punc·tu·a·tion and gram·mar

Let me begin by saying, I don’t have a Masters in English Literature or Creative Writing. I have never labeled myself an “expert” when it comes to writing, however, I know the difference between good grammar, and poor grammar. I’m also capable of identifying the misuse of punctuation. I’ve been reading the work of other writers lately–mostly self-published authors like myself—and I’ve come across a few things I feel I need to point out. I’m not going to name any names or books, but if you catch yourself doing any of the things I mention here, you may want to go back and do a bit of editing. 

Dialogue

Dialogue should be enclosed with quotation marks, like this: “It’s not a problem,” she said. You shouldn’t use an apostrophe, ex: ‘It’s not a problem’ she said. Also, you shouldn’t use parentheses , ex: (It’s not a problem) she said.  And please, don’t use double parentheses, either! Ex: ((It’s not a problem)) she said. 

I’m mentioning these, because I actually came across all of these problems in books I have recently read. 

There, Their, They’re…

Using the wrong word, or using a word in the wrong tense can be a problem. As a writer, I always keep certain tools handy: a dictionary, a thesaurus, and Google. I have come to appreciate all three, especially the speech function for Google. If I’m not entirely sure how to spell a word, or which tense to use it in, I can always read the sentence out loud, and let Google help me. Plus, I’m still a fan of the old fashioned method of flipping through the pages of a dictionary or thesaurus. 

 

I’m not trying to pick on anyone, but as a writer, the misuse of punctuation and grammar, are two things I take very seriously. I’m a self-published author, so I have to be very mindful of the writing I publish. I don’t have an editor to help me catch my mistakes; I have to do it all on my own. Whenever I read a piece of writing that was self-published, and contains several errors such as the ones mentioned above, it adds to the belief that “self published books are not real books”. There are many people who are against self-publishing, because pretty much ANYONE can publish a book now. The quality of these books can be incredible, but there are books which are seriously lacking the attention to editing every book needs. If you see any of the things I mentioned in your writing, please go back and fix it. If you have allowed someone else to help you edit your work and it still contains these kinds of mistakes, it may be time to look for another editor. edit

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Expand Your Readership With The Public Library!

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I wanted to share some info with my fellow indie authors. Self-e, is a terrific program, which helps authors connect with new readers, by making their books available through the public library. I have had success with this system, and two of my titles are currently available as ebooks through the Queens Public Library, in New York. So, if you’re an indie author, and you have published an ebook, you may want to consider using this program. Here is a direct link to their website: https://selfe.librariescreate.com/self-e/

FYI: you will need to fill out a short form, which includes agreeing to their terms and conditions, entering your name, email, state and name of your local library, and uploading a copy of your ebook (ex, PDF), and info about the book (ISBN, etc). Best of luck to everyone!

Sometimes You Have to Surrender…

Whenever I find myself dealing with a challenging situation, I pause. I weigh my options, and try to decide how best to proceed. Every now and then, I simply surrender. By surrender, I don’t mean give up. What I mean, is I accept the fact that there are forces greater than myself at work, and that I might be making a simple situation more complicated than it needs to be. I learned this when I started teaching myself to play the guitar.

I’d sit with Johnny D, my Johnson acoustic, in my lap fumbling over the strings and doing my best to play chords, and failing miserably. I decided to put guitar playing aside for awhile, and didn’t try again for a year or so. I bought my first electric: a Fender Starcaster I named Jack, and was determined to try again. I even went to a professional guitarist for lessons. I took a few lessons (I could only afford a FEW), then tried to teach myself. I could play a few chords, but struggled to get through a song. Then, one day, it happened.

I surrendered. I took a deep breath, and told myself, what I was doing wasn’t that damn complicated. I’m an intelligent person, who learned to drive a car, had a command of the English language and had used my skills to write, illustrate a publish several books. So, there was no reason why I couldn’t play the guitar. I literally looked at Jack, and said out loud, “I’m turning over my control, to you. To you, and the universe.” Then I started playing, and got through My Chemical Romance’s “Desert Song”, without messing it up.

I’m not the world’s greatest guitarist, but I’m not the worst, either.  Over the past few years, my skills have greatly improved. I’ve taught myself 20 chords, and I want to learn more.  The simple act of surrendering, really helped me. There are things in life we cannot change or control, and once we accept that, things become so much easier.