Court.) I'll be reaching out to my many fairy-loving friends, too, to see if they'd like to do a guest post here. I love having company stop by!

XO
Laura le Fay

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wendy's Pet Words

My guest today is Wendy from Minding Spot, whose Pet Words are her pet peeves. (She was lovely enough to review both Brightwing and Lana Halliday on her blog, so check those out when you have a sec!)

Everyone has a pet peeve, but those that read and write have pet words. Those pesky little words that make you cringe, shudder or frown. When I was younger, I always thought I sounded intelligent speaking the biggest words I could find; I'd learn what they mean and use them in a sentence. My mom tells me I drove her crazy with humongous for several years. What's not to like about humongous?

"I'll have that humongous piece of chocolate cake!"
"I'm not kidding about that spider! It's humongous!" EWW! But it gets the point across.

These days my favorite large word is facetious. I love that word! I use it whenever I can but I try not to overdo it. Now on the flipside, there are several words that make me frown. I'd raise my eyebrow but I never learned how to do that. Shut up drives me loco. Seriously. It's two words – sure – but it's so rude it lights my fire and sparks shoot out of my ears. My kids have learned not to say shut up unless they want the wrath of crazy on them. It's like a curse word. This country has the freedom of speech and I intend to use it as often as possible. My dad always said my name should have been spelled with an i (Windy). Ha! Granted, there is a time and place for everything, but "Can you please be quiet?" is so much nicer.

Another word I can't stand to read or hear is fool. I realize it has a definite meaning, but there are other words out there to use in its place. Somewhere in my childhood, it was driven into my brain that it wasn't a nice word. I can't pinpoint where it was, but it has stayed with me and everytime I read it or hear it, my lip curls in distaste.

"I was just fooling you." Really? A joke... say it isn't so.
"You are a fool!" Shudder...shudder.

As a prolific reader, there are several other words that give me the heebeejeebees, but those two rate right up there. And don't get me started with romance novels, seriously some of those adverbs can send me right into a swoon. "His sweat drops bursting on my tongue tasted like fresh rain on a moonlit night." Seriously? Um, no.

But I'm getting carried away and that is a different discussion on another day. I'd like to thank Laura for inviting me today. This is my first guest blog so I hope I didn't bore you too much. I'd love to know what your thoughts are, and your own pet words! As always, feel free to visit me at Minding Spot.
The pleasure was all mine and I'm not being facetious! Seriously, it was a humongous honor!
Wendy

Monday, September 12, 2011

Guest Post -- Jinny's Pet Word: Inflammable

My Pet Words guest today is Jinny from SkyInk. I just love her choice! I always have to stop and think about this counterintuitive word -- so much that I've excised it from my personal vocabulary. Maybe it's time I added it back again. I have a similar problem with the word pitted -- do pitted pruned have pits?

Inflammable isn't exactly a favourite word of mine, but it's a word that I find extremely interesting, and there's some small smug satisfaction I get from correcting people who think it means the opposite of flammable.




I first heard of the word inflammable when I was really young and watching an episode of The Simpsons. I can't remember the specifics, but the characters were talking about some sort of gas that was contained in a tank in a building that was on fire. One of the characters said, “It's okay, the tank says it's inflammable.” This made complete sense to me because the affix in- usually means it can't be touched or affected. Like invulnerable. Or indestructible.

Of course, one second later, another character performs the punchline by informing the first that inflammable actually means the exact same thing as flammable. For some reason, whenever I think of the words inflammable and flammable, that Simpsons episode always comes back to mind.

Inflammable, to me, is a really interesting word because it doesn't follow the pattern that my other example words (indestructible, invulnerable) exhibit with the in- affix (and I guess I'm a bit nerdy in that I am fascinated by affixes and suffixes, and even pseudo-affixes – for example, have you noticed how a lot of words that have to do with light or shiny things begin with gl-? Like glow, glisten, glimmer, etc.) Not only that, it has the exact same meaning as flammable, which has a much clearer meaning. Both are adjectives that mean easy to burn. Most would assume they mean the opposite of one another. Well, what's the deal with these two similar words?

Inflammable appears to actually be the older word, if we compare when the two words were first used. It comes from the Latin word inflammābilis. The in- part of the word really isn't meant to be an affix at all, it's just part of the word. -able is a suffix though. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as, “Capable of being inflamed or set on fire; susceptible of combustion; easily set on fire” and its oldest recorded use is from 1605, from a book called The practise of chymicall, and hermeticall physicke.

Flammable also has its roots in Latin, flammāre. According to the OED, its first recorded use was 1813, from a book called Nature of Things.

So it seems that inflammable is the “traditional” word, and flammable was picked up later. According to the Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage, people tried to replaced inflammable with flammable in the 1920's for fear that the ordinary masses would mistake inflammable to mean unable to burn. It's a legitimate safety concern, I would think. Imagine someone picking up a can of hairspray or something similar and seeing the word inflammable printed on it. What's their first thoughts going to be? “Oh I guess hairspray can't be set on fire.” That's how accidents happen :(

Of course, then linguists got all upset that other people are trying to “mess around with the language”, so to speak. I guess that's why we still have both words in use, and I guess that's why some people are still confused. Although I just checked my cans of hairspray and other inflammable/flammable products and they all use the word flammable instead. So maybe the linguists aren't winning? Heh. But now you know they are both the exact same meaning and that the in- is not an affix. Go spread the word!

Thanks so much for visiting my blog, Jinny!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I want to cuddle everything!

Now I know why my cat goes through two cups of cat food every night -- he has a friend!


And another two cups in the daytime -- he has to share with the neighbor's chickens.

Isn't this baby opossum just adorable? I have a cuddling compulsion, and this little guy was so fearless I was tempted to try to tame him. But no, I was good and controlled myself. No more interfering with nature. Just feeding it sometimes, accidentally.

I'm trying to remember to take pictures of interesting things for you. Yesterday I saved a tiny newborn ringneck snake who somehow invaded my closet (or hatched there?!?) and got himself hopelessly tangled in cobwebs and cat hair. Which tells you something about my housekeeping. Anyway, after an hour of work with my tweezers and a couple of makeup brushes (very delicate work!) I freed him and got to play with him and let him go, fully rehabilitated. Do you know, they're apparently mildly venomous, but they're rear fanged and so docile that they never get included with the other venomous snakes. Silly me, I didn't take a photo of him, but this is what he looked like, about the size of an emaciated worm. (Someone else's snake, and someone else's hand, but a reasonable re-enactment of my adventure.)



XO
Laura

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Just when you think you know everything about your body...

Having been alive for... a while... I thought I knew pretty much all there is to know about myself and my body. So imagine my surprise when I'm suddenly allergic to watermelon. But only sometimes. My ex-husband brought one over for family dinner night (we have the best divorce EVER) grown in his friend's garden. Of course he nibbled while he prepared it, and within a minute his throat started swelling up. I had one bite before his symptoms started, and my mouth got incredibly itchy.

Being logical people, we assumed we were imagining it, because we had eaten plenty of watermelon before. (Being a writer, I assumed someone had injected the watermelon with poison, because that's what a character in a novel would do.)

But lo and behold, I looked it up, and apparently people who are allergic to ragweed will suddenly become allergic to certain other foods during the ragweed season -- all kinds of melons, cucumbers, zucchini. And boy oh boy, am I ever allergic to ragweed! And my ex-husband is too.

This ragweed pollen is having plant sex in my nose RIGHT NOW!


It never happened before, probably because I don't like melons much. I always wondered at that -- I like every other food in the world, except melons, which are pretty innocuous. Maybe my taste buds were just protecting me from anaphylaxis.

But isn't that odd? Apparently it only happens during ragweed season, and only with melons that are grown in a ragweed-y area. (And yes, I washed the melon, so pollen wasn't introduced from the outside.)

But it's not just ragweed. If you are allergic to other kinds of pollen, there are a whole host of foods to which you might be seasonally allergic. Mayo Clinic has a list.

This was completely new to me!

XO
Laura

Monday, September 5, 2011

Guest post -- Pixie's Pet Words

Today I'm honored to have Pixie from The Bookaholic paying us a visit to talk about some of her own Pet Words. Welcome Pixie!

I must first admit that I have a bit of a problem. I adore adjectives. I mean… I’m seriously addicted to the use of adjectives in my writing. I understand this can sometimes be a bad thing. Editors may pull out their hair if you overuse them (coining the phrase that at times it’s best to “keep it simple”), but nonetheless, I still love my adjectives. They can turn an ordinary scene into an extraordinary one when used properly. They can add additional interest to conversations and communications among characters, or add more vivid detail to appearances so a reader can visualize more.

But remember, there can always be too much of a good thing. Such words should always be used wisely. Try to avoid the more commonly-used as less as possible. Instead, use them with creativity for a more effective way to pull in your readers.

So, do you want to know what some of my favorite adjectives are? Here’s just a few:

Screeching- I like this word because it can describe a few different things. Screeching voice, screeching bird, screeching tires, etc. You get the idea. When I can use a word for a variety of descriptions, it’s one that sticks in my book.

Tiny- Tiny is probably a more common one actually, but I like it because it’s another one of those that can describe a number of things. Besides, I’m biased. I’m tiny, too.

Woozy- I don’t know why, but I’ve just always liked the way this word sounds. Nothing particular about it other than that! Haha!

There’s a small list of my favorites. The descriptions and characters you can create from the long list are just amazing and creative. In general, my pet words are adjectives. I love them!

Thank you so much Laura, for having me on your blog, and allowing me to share my Pet Words! It’s been fun!



Friday, September 2, 2011

Please help me win a $25,000 makeover!

With your help, I might win a $25,000 Living Room Makeover!

I am one of the finalists in All Modern's $25,000 Unleash Your Chic Side Challenge. If I win, HGTV's John Gidding will help me redesign my living room with All Modern's sleek and lovely furniture. I'd love it if you would vote for me!

Just go to the All Modern Facebook page – First you have to “Like” them, and then you can click on the side link “Contest Voting.” Click "Vote Now" and from there, just scroll down and vote for Laura S. from London, KY! Your vote won't count until you get the confirmation email and validate it.

I just love the furniture they have at All Modern. How could I choose between this gorgeous black Barcelona couch:

And this delicious number in my favorite color:


Please vote by October 16!
XO
Laura







Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pet Words Guest Post – Aardvark

I am delighted to have book blogger Anachronist on The Omniscient Third Person today. You simply MUST go visit her at her blog, Books as Portable Pieces of Thoughts. She is a voracious and eclectic reader (much like yours truly) and a sharp reviewer. Today she talks about the beast that named itself solely to appear first in the dictionary.

Believe me, English is not a simple language. Ok, the basic-level grammar sounds nice and uncomplicated at first glance but vocabulary is a multi-headed monster and don’t even let me start on pronunciation. Not being a native English speaker I had to learn this beautiful language slowly and painfully, making mistakes, blushing profusely and correcting them over and over again. Gosh, I am still learning with every new book and every new author and despite that fact my knowledge sometimes fails me miserably; however, with every mistake I try to discover something new. Every cloud has a silver lining, right?

Once upon a time I stumbled upon this little cartoon:



I didn’t get it at all - I knew it was supposed to be funny but I didn’t understand the key word: aardvark. I went: ‘Huh? Why is this girl on all fours and why does her Harold have to know she has something foreign inside her?’ To tell you the truth the “aardvark” word sounded like some kind of exotic food or a machine. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Aardvark, also called colloquially antbear or anteater, is a medium-sized, burrowing, nocturnal mammal native to Africa. It is a very strange-looking creature, practically a living fossil, with tough skin, big ears, thin, pale yellowish gray coat, longish snout and sturdy feet with long, strong claws. It eats almost exclusively ants and termites. The only fruit aardvarks feed on is called (no surprises here) aardvark cucumber. One thing about aardvark I guessed correctly, though – the name came to English from a foreign language, more precisely from Afrikaans/Dutch (aarde – earth/ground, varken pig).


Aardvark female with a young, courtesy of Wikipedia. Aren’t they cute?

Ok, so why the girl, presented in the cartoon, called herself aardvark and even claimed she’s got one inside ? Well, the sense of humour is sometimes a difficult thing to catch or to pass around. First I thought the whole joke had only sexual context (have you noticed her tongue? ;)) until I found out that in African folklore the aardvark is much admired because of its diligent quest for food and dauntless response to ants. What’s more, some African magicians allegedly make a charm using this animal’s body parts along with other, undoubtedly secret ingredients which can give its happy owner the ability to pass through walls or roofs at night. As you can imagine such a charm might have many uses; it is undoubtedly very popular among burglars and teens in love who want to visit their sweethearts without the knowledge of their parents/guardians. As aardvarks are nocturnal, the charm works only at night - how very convenient, right? Perhaps I wasn’t so wide of the mark with my first guess after all and, all things considered, poor Harold should think twice before he decides to hang about with that girl…anyway from that time aardvark remained one of my favourite English words.
Thank you so much for being on The Omniscient Third Person, Anachronist!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Return to my Fairy Roots


I've been so giddy about Brightwing, and my exciting cover for Ladies in Waiting, that I've been neglecting my first love, middle grade fantasy. Since a lot of you found me here through Brightwing, I think really need to formally introduce you to my Green Hill series. After all, the paperback of the first book, Under the Green Hill, will be out September 27, and book two, Guardian of the Green Hill, is coming out in October!

So are you ready for some fairies and old English folklore? For pig-faced giants and talking goats and confused adolescent love and slithery old men with wicked intent toward little girls? For magic and courage and heartbreak and triumph? Then come with me to the world of the Green Hill.

(Quite a change from Brightwing's adult mayhem in the swamps, I know!)

Time for some cover love! Here is the hardback cover of Guardian of the Green Hill:



The artist is Jon Foster, who has done book and comic covers for Michael Moorcock and Neil Gaman. One of my favorite Jon Foster covers is Cherie Priest's Boneshaker.

He also did a new cover for book 1, Under the Green Hill, for the paperback edition:



And here is the original hardcover for Under the Green Hill, by one of my favorite fantasy artists, David Wyatt:



So brace yourselves! For the next couple of months we'll making frequent journeys to the Fairy realm. And if you stick with me, we might just manage to escape again. (Seriously. Do you have any idea how dangerous fairies are?!)

XO
Laura