Florida Man and the semicolon is too sexy for its own good

Most people think they understand the semicolon. It’s a period topping a comma, right? You use it to do something or um … yeah …?

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Florida Man and the semicolon is too sexy for its own good
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Okay, recently I’ve been working on a lot of people’s stories that are fantastic except for one thing—one easily fixable thing—they have semicolons everywhere.

The semicolon is that little bit of punctuation that looks like there’s a comma on the bottom and a period topping it. And judging from people’s use of it? It’s an addictive, sexy beast.

Most people think they understand the semicolon. It’s a period topping a comma, right? You use it to do something or um … yeah …?

Here’s the thing, a semicolon is a divider. It’s like a comma and a period that way, but it’s not. It creates a different length of the pause for the reader between the words that it divides.

Yes! There are different levels of pause.

Here check it out. We’ll do it with three sentences.

The first is a comma, but it will be a minimal pause.

Shaun wanted to talk about naughty things, but Carrie was not going to let him do that today.

Here is that same sentiment but with a medium-weight pause.

Shaun wanted to talk about naughty things; Carrie was not going to let him do that today.

Here is the same sentiment with the pause heavyweight fighter, the period.

Shaun wanted to talk about naughty things. Carrie was not going to let him do that today.

Your punctuation choice controls the pacing of your paragraph and sentence and if you put 18 of them in one paragraph? You’re going to slow down the pace of your story and also make readers get crinkly noses and hate you.

So how do you use semicolons?

There are three major ways to use this sexy beast.

One. To connect a certain kind of thing.

Semicolons connect two independent clauses. You know something is an independent clause if it can stand alone as it’s very own sentence.

It’s like using the conjunction and between two independent clauses to show they are really related.

Shaun is wearing big boy pants; he has been for forty-five years.

Two. To separate things in a list (sometimes).

If you’ve got a weird list with lots of internal punctuation, then you can start that list off with a semicolon. Here’s an example.

My wife had a list of things that she wanted me to accomplish that day and it included taking out the trash; going into the basement to look at the copper pipes which, by the way, are boring to look at and are not linking; and singing—I’m a horrible singer, by the way—a whole mess of show tunes and not the ones from Hamilton for some reason.

Three. Conjunctive adjective moments

These are tricky beasts, but mostly happen with these words when they join two independent clauses.

The words are:

  • moreover,
  • nevertheless,
  • however,
  • otherwise,
  • therefore,
  • then,
  • finally,
  • likewise, 
  • consequently. 

Here’s a quick example.

Shaun had been told that he should definitely not fart in the bed at night; however, Shaun decided that this household rule was absolutely unfair.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

So there you go. Don’t put semicolons everywhere because that’s a flag to agents, editors or readers. Use them when you need to because they can really help for clarity in lists, but remember too much of a good thing is a bad thing in writing.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Embrace the semicolon. You can change direction in your life, lean into the pause, but not into the end.

Check out Project Semicolon and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).

RANDOM THOUGHTS

In our random thoughts section at the beginning of the podcast, we talk about the people in South Carolina filming their procreation acts everywhere and wonder why there is no Maine Man when there are so many Florida Men.


SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. 

Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link. This week’s podcast is all about loving places and feeling called to them when you have never been there before.


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 

Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 256,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

If you like what you read, please heart it below or share it, it means the world to this writer. x0- Carrie

Don’t Be So Wordy, Punk, plus Stabbings and Vampires

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Don't Be So Wordy, Punk, plus Stabbings and Vampires
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A lot of us humans and writers spend a lot of time trying to impress people by being extra wordy.

And it seems like we’re all trying to avoid the word “because.”

This is extremely cruel to the word “because,” which probably gets hurt feelings, but it’s also super cruel to your readers and/or listeners who deserve clarity.

They need to understand what you’re putting down.

So, when it comes to “because,” we do not need to say:

  • The reason is because (that’s redundant).
  • Due to the fact that
  • On the grounds that
  • On account of


If you sound like a lawyer in a bad tv procedural?

You’re trying too hard.

HERE IS CONTRARY ADVICE….

“BECAUSE” OR “SINCE” CAN SOMETIMES FORCE YOU TO BE WORDY.

With the words ‘because’ and ‘since,’ you can almost always use either one. They are interchangeable BFFs.

Here are some examples.

  • Because I hate you, I decided to date.
  • Since I hate you, I decided to date.

They both mean “because” here because they are synonyms.

But sometimes “since” means “from the time’ instead of ‘because.’

Since we went to Disney, I’ve been crushing on Pluto.

That means “ever since the time they went to Disney” not “because.”

But you might not know that, right?

So, instead you might want to be wordy.

You don’t want to be ambiguous and have people wondering if you mean “because” or “ever since the time they went to Disney.”

The whole point in writing and talking is for people to understand you, so don’t be a schmuck. Be clear.


WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Don’t be wordy and know what your words mean and what they’re conveying to the reader.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Listen more than you speak. Look for clues in your environment and people’s actions so you can really understand them.

RANDOM THOUGHT

To hear about punks, stabbings and vampires, you have to listen to the podcast file. Sorry! We only put the advice part in the notes.


SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. 

Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link. This week’s podcast is all about loving places and feeling called to them when you have never been there before.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 

Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 256,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

almost dead book by carrie jones
almost dead book by carrie jones

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On one of my Patreon sites I read and print chapters of unpublished YA novels. THE LAST GODS and SAINT and now ALMOST DEAD. This is a monthly membership site (Hear the book chapters – $1/month, read them $3-month, plus goodies!). Sometimes I send people art! Art is fun.

On this, my second site, WRITE BETTER NOW, you can do a one-time purchase of a writing class or get two of my books in eBook form or just support our podcast or the dogs. It’s all part of the WRITING CLASS OF AWESOME.

It’s a super fun place to hang out, learn, read, and see my weirdness in its true form.

And I’m starting up a brand new, adult paranormal set at a Maine campground. You can read the first chapter here.

Subordinate My Clause, Santa

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Subordinate My Clause, Santa
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Subordinate Me, Santa Claus

Subordinate clauses are baby clauses that can’t stand all by themselves as complete thoughts and they demand a certain kind of punctuation – or lack of punctuation.

Here are examples:

If I can find Santa, then we can go party. 

We can go party if Santa ever freaking shows up. 

So, in both of those sentences there is a clause can’t stand alone as a complete thought: 

If I can find Santa

If Santa ever freaking shows up.

A subordinate clause or supporting clause is basically a clause that’s supporting the show-stopping regular clause, right? These clauses do not get a comma before them if they are at the end of the sentence. 

HOW TO DEAL

There are words that always lead off these clauses. What I do is go back and do a find/replace in my work (or client’s work) when I’m copyediting. 

Helpful hint for writers: If you include the comma in the find/replace search, it makes it so much easier. 

Those words are…

These conjunctions: 

After, although, as, because, before, even if, even though, if, in order that, once, provided that, rather than, since, so that, than, that, though, unless, until, when, whenever, where, whereas, whether, while, why, for, therefore, hence, consequently, and due to.

And these relative pronouns that make the world of the clause even trickier. They are part of relative clauses but then these overachievers? Well, they are part of a subculture called restrictive or nonrestrictive clauses.

These are the relative pronouns

that, which, who, whom, whichever, whoever, whomever, and whose

Are you Restrictive or Nonrestrictive Mr. Clause? 

These pronouns start either restrictive clauses or nonrestrictive clauses. Restrictive clauses also like to be called essential clauses because they are alpha like that, but also because they are – you guessed it – essential to the sentence meaning and shouldn’t be separated by a comma 

Do you enjoy watching Santa Claus employ lots of elves that wear sexy sweaters?

No comma before that because the sentence needs to know the qualifier for its meaning.

But in a nonrestrictive clause? Well, you don’t have that happen. Here’s an example: 

Watching Santa, who employs a lot of elves wearing sexy sweaters, is pretty freaking awesome.  


WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Subordinate the proper things.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

It’s not about domination. It’s about understanding restrictions.

And there you go. Grammar Moment with Dogs are Smarter Than People. Happy Holidays!


SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.


WHERE TO FIND US

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Continue reading “Subordinate My Clause, Santa”

Aw, Ah, Aah, Awe, or Ah is that Underwear?

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Aw, Ah, Aah, Awe, or Ah is that Underwear?
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None of us are perfect with the grammar, especially not us native-English speakers. We’ve got all these words that mean totally different things but sound EXACTLY THE SAME! 

And today, we here on Dogs are Smarter Than People are going to do things.

  1. Prove that dogs are smarter than people because they don’t have to spell.
  2. Help you all out about a five-some of evil. Yes, I’m talking about Aah, ah, ahh, aw, and awe. 

I know you’ve all seen it on Facebook. Someone you love writes, “Awe (a-w-e) that’s so cutie.”

And you’re like, “No! Agh. I don’t want to be evil and tell them but they are using the wrong spelling here.” 

Let’s get started. 

Aah! Is an interjection. It’s like a giant mosquito as big as a velociraptor is hovering in front of your nose. You are afraid. Aah is what we use for those moments. 

It has a super close relative – Ah! 

Ah is an interjection, too. But this time you aren’t expressing fear; this time you are expressing love, surprise, pleasure, a realization. 

“Ah! I now understand that was not a mosquito but was actually an Amazon delivery drone.” 

And then we have their lovely relative, Ahh.

Ahh is when you get something or you accept something. 

Ahh, I do love you and your way with drones. 

Ahh, this is how the world works, you act like a narcissist on social media and you suddenly have a million followers. 

Let’s move on.

Aw is what most people are meaning when they write ‘awe.’

Aw is when something is super cutie or adorbs. 

Sometimes we use it to show we’re disappointed. Aw! English! You make no sense. 

So, it’s like this: 

Aw, you are the bestest, cutiest Rotary club president ever. 

Aw, your puppy is adorable! 

Aw, that manatee lingere is the best underwear ever! 

Aw, I probably should have realized that I have no chill prior to taking a leadership role and now I’m just sub-tweeting everyone and whining about their underwear. 

And then we have the all-mighty awe. 

Cue God music.

Feeling like you are full of admiration, fear, reverence because of something super big-time like God or manatees swimming nearby or some really amazing underwear? 

This is awe. 

She raised her hands to the sky, overwhelmed with awe as the flying manatee in purple plaid underwear approached. 

At the edge of the Grand Canyon, he grasped her sleeve in awe of the magnificence below them. 

Writer Tip of the Pod

Dictionaries are our friends. Words have meanings. Don’t stress out if you mess up. We all mess up, but try to do the best you can. We’ll be in awe of your mad wordsmithing skills. 

Dog Tip for Life

It’s easy to spell ‘bark.’ Don’t sweat the small stuff. We make mistakes. If you don’t hurt anyone, yourself or end up in jail, it’s probably all good 

Shout Out

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.


WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site.

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps).

Check it out here.

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you.