Saturday, June 5, 2010

Welcome Cheryl Wyatt

Good Call Girls
by Cheryl Wyatt

Have you ever heard of good call girls? Um…me neither. Call girls aren’t generally considered “good” in the pure sense of the word. LOL! So what’s this call girl nonsense about anyway?

Hold on…I’m about to tell ya. Grin.

The other day I typed out an e-mail and forgot the comma. I was responding to my nieces who had explained to me how they’d problem-solved a dilemma they had with a project they were doing together.

So I typed, “Good call girls.” It should have read, “Good call, girls.” As in, I was affirming to them that they had made a good call as far as their decision and the direction they went with their dilemma.

Instead, I called them a couple of flagrant floozies. LOL!

See what a drastic difference in meaning that one comma (or lack thereof!) can make? LOL.

You know, this writing thing is weird. All I want is to strive to write excellence with virtue. But the truth is, I still struggle with basic mechanics. I never had grammar growing up in New Mexico. In our supposed “English” class…we learned formal Spanish. How weird was that? I love that I am fluent in Spanish! But I can‘t properly place a comma in English to save my life sometimes.

My English comp class consisted of reading, writing or discussing Edgar Allen Poe ALL semester. Not a day went by that we weren’t talking about his eerie pendulum or someone trying to scratch their way out of a dark and buried coffin. What a drag! And the teacher wondered why most of the students felt like slitting their wrists by the end of that class. ROFL! She preached Poe to us EVERY SINGLE DAY. I’m telling you, there was something very wrong with that dark and dreary woman. LOL! No offense to teachers out there. I’m sure you’re much better than that.

I have seven books in print and still am not completely sure I know what a dangling modifier is. And FORGET trying to get me to comprehend “to be” verbs. I think I have a learning disability when it comes to grasping some of these grammar, usage and mechanical rules.

So why am I published?

Because I work VERY hard to study and perfect my grammar and to send my stuff in as perfect mechanic-wise as possible. Of course I miss things from time to time. I have great bouts of self-doubt and wonder what in the world my publisher/editor sees in me.

But it boils down to story. They keep telling me I’m a good storyteller. The rest can be learned. I just have to work harder than most at it.

Story trumps all, it’s true. But having the world’s greatest story doesn’t exempt us from turning in the most presentable work as possible. Not just presentable. It should be above and beyond. As professional as possible. I’m floored at the number of people who are shocked when I tell them it’s not really the editor’s job to fix my commas.

Yeah, a good editor will catch something I might have missed after numerous sincerely thorough proofreads but I honestly STRIVE for less than seven mistakes THE ENTIRE MANUSCRIPT. I’m talking all of it. Typos, misplaced commas, misused grammar, punctuation or funky sentence structure.

I don’t always hit my goal of fewer than 10 errors the entire ms, but I continually strive to have my errors be less and less and my craft grow more and more. I study grammar constantly and apply it to my work. The Chicago Manual of Style can be your best friend in these instances. LOL!

It’s also helpful to have grammar tips come to your Inbox once a day. Google it and see what you come up with. There are many to choose from. Invest yourself in learning good mechanics whether you’re an established author or still trying to break in. The competition will always be there. If it boils down to an editorial board having to choose between two stories they like equally, yours and one that’s a bit cleaner mechanic-wise…which one do you think they’re going to choose?

The cleaner manuscript. Why? Because copy editing and line editing takes personnel and time and money and they’re going to make the best use of their time and money. It’s good business sense for them to make decisions based on stewarding their time and money wisely.

Therefore perfecting and applying good mechanics is a good use of your time and money. You won’t regret it. Already doing this? Good call, guys and girls! :D

Can you give an example of a short sentence where a comma - or the lack of one - changes the meaning? Cheryl is giving one copy of Steadfast Soldier to the person whose sentence makes her laugh the most from all those posted until midnight tonight. Please include your email address in your comment.


Steadfast Soldier is IN STORES NOW!

Rescuing people is his job…

But the one person pararescue jumper Chance Garrison can't seem to help is his own ailing father, who refuses his much-needed physical rehabilitation. That is, until Chance hires unconventional occupational therapist Chloe Callet. To his surprise, Chloe and her sweet black Lab, Midnight, work wonders. And not only on the elder Garrison. Chance just may have met the woman who can get through his own toughened exterior. Can he persuade the lovely Chloe to take a chance—on him?

Read an Excerpt

Born Valentine’s Day on a naval base, Cheryl Wyatt writes military romance. Her Steeple Hill debuts earned RT Top Picks plus #1 and #4 on eHarlequin's Top 10 Most-Blogged-About-Books, lists including NYT Bestsellers. Her books have won a Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award for the Best Series Love Inspired in 2009 and garnered a Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence final. Find out more:

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Karyn Good said...

Welcome back, Cheryl! It's a beautiful day here in the neighborhood. The sun is blessing us with its shining presence for the first time in...forever.

I actually had very good English teachers in high school and I still struggle with grammar. But I keep plugging away at it, learning as I go, and I think it's starting to pay off. I sense a slight improvement. Slight but it's there.

And sorry my brain's asleep this morning, I've got nothing in terms of a clever grammatical faux pas.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Cheryl, so very glad you're back even though I know you're on a deadline.

Love the title. Talk about a hook! LOL

I gotta go think on this but I'll be back later.


Helena said...

So glad to have you with us today, Cheryl, and talking about something of such great importance. No matter how careful I am, I don't seem to have enough eyes to catch those misplaced or missing punctuation marks in my mss.

My response to your challenge comes from a very useful little book on punctuation. (Sorry it's a story, not just a sentence, but I hope it makes you laugh!)

A panda walks into a cafe. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.
"Why?" asks the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.
"I'm a panda," he says, at the door. "Look it up."
The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.
Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves."

The book is Eats, Shoots & Leaves; the Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss.

hekhmk (at) sasktel (dot) net

Anita Mae Draper said...

I'm not in for the running for the free book, but here's what I came up with...

"Come on baby fly."

The situation: A pilot talking to her airplane after an engine stall.

Vince said...

Hi Cheryl:

In my examples below a comma makes a big difference.

The writer, in the middle of her own ‘black moment’ warned, today you are all going to die.

The writer, in the middle of her own ‘black moment’ warned today, you are all going to die.


Shoot, the sergeant ordered his men.

Shoot the sergeant, ordered his men.


P.S. Did you get to the Santa Fe opera very often? It's one of my favorites places in America.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Hey everyone! It is great to be back on the prairie. I took my granny grocery shopping today and just now got back.

I have and love the Eats, Shoots and Leaves book mentioned.

Vince, the sergeant one was HILARIOUS!

Anita, thank you so much for having me back.


Jana Richards said...

Hi Cheryl,
Thanks for joining us again. It's great to have you here.

Grammar is a constant struggle. I had one decent English teacher in high school who pounded grammar into our heads. If I learned anything about the English language, I learned it from him. I didn't appreciate then but I do now.

Continued success battling the grammar demons and making your manuscripts as clean as possible!

Vince said...

Hi Cheryl:

You’re right. I like the sergeant sentence better, too!

The other sentences I rewrote from Luke, 23:43 where there actually has been theological arguments over where the comma belongs: before or after the word ‘today’. I guess the Bible should be put to better purposes! : )


Anita Mae Draper said...

Sorry for the delay...

The winner of Cheryl's book is

Congrats, Vince.