The Power of Photoshop

Usually, when you hear “Photoshop,” you think of unrealistic waistlines and impossibly perfect skin tone. It’s always nice to see Photoshop being used for good, not evil. A few months back, I came across these remastered and colored Civil War pictures that I felt gave them a whole new meaning. Funny how color can do that, right? I don’t know if they used Photoshop, but you get where I’m going here. My son has been playing around with the program and wanted to see what he could do with one my Folsom’s 93 mug shots.
Folsoms 22I think it turned out pretty amazing. I’ve always found this shot to be particularly haunting. His name was William M. Gray, Folsom’s 22nd execution. Given all the research into Gray’s case, I’m not entirely convinced he committed the crime for which he hanged. I’ll leave you with his final words in 1906

” . . . there could be no God, else an innocent man would not be hanged.”

Sneaked vs. Snuck

You may have noticed I get a little uptight about certain usages of grammar, which is strange, because I’m not at all a grammar expert. However, there are a few things I feel confident about ranting about. One of them is the word “snuck.” (For the record, in admin mode, WordPress underlines it in red, indicating it’s misspelled.) So ha. 

For me, this goes way back . . . to the classic movie, White Christmas. That’s right. This is where it all began. You see, there’s a scene (30 minutes into the movie) where the Haines sisters have to explain to the famous Wallace and Davis why sheriff is in the office with a warrant to arrest them both! *GASP!* 

Sisters--White ChristmasJudy: “Oh, the landlord is claiming we burned a hole in the rug and he’s trying to hold us up for two-hundred dollars.”

Phil: “Oh, no. Not that old rug routine.”

Betty: “On top of that, we sneaked our bags out of our room.”

(Another thing I’m confident about: The dialog is spot on. It’s sad cool that I know every like to this movie, right?) That’s what happens when you grow up watching this movie nearly every day from Thanksgiving to Christmas for about 20 years. I remember asking my dad, who really was a Grammar God, why Ms. Clooney said “sneaked” and not “snuck.” (Again it got underlined in red, just so you know.) He explained it was the proper usage. Good enough for me.

If you need anymore convincing, Brian Klems at Writer’s Digest agrees with me. So please, stop using “snuck” (I LOVE that red squiggly line!) and follow Betty’s lead. Smart lady.

Writing Prompt Wednesday

Writing Prompt WednesdayWelcome to Wednesday, as well as another edition of “Writing Prompt Wednesday” where I hope to get you over the weekly hump and into the land of writing. Try these on for size:

  • “Next!” the woman behind the glass yelled
  • The house made her feel . . .
  • “You’ll want to step back . . .”
  • Meg saw it before I did.
  • The empty bottle . . .
  • Robert felt the effects immediately.
  • He picked her for a reason.
  • She’d seen him [fill in the blank activity] a thousand times. This time . . .

Happy writing!


Colorado Gives Day

ColoradoGivesDayToday is Colorado Gives Day, a 24-hour event that encourages us to celebrate and increase philanthropy throughout Colorado. There are thousands of non-profit organizations who dedicate their lives to improving the world around them; and they could use some help. From the arts to fighting hunger and homelessness to animal-related causes, there’s bound to be something you could feel good about lending a helping hand. I encourage you to check out opportunities in your area that you can donate either your time or dollars to. Even a small act of kindness can make a huge impact.

Some Friday Reminders

Ahhh . . . it’s Friday. I think I just heard a collective sigh of relief. Well, before your brains go into weekend mode, I wanted to post a couple of reminders about two things (you can thank me later).
kickstarterThere’s only 4 days left to take part in this awesome Kickstarter for a flash fiction anthology, Baby Shoes. 100 authors, 100 stories. With the amazing lineup of authors involved, it’s going to be an incredible anthology . . . if we could just reach our goal! Check it out.

NCW Top of the Mountain Book Award

My other reminder is about the Top of the Mountain Book Award sponsored by the Northern Colorado Writers. You don’t need to be a member of the NCW and the contest is open to both fiction and creative/narrative nonfiction. Check out all the rules HERE. It’s easy! You could win $1000 and recognition at the NCW Writers Conference March 27-18, 2015. 

My last reminder . . . is to breathe. It’s Friday. 

Have a great weekend.

The Gift of Reading

If you’re in the Fort Collins area, I want to let you know about Lattes and Literature, a book fair featuring local author books as well as some delicious caffeinated concoctions. It all goes down Dec. 11 at Ft. Collins Coffeehouse . . .
Lattes and LiteratureFor those history geeks in the family, you’ll be able to pick up my book, Folsom’s 93, but if you’re not in the area and don’t feel like a road trip, it’s also available from these fine local booksellers: Old Firehouse Books, The Eclectic Reader or from the big guys: Amazon and B&N.

Folsom's 93

Among these local scribes who’ll also have her book available is Kerrie Flanagan with Claire’s Christmas Catastrophe, a children’s book for 7-10-year-olds. For the writer in the family, she’ll have Write Away: A Year of Musings and Motivations for Writers available as well.
Flanagan.jpgThere are also some author signings coming up that you don’t want to miss out on.

Dean K. Miller will be at Lo Co Artisan Coffeehouse in Loveland, CO on December 12, from 6 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. signing copies of Echoes: Reflections Through Poetry and Verse.

Echoes: Reflections Through Poetry and Verse by Dean K. Miller

Patricia Stoltey will be at The Eclectic Reader December 13th from 1:00-3:00 signing copies of her 3rd book, a stand alone suspense-thriller, Dead Wrong

Dead WrongSome other great titles you’ll want to get your hands on is Sheala Henke’s YA, IDEA-33: A Regeneration
idea 33And Nancy L. Reed’s Words Left Behind: Tales From a Life Gladly Lived
Words Left Behind
One of my favorite children’s books that just came out is Count the Clouds, by M.C. Myers that has incredible illustrations and comes with a CD and digital download for a sing-along good time. 
count the cloudsAll right, that’s about it for now. (And just so you know, I wouldn’t promote any ol’ writers; these are very talented, high caliber authors whose company I’m humbled to be in.)

American English vs. British English


There are many differences between the U.S. and our pals across the pond, one of which, being the use of language and grammar. Many British readers of The Guardian, a U.K.-based publication, have complained about the paper’s use of “ugly Americanisms,” mostly slang terms such as “mojo,” “dweeb,” and “double-dip.” (Thanks, Seinfeld.) One reader even said, “I am not anti-American, but I do not see why our language should be corrupted by sloppy writing.” Another called the American use of “authorities” as a “dreadfully ugly American import from the land without style.” Ouch. Sloppy writing? Without style? Those are fightin’ words! Once bickering over taxes and tea, we’re now going to duke it out (another so-called American grammatical atrocity) over commas and quotations. 

I’ll just focus on spelling and punctuation. Most of these we know. Admittedly, I’m guilty of consorting with the enemy on their spelling of “dialogue,” rather than the American English version of “dialog.” It’s just looks prettier, doesn’t it? Okay, okay, I’ve learnt my lesson. Or is it learned? Damn. Here’s a small sampling:
AE BE Spelling

The other big difference is, of course, the placement of quotation marks. Both sides argue that their version is correct, however, Ben Yagoda of Slate, calls the British way of placing commas and periods after the quotation marks, logical, surmising that the American version is more for aesthetics. He says,  “If you put a period or comma inside quotation marks, you are wrongly suggesting that the period or comma is part of the quoted material, and thus you have “changed” it.” Logical or not, it’s up for debate. Likely, whichever method you grew up with, is the most comfortable, or “right” way of doing it. 

What about your audience? Do you tailor your writing based on your readership? U.K. readers feel that The Guardian, their homegrown publication, should stick to British English. What about American journalists and authors? If you live and write in the U.S., can you get away with writing “grey” instead of “gray?” What about “there”, “their”, and “they’re”? Oh, I can’t stand looking at that! (You know where I stand on that issue.) 

One thing I will say, is I’m cheering for the British for omitting the apostrophe for dates (e.g., 1990s), which makes the most sense. It’s plural, not possessive. 

Because of the World Wide Web, these once distinct differences, are now melding together and clearly causing havoc. I think it pisses the Brits off more, whereas Americans seem lackadaisical about the whole thing, often interchanging them willy-nilly. My thought is that if you live and write in the U.S., stick with the American English rules, and vice versa. If anything, just pick one and use it consistently, and ideally, have a reason for your choice. I suspect that one day, there will be a meeting of the minds (whose minds is yet to be determined) and a definitive language style will result—a treaty will ensue. As for the style it’ll be written in . . . well, that’s another story.

What do you think? Keep both language styles separate? Or go to war?


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