Interruptions…

I’m going to interrupt the flow of this blog , but windex1.jpge really should talk about how we deal with interruptions to our work.

I try not to take phone calls during my work time; however, sometimes I have to. A doctor appointment, a work call – all important, can’t wait until later. At least with those, you know you won’t be on the phone long.

The other day a friend called me. I hadn’t talked to him in over a month, so I wanted to see how he was. We live in different times zone, which makes scheduling time for a chat rather challenging. I told myself, even upon answering, that I wouldn’t talk long. But we did get carried away in catching up.

Set boundaries. I finally did tell him I needed to get back to my writing. He understands. Many people don’t, so I don’t regularly say that. I do tell them I can talk to them later or that I’m in the middle of something – both of which are true.

Phone calls and text messages are easier to put on hold – put the phone in the other room or turn it off. It really is not that hard.  Having children or spouses is a whole different topic, which I’m going to talk about during another blog.

*

Right now, as I said, I need to interrupt the flow of this the gold tooth.jpgblog with an announcement.

You can win my short story, The Gold Tooth! Click here. This is only for a limited time.

Long lost sisters are reunited at the reading of their mother’s will. Celeste who has cared for their mother in her declining years is awarded a small, broken music box. The force of nature, Nancy, who hasn’t been seen they were teenagers, is awarded the entire estate. Before they leave the office, Nancy is given the option to exchange the estate for the box. Nancy laughs off the incredible offer and moves into the estate. What’s discovered in the music box could cost one sister her freedom and the other her life.

The Comma Coma – a deadly disease

Do you go into a coma when someone starts talking about commas?

Don’t get bit by the deadly comma coma bug! Figure out how to make the comma work for you, not against you!

tumblr_static_comma

The purpose of all punctuation is to clarify your thoughts and ideas so readers can enjoy and understand the book!

Did you have a teacher that told you, “whenever you feel the need to pause, insert a comma”?

WORST ADVICE EVER!

When we are writing, we naturally pause to think. That is not necessarily where a legal-grammar-rules-keep-calm-and-use-commas-e1490740001283comma needs to be.

Commas have a number of rules. My favorite site to use – and to introduce to my students – is the Owl at Purdue. Their comma usage explanations are clear and detailed.

One of my editor-friends believes the comma used for introductory words, phrases, and clauses is “going the way of the dinosaur.” While I agree that some people and publications seem to think so, I think it’s still a valid and needed use. [I’ve used introductory commas in this blog – one was in the previous sentence, “While I agree…]

The Fanboys rules is the easiest to remember; however, because of the number of teachers giving the pause advice, I get sentences that look like this:

The Rams won but, not everyone was happy.

We sometimes punctuate our speech this way for emphasis, but you can’t hear tone in these words, and it’s just wrong.  < this sentence contains correct use of the fanboys rule.

co-ordinating-conjuctions-banner-810x405

My students often ask me to explain the whole “Oxford Comma” disagreement. Well, it goes like this: There are people who use the oxford comma and then there are monsters!

Example:Oxford-comma-explained.png

Commas are confusing, but they’re not impossible to learn. Any editor is going to appreciate the correct use of commas regardless of how much they appreciate or introductory comma. 🙂

 

 

Say Yes to the ReDress

Editor Definition in English Dictionary.In some writers’ groups, when I’ve mentioned that I’d been contacted by an editor who requested changes, there came about a rise of instantaneous resistance.

  • You didn’t say yes, did you?
  • Why are you letting them change your work?
  • You’re not going to let them change your words, are you?
  • Sounds like you’re selling out!

So far, whenever an editor has contacted me about changes, the changes were minor: a comma here, a synonym there, once a nick-name which they ended up leaving in.

One of the these editors worked for The Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal ($1.00 Stories). I believe him to be more experienced editoand credentialed in the requirements of publishable writing.

I willingly listened.

So before your writer hackles rise – listen, consider, then decide. Be polite and professional.

Writing is easy?

One of my favorite quotes:

newyear

Because, sometimes, it feels like that!

What’s your favorite quote?

Why I Write

14563288_1399791920050130_5249056612799485051_n

The second part of the statement of poetics written many years ago included the reason I write.

Of the many reasons I write, comes the desire for order.

Life is chaotic. Many things are not only out of our control, which I can live with, but happen without explanation; the lack of reasoning is challenging for me to accept.

Sometimes I write stories to understand. Therefore, I write stories to order my universe. To put life in terms I can understand.

I read a story many years ago about a child who died from cancer. How does such a precious gift leave us so soon? I wrote a fairy tale called Seeds (never published). The story could never explain or give an answer to such a sad happening, but it did give life to a little girl I never knew.

Of all the reasons you write, can you narrow it down to one or two? Share here or one of the social media accounts.

A Statement of Poetics

newyearA few months ago, I found some things I wrote years ago. Among the stories and poetry hid my statement of poetics. As a requirement for one class, we needed to construct a formal (maybe semi-formal, we were all creative writers) statement of our values as integrated into our writing. That’s the simple definition. A statement needs to include your desire for your writing, your intention.

I resisted this assignment. It’s rather challenging to label yourself, pin your writing down. However, I knew I had to do it for myself – to discover what it was I believed of my creative abilities.

One of the things from that statement stuck with me, even when I thought I’d lost it.

“If left to my own devices, I would hermatize.

I would be the strange lady in the old shanty down the street

who wanders her Munster-looking yard by moonight kicking at sticks,

overturning last fall’s leaves in search of new ideas or an old peace of mine.”

Of course, it was not my intention to hermatize; it’s a part of my personality to want to be left alone to write.

What it reminds me of is Virginia Woolf’s proclamation in A Room of One’s Own in which she surmises, we need a room of our own in which to think, write, create.

That was written 90 years ago, but the statement is truer than ever.

Given social media, television, cell phones, kids, work, responsibility and life, we are newyearmore distracted than ever! Many of us writers need to actively seek out a quiet space where we will not be hunted down and found out.

And we need to learn to pry ourselves away from those other things which are so important to us – kids, family, work – to form a little space for ourselves.

My intention for 2019 is to seek out that space and to carve out some time for myself to write.

Happy New Year, writers.

What is your intention for 2019?

 

Writing 365 – What it’s all about

I had a hellava 2018. It felt like my life was under construction. My house was growing, my family was growing, and it all culminated right around Christmas.

writing1Since then, I feel the desire to run a hundred miles an hour. I have so much energy and joy, I feel I need to focus on my writing.

In 2017, I had 17 publications. In 2018, it held steady around twelve. In 2017, I finished a novel. In 2018, I began three and finished none!

My inbox is suffering from an overload of hiking challenges, yoga challenges, travel challenges, change-your-life, improve-your-health offers. I sat down and thought – all of these things are important to me; I strive to be healthy, happy, in shape. However, the most important thing to me, at this time, is writing. I feel I didn’t do enough in the last six months and want to stay focused.

I believe writers are living more distracted, less supportive lives. In an effort to focus myself, I thought I would begin my day by being inspired and inspiring others. We receive what we put out there.

Therefore, I propose my own 365 challenge. I want to offer a short blog every morning. It will include writing tips, unblocking tricks, inspiration, and writer interviews. Occasionally, it may be as short as a quote or a question – that’s where you come in. Sometimes, I may offer you a prompt, share your response if you want.

You can follow this blog, my facebook page, twitter, or instagram. I may create a group, writing4but I don’t want to overwhelm anyone. You certainly don’t have to follow all or even feel obligated to participate in the prompts. I’m asking you to participate in your own writing life – whatever that looks like to you.

What makes me the person to do this? I mentioned my publications. I’m also a teacher. I feel I have something to offer. If you feel you can benefit – then join us. Come and go as you please, respond or don’t.

In your responses, feel free to be honest, but let’s be respectful to one another as well. In this harsh world, which is getting harder all the time, leave the negativity elsewhere.

I’m not sure I can do this for 365 days. But that is my challenge for the year – to write every day of 2019.

It all starts on January 1st (my birthday, by the way); I intend to hit the ground writing!

What is your challenge?

writing2