Did You Know?

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In my editing work, I’ve noticed a number of common errors that trip up writers. So I’ve decided to don my editor’s hat today and present a few that you’ve probably come across many times.

 An Historic or A Historic?

People often believe they should use an before historic, such as an historic event. But does it make sense to do this? An is used before a spoken vowel sound, so we use it when the h at the beginning of a word isn’t pronounced, such as an honor and an hour. But when the h is pronounced, we use aa hammock and a hero, for example. In past centuries, when people often didn’t pronounce the h in historic, it made sense to use an. But today, since we do pronounce the h, it makes more sense to say a historic event and this usage has become much more common and accepted.

Till or ‘Til?

Many writers and even some editors assume that ‘til is the correct short form of until, and that till is incorrect. In fact, major usage dictionaries and style guides consider ‘til to be an error. Till is correct, and is not actually an abbreviation of until; it’s an older word, and should not be written with an apostrophe.

 All Right or Alright?

Most style guides and dictionaries agree that alright is a misspelling of all right. Alright is commonly used in informal writing, but it’s not correct in standard English.

 Is OK Okay?

Okay and OK are both acceptable spellings of the word. You might assume that OK is a truncated form of okay, but in fact okay derived from OK. There are various theories about its origin, all of which involve the shortening of an O word and a K word into the initials OK. Whichever you choose, the important thing is to be consistent throughout your manuscript.

 Do You Feel Badly?

Nope. You feel bad. In this instance, feel functions not as an action verb but as a linking verb (like become, seem, taste, smell); saying you feel badly implies you have trouble being able to feel (just as smell badly implies you can’t smell).

Can You End a Sentence With a Preposition?

You might have been taught in school that you mustn’t do it, but…you sure can. This is a rule leftover from Latin grammar that doesn’t necessarily apply to English. A preposition is a word such as with, by, on, in, at, to or about. Trying to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition can create awkward phrasing and is often unnecessary. It’s perfectly correct to ask “Which department is she in?” or “What are you upset about?” or state “Billy had no one to play with.”

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Use The Things

New Year’s Resolutions. Do them? Ignore them? Do them and drop them by the wayside come January 31st? I’ve done all of the above. But this year I decided to do something different. I decided to make a choice to change one thing in my life.

I’ve made a choice to Use The Things. You know the things. Mom’s crystal candlesticks stuck in the china cupboard for special occasions. Grandma’s afghan that sits in the linen closet because you might get something on it. The crystal and china for special occasions that come once a year…or never.

I will be 55 this year and it has put a change in my brain. If I don’t use those things now, when will I? After I’m dead? The kids all like new things. They aren’t going to want the things I have collected and prized for years. So, this is the start of me getting the beautiful things out of linen closets and china cupboards and curio cabinets. I can use and enjoy the things I have and not need new things.

So…Mom’s crystal bowl for the sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mother-in-law’s carnival glass for a fruit bowl. I think she got it from her mother or grandmother. Doesn’t it look lovely on my new granite countertop island? I think so.


 

 

 

 

 

I have my grandmother’s Wedding Ring quilt to hang up as soon as I get the curtain rod and hangers. It is going in our guest room.

Don’t wait to use the special dishes, burn the special candles, or to surround yourself with those special things handed down from generation to generation. You are special and deserve to Use The Things!!

Happy New Year. Happy You!!


Jill James, author of The Lake Willowbee series

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THE END is the start of a new beginning

We celebrated the new year by moving the study to the room on the east side of the house, since the larger one on the west is unbearably hot by 3pm in the afternoon.

Typing those magical words THE END on the current work-in-progress is a wonderful feeling, especially when it is a full-length novel that has been in gestation for more than a year, counting character sketches, thinking about the plot, researching facts that might be needed, and actually writing more than 80,000 words.

That was me last Sunday morning, thirty minutes before I had to leave the house, rushing to complete the epilogue in the next book in my Golden Redepenning historical series. I went off to church feeling very happy.

Would you like a snippet? My hero and heroine were childhood friends but have been antagonists for twenty years, until they are thrown together on the Great North Road, chasing her runaway daughter all the way to Scotland. Here’s their first kiss.

Susan was washing her turnover down with a swallow of ale, shifting impatiently as her hands inched towards the knife and fork she had placed on her plate between mouthfuls, as proper table etiquette required. Her inclination to rush the meal and be on her way was clearly at war with her training in manners.

“Relax, Susan. A few minutes will make the world of difference to your digestion, and very little to our arrival time.”

What a valiant creature his goddess was. She managed a smile, though it didn’t reach her eyes. “I know you are right, you annoying man. I will try not to worry and to be patient.

“You are thinking I have no notion what you are suffering, and you are right that I have never been a father, and have never had to wait and worry about a child of my flesh.” Gil almost left it at that, but then he took a deep breath and spoke the rest of his thought. “But I have been an officer with men I loved and who loved and trusted me, and I have had to send them into danger knowing that some of them will be killed and others wounded. That perhaps gives me a small inkling of your feelings, goddess.” He winced as the last word slipped out. She hated when people called her that, but it was how he felt. He had worshipped her from the moment he met her as a boy; carried a candle before her image in his heart since that day; held her as a beacon of the best of English womanhood through a thousand engagements on four continents and any number of islands.

She was oblivious to his preoccupation, considering what he had said. “I had not thought about it like that. Yes. I imagine you were a father, or at least an elder brother, to your men. My brothers are the same. It is similar, Gil. So you know how hard it is.”

Susan called him Gil, he noticed, when she was moved, just as he slipped into calling her goddess. He did not call her attention to the slip, but when he moved her chair back to help her rise, and she stepped to one side almost into his arms, he could not resist wrapping them around her.

He had intended a brief peck on her hair. She lifted her mouth as if she had been waiting for just such a move, and he was lost. She was all that existed. The elusive scent of her pervaded his nostrils, her yielding curves filled his arms, and her lips and mouth consumed all of his thoughts as he tenderly explored them.

How long the kiss lasted he had no idea, but when she stiffened and pulled away, he let her go immediately, sense rushing back into his brain and berating it for the most arrant stupidity. She didn’t comment — wouldn’t even meet his eyes — but led the way out of the garden, almost running in her hurry.

Not, of course, that I’m anywhere near finished writing, as I said on my own blog a few days ago. The Realm of Silence will go through a number of edits (I’m up to page 78 of 184 on the first run through) before it finally hits the shelves some time in late April. I already know I need to give more of the backstory of my widow’s first marriage, and I realised just this morning that I had two characters with the same name, one a sister to the hero and the other a sister to the heroine’s daughter’s best friend.

Oops.

I’ve found I’m most productive if I carry straight on with the next book, and this time, it is easy because I have one due to a publisher on 1 March. I’ve managed 10,000 words since 1 January, so should make my 60,000 without too much stress.

That one, House of Thorns, is another historical, but the one after that is a contemporary, again set in New Zealand. I’m looking forward to telling you more about it as I write it. Think summer sun, beautiful New Zealand beaches, a high-powered environmental journalist-activist come home to rest, and a US financier turned beach bum.

Meanwhile, New Zealand sweltered up until Christmas, and on Boxing Day the weather turned sour. We’ve had a few fine spells, but not the heat our poor cousins in Australia have been suffering. It’s raining at the moment, but still warm and the garden is producing lettuces, zucchini, and radishes faster than we can eat them. I do love summer, even when it comes with a mandatory umbrella.

 

 

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Welcome 2018!

I’m so excited about 2018 and the changes going on here on Main Street. The most exciting news is our upcoming Summertime Romance on Main Street! Another box set by some of my favorite authors!

Let’s welcome the New Year by playing a game. Go to the 18th page of your latest release if you’re an author or the closest book next to you if you’re a reader and give us a snippet of that page in the comments. Do it carefully, because what you choose will predict your year!

If you’re an author, be sure and leave us a buy link to your book. Here’s mine:

 

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Our Christmas Tree, or New Traditions for New Lives

This year, with my boys grown and moved away, my partner and I decided to simply decorate our living room for the holidays with a ficus tree, a veer away from tradition. Rather than purchase a cut-your-own pine Christmas tree, for the first time we chose to honour our own tree—the one which lives with us every day in our home.

traditional non treeMy partner, a native of the UK, has a history of disappointment and sadness at our New Zealand Christmas. I, too, was transplanted to New Zealand (by choice, of course…). Getting used to a summertime Christmas hasn’t always been easy for me, either.

Tradition at NZ Christmas

Credit to NZ Post, with thanks, at https://stamps.nzpost.co.nz/

Seasonally-inverted southern hemisphere Kiwis (New Zealanders) have imported the northern hemisphere holiday traditions—but someone forgot to change the dates. In doing so, we’ve essentially lost the fundamental reason for celebration of the midwinter festival: the anticipated return of life after the still-to-come times of hardship—the release from darkness and want, toward the time of renewal and plenty.

tradition Cold Winter

©Photo. R.M.N. / R.-G. OjŽda

Early on, I realized this concept was more deeply ingrained in me than I’d dreamed. Moving to New Zealand was a big change in more ways than one.

Whether we move away from our childhood home or relocate a long way from our families and close friends later in life, we may find the need to create our own holiday traditions. As children, and now grandchildren, enter our lives, our roles may change even further, necessitating further adjustments.

Those living far from their birth homes often confirm that being away from family and close friends can be daunting.

Tell me about it.

My first December 25th in New Zealand had to rate as my most depressing Christmas up until that date. I had a wonderful boss, but no real friends outside of work, as I had spent every weekend with my boyfriend out on the coast, an hour away from home—and he ended our relationship over the phone, out of the blue, on 23 December.

Tradition not so good.

Thanks to https://awakened2torah.com/2017/07/19/stay-in-the-box-jack/ for the use of the photo. 🙂

Looking back, I can see it was for the best, but at the time… let’s say it wasn’t ideal.

On the other hand, sometimes one must sink to great depths to plumb the true strength of one’s spirit and guts.

Eyes blurred by tears, I managed to create the day for myself by cutting out intricate paper snowflakes from wrapping paper.

Tradition snowflakes paper

Thanks to The Balance for use of the pic! https://www.thebalance.com/

I still remember as if it were yesterday: The paper was red on one side, white on the other, and thin enough for light to shine through it. In fine pencil, I wrote around the perimeter of each, and on inner circles, what the holiday was really about—about the day being about love, and not presents. About those whom I cared for, and who cared about me. About the beautiful country in which I had ensconced myself, the tremendous job as an equine vet in an otherwise eight-man dairy practice.

tradition NZ view

The little piece of NZ beside my home on the cover of my third novel

As the years passed, I found new ways of satisfying the yearnings in my heart at Christmas time when I was unable to return to my family for the holidays. Celebrating a sit-down, full-on Midwinter dinner on 21 June for a roomful of my Kiwi friends, many of whom had never experienced a northern hemisphere Christmas dinner, not only did something for them, but did something for my own heart. It gave me my Christmas back and let me begin to enjoy true Kiwi summertime Christmases.

“Christmas is so commercialised, I don’t want anything to do with it,” I’ve heard from several friends lately. This isn’t a problem for me. I don’t watch television at all, and since I began writing, I avoid town… even my radio time has diminished. I don’t hear the commercials or Christmas jingles, so the commercialism isn’t a part of my life. I have only my memories and traditions from which to browse.

In speaking with my partner in mid-June about it, he said Christmas really didn’t mean anything to him. We discussed it at length, what would make it for him, what makes it for me. The result? He enjoyed his holiday, and this year we will have a midwinter Christmas feast and hopefully, he will regain his joy of the holidays, no matter what time of year they arrive.

I hope this helps someone, estranged by distance or circumstance from loved ones, find peace in their life.

In Once Upon a Vet School #7, Lena Takes a Foal, Lena finds herself in a situation. She was going to stay in her vet school town and take extra Large Animal ICU shifts over the holidays, as her family was out of the country, but she was invited home with her hero, Kit.

Here’s a little excerpt of their traditional Christmas:

Once Upon a Vet School #7, Lena Takes a Foal

Kit’s pickup eased off the highway into his family’s driveway, snow crunching beneath the tires. He slowed as we approached a beautiful bay Thoroughbred with a matching foal at foot, standing behind the post and rail fence.

“She’s my favorite jumper — the one I kept when everything got split up,” he said, and tightened his jaw.

“Glad you still have her then,” I said, taking a deep breath, and squeezed his fingers. “It’ll all be fine.”

“I know. Thank you for comin’ home with me,” he said, as we drove on toward the house.

“Glad you asked,” I said, taking my eyes off the pair of horses and looking forward through the windshield at what could only be Kit’s family members, by their resemblance.

“The welcoming committee awaits.” He smiled and shut off the engine, opened my door and handed me out into the freezing, dazzling sunshine, accented by the tang of the snow-drenched pines. His arm, warm over my shoulders, led me toward the group.

Any anxiety I might have had about meeting his family vanished into thin air as handshakes turned to hugs. Kit’s sister, a female version of him, stood tall and leggy in designer clothing and manicured nails, while his father offered a hint of the distinguished gentleman Kit would become. His beautiful mother was kindness itself as she pulled us in the door, toward her warm, cinnamon-scented farmhouse-style kitchen.

Christmas music played in the background when we eventually migrated from the hand-hewn kitchen table toward the living room with our foaming mugs of fresh eggnog. The huge tree caught my attention, its fairy lights and ornaments glittering against long pine needles, but my mouth dropped open at the view of Lake Tahoe completely filling the longest wall of the room. Its blue-black expanse shimmered against the snow on the surrounding mountains.

“Who’s dishing out the presents?” Kit’s mother asked, settling herself on the sofa.

“My turn.” Kit’s sister smiled and began delivering packages around the room.

I hadn’t expected anything, but had made gifts over the month since Kit had invited me. For his mother, a gardening apron; his sister, some padded hangers for her fashionable clothes; and for his pop, a big tin of the Danish Christmas cookies I’d grown up making with my family. Kit had already inhaled most of his cookies on the way up the mountain.

Soon there was a pile of gifts beside me. I stared at Kit over the top of it, my mouth open.

“What did you expect? You’re part of the family, now.

Enjoy it,” he said, and leaned across to kiss me.

My face heated. I couldn’t have been more pleased, as I picked up the first gaily wrapped package.

“A western shirt,” Kit said, holding up his first present. “I haven’t had a new one in years, thank you, Lena!”

“That forest green with chocolate is perfect on you,

Kit,” his sister said. “It looks designer, where did it come from?” She turned to me.

“It’s a Lena original,” I said.

“No, it can’t be,” she said, peering over her brother’s shoulder at the label. “It is!”

“What does it say?” his mother asked.

“Made Expressly for Kit by Lena,” she said.

Kit pulled it on and clicked the pearl snaps.

“It fits,” he said, astonished. “They never fit… and it’s actually long enough.”

“Of course, it fits, I’m a professional. Just remind me to give back your ratty old denim work shirt that was falling apart at the seams.”

“You didn’t cut it apart, did you?” Kit said, horror written all over his face.

“Your precious shirt is safe,” I said, squeezing his fingers. “I know how long it must’ve taken to get the fabric that soft.”

“You got that right,” he said, with a grin.

I glanced around, but everyone was absorbed elsewhere.

“Truth be told,” I whispered, “you might not get it back.”

He frowned, and I quirked my lips at him.

“What have you done with it?” His brows narrowed.

“Nothing, but it’s awfully nice to sleep in… it’s got your scent.”

He peeked toward the rest of the family, then turned back to me, eyes glowing.

“Now that, I’d like to see,” he said, in an undertone. “You can keep it, if that’s why you need it.” He chuckled.

The first present I opened was a beautiful copy of Robert Frost’s Birches.

“That’s for you, my dear,” Kit’s mother said, after I unwrapped it, “because you’re a swinger of birches.” Her eyes glowed as she gazed from me to her son and back again.

Everyone was happy with my homemade gifts and I was touched by the thought that had gone into their presents for me.

Kit disappeared for a moment, then returned to the room carrying a large, gaily decorated box. I glanced up at him with a smile and returned to reading about birches in the snow, my legs tucked up beneath me on the sofa.

All talk in the room ceased and I looked up to see Kit standing before me.

“This is for you.” He gently handed the package to me and sat down. “It’s breakable. Very.”

Looking sideways at him, I slipped my feet to the floor and pulled the end of the silk ribbon to untie the bow, then pulled off the paper. Whatever it was, it’d been packed securely.

Kit cut the heavy tape securing the box with his pocket knife and I opened the flaps.

Traditional Christmas in Once Upon a Vet School

Want to read more? 

Once Upon a Vet School #7 is available in print and digital. See details on my website here

It’s also available as part of Author’s of Main Street’s current boxed set Christmas Babies on Main Street here 

Come on by and check out my website here!

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

Enjoy creating your own holiday traditions!

xx

Lizzi

 

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Happy Holidays, and Size Does Count

We hope that no matter what you celebrate that the season has been kind to you.

I think the Authors of Main Street took a few days off from posting this month.  The holidays sort of all come together in December. Except we on Main Street forgot to warn each other and to warn you, our faithful blog readers, that we were going to be busy. Like wayward children we hope in the spirit of the holidays that we’re forgiven.

This Christmas came a day early for me. My youngest daughter couldn’t be with the family this year. She spent most of the day in the hospital’s ER. Don’t feel sorry for her; she’s ducky fine. She’s one of people who gave up a day at home with family to be there for others who need her more. She’s an RN. She was on her regular work schedule.

As a family, we had to celebrate without her. But we didn’t forget about her.  Like so many people, we lacked one of our loved ones. At least we knew she was alive and well, and only a few miles away providing comfort and care to those who needed it. Many families aren’t that lucky.

Christmas Eve was our family dinner. Just immediate family, my oldest daughter, the men that my girls love and my two granddaughters plus, one granddaughter’s boyfriend were at my oldest daughter’s house. (My granddaughter is allowed to have a boyfriend, she’s over 21. The question is – am I allowed to call him a boyfriend?)  Dinner was delicious! And I didn’t have to cook any of it!

My gift from the family was a beautiful computer monitor that is huge! Just in time for another set of edits! I  love the monitor and I love my girls for giving it to me! Even the granddaughters chipped into it. Don’t ask if it’s HD or any variety of letter combinations.  I’m the least techno-oriented author you know. It’s BIG! That’s all that matters.

See, size does count! I learned that when I was little. The bigger the tires, the easier it was to get through the snow. The larger the bank account, the better. And now it’s the large flash drives that count. And let’s not forget the large hard drives. It’s large and hard – oh yeah!

There’s a lot of things I can laugh about as this year comes to a close. It hasn’t been a bad year, if you stack it all together. There’s been worse years and there’s been better. I lost a good friend this year.  He was a few years older than I am. He taught me things about a camera that I never knew. After seeing my granddaughter’s photography when she was four years old, he taught my granddaughter even more about using a camera and encouraged her to continue with her photography. He called me one day and said he had something for me. I thought he was joking when he asked me to stop by his house. When I got there and he handed me one of his cameras and a super-duper lens, I broke into tears. I’d used that camera so many times when we worked on projects together, and he knew I couldn’t afford one for myself. He had bought a new one and decided that owning what he did was a bit much.  So he gave me one.  It seems like every year the grim reaper claims another friend a little too soon.

But on the brighter side, I have a book getting ready to release this spring. It’s undergoing some scrutiny within the Deaf community. It’s contemporary and a wee bit different from my other contemporary romances. The romance (love) is never in question, the relationship has a long path to travel. Why? He’s Deaf. She has her hearing and doesn’t know sign language. Her mother is dead-set against her marrying a disabled man. And like most Deaf, he doesn’t consider himself disabled. He thinks those with hearing have the problem because we don’t understand him. He understands us, so why can’t we understand him.

I’ve not created a super hero, I’ve merely presented a man who is Deaf, Deaf of Deaf, an average, young Deaf man. That might come as a shock. Most are well educated, underpaid but educated, many with advanced degrees.

Being deaf is considered legally a disability. It is difficult especially for those who have lost their hearing. But the Deaf of Deaf, those born deaf with deaf parents don’t consider themselves disabled at all unless they do have another problem. But deafness alone, no. That is not a disability. But if a person has lost their hearing, it is disabling.

I don’t know more than a few words in ASL, American Sign Language, and I can barely do the alphabet. I keep plugging away at it.  So it took lots of help to write this book and I’ve gotten involved with the Deaf community here in Tidewater, Virginia. Some look at me with suspicion because I seriously need to learn their language. Others are so friendly and welcoming. But every time I’ve gone to an event with them, I’ve had fun and learned something new.

So watch for my book Silent Journey to be published this Spring.  And yes, I’ll be back here on New Year’s Day.  May the year 2018 bring us all lots of wonderful things. And here on Main Street, we are planning a very exciting year for our readers. How about another boxed set this summer, plus our usual Xmas holiday one? That’s two in one year!

Here’s a little something for everyone.  Click on it for the link to download a full-sized version from Freepik. I use this company all the time! Mine is getting printed by month for my desk.  Yes, I have a calendar in my mobile phone. I just transfer all those appointments to the calendar by my computer. All I have to do is look up!

 

Calendar 2018. Vintage decorative elements Oriental pattern, vector illustration Vector       FREEPIX

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018

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Another Year Coming to a Close

I’m hoping everyone had a fabulous Christmas! It’s the most wonderful time of the year, a time for family get-togethers, forgiveness and love. It’s a time of renewal, looking forward to a wonderful New Year.

Now that Christmas is behind us, there is the new year close at hand. 2017 held happy days, sad days and sometimes delightful opportunities beyond belief. Whatever your 2017 held, be thankful and know that 2018 holds promises we can embrace as we advance into the future.

I’ve not made New Year’s Resolutions in a couple of years, because I know I’ll remain on track for a couple of months – then it’s back to the same old same old.

Maintaining sanity is key, so I decide what I need to do, then make those goals habits. Hey, it works for me.

Why make goals? A new year means a new beginning, and new beginnings mean change. Change is a good thing, but not if you’re frustrated trying to reach goals that are too widespread. So aspire to make resolutions that are attainable, meaningful. When goals are realistic, they’re easier to follow. Whatever plan you have in mind, make it work for you.

So…again this year I’m simply going to do what works even if those undertakings need a tweak here and there. Who doesn’t need to tweak? I do, and have a feeling some of you do too.

Happy New Year, everyone! I wish you Love, Butterflies and Music.

To keep in touch with what the Authors of Main Street are up to, go to the right top of this page, and sign up for our newsletter. We appreciate each one of our readers and love sharing our stories with you!

If you haven’t gotten a copy of our latest Anthology, please check it out! We offer wonderful warm stories with Christmas Babies.

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Please check out these links to my books, available at:

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Thank you…and please enjoy!

Happy New Year!

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