Calliope Writing

The Best #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter
July 31, 2015, 11:45 am
Filed under: Writing Tips | Tags: , ,

Katrina Robinson:

Yes. So many of these are true.

If I had to add one, it would be: “Oh, you’re a writer? I wrote eighty-three books and self-published them. How many have you published?”

Originally posted on Sudrobelle:

Let me be straight with you… If you’re not a writer, your safest bet is to not say anything about writing to a writer. If you are a writer, there’s no hope really… We all know we’re going to accidentally bruise each other’s egos, whatever we say! However, these are some absolute gems of what NOT to say to a writer.


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A Smörgåsbord of Language, Literacy, and Literature
July 28, 2015, 7:35 pm
Filed under: Books, Grammar | Tags: , , ,

Did you miss me? (Say you did, even if you didn’t.)

Aw, how sweet! I missed you, too. It’s been a long week.

But now I’m back, with several nuggets for your enjoyment. Before we jump in, let’s have a look at a word in this post’s title.


What a weird word. It’s one of those words that, if you look at it for long enough or write it down so many times, it stops looking like a real word (even if you’re not bothering with those special letters).

But it is one! Check out the following image (thanks, Google!) to learn about the word’s roots.

smorgasbord root words

Smörgåsbord has been used in its homeland of Sweden since roughly the 14th century, and it didn’t become widely used among other nations until (according to Wikipedia, the one source you should never use as a source) the 20th century. But after five minutes of Internet searching, I couldn’t find another solid claim as to when the word was first used, spelled “smorgasbord,” in countries other than Sweden.**

On with the smorgasbord, readers. Or, as Jeopardy would call it:

jeopardy potpourri

Bill Cosby, Where’d Your Endorsements Go?

I’m sure you have, at the very least, heard about the rape allegations surrounding Bill Cosby. Chances are you’ve come across myriad headlines referring to one of the many cases.

cosby biography

Since the forty-plus allegations, Cosby has lost quite a bit of public support (boohoo). The accused rapist was dealt another blow last week when the publisher of last year’s bestselling biography Cosby: His Life and Times pulled a number of celebrity endorsements from the book. Statements were made on the behalf of Jerry Seinfeld and David Letterman requesting that their quotes be removed from the cover. The biographer, Mark Whitaker, had this to say:

I was wrong to not deal with the sexual assault charges against Cosby and pursue them more aggressively … I am following new developments and will address them at the appropriate time. If true the stories are shocking and horrible.

Mmhmm. I’ll leave my opinions about Cosby’s case (mostly) to myself.

But here’s a very interesting article relating to Cosby, if you’d like to read more.

How Often Is XYZ English Word Used?

Well, don’t ask me! I sure as H-E-double-hockey-sticks don’t know. However, your question might get answered in the below video, which was created by Abacaba using this data.

Katy Perry’s Grammar Sucks

Not very news-breaking that Perry’s tweets are riddled with grammatical errors that would make just about anyone cringe.

katy perry grammar

The offensive tweet.

Last week, BuzzFeed helped us understand what Perry was really trying to say in the above tweet by pulling out the red pen and going to town.

Needless to say, it made me very happy.

Putin Has a Book Club…

…and it is way better than Oprah’s. Because it enforces censorship, of course! Read more here and share your opinion on the literary plan Putin has put in place.

I hope you all got a chuckle or a grin out of this post. And if not, I’ll just have to try harder next time, won’t I?

**If you find an authoritative source answering the question of when smorgasbord was used for the first time outside of Sweden, I will give you something special. I’m not sure yet what it will be, but it will be freaking awesome.

For the Love of All Things Holy, Don’t Let That Modifier Dangle!
July 21, 2015, 3:21 pm
Filed under: Grammar, Language | Tags: , , ,

As an editor, I see a lot of grammatical errors. Using “you’re” when it should have been “your.” “Should of” used instead of “should have.”

And then there’s the dreaded dangling modifier.

Yes, that’s a fancy-sounding phrase, but the issue is a real one (no, not bad enough for you to break out the hand sanitizer and SARS mask).

Before we jump into dangling modifiers, let’s do a quick grammar refresher on modifiers.

modifier definition

Here are a couple of examples to get you in the mood for modifiers:

Disgusted, the zombie spit out the fake brains.

In the above, “Disgusted” is the modifier that describes “the zombie.”

Throwing the pine cone, the sasquatch hoped to confuse its hunters.

In this example, “Throwing the pine cone” is the modifier that describes “the sasquatch.”

Easy-peasy, right? So what the hell is a dangling modifier?

dangling modifier definition

Thanks, sasquatch, for letting us use your fur!

Now the real moment of fun has arrived: FUN EXAMPLES!

Source: someecards

Source: someecards

And now, one from yours truly:

Walking home slowly, the most awesome of all unicorns was on Amanda’s mind.

Source: You're reading words created by her, pal.

Source: You’re reading words created by her, pal.

The moral of the story?


Source: Inkygirl

In all seriousness, don’t let your modifiers dangle, guys.

Source: You're reading words created by her, pal.

Source: You’re reading words created by her, pal.

It’s just not cool.

Did I help explain dangling modifiers, and do you see how annoying they are? Sound off in the comments below.

My Love Affair with Bret Easton Ellis
July 15, 2015, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Books, Literature | Tags: , , ,

Our love affair was figurative, of course. Not literal.

Wouldn’t that have been a great blog post.

I was late to the party and didn’t read American Psycho for the first time until 2010. Wow. What a book. When I shut it after reading the last page (I did, do, and will always read print books – just a personal preference), I remember thinking: What a masterpiece of a book.

american psycho be ellis

Ellis’s approach to Patrick Bateman’s psychosis is poetic. Here’s a brief clip, to give you a taste (violent – don’t read on if you’re under, say, 14 years old):

I…whisper, “Do you know what a f***ing loser you are?” He starts nodding helplessly and I pull out a long, thin knife with a serrated edge and, being very careful not to kill him, push maybe half an inch of the blade into his right eye, flicking the handle up, instantly popping the retina.

Sure, it’s not lighthearted. But damn, is it good. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you purchase and enjoy.

After reading this glimpse into a psychopath’s mind, I fell a little bit in love with its author…

open book with heart

…so I read all his books. Each of them has its own quirks, pros, and cons, and I would suggest checking them all out – but only after you’ve read American Psycho.

Now, for a fun list of literary- and pop-culture-related links I’ve come across recently:

Back to Bret and American Psycho, which is largely brilliant because of its treatment of violence. It’s one of the most violent books I’ve read that still manages to have merit.

See? You know it's violent because it's red.

See? You know it’s violent because it’s red.

What’s your favorite violent novel, short story, or poem?

Will Robots Be Better at Writing Literature Than Humans?
July 11, 2015, 2:54 pm
Filed under: Literature, News | Tags: , , , , ,

Update July 30, 2015

According to BuzzFeed, the robots will never successfully take over the world. Their supporting evidence? This:

I gotta be honest…I’m feeling a little bit better about the robot-caused dystopia I had figured out in my head.

Original Post

Of course they will. Because robots can do everything. And then they’ll take over the world.

Haven’t you seen one of the many movies or television shows or (God forbid) read a book about exactly this? If not, get on it and deal with the facts.

Robots want to destroy the world.

I kid, I kid. Now let’s try to be serious for a moment.

Dartmouth is in the beginning stages of an experiment with the hopes of discovering if robots can create pieces of literature, music, and/or art that are indiscernible from those created by a human being.

Let that sink in for a second.

Brace yourself. And they want to discover if individuals will actually prefer robot-made creative works to their man-made counterparts.

So, this week’s blog post question is:

robot skeleton

literature and glasses

banjo with soul

humor photo praying mantis

My heart tells me the answer is an emphatic “no.” No, robots cannot do any of these things because they’re made of metal and screws and bolts and circuit boards and other things I don’t know the terminology for.* They don’t have the stuff that makes humanity what it is.

So if computers, androids, robots, what have you – if they do create breathtaking art, in whatever form, that leads to a series of other, more serious (and existential) questions, including:

  • Can artificial intelligence possess all that makes an individual human?
  • Is humanity the equivalent of a soul?
  • Does this mean androids can have souls?

Holy cow. That’s a little deeper than I’m willing to go without a couple of drinks, a dimly lit room, and some heavy music playing in the background.

So let’s stay away from the above questions and focus on the one at hand:

Can a robot create literature with passion, music with soul, and art with humor? Sound off below.

*Yes, I know I ended this sentence with a preposition. But come on. Sometimes it sounds super pretentious to restructure the sentence, and this was one of those times.

Seven Fiction Writing Rules for Fiction
July 8, 2015, 11:56 am
Filed under: Writing Tips | Tags: , ,

Katrina Robinson:

Kate, a guest blog writer over at A Writer’s Path, has some excellent rules for fiction writers…two of which I suck, oh-so-terribly, at. (I’m not telling. You’ll have to do research or guess with which of the rules I’m terrible.)

Originally posted on A Writer's Path:


Overwhelmed by fiction-writing advice? Me too, and I’m an editor as well as a writer. Everyone and anyone who has a blog or website seems to be keen on throwing in their penny’s worth. A lot of it is genuinely good advice. But what works for them won’t necessarily be right for you.

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There Are Capitalization Rules, and They Should Be Followed
July 6, 2015, 7:17 pm
Filed under: Grammar | Tags: , , ,

Remember when Prince wasn’t Prince? He was just a symbol?

Well, since it’s likely a huge pain to change your name to a symbol, some individuals have declared their uniqueness by writing their names in all lowercase letters. And legally having their names changed that way.

Yes, this is a thing. I even found someone who does this so you won’t think I’m lying. danah michele boyd says there are several reasons she has started writing both her name and “I” in lowercase letters, including:

  • She finds that her name has more “balance” when written sans-caps.
  • She believes that capitalizing the pronoun “I” is “self-righteous.”
Look at these pretty capital letters while you let all this sink in.

Look at these pretty capital letters while you let all that sink in.

Anne Curzan, a professor of English at the University of Michigan, weighed in on the topic during the radio show That’s What They Say. She gives some really great insight into the history of letter capitalization, so take five minutes and give it a listen. It’s fascinating. Even for those who aren’t geeky about language…I think.

But then Anne says she’s thinking about writing her name without caps, following this new trend.

yoda rules to follow

So now you know my thoughts (and Yoda’s…and who can disobey Yoda?) on that.

What do you think? Are grammar rules alterable? Are capital letters really necessary? Sound off below.

And if you spell your name without capital letters…I’m sorry.


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