Grammar, Apostrophes, and Possession.

Language is fluid. It is a living, breathing, constantly changing organism. The dictionary updates each year adding new words (McJob anyone?) and removing old ones (though not as common).

I was taught to never put a comma before the word “and” but if you have a series of three, you do use a comma. It’s referred to as the Oxford (or serial) comma (image below is not mine but it demonstrates the Oxford comma and I think it’s hilarious).

Oxford or Serial Comma
Oxford or Serial Comma

Most magazines, newspapers, and online websites have specific formats for publishing. If you are hoping to land work as a freelancer, check the publication before submitting your article to see what style they prefer. It’s important to understand the tone and manner in which a publication presents itself.

If you want to be a journalist or are inspired by the AP, you should check out their FAQ, style guide book, and their “Ask an Editor” page.

I’ve been checking to see if some of the rules I learned in school are still applicable and some aren’t but more often than not, I come across “recommended” suggestions or “commonly accepted” formats. If you intend to pitch an article to a magazine, make sure your format matches their format.

A note on apostrophes from Grammarbook.com

“Rule 1b. Many common nouns end in the letter s (lens, cactus, bus, etc.). So do a lot of proper nouns (Mr. Jones, Texas, Christmas). There are conflicting policies and theories about how to show possession when writing such nouns. There is no right answer; the best advice is to choose a formula and stay consistent”

As you can see from the above, not everything is a rock solid rule (though I’m sure some would disagree). If your writing is full of grammatical errors, you will not be taken seriously as a writer. I cringe as I write this, hoping I’ve caught each typo and applicable comma. Use spellcheck, dictionary.com, and read your work out loud to catch all of those missing words that you thought, but didn’t actually type.

Helpful links:

Grammar Girl

Grammar Girl –Possesion with an S

Adverbs

Grammarist

Your homework: Check out the links above and brush up on what’s acceptable.

Saturday: The Spark will update tomorrow. Come back next Friday for a new post!

This blog updates each Friday with writing resources, prompts, and of course the random things I decide to post. Feel free to contact me here or find me on GoodReads @ https://www.goodreads.com/hkidder. Follow me on Instagram at: Everythingonpaperisperfect or on Pinterest @ paperpinning

Contact Email: everythingonpaperisperfect@yahoo.com

Writer’s Digest Contest: Mike’s Bikes & Repair Shop – My Entry

Writer’s Digest – Photo Contest – My Submission

The below is my entry for the Writer’s Digest “Your Story 63” Contest.


Mike’s Bikes & Repair Shop

Detective Highland Green switched back and forth between the last two photos on the victim’s phone. The first image, a selfie, showed Michele Sanders, bike helmut secured, trail behind her, and a blinding smile on her unlined face. The next photo, the only known photo of the suspected serial killer, was shot by Michele; her final act before dying.

Detective Claudia O’Hare banged into Highland’s office and dropped a single page on his desk. “Initial arrest report. It’ll be complete when you get off your ass. He’s been sitting in Interrogation for over an hour.”

“So sad for him. ” Highland’s tone showed little concern.

She peered over his shoulder. “You’re still staring at that thing?”

“Yeah, I know.” He set down the phone and skimmed the arrest report.

O’Hare grabbed the phone, focusing on the last image. “It’s so blurry. Did you notice this – here?” She traced a circle with her finger around the left leg of the person in the photo.

“Is it up? I can’t tell for sure.” Highland said.

“It’s definitely up, look at the color difference between the right and left side.” O’Hare gave him back the phone and plopped into one of the empty chairs. “You have that look you get. What is it?”

Highland eyed the photo again before speaking. “You know, Samantha – the first vic – she was running that morning but she also bikes. I remember her husband mentioned that she’d gone running that day because her bike was in the shop, something about gears needing to be fixed. He kept blaming himself, he was supposed to pick it up for her the night before but got out of work too late. He kept saying that if only she’d been on her bike she might have gotten away.” He opened his desk drawer and hauled out several hefty files, all victims of the same killer.

O’Hare’s green eyes bulged at the over-flowing folders, “You know, they have these new-fangled things called computers, right?”

Highland ignored her and unbound the files, flipping through the pages until he found what he was looking for.

“Look.” He pointed at a statement in Robin Rosen’s file. It was from her roommate: “She left at six a.m. She had a triathlon scheduled for next month and she’s been getting in as many miles as she could every morning. She was so excited to get out there today, she hasn’t ridden in over a week.”

“I’ve read that before, nothing new there.”

“What if the bikes are the key? We had theorized that he chose Munn Park because it means something to him but Munn Park has the toughest bike paths in the city. All of these women are serious athletes. Why hadn’t Robbin ridden in over a week if she has a triathlon next month? What if her bike was in the shop – like Samantha’s? And look at this, here.”

Highland handed O’Hare a photo he had withdrawn from the first victim’s file. It was a picture of Samantha Sorenson on her bike, taken a month before the murder.

“What am I looking at?” O’Hare asked.

“Look at the sticker on the bike and then look at the keychain in Michele’s photo.”

O’Hare looked back and forth between the two pictures. “Does the sticker say Mike’s Bikes? I can tell they are both blue and round but I can’t really say for certain what that is on Michele’s keychain.”

“Yeah, but I saw those keys at the scene and the logos match. They knew him, that’s how he got them to stop and talk to him.”

Highland turned the arrest report back to her and pointed at a box on the form titled Employer. It was filled in: Mike’s Bikes & Repair Shop.

O’Hare let out a low whistle.”There it is. You’ve got him.”

“I think we got him when we found him standing over Janie Smith’s body with a knife in his hand.”

“Highland, you’ve been busting your ass on these cases for months. We all have. There’s no way you could have known.”

He gathered the files together and stood. “Time to talk.”

They walked down the hall to Interrogation and stood outside watching the 5’7, muddy-eyed man on the other side of the glass.

Claudia spoke first, “You look like a dog with a bone.”

Highland smiled, his stubbly face crinkling. “Did you see his pant leg is up?” He walked into Interrogation, not looking back.

***********

I voted for “Deadly Consequences.” Head over to Writer’s Digest to see the other entries and cast your vote!

Your homework: Head over to Writer’s Digest and check out some of their story prompts and past contests. Even if you don’t submit for one, use them to get those creative juices flowing.

Saturday: The Spark will update tomorrow. Come back next Friday for a new post!
This blog updates each Friday with writing resources, prompts, and of course the random things I decide to post. Feel free to contact me here or find me on GoodReads @ https://www.goodreads.com/hkidder. Follow me on Instagram at: Everythingonpaperisperfect or on Pinterest @ paperpinning

Contact Email: everythingonpaperisperfect@yahoo.com

Words

Everything On Paper Is Perfect
Everything On Paper Is Perfect

 

The right combination of words can convey a lifetime of emotion and music has a magical way of evoking feelings in a limited space. I’ll never forget the painful wailing in Your House (Alanis Morissette). The secretive joy of being in her lover’s home, and the shattering tragedy in discovering his deception. The song itself is stripped bare of any musical accompaniment, which only enforces the searing pain she feels.

This week, I’m bringing you a list of lyrics and quotes that show, in a few words, a view into another persons world. For those of you on Instagram, I post a quote each day meant to inspire, and encourage you to write. You can follow me @ everythingonpaperisperfect. Don’t forget your weekly homework at the bottom of this (and every) blog post.

“I don’t have a choice but I’d still choose you.” (Civil Wars, Poison & Wine)

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
(― Mary Oliver)

“I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed
Get along with the voices inside of my head.” (Monster, Rihanna & Eminem)

“She, she screams in silence, all her doubts were someone else’s point of view.” (She, Green Day)

“Sometimes loneliness makes the loudest noise.”
(― Aaron Ben-Ze’ev)

“I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins and you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life.”
(Take Me Church, Hozier)

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
(― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches)

“There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment.”
(― Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever)

“You may not be her first, her last, or her only. She loved before she may love again. But if she loves you now, what else matters? She’s not perfect—you aren’t either, and the two of you may never be perfect together but if she can make you laugh, cause you to think twice, and admit to being human and making mistakes, hold onto her and give her the most you can. She may not be thinking about you every second of the day, but she will give you a part of her that she knows you can break—her heart. So don’t hurt her, don’t change her, don’t analyze and don’t expect more than she can give. Smile when she makes you happy, let her know when she makes you mad, and miss her when she’s not there.”
(― Bob Marley)

“You don’t love someone because they’re perfect, you love them in spite of the fact that they’re not.”
(― Jodi Picoult, My Sister’s Keeper)

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.”
(― Benjamin Disraeli)

“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” (― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring)

“That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.”  (― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things)

Your homework: Create a playlist of songs that move you. Press play, and write!

Saturday: The Spark will update tomorrow. Come back next Friday for a new post!

This blog updates each Friday with writing resources, prompts, and of course the random things I decide to post. Feel free to contact me here or find me on GoodReads @ https://www.goodreads.com/hkidder. Follow me on Instagram at: Everythingonpaperisperfect or on Pinterest @ paperpinning

Contact Email: everythingonpaperisperfect@yahoo.com

The Business End of Writing

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

― Ernest Hemingway

If your goal is to become a published author, finishing your manuscript (while daunting somedays), is only the first step in the process. This week, I discovered it is very easy to get caught in the rabbit hole of the writing industry.

There is an endless amount of information on the web, some of it is free, some of it for a fee (sometimes a monthly one). Unfortunately, not all of it, is helpful. From drafting query letters, to finding the correct agent for your manuscript (some agents and publishing houses only accept manuscripts during certain months), – it seems that navigating the submission process requires not only a roadmap, but a tour-guide, compass, flashlight, and possibly, some rations.

It’s easy to Google publishing houses in your state – but that doesn’t mean you can walk up, and hand in your novel. I was happy to find several publishers in my state, within an hour or two from where I reside. However, they strictly focus on regional writing. My book is not based in South Carolina, nor am I from, South Carolina originally. That simply, I’ve lost my chance to work with a local publisher.

There are a growing number of writers choosing to self-publish.  And, after considering that The Help was rejected 60 times, Gone with the Wind was rejected 38 times, and Harry Potter was rejected 12 times, I can understand why this trend will continue.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and lost in the endless sea of information. It can appear like a nearly insurmountable list of to-do’s. This week I’ve devoured writing blogs, I’ve researched agents, I’ve watched free videos, and I even read a friend’s manuscript.

But – do you know what I haven’t done a lot the last few days?

I haven’t written.

And that, my friends, is the entire point of this process. It is to write. To write, each, and every single day. As you research agents, perfect your query letters (in the correct font), debate between editors and copywriters, establish your author platforms, and run yourself dizzy with all the business of writing, don’t forget one thing: there are a million stories living and breathing inside you, and they can’t be born, unless you sit down, and bleed.

This weeks tip:
When you have done all you can with your manuscript (often abbreviated ms or mss), you can research literary agents at Preditors & Editors (not a typo).
“Preditors & Editors was founded in July 1997 by Dave Kuzminski as a resource and a simple compendium for the serious writer, composer, game designer, or artist to consult for information, regardless of genre. Even readers will find Preditors & Editors useful in locating reading material.”

Your Writing Homework: Get off the internet. Turn off your phone (really, you will be okay). Turn on what inspires you (music, movie, silence), and feed that burn that runs through your body. My favorite thing to do is close my eyes, imagine my scene, and just type, eyes closed. It’s easy to get distracted by typos, awkward spacing, flickering lights, and uncomfortable pauses when you write, so don’t look at it. Close those eyes, and just type. Let your mind see, your heart feel, and your fingers flow.

Saturday: The Spark will update tomorrow. Come back next Friday for a new post. 
This blog updates each Friday with writing resources, prompts, and of course, the random things I decide to post. Feel free to contact me here or find me on GoodReads @ https://www.goodreads.com/hkidder. Follow me on Instagram at: Everythingonpaperisperfect or on Pinterest @ paperpinning

Contact Email: everythingonpaperisperfect@yahoo.com

Writer’s Digest Entry (Your Story 62)

Your Story 62 has posted the top five winners. As I was not one of them, I am now free to share my story with you. As a quick reminder, the story rules were:

Write a short story, of 750 words or fewer, that begins with the following sentence: I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over. You can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.

You can check out the top five winners on Writer’s Digest and vote for the one you think should win. I cast my vote for: Patience. My entry, and this week’s blog post is below:

                                                      Penelope

I knew it was a mistake the moment it was over. The way she looked at me, shame and embarrassment all over her face, I knew I was wrong. The way she was feeling was all my fault. I’d put her on display for everyone to see and she was humiliated. I, on the other hand, was being applauded for her efforts. I’d talked about her as if she wasn’t there, as if she didn’t know what was happening as everyone watched. And I was so showy. I practically paraded her around in front of the group of them. Her trust in me has always been boundless and I can’t say that I have ever really felt like I deserved it. Not like that.

I’ve certainly gotten better over the years. I am more attentive, more loving. In fairness, we have both grown with time, though she certainly needed less training than I did. There are days I’m barely able to care for myself, let alone the rest of the house. A few days ago, Leo escaped; he loves to run in the yard; but he’s not allowed out there alone because the road is so close. I didn’t even notice he was gone until she leapt up, running with such intensity I couldn’t fathom where she was headed so quickly. I hadn’t even noticed he’d left. I felt utterly useless that day.

I forget to eat, I drink too much coffee, I don’t keep a schedule of any kind, and all along she stays by my side. I’ve always tried to treat her well. Punishment is not something I have to dole out often, as the guilt she feels when she’s disobeyed a direct order is often worse than anything I could imagine inflicting upon her. Though in truth, why she ever has listened to me – I can’t fathom. We both know she is the better one of our pairing. I am undisciplined. My moods range from sugary sweet to RedRum level screaming. Sometimes, a deep darkness sweeps through me, and in a way only she can, she senses it, comes to me, and lays by my side as I rage at the world in my mind.

She quiets me in ways I cannot describe. She is always in a good mood, despite the trappings of our lifestyle, and her lack of freedom to do as she wishes. She maintains a level of happiness and excitement that I envy daily. I can’t recall a time when she wasn’t cheerful or loving. Even after her surgery so many years ago, one I insisted she have, she was quiet, barely a complaint out of her where most would whine and moan. She has few friends, little Leo her closest companion aside from myself. She would make more friends if I let her, but she’s rarely out of my sight for more than a few minutes and the rare occasions I do let her wander on her own, she’s never far enough to get into a great deal of trouble.

I slid to the ground as she walked to me, slowly, head down, begging me to make it all end. I reached for her, the row of bows bright pink against the dark ring resting around her middle. I undid the snaps, one by one, relief flooding her little face. She spun in a circle as soon as she was undressed, and I was again, forgiven, instantly.

I leaned down and whispered in her ear, “My Princess Penelope, I’m so sorry; I promise, I’ll never put you in a tutu at the park again.”

Her tail wagged rapidly and her wet, black snout ran across my face. She really is the best dog ever.

*********

I hope you enjoyed my take on the story prompt.

Your writing homework: Go to Writer’s Digest and vote for one of the entries for any contest, it’s important to support your writing community.

Saturday: The Spark, your weekly writing prompt, will update tomorrow. Come back next Friday for a new blog post!

This blog updates each Friday with writing resources, prompts, and of course, the random things I decide to post. Feel free to contact me here or find me on GoodReads @ https://www.goodreads.com/hkidder. Follow me on Instagram at: Everythingonpaperisperfect or on Pinterest @ paperpinning

Contact Email: everythingonpaperisperfect@yahoo.com