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By Lisa Lickel
Note: This post first appeared on Author Culture in 2016.
Commas and apostrophe misuse in rampant in the world. I’ve
heard everything from “stick one in when you need to take a breath” to avoid
them at the end of lists. I submit to you that if the only reason you put a
comma in your sentence is when you want your reader to take a breath, your
sentence is too long. If you don’t use one between the last two disparate
actions or objects in a list, you end up with the classic Eats Shoots & Leaves - both the English and American versions.
Commas are needed to avoid confusion. They are needed to circumvent
run-ons which can result in multiple meanings. They are necessary to prevent dangling
and misplaced modifiers. Besides office-type little usages, there are five
particular places to use commas in American English. (Read Eats Shoots &Leaves for Queen’s English usages.)
Use a comma after an introductory word/interjection/direct
address of a person, or phrase. Be consistent.
Oh, what a beautiful morning!
Why, whatever could you mean?
Beatrice, please pass the potatoes.
Mother, may I?
When encountering a UFO, one must attempt a peaceful
greeting before shooting.
If you bring me eggs, I will make omelets for breakfast.
No, ma’am. (This usage with just the two words is becoming
more rare…omitting a comma is acceptable as long as it’s consistent. But it’s
awkward when you have to use one in a longer introductory phrase.)
Use a comma with dialog tags THAT DEFINE a manner of speech
NOT an action.
“Please pass the potatoes,” Beatrice said/whispered/yodeled.
(NOT smiled, laughed, frowned)
She said, “If you bring me eggs, I will make omelets.”
“Yes, sir,” Mother said.
Use a comma to separate INDEPENDENT clauses. I’m not always
sure how this happened but think of it this way: If you can separate a sentence
in to two sentences that can stand alone (not counting a conjunction or joining
word) use a comma. If one part of the sentences is a fragment (not a complete
sentence), then do not use a comma.
We gathered eggs, and then we made omelets.
The new house is finished, and the garage is large enough to
hold our two vehicles.
Hold on to your dreams, yet take care of practical matters.
Beatrice asked Mom to make her wedding dress and scheduled
Use a comma to surround a parenthetical phrase or word.
Think of it this way: If you include a phrase that adds to or defines something
that you could put in parentheses, use commas on BOTH sides of where you would
use parentheses. The parenthetical phrase is something that, if removed, doesn’t
necessarily change the meaning of the sentence, or add to the main idea, or it interrupts briefly the
main thought. NOTE: The use of commas surrounding appositives—words that rename
the preceding noun—are not always absolutely necessary unless there is
potential confusion or multiple objects.
Tell Phyllis she may bring her cat and kittens, along with
her poodle Toby, on the trip.
My aunt and uncle, John and Barbara, were invited to the
My sister Beatrice is getting married.
His son John will soon be five years old.
Toby and Fifi, our pets, will be lonely without us.
In the future, however, we won’t need to carry money.
Use commas to separate items in a list or actions or a
series. Use a comma between ALL of the items, including the last two items if
they are separate items/actions/nouns, etc. Likewise, use a comma between
adjectives that can be reversed.
Beatrice set the table with the good china, soup bowls,
cloth napkins, and silverware.
Mother called Jimmy, Bobby, and Susan to lunch.
Jennifer ordered eggs benedict with her toast and jam.
Pack a sweater and jeans along with your toothbrush, camera,
and suntan lotion.
It’s going to be a hot, windy day.
My aunt’s new house is a two-story, red brick mansion.
Use commas to separate numbers over a thousand (no space)—EXCEPT
in page numbers or calendar years:
There were 1,114 in attendance.
Please turn to page 1114 in your textbooks.
In the year 2525, people will no longer need money to trade.
Your tax bill comes to $3,425.
Use commas to separate dates, addresses, and cities and
countries, or states or other municipalities (space):
My cousin was born on July 23, 1977.
We visited Winnipeg, Canada in October of 2005.
I celebrated my work anniversary on February 17, 1988.
We live at 245 Sunnybrook Lane, Vanay, Oceana.
Beatrice’s new address is 711 First Street, Sinclair,
Virginia 00555. (no comma before zip code)
Madison, Wisconsin is a beautiful capital city.
Use commas in opening and closing letters/communication:
Please accept this letter of intent…
Finally, this article should be required reading for everyone. Please read it. Please.
Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin author who loves books, collects dragons,
and writes inspiring fiction. She also writes short stories, feature articles,
and radio theater, and loves to encourage new authors through mentoring,
speaking, and leading workshops. Lisa is a member of the Wisconsin Writer’s
Association, the Chicago Writer’s Association, and vice president/instructor
for Novel-In-Progress Bookcamp and Writing Retreat, Inc. She is an avid book
reviewer and blogger, and a freelance editor. Find more at www.LisaLickel.com.
Her release, Centrifugal Force, is book 2 in the Forces of Nature fiction series.
secret love child, a stolen ring, and international blackmail pivot on the
power to forgive
the turmoil of 2011, an American college administrator and a German
socio-economics expert attempt to rectify the past to save their children and
preserve the fragile world in crisis.
Michels made a poor choice which resulted in her biggest blessing, her
daughter, Maeve. When the father of that blessing returns decades later, she
knows he wants something she’d taken from him. Rachel has lived in near
seclusion and mistrust, fearful of losing the one person who’s kept her life
from coming unglued.
Gervas Friedemann returns to Wisconsin, seeking a missing ancient artifact,
along with help for his oldest daughter who is suffering from a rare genetic
blood disorder. With the European Union at stake, blackmail could negatively
impact a crucial vote in the German Parliament unless Gervas recovers an
irreplaceable relic he left in the United States on a lecture tour a lifetime
ago. He knows who took the piece of history he once flaunted—the woman who had
stolen his soul. He only hopes she still has the ring.
Coming March 1, 2019, Parhelion, book 3 in the Forces of Nature series.
Parhelion—prisms dogging the sun.
it’s a rainbow hope of reaching the stars for a small group of
preparing to preserve life.
If humanity wants to survive, there
should be ground rules.
Maeve Michels hit earth hard,
falling in love with a former Air Force test pilot. No longer in the military,
Harry Kane’s mysterious work as a consultant for a space engineering company
piques Maeve’s interest. Maeve’s sixth sense says there’s more to Harry than
he’s telling her, but with the world about to fall apart, she must decide to
trust him with her future. Harry is keeping a secret from Maeve—he has to, or
his one chance at being a real hero goes up in flames with the rest of the
planet. His assignment: get her to join the program, and him. Hopefully
With war no longer empty threats
and posturing, Maeve and Harry are about to take part in the most important
experiment in human history. Bigger secrets threaten not only their survival
but their fragile co-existence with the cosmos.
If you could choose, what kind of a
world do you want to live in?
Is it possible to have financial empowerment? Can you possibly
get a handle on your finances even in challenging economic times? Absolutely.
Pamela Carmichael has developed a system that proves to work consistently. It
is a biblical yet systematic approach to your finances. This workbook will
challenge you to take a hard look at your finances by digging deep into your
mental and emotional connection to money. In each section of the workbook you
will examine your world-view on a specific aspect of money including the
God-perspective and the practical steps to get your finances in order. Packed
with exercises and worksheets, you will gradually address nine key areas of
personal finance: creating wealth, tithing, saving, giving, investing,
spending, borrowing, lending and planning. You will take a more thorough examination
of any issues and misconceptions you have regarding your finances and take
action that aligns with God’s will for you. If you are ready for the challenge,
if you want to realign your finances to God’s will and restore your financial
strength, then this workbook is for you. BUY now. Scroll Up and get a copy
today and become financially empowered!
“While using this book you will be challenged to examine
your heart, your attitude, your relationship to Christ. Much of what we do with
our money is a reflection of how we view God and money and how we relate or do
not relate to Him.”
And so begins your journey to gain control over your
finances. With gentle encouragement and tough scriptural lessons, the author
shows readers how to manage money in a personally functional way. Carmichael
opens the book by offering readers a downloadable spreadsheet to use.
Chapters and exercises cover attitudes from negative “life
happens” events to practical advice on how and where to organize electronic
financial records, passwords, account numbers, and so forth.
Definitely take advantage of the author’s downloadable
worksheets. It would behoove the reader to go ahead and fill out the answers to
the questions such as “Why aren’t you saving money?” or What keeps you from
being a fearless giver?
Packed with great, hard-hitting advice, tips, and lessons,
Carmichael’s approach to personal financial organization might open your eyes.
Recommended for those who would like to take better control over this crucial
aspect of living, or those who simply want to learn how to keep better track of
their income and outflow.
About the Author
PAMELA CARMICHAEL is a financial services professional
with over 18 years’ experience. With a desire to see Christians grow in the
area of personal financial management, she wrote the award-winning title
"Financial Empowerment: Realign Your Finances to God's Will."
As a Christian author, speaker and coach, Pamela hopes the
work she shares will help you grow and become financially empowered as you
apply God's principles to your personal financial management strategies.
Pamela has a passion to see God's people move from struggle
to success not only financially but in all areas of life. Connect with Pamela
via her blog at http://www.pamelavcarmichael.com.
Meow Mistletoe by Lisa Lickel is a delightful, light-hearted yarn that entertains to the very last page. Filled with Christmas mirth and stoked with charming wit, the reader with be swooped off into the eccentric world of cat lovers, romantic comedy, and small-town sleuths hunting down small-town crooks. Being a cat lady myself, I found myself wanting to attend that Christmas party with all my cats in tow—I’d fit right in and so would my four-legged friends!
If you enjoy wholesome, good-old fashion entertainment with a few laughs, a few surprises, and a few twists and turns, stoked by cats that are just being cats, read this creative charm. I have to admit, I’d never read a cat book before, but with Meow Mistletoe, I’ve discovered a new genre. Whoever knew that romantic cat sleuth stories could be so entertaining?
I highly recommend getting away from stress and enjoying a little light-hearted humor and mystery. Allow yourself to unwind. Grab a cup of coffee, sit by a warm fire, and read Meow Mistletoe. If you’re like me, you may even want to read it more than once. I loved it that much!
Ivy’s ex-fiancé left her wary of men. After the fizzle of their undramatic relationship, she believes romance might be a myth until Adam, an intriguing newer member of Ivy’s pet organization, catches her attention at the holiday party. Ivy would like to know Adam better, but with her self-esteem in the gutter, how can she talk to him? Especially since self-absorbed incoming president Almanzo treats her like arm candy.
When Ivy agrees to help a fellow cat-lover find a missing pet, she learns that love doesn’t need theatrics.
Lorilyn:When did you fall in love with cats?
Lisa: We had pet cats when I was growing up, and I’ve always loved them. We had a pure black cat we called Midnight—that was the first one I recall as a child, though there are pictures of a cat with me in my crib. There were always the barn cats at my grandparents’ farm to try and tame, or at least follow and find their hideouts between the hay bales.
Lorilyn:What is your favorite personal cat story?
Lisa: Our most memorable pet was a Siamese kitten we picked up from my grandparent’s neighboring farm and drove five hours home with him protesting every minute of the way. My dad named him Terrible Turk, and he used to chase my brother and me around our house. Of course, we loved it. He had a lot of personality and was very beautiful.
Lorilyn:What other cat books have you written?
Lisa: I haven’t written any particular cat books, although cats are featured prominently in my first mystery series, Buried Treasure. Carranza has a sixth sense Judy relied upon to help her learn who to trust after her aunt’s unusual death. His successor, Pancho Villa, and his other offspring all played minor but memorable roles in the three stories, The Last Bequest, The Map Quilt, and The Newspaper Code.
Lorilyn:Are you going to write a sequel to Meow Mistletoe?
Lisa: Meow Mistletoe introduces the Fancy Cat Series. Full-length books begin releasing in early 2019, with the reboot of Meow Mayhem on January 25. Ivy and Adam have settled in Apple Grove, only to discover something’s rotten when their friend the mayor goes missing. Meow Matrimony follows, releasing on February 15. Ivy and Adam are planning their wedding at last. Ivy tries to do a good deed that goes badly and she winds up in jail, accused of murder. The books will release in ebook form, then print a few weeks later. They will both be on special order with a special ebook price a few days before the release.
Lorilyn:What have cats taught you about life?
Lisa:Cats are survivors. Sure, they are certainly as vulnerable as any other living creatures, but they are adaptable, resourceful, playful, curious, and opinionated. They can be dropped off miles away from their birthplace and decide to either go back or stay and make the best of a new life. They know what and who they like, and deal with it, without all the messiness of emotions getting in the way, and they are quite forgiving. They let you know audibly when they’re content, they take regular naps, and they stalk away when they’re upset. You know, I think those are all good lessons for humans.
Lorilyn:Lisa, I agree. We have five cats. I thank God He gave me a daughter from Nepal who loves cats. Her first word was m-e-o-w.
I look forward to more books in the series. Keep us posted so we can be sure and buy them as soon as they are published.
Lisa Lickel lives in the rolling hills of western Wisconsin. Surrounded by books and dragons, she writes inspiring fiction. Her novels include mystery and romance, all with a twist of grace. She writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book #reviewer and #reader, writing mentor, workshop leader, freelance #editor, and blogger. She loves to encourage new #authors and is a member of Chicago Writers Association and Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp & Writers Retreat. Find more at LisaLickel.com