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


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!


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!

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!

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.)


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!


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!