Tag Archives: writing

Homophones – a viral epidemic

Homophone is a confusing word. Homo means same, similar, or alike. But phone? Nope. A homophone is audible, but not an electronic device.

After my post about the U.S. Library of Congress Trump to/too (not tutu) faux paus, editors keep a keener eye (not aye) out for homophones—words that sound alike but convey a different meaning. See if you can spot the homophone mistakes in this short prose without the use of your spelling or grammar-check program.

Homophones cantor through the computer gait. Editors, like jockeys, reigns in hand, race foreward down the tract toward the finish line in a determined manor. The words hide, stationary on screen, waiting for the editor to waiver. Instead, she knits and pearls the maize into a fashionable story that vales the queues of mistaken identity.

Grammar Police Award

Maybe farfetched that you, the savvy author, would make the exaggerated mistakes above, but here’s a BOLO (be on the lookout) from me, the grammar cop. Like drinking and driving—only not as dangerous—these common homophones can destroy your clear record.

Wind your way through these wry words to the bottom where the edited prose quiz awaits.











































Here’s the edited homophone test with correct words in italics.

Homophones canter through the computer gate. Editors, like jockeys, reins in hand, race forward down the track toward the finish line in a determined manner. The words hide, stationery on screen, waiting for the editor to waver. Instead, she knits and purls the maze into a fashionable story that veils the cues of mistaken identity.



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Writer’s Advice – Third Quote Challenge

Well-known philosophers—mostly dead—push to the front, vying for mention in this last quote challenge.

“Either write things worthy reading, or do things worth the writing.”

―Benjamin Franklin


I’m trying, Ben, but you forgot to publish the DIY how-to section.

“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.”

―Agatha Christie

Book stack climber

Sorry, Ms. Christie, but California is in its fourth year of drought. Until El Niño arrives, I’m using paper plates. The trip out to the green waste receptacle is too short to do anything more than wonder if I’ve scheduled my next blog post.

“Don’t get it right – get it WRITTEN!”

―Lee Child


Thanks, Lee. I probably know more about Jack Reacher than real-life people because you took your own advice and published twenty novels with him as the protagonist.  Reacher even has short stories to keep me posted on his activities between hardcover books.


I’ve published a couple of nonfiction books and dozens of short stories, but my first mystery manuscript is old enough to go to kindergarten. Why haven’t I followed Lee Child’s advice and published it?

“I’d rather edit manuscripts written by others.”

―Violet Carr Moore

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Pleasant Dreams

 A recent discussion on Crime Fiction, a LinkedIn crime writers group, ended up in the bedroom.


foot-banana peel

OOPS! Take one giant step backward.

Let me explain.  My novel characters in Next of Kin work in progress often have a stubborn streak and wander off on their own exploits, leaving me to revise scenes and chapters to fit those moods. The Crime Fiction thread was directed at how to avoid this. One post suggested that a good night’s sleep might cure the problem.

Green Tea Cup

 Drink one cup of chamomile tea and relax.

That doesn’t work for me. When my characters traipse off course, leaving the path my fingertips have painted with words, I follow them all day. I meander in and out of unplanned scenes and dialogue. After dinner, I review my manuscript. I fuss at the character and try to explain that I, the author, am in charge. When that doesn’t work, I hogtie that character and drag him to bed.   


 Wave get-out-of-jail-free card.

While I wait to be arrested by the evening shift sergeant, I replay that character’s dialogue and actions, demanding to know why s/he didn’t trust me to do the right thing.  I toss and turn with thoughts of editorial revenge until I drift off to sleep. I snooze.


I awake, alone in the darkness, and realize the character is right.


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Rules for Novel Writing

There are three rules for writing the novel.

Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

W. Somerset Maugham

W. Somerset Maugham 1874-1965 (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

W. Somerset Maugham
(Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Writing workshops or conferences include at least one session on the three essentials of writing. Instructors offer a variety of suggestions from their experiences. If applied, those guidelines should prepare the attendees to write the next best seller.

A cough creeps up my dry throat as I scribble notes in a workshop . I sip water, chew mints, and sip more water to avoid coughing during the intense moments. Eyes forward, I strain to lip read as the presenter, head down, stares at the floor and whispers the secret to writing a best-selling novel. Stillborn words are buried in the carpet. Silence envelops me with disappointment like reading a book with the last pages missing.

I stuff notes in my tote bag. BME—my reminder from a previous conference—catches my attention. Move over, Mr. Maugham. I’ve found the three basics for writing a best-selling novel.

#1 – Beginning
#2 – Middle
#3 – End

Whether I succeed as a novelist or settle in my comfortable niche as a short-story author and memoirist, I echo William Somerset Maugham’s sentiments.

 Writing is the supreme solace.

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NaNoWriMo on the back burner

Hour glass-animatedFor the first time since November 1, 2008, I’ve put National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) on the back burner to concentrate on editing one of my five draft novels created during this grueling challenge. Back burner not a familiar term to you? That cliché originated in the days of wood-burning cook stoves. Slow-cook foods were placed on the back burner because they didn’t require concentrated heat or constant attention like those closer to the cook.  My current kitchen range is electric with all four burners of equal heat options. Still, if something requires slow cooking, I put it on the back burner—or in a crockpot—to keep it out of my way.  Today, I’ve moved Next of Kin, my first NaNo novel, to the front burner and turned up the heat with 1,667-words a day in revisions to match the NaNoWri fervor.

Captain Luis Rojas of the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office, the antagonist, is pleased that I’ve moved Detective Taylor Madrid to the forefront of the homicide investigation of a new resident in this Arizona desert town. My critique group convinced me that I’ve been too harsh on cliché-speaking Sergeant Gavin (Sully) O’Sullivan, the bungling Irishman. He likes his new, more competent role, but he insists on keeping his dialogue clichés. He favors cool as a cucumber, drunk as a skunk, all bent out of shape, and on the back burner. Sergeant O’Sullivan needs more clichés to describe (1) the local mortuary business; (2) a pompous local town council leader; and (3) a Phoenix on-the-spot newscaster who sounds like a tabloid reporter.

Can you help Sergeant O’Sullivan? Send your favorites as comments.


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Grammar Police

PoliceMy critique group has labeled me “The Editor” because I concentrate more on English grammar and punctuation than plot, setting, or characters. I’m much more concerned about subject and verb tense agreement than whether the protagonist is right or left-handed. I’d rather chose the correct form of your/you’re, or there/their/they’re, or synchronize singular/plural subject and verb agreement than to see if the protagonist is drawing with the wrong hand.

My inner editor’s persistence prompted one critique member to present me with a unique business card holder. Beyond an online purchase, it’s a creation from her heart—or at least her sewing machine. The sky-blue badge is fused and stitched to muted plaid fabric. To the left, this creative crafter stitched a clear pocket with a top opening for cards. The exterior is bound in black stitches. It folds wallet-style in the center to slip into a pocket or purse.

“To Correct  and Serve” is my goal. Now, I have the badge to prove it.

Grammar Police Award


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Following the Liebster copycat trail

Liebster award

Thanks to George who “merges the heart of a writer with the soul of a biker,” who conferred the   Liebster Award on Violet’s Vibes. Take a look at George’s blog , but come right back here. Here’s what the chain letter (OOPS!) guidelines say about the Liebster award.

“The aim of this award is to spotlight up-and-coming blogs with less than 200 followers. There are no set rules for the award, but the guidelines are as follows. [My note: Guidelines are synonymous with rules.] Copy and paste an image of the award onto your blog.  Done! Write a post on your blog to thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog. (See first paragraph.) Nominate some blogs for the award. (See last paragraph). There is no rule for the number of blogs you nominate, but the general recommendation is at least five blogs (Too many) that are similarly up-and-coming with fewer than 200 followers. Answer the questions from the person who nominated you in your post. Ask at least five questions on your blog for those you nominated for the award to answer. In addition to the questions and answers, list at least five random facts about yourself.” [Citation to avoid plagiarism: Last accessed June 27, 2013 from http://gdcramer.com%5D  

My responses to George’s Questions

1. Who is your favorite author and why? My preference changes with the seasons but always a mystery writer.

2. What has been the most difficult obstacle to your writing? Procrastination, like now when I’m blogging instead of working on my mystery novel. Oh, but wait. Blogging is writing.  

3. Do you have a regimen that you follow with your writing? Only in November when I write 2,000 words or more every day for the NaNoWriMo contest.

4. What do you consider the most significant event in your life? Waking to a new day with another chance to finish what I started yesterday.

5. Who was your most influential teacher? U.S. History high school teacher Cyril Beatty whose motto was “Who told you life is fair?”

6. What has been the happiest event in your writing endeavors? When I held my first published book in my hands.

7. What advice do you have for someone starting a blog? Don’t blog about your family, unless you’re a genealogist.  

8. What advice would give on becoming a writer? It’s never too late to begin.

Five random facts about me: I’m a (1) rule keeper, (2) a chronic volunteer, and (3) perpetual student, who (4) avoids surveys, random questions and chain letters, but (5) broke rule #4 because George is my friend.

My five questions for my Liester Award nominees: 1-5: When/where/what/why/and how do you write?

To my blogging friends: Liebster, a German word, translates loosely to “favorite.” Please don’t hate me for playing the Liebster game. Tag—you’re it.

 1 Dragon Writer

Lani Longshore’s Blog

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