I write stuff for kids...and muse on writing, children's books, and the publishing industry in general

Monday, May 30, 2011

Some (useless?) writing trivia to brighten your day

The only city whose name can be spelled completely with vowels is Aiea, Hawaii.

Facetious and abstemious contain all the vowels in the correct order, as does arsenious, meaning "containing arsenic."

The only 15 letter word that can be spelled without repeating a letter is uncopyrightable.

The English word with the most consonants in a row is latchstring.

Switching letters is called spoonerism. For example, saying jag of Flapan, instead of flag of Japan.

A H I M O T U V W X Y are the symmetric capital letters in the Roman alphabet. i l o t u v w x are the symmetric lower case letters in the Roman alphabet.

"Rhythm" and "syzygy" are the longest English words without vowels.

'Strengths' is the longest word in the English language with just one vowel.

The longest place-name still in use is Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, a New Zealand hill.

The longest word in the English language, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. It is a a pneumoconiosis caused by the inhalation of very fine silicate or quartz dust. The only other word with the same amount of letters is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconioses, its plural.

The second longest word in the Oxford English Dictionary is "floccinaucinihilipilification," which means "the act of estimating as worthless."

The third longest word in the English language is "antidisestablishmenterianism"

The longest word that can be typed using on the right hand is 'lollipop'.

'Skepticisms' is the longest word that can be typed using alternate hands.

One of the longest English words that can be typed using the top row of a typewriter (allowing multiple uses of letters) is 'typewriter.'

When two words are combined to form a single word (e.g., motor + hotel = motel, breakfast + lunch = brunch) the new word is called a "portmanteau."

There is a word in the English language with only one vowel, which occurs six times: Indivisibility.

The letters H I O X in the latin alphabet is the only ones that look the same if you turn them upside down or see them from behind.

And a fun question for you: which seven letter word in the English language contains ten words without rearranging any of its letters? (Check out the answer below)

Other stuff:

Check out Deana Barnhart's Gearin' Up to Get an Agent blogfest, which will take place in July. There's heaps of prizes (including a query critique plus resubmit from me) and lots of bloghopping fun to be had!

The answer is "therein": the, there, he, in, rein, her, here, here, ere therein, herein.

Trivia Source

Monday, May 23, 2011

When did you last back-up your blog? (plus directions if you don't know how)

I had a major panic a couple of weeks before The Great Blogger Crash. Everything on my blog went screwy - little bits of computer code appeared, my followers all disappeared, I couldn't open my dashboard - everything you can imagine to give me a headache and a spot of "Oh my God, what if...?" Things were back to normal the next day, thank goodness, and I'd backed-up my blog a few days before so I wouldn't have lost everything, but the whole incident made me squirm. I thought it might be timely to remind you to back-up your blog regularly, and show you how to do it if you don't know already.

As to the reminder part

Um, yes, do it! :D

And the directions...Here's how to save a copy of your blog template, in four easy steps (honest!)

Step One - Click on "Design" at the top right of your blog (or you can go through the Blogger Dashboard instead if you prefer)

Step Two - Click on "Edit HTML"

Step Three - Click on "Download Full Template"

Step Four - Save the file (I usually add the date to the save-name, so I can easily work out which is the lastest download)

And as for saving your entire blog content...Check out Clarissa Draper's post here.

And that's it, eezey-peezy. I've set my calendar to remind me to back-up my blog every two weeks, but you can do it more or less if you prefer, of course. Make sure you save your blog often though - we put so much work into them, and I've heard some horror stories about people who've lost the whole thing. For good!

How about you: Did these directions help you? Do you back-up your blog often (if so, how often)?

Other stuff:

I was interviewed by Deana Barnhart on platform-building last week. Check my two-part interview out here and here.

You'll have seen I've been doing a bit of tinkering with my sidebar and my banner - hope you like :D Also, I finally got my act into gear and joined Networked Blogs - I'm looking forward to catching up with heaps of you there!

Thanks so much to everyone who's given me an award lately! I've popped your names and awards up on my Awards Page *grins*

Oh, and I've changed my blogging schedule to Mondays-only for the next little while, as I dive into my revisions in preparation for querying.

Hope everything's well with you all, and Happy Monday!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Yeti??? The Abominable Snowman Expedition - Choose Your Own Adventure Bloghop

Come and take part in our Choose your own Adventure Bloghop today (Tuesday). Click on the link below the banner and you'll be taken to the start of your awesomely fabulous adventure! Don't let the Yeti get you!

(Click here to start your adventure!)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Stay and Fight

(Don't jump in halfway! Click here to start your adventure)

The shadow looms before you, huge, so huge. The light of the flashlight plays over it yet you can’t make out details. All you have are impressions, half-remembered pictures that appear and vanish in the wink of an instant. Long fur covering its body, white, but tipped with dark flecks. It couldn’t be blood, could it? You swallow. Claws on its outstretched hands, curved inward and at least three inches long. Legs as thick as your whole body.

'This is it. I’m done for now,' you think.

You shine the flashlight higher up and cringe when you see them. Teeth, polished and gleaming, the sort you can imagine wrapped around a human leg or two. Snout. Wild, yellow eyes, with a look deep within them that says, 'I’m hungry for man-flesh.'

You know then, it’s either kill or be killed. So you swing the flashlight and bop the monster—the Yeti?—across the nose.

“Ouch,” the Yeti squeals. Its voice is high-pitched and cracks at the height of the noise.

You blink. This isn’t the sound of an enraged man-killer. But you hit the Yeti again, shoving your flashlight deep into its stomach until you feel its fur tickling your wrist. “Yes,” you shout, triumph speeding through your veins.

The Yeti takes a step back. The light of your flashlight reveals a footprint on the muddy floor of the cave. Human in shape, through three times as big as your own footprint. You rip your eyes away before fear can turn you to stone.

You follow the Yeti and raise your flashlight for another strike. But the Yeti holds out its hand. “Wait. Please,” it begs.

You blink some more. Did it really speak?

Or are you going crazy?

Do you:
Talk to it?

Or do you:
Run after all?
Start over?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Beta Match – Are you looking for a critique partner or beta reader? Read on…

It can be hard (and I mean H.A.R.D) to find a critique partner or beta reader (and even harder to find a great one!). Some of you have found CPs and beta readers through those you know in person, while others have found them in bloggers you met online, through online conferences such as WriteOnCon, through forums such as Verla Kays Blueboards, Absolute Write, and in other ways. But time and again recently I’ve seen people commenting that they don’t know where to look. So I thought I’d see if I can’t help out (*grins*).

On Monday, June 6th, I’ll be running a Beta Match. If you’re interested, there will be two options:
  • Put your details and what you’re looking for in the comments of my Beta Match post (I’ll let you know in that post what's needed) and/or
  • Read through other comments in that post to see if someone who’ll suit your needs has also commented, then contact them directly.
I won’t be able to personally match people up (sorry), but if you’re reluctant to share your email address online as I know some of you are, I’m happy for you to leave it with me and I’ll give it out to people who want to contact you for this purpose only.

Depending on interest, I might make Beta Match a regular feature of Rach Writes…, so let me know if it would be helpful for you.

ETA: Beta Match isn't only for those who have a piece of work ready to be critiqued right now. It's intended to be a way for people to find critique partners who can help them with their writing/revisions/etc. Even if you're after a beta reader, you can still connect with someone now and swap work at a later date :)

How about you: Would a Beta Match help you in your hunt for a CP or beta reader? Do you already have a CP? Do you have a CP, but are looking for another (or for beta readers)?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Interview with Bess Weatherby (It's the world, dear)

Today I'm interviewing Bess Weatherby from It's the world, dear. I've been following Bess for ages now and I love reading her blog posts. They're so descriptive and "in the moment" - I always feel like I'm right there with her, wherever she may be.

Take it away Bess!

Question 1 - Tell us about yourself (to make it a little harder, I’ll give you 10 words exactly)

Post-college writer avoiding 9-5 by nannying, novels and New York.

Question 2 - Which genre do you prefer to write in? Would you ever change genres? Children’s or Adult fiction?

I have an unhealthy relationship with Lord of the Rings, so I started out writing fantasy. Two Middle-Grade books and then a YA. I tend toward epic, high-fantasy, but I'm trying to ground my new book closer to home. One day, toward the end of high school, I was sitting in my room, alone in my cloak, looking out at a field of sunflowers. I realized that, as much as I love Tolkien and Lewis and George MacDonald, I'm an American; I'll never be able to write kings or queens without cringing, elves don't live in corn fields and pioneers are simply practical. American epic fantasy isn't really a genre, but that's the genre I'm writing in now.

And the story about the sunflowers isn't true. But everything else is. Scout's honor.

Question 3 - Describe your current WIP. What stage are you at – drafting, revisions, etc?

My new book is the first of a series involving multiple characters. Usually I just write, plot be darned, but this time, knowing how involved the story was, I created a thorough outline first. Working from that, I’m at about 50,000 words on the first book, and am fine-tuning the outlines of the other books, one a month. At this rate, I should have a polished draft with extensive outlines of the sequels by November. That’s the goal, anyway. Then, quite possibly, Book Two during NaNoWMo? We’ll see.

Rach: A great goal! Best of luck with it.

Question 4: Answer these in a sentence:
  • I’m happiest when...
I'm with my siblings. I fall smack in the middle of five kids. They're the reason I write. And if any of them read this they will punch me for being corny, but it's true. All my characters have big families. That’s the “Write what you know” part of my writing.
  • My biggest quirk is...
I would really prefer to never wear pants.
  • I blog because...
The same reason I write: I'm really awkward in person.
  • The thing that most annoys me is...
In New York there are many, many things to be annoyed with. I usually channel this annoyance into my blog. Mostly rants about hipsters. Or pigeons. Or people calling me a bad mother because I let the kid I nanny chase pigeons. While he attacks, I yell at them that He is not my child! and Mind your own business!
People in New York never do.
  • One thing you’d never guess about me is...
I never wanted to move to New York. In fact, I always wanted to live in a cabin in the woods. As a child I even imagined lying to my children, convincing them that it was the 1800's. Unfortunately, M. Night Shamalyn stole my idea and I realized that I was unlikely to find a guy who would go along with this plan. Also I look really bad in a braid. So from there, with no car, I ended up in a closet in Manhattan. Go figure.
  • The writer I’d most like to be (and why) is...
William Faulkner. He would sit on his porch and shoot the breeze with his buddies, drink good whiskey, yell at passersby, then go inside and write books like The Sound and the Fury. Anyone who can drink while writing the most accurate portrayal of a mentally ill person in the history of America has my vote for president. And life-best-led.
  • If I knew my books would never be published, I would...
Storm the Flatiron building. Not really. I think I'd actually relax. I might move back to Texas, sit on the porch with my best friends, drink Manhattans, yell at passersby and write books for the important people in my life.
Question 5 - Where would you say you’re at in your writing journey? What still lies ahead of you?

I’ve written three books, so that should mean something impressive, eh? I like saying that. Three novels. Well, three manuscripts. Three doorstops. I used to be ignorantly confident, but the more I write, the more I'm daunted and humbled. There is so much to learn, so I’m concentrating on seeing and capturing. New York is the perfect place to do that; there is so much strangeness and beauty here. With my blog, I’m teaching myself to keep my eyes open, to spin a story from subway rats and debutantes, the way they bump into each other here. That gives me richer fodder for my books. It’s seeing what’s already in the world. That’s all writing is really: making sense of things.

I can remember so clearly the first time I closed my eyes against that computer-screen headache and thought Writing is, like, hard. But that's part of the process. If it wasn't hard, the result wouldn't be any good, and if I didn't like it, I wouldn't do it. For now, I see no other way to live my life.

Rach: Amen

Question 6 - Lastly but not least, chocolate or cupcakes?

Cupcakes. With coffee. For breakfast.

Rach: Ooh, what's not to love!

It was lovely learning more about you Bess! If you're not already following her, pop on over to It's the world, dear and say hi!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Second Writers' Platform-Building Crusade Wrap-up

I'm really, really sad to see the end of my Second Crusade. I've had a wonderful time meeting so many new people, some who joined me from my First Crusade and others I'd never met before. I was blown away by the interest shown in this Crusade, and I know we would have had FAR more than the 217 Crusaders if I hadn't closed the list!

The Crusader Challenges were awesome fun, and I couldn't believe the quality of the entries. The flash-fiction 100-word Challenge with the beginning, "The goldfish bowl teetered" was my favorite I think, just from the amazing range of topics covered and the level of creativity you all showed. It was followed (very) closely by the "Show Not Tell" Challenge, which combined with Lee's A-Z Challenge for the letter "S". I had such a great time judging the Crusader Challenges, and thanks to everyone who volunteered to help me with the judging. Thanks also to Lynnette Labelle and C.A. Marshall for donating the fantastic prizes!

I've learned a lot this Crusade, and I'll be doing some things differently next time:
  • numbers have grown to the point where it's no longer possible for all Crusaders to follow each other. A huge thanks to all those Crusaders who did make the effort during the Second Crusade, I know so many of you found it worth it even though it did take a lot of time. In future Crusades, I'll just be asking Crusaders to follow those within their own groups, which should make things a lot easier all round. What it won't do is give everyone that huge increase in followers, though I know that won't matter to those who join for the networking opportunities the Crusade gives.
  • I won't be able to personally assign Crusader Groups anymore, given the numbers I'm expecting for the Third Crusade. I'm planning to have linky-links, where people can add themselves to the Group(s) they want to join. This will let everyone get to know their Groups much sooner, and make things a little easier for me *grins*.
  • I'll be announcing the dates of the Crusader Challenges beforehand, so people can pop them in their calendars ahead of time.
  • I'll be keeping the Twitter #amcrusading hashtag for people to chat all things Crusade-related during the Third Crusade. I'll also re-start my weekly Crusader Notice-Board. Lynnette Labelle's idea about the Yahoo Group was awesome, so we'll set up a forum for Crusaders for all Crusades going forward. And Chris Kelworth had the fantastic idea to set up a Critiquing Crusaders opportunity, which we'll make sure to carry forward in future Crusades as well.
I really hope you'll join me for my Third Crusade. It'll run from August 22nd to October 31st - make sure you join up as soon as possible after August 22nd, 'cause I'll be closing the List of Crusaders on August 31st.

And keep an eye out for our Choose Your Own Adventure Bloghop, featuring the Group 9 Crusaders from the Second Crusade - it begins on May 17 at Kerri's blog (just click on the badge in my sidebar to take you there).

I'd love to hear your thoughts: Did you enjoy the Crusade? What did you get out of it? Any suggestions for improvement, noting the comments I've made above? Are you coming on board my Third Crusade?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Taking pride in ourselves (one of those warm and fuzzy posts!) and my thoughts on the A-Z Challenge

Our lives are so busy, I think we sometimes forget to spend a little time taking pride in ourselves and in those around us. With a new month beginning (Happy May everyone!) I thought I'd share with you some of the things I'm proud of this week.
  • I'm proud of my eleven-month-old daughter, who took her first steps the other day.
  • I'm proud of myself for (successfully) rewriting a segment of html code after the codewriter made a number of mistakes. Six months ago I would have panicked and simply done without the blog changes I needed to make.
  • I'm proud of myself for completing the A-Z Challenge. A post a day (almost) - not an easy task to undertake. Now I just need to catch up with all you lovely people who left comments (*grins*).
  • I'm proud of my critique partner, who took me to task for a less-than-satisfactory rewrite of my query letter. I'm also proud of myself, for taking what she said on board and diving back into the query water to swim in a whole new direction.

How about you: What are you proud of this week?

My thoughts on the A-Z Challenge:

I really enjoyed taking part in the Challenge, and met so many fantabulous people. I'll be stalking many of them regularly from now on *grins*! I can definitely see the advantage of planning and preparing ahead. I decided to go with a themed A-Z series for this Challenge (My A-Z of Writing Tips), and will be doing the same next year - much easier to collect my thoughts when I have an overarching topic already planned.

A suggestion: I wonder if it might be possible to have different linky-lists depending on what type of blog you have. Then we can connect with people we want to meet the most (writers in my case), and photographers (for example) can connect with other photographers. Just a thought :)

How about you: What was your Challenge experience?

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