Monday, July 2, 2018

Happy Birthday to Me

JUNE 30, 2018:

Today is my birthday. Woe is me.

My body is older and out of shape, as is Starr Bella's, my sixteen year-old Mercedes C230. Yesterday on the way back to work after lunch, I proceeded through a four-way intersection. Out of the corner of my left eye, I saw a silver missile hurtling toward me. And slammed on my brakes.

Thank God and his holy angels.

The missile braked too, but didn't stop in time. Starr Bella took the impact in her left nostril—my driver's side bumper. Shocked and shaken, I backed up enough so the missile could proceed, then turned right (rather than straight as I'd been heading) and pulled to the side of the street behind her.

Rattled and not 100% sure it wasn't my fault—though I'm a defensive driver and usually know what's going on around me—I gingerly stepped from the car. A frantic woman rushed toward me.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" she gushed. "I ran right through that stop sign! I totally didn't see it! Are you okay?"

Relieved, I can now be magnanimous. "I'm okay. Are you?"

"Yes," she says.

And for the most part, I am.

We exchanged business cards (she's a realtor in a neighboring city), and I assured her that if the damage to either Starr Bella or I was more than it first appeared, I would let her know and we would file insurance. Otherwise, what's the point? Our fiberglass bumpers were scratched and scarred, my side reflector popped out of the socket and the edges cracked off. I popped it back in and it seems to be working fine.

As I drove toward the office, I realized my left arm was kind of numby and my head was starting to ache. So I took a right turn toward Dr Swaim's office, rather then a left toward mine. Luckily, they were also returning from lunch. I laid face down on the chiropractic bench and my sacral/pelvic area complained and my middle back tightened in a vice grip.

Instructed to put my left hand on my lower back, I barely could. My arm felt like a dead weight.

By the time he finished the adjustment, both I and my arm felt better. The headache subsided, as did the lower back pain and upper back tension. My left arm was moving again, but my forearm and wrist/hand were still numb. Back at my own office, I adjusted my elbow and wrist, and the numbness subsided. Thank God it was a quiet patient afternoon.

But daaaaamn. What a Friday. And what a crappy "Happy Birthday" from the Universe. Plus, my paycheck got hung up in LaLa Land, so no mad money to spend on yours truly. Nix that. Cash it is. I'm thinking I'll see a movie. Or two. Or three. Solo. Ocean's Eight. Incredibles 2?

And I'm hanging my shower curtain. And bedroom curtains. And thanking God I saw the missile and slammed on my brakes—otherwise she'd have crashed into my driver's door. And who knows how bad THAT would've been.

Did y'all know that I moved?

Happy July! And Happy Birthday to me!

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré

P.S. For the last couple of days, my arm left has been sore and swollen. Both hands/wrists have ached periodically (from the death grip on the steering wheel), the left being worse. I was achy all over yesterday, but that seems better today. And I'm definitely looking forward to getting another adjustment today, this time at my office from Dr. Joe.

O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming Awen trilogy, a rollicking fantasy set in 2042CE that combines current, ancient, and future history. Book One, Awen Rising, is complete and in query. Book Two, Awen Storm, is in early edits, and the first draft of Book Three, Awen Tide, is in process.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Commas, Periods, and Dashes—Oh My!

I have been writing "professionally" for ten years—and am just now learning about em dashes.

Those of you with creative writing degrees, published by traditional houses, or edited by someone in the know, are probably laughing and saying, "Whaaaat?!?!"

Courtesy Booknotized.com

But after sharing on Twitter my discovery of Microsoft Word's em dash "key", other writers revealed that—like me they'd either been winging it—or had no clue.

Say you're one of those writers? Splendid!

How did we function without em dashes?

I used commas and periods. The commas are fine, being common writing practice. The periods? Well, let's just say they created a lot of trailing sentence fragments. With em dash—that extra long, hyphen-looking thingy—this no longer happens.

I must admit, though. I miss the choppy-sentence style.

In addition to em dashes, there are en dashes, used to denote sequences and such. This morning I got to replace several commas with en dashes in a listing of the items in a captain's log. Yeehaa!

No. Really. Who knew proper punctuation could be so exhilarating?


via GIPHY

So how DO we type em and en dashes? (Hehehe save the blue ones for me.)

In MS Word, an em dash can be typed by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Minus. That's the MINUS key on the side numeric keyboard, NOT the hyphen key at the top of the main keyboard. An en dash is Alt+Minus.

BUT.

While Ctrl+Alt+Minus works like a charm in the MS Word program, it doesn't work in many other places. Like Blogger and Twitter to name two.

Luckily, a Twitter writer-friend relayed this in a comment:

For an em dash type Alt+0151
For an en dash type Alt+0150

You can also get an em dash by typing double hyphens OR going to the insert symbol menu. I'll leave you to your own on those.

Courtesy Connie J. Jasperson
For a discussion on the proper usage of em and en dashes—which is a subject unto itself—I found these links helpful:

Chicago Manual of Style-Em Dashes

Get It Write-Em Dashes

When To Use and Not Use an Em Dash

Em Dash: Why Should You Love It?

As a fledgling em- and en-dasher, I'm sure it will take me a while to master these lovely punctuation marks. But I'm game, and hopefully this discussion will help you too.

~ That Rebel, Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré

P.S. I am back from a short writing break, beginning  four weeks ago when my brother-in-law suffered a stroke. He is home now, and still numb on his right side, needing 24/7 care. But the scariest part is over and his rehab is going well. Well enough that I can focus and write again, hallelujah!

O.J. Barré is author of the upcoming Awen trilogy, a rollicking fantasy set in 2042CE that combines current, ancient, and future history. Book One, Awen Rising, is complete and in query. Book Two, Awen Storm, is in early edits, and the first draft of Book Three, Awen Tide, is in process.

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