Thursday, February 25, 2010

What's in a Name?

Whenever I visit a school, I'm always asked how to pronounce my name for the introduction. And more than half the time, the teacher's or librarian's or principal's face falls, as she or he realizes that everyone in the school has been pronouncing my name wrong throughout their entire preparation for my visit. (Not that I would have corrected them unless they asked - if teachers and librarians have gotten the student body enthusiastic enough about my visit to read my books, they can pretty much pronounce my name any way they want and I'll just smile.)

But wouldn't it be helpful for a teacher or librarian to know how to pronounce my name when first introducing my books to students?

The nice people at had me make an audio recording of the way I pronounce my name, and also invited me to tell you a little bit about my name. Click here to listen to it: Elaine Marie Alphin.

Now, as long as you think dolphin when you think about me, you'll never have trouble pronouncing my name again! I really must write a book about dolphins someday, I suppose....

Monday, February 8, 2010

Don't Hold Anything Back

Some writers hold back a little in a manuscript. They don't want to risk leaving their well of ideas empty for their next project. To me, that's like the Indianapolis Colts holding back when they were undefeated at 14 and 0. Their front office didn't want to risk injury because they wanted to guarantee that the Colts could go into the playoffs healthy. So what happens? Dwight Freeney gets injured anyway in the playoffs; in practice, Reggie Wayne worsens the right knee injury that has plagued him throughout the season; and, despite all of Peyton Manning's determination and preparation, the Colts lose dramatically to the Saints in the Super Bowl. Why? The New Orleans Saints never held back. They left everything on the field in every game all season and post season, while they were undefeated, and even when they started losing. They still played with heart. The Colts management played it safe and the players lost heart. Winning - and writing - is all about heart.

Never hold back when you're writing. Put everything you've got into every manuscript you write. More ideas will come for your next project, ideas better suited for that project, but if you shortchange what you're writing now, chances are you (and your current manuscript) will lose heart, and won't be able to go the distance. You have to be willing to risk it all, and put it all on the page. The Indianapolis front office wasn't willing to take risks - New Orleans risked it all on tricky plays like an unexpected onside kick, and today the people of New Orleans are starting their Mardi Gras celebration early with their Saints and the Lombardi trophy in hand. The Colts are going home, having fallen short. Don't let your manuscript fall short because you held something back.