Sunday, May 19, 2013

Today, I have the privilege of introducing to you a writing colleague and friend, Katie Kolberg Memmel, the author of: "Five Fingers, Ten Toes, A Mother's Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference."
I've asked Katie to share some of her most frustrating problems regarding grammar. Katie's writing style is conversational and easy. You feel as if you are sitting in a chair across the room from her, with a cup of tea. Her book is written in the same manner and has been quite successful. Katie has shared some interesting questions for me today, let's take a look . . .
Dear Christine (Kind of like Dear Abby, but I assume that the advice will be very different):
First and foremost, I want to thank you for inviting my questions for participation with your blog. As a writer, I continuously seek better grammar and punctuation, not to mention creative ways of speaking. So I came up with a couple of head-scratchers that plague me on a daily basis. I welcome your feedback.

Since you and I are “Creative Writing” classmates at WCTC, and you have heard me read my work aloud, you know that I strive for a conversational writing style. It is my goal that through my written words, I want my readers to understand, not only WHAT I’m saying, but the WAY in which I’m saying it. As you can see, I capitalized, italicized, and emboldened the words, “what and way,” in the previous sentence. It is my daily goal for my readers to not only see the printed word, but to also hear it in their minds.

In my recently-released book, “Five Fingers, Ten Toes – A Mother’s Story of Raising a Child Born with a Limb Difference,” there were times I felt challenged with new and innovative ways of conversing. For example, emphasizing my thoughts with punctuation. Sometimes, I used all capital letters; sometimes, I used a bold typeface, and sometimes, italics. Because the book is a story of my family’s life, I wanted my writing to mirror my voice –much like a storyteller – to create for the reader the feeling that I was actually talking with them. Because I write a great deal of nonfiction, I believe this is becoming my style.

Now here’s my first actual question:

Dear Christine: Can you think of other unique ways, using punctuation or grammar that I might convey emotions (such as humor or sadness) into my work. I want to create for the reader the ability to hear my voice through my written words.

Dear Katie: I would suggest the use of em dashes and ellipses to cause a pause in situations where you want a little extra emphasis.

Another challenge I often face is with commonly-used and conversational phrases. For example, I’ve always used the phrase, “All of a sudden…!” But recently, I heard someone say, “All of the sudden…!” and I questioned which version was accurate.  

So here’s my second actual question…         

Dear Christine: Is there a way to find the correct words for commonly-used and conversational English phrases? Is there an online site or an English slang dictionary that exists to answer these wordy dilemmas of mine? As a writer, I don’t want to phrase the wrong words and appear silly.

Dear Katie: I would suggest referring to a slang dictionary. One often used, is the urban dictionary found at

Thank you in advance for your attention to my questions. I eagerly await your responses!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Comma and Series

I often refer to "Manual for Writers and Editors" when I need a solid resource. I would encourage you to have your own resources close at hand. No one is expected to remember all the rules, all of the time.

Today, we are looking at commas and series of three .... words, phrases, and clauses joined in a series are often separated by commas.

Notice the parallel constructions - we'll talk about that more next time.


A) Men, women, and children attended the showing.

B) His job required him to pack quickly, to travel often, and to have no personal life.

C) She responded eloquently while newspaper reporters asked questions, photographs shot pictures, and onlookers pushed closer.

Contract Signed for new book: "A Perfect Fit"

It was a great day today because I signed and mailed the contract back to the publisher for my fourth book, "A Perfect Fit "...