Monday, September 1, 2014

Blond vs. Blonde - To E or not to E?

The dilemma of blond vs. blonde - to E or not to E has been putting writers in a stymie for as long as I can remember. When I began writing, it stymied me, so I looked up the definitions of both spellings over two years ago. I had a character who was blond (or is that blonde?) and wanted to make sure I described her correctly.
The other day, I posted a writing tip on my fan page about these two seemingly similar but different words. Since I link my fan page to Twitter, I purposely kept the post short so I didn't go over the 140-character Twitter rule. Here's what I wrote:

"Blonde" is a noun. "Blond" is an adjective. I can call a woman a blonde, but describe her hair as blond. #writetip

Who would have thought such a short post—and one tiny vowel—would stir up such a bustle of activity, but I received messages and emails all day about this. My critique partner and I even got into a friendly face-to-face debate over this last night.

So I took it upon myself to do more research and found that "blond vs. blond - to E or not to E" has three schools of thought.

That's right, it seems that not even our English dictionaries can agree on blond vs. blonde. Here are the three schools of thought I turned up:

School of thought #1

My Random House Dictionary defines blond as "having light-colored hair and skin; light-colored; a blond person."  It defines blonde as a "blond woman or girl." In other words, you would use blonde as a noun when referring to a woman but call her hair blond (adjective) when describing her hair. Also, since the dictionary specifically refers to blonde as a blond woman, one can infer from the definition for blond that a man with blond hair would be referred to as "A blond." Note that for the man there is no E. I also remember reading online two years ago (for the life of me I can no longer find the link) that a woman is referred to as blonde while a man is referred to as blond, when using the word as a noun.

The blonde led her guests to the table.
She has such lovely, blond hair.
Jeremy was a blond who had big blue eyes.

School of thought #2

My Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines blond and blonde as being interchangeable. The entry looks like this:
Blond or Blonde: Adj : fair in complexion: also : of a light or bleached color - blondish.
Blond or Blonde: n : a person having blond hair.

According to my Merriam-Webster Dictionary (I have the Garfield version...yes, Garfield the cat. Hey, don't judge me), there is no difference between blond or blonde when it comes to masculine and feminine or color. 
You could say a woman had blond or blonde hair. You could call her a blond or a blonde. You could call a man a blond or a blonde.

This is probably the least popular school of thought.

School of thought #3

I did an online search last night and found the school of thought my critique partner and her editor follow. This school of thought says that when you're referring to the feminine, you use blonde as both noun and adjective. When referring to the masculine, you use blond as both noun and adjective.

She's a blonde with blonde hair.
He's a blond with blond hair.
She has blonde highlights
He wants to dye his hair blond.
She's having a blonde moment.
He can be such a blond when he asks such silly questions.

In this way, the English language follows the rule of masculine and feminine that other languages follow. For instance, in Spanish, certain words have both a masculine and a feminine spelling. In English, we don't distinguish between the two. However, in the case of blonde vs. blond, this school of thought does.

So, what does all this mean, other than you're more confused now than you were five minutes ago? What it means is that there really is no right or wrong when it comes to blond vs. blonde - to E or not to E. Well, the only wrong you could commit is if you are inconsistent in which school of thought you use. Pick one school of thought and be consistent. I tend to subscribe to #1. My critique partner uses #3. Even if you use #2, you still need to be consistent. Yes, you may be able to use the spellings interchangeably, but if you use both blond and blonde in your writing, you'll just look like you don't know what you're doing. If you're going to be a #2 school of thought person, pick one spelling and stick with that.

Now excuse me, I need to go have a blond (or would that be blonde) moment.

Happy Writing!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Always Behave Professionally, You Never Know Who's Watching

Last night, I had what some could view as a life-changing experience. A celebrity reached out to me, and I got to talk to him on the phone. Here's how events played out:

I went to the chiropractor for an adjustment. Hubby was there for his appointment, too. As I was sitting beside him, checking my email, I pulled up a message and scoffed. Hubby looked over. "Check this out," I said. It was an email allegedly from this celebrity's personal assistant, asking me to contact his manager at my earliest convenience. No reason was given, just an email and a phone number. "Do you think this is some kind of scam?" I asked hubby. "Should I reply back?" Hubby said, "Sure. Just don't click on any links." He's a computer guy, so he's pretty cautious about opening emails from unknown sources.

So, I replied back with a short email that said I had been asked to contact him but wasn't sure why. Off I went about my business. I got my adjustment, grabbed a snack at home, watched my recorded The Young and the Restless, then went to meet my friend and critique partner to discuss self-publishing and my latest WIP.

After returning home and eating dinner, I checked my email. There was a message from this celebrity's rep, thanking me for replying so quickly and asking me to call him on his personal mobile.

I was watching MasterChef at the time. I was not calling until MasterChef was over. I was busy, you see. Uh-huh. Well, keep reading.

My curiosity began to get the better of me. Maybe this was legit. Maybe this really was this celebrity's rep. So, I started doing some internet searches for his name during the commercials. Hmm. Yep, there was this guy's name, associated with the celebrity in question. And, oh look, there's the rep's email address linked to one of the celebrity's YouTube videos. Okay, this was looking more and more like the real deal.

MasterChef ended, and while I was now getting excited, I forced myself to stay cool as I dialed the number. Yep, this could still be all a big fat hoax. Not likely, but my wary inner voice was hovering nearby to keep me on my toes.

The rep answered, and I said, "Hi, this is Donya Lynne?" As if I didn't know who I was, right? Yes, by now I was pretty sure this was for real. "Donya Lynne! Pleasure to finally meet you!" the rep said. We proceeded to have a pleasant, upbeat conversation, and then he said, "Hey, I've got [celebrity] right here. Hold on and I'll put him on so he can talk to you." At least, I think that's what he said. I was a little flumbergasted that Mr. Celebrity was right there, and that, yes, I was about to oh-so-(not)-casually chat with him.

Don't ask me what was said between me and Mr. Celebrity. I know the gist of it, but my brain was starting to misfire right about this time, so perfect recollection of what was actually said now eludes me. Mr. Celebrity was really cool, very appreciative, and said a lot of nice things. I just can't remember them. I really need to work on my memory. For real.

I then hung up the phone and proceeded to laugh for about two minutes. Hubby, having heard my entire side of the conversation (and knowing I had, in fact, talked to Mr. Celebrity) calls from the next room, "Are you having a bit of a fangirl moment, honey?"

Really? Do you have to ask?

But, in hindsight, it wasn't so much as a fangirl moment as it was the realization that good things come to those who do good deeds and refuse to let fear hold their tongue. You see, a little over two years ago, I contacted Mr. Celebrity and asked him to appear on my book cover. "That's ballsy," you might say, but my way of thinking is "Never be afraid to ask. The worst they can say is no, and the best they can say is yes. You have everything to win and nothing to lose by simply asking." We emailed back and forth a few times but couldn't make the cover happen. I was on a shoestring budget at the time and didn't have the resources to pay for the rights to use one of his pics. But he was gracious, and so was I. Not able to make it work, I bowed out of the discussions with a sincere "thank you for at least considering" and went on my way.

Afterward, I could have gotten angry. I could've become defensive and immature. I could have behaved badly and lashed out that I couldn't make this endeavor work and had been told, in essence, no. I've seen others take "no" personally and do worse for lesser reasons. In fact, I've seen some do worse for lesser reasons and being told no in the last few days.

I always preach that authors need to be careful what they put on their platform, because this is their professional reputation they're building and showing the world. Don't post profanity-laden messages all over social media. Don't troll. Don't bash anyone—ANYONE—in the business. Not other authors, not publishers, not editors, not agents, not cover artists, not cover models, not potential cover models...NO ONE! Don't post controversial subject matter such as politics, religion, or your own personal opinions about touchy subjects (I learned this one the hard way and refuse to walk that path again). Don't go on and on about your health problems (the occasional post is okay, but posting about your health issues every day is a drag for your readers, and they don't want to hear it). Your author platform—your brand—is about you, as an author. Be social and be professional, but keep your posts relevant to your author persona, not everything else going on in the world, your life, and your head.


Well, because this celebrity is going through a re-branding right now, and, in my case, if I hadn't maintained my professionalism and my own brand awareness, I doubt he would have reached out to me. Furthermore, if I hadn't reached out in the first place over two years ago, he might not have reached out to me now. By sucking down my fear and "going for it," I put my name in his head, and by maintaining my professionalism, I indirectly earned the right to speak to him on the phone last night.

I won't divulge the nature of our conversation, but for those who pay attention, you'll be able to figure it out over the next few months. Maybe. But even if you don't, that's not the important thing here. The lesson to learn is to be fearless and professional...and to never take "no" personally. All the rest falls into place with time.

Peace out and happy writing

Saturday, April 26, 2014

How a Godzilla Dream Became a Romance Couple

"Hey, baby, wanna make out?"
Maybe it's because I'm a huge Godzilla fan and am getting psyched over the new Godzilla moving about to come out, but I dreamed about, yes, Godzilla last night. And not just about Godzilla, but about being a prisoner in a weird Chinese prison (I know Godzilla came from Tokyo, but in dreams you've just gotta go with it). The warden was very cruel and wouldn't let me take my cat figurines and trinkets when was released (again, you've just gotta go with what a dream gives you). So, I'm released from prison, and all these news reports come in about these two (not ONE, mind you) bizarre, mutating creatures that have been sighted, growing at an accelerated rate. There was TV footage and everything. I knew it was Godzilla and was both scared and excited all at once. But I had to leave. So, I go in search of my valet-parked beige Honda (uh-huh, go with it) so I can get outta Dodge before the big bad monster destroys Beijing. Apparently, dream Godzilla lives underground and causes intense seismic disruption, because vast land destruction began to occur, swallowing up buildings and people and cars...including my beige Honda. Then I woke up.

What's my takeaway from this dream? That I have two story characters, one male and one female, where the male is trying to rescue the female from her captors and utter destruction taking place all around her, but she is a feisty bugger and wants nothing of being the damsel in distress. As she proclaims she doesn't need his help and darts for her own vehicle to flee, a series of explosions wipes out her attackers...AND her vehicle. Seems the hero got carried away with the pyrotechnics. Anyhoo, she spins on him, knowing this was his doing. "Just great! Now how am I supposed to get out of here, Einstein?" He grins with self-satisfaction. "Looks like you're coming with me, after all." And so their relationship begins.

All this from a beige Honda Godzilla dream. LOL. And I don't even own a beige Honda.

But this just goes to show that story inspiration can come from anywhere. You just have to open your eyes, mind, ears, and heart. Oh, and having an emotional love affair with a movie monster doesn't hurt.