The Keeper of the Balance – A Prologue

This is a very rough draft to the prologue of something I’ve been working on…

Death is a mere technicality. At least for Sam. When you are immortal and can travel between alternate realities, death doesn’t mean a thing.

But this story isn’t about Sam. Sam is simply one of the Keepers who can travel between these alternate realities and change things, keeping the Balance in check. The Balance is a complicated thing. Some humans are born with a destiny to accomplish, but die before they can complete the mission. This throws the universe off kilter. These souls can go back and complete the mission, but one can’t travel through time, only through alternate dimensions.

It all started when Sam was strolling through the Underworld, in the Field of the Lost Souls. A woman in her early twenties caught his eye. All she had to do was look at him—really look at him—and he knew that she was the one he was looking for.

Should you dumb down your writing?

 

“It’s not just the vocabulary words that matter, but understanding the relationships that underlie the words — the fact that ‘eight’ is one more than ‘seven’ and one less than ‘nine.'”

via Study: Why Language Has More to Do with Math than You Think – TIME Healthland.

As a writer and an editor, I come across many people who will use the biggest word they can think of, even if it makes no sense in the context. Come on, this isn’t showing off! All it does is make you look silly.

There’s nothing wrong with big words; I like to use them whenever I can. The thing is, we sit and learn a long list of vocabulary words all through school–for spelling class, for the SATs, for various classes . . . How many of them do we actually use though? I want you to think about it, think about a news article or a blog post that is well-written and informative. What kind of language does it use? Who is its target audience?

I’ve learned that you have to write as simple as possible to reach the biggest audience. For someone who loves language and words in general, it can get depressing at times.

I think that I keep this blog somewhat simple, but I do sometimes analyze books I read. Funny story: When I was applying for jobs, I had a phone interview with a person who had read my blog. He strongly implied that I write at too high of a level for his intended audience. I suppose I should have been . . . flattered? Other than my series that analyzed Twilight, I think that I keep my writing pretty simple on this blog. I can write at a more complex level, and I can write on a simpler level. I did tell him that, but I didn’t get that job so maybe he didn’t believe me.

Also, I’d like you to keep in mind when I say I write at a simple level for my audience, it is so I can reach a wider variety of people, not because I’m implying that my readers are dumb!

Do you dumb down your writing for your audience?

My Company’s Blog

So for today’s post, I thought I’d let you know about the other place I blog for–All Green Electronics Recycling: The Blog.

I know I sometimes slack on posts on Amy’s Bookshelf, but in reality I blog 5 time a week for my company and still attempt to do Post a Day here . . . so I do write quite a bit.

So if you like my writing for some reason, check out my company’s blog. I sometimes write some cool stuff on there, if I do say so myself.

My Ideal Job

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?

If I could have any job in the world, I would be a novelist. In my head, this means that I will sit around in European cafes and write the next Harry Potter-type series. And while I’m at it, I’ll also write some future classics. This way I can make some money while I’m alive, but still be known hundreds of years after my death.

Essentially, I’ll be rich, famous, live in Europe, drink plenty of coffee, and write a lot.

Ramblings of a Writer: My January Reflections

I thought this would be a great post to end the month.

January had its ups and downs for me. I started working in the office (I was previously  working from home while the cubicles were finished). I moved from a small desk to a bigger one halfway through the month. I signed the lease for an apartment.

There were some downsides though. The first (and obviously most superficial one) was when Oregon lost the BCS championship game . . .  and I lost our family’s football bowl games competition. All in the same game, it was tragic.

On a more serious note, on January 30th, my paternal grandfather went to the ER with a high fever. He’s okay now, but it was stressful at the time–especially because my mom had her surgery to repair her ACL on the 31st. The surgery wasn’t a success, as she didn’t have any large enough ligaments to replace it with. So now she either has to go without doing many athletic activities for the rest of her life, or she has to have a surgery using a cadaver ligament.

Books: I finished three books: A Wolf at the Table, Sh*t My Dad Says, and The Murder of King Tut.

Movies: I also saw three movies: Black Swan, The King’s Speech, and The Kids are All Right.

Music: My friend gave me the new Tim Kasher CD as a late Christmas gift. I’ve been listening to it ever since. I also bought tickets to see Bright Eyes in April and I’m so excited!

What was your January like?

Quick Grammar Tip: Unique

Unique is an absolute, which means that it never needs to be modified. The word unique means one of a kind—and something is either one of a kind or it isn’t. So don’t say that you’re a “very unique person.” You’re a “unique person,” plain and simple.

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What are your grammar questions? Ask me and I’ll try to answer them in a future blog post!

Ramblings of a Writer: Blogging and My Job

There’s so much to write about, but lately I feel like I’ve been pulling my hair out just to sit down and write an entry. I have about 20 blog posts planned, but no time to write them.

I do write and blog every day though. I’m a “social media assistant,” which basically means that I blog and maintain the company’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. I also write content for the company’s website, communicate with people on web forums, and keep up on the latest news in technology, the environment, and social media.

So why do I keep up this blog when I write all of the time anyway? To be honest, I don’t want to lose myself as a writer. I love to just sit and write anything that comes to my mind, like I’m doing now. I also like to write about social media and books–it’s fun!

I’m also quite fond of this blog, because I doubt I would have been considered for so many writing jobs without it.

On a side note, I really should update my website (http://amyerickson.net) with my new job information and a current photograph. Even though I’m not be looking for a job right now, I like having an online portfolio to direct people to. And who knows, maybe someday I’ll have some time to squeeze in some freelance writing.

Well, this post is neither edited nor particularly well-written, but I’m going to post it anyway so I can get something up before I fall asleep on my keyboard.

Post a Day 2011

Have you heard about Post a Day 2011? It’s a WordPress challenge to post every single day for 2011. Obviously, I missed the boat by not starting on January 1st. However, I want to start posting regularly on this blog again, and what better way than this? So I will justify it this way: I will have 365 posts completed in 2011 by the end of the year under the category “Post a Day 2011.”

I contemplated starting a new blog for this project, but I opted to do it on this blog for a couple of reasons. This is my main blog, and I would hate to abandon it for this project. I also want some of the posts to be about books and social media, which would be posted on this blog. Lastly, the main purpose of this project is for me to become a better writer. The only way to get better is to practice. I blog every day for work, but that’s a specific type of blogging. This is my chance to have fun with it.

So I should probably start writing those blog entries, huh?

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Are you doing this challenge too? Post your blog link below so I can follow you!

Is it a book or a journal? –VintageJournals.com

    Disclaimer: I am not being sponsored by the folks at VintageJournals.com, nor do they know that I am posting a review on this product. I bought this journal with my own money at the University of Oregon Street Faire.

    —————

    At the University of Oregon Street Faire last May, I found the coolest thing ever for a nerd bookworm / writer like me. Book journals!

    I’m pretty sure that last line had a lot of people confused. After all, journals are already sort of like books. Blank books (if you’re like me), but books nonetheless.

    The book journal (technically called a “vintage journal” on the website) contains the front cover, first 30 pages of text, last 30 pages of text, and the back cover of your book with a bunch of blank pages in between. I have a Young Adult classic (The Bad Beginning from the Series of Unfortunate Events series) so I’m assuming I get less pages of text than if I bought something like Gone with the Wind.

    The quality of the journal is pretty good. I haven’t written in mine yet, but it appears to be nice and sturdy. I imagine this would depend on the quality of the book used. For instance, a paperback would not be as sturdy, and an old library book would probably be more beat up.

    The other cool thing about this journal? It can sit on your bookshelf innocently disguised as a book (though the spiral binding won’t fool the observant).

    Journal

    Open Journal

    For anyone wondering, I picked the book journal I did for these two reasons:

    1. It was in the $5 bin.
    2. I thought it was a hilarious (though somewhat accurate) title for a journal.

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    What do you think of the “book journals”? Are they the best idea ever, or a waste of money? Let me know in the comments below!

    Ramblings of a Writer: A Pen and Paper

    It’s the second week of Winter Term, and my second-to-last quarter at the University of Oregon. Soon I will have to really figure out what I’m going to do with my life. Will I be a writer? For a magazine? Newspaper? Technical writing? Will I edit? Write brochures? Freelance? Have to move back home because I can’t afford to live anywhere else? It’s a scary world out there.

    Since it’s still the beginning of the year, I decided to make a goal. No, I’m not pledging to lose 10 pounds or win a gold medal in the Olympics (though, it would be great if I could find a sport between now and then). I’m going to rediscover why I love to write.

    Somewhere in the internship, newspaper articles, source notes, and general journalism assignments, I think I lost it. It became work for me. It became a job, something I had to do for class.

    I’ll tell you and the rest of the world a secret. I’m one of those strange people who used to love to write essays. I saw it as a game. I loved to write so much, I decided journalism was the obvious choice. I’m not blaming the journalism program at Oregon. I’m blaming myself because I stopped having fun with it.  I was writing only for the “A.”

    I’m taking a class that is about women and minorities in communications this term. I’m actually already glad that I took it, because I learned something very important about myself in the first assignment. What was this assignment?

    We had to write an essay reflecting on our childhood and how we were influenced on the media. Handwritten, three to four pages.

    “Why handwritten?” the class complained. The professor just smiled at us.

    I sighed to myself and dug out the loose-leaf notebook paper from the bottom drawer of my desk.  I sat down with a pen and paper… and wrote. Arguably, what I wrote wasn’t important. It was how the words flow from a pen and paper, compared to a keyboard and computer screen. It was how I was frustrated that I couldn’t just delete things, I had to cross them out carefully. There was no word count. There was no annoying spell check that underlines words that actually exist, just not in their dictionary.

    I sat there with my essay, probably the first handwritten one that I’ve done since early high school (not counting essay tests). It wasn’t my best essay. But it was more “me” than anything I’ve written in years. That voice crept back into my work. I had the opinions and biases that I attempt to keep out of my normal work. I marveled at how my handwriting had become so bad (probably because I stopped needing to use it so much).

    See, I used to write stories. Silly stories, but that’s not so important right now. What was important was that I’d write them in my school notebooks, on the backs of old homework assignments and on scattered college-ruled notebook papers. They’d be written in pencil or black, blue, purple or green ink.  I’d have to scour my room to find all of them and put them in a semblance of order.

    It wasn’t the most organized way to write, and not something that I’d do for a class assignment or a job. But I would still write my rough-drafts out by hand back then. Maybe I should start doing that once more. Yes, the standard nowadays is a crisp, clean Microsoft Word document. I can still type faster than I can write. However, the words flow differently from pen to paper than they flow from keyboard to Word document.

    Where is this key for rediscovering my love of writing?

    Maybe it’s scribbled in the plethora of old class notebooks sitting at home on my bookshelf.

    Maybe it’s in the words I wrote on the back of those old homework assignments.

    Maybe it’s in those scattered loose-leaf papers.

    Maybe it’s still in me, but I have to start using a pen and paper to figure it out again.

    ………………………….

    Do you love to write? Do you use pen & paper, a computer or something else?
    I’d love to hear from you!