Friday, April 29, 2011

Grammar (and I am no goddess)

Today I'd like to talk about the "G" word. Grammar. Grrrrrammar (emphasis on the "grrrrr"). When I was in elementary school diagramming sentences was all the rage. The lines had to be perfectly drawn with a ruler. The lines had to be filled with precise grammar terms: proper noun, linking verb or dangling participle.

What the heck is a dangling participle anyway?

Back to "grrrrrammar." Now some people have brains wired for grammar. The exactness of it. The absoluteness. Many times those who love grammar also love math. I categorize myself as a creative type...a free spirit if you will. Rules-shmools. If I wanted a comma, right here, then dang it, I used a comma. I'll admit it, I was a coma junkie. I fear I still am.

Then I wrote my first novel.

Not until then did I truly and unequivocally try to understand the nitty gritty grammar world. How to properly use a semi-colon. The reason behind a strategically placed ellipses. Staying in one verb tense. Avoiding misplaced modifiers and double metaphors. It was a whole new world because it mattered to me. There was no way I was sending out my query letter with grammar errors. And there was absolutely no way I was sending out my manuscript unless it was as grammatically perfect as I (and a few old teaching colleagues) could get it. This stuff matters because it's all about the writing.

The writing is everything.

Now let me clarify here. I thought I was pretty solid with my new found grammar understandings until my manuscript ended up in my editor's hands. She - the brilliant woman that she is - taught me even more about the craft of using solid grammar in writing. It is most definitely a craft.

I learned that ellipses at the end of a sentence are four periods...not three. Wild.

I learned that if a word is in quotations at the end of a sentence like "this." that the period goes inside the quotation marks. But not a question mark. Wild.

I learned a ton.

Am I a master? Ahh, no. Not by a long shot. There are probably grammatical errors in this very post. I consider myself improved, not a guru. Let's just say I thank Annette and Alison (my copy editor) in my prayers each night.

My point, dear blog readers (you tried and trusty bunch that you are) is that grammar matters. Take the time to learn. Investigate online. Post questions in forums. Find out if you're right. If you've done the hard work of writing a book, then do the hard work of making sure everything is grammatically correct in it - to the best of your ability. It will be time well spent. Trust me.

Have a wonderful weekend. Happy grammar'ing to you all....

Saturday, April 23, 2011

So I have a funny story....

If you're reading this blog post, thank you. Thank you for not forgetting who the heck I am. I seriously have been a crappy blog host as of late. My only excuse is...life. And if you have a pulse then you can relate to the madness that is "life."

Onto the funny.

I received a wondrous email last week. CRACKED was in official "real book" form and a print out of the book (AKA first pass pages) was in the mail to me for a final read through. I squealed.

The package arrived the next day and I ripped it open with wild abandon. More squealing. It was my book...my people...in actual book form. Copyright page, dedication page, acknowledgments page. All there. I grabbed my blue pencil and got to reading the pages.

Then my husband came home.

I ran into the kitchen clutching the pile, laid it on the counter in front of him and said, "Can you believe it? Go ahead, turn the pages. It's like a real book."

He turned the first page, smiled at me with the best smile and said, "I can't believe it." He turned the second page. "I can't believe -"

He stopped. "Oh crap! Kate, I'm bleeding!"

I was so lost in "the moment" and watching the reaction on his face that I had to look down. At my pile. My precious, precious pile.

There were two large drops of blood on the left page and then an enormous smear of blood on the right. In two seconds flat the manuscript looked like a murder scene. I quick grabbed a paper towel and dabbed up the blood. Then I quick grabbed a wet paper towel and dabbed some more. Then I quick grabbed a wet paper towel with some soap and dabbed even more.

And I ended up with this (on five of the pages). Behold the bloody manuscript:


My husband had an unknown-about-cut on his pinkie. He still feels bad. All I can do is laugh about it. He's lucky I love him so much.

Thankfully, Annette (my editor) sent me the pdf file so I could print out fresh, blood-free, crinkle-free pages before I mailed the sucker back.

Oh, and I have a cover. But it's super duper secret. And super duper awesome.

I CAN NOT WAIT UNTIL I CAN SHARE IT WITH THE WORLD!!!

One final note, seriously, thank you to anyone who continues to stop by my blog, read my posts and leave comments. I am grateful.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Launch WINNERS!

WINNERS! WINNERS! WE HAVE WINNERS!

First, thank you to everyone who helped spread the word, officially entered (teachers and word spreaders alike) and/or shared in the excitement. Much thanks!

Let's get to the good stuff...the list of winners.

The four teachers, chosen randomly from the computer program The Hat, who have won a signed copy of TEACHING NUMERACY: 9 Critical Habits to Ignite Mathematical Thinking are:
Laura Vitale
Richard Strausz
Mima Hydutsky
Therese Roberts

CONGRATULATIONS!!

The four "word spreaders", chosen randomly from the computer program The Hat, who have won the Amazon.com gift cards are:
Karen Moore ($100)
Lynn Hoenig ($50)
Christine Danek ($25)
Ricki Schultz ($25)

CONGRATULATIONS!!

Winners, email me at (kmwalton1 at verizon dot net) so I can verify your information. And thank you again to everyone!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I'm a bit overwhelmed

I'm having trouble squeezing it all in everyone. My brain is close to mushing into a gelatinous mound of useless gray matter. I'm going to let my blog take a wee nap until the BIG contest-winner-announcement-day.

Unsure of the contest of which I speak? Why, click HERE and remedy that right quick. Especially if you know a teacher.

I'm tucking my blog in for a six day nap. With kisses and a blankie. Don't worry. I'll be back next Friday, April 15th, to announce the winners - bloggers and teachers alike. We have some ridiculous prizes. Unsure of the prizes of which I speak? Why, click HERE and remedy that right quick. ; )

In closing, if any of you fine blog readers have reproduced children, you may enjoy reading my new parenting articles over at Examiner.com. Each article focuses on how to seize the teachable moments.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Calling All Parents


My friend Margie told me about this writing gig over on Examiner.com. I checked it out. I applied. They're giving me a shot. I officially examine the gazillion teachable moment opportunities parents are presented with while raising their children - and I write short articles.

My plan is to write three articles a week. So the content will be forever changing. I'm keeping it fresh.

Any interested parents/blog readers can check out the articles HERE (I've also added a permanent link above as a tab). And feel free to tell anyone else who has procreated to stop by and have a read each week.

I'd be forever grateful. I'm actually serious. I will be forever grateful.