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…


More tips to help make your writing as direct and professional as possible

In my post “Beyond Active vs. Passive Voice,” I provided a number of tips for tightening up your writing, including shifting from the passive to the active voice when possible. This means to simply make sure the subject of a sentence precedes the object as in “John drove the car” instead of “The car was driven by John.” Since the passive voice often sounds a bit clunky, it’s usually easy to avoid.

I also suggested avoiding using words that end in “ing,” which I admit I’ve always thought indicated a passive style of writing. As Edward Robson, PhD has pointed…


From ancient Rome to modern golf, these sayings run the gamut

Single man golfing on pretty course while hawk flies in distance.
Single man golfing on pretty course while hawk flies in distance.

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. In the U.S., the origins of many popular sayings are generally understood, especially if they’re literal as in “neat as a pin,” but others’ meanings are less obvious or well known. Personally, I include the following idioms in that intriguing group.

Burning/ringing ears

I’d always heard that when your ears were ringing, it…


Thanks so much for mentioning me and linking to my post "Questioning Whether Poetry Matters," Andrew. I've heard so much about DeLillo but have yet to attempt reading his work. This post makes White Noise sound a bit more accessible, and much more timely, than I thought it might be.


And how it can help you build your author platform

When you work in a marketing department, you often attend meetings run by your company’s chief marketing officer. Recently during one such meeting, the CMO of my company wrapped up with this comment: “Great companies are extremely consistent in brand.” Which got me thinking about the importance of consistency for writers.

The impact of consistency

Numerous writers on Medium have discussed consistency related to various issues, such as design and productivity.* When it comes to writing, there’s no doubt that the more you write, the more experienced a writer you become. Whether writing too much can lead to burnout, of course, is something writers…


I'm so glad you found this post helpful, Elizabeth! Thanks for reading! : )


What they are and how to punctuate them correctly

The word grammar typed in all caps and seen through a magnifying glass.
The word grammar typed in all caps and seen through a magnifying glass.

While I know a few other word nerds like myself, I don’t know anyone who loves talking about parts of speech. There’s something about the terminology related to parts of speech that is vague and intimidating to many (including myself), probably because parts of speech aren’t covered as thoroughly as they probably should be in U.S. schools.

Like many things, though, parts of speech and their seemingly high-brow terminology start to make sense once you’ve dived in and analyzed what they’re all about. Take subordinate clauses, for example. The term itself sounds intimidating at first, even to writers — probably…


And the most important question to ask when deciding

The word grammar typed in all caps and seen through a magnifying glass.
The word grammar typed in all caps and seen through a magnifying glass.

To know when to use “that” in a sentence and when to use “which,” it helps to be armed with some tips as well as a thorough understanding of each term and how it’s being used. As usual, Grammar Girl provides information on both, but I’m going to try to keep what can be a complicated discussion of two seemingly innocent little words as simple as possible.

Parts of speech

In all of the examples discussed in the following sections, “which” and “that” are used as a certain type of pronoun called a relative pronoun. But they also have other uses. “Which” can…


I agree with Will, Malky. Great suggestions. And I agree with you that Medium writers publish an impressive amount of compelling content!

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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