Observations, personal

Back from Maryland…


The Chemical Engineer and I came back from 10 days in Maryland yesterday. As always when we go there, time flies and at the same time doesn´t move.

Maryland is one of those places we called home. We lived there for about 6/7 years and we built a life there during that time. We have people we consider family, and a lot of close friends. We have habits, places we like to go to and a lot of memories.

We´re lucky.

Yes, when leaving, I may always shed a tear. Leaving is tough, no matter if I leave France, the US or Germany. It´s never easy. But at the end of the day, we´re lucky to have so many wonderful people in our life…I can see my dear hubby rolling his eyes – but I know he feels the same. (stop rolling your eyes!)

So we had a great time…

We celebrated birthdays.

Someone turned 18.

We had issues with the P...:P
We had issues with the P…:P

Someone turned 50.

Happy 50

We met with wonderful friends.

We spent time with people we consider family.

We celebrated honorary degrees and graduations.

We cuddled with this cutie. Or I did. The Chemical Engineer won´t admit to it.


We had brunch.


We ate a lot.

hmmm crab...
hmmm crab…

We laughed a lot.

We (I) spent a lot of time at Barnes & Noble.

Some of the books I bought...
Some of the books I bought…

We took trips down memory lane.

University of Maryland
Go Terps!

We created new memories…

Until next time.

Observations, personal, SCBWI

Recap from the Book Fair, SCBWI evening and congrats to Rebecca!

On Friday, I went to the book fair with Carolin (if you don´t know her, you should totally follow her on Twitter). The goal was to roam the Frankfurt Book Fair before our SCBWI reception.

And wow…The amount of people at the Book Fair, the atmosphere, the books everywhere: impressive…Here is a recap of my afternoon/evening in pictures:

Arriving at the fair

The Book Fair also happened outside

Look at this display of Across the Universe in German…


That´s where the agents hang out and work

Some facts

  • The amount of foreign publishers at the Frankfurt Book Fair is amazing, ranging from Mexico, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey…the stands of the French publishers is biiiiig and I loved cruising through them. There was a lot of daydreaming going on that afternoon on where my books could end up one day.
  • Not everything around the Children/YA books is Children/YA related…I ended up with a condom which said “Save the bitch” as someone handed me a goodie and I thought it was some candy 🙂 I´m still laughing about it.
  • Being around that many books and professionals is humbling.
  • Some books only had covers. Carolin and I thought we had a scoop with the sequel of Veronica Rossi but nope, there was a cover and blank pages.

After strolling around and taking some breaks for fresh air (it was hot in there) talking about books and writing, Carolin and I headed to the SCBWI reception, where apparently I proved that my clumsiness can show up at the most random places. (Kirsten, if you´re reading this, I´ll take the sippy cup for my wine next time :-)).

There, I got to talk to fellow writers, re-connect with the people from the area of Frankfurt and meet new people. It was great. It´s really wonderful to just be around other writers/illustrators. The energy, the discussions, it´s a lot of fun and I learned a lot.

Plus, I got to see and hold an ARC of Level 2 (and didn´t even put it in my bag :D), no really Lenore´s book sounds amazing. And yes, I may have gaped while listening to her experience with publishing in a restaurant after the reception.

The ARC and a magnet (I got to keep the magnet :D)
Gaping at Lenore….

So yes, basically, it was an AMAZING afternoon and evening…

And…something else which made me VERY happy last week was to read Rebecca´s announcement about her book selling . The story sounds wonderful and Rebecca is amazing, sweet and talented.  You can read all about her and her writing here (and if you haven´t yet, maybe you can pass by to congratulate her :-))


Tell me, how was your week? How about your weekend?

Observations, personal, reading, revising, writing

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

                                                                                                  Source: guidetomenhattan.com via Rachel on Pinterest

When one thinks about artists in the spotlight, very rarely will the word “writer” come up. And sure, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and others do not grace the pages of US Weekly or People Magazine every week. TV channels may not discuss their latest book at length like they may do with the latest performance of whatever actor…but writers like any other artists put their souls out there.


They´re everywhere.

You cannot entirely hide from them.

                                                                                                                                      Source: xkcd.com via Michael on Pinterest

They come from within, from our wonderful critique partners, our great beta-readers. Then, from agents, possible editors and then from the readers themselves.

After reading this post by Shannon (if you haven´t read it, you definitely take a look :D, I´ll wait) and a comment by Christa on my post from last week, it hit me both as a writer and as a reader: Not everyone will like my work. Not everyone likes the books I could not put down. Of course we know it but there is a moment where it seems to become more real.

And then, I remembered that old saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”…readers bring their own baggage, past and taste to the books they read just like writers laugh or cry words on paper.

Getting published is really putting yourself out there, in the big big, sometimes scary world. There is no “Dealing with reviews for dummies”.

I checked one of my favorite books on Goodreads.com, The Ripening Seed by Colette and it has quite a bit of bad reviews. At the beginning I got a bit distracted thinking how is it possible? Can´t people see the art? The beauty of her words? The cynical look at the bourgeoisie world while still going through the motions of growing up? There are also great reviews of this story but usually the eye has a tendency to focus on the negative. But all the negative reviews of the world will not take away the feeling of awe I had while reading my mother´s copy of this book as a teenager or the flutters in my heart as I reread it years later. What should matter to me the most is how I felt about something.

As writers, we owe it to ourselves to go the extra-step, the scary step in our writing (like I mentioned in my Monday post last week) but then we´re standing out there naked. And let´s face it, being naked in front of possibly millions of people reading your words is SCARY.
So, I think we also need to protect ourselves once our words are out there. We need to have a safe place we can go to and need to know that yes we may be awkward in dealing with all this but what is important is that at the end of the day, we remember that we had the courage to go in the big scary world, that some did love our words and that, sometimes as a reader and as a writer, it is ok to just do that:

….as long as we walk with our heads high the next day and continue to be happy with our tastes as readers and proud of our words as writers.

Oh and if I ever get published and start freaking out, can someone remind me of this post? 😀

Looking forward to reading your thoughts on this!

Blogme MAYbe, Observations, personal, writing

Your significant other is a writer? Don´t panic! 10 rules to follow…

This month (well until my honeymoon :D), I will be participating in Blogme MAYbe. This wonderful idea is the brainchild of SaraMcClung and is a weekly blog format with an easy schedule to follow. For more information and join the fun (you can at any time!), simply click on the banner created by the super-duper-talented Tracey. On Thursdays (yes it is already Thursday on my side of the world), the prompt is: May I tell you something about someone else...

Enter my husband aka The Chemical Engineering. He already wrote a guest post with his review of The Hunger Games and he´s back with wonderful advice 😀

Your significant other is a writer?

Don´t panic! 10 rules to follow…

First I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who commented on my last guest post. I meant to answer to everyone, but I am just a very lazy and inexperienced blogger. So please accept my apologies. Despite my bad blog etiquette my wife let me do another guest blog entry. Thank you!

Today I would like to share the ten ground rules that should not be broken when your significant other is a writer:

1. Don’t criticize the Twitter usage

Even though it might seem like Twitter is taking over all aspects of life, for some reason it seems to be an important tool for all of the writers who like to share short messages about everyday tasks and events.

2. Make sure to read new blog entries

You might not care about monthly book reviews, but you better know if he/she mentioned you in a blog post. I suggest to quickly fly over the post and look for some key words (Ctrl+F). I look for “Hubby” and “Chemical Engineer”.

3. Make educated comments about their WIP

First you needed to figure out what WIP stands for, but that is not the end of it. When reading two (very similar) versions of the same paragraph you better decide which one sounds better. Comments like “They are good” will not be accepted. A literary analysis (like back in the school days) is the least a writer would expect from their significant other.

4. Blogging takes time so just accept it

Blogging entries have to be done at a particular time. Wether it is Road Trip Wednesday or Happy Friday Posts. They are all important and have to be done at the planned time no matter what happens (yes, this article had to be writtenon a Sunday). All comments have to be addressed as well. The 24 hours in a day should be enough time for this.

5. Buying more books is essential

A writer can never have enough books after all they are “research” and will help in refine the writing style. Room for storing the books can be found anywhere even if it means double stacking the books in the book shelf. Next apartment/house will have to have a room just for books.

6. Don’t make fun of the way he/she talks to other writers

It doesn’t matter if it sounds silly and is absolutely not how grown-ups are meant to interact, this is how they tick. After all they are writers and should know much more about communication than anyone else.

7. Learn how to spell correctly

I don’t know how to spell in any of the three languages that I know. I am so happy that some programmer came out with spell check. I don’t know how I would do without it. When I write an e-mail to my wife I really don’t even run spell check. She takes my misspelling almost as an insult and does makes fun of my spelling at any opportunity that she gets (and there are many opportunities).

8. Don’t bore a writer with technical things (at least not my writer)

As a good wife, mine of course asks me about my work day. I know that if I want to keep her attention I only have about 15 seconds to explain anything technical about my work and most importantly I need to keep it simple. That is also true if we talk about anything else technology related. I guess fictional writers (maybe except science-fiction writers and again this only applies to my writer) are just more into interpersonal relationships and stories and can’t be bothered with the little things like science.

9. Try not to argue that characters in a book/film are fictional

In the mind of a writer characters become almost as alive as any other real person. There is no point in explaining that a character that died, didn’t really die, but just acted out a role. It’s like explaining a child that Bambi’s mother wasn’t shot by hunters.

10. Don’t think that your guest entries in the blog are just as good and/or funny as his/hers

This one is pretty straight forward. You are the engineer (or non-writer) and she is the writer; deal with it.

I was able to come up with these rules only because I have broken them many times. I hope you can agree with some of them. I am going to continue and break them from time to time. It is good to remember them in certain situations, like when you annoyed her and can turn to her with a smile “thanks for the mention on the blog today”, but following them all of the time would just be a bit boring and practically impossible.

Happy Friday, Observations, reading, revising, writing

Happy Friday #14: Popping the question, Pelmeni and other stories…

Yay! It´s time again for Happy Friday!

I would love to know what made YOU smile this week 😀

Popped the question: Since I started this new WiP, currently very wisely called UNTITLED, I have been thinking that I probably should snag one of those wonderful Critique Partners everybody is talking about. I have great beta readers for my work PLAYING THE FIRE but who wouldn´t want someone along the way? And I thought about Jaime right away. We have the same taste in books, we both haven’t started the querying process, I really enjoy her blog (she’s funny, insightful and inspirational) and the interaction we’ve been having and I knew that she didn’t have a CP. So, after typing several drafts of an email, I finally sent one with this title:

And she said yes 😀 My hubby made fun of me but I don’t think he understands how nervous we can get when it comes to our writing! I’m so very excited to start this process (and quite lucky because what I’ve read so far makes me want to read more, more, more!)

Writing: This week, I’ve been quite productive when it comes to this new WiP. I love being in Natalja’s head even though she’s dealing with a lot and I’ve managed to write almost 1000 words per day during my commute!

Reading: I finished reading COLD KISS and let me tell you, Erin Bowman was RIGHT! Danny is quite a wonderful boy to have a crush on…he’s dead but the way Wren describes the moments spent with him are enough to have him alive in our minds. There are many times, I wanted to reach out and give Wren a big hug! Plus, Erin mentioned to me yesterday on Twitter that there will be a Sequel! Yay!

Revising: Last weekend, I finished the second round of revisions on PLAYING WITH FIRE and I have one more segment to revise before I go through an editing round.

Cooking: So, my hubby is originally from the Ukraine…his family is Russian/Ukrainian and his mom makes the best pelmeni…plus there is that book I really love taking place in Russia where food plays a big role and I had gotten the cooking book based on it for Christmas last year. So, I finally tried (again) to make pelmeni. And while it does take forever, the result was quite good! Yummy! 😀

 So tell me, what made YOU smile this week?


Observations, Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tips For New Bloggers

This Top Ten Tuesday feature is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and I first came across it on Jaime´s blog. It´s a lot of fun and they  post the topics way in advance!

This week´s topic: Top Ten Tips For New Book Bloggers…which I am twisting to Top Ten Tips For New Bloggers 😀

                                                                                                                                                    Source: vetsforpets.net via Vera on Pinterest


So, I have been blogging for less than a year. When is the status of “new blogger” over? 😀

From a newbie to another one, or from a somewhat less new blogger to another one…here are my Top Ten Tips for New Bloggers:

1. Choose what you want to blog about: This may come naturally. Right now you may be thinking: I already know what I want to blog about (e.g. books) but it may take awhile to actually get your groove. When I look back at my first posts, it seems that I thought I´d write much more about my commuting than what I do. Plus there are many ways to write about books: Do you want to only write reviews about books you really enjoyed? (this is what I do :D) or do you want to have a point system? or talk about covers, about characters, about the swoon-factor? about the plot? do you want to organize them per topics? do you want to talk about everything?

2. Choose the format: Do you want a recurring theme? Do you sometimes want to do a vlog? Do you want to link your posts to any of your other “online” persona aka Twitter, Facebook, Google +?

3. Check the platform you want to use: There are many choices out there. Personally, I like WordPress but it was more of a “lucky” moment than anything else. If you´re more peculiar about the features/style you want to have, I think it could be useful to check out which one you really prefer before spending too much time of your blog.

4. Stick to a schedule (especially at the beginning): It helps you to know what works and what doesn´t work for you and it helps for people to know that you´re a regular blogger.

5. Make sure people can “follow” you: See on my right? You can follow me by email, via google reader, via RSS feed, via WordPress…When I travel the blogosphere, it happens that I cannot find a way to easily get updated. Sure I could always copy the link and add it to my Google Reader but I don´t necessarily have the reflex or I am not on my computer but on my phone…

6. Use visuals: I always find it enticing when there is at least one picture/gif in the post.

7. Be yourself: There are blogs where you really have the feeling you get to know the person because their voice and spirit jump out of the page.

                                                                                              Source: Uploaded by user via Bernadette on Pinterest

8. Discuss, connect, make friends:  Leave comments  on other people´s blogs, try to reply to the ones you get (I for example now send an email to the person on top of the comment if they´re not on WordPress.) What I found also helped greatly along the way was connecting with bloggers/writers on Twitter. Don´t be shy! People do love to get comments on their blogs, especially ones where you also share your views, your experience…

9. Participate in blog fests, in challenges, in online book clubs: It is another way to connect and to have a blast along the way. If you´re active in forums, let people know that you created a blog…

and……another very important point:

10. Have fun with it!: You´ll get to discuss topics you love with wonderful people from all around the world, you´ll learn a lot from them and from writing your own blog and maybe make long lasting connections along the way!

Observations, reading, writing

The Balancing Act

We all juggle. We all have responsibilities. No matter what they are and while sometimes I wonder why I didn´t decide I wanted to take writing seriously when I had less on my plate, I do find time to write now. We all do. More or less but we still do. We also find the time to read. We go through the balancing act.

My time is my commute. However, my commute does take a toll on me. The train gets late, cancelled. I also have to take the bus to the to the train so I rush between the bus and the train. I run. I curse. I get annoyed. I don´t always find the silver lining. So this week I am renting a car to see how long it would actually take me to drive to work instead of taking public transportation, to see if I can gain time. According to my friend Google Map which includes Traffic estimation, I could gain 30 to 45 minutes each way. Crazy.

My day currently looks like this:

  • 5am: Wake up
  • 5am-5.30am: work out in front of Friends (this gets me going and makes me laugh – always a plus)
  • 5.30-6.42: get ready (breakfast, shower, coffee, get snacks, kindle, ipod, netbook ready) and leave the house
  • 6.42am: walk to bus station (or be driven by hubby – if he´s not already gone working out)
  • 6.52am: Bus
  • 7.06am: Train (aka writing + reading time)
  • 7.47am: Metro
  • 8.00am: At my desk at work
  • 5.30pm or 6pm (sometimes later): leave office – train – bus (writing and reading in the train again)
  • Get home between 6.45pm and 7.45pm and then dinner, time with hubby and sleep…

Yes, it is busy but on most days, the train time gets me about 1 hour of writing/revising or undivided reading time. Soon, I may decide that driving does get me more time at home, aka more time with the hubby…I can rearrange my schedule to write more in the morning before leaving, or during my lunch break or I could write in bed.

But I know that I will find the time to write because, really, I just don´t see myself not writing or revising…Writing/Revising/Reading is part of my balancing act. It´s part of who I am.

How do you balance everything? Anybody else tried to write in bed?

Observations, personal

A Young Engineer’s (not so serious) Review of The Hunger Games Movie…

Disclaimer: I have been talking to my husband aka The Chemical Engineer quite a lot about The Hunger Games, I also showed him this particular post from YA Confidential which he found hilarious. And then I thought it’d be interesting to have him write a guest post sharing his (not so serious) views on the movie as somebody who hasn’t read the books, doesn’t really read fiction and sometimes gives me a hard time cos’ I read too many books a month 😀 Looking forward to your comments (yes, Chemical Engineer, I am leaving you the floor, stop figeting!)

A Young Engineer’s (not so serious) Review of The Hunger Games Movie…

Just so I can still keep my manhood intact let me mention that my wife got (forced) me to go and watch the movie with her.

First things first: I don’t want to (and can’t) compare the movie with the book. I haven’t read the book. My wife read a few chapters to me while I was falling asleep, trying to get me interested in reading it. It didn’t work despite the fact that it worked for one of her blog friends; I don’t read fictional books, I wait until the good ones come out as a movie. This strategy has worked out well for me. I tried to remember when the last time was that I read a book and watched the movie based on the same book. It seems to be about 11 years ago in high school. I am not sure it counts though, the book was Othello and the Movie was O (a modern interpretation). But since novels and movies serve the same purpose, entertainment, but do it through a very different way, I find it pointless to compare the two. I do have to mention one thing about comparing the two:

When there is a shower scene described in the book (on the train to the Capitol):  How dare do you leave that out of the movie?  I get the whole PG-13 rating, etc., but how can you do such a thing as a movie director! Shame on you Mr. Gary Ross!!!

In general the movie was quite entertaining and for the most part kept my attention. Obviously having cool guys like Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz helps with that.


The story in itself is pretty good. Showing the young adults as regular teenagers with fears and joys and then having them fight until death is quite compelling. Even though the underlying story of individuals who can change the world by starting a revolution unintentionally is probably older than literature itself. As long as the packaging is right, who am I to weigh heavily on an old literature cliché – After all I am just an engineer.

Speaking of packaging, here are two things that I didn’t get about the movie:

  1. So they all live in a very advanced society with scanners that analyze your blood right away, with dresses that burn like fire but still safe and with hovering space ships… Why in the world would you travel by train for almost an entire day instead of taking a space ship? I get that district 12 is not as developed as the Capitol, but this still wouldn’t explain why a space ship couldn’t fly in and just pick them up!
  2. Staying with the thought of a dystopian society that is technologically progressed. Why in the world would you still be mining coal? Do they have a little coal burner inside those space ships? So they developed all of this technology and still are bound to use coal. Really? Just think about this for a second. They spend all of this energy developing new technology that probably consumes even more energy and the only solution that they could find to fulfill their energy demand was coal? I understand that it was important for the story that the residents of District 12 had to be manual laborers, but couldn’t they have been robot-mechanics or some kind of electrical circuit makers (like the ones working on making our smart phones). 

I know you probably think it is not important for the whole story, but I think a writer or director (again I can’t compare the books) should take the time and think through such details in order to make it more coherent (at least for me).

It helps if a writer is married to engineer that can double check the story 😀


It’s a small world after all….

WordPress started to show statistics of visitors per country…and I am so happy to see how many people from so many different areas of the world stumble upon my blog.

Some of them undeniably came across my posts thanks to their searches…Here are some terms which bring wanderers to my site…

The “popular” ones

  • Happy Friday: yep people love looking for everything related to Happy Friday (usually as of Wednesday) – Happy Friday smile, Happy Friday pic, Happy Friday images, Have a happy Friday. The ones which personally turns my lips upwards is Happy Friday hubby, Happy Friday sunshine and smile, it’s Friday.
  • Books: I hope people can find interesting posts by googling this term
  • Santa Claus: including Santa Claus in trouble, Santa coming late
  • Mike Delfino: I agree I mean he´s quite good looking

The writing-related ones

  • Writer, inspiration, imagination: related searches including writer’s imagination and the tripe I of writers. I’m sorry I don’t have the magical recipe for it but I know it’s important!
  • Aspiring young authors: And since I am an aspiring young author of young adult novels, this fits 😀 (30 is still young, right?)
  • Beauty of words: Words are indeed beautiful!
  • write, my super powers are: This one really made me smile 😀 We all have super powers when it comes to our writing.

The reading-related ones

  • Anna and The French Kiss: I must talk a lot about this book on my blog cos’ people also search for Anna & The French Kiss query, Anna & The French Kiss rights sold (while I don’t think I actually wrote about this before…)
  • Hunger Games, The Scorpio Races and The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight: Yep those are great books too!
  • Funny books on commuting: Hmm sorry I don’t know any!
  • Is Shatter Me worth reading: I would say yes! I really loved it but I know not everybody did. I think it’s definitely worth giving it a try and see where the magic of words can take you…
  • Did you cry during the fault in our stars: I did.

These also make me smile, wonder or ponder….

  • Valentine’s Day: Essay about Valentine´s Day, Valentine’s Day French Toast (hope somebody made his/her special someone some yummy French toast on that day)
  • never asked myself the big questions: I do on a regular basis though…
  • tada goodbye: 😀
  • what are a lifetime of memories: Such a thought-pondering moment…
  • french toast kiss: Yes if your special someone made you French Toast you should kiss them…
  • “don’t take it personally” “it’s not you it’s me”: This search could make me smile or sad…depending on the mood of the person looking
  • guy looking at the moon and wolf looking at the moon: Hope they enjoyed my moon picture!
  • magic words for daughter: This search made me go awwwwwwwww cos I can picture a mom or a dad wanting to write a special card/letter/email for their daughter and looking for inspiration cos’ they’re afraid to get them wrong. The special words are: “I am proud of you” and “I love you” combined with “always”.

And there are even some with my name 😀 (maybe it’s an agent looking for me!)

  • Elodie writer
  • Elodie falling into you
  • Elodie poetry

And while I am very thankful to see how so so many countries of the world are represented, I am secretely hoping that one of my visitors from the Ukraine (or the US or Germany) is that guy right there…(if you don’t know the Klitchko brothers in particular Wladimir Klitchko, just click on his picture for more info).

(Disclaimer: My hubby is fully aware of my fan-girling attitude towards this gentleman :D)

Tell me, are there any search terms which really made you smile or wonder?

or do you wish one of your unknown blog visitors to be someone specific?

Editing, Observations, revising

The beauty of words or the pulchritude of morphemes?

If you have not entered my “I love reading” giveaway, you can still do it :-): You can win 2 books (up to a total of $30): one for you and one for a teenager or a child or a baby you want to share your love of books with.The giveaway is open to all countries that The Book Depository ships to. Just fill out the entry form by Friday March 16th.

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet

This famous quote by Shakespeare reminds me of two things 1) he didn’t use any big words, he could have said: “woody perennial of the genus Rosa” but he didn’t, 2) reading Shakespeare for a class at the university in the US was a lot of work for me (which involved using a dictionary very often).

As I go through the process of revising, I worry much more about little details which don’t cross my mind when I write.

Most of you know that English is not my mother tongue. French is. I used to write in French. I could show feelings in French, I could create metaphors easily, I could either use simple terms or play with the so-called “big” words. Since I lived in the US for so long, studied at the university mainly in English or German and now use English pretty much all day, I cannot do this any longer.

I write in English. It comes naturally to me and I love it.

However, I sometimes wonder: is my English good enough?

(for some reason, I just experienced a Zoolander flashback)

Stephen King explained in his book On Writing (by the way, thanks again Sara for organizing a discussion on this book in April 😀 You should join if you already read it or maybe are planning on reading it):

“One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.”

This made me feel better somehow.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy reading novels with big words. I know that the more I read, the more I learn. My vocabulary expands naturally but I cannot force big words into my work. It doesn’t feel right. So I will listen to Stephen King on this and promise to him (and mainly to myself) that no I will never say “John stopped long enough to perform an act of excretion” when I mean “John stopped long enough to take a shit”. (hmm yes I just used the word “shit” and yes it kind of feels weird to have that word on my blog :-)…).

Do you sometimes doubt your vocabulary or your grammar? Do you consciously use big words?