Get it Write
February 2019

Fabulous February ... is almost over!

Sorry my newsletter is a week late. I've been very busy this month, writing all kinds of technical content that is actually very interesting. Well, except for the math stuff... I also learned a lot more about Bitcoin than I knew before (which wasn't hard to do).

My fiction novel is moving along, but I'm having a problem coming up with a title. If you'd like to suggest one, you might be interested in checking out this little contest I have going on...

I hope the weather is getting warmer in your corner of the world and you have a terrific Mardi Gras!

Publishing News

Conferences and Competitions

The New England Chapter of RWA is holding its 2019 Let Your Imagination Take Flight Conference at the Boston Marriott on April 26-27. Click here for more information:

And, speaking of NECRWA, I'm in the midst of judging entries for its annual Golden Heart Contest. When I first began writing book-length fiction back in the late 80s, I entered all kinds of contests. The feedback and encouragement I received was very important, and proved helpful.

If you're a member of a writer's organization and have not yet published any material, please consider entering your work in as many contests as you can. And if you are published, be sure to volunteer your time; judging an occasional contest is a great way to pay it forward (and back).

Tips (Not Advice)

We writers spend a lot of time at our computers. In addition to writing, we're constantly searching for new ideas, resource materials, and inspiration.

Surfing the Internet can be fun, but it can also expose us to danger, too. How would your writing life be affected if you clicked a URL in a phishing email and found your PC was a victim of ransomware? Just how many books, poems, short stories, whitepapers, essays, magazine articles, and other bodies of work are stored on your computer?

If your PC is backed up, you may not have a problem. But what if your entire home or office network were affected--including the backups?

I spend a lot of time researching a variety of subjects and published a blog post recently that just might help keep you safer: 8 Resources for Staying Safe Online.

Let me know if any of these resources prove helpful.

Did You Know?

Spotlight on Grammar

As part of my "day" job as an insurance SME and course developer, I review and revise a lot of material. I also judge writing contests periodically, as I'm doing now.

Each of us has pet peeves about different things, and I tend to have a lot of pet peeves about spelling and grammar. I know I commit my own gaffes when I write, but I thought I'd share some guidelines for two of the  grammatical issues I've seen lately.

Disclaimer: these are general rules because, despite what the Chicago Manual of Style and other resources might say, many publishers, editors, and writers choose to disregard certain rules!

Who or That?

Who and that refer back to people or things that were mentioned earlier in a sentence. (In this sense, they're relative pronouns.) Who should only be used when referring to people, and that should be used when referring to things--although many use it when referring to people, as well.
  1. I am the woman who is discussing grammar.
  2. Grammar is a subject that intrigues me.
In the first sentence, who refers to the person (I, the woman). In the second sentence, that refers to a thing (grammar).

Of course, as with any rule, exceptions exist. Use that instead of who when referring to groups of people.
  • There are many writers who give good advice.
  • There are many online sources that give good advice.

Placement of Adverbs

Adverbs describe verbs. For example, I sing poorly and I only played the cello. Adverbs also describe nouns (the green pear), adjectives (highly overrated), other adverbs (very quickly), or entire sentences (Actually, it is true).

My pet peeve has to do with the placement of adverbs.

Quite often, they can be placed at the beginning or end of a sentence. Normally I wake at six a.m. or I explained the matter thoroughly.

Adverbs should be placed as near as possible to the words they describe. Placing an adverb in the wrong position not only sounds awkward, it can also change the entire meaning of the sentence.

Let's compare these two sentences:
  1. I only played the cello.
  2. I played only the cello.
Sentence (1) means I didn't do anything but play the cello. I didn't sing, I didn't dance, I just played the cello. But sentence (2) means something different. It means I played the cello and didn't play anything else--not the piano, not the guitar, and not the bass.

Other placement rules apply, as well.
  • To stress the adverb, place it in front of the subject. Happily, I played the cello.
  • When not stressing the adverb, place it after the subject and before a one-word verb. I sometimes play the cello.
  • Adverbs should not be placed between a verb and its object. I saw what you showed me clearly, NOT I saw clearly what you showed me. ("Saw" is the verb and its object is "what you showed me.")
  • When using compound verbs (i.e., two-word verbs), the adverb comes between the two words. She has often lied.
That's enough grammar for now ... unless I come across something else that bugs me... 😊

Author Spotlight

Michael J. Malone

I "met" Michael about 10 years ago when I hosted the Author Exchange Blog, which interviewed authors. Since that time, Michael has gone on to publish numerous books in addition to running his business as a freelance editor and book mentor. I've read all his books, and can't say enough about his versatility and the quality of his work - I LOVE THE WAY HE WRITES!

Michael lives and works in Scotland, but you can purchase his books here in the U.S. from Amazon, either as paperbacks or on Kindle:

You can visit Michael on his website at and if you'd like to see a trailer of his most recent novel, After He Died, at:


As a writer, I understand the importance of coming full circle. However, until recently, I didn't realize just how many things actually cycle right back to the places where they began.

Of course, there are the obvious things. Although my son is 38-years-old, spending time with his 3-year-old son (my grandson) is like taking a trip in the WABAC machine. Although my parents have both died, I'm now living in their house.

When I was a kid, my mother was sick a lot. As the oldest of four siblings, I always feared that something would happen to her and  Dad and the four of us would be sent off to live with strangers or forced to live in the woods like the Box Car kids rather than be separated. I remember being so relieved to turn 18 because, if something happened to our parents, I'd be able to take care of my sibs.

Looking back from 45 years down the road, I realize it's highly unlikely a court would have granted me custody of 16-, 14-, and 9-year-olds, but I remember exactly how I felt ... because I'm feeling the same way now.

Mom died 20 years ago and Dad died 15 months ago. My sibs and I are orphans, or at least that's how it feels. It doesn't matter that I'm looking 63 in the face and my baby sister will turn 55 this year. I'm finding my perspectives shifting as I get older. Not changing exactly, but echoing feelings and sentiments I haven't experienced in years. Gearing up to complete the cycle, I guess.

I just hope my kids don't have to start cutting my meat for a long, long time!
Feel free to reach out to me via the Contact page of my website at, or by clicking the social media links below.
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