a correction

Rebecca Ryals Russell is just all over the cyber world these days. So I assumed she was hosting me today on Building Worlds, but I assumed wrong. It’s really another of her sites: 


She has a large menu, so click on Blog.

It’s not too late to go there and leave a comment.

Monday Metaphor: Polysyndeton: Forget the Commas

I have great respect for commas. I believe each comma should have a reason for being in the sentence, and as an English teacher, I know the reasons for most commas. In some cases, the use of the comma is optional, as in when two very short clauses come together. Here’s an example: Dick tossed the ball and Jane caught it. Strictly speaking, a comma should have separated the two clauses but it’s understandable without one. Some sentences change meaning by the use or non-use of a comma. To paraphrase Marjorie Kennan Rawlings: “She watched him, speculating.” or “She watched him speculating.” In the first sentence, it is she who is speculating. In the second sentence, it is he who is speculating.


I think we’ve all be taught to separate the items in a list with a comma until we get to the last one. Personally, I still like to use a comma for the last one, but I know not everyone does and some editors don’t require it. That’s okay.

But there are special cases when doing without the commas and using a conjunction throughout is allowed.

The rhetorical term for the sentence style that employs many conjunctions is polysyndeton. The word comes from the Greek and means “bound together.” The writer can achieve overwhelming effects using this device.

Cindy Rogers, in Word Magic for Writers, says, “Polysyndeton makes good use of the conjunction, placing it between each and every word, phrase, or clause. A Polysyndeton’s repetitious effect creates a feeling of building up, of extemporaneous enumeration, of an endlessness, in fact an emphasis . . .”


This is the beginning of a story I wrote for the Muse Conference,10-14-2008, in Beverly Stowe McClure’s forum. “Michael and the Dog” {working title}

            “Hey, Mom!” called Michael. He ran up the steps two at a time, dropped his book bag on the porch, and pounded on the screen door. “Look at this.”

            “Wait for me, Michael,” called Stevie. Stevie was huffing and puffing and shuffling behind Michael.

            The dog scampered around the boys, moving from one to the other.


            Here’s something my editor questioned recently when editing Wounds. (I explained that I want to show Carson as a strong-willed and determined girl). [comments welcome]

            Craig clicked off the television and got up to leave, with Siegfried following.

            “Why don’t you stay and help us, Craig?” said Carson. “We could use some more brain power.” She looked at Mark and  Norma Faith and Chan as if to dare them to dispute her.

            They didn’t. They nodded and mumbled, “Yeah, stay, Craig.”


Here are some stunning examples in literature.

There are two polysyndetons in this paragraph about Jody from Marjorie Kennan Rawlings’ The Yearling.

It seemed a strange thing to him, when earth was earth and rain was rain, that scrawny pines should grow in the scrub, while by every branch and lake and river there grew magnolias. Dogs were the same everywhere, and oxen and mules and horses. But trees were different in different places.





This is from a tall tale about Davy Crockett and his wife, Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind:

That very night, just as Sally Ann was lying down to go to sleep, she looked out the window and saw a whole gang of ferocious alligators surrounding their house. Now Sally Ann was determined to protect that little baby of theirs, so she ran outside and she began to fling those alligators this way and that. From that day on, everyone in the whole wide world knew that Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind was the bravest woman anywhere, and the strongest, and the fastest, and the toughest. Well, most people knew. Some folks didn’t believe it, and sometimes they tried to test her strength and her courage and her wit and her wisdom and her kindness. But every time they did, they discovered it was true–Sally Ann was just exactly like she said, truly amazing. 


“A Sad-Grand Moment That Never Came” by Julie Myerson:

On the afternoon we moved out of our house, once the removal men had taken everything and all that was left was fluff and dust and picture marks on the walls and the place was so echoey that even our own voices didn’t really sound like ours anymore, on that afternoon my husband and I walked around those empty rooms one last time to say goodbye.


Rogers notes that either E. B. White “or his editors chose to place commas after each verb in this example from Charlotte’s Web, but they aren’t necessary.”

“Struggle if you must,” said Templeton, “but kindly remember that I’m hiding down here in this crate and I don’t want to be stepped on, or kicked in the face, or pummeled, or crushed in any way, or squashed, or buffeted about, or bruised, or lacerated, or scarred, or biffed.”


Jerry Spinelli used polysyndeton in this passage from Maniac Magee.

There were fiction books and nonfiction books, who-did-it books and let’s-be-friends books and what-is-it books and how-to books and how-not-to books and just-regular-kid books.


Kate diCamillo, with the use of polysyndeton, makes us feel the heartache of the boy in Because of Winn-Dixie.

           He cried just like a baby. He missed his mama and he missed his

daddy and he missed his sisters and he missed the boy he used to be.


I find the rhetorical device of polysyndeton  intriguing and use it probably more than I should.

How about you?

the new MuseItYoung logo


The new MuseIt Young logo was created by our Cover Goddess, Delilah K. Stephans.

This takes me back . . .

Interview with J. Aday Kennedy

Hello Friends,

You have met some of Jessica Aday Kennedy’s characters in Klutzy Kantor and Marta’s Gargantuan Wings. Now I want to introduce this talented writer to you. J. Aday lives in Texas in the USA, and the clever little song she wrote to accompany Klutzy Kantor, “Go Me!” sounds like something a Texan would write. With her sense of humor and her desire to make life easier for children, she has chose the perfect career. “Go, J. Aday!”

J. Aday and I are both member’s of Lea Schizas’ critique group for children’s writers: The GradingPens.

J. Aday, Do you have a time management system?

I start each day by writing a list of tasks I need to complete. I just check them off as I finish them. I write specific long term & short term goals on a calendar with dates to complete them. I’m horribly scatter brained and will work on a dozen things and not complete even one. I’ve got to make myself “todo” and goal deadlines to get anything accomplished.

Your system must work really well, because I know you get a lot done.

Since your full time job is writing and you don’t have a boss, how do you stay focused and produce work consistently?

I’m my own boss. I’m very demanding {worse than any “real” boss that I’ve ever had}. I give myself a strict writing schedule and set definite goals. When I don’t reach my goals or complete my “todo’s” I kick my own butt [not an easy task for a quadriplegic lol]

Speaking of your being a quadriplegic, I’ve noticed that your typing has gotten much cleaner over the years, and though it might be difficult for you, you always participate vigorously in both the submission and critique segments of our critique group.

What traits do your books share?

Each is geared to attract reluctant readers. They combine humor with a lesson. All of them try to encourage children to find what makes them different, special, and/or talented.

For example, in Klutzy Kantor, Kantor Pegasus is a total klutz. He uses his brain instead of brawn to battle a leprechaun, because he’s very smart. In Marta’s Gargantuan Wings, Marta has huge wings and buck teeth. A bird bullies her, because of her appearance. Her cheeky monkey friend defends her in a comical fashion. Those are the only stories that are published.

They are fun books, beautifully illustrated. And I know you have a few more in the works with Guardian Angel Publishing.

When did you begin writing for publication and what has been the key to your success?

I began to write for publication in early 2006. I started taking one class after another on writing. I’ve taken 17 since 2006. In the early days I wrote inspirational and Christian articles for adults. I read the type of essays and articles I wanted to write. (When I switched gears and started writing for kids I read children’s books).

What is your favorite children’s book from your childhood?
It depends on the age level.  Fudge by Judy Blume for middle grade

Who are your favorite authors?

Avi, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, Barbara Park, John Erickson, Max Elliot.

A great list; some of them are my favorites, too.

Who has been influential in your writing and in your desire to become a writer for children?

Lea Schizas oversees several writing groups in her Muse It Up Group and holds the Free Muse Online Writing Conference. These have opened doors for me, taught me the tricks of the trade, and supplied me with a strong support system.

I feel the same way about Lea and the teams she puts together for the Muse Conference. I’ve learned a lot there, and most especially, I’m glad I’ve made friends through the Conference.

Would you like to explain the unusual names of the girls in your family?
My sisters are named Tomorrow, Yestraday, & Taday. My mother was a flower child. Not really. They didn’t have flower children in Texas. My mom heard the name Tamora and liked it. She named my oldest sister Tomorrow. My dad   was a jokester. When my next sister was born he thought it would be  funny to name her Yestraday. It carried on through the rest  of us. My mom’s name is Ada.  Her name is in all of ours, but not Tomorrow’s.

I think I know where you get your terrific sense of humor.

I would like to direct our readers to Guardian Angel Publishing:  http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/default.htm

And your new blog:   http://brainfartexplosion.blogspot.com/

Jessica new blog, Brain Fart Explosion, doesn’t pull any punches. She tells it like it is.

Don’t pay attention to Jessica’s grammar disclaimer. Let’s call them typos.

Muse News

Here is an announcement from MuseItUp Publishing’s Editor, Lea Schizas, about the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2010:
MuseItUp Publishing, Inc. garnered 18 top ten awards this year at the Preditors and Editors Voting Polls.

Second place in the e-book publishing category, second place in the bookstore category, third place in the cover artist category, and a slew of top ten awards.

Read the full listing of our awards:

Thank you to all who voted for us. We are truly grateful.


In addition: Lea’s ezine, Apollo’s Lyre, and The Muse Online Writers Conference received high scores.

Congratulations, Lea!

A Special Muse Dinner

I lucked out when I saw that Rebecca Ryals Russell was hosting a visiting Muse Author at her home in north Florida. Roseanne Dowell and her husband traveled from their home in Ohio to Florida. I was acquainted with

Me with Rebecca, Roseanne, and Marsha

Rebecca through the Muse Conference. We had attended one of the same forums and I had invited her to come to our local SCBWI. She was kind enough to include me in the dinner on Saturday evening as they were coming down to my neck of the woods—Gainesville. We met at Carrabbas Restaurant. You can’t miss Rebecca in her signature hat. Not only did I meet Rebecca and Roseanne, but Marsha Lockom, as well. Marsha was wearing a beautiful knitted cape that she had knitted to coordinate with her dress. I was glad to meet all their very nice husbands, too. We had a fun time talking about publishing and authors and our fearless/busy/noodle-wielding leader, Lea, who is planning the wedding of her daughter in her spare time. We are all VERY excitedly awaiting the publication of our first books being published by MuseItUp Publishing. Stay tuned for more news on that front.

My A-Musing New Friends

Having my book, WOUNDS, selected for publication by MuseItUp Publishing has multiplied my pleasure many times over for simply being a part of the Muse Family. The friendly, fun—or I should say—HILARIOUS—welcome I have received is more than anything I could have imagined. Most of the authors who are already a part of the Muse Family are ones I have either met or lurked among since the first Muse Conference I attended three years ago. And also ones coming right behind me, like Barbara Ehrentreu. Then there’s a strange being (?), Bonella, who has really spiced things up recently. You just don’t want to go near her cheesecake! Soon the hard work of editing will begin, but with all these A-Musing friends to call on for advice, help, and support, I know I will get through it okay.

Contact Info:

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.


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