Category: Miscellaneous

September 2017 Round-up

Posted October 2, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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August 2017 Round-up

Posted September 2, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Grammar Geek: That vs That, complicated sentence structures

Posted August 15, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Grammar Geek: That vs That, complicated sentence structures

Tabitha asks:

When emailing or texting back and forth with people, I often write sentences like “That’s exciting that you’re going to Australia!” But is the double “that” grammatically wrong? (Should it always be “It’s exciting”?) If someone just told me “I’m going to Australia!” I would say “That’s exciting!”, so using an initial “that” feels right to me, but then the sentence as a whole sounds off, so every time I write something like that I think “this probably isn’t correct grammar…” (I don’t really care about my grammar when I’m just communicating with friends, but I’m still really curious about this!)

And, really, this kind of question is my grammatical jam, so… I’m jumping on it. XD

First of all, the short answer: As far as I know, yes, this is totally grammatically fine. Stylistically it’s a little more iffy because we don’t like anything that sounds even vaguely like repetition so ‘that – that’ in this such succession is less than ideal, but that’s a different topic altogether.

And after that it gets a little complicated because there’s a lot to unpack in this simple-looking sentence. So let’s start off with that repetition of that and why it’s okay from a grammatical viewpoint.

It’s okay grammatically because the two words have a totally different function and this kind of repetition is fairly common in Germanic languages in general. In English, another example of repetition that’s grammatically fine would be a sentence like “He had had a bright idea an hour ago”.

See? You repeat ‘had’ twice. That’s because the verb ‘to have’ conjugates the same way when you’ve got a past tense or a participle. We’re okay with it because one of the hads doesn’t actually mean anything. It’s just kind of… there to ensure that the verb is conjugated grammatically and that’s all it’s doing.

The same kind of situation is at work in the sentence “That’s exciting that you’re going to Australia!”

The first ‘that’ doesn’t mean anything. It’s a referrer and it’s only purpose in this sentence is to provide a subject for the verb ‘is’.

The second ‘that’ is a relative pronoun. Now, in most sentences you can apply the following rule of thumb: if your relative pronoun is followed by a personal pronoun or a noun you can leave it out. Even though that’s clearly the case here, once we remove ‘that’ from the sentence, the whole thing falls apart. It doesn’t work. It needs the relative pronoun to be grammatical, so what gives?

Well. That’s to do with the verb ‘is’ in the main clause. You see, ‘to be’ is a very annoying verb that’s the exception to pretty much every single rule you will ever encounter. In this particular instance, it serves as a copula verb. Or a linking verb. It links the subject to a predicate.

In this case it links the first ‘that’ to ‘exciting’. And on its own, that’s a perfectly fine sentence, right? There’s nothing wrong with “That’s exciting!” other than that we need context to interpret it. Otherwise we’ll just have a conversation that kind of goes like this

A: That’s exciting!
B: “What’s exciting?”
A: That! B: But what’s that?
A: Just that!
B: But what does ‘that’ refer to? A: To that!

Did you picture this conversation in your head? Was A pointing at something in your imagination while B was just oblivious to what A was pointing at? That’s your brain looking for contextual clues to interpret ‘that’ in this sentence. Like I said, it’s a referrer, so it needs something to refer to and we’ll instinctively look for something that will do this.

In Tabitha’s sentence, we’ve got both the referrer and the thing that’s being referred to. It just happens that what ‘that’ refers to is a whole sentence. Our whole subject is a sentence: “you’re going to Australia”. Perfectly fine sentence on its own, right? Nothing wrong with it.

But! But but but! English (and, indeed, Germanic languages in general) doesn’t like it when a whole clause is a subject. So we need something in front of it to make it into the kind of sentence that can serve as a subject. Cue our relative pronoun ‘that’.

And we can test how this works too! We just need to shuffle things around a little. Here, look:

That you’re going to Australia is exciting.
* You’re going to Australia is exciting.
* That’s exciting you’re going to Australia.

Notice how those last two sentences don’t really work? I mean the last one is fine if you add in a full stop (and I’m fairly sure most of you reading mentally did so), but as it stands and the second sentence as a whole? They don’t work.

You could make the second sentence work by removing ‘you’re’ so you end up with “Going to Australia is exciting”, but then you’re completely changing the kind of clause you’re dealing with.

Anyway, I fully admit that this is a sentence structure where I don’t 100% know the ins and outs of how to call things. It’s a little more advanced than the grammar I’ve specialised in and, honestly, my classes tended to be more practical than theoretical anyway, but that’s more or less what’s going on in this sentence.

It’s a lot of different rules all bundled up into one tiny package and it’s a very good example of why I try to hammer home the idea that, yes, English is hard when I’m tutoring. Because this sentence? This isn’t stuff any grammar book will ever teach you if you’re just learning the language. (If you’re studying English linguistics… Yeah, it might crop up once you start working on your MA.) And it’s hard to wrap your head around all the rules in it and why and how this sentence has exceptions to those rules.

But this is the kind of stuff I like to geek out about, so I hope you’ve found it fun and entertaining! It’s a little more advanced than the questions I was expecting to get, though, so do please holler if I’m just being confusing or there are terms or ideas that don’t really make sense.

And if you disagree, let me know too! (Seriously, do, please. I really, really like rambling about grammar with people and analysing sentences like this with people would make my day.)

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July 2017 Round-up

Posted August 2, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Grammar Geek: In, In to, Into – What’s the difference?

Posted July 14, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Grammar Geek: In, In to, Into - What's the difference?

So… Fun fact: I’m used to talking through grammar lessons rather than writing them all down entirely. It’ll probably take me a bit to get used to the shift in medium. You wouldn’t think it makes a big difference, but it actually really does.

And, because this is the blog version, some more background because I don’t think I actually announced this properly. One of my Patreon goals was to geek out about (English) grammar once a month. I like grammar and I teach English as a Second Language, so it’s a combination of stuff that I’m pretty good at. Also did I mention I like grammar? This is a fun way for me to ramble about my interests and touch on topics that people find interesting or troublesome.

So every month, I’ll be soliciting questions about grammar and we’ll pick one that I’ll be covering that month. This is the first month and I’m happy to report that we had a great question. (I have no idea if people want me to list their names if their question is picked. I figured I’d keep it anonymous in case people feel self-conscious otherwise.)

And… Yeah. That’s what this is. A new monthly feature! These are public posts and anyone can participate in asking questions! Though the posts go live for Patrons a week before anyone else gets to see them (as opposed to the month-long wait of non-goal public posts like reviews). I hope you’ll enjoy it! I’ll put up a call for new prompts later this month.

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Kindness of Pictures

Posted July 6, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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This time around, I’d like to talk about something which a lot of people do. I’d like to talk briefly about picture sharing! Whether they’re lolcats or birbs or gorgeous scenery. Whether they’re videos or still images or gifs or whatever. They’re the images that brighten our day just that little bit for being shared.

To everyone who tirelessly collects them to be posted as a regular feature, thank you.

To everyone who uses them to combat trolls, thank you.

I… kind of feel like this one doesn’t really need any kind of explanation or elaboration. They mostly just speak for themselves, these images, and I am grateful to everyone who shares them. <3

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June 2017 Round-up

Posted July 2, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Patreon-Exclusive

This is not a collection of all the posts that went up on Patreon. This is just a list of the posts that went up on Patreon only or that won’t appear for another month. Most of these posts are locked personal life updates, fiction or fiction-related. Reviews and livetweets will find their way onto this blog eventually if they haven’t already appeared.

Starting next month, I’ll be listing all Patreon posts because I’ll be out of reposts of old content and it’ll be all neat and tidy!

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If You Want to Write a Book, Write It However Works for You

Posted June 27, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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If You Want to Write a Book, Write It However Works for You

If You Want to Write a Book, Write It However Works for You

I am, at the moment, juggling several projects because that’s how I roll. I’ve just started revisions for my next novel, the first in a trilogy, that I’m very excited about. I’m working on a short story that probably wants to be a novelette. I’ve also just yesterday started on a short nonfiction essay.

I don’t know yet what other people will think of it. I don’t know if it’ll be a commercial success. I don’t know whether I want to pursue traditional publishing with it or go indie. I don’t know if it’ll be the book that brings me fame. I don’t even know when, exactly, I’ll publish it.

I do know that, like me, many other writers are working on their novels. Whether continuing it or just starting it. They’ll be veteran writers and writers who’ve just started. Professional writers and fanfiction writers. Nonfiction writers and fiction writers. All of us, working on our books, alone and yet, in some way, connected for that we’re all in this together.

Someday, perhaps, we will be looking for publishing and readers at the same time and, of course, I hope that it’s my book that people pick and that they’ll fall in love with. But if it’s their novel? Then I’ll be happy for them because knowing readers love your books is one of the greatest feelings I have ever had and I wish that feeling upon every writer. (Except those who write only to spread hate. Those writers I hope will never have that feeling because they’re writing to make the world a worse place.)

Many of us will not writer a commercially successful book for… so many reasons. Maybe the craft just genuinely isn’t good enough to compete with other books. Maybe the writer fails at marketing. Maybe it was the wrong book at the wrong time. There are myriad reasons why books don’t sell. It’s not always because a book is bad and, anyway, writing is a skill which means you can practice and hone it, so keep writing!

Some writers, lucky people that they are, can write a little bit every single day. Writing every day is frequently given as advice without regarding, well, anything about the person’s life and whether writing every day is even in any way viable to them. For many writers, this process of writing every day doesn’t work. The reasons vary and the reasons don’t particularly matter to me. What matters to me is that it’s not universal advice and while it is fantastic and amazing if you can do that, it is not a requirement to becoming a Real Writer™. There is no One True Way to write and don’t let any successful author tell you otherwise.

I will finish my stories. Eventually. Hopefully, so will everyone else who was working on a book at the same time as me. Maybe, for whatever reason, they’ll have to put their writing aside for a while. They’ll go off to do other things. Maybe someone moved abroad and struggled with culture shock. Maybe they started a family and couldn’t find a way to combine everything. Maybe they’ll find another book to write that excites them more. Maybe they’ll be discouraged because they have no one to cheer them on. Maybe the research is too daunting. I’m still not working on the third peeweww story because evolutionary biology still short-circuits my brain, but one day!

One day, the story will be written. Others might not be. I’ve stuffed some of mine into drawers because I couldn’t even begin to imagine how to salvage them. I may never work on those stories again, but they live on. They live on in the next story. They live on in what I do because what I wrote has burrowed their way under my skin and taught me things I didn’t know, or didn’t realise, before.

Some writers may not write every day, but they’ll put a book down and aside and then pick it back up again a week later. Or a month later. Maybe a year later. Several years. From my own process I know that I can achieve 20,000 word days. I also know that, if I manage a day like that, I will pay and be unable to write (or do much of anything) for at least the next day. That’s just my body being… whatever it is being. I just know I need to recharge afterwards.

If you feel bad about giving yourself a day off writing for whatever reason, be kind to yourself. Maybe you needed it. And writing takes many forms. It’s not all about putting pen to paper (though, arguably, that’s the most important part). Sometimes it’s about taking a step back and working through an issue in your head before you write on. Sometimes you need to recharge. Whatever your process is, it is yours. If it isn’t working for the book you want to work on, try shaking up your process. Sometimes that’s what you need to jumpstart it and sometimes you need to work differently from what you’re used to.

The important thing is that you do what works for you as a person and as a writer. That’s not always building habits, though truthfully they can help a lot when you make sure the habits you’re cultivating work for you. And habits can change!

When I was a fledgling writer, my habit was to listen to music when I was writing. It was also, frequently, my habit to use the school computers to write between classes and to doodle in the margins of my notebooks.

When I left school, none of those habits worked anymore. I don’t know why the music stopped working, but I do know that my routine changed significantly and my habits had to change with it. For several years, I was no longer able to write while listening to music. It was too distracting. The novel I’m working on now? It has a soundtrack that I listen to while I write.

I write when my brain lets me, because sometimes depression and fatigue mean I can barely get out of bed, never mind summon up the energy to write fiction. Writing fiction is hard, even if it’s boring, mundane stuff that I know is terrible and will change later. Even if it’s gibberish. It’s hard. It’s work. It doesn’t matter what style works for you, whether you’re a writer with a ritual or not. Writing takes something out of you. Always. If you need to recharge afterwards, that’s fine.

Is there a risk that you’ll lose the voice and the book you were working on? Yes. I don’t know you, dear fellow writer, and I can’t promise you that if you put your book aside you’ll return to it writing the same book that you would have written a month ago, a year ago. Most likely, unless you’re an amazing plotter, you won’t.

I find that, nowadays, I often have stories that require me to be distracted, just a little, and the trick to find the right balance between too little distraction and too much. Eventually, if enough time passes, perhaps you’ll find that your concentration has gotten so good that you’ve zoomed through the writing session and surprise yourself with the word count you’ve achieved. And that’s great! Feel good about the writing you’ve done. Because, let me repeat, writing is hard.

It will not always feel hard. I’ve had story drafts flow from my pen like a waterfall. Rapid, tempestuous, roaringly, powerfully, leaving me in a slight daze. But they still took work and some amount of effort because writing is never, ever, effortless. Some days a writing session will be easier than others. No matter what your process is, there will be good days and bad days.

When you need to do research, there is a chance of getting sucked into it so far that you get distracted from your narrative. It is tempting to forego all research in your first draft and fix it all later. For some writers, that works exceptionally well. Not for others. There are writers who will get horridly stuck on the book if they don’t do background research first, if small things are misaligned. For all that you are, surely, selling people a product, you need a solid foundation and only you can decide for your story what that foundation looks like. Sometimes, that solid foundation requires you to research first and write later. Or to write, get distracted by research and get back to writing afterwards. All of it is valid, provided that you think it works for you.

It may be you’re one of those lucky writers whose first drafts are amazing. Most likely, you are not. I’m not, though I do long to be that good one day. That’s what revision is for. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll look upon your book and decide that it’s not worth finishing to you. Maybe you’ll reread what you wrote and hate it. Maybe you need a vacation in the middle of your book. Maybe picking up that particular piece, at that particular time, is making you depressed or anxious. Or both. It’s okay to put it away and do something else for a while. It’s okay to put it away and never pick it up again.

Only you can say what course of action is right for you. You get to make that call. Of course I would prefer you to finish your book! I like stories! I like learning! I would enjoy seeing your perception on the world and to be challenged by your worldview where it differs from mine. Books teach us. Books mirror the world around us or show us a window into something else, something different. So, yes, I would prefer it if you finished your book, if you wrote that first draft start-to-finish and revised it and sought to bring it to my attention.

But I am not you and I cannot make that call for you.

Whatever your process is. Whatever your decisions regarding your book: be kind to yourself. Writing is hard work, even when it doesn’t feel like it, and you did good. Self-care matters. If you don’t take care of yourself, if you don’t look at what practices and processes work for you, as an individual, that is when you ‘fail’. For that is when you’ve decided that there is One True Way to write and stopped considering what works for you individually. That is when the self-doubt and the anxiety really comes out to play because you’ll be so hung up on this idea of what a writer should be according to a Big Name Author you may or may not have heard of before that you’ll forget that you need to look what writing actually is for you.

That Big Name Author no more knows you than I do. They can’t tell you how you should write or what you should write or how you should approach the whole process because they don’t know you.

And, yes, maybe your book isn’t good enough to cut it in the market place. And, true, you won’t know unless you finish and try. But what if publication wasn’t your goal? Should you then pursue it because someone else told you that it’s what you must do even though you don’t want to? You can always improve your writing if that’s what you want to do.

But don’t let anyone force you into methods or ideas that don’t work for you. The truth is that there are a lot of writers out there who want to push their methods onto other people without pausing to consider that those other people? Are not them. They have different goals, different reasons, different challenges. All of which impact what methods do and do not work. None of which those authors sharing their wisdom know.

The truth is that, when it comes to writing advice, there’s only one kind of advice that is even remotely universal: figure out what your process is for the book you’re working on right now. Whatever your goal is, you’ll reach it faster if you know what’s making the idea (and you) tick.

No, I lied, sorry. There’s another piece of advice that’s pretty universal: writing is not a race. You can take it at your own pace. It is not a case of you versus everyone else (unless you want it to be). You can work together with other writers. Encourage each other, build a network, lean on one another when times are hard, share each other’s joys and woes. Have a community, in short, of people who understand you and who’ll help you achieve the goal that you’ve set yourself to achieve.

Writing is not a One Method Fits All thing. Writing is a mosaic of tiny little pieces of methods and thoughts and ideas that you’ve got to piece together for yourself. Others who’ve written books can show you things that work (or once worked) for them that you can try, but… That’s all we can do.

I’m sorry. This probably wasn’t the writing advice that you were hoping for, but it’s what I’ve got. Don’t let writers tell you what your process should be, not even me. We don’t know you. We don’t know your circumstances. You do. Try things. See what works for you. Toss out stuff that doesn’t.

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This post previously appeared on Patreon and is sponsored by generous patrons. Thank you so much for your support! It means the world to me! <3 I love you all!

If you’ve enjoyed this post and would like to support me in creating more free content, please consider subscribing or spreading the word to others. Visit my Patreon page to discover how to get early access to posts as well as various Patron-exclusive posts and goodies!

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Interview at Huntress of Diverse Books!

Posted June 11, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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Today Huntress of Diverse Book has posted an interview with one of my characters! Sinead is interviewing the protatonist of Sea Foam and Silence and in keeping with the fact that Sea Foam is a verse novel, we’ve done the whole interview in verse. Come check it out! Learn a little more about our little mermaid as she talks about discovering life on land, fails to understand puppies, and talks about what she loves to do.

And, while you’re there, why not check out the rest of Sinead’s blog too! <3

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May 2017 Round Up

Posted June 2, 2017 by Lynn E. O'Connacht in Miscellaneous / 0 Comments

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This month, in the interest of trying out some new things, I thought I’d forego the regular culture consumption post and try a different kind of round-up, focusing on the posts that I’ve made this month. I will admit to also doing this because, in all honesty, the posts take a fair bit of time to do even when I manage to stay on top of them and I’m not sure how much value they have for people in their existing format.

The links round-up is largely automated, thanks to the Ultimate Book Blogger plug-in’s awesome wrap-up feature, so it consumes far less time to manage when my approach is to use that to showcase links from the most important categories. Plus! Unlike the current “What did I post this month” structure that lumps everything together, this gives me a good overview of what I’m talking about in a month and that, in turn, will hopefully allow me to create more content because I can use the information to look at what people want more or less of.

I’m also including Patreon-only posts. These are the only set of links that aren’t automated. May is a slightly terrible month to start listing Patreon posts in because I’ve made a ton of scheduled posts to collect older material in one place. This way, people who explore my Patreon can find a lot of my content in one convenient location (right where they are!) and get a good sense of what I do without having to visit half a dozen sites to do so.

For now, there are no graphics because I want to try out the structure and see whether I like it/whether anything needs changing first. So. If there’s anything you particularly want to see (or to see disappear) or aught, please let me know! And yes you can totally request I include my thoughts on media I’ve consumed that month. Unless people overwhelmingly ask me to, it won’t come back the way that it was, but if people find it useful I’m more than happy to try and find a way to make it work better for me too.

Goals

News

Patreon-Exclusive

This is not a collection of all the posts that went up on Patreon. This is just a list of the posts that went up on Patreon only. Most of these posts are personal life updates, fiction or fiction-related. Reviews and livetweets will find their way onto this blog eventually if they haven’t already appeared.

May saw a lot of public posts as I decided to move both the Teaser Verses of Rapunzel, Rapunzel and the sampler for Feather by Feather and Other Stories to Patreon. To clarify, I will not be collecting the Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon reaction posts that went up on Patreon this month. If you want to check them out, you can also find them on this blog!

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