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Showing posts from October, 2010

The Final Act

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



Horror Month wraps up today on Flash Fiction Fridays with award-winning authors Daniel Pyle and Julie Ann Weinstein. Enjoy.

Neighbors by Daniel Pyle

Jack and Elle unloaded the U-Haul and spent the morning sorting through boxes. When Elle pooped out around noon and suggested she go get them some lunch, Jack agreed.
"Wanna come with?"
"Nah," he said. "You go. I’m gonna check out the back yard again."
She laughed. "You and your back yards. I think you would’ve bought a burned-out shack if it was on a big enough plot."
"I know I would have." He gave her his best but-you-love-me-anyway smile. "If you get burgers, don't forget the bacon."
She found the car keys and left. He went through the back door to survey their property.
Their property. Thinking about it made him feel so grown up. In thirty-five years, the most valuable thing he'd owned had been a used Volkswagen. Now he had land. Property. A lit…

It's Almost Halloween

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


I am going to forgo “Editing for Grammarphobes” today. I am immersed in Halloween activities, including writing a murder mystery for my son’s classroom party on Friday. The graveyard is up in front of our house. The gnarled gourds are in place. A pumpkin-headed creature, tucked in our magnolia tree, awaits non-suspecting pedestrians.
I love Halloween. I have great memories of dressing up in whatever costume I wanted, parading around the gym at school and eating cupcakes in homeroom. After darkness fell, the trick or treating commenced, followed by a dinner of beef stew eaten by the orange glow of a jack o’lantern and accompanied by scary stories on the radio. Then, the pièce de résistance — sorting through and eating candy while watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”
Awesome.
When I got older, the original Celtic notion of Halloween being the one day the veil between this world and the next could be drawn aside was intriguing and only added to the …

Can and May: The Bane of Many an English Teacher

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Do you remember being in elementary school and having to use the facilities? Making your way up to the teacher’s desk after waiting too long to begin with, crossing your legs in a futile attempt to stave off what could only be described as certain humiliation?
“Can I have the girls’ bathroom pass?”
The teacher looks up blankly at you. “I suppose you could.” And then goes back to grading papers without handing you anything.
You hop from foot to foot, pee pee dancing in utter disbelief.
The teacher sighs and puts down her red pen. “May I help you?”
Finally, the lightbulb goes on. “May I have the girls’ bathroom pass?”
“Yes, of course, dear.”
You rip the pass out of her hand and sprint down the hall.
It was an infuriating, but effective way to learn the difference between “can” and “may.”
“Can” means am/is/are able.
Example:
I can write a sentence.

“May” requests permission.
Example:
May I have some candy?

Coming Friday: Horror Month wraps up with award-winning authors D…

Horror Month Continues

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


The Shed by M.R. Mathias
He was caught up in the moment, the hot, sweaty, lustful moment before release. The verge. The girl was writhing on the packed dirt floor of the old tin shed beneath him. She had resisted at first, but no longer. Now her head was buried in his shoulder, and she was grunting with the animalistic power he was filling her with. He was right there on the edge. He was, he was…
“Mom! God,” the tween girl gasped with suddenly wide opened eyes. He turned his head just in time to see the edge of a cast-iron skillet as it cracked into the side of his skull with a deep ringing crunch.
He rolled off the little girl onto his back. He felt his body sputtering and could see them. There were two of them. One was the girl’s mother, the other her older sister. They had demon eyes and when he tried to roll to his feet so he could run away, he found he couldn’t move. The older sister, Emma was her name, snarled savagely as she stomped down on his head.…

For Whom Do You Write?

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Today, “Editing for Grammarphobes” deals with an age-old dilemma of American English writers. Yes, I said it is the Americans, for the Brits seem to know the answer to this quandary, as they speak the true English, and we, bastardized versions of the original tongue.
Who or whom?
British punk bands know which one to use. See if you can recognize this lyric.
“This indecisions bugging me If you don’t want me, set me free Exactly whom I’m supposed to be Don’t you know which clothes even fit me?”
That’s right. It is the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”
Okay, so here is the rule.
“Who” and “whom” refer to humans and animals with a name. According to AP Style, “who” is used when someone is the subject of the sentence, clause or phrase.
Example:
The singer who is the best in the choir has a solo.
Who will it be?

“Whom” is used when someone is the object of a verb or preposition.
Example:
The drummer to whom the set was rented broke the cymbal.
Whom do you think is the bes…

Editing for Grammarphobes: That or Which?

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



Figuring out whether to use “that” or “which” can be tricky. Strunk and White states “that” is a defining, or restrictive, pronoun, while “which” is nondefining, therefore, nonrestrictive.
Restrictive clauses limit the focus to identify a certain noun.
Nonrestrictive clauses add extra information about one, and only one, noun.

The definitive illustration appears on page 59 of Strunk and White.
“The lawnmower that is broken is in the garage. (Tells which one.)
The lawnmower, which is broken, is in the garage. (Adds a fact about the only mower in question.)”


And here is my example of a sentence with a nonrestrictive clause.
The Chicago Bears’ offensive line, which showed itself to be weak and ineffective, contributed to Sunday’s loss.
(There is only one Chicago Bears’ offensive line discussed in the sentence, to the great disdain of many fans.)

I think I like the lawnmower example better. At least I do not have any emotional investment in it.



Oh the Horror!

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER



Today, Bibliophilic Blather is proud to host not one, but two pieces of flash fiction; one from a veteran writer and artist, the other from a promising newcomer. I hope you enjoy these two different takes on what can be truly frightening.


A Sudden Rush
by LB Gschwandtner
Peggy had to go to the toilet so bad she almost peed her panties getting out of the car. In the bathroom, she pulled them down so fast her diamond ring caught in the elastic and ripped some stitches. But she made it just in time.
“Ahhhh,” she breathed.
Outside on a tree branch, a little wren with its tail stuck up in the air, looked perky and happy. Absently, Peggy reached out to the roll of toilet paper and spun it around with her fingertips, but she couldn’t find the break.
“Odd,” she thought. But maybe this was a new roll after all. Who paid attention to replacing toilet paper? She bent over to see where it began. Over the years, the bolts of the toilet seat had somehow loosened, and now the …

More Commonly Misused Words

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Here are a few more words I have seen used incorrectly.

Aggravate, Irritate

Strunk and White states “aggravate” means “to add to an already troublesome or vexing matter or condition.”
Example:
The car bombing aggravated the already tense situation in the war-torn city.

“Irritate” is to annoy or chafe.
Example:
Perpetually late people irritate me.


Allusion, Illusion

“Allusion” means an indirect reference.
Example:
The senate candidate made an allusion to her opponent’s position on taxes.

“Illusion” is an unreal image or false impression, according to Strunk and White.
Example:
Plastic surgery creates the illusion of youth.


Trivia Question Answer
I asked if anyone knew the difference between “homonym” and “homophone” on Monday. Apparently no one does, because there were no comments. That is okay; I had to look it up myself.
“Homonyms” are words that sound and are spelled the same, but have different meaning, such as stalk (a part of a plant) and stalk (to follow someone). …

Flash Fiction Fridays: Horror Month Continues

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Wishing You Were Home by A.F. Stewart

I made a wish on a shooting star last night.
This morning I woke and found her standing in the kitchen making breakfast. It was impossible; Kimberly died last year.
“Morning, Steve. I hope you’re in the mood for bacon and scrambled eggs. Sit at the table, they’re almost done.”
I sat at the kitchen table in a daze, and she served me a plateful of hot food, just as if nothing had happened. Kimberly sat in a chair, staring at me from across the table.
“Aren’t you going to eat?”
“No, I don’t eat anymore, not since I was killed.”
I nearly choked on my eggs. “You know you’re dead?”
“Oh, yes. And to answer your other unspoken question, this is not a hallucination. It is very real.”
“How? How are you sitting here, looking perfect after being dead for a year?”
“I’m not certain. Something about wishes and the alignment of stars. It was explained, but it was a bit technical and boring.”
“It was explained? Who explained it?”
“These beings. T…

Commonly Misused Words

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


Affect, Effect
When used as a verb, “affect” means to influence, according to The Associate Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law.


Example:
The weather affects traffic patterns.

“Effect” means to cause.


Example:
The new mayor will effect many changes in the city.

Used as a noun, “effect” means result.


Example:
He did not realize the effect his actions would have upon others.



Irregardless
This word should not exist. It is a double negative. Always use “regardless.”

Example:
Regardless of the situation, he always keeps a smile on his face.



Next up:Get ready for more horror on Flash Fiction Fridays.



Horror Month Begins

Posted by KAREN WOJCIK BERNER


I Imagine
by Robin Morris


I imagine her eyes burning. Flames caressing the blue lenses that looked at
me with love. Blue turning to black in the heat. I imagine fluids boiling,
then flashing into steam. Eyeballs bursting.


I imagine the fingers that used to caress my back, my face. So softly, so
tenderly. Fingers turning to crisp carbon in the inferno.


She always said she wanted to be cremated. She shuddered at the thought of
being buried, cold and lonely and food for the filthy things that live in
the earth. She made me promise.


I imagine her bones blackening, flesh peeling away, flaming and turning to
ash. I imagine her spine becoming a conduit of fire.


I imagine these things because I can't see into the industrial incinerator.
There is no window that allows me to see her burn.


I imagine that she is still screaming, though I no longer hear it.

I promised her she would be cremated. I never promised that she would be
dead first.





Robin Morris was born in Chicago and has …