NOTE: I don't post to this blog super-duper often anymore, because I'm busy writing, well, books. (Read more about that here.) For more up-to-date, day-to-day ramblings, visit my Facebook page.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Samhain

While you're running around dodging miniature witches and vampires today, remember that Halloween (All Hallows' Eve) evolved from the ancient Celtic pagan festival of Samhain (pronounced SOW-en). The Celtic New Year began at this festival, that time between the equinox and Yuletide. Samhain marks the beginning of the darkest part of the year, when the earth sleeps. Its element is water, which is abundant in rain and swollen streams, feeding the greedy earth in preparation for its long hibernation. Animals gather food; trees shed their leaves and get ready for dormancy. The last of the harvest is gathered, including apples and hazelnuts, both of which are symbols of this time. And on the night of Samhain, the veil between worlds is thinnest: the world of the living and the world of the dead, as well as the world of the mortals and that of the fairies. It is said that mortals may enter the land of the fey on this night.

Because of the increase in traffic between worlds at this time, the Celts often dressed in costume to hide their identities. That way, no spirits would find them and take them to the Land of the Dead before their appointed time. Divination was also considered to be especially useful on this night, as the barriers between past and future were lifted.

You may remember that The Key & the Flame takes place during the Midsummer festival. The sequel, The Wand & the Sea, occurs during Samhain. In Anglielle, it is a night when Adepts may walk into the Realm of the Good Folk with impunity, provided they return before dawn. Holly's first task in The Wand & the Sea is to do just that: to journey into the Realm to seek help from the Good Folk who reside there. Meanwhile, Ben and Everett conjure aid of their own--in the form of a Sea Witch.

Now what could possibly go wrong with that?

Read more about Celtic traditions at Samhain here and here.

image: copyright Mickie Mueller; permission granted to use in noncommercial ventures. Visit for prints and other products.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October Linklove

If you've never seen one of my linklove posts, then more's the pity, because this is the time every month when I divert you from this lovely (if malnourished) blog to all the diverse and wonderful info I've read elsewhere. Search for the tag linklove to see all the goodies in previous months.

Dianne K. Salerni (The Eighth Day) on writing a middle-grade series (Project Mayhem)
... and Angie Smibert (The Meme Plague) weighs in on series as well (Cynsations)
Kevin B. Parsons details The Top Ten Writing Fallacies (Author Culture)
Dan Blank explains how to launch something (you know, like a book, maybe) (Writer Unboxed)
Author Marissa Burt (Storybound) explains what to expect in the letter from your editor

Gemma Cooper of the Bent Agency reveals what she's looking for
Kathleen Nishimoto of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment chats with Cynsations
Literary Rambles shines their agent spotlight on Josh Getzler of Hannigan, Salzy, Getzler

National Book Award for Young People's Literature finalists announced (PW)
Roth's Allegiant comes racing out of the gate (PW)
S&S Launching New Sci Fi / Fantasy Imprint (PW)

Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown) chats with The Horn Book
Debut author Caroline Carlson (The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot) sits down with Cynsations
Veronica Roth (Divergent trilogy) on the Today Show with Matt Lauer
Rick Riordan (The Heroes of Olympus series) and Jonathan Stroud (Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase) interview each other on Riordan's blog (thanks to Charlotte's Library for the link)

Sunny Sweet Is So Not Sorry by Jennifer Ann Mann (contemporary; 1st in new series) (Secrets & Sharing Soda blog)
When Did You See Her Last? by Lemony Snicket (mystery; 2nd in series)

Ever After High: The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale (fractured fairytale; 1st in new series)

The Winter of the Robots by Kurtis Scaletta (sci-fi)
The 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield by Jon Bemelmans Marciano (gothic humor)
My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman (contemporary)

  The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente (fantasy; 3rd in series)
House of Hades by Rick Riordan (fantasy/mythology; 4th in series)

When the Butterflies Came by Kimberley Griffiths Little (via Cynsations)
The Templeton Twins Have an Idea by Ellis Weiner (via Watch. Connect. Read.)

Maryann Yinn gives a list of book-themed Halloween costumes (GalleyCat)
Real, true ghostly encounters from the authors at The Enchanted Inkpot
Cool bookish jack-o'-lanterns featured on Book Riot

top image courtesy of wikimedia commons; available for reuse under this Creative Commons license

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

November and December Luckies

I can't believe we're finally coming to the end of a spectacular year for all of us Lucky 13 debut authors. It is my great honor and pleasure to introduce the caboose--the final debuts to come out this year. So, with no further ado, here they are. Pre-order these YA sci-fi beauties!

After Eden by Helen Douglas
November 5 (Bloomsbury Children's USA)
YA science fiction

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
December 10 (Disney Hyperion)
YA science fiction

Control by Lydia Kang
December 26 (Dial Books for Young Readers)
YA science fiction/dystopia

* What's a Lucky 13? An author lucky enough to be publishing his or her very first book for kids or teens in 2013! Each month of this year, I've introduced e a new crop of fabulous debut fiction. Search for the tag 2013 debuts to see more, and read the Lucky 13 blog right here.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Just ... yeah.

In fond memory of my dad, Ken Caterer, who made sure I understood the differences here. Thanks to Grammar Police for sharing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Taken to Task by Stephen Fry

Blogfrogs, there are few more delightful people inhabiting Planet Earth than Mr. Stephen Fry. His writing, comedy, wit, and everything else he puts his hand to make life more enjoyable for all of us. Here, he takes language curmudgeons to task and is, I fear, quite right. The next time I list a pet peeve (it will likely be quite soon), be sure to remind me of this clip, which I submit for your enjoyment while I sheepishly creep off into a corner.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pet Peeve: Between You and I

There are some peeves, gentle readers, that seem pickier than others. No one cares, you might say, about anymore vs. any more, nor does anyone give a rat's posterior about hyphens. (I do, and you should too, but I take your point.) On this particular peeve, however, I yield no ground, because this is just wrong. It's not stylistic, there's no poetic license, it's not a maybe-yes, maybe-no kind of rule.

It's just a rule. And when you violate it, you're wrong.

Sorry to be blunt. Here's the scoop:

It was drilled into our preteen heads from Day One (or Day One of grade school) that when speaking of oneself and another person, one must use I, not me, as in:

Jeeves and I went on a fishing trip.
Jeeves and I had tea at four o'clock. (Or rather, I had tea, which Jeeves served.)

and so on. Only the laughably ungrammatical among us would say:

Jeeves and me hopped a train to Aunt Dahlia's house.

But here's the catch--the footnote to the main memo, you might say--that so many of us have overlooked. This rule only applies when the I in question is the subject of the sentence. You'd never say:

Me hopped a train to Aunt Dahlia's house.

So, no matter how many folks hop that train, I is always I, and never me:

Barmy, Bingo, Stinker, Jeeves, and I hopped a train to Aunt Dahlia's house.

But again I say: This rule only applies when the I in question is the subject of the sentence. Would you ever say:

Aunt Dahlia has been spreading vicious rumors about I.

Of course not. Nor would you say:

Aunt Dahlia had a particularly onerous problem for I to solve.

Instead, you'd say:

Aunt Dahlia has been spreading vicious rumors about me.
Aunt Dahlia had a particularly onerous problem for me to solve.
That being understood, it doesn't matter how many people Auntie D has been spreading rumors about, nor how many heads she needs to solve her problem. Me is always me.

Aunt Dahlia had a particularly onerous problem for Jeeves and me to solve.
Aunt Dahlia has been spreading vicious rumors about Jeeves, Barmy, Bingo, Stinker, and me.

Aha! you say. But it's still between you and I, isn't it?

No, it isn't. Between, gentle readers, is a preposition, like about, upon, of, beneath, etc. Prepositions take object pronouns. If you don't know what those are, don't fret. Take my word for it: Me is one of them. (Here's a list of common English prepositions, if you're interested.)

"That task is beneath me, Aunt Dahlia," said Bertie. (Beneath I? Never!)

And so:

"That task is beneath Jeeves and me, Aunt Dahlia," said Bertie. 
And yes, now we come to it:
"Dash it, Jeeves, but between you and me, I think Aunt Dahlia has too much time on her hands," said Bertie. 
And so it is with all prepositional phrases:
  • between you and me
  • for you and me
  • about you and me
  • of you and me
and so on.

Here's the takeaway, and a foolproof rule: When wondering if you should use I or me, ask yourself what you would use if the sentence didn't involve a lot of other people, and go with that.

Here's a picture of Jeeves and me out on our pleasure cruise.
Here's a picture of me out on my pleasure cruise.
"She wasn't talking about you and me, sir," said Jeeves.
"She wasn't talking about me, sir," said Jeeves.
That isn't something you and I would do, is it?
That isn't something I would do, is it? 
 I feel so much better having that peeve off my chest. Time to ring Jeeves to bring something bracing, I should think.