Sunday, July 19, 2009

What's wrong with this sentence?

"Fluent in four languages, her skills are impeccable."

If you've been following this blog, you know we're dealing here with a misplaced modifier. The sentence says that her skills are fluent in four languages. It's possible that the woman herself is fluent in none. Let's try, "Fluent in four languages, she also has impeccable skills."

Always put modifiers as close as possible to the words they modify. In the original sentence, the pronoun the modifier refers is missing altogether. No wonder the whole thing sounds peculiar.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A new blog

I've added another blog and will continue to focus this one on business English and the like. The new one, will concern itself more with fiction and nonfiction writing and the publication process of my new book. Just thought I'd let you know.

Friday, July 10, 2009

It's all downhill from here

It's about a month until the launch of my new book, Back Again to Me. Because some people are interested in how this is all going to come together, I'll burn some blog posting time. In the next four weeks, I have to rewrite the trailer script, set up the new Web site, have a new headshot taken, do the video interview, figure out the twitter strategy, and start setting up readings here and there. Then I notify every person in every social network to invite their friends to the online party as well. I'm so excited that the launch period (48 hours, or maybe more if it goes well) will be benefiting Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption The book is about adoption, and it seemed like a perfect fit. I've also made the decision that at every reading, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a specific charity or to the work of the organization itself. In these tough times, that seems to be a reasonable thing to do.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

Beware that modifier

As we head into a long weekend, it's good just to have fun. My son-in-law shared this interesting radio commercial with me after his most recent trip to CA. I don't have it verbatim, but it asks the fascinating question, "Why is it so hard to find a plumber who will fix your sink over the phone?" My guess is that the plumber would have to come to the sink and bring tools to get the job done. It's hard to accomplish a repair like that over the phone.

Someone wrote that ad, but worse, someone paid for it. Pity.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Weekend buzzwords

It's the weekend, and for those who speak in business buzzwords Monday through Friday, days off can be difficult. No boss or officemates around for you to dazzle with the latest neologism—usually one that's ugly and conveys little. To keep you from suffering the verbal equivalent of the bends, here are some words you can use for weekends. They'll keep those buzzword muscles in shape until you can get back to full-scale training on Monday.

Getting up=Offbedding
Brushing teeth=Posthalitosisizing
Blowing nose=Outsnotting
Washing windows=Streakifying
Cutting grass=Downshearing
Trimming trees=Delimbinating
Running errands=Merchant lapping

Please share your own. We can build a whole new dictionary of meaningless phrases. Oh, wait, American business has done that already.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Two words to retire

Every now and then, words blast out of the lexicon and elbow their way into every article, blog, or tweet. Within weeks, their welcome is worn out because they're pushing other and perhaps more colorful words to the sidelines. With the speed of communication today, a word can become a cliche in about 48 hours.

My two candidates for the Boy-I'm-Really-Sick-of-These-Words Award are iconic and snarky. Chrysler and GM are iconic corporations that build iconic brands with iconic nameplates. I can live with that, I guess, but now I'm also reading every day about iconic TV shows. Iconic movies. Iconic foods. Iconic style. Even iconic sunglasses and lipstick shades. Not to be iconoclastic, but I bet we can stumble along with other words. Popular, perhaps, or well-known, or even beloved.

When someone recently referred to something I'd written as snarky, I thought it was relatively descriptive. But suddenly I have so much company in Snarkville that I'm thinking of moving out. Anything that's a little snide, a little sarcastic, a little cynical, is now snarky. I like having a choice. Will I be sardonic today? Or caustic? Sassy? Mocking? Maybe derisive or supercilious. But not snarky. Not anymore.

Let's all get out our thesauruses (I love that word; for me it always conjures up a really erudite dinosaur who wears thick glasses) and find some apt replacements for words that have lost their zing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Getting closer to Back Again to Me

Yesterday, the interior of my seventh book/first novel was sent to me to download and proof. I'm finding some proofing errors, but that's fixable little stuff. The big stuff is that putting out fiction feels so much more self-revelatory than publishing nonfiction. With nonfiction, people may take issue with your facts, your conclusions, even your style, but with fiction, if they hate the book, it feels as if they are taking issue with your very own soul (so far, no one has hated it, but I'm bracing for the day). Although this book isn't autobiographical in any way, it is something that came out of my imagination and my heart--not my research or someone else's research, and somehow sending this book into the world feels a lot more scary. Also a lot more exciting. It won't be long now.