Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Miscellany

Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?

Today, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 focuses on various handy bits of information, all of which have to do with the letter "D."


This is something people get wrong constantly and probably ranks in the top five grammar nerd pet peeves. When punctuating decades, use an apostrophe to indicate the numerals that are left out. Add an "s" to pluralize. No, I repeat no apostrophe before the "s." 


The 1980s had some great music, especially the post-punk, alternative bands.
She loved '80s music.
World War II ended in the mid-1940s.


Did you know the tallest peak in North America used to be called Mount McKinley? It measures 20,310 feet.

Differ from, differ with

The AP Stylebook states that to differ from means to be unlike. To differ with means to disagree.

Discreet, discrete

Discreet, according to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, means having or showing discernment or good judgment in conduct and especially in speech.

Discrete is having a separate entity or individually distinct.

Dyeing, dying

Dyeing is the spelling for coloring something. Dying, obviously then, refers to death. Don't forget the "e," or pretty soon, you're readers will wonder if a dyeing aunt suddenly developed a great passion for tie-dye.


Grammar Nerd Question of the Week:

What's the difference between disinterested and uninterested?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: I 'C' U

Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?

Today, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 focuses on word groups that begin with the letter "C". Some are homophones, and some have tricky spelling, but all of them can cause writers and editors headaches. 

Cancel, canceled, canceling, but cancellation

Why? Who knows, but that's how it is. Best to just memorize it or at least remember it's something you need to look up before you press send.

Carat, caret, karat

Not to be confused with carrot of the eating kind, these three words mean completely different things despite sounding alike.

A carat is the weight of diamonds. It equals up to 200 milligrams or about 3 grains, according to AP Style. A caret is a proofreader's mark that looks like this ^ and is used to insert a word or phrase into a sentence. Jewelry lovers will know that a karat is the proportion of pure gold used with an alloy, as in 24k gold. It is equal to 1/24 part of pure gold in alloy.

Caster, castor

A caster is a roller, like on the bottom of chairs. Castor refers to castor oil.

Censer, censor, censure

Did you know that a censer is a vessel for burning incense? I didn't. I never really knew what that was called. Censor means to prohibit or restrict the use of something or to delete anything considered objectionable. To censure is to condemn or is an official reprimand.

Cleanup, Clean up

Cleanup is the noun and adjective form, while the verb is split into two words, aka clean up.


These five books are on my desk at all times. Maybe they'll help you as well.

The Associated Press Stylebook, 2016 edition
The Chicago Manual of Style
Strunk and White's The Elements of Style
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition
The Bugaboo Review: A lighthearted guide to exterminating confusion about words, spelling, and grammar

Grammar Nerd Question of the Week

What is the difference between a cynic and a skeptic?

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Groovy Kind of Sale

Just wanted to let you know A Groovy Kind of Love e-books are on sale for just 99¢ from now until Thursday, Sept. 22 on all platforms—Kindle, Nook, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords. That's a 75% savings!

Paperbacks are also only $11.99 on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Did you know? A Groovy Kind of Love received an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Chicago Writers' Association Book of the Year awards and was a 2015 Big Al's Books & Pals Readers' Choice Award Nominee. Right now, it has 4.5 stars on Amazon.

Here's what some reviewers have said.

"A Groovy Kind of Love was JUST what I needed…hippies, unrequited love, crazy/high families,  mysterious exes from the past, foreign travel, tragedy. Really, what more could a reader ask for? This book is The Odd Couple meets Beauty and the Beast with a touch of Nicholas Sparks tragedy thrown in for good measure."   — The Republican Herald book blog

" realize this is about true love. Not teen love. Not young love or puppy love. But love that is in your soul. So few books bring me to tears because of how true and honest the experience and emotions are portrayed....A must read. And I don’t say it often, but a re-read." — Clutter Your Kindle

"BernerÊ»s empathetic description of Springʼs recovery was inspiring. What a pleasure to read such a life-affirming novel." — Windy City Reviews

"...exquisite!" — The Book Dilettante

"...well-written, funny, a bit of romance and a perfect read. Five stars!" — Juniper Grove

If you'd like to join our little community of Bibliophiles on Facebook, click here. To subscribe to my newsletter, click here. And don't forget to follow me on Twitter, Goodreads, Google+ or drop me a line at I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Muslim Edition

Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?

This week, Muslims all over the world celebrated Eid-al-Adha, one of two official holidays. Eid-al-Adha, known as “Sacrifice Feast,” is the most important Islamic holiday and recalls the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham to Christians and Jews) to sacrifice his son. Some people slaughter sheep or cattle, then distribute part of the meat to the poor and eat the rest. 

There is so much misinformation about Islam and Muslims floating around, I thought today would be a good day to set the record straight and feature terms that we have all heard, but might not know exactly what they mean or how to spell them. 

First off, Islam is the religion of more than one billion people. The followers of Islam are called Muslims. Their holy book is the Quran. The place of worship is a mosque, and the holy day of the week is Friday.

Most of the world’s Muslims reside in a wide belt that reaches halfway across the world, according to the AP Stylebook, across West Africa and North Africa, through the Arab countries of the Middle East, and onto Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other Asian countries, parts of the former Soviet Union and western China, to Indonesia and the southern Philippines.

There are two major branches of Islam: Sunni and Shiite

Clergy titles vary, but according to AP Stylebook, these are the most common.

Grand Mufti: The highest authority in Quranic law.

Sheikh: Used by most clergymen in the same manner as reverend for Christians. Note that not all sheikhs are clergymen. It also can be a secular title of respect or nobility.

Ayatollah: Used by Shiites to denote senior clergymen.

Hojatoleslam: A rank below Ayatollah.

Mullah: Lower-level clergy.

Imam: Used by some sects as the title for a prayer leader at a mosque. Among Shiites, it usually has a more exalted connotation.

Here are some of the terms used for Islamic women’s clothing. Note that not all Muslim women choose to wear these. 

Burqa: The all-covering dress worn by some Muslim women.

Chador: A cloak worn by some Muslim women that covers their hair, necks, and shoulders, but not their faces.

Hijab: The head scarf worn by some Muslim women.

Niqab: The veil some Muslim women wear in which, at most, only their eyes show.

Islam has two major holidays — the aforementioned Eid-al-Adha and Eid-al-Fitr, which is the three-days at the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: To B or not to B

Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?

Is there anything more embarrassing than using the wrong word? It happens to us all, of course, but it's also a surefire way for you and your writing to lose credibility. Today, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 focuses on some tricky word pairings, which start with the letter "B," that can trip up even the best of us.

Baloney, bologna

Baloney is ridiculous or foolish talk, nonsense.

And although the dictionary lists bologna as a variation of baloney, AP Style states bologna is the word for sausage or lunchmeat. 

Beside, besides

Beside means at the side of. 

Besides means as well or in addition to.

Biannual, biennial

Biannual is twice a year.

Biennial is every two years. 

Boats, ships

Boat refers to any small watercraft. Ship means a large, seagoing vessel, with the exception of a ferryboat, which has boat in its name just to screw with us, but is, in fact, a larger craft.

Boycott, embargo

According to AP Style, "a boycott is an organized refusal to buy a particular product or service, or to deal with a particular merchant or group of merchants."

AP states an embargo is legal restriction against trade, usually prohibiting goods from entering or leaving a country. It goes on to add the plural is embargoes.

Brahman, Brahmin

Brahman refers to the priestly Hindu caste, as well as a breed of cattle.

Brahmin, spelled with an i, can be used to describe aristocracy in general, like when people use the term "Boston Brahmin" when speaking of elite members of Boston's traditional upper class, particularly in the 19th century.


These five books are on my desk at all times. Maybe they'll help you as well.

Grammar Nerd Question of the Week: 

Which is the word for "a fair or market," bizarre or bazaar?

Friday, September 2, 2016

Fighting for Your Writing

Last Friday, I was a guest blogger over at Wow! Women on Writing's blog, The Muffin. I discussed the issue of fighting for your writing time and space, something that isn't always easy with a family.

Here's the link.

Friday Speak Out!: You will do anything to save your kids or your partner, but what about your writing?