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Monday, April 25, 2011


Micah and Eve are destined for mediocrity--unless they can change their DNA.

My brother and I are leaping out into that crazy unknown blog world to write a book on a blog. It will be written from two points of view. DJ will write Micah's POV, and I will write Eve's. The project was conceived by my brother, and he so kindly invited me along for his summer project, entitled Garbage. I'm pretty dang excited for this, and I hope all of you will come hang out with us this summer at http://childoftherebellion.blogspot.com/. We're hoping to each have a chapter a week, tentatively going up on Wednesdays and Fridays. The first installment is set for this Wednesday, April 27th. The fun thing we're planning is to have readers choose where the actions goes at certain points in the plot. So come on over, comment, get involved and hopefully LOVE the story.

And the Winner is...

Deb Erfert!

Congratulations, Deb. You get a FREE Line & Content Combo edit from yours truly.

Thank you to everyone who entered. For those of you who didn't win, remember that I offer some really cheap options for editing. :] A big thanks to those who helped spread the word. You're awesome. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Contest Was Extended!

It's just like me to forget to post that I've extended my contest until April 22! Leave a comment here on my blog with your name to enter. If you'd like multiple entries, post links to show that you've shared the contest on Facebook, your blog, or some other social media outlet.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Grammar Tip: Comma Splices

I first discovered the evil of comma splices this summer. While living in two different locations for six months, I did a lot of driving. I downloaded a bunch of podcasts for those drives, including several Grammar Girl podcasts. She dedicated an entire podcast to comma splices. It is VERY worth the eight or so minutes to listen to or to read. http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/comma-splice.aspx

From my Editing Guide: (CS) Comma Splice
According to Diana Hacker in “A Writer’s Reference,” a comma splice is, “Two or more independent clauses joined by a comma without a coordinating conjunction…[or] joining by a word that is not a coordinating conjunction.”
In my words: You can’t throw two random thoughts together, stick a comma in, and call it good. 

As Grammar Girl notes, some authors will use the tool stylistically, the same way you might use sentence fragments. (I can't say anything about that. I'm a blatant sentence fragmenter.) But I also agree with Grammar Girl that in most cases, it's better to not use a comma splice.

Here are some examples:

I ran to the edge of the lake, it looked so dark and scary. Wrong
I ran to the edge of the lake. It looked so dark and scary. Better Creating two shorter sentences actually adds to the punch of these sentences. 
OR I ran to the edge of the lake, and it looked so dark and scary. 

Commas have a place. There are lots of rule governing where they go. A good idea is to go to a site like Grammar Girl or the Blue Book of Grammar and check out the rules, that way you'll know when your using a comma incorrectly. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Things You Need To Know Now: Let Me Formally Introduce You To Your Character

If you write regency romance, you are excused from this lecture.

It's happened to all of us. That witty comment sounded soooo good in our head. Then it came out of the mouth of a twenty-year old. And the eyebrows of your teen audience shot up, and they thought, "I would never say something like that..."

If you want to check out how truly hilarious regency-era speech can sound in a modern plot, check out Sarah M. Eden's blog post here: http://www.sarahmeden.com/2011/02/if-every-story-were-written-like-cliche.html.

The truth is, unless your twenty-something hero went to boarding school in England and was raised in strict, traditional, butler-and-all English manor house, he can't channel Mr. Darcy, Edward Ferrars, and heaven forbid, Mr. Rochester.

It just isn't done, my dear.

I know what you're thinking. You know how kids talk now, don't you? You have teens. Heck, you were a teen once, not so very long ago, right? Do you know what the word "besty" means? Yeah, I didn't think so.

Unfortunately, there's not a quick-fix for getting your character's speech down. Here's a few suggestions:
1. Sit down and write, in a bulleted list, your character's specifications. Age, looks, likes, dislikes. Better yet, take one of those chain emails where you tell everyone all about yourself and answer the questions for your characters. Just free-write. Don't worry about grammar (gasp!), or word choice, being repetitive, etc. Just write like you would in a diary. Get to know your character.
2. Use contractions. Unless your characters has some big reason for sounding snotty and over-educated (like they were born in 1809), use contractions.
3. Find someone who is the age of your character and have a long conversation with them. Note the words they use, the phrases, the lack of grammatical correctness, and the over-usage of the words awesome and totally.

One more thing, if you're saying right now, "Well my heroine is 32. She wouldn't say awesome. Or totally. She's so mature now." (I can't believe I'm admitting this...) I'm 28. I use those words on an hourly basis. And I consider myself very mature. :)

If you're not sure, post your paragraph below. We'll have a rousing discussion! :) And I will always edit 10 pages for free. Send me a big chunk of dialog. I'd love to hip-up your 25 year-old hero.  

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Grammar Tip: Coordinating Adjectives

This past February I had the awesome opportunity to go the ANWA conference in Phoenix. It was a blast and I leaned a BUNCH. Between pitching to Kelly Sonnack of Andrea Brown and Kurt Shaw from Covenant, I got to listen to some great speakers. One of the sessions I didn't get to stay for all of it, but loved the twenty minutes I got was Kelly Mortimer's self-editing class. She gave out an AMAZING hand-out of all these little things she sees when she reads manuscripts.
It gave me an idea. When I edit, I can't help but comment on all these tiny little things. So I created an editing guide. Armed with abbreviations, I cut down my editing time significantly. 

So, since I haven't had the time to write a THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW NOW post, I'll insert some grammar tips to tide you over. ;) Because as we all know, Grammar Is Not Optional. 

Today's Tip: Coordinating Adjectives

I'm just going to start at the top of my guide and head down. It's in alphabetical order (thanks to a suggestion from Shaunna). I've already covered AP (attribution punctuation. If you missed that post, it's under the THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW NOW series, Grammar Is Not Optional. It's a very necessary read if you don't know the proper way to punctuation "I went to the store," she said.)

That means CA is next: Coordinating Adjectives, which is exactly what is sounds like. Adjectives that coordinate with each other. 

We'll start with this sentence: I love my large, brown dog.
Think of it this way, Large and Brown texted each other and both decided to modify dog. They coordinated with each other. They need to be separated by a comma.
The trick to knowing if two adjectives are Coordinate Adjectives is if you can switch them around, insert and, and not change the meaning of the sentence.
I love my brown and large dog.
Yeah, that sounds a little kooky, but it's still correct and still makes sense.
There are times you don't need a comma, and that's when the adjectives don't coordinate. Grammar Girl uses the example "exquisite custom houseboat." Custom modifies houseboat, but they kind of end up as a couple, modified by exquisite. Make sense? Could you switch them around and still have the same meaning? No. So they're cumulative, not coordinate.
Here's the link to Grammar Girl:

And remember, enter My First Ever Blog Contest by leaving a comment in the last post!! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My First Ever Blog Contest!

Did you notice the new page I added to the blog today? Look up top: Basic Editing Services!

I know so many of my ANWA sisters are hesitant to ask others to critique full manuscripts because of the time it involves. Or you don't do much critiquing yourself and you feel bad asking others to do it for you. On the other hand, the cost of having it done professionally can cost you anywhere from $500 to $2000 and even more!

So I have a solution. I'm offering to you my services. :) Check out my Basic Editing Services tab for the whole scoop.

And a contest! To celebrate my new venture, I'm giving away one of my newly offered services: A Free Line & Content Combo edit (check out the details by clicking the tab!) to the winner of My First Ever Blog Contest.

All you have to do is comment here and include this information:
Your Full Name
Describe your manuscript in one sentence.
*Get two entries by posting a link to the contest on your blog or on your Facebook page. (Leave a direct link so I can check it out.)
*Get a third entry if you refer someone who enters the contest. (Make sure they write Referred by Your Name in their comment.)

Contest will close next Friday, April 15.

**Apparently there are some issues with commenting! If you can't comment, please send me an email at raneesclark@yahoo.com

****The contest has been extended to April 22.

Attributives! (Again...)

I love Grammar Girl. Let's just get that out there right now. I tend to turn to her more often than not when I have a grammar question. And today, while looking for some information on attributing to add to my Critiquing Guide, I found another great podcast from Grammar Girl on attributives:


Check it out. It is SO worth your time. (Five minutes, max--if you read it. :)

About Me!

I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.


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