Author. Editor. Poet. Mom. Also a total grammar geek and word nerd.

Photo of a large family in a park setting.
Photo of a large family in a park setting.
Photo credit: Lisa Miller of Studio di Luce

Hello! I’m very grateful to Quy Ma at About Me Stories for inviting me to submit my bio to his terrific publication. …


A look back at the ups (and downs) experienced by a few widely promoted novels

Bookstore bookshelves full of books, many of them facing out.
Bookstore bookshelves full of books, many of them facing out.
Photo by Renee Fisher on Unsplash

In my January post, “The Certainly Most Definitive List of the 12 Best Novels Due Out in 2020,” I attempted to compile a manageable list of the most buzzed-about books about to be published in the new year. Ten months later, I thought it’d be interesting to see which of those books have lived up to their hype. Here are my takes on how three of the original dozen have fared so far. (Please note this post includes affiliate links, and I may earn a little money if you click on a link and make a purchase. Thanks!)

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

Genre: Literary

Book cover image for The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich
Book cover image for The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

I have a fond memory of discovering one of Louise Erdrich’s early works, The Beet Queen, in a Nashville bookstore in the early 1990s when I was a new mom who’d recently left the world of corporate communications. …


Insights and tips for writing compelling short stories and novels from author Jennifer S. Davis

Open book on green background framed by yellow leaves.
Open book on green background framed by yellow leaves.
Photo by Annelies Geneyn on Unsplash

Among the many benefits of living in a city with a dynamic writing community such as Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, Grub Street in Boston, or The Loft in Minneapolis, one of my favorites is the chance to take classes with a variety of talented authors. …


Why this alternative to browser-based grammar-checking tools might be a good fit for you

The word grammar written in all caps seen through a small magnifying glass.
The word grammar written in all caps seen through a small magnifying glass.
Image from PDPics from Pixabay

Since I first published my post “The Top 3 Free Grammar Checkers Available Online,” I’ve learned that while many writers find the tools covered in that post valuable, others feel the same way I feel about at least one of them: that they can be intrusive and even annoying. …


And make your writing more professional, polished, and persuasive

Editing tips spelled out in all caps with white Scrabble-like pieces on a white and gray marble background.
Editing tips spelled out in all caps with white Scrabble-like pieces on a white and gray marble background.
Image by Shotkitimages from Pixabay

While many English-speaking writers naturally understand the basics of English sentence construction, often the details that result in broken sentences — and how to fix them — are not understood. As usual, Grammar Girl provides helpful insights into issues related to writing strong sentences. But for those of us whose brains freeze up at the thought of diagramming a sentence, there may be an easier way to spot — and fix — common errors in sentence construction.

“Hearing” strong sentence structure

The key is to listen closely to how your sentences sound when you read them, imagine breaking them into pieces, and play around with their building blocks — the words and phrases that compose them. Put your imagination to work as you read a sentence — out loud if possible — that doesn’t sound quite right. If you were to read a sentence like “After driving across town, the store was closed,” and recognize that it sounds off for some reason, you could try imagining a store driving anywhere, which obviously couldn’t happen. The issue, then, is related to “the store.” Since a store can’t drive across town, who should be put in its place in this sentence? The person who is actually driving across town. This might help you get to a correctly constructed sentence such as, “After driving across town, she found the store was closed.” …


And why I believe kinder, gentler parenting will become the norm

Young woman and man walking in a park in the fall and holding hands with a toddler in a yellow jacket walking between them.
Young woman and man walking in a park in the fall and holding hands with a toddler in a yellow jacket walking between them.
Image by Mabel Amber from Pixabay

Imagine you’re a young parent in the 1970s. Not only did you marry before you were ready because you’d grown up understanding that’s what most people did in their twenties, but you have a couple children, maybe even a few. Not exactly because you’d planned to, but because it just worked out that way. Your parents and other relatives are pleased you’ve settled down and are eager to provide plenty of advice, but they don’t provide much support beyond that. After all, they raised their families on their own. Now it’s your turn.

The way your parents raised you most likely becomes the way you raise your kids. You fall back on age-old parenting rules and habits that dictate how children should behave and what parents should do when children misbehave. When misbehavior turns into a bigger problem, you turn to relatives for advice, if they’re available, or to one of the few printed resources you can find, probably the bestseller The Commonsense Book of Baby and Child Care, which was published in 1946 and has been updated once a decade since then. …


Check them out when your manuscript or book proposal is ready to submit

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Image for post
Photo by Kayla Farmer on Unsplash

The dream of finding a publisher for a novel or book of nonfiction, poetry, or short stories leads many writers to search for a literary agent who can help make that dream a reality. With hundreds of literary agents operating in the U.S. alone, however, the challenge of finding the right agent for you and your work can be daunting. Luckily, online resources exist to help make the search for a literary agent efficient and effective.

Agent Query

The AgentQuery.com homepage is set up so you can immediately enter a keyword and/or select a genre to get a list of literary agents looking for certain types of writing. Fiction genres include children’s, middle grade, and young adult; commercial and literary fiction; sci-fi and fantasy; graphic novels; historical fiction; women’s fiction, romance, and erotica; westerns; humor; gay & lesbian; multicultural; family saga; and crime, mystery, thrillers/suspense, and military/espionage. Nonfiction genres include many of the genres listed in fiction as well as topics like business and finance; pop culture and celebrity; sports and science; dating/relationships and parenting; art and music; food & lifestyle; travel; politics and current affairs; pets and nature; health & fitness and how-to; photography and journalism; and gardening and cookbooks. …


SOCIAL MEDIA | TECHNOLOGY | NATIONAL SECURITY

Tristan Harris of The Social Dilemma documentary on the power we’ve given AI — and our adversaries

Image of social media logos superimposed over a smartphone and keyboard.
Image of social media logos superimposed over a smartphone and keyboard.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Tristan Harris, co-founder and president of the Center for Humane Technology, is quickly becoming a household name in the U.S. due to his role as the lead resource featured in the currently top-ranked Netflix release, The Social Dilemma. In a terrific interview hosted by Tom Scott, CEO of The Nantucket Project think tank, long-time pandemic and national security expert R.P. Eddy and Harris discuss a wide range of issues related to America’s addiction to social media that go far beyond what was covered in the popular documentary.

One focus of The Social Dilemma is how social media artificial intelligence (AI) directs specific content to users’ feeds, contributes to narrow viewpoints among users, and rewards users for acting on their extreme views online. With the U.S. becoming more and more politically polarized, many people are turning to The Social Dilemma to try to understand why so many of their fellow citizens are buying into what to them are obvious lies and conspiracy theories — and yelling at those who disagree with their point of view. …


Tech | Social Media | Suicide

And why tech’s role in the shocking increase in preteen and teen suicides must be addressed

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Image for post
Photo by Yura Fresh on Unsplash

When I posted online about the documentary “The Social Dilemma” and linked to Will Oremus’s impressive overview, “Where ‘The Social Dilemma’ Gets Us,” a human trafficking activist immediately pointed out an issue that should concern Americans much more than the impact of tech on the growing political divide in our country, one of the main focuses of the film. …


Wellness | Work from Home

Sitting, standing, both? What studies say about the desk dilemma.

Overhead view of wooden desk with desktop with docked tablet and someone holding mouse and touching keyboard.
Overhead view of wooden desk with desktop with docked tablet and someone holding mouse and touching keyboard.
Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

In “Your Office Chair Is Hurting You,” Ashley Abramson states right in her subhead that standing desks aren’t the way to go — even though office chairs may cause back issues and a sedentary lifestyle is considered bad for heart health. …

About

Karen DeGroot Carter

Bylines in Publishers Weekly, the Syracuse (NY) Post-Standard, others. One Sister’s Song (novel). Not Nearly Everything You Need to Know About Writing (ebook).

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