Grammar – Sentences

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When we write, it is mainly to communicate, usually for business dealings, friendly greetings, or entertainment.

The main structure of our written language involves speaking or writing in sentences. Sometimes we can get away with using sentence fragments, a word or two to get the meaning across, or to emphasize something, but more often when we want no misunderstanding, especially in business, we use complete sentences.

With so many people texting, the use of conventional grammar and sentence structure is quickly falling away. Writing correctly is suddenly a bigger challenge than it once was.

I would like to offer a series of posts that discuss the use of “proper” grammar and sentence structure.

Today’s post is going to be simple, but we should start at the beginning.

What is a sentence?

We have sentences that serve various purposes.

Telling something or conveying an idea (declarative sentence):

My dog is a cocker spaniel.

Asking a question (interrogative sentence):

Do you like dogs?

Giving a command (imperative):

Feed my dog, please.

Expressing strong feeling (exclamatory sentence):

Watch out for the car!

 

In the declarative sentence we have two parts to the sentence; the subject and the predicate. The subject is either a noun or a pronoun (I, you, he, she, it, we, they), and the predicate is a verb.

Here are some examples. The subject is in red, and the predicate is in green.

Plants grow.

Children laugh.

They shout.

We run.

Those are pretty simple sentences. Often we use articles (a, an, the) in front of a noun. We also add modifiers to describe the nouns. These are called adjectives. Modifiers that describe the verb are called adverbs.

In the examples below, the adjectives will be blue and the adverbs will be orange.

The tropical plants grow vigorously.

The happy children laugh heartily.

 

More about sentence structure next time.

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Marlie

I’m so thrilled to announce that Marlie is now available as an e-book and within a day or two will be available as a paperback as well.

My fifth novel takes place on the BC coast again. Must be my favourite place to be. As you follow Marlie’s new life on the remote Queen Charlotte Islands, now called Haida Gwaii, you may be surprised to meet some characters you have met before in The Wind Weeps and in Reckoning Tide.

But Marlie’s story is different from the first two in this grouping. She has several adjustments to make in her first months in the islands. Her experiences in the new home she has chosen send her emotions in all directions. She needs to dig deep to draw on her inner strength.

Unlucky in love, Marlie flees a bad relationship. She accepts a teaching job in the remote Queen Charlotte Islands. The beauty of the islands and the rugged challenge of northern living enthrall her. A good-looking artist has his eye on her. The perfect gentleman. Or is he? And what about that handsome fisherman? Is he just a bit too real for her with his hunting and fishing? Just as Marlie hopes that her life has made a turn for the better, disaster strikes. She is shocked to see her life spiraling downwards yet again. How could she have made such an error in judgement—an error that sets more bad luck in motion?

Not willing to lose control, Marlie takes a deep breath and sets out to get her life back on track. But can she do it alone?

Set in the remote islands of coastal British Columbia, Marlie is a heartfelt romance of love and loss and love again.

Experience the fears and joys of northern island living and delight in a second chance at true love.

You can put Marlie on your Kindle by clicking this link:

Paperback version is now available on amazon as well.

For those with e-readers other than Kindle you may find the version you need at smashwords.com

Book cover:

Painting by Jan Brown

Design by Anita B. Carroll

Writing Challenge – Flash Fiction

The photo was taken in a main intersection of a Greek city. The bus has a flat tire and the driver is nowhere to be seen. Can you put together a short piece of writing following the guidelines below? You can make the scene be somewhere other than in Greece if you like.

The Challenge – Flash Fiction:

  • Write 150 words. No more, no fewer.
  • The story should relate in some way to the photo below.
  • Use all of the following words in the story:

outfit, briefcase, recognized, barbecued chicken, wrinkles

Deadline:

  • December 10, 2017.
  • Send stories in the body of an email to anneli@anneli-purchase.com

 

The Prize:

  • Authors of the five best stories will receive a free e-book of my soon-to-be-released novel, Marlie, and your stories will be posted on this blog.

Your Reputation as a Writer

Are you a writer? Do you care about your writing?

Are you satisfied to publish your work for the world to see, when the quality of your writing is less than perfect? Sadly, some writers don’t care, but believe me, readers care.

Not many writers have flawless manuscripts.  Creativity and the mechanics of writing don’t always go together. Working with a good copy-editor  is essential.

I am a writer and a copy-editor–a good one, I think–and still, before I publish anything, I have another writer read my work and then I hire a copy-editor to read it again. I am always amazed at what they find.

I could read my own words over ten times and not see a mistake, but when I read someone else’s words, any mistakes would leap off the page at me. Why is that?

An author knows what their sentences are going to say. Our brain tricks us into thinking that those words are there, and, especially if we are reading silently, we tend to gloss over errors. When reading someone else’s work, we don’t know what is coming, so we see the mistakes more easily.

Why should you care if your writing is perfect or not?

Readers buy books expecting quality for the money they pay. As a writer, it is your obligation to give them your best.  It is a matter of pride and reputation. Do you want to be known as a good writer, or a sloppy one? Do you only want to publish a “one-hit wonder” and never write again? Would you want people to “wonder” why you bothered to publish that carelessly written “one hit”?

I’ve heard many readers say, “When I see one mistake, okay, I can overlook it, but when there is another and another, I lose track of the story and find myself just looking for that next mistake.” What a horrible thing for someone to say about your book. But so true!

When I skim over the first few pages of a book to see if I want to read it, I usually find bits of dialogue to see how that is written. If it has complicated dialogue tags, such as “inquired, responded, answered, replied, questioned,” and “shouted,” instead of “said” and “asked,” I move on to look for another book. Dialogue tags should be like punctuation–important, but not “in your face.”

I look for correct usage of ordinary words such as “its, it’s, your, you’re, their, there,” and “they’re.” I look for incorrect capitalization of “mom, dad, spring, summer, fall, winter, north, south, east, west, sir, madam, heaven, hell,” and many other words. (Note that “Mom and Dad” would be capitalized, but “my mom and my dad” would not be.)

In a short sample of writing, I can usually tell whether the work has been copy-edited or not.

Yes, it costs to have work copy-edited, but the price is not unreasonable. Your reputation hangs on the quality of your writing, and once the work is cleaned up, it will stay that way forever. Unedited work also stays that way and your damaged reputation as a careless writer could follow you around forever too.

Copy-editors  do much more than correct those examples I’ve given. They will check:

  • your sentences for balance to make sure your verbs match the subject
  • if you’ve omitted or repeated words or information
  • grammar
  • punctuation
  • spelling, including homonyms
  • hyphenation
  • capitalization
  • extra spaces
  • verb tense and usage, especially for problem verbs such as “lie, lay, laid, lain”
  • point-of-view errors
  • clichés, and many other errors you may have inadvertently made.

Please visit my website and click on the page for copy-editing if you are interested in having a few pages of your work copy-edited for free.

http://www.anneli-purchase.com

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The Superpower of Attitude

I’d like to introduce my guest, Diana Wallace Peach, author of several novels and now author of her first children’s book. Diana has a wonderful attitude towards life, which I’m happy to let her share with you.

Welcome Diana.

My daughter wasn’t a morning person as a three-year-old. Instead of simply picking out her clothes for the next morning, she’d wear her outfit to bed. Anything to avoid the ordeal of dressing in the morning. Mornings were miserable and teary, and they set the tone for a miserable, teary day.

One morning we sat on her bed, and I suggested that we use her superpowers to change her day. Well, that intrigued her. So together we said the magic words. “I’m going to have a great day.” We said it over and over again, louder and louder, and guess what? She had a great day. Was her routine different than any other ordinary day? Probably not, but her attitude had gone through a transformation.

The power of magic is alive and well with kids. Kisses for ouchies, magic fairy dust for good dreams, a glittery wand to help wake up, or using superpowers to summon a good day… they work. We adults don’t call it magic, we call it psychology or the power of positivity or an “attitude adjustment.”

When I worked as a mental health counselor with the wee ones, we often focused on choices, on deciding what kind of day we wanted and making it happen. We devised all kinds of strategies, including magical ones, for managing feelings and behaviors, for getting along with others and having fun. That’s a tall order for some adults, imagine if you’re only three.

Grumpy Ana and the Grouchy Monsters is about the power of attitude, about looking on the bright side, and deciding to enjoy the day. Nothing changes in Ana’s life to move her from grumpiness to smiles, except her outlook. It’s a message that serves our children – in the books we read to them, in the way we communicate, and by modeling healthy attitudes in our own lives. Happy Reading!

Grumpy Ana Goblyn is sour, dour, and cranky. Her lips droop in a frown. She’s bored with every place and person in her friendly town. With the help of her father, she builds a spaceship and travels to a soggy planet where she meets her perfect monster playmates. But there’s a problem! The monsters see her grouchy frown and think she’s a monster. In this children’s space adventure, Ana discovers that her attitude affects her happiness, and she can change it if she chooses.

Here are a few sample pages from Diana’s wonderful book, “Grumpy Ana and the Grouchy Monsters.”

About Diana Wallace Peach

Wallace Peach is a writer of grown-up fantasy and science fiction, but she’s also a grandmother who treks to the Gnome Forest, hunting rainbow gems with grandson Revel. They keep an eye out for purple baby dragons skritching in the Dragonwood and gather gold buried around the magical tree of mystery.

Grumpy Ana and the Grouchy Monsters is her first children’s book. More to come!

Connect with Diana:

Website/Blog: http:// mythsofthemirror.com

Book Blog: http://dwallacepeachbooks.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DWPeachBooks

Twitter: @dwallacepeach

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7068749.D_Wallace_Peach

Links to Grumpy Ana and the Grouchy Monsters:

Amazon.com:  https://www.amazon.com/Grumpy-Ana-Grouchy-Monsters-Childrens/dp/1975723945

Amazon.co.uk: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Grumpy-Ana-Grouchy-Monsters-Childrens/dp/1975723945

Amazon India: https://www.amazon.in/ Grumpy-Ana-Grouchy-Monsters-Childrens/dp/1975723945

 

 

Pitching Your Novel

My guest today is Angela Noel. Her experience at a writer’s conference brought back many memories for me.

Signing up

By Angela Noel

A poet friend told me about The Loft’s Pitch Conference. The idea terrified me. Pitch my book to three agents? Live? That sounded like a job interview married to a parole hearing and covered in olives (I hate olives). But, I reasoned, I’d never been to a writer’s conference. It was in my hometown. The Loft in Minneapolis is an incredibly supportive haven for writers and ideas, and not likely to host another conference for at least another year. And, I had a second novel languishing at 30,000 words that needed a swift kick in the pants. I decided to sign up.

The months between signing up and showing up were filled with drafts. I finished that second novel, but it needed so much work, it wouldn’t be ready in time. My first novel was much closer to perfect. So, I polished it with the help of my writing group, and wrote draft after draft of my short pitch (the verbal equivalent to a marketing letter). It needed to roll off my tongue. It had to be perfect. I practiced with everyone who would stand still for four minutes and listen to me. I pitched my aunt and my mother over the phone. I pitched my golden retriever, who thumped his tail in appreciation. I pitched myself in my bathroom mirror. In short, I did all I could to prepare.

The day of the conference dawned. I picked out my clothes carefully and promised myself that in just ten short hours I’d either have a yes or a no. My first pitch to one of the three agents was mid-morning on the first day. If an agent liked my pitch, she’d request my work. That’s a foot in the door, not a shoulder or an armpit, just a tiny toe-hold, but a toe-hold nonetheless.

I had only dread in my belly. Too many new people, no friendly faces, sweaty palms, and rejection—I imagined the soup of terrible awaiting me. But, I got in the car anyway. I drove to the conference, parked my car, checked that I hadn’t accidentally put my dress on inside out (it happens), and tried to pour mental molasses on the butterflies to slow their fluttering. Then, I trotted across the busy street and opened the gorgeous wood and glass doors of The Loft Literary Center.

That’s when it hit me: I could do this.

The first person I saw, a woman in a scarf so large and intricate I wanted to hang it as a tapestry on a wall in my home, looked up at me wide-eyed.

“Hello! I’m Angela,” I said, probably too loudly. “This is my first conference. How about you?”

She looked down at the floor, but shook my proffered hand. She told me her name and that she was new here too. She pointed me towards the stairs. “I think you have to register,” she said. “I’ll see you up there.”

The queue of eager registrants spilled down the wood and iron spiral staircase on the second floor. Once at the top, I found my name badge, got my program, smiled like a lunatic, and made my way to the coffee and mini-muffins. I saw many awkward fellow writers looking timid and alone.

“Coffee!” I said, setting my bag down to grab a paper cup. “Thank heavens for this! Unless I spill it on myself, in which case: curse you, coffee!” I don’t even know to whom I aimed my words. But hearing my own voice in the air comforted me. Smiling at the man who looked like a science fiction writer (and was) gave me courage.

Within minutes, I knew that in the land of introverts, a smiling ambivert is the circus come to town. As an ambivert—a quixotic creature sometimes filled with the extrovert’s love of people and company, and at other times the introvert’s craving for silence and peace—I had both an opportunity and an obligation.

I believe there is greatness in all of us and I’m grateful to see it in others. If I could just pick my head up, forget that I, too, am nervous and fretting that my preparation or worse, my novel, might not be good enough, I’d see how others suffered. They had all my fears but seemingly less of my willingness to shatter uncomfortable silence with words, smiles, and handshakes. My natural curiosity, and sincere love of fellow humans took over. Before the first hour had elapsed, my nervousness had been replaced by joy.

These people, these wonders, had put their work forward just as I had. They wanted to learn, to grow, to see their writing blossom in view of a wider audience. I could do something about that. I could connect people. I could meet one person and include them in a group. I could ask questions, share ideas, and demonstrate my interest in their work. With these small acts the nervous turtle in all of us relaxed. We came out of our shells. Desperate to relieve my own fears, I stumbled upon a gift I had to give to others.

Years ago, I realized the cost to me of being the first to love, the first to stretch out a hand to connect, was infinitesimal. Many times, I’m the instigator of new relationships. I can’t help myself. People are wonderful. And, though I don’t like rejection, I don’t often fear it. But, I’d let fear get to me prior to the conference. Yet something about walking through those doors and seeing all the other writers, my kin, made my fear disappear.

We journey together, all of us humans. For some of us we walk in tandem for the duration. For others of us, we are but temporary companions on the Appalachian Trail of life. Either way, initiating conversations costs me next to nothing. But the payoffs in learning, in awe, in wonder at the capabilities and pursuits of another human are infinite. I had forgotten this truth in the days leading up to the conference. I had focused too much on myself: my fears, my work. The moment I remembered I wasn’t alone, that I could forge connections and offer others a lifeline, everything changed.

I loved the conference. I loved when a woman I had just met asked me to hold her hand while an agent read her query letter aloud to an audience of people and applauded her work. When all three agents I’d pitched my novel to requested my manuscript, I knew my success was not mine, but ours. Each of the writers who’d let me into their world, who had talked to me about writing, creativity, passion, and purpose had gifted me with confidence. When I met with the publishing professionals I had an army of love behind me. It was the purest and best kind of love—the kind we give away for free without thought of return. I loved those writers and didn’t need them to love me back. I didn’t even wonder if they did. Giving love, standing in awe of creativity and accomplishment, is its own fuel; it feeds on itself. The more of it we give away; the more we have to give.

Though I believe I offered comfort to some of the quiet and withdrawn among the constellation of would-be authors at the conference, ultimately it was they who comforted me.  By giving all I had to give, I got everything I needed in return and more.

So: Go. Be. Do. Invest in whatever it is that scares you. We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain by signing up. If I can, you can too.

 

If you’re interested in attending an excellent, small, and well-run conference to pitch your novel, meet industry professionals and network with other writers, sign up for the 2018 Pitch Conference at The Loft Literary Center. Registration begins November 14, 2017.

 

 

Angela Noel lives and writes in Minneapolis. In between fiction projects, she posts inspiring stories about interesting ideas and compelling people on the You are Awesome blog. She enjoys yoga and loves books, humans, wine, and chocolate (but not necessarily in that order).  Connect with her on Twitter at or Facebook or subscribe to her blog for a new post each week.

 

 

 

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Book Review: “Orion’s Gift,” by Anneli Purchase

Thank you, Robin, for this review of Orion’s Gift, available by clicking on the book cover image at the left of the page.

witlessdatingafterfifty

Two people who have been unhappy

and lonely, although in marriages,

each have an impetus to escape.

One reason to leave is the

mail brings a mysterious

letter whose content is

left unknown to you, reader.

The subject reluctantly is revealed.

The other person receives an

unexpected “windfall.” This

novel full of intrigue is

written by my friend and

fellow blogger, Anneli Purchase.

These two “lost” souls have back

stories which both have overlapping

pain and past controlling spouses.

They come from two different

countries, Canada and the U.S.

For Kevin, unfortunately time has been

hard on his marriage. His anguish

is palpable, his decision to leave

has been a long time coming.

It means he will be leaving a

son and daughter behind.

Sylvia has a womanizing

husband who doesn’t

show her love nor

respect.

The two characters

make a choice to leave and go on

their own into…

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