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Monday Classroom: The Comma (sending us into comas) . . . .

. Write write write! write with abandon; edit with a keen critical eye!

. Write write write! write with abandon; edit with a keen critical eye!

Commas, those squiggly little cuties, cause more torn out hair and gnashed teeth.  I’m not the perfect Comma Momma (teeheehee), so I do invite you to use the links below to learn allllllllll about those tiny little trouble-makers–particularly The Comma Splice, for which I do not talk about here, but if I did I would, have an example right here–see what I did? I put a comma between would and have that does not belong because it breaks up the sentence when it should not: the heinous comma splice. Really, there is simply too much information about that little teeny bitty itty squiggle than I can place here in one post without tearing out my own hair. In fact, that teeny bitty itty squiggle’s size is deceiving, for it makes Big Arse Trouble for so many out there, and not only writers.

Thing is, folks, it really is not so difficult once you Pay Attention to what you are writing and how the sentence “flows” and the rhythm of your words/sentence. I’ve written those two words before: Pay Attention. Because when you do, you learn. As I write this post, I am using commas without thinking about it. If I this were my novel, I may go in and remove some of my commas, just to make sure everything sings along musically to where there are not a lot of choppy sentences that leave the reader’s brain squeezing. Ungh. Squeezed brains hurrrrt. When you Pay Attention, you begin to see how the comma interacts with your work. How the comma sets things off. How the comma groups things together and separates them. How it considers the natural pause—where you take that bit of a hitch of a breath after an introductory phrase.

Once you have a basic idea/knowledge of comma use, feel free to play around with it.

Sometimes I leave them out because I want to keep the sentence moving along without any pauses as if one is talking all at once and does not pause even to take a breath because they are in OMG OMG OMG mode *gasp for air* . . . folks, use this sparingly or else your readers’ eyes may fall out and follow someone to the door, and in fact, their eyes may not return for many a week because you simply exhausted them and they needed a long long vacation and I think I am doing it again, oh dear! *Eyes falling out of my head and traveling to the door, suitcase in hand (hands? Do eyes have hands? Well, if we’re giving them a suitcase, guess they best. Yes, I am talking about when people write “his/her eyes followed him/her” etc etc – the disembodied body parts – a post for another day).*

Consider the sentence below as an example of a pause.

Introduction: Once you have a basic idea/knowledge of comma use (a natural pause) feel free to play around it.

Now read that sentence aloud with and without the comma and decide for yourself what happens:

Once you have a basic idea/knowledge of comma use feel free to play around it—does saying this aloud without a pause make you feel rushed or a bit breathless?

Once you have a basic idea/knowledge of comma use, feel free to play around it—does the natural pause here give you a chance to hitch in a breath?

If you think, “Well I like both ways.” Fine, go ye to write it how it works for you! In fact, when I’m reading something that doesn’t have commas where I like them to be, I insert them myself. Yeah! I do! Ha! You can’t escape my Comma-ndo!

Though, again, there are times I leave out commas because I want the sentence to move along without a pause. I don’t want the sentence to be broken up or choppy. But when I catch myself pausing after that “introduction,” I add a comma. Because. “Because whyyyyy, Kat?” Because I said so, that’s why.

The comma separates incomplete sentences—another form of a “pause” – like a parentheses.

Kathryn has, and always has had, a tiny pea-head. Kathryn has (pause to say/qualify: and always will have) a tiny pea-head.

Kathryn has—that’s an incomplete sentence that is separated by “and always has had” and then another incomplete sentence “a tiny pea-head” – I paused in the middle of those two phrases to tell you something else. I used commas to pause. Bless my wittle tiny pea-headed brain.

What you don’t want to do is to stick commas everywhere willy nilly. Those commas, small as they may be, will chop up your sentence and make them read stoooopid. Do you want choppy stoooopid sentences? Of course not! I’d rather see fewer commas than a litter of them crawling around all over the page mewling and making a mess all over creation. Listen to the rhythm of your words/the language. Listen for those pauses. Those parenthetical pauses. Those introductory phrases that then lead to a little hitch of breath before going on to the next part of the sentence. That’s where the comma goes.

Commas as lists or grouper-togetherers:

I like cornbread, cookies, beans and ice cream. But I do not like this sentence—ewwww! (Intro)If you want beans in your ice-cream, (pause/hitch breath) go right ahead.

But I do like the serial—not cereal—comma. Although wouldn’t that be cute? A bowlful of punctuation-shaped cereal for grammarians/writers? Haw! *Kat considers giving up novel-writing to create a Punctuation Cereal and becoming a millionaire* Anyway, *back to reality, Kat* the serial comma makes sense in the world of grouper-togetherers.

I like cornbread, cookies, beans, and ice cream.

See how each list of food has its own place in the sentence world?

I like cornbread. I like cookies. I like beans. I like ice cream.

is not:

I like cornbread. I like cookies. I like beans and ice cream. Ewwwwww!

I can also do a grouping, thusly,

I like cornbread and beans, cookies and ice cream, and serial commas. Teehee.

Notice above how each little family of words has their own little neat home to live in. Their own little grouping. The items that go together are placed together. Those that do not go together are separated by commas.

Clear as the mud on the bottom of your boot, ain’t it? Or maybe you are beginning to understand. Maybe I am a Geeeeenius at explaining the teeny tiny wittle squiggly and suddenly the clouds are clearing and you shout EUREKA! and you name your dog after me or something. *Kat has dreamy expression thinking of puppies running around named “Kat” because that sounds contradictory and funny haw haw haw—at least to her pea-headed brain—stop judging me!*

Look folks, here’s the thing: commas are irritating little shitters and they always will be. I mean, geeeezzzz, I have a headache just trying to explain them. And even as I type these words, I know I will miss one, or I’ll place one in the wrong spot. I’ll be in a hurry and someone out there will gloat and scream how I messed up. Ungh!  I’ll go back and read this and think, “This could be better.” But isn’t that the Thang about writing? How we always should be growing and learning. How we should think: “This could be better,” and then we make it better—until it is Done, for at some point we must be Done, right?

Below are some grammar sites that talk about the comma and may be a better help to you than my pea-headed self. I invite you to visit and then study them. Pay Attention. When your AHA! moment comes, you may then begin to manipulate the language with Knowledge, and folks, that’s when the real fun begins.

This first one has whole-lotto comma madness—lawd!

Guide to Grammar & writing

Grammar Girl

(this is a repost!)

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1461250_496657083765127_1387255473_nTouty Plug of the day: The Lightning Charmer
The spell was cast when they were children. That bond cannot be broken. In the deep hollows and high ridges of the ancient Appalachian Mountains, a legacy of stunning magic will change their lives forever. 

Laura is caught between the modern and the mystical, struggling to lead a normal life in New York despite a powerful psychic connection to her childhood home in North Carolina—and to the mysterious stranger who calls her name. She’s a synesthete—someone who mentally “sees” and “tastes” splashes of color connected to people, emotions, and things. She’s struggled against the distracting ability all her life; now the effects have grown stronger. She returns home to the mountains, desperate to resolve the obsessive pull of their mysteries.

But life in her mountain community is far from peaceful. An arsonist has the town on edge, and she discovers Ayron, scarred and tormented, an irresistible recluse who rarely leaves the forest. As her childhood memories of him surface, the façade of her ordinary world begins to fade. The knots she’s tied around her heart and her beliefs start unraveling. Ayron has never forgotten her or the meaning of their astonishing bond. If his kind is to survive in modern times, he and Laura must face the consequences of falling in love.

Monday Classroom: Picky part two, but I am right because I say so

10398086_10152474576124176_3232207411175342070_nSome things bother me that do not bother other people at all. But I am right. (*laughing*)

These things stick in my craw and I have to dislodge them. I only wish I could go back to my previously published works, before I knew better, to eradicate the picky sh*t I am now picky over. Sometimes things do still sneak in, because they are so ingrained into our speech. Such as:

She found herself in the bedroom. She did? That sounds like some sci-fi novel/movie or something. You mean she went into the bedroom and there was another version of her? A clone? How fascinating that she could actually, literally, find herself in her bedroom! That would freak me out. I don’t want any more Me’s running around. Huhn. One of me is enough–just ask those who put up with me.

And speaking of “literally.” If I say, “I literally typed my fingers to the bones!” Then one would expect to see my wittle hands sprouting nubs with skeletal protrusions. No, I figuratively typed my fingers to bones, perhaps, but never literally—though sometimes I do worry this nub-state shall occur.

He woke that morning with a smile on his face. Well, where else would a smile be? On his butt? The only place we have a smile is on our face, so we can strike out three words from our manuscript (or anywhere else) by writing/saying: He woke that morning with a smile. We can also wonder what he’s smiling about. If he’s your partner/spouse, then maybe you should worry, hmmm. Just what, or who, was he dreaming of? Hmmmmm. Of course he was dreaming of you–of course.

She thought to herself, why is Steven smiling this morning? Is he thinking of that redhead in the coffee shop? Why, I oughta . . . . Who else would she think to? She can only think to herself, unless you are writing about mind-readers. Thinking to oneself is understood. If you are writing in third person limited (and of course in first person), then the narrative is understood to be her inner thoughts. If you strike out the “she thought to herself” or if you don’t want to strike out the entire thing, then at least strike out “to herself” then you’d be rid of a few more words to allow yourself to write in good ole words! Booyah!

I like my ellipses to have three spaces . . . like that. Notice as well that there is a space before and after . . . see? If there aren’t spaces…then I feel things are too crowded…stop, I need space . . . thank you. At first, when my editor corrected a previous manuscript for one of my novels, I did not like the extra ‘dot’ at the end of a sentence with ellipses. I fought it, if only in my pea-headed brain. Until one day it made perfect sense. When you consider that the ellipses are meant to stand in for a word or phrase, the rest of the sentence implying whatever or trailing off or etc etc, then at the end of that sentence there is always punctuation. So . . . .

Long Live The Oxford Comma! The serial comma. You won’t take it away from me! I love boots, kittens, and cheesecake. Why would I ever write: I love boots, kittens and cheesecake. Unless I do like kitten cheesecake, or there is some other reason to “group” the kittens and cheesecake as one entity or one grouping. Try it by saying it with a pause: I love boots (comma/pause) kittens (comma/pause) and cheesecake. Now the other way: I love boots (comma/pause) kittens and cheesecake. Ungh! Second way bugs me. Ungh!

Go to town and buy a hat and scarf, a car and truck, and a wrench and screwdriver. See how I grouped things that related and then separated them by the serial comma? Or: I like dolphins, cars and trucks–I grouped the cars and trucks because they can be grouped together as vehicles, but the dolphin remains its own thang. Or: I dislike cauliflower, perfume, and green-tea–all three separate things, but I could write: I dislike cauliflower and broccoli, perfume, and green-tea.

Clear as smudged up glass on a frosty morning? Just think of it like this: I see commas as two things: pauses and grouper-togetherers.

I think I will wait and write up a post just on The Comma. It seems this is a passionate debate, but as I wrote above: I am right. *haw!*

A final thought: things never flood my mind. I understand the concept, but for some reason it plucks at my nerve-strings. Perhaps because it’s used so much? I dunno. I don’t try to understand all my pickyisms; I only go with my flow, y’all.

What bothers you in your manuscript that you must try to eradicate? 

(pardon my repost from a few years ago – dang me)

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Secret%20Graces%202012%20-%20screenTouty plug of the day: Secret Graces, the second book in the Virginia Kate Sages of The Graces trilogy. This is my most forgotten book of the five (and one novella) I have had published through Bell Bridge books. It was completed back when my stepdad and my brother were both in the hospital having had heart attacks within a week or two of each other. A difficult time to finish and then talk about a novel! I always wanted to step back in time and look at it again, but I have a rule: never look back; it is what it is. There was always the joke about the “Log Girl” cover- many people, me included, did not like “Log Girl” because she didn’t really fit.  And we had a big debate for a while there as to whether that was a cat or a possum *laughing!* The cover was slightly altered from an earlier version (the earlier is in the video below), to better match the other two covers, but Log Girl remained, and always will I reckon.

Readers met the incredible Carey women in Tender Graces – Now the story continues . . .

“Vee” is idealistic and naïve despite the witness she has served to the fractured heritage of her parents’ and grandmother’s dreams. Vee continues her journey toward wisdom, building small bridges over the chasms of hurt and longing. The inspiration of hope lingers in her. Tender Graces and now, Secret Graces, explores three women’s lives: Daughter, Mother, Grandmother, and passes through the fulcrum of Virginia Kate’s emerging life as a lover and mother and storyteller, chronicling the heart ache and hope of her family and herself.

In Tender Graces, readers laughed and cried as they watched Virginia Kate Carey grow up with her West Virginia family, as loving as it was dysfunctional. Now author Kathryn Magendie explores the adult years of Virginia Kate’s life in the sequel, SECRET GRACES, revealing more of her relationship with her fascinating but flawed parents; her quirky friends, Jade and Miss Darla; her beloved stepmother, Rebekha, her unpredictable brothers, Micah, Andy, and Bobby; and, most of all, Virginia Kate’s journey into romance and marriage. Along the way, the old familiar ghosts follow Virginia Kate offering advice, and warning. In Secret Graces, we left an undecided Virginia Kate in the beautiful but haunted Appalachian holler of her childhood—will Virginia Kate stay, or will she go back to Louisiana? Find out in the next “The Graces” Saga: Family Graces.

Monday Classroom: To be or to not be! – aw now.

There are writing “Rules” that have attached themselves to me—as leeches will do, some may quip – haw! And I have become rather picky when it comes to these particulars.

You don’t write books? No matter! For your letters, business documents, and may I dare say texts and emails?, and other areas where you communicate, can become stronger and smoother.

Or perhaps you will say my “tips” are actually “tics.” You decide. Meanwhile, I can drive myself crazy reading/listening . . . ungh . . . but I won’t! I won’t, I say!

When I see my own mistakes in my own earlier writing—earlier even could mean my last novel—ungh! Or a recent blog post when I was in a hurry and/or distracted—oh dear! I am shamed, shaaaaaaaamed! *kat hangs head*

Yet, many times I throw rules right out the window and simply go by the rhythm of the phrase/sentence. I want my work to be rhythmic but in a natural way, so breaking the rules is sometimes necessary to create a mood or feeling or a sentence that Fits. And of course, when I write in a character’s voice/pov, I must be true to that voice/pov—not all characters will be as picky as: is it picky as me or picky as I?—it is I (am)—see below! Virginia Kate has her VK’isms and I stand true to them; Melissa is the storyteller in Sweetie and she’s a bit more “formal” in her speech.

 So tip or tic?

There are times you can “finish the thought/sentence” or re-arrange it and this can help you to find the “correct” grammar or sentence structure. As in the following:

I and Me.

 “You and I” is often used for everything because people are afraid of saying/writing it incorrectly, but sometimes “you and me” is correct.

Harry and me had a great time eating kumquats. No.

Harry and I had a great time eating kumquats. Correct.

 Harry had a great time eating kumquats. I had a great time eating kumquats.

Water is good for you and I. No.

Water is good for you and me. Correct

Water is good for you. Water is good for I – sounds funny, right? Water is good for me.

Not everyone is as picky as me. No.

Not everyone is as picky as I (am). Correct.

I am picky. Me is picky.

She is better than I (am) to craft these examples.

She is better than me to craft these examples.

She is better than I am.  She is better than me am.

Between you and me, this can be really confusing

Between you and I, this can be really confusing.

Guess which one is it? It’s the first one!

Between you, and between me, this is really confusing. Between you, and between I, this is really confusing.

See? Clear as the mud you just threw in my face, right? Haw!

The Split Infinitive:

To be or not to be is not to be or to not be. Haha! To be or to not be just doesn’t have the same rhythm does it?

I split many an infinitive in my life, and sometimes it does make the sentence read smoother. However, most times I unsplit my infinitives and lean back with an ahhhh. Am I never to do it again? Or am I to never do it again—ha! I am never to do it again! To and do go together, not to be split by never.

I am never to speak of it again! I am to never speak of it again! The first one: to speak! Not: to never.

Aw, now, I think those are great examples. *kat sniffs a bit sardonically at those who are poo-pooing her and yes I know I spelled poo poo incorrectly in this instance – huh.*

Take to/bring back.

This one is in honor of my father, who drummed it into my head over and over. I can hear him so clearly:

“It’s take to, bring back. Say it, Kathy, take to, bring back.” (My family called/calls me Kathy—no one else is allowed! Dang you!).

 We take something to and then we bring back from. Take me to the grocery for cookies, or bring me back some cookies. Although I don’t like “bring me back some cookies;” I like “If you show up from the grocery without any cookies, you’ll regret it! By gawd!”

I’ve got. Pull out the sentence and see how it reads/sounds:

“I’ve got a cup of coffee by my side.”

“I have got a cup of coffee by my side.” Awkward!

Perhaps try: “I have a cup of coffee by my side,” or “I’ve a cup of coffee in my stomach.” (well, now I do!)

You’ve rid yourself of an extra word, to boot! Now doesn’t that feel zippity do dah day! Come on, doesn’t it? *kat is starting to (see below)—no—kat is feeling a bit discombobulated*

“Got” tends to drive me batty, for it is oft-times used excessively, and once I “notice” a word—as in: got, or had, or suddenly, then my brain BUMPS on it.

Further/Farther

Farther is a physical distance. I am farther from the kitchen than you are.

Further is not a physical distance.  “You are further along in your chef career than I am.”

The farther she walked down that long dusty road, the further her thoughts spiraled into bing bang bongs dang-a-lang-a-ding-dongs.

Snuck/Sneaked

Snuck is a colloquialism. Yes, I recognize that “snuck” is universally accepted. But . . . still . . . sneaked is correct! “I sneaked to the kitchen to steal cookies” instead of “I snuck to the kitchen to steal cookies.” The only time I use “snuck” is in dialogue, because some of my characters do say “snuck” just as many (most) people do.

Sneak/Sneaked.

Started to

We all say or have said “started to.” I wrote “started to” quite frequently until it “started to” blare out at me as extra words that are not required. Can “started to” be changed to a more direct action?

It started to rain: It rained. I started to cry. I cried. I starting running or I started to run. I ran. I started to pull out my hair. I pulled out my hair. You started to pull out Kathryn’s hair for all these tic/tips. You pulled out Kathryn’s hair and watched her cry—oh wait . . . ungh.

We are not perfect writing machines, but the more we do instinctively and naturally, the less time spent on “fixing” what we write, or even how we speak; though I admit my “Speak” is much more casual than my “Write.” Our editors, bosses, Aunt Pitty Mae Joeleen who was an English teacher long long long ago, and whomever else cares about this stuff (hey, I do and I bet they do, too!) will notice and love you for it. And even if they do not know why they love you for it, you will know why and be the stronger for it.

What do you think? And do you have any tics/tips you are strict about in your language?

As always, if I ferckled up anything, feel free to point er out!

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Touty Plug of the Day:

walter bald and kat author photo shots 109

My lil ole kathrynmagendie.com author/editor website that the wonderful and beautiful Kim of TechBelle created. She did a lovely job and I often forget to go by there and update it; shame on me! There’s links and pics and info and bio and etc etc etc . . . .

Monday Classroom: More Grammar Tidbitters (ain’t you gladeravated?)

10305604_10152463711914176_2993508658427162551_nMorning, all y’allses! What? You think all y’allses isn’t correct? Well, it ain’t. It ain’t even correct in many southern towns. Nope. But it’s correct in my pea-head, so there y’allses goes’ses.

Our manuscripts will never be perfect. Yeah, I know! It’s difficult to imagine, isn’t it? That we aren’t or will never be perfect? Nor will our books/essays/short stories, and so on. Lawd and Dang. However, we can do our best to strengthen our work by learning The Rules and applying them when we “should.” Then, we can break those rules with a firm and knowledgeable hand. Right? Riighhht!

downloadDo you own a Strunk & White? No? *Gasp!* Go ye and purchase one. I don’t care if you’ve heard it’s all stuffy-fied. I’ll wait whilst you do. *Jeopardy music here* You back? All right then (and notice, yes sir and yes m’am, that all right is two words—two!).

Now, let us begin.

As I wrote above, all right should be two words. Not alright. Because I say so. So does “Grammar Girl,” who I do agree with (and yes I know what I just did with that sentence and how I ended it!). And I don’t care if people are beginning to “accept things that are used all the time.” Nope. All right?

Do you feel badly? Well, what’s wrong with your hands? Yep. Feeling badly, or feel badly: think about it. Roll that around on your tongue-brain. It is: I feel bad. I feel bad that you think I’m being a grammar bitch (I really don’t feel bad – haha!).

Another of those pesky “ly” words: Most always when we write “hopefully” we mean “I hope or with hope.” Yup. It is with hope that I write this tip prompting you to stop saying “Hopefully, I will understand all this mess.” Well, dang me but “hope” looks like it’s spelled all wrong and I know it is not. Ain’t that funny when a word does that in our heads? One we’ve written many times will all of a sudden be all wrong in said heads?

Of course there are many “ly” words that are perfectly acceptable. Those adverbs — ly words — flummox people right and left and up and down. Another day with the ly-ers.

well, sheee'it

well, sheee’it

Who that? I often see/hear “that” used instead of “who—” if you are writing/speaking of a person, then it is who. She is a woman who likes strawberries right off the vine; not, she is a woman that likes strawberries right off the vine.

Commas before which’s. The dog wanted his walk, which was most inconvenient for the woman who wasn’t yet ready. What? I don’t care! It’s correct! Because Strunk & White say so! And I do, too. Humph. If you hate commas, “that” can be used instead of “which” in many sentences. But if you are going to use “which” then use the comma, which is proper grammar that can be used today and tomorrow and so on and so forth and la tee dah tee dah.

We Southern/Mountain folk often add words and such all and all that stuff and a little bit of this and that the t’other. I often use colloquialism in my work, since my settings are usually in the Appalachian/Deep South. So if you read my work, you will see grammar discombobulations when I am in the character’s voice. However:

Off of is incorrect, and plain old “off” is correct. The woman jumped off of the couch and ran to the porch to yell, “Git off’n my land!” should be The woman jumped off the couch and ran to the porch to yell “Git off’n my land!”

As well, instead of “Could of” we should write/say “could have” – I could of had a V8 is incorrect! Don’t you watch commercials to learn yer grammarfications? It’s I could have had a V8! Or “I could’ve had . . . .” That said, I it may sound as if I am saying the “could of” because I’m southern and charming and oh so mysteriously colloquial. Tee hee.

you nauseate me - just say'n

you nauseate me – just say’n

Nauseous versus Nauseated. If you feel it, it is nauseated. If you or someone or something else is causing the nausea, well then, that is nauseous.  I am nauseated because you vomited on my just-mopped floor, you nauseous pile of vomitus!

Y’allses gots any grammerfications and other writin bloooperdoops you wanna tawlk about?And, as always, if I have an error, which does happen because I’m imperfectly perfect, point ‘er out and I’ll fix it (if I agree).

Now, go do the day!

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Touty Plug of the day: Family Graces, the 3rd book in the Graces Trilogy. This explores Momma’s and Rebekha’s lives more, and we finally learn what happens with Virginia Kate and Gary.

family_graces_-_screen

Monday Classroom: grammar tidbits

Just Do It

Grammar really isn’t difficult. Yes, I laughed a little when I wrote that. I can remember the days when certain “grammar rules” made little sense to me. I struggled and stumbled and cursed the comma. But then, for whatever reason in the universe, my pea-headed brain had some kind of Oh! AHA! moment and the grammar rules began to make (im)perfect sense to me (though I break them many times, but I do it with purpose). I’m sure it was an insidious inky thing spreading out and snapping through the mysterious regions of my brain–helped by my work as an editor (and then Publishing Editor with Angie Ledbetter) at the Rose & Thorn Journal (a fine fine literary journal that we both grieved shutting down–the archives are still there, should you wish to peruse and enjoy!). I had to find ways to help my brain make sense of it all by using my own little “memory tics;” or, just accept what is, is, and forever more may be.

So, my fine beautiful lovelies: some tidbits for your grammar angstesess:

Less/Fewer

An apple a day may be a cliche, but it is solid advice--it just may keep the doc away, uh huh

Simply put: think of fewer as “counting things” and less as “time and space and things you don’t count.”

I ate fewer apples (three) today because I had less time (about an hour) to chew.

There are fewer dogs (twelve) in the dog park so there’s way less barking (who knows how many dogs are barking; I just hear noise).

Take fewer cookies (three) so you’ll spend less time on the treadmill (get on that treadmill anyway – no matter how many cookies you’ve eaten, or not eaten!).

Fewer coins (ten) means less money (you are probably broke if you are a writer) to spend.

Most Important/Most Importantly

It’s important. Period. Most important, it’s important not importantly. Because I said so. Because I consulted the Most High Poombahs of Grammar and they said so. Most important, I said so.

But wait! There’s more! There is quite a controversy on the “important/importantly” debate. I will stick to my “most important” and continue to correct people in my head – hahahaha!

Your/You’re

Do we really need to discuss this? Yes. Because even people I dearly love still use “your” as “you’re.” Your is possessive: Your (possessive – you own the pants) pants are falling down so you’re (you are) going to trip on them. You’re is the contraction of “You are.”

You’re (you are) so cute when your (possessive) pants fall down. You can only use “you’re” as You Are and nothing else–if you write “you’re” you are saying “you are” and if you write “your” you are saying that person owns the thing that it is attached to it.

Your (the person the lips are attached to) lips are kissable; you’re (you are) sexy.

It’s/Its

010-001Often, writers write the it’s/its incorrectly by accident. I scour my manuscript with a fine-toothed eye to catch any it’s/its -ses I may have missed just by a slip of the finger — or! Word sometimes plays tricks that I must watch out for.

It’s: contraction of it is.  Note that “it’s” can be a contraction for “it has” as well: It’s been nice but I gotta go –it has been nice but I gotta go. That’s it. That’s the use of it’s: it is or it has. Nothing else.

Its: a possessor that is neutral. Consider that his and her is a “possessor” – his legs are strong but her thighs can crack a walnut.  Think of its replacing his or her as in the case of the example below: the dog and the dog’s house.

It’s (it is) chilly outside and the dog shivers in its (possessor) dog house. (So I let the dog in my house–okay, I had to add this because I kept feeling sorry for this imaginary dog. Haw!)

The swan knows it’s beautiful in its watery kingdom at the lake.

Starbucks is a huge corporation and its coffees are over-priced. See that Starbucks “owns” the coffees but we don’t call Starbucks a “his or her” – still, it “possesses” the coffees it sells, so: It’s (it is) my opinion that Starbucks and its (neutral possessor) coffees are sometimes delicious and sometimes burnt-tasting.

Now, I hope I didn’t create any typos or make an embarrassing grammatical mistake while typing this out. If so, call me on it and I’ll fix ‘er up.

That’s it for today. Take those in your mouth until you’re sure you can swallow them down in your tummy. Most important, it’s widely known that grammar is its own worst enemy but dang if it’s not beautiful in its complexity. You’re going to muddle over this until your head explodes. You’ll have fewer brain cells and less synaptic activity once you have considered all of the above. Teehee.

DSC_0174Later, y’all (spelled “Y’all and not Ya’ll” – you all – y’all, y’all!) Go Write!

1461250_496657083765127_1387255473_nThe Lightning Charmer coverTouty plug of the day: The Lightning Charmer – wish my publishers (and I suppose me to some extent) luck, for TLC’s cover is a finalist in the EPIC Ariana Awards for book cover art. Winners announced in March.

The Work-out Writer: no more whining!

balance, strength, energy

Work-out:

I used to tell my clients I trained to “listen to their bodies” to let them know how much they could do or when to pull back so there wasn’t over-use or injury. And that is mostly true, all y’allses beauties out there. However, I also recognize how this isn’t always the case. Sometimes our bodies/minds want to fool us, because what we are doing may be Haaaaaaard, and why oh why would our brains want to do the Hard Thing when it can at times easily convince us to do the Easy Thing? Even if the Easy Thing isn’t as good for us. Sometimes we must re-wire our thought processes.

Folks, there are times we must push through when our bodies/minds tell us it wants to slow down or stop—not to the point of exhaustion or dangerous over-working, but to the point of Kicking Our Asses and doing the Hard Thing—and not “once in a while” but “several times a week.” (Though, you must always consult a doctor before beginning a workout program!)

And you can see Monday Classroom archives as well if ye's wants a boost to rememborate sumpin. Write write write! write with abandon; edit with a keen critical eye!

 Write write write! Write with abandon!

Writer:

Some days I just ain’t feelin’ it, you know? Well, Kat, suck it up. Sit your arse down in the chair, fingers to keys, and write. Timed writing isn’t going to do it for me. If I watch the clock, then just as with my aerobics workout, I’ll be ever aware of that clock ticking: 15 minutes of writing? Okay – tic toc tic toc tic toc. *Yawn!* The work also isn’t going to be done by my whining about how haaarrrrd it is to be a wrriiiiiitteer.

Stop whining! It’s time to re-wire our “minds/bodies” from telling us we caaaaann’t to that of I can do this!–we have to, at the least, give it a try, right? Books aren’t written by rolling our eyes and sighing. Royalties aren’t paid to writers who aren’t producing books. The work is done by doing the work.

Work-out:

This person (me about a year ago) felt like shit. Wasn' t writing, wasn't taking care of herself

This person (me a few years ago) felt like crap-a-doodle-doo-doo. Wasn’ t writing, wasn’t taking care of herself

I used to crave junk and loads of chocolate. (Honestly, I still do crave it. And, I’m a Sweet-a-holic.) There were days I wanted to sit on my ass and do nothing but eat chocolate and feel depressed and not do a danged ole thing. Some days are sucky and I could fall into that trap again if I weren’t careful. But if I were to sit on my ass and gobble down an entire box of chocolates, feeling sorry for myself and the state of Everything, well, dangity it all to dangtown, but I’d feel even worse. My body would be bloated and sick from Chocolate-Junk-Sitting on my Arse Overload. Sluggish, tired, cranky, like in this pic from a few years ago–I was being silly, but there was truth behind this photo .

The more I work out, the healthier I eat, the better I feel, and the more I want to do those things to continue to feel better. Then when I do treat myself, it tastes/feels even better than it ever did before.

Writer:

Sometimes I want to sit on my ass and do nothing but feel depressed and not write a danged ole thing and eat junk and drink vodka. Some days are sucky. Well, guess what? If thousands of us sat our asses on the couch and did nothing because life is haaarrrrdd, who’d write the books?; who’d deliver the mail?; who’d bake the bread?; who’d teach the kids?

This book/writing business isn’t always easy, but ask yourself: Is this what I really want to do? Am I ready to be in this for the long-haul? Am I ready to sacrifice? Can I handle rejection? Scrutiny both good and bad and in between? If not, then what do you want to do? Reorganize your thought-processes.

Sometimes being a published author (or an unpublished one) is the easiest best job in the entire danged ole world, and other times it sucks like a big fat suckity suck black-hole sucker—but I love it more than my right arm. Get back to work. Whatever that “work” is for you–if writing novels isn’t truly what you love but you’ve been slogging through it, then maybe there is something else in this business you will enjoy more? Or maybe you’ll discover a direction/road you never considered.

streeeeeetch

streeeeeetch

Work-out:

At the end of a grueling work-out, find time to stretch those muscles, and then just as important as the work-out and the stretch, comes the quiet moment of reflection. Time and distance and wants and needs lift away as we respect our bodies, minds, hearts. The old saying “you only have one body, one life” is true (reincarnation doesn’t count – because you’ll be someone/something else, right? so no excuses!). We have this one chance to make the best of our lives. To honor our bodies. To give ourselves the gift of good health and well-being. What will you do with yours?

Writer:

step up and see what's around that corner

step up and see what’s around that corner

When the writing day is done, find a moment to reflect on this writing life. Calm the voices, the rejections, the expectations, the harried hurry and the long-ass frustrating waits, and remember just why you love this writing life so much. Recall the raw beginnings of it, when it was just you and a white space of whatever in the world you wanted to say to anyone who would listen, even if it was only your own ears. Find that joy in quiet reflection. Time is going to pass anyway. A year will pass, and a year from now, where will you be? Will you have written a year’s worth of words? Or will you have angsted yourself to a wordless mass of messy nothing-on-the-page-ness. Time will pass no matter what we are doing with it; make the best of it by stretching your writing muscles.

Work-out:

Night comes. Time to rest the body. Rest is as important as movement. A good night’s sleep prepares you for the next day’s challenge. Your body/mind deserves and needs this rest. Requires it. Be grateful for the body you have instead of fighting against it. Why would you dislike your beautiful self? Our bodies are a work of art; a gorgeous scientific biological wonder!

Writer:

When laying your head upon your pillow, remember to give gratitude for what you have accomplished. This business is so much about looking ahead to what we “should” accomplish, or what may come, or what we hope will come, that we must remember what we did achieve. Hold on to it, let it come with us into our dreams. “You Did This! Good for You!” Sleep. Dream. Going to sleep with a heart of gratitude will ready you for the next day’s challenge.

dsc09813-1Namaste, y’allses.

 

 

 

(post taken from a previous post. soon I’ll be writing original posts again, but this is a start to getting back to blogging regularly!)

Writing out the Fear . . . .

(I wrote this a few years ago – I need to read it as if it was written by someone else and then listen – yes, Kathryn, listen to this writer/novelist who stomped over her fears; who didn’t let anything stop her from writing what she wanted to write. Who didn’t let depression, anxiety, anger, or anything else keep her from what she loves, and what she is, frankly, good at.)

—————————————————————————————–

10398086_10152474576124176_3232207411175342070_nBefore I was published, whenever I’d read about an author who wrote a book and never wrote another one, I’d say, “If I had the chance, I sure wouldn’t be hesitating. I’d sure be writing to beat the band!” I simply couldn’t understand why a writer who had the chance to have his/her next book published would not jump on that chance with all the glee and energy and writing writer write they had, especially if that book was a success.

Until my own books were published. Then came the understanding of how fear plays such a part in this business.

writer's blodkaAn artist and I were in a conversation about not letting the negativity get in the way of creativity. I said to the artist how we have to have the dark and the light in our work, but we have to make sure the dark is not someone else’s shadow. Much of what you hear after you publish your book is Everyone Else’s Opinion—if you are not careful, you begin to listen to too many voices/opinions. Finding a way to separate the “should not listen to” versus the “this will help me in my journey” is a difficult one.

cropped-emailed-002.jpgAfter my first book, Tender Graces, was released, I woke up with anxiety so fierce that my stomach tied in a snarl of knots. Fear of what someone may say about my work. That I’d disappoint readers. Some of this faded as time went by, but only because I stomped over it—how else could I go back to work? But it came again with the release of the Secret Graces, and then with Sweetie, and onward with my other novels. Will people still love me and my characters? Did I do okay? Are my words reaching anyone? Will I be loved?

Just Do It

Just Do It

My friends, I understand why some writers do not write that second book. An author can become paralyzed with fear. That fear can permeate and penetrate and become so prevalent that creativity is stifled. Imagine writing a book and being compared to other writers—but—imagine writing a book and being compared to yourself! Harper Lee, Stephen King, Oscar Wilde, Gail Godwin, Ralph Ellison, Margaret Mitchell, Elizabeth Berg—all have one thing in common: they wrote a book. What they don’t have in common is some went on to write more and others never wrote another book, or at least one that we know about.

If I had not stomped over my fears, skirted around the dark that is someone else’s shadow, ignored my terror, more work would not have come to me and then to readers. Writers and artists and singers and dancers and actors—all those whose work is out for public consumption and review and deliberation—must find a way to stop the: “I have to be loved by everyone. My work must be adored by everyone. I am afraid of what will happen. I am afraid of success/failure/mediocrity.” And instead, we must do what we love and do it the best we can and do it with love and hope and strength and honesty.

DSC_0052-001Of course, we must also do it in a way that sells, don’t forget that. Art aside, love of books and reading and writing aside, it has to be deconstructed into the business side of things as well. Heart and Brain go hand in hand in this business. What a terrifyingly fascinatingly wonderful sucky horrid confusing business!

dsc04492Am I still worried about the books I write to be released into the hands of readers? Well, yes. But am I letting that stop me? No. Step out from that shadow and show yourself. Be brave and hearty in whatever you love to do. How will you know what you can create until the creating is accomplished?

Behind the Oz-ey Curtain, Writers’ Mysteries are Exposed . . . .

download (3)Cowardly Lion: I *do* believe in spooks, I *do* believe in spooks. I do, I do, I do, I *do* believe in spooks, I *do* believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do, I *do*!

Wicked Witch of the West: Ah! You’ll believe in more than that before I’m finished with you.

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and Friends quake and quiver and stare in respectful awe at The Great Wizard. The curtain hasn’t yet been thrown back to show the little old man who hides behind a great fiery bravado.

images (1)Dorothy: It really was no miracle.

Once the man behind the curtain is revealed, the magic and mystery is gone. The man is exposed and thus isn’t viewed in awe, isn’t revered as The Great One. He’s only a man with a few tricks up his sleeve that he’d used to his advantage. He must come out, show his true self (and all along his true self was wonderful indeed–he never recognized this before).

Sometimes it’s like this with writers. Or, maybe I should say it was like this for writers. The little old man behind the curtain with all his levers and buttons and devices used to project the aura of magic—an enigma and a mystery. But, somewhere along the way the curtain was pulled back to reveal just who and what was behind all the fire and booming voice and bigger than life image projected.

Wizard of Oz: Step forward, Tin Man!

Tin Woodsman: Ohhhh!

Wizard of Oz: You DARE to come to me for a heart, do you? You clinking, clanking, clattering collection of kaligenous junk!

Now, with so much exposed, writers are pushed out into the world, blinking in the sunlight, their mouths in soft O’s of surprise, turning this way and that to all who stare at them and say, “Wait just a minute here—behind that curtain is just . . . you? What’s so special about . . . just you?” And like the wizard, the author must explain him/herself and then offer up gifts to show they really do have something more after all to give, and not just all the flash and thunder, but something more—what what? what they ask, what more? Our heart, Our brain, our courage . . . .

With the internet, social networking blogs twitter Facebook, et cetera; the author can no longer easily hide behind the Wizard’s curtain. Most all is exposed. The awed revered mysterious respect authors may have once enjoyed can be torn asunder as the heavy curtain has been drawn back and people peer in at the levers and buttons and projected image paraphernalia.

images (2)Wizard of Oz: A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.

I don’t know what it felt like to be an author during the Wizard Times. My experiences have all been after the curtain was thrown back and the Wizard’s controls were set to “off” and the fiery veil died down to embers. I have been the little old man from the beginning—exposed.

Do love what you do? Do you love yourself?

Do love what you do? Do you love yourself?

I’ve shown my heart to you through my writing. I’ve given of myself through what I reveal on my blog or Facebook, or any other site I may wander through or write thereof henceforth et cetera.

I still hide—there are sides and parts and parcels of me that I keep to myself. But, open my books and I am an open book. My heart beats within and among and between the pages of my words and characters.

I give myself to you, my heart. Tha-rump, tha-rump, tha-rump.
Wizard of Oz: You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away you have no courage; you’re confusing courage with wisdom

Artists, actors, musicians, authors, athletes—all have had the Wizard’s curtain pulled back, leaving them vulnerable to speculation, observations, opinions in a way that is much more public and personal than ever before.

Lately, I have run away from it. I’ve not been writing. Oh, maybe something here, something there—no, I lie. I lie, lie, lie! I have not been writing at all. I’ve been running far far away from myself. I’ve been denying the heart of me and I wonder: do you feel the distance, my lovely readers? Do you miss me at all? And then I feel foolish for my meandering thoughts, for there are so many of us! How is even one missed? I quake and quiver—I’m confusing courage with wisdom.

Because sometimes we just need a little time to realize we are human after all.
018_thumb.jpgDorothy: Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore

How many times have you heard someone speak about the “downfall” of a “celebrity” with a little too much glee in their voice? Or a sense of “Huhn, they thought they were SO smart and SO important—now look at them, they’re only just a little old man and not a Great Wizard after all! How Pa-The-Tic!”

What goes up must come down. The bigger they are the harder they fall—you’ve heard the clichés. There were those halcyon days before, when that writer/actor/singer/musician/athlete followed that yellow brick road looking for the wizard—some to unseat him, some to find out his magic to take for their own, some to find heart or courage or knowledge or home.

The stakes seem higher now, the road longer, the expectations bigger. What’s a poor Wizard to do?

Scarecrow: Come along, Dorothy. You don’t want any of *those* apples.

Apple Tree: Are you hinting my apples aren’t what they ought to be?

Scarecrow: Oh, no. It’s just that she doesn’t like little green worms!


Follow the Yellow Brick Road. Follow the Yellow Brick Road . . .
We’re off to see the Wizard, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
You’ll find he is a whiz of a Wiz! If ever a Wiz! there was.
If ever oh ever a Wiz! there was The Wizard of Oz is one because,
Because, because, because, because, because.
Because of the wonderful things he does.
We’re off to see the Wizard. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

There will be a new day in the land of Oz—old ways turn to new ways. Things cannot stay the same because the Land of Oz is changing.

images (3)Meanwhile, our Dorothy dons her ruby slippers and turns three times:
There’s no place like home; there’s no place like home; there’s no place like home . . . .

But even home has changed, for Dorothy herself has seen the other side, seen behind the Wizard’s curtain.

And she turns, turns, turns—going to some altered version of what may or may not be truly home, never to be the same again.

But after all, is that so bad? It is neither bad nor good—it is life and love and hope and fear and trying again and again and again and giving up and giving in and getting up and going forward.

Oh! Auntie Em! Auntie Em! I’m following another road! Where . . . where . . . where . . . where . . . where . . . ?

10398086_10152474576124176_3232207411175342070_n

Morning Coffee . . . how we create – how we write – how we don’t self edit our work because that’s the death of it

10364033_10152476299144176_4680787522175960798_a1011253_10203243524002060_658622034422461467_nLawd, y’all — I am behind in my posts, but insomnia has ponked me upside my peahead most undeliciously . . . so, again for now, until I can gets me shits together, I will post here the last Tuesday’s and today’s video from our Morning Coffee series. We’re moving into more “themes” here instead of random chaos, but for me it’s always about chaos – haw haw!

 

Hope you’ll join in live on Tuesday mornings at 10 ET, but you can catch us on YouTube – muwah!

Today’s ‘show’ – creating from random words – how we create – how we write – how we don’t self edit our work because that’s the death of it – and Papito joins me in my closet.

 

Last Tuesday’s “show:” where I was completely low-key – I was! believe it or not – my insomnia gripping me harder that night and thus that morning the shadow of it was all over my personality – I was actually subdued! Dang! We chatted about writing/creating about Place – Home- Geography.

 

Y’all join in now, ya hear! :D

 

 

Five lies, out of many, that we tell ourselves . . . .

askyourdoctorLIE: I’ll start on that manuscript as soon as I finish this Facebook update.

REALITY: Haw haw haw! You’ll start on that manuscript as soon as you stop sniveling and whining and carrying on about how haaaaarrrrd this is and about how you aren’t appreciated by so and so and such and them and whositwhat. You’ll start on that manuscript as soon as you kick the ass of Fearsome Monster—and Fearsome Monster is difficult to kick the ass of since every time you kick it, YOU are the one who feels the pain. Right? Right. Riiighhht.

Oh, and for some of you out there *Kat gives the personal trainer evil eye* insert “exercise” where starting on manuscript is written. Yeah.  Uh huh.

LIE: If I fit into these jeans comfortably, I’ll stop losing weight. Or: All I want is to fit into my jeans comfortably. Or: My jeans shrunk! No wonder I can’t fit into them comfortably.

cartoonREALITY: If you have any kind of eating disorder/disordered thinking about food/weight, then I am on to you. Oh, I know you mean it when you say it, but I also know those jeans will fit comfortably and then the mind games start up: Well, if they fit comfortably, then what if they fit a little looser ; well, people are telling me I look good, I better not fail them! I better keep this weight off! And in fact, I better lose a few more pounds for a “Safety Net” so I won’t look as if I am failing by gaining it back. If my jeans fit comfortably, I then forget that they once fit tight and I think the “fit comfortably” is now “oh, my jeans should be looser” so I have to lose weight to make them looser and then I may forget how they fit after—you see the circuitous crazy-ass-psycho thinking here? Please god, make it stop, y’all! For those who think their jeans shrunk—I’ll give that to you once, and then after that, LIE LIE LIE!

I’m sure there’s a writing metaphor in there—I’ll leave that to you.

well, sheee'it

well, sheee’it

LIE: Once my novel is published, I will be forevermore happy! I will never want for another thing! I just want to see my book published even if only I read it and maybe a friend or family member or two!

REALITY: HAW HAHAHAHAHAHA HAW HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *gasping for breath* HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Yeah, okay, right. It ain’t happenin’ – you will have that book published and then you will want something else. And then something else.  And then maybe something else. Will to! Will to! WILL TO!

*See Above Lie about fitting jeans comfortably – hey! I found a way to tie it to writing. WHUPOW!

LIE: I don’t care!

REALITY: Yes you goddamn do.

It's easy to be sucked down - but then again, I wonder what's in that hole?

It’s easy to be sucked down – but then again, I wonder what’s in that hole?

LIE: I’m SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO happy for so and so’s: weight loss, publishing contract, award, accolades, rise to the Kindle Millionaire list, cash flow, new baby, face, body, legs, breasts, lips, ass, writing, husband, wife, dog, cat, house, car . . . .

REALITY: I’ll give you this one, that you really are happy for them,  but with a caveat: though you may be truly happy for this person, there is a tiny part of you that may feel like shit on a big fat ugly ass stick that you have not accomplished these things or do not have these things and may never have these things or most certainly will never have these things or may always want want want and never have have have. And meanwhile, someone is envying you for what you have, and on and on it goes. What I will tell you if envy hits: Own it.  Own up to it. It just could be the thang that spurs you on. But when envy turns to Jealousy, when you are being eaten alive by it, then it’s time to take stock—it’s time to consider the realities: can you have it? Do you really want it? How much will it cost you (not just in $)? And how do you pull yourself out of your Green-Eyed Monster’s Ass?

Hey! He has more seeds than I do! BASTARD!

Hey! He has more seeds than I do! BASTARD!

I always say: A teaspoon (or even a tablespoon) of Envy is a great motivator. But Jealousy is destructive and negative and big ass ugly.

Also, I will tell you: Sometimes going to that person and congratulating them and really meaning it, feeling their happiness, feeling good for them, will make the envy lose some of its power—you face the demon of your own lacking, your own wanting and can’t (or not yet) having.

What lies do you tell yourself and do you or will you recognize the reality?

(*and folks – The Lightning Charmer is now on sale at Amazon and at Bell Bridge Books site. The “official release date” is November 1, so it should be going up for sale at other places, like Nook and bookstores and wherever else books go to find their ways to wonderful readers’ hands. I thank you all for your support. I *heart* you dearly*)

The Lightning Charmer cover

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