Monday, September 15, 2014

The Curse of the Comma

It's been a VERY long time since I posted about writing. And it's even been longer since I've talked about something very boring, yet essential, for writers: grammar.

(Insert sigh HERE)

I'm a stickler for grammar. It probably stems from my days as a high school English teacher. As a writer, my eyes are just naturally drawn to grammatical mistakes. Interestingly, I'm not nearly as sharp when it comes to seeing errors in my own writing (a topic I want to blog about in the near future).

So let's tackle the dreaded comma, shall we? Why? Because the poor comma is being abused by a lot of writers and even editors. Using "gut instinct" or putting in a comma when it "feels right" won't cut it. Here are three common comma issues. We'll start with easy and work our way to the most difficult one.

1) Use a comma after an introductory clause.
After we went shopping, we went to eat lunch.
I don't usually see this one abused, as there's a natural pause there. So gut instinct doesn't get this one wrong. Easy as pie.

2) Use a comma between two INDEPENDENT clauses joined by a conjunction (and, but, for, so, or, yet, nor)
The car broke down, and I didn't have a cell phone.
I will sometimes see problems when the writer left off the conjunction and used a comma by itself to join the two independent clauses. Most writers got this!

3) Do NOT use commas to set off essential clauses.
The apples that fell out of the tree are delicious.
Okay. Now this is where I see a lot of writers mess this one up. I know several of you are just dying to put a comma before that and one after tree. But you should resist the power of the comma in this example.
...that fell out of the tree...is a relative clause, followed by the noun apples. Any clause that begins with that and follows an ambiguous noun is always essential. Remember, an essential clause is also a relative clause. A relative clause's job is to simply help limit a broad, ambiguous noun.

...that fell out of the tree...is telling you which apples are delicious, since the noun apples is so general, it could be the apples in the basket, or the ones at the store, etc. Comprende?

Here's another example:
The guy wearing jeans was underdressed.
Again, it's easy to feel the itch to put commas around ...wearing jeans...
But you would be wrong. Which guy? Oh. That guy in shorts? In a t-shirt? No. The guy who wore jeans! So it's an essential clause. It's defining the very broad noun guy.

How about this one?
My daughter, wearing jeans, was underdressed.
Ah, but I used commas here. Why? Because ...wearing jeans...in this case is NON-ESSENTIAL. How so? Well, my noun here is very specific. It's MY daughter. Proper nouns are also the most common specific nouns. Proper nouns, or very specific nouns, don't need defining.

Another example:
Mr. Wilson, wearing jeans, was underdressed.
It's non-essential, thus you need commas here. The proper noun Mr. Wilson is very specific.

Let's make things even more complicated. Hopefully my explanation will help.

*If the clause becomes more of an accessory (non-essential), then you will set them off with commas. These "decorative clauses" just add a bit of information.

My new house, which was purchased last week, cost me a fortune.
Mr. Wilson, who paid for dinner, was very nice.
I went to the store yesterday, I think, and bought some apples.

The above three examples have commas setting off the clauses because the clauses are non-essential. They are decorative and not defining.

I hope that helps! There's a ton of more comma rules out there, but let's start with baby steps. 

* * * * *
Carol Kilgore, a great blogger-buddy of mine over at Under the Tikki Hut, wants everyone to know that her novel, SECRETS OF HONOR, is now available!

By the end of a long evening working as a special set of eyes for the presidential security detail, all Kat Marengo wants is to kick off her shoes and stash two not-really-stolen rings in a secure spot. Plus, maybe sleep with Dave Krizak. No, make that definitely sleep with Dave Krizak. The next morning, she wishes her new top priorities were so simple.

As an operative for a covert agency buried in the depths of the Department of Homeland Security, Kat is asked to participate in a matter of life or death—locate a kidnapped girl believed to be held in Corpus Christi, Texas. Since the person doing the asking is the wife of the president and the girl is the daughter of the first lady’s dearest friend, it’s hard to say no.

Kat and Dave quickly learn the real stakes are higher than they or the first lady believed and will require more than any of them bargained for.

The kicker? They have twenty-four hours to find the girl—or the matter of life or death will become more than a possibility.

PURCHASE LINKS:
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Honor-Carol-Kilgore-ebook/dp/B00NH0QTO6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410561862&sr=8-1&keywords=secrets+of+honor

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Honor-Carol-Kilgore/dp/1500522031/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1410561862&sr=8-1


Carol sees mystery and subterfuge everywhere. And she’s a sucker for a good love story—especially ones with humor and mystery. Crime Fiction with a Kiss gives her the latitude to mix and match throughout the broad mystery and romance genres. Having flexibility makes her heart happy.


You can connect with Carol and her books here:
Under the Tiki Hut blog: http://www.underthetikihut.blogspot.com
Website with Monthly Contest: http://www.carolkilgore.net
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/carol.kilgore1
Twitter: http://twitter.com/carol_kilgore
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6094110.Carol_Kilgore

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Carol-Kilgore/e/B008FRCXQY

Monday, September 8, 2014

Shadow Rifters

I'm still trying to catch up to all my blog reading. Being gone for two weeks is like five months in the blogosphere. I promise I'll get there!

So last week, without much fanfare, I did announce on here that I was able to have my second book, Shadow Warrior, published.

I loved writing this book, as I had way more literary tools at my disposal when writing it. Scrivener was a lifesaver, and it cut the amount of time it took me to write a 100K novel. Drastically. So I feel like I was able to be much more focused on writing this book. It didn't need as much demolition.

So it's out there. I'm hoping to send out an email to everyone's who has helped me in the past. I'd like some help getting the word out there. Just like I said last week, that's about as much marketing as I can do in the short term. If any one else wouldn't mind posting up a link or two or whatever you're willing to share about my work, please reach out to me. Thanks!

Once again, Shadow warrior is out on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords.
Dragonfly Warrior will be 99 cents indefinitely on Amazon, B&N, and iTunes.

TODAY is also the official launch day for M. Pax's The Rifters. I just got my copy yesterday, and I'm looking forward to reading it. It's got everything I love - some steampunk, some mystery, some paranormal/supernatural stuff going on. It's going to be awesome!

Rifters Blurb:

The Gold Rush trickles to a fool’s quest and a string of stagecoach heists. In 1888, Earl Blacke decides to make a new start and become a better man. He escapes into the mountains, heading north. In the wilds of Oregon, a rift inside an ancient volcano opens and sends him into the future, into the present day. It also shaves forty years off his age, forty years to live over again and atone for what he’s done.

Starting over is hard to do. In current day New York, Daelin Long’s dream job at a publishing house
goes the way of the dinosaurs her sister chases. With no money and nowhere else to go, Daelin accepts the librarian position in her sister’s dinky town in the middle of Oregon. Nestled inside ancient volcanic peaks, the town of Settler holds onto many secrets. Residents roam the streets with weirdly fashioned devices, and odd lights pulse in the night skies. People whisper of a phantom outlaw and start dying, murdered and missing their heads. On top of it all, Daelin’s sister is missing, and Daelin doesn’t know who to trust.

Earl knows more than he’s saying. He shares a notorious history with the phantom, one he’ll see remains buried. Keeping Daelin’s sister’s secrets is his only chance at redemption, and the only way to keep this world safe.

The Rifters is available at an introductory price. The second book in the series, The Initiate, will be available October 20, 2014. It’s up for preorder for a special price at iTunes, Amazon, and B&N. Check HERE for links. Giveaways and events are ongoing through October 31, 2014. Check HERE for details.


Friday, September 5, 2014

Shadow Warrior, The Mechanica Wars Book 2 RELEASE

Miracles do happen.

I was fortunate to have a "guardian angel" swoop in and get Shadow Warrior formatted properly for publication, Otherwise, this book would have been delayed by about a month. So, big thanks to JT Formatting for everything.

Without much fanfare, I published Shadow Warrior, and it's already hit #58 on Amazon's Bestselling List for Science Fiction - Steampunk. What a great way to start a weekend!

It's currently available on Amazon for Kindle HERE
and Barnes & Noble for Nook HERE

Stay tuned for iTunes and paperback soon. I appreciate any help spreading the word, as this is pretty much the extent of my marketing plan. My marketing budget is currently...um...zero dollars.

Dragonfly Warrior, the first book in the series, is still 99 Cents.
Amazon
B&N
iTunes





Wednesday, September 3, 2014

September IWSG - A Sea of Confusion

Insecure Writer's Support Group Time!

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

I hope you've had a great last couple of weeks. It's been awhile since I've had anything longer than a two week hiatus, and it feels so weird to not be blogging or visiting other blogs for that long. I'm glad to be back.

My brain hurts. I filled it with white papers, peer reviewed studies, allergen antibodies, sensitization, IgE antibodies, asthma, non-allergic rhinitis, and all kinds of other fun stuff. I spent A LOT of time with the same 10 people for two straight weeks. Here's what I've learned.

1) It's weird being the old guy in the group. I was the only one older than 35.
2) It's weird being the only non-military in the group. The other guys were ex-Marines and Army soldiers. Two West Point Graduates. They had great stories, but I was already the old guy, and then to be the non-soldier guy...yeah. You get the picture.
3) Kalamazoo is a real place. For reals. It's not a made up city like Xanadu.

So this month, I'm feeling a little insecure about the day job. It's still medical sales, but it's just a lot of technical information. It's fascinating, but like I said, I don't think my brain can hold any more.

As far as my writing is concerned, that front is even more hectic. My sequel to Dragonfly Warrior is delayed yet again. Originally, the publication date was to be next week. Looks like that's not going to happen.

My other project with Miranda Hardy, Death Knocks, is really bringing up all those fears of not being able to market. Two heads might be better than one, but this is more of a case of the blind leading the blind. I've got some author events coming up, and it will be an uphill battle to get Death Knocks and Shadow Warrior ready for these shows. But beyond that, I'm not exactly a big marketing whiz.

What worked just three years ago seems to not be so great these days. I'm not big on blog tours. Remember when that was all the rage? I'm not too keen on it. Even cover reveals seem to be more fun for the author than for the readers. So yeah, I'm at a loss.

I might be old, but I'm not too wise on this marketing-thing.

Maybe a couple of contests will help! Enter the Death Knocks giveaway on Goodreads. Just use the widget below. This contest ends October 4, 2014.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Death Knocks by Miranda Hardy

Death Knocks

by Miranda Hardy

Giveaway ends October 04, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win
If you pre-order Death Knocks on Amazon or Smashwords, you'll have a chance to win one of our cool swag-a-licious prizes. You might snag a cool tote bag or water bottle. This fun giveaway ends on September 25, 2014.

a Rafflecopter giveaway