Spellbinding stories of mystic love and soulful hope . . .

photoAuthor writes book. Book is published. Book is read. Book is reviewed. Author reads reviews. Author is happy to see some great reviews. Author is devastated to see the bad reviews. Author begins to stew on those bad reviews. Author cannot think of anything but those bad reviews.

In the extreme, the author may comment back to the reader, telling her just how wrong she is to feel the way she feels about the book. Another author quietly sits, reading and re-reading the bad review—looking for a message, a theme, something-anything- that will tell them just where they went wrong and how they can fix it so they never have to feel this way again. And there is the author who laments on social networking how much a review has hurt him, made him feel small, made him question what he is doing and why, and will everyone hurry over and write a good review, and maybe even tell the bad reviewer how they suck for their opinion?–>(Oh, please do not do this, author!)

Author begins to lose sight of just how much it is really none of the author’s business what someone writes about their personal experiences of reading a book.

51dZqZYheqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_I stopped reading reviews a long time ago—right after my first book (Tender Graces) came out. Oh, I was reveling in the great 5-star reviews! I was feeling on top of the world when suddenly there amongst those 5-star reviews appeared a 2-star. Oomph! Kicked in the stomach feeling, a sickening crash—dark clouds amass, the world is coming to an end! Or wait a minute. Why would I not expect that to happen? Of course it must happen! I made a decision right there not to read that review or any other future reviews, good or bad, hightailed it out of Amazon, and never looked back.

Because it’s none of my business what a reader writes in a review of my book.

I went back to work. With each new book, I kept my promise to myself not to read reviews, and it has served me well. Kept my sanity—well, most of it. Being an author isn’t the easiest thing as it is—we worry about a lot of Stuff. A whole lot of Stuff. Massive amounts of not so crazy along with really stunningly crazy Stuff. Any Stuff that I can toss out of my worry barrel (I started to write “jar” but we all know it’s a gigantic barrel) is one fewer thing to obsess over. Right? Right! Especially if it is not in my control.

If it is not in our control, why are we still trying to control the uncontrollable?

Some will say we authors must read reviews to learn something about ourselves and our books, but I personally disagree. The review is not for the writer, bmarm bakeryut instead for the reader. If a book is good it will have good reviews, and it will have bad reviews. It will be hated by some readers and it will be loved by others. But guess what? If a book is badly written it will have good reviews and it will have bad reviews. It will be loved and it will be hated. One reader’s filet mignon is another reader’s can of dog food. We cannot all have the same tastes and likes and dislikes. Opinions are what make this world so interesting. Opinions and variations of character and thought and being sparks discussion and lively debate. It’s why there are so many books out there in so many different genres or even the same genre but with different stories and characters and thought and action and place and time and circumstance–so many people with so many different brains to stimulate to please or not to please, whatever the case may be.

We authors need to get out of the way of the readers’ opinions.

Really, an author who cannot handle the really bad review should never go look. It’s personal, but not Personal in the way some authors may experience it. It’s personal to the reader and how the book makes her feel, or how the book makes him experience what is happening in that created world.

The review has nothing to do with Me The Author.

Me The Author is not important. We may think we are, but we are not important at all. When a reader reads our words, they should not be thinking of the author. When they put down the book, then perhaps we come to their mind, we hope fondly; yet, even then, we are an amalgam of the words and characters and language and world we created, along with what the reader imagines us to be. We are not who we think we are to the reader, and that can be a beautiful thing to consider, no matter the outcome. We have reached out and touched another living being, even if they skewer us and grill us to a crusted crisp.

DSC09985My readers can do no wrong.

Readers do not recognize their power—they don’t realize how much we authors really do want to hear from them when they are touched by or enjoy our work. However, if a reader does not like one (or more) of my books, or maybe even hates hates HATES my work, why would I be angry with that reader? They have a right to love or not to love or even to detest my work. They have a right to kiss my book and lovingly set it in a place of honor on their bookshelf, or beside their bed where they can read it again and maybe again.  And, yes,  they have a right to throw my book across the room and scream that it is the biggest pile of dogshit they’ve ever read in their entire lives and they’ll never pick up another of my books again!

When I write a book, my thoughts are on my reader—will she enjoy it? Will he love my words? Will they be swept away by my characters’ stories? I want to please my reader. I want to make them happy. I want them to love me, because I love them. But I can’t write to please everyone—you do know that is impossible, right? To please everyone? Sure, some books are written that go on to make a gazillion bucks, but go to Amazon and look up a very popular book that’s making millions and there you will find readers who think that book sucks, and sucks so bad that they poured gasoline on it and set it on fire then pee’d on it to stop the flames and then stomped on it with dog-crap covered boots then swept up the nasty pile and buried it fifty feet underground where they never have to be reminded how they’ll never get the time back they wasted on that book!

I will always write with all my heart, everything I have, give readers all I got. I will send out my words and hope for the best. It is my gift to my readers. It is a hope to reach other readers. And no matter how they receive that gift, it is their right to express themselves however they want to without my interference.

It is wrong wrong wrong to make readers feel bad for their opinion.

It is not cool at all to correct them for their “wrongness.” It is uncool to try to sway the reader to change their mind and thus change their review. It super uncool to make them feel guilty enough to take down the review. It is super duper uncool and demeaning to the author profession to tell other readers to go defend that author and their work and make sure to tell that bad reviewer how they mightily suck–ATTACK!—-> (No no no do not do this, Author, please do not).

Our characters and words are no longer all ours once we send them out into the world—they are then everyone else’s. And that means sometimes the characters and words will be cherished and loved, and sometimes they will not and will not so bad that there are scorch marks left on the pages.

Welp, suck it up, Author, or get out of the way. 

DSC_0174I get out of the way. I’ve never had readers send me “bad” mail. I’ve never had any reader treat me terribly. I’ve never been attacked by readers. I’ve had very positive experiences. Perhaps there are some reviews on my books that spit in my eye, but why would I care to know about it? That reader will likely not read me again and will find someone else who more fits them. I cannot capture everyone in my literary net and force them or guilt them into loving me. And I should not morph myself into some kind of Every Reader Pleaser.

So you readers out there—I adore you. No matter what. You can do no wrong. Even if you throw my book out the window and vow never to read my words again, you are still required–you are needed–you are wanted. And for those of you who have loved and then hated and then loved me again—thanks for sticking around! For those of you, dear readers, who love all of my work: Why, thank you! I love you, too, and I’m sure I’ll disappoint you at some point—ha! But it won’t be because I give up–I promise to do my very very honest honorable hard-working sincerest best, and that’s all I can do.

So, readers—go on out there and write your reviews! Write your best; write your worst! Just keep reading us. Just keep trying us out. Just keep us alive with your attention. Without you, readers, we are Nothing. N-o-t-h-i-n-g. That’s the truth. You will never do any wrong. The power is in your hands. I hope you will use it wisely and well. Meanwhile, I’ll get back to work and stay out of your way.

galaxy nexus wallpaper-WmOIYou were in love with the writing once. A kind of love that churns the belly. The kind of love that wraps around you warm and alive and pulsing. Trusting kind of love. And you think that love will never leave you, nor would you ever leave it.  You think it will be as strong and lively as it is in the beginning of all that began all the way to the what should never ever end because it’s too beautiful to die. Too perfect.

But things begin to change. Subtly at first. Insidiously. Oh, it’s little things here and there that don’t mean much—at least that’s what you tell yourself. But all those tiny things begin to pack together, sticky and mean, tightly, balling up hard and fast, until there before you is what you tell yourself is only a sweet marble you think isn’t so bad—it’ll still fit into your pocket! You can carry it around and won’t feel the weight of it at all. But it grows. And you can’t carry it around anymore. It first settles in the room you always wrote in, but it soon pushes out into the hallway, and into the bedroom, and the kitchen, and the living room, and the entire house becomes filled with it—it pushes against you, insistent to be noticed. It is a Moon,  a Neptune, an entire galaxy right outside your mind’s window. It groans with its own weight.

DSC09985Still, you think you can live with it. You think you can soldier on. You think that everything will be okay if only This Thing would happen, or That Thing will occur. “If Only” becomes raggedy with your use of it, what with your rolling the If Onlies around in your head until they are barely recognizable. Still. You loved! It all had meaning! Didn’t you? Didn’t it? Doubt sets in. Were you loved back? Maybe it was only an altered state of being that led you down into the most pleasurable of senses. Why, before the Galaxy of Disappointed Disillusionment, you’d even allowed yourself to become a little arrogant. Held your head a little higher—after all, you were in The Club. That Club with those heavy heavy gates—the ones that swing open randomly and without sentimentality. You often imagined the gates closing behind you, yet this time you are pushed back to the outside.

You want out anyway, you say. You want out and you don’t know when, or if, you’ll return. You want your space. You want time to think. You want to do other things. Find yourself, you say, wincing at the cliche. You’ll do: Fun things. Other necessary things. Things that don’t require pushing through that galaxy of hard knotted failings and failures and fails.

You soon forget (you say emphatically) what drew you to that love. You don’t remember (you think most apparently) the feeling of joy you had just by opening your laptop and your mind—flutter flutter went the beautiful creation butterflies—how lovely they were! Oh how you hate them now! Hate them!

The heart of you is crushing under the weight of the groaning Galaxy.

Who cares?, you say. I don’t!, you say. And you trippity trip about, laughing gaily on the outside, while on the inside you are slowly terribly dying. The Galaxy suffocates.

imagesOne day, you are alone. Perhaps walking in the woods, or down an aisle at the grocery store, or driving your car aimlessly, or most obviously of course staring at the darkened night ceiling. And a blinding light explodes while millions of hard knotted disappointments and disillusions Supernova. You are blinded for seventy-two hours; burned down to the bone for seventy-two more.

Then the quiet talks to you. You rise, walk through the house, glowing embers dying and ashes flying. Something gives way. A loosening.

You run then, opening windows and doors until every window and every door is wide, and out and out and out on a brilliant wind goes the ashes, and all that is left is You and You.

Something stirs. Something old and ancient. Something you recognize.

Fingers to keys. A letter appears. Another. Another. A word. A sentence. A paragraph. A page. Five pages, sixty pages, one hundred pages plus three.

Love.

Sometimes, you say, all else must be burned away so your new skin can feel anew.

Screen+Shot+2014-02-25+at+12.17.37+PMYour fingertips are alive. Push push push on the keys. It is like music.

You recognize, you say, that you never loved fully before but only with conditions. Love must Be, you say. It is its own and no other.

You say: each hard knot of disappointment must be kneaded and chewed and swallowed and digested and then shat out and flushed away.

A grand love. A passionate love. A true and honest love.

It finds you, grabs you by the beating heart and squeezes the life into you.

Fingers on the keys. Push. Push. Letter by word by paragraph by page.  Five, six, seven, eight, open up the heavy gates.

(. . . and still, as you push the keys, the if onlies and the what ifs and the why can’ts ind the little nooks and crannies of you and settle in. You push the keys and try not to notice the hard knot you couldn’t swallow as it falls to the ground and quivers.)

Who typed on this? What words did they create, and who loved or hated or felt indifferent to them.

Who long ago typed on this? What words did they create, and who loved or hated or felt indifferent to them.

I was thinking about Rules, and about the creative endeavor, about where we’ve been and where we are and where we will go. I thought about those who came before, and those who are always remembered, and those who will be remembered only for their fifteen minutes. I wondered, who of those of us who live in this moment, the here and the now, will be most remembered twenty, thirty, forty, one-hundred, two-hundred years from now? Do we have the ability to create Classics in literature, music, art? Or have the molds been made and then placed behind thick glass to preserve them and we can only hope to find some tiny spare spot in an ever-expanding crowd of creativity?

There was a time before Rules. There was a time when writers, artists, architects, dancers, musicians, etc, made the rules, because they trod where no one else had ever been before. It’s difficult now to find the places where no one has been, which is why there are “The Classics,” and why we have those literary (and other creative) giants/icons who are held up as larger than life, their images on cups and t-shirts and postage stamps, their works examples for those who follow. One glance at an image and most know who and/or what that image represents–if not their complete works, then some part of those works or of them. One mention of a phrase and one knows who said it, and it is deemed brilliant, never to be touched again by another – right? Are we able to create our own new paths? Swathing the way through literary (or otherwise) forests? Are brilliant works and new paths simply swallowed by the glut of All That Out There Everywhere? This is BRILL–oh, wait, what’s this new thing it’s BRI–oh, wait! What’s that shiny thing over there, it’s BR–oh wait! Oh Wait! WHAT’S THAT OVER THERE?

Just as civilizations have been built and then built upon and built upon again and again, so it is with language and music and art. There was the creating of new ways. And now, we build upon those “ways” – we have rules we follow because they were established before us, and we build on those, and sometimes we throw them out, and sometimes we morph them, and sometimes we break them gently and ungently. Language, art, the creative endeavor, is a living breathing thing, a malleable thing. A gorgeous beautiful lush thing. A frustrating gut-wrenching terrible thing. A kick in the gut and head and ass thing. A straining towards thing. A falling back thing. An all or nothing and then all again thing. An I give up, oh wait no I do not thing.

What magic sprung from the works of those before us, and how can we create our own magic? How can we cast a spell upon our readers?

What magic sprung from the works of those before us, and how can we create our own magic? How can we cast a spell upon our readers?

Who will find their face on a cup? Who will be caricatured on a t-shirt? Who will be our icons and giants? Or will we hold onto our iconic giants from before, those who cleared a path for all the rest of us? Forever and ever, ah-men.

I don’t need a cup with my name on it. Do I? Of course not, she says adamantly and hesitantly. My books are my tombstone—my legacy; my mark even if small and one day forgotten. She says most emphatically and discombobulatingly. But what if in some magical world of long from now my words, your words, our words, were held up as examples of iconic splendor? We’d never know it. After all, we’d be dead, short or long dead, but dead. So what’s the point of striving for all that iconic splendor when I can beat myself silly striving just for a bit of attention in the right here and now. Well, when you put it that way, Kathryn.

Just let me love and appreciate every moment of it. Each little bitty moment. And let me always want more. More. More. More. More words. More books. More readers. MORE!

I put a spell on you–because you’re mine . . . .

(repost)

misc dale and kat etc 147So, my friends. I have been gone from here a while. Other things and people and places grabbed hold of me, of my attention, of my time. But it has all been for the most wonderful beautiful of reasons: I have returned to my Cove at Killian Knob. Home. I am Home. I came back almost a year to the day I drove away from my Cove–thinking I may never be able to return. But my Cove was not about to let me go. My mountains knew I’d return. The creek shouts out to me–Welcome Home, Wild Wolf Woman Kathryn.

misc dale and kat etc 223I had to pinch myself every day for the first few weeks, and then, now a little over a month since my return, I at last do not fear I will awaken from some gorgeously warm dream. It is real. It is tangible. As real as my Crow cawing outside my window–he, Big Boy, tells me all the secrets to the cove; all the things I missed while I was gone from here. Each morning, and evening, I toss over the rail to the ground below some tidbits for him to eat, whistle for him, and there he comes, sailing on stretched wing, oily black and handsome. He now will, as he used to do, sit on the branch of the Tulip Poplar and watch me as I sit on the porch drinking my coffee, or maybe later my wine–at first, he did not trust that I would be here to stay and he was shy. Now? Now he knows. Just as other critters know I am here to stay: the coon, the squirrel, the bird, the rabbit, the turkey–all of them. Even the ones who hide and watch: the bobcat, the coyote, the bear, the deer.

misc dale and kat etc 170As always before, I turn my head slightly to the left and what fills my eyes is wild beauty. I glance down at my hands as they type upon my old trusty laptop, turn my head back slightly to the left, then gaze around my writing room, my library, my study, where someone special turned it into a warm and beautiful sanctuary with which to write and read and dream. I am filling my little log house back up with my Things–yes the knickknacks and doo-dads and furry throws and rugs and lamps that golden glow the rooms, but also bone and rock and bark and stump and twig and feather. It is as if I am in some mystical movie where the character steps from one realm of noise and confusion and crowds and discombobulation into an enchanted world: she closes the door behind her and doesn’t look back, for that near-year she spent away from her Cove was only an enterlude, only a miniscule slice of a luscious pie–she ate a tiny bite of that miniscule slice of pie and it did not taste of anything at all–now, here, the rest of the pie coats her tongue, slides down her throat with a slight tang and burn, and fills her belly–she is satiated now. That is how it is. And more.

misc dale and kat etc 094I did not come alone. Who knew? Who knew what life takes from us and gives to us. Even when we do not want it. Even when we fight with claws sharpened by what we think is best for us, never knowing that we do not always know what is best for us. Sometimes people come back into your life after many many years and you think, “Why, where have you been all these years?” and they say, “I was going to ask you the same thing.” And then you both laugh at the absurdity of it all. At the luck and timing of it all. At the luscious luscious wonder of it all. And there curled beside you is a little bitty dog. All your proclamations of “Never again! Never! I cannot bear to take into my life another sweet creature and have it die. No! NO!” and the little dog curled warm beside you huffs in his sleep, and if awakened would look up at you with his wonky teeth and you would Know. You’d just Know that he knows what he has done with you and to you and for you. And what his man has done to you and with you and for you. What both of these Living Beings have pulled you kicking and screaming into what you never ever believed in; what you scoffed at; what you considered ellusive and illusive and never ever for you.

We often proclaim not to believe in the very things we most want.

Love is the greatest of things. Love is your granndaughter. Love is your son. Love is your family. Love is your friends. Love is what comes into your life when you do not want it or need it or expect it. Love sneaks up and smacks you upside your head and then laughs at the amazed fearing wonderment that makes you slack-jawed with surprise. It is not to be ignored. Who knew? Who knew?

misc dale and kat etc 066So I sit here, my good friends–those of you still here; those of you who have always been here; those of you who drop by; those of you who wonder by accident or fate if you believe in those things and I do not and I do; those of you who read everything I write and I am amazed by you–I sit here and I am humbled by everything. Everything. EVERYTHING. I am humbled and grateful and beside myself.

I am not lonely anymore.

I am not an island.

I am writing again.

I am here. I am Home. I am back to my little log house at Killian Knob in Western North Carolina Smoky Mountains.

Life is a circle that we either complete or we do not. Or we go round and round it faster and faster until we are so dizzy we do not See anymore. What do you want? How do you want to travel your circle? Ends meeting and then begin again.

(well, look below at the previous post they link to – it was when I had to leave here — ha! what a coincidence)

ipod photos 081I remember days when I felt I had no voice. When what I thought and what I did were separate entities. I could write a very long blog post about the instances where I felt I had no power, but I do not need specifics here–and most are my own private life-stuff. Most all of us at one time or another has felt powerless against some force that has pushed its will upon us. I also know there were times I felt powerless when I really was not. I either was too afraid, or too naïve, or so used to how things were rather than how they could be that I did not make a change; I did not find my Voice, or my Power.

I so very often gave away my power to someone else. I don’t mean physical power, though I like being muscular and strong and able to take physical care of myself. I mean standing up tall and strong in how you live your life, how you expect others to treat you, and how you treat others. Power does not mean bullying or aggression or mean-spirited natures. Power means standing up for your beliefs; standing up for what you know is right for you despite when someone or some situation may be forcing their/its will upon you for their/its own good and not yours–however, Power is also compromise: you must find the difference between compromise and giving away your power by tapping into your gut and your heart, by having conversations with those involved, by listening just as much as you want to be heard.

Power is not letting past experiences define your Now Reality. Power is not forgetting what someone has done to you, but letting go of what they have done to you and saying, “This person no longer has control over my thoughts. I will not give this person one more minute of my time. They no longer deserve my time. It is no longer any of my business what they think or do or be.” Power is sometimes doing the difficult thing or saying the difficult thing because doing or saying that thing will take you places you never thought you could go–whether metaphorically or spiritually or physically or metaphysically. Power may mean Big Change, and that’s scary. Once we decide to take back our power, it often means we have to make a change, and that can hold us back. I so know this, and so do you.

ipod photos 213Power is when you feel strong and capable and in control of your life instead of the chaos of life and situations and people having “control” of you. It doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid. It doesn’t mean you don’t have anxiety. It doesn’t mean you don’t feel sad or grief or loss. It means you step forward even though you are afraid of the dark space ahead–what if there’s a cliff there? What if I free-fall? Then maybe you sprout some wings and fly. Or maybe you fall on your face and it hurts like hell. There’s risks in taking back your power, your life. I won’t lie. There will be stumbles and mistakes. But how do you know until you try what takes you somewhere you always needed to go?

The more power you take back the more control you feel, and the less anxiety and chaos reigns. I’m all about Chaos–my peaheaded brain flippity flops and zippity zaps all over creation. I’m jittery and wild. I can be impulsive. But don’t let all that fool you–I am strong. I am capable. I know my power. Do I sometimes falter? Yeah, you better believe it–because I’m also human. And so are you. Find the quiet places and figure out just where you need to take back your power and why and how, and just where you need to step back and let things “be” for a while. Your gut will know. You know.

One day, I had a conversation with someone, who said, “I really want to say something, but I’m afraid of the consequences.” I looked at her: this woman who is smart, capable, beautiful, and I wanted to tell her, “You have more power than you think.” But I hesitated. What if I convinced her to speak up and the consequences she was afraid of happened? What good would her power be to her then? Of course, if the situation she is in warrants such care, such fear of reprisal, wouldn’t she be better off out of the situation? So I told her, “You have more power than you think.” And then I shut up. It’s not for me to decide what she must do or say. That is her journey.

10274015_10152437219614176_2351572946895967498_nIf I speak up or if I leave a situation I am unhappy in or if I decide to do this or not to do that or if I do not put up with bullshit or if I do put up with bullshit because at the end of that bullshit is something worth the effort, and as a result negative consequences rain down on my peahead, my power will feel intact because I’m facing my fears; I’m doing what’s best for me or for mine. I’m taking my lumps, too. This does not mean I go about callously disregarding feelings and tossing people and situations to the curb at every turn. It means I dig deep and figure out what I need to do to keep my power so I feel less helpless and choatic. So that I feel strong and sure I am doing or saying the right thing even if my knees are quaking and I’m scared witless. People confuse “courage” with someone doing something they are not afraid to do—courage is taking action even though one is afraid.

Looking into this woman’s eyes, I could see that she was not ready to perceive her power in that way. She will see the outcome as disastrous. One learns that there is always something else. There is always another. There is always the next thing. There are some situations that are just not worth the anxiety, or the discomfort, or the sad, or the anger, or the fear, or the stress. For too many years of my life I waited—waited for the right time, the right place, the right mindset. I don’t want to say I “wasted” my time, but I wasted my power!

I wanted to pass my power on to this woman, to tell her to stand up for herself, to give her the eyes to see inward to the power she possesses, but I could not. She must find it for herself.

We have a choice to say in some instances where we feel strongly enough, “Sorry you don’t see it my way. But, I’m standing firm.” And then, if we have to, we walk away, and in some instances, we will walk away with a big fat grin, swinging our arms to the tune of some powerful anthem we once heard.

WHUPOW, y’all!

DSC_0174In my Monday Classroom Series, I rarely explain “grammar stuff” by explaining it too technically—you know why? Because I cannot be too technical since for me it’s mostly become the instinctual. Oh, I had horrid grammar for many years, and the comma drove me to distraction. But when I became an editor for Rose & Thorn years ago, I learned on the job what it meant to be a better editor. I not only noticed things in the structure and tone and cadence of the story, but also by how grammar was used as a tool either to ignore the rule or to enhance by breaking the rule. In the process, the story shone brighter. It’s all about CONTROL. Know what is right, apply it where necessary, and then break those rules when creativity asks for it: with CONTROL.

Grammar may be one of those things you “get” or one of those things that makes you want to pull out your hair and run screaming into the streets. For me, things began to click when I related them to my writing (or the writer’s story I edited) in a tangible way. What I will try to do here is to explain things in a way with the hope my explanations will make it easier for you to apply the rules, or break them effectively, in your writing, even if you don’t exactly know the whys or deep grammatical explanations.

If you want a more technical explanation, there’s always Grammar Girl

We know what Dangling means; that’s easy. But what in tarnation is a Dangling Participle? A Dangling Participle will have an “ING” word in a phrase that usually precedes a sentence, which modifies the wrong noun/subject.

ING words are sneaky! I often do a “find/search” of my first draft for ING words just to see how I’ve slipped up. First off, many times I find that instead of an ING word, I could/should use ED (or some sister/brother of ED)—go into your manuscript/story and look at some ING words. Now, change ING to ED (and you may or may not need to fiddle-dee-dee with the sentence a bit) and then read it aloud. Huh? Huh? Yeah? See? The more I am instinctually aware, the less I worry I’ll miss something; however, when I do a search, I’m always surprised at what I miss.

Today, let’s look at those ING words as Dangling Participles—dangling ING words in phrases.

Dangling Participles “attach themselves” to the wrong subject, and make the sentence, the scene, sound a bit ridiculous or implausible.

Example:

10305604_10152463711914176_2993508658427162551_n Drinking her coffee, Mary told John to stop drumming his fingers on the table.

Now, imagine that scene above—don’t just nod your head about it, really picture that scene as if it’s a movie scene or happening right in front of you:

Mary is drinking her coffee, so how can she talk to John with a mouthful of coffee?

Sure, we all know what the sentence means; but if you picture that scene, it does not work. I could explain things in a “Grammarish” kind of way about modifiers and nouns and who or what is carrying out the action and blah blah blah, but if the whys confuse you, I want you to see the results to strengthen your scene and not necessarily the grammar whys.

And in the case of the Dangling Participle, I am not so much worried about you remembering the Term, but instead remembering that ING word there in the beginning phrase that knocks the scene all wonkity.  And you can do that by imagining the scene you are writing as if it is happening in front of you or in a movie scene—yeah, I stuck lots-o ING words right there in this paragraph, didn’t I? Ha! But they ain’t a-danglin.

So, in my example: Mary can’t talk and drink her coffee at the same time. Something doesn’t jive here. Let Mary finish her gulp of coffee and then she can tell John to stop his drumming before she goes mad mad MAD with it! (For me, it’s whistling – dang if I don’t hate whistling!)

Running to her car, Debbie revved the motor and raced away.

I’m still imagining Debbie in a full-out run to the car, and then whammalammadingdong I have to adjust my thinking. No, wait! She’s in the car and driving away! This scene is awkward.

Because grammar is so AWESOME in this way, sometimes those ING words can work as beginning phrases.

well, sheee'it

well, sheee’it

Standing in the doorway, George was knocked to the floor by a large angry ape.

Do you see the difference? George is standing in the doorway when BA-BAM! A big ole ape slams into him. George is the focus here—George standing in the doorway is the focus. The ape comes out of nowhere and knocks George down. I can see the scene even if it could be rewritten to be more efficient.

I’m being simplistic here, and my examples aren’t meant to be perfect. What I want here is for you to picture the scene and in picturing the scene understand the effect on your manuscript/scene.

Typing her examples, Kathryn hoped everyone would understand.

Works for me! Kathryn is typing her examples with the hope that you all will understand. Is the sentence strong and lovely? I dunno. But I can picture the scene just fine. Kathryn typed examples. Kathryn hoped everyone understood. She did and can do both at the same time. Now if Kathryn did this:

Typing her examples, Kathryn ate her scone.

Nope, I’m typing so it would be hard to eat my delicious cranberry orange scone (dang! Wish I had one right now!). Unless I jammed my face on my plate and ate like a dawg—and I probably have done just that, haw!

There are great beautiful perfect grammatical explanations for all this, and any google of “dangling participles” and “participles” will give you clear instruction (like Grammar Girl link above).

Find a way to internalize the explanations so that they become clear to you in a tangible way. If you can relate something to your own experience, it’s easier to understand. If you can imagine your scenes as if watching a movie or as if it is happening right in front of you, then perhaps applying correct grammar, or breaking the rule, will give you much more control. So think about your scenes in another way, and in the process, gain an understanding of sentence structure and how it can make your work weaker or stronger.

Now, go WRITE!

 

——————

Touty Plug of the day: I don’t feel like being touty. I will only say that if you want a new book to read, then perhaps consider one of mine. You can pick out all my grammatical mistakes–particularly in the first books–and sneeringly sneerificate at me *laugh!* I have a website kathrynmagendie.com and an Amazon Page and my books are available wherever books are sold–and if they aren’t there, then they can be ordered. As always, your support is needed and appreciated and never forgotten. It’s all for you, this crazy writing life: You–dear Readers.

Be strong.

Be strong. Be flexible. Be.

I’m not an expert on nutrition and certainly not as educated as a nurse or doctor or nutritionist–but I do know my body, and I do my research, and I Pay Attention to people, and my former clients’ experiences. Personal Trainers run the gamut of education and training but often we know our “business” through personal experience and research along with whatever educational training we experience. See your doctor; talk to a nutritionist; do your research. However, there are some things you can do easily on your own, and can reap the healthy benefits.

 

  1. Get off your butt throughout the day. Studies show that even if we exercise regularly, we aren’t realizing the full benefit to our health if we sit most of the rest of the time. Yes, exercising regularly is good for us, but so is moving our bodies throughout the day. Find ways to remind yourself to rise to your full height, stretch, walk about. Your body will love you for it. And, if need be, so will your waistline.
  2. Eat an apple every day. For a healthier heart, for whiter teeth (though don’t expect miracles—but chewing crunchy apples does help produce saliva that will “wash away” bacteria). As well, the fiber binds to cholesterol and out it goes from your body—no, not all of it; you must eat well and be mindful of your family history. Apples are filling and can help satisfy a sweet tooth—often, I will cut up an apple and put it on my plate first, then put something sweet that I’ve been craving; I’ll eat less of the sweet part when I have that entire apple on my plate. There are more benefits to eating apples, so rush to the store and purchase some. Honeycrisp are my favorites.
  3. Get more sleep. I can hear some of you laughing: you call this easy, Kat? Maybe, maybe not. But aside from the nights where our minds won’t shut up, there are the nights when we do the “just one more thing” thing. Or we stay on our phones/tablets instead of leaving our bedrooms dark and cool and comforting. Sometimes it is our own fault we aren’t sleeping well! Research over the years said we should have 7-8 hours, but actually, new research shows that at different ages we require different amounts of sleep—it could be even that different people at the same age require different levels of sleep. Perhaps 6-9 hours is a nice range for this or that person, right? Tune into your body–it’ll tell you. People underestimate how important sleep is to our health and well-being. While we sleep, our brains work out the stresses and activities of the day; otherwise, we’re just tossing around with circuitous thinking, right? As well, sleep helps with weight loss: there’s a hormone called leptin that helps to make you feel “full;” leptin levels will decline without enough sleep. Better memory, better sex, clearer thinking, better mood—it’s worth it to figure out a way for a good night’s sleep.
  4. No added sugar in this peanut butter!

    No added sugar in this peanut butter!

    Eat less refined/added sugar (and less processed foods!). When you purchase a “pre-packaged” product, look at the ingredients list. Often you may be surprised at how much sugar is in that product. The listed ingredient order tells you a story: ingredients are listed from most to least. Try to find foods that have fewer ingredients, and where sugar isn’t listed as 2nd or 3rd on the list–better yet, find those that do not have added sugar. If you must purchase processed foods, do your research—pay attention! Find out just what is in that food and in what amounts. Sugar is a sneaky ingredient—it’s in the savory as well as in the sweet. If you purchase something that has fruit in it, the sugar content may be higher, but how much of that is “refined/added” sugar and how much is “fruit sugar.” Some may say, “all the same” but I do not. If I buy trail mix with raisins in it, the raisins are the “sugar” part that will satisfy my sweet tooth in a healthier way, but if I buy trail mix with raisins and M&Ms in it, there’s that refined/added “bad sugar” that will make me feel a tiny burst of energy and then quickly sap me of it. Best thing: the less processed white-four sugar-filled foods you eat, the better you will feel, the more energy you will have, the less weight gain you will experience, etc. etc. etc.!

  5. You can always return to a place that gives you joy.

    You can always return to a place that gives you joy.

    Find something or someone that/who gives you joy. We spend too much of our lives chasing after some dream, working hard to achieve that dream, running full speed ahead to whatever lies ahead of us. I will tell you that when you reach a certain age, you often look back and think, “Well, dang—where’d that time go? And why did I wait so long for such and so?” While I understand we often must work jobs, raise families, and do the “shoulds” of our lives, it is important to take time out for those things that are OURS only—the thing/things that often make you feel guilty or selfish: well, you are not selfish! If you are unhappy and stressed, then it not only effects/affects you, but your loved ones. Take a moment to breathe and figure out what makes you and only you happy/contented and then go for it. And if it is a person or place who/that makes you happy–then what are you waiting for? Time isn’t banked like money, y’all.

 

Now, go do this day right, eat an apple, move, stretch, and get a good night’s sleep tonight. So let it be written; so let it be done.

 

10417600_10152480426884176_6460205242015283935_nI’m exhausted! A few hours of non-continuous-multi-interrupted sleep, and an anxious but excited brain (more on what’s causing that later). Today I’m supposed to haul myself to the gym, in the rain, with my tired but anxious excited brain, and do an aerobics then weight training workout for at least an hour and a half. Do I really want to? (ZOMG! I just stared at my keyboard for waaaaay longer than cool trying to find the italics maker—um, Kat, the italics maker is at the top of your screen, where it’s been for the upteen years you’ve been writing on word, and to infinity and beyond. Lawd. And I thought this was Wednesday. And I keep losing my train of thought. And a bird keeps chirping and I both love it and want to throw a rock at it. And my brain has cotton-clouds floating in a sea of mush. One coffee down and it ain’t touching the WAKE UP AND BE ALERT button yet.)

I am light. My body is under my control.

I am light. My body is under my control. But my brain is wackadoodle doo doo

Well, since I’m one of those weirdlings who loves to exercise, perhaps I really do want to—this is the answer to the question above. Yeah. My thoughts are organized, y’all! Haw! But really all I want to do right now is climb back in bed and sleep a few hours and worry about the gym another time. After all, I’m in good shape, right? My body is strong. My heart and lungs are fit. Welp, y’all: how did I achieve that? Not by climbing back in bed and going back to sleep knowing the workout will not be done, since there’re other things I must accomplish today, as well. This reminded me of a post I’d written a few years ago when I was re-shaping my workouts, and my body–it was supposed to be a post for Wednesday, but who cares? Tuesday, Wednesday–meh. Laugh. I know I’ve reposted or rewritten many a post lately, but my world is soon changing again–and in that change comes the flood of words, the vomit of words, the torrent, the Mt. Vesuvius of bellows of writing of words to ensue, because . . . because . . . I can’t even breathe it out right now. Later.

So, my beauties, that day, I was completely exhausted and didn’t wanna workout—thusly, with a few tweaks, y’all—

askyourdoctor—during my run/treadmill aerobics, I wanted to stop multiple times. I didn’t want to challenge myself. I wanted Easy. To go along at this slow steady pace, or better yet, walk, or better yet, jump off and go do something else. I became so frustrated with myself, that I yelled in my head like a red-faced coach, “HOW BAD DO YOU WANT THIS? HUH? HOW BAD DO YOU WANT THIS?” And all of a sudden, I knew I wanted it BAD! I bumped up the speed and tore off on the treadmill.

During one particular song, I pushed off on my leg and hovered in the air before slamming down, and did it again and again. As I hovered there, it felt as if I were suspended about a foot in the air, when in reality, I probably only came up a few inches—but the Perception was I felt myself higher. Does it really matter if I only came up a few inches? Or is the Perception of what I felt I accomplished a just-as-important reality? I like to think the latter, for it inspired me to take it further and farther, to run stronger, to push myself past the point of what I thought was my limit.

HOW BAD DO YOU WANT THIS?

Take what I said above and apply it to your writing life, or your musical life, or your artistic life, or your work life, your home life, your Life. How bad do we want what we think we want the most? How hard are we willing to work for it? How often are we willing to feel uncomfortable? How often are we able to face a disappointment and still go on? And how much are we willing to push ourselves past the point where we think we must stop? And when we push off, hover in the air, feeling powerful and strong, do we let that wonderful Perception spur us on to do more and better and stronger? Or do we say, “Eh, I was really only inches off the ground. No big deal. Other people can jump higher. Eh.”

How bad do you want this?

images (1)Bad enough to sweat and push and sprint and, as well, sometimes to feel pain and set-backs and exhaustion but pick yourself up and do it again. And again. And again.

I’ll tell you what giving up or giving in gives you: Not a danged thing but regret. And the flipside of that is this: you can work your ass off and still not reach all of your goals, but I can guarantee you’ll have accomplished more than you ever dreamed you could if you do not give in to negativity and fear and doubt. You’ll have jumped up, hovered higher than you ever thought you could soar, grow stronger, faster, more determined. Note the accomplishments and savor them, for even the smallest goal reached is A Goal Reached. Why do we disregard even the smallest of goals? They weren’t so small when we were arching towards them, were they?

How bad do you want this?

201I love “Springing Forward” in the evenings. Oh, but I do! It’s lighter outside longer. It means spring is on the way soon soon soon. However, it takes me a few days, week, weeks, to adjust to the earlier mornings. Lawdy. My brain ain’t quite absorbed the strong black coffee I’m slurping down. Today’s Monday Classroom is short and quickly to the point.

In dialogue, punctuation goes inside the quote marks.

Sample:

“This is how you do it,” Kathryn said. She put the punctuation inside the quote mark. Then, she said, “But, also this is a way. And since she didn’t have a tagline (said/asked), she put the period, again, before the quote mark.

download You do not always have to have a tagline, “he said/she said” — there can be action to indicate who is speaking.

Sample:

“I am typing some things to remember for my class.” Kathryn looked up at the screen to make sure her words looked right.

See? I did not write a tagline, a “said,” but you know it is Kathryn speaking because I have an action right after the dialogue. The period is inside the quote mark.

Comma talk was last Monday Classroom, see post below.

Semi-colons “separate” but yet “connect” two sentences that are independent—meaning, they could stand alone as two different sentences but you want the two sentences to be together, sort of a partnership of ideas or thoughts.

Kathryn was hungry; her dinner awaited her in the fridge.

Kathryn needed another example; she wanted to impress her students.

See how both of those could be independent sentences? But also see how I wanted them together because I just did and why do you question my genius? Why? Why? Why I ask you?

Kathryn was hungry. Her dinner awaited her in the fridge.

Kathryn needed another example. She wanted to impress her students.

And, remember, my beauties! One space after your end punctuation. Period, exclamation point, question mark . . . only one space!

——————————————————————-

This photo has nothing to do with anything on this post, but I just like how I grabbed a shot of this pelican right as it opened its mouth to try to capture and eat a rather large turtle! I miss my camera!

This photo has nothing to do with anything on this post, but I just like how I grabbed a shot of this pelican right as it opened its mouth to try to capture and eat a rather large turtle! I miss my camera!

Touty Plug of the Day: Kat’s Amazon Page. There’s stuff there. But I rarely visit it. You know why? Because I do not read reviews; I do not look at reviews; I do not look at my star rating if I can help it–although, oft-times it cannot be helped if I’m grabbing a link to one of my books; however, since my star-ratings are quite nice for most if not all my books, it’s not so bad to see it. So, if you’uns have a notion to, stroll by and give it a visit.

072Once I step onto my yoga matt, I leave everything else behind but the moment. There are no racing thoughts, no worries about what I have to do next, for I must concentrate on breath, on maintaining internal silence, Antar mouna. I am careful not to overextend, such as in forward and backwards bends, or to take my body too far into the pose in those areas where I am not as flexible; I must respect my body’s abilities and its limitations. My eyes look inward as I concentrate on a spot or object, Bahiranga tratakanot. I stand in Mountain Pose, Tadasana—feet together, hands at my sides. I bring my hands to prayer position, then raise my arms up to the sky, feeling a gentle stretch, my balance, my focus, and from there, I fold and move into the sun salutation, Surya-namaskar.

If my back is bad and legs are in Extra Pain Mode, I will let yoga take me only to where I feel safe, as in a gentle cat and dog stretch, or perhaps hold downward facing dog, Adho Mukha Svanasana, a bit longer. It is just me and my matt and my heart; there is no one to tell me how much or how little I must do. I like that. I feel the freedom of making the yoga my own. Perhaps that is what is intended, but if not, I can only ask forgiveness for my ignorance.

038No matter which yoga poses I do, I always include child’s pose at the end. It is hard to feel anything but peace and serenity when folded into a facing-down fetal position. My face is hidden from the world, my body tucked tight, yet my spine is vulnerable to the sky and anyone who may come near me. It is at once both a trusting pose, while a very private and protective one. I breathe in and out, slowly and evenly. I stay that way until I can face the world again. Then I curl up and sit into half-lotus pose, ardha padma-asana, bring my hands to prayer position, then lower my head, close my eyes, and sometimes, if I’m feeling extra meditative, which is very difficult for jittery jittery me who is rarely rarely still and rarely rarely meditative, I may whisper, Namaste, which is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another, or when alone, my own acknowledgement of my heart. How can I feel anything but contentment, peace, and gratitude when in this beautiful pose? I cannot.

Namaste

Namaste, y’all . .  . .

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