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Author, Freelance Writer and Writing Coach

The Little Comma With the Dot on Top

Ah, the tricky semicolon, that little comma with the dot on top that many, including newspaper reporters, editors and columnists, are never sure when to use and when to not. I’m always amazed whenever I see a semicolon improperly placed in a sentence when a comma, period or colon will do. The rules are easy, really: a semicolon is used to join two thoughts together that are independent but dependent on each other. One could use a period in place of the semicolon. After all, periods end independent thoughts. But the semicolon adds spice to the sentence when two thoughts…

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Y&R’s Ultimate Marketing Faux Pas

Five years ago, Jill Farren Phelps broke the hearts of die-hard The Young and the Restless fans – me included – when she suddenly fired Michael Muhney, the beloved actor who played Adam Newman. Muhney, a fantastic actor with emotional depth who starred on Y&R from 2009-2014 and was nominated for an Emmy in 2013, played Adam Newman as a charismatic, ruthless yet sympathetic character. His firing was a gut punch, both to Muhney and Young and Restless fans, and one that we didn’t see coming. A vicious yet untrue rumor was spread that Muhney had sexually harassed fellow co-star,…

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On Board

My mother sent this old photo to me the other day. It was taken aboard the SS United States, the fastest liner ever built in the United States. It was 1959 and we were on our way to England to spend time with relatives and friends. My Air Force father would join us later at Christmas. But for now, he left a dozen red roses and a card in our room to comfort my mother on the long journey ahead. It took about a week to reach England, but according to my mother, life aboard the liner was elegant and…

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Time to be in the Assault Victim’s Corner for Both Men and Women, By Mark Fitzgerald

My musician friend, Mark Fitzgerald, who unexpectedly passed away in January 2019, posted the following on Facebook on September 28, 2018. His post perfectly demonstrates that men get assaulted too, and the life-long damage for them is also life changing: "Damn near every female I have become close enough with to discuss such things has been sexually assaulted at one time or another. As children or young women usually. Several of them more than once. Unless my experiences are wildly atypical I think it's obvious that the current stats are bullshit. I have known two men who claimed to have…

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“People remember the beginning, the end, and maybe one chapter in the middle in that order. Make those three points painful.”

Selling Yourself Short

I never answer ads for freelance writing jobs that state that the amount of payment depends on a writer's experience. A job is either worth a certain amount of pay or it’s not, regardless of how many years a writer has under his or her belt. The companies that run these ads are trying to get talent for a steal, but the bottom line should be that your time as a freelance writer is money, and should not be dependent on how many years you have been penning your lines. Besides, a company knows what its budget is and what…

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Don’t Overdo the Ellipsis

The Internet has definitely made it easier for writers. A wealth of information is at a writer's fingertips and it has provided a way to work from home for anyplace in the country -- or even the world! But the Internet has also produced many armchair writers who either think that they understand grammar or believe that grammar rules don't apply in cyberspace. One grammatical mistake seen in the real world as well as online is the overuse and over extension of the ellipsis, that dot, dot, dot used to imply that a thought runs on or that certain words…

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Don’t Bless Me

Why do people say, “God bless you” when you sneeze? Yes, I know the story … this response to sneezing dates back to the days of the plague, when sneezing was a sign that you had caught it. People said, “God bless you” because in reality, you were going to need it. In other words, “God bless you because now you’re going to die.” But why today? I find it irritating, to be honest. I sneeze and someone inadvertently says, “God bless you,” and then, because I am a two-to-three-times-in-a-row sneezer, the person says, “God bless you” again, and then…

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Florida School Shooting Brings Back Haunting Memories

The Valentine’s Day Massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida evoked a memory of when my own daughter attended Hunter B. Andrews School in Hampton, Virginia years ago and a kid brought a gun to school. My recollection was triggered by the haunting news clip of an anguished mother whose daughter was one of the 17 killed when a former student found his way in and mowed down more than two dozen people with his AR-15. In the sound bite, now all over the Internet and on every news station, the mother screams out to Trump, “What…

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Sometimes There’s a Hero

Randy Pausch, the professor who wrote about living well and dying of pancreatic cancer in a "last lecture" that became a national sensation, has died at 47. It must be true that only the good die young and that the better person you are, the shorter your life. At least, that's the way it seems to be. Randolph Frederick Pausch was just a man. But he understood better than many of us what true living is all about. He embraced life, and then he embraced death. He believed that his last journey was perhaps his most important one. He said he…

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