25 10, 2021

I missed Punctuation and Grammar Days

By |2021-10-18T12:36:06-05:00October 25th, 2021|writing, Writing Craft|0 Comments

Neither are official-official holidays so there are no consequences. I’ll do better next year getting my blogs up on the actual dates, but in the meantime, here is my white-rabbit-late blog.

If you’re not familiar with the designation, both days are set aside to celebrate the underappreciated art of using correct grammar.

Jeff Rubin selected Sept. 24 in 2004 to be National Punctuation Day as “a celebration of the lowly comma, correctly used quotation marks, and other proper uses of periods, semicolons, and the ever-mysterious ellipses.”

Martha Brockenbrough, founder of the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, added March 4 as National Grammar Day to encourages everyone to use grammar correctly in both verbal and written language.

I love the reasoning behind the date. The National Grammar Day website states. “Language is something to be celebrated, and March 4 is the perfect day to do it. It’s not only a date, it’s an imperative: March forth on March 4 to speak well, write well, and help others do the same!”

These days our communication relies increasingly on our written word skills. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t email or text or post comments on social media. Correct grammar and punctuation are important.

I always need help with grammar and punctuation. If you have as much trouble as I do, here are my recommendations:

For help understanding how each punctuation mark is used, try this fabulous clickable chart here. Once on the page, you click on the punctuation mark and a page with the explanation opens.

Nitty-Gritty Grammar is a humorous guide to correct grammar.

Or for serious writing, try The Elements of Style


For grammar help as I write in Word 365, I use Editor, an editing tool embedded in the word processor.

For Grammar help when composing emails and social media posts, I have installed the Grammarly software program.

You can get the free version or pay for a premium  version at https://www.grammarly.com/

Lastly, just for fun, enjoy this YouTube version of Victor Borge’s Phonetic Punctuation skit. It’s old but still hilarious any day of the year.

27 07, 2020

Flying Body Parts

By |2020-07-27T12:27:24-05:00July 27th, 2020|Make Me Think Monday, writing, Writing Craft|0 Comments

judythemorgan.comI recently read a blog for writers discussing disembodied body parts. It got me to thinking. Do readers even notice such minutiae?

For example, do you stumble over sentences like these?

  1. Their eyes locked across the room.
  2. His eyes zeroed in on the man lurking in the shadows.
  3. The man eyed the chocolate cake with the longing of a starving man.

In the first two sentences, I don’t picture actual eyes flying across a room to collide or zoom across space. I guess some people might and do according to the blog I read.

In the third, eye is being used as a verb, which it can be, and should cause no issues.

Some writers would substitute gaze for eyes in the first two sentences. And that’s the writing communities’ preferred word.

Sometimes, I will use gaze too. Other times I go with eyes. It depends on how the sentence reads. Consider this sentence:

The softest green eyes he’d ever seen rambled from his head down to his toes and back again.

I picture eye movement (something you’d see) traveling downward then back up. To substitute eyeballs which is  actually what’s moving would sound ridiculous. Using gaze instead of eye would work but, in my opinion, decrease  the subtle tension.

Eyes aren’t the only body part that roam.

Fingers fly: Her fingers flew to his cheeks.

Jaws drop:  His jaw dropped to the floor.

Arms get shot: She shot her arm out to catch him.

Hands get thrown: He threw up his hands.

Faces fall: Her face fell.

Flying or roaming body parts don’t trouble me. If I read the character “swims through the crowd,” I don’t see splashing water. Or if someone writes “a lump of ice settled in her belly,” I don’t picture actual ice. Describing a character’s eyes with “pools of molten chocolate,” I don’t think he’s got Godiva eyeballs, just deep brown eyes?

A writer’s job is to provide a satisfying experience for the reader by creating a vivid movie in their head. One that combines the richness of language with remarkable stories. I believe being too literal can destroy the richness of  language.

So, what’s your take on flying body parts? Do you cringe when you read those sentences? Are you pulled from the story?

16 09, 2019

Emotional Stages of a Writing Project

By |2019-09-16T06:38:21-05:00September 16th, 2019|Writer's Life, writing, Writing Craft|0 Comments

My blogs generally focus on my writer’s life with stories about things that strike my fancy. Today I’m sharing a fun video aimed primarily for writers.

I first saw the video many years ago on the blog of The Steve Laube Agency. Fridays on his blog are FUN day and he shared this great video by James Andrew Wilson titled The Five Emotional Stages of Writing a Novel.

If you’re not a writer, I’m hope you can relate to some of the same stages in projects you undertake. And, it’ll help you understand your writer friends better.

26 06, 2019

Quotes to Inspire Your Writing – Benjamin Franklin

By |2019-06-17T14:43:24-05:00June 26th, 2019|Wednesday Quote, Wednesday Words of Wisdom, Weekly Quote, writing|1 Comment

About the quote

I love the wisdom and wit of Benjamin Franklin. Wouldn’t we all love to have a do-over of at least some part of our lives?

Franklin suggests correcting faults or varying plot in our stories is an advantage. I would agree. Rewriting or revising is why I love storytelling–I can always change the story until my characters and I are happy with the results.

About the graphics

The public domain picture of Franklin is by Joseph Duplessis source: Smithsonian National Gallery

The public domain signature source: Wikimedia Commons

12 06, 2019

Quotes to Inspire Your Writing – Quincy Jones

By |2019-06-09T15:03:39-05:00June 12th, 2019|Wednesday Quote, Weekly Quote, writing|1 Comment

About the graphic

This is the path around Capulin Volcano National Monument, located between Raton, NM and Clayton, NM. The site is on a direct route between Texas and Colorado. We stopped to hike the rim on one of our trips.

About the quote

The quote comes from an interview Quincy Jones did. Born March 14, 1933, in Chicago, Jones is an American musical performer, producer, arranger, and composer. His best-known works include Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the all-star charity recording “We Are the World,” the film The Color Purple, and the television series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air .

22 10, 2018

From Lizards to Headlights and Taillights

By |2018-10-16T13:26:41-05:00October 22nd, 2018|A Writer's Life, poetry, writing|1 Comment

Many years ago one of my grandsons lived next door. He was home-schooled and sometimes I helped with his homework.

Writing was his least favorite subject. Fast forward to his first year in college and he loves his creative writing class. He sends me links when the Southwest Baptist University newsletter publishes his work.

His most recent publication was a poem, which reminded me of another homework poem, one I’d helped him with years ago. That poem was about a lizard.

Lazy lizards leap from leaf to leaf

As green as a Sprite can

Lizards like to hide under the weather

Running, hiding, and sneaking around

Crazily, hastily, and hurriedly leaving their tails behind them

The miniature lizards are tiny compared to the big, blue sky

You can read about the do-your-homework challenge we had before he finally wrote the lizard poem here.

His newest poem is about seeing headlights and taillights as he journeys back and forth to college. I’ve copied it here, but you can also view it in the SBU Student Media Organization newsletter here.

As I drive down these roads

Each day, every night,

I look up, I look back, and

I see headlights and I see taillights

The taillights in front, the headlights behind

When they travel this life with me,

The headlights ahead and the taillights in back

When going to places I've already seen.

There might be a lesson here or there might be none,

But I do know behind each pair of lights is a someone.

He may be an old man with nothing but the past,

Or she may be a young girl nervous about class,

They could be a happy couple, but then again maybe not,

Or it might be somebody having the same thought.

Maybe they’re hurting, or maybe they're fine

Maybe they've given up or maybe they're still trying.

Will I ever know, and do I really even care?

Because what do I give them but the occasional stare?

Are they in need, and if so, why?

Could I help them, should I even try?

If they're as real and loved as I am, or maybe more,

Then why is it they're so easy to ignore?

Is it because I don't know them individually

But can only speak in generalities?

The answers to these questions I may never know

But I frequently ponder them as along these roads I go

And each day, and every night,

I look up, I look back, and I see headlights and I see taillights

Looks to me like we have a budding writer joining his multi-published father, Dr. J.B. Hixson, and his Nana.

16 07, 2018

Answering Writerly Questions

By |2018-07-10T20:48:20-05:00July 16th, 2018|writer, Writer's Life, writing|0 Comments

Once people know you are a writer, they ask questions. Usually questions you’ve heard a thousand times before, and you’d think writers would have a quick answer ready.

Instead, most of us appear at a loss for words. Not because we don’t want to talk about our work. It’s just writing doesn’t lend itself to easy or simple answers.

Let me explain what I mean with responses to some frequently asked writerly questions.

  • “How’s the novel coming?”

There’s really no good answer for this one because writing a novel is a long, tedious process. It’s like asking a pregnant woman if she’s had the baby yet.

Lauren B. Davis calls novels wild, unwieldy beasts that resist being tamed. “You have to keep at it day after day, even when it seems like absolutely nothing good is happening,” she says.

On a good day, the answer to this question would be the novel’s coming along. On a not so good day, you don’t want to ask.

  • Are your stories autobiographical?

The short answer is, of course, we writers extract from our lives for the elements of our work. Sometimes we fictionalize and disguise, sometimes we write vivid memoirs and call them fiction.

Fact is everything and anything is inspiration and fodder for a writer’s creative mind, including dinner party conversations and the clothes you’re wearing.

And once that answer soaks in you’ll never look at a writer the same way again.

  • “Are you published?”

This is such a double-edged question.

Any published author has an easy answer. You should expect to be handed a business card with all pertinent information.

But be prepared. This question may also raise an infomercial about everything a writer’s written since learning the alphabet.

On the other hand, for writers who are submitting to editors and agents with little or no results, it can be like salt in an open wound. It’s hard not to be sensitive when you’re working so hard to grab the golden ring.

  • When’s the next book coming out?

Writers love this question. Well, I do, but it’s a complicated response because you have to understand the process.

First, a writer has to complete a draft (writer speed greatly influences draft completion). After which, revisions and edits begin (and there can be many, many of these).  Revisions and edits lead to more rewriting. A cover must be designed, back cover copy and blurbs prepared, and interior formatting done before the book finally goes on sale.The whole process can take years.

The answer depends on where a writer is in this publication process.

I’m not saying you should never ask questions. Quite the contrary, please do. We writers love to discuss our passion. Just understand when our answers aren’t quick and simple.

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