Friday, July 29, 2011

F³A: I know, I know

I haven't blogged for two days.  It's been, once again, a crazy week.  Two full days of html class, hosting a birthday bbq, trying to work on marketing stuff, the flu, and then, death.  Not the metaphorical kind either.  An acquaintance to me, but a friend to people I care about.  I met him a few times, he was a funny, sweet, very likeable guy.  Though I didn't know him well, he did touch my life and he will be missed.


Excited for my writers retreat this weekend.  I want to come up with a pithy name for it and do it annually.  Any ideas?

Also been freaking out about my book launch.  I feel like I'm so behind on the marketing stuff.  I know I still have six months, (okay, not quite) but it goes fast.  Next step, contact LA teachers, librarians, and bookstores locally.  I also will be doing a grass roots campaign.  Some of you prepare to be contacted.  Also prepare for me to move to blogging three days a week instead of five.  It's all about the freak out.

Also, watch for the Class of 2k12's vlog on WriteOnCon.  We talk about getting published, the editorial process, and give aspiring writer's advice.  Not sure when it will be posted, will update later.

That's all I can muster today. 

Friday Nibbles:

Random iPod shuffle song: Decode by Paramore.

Book of the Week:  I'm going with Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.  I've not read it yet, but it's now been suggested to me twice.

Netflix of the Week: Manic.  Watched this for research.  It was fantastic.  It's dark, but well worth the watch.  Stars Don Cheadle (who I think is amazing), Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Zooey Deschanel.

Quote of the Week: "Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness." ~  Carl Jung

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday Writing Tips: The Ellipsis

 Once again, with help from Punctuation Made Simple (who threw me for a loop because they changed their website up, and who I'm calling PMS for short from this point on.  HAHAHAHAHA), we're learning about some commonly misused punctuation marks.  This week: the ellipsis.  Especially overused by newbies (definitely me in my first attempt at a novel).

Here are the rules:

[1] An ellipsis takes the place of omitted words in a quotation
...and didn't even say goodbye."
             "She was talking about writing, editing
...until she turned blue in the face."
[2] Indicates a long thoughtful pause
             I want to, I need to write.
[3] Indicates trailing off (as opposed to an abrupt interruption)

             I was so tired. I just couldn't write anymore. Just couldn't
[4] Indicates a continuation of time
             The bomb counted down: ten, nine, eight...
[5] Indicates pauses in conversation as if a "realization" is occurring
             "But how could he...could she...could they?"

No spaces before or after the ellipsis.
(okay, this is what PMS says.  When I got my copy edits they not only put spaces before the ellipsis, the put them between the dots.  Like so: . . . Just sayin')

             "Don't let me fall..."

No period after an ellipsis. 
Do remember to close your quotation.

Usage Key
Stylistically, it is helpful to think of ellipsis points as a thoughtful sigh.
The biggest misuse of ellipsis is to overuse them (Yup). As with all highly stylistic constructions, a little goes a long way.

Remember: for an interrupted quote, us an em dash (we'll talk about the em dash next week.  I loves me the em dash, so did my copy editor) . Reserve ellipsis for long pauses, not abrupt interruptions.
I hope this clears things up a bit. 

Like I said next week, we'll be talking about the em dash.  Happy editing!!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monkey Madness Monday

Tamarin monkeys
Look at these monkeys <-------- They're so cute they look like stuffed animals.

So, I had an eventful weekend.  A writer meetup with my fellow Harbingers of Doom, Danny Marks, J. Anderson Coats, and Marissa Burt -- two 2K12er and an Apocalypty. 

Then I got a bout of the 24 hour flu.  Good times.  I hate being sick.  I'm not good at standing still, especially when there is so much to do.  It was hard to walk by a weed without pulling it, look at the dishes in the sink, see the mound of laundry.  But I always overdo it when I'm sick, prolonging my illness.  I was a good girl this time.

Then I stressed, panicked, and nearly collapsed over my option book.  If you don't know what an option book is, it's when your publisher has right of first refusal over  your next novel.  It's a lot of pressure.

On a more positive note, I'm taking an HTML class today.   My goal: to be self sufficient at producing websites and maintaining the one at my day job.  I bought a book, but I'm much better at being shown how to do something.  So I'm very excited.  Then I have a four day writer's retreat I'm conducting at the ocean with four friends.  We're each giving a presentation, writing, having fun, and socializing.  I'm really looking forward to it.  We're going to come up with a pithy name for it and do it annually.

That's about that for a Monday.

How's your Monday so far?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Let me know what you think of my bookmark design.

Okay, so this is the design I came up with for my bookmarks.  Let me know what you think.  The left is the front, right, the back.

Friday, July 22, 2011

F³A: Gardening

Okay, first off, I used to hate gardening and yard work.  There were icky bugs, it was tiring, weeds never went away.  Now that I have my own place I'm kind of liking it.  It's good exercise, it makes my house look better, and it's very therapeutic.  

I've been doing it as much as I possibly can, mostly because here in the PNW, you never know what the weather will be like.  Nice days, you better get out and get as much done as you can, because you never know what tomorrow will bring-more likely than not, rain.

Right now my lawn is mowed.  Yesterday I finally learned to use my weed wacker (don't hate on me now).  I have a flower bed full of ocean decor, another one with gnomes.  I have an herb garden out front, which I'm continuing to work on, and veggies in the back, just a few, I don't want it to be overwhelming.  

I also bought a bird bath and feeder and right now I'm watching blue jays hang out in my back yard.  Pretty awesome.

Once I finish my herb garden, and get a few more flowers out back that's it.  I'm done.  Which will probably be the end of our Washington summer anyway.  Perfect timing.

There's only one thing I find as therapeutic as gardening, and that's writing.  I just wish it were better exercise.

Friday Nibbles:

Random iPod shuffle song: Jay Brannan, The Freshmen

Movie of the Week: Red Riding Hood.  Watched it.  Liked it.  Bite me.

Book of the Week: In honor of her birthday today, I'm going with my friend Gae Polisner's book, The Pull of Gravity.  Happy birthday my beautiful friend.(you should all go out and buy it now.  In honor of her birthday and all)

Quote of the Week: "You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt."  ~Author Unknown

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Third Degree Thursday: Desert Island Books

What are your desert island books?  I think mine would be:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A River Runs Through It by Norman MacLean
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach (This is seriously my favorite new book)
Never Eighteen (What? I'd want my book there!)

At least for now.  But I suppose if I were on a desert island I couldn't really change my mind now, could I.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wending Wednesday: The Journey to Publication Part 2

When we left off, my mother-in-law had just passed away.  I was grieving with nothing but time on my hands.  I decided to write again, something I hadn't done since college.

Thing One and Thing Two were getting close to reading age, so I wanted to write something for them.  Something they could relate to and would love.  I started writing Dena Powers: Superhero?  I created characters named after my girls, who had their personalities and physical traits.  They were super excited.

It kind of started out as a hobby; I'd sit down and write between getting the kids to and from school, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping.  When everyone was at home, I'd put it aside.  But soon I was at 50 pages and I said to myself wow, this is turning into a real book.

So, I kept writing.  That 50 pages turned into 100, then 150, and about 50,000 words later, it was a novel, and I thought a pretty good one.

One day I left it at my dad's house accidentally.  He took a look and said, "This is pretty good stuff.  We should try to get you published."

So I edited.

A couple weeks later my dad emailed me: Have you seen this? 

It was an article about a new contest that was being put on by and Penguin.  It was called the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.  ABNA for short.

We all, (me, my dad, my husband) decided that I should enter my little superhero novel, so I did.

Stay tuned next week for part three.

To read part one, click here.

Below is a video I made awhile back about why I started the journey.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday Tips: The Colon

We're back with the assistance of Punctuation Made Simple.  Today's lesson is about the colon. 

Apparently, the colon is one of the easiest punctuations marks you can use.  It only does one thing in prose:  it introduces. It can introduce just about anything: a word, a phrase, a sentence, a quotation, or a list.
I've already given you a couple examples above; here are some more.

Megan has only one thing on her mind: publication.
Megan has only one thing on her mind: her book,  Never Eighteen. (Like how I squeeze a mention of my book in there?  If you click on it, you can pre-order it, hint, hint)
Megan has only one thing on her mind: she wants her book to be successful.
Megan has three things on her mind: publication, marketing, and sales.

The colon in these four sentences introduce various kinds of things: a word, a phrase, a sentence, and a list.  A colon gives special emphasis to whatever you’re introducing because readers must first come to a stop, and so they pay more attention to it.
If you aren’t sure whether you need a colon in a particular sentence, here is a handy test: read the sentence, and when you reach the colon, substitute the word namely; if the sentence reads through smoothly, then there’s a good chance that you do need a colon. For example, you can read any of the example sentences above with the word namely in the place of the colon:

Megan has only one thing on her mind, namely publication.

Megan has only one thing on her mind, namely her book,  Never Eighteen.
Megan has only one thing on her mind, namely she wants her book to be successful.
Megan has three things on her mind, namely publication, marketing, and sales.

This test may not work 100 percent of the time, but it is a fairly reliable indicator of whether you need a colon.

One word of caution: do not place the colon after the verb in a sentence, even when you are introducing something, because the verb itself introduces and the colon would be redundant. For example, you would not write:
My three favorite books are: To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Handmaid's Tale, and Lord of the Flies.
The colon is not necessary in the sentence above because the verb does the work of introducing the three books. You can check this sentence by using the test we just mentioned. It would seem awkward to read this sentence, “My three favorite books are namely, To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Handmaid's Tale, and Lord of the Flies .” The fact that the sentence is awkward when you read it with namely is an indication that the colon is unnecessary. Remember, the colon shows emphasis and, therefore, you want the reader to stop at the colon before preceding on to whatever it is you are introducing.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monkey Madness Monday

So, it's Monday again.  It's been raining here for four days straight.  In the middle of July.  I mean, I know I live in Washington, but we usually get July and August sun.  This is ridiculous.  I bought a pool we've only been able to use twice, I left a bunch of crap outside on the last sunny day, not even able to fathom that rain was coming.  And I'm tired.  And cranky.  And frustrated. sigh.

I need to get rich so I can buy a place in AZ and hop a plane whenever the weather is like this.  I'm accepting donations (kidding).

On top of the rain, I just had a busy and frustrating weekend.  Teenage overload, one of which broke my elliptical.  I'm fatter than ever, I've GOT to get my ass working out and stop eating as if the world is ending tomorrow.  There were so many events I was supposed to attend it made my head spin out of control.  Did I mention the rain?  I had to drive about 30 miles to a soccer game on Friday, traffic was horrible, it poured down rain during the drive there, the entire game, and the drive home.

Even a Monday can't be as bad as all that.

At least I have cute monkeys to make me smile.

Friday, July 15, 2011

F³A: Teenage girls

They do goofy shit
There are anywhere from 3 to 7 teenage girls in my house on any given day.  Don't get me wrong, I don't mind.  I'd rather have them here then somewhere where I don't know what they're doing.  When they're here I know they're not drinking, or smoking, or doing drugs, or having sex.

I have over 1000 webcam pics of them on my computer
But they get on my computer, which I've told them is off limits.  It has everything I've ever written on it and I don't need some accidental deletions or computer virus wiping everything out.

They call this planking
I also look around my kitchen to empty glasses, half drank pops, empty juice boxes, dirty plates, and other assorted messes.

The other night I had to tell them shut the hell up because they were keeping me awake.  Last night I warned them before it happened.

They're good friends
They love quazy
But aside from all that, the girls that come over are so funny, and cute, and bubbly, I can't help but love them.  I feel like a second mother to them all, joking around with them, driving them all over the place, buying them pizza, and candy, and renting them movies.  It's actually a very rewarding experience having all these girls hanging out all the time.  And I think everyone of them is going to grow up to be a wonderful woman, and I will think that maybe I had to do with a little bitty part of it.

Friday Nibbles

Random iPod: Nothin' on You by B.O.B. and Bruno Mars

Book of the Week: Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris If you love zombie football players, you'll love this book.

Movie of the Week: The Green Mile.  Watched it again.  Awesome.  You should read the book too.  Some of Stephen King's best stuff in my opinion.

Quote of the Week: “Raising teenagers is like nailing Jello to a tree."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Thursday's Third Degree

Yes, I know, I've changed the name of my Thursday blog yet again.  But how many themes could I possibly come up with.  So Thursdays I will now pose a question to my readers.  Today's question is:

What is your favorite fairy tale that hasn't been overdone?  When I say overdone I mean, hasn't been in movies a million times, hasn't been rewritten over and over.

Mine would be Snow White and Rose Red.  A facebook friend and I were just talking about this and what an awesome story it was/is.  And no, it's not the same "snow white" from the dwarf story.

So give it up.  What's your favorite?  Can be well known or obscure.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wending Wednesday

Okay, these "W" words are killing me.  I'm going to keep changing them until I get some comments on my Wednesday posts.  The word "wend" means to travel or journey.  So I thought I would talk about  my writing journey.

I've always like to write, from the time I could, really.  Poems for my mom when I was little, to broody angsty songs and poetry in my teen years, to articles for the school paper and yearbook in my college days.

My novel writing began with death, which may or may not have an impact on why I write about death so often.  Many of you have probably already heard this story, but I'll repeat it for my new followers.  My mother-in-law was diagnosed with late stage cancer late 2001.  Rather than have her spend her last days in a nursing home, I quit my job and my husband and I took her in and cared for her with the help of hospice and family.

Her doctor said she had six months to a year to live.  She has also suffered a stroke a few years before, so she couldn't speak, and had to be fed through a tube in her stomach.  I sang to her, fed her, sat with her.  It was a rewarding experience.  Unfortunately, she only lasted three weeks.

Before quitting my job, my husband and I decided I would not go back to work after her death.  So I had time, and I was grieving, and I needed something to do, so I started my first novel.  It was titled Dena Powers: Superhero?

I'll continue the story next Wednesday.

Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuesday Tips:

Okay, first off, I've zombified myself in honor of Carrie Harris's debut YA novel, Bad Taste in Boys, which releases today.  It's next on my to read list, and I've heard only great things about it.  And Carrie warned me that I shouldn't eat anything while reading it.  Carrie's full of awesomesauce and a member of the Class of 2k11.

Oh, and she's holding an auction to benefit the Giving Library at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. You can bid on signed books, query critiques, a book trailer created by me and more, all for a great cause. :) 

Okay, onward.  It's Tuesday Tip Day, and today, with the help of Punctuation Made Simple, we're talking about the semi-colon.

 1) To Connect Two Sentences

The semicolon is most often used to connect two sentences. Obviously, the sentences ought to be relatively close in content, but other than that you can connect any two sentences with a semicolon.

As a communicator, you are always putting together complex items in your prose and showing how they relate to one another. A semicolon is an economical way to join two sentences, and therefore two ideas, so that your reader sees the relationship. For example:
Megan is awesome; she can do no wrong.
Are you asleep yet?  Wait until the next paragraph. (this is not an example of the semicolon, but my own personal opinion about this lesson)

The  example above contains two sentences glued together by a semicolon. The second part of the sentence makes a comment on the first. Certainly, each sentence could be written as two sentences, but you wouldn’t be expressing the close relationship between the two parts that you do when you use a semicolon.

The important point to remember is that you must have a complete sentence on both sides of the semicolon. If your second sentence begins with a conjunction (and, but, or, etc.), you do not need a semicolon because the conjunction and the comma that usually goes with it are equivalent to a semicolon. Instead, combine two full sentences with the semicolon. (Didn't they already say this?)
Sometimes a sentence may begin with words like however, therefore, and nevertheless. If your second sentence begins with one of these words, and if it is indeed a full sentence, you still must use a semicolon to connect the two. An example:

However, this lessons is boring; nevertheless, it is also educational. 

Never glue two full sentences together with only a comma. Grammarians call this sentence error a comma splice.  A comma splice is considered ungrammatical because the reader begins reading the second sentence before realizing that the first sentence is completed. Readers are used to stopping at the end of a sentence, and they become disoriented when they find that they have unknowingly left one sentence and entered a new one. (Really?  Does anyone really think this hard about reading?)  This is why effective writers avoid the comma splice. Here is an example a of comma splice:
Megan has a great blog, she is always interesting to read.
The example constitutes two sentences glued together with a comma. You can correct a comma splice by inserting a semicolon between the two sentences, by adding a comma to your conjunction, or, of course, by punctuating them as two sentences. Whichever way you choose, however, you must make sure your final drafts do not contain comma splices.

There is one instance in which a comma splice is considered acceptable. Occasionally, you may have a list of items that could stand alone as full sentences. (I wrote about the comma last week, so I'm not going over this again.  Go read last Tuesdays blog if you want to find out about the comma)

2) As Supercomma

As you know, you normally separate the members of a list with commas, as in this sentence:
I have just read Stupid Fast, The Pull of Gravity, Popular, and Illegal.  

The commas let the reader know where one item ends and the next begins. Sometimes, however, you have a list of complex items and one (or more) of the items already contains a comma. In such a case, the reader is likely to get confused about what is really a member of the list and what is not. You can avoid this confusion by making the semicolon a sort of“supercomma.” 

        I've just traveled to: Scotsdale, AZ, Long Island, NY, and Leavenworth, WA.

This sentence contains so many commas, both between the members of the list and within them, that readers are likely to become confused. Instead, you can make the semicolon a supercomma between each of the members so that your meaning is clear:

       I've just traveled to: Scotsdale, AZ; Long Island, NY;  and Leavenworth, WA. 

The second sentence is clearer than the first because the reader knows exactly where members of the list begin and end. You probably will not need to use a semicolon as a supercomma often, but if your sentence contains a list of items, one (or more) of which already contains a comma, you can clarify your meaning by using the supercomma.

And thus ends today's lesson on the semi-colon.  Come back next Tuesday where we talk about the colon.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Monkey Madness Monday

Sometimes it is so hard to pick a monkey pic.  There are so many cute ones out there.

So, I decided on an impromptu trip to the ocean to gets some much needed R & R and some writing done.

I left on Saturday, the weather was perfect for the drive, blue clear skies, sun shining down on my hamster mobile.

I sang at the top of my lungs to the radio the whole way down, sunroof open, driving a little faster than I should have.

I arrived around 2:00 pm, and after debating fun vs. work, decided to get right in on the writing.  I accomplished a few things in the hours I wrote.  I cut about 3oo words from the novel, went through pages and pages of research, and got some words in.  The word count doesn't really reflect the work that was done, but I did put a lot of time into it. 

The novel took a turn I didn't expect, and now I find myself doing a lot of research on teen psych facilities.  It's interesting for sure, but also very sad that teens find no recourse than to turn to violence, self harm, addictions, and eating disorders to get them through the day, landing them in these kinds of places.  I expected someone like my main character to perhaps spend a few days in a place like this, but come to find out the average time for someone like her is about four months.  Sad indeed.

Anyway, the day I got here was perfect, I worked, got a little sun, won money at the casino, took myself to dinner, and watched True Grit (I loves me some Coen brothers films).

Day two was mostly writing and research with a shopping trip in the middle.  Birthday presents, gummy butterflies and salt water taffy, and monkey candle holders.  I closed up shop around 4:00 pm, bbq'd myself a Gorgonzola burger and made homemade fries, then watched an SVU marathon into the night.

Here I am today.  Cleaning the place up, catching up on email and facebook, then back to writing for a couple hours before heading home.

A perfect quiet weekend.  I wanted to catch up on some other stuff too, video, blog posts, reading, but was immersed in my novel to do anything other than write (and the fun stuff).

Happy Monkey Madness Monday to you all, I hope you have a productive and fulfilling week.

Peace out,


Friday, July 8, 2011

F³A: Change

It's been a strange ride, this last few years.  From the most horrible things to the most wonderful things: depression, nervous break down, book deal, divorce, dating, winning friends, losing others, and amazing trips to Disneyland, Sundance, Arizona, New York.  Seriously, a tangible rollercoaster ride of life.

It's strange how our experiences in life can change us so dramatically.  They can change our feelings and emotions, our mental capacity.  They can change us physically (my changes added 25 pounds to me, which I need to get rid of STAT!)  Our experiences mold us into who we become.

I was once a submissive housewife.  Raising kids, cleaning, doing laundry, grocery shopping.  I was the ultimate soccer mom, a title I don't think I deserve anymore.  Life has changed me.  I'm stronger mentally and emotionally.  I still do the household stuff, I have to because now it's just me and Thing One and Thing Two.  I only have my kids half time. I miss them terribly when they're not with me.  I have yard work.  Lots of it, which of course can only be done when the weather permits, which is sporadic at best here in the PNW. I'm still a soccer mom, only the ultimate has changed.  I no longer help at practice, I basically run the money and buy the uniforms.  That part of it saddens me.

I used to screw around on Facebook all the time, and writer forums.  Now since I've divorced and had to get a day job, there's really no time for that.  I sometimes feel I'm losing those connections I made through my writing.  That I'm not there as much and I'll be forgotten.  I miss many of those people who I daily emailed, who made me laugh all the time.  Those who I flirted with.  But like I said, life and experience changes people.

Now I'm a marketing coordinator. That's my title at my day job.  And I'm damn good at it.  I've saved the law firm thousands of dollars a year already.

And I'm a writer.  But along with that comes even more, and I don't think people know how much.  We have to sacrifice our time.  Because along with the writing comes making connections, and hours of editing, marketing, and promotion.  Sometimes the latter takes so much time I don't have time to write.  In fact, I haven't written a new word in weeks. 

Yep, a rollercoaster.  Do I have regrets?  Of course, who doesn't.  But this is the life I chose.  My experiences have taken me down this path, and it's a path I want.

This is me.  Writer, Marketer, Promoter, Editor, Mom, Maid, Cook, Assistant to myself.

Sorry for the lengthy discourse.  It happens when I think too much.

I'll leave you with the Friday Nibbles.

Random iPod shuffle song (Thing Two finally found her iPod, well actually, her dad did): Nicki Minaj, Right Through Me.

Book of the Week: OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy.  Starting it today.  I've heard it's wonderful.  Amy is wonderful in her own right.  She is a member of the Class of 2k11.

Netflix of the Week: I'm sticking with Arrested Development.  I just finished the entire series. A show that ended before it's time should have been up.  It's hysterical

Quote of the Week: "If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies."  ~Author Unknown

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thursday Theme Day


In my superhero series, book three to be exact, a new coffee shop opens, and the kids start to frequent it.

In Never Eighteen, Kaylee works at Starbucks in the Barnes and Noble.

In Lockdown, the police officers are offered coffee by the shooter's mother.

In Cheesy, there is always discussion between Cheesy and her father over coffee.

Not so much in the current WIP.

Any other themes that frequently end up in your work?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Tips: The Comma

Learning when to use the comma, semi-colon, colon, ellipse, and em-dash.  It's difficult for sure.  I still don't have it down.

Today we will talk about the comma.  I tend to overuse it.  I often use it in places it doesn't belong, and don't use it in places in which is does. 

The comma tells the reader to pause. Here are some guidelines about using the comma, which I gathered from Punctuation Made Simple.

1) Between Items in a Series

When you are listing three or more items in a sentence, simply place a comma between each member of the list. Here is an example:
Megan needs her computer, a notepad, a pen, a thumb drive, and a thesaurus in order to write a novel.
In that sentence it's pretty clear where the comma should be used.  However, modern writers believe that the conjunction (and, but, or) does the same thing as a comma: it marks the place between two items in the set so it's not needed between the last and second to last items. As a result, you now have the option to choose whether to include the final comma. If  your list is rather complex, however, omitting the comma may confuse the reader about where the second-to-last item leaves off and the last begins. In this case, of course, you would want to include the comma in order to avoid confusion.

2) Between Two Sentences

Many times a semicolon is used to connect two sentences. However, more often we glue two sentences together with a comma and conjunction (such as and or but). In fact, if you examine a document you have written recently, you are likely to find many such sentences; they’re so common that you don’t even realize you are writing them. When you do put two sentences together with a conjunction, you must also include a comma. That is, the conjunction and comma are equivalent to a semicolon when you’re connecting sentences. Here are three examples:
Megan has just finished her novel, and she has begun work on another novel.

The sentence above is made up of two sentences glued together with a comma and conjunction. For example, the first sentence is made up of the following:
Megan has just finished her novel.

She has begun work on another novel.
All you need remember is this: when you’re connecting two sentences with a conjunction, you must also include a comma because the conjunction and comma work together as a team.

Often you may use a conjunction but not have a complete sentence on both sides of it. In this case you do not need a comma. For example, you could easily rewrite the above sentences so that one part of each sentence is not a full sentence:
Megan has just finished her novel and  has begun work on another novel.
Because in the above examples you do not have full sentences on both sites of the conjunction, there’s no need to include a comma.

One last bit of advice: if your sentence is very short (perhaps 5 to 10 words), you  have the option of omitting the comma. Your reader can usually understand a short sentence more readily than a long one, and therefore you would not need a comma for readability. 

3) To Attach Words to the Front or Back of Your Sentence

Most of the sentences we compose really consist of a short core sentence with many details added to that core sentence. Frequently, we add information to sentences by attaching one or more words to the front or back of the core sentence. You don’t need to memorize seven or eight rules naming each of the different structures you can add to your sentence. Instead, remember that when you add information to the front or back of a sentence, you will want to alert your want readers in order to help them clearly understand your message. Here are four examples:
In her bid for world domination, Megan spent every dime she had on a fully equipped laboratory.
 Even when you add one word, such as certainly, at the beginning of a sentence, you want your reader to know where the real sentence begins. This is why you place the comma there.

4) On Both Sides of a Nonessential Component

Often, you will insert a group of words into the middle of a sentence. Sometimes this group of words will need to be set off by commas from the rest of the sentence, and sometimes you will not need commas. In order to tell whether you need commas, you must make a judgment about whether the added words are essential to the meaning of the sentence or whether they simply provide extra detail. 

In order to tell a reader that a group of words is a nonessential component, you place commas in front and in back of the group of words. However, if omitting the group of words would drastically change the meaning of the sentence, then those words are not a component; rather, they are essential to the meaning of the sentence. In that case, you would not want to put commas on either side of the component so that the reader knows that those words are absolutely important to the meaning of the sentence. For example, look carefully at the following sentences:
Megan Bostic, who is a young adult author, will release her first novel in January.

Authors who write for young adults often explore teen issues.
 In the first sentence, the information about me being a young adult author has no bearing on the main idea of the sentence: that I'm releasing my first novel in January.

The second sentence contains information that is absolutely essential to the meaning of the sentence: “who write for you adults.” If you were to place commas around these words, you would be telling the reader that the words constitute a nonessential component. For example, look at this sentence:
Authors, who write for young adults, often explore teen issues.
This sentence tells the reader that the main idea is that “authors often explore teen issues".  Not all authors explore teen issues, but by enclosing the information in commas you have said that they do.

And thus ends my (and Punctuation Made Simple's) lesson about the comma. Come back next week for a lesson about the semi-colon.

My Dad. He's awesome.

John Messina, Personal Injury Attorney

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