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.

Hello! I’m very grateful to Quy Ma at About Me Stories for inviting me to submit my bio to his terrific publication. As my subhead states above, I’m an author, editor, poet, and mom, and I’m also a total grammar geek and word nerd. I grew up in upstate New York in Syracuse; attended Syracuse University; and have lived in Hartford (CT), Nashville, Dallas, and Denver. My three kids have grown up primarily in Denver, so that’s where my immediate family calls home. My siblings (pictured above sans one brother; I’m the second sister from the right), live all over…


From music to wagons to wild goose chases, these choice offerings don’t disappoint

In my first Unique Word Origins post, I described idioms as groups of words that are used as common expressions. While these expressions are generally understood by speakers of a certain language who have lived for some time in a certain culture, they can leave others scratching their heads. As usual, the modern idioms featured below come from a wide variety of time periods, locations, and customs.

Run the gamut

I really enjoyed researching this idiom as its origins delve into music history and one medieval monk’s intriguing career. By 1025, the young monk Guido of Arezzo had become so well known in…


And why a day that celebrates interracial marriage is near and dear to my heart

June 12 is the anniversary of the 1967 passing of Loving vs. Virginia, a ruling that finally made it illegal in the United States to restrict interracial couples from marrying in any state. Celebrated across the country, Loving Day recalls the determination and love shared by one of the best-known interracial couples in U.S. history, the Lovings.

Loving vs. Virginia

Richard and Mildred Loving were married in Washington D.C. in 1958 and literally banished from the state of Virginia shortly after they returned to their hometown after their wedding. According to the wonderful lovingday.org website, Richard and Mildred’s marriage was considered a crime…


And why understanding how “so” is used can help you know how to treat it

In my last Writing Well post, “How to Correctly Create Connections with Conjunctions,” I discussed different types of conjunctions and listed some of the most common conjunctions. One that was found in two different groups was “so.” While sometimes it’s easy to know when to use a comma before this seemingly innocent little word, at other times it’s not. Turns out there’s a reason for this — and a couple tricks to help you know which way to go.

So seems so simple

I have to admit “so” is one of those words I barely notice most of the time. But then when I’m…


And how my own history dealing with anxiety contributes to my personal perspective

Beautiful view of hills with river winding through and bridge with people on it in foreground, but bridge curves to dip straight down.
Beautiful view of hills with river winding through and bridge with people on it in foreground, but bridge curves to dip straight down.

When I read “The Backlash Against Naomi Osaka Proves Many People Don’t Care About Mental Health” by wellness advocate Simon Spichak, a mix of emotions washed over me. I only became aware of the outcry over tennis star Naomi Osaka opting not to attend a post-match press conference through a recent conversation with a family member, and I’m glad I haven’t seen this covered in the news or read any of the anti-Osaka sentiments online. …


And turn your scattered notes into something noteworthy

Messy desk with notes and papers covering part of a laptop and someone writing in open journal.
Messy desk with notes and papers covering part of a laptop and someone writing in open journal.

In “Exploring the Invisible Self in Fiction,” I mentioned I was always okay being one of the quiet kids in my big family because it allowed me to sit back and observe more. Apparently I became fully aware of this role early on; when I was thirteen or fourteen, I wrote a poem called “Watching” that began “I’m an observer in / this drama it seems this / story of life an innocent / bystander” and went on from there to say pretty much the same thing for a while, with random line breaks and no punctuation. (I read a…


Ruminations from a breezy morning walk

White clouds swept by wind in ocean-blue sky.
White clouds swept by wind in ocean-blue sky.

A black swift graced my walk this morning, bringing to mind a poem I wrote ages ago in which I described a swift working its magic high above my son’s soccer practice when he was little. The poem called the swift “a facile feathered faerie” and mentioned “the stream of its/weaves and whorls/as it grazed with such grace.” The swift I just saw swooping above me on a bright but windy morning was just as captivating. They really are magical little birds that seem to exude such joy when all they’re doing is what they’re born to do — fly…


How some things I’d rather forget help keep me on track

In “Taking a Writing Leap of Faith,” I mentioned a journal I’d written to a friend for a year before her wedding. That same friend and I also wrote long, funny letters to each other when we were away at college, and this morning I remembered something that happened while reading one of her letters.

It might help to note here that I’m one of those people who remembers a lot from my past. Yesterday I stumbled upon the article “What an Obscure Childhood Experience Taught Me About the Nature of Memory” by Stephen Harrington. I’d taken note of it…


And when a comma is — and isn’t — needed before one of these nifty little words

As a child of the 1970s, I learned conjunctions existed from watching the three-minute, animated “Conjunction Junction” episode of Schoolhouse Rock! that popped up between full-length cartoons on Saturday mornings. When singers asked about the function of Conjunction Junction, a little railroad engineer hooking up train cars explained Conjunction Junction connected words, phrases, and clauses, and his favorite train cars — labeled “and,” “but,” and “or” — helped him get most of his work done.

Types of conjunctions

Among the many things conjunctions can connect are independent clauses. Independent clauses are called that because they can stand on their own. Consider this compound…


I just stumbled upon your tweet about this post, Amanda. So glad I did! If you're ever in Denver, be sure to check out one of the Tattered Cover book stores (either in LoDo or on Colfax) but also don't miss BookBar on Tennyson Street just west of town.

Karen DeGroot Carter

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

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