Grammar-ing “without MFA,” and other things.

Sometime in May, I think (the days do blur together more now, don’t they?), someone told me, via email, that what I’ve done on this blog with my “Writing Glitch” posts is the same as a non-doctor giving medical advice, and they were going to report my “lies” to WordPress itself, or something like that. This individual even threatened to sue me for giving writing advice “without MFA English Grammar from a top credited university.”

So I did what any sensible person would do in my place: I told my twin about it, so we could both have a laugh.

As far as I or my twin (or my twin’s former co-worker Ricardo, who’d once worked as a copyeditor for a major publisher, back when such companies actually had in-house copyeditors) can tell, I know more about how to use correct/standard grammar and punctuation than most people with English degrees do. Also, a degree in English, even a degree in creative writing, doesn’t mean that individual knows anything about the mechanics of writing.

(Then there’s that novelist who also writes psychology nonfiction… Ohmigod, the bad punctuation! Stupidly bad, at that, and not just the usual misplaced commas and such. I tried to read one of his novels, but I didn’t make it to the end of the first page. The other day, I wrote a bloggish tirade — someday I may even share it — directed at this person, in the form of Alex Walotsky advising a colleague on why it’s a Very Bad Idea to publish crap when people are isolated and in desperate need of something readable.)

July was a difficult month this year. Some of it, I’m not ready to discuss yet.

However, the bits I can tell you about now…

Just yesterday (yeah, technically that makes it an August thing, but it’s the aftermath of something from July), my clone-sibling was threatened with losing his job because he’d told a co-worker that he’d missed the entire month of July due to being sick with covid-19. (There is no way I wasn’t exposed to the virus, too, but I had no symptoms. Neither did Grace.) The person in charge of HR (I want to make a joke about human resources not really applying when my twin is involved) insisted that because she didn’t believe he’d been sick with covid-19 — she says she doesn’t believe the virus is even real, although she’s clearly terrified of getting it and pretends it’s a hoax to make herself feel “safe” — he wasn’t sick and is “lying” when he says he had it… and not only is he not to tell anyone he had it, but he is supposed to explicitly say he didn’t have it. This all came about because other people who work there weren’t informed when their co-worker came down ill with covid-19, and they wanted to know why they weren’t informed so they could get tested, too, and find out if they’d caught it. So now, if anyone at work asks Paul about whether he had covid-19, he’ll reply, “I’ve been told not to talk about it.” That’s sure to backfire on the people who want him to pretend it never happened.

A disturbing thing occurred to me as I was typing a comment on Charles Yallowitz’s blog post this afternoon: My twin and I are mindlinked — not in an over-the-top, comic-book-character sort of way, but we do often “hear” each other’s thoughts/emotions. In the stories we write together (although I insist that my name not go on the book covers), there are a couple of characters, Hrothgar and Hunter, who are mindlined twins. The thing that occurred to me a little while ago? Joseph and Jon are twins, too, in pretty much the same way Hrothgar and Hunter are. (I’ve imagined bits of conversation between Jon and Hunter on this topic; they agree that Hunter fared much better than Jon did… and when/if I actually write that scene, there needs to be a “Don’t laugh, cat,” comment from Jon. Dramatic irony amuses me.) Does this mean it’s likely that they will also end up mindlinked eventually? (Hasn’t Jon had enough bad stuff happen to him in his life already???)









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Writing Glitch 1096

Today’s glitch:

What we see in the second sentence of the example is an actual run-on sentence: a sentence that lacks even a misused comma to slow the headlong rush. It needs either a period or a semicolon after friend.

Other problems:

Lives are countable. Replace amount (for uncountable nouns) with number. (If you really, really want to use the word amount for some reason, change the sentence to say unlimited amount of life; lives are countable, but life is not.)

Unless used as a proper name (for a person or anything else), amber should not be capitalized.

 The last sentence is compound and needs a comma after room.

“This is going to be horrible. Pain is your friend; it means you haven’t lost your mind. […] You have an umlimited number of lives in this game. Stay focused on finding that amber room, and no matter what happens, you stand back up each time you fall.”




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Another well-reasoned tirade AGAINST ‘Thou Shalt Not Use Adverbs!’

This is an old (from 2017!) tirade against the anti-adverb nonsense so common in “internet wisdom” on writing, and I’d somehow forgotten to share it before, so… 

The most common argument I’ve seen against the use of adverbs (*) amounts to, “Some people do it badly, so no one should do it at all.”

Do you have any idea how illogical that is? By that line of reasoning, no one should drive a car, raise a child, play a musical instrument, or give advice on writing. After all, there are people who do each of those things very badly

I also see a lot of straw-man arguments put forth: “If you think it’s ever okay to use adverbs, you must think it’s best to use adverbs all over the place and especially in every single dialogue tag.” 

Friends, there are a hell of a lot of adverbs that don’t get mentioned in those Thou Shalt Not Adverb articles. Those adverbs don’t get mentioned either because the writer doesn’t know they’re adverbs (quite possible, considering the grammatical ignorance of so many “experts” these days) or doesn’t want to mention that not all adverbs end in –ly, because that would mess up their claims that they never use adverbs and therefor are far better writers than you are. (*rolls eyes*)

I recently read (half of) a novel in which -ly adverbs were used all over the place, often in ways that added nothing to the sentences where they appeared. (Y’know how ran quickly doesn’t work because running is quick? The same goes for shouted loudly or hid furtively or whatever.) Also, the writer seemed to think that –ly adverbs should be set off with commas from the rest of the sentence: He shouted, loudly, at his kid brother. This is bad writing. Just using the occasional modifier for a verb is not bad writing. (I’ll say it again: If you really believe that absolute avoidance of adverbs is a worthwhile goal for any writer, prove it can be done. If you can’t do it yourself, at least point out a writer who has done it. You can probably find such a writer hanging out with rainbow-eating unicorns and the Easter Bunny — the Loch Ness Monster, being a plesiosaur, is a bit too real for such company.)

(*) Aside from, “Stephen King said…,” that is. First of all, he didn’t actually say to avoid all adverbs, all the time. Second, he used several adverbs in that rather short essay: about a dozen, not including the ones used as examples of what not to do. Seriously, friends, if you’re gonna listen to anyone about the One True Way to Write Fiction, at least make sure they follow their own rules. “Oh, but you could rewrite Some people do it badly so it doesn’t have an adverb: Some people don’t do it well. So there!” Um… No. Not is an adverb. Well is also an adverb. You lose… 🙂


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Kitten (and Cat) Photos

These are from the beginning of June: cat photos!

Five kittens on the grass

Four housecats on a couch

Two kittens on the back porch


Two of the three momma cats (Left and Jellybean) and the smallest kitten (Tiny Tux)


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Updates: end of May

Question: What is both cute and scary?

Answer: Eleven kittens.

Smudge’s three half-sisters had their kittens in the same week, and there are now eleven small kittens — plus their moms — living in our back yard: three “tuxedo” kittens, four white ones (technically, one of those isn’t all white — he has a tiny grey streak between his ears), an all-black one, a grey tabby, a fluffy ginger tabby, and a tortie who looks like her grandmother. Yesterday, the little grey one climbed the “cat perch” for the first time, so it won’t be long before they’re all climbing the fence and Paul’s workbench, and generally making their moms’ lives more difficult.

In a bit more than two weeks, I’ll start on the Big Editing Project that got delayed by the pandemic. I won’t say a lot about it, except that the manuscript is bigger than Daylight by about sixteen thousand words… and it’s the first book in a series. 🙂

Most of the editing I’ve been doing lately has been on shorter works, so I’m excited about getting into a Really Fat Novel again soon.

Speaking of really fat novels… The clone has been writing lately. Quite a bit, considering he does it only when in his office at his day job, and he’s been working from home on alternating weeks. As always, he has more than one WIP going at a time. He’s passed 90K words for the fifth Tebrey novel, and although I don’t know the current word count, I know he’s also made more progress with the sequel to Project Brimstone.

And speaking of scary, I’ve been editing a scary novel set in eastern Kentucky. Trust me, the setting is a large part of what makes it so frightening. (And then we’ll need beta readers again, by the way.)



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They Can Dance If They Want To…

If you think one of the best things about the 80s song “Safety Dance” is the medieval clothing worn by everyone in the video…

If you’ve already watched literally every funny cat/dog/bird video online, and now you don’t know what to watch next to keep your spirits up while social-distancing…

If you think people who do historical re-creation have no sense of humor, but you’re willing to be proven wrong…

…you need to watch these videos.

Start with this one. (I’m not affiliated with anyone in the Kingdom of Caid. Don’t even know anyone there. According to my clone-sibling and his lady wife, we’re in the Kingdom of the Outlands. *shrug*) 

Y’see, it went like this: Someone in the Society for Creative Anachronism decided to issue a dance challenge to all the “kingdoms” in the Society, and the populace responded… with compiled videos of people dancing while dressed in historical clothing (some even in armor). These videos both uplifting and funny, even if you’re not into historical re-creation yourself.

Atenveldt even did their dance video to… “Safety Dance.” Not the original version, but still cool. (Atenveldt is our neighbor to the west.)

Note: My clone-sibling is not in the video from the Kingdom of the Outlands (“Grendels don’t dance,” he’d insist),… but that’s not to say he’d never be convinced to participate if this “interkingdom dance challenge” thing came around again later. 🙂




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A quartet of “writing glitches” to entertain and inform

I haven’t had any “Writing Glitch” posts lately, so today I decided to do something about that.

Let’s get the really ugly one out of the way first:

I’ll ignore the ampersand, because this glitch was a Tweet, and it makes sense when Tweeting to save characters by using a symbol instead of spelling out and. However, there are some errors that cannot be justified as Twitter-esque brevity. Redhead, for example, is one word when used to refer to a person with red hair. The semicolon after eyes is wrong; replace it with a comma. Hyphenate blue-eyed. Replace the colon in the last line with a comma.

This needs to be said, although it’s not about grammar and whatnot: There is so much stupid in that false analogy… If I were a blue-eyed redhead, I would not think that every organization I belong to or support ought to have exclusively red-hairred, blue-eyed staff… but if an organization claimed to be for supporting/helping red-hairred, blue-eyed people in some way, I’d demand that they have some such people on their board of directors. My extensive reading on relevant topics has shown me this is how the vast majority of ‘redheads w/blue eyes’ feel: No one has the right to speak for us unless at least some of us are included in the conversation!

(BTW, naming a kind of semicolon misuse after this person would make more sense than naming a kind of comma misuse after him, because the comma thing is based on someone else’s misunderstanding of how spoken dramatic pauses should be written. Also, my sister-in-law says it’s possible that this individual dislikes autistic people because he suspects — rightly so — that many of us are more inclined to both identify with and admire the character played by one of his former co-stars, rather than the character he played. Personally, I always liked the grumpy-yet-empathetic guy best, but the one who masked his emotions all the time was more relatable/likable than the one who was always being overly dramatic and trying to make himself the center of attention.)

This next one has a single mistake. See if you can spot it.

Everyday is an adjective for something ordinary or commonplace; it’s never something you do, because an adjective cannot modify a verb. Change everyday to every day.

Do one thing every day that makes you happy.

Some sources of “glitches” are just… too easy, y’know?

Plural/compound subject = plural verb. Change is to are.

Also, neither Kansas City nor Chicago are states. (D’uh.) And states should not be capitalized. Delete the before U.S. (It’s correct/standard to write the history of the U.S., but not the U.S. history.) The comma after violence should be either a semicolon (although I don’t recommend anyone trying to teach that idjit how to use a semicolon correctly) or a period. (I won’t pretend to understand why belong to is there instead of something else.) Your should be you’re, and there should be a comma after there.

One more glitch, ’cause irony makes me laugh…

Yes, it’s true that a lot (not alot!) of people say/write try and, but it’s incorrect; it should be try to. (If you say try and, you’re implying that the trying and the doing are two separate actions, rather than one action being attempted.)

An ellipsis does not have five dots! That probably shouldn’t be a pause there anyway, but if you’re gonna write one, use a real punctuation mark meant for indicating a dramatic pause.

“As I watch this generation try to rewrite history, there’s one thing I’m sure of: it will be misspelled and have no punctuation.”

(And the person who wrote this is qualified to criticize others’ punctuation? Not damn likely.)





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Paul’s latest novel is now available for pre-order.

From my clone-sibling’s blog:

This is much different from my other works. […] It is a mostly-contemporary slow-build thriller. It is not obviously connected to my other works. Not obviously.

(For the record, I think the connection is obvious, but you’d probably have to read Project Brimstone to see exactly how.)

And the back-cover blurb:

Dreams of death, and the death of dreams…

Dr. Michelle Fredericks works as an occult consultant to help the police and the FBI solve grisly murders.

She is used to the horrors that people can visit upon one another.

She has secrets.
She doesn’t play by the rules.
She is psychic.
She has killed.

She remembers a government project, which she shouldn’t…

I Won’t Cry for Yesterday (available in print and ebook) goes on sale May 1.






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We’re celebrating the kitten’s birthday today.

This was Logan back in the middle of June, 2019:

…and this is Logan now, at one year old:

His hobbies include napping in cardboard boxes, chittering loudly at sparrows and finches outside the kitchen window, and shoving fake mice under closet doors.





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FREE sci-fi novel, plus a bit about WIPs.

Last week, I got to read about twenty thousand words of my clone-sibling’s WIP (well, one of them: he’s working on three different novels right now), the sequel to Project Brimstone (working title, Stormriders). And I gotta tell you, anyone who reads this novel without having taken me seriously when I said (over and over) that all our stories are connected somehow… They’re gonna miss a lot of the fun.

You remember how a couple of secondary characters from The Awakening series appear in Project Brimstone? Well, there’s more of that… and I don’t mean Deegan. Not just Deegan, anyway. He hasn’t shown up yet in Stormriders, although I’m sure he will. What I mean, though, is the sort of stuff that fills in backstory for some of those weirdos in that other series. Surely you don’t think Deegan is the only good-guy character in The Awakening who was… less so, once upon a time.

As hinted at in the title of this post, The Madness Engine (book 3 of The Awakening) is currently free on Amazon. (Paul forgot to post an announcement on his blog for this one, so that link sends you directly to Amazon.)






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