Wednesday, March 23, 2011

On semicolons, worrying about worry, and Random News Crap

Dirty Grammar Bite
It's been a while since I've done one of these. I have two pressing issues wrestling for attention in my grammar brain, but in the interest of keeping this post shorter than prior attempts, we will pick...which one, which one...semicolons! Yay!

Okay. Here's the deal, folks. Stop using semicolons as commas or periods. They have been called "super commas." Take it from the experts, though. The Chicago Manual of Style (section 6.57) says:

The semicolon, stronger than a comma but weaker than a period, can assume either role, though its function is usually closer to that of a period. Its most common use is between two independent clauses [i.e., complete sentences] not joined by a conjunction.

Mildred intends to go to Europe; her plans, however, are still quite vague. [Semicolon is used after an adverb ("however"), between the two clauses.]
We were going to go out for dinner; my dad decided we should order take-out instead.

The two sentences that are joined by the semicolon are closely related.

Another possibility: use in a series. From CMOS 6.60 -- When items in a series involve internal punctuation, they should be separated by semicolons.

Ex: We were traveling to Los Angeles, California; Portland, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington, on our trip.

If you have further questions, I'm just that nerdy that you can email me and I'll see if I can figure it out. Long live Chicago! 

Now. In other news... If you have been following along, or if you know me at all in the "real" world (instead of Middle Earth, which is where I sometimes feel I live), you would know that I am a high-anxiety worrywart. I worry about everything. While I've touched on this before, it is worthy of reiterating as research indicates that worry and type A personalities are more prone to secondary cardiac effects as fallout from this worrying/anxietal behavior. Of course, this gives me something else to worry about. I could have a heart attack from worrying too much. And now I'm worried about having a heart attack. It's a vicious cycle, the head biting its own tail.

My book (Sleight, if I haven't shoved it down your throat enough yet) went to the formatter on March 10. Yeah, I fretted about every comma, every semicolon, and then sent it off. The first proof came back late on the 19th, and once I saw it on the Kindle (very exciting!), I found more stupid things to fix. Not the formatter's fault at all, just ridiculous repetitions I should've caught WAY before now. I'm embarrassed more than anything.

But it's now the 23rd, and I'm wait-wait-waiting for the final to come back. 52 Novels is great (the formatter) -- it's not him I'm kvetching about. It's me. For some reason, I cannot write anything else with this thing sitting out there, waiting to be returned. Once it's home, I can begin the tedious process of uploading to Amazon and Smashwords, as well as other places, so that I can get it out to the reading public (i.e., my mom). These things take time. I've had some gracious folks ask about the book, so I want to be able to say, Yeah, it'll be available on _______. So far, that hasn't been possible. It's the uncertainty, the vaporous game plan, that's starting to eat at me a little. I want to get it out to early readers for some early reviews. I know that Smashwords can take hours for an upload, and that Amazon can be equally as fickle, depending on traffic. The whole indie thing is cool, save the marketing efforts. That might be killing me a little. I spend so much time on Twitter and Facebook and stalking Kindle Boards and reading blogs that I haven't written a single thing in...never mind. You don't want to know.

Which brings up one other thing: I see that a lot of writers do guest posts on other people's blogs. How the hell do you come up with stuff to talk about? I mean, unless someone wants to hear about the intricacies of the comma splice and how to avoid it, or maybe 101 ways to avoid doing domestic-related chores, I don't have a lot to say. I don't really know what the hell I'm talking about (yet). This might change. I feel like I'm missing out, not doing guest posts. Again, what will I post about? I have a hard enough time not boring people to tears on this blog.

As if that weren't enough, there are always earthquakes to worry about. I live on the West Coast. Geologists are saying we're next in the Ring of Fire for the Big One. I really need to go buy a campstove and some beans. Today. Just in case.

Someone once told me that I should write all my worries on a piece of paper, and then torch it in the sink. I tried it, and ended up with second-degree burns on my hand when I almost caught the kitchen curtain on fire. Maybe I should've burned the sucker outside...  Anyway, the worries were still there. I didn't feel less attached to them. I just felt sore and sticky from the burn gel.

Folks are sweet. They tell me to relax, meditate, let go and let _______, take a bath, take a breather, take a walk, take myself out for Me Time, have tea, have chocolate, have a beer, have three beers. None of it works, but thanks for your advice. I'm still going to worry. I'm still going to fill my arteries with worry molecules that will coalesce into something resembling a blockage. And I will worry about how much it's going to hurt when the blockage catches up to me. Man, I hope I'm not driving...over a bridge...with my kids in the car...during a power outage--or an earthquake.

Time for Random News Crap:

~Friday on Twitter is #TGNO, i.e., Twitter Girls' Night Out, to celebrate the completion of Heather Hildenbrand's second novel draft,, yeah, to celebrate Sleight's publication. It better happen soon (the book coming home) or else #TGNO might be preempted. Check Angeline Kace's blog for the details. Party animal...

~I have a kick-ass review of Walter Mosley's latest release The Thrill Is Gone AS WELL AS an interview with the inimitable Hannah Moskowitz over at the Best Damn Creative Writing Blog. DON'T MISS OUT!

~AH1N1 is trending on Twitter because an outbreak has swelled in Merida, Venezuela.
~RIP Elizabeth Taylor. She had four kids--two sons, two daughters--I had no idea!
~Filming on The Hobbit started on Monday in New Zealand! Follow progress here:
~Rebecca Black's parents are looking at a new investment in the near future: therapy.
~Apparently, the use of "asstastic" is bad. I thought it was good. Anything in front of "-tastic" that is bad makes the word bad, too (so "cracktastic" is bad. I thought it was good). Thanks, Keyboard Hussy, for that clarification. And I'm not even blond.

Next time on the Planet: the subjunctive (wha???), goal setting, and untangling social media. Unless something better comes along.

I gotta go shower. Eskimo the Cat says hi.

(As always, Tweep me: @JennSommersby // Facebook: Jennifer Sommersby and/or Jenn Sy)


  1. Dude, you're awesome. Don't worry about the worry. It's obviously a part of you (me too).

    As for guest posts, I always ask the blogger, "Is there a particular topic you want me to write about?" Cuz then that takes some of the pressure off. :D

  2. OMG, DUDE! You are sort of the most hilarious person I've ever not met. Seriously. You're completely entertaining so as for WORRYING about guest posts, don't. And speaking of, you should do one for me. =) It'll be practice. For when your famous. Nobody reads my blog anyway. Probably.

    So email me at and we'll come up with a topic. Oh and fyi, I like that grammar rants are sort of your trademark. Its fun! Luvs you!

  3. Oh man, Jenn! Of course you worry and then worry about the effects of all the worrying. You're a Virgo.

    The story about catching the curtains on fire was great. Sucky that you got hurt, but it makes for a brilliant story.

    Now, explain to me how this "tastic" thing is bad, because I have ALWAYS thought that "fantastic" was good.

    Finally, if you do end up guest posting on other blogs, you'll do great. Just be yourself. People love you. I love you. And look at how fast you've collected so many Twitter followers. I remember when you started, and I was showing you the Twitter ropes and now you're kicking my ass in followers. How in the Hell did that happen? Oh, right, because you are Rock-Star-Fan-Freaking-tastic!!!

    Angeline Kace

  4. You guys are awesome. And you might be a little delusional. Miiiiight wanna get that checked out. Thank you so much for reading this. I tried to make it shorter, but maybe another fail? Gah! Stop talking so much! Like Mrs. Ripper used to tell me in first grade. (Yeah...her name was Ripper...I can only imagine the shit her husband got throughout his life. "So, hey, your first name Jack?" Real original.)

    Thanks, too, for the advice about guest posting. It gives me the same feeling that I get when people ask if I'm a photographer. No, not really. I have a digital camera and some lights. If I were a *real* photographer, I would shoot war zones and famine and poverty and movie stars, with FILM. I feel like a fraud. Although, I do know a thing about those commas.

    Angeline, you GOT it! The "-tastic" thing! Any words in front that are bad/good will make the "-tastic" bad/good, too. So while "asstastic" is bad, "choctastic" would be good (like chocolate + tastic). I think. I might have to check with Hussy about this. It's too much for my wee lit'le brain.

    And you want more Twitter followers? Creep their lists. That's how I did it. It's the only goal I've figured out so far: follow 10 new people every day. Then creep their lists, and follow their people, too. Voila!

  5. Hey Twitter BFF :)

    I completely relate to the worrying because I'm a worrier too. I was in my car last night, so anxious over what who knows, with chest pains, at 20-something. And I said to myself, dude (because I sometimes refer to myself as thus), what are you worrying about?! And no, nothing does work to get rid of it. I just keep worrying. If I find an antidote, I'll send it up to you.

    And like Heather, I'll offer up my blog for practice if you'd like. You, me, and my boyfriend are like the only ones who read it, I think, so no pressure!


  6. Can I breathe now? hehe I totally imagine you as a super-fast talker. Am I right? When we meet in P-town this summer for a drinkie-drink will you talk like an auctioneer? Do all these wonderful words pop to your brain as fast as you speak them? I'm amazed. :)

    I agree with Angeline. "tastic" is good. Who cares what the others think. I especially like your invention of choctastic. Totally radtastic, man!

    You rock, by the way.

  7. Ashley! I call myself dude all the time. We're like sisters. I have SO many cool sisters now, I don't even know how we're going to manage Christmas. Who's got the biggest house? Wait--did you say 20-something? Omigod, you could be one of my children. Well, almost. I mean, that's sorta pushing it. I would've had to have a baby at 13 or 14 instead of 18 like I did, but whatevs. Maybe we'll stick with sister...

    Angela--YES, I talk that fast. Apparently. It sounds totally slow in my brain but sometimes my family will start to giggle and my husband will shake his head and say, "Jenn...slowwwww down. We can't understand you." I get a little wound up. Sometimes. It's more a stream of consciousness thing. It flows, I type. Then I go back and try to make it funnier. Doesn't always work -- sorta depends on what day of the month it is in relation to the ratio of estrogen: chocolate I've got goin' on.

    Thanks, as always, for your kind, kind words.