Friday, February 9, 2018


Today, I have no feeling of joy. Usually, I look forward to my time at Cowork, at my desk, working on editing my "completed" novel, or writing new material on one I have on the go. But not today.

For one thing, I have a few people who owe me money, and I really hate to ask for it. But the amounts are quite substantial, and I could certainly use it right now.

But that's not the main thing. What is really bothering me is this computer. Have I mentioned it before? It's a Microsoft product called "Surface" and is the worst piece of junk I've ever worked on. It totally has a mind of its own. Sometimes, that's just irritating, and I can rein it in and do what I wanted it to do in the first place--write my novel, or compose an email, etc.--before it took off in another direction altogether. This time it's more serious, and is really making me wonder if I shouldn't just quit the whole idea of creative writing. I don't love it anymore. Not on this contraption.

What happened? Recently I paid an editor about $1600 for an evaluation. So, of course, I took her comments on the document very seriously. I don't hand over $1600 for nothing, you know. So, since about last November (about three months ago) I've been editing and rewriting the novel I had considered to be finished. I'm very grateful to Karen Autio for all her work.

So now: Surface has decided that all my edits should be written in red--the parts I'd deleted are in red, but with strikethroughs. And I can't delete anything at all. It's locked in.

Sure, I can get someone to come and help me get rid of it all, but why should I have to do that? What on earth made the damn thing do that? I didn't have the cursor where it didn't belong. I didn't click on anything other than the keys I needed to type my edits.

OH LOOK! It's about to do it again! I just got a "heads up" notice that it's going to give me a whole lot of updates I didn't ask for and don't need and don't want. But this is Microsoft, and I apparently don't own the piece of junk I bought at Best Buy in October 2015.  (It had to be in the shop for repairs FOUR times before April 2016. Four times in six months.) DON'T BUY A SURFACE COMPUTER!

Monday, January 22, 2018

saying yes

Everyone knows that a two-year-old child's favourite word is "no." Later in life, we seem to find that word more difficult. At least I do.
Yesterday in church, our priest said, half joking I think, that he's "wired to say yes."  Me too.
In the past couple of weeks, I've been asked to take on three jobs, and I've said "yes" to all three. They seem to me to be related. First, I was asked to let my name stand for "Church Committee" as it's called at St. Saviour's. At St. Thomas, it was called "Parish Council" and at St. James, I was a warden. This job will take just a few hours once a month, so not terribly onerous.
The second job request/offer came from Brother Willy, TSSF. He and some other Third Order Franciscans are starting a programme called "Emmaus Travelers"--a method for TSSF members to connect with one another. Actually, we each have directories with addresses and phone numbers, etc., and are encouraged to find a pen-pal, or someone to connect with. I guess that's not happening, so we have this new method. I've been asked to be the Canadian contact, to match people up in some prayerful way. I'm hoping to get some direction with this.
The third job request/offer is similar, but on a diocesan level--to be on a Spiritual Direction team or committee--I'm not sure what it's called. The woman who was asking me to do it was interrupted and promised to get back to me with more details. I'm waiting for that. Meanwhile, I'm sure I heard myself telling her "yes" I would do that.

more of "Yourguyses'"

Is it becoming part of the language? Yesterday, a taxi driver referred to our home as "Yourguyses' place". Really? Three people, not connected to one another at all, have all said this word in the last few months. I can't believe it!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

oh no! not another one!

This grammatical pet peeve (a new one now) is nothing if not downright funny. At first, I thought it was only this one waitress who said this, but then a few days ago my very own grandson said exactly the same thing! What is it?
First the waitress, when she saw that our coffee was getting low, she said:
"I'll go grab yourguys's coffees." First off, I hope she doesn't ever grab coffee. It could be quite dangerous, given the usual meaning of "grab"--but what is "yourguys's"?

Then my grandson, whose English is usually quite good, was driving my husband and me somewhere and then "to yourguys's house."  Very kind of him indeed, but he was really embarrassed when I pointed out that there was no such word as "yourguys's", a simple "your" will suffice. He said he knew that and couldn't believe he'd actually said that non-word. Then not ten minutes later he said it again.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

pet grammatical peeve

So often, I find that what I want to blog about is one of my pet peeves. And so it is today. I don't know if I've posted this one before, but I just came across it in a book I purchased on Saturday at the Surrey International Writers' Conference. It's one of the for Dummies books, so that might account for this, but I don't think so.

My complaint is this. Many people who have university degrees in such things as creative writing or English literature, seem to think of themselves as experts in English grammar. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case.

My bachelor's degree is in linguistics. I took countless courses in literature: English, Canadian, French, French-Canadian, Russian (both classical and Soviet). None of the lit courses qualified me as a grammarian in any of those languages. My expertise (and I believe 40 years of experience does make me an expert) comes from teaching English as a Second Language.

Today, in Writing Children's Books for Dummies, I came across a section in Chapter 7 about creating compelling characters. Page 127, to be exact. The subtitle was "Toss out passivity and indefinites." I'm sure the gist of the advice was very good. My complaint is the constant misuse of the term "passive voice" in books and articles and journals, etc., directed at writers. So many of these people want to toss out the verb "to be" labelling it as "passive". NONSENSE

In The Grammar Book--an ESL/EFL Teacher's Course, by Marianne Celce-Murcia and Diane Larsen-Freeman (Newbury House Publishers, Inc., Rowley, Massachusetts 01969, USA, 1983) the passive voice is addressed in chapter 17. (That sentence was written in the passive voice.)

Unfortunately, I don't have the most recent edition, so the page number and chapter citation may be different in the newer editions. However, the grammar has not changed. In the second paragraph of the chapter, on page 221, there is this statement (NB, this is not in the passive voice as the Dummies book would have you believe): "...English is a 'subject-verb-object' language and that common alternatives to the S-V-O order are S-O-V and V-S-O." The text goes on to give an example for the active voice." I'll try to avoid direct quotes here as there are some comments that direct the reader to earlier chapters.

The point is this: "John sketched the picture." (Subject John, Verb sketched, Object the picture) is an example of a sentence in the active voice. If we say "The picture was sketched by John." we now have a passive voice sentence. We did this by putting the object in the position of the subject and gave it a form of the verb "to be" which was immediately followed by the past participle of the main verb. We could have left it like that if we didn't want to accuse John of sketching it. However, here we added the original subject as the object of the preposition "by"--thereby creating the typical passive voice sentence. Passives are particularly popular with newspapers and other places where the writer might wish to omit the name of the perpetrator of the action.

Just having a form of "to be" in a sentence does NOT make it passive.
I wish those who pretend to be grammarians would first check with those who truly are.
There. That's my pet peeve for today,

SiWC 2017

Yesterday evening I arrived home after four nights in one of my favourite hotels, Accent Inns in Burnaby.
Unfortunately, I didn't get my dates straight in enough time to fulfill my volunteering obligations, and had to cut down my time at the Surrey International Writers' Conference to only Saturday--missing all of Thursday, Friday and Sunday. However, it was not time wasted.

At the conference, I went into the room I would have to be in for the next workshop in order to introduce that speaker. Luckily, the early workshop was ""The Whirlwind Researcher" presented by Kearsley. Very worthwhile! As was Greg Van Eekhout's "Middle Grade: Beyond the Formula."

After lunch, I tried a workshop on writing short stories, but I was very sleepy and had to leave. So that was it for the conference for me.

Next year, I'll reserve the hotel room sometime before summer for the October conference, and I'll sign up as a participant, not a volunteer.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

summer of 2017

I don't remember the date it started, but I could easily look it up. It's the forest fires (aka wildfires, a term my husband doesn't like).
This province has been on fire all of July and is still an inferno. Here, in Penticton, BC, where I live, we've been lucky. For the most part. First, before the fires started, we had rain and floods. I thought that would be a good thing, because this part of the world has wildfires every year--nothing new. So, with all the spring rain and run-offs and snow meltings, resulting in flooded basements for my neighbours (I don't have a basement) that would mean there wouldn't be fires. Unfortunately, the excess rain and flooding made the fire situation worse. Who would have thought? Apparently, the water made the grass in the forests grow faster and taller, so when the sun came out and heated everything up, the grass turned to tinder. Hence we have the worst wildfire situation in BC history.

As I said, we've been lucky. We weren't flooded, and as for the fires, the worst we've had is really nasty smoky air and all our beautiful mountains shrouded in grey smoke.

Today, and yesterday we had some blue skies. First time since last June, I think. But the fire hazard is still threatening. We could easily be the next fire victims. Thousands of people in the northern part of the province have been evacuated, and are living in temporary accommodations until heaven only knows when. All it would take to put us in that position, would be some idiot tossing a cigarette into the bush, or one simple thunderstorm complete with lightning. Yup, we're a risk, but lucky so far.