Spellbinding stories of mystic love and soulful hope . . .

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!

 

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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!

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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 . .  . .

. 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.

Pain and Me . . . .

 

What goes on behind the eyes of a woman?

What goes on behind the eyes of a woman in the dark of night when the pain becomes a lover?

In nights of physical pain, I lift from my body, hover above, and watch my weakness with disdain. I dream without sleeping, float in a sea of nerve endings glowing red. I write beautiful words in the dark; they are slender threads of silver and gold, pulsing with meaning and truth. Pain purifies thoughts, sharpens the senses. In the night hours, I pity the part of me who  demands attention to the fiery current racing down my spine and legs. I toss, turn, and wish it would stop. I argue my case, and pain argues back its own. One night, Pain opened up to me and said, “At times, I’d rather be called something else, like beauty, or hope, or joy. Do you think it’s easy being hated and feared? I do my job and that is what I do. Who told you life is lived without pain?” I answered, “Do your worst! I am strong!” And I lay there, and I felt Pain, and thought, who would I be without Pain? It’s become a part of me, attached to me as if an extra body part. It’s mine. And I can take it. I am strong.

 
Photos-Video: No Words (and a link to interview)In the quiet dark, I think how one day I will be a very old woman. I’ll walk crooked to the coffee pot, pour a cup, and holding the cup with trembled hands, I’ll shuffle to the porch, carefully sit in my rocker, pull a throw over my knees, and rock rock and think about pain and me and how we had a long good life together. I’ll wonder, did pain take away or did pain give insight, and empathy? I will drink every bit of my strong black coffee and I’ll be grateful for its taste and heat, and I’ll say, “Come on pain, today we will write, and then we will rock some more, and then we will read, and then we will rock some more. Life is good.” And it won’t seem but a minute that I am on Earth, just a minute. Just a minute. A minute. Minute.

 

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1964980_10152466287074176_8369086502746553258_nTouty plug of the day:

I have noticed that my Graces Series books are fluctuating “on sale” on Amazon Kindle, at least two (Secret Graces and Family Graces) are right now under $5, with Tender Graces being under $8, so, I hope you will check them out while they are on sale.

My brother composed some music for the final book in the Graces Trilogy: Family Graces-remaining at a five-star review, though not as many reviews as Amazon would like, I’m sure *laugh.* I’m proud of the Virginia Kate Sagas, and VK will remain one of my all-time favorite characters, ever. I loved writing these books. Tender Graces (A gentle yet unflinching look at how we find our way home) was my first published novel. That was when anything at all was possible – and it still is. There are always possibilities. Tender Graces was nominated for an award, has been on the Amazon best-seller lists, and even was No 1 on Amazon over The Help, which at the time was a big best seller, and TG remains at a near perfect almost five-star review status, as does the other two Graces books. But all that is just Stuff – the writing of these Graces books were magic times for me.

There’s not much to this video because I just wanted my brother to know I respected the time he took to compose this music. Thank you, bro.

He took this music and renamed it “Ghost Horse Mountain” and developed a cd around it, called Ghost Horse Mountain. My brother never gives up on his dream – ever. I have to give him that. He’s his own unique brain – hey! I meant to write “brand” but that, too *laugh*

Now go after your dream – no matter where it leads you, it will be a journey you’ll never regret.

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.

10417600_10152480426884176_6460205242015283935_nOnce again, I awoke at the magical hour of one thirty plus change. I’ve had some alarming insane writer thoughts, like, “Is one-thirty going to mean something pivotal? like the hour I am to die one day?” Yes, I think things like this. Same as I used to look over at the clock and it would “always” be eleven:eleven, 11:11. I’d think, “Oh no! Why do I keep looking at the clock and it is 11:11, surely disaster is going to happen at 11:11!” Now, never mind that I could look at a clock fifty times a day and it is only 11:11 twice, but!, those four one’s just kept jumping out at me. So, dear readers, I’m sure I awake at other times than one thirty and change; however, I do not get up and look at the clock. So there.

So, I’m awake and lying there (after going to the bathroom and looking at the clock and wandering in the living room and looking out the window, and wandering into the next room and looking out that window) and I thought how writers (or at least this one) can take any little thing and write an entire damn page out of it. You noticed, huh? Well, dang. I answered myself in my head, “So, like what kinds of any little things do you mean?”

And I answered myself back, “Like little things. You know, insignificant nothings and I turn them into significant somethings.”

Myself said, “Oh, you mean, like for instance, peas.”

“Yes, that’s a good one, peas. Those green peas.”

“So, what about peas?”

“Well, peas are pretty boring; I’m not sure what I’ll come up with.”

“I’m sure you’ll find something, since you are, supposedly, awkwardly, maybely, fortuitously, unfortunately, *snicker* a genius writer *snicker*”

My other self is a gawdamned smart ass.

Anyway, I suddenly had an image of very green peas on a bright white plate. They are sitting there waiting to be eaten by a large bald man. (I just added the large bald man, though I didn’t picture him at one-thirty and change. He just appeared this moment! He’s pretty big and mean looking, so I’ll leave him here.) So, the very green peas on the bright white plate are there, waiting to be consumed by Large Bald Man.

this is a Charlie Brown pea-head

this is a Charlie Brown pea-head

One of the peas (and I swear this is exactly what I was thinking last night other than the large bald man who showed up unexpectedly just now), one of the peas decides it does not want to be eaten. It quivers on the plate, because it all of a sudden decides that being scooped up by a fork, shoved in a nasty moist mouth, chewed, verily I say, masticated to with an inch of its green, with hard teeth until it is a nasty green pulpy mess of gunk, and swallowed down the tube, and into the stomach, where the acid and digestive tract juices will render it even more unrecognizable from its cute round shape, then down it goes, still aware that it was just a moment ago still a cute round pea, and horrified that it is now a disgusting mess, it makes its way into the small and large intestines, along with other extremely disgusting gunk, and is deposited into the toilet, where it will be flushed to more unworthy places.

So, that one pea quivering on the plate, rolls and jumps off the plate, onto the table, and then onto the floor, where it cries out “I’m free! I’m free!”

That is where my thoughts of the very green peas on the bright white plate ended. I was then very tired and wanted to sleep without thinking about peas. I thought maybe I was insane and should be knocked unconscious before I did any more harm to my psyche. So, I wandered around the house again, and wrote on an envelope “Green Pea. Digestive Tract. Table.” And, thus satisfied I would remember things not worth remembering, I went back to bed.

photoYou may be wondering what happened to the little pea that could? Maybe it rolled out the door and is hiding in the woods? or maybe a fox ate it? No, no one but the big bald dude likes peas. What do YOU think happened to that sweet pea? I’d like to know myself. But, it’s time to finish this cup of coffee, y’all. *Kat trails off . . . .* Dang.

 

No post today – I’ll be back tomorrow with something. And no “touty plug of the day.” Just a message to go out and be amazing; be wonderful; be wild; be free; be kickass; be the strong woman – or man! – that you know you are (there are not good images/quotey thangs out there for strong wild kickass menimages (1) images (2), and that’s a shame). Pull out your inner positive light and let it shine shine shine. See y’all later.

 

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