122 Rules by Deek Rhew

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Getting to Know Author Erin Albert

I have had the good fortune to have met Erin on Twitter. She is an author, fitness instructor, and a bona fide member of the “Grammar Police.” She flexed her grammar geek muscle as guest on my blog as well as on a million other sites—no, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t need to sleep! 

Her YA fantasy novel, The Prophecy, is scheduled to be published by MuseItUp Publishing, November, 2013. Catch a sneak peek on her blog.

Erin has graciously allowed me to interview her. 

You are known affectionately as the Passive Voice Hunter and are a member of the Grammar Police. These are fantastic editing skills, but do the “rules” ever get in the way of creativity when you write or do you go into “I’m in creative mode” vs. “I’m in editing/grammar mode?”
Yes, the rules can inhibit my writing.  My critique partners’ most frequent comments say, “Too formal.”  In trying to avoid breaking grammar rules, I end up sounding stiff and formal, and sometimes my characters sound way older than they are because of it. I’m trying to “loosen up,” particularly in dialogue. I am so thankful for my CPs, who point out my issues so I can fix them before I embarrass myself!  Haha!!

I also spend an inordinate amount of time obsessing over sentence structures and flow. For example, I never want to have sentences back to back with the same structure because it sounds choppy. Focusing on that element can sometimes hinder my creativity. I try to tell myself to write and work on the structures later. The left and right sides of my brain war with one another constantly!  LOL!

I read your account of the day you got the email from MuseItUp telling you got a publishing contract, and you started jumping up and down screaming in the middle of a pet store (see this very amusing story here). There is so much that happens between typing ‘The End’ and the day you got the email. Tells us about this journey.
The idea for The Prophecy came to me one night while I watched a movie.  Literally, the story just popped into my brain.  I emailed my friends a synopsis of my idea (which ended up being my query letter) to see if they would find it interesting.  They all freaked out, in a good way, so I started writing the novel.  I became so engrossed I wrote all three books in three months.  My friends became my story sounding board, and each developed a very specific function which contributed immensely to the creation of The Prophecy (I call them The Dream Team). You can read about them and their contributions on my blog here.  After the excitement of creation came the difficult revising and editing period.  I thought I had the book ready to go, so I started submitting.  I received an exciting amount of interest in the book.  While not all of those contacts turned into something, I learned more and more with each interaction.  Some agents/publishers even offered me very thorough feedback.  Based on that, I ended up revising The Prophecyagain. My friend Danielle said, “I thought it was great the first time, but it’s even better now.”  That rewrite got me to the editorial board for two publishers, and I ended up with a MuseItUp contract.  Now I’ve started a whole new chapter learning the “business” side of writing, which is more complex than I realized. I’m always learning though, and I love that!

If you got to choose a theme song for your book, what would it be? Who would star it in if it were made into a movie?
The theme song for The Prophecy would be “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz.  I listened to that song a thousand times while writing the book, and I listened to it a lot during editing too.  The second book also has a theme song, but I can’t reveal that just yet.  Heehee!  ;) 

As far as the movie, I totally have the ENTIRE cast picked out.  My Dream Team and I spent many hours carefully compiling this list of people.  LOL!  However, several of my book blogger friends on Twitter (I’m looking at you in particular, Jack) told me readers don’t like authors to reveal their cast lists because they want to create their own picture of the character without an influence.  In order to not be too vague, I will tell you I want Joe Manganiello to play one of the adult characters.  I love Alcide in True Blood!  #PackMaster?  Um, yes, please!  ;)

Personally for raw, unfiltered writing I prefer my hammock, coffee or beer--depending on the time, and headset in, music cranked. But for editing I like quiet and often read aloud. Tell me about your writing process and preferred environment.
I wrote most of The Prophecy sitting in my bed or on the couch, though I vastly prefer my bed.  I like to get my Diet Pepsi with Lime (caffeine helps with my ADD) and a small container of Enjoy Life chocolate mega chunks (I’m lactose and soy intolerant) then burrow in the covers and write.  Sometimes I listen to music and sometimes I prefer silence.  Regardless, I don’t want anyone to talk to me.  I have ADD and am easily distractible.  My proofreaders would always say, “You have this whole long section where it’s perfect then this chunk where there are twenty mistakes all together.”  I say, “That’s probably the part where someone started talking to me!”  Haha!!   

Tell us about your acting career. What have you done and are you a triple threat (i.e. can you sing, dance, and act)?
Sadly, I am not a triple threat.  LOL!  I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.  As for dancing, I try, but I can’t say I’m good at that either (though I rock out the chicken dance and once broke out in a running man that got me massive applause).  I leave the dancing up to Dream Team member, Kim Sharp (she’s also the photographer of my awesome author photo).  I once wrote a dance into one of our plays that lasted 6 ½ minutes.  To this day, Kim jokes I tried to kill her…  ;)

I’ve always been into acting.  I participated in theater all through school, even earning the lead in the class play my senior year.  When I got to college, I wanted to major in theater, but my parents weren’t too keen on that.  I ended up taking a lot of classes with theater professors, so I got roles in plays.  Eventually, I went on to start a theater group that performed a family show once a month at our local theater.  I played a recurring character named Agnes Finkenhoffer, the biggest nerd in school, and directed the shows.  At Christmas time each year, I wrote and directed a play full of children (much harder than directing adults).  I definitely miss Agnes, but a little part of her nerdom lives inside me!  ;)

In my very active imagination, I one day play Rizzo from Grease.  I have all her songs memorized in case Broadway calls.  I’ve always been cast as “the good girl,” so I REALLY want to play a “bad girl.” 

Advice for aspiring writers? Mistakes to avoid or something they absolutely MUST do?
For aspiring writers, my best advice…write and read A LOT.  You need to read so you know what’s good and what’s bad.  You also want to be able to interact with your fan base and discuss books that interest them.  If you write YA, read YA all the time.  If you write romance, read romance all the time.  Start to notice what you like and don’t like stylistically and creatively.  And you can’t be a writer if you don’t write.  Write even if you don’t feel like it or don’t feel inspired.  I took three years to write my first novel (an adult historical fiction that may never see the light of day), but I kept plugging along.

Finally, my biggest piece of advice…expect rejection (probably a lot) but NEVER GIVE UP!

Now for the fun stuff!
iPhone or Android?
I have an iPhone, but I prefer Android.  As an artist, I find the iPhone restrictive and like the freedom of the Android platform.  ;)

If you could go to sleep at home and wake up anywhere in the world. Where would you go?
Hawaii.  First of all, it’s gorgeous, but more importantly, there are no snakes.  I’m seriously phobic about snakes, and the idea that they don’t exist somewhere pleases me to no end. 

Say you have multiple personalities—maybe you do? Perhaps I could interview them individually?--Tell me about them.
There are the many versions of Erin depending on what “hat” I have to wear.  The real true Erin is an energetic dreamer.  If I could spend all day in la-la land, I would.  But then there is Task Master Erin.  She gets the stuff done.  She kicks dreamer Erin in the butt and makes things happen.  There is Social Erin.  This part of me loves to be around people.  Engaging and talking with others gives me a natural high.  LOL!  There is also Spazzball Erin.  She comes out when Dreamer Erin and Task Master Erin are in conflict.  In this mode, I run around like a chicken with its head cut off.  This Erin is the least liked of all the Erins.

If you could spend a day with any person from any time in history, including now, who would it be and what would you want to do? 
I would totally spend time with Shakespeare.  In college, I took a class dedicated to Shakespeare’s tragedies.  This professor knew Shakespearean tragedies inside and out.  One thing he said that always stuck with me, “Shakespeare had to have been a people watcher.  He observed people in-depth—knew what they loved, what they hated, what made them tick.  It’s all there in his writing.”  That comment always stuck with me.  So, I’d love to people watch with Shakespeare and listen to his insights on human nature. 

What do you take in your coffee or tea (cream, sugar, milk, bourbon)?
I take nothing because I drink neither.  Ahhhhhh!!!  LOL!  I have tried to like coffee for years, and I finally found one I can stomach.  It’s an almond milk (again, lactose intolerant) chocolate mocha latte.  In terms of tea, I don’t like it in any way, shape, or form.  I think my super Southern Mema (grandma) would gladly revoke my Southern card for not liking sweet tea.

What’s your guilty pleasure? 
Food and drink wise—Doritos and Coca Cola Classic
TV Show wise—Dance Moms
Life wise—Naps

Is there one thing you do that makes you say, “damn, I’m good!”? 
I am the best at wrangling every single grocery bag from the car to the house in one trip.  I HATE making two trips, so I will literally load bags from my shoulder to my wrist on both arms and stagger into the house that way.  Every time I do it (after I drop the bags, of course…if my arms still work), I raise my arms in the air and shout, “I am She-Ra, Princess of Power.” 

What is the best prank you’ve ever played on someone?
I don’t play pranks.  Seriously, if I jump out from behind a wall and manage to make someone scream, I feel like a rock star.  How sad is that?

If you could go to one concert for any band in history, who would it be?
OMG—you’re so going to laugh… The Monkees.  They are so fun!  Haha!

That would be so much fun! I remember watching reruns of their show when I was a kid!

Erin, thank you so much for stopping by and letting us get to know you!

Learn more about Erin and her upcoming YA fantasy novel, The Prophecy:

Like her on 

Follow her on 

Mark her book “to read” on

and visit her website www.erinalbertbooks.com.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Getting to Know Author James Kassel

I have had the good fortune to have met James on Twitter. He is a husband, author, and resident of south Florida. His book, The Last Man Out, was published June 4, 2013 and has received some great reviews on Amazon.

The synopsis:
When the mysterious stranger, John Carter, arrived in the small gulf coast town of Newcastle Beach, he expected to find a quiet retreat in which he could remain anonymous. But after he encounters the most powerful family in town, their secrets quickly begin to unravel, and Carter is caught in the middle. He learns that nothing in Newcastle is what it seems and random is a word that should not exist. But the stranger has his own dark past, and what unfolds is hard to imagine. As revelations are made and pieces fall into place, everyone involved has only one question: who is John Carter?

James has graciously allowed me to interview him.

The main character of your book, John Carter, is a man who arrives in the little town of Newcastle Beach--I too am a fan of making up the cities in my books--there are a million little towns to choose from, why did you make yours up?
I am a believer that setting is nearly as important as character development to a story.  If a reader can really feel the things and places around the characters then it gives them a chance to grow the vision in their minds, much the same way the characters personalities grow as the story develops.  As a writer, creating a setting from scratch can only add to the dynamics of the plot.   Also, if a reader has had an experience in a real city or a town then it is likely that that experience, either good and bad, will bleed over into their perspective.

Like your character, you live in Florida, are you also from a small town?
I am.  I actually grew up in small town in North Carolina where I lived much of my life before moving to Florida.

Tell me about what inspired the idea for The Last Man Out?
The story developed over time and comes directly from my professional background in financial markets. The concept of a man on the run is something that I have always found intriguing and so I decided to mesh the two into an action novel.

If you got to choose a theme song for your book, what would it be? Who would star it in if it were made into a movie?
I like to think that the book’s theme song would come from the readers themselves and it would fit the narrative as they see it.  As for the actor who plays John Carter, it would be my preference that it be someone who is yet unknown and perfectly symbolizes the character.

Personally, if I were living on the gulf coast of Florida, I’d be writing on the beach all the time, but that’s just me. Tell me about your writing process and preferred environment.
It’s funny Jay, most authors like to think of themselves sitting in a picturesque and inspirational setting on a mountain top or a beach.  But the truth is, at least for me, I prefer the peace and quiet of my home office with absolutely no distractions.  I just get lost in the story when my writing is really in the zone.

You are working on a second John Carter book, scheduled to be released this fall, what can you tell us about it?
I am currently putting the finishing touches on the second book in the series.  The story continues where The Last Man Out leaves off.  Of course I wouldn’t want to give too much away but I will say this- the lead villain, Andrew Brighton is not the only one who is after John Carter.

Are you able to write full-time, or do you have use your degree in economics to pay the bills?
I have a full time job working in finance.  In fact my real life work experiences are applied to some of the plot lines in my writing.

Some authors, such as John Grisham, use their specialty knowledge to write some really spectacularly thrilling tales. Any plans to write a story about a terrorist that tries to take America down by undermining its economic integrity?
Well…. I can’t say that I have but now that you bring it up…..  No actually I sort of cringe at some of the movies and books that have been produced that comingle economics into action/adventure.  I intentionally wrote The Last Man Out with the idea that the characters experiences in finance where part of their backgrounds and part of the story, but not necessarily the dominant focus.  There are plenty of great writers out there that focus on fighting terrorists, and I love some of those novels.  It just isn’t my thing.

Now for the fun stuff!
Are you a sports fan and if so, who do you follow?
Huge sports fan.  Particularly football.  I am a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan, which is my alma mater.  I also follow the Pittsburgh Steelers because my wife is from there.  If you have ever met a Steelers fan then you know how passionate they can be, bordering on crazed.

Say you have multiple personalities—maybe you do? Perhaps I could interview them individually?--Tell me about them.
No Jay, you cannot.  If I let you then my secret would be out.

Who is your favorite fictional character from any writer? What about in your own writing?
That is a tough one.  I am a fan of Jack Reacher of course, but I would have to say that my all time favorite is Mitch Rapp from the Vince Flynn books.  Although my writing style is in no way similar or remotely as good as Mr. Flynn, he was one of my first addictive authors.  I am more than saddened by his recent passing.

What do you take in your coffee?
Lots of cream and, according to my wife, an unhealthy amount of Splenda.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
Probably just sitting on the couch watching college football with friends.

If you could spend one day with any person, alive or dead, who would it be and what would you do?
I would say George Washington.  I am fascinated by revolutionary history and would love to know exactly what was going through their minds at the time.  I think we romanticize that era to some degree but the truth is they were just men trying to make brave and difficult decisions.

You are granted one super power, what would you want it to be?
Time travel.  No question.

What is the best prank you’ve ever played on someone?
I'm not much of prankster to be honest. So I cant really say.

If you could go to one concert for any band in history, who would it be?
I know you will think this is somewhat uncultured, but Kenny Chesney.  In the late 90’s when he was just starting to get national, I was in school in Tennessee.  He was from that part of the state so his older music was the soundtrack of my college life and always takes me right back to that time.

If you were a professional wrestler, what would your ring name be and why?
I’m too small and slow to be a professional wrestler.

Thank you, James, for stopping by and sharing with us today. I appreciate the chance to get to know you a bit better.

Be sure to read  The Last Man Out available NOW on 

Follow him on

Become a fan on

and/or visit his web site:
Thanks again, James!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Getting to Know Author Jackson Paul Baer

I have had the good fortune to have met Jackson on Twitter and instantly became a fan of his author interview blog posts. He is a father, husband, author, and an Oregon State graduate. He self-pubbed the theology/philosophy and controversial book, What the Hell?, in October 2011 and is about to release his second book, The Earth Bleeds Red, in September 2013, through Pandamoon Publishing.

Jackson has graciously allowed me to interview him, his actual words when I posed the question to him were, “I’d love to.”

Your book is based in Oregon and, I, being from Portland, have no trouble envisioning a body at the bottom of the Willamette. Some authors base their writing in a specific region, for instance a good portion of Stephen King’s books are in Maine. I noticed your short story, Good Samaritan, is based in Georgia where you used to live, and TEBR is in Oregon where you live now. Do you think you’ll continue this pattern?
I definitely think that where you live or have lived plays a major part in your writing. For me, having lived in quite a few states, I’m able to draw from different landscapes and cultures. I like to put specific detail in my novels and the book I’m writing now is set in Connecticut, a place I also lived.

You self-pubbed What the Hell? For The Earth Bleeds Red you are going the traditional route. How does this experience compare?
The traditional route was obviously harder when it came to finding an agent. I received so many rejection letters that it was a bit discouraging at first. But then, after I just kept querying, I started to receive interest from agents and publishing companies. I ultimately decided to sign directly with a publishing company and am happy with everything Pandamoon has done so far.

What lessons from What the Hell? did you learn that helped you with this book?
They are two entirely different books. “What the Hell” is a book on love and though it reads like a story, it’s not a novel. “The Earth Bleeds Red” is a literary suspense with real-life language that you won’t find in a Christian book. I’m proud of “What the Hell” but “The Earth Bleeds Red” feels like my baby. I’ve learned so much about marketing and promoting from my first book that I feel more experienced now. Still, I understand I have a lot to learn.

Two of your short stories, My Best Friend is Fidel Castro and Good Samaritan are gritty, with an I-don’t-pull-my-punches style and each has an amusing twist at the end. Is this an example of the writing style we can expect in TEBR?
Yes and no. “The Earth Bleeds Red” definitely has twists and turns in it (otherwise it wouldn't be a suspense) but it’s also deep. It’s a story of love, loss, and looks at the question: Why do bad things happen to good people? The book will shock many people and from those who have read it prior to publication, almost everyone has cried at some point as well. It will draw some sort of emotion out of the reader, whether you love it or hate it.

Tell me about your writing process and preferred environment.
I enjoy writing at night when everyone else has gone to sleep. I also like going to a coffee shop and putting my ear buds in, listening to some good indie rock or nostalgic 90’s music.

You are working on another book, The Lights Will Never Fade. Is it also based in Oregon? What’s it about?
It starts in Oklahoma as Peyton finds her entire family has been brutally murdered. She moves to Connecticut to live with her only aunt and trouble seems to follow Peyton wherever she goes. The shadow quickly arrives and refuses to leave her alone. Her aunt has a dark secret to hide as the shadow looks to bring death to everyone involved.

Now for the fun stuff!
You are a Trailblazers fan, arguably one of the most promising yet disheartening teams in the NBA, whose battle cry is “just wait until next year!” How do you keep your spirits up after witnessing defeat after soul-crushing defeat?
Thankfully, I’ve only lived in Oregon for the past 6 years (meaning my heartache has been limited). Now, I’m moving back to Georgia and will continue to be a Blazers fan from afar. I’ve been to at least 20 games over the past few years and the Rose Garden is a special place.

Who is your favorite fictional character from any writer? What about in your own writing?
My favorite character in a book would have to be Jules from “Them” by Joyce Carol Oates. He’s far from perfect and I connected with his pain throughout the novel. From “The Earth Bleeds Red,” I like Scott, the father of the daughter who has been kidnapped by the Hail Mary Killer. He’s got the same sense of humor as me and love his family.

What do you take in your coffee?
Nonfat black and white mocha from Starbucks, no whip.

What’s your guilty pleasure?
I’ve got a lot but I guess too many chocolate donuts would be one of the big ones.

If you could spend one day with any person, alive or dead, who would it be and what would you do?
I would spend it with Joyce Carol Oates and talk about writing, life, love, and drink coffee together. I’d pick her brain a bit but really just spend the day getting to know her.

Is there one thing you do that makes you say, “Damn, I’m good!”?
Every day I look at my beautiful wife & kids and know that I am beyond blessed.

What is the best prank you’ve ever played on someone?
Man, there are so many bad pranks I used to pull. Most of them, I can’t mention here. The best prank I ever pulled would have to be the time I threw a cup of soda out the window while my buddy slowed down to 30 mph or so. It hit this guy who was running and exploded all over him. I feel terrible about it now but as a teenager, I thought it was the funniest thing ever. Don’t worry, I’ve had my fair share of payback over the years.
As a fellow prankster, I find this hilarious, but karma, tends to come back. I know this first hand! 

If you could go to one concert for any band in history, who would it be?
Hmmm, tough to chose just one. Depending on my mood, I could choose anyone from The Gaslight Anthem, to the Counting Crows, to Blink 182. Right now, I’d say the Counting Crows but an acoustic, coffee house set with no more than 30 people.

If you were a professional wrestler, what would your ring name be and why?
Peanut Head because it was my nickname as a kid since it took so long for me to grow hair. Well, my head is shaved now so the name could still fit. It might not be very intimidating but it should catch them off guard. 

Thanks for joining me today, Jackson. I know you have been moving and I appreciate you taking the time for us to get to know you a little better.

Be sure to read Jackson's book, The Earth Bleeds Red, out September 2013.

Like him on 
(Jackson Paul Baer)

Follow him on

Become a fan on

and/or visit his web site:
Thanks again, Jackson, I look forward to reading your book!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Erin Albert - Part 2 on Grammar

Erin Albert Author
Through exceptional sleuthing and superior deductive reasoning I've come to the startling conclusion that Erin Albert is none other than the super hero, The Passive Voice Hunter! That's right, I broke the story to the world right here on my humble blog!

<sigh> Okay, I admit this isn't a big scoop. Erin's "secret" identity has been known by pretty much everyone for a while and, by all accounts, it's a well-earned title. I've had the great fortune to have gotten to know Erin and her ninja flair on Twitter. She is a grammar geek--a topic the kid in me would be appalled to know I've come to love--and totally fun. 

Since I've been working on my novel rewrite, my blog has become a bit dusty. Erin to the rescue! She's graciously agreed to swoop in and save it from the super villain, Atrophy. So without further ado, take it away, Erin!

Thank you, Jay, for hosting me on your blog today! I am thrilled to have the chance to “talk” to your readers/blog followers! 

Today, I’d like to do a “Part 2” on one of my favorite topics—grammar.  (If you missed “Part 1,” you can check it out Grammar by Erin Part 1).  Before you run off screaming, thinking you’re being attacked by some crazy word monster, let me confess right now, I cannot spell…at all.  My critique partners also point out my issues with formal speech (probably because I’m trying to follow all the grammar rules) and hyphenation (which for the record, I just misspelled.  Thank goodness for spell check).  Apparently, I also overuse parentheses in casual writing, though not in my novels (I bet you never would have guessed I have a parenthetical “problem”). 

As a random aside (I have ADD, so follow me down this bunny trail, or skip ahead to the meat of the story…up to you), here’s an issue I have with spelling.  As a child, I’d ask my mother how to spell a certain word.  She’d always say, “Go look it up in the dictionary.”  What?  If I fundamentally don’t know how to spell something, how can I look it up in the dictionary?  Should I have looked through the entire “O” section because I didn’t know whether “s” or “c” came next in the word oscillating?   Thank goodness my grandma took pity on me and bought a Franklin speller.  I could put my badly mangled word into it, and the machine would spit back out about 15 different possibilities.  I still have it, by the way.  ;)

If you read Grammar by Erin Part 1, you can skip down to the next section.  If you’re just joining the party, the following section explains my journey to grammar freakdom.  You might ask, who even loves grammar, and when did you develop this affliction?  Well, I went to one school up until the tenth grade and learned very little about grammar there.  When I switched to a new school in the eleventh grade, my world changed.  The teacher started my first day of class by saying, “Today, we will discuss predicate nominative and predicate adjective,” to which I replied, “A wha-wha?”  I knew a noun, verb, and possibly an adverb, but nothing more.  To her credit, my sweet teacher, Mrs. Hinton (she’s a writer too and has published books you can find here), stayed after school with me for six months to catch me up on grammar.  I took this special knowledge with me to college where I became a grammar and writing tutor for the other students who didn’t recognize strange words like “predicate nominative” and “predicate adjective.”

Now that I am a soon-to-be-published author, I have the privilege of working with fellow authors.  We critique one another’s “works in progress” to sharpen and improve them for submission.  My critique partners recently dubbed me “The Passive Voice Hunter,” a name I quite like. 

Without further ado, let me introduce common grammar/writing errors.  I hope the following information will be useful whether you are a writer, business professional, student, or any other type of human being (LOL!). 

1)  Semicolons
     a) The best and most common use for a semicolon is in place of a period.  If you can put a
         period, you can put a semicolon.  However, only use semicolons to attach related pieces of 
                Example:  Jill stepped closer to Jack; he moved further away.
                Incorrect:  Jill stepped closer to Jack; she ate pizza later.

     b)  Under most circumstances, you should NOT use a semicolon with a conjunction…with one
          exception (don’t you love the English language—there’s always an exception). 
              Example of exception:  The three out-of-state applicants who received scholarships are
                  Maxwell Hammond from Atlanta, Georgia; Selina Graham from Austin, Texas; and 
                  George Matters from Cheyenne, Wyoming.
          The semicolon is used as well because commas are required.  Without the semicolon, the 
          sentence would be a comma nightmare.
          Note:  Try never to use this type of sentence in your writing if you can help it.  All the
          commas and semicolons wreak (had to spell check that one) havoc on the reader’s
          eyes and brain.

    c) Semicolons are acceptable after a conjunctive adverb (therefore, indeed, however,             
        furthermore, nonetheless, etc.)
         Example:  Sheila regretted not studying; nonetheless, she had to take the test.

2)  The word “this.”
      I see this (haha) problem often when critiquing/editing for others.  Mrs. Roberts, who taught me my freshman year of high school AND my freshman year of college (what are the odds?), first brought my misuse of “this” to my attention.  I would leave a “this” hanging out without a noun to support it, and she would draw an arrow and write “this what?”  My critique partners can attest…I picked up her habit.  The word “this” must have a noun to follow. 
          Incorrect:  I can’t believe you left me to deal with this alone.
         Correct:  I can’t believe you left me to deal with this problem alone.

3)  Quotation Marks and Punctuation
    a) Always put periods and commas INSIDE the quotation marks (at the end of a sentence).   
          Correct:   “I have always loved him,” she said.
          Incorrect:  “I have always loved him”, she said.
          Correct:  She said, “I have always loved him.”
          Incorrect:  She said, “I have always loved him”.

    b) The punctuation of exclamation points and question marks depends on the context.  These
         can be confusing and require quite a bit of attention to get straight.
         Correct (because the whole thing is a question):  What do you think of Pink’s new song
              “Just Give Me A Reason”?
          Also correct (because the question is only related to the part inside the quotation):
              John asked, "Did you go to Miami last year?”
    c) Colons, semicolons and dashes always go OUTSIDE the quotations.
        Correct:  I really enjoyed the Justified episode called “Fire In The Hole”; Raylan
               Givens kicked butt.  (Follow the same rule for colons and dashes)

Though there are plenty more grammar rules I could share, I think I’ll stop before your eyes glaze over (if they haven’t already—LOL).  Often, it’s hard to see the errors in your own work.  Asking friends, family, or co-workers to proofread your material before you send it out can be most helpful.  My beta readers (Kim Sharp, Ginny Hunsberger, Danielle Craver, and Dawn Ward) as well as my critique partners (Mary Waibel, Michelle Pickett, and Meradeth Houston) locate the grammatical, spelling, logic, and voice errors in my pieces.  I encourage you to find a group of people to help you as well. 

If you have grammar questions, please feel free to ask. I love to talk “shop.” Thanks again for hosting me, Jay! 

Also, if you want to know more about me and my upcoming novel, The Prophecy,

Please like me on 

Follow me on 

Mark my book “to read” on

and/or visit my website www.erinalbertbooks.com

Until next time,

Thank you so much for "stopping" by today, Erin. As always, I have learned something.

Please be sure to visit Erin's web site, her Facebook and Goodreads pages, and follow her on Twitter. More importantly, watch for her book, The Prophecy, out November 2013!