Showing posts from November, 2010

Editing for Grammarphobes: Deadline Updates, Gifting Ebooks and Missing Ds


Before we begin, the deadline has been extended for holiday flash fiction submissions due to the Thanksgiving weekend and widespread turkey consumption, which is known to hinder productivity. Please e-mail them to me by Wednesday, December 1, at and be sure to put “Flash Fiction Fridays” in the subject line. 500 words or less on your interpretation of “the holidays.” Could be Christmas, Yule, Winter Solstice, Al-Hijira, Ashura, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve or Day or even Festivus, which exists only in the minds of the Seinfeld creators. 

Also, as you do your holiday shopping online, please consider purchasing a novel by an indie author this season. There is a lot of great work out there just waiting for you to discover. And now it is easier than ever with the new “Give as a Gift” option for Kindle ebooks, which appears underneath the download button on the right side of the book’s page.

I participated in an author’s panel discussio…

In Thanksgiving


Like many of you, I will be spending most of this week in the kitchen preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Editing for Grammarphobes and Flash Fiction Fridays will return next week.

As I roll dough for pumpkin pie and peel way too many potatoes, my mind will inevitably wander to holidays past. My family is smaller now, much smaller than when I was young, with all four grandparents and my mother gone for many years now.

I still remember my father making the headless turkey dance over the sink while he cleaned it out and the smell of my mother’s stuffing cooking on the stove. The grandparents slowly making their way up the three flights of stairs to our apartment. Grandma producing her perfect pumpkin pie, beautiful crust pinched just so.

I wrote this poem about my mother’s father a long time ago and would like to share it with you today as we embark on another holiday season. May your Thanksgiving be filled with family, friends and good food. May you share stories a…

Flash Fiction Fridays


The Blessing by Lee Libro
"Pass the gwraaaavwy! Pass the gwavwy," said John Jr. "Please," inserted Mother. "What about a blessing?" John Jr. snorted. Mother gently linked a hand in his, signaling all five of her children to do the same with their neighbors. John Jr. rocked back and forth. "Bless this food, oh Lord..." she began.  John Jr. pried his hand away, set his elbow down on his plate creating a trebuchet flinger from the fork propped at its side. "... and please remember all those less fortunate on this day..." One green pea flew through the air and landed in his nine-year-old sister June's hair, where it remained suspended in a cradle of blond follicles. John Jr. stared across the table at the beautiful green pea and for a second it became a planet in the cosmos of his sister's golden locks. "...and please Lord, see to it that all of our loved ones stay mindful in our daily lives..." Mother c…

You Mean It's Not...?


Today, Editing for Grammarphobes is focusing on a few words and phrases that pose some problems for speakers and writers alike.

A word I have heard many people mispronounce, including a sportscaster during yesterday’s Bears-Vikings game, is “acrost.” There is no such word as “acrost.” It is always across.

I couldn’t care less.
Not I could care less.
I bet if you tried hard enough, you could care less. Diana Hacker’s A Writer’s Reference reminds us to be sure to make it negative for it to be correct.

For all intents and purposes. 
Not intensive purposes.

Anyway, never anyways. Anyways is nonstandard, according to Hacker. Journey had it right with “Anyway You Want It.”

Chest of drawers.
Not chester drawers.
Chester drawers? Is he any relation to Chester Cheetah?

What misused phrases or words have brought a smile to your face? Share them with us by submitting a comment below. 

Flash Fiction Fridays--Family Gatherings Month Continues

A Wee Gathering
By Sharon Cupp Pennington

The timbre of the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU…flashing lights and the abrasive buzz of an alarm jerking parents to attention, the tentative smiles and collective sighs of relief when it turns out to be nothing but monitors keeping cadence with tiny heartbeats and respirators circulating life-sustaining air for lungs not yet able to. Every few spaces there’s an occupied incubator or small metal crib. Between these sit haggard mothers or red-vested volunteers, crooning, consoling.

A father rushes in seeking the reassurance that will carry him to the end of another workday. A nurse, one of many resident angels, logs notes at her station. A doctor continues his morning rounds, here one minute, there the next.

I can’t name another place filled with more love and faith and courage, the absolute will to survive.

My husband sits across from me holding one of our two new additions, and I wonder if we’re thinking the same thing. Probably not. By th…

For Veterans' Day

Friend of the blog, Karen Cantwell, is donating all royalties from the sales of Take the Monkeys and Run from November 11 to November 18 to Homes for Our Troops , which offers the money and workers needed to adapt homes for returning, injured veterans.

It is a great way to purchase a fantastic novel and help our veterans while you are doing so.

What the Heck is Lain?


What is the difference between “lay” and “lie,” and what are their forms?

“Lie” indicates a state of reclining on a horizontal plane, according to The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law. It does not take a direct object. The past tense is “lay.” 

“Lay” takes a direct object. 

The forms are: lie; lay; lain; lying and lay; laid; laid and laying.

This is a bit confusing, so here are some examples to better illustrate this point.

AP Style uses the following sentences for present and future tenses.

I will lay the book on the table. 
The prosecutor tried to lay the blame on him.

He lies on the beach all day.
I will lie down.

But, in the past tense, it is:

I laid the book on the table.
He lay on the beach all day.
He has lain on the beach all day. 
I lay down.

With the present participle:

I am laying the book on the table. 
He is lying on the beach.
I am lying down.

Coming Friday...

Flash Fiction Fridays has great piece by Sharon Cupp Pennington on tap for this wee…

Editing for Grammarphobes: Semicolons


Semicolons are used when joining two complete, but related, sentences. 


Jane Austen’s novels are wonderful; they are filled with witty observations and colorful characters.

Each of these sentences could stand alone, using a period instead of a semi-colon. This would be correct as well.

Grammar Questions?

Do you have persistent grammar issues? Can’t remember where the comma goes or how to punctuate dialogue? E-mail your questions to me at, and I will answer them as part of “Editing for Grammarphobes.” Thanks.

Flash Fiction Fridays


This month, Flash Fiction Fridays highlights family gatherings. First up, Michelle Byrne Walsh.

Setting the Table
By Michelle Byrne Walsh

I will set the table for 13. This amuses and terrifies me. Thirteen was the number at the Last Supper. Thirteen is unlucky, but what we need. We are 13 Wolfes. Some are blood, some married into it. Two are just animals.

I flip the gold damask tablecloth upward, holding one seam down on the edge of the table with my thighs so the cloth flies, balloons, alights and exhales flat across the table pad. This Amish table will accommodate 16, but we are 13 now; one missing, one added, and the polyester tablecloth barely covers my 12 plus one highchair squeezed into the corner. They never planned on baby Evan, so I imagine he gets squeezed out a lot.

From the corner cupboard, I take down my wedding china. Seven place settings, because we registered at Marshall Field's 25 years ago and only seven people could cough up enough fo…

Editing for Grammarphobes: Don't Rely on Spell Check


One of the simplest ways to ensure accuracy in your writing is to spell words correctly. Do not rely only on your computer’s spell check, since it cannot possibly hold all of the words you will want to use.

Here are some of the most commonly misspelled words listed on Oxford

accommodate, accommodation (two cs, two ms)

cemetery (not cemetary)

committee (two ms, ts and es)

gist (not jist), as in to get the gist of something, the essence, the bottom line

government (there’s an n in the middle)

Flash Fiction Fridays Update

New Month, New Theme

Don’t miss the beginning of family gatherings-themed flash fiction this Friday. Starting us off will be writer/editor Michelle Byrne Walsh.

Holiday Flash Fiction

Remember, Holiday Flash Fiction is Due 11/29. 500 words or less on your interpretation of “the holidays.” Could be Christmas, Yule, Winter Solstice, Al-Hijira, Ashura, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve or Day or even Festivus. The choice is yours.

January …

Editing for Grammarphobes: To, Too, Two


Here is a Monday morning quickie for you.

“Two” is how to spell the number or quantity.

I will limit myself to only two pieces of candy on this day after Halloween.

“Too” is a synonym for also.

Come to think of it, I will eat this piece of chocolate too.

“To” is a “preposition used for expression motion or direction toward a point, person, place or thing approached and reached,” according to, along with about twenty-one other uses, which I am sure you are all familiar with.

I must go to the store to buy more candy to replace what I have already eaten before my son comes home and notices I have raided his Halloween trick or treat bag.

Big News
Today is the launch date of The Chronicles of Marr-nia: Short Stories Starring Barbara Marr, by friend of the blog, Karen Cantwell. If this book is as great as Take the Monkeys and Run, it is sure to be a hit. Check it out at Fiction for Dessert .