I’m curious – how many other “Liberty Hall Writers”:http://www.libertyhallwriters.org do we have here? I just joined up and am looking forward to bettering my craft.
There are some up-sides to having a couple of sick days to oneself. Other than working revisions later this evening on part one of this writing project I’ve been working on, I’m done with it. The plan is to send it back this evening and then await the final verdict. I’m hopeful; it would be a great opportunity to do some writing on a more regular basis.
Wish me luck!
Update: And it’s away, two days before deadline. I can breathe a bit easier now, knowing that it’s done. Now I wait to see if they like it enough…
The rule of thumb taught in grammar school was simple – use ‘a’ before words beginning with consonants and ‘an’ before words beginning with vowels. Simple, no?
Well, here’s one – ‘an’ before words beginning with ‘h’ (e.g. ‘an historian’). I’ve never really know what to do with this one. It’s always kind of bugged me, since it violates the basic rule I was taught as a younster but it also made a kind of sense, especially when you read the two words aloud.
Likewise, you run into similar situations with acronyms and abbreviations. Try following the rule and see what you get. Need an example? Here you go: “I just back from a SF convention.” Now, following the law of the land, this is grammatically correct. ‘SF’ begins with a consonant; therefore, you must lead with ‘a’. Or do you? If you read that phrase aloud, you run into a minor awkwardness – ‘SF’ is pronounced with a leading vowel sound. ‘Ess-eff.’
“Jack Lynch”:http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Writing/a.html has this to say about the subject:
bq. Use an in place of a when it precedes a vowel sound, not just a vowel. That means it’s “an honor” (the h is silent), but “a UFO” (because it’s pronounced yoo eff oh). This confuses people most often with acronyms and other abbreviations: some people think it’s wrong to use “an” in front of an abbreviation (like “MRI”) because “an” can only go before vowels. Poppycock: the sound is what matters. It’s “an MRI,” assuming you pronounce it “em ar eye.”
Sound advice, and a rule of thumb that I’ve leaned toward for a little while. I know that not everyone does – I’ve seen an equal number of people writer ‘a SF convention’ as ‘an SF convention’.
Of course, the other problem is when people read acronyms as the full word. Instead of reading ‘an SF convention,’ some people read ‘an science fiction convention,’ returning the sentence back to grammatical awkwardness. I think it is probable, though, that far fewer folks do this than those who read the acronym as the acronym.
What about you? How do you handle acronymns and abbreviations in your writing, and how do you read them?
Sandra Seamans submitted a nice little “drabble”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drabble to “Flashes of Speculation”:http://open-dialogue.com/fs called “A Rage of Angels”:http://open-dialogue.com/fs/2006/07/26/a-rage-of-angels-sandra-seamans/. Go check it out!
Side note: I’ve actually been considering a drabble contest over on Flashes, as soon as I figure out how to sponsor some prize support. Think there’d be much interest in such a competition?
Over the weekend, I won some back-issues (and forthcoming issues) of “Apex Digest”:http://apexdigest.com on eBay. I was thrilled, partly because I’ll be able to get caught up on reading everything and partly because several of the issues have been autographed by various contributors to the magazine.
I noticed a problem today, though – it turns out that when I updated all my address information in eBay, that information didn’t populate over to the primary shipping address for some reason. I’m pretty sure I told it to do so and even made a of point verifying it; I’m paranoid about this sort of thing. The shipping address that was placed on the purchase order is my old one, now seven months defunct. Our forwarding address information with the post office has long since expired.
I’ve been in a low state of panic for the last couple of hours since I noticed. I sent a quick email off to Jason Sizmore, the editor of Apex and the seller of the auction, notifying him of the problem and hoping that I noticed it before he got around to shipping the order. If I missed then I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to need to do in order to make sure I receive my merchandise. So, here’s waiting and hoping (and trying to figure out what Plan B might be, in the event of worst case scenario).
Somewhere, somehow, the database for this blog experienced a hiccup overnight – a very prolonged, drawn-out, and most probably painful hiccup. I’ve no clue what caused it, other than something exceeding the maximum of mysql queries at some point. Apparently web servers don’t like it when this happens because suddenly you notice that the database has crashed and no amount of coaxing and cajoling will lift it from its dejected state. Believe me, I tried. Fortunately, customer service for my provider is really rather good – a 10-minute wait on hold this morning followed by a 2-minute conversation, and the database was given some sort of powerful stimulant to allow it to go bouncing along its merry way again.
And all the world’s children rejoiced. Presumably.
So, if, by some far-off chance, you tried to leave a comment last night and were unable to, well, you can -live- breath again. Everything is up and running and happy.
I have discovered that apparently horses and writing go hand-in-hand. My wife had requested that we go riding this evening. Our two mounts have been woefully neglected the past few weeks due to our busy schedules, so today we felt that they were due to be ridden. I wanted to sit down and spend some time writing tonight, given that I have a deadline to meet this weekend, but the horses needed to be tended to first.
It is almost always relaxing and refreshing to spend time with the horses. When a ride goes smoothly, the rider leaves feeling refreshed and energetic. Such was my experience this evening. When I dropped back to the ground after a 20-minute ride, my mind was active, creative, and ready to write. Such happens so infrequently that I was eager to get back to my computer and work for a while.
I just finished a 75-minute writing stint, and I was pleased to note that I put nearly 1000 words down, half of what I need to finalize this story. With any luck, I’ll finish the other half tomorrow and set it aside to be reviewed and revised on Friday. It feels good to have gotten so much done, particularly since my workday was less than productive.
All in all, this makes a relatively bad day into a pretty good one.
Is it just me or is Blogger a piece of crap lately? I’ve been trying to interact with it all day (leave comments and such), and it’s being exceptionally difficult about letting me do so.
For several Saturdays running now, I’ve been back driving carriages in downtown Indy, and as usual you see all kinds of interesting things during the hours spent circling the streets. Here’s a few of the things I saw last night:
- Inevitably, there are always a handful of bums and homeless people on the streets. And, also inevitably, they tend to exhibit some of the most peculiar behaviors. One gentlemen, early in the evening, began to serenade one of our female drivers, who then looked like she could have crawled under her carriage and died. Another fellow randomly walked up to a couple of mall employees, who were outside on their cigarette break, and without saying a word, began dancing in front of them, glaring all the while. Then he walked away, leaving those of us watching stupefied and moderately amused.
- There are always people downtown begging for money. Maybe about half of them actually look like they need it – filthy clothing, matted hair, actually look like they’ve been living on the streets for an indeterminate amount of time. Another quarter of these people attempt to earn their income by playing various instruments, the saxophone and guitar being the most common. The rest, however, look like they got out of bed that morning, took their daily shower, put on their nice clean clothes, then grabbed their plastic cup with two or three quarters in the bottom on their way to stand out on the sidewalk to beg. Near as I can tell, most of this latter group of people _should_ be able to get a job.
- And speaking of the guys who play sax downtown, one last night was really good. He seemed to really know how to play jazz and was jamming it up. The other guy I had to wonder about – has anyone ever told him that what he was playing were the saxophone accompaniments to larger works? Apparently he couldn’t tell that his ‘music’ held very little melodic value, which made sense, considering he _wasn’t_ actually playing any melody. Oh, the amusement level there was high.
- I stopped at a light at one point in the evening to see a kid of perhaps 10, 12 years of age rolling across the crosswalk. No big deal, right? He was probably roller blades. Actually, he was wearing roller sneakers. I’ve never seen anything like this – he had a wheel in the heel of each of his tennis shoes and would lean back on them whenever the ground tilted downward.
- Lamborghinis are old hat by now. Same with Ferraris, Porsches, and every sports car of every variety. These vehicles are all too common downtown, especially on the weekends and especially around Formula One. (I don’t even think those cars are all that pretty.)
That’s just a taste of what I usually see in the course of an evening driving carriages, and it generally only gets more exotic and interesting after 11:00, when the night club crowd hits the streets in force. One never lacks for entertainment, that’s for sure.
Things over at “Flashes of Speculation”:http://open-dialogue.com/fs have slowed down quite a bit the last couple of days. I blame at least part of that on the site’s relative immaturity – it has, after all, only been live for just over a week now.
Flashes is still open to story submissions (so long as they are under 1000 words), and it is definitely still open for comments and reader feedback. So if you haven’t submitted something yet, please do so. And if you haven’t stopped by to read and comment, again, please drop by. The more people involved, the more successful the site will be.
As such there’s only so much one man can do to advertise. I’ve asked a couple of the bigger sites I frequent to add their shoutout and advertise Flashes. I would ask the same favor here – if you read this blog, I would be most appreciative if you could “pimp” Flashes of Speculation on your own (and anywhere else you think it might be seen). I am also open to suggestions and ideas of other places where I could post a link. I’d like to draw a lot more traffic to Flashes and see if we can establish a very robust community of speculative flash fiction writers. So, please, any help you can give would be GREATLY appreciated.