Happy New Year!

New Year

May the good parts of 2017 stay with us, and may the bad parts recede quickly in the rear-view mirror.

And may 2018 bring all of the good things that we need, and a fair share of the good things we may not need but would like to have anyway, because a little fun and frivolity are good for the soul.

(The best advice my father ever gave me was, “As long as nobody’s getting hurt, ‘just for fun’ is a perfectly valid reason for doing anything.”  My mother, more practical, said, “Make your bed first thing in the morning after you get out of it, or you’ll never make it all day.”  They were both right.)

A Request for the Indignant

Milo Yiannopoulos is in the news again, what with his lawsuit against Simon&Schuster for choosing not to publish his book, which resulted in the publisher entering the manuscript-as-submitted into evidence, complete with the editor’s notes, highlights of which are now all over the internet.  (And great fun they are, too – they would go well with a glass of nice wine and a slice of schadenfreude pie.)

My request is a simple one:  If you are, as many will be, indignant that Simon&Schuster bought Mr. Yiannopoulos’s book in the first place, please don’t also wax indignant that they are allowing him to keep the on-signing portion of the advance.  This is customary, when bad things (deserved or not) happen to a book between on-signing and publication – but the word to note there is “customary.”  For the sake of all the rest of us writers out there, don’t give Simon&Schuster an excuse to say, at some later date, “Well, it may have been customary in the olden days, but it isn’t going to be customary from now on.”

‘Tis the Season

Christmas Trees.jpg

December 21st — nineteen minutes old as I type this – is the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice, and then the sun comes back.  At least, it always has so far,† and we celebrate its return with gifts and lights and feasting in multiple traditions.

This is also the season for my annual Winter Holiday Gift Sale, where you can purchase a gift certificate good for one line-edit and critique of a full-length novel, as a seasonal present for the writer in your life (even if that writer is you!), at the reduced holiday rate of $1000 for a standard-weight novel.  The gift comes with a printable PDF gift certificate, suitable for printing out and wrapping up in a box or envelope for holiday presentation, and can be redeemed at the time of the recipient’s choice. For more information on what I do and how I work, you can read my About page.

As usual, this sale runs from now through Twelfth Night (January 5th, 2018) – by that time, we should know for certain whether or not the sun’s come back.

And that’s another thing I never truly appreciated until I moved up to New England. In lower latitudes, the change in the length of days is nowhere near as extreme.


Vocabulary Expansion Through Homeownership, and Other Lexical Consequences of Choosing to Settle in Northern New Engand.

Let us consider, for example, “soffit.” Until I ended up living in a 19th-century wooden house in deep snow country, I had no idea what a soffit was. I may have been in the vicinity of soffits from time to time, but they had by no means impinged upon my consciousness.

But now I know. Per Wikipedia, “in popular use, soffit most often…refers to the material forming a ceiling from the top of an exterior house wall to the outer edge of the roof, i.e., bridging the gap between a home’s siding and the roofline, otherwise known as the eaves.”

Per my own experience, soffits are those rotted bits under the roof of the upstairs gable windows that I’m going to have to get replaced this spring, right after I get the plumbing fixed and the north side of the roof reshingled.

(Old houses always need the plumbing fixed. I think it’s a rule.)

Winter weather up here provides other items of interest for word nuts, as well. Like this idiomatic tidbit, picked up from listening to the local road crews on the radio scanner: “Be careful up on Titus Hill. It’s getting greasy out there.” Translated out of the north woods accent, what this means is that the previously snow-plowed roads, having been lightly rained on for a few hours, are now in the process of freezing again, and have reached a particularly nasty and treacherous state of slickness.

Good weather for staying in and updating one’s blog, in fact.

It’s Advent…

…which means that it’s time for Gift Suggestions for the Writer in Your Life.  (Even if that writer is you.)

This first one is for musicians, not writers, but artists need to stick together.  Eric Owyoung, who’s a producer/composer with the band Future of Forestry, is offering $50 off on tuition for his Music Mentorship Program until Christmas.  This can be done as a gift, and you can find more information about the program on his web page.

And then there’s Levengers, purveyors of high-end writing and office gear; this year they have a lot of good stuff, including items below $50, such as this leather flash drive holder with a clip to buckle it onto things.  They’ve got pricier stuff, too, like a marble-based iPhone dock or a carved rosewood tablet and book easel.

Or you could just get your writer friend the best fruitcake in the world.  Other places may claim that theirs is, in fact, the best, but as far as I’m concerned, the Collin Street Bakery makes the One True Fruitcake, and that’s that.

And then there’s my own Christmas-through-Twelfth-Night annual sale, which I’m saving for another post because I wanted to talk about all these other good people first.