Flowering Words of Wisdom

Sometimes English Isn’t English

English isn’t always English.

I learned that many years ago from my British partner in our antiques business. With his King’s English and my Texas-English, communication was frequently a bit of a challenge.

As we traveled the English countryside on our quest for merchandise for our shop in Houston, I quickly learned his bobbles and bits were my smalls. My chest of drawers was his bureau. What he thought rubbish, I thought garage sale.

Chip Butty

The first time we circled a round-about to catch a chip butty truck I wasn’t sure what I was getting. By the third day, I was searching for the trucks myself. (If you’re not familiar with the English treat, it’s french fries on buttered white bread. Add a splash of ketchup and it truly isn’t bad. Carb overload, but who’s counting?)

This GrammarChek infographic highlights some of the other U.S.-British English differences we worked our way through while in business together.

British vs. American English: 63 Differences (Infographic)
Source: www.grammarcheck.net

What about you? Have you ever had English-speaking differences with someone?

All God’s Critters

A blog by Chicken Wrangler Sara

I have come to accept the fact that not everyone shares the Miller fascination with all things living.

When people come over for the first time I hold my breath and hope they don’t turn around at the front door when they see the bee hives and hear all the dogs. So agreeing to host an international student is a huge risk.

Bill, the Chinese student currently living on Miller Farm, fits right in. He actually has pet snakes at his home in China. His mom cares for them while he is here. I’m very impressed with her. Wrangling chickens is one thing but snakes…

Anyway, on the way home from school this week, Bill mentioned that there had been a snail hanging out on the window in his bedroom. He said it hadn’t moved in a couple of days – not surprising for a snail.

A little while later he came into the living room with…The snail on his window had three baby snails. He put them back outside on a tree with their mom.

Miller farm has now seen the birth of guinea pigs, lizards, chickens, quail, mice, puppies, and snails. I have a feeling we are not done yet. I just hope we go back to babies with fur or feathers.

Flowering Words of Wisdom

A Writer’s Dilemma – Drama and Suffering

We all dislike negative, unhappy things aka drama.

Who wants to suffer and be unhappy? I sure don’t.

But – reality is drama, though unwelcomed most of the time, is what life is all about.

Our puppy’s reaction to hearing thunder for the first time.

Happy drama is a very different thing.

I love the drama our new Old English Sheepdog added to our world. If you’ve ever had a puppy, you can relate. He changed our lives dramatically while adding so much laughter and love.

As a writer, I have such a difficult time being hard on my characters. I don’t want them to suffer or be unhappy. Unfortunately, that makes for a dull, uninteresting story. Drama is an integral part of real life so fictional characters must suffer.

After attending the BONI Intensive Seminars where Donald Maass stresses Tension (drama) on every page to engage readers fully, I finally understood the need to create more suffering for my fictional characters.

Readers expect drama and want to become emotionally involved with our characters. When drama and suffering are absent, readers fail to connect with our characters. They won’t read our books.

If you need a nudge to add drama to your writing (as I did), let me suggest:

1. Read The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass
2. Attend a Breakout Novel Intensive Seminar
3. Visit One Stop for Writers website where you’ll find loads of resources like The Emotion Thesaurus

And, just for fun here’s some video inspiration on how to add  drama to a dull scene:

Flowering Words of Wisdom

Do April showers bring May flowers?

It wouldn’t be right to blog in April without referencing the old saying, “April showers bring May flowers.”

The phrase probably came from the General Prologue found in The Canterbury Tales:

“Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote The droghte of March hath perced to the roote.”

These words – March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers – can be found in The Dictionary of Proverbs by George Latimer Apperson and Martin H. Manser

Another version can be traced to the 1557 collection of writings by Thomas Tusser, A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry. For April, he wrote:

Sweet April showers
Do spring May flowers

Tusser’s rhyme is a short poem, which fits nicely since in 1996 the month of April became National Poetry Month. For ways to celebrate poetry this month, check here.

The writer in me can’t resist sharing the poetic meaning behind “April showers bring May flowers” – even the most unpleasant of things (in this case the heavy rains of April) can bring about very enjoyable things, i.e.an abundance of flowers in May. A lesson in patience that remains valid to this day.

But, do April rains truly bring May Flowers?

Not according to botany and biology research that says, for most species, first flowering is more closely tied to temperature than to rain.

According to Libby Ellwood, “The plants may not be aware of this proverb, but they rarely have to worry about having enough water in the spring to start growing and producing flowers. … But the water itself isn’t dictating flowering times the way that temperature is.”

David W. Inouye, a biology professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, studied bloom times in the Rocky Mountains. He concluded the Alpine flower blooming season, which used to run from late May to early September, now lasts from late April to late September because temperatures in the Rockies are becoming warmer. That means a longer wildflower viewing season for mountain hikers.

Perhaps, if climate warming more closely controls flowering, the proverb should be re-written to read “Warm temperatures in March bring April flowers.”

Somehow, that doesn’t have the same ring, does it?