Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Comma, aka. The Writer's Headache

Ah, the comma. This little punctuation mark has caused more than its fair share of headaches to writers of all skill levels. Whether it's using too many commas or not enough, most writers struggle with learning exactly when they should use this illusive punctuation, and often, their final drafts suffer because of it. The major problem for most writers is keeping all of the rules straight. For example, the Modern Language Association has eleven total rules, and even those eleven are open to interpretation. With such loose rules, it's no surprise that all writers struggle with the comma.
In my work with Grammarly, I study how people write, and the tools they use to write better, and I've found a few tips that will help most writers overcome their struggle with commas. Remember that there is no substitute for good old-fashioned studying and practice, so if you want to perfect comma usage, the best thing you can do is put your nose to the grindstone and learn. If you need some quick and immediate help, remember the following tips.
     Learn the Big Rules – As previously mentioned, there are multiple comma rules with many open to interpretation. The best way to start improving your comma usage is to learn the major comma rules, the ones which are pretty firm. I've found the following four to be the most important:
     Use a comma to separate like items in a list of three or more. The choice to use the last comma – the Oxford comma – is up to you as the writer.
     Use a comma before a conjunction (“and,” “for,” “but,” “or,” “nor,” “yet,” and “so”) when you're connection two independent clauses. Remember that an independent clause can stand alone as its own sentence, so it must have both a subject and a verb.
     Use a comma to separate the main clause of a sentence from an introductory clause or phrase that precedes it.
     Use two commas in the middle of a sentence to offset unimportant information.
     Avoid Unnecessary Commas – Many writers, when faced with a situation when they aren't quite sure whether or not to use a comma, opt to err on the side of caution and go ahead and use the comma. What this creates is a sentence filled to the brim with commas, most of which aren't necessary. When you aren't sure whether or not to use a comma, read the sentence again and ask yourself if the sentence is clear without a comma. If the intention of your sentence is still clear, and there's no confusion when reading it, the comma is most likely unnecessary.
     Commas Indicate Soft Pauses – Regardless of the rules, sometimes a writer just needs to force the reader to pause for a split-second to let something sink in. If that's the case, feel free to use a comma to indicate this pause. Be sure not to confuse the soft pause with some of the longer pauses caused by semi-colons and dashes.
     Proofread, Proofread, Proofread – No matter how good you get at comma usage, you will always benefit from some proofreading. Start by proofreading your own work, and then give your piece to a second reader you trust to go over it. Lastly, consider using one of the many online services to catch any stray comma errors you or your readers may have missed. For example, over at Grammarly, we offer one of the most sophisticated grammar checks on the Internet. We'll check over your text for over 200 grammar errors, including comma errors, essentially becoming a third set of eyes for you.
Comma rules are difficult, but they certainly aren't insurmountable. With a little bit of studying and practice, you'll soon find that even the loosest comma rules will come to you quickly and easily. And, with that, you'll find your writing life mostly headache free, often wondering what it was about commas that ever gave you those headaches in the first place.

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown children’s novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, traveling, and reading.

Monday, June 9, 2014

ONE PERFECT LOVE (Wild Rush #2) + MORE!!!

Wild Rush fans!
Jessie Evans has just released ONE PERFECT LOVE (Wild Rush, #2)!

New Adult Contemporary Romance
Release June 9, 2014
Wild Rush Book 2
Barnes and Noble:

A new adult story about breaking out, moving on, and learning that some loves never die…
It’s been almost a year since that night in the attic, since something inside me died, and a new Caitlin Cooney was born from the wreckage. The months that followed nearly killed me, but I survived and fought for the happiness Gabe was determined to give me, my little brothers, and my baby niece. Now, my family has everything I ever wanted to give them, and I have a new boyfriend. He’s the last person I imagined I’d end up with, but we’re good together. Life is good.
If only good was good enough, and I wasn’t still consumed by a love so fierce nothing can put what I feel for Gabe to rest.
Still, I believe the worst is over, until I’m forced back to my hometown and realize how many lies have been told to snuff out the wicked rush I found in Gabe’s arms.
ONE PERFECT LOVE is an edgy, sexy, boundary-pushing read intended for readers over the age of seventeen. The book features graphic love scenes, violence, strong language, liars, heartbreak, and in-depth descriptions of that mother-in-law we all pray we never have. Read at your own risk.

Also, THIS WICKED RUSH is on sale for .99 cents now through June 23rd to celebrate the release of book #2!

Wild Rush, Book #1 on SALE now through June 23rd!

“You know what I like, Caitlin. You know I want you to beg for it.”

I’ve never been the kind of person to give up on something I want. Now, I refuse to take no for an answer. I want this girl. I want to help her, and sleep with her, and steal things with her, and make her laugh the way she did right that night in her friend's car. We’re going to have a summer neither of us will ever forget, and by the time we go our separate ways, she’ll have enough money to go to college, and I will have had her…every way I want her.

I’m starting to forget why it’s a bad idea to get in any deeper with a boy who is a walking, talking contradiction. A boy who has a taste for breaking the law, a wicked way with words, and a confident touch that leaves no doubt he’s way more experienced than I am. I’ve spent my life putting aside my own needs and cleaning up after other people’s mistakes. Now, I want to make a mistake of my own.
I know I’m playing with fire, but for Gabe I'm willing to beg to be burned.
THIS WICKED RUSH is an edgy, sexy, boundary-pushing read intended for readers over the age of seventeen. The book features graphic love scenes, violence, strong language, and thieves in love. Read at your own risk.
"A steamy, high-octane love story that will have you wondering how far you'd go if you stopped playing by the rules. And may even make you want to step over the lines.” –New York Times Bestselling Author, Lauren Blakely

PLUS, Jessie is giving away (2) Sand Dollar Charms and a Gift Card to Bath and Body Works!

About the Author
Jessie Evans gave up a career as an international woman of mystery to write contemporary Southern romances and sexy, boundary-pushing New Adult reads.
She enjoys sweet, small town romances, and fictional walks on the wild side, and can't imagine a better job than playing pretend for a living.
She's married to the man of her dreams, and together they're raising a few children in a cabin in the boonies. She grew up in rural Arkansas, spending summers running wild, being chewed by chiggers, and now appreciates her home in a chigger-free part of the world even more.
When she's not writing, Jessie enjoys playing her dulcimer (badly), sewing the worlds ugliest quilts to give to her friends, going for bike rides with her house full of boys, and wandering the woods, glass of wine and camera in hand, on the lookout for Bigfoot.
A southern girl, born and bred, Jessie loves writing romances with sizzle, and hopes you'll enjoy her stories set in the south.