Wednesday, May 16, 2018

See You Later, Alligator; After Awhile/A While, Crocodile

I was recently a showcase author at Mountain of Authors, an event put on by our local library district. Mountain of Authors was my very first writing event years ago, before I got involved with Pikes Peak Writers. It's a great event for unpublished writers, newly published authors, and indie authors. The event is held in one room, with some combination of panels and single speaker workshops, and goes from 12 to 5, with a keynote speaker at the end of the day.

Aside from educating writers, they provide opportunities for authors to sell their books and for writing groups of various types to give out information. All of this, and it's completely free! Just one more wonderful element of support in Colorado Springs for local authors.

It was good to get out and see members of the writing community, especially as we lost two local authors in the last month or so, a painful hit to a close-knit community. I met a lot of people, many of whom stopped by to chat, and I hope I helped a couple burgeoning writers who had questions about submitting short stories and that sort of thing. Selling some books was a wonderful bonus!

As an amusing aside, I had to put Chucky away, because people kept asking if it meant I wrote horror for children. No, I absolutely do not! I know better than to take him with me to events now, at least. He'll stay in my office where he belongs.

Okay, words, words, words.  If you missed the previous posts on this topic, they were Already vs. All Ready and Alright vs. All Right.

On to today's words. What's correct, awhile or a while?

This one's tricky, because they are both correct descriptions of a passage of time. However, their usage varies a bit. This is one I really have to think through when using the words.

Technically speaking, awhile is used as an adverb and a while is used as a noun. But technical speaking doesn't help me in this case, because I haven't diagrammed sentences since eighth grade.

There are other technicalities we'll get to, but the way I find it easiest to suss out the difference is to place the "what word could you replace it with" game.

When "a" and "while" are separated, while is a noun, so the sentence is using while as a noun. If that's so, you could then keep the "a" and replace "while" with a word like bit, hour, week, year, spell. In other words, another passage of time.


I want to sit down for a while.
I want to sit down for a bit. (abit isn't a word)

I haven't seen him in a while.
I haven't seen him in an hour. (anhour isn't a word)

Another way to look at is if you can qualify it as a three-word phrase, like for a while, in a while, after a while (crocodile), it should be two words, not one. As in, it is part of a prepositional phrase, a preposition being for, in, after, etc.

When awhile is one word, there should be a different noun in the sentence already and it should not be part of a prepositional phrase. It would be replaceable by another adverb, not a noun. Adverbs are words like quickly, quietly, patiently or anywhere, there (adverbs of place) or always, sometimes (frequency adverbs), etc.


He watched awhile.
He watched silently.

I want to dance awhile.
I want to dance sometimes.

Note that you can change a sentence slightly and have to change the word. Let's switch up example sentences:


He watched for a while.
He watched awhile.

Notice that when a while is used, there is a third word directly involved in the phrase: for. When awhile is used, it follows a verb: watched.

Clear as mud?

Before I jump into this week's links, I wanted to let you know about C. Lee McKenzie's new book!


By C. Lee McKenzie

Pete’s stuck in medieval England!

Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Time Lock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found.

There’s only one solution - fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. Accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar, they travel to 1173 England.

But what if the page remains lost - will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the duke’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones and Pete realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again...

Release date – May 15, 2018
Juvenile Fiction - Fantasy & Magic/Boys & Men
$13.95 Print ISBN 9781939844460
$3.99 EBook ISBN 9781939844477

C. Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. When she’s not writing she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot questions about things she still doesn’t understand.

Time for links. Bear in mind I'm not endorsing these, merely passing them along. Always do your own due diligence before submitting.

Accepting submissions:

Existere is seeking prose, poems, graphic art, photos, and postcard stories. All genres and forms of art/literature welcome. Up to 3500 words. Pays a small honorarium.

The Arcanist is seeking fantasy and science fiction flash fiction. Up to 1000 words. Pays $50.

Zealot Script is seeking short stories and poetry that introduce a new world. Submissions of any length. Pays $10.

Factor Four Magazine is seeking flash fiction and art. Up to 1500 words. Pays $.08/word.

Mystery Weekly is seeking mystery short stories. 2500 to 7500 words. Pays $.01/word.

Do you have trouble with awhile vs. a while or do you find it simple? If you have trouble, did this make it any clearer? Any of these links of interest? Anything to share?

May you find your Muse.

*Image Alligator Clip Art, OCAL,


Mark said...

So cool that you're recognized for your hard work, congrats! :)

The Cynical Sailor said...

Your table set-up looks great. Shame about Chucky :-)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's cool you were the showcase author.
Big congratulations to Lee!

Andrew Leon said...

There's a big writing group around here, but their goals (being mostly about writing memoirs) were too fundamentally different from mine for me to keep going, so I haven't been in a while. (see, object of a preposition)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shannon - thanks for your walk through ... while you do look very professional at the event and your table - it's excellent you could help others. Yes - good luck to Lee .. cheers Hilary

L. Diane Wolfe said...

LOL - how could anyone think Chucky was for kids?

Thanks for featuring Lee's book today.

diedre Knight said...

Hi Shannon!

Looking good out there! Sounds like a wonderfully supportive town.
Good luck to Lee!
Several links look interesting - thanks for sharing ;-)

Guilie Castillo said...

Yay you for the writer's event! You look super snazzy at that table full of your books! Hope you had great sales. I love writer's events... Here on my island there aren't any, so attending one means long travel (and serious expense). My last one was in 2011, in San Francisco... Hopefully there'll be a chance to get to one sometime soon :)

Thanks so much for stopping over at Michelle's IWSG post for my bit on nonfiction, and really happy you liked it!
Guilie @ Life In Dogs

Shannon Lawrence said...

Thank you!

Shannon Lawrence said...

Thanks! I want to be clear what I write. People's reactions are fun.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Thanks! Showcase author just means we're there to sign, not speak, but it's still a privilege.

Shannon Lawrence said...

That's too bad. Are you in a small town? The funny thing is, here we have a lot of groups that cover genre, but hardly anything that covers memoir/nonfiction.

Shannon Lawrence said...

Thank you! I love being able to help others.

Shannon Lawrence said...

That's what I'm sayin'! I kept telling them Chucky was not for kids. Did they not see his scars?

Shannon Lawrence said...

It's a great town in which to be a writer!

Shannon Lawrence said...

I did!

I hope you can make it to another event soon. Do you ever put in workshop proposals? They won't fly you out, but the event could be free if you get accepted.

Andrew Leon said...

It's a whole northern CA group and, yet, it's more than 90% memoir and more than 90% way over my age. Seriously, I was on the young end of the spectrum.