The Where and Why of Vanishing by Mae Clair

Life has been a bit cagey for me lately.  Temporary upheaval on the day job spun a few things around, and I found myself covering a different department until a replacement could be found. I work in real estate and spring is when the housing market explodes. As a result, it’s been chaotic. I normally write my blog posts in the evenings and on weekends, but lately I couldn’t summon the energy to look at a computer after ping-ponging between my job and the temporary one. Fortunately, we now have someone new in that position, and life is spiraling back to a normal axis.

Two of my weekends also got sucked up in a bathroom remodeling project with my husband, and a plethora of yard work. Sadly, this is the first thing I’ve written since March 30th.

Am I whining? Yes!  I’ve missed blogging, I’ve missed visiting characters I’d left languishing in unfinished stories and notes, and I’ve missed making my regular blogosphere rounds. So if I’ve been low-key or completely AWOL from your blog recently, all of that is about to change. My mojo has returned. Huzzah!

And I do have some good things to report from those long weeks of languishing without my muse:

I am two scenes away from finishing a paranormal romance, Christmas novella (how’s that for a genre and a mouthful?) called FOOD FOR POE. Poe was my WIP when March 30th hit and my writing world went whacky. I’m hoping to wrap the story and indie pub it in time for Christmas. It’s a weird combination of Hallmark and folklore with a smidgen of horror tossed in. Not your normal Christmas read. 🙂

I joined a local critique group and have met some fabulous writers. It’s been years decades since I’ve been part of a local writing group, and I’m enjoying interacting with my peers. Only other writers truly “get” writers. Just to have that connection again is fantastic. The group has also been great in providing feedback on my submissions. Coupled with my two online critique partners, I feel like I’ve got a strong foundation to keep me grounded and on target with my goals.

Statue of my favorite cryptid, the Mothman, in downtown Point Pleasant, West Virginia

Statue of my favorite cryptid, the Mothman, in downtown Point Pleasant, West Virginia

I heard back from my editor regarding A THOUSAND YESTERYEARS, my Mothman mystery/suspense novel. She asked me to tighten up one of my plot threads (which I did) then she gave it her approval. YAY! Step one, down.

The manuscript is now on its way to a senior editor in the house. Because I’m venturing into a new/different genre (very little romance with more emphasis on mystery and suspense) it has to be approved by that editor as well. It will probably be 2-3 months until I get a response, but in the meantime I plan on finishing FOOD FOR POE, then starting on the sequel to Yesteryears—A COLD TOMORROW. I’ve put a ton of work and research into my Point Pleasant Series, and I strongly believe Yesteryears is my best effort to date. Hopefully, Kensington Publishing will feel the same. Wish me luck on that one!

Mythical Monday should be back on track beginning this coming Monday. I’ve got new beastie folklore I’m anxious to share, so look for more creature features from my pen.

I was tagged in a blog post by C. S. Boyack on WIPs and hope to have something up soon. It looks like a fun one, so I’m eager to sit down and draft up something about my projects. Hopefully, Craig won’t’ mind I’ve taken so long to get my act in gear.

Finally, here’s hoping everyone has had an enjoyable and productive three weeks while I’ve been on sabbatical. Missed you guys, and am looking forward to diving back into the blogosphere! 🙂

How Many Words Does it Take to Replace a Light Bulb? by Mae Clair

bigstock-beautiful-girl-4997153I’m a lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, Central PA, to be precise.

We don’t have accents (well, unless you venture into Dutch Country), but I’ve come to realize we do use terms and phrases that sometimes leave others scratching their heads.

That was an eye-opener for me. Oh sure, I was familiar with regional accents from different parts of the country and realized that every area has colloquialisms, but I never realized I occasionally spoke in a manner that other people thought unusual. Given my professional career and my love for the written word, I have a strong vocabulary. I’ve frequently been told I express myself well, even in casual conversation. I developed a tendency for certain precise pronunciations that have become second nature. Some examples:

Either
I pronounce this word as I-ther, not E-ther which is common for my area.

Going
I pronounce this go-ing (two distinct syllables) as opposed to goin’ which is the common choice for my region.

No biggies. But when the internet opened a new world of connections, and I began working with critique partners many years ago, I learned something shocking – – some of my word choices are clearly colloquialisms. Take this sentence as an example:

The light bulb needs to be replaced.

It’s how many people would say and write it (or perhaps, “the light bulb should be replaced.”). Imagine my surprise when I realized I commonly say and write: The light bulb needs replaced.

I can’t tell you how many times critique partners have flagged me because I dropped the “to be.” I had no clue I did it, no clue that it wasn’t correct. I will still use it in character dialogue to reflect local color, but I’m on constant alert for it in prose.

Another example: When I wrote a story with a setting I identified as Riverfront, two critique partners said it should be “the riverfront.” They argued it was strange to use it as a proper name. But I grew up in an area with a location commonly referred to as Riverfront. It’s completely natural to me.

And then there is macadam. Apparently, the rest of the country considers this word the equivalent of something from a foreign language. My editor has even called me on it (we changed it to asphalt).

What about you? Are there any regional terms or phrases that occasionally slip into your writing without your awareness? I’d love to hear some examples!