Those Pesky Commas

When and where do you put them?

The answer, of course, is it all depends. However, never forget the old adage:  When in doubt, leave out.

But there are some hard and fast rules, you need to keep in mind. One is the use of connecting conjunctions, such as and, but, or, nor, for and yet, with independent and dependent clauses.

Independent clauses stand alone and include subjects and verbs. We are visiting Washington. We also plan a side trip to Williamsburg. If put together, they need a comma. We are visiting Washington, and we also plan a side trip to Williamsburg.

Though, a comma is not required if the independent clauses are short and joined by one of the conjunctions. I’ll go this way and you go that way.

However, when an independent clause is joined with a dependent clause, such as a clause with an understood subject (we as in this sentence), no comma is necessary. We are visiting Washington and plan to see the White House.

Non-essential clauses (not essential to the meaning of the sentence according to the author’s intent) are set off by commas. Example: Reporters, who do not read the stylebook, should not criticize their editors.

Long introductory clauses or phrases, need commas. (Remember a phrase is a group of words without a subject or verb.) Above the sidewalk and around the bend, there sits a thicket of trees.

Introductory words – yes and no – require commas. Yes, I will be there. In addition, use commas after a direct address like Mother, I …

Commas in a simple series are disputed. Some grammar books suggest a comma before the last conjunction. My Associated Press Stylebook requires none. The flag is red, white and blue.

A comma is needed after an introductory direct quote. Wallace said, “She spent …” But a direct quote of more than one sentence, a colon is required. And, place a comma after dialogue tags. “Say,” she added, “wouldn’t you like to have your picture taken?” Note: Commas always go inside quotation marks, according to my stylebook.

Place commas after an individual’s age. Maude Findlay, 48, … Use commas also after hometowns and states. Omaha, Nebraska. AP guidelines use abbreviations for states in journalist writing and require a comma after them. Example:  Maude Findlay, 48, Omaha, Neb., arrived today.

Well, one more thing. Two adjectives before a noun of equal weight require a comma. Thoughtful, precise person … Otherwise, hyphen the adjectives before the noun, such as an easy-remembered rule, except these really are not easily remembered. My suggestion is have several grammar books at your workplace and always have someone versed in grammar proofread your manuscript.

Also, don’t forget to place commas in numbers. When you make your first 200,000 sales, thank the Lord for your success and as always God bless.

6 Steps to Publishing on a Shoestring

A while ago I did a article about 14 Tips to Marketing and Promoting on a Shoestring, I thought to continue my thought process by writing an article about Publishing on a Shoestring.

I grew up in a poor family with parents who worked hard and didn’t have extra money to spend. Now I can go into a lengthy story of the whys, whos, and whatfores, but I’m not going to. Needless to say, we were a DIY family that lived on a shoestring. In most ways, now that I have my own family and business, I’m still a DIY person living on a shoestring.

In 2007 I was going the traditional route because the only thing I knew about self-publishing was from vanity presses and I wanted nothing to do with them.So I didn’t need to know anything about book cover design, interior book formatting, etc.

Fast forward 6 months. I met Ruth (Ruth Ann Nordin) and we started talking. I learned a lot about self-publishing and I started looking more into it. In 2008 I decided that was my route for a number of reason, the biggest one being time restraints. I can publish at my own rate with self-publishing, not so with traditional publishing if I want to make money at it.

My husband is uber-supportive of my businesses, both as a writer and a book cover designer, but that doesn’t mean that I had money to spend. That first year (2009) my hubby and I decided that we couldn’t afford much for start-up money. So I had to do everything I could at free or the lowest possible cost.

Basically my income from my writing and a little start-up money my hubby and I agreed we could remove from our tight budget would have to do me for a year. It almost didn’t support my writing habit. 😀

I learned a few lessons that year about publishing a book for as close to free as possible:

1. Write the book. This costs you nothing but time and effort, but it’s necessary. You can’t publish without a book. 😀 Articles on Writing Basics

2. Learn to format your book yourself. There are people who will for a price format your book for print and ebook. If you go with out of these people make sure they know what they are doing before you contact them. Also look for someone who doesn’t charge an arm, two legs, and your first born child. Some people can’t format, but they’ll charge you anyways. If you want to DIY it, there are some great articles provided by the eStore and print companies that will tell you exactly what you have to do. Articles on Formatting

3. Create a dynamic cover. You need a great cover to sell books. Drawing your own covers doesn’t always cut it. Yeah, I know some people can draw. More often then not, people can’t and will still draw their own cover. Taking your own pictures doesn’t always work either, Don’t believe me? Let me show an example. (Clicking on the covers will send you to a page where you can view a bigger version, no buy links.) Articles on Book Covers

My Lord Hades: the first cover was a picture of a friend of my sister who I cropped and changed his eyes. The image was blurry. The cover doesn’t work for the genre. The second cover was a dreamstime.com buy, the image was sharper and people responded more favorably to it.

Persephone: The first cover was a picture I took on a snowy, foggy day behind the house, I added a picture of a girl given to me by a friend. I liked the concept, but it needed more color. The second it a copy of the cover that I’m working on now. It works better for the genre and the book.

5. Edit your book. You can hire someone to edit your book, but make sure you hire someone good and don’t be surprised if you still get “this book needs editing” comments. I know a few authors who have been burned by editors that don’t really edit and still cash the check. I would suggest having people look over or book and point out the grammatical they see, or problems in the plot or characters. You can use Articles on Editing & Rewriting to help you.

6. Publish your book. I start with print and upload my files to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. I wanted to use Lightning Source, but it was too expensive and out of my league of expertise. It’s still a great place to go if you have the money and everything formatted for print. Or you can use places like Createspace. It cost nothing to upload a print books on their site and sell them. Articles on Publishing

Hope this helps and good luck! 😀