If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Saturday, February 24, 2018

What’s in a comma? (or everything old is new again) by Kait Carson

If you are a baby boomer, you grew up in a time of change. We had new math—distinguished in ways I no longer recall from old math. A change of schools meant leaving phonetic spelling behind and entering the world of memorization. I envy people who can spell. The switch muddled my mind. Then there was the Oxford comma. That pesky comma that separates the last item in a series of three or more from the word that follows. It was required usage from my grade school days right though high school. Enter college creative writing courses and Dr. Clasby put red x marks though that last trailing comma. Old school, he scrawled across the top of more than one short story. “We don’t use the Oxford comma in this country,” he said more than once in every class.

It was the 1970s. American youth, and universities, were busy inventing sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll. Who needed an old-world named comma slowing things down? For years Dr. Clasby’s prolific use of red ink on my papers made me cringe at the sight of the Oxford comma. I worked hard to erase it from my writing life. Those who edit my work suggest I might have gotten too zealous eliminating commas, but hey, what’s a comma among friends? The aversion comes from fear of red ink! When in doubt, leave it out.

The omitted comma, and I got along just fine, thank you, until I started working for law firms. Legalese requires that every word be supported and supportable. Clarity is the rule and the Oxford comma brings clarity. Comma usage became a bone of contention again. This time it was red ink in reverse. My attorney was putting in, not taking out, commas. WHAT WAS UP WITH THAT? Knowing better than to try to beat him, I joined him, but it meant going back over every document searching for the omitted Oxford comma. Each time I hit the comma key at the end of a list, I gritted my teeth and thought, this one’s for you, Richard.

Eventually, the Oxford comma became, dare I say it, rote. I still mess up my other commas, I’m just not good with them, but the Oxford, it shows up even in my creative writing. Danged good thing too. Turns out, there is a price for Oxford commas. $5,000,000. Yep, the lack of an Oxford comma cost a Maine company $5,000,000. I’m glad I wasn’t the paralegal who typed that contract. Proponents of the Oxford comma are vindicated. Use it, or lose big time. As for the rest of my commas, I get by with a lot of help from my friends.

Writers, how do you feel about the Oxford comma?
Readers, does the Oxford comma look out of place or just right to you?

I’m looking forward to your comments, but I gotta go check my last pleadings and agreements. For the want of a comma, the case was lost.