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Showing posts from 2008

FCAT - The New 'F' Word

I recently had a conference at my son's high school to go over his IEP and find out why he's failing. I asked why only one of his teachers had called me - the week before grades went in - to tell me he was going to fail if he didn't pass the exam. Out of seven teachers, four of whom knew he had a 'D' or 'F', I got only one call and that one was too late in coming.

After expressing my displeasure, you know what I was told? "In all fairness to them, they have a lot on them this year because of the FCAT."

WHAT?

For those of you unfamiliar with the FCAT, allow me to explain. The FCAT is the year end student assessment test. It is supposed to measure student success in meeting educational goals throughout the year. Under the Jeb Bush administration, it was implemented to replace the California Achievement Test and has been used ever since.

Theoretically a more thorough assessment instrument, implementation of the FCAT has done more to ruin the education sy…

In the Midst of Madness

Finding time to write is something every author deals with. Some of us have more time to devote to it than others, but still find that life intrudes. I just spent the month of November taking the National November Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge. While it's invigorating to test my writing abilities, it also tests my patience.

For those of you who have never heard of NaNoWriMo, I'll explain. The participants make the personal commitment to write a 50,000 word novel beginning November 1st and ending November 30th at midnight. There are no money prizes, no one reads the novel but you, it doesn't even have to be perfect, it just has to be done. For this, you get a caffeine addiction, sleep deprivation, frazzled nerves, numb fingers, a nifty little logo to put on your web site, a printable certificate and the satisfaction of knowing that despite everything, you persevered!

It's amazing how quickly life intrudes when I set a goal like this for myself. Everyone in the house…

Name that Character!

This post was inspired by a post on the Second Wind Word Press page, by Pat Bertram. In it, she talks about how a character name shows a lot about the character. I started this as a comment to her, but it got too long, so I moved it here. Dellani


I believe a name tells a lot about a character. One can be as obvious as “Young Goodman Brown” or as subtle as Duncan Chandler. The reason I cite the latter as an example is because he is one of my characters whose name represents two distinct facets of his personality. Duncan means “Dark Warrior”. He is the son of the protagonist, himself a dark warrior (both in aspect and action). Duncan is looked upon as a warrior, the next generation. Chandler means “Light Bringer”. The reason I chose this name is because he is also looked upon as the new hope, the one to fight the darkness and evil that threaten.

That got me interested in a few other names that I’ve used in the same series:


Matilda (Duncan’s mother) “Fierce in Battle”

Wilhelm (his …

I Did It Again!

I finished my second NaNoWriMo novel! I had the word count fairly early on, but I wasn't sure I'd finish. With being sick last week as well as having a two week deadline on novel revisions, I didn't know if I would get it done, but I did! YEAH! As my daughter says, "The deserves a woo." WOO!

If you aren't familiar with NaNoWriMo, check this site: www.nanowrimo.org and discover the fun of writing a complete novel in the month of November!

Write it Right or Yes, Virginia, Mechanics Count

When I was a child, I couldn't spell. I'm still spelling impaired and love spell check above any of the other features of my word processing program. I am, however, glad I have a good background in punctuation, because word processors are woefully inadequate there. Rule of thumb, if Word corrects your punctuation, it is probably wrong. Second rule of thumb: If you rely on Word to correct your punctuation, you need a lot of help.

I can remember saying to my mother, "But they know what I mean! Why is it wrong?" Because it is, genius. It simply is. There are rules and conventions in spelling and punctuation that we have come to expect. When they aren't there, they interfere with the message we are trying to convey. I don't remember my mother's exact words, but that is the essence of what she told me.

As a high school A.P. English teacher, I got a lot of that same attitude. My students could not see the importance of spelling, neatness and punctuation until the…

A New Experience

I am having a new experience. Thus far, fairly positive, but we'll see how it progresses. Inspired by some of my Second Wind friends, I decided to put together a book promotional video. It's not come very far, a handful of pictures only - though I have figured out how to make them fade in and out, etc. I also found music!

I went to one site that my friend Suzette used, but didn't find what I needed there, so I followed a link to Jimmy G's page and found exactly what I wanted! My book, "Indian Summer", is set in 1730 in Spanish occupied Florida and I needed something with real Spanish flair. Jimmy had just the thing. It's a song called "Confrontacion Espanola". There was a lot of beautiful music there. I linger quite awhile enjoying the moods he created.

Now my only difficulty is making a video worthy of the music. It's going to take me awhile to finish, but at least I've got the music covered with Jimmy's site. When I put to…

What is Writing Like For You?

Pat Bertram, my guest blogger, blogs about writing at Bertram's Blog.

For me, writing is like the world's longest crossword puzzle, one that takes a year to complete. I like playing with words, finding their rhythm, and getting them to behave the way I want. I like being able to take those words and create ideas, characters, and emotions. Amazing when you think about it, how we can juggle twenty-six symbols in different ways to create words, sentences, paragraphs, worlds. And what one person writes, another can read.

For others, writing is like a mythic journey into self, other lands, other minds. It is like archeology, like exorcising demons, like channeling, like performance, like a faucet. It is like having an adventure. It is uniquely human, and it brings out the divine in us. It is breathing, a compulsion, a necessity, a reason for living, an obsession, a fun pastime. It is exhilarating and frustrating. It is liberating. And it is like comfort food, chocolate, and cherries.…

"Indian Summer" Excerpt

The following is an excerpt from "Indian Summer", an historical romance - for sale now at Second Wind Publishing.

The first rays of sun rose above the ocean, setting the waves afire. I gazed out my window, watching the town of St. Augustine awake. Sounds from the kitchen below blended with the calling of the men on the docks and the soldiers at the fort.
Tradesmen opened shops as women called to one another from their houses. Carpenters and stonecutters continued repairing the walls and buildings after the latest British attack. Seagulls called raucously along the shore waiting for whatever scraps got thrown to them, fighting over the merest, insignificant crumb. All these were comfortable sounds, mingling together into a familiar morning melody.
As my bedroom faces the ocean and hence the rising sun, I wake early, before any of my family, enjoying these last quiet moments. Yawning and stretching deliciously, I dressed and sat at my desk to compose a letter to my grandmother in…

The Day Has Arrived!

The long awaited day has finally arrived!

My book, Indian Summer, is up for purchase at the following address. It is listed under the pseudonym Dellani Oakes. http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/oakes.html The page is fairly newly up, so there may be glitches or typos, etc. Please bear with us. Right now there are issues with Pay Pal and Yahoo, so it will only allow the purchase of one book at a time, however, that will be resolved soon.

Besides my own, there are some incredible books represented. Please share the website with your friends and family and support the poor, starving authors (like me). Look for more books to be added in the following weeks. My next contribution will be my sci-fi/ romance The Lone Wolf due to be out this fall.

They are running a special right now, so you'll want to check it out soon! I can't wait to order a few myself! Thanks for sharing the site and thank you for your support!
Dellani

"Indian Summer" - An Historical Romance

In the spring of 1739, Gabriella Deza stands poised on the verge of womanhood. A product of her guarded upbringing, she is naive in the ways of love until dashing Manuel Enriques declares his love for her.

Quite by accident, Gabriella uncovers a plot hatched by a British spy. Armed with her information, Manuel embarks on a dangerous mission to entrap the spy and save the fort from capture by the British. Unfortunately, Gabriella herself is caught in the trap and kidnapped. Join Gabriella and Manuel as they embark on a voyage of intrigue and espionage. Will it tear them apart? Or will their blossoming love bind them together?

Visit Second Wind Publishing to find out more about "Indian Summer". http://www.secondwindpublishing.com
My husband and I have played an online role playing game called "Horizons" for several years. For fun I entered a scary story contest for the Fall Festival a few years ago. My story won an award and is used every year now as part of the festival. Reebdoog's Tale
"I’ve a tale to tell will set your blood cold just to hear it!" The inebriated dwarf tipped back in his chair, puffing a foul smelling cigar. "Tain’t your run o’ the mill tale neither, but one as will chill ye to the bone!" He leaned in blowing acrid smoke in my direction. "It’s true! I seen it with me own two eyes, I have!
"Just a mite of a lad I were then, an’ no taller than yer knee. Da had been teaching me the finer points of brewing." He nodded solemnly. "Ma, she’d been after me to learn me letters, but I’d a far better head for brewing than I had for reading. How some ever... Da sent me to Dalimond to chat up the folk there, for twas rumored as there were a secret re…
Wow! I did it again!!
I just got my story back from the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. Another Honorable Mention for my story, "Fiddlestix"!!! That's my second one. The first was for my story "Fractured". I'm very excited to get a second award. My goal is to keep trying until I get first place! For more about this contest, visit: http://www.writersofthefuture.com/
I am very proud to announce that I was awarded an Honorable Mention for my story "Fractured", in L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future contest!

For more information about this contest, use this link! http://www.writersofthefuture.com/
Handy Sites for Writers Here are the sites I listed in my article for the WBWWS newsletter. www.wikipedia.org www.dictionary.com www.william-shakespeare.info/william-shakespeare-plays.htm www.brainyquote.com www.quotationpage.com These are just a few of the websites I regularly use. Many of my research sites are geared toward specific stories, so I haven't included them. Knowing the right way to search is as important as using a good search engine. I mostly succeed through trial and error, though I notice I'm better at research than my husband or any of my children. Perhaps it's that edge of tenacity (stubbornness) that is pervasive in my personality. Maybe after all the research I've done, I am better by habit. I haven't figured it out, nor have I any useful tips for folks who are bad at it. But I'll think about it.
So You Want to Name a Character
Finally sitting down to write that novel? Let’s assume you’ve chosen your genre, point of view, narrative style and all those other things that you have to decide before setting pen to paper. (Or fingers to keys). Now comes the fun part – maybe. Naming the characters. There are different methods of approach here, and excuse me if I leave some of them out. I use a variety of methods, but I know I haven’t discovered them all.
First, you can make the name tell something about the character. For example "Young Goodman Brown," by Nathaniel Hawthorne gives us a fair description of the main character before we turn the first page. However, you might not want to get that concrete in your description.
Another way to name is to pick names of people you know who sort of seem to fit. The only problem with this is, they may read the book and not like the character. You’ve just lost a fan. Probably not the best method. I’ve known people who randomly chose name…