Friday, April 25, 2008

In Honor of...

I really should have posted this on Wednesday, April 23rd, but I didn’t quite finish it on time. That day was both Shakespeare’s birthday and “Administrative Professionals” Day, the latter used to be called Secretary’s Day. This combination of the old and the new struck me as ironic.

Okay, I do know that English is a “living language” unlike Latin, for instance, so words in our language are constantly changing. Not all of them, and not all at once, of course, but changes do occur. For a glimpse of how this happens over time, just check out these lines (insults, really) from Shakespeare—

• Ah, you whoreson loggerhead, you were born to do me shame
• Pernicious and indubitate beggar
• A stony adversary, an inhuman wretch, uncapable of pity, void and empty from any dram of mercy

The Bard’s plays were not written for high school anthologies, but for paying customers, so the language in them was typical of the time, and often the insults brought a smile to the faces in the audience. As we looked at sites which quote the Bard, we smiled at some of them too. Indeed, upon arriving at school on Wednesday, my son got out of the car, looked about him and quoted, “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” I didn’t argue the point.

My teens have been talking about “speds” lately. My son had a close encounter with one last week, so both of them have discussed (not favorably) the practice of placing behavior disordered students in regular ed classrooms. From them, I learned that since I left the high school, it has become a violation of school policy to utter the term “special education” in association with a fellow student. I am not kidding. There are six teachers of special education at that school, but no special education students. Weird, huh?

I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, but it still strikes me as odd that the United States still has a Secretary of State, but the person who answers the phone at a local office is likely termed an “administrative professional.”

English is a changing language; however, and when “couch potato” makes the latest version of Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, it is clear that some slang is destined to become standard usage. Other expressions are likely to frozen in time, so “whoreson” and “groovy” represent different eras of English. I wonder what words being coined today will make it, and which ones will be mere relics of the text-message age.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

It is pouring.

We’ve had a drought here in northeastern Georgia, so much so that folks have quit griping when it rains. But rain has often been associated with the more depressing times in life. When Karen Carpenter sang about “Rainy Days and Mondays” we just knew that wasn’t gonna be a happy tune. When the poet Longfellow penned the words, “Into each life some rain must fall” he was acknowledging that things just don’t go well all of the time. And we all know the one I used as the title, “When it rains, it pours.”

This week has been a difficult one. Despite some comments from relatives, I don’t write many entries about my personal life, my friends, or my family, and if I do, I don’t usually insert names. By and large that is to protect the guilty. Innocence is rare these days. Again, no names, but I will describe the situations.

First, an assistant principal at my son’s school called to tell me that my son is suspended. A classmate, a nefarious dude from what I have heard, “intentionally antagonized him [my son]” so my son turned around and poked at him with a pencil. Thus began his three day vacation from the classroom. As is common in the world of educational fairness, the perpetrator got the same punishment. If our criminal justice system worked the same way, those who steal and those who are stolen from would serve the same jail time.

Second, I am writing this week, but not a novel. I have until Tuesday to get together my “testimony” for an academic appeal hearing. A student who cited wikipedia as a scholarly source and thinks “theirselves” is proper grammar for a research paper has appealed her grade in my class. Her term paper is just one exhibit which I am planning to use as evidence. I’m not worried about the hearing; I’ve watched hubby prepare legal briefs for many years, so I know how to make a case. It is just one more thing to do when I’d rather be doing something else.

As for rain, Dolly Parton once said, “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”

I could use a rainbow.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Google Alerts, a great tool for authors

I discovered a hidden gem via one of my author groups, Google Alerts. Within minutes, authors can be signed up for email alerts that can give them a new way to keep track of what people are saying about their titles, including new reviews, and keep up with publishing news.

Here is how it works—

Google Alerts sends you an email each time a new page for your chosen term makes it in the top twenty results on Google’s web search. You can also have the alert check Google News and/or Google Groups for terms you choose.

To sign up for a Google Alert, all that you need to do is visit the Google Alerts homepage, enter the search term, type of alert (search Google News, Google Groups, or the web), frequency of emails (daily, as it happens, or weekly), and your email address.

You can set up alerts for as many terms as you like using a Google Account. I have mine set to let me know when searchers look for my author name, my married name, and my book titles. I’ve learned of new reviews via Google Alert, and at the beginning of each quarter, my married name (the one I use at my school) usually gets several hits. There is no information on the web for my students, but they always try to find out about the English instructor, and Google lets me know about it.

Why should authors use alerts?

By receiving alerts on publishers and/or other authors who write in the same genre, you can learn who has a new contract, which might steer you toward a new publisher. Negative news can be just as important, when you might want to seek a different publisher or agent.

By having Google Alerts on both of my names and my novels, I can be on top of anything negative relating to either of them. Also, it is fun when an alert lets you know of someone praising your work or your publisher. Those are the types of things that you want to make sure are on the PR page of your website. Get a free account, and let the info come to you!

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Monday, April 07, 2008

This & That

People like to talk, don’t they? Sometimes they tell news and sometimes they tell something else entirely. I’m sure you know people who are of such integrity that you believe what they say, and others that you must take with more than the proverbial grain of salt. Lately, I seem to be bombarded with gossip, via phone, online, email, and especially over the dinner table.

After I posted an entry about poor editing in online publications and ebooks, I began to follow up on some of the problems in small press and epublishing. One fascinating source I came across is Dear Author. This site has book reviews, commentary, and news of the publishing industry. Some well known authors are among those who respond to the entries, so if you want to be “in the know” this site will interest you.

A friend mentioned a book, Conversation Peace, which is described as presenting “principles to help women revolutionize their speech habits and improve their relationships by focusing on ways to positively avoid sharing gossip, throwing negative barbs, or snapping sarcastic replies throughout everyday life.” If you are like me, you can think of some acquaintances who could benefit from this one. Some of the folks who call or visit seem to find their entertainment in spreading tales, often of questionable veracity. Yet, questioning “the news” can make one seem rude, but any rational person would have to question some of the tales which go around my small town.

I’d heard about a new bookstore here in Jackson County. A couple of weeks ago, I visited Bookstand of NE GA, which is at 337 Pottery Factory Drive, in Commerce. The phone number is 706-335-BOOK (2665). Their advertising touts “gently used books” and that certainly was the case when I visited. This store trades as well as sells, so you might bring in some of your gently used items. Locals, this store is at Banks Crossing, so stop in and check it out.

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