Monday, December 15, 2014


Fear not, Gentle Writer, Mrs. Grammar Person will not abandon you, despite the fact that it is the busiest time of year and she hasn't finished making her cookies. Nay, Mrs. G.P. knows that if grammarians don't remain vigilant and make every effort to ensure clear communication, then civilization will surely fall. And, while many civilized people prefer to use the word insure instead of ensure, Mrs. G.P. assures us that ensure is preferable, unless, of course, you sell insurance.
As it is the season for childlike wonder, Mrs. G.P. stops to wonder why childlike connotes a return to happier times, while childish is an insult used for adults who embody the worst aspects of childhood, such as whining, tattling, or tantrums. This is indeed a mystery, one that we don't have the capability to solve, although we surely have the ability to use both words correctly. The words ability and capability are often used interchangeably, but are not the same. Capability usually means extremes of ability or potential ability, while ability refers to a current level of achievement or skill. Likewise, the word capacity may refer to a talent one was born with, while ability is a skill one must learn. Isn't it addictive to learn the nuances of grammar and word usage? Some would say it's addicting, and although Mrs. G.P. would applaud the sentiment, she would disagree with the word choice.
Not wanting to start an argument, our favorite grammarian would defuse the situation by offering the person one of her addictive home-baked delicacies. Her only wish is for good grammar to be diffused across the land, but, if she cannot have good grammar, she will settle for good cheer, especially during holiday time.
Speaking of time, Mrs. Grammar Person always spends some time answering e-mails from her devoted fans, as well as those from sometime grammarians, whom she refers to as dabblers. It has been some time since Mrs. G.P. received such an e-mail, but it did happen again sometime yesterday. This particular dabbler proclaimed there to be no difference between the words, everyday and every day and challenged Mrs. G.P. to prove otherwise. Always up to a challenge, our favorite phonetic fanatic rolled up her metaphorical sleeves and wrote:
            My Dear Sir,  

            It is not an everyday (ordinary, daily) occurrence for me to receive a

            request such as yours. If it happened every day, then I would have no

            time for my baking. Everyday is an adjective, while every day is an

            adjective followed by a noun. Whenever you are unsure as to which

            form to use, may I suggest that you substitute each day and, if that

            makes sense, then every day is the correct choice.  

            All the best,

            Mrs. Grammar Person 

As you might imagine, Mrs. G.P. has heard nothing further from him, not even a thank-you, but, no matter, she has much to prepare and her mind wanders farther from the rules of grammar than she would care to admit. She must choose between baking and wrapping gifts, but since decisiveness is among her many talents, she bustles off to wrap gifts.  To her consternation, she notes that the pajamas she bought for her niece are marked inflammable but that the incense she bought for her yogi is marked flammable. What unnecessary confusion! To clarify, Mrs. G.P. writes identical cards to attach to the packages. The cards make it clear that each gift will catch fire quite easily. 

Exhausted from so much activity, Mrs. Grammar Person sinks into an overstuffed chaise lounge in her drawing room. Her furniture is a soothing rose color because chintz makes her dizzy. She is startled to hear the doorbell ring and, flustered, she rushes to answer it. Who is it, but her new friend, Mr. Syntax, holding a bottle of champagne wrapped with a bow. With a broad smile and a happy glow, our favorite grammarian invites him in.

"I hope you'll pardon the intrusion," the gentleman says, shyly. "But I was in the neighborhood and wanted to bring you a holiday gift. Something as bubbly as you are."

Mrs. G.P. notices that this is no ordinary champagne, but, in fact, the most expensive French variety.  She hesitates to take the bottle.

"But, Mr. Syntax, I cannot accept something so valuable. It's too much…"

Looking crestfallen, Mr. Syntax replies, "Mrs. G.P., I consider your friendship invaluable and this is but a token of my appreciation." He looks so sad that even his moustache droops.
Our favorite grammarian has an idea. "I cannot accept this expensive gift, but I am happy to drink it with you."

"Brilliant!" he replies, bouncing back to his old self. He pops the cork while she fetches the champagne flutes.

They sit next to each other in front of the fire crackling on the hearth.

"To a beautiful friendship!" says Mr. Syntax, raising his glass.

"To a wonderful new friend!" says Mrs. Grammar Person. Glasses clink and delicate champagne bubbles float away, right into the new year.



Saturday, December 13, 2014

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Holiday Cheer

I'd like to say thank-you to all my readers. Your love and support--for both me and Jamie Quinn--has been amazing! I wish you a wonderful holiday season filled with warmth and happiness. Oh, and Duke Broussard raises his glass to your good health!

I just reduced the price of Jamie's 3rd mystery, "Peril in the Park", to only 99 cents-sale ends 12/15!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Expert Advice From A Voiceover Actor

Please welcome Carrie Lee Martz, acclaimed actress, voiceover artist extraordinaire, and one of my favorite people! She is here today with advice on how to get started in the voiceover business. Enjoy!

Monday, December 8, 2014


Fear not, Gentle Writer, Mrs. Grammar Person is out of the doldrums and no longer feels dull, listless, or in low spirits. The word "doldrums", from the Old English word dol, means foolish or dull, but you may rest assured that Mrs. G.P. would never think you were foolish for feeling dull. No, she would try to raise your spirits in the same way she raises her own--with the most delightfully entertaining words imaginable.

Mrs. G.P. is sensing a scintilla of sympathy and an iota of interest from you, her devoted admirers, so she will explain her method lickety-split. She will not shillyshally (procrastinate) or dilly-dally (delay) or lollygag (dawdle) another minute, although she doesn't wish to proceed in a way that's willy-nilly (disorganized) or pell mell (in a recklessly hurried manner). Nor does she wish to start a brouhaha (an uproar) or, worse, a hullaballoo (condition of noisy confusion). Mrs. G.P. fears that all of this jibber jabber (talk in a rapid and excited way that is difficult to understand) could give you a case of tintinnabulation (the sound of ringing), or worse, a headache. She would not want to leave you befuddled (confused) or flummoxed (bewildered) because of too much gobbledygook (meaningless or nonsensical language). On the other hand, Mrs. Grammar Person does not believe in mollycoddling anyone; she believes that would be feckless (irresponsible) of her and cause some scuttlebutt (gossip, rumors) among her fellow grammarians, some of whom (Mrs. G.P. hates to say it) tend to bloviate (speak pompously or brag).

Far be it from Mrs. Grammar Person to pull any shenanigans (foolish behavior) or engage in any form of skullduggery (deception or trickery). Au contraire! She simply wants you to enjoy the same mellifluous (sweet-sounding) words she does, laughing at how silly some of them sound.

As Mrs. Grammar Person sits by her pond pondering the pollywogs (which she refuses to call tadpoles), her mind drifts and she wonders whether a rose by any other name would really smell as sweet. She leaves that to you to decide, for it is late and Mrs. G.P. must skedaddle (hurry off) as she has a dinner engagement with her new friend, Mr. Syntax. Until the next time, Mrs. Grammar Person bids you adieu!

Check out my guest blog post!

Check out my guest post on, "Acting Up", a blog about life and lessons learned through the eyes of an actress. Carrie Lee Martz is a very talented actress and the narrator of my Jamie Quinn mysteries. Thanks, Carrie!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Check out this great review of my audiobooks by Mason Canyon!

What a beautiful blog! Check it out:

Thoughts in Progress-A place for my mind to gather its images

Thanks, Donna, at "The Girl Who Reads" :-)

Check out my guest blog post at"Your Online Source for Book Reviews and Author News". Thanks for the hospitality, Donna, love your blog!


Fear not, Gentle Writer, Mrs. Grammar Person will not fill your head with verbs today for she is filled with melancholy. Having heard dreadful news of a dear friend's illness, Mrs. G.P. feels despondent. Not even a pot of tea and a visit from her favorite cat, Mr. Malaprop, has served to lift her from the doldrums. And so she turns to you, her admirers and, dare we say, friends, in her hour of need because chatting with you always makes her smile.

Why, yes, Mrs. G.P. would be glad to explain the origin of her cat's name--and she thanks you for the distraction. A malapropism is a funny thing, indeed, and is defined as a misused word or a verbal slip. An example is, "he put out the flames with a fire distinguisher". Mrs. G.P. recalls an amusing malapropism from a young child who, after seeing a commercial about lactose intolerance, declared that he, too, was "black toast intolerant". Another interesting word ending in -ism is solipsism, which means egotistical self-absorption. Mrs. Grammar Person shudders to think that this term would ever be used to describe her.

To lighten the mood and banish dark thoughts, our favorite grammarian would like to tell you about spoonerisms, words in which some of the parts are switched, either through error or wordplay, with humorous results. Named after the Reverend William Archibald Spooner, who was famous for these gaffes, an example of a spoonerism can be found in this question he once posed, "Is it kisstomary to cuss the bride?" Unlike other men of the cloth who focused on proselytism (converting others to your religion or way of thinking), this good reverend could not be taken seriously.

On the subject of being taken seriously, a true grammarian would do well to avoid anachronisms in his writing. From the Greek root word, khrono, an anachronism is something or someone that is out of chronological order. Thus, were you to write about Colonial times, you would not include a reference to television--unless, of course, your story involved time travel.

Another serious topic is plagiarism. When Mrs. G.P. was a girl, her mother warned her to never lie for she would always be caught. The same can be said about plagiarism. But do not despair, your beloved grammarian is sympathetic and understands that with so many ideas whirling about your brain, it is difficult to distinguish which are original and which are borrowed. Enter the internet, a 'place' where any phrase may be tested for originality. By using this safeguard, you may rest assured that your witticisms, symbolism, epigrammatism, and lyricism will always be your own creation and that you will never be accused of charlatanism. To express that in simpler terms, don't be a Luddite.

With a sense of absurdism, Mrs. G.P. reports that there are 887 words that end with -ism, including the word ism. But, unlike Don Quixote, your beloved grammarian will not fall prey to quixotism (being caught up in the romance of noble deeds and the pursuit of unreachable goals), and attempt to discuss all 887. That would be a terrible example of didacticism on her part! Instead, Mrs. Grammar Person will dispense with her defeatism and pessimism, at least for today, and focus on the spiritualism and humanism of her followers and friends, and thank them for their altruism in lifting her spirits. Until the next time, your favorite grammarian sends you gratitude and affection.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


Fear not, Gentle Writer, Mrs. Grammar Person has heard your pleas and is happy to be of assistance--just as soon as she finishes her cup of tea. Ah, much better! Of course, Mrs. G.P. would not be able to hear your plaintive cry nor assist you in any way were it not for the existence of verbs, yes, those versatile words that allow us to take action. Without them, we couldn't budge at all.

Helping out is something Mrs. G.P. adores, which is why she holds a special place in her heart for the helping verbs. Helping verbs can stand on their own, certainly, but they are also kind enough to help out the other verbs. Below is a list of the helping verbs and, should you choose to memorize these verbs as Mrs. G.P. has done, you will never forget them. Even if you cannot for the life of you remember something extremely important, you will always remember the helping verbs. You may wish to take heed of this friendly advice from your favorite grammarian. Now that you have been warned, here is a complete list of the helping verbs:

am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been, have, has, had, do, does, did, can, could, shall, should, will, would, may, might, must.

Whew! Mrs. Grammar Person loves to recite this list as fast as she can; it is one of her daily grammar exercises. An example of a helping verb can be found in the short sentence: "I am going."  How silly of Mrs. G.P. not to notice another example of a helping verb in the previous phrase "can be found"! She can't wait to tell that story at the annual Grammar convention.

Now that you have mastered the helping verbs (and Mrs. G.P. has refilled her teapot), it is time to discuss the trickier verbs, the ones that defy logic, the ones that follow their own rules. Yes, as unpleasant as it may be, we must examine the irregular verbs. To ease you into this topic, our beloved grammarian starts with the easy ones. These verbs are irregular in that they stay the same, no matter what happens. In an ever-changing world, you can always count on these verbs to hold their course. Thus, if Mrs. G.P. were to let you down (which she hopes will never happen), then let remains the same whether she let you down today, she let you down yesterday, or she has let you down in the past (past participle). These verbs are your constant friends and include the words: bet, bid, cost, hit, hurt, let, cut, broadcast, put, and shut. Another verb in this category is the word read, which keeps the same spelling, but changes pronunciation from present to past tense.

The next group of verbs is only a little tricky in that they change form from present to past, but remain the same for past participle. An example is: "Mrs. G.P. holds your friendship dear; she held it dear yesterday, as she has held it dear always.

The verbs that follow this rule are: beat/beat/beaten; bring/brought/brought; build/built/built; burn/burned/burned; buy/bought/bought; catch/caught/caught; dream/dreamed/dreamed; feel/felt/felt; fight/fought/fought; find/found/found; get/got/got; hang/hung/hung; hear/heard/heard; hold/held/held; keep/kept/kept; lay/laid/laid; lead/led/led; learn/learned/learned; leave/left/left; lend/lent/lent; lose/lost/lost; make/made/made; mean/meant/meant; pay/paid/paid; say/said/said; sell/sold/sold; send/sent/sent; sit/sat/sat; show/showed/showed; sleep/slept/slept; spend/spent/spent; stand/stood/stood; teach/taught/taught; think/thought/thought; tell/told/told; understand/understood/understood; wear/worn/worn; and  win/won/won.

Finally, Mrs. G.P. hopes that you have remained true in your devotion to grammar and are prepared to tackle the most irregular of irregular verbs. As she cannot explain their oddness away, Mrs. Grammar Person will simply list them for your future reference:

Awake/awoke/awoken (This verb causes a lot of confusion, indeed!)
Be/was/been ("To be or not to be" was the question that had been on Hamlet's mind)
Become/became/become (That's a strange one)
Begin/began/begun (I begin to see why you began the war you should never have begun)
Bite/bit/bitten (I bite the boy who bit me first and now we have bitten each other)
Blow/blew/blown (The wind blows as much as it blew yesterday, but not as much as it has blown in the past)
Break/broke/broken (I break a different toe than I broke yesterday, but the same one I have broken before)
And here are the rest of them for your edification and enlightenment:
chose/chose/chosen, come/came/come,
do/did/done, draw/drew/drawn, drive/drove/drive, drink/drank/drunk
fall/fell/fallen, fly/flew/flown, forget/forgot/forgotten, forgive/forgave/forgiven, freeze/froze/frozen
give/gave/given, go/went/gone, grow/grew/grown
ride/rode/ridden, ring/rang/rung, rise/rose/risen, run/ran/run
see/saw/seen, sing/sang/sung, speak/spoke/spoken, swim/swam/swum
take/took/taken, tear/tore/torn, throw/threw/thrown
wake/woke/woken (just like awake/awoke/awoken), write/wrote/written.
As much as she lives for the rules of grammar, Mrs. G.P. must admit that she is a tad weary after her foray into the land of irregular verbs. She wishes to take a nap and, being a creature of habit, will lie down in the same place she lay yesterday and has lain whenever she feels the need for respite--the Queen Anne sofa in her drawing room. After all of your hard work, Gentle Writer, you should rest as well. Mrs. G.P. bids you a fond farewell until the next time you meet.

Monday, December 1, 2014


Fear not, Gentle Writer, Mrs. Grammar Person would not abandon you to your own devices simply because the holidays are upon us. To the contrary, it is at this time of year that Mrs. G.P. frets the most about her devoted fans. During this, the gift-giving season, you must remember that, try as you might, you will never find the most unique gift for that special someone. Unique means one-of-a-kind; therefore, one gift cannot be more or less unique than any other. But, whichever gift you choose, Mrs. G.P. is sure that you will delight the recipient!

In addition to gifts, the holidays provide us with bountiful treats. Everybody loves these treats and nobody can pass them up. Mrs. G. P. finds it curious that the word everybody is followed by a singular verb despite that it refers to many people. Nevertheless, she diligently follows all of the rules of grammar, even the silly ones. Likewise, it is correct to say: all of them enjoyed their cookies, but each boy enjoyed his cookie. Our favorite grammarian is proud of her ability to home in on these grammatical mishaps, but she cannot hone in on them, since that makes no sense at all.

To clarify, Mrs. Grammar Person would not imply that you make such egregious errors and prays that you have not inferred as much from her writings. She is confident that you would never confuse the meanings of imply and infer. Mrs. G.P. knows that you follow her musings out of a mutual love for perfect grammar and that you lend her your attention willingly. Of course, you couldn't loan her your attention because loan is a noun and lend is a verb. But you already knew that. Like Mrs. Grammar Person, you are an expert grammarian who advises others of the logic (and sometimes illogic) of proper English. Whether they choose to take your advice is up to them.

Isn't it a marvel how one letter can change the meaning of a word? An airplane hangar transforms into a simple clothes hanger, an apple peel becomes the peal of a bell, and the act of being stationary in one place becomes stationery for letter-writing. Mrs. G.P. cannot discuss the difference between naval and navel because it always gives her a fit of the giggles to compare the Navy to a belly button.

Once the holidays are over, we strengthen our resolve to eat properly and exercise after the over-indulgence we have all succumbed to. Mrs. G.P reminds us that we should also endeavor to strengthen our writing and eliminate the passive tense whenever possible. Thus, instead of saying, "The cookies were eaten by the boys" you should say, "The boys ate the cookies."  Whose cookies are we discussing? The boys' cookies, of course.  The apostrophe indicates the possessive (the cookies belong to the boys) and the apostrophe follows the 's' because the cookies belong to all of the them. Were Mrs. G.P. to speak of a single boy and his cookies, she would write, "the boy's cookies".

This leads Mrs. Grammar Person to answer a final question that she has been asked recently, to wit, "what gift would she like to receive?"  Feeling humbled, our beloved grammarian hesitates, deep in thought. Finally, she responds that she would like a "grammar-repair kit", a toolbox filled with apostrophes, hyphens and an endless supply of white-out so that she may fix the mistakes she encounters daily. But the gift she wants most of all, she adds with a smile, is the gift of your continued friendship throughout next year and beyond. A happy holiday to all of you, my dear grammarians!