Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Watch The Marriage Whisperer Interview

Congrats to my friend and writing buddy Patt Pickett, Ph.D., whose book "The Marriage Whisperer" has been released. Watch the interview here through this link:


Write soon,

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Don’t hold your breath waiting for these fines!

What do Keith Richards, George Washington and I have in common? We all love the library, and have the fines to prove it!

Have you seen the new Spencer Road Library?  My husband says they built at least one wing with the late fees I’ve had to pay through the years. (Hey, I was busy.) However, my guilt has been assuaged. I recently learned that delaying the return of books follows a strong tradition dating back to the beginning of our country. 

Currently, I have two overdue books that will go back tomorrow, bringing my fine to a hefty $7. Richards and Washington, however, have fees that are significantly more substantial. Richards confessed that he failed to return books borrowed from his early teens, and Washington checked out two on Oct. 5, 1789 that have yet to be returned. Although there is no exact figure for Richards, adjusting for inflation, Washington’s fine would be somewhere in the ballpark of $300,000. 

So tell me, what’s the largest fine you’ve ever had to pay?

Write soon,


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Take these words, please!

“Sometimes your eraser produces better prose than your pen.”


One of the most difficult aspects of writing and editing is deciding what to take out. St. Louis writer and teacher Catherine Rankovic mentioned in her interview a few weeks ago the value of studying journalism because it teaches writers how to edit. I couldn't agree more.  

In my book, Strengthen Your Nonfiction Writing, I list common words that can be removed without changing the meaning of a sentence. I’ve chosen several to highlight here along with explanations and illustrations using many of the same weak words, which was surprisingly easy.

Remove these weak words from your writing:

Just – My favorite, I just can’t help using it in just about everything I write.

Completely – Completely unnecessary.

Really – Really? Is it really that hard to eliminate that word? (See also “That.”)

That – That is a word that is generally overused. (See also “Really.” "Generally," and “Actually.”)

Then – If you remove this word, then your writing will improve. (See also “Actually.”)

“To be” verbs – When you have a choice of using “to be” verbs, or not “to be,” verbs, go with “not” (I'm channeling Shakespeare). These are state-of-being verbs, and include: “is,” “am,” “are,” “was,” “were,” “be”, “being,” “been.”

Particular – This particular word is generally unnecessary. (See also “Generally.”)

Generally – I generally avoid this particular word. (See also “Particular.”)

Actually – I almost used this one in my opening paragraph, well, actually, I did, but then deleted it. (See also “Then,” and “Almost.”) You probably noticed the word “actually” in the previous sentence, and “probably” in this one, and can see that they are unnecessary. (See also “That.”)

Definitely – You definitely don’t need to use this word.

Almost – I used this in my explanation of “actually,” which probably weakens it and makes me a bad writer. (Note to self: I should probably add “probably” to this list.)

Basically – It's basically the same as definitely. (See also “Something” and “Got.”)

Things – Use something more descriptive. (See also “Something.”)

Something – If you’ve got something that is basically unnecessary, why keep it? (See also “Basically,” and “Got.”)

Got – If you’ve got it, flaunt it. (This use might be acceptable had we not been told to avoid clich├ęs like the plague – lol, old joke, I know.)

Probably – You probably don’t use this as much as I do. (See also “Almost.”)

Very – Mark Twain said: “Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very'; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

Old jokes – (See also “Got.”)

Which words do you automatically delete?

Write soon,