Monthly Archives: July 2014

Murder by Contract(ion)

Imagine my surprise when one of the detectives on the new TV show Murder in the First (TNT) realizes that a suicide note is a fraud based on an unusual use of an apostrophe! Punctuation meets Prime Time!



Noticing that “shouldn’t’ve” (as in “I shouldn’t’ve killed that girl…”) in the supposed typed confession was—coincidentally—exactly the same as in a workplace email communique, the ace detective (as in A+ in English!) researches the statistical commonality of the double contraction … checking with UC Berkeley’s linguistics department (a nice plug for my own alma mater!) and voila! a killer is identified. (In case you’re interested, according to what the detective told the suspect, only 1 in 800,000 use this particular double apostrophe.)

Enough of DNA matches, fingerprint comparisons, text message threads, bloody footprint trails. This is true detective gumjwork. Which gives me an idea; rather than referring to myself as an editor, I think I will now consider myself a grammar gumshoe.


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COWG If you’re in Central Oregon mid-August … love to see you!




For more details about the workshop, or COWG, visit their website:


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Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

If you happen to be in London this summer, be on the lookout for BookBenches! Books About Town features 50 unique BookBench sculptures,  designed by local artists to celebrate London’s literary heritage. The sculptures, depicting great works of literature, are scattered throughout the city. What a great way to bring the book world and the real world together!

dr_seussI want one … or two.

For more information, check out the link below:

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It’s a Dangerous Job …

Now you know when I say I’m getting a new piece … or working on a magazine , I mean of the Smith and Wesson kind. A big thanks to the clever writing at the ONION.

4 Copy Editors Killed In Ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual Gang Violence

(New York) Law enforcement officials confirmed Friday that four more copy editors were killed this week amid ongoing violence between two rival gangs divided by their loyalties to the The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual Of Style.

“At this time we have reason to believe the killings were gang-related and carried out by adherents of both the AP and Chicago styles, part of a vicious, bloody feud to establish control over the grammar and usage guidelines governing American English,” said FBI spokesman Paul Holstein, showing reporters graffiti tags in which the word “anti-social” had been corrected to read “antisocial.” “The deadly territory dispute between these two organizations, as well as the notorious MLA Handbook gang, has claimed the lives of more than 63 publishing professionals this year alone.”

Officials also stated that an innocent 35-year-old passerby who found himself caught up in a long-winded dispute over use of the serial, or Oxford, comma had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

For the original ONION story:,30806/

(Photo courtesy of Arvind Grover

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Writing tips from the CIA’s ruthless style manual

And my clients think I’m ruthless …

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Motorcycle Mama

Strange that the last three writers I’ve worked with have all told their stories from the seat of a motorcycle.

outlawJohn Andrews’ Outlaw Preacher series follows legendary “Nine Ball” of the notorious Doomsayers outlaw motorcycle club from the gates of Folsom prison back to his home in Southern California, only now passing out bibles instead of throwing punches.

Next up, Kevin Parsons’ 50 Stories in 50 Statesfictional tales — sometimes funny, sometimes not— but always entertaining, as Kevin 50and his wife explored the great US of A.

Most recently, From Iron Lung to Iron Butt, Bob Mutchler’s true story of his struggles with polio and his dedication to eradicate the disease worldwide, told to and written by Lynda Lahman, a motorcycle rider herself. Who would have guessed, as Lynda reminds me, that having sat behind her in US History years ago would have brought us together once again.

At this rate, I may have to strap my laptop to the back of a “hog.”

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Say “ah”

Though I’m dialed into correct grammar, punctuation, etc. in their written form, I am also sensitive to correct grammar and pronunciation in the spoken word.

So imagine my disappointment when I tuned into one of the new “hot” shows on television — Murder in the First — only to hear not one, but two characters (a judge and a criminal defense attorney) refer to the Burning Man Festival in Nev-ah-da, not Nevada.

murderinthefirst-b-800x450Granted, I’m probably more aware of this faux pas because of having   lived in the silver state for many years, but still, doesn’t anyone do their homework?


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