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Posts tagged ‘strengthening manuscripts’

The Workout-Writer: Perceived weakness holding us back from our potential


I’ve taken up hitting the boxing bag. Not only is it an excellent cardio workout, but works/strengthens/tones the entire upper body—arms, chest, back, core. I “knee” it, too, thus adding some strengthening to my lower body. I often think of my father—he boxed while he was in the Air-Force, and while I’d never hop into the ring, it brings a connection all the same.  But what I want to talk about here today is perceived weakness that keeps us from realizing our potential, because we often don’t recognize potential when we give up too easily, especially when we feel weak and ineffective in an area.

While boxing a couple of days ago, I’d punch the hell out of the bag with my right, but the left was weak and puny. I flailed away a few times and when my left arm just wouldn’t cooperate, I gave in and punched only with my right, every so often smacking unremarkably with my left just to give the right a rest—and, because I figured I had to do it, even if it didn’t feel right.

It frustrated me, this weakness, but  the more I concentrated on the way my left fist felt when it connected to the bag— the weakness of that punch—the more I hated punching with that fist, and the weaker it felt. My workout wasn’t near as effective as it could have been, and I soon tired of it, finally moving on to something else. I came up with excuses as to why my left jab was pathetic: I’m right-hand dominate; I use my right hand much more often and it’s stronger; maybe there’s a pinched nerve on that side causing weakness, etc. and blah blah blah!

Two days later, I headed down to my workout room early, put in my earbuds to loud techno music, and slid on the gloves. Without thinking about what I was doing or how I was doing it, or why, or when, where, what, I just began punching the bejeebus out of that bag—right right right left left left right left right left right right left left left LEFT LEFT LEFT LEFT—POW BIFF BAM!

When I at last stopped, sweat pouring, I looked down in surprise at my left gloved fist, amazed at its strength and endurance. It was tingling and burning but it felt great! It felt powerful! I felt powerful and strong, and capable. I’d hit the hell out of that bag with what I thought was a useless left punch but instead was just as powerful as my right. I slid off my gloves and noted the redness and coming bruising of my knuckles and inside the soft portion between my pinky and “ring finger” and all that did was make me feel more powerful—it was visual tangible evidence of the power of my punch.

Did my arm/fist grow that much stronger over the two days since I’d last boxed? Nope. What I’d done was stepped up to the bag and without thinking about it I just began pummeling it. I didn’t think about weakness; I didn’t think about what I was doing at all. I allowed myself the freedom to find my inner strength. For whatever reason, I’d blocked myself from recognizing my potential by that perceived weakness.

Isn’t it fascinating what our minds can do? The tricks it can play on us? Sometimes, we must outsmart our own Self.


This is often how it is with the writing. When we approach our work with our fears and wants and needs and with conditions and scads of willy nilly jumbled up over-thinking-it thoughts, we encounter perceived weakness—the words stall, the language comes stilted, the characters blink at us from the page with perplexed expressions. The writing day seems flaccid and weak—just like that perceived weak left appendage of mine. We want to give up and give in, and we at last grow frustrated and/or bored and move on to do something else.

Yet, for many of us, when we just sit down, put our fingers to the keyboard, and let fly whatever pours out of the black hole in our brain, something seemingly magical happens. We become stronger writers almost overnight—well, dang! Because imagine if we wrote without those conditions, without over-thinking, without all the “What if this isn’t right?” “What if it doesn’t sell?” “What if no one likes it?” “What if a meteor falls on top my stupid head and smushes me to kingdom come and I never finish this and someone sees it before it is finished and it sucks and that’s the legacy I leave behind—a stupid half-finished work that sucks so bad everyone laughs and taunts and points their fingers at it?” What if we instead allow our beautiful subconscious minds, those deep instinctual strengths, to rise up from a place we cannot mine by peeking in the opening—we instead sometimes must amble, explore, stumble upon. Go for it. There’s a reason the clichéd advertising phrase Just do it makes sense—because it does work.

Wrapping it up now, y'all

Wrapping it up now, y’all


As I box, I will gain in confidence. I will become even stronger, yes, but I will also become better at the control of my body and what it can do. And as I grow stronger and better and more confident, I’ll start critiquing my form, how I’m hitting that bag, how my stance is—I’ll be “editing” my workout. So it is with the writing. I lift up my head and there will be a completed terrible (or not so terrible!) first draft—then the work of editing begins where I critique my form, check my stance, work on fine-tuning. I’ve done it with novels and other works that have gone on to be published—five, six, or more, times. What’s stopping me now? Perceived weakness, over-thinking, fear, conditions.

Stride into your writing room just as you will the workout room and instead of letting the world in, instead of telling yourself you are weak and can’t do it right, march in and just start punching (tippity tapping on the keys) away until you feel strong and confident and know nothing can stop you now.


three set_edited-best_edited-11743500_553542498076585_1943216434_nIf you all haven’t gone on over and checked out kat magendie novels that are on Kindle sale, and haven’t read any or some of my books, I hope you’ll go on over and give them a try. I as always am appreciative and grateful for my readers—thank you all for your support. It’s all for you. The link above should take you to a page that should list all my books and stories, and you can see the ones on sale. As well, I’m going to soon have a promo on my 1461250_496657083765127_1387255473_nshort stories, offering a few for free—since I rarely mention them and often forget them, they kind of sit there like little lost waywards, and I’m so proud of the artwork!TG audio

Now get to work(out)!


Touty mention of the day:

Head over to the Word Shark – Karen R. Sanderson’s Blog– Right now she has a guest there who does some amazing metal artkaren-sanderson-word-shark-blog-graphic

Karen R. Sanderson was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword in a day. Their favorite expression was, “Look it up!” Karen reads punctuation and grammar manuals for fun.

Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, and writer. She edits fiction and non-fiction including: sci-fi, fantasy, children’s, mystery, paranormal, western, horror, historical, literary, and journalism. Karen completed her writing coursework through UCLA, the University of New Mexico, and Santa Fe Community College. She was the winner of the SouthWest Writers 2009 Writing Contest – The Best Hook. Her short stories have been featured in The Rose & Thorn Journal, Every Child is Entitled to Innocence anthology, Valley Living Magazine, BewilderingStories.com, and WritingRaw.com. She is currently working on collections of short stories and poetry.


Monday Classroom: Dangling Participles . . . dang I’ma gonna ‘splain it like this:

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

well, sheee'it

well, sheee’it

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

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

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

Typing her examples, Kathryn hoped everyone would understand.

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

Typing her examples, Kathryn ate her scone.

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

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

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

Now, go WRITE!



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

Monday Classroom: Just a few little thoughts on punctuation; I’m spring forward sleepy

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.


“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.


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

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

Comma talk was last Monday Classroom, see post below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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!)


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: 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.


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 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.


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!


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: 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:


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!


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.


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.

Who is your character? (How We Write)

Littlest Tender Graces Reader . . .

Fun for all ages (ha)

Here’s a secret: I don’t have a clue what favorite flavor of ice cream is Virginia Kate’s (The Graces Trilogy books main character) favorite flavor. If I thought about it, maybe I’d have her go into the ice cream parlor and she’d step up to the counter and she’d order a . . . *kat thinks* . . . chocolate dipped cone. There. She doesn’t like pistachio like I do. She’d eat strawberry, though, yeah; we both like strawberry with real chunks of strawberries in there.

Sometimes authors make detailed “character sketches.” They know their characters so well, up to the minutetednest detail—their favorite foods, their favorite movies, how they look from the top of their head to the soles and souls of their feet—every detail about their physical appearance. They know every like and dislike, every nuance, every place the character has been or worked or gone to school, etc etc etc. — Lawdy! I have a headache just thankin’ about all that!

1743500_553542498076585_1943216434_nWhen I first began writing fiction, I thought there was This Way I was supposed to write and think and do and be, and if I wasn’t This Way, then I wasn’t a Real Writer. I might as well have put thick gloves on my hands and tried to write that way, for thinking “what I am supposed to do” versus “what is comfortable and real and instinctual” for me creates boundaries where there should be free space. You know how I came up with the Sweetie character? She came to me whilst I was walking Muse Trail One in my Smoky Mountain cove. Hovered there as an apparition demanding me to tell her story–first time that’s happened. Was it real or imagined in my writer’s mind? Who cares? Sweetie has become one of my most beloved books. I won’t question it.

The Lightning Charmer coverfamily_graces_-_screenFor me personally, when it comes to character, I learned I have to discover my character(s) as I write, and even in that discovery, just as it is with meeting real people, I never know every detail about them, and may never know every detail. Up until the last Graces book (Family Graces), I was still discovering who Virginia Kate is. If I have an ice cream scene, that’s when I find out what flavor she will choose and likes (chocolate dipped cone! Now I know!). If I have a movie scene, maybe she’ll talk about her favorite movie, and then again, maybe she won’t—maybe I’ll never know her favorite movie. I know she loves books, and has a special place for her Black Stallion and Black Beauty books, but what does she read as an adult? Well, I don’t know. She hasn’t had time to read because she’s going through her families’ archives (their letters, journals, photos) and storytelling their lives. When I wrote my sixth work The Lightning Charmer, I first tried to shoehorn things I thought I wanted for my characters into the book–I was trying to please someone outside of myself, and the book was suffering for it. It took me a long time to relax and let the characters have their way, and even so, it’s still a book that my readers either dislike completely or love as their favorite–not much in between with that book.

follow your own path

follow your own path

Well, y’all all know how writers love to give advice—heck, I do that here on my blog every so often or often or every once in a while. Most all of us mean well. Many of us give advice because we want to tell you “Hey, relax a litle–it’s all okay; really!” We want to support you and help you; we want to give you guidance; we want to perhaps make things a bit easier on you where we had to muddle our way through; and we want to talk about the craft, the language, because it is important to us and we love it so. It’s rarely to tout and shout about our books even when we shamelessly put photos of them in the post and all that because our publishers are probably upset at us for rarely talking about our books, teehee, lawd. (And y’all know I rarely tout my books–but perhaps I should do more of it? How else will people know about my books? How else will I please  my publishers?–more on this later in another post, y’allses.)

How you write; how the process is for you is an individual decision–a unique glimpse into the mind of you as Writer/Author/Novelist. If you like to discover your character as you go along, or if you like to write detailed character descriptions—who can tell you which is “right or wrong” because neither way is “right or wrong.” If you read how a writer does his or her thang and then you try to duplicate that and in that trying to duplicate you hit wall after wall—your character becomes wooden, or doesn’t seem real to you, or something just isn’t right about this character dang it all!—then find your own way. Take off the borrowed gloves and feel the flexing of your own fingers, the feel of the keys, the freedom of ungloved hands.

Just Do It

Just Do It

Go Forth and Write, y’all!

Work-out Writer: Start off wild, uninhibited, and then exert that CONTROL . . . .


Control . . .

Control . . .


Wild  & Free . . .

Workout WriterYou have to find the Way that works for you. But if you are at a weight or goal plateau/finding yourself obsessing over the same danged ole paragraph or two or three over and over again. Wondering, “Will I EVER fit into those jeans I love, run that marathon, lower my cholesterol, feel healthier/write this goddamm book?” Then perhaps you can consider  finding your wild and free, flailing and flinging  yourself on the treadmill/your words on the page; and then, when you are sweaty and all fired up/have your crappy ass first draft, you exert that CONTROL.


When someone asks me what I do to keep in shape, I will simply say, “I do treadmill aerobics dance for an hour, and then I do about thirty minutes of mat work.” That’s my process, I say.

But there’s so much more to that “process.”

Children play with abandon, but they often have their own "rules" and process - there's PURPOSE to their play - be like that.

Children play with abandon, but they often have their own “rules” and process – there’s PURPOSE to their play – be like that.

On the treadmill, I  jump, skip, hop, kick out my legs, run full out for nuttin, and in between those high-energy aerobics moves,I tone it down a bit to let my heart rate lower. What I’m doing is uninhibited and free—I don’t over-think it; I do what feels good, what feels happy, whatever comes to mind without a plan. Does this mean I am “out of control” on the treadmill? Not exactly, for I do have to maintain some control or else I could injure myself–I have to Pay Attention. However, for the most part, I’m all over that thang, sweating my ass off. I am at the edge of my endurance, and the endorphins are KAPOW WHUPOW! A little chaos is good; a little wild jittery is wonderful.

This is a good example of what I do on the treadmill, except I do not turn around backwards because I don’t feel that’s safe.

My goal is to stretch that leg even more - but with CONTROL!

My goal is to stretch that leg back even more – but with CONTROL! I had no flexility even a year ago.

DSC_0033When I am ready for my mat work, I’m nice and warmed up. This is when I exert the most CONTROL in my workout. I use dumbbells or my body weight or a ball or some other “device” to challenge my body to the very edge of its endurance, but with CONTROL. The stronger my body becomes, the more control I have over it–repeat that to yourself.

An example would be: Lying on mat, holding ten pound dumbbells in my hands, I do chest presses while also keeping my legs lifted from the mat (as the photo above shows, except with or without ball, and using the dumbbells)—as I do my chest presses with my legs lifted, I’m working many muscles at once, and I am very careful with my CONTROL. Without control comes chaos—injury! And during my mat work, I do not want chaos—injury—or flailing about.

As my body grows stronger, as I challenge it to do more and more, and different, workouts, I can see the progress of my hard work. Things I didn’t think I could ever do before suddenly have become “easier.” My flexibility is better—this coming from a girl who had practically no flexibility.

No one is looking at your workoug and if they are? So what? Stay in your own zone--ignore everything around you but your body and what it is doing. No one sees your manuscript--only you! Stay in your zone and have fun

No one is looking – and if they are? So what? Stay in your own zone–ignore everything around you but your body and what it is doing-have fun! No one sees your manuscript until you want them to, so stay in your zone, and have fun!

That wild abandon paired with the CONTROL of my mat work creates the health and body I want to have—strong, flexible, heart and lungs healthy, higher endurance, etc. I feel confident, and proud of my accomplishments. And I want to do more, more, more, because it feels so danged good.


When people ask me, “What is your writing process?” I always say, “I dunno. I just sit my ass down and write.” But of course  there is more to my process than that.

The first draft of my work is written with abandon, wild and free, without over-thinking it; whatever comes out of my pea-headed black holed brain is fine with me; let it come on! It’s fun, my endorphins are high, I’m feeling GREAT! Does it mean I have zero control? Nope, for the more I write, the better I naturally do the kinds of writing that will mean less work later on. Meaning, I have a grasp of grammar and punctuation “rules” even if I break them; my work comes out, even in draft, with paragraphs and dialogue and narrative and in chapters, automatically. My very first novel was almost all narrative-aw lawd! It was  a HOT MESS! Well, so what? Look at what’s happened since then: four published novels, a novella, and one set to be released in September. GO FOR IT, y’all!

Then comes the “mat work” of my manuscript. Where I exert the most control. Tweaking, editing, rewriting. I look for repetition, for too much internal dialogue/monologue, for ‘tic words,” for things that seem out of character or voice or POV. I read my manuscript a gazillion times and in different formats, such as, Kindle Fire, regular Kindle, my computer, printed out, let my Kindle Fire read it to me.  I am concentrating on the work with CONTROL. I know the rules so I can either break them, or tweak something to make it better.

Once I allowed myself to know my process and to OWN IT, I’m betting that each novel I write will become “leaner” and stronger, because I am exerting that control better as I become a stronger more flexible writer, willing to take some chances or try something different.

This wild abandon paired with the CONTROL of my re-writes/edits creates the kind of novel I can be proud of, one with which I am confident. And I want to do more, more, more, because it feels so danged good.

(Consult your doctor and your good sense before you begin this, or any other high energy workout–in fact, consult your doc before you begin any exercise program. I always say this–bears repeating. And don’t compare yourself to others, not to me, or anyone else, you hear?)

Just Do It

Just Do It

Just do it

Just do it

Work-out Writer: After the big cussin’ hissy fit, we may see a truth we tried to deny

He was an ass . . . but . . . . was I, too?

Jerkface, sumbitch! Huhn!

Workout: Saturday while on the treadmill doing a new, and particularly high energy part of my workout, some jerkface came over, waved his hand in my face, and then bitched me out for stomping on the treadmill. I couldn’t even respond—I was so furious, a sailor would blush at what caught in my throat and I had to swallow down.  All the rest of the weekend, I was pissed off, and within that anger came a little depression and anxiety: what would I do? That newer part of the aerobic workout kicked my ass but good and was something different, made me sweat, helped control my stress and take down my jitteriness a notch. I kept seeing his face; kept seeing his hand waving in my face; kept seeing me punching his face until it was a bloody-ass pulp (um, yeah, not proud of that thought, lawd!)

I didn’t even look forward to my next workout, for I thought, “It’s all ruined. My joy is ruined. My workout is ruined. Woe is me.”

*woe is wittle me*

*woe is wittle me*

Meanwhile, I’d conveniently forgotten how many people said I inspire them, how they enjoy my joy. I’d forgotten that the addition of this stomping was fairly new, and in a quiet little dark corner of myself, I knew I shouldn’t have been doing it—it just felt so good I ignored everything and everyone else. I was being stubborn. I wanted want I wanted. I didn’t want to give it up cause it was just so cool.

omg - I was being an asshole, too!

omg – I was being an asshole, too!

But, when I allowed my rage to subside. When I stopped thinking, “That sonuvabitch jackass mo-fo, rude asshole!” I heard what he said, not how he said it. And folks, yeah, I sure was being disrespectful to others and the equipment at that particular addition of my high-energy workout. Admitting that made me pull up my big girl panties and acknowledge I was being an asshole, too. I don’t excuse his delivery system, for he had no call for the way he treated me, but hidden in his Big Ass Stupid Face Assholedom was some truth.

This morning, as I stepped on the treadmill, someone said something so positive, reminding me that I wasn’t a bad person, I hadn’t always been so out of control, and I felt my joy slipping back in. Instead of stomping like an over-crazed idiot, I found something else to do that kicked my ass even better and more efficiently, and without worrying about hurting myself, and just as wonderful, I was still respectful of the machines and others.


Writer: Sometimes when we’re given critique/edit suggestions from our editors or beta reader, or whomever, that we don’t like, we may be tempted to say “Oh, they just don’t get it; they don’t understand what I’m trying to do; they SUCK! I ain’t listening. If I change this, it ruins everything! If I take that out/put that in/alter that, then what?  Waaaaaaah! Sumbitches!”  We push any rational thought aside, cuss, holler to the four winds of the universe how unfair they are, and how they just don’t get us and our work. Want to smack them three sides to Tuesday. We may want to give up, give in, be depressed and defeated. Put aside the work and walk away.

Well, shit . . . huh. I guess I see what you're saying . . ..

Well, shit . . . huh. I guess I see what you’re saying . . ..

However, if we still our minds and think of the bigger message, even if it’s embedded in a delivery we don’t appreciate, we may just find some truth in that critique/edit. We can pull on our big girl panties, or big boy undies, and acknowledge how we are being intractable, childish. We can pull back and look at their suggestions/comments, see if really they do have something to add to our manuscript, after all. Then, we find a way to work the manuscript into something that still gives us joy, makes us excited, and works ever so much better to make the work kick-ass.

images (1)

I actually do have a can of this!

WHUPOW! Open up a can of whoopass and get going!

Work-out writer: A leaner you; a leaner manuscript

from SHAPE magazine site

from SHAPE magazine site

Work-out: Want an efficient work out? Try interval training. The easy answer to “what is interval training” is, for example, say you usually walk on the treadmill at a steady pace — even if it’s a fast pace — for thirty minutes to an hour. Try adding in short bursts of speed or intensity. You want to raise your heart rate; to go fast/hard enough that you think, “Omg! I can’t go much farther!” then you slow it back down and catch your breath. Do this several times during your workout–get that heart rate going and then slowing it down, up and down, up and down, until you are sweating and feeling kick-ass, and as if your ass was kicked! It’s efficient and effective. Though I do high-energy intervals for an hour, actually you do not have to go that long. It’s all about making it efficient — I’m just insane *laugh*

For a better, more comprehensive explanation, here’s an article in Shape Magazine: Interval Training: Short Workouts That Really Pay Off 

(As I always tell you: please see your doctor before beginning an exercise, or new exercise, routine.)

logoWriter: Want a more efficient manuscript? If we want our manuscripts to be “lean” and tight, sometimes we have to delete. Find those areas that are flabby and develop their muscles. Our manuscripts can become bloated after writing up those first drafts. We’re developing characters, setting, scene, etc. We’re trying to find our way, and the character’s way. One of the “easier” ways to develop a leaner manuscript is to find and delete  “internal monologue” or internal thoughts the character has. I finally figured out that the only “purpose” or reason for these internal monologues in our drafts is to figure out something at the same time the character is – sort of like when we yap to a friend about a problem because we are trying to sound it out, hear it out, figure it out. Most of this can GO. Delete. Get rid of it. Instead of writing along at this steady pace, punch it up! Instead of a long paragraph, or *gasp* page(s), of internal monologue, use action, or dialogue, or cut it down to a sentence or two. Do this throughout the manuscript and you’ve deleted thousands of bloaty words that weighed down your manuscript.

For a better, more comprehensive, explanation of internal monologue, see: The Do’s and Don’ts of Internal Monologue by K.M. Weiland

Don't be afraid to stretch yourself a little in life.

Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself a little in life.

A fit you; a fit manuscript.

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