A Self-Promotional Post

Of sorts.  . . . Well, maybe more than that.  😉

Earlier in the week, I posted this on FB:

Surprise—to me!  My first book in the Triple Threat Investigation Agency mystery series, The Connecticut Corpse Caper (Triple Threat Mysteries Book 1), has been made into . . . wow . . .  a 1000-Piece Jigsaw Puzzle (cover-based).  What fun.


And there’s a coffee mug, too!


Mid-week, I discovered there were two more items available: a natural tote bag and a unisex T-shirt.



How exciting!  They’re all a little out of my price league <LMAO>, but I may purchase a few items when the opportunity to do a promotion re the Triple Threat Investigation Agency presents itself.

I suspect that may take place, hmm, sometime in summer.  I’d like to have Disco’s Dead and so is Mo-Mo be part of that.

I’m still working on Mo-Mo, but I am getting there.  I know who the killer is (finally) and the pretty private eyes are in the midst of figuring it out.  I’ve given myself a deadline: the book must be completed by February 28th (this year)!!!  😊

The Connecticut Corpse Caper was meant to be a standalone, but the trio were determined to become professional P.I.s and were not taking no for an answer.  I had to accommodate.  If you’re curious as to how it all began, with multiple murders in a haunted mansion during a winter storm, please check it out.  We’d love it if you did.


Come on!  Who doesn’t love the comma?  It’s a writer’s friend—as is most punctuation.  Embrace it.  Bring it on.  Use it.  😉

Seeing as punctuation often appears to be an issue with dialogue and dialogue tags—and we covered dialogue-punctuation basics in last week’s post—it seemed a worthwhile endeavor to review punctuation in general.  (And how’s that for a lo-ong sentence?)

Let’s look at the common ones: the comma, period, semicolon, colon.

The comma has sometimes been used in the strangest places/circumstances, at random, and in multitude.  We love the comma, but not when utilized haphazardly and/or en masse.  While there may be additional reasons to employ it, here are the more commonplace.

Use it to denote a break between clauses with a sentence—like a pause—and to separate sentences clauses (such as when providing additional details about something or someone).

    • Leo’s flat, located on a quiet park overlooking the Thames, was costly.
    • “That’s not to say, however, that MacInsey is correct in assuming Walters is the informant.”

Use commas when you’re listing things or providing several adjectives.

    • Thomas tried on two pairs of pants, three blazers, two pullovers, and four vests.
    • He eyed the tall newcomer surreptitiously. He was middle-aged, well-dressed, attractive, and shifty-eyed.  

We could also use a semicolon.

    • He eyed the tall newcomer surreptitiously; he was middle-aged, well-dressed, attractive, and shifty-eyed.  

Use a comma after an introductory phrase, clause, or word at the beginning of a sentence.

    • Today, I’ll have pastrami and Swiss on rye.
    • Later that night, the thieves crept into the empty warehouse.
    • If you’re going to stay home alone, make sure to turn on the alarm.

I’m hesitant to use grammar expressions (they can prove confusing if not overwhelming), but use a comma after <wince> a conjunctive adverb.

    • “Moreover, I dare you to find one bit of incriminating evidence, you pompous twit!”
    • Henceforth, the matter was closed.

And, when you address someone, yes, use a comma.

    • Bernie, will you be attending the party?
    • “Mom, I need a lift to work!”

The period is used to end sentences—save for those that are questions or exclamations.

    • We hastened across the field.
    • Jen and Len ran through the puddles, shrieking and laughing.

Use one to end a statement or a request/command.

    • To each their own.
    • Make sure to sign the contract before you leave.

And use a period, not a question mark, if the question is implied.

    • The manager asked her staff if they would be willing to attend the meeting on Saturday.

The semicolon can prove daunting for some.  It’s used like a period and a comma combined, if that makes sense.  It creates a full stop, like a period, yet connects independent clauses.

    • Jenny saw the man enter the restaurant; he looked angry, even defiant.
    • He decided to run along the pre-dawn beach; it was cool and breezy.

Use it instead of a conjunction (and, but).

    • Larry sank onto the patio chair; he leaned back, exhausted.
    • It was a dark, cloudless sky; no stars could be seen.

The semicolon can be used with a conjunctive adverb or transitional phrase (yeah, those grammar-related phrases are headache-inducing, aren’t they?).

    • The students were asked to collect specimens for the project; however, three of them decided to take photos instead.
    • The brothers drank beers the entire evening; consequently, neither thought they should drive the sedan back home.

It’s also used to separate things in a list that have commas.  Not my favorite “device”, and I’d never employ it, but here you go . . .

    • After graduation, Mark and Lee toured Berlin, Germany; Zurich, Switzerland; and Rome, Italy.
    • Upon winning the lottery, Sally bought a case of champagne; ate caviar and scallops by the pound; and ordered a huge triple-chocolate cake.

Lastly, we come to the colon.  It assists in introducing new information, to show that something will follow—a quote, list, or example.

    • Jason grabbed a piece of paper and jotted down the names, lest he forget: Jackson, Marty, Fiona, Frederick, Lenora.
    • I must remember to buy the following: eggs, orange juice, milk, and sugar.

You can use it before a noun or noun phrase or adjective.

    • The book was everything I thought it would be: boring, long, and cliché.
    • The trek through the mountains provided everything the tour guide promised: vistas, excitement, and exercise.

I believe I’ve provided enough . . . for now, at least.  I don’t want you nodding off or rolling your eyes.  😉  If you’re looking for a more intensive list of “rules” re the aforementioned, the internet is your best friend.

Tag, You’re It!

A fun game, but we’re not referring to it, we’re talking about the dialogue tag (and related punctuation).

Given what I’ve seen in my editing travels, dialogue writing seems to prove a bit tricky.  Because it never hurts to review—or learn something new—let’s look at a few examples.

“You’re a loser.” She said.

“That’s not the murder weapon.” Detective Leo said with a shake of his pumpkin-sized head.

“Why would I do that” he simpered.

“I’m not the killer!” And she pointed. “Marcus De Teuer is!”

“Mrs. Ladrona wasn’t in town that night” He pointed out.

“It’s not like he …”

“Don’t be silly,” Jenkins interrupted the officer.

“It’s Welland,” which was the intern’s real name.

“We normally check for fingerprints,” Pat queried.

“Frank, it could be that the knife sticking from the bartender’s temple is the murder weapon,” Ronald wondered.

“Hmm, it’s possible …” Jenny trailed off.

Which ones are correct?

Right, none.  😊  Now, some might claim literary license, and that’s fine.  But they’re still wrong.

Let’s consider what we can do to correct them, without going into eye-glazing grammar explanations (you can always google the “rules” and check out the various grammar manuals).

“You’re a loser.” She said.

“That’s not the murder weapon.” Detective Leo said with a shake of his pumpkin-sized head.

Dialogue tags are usually punctuated with a comma—unless the dialogue (speech) is interrupted.  Other punctuation would include the question mark, full stop, and explanation mark.  Ellipsis can be used to express a pause, a trailing off of thought.  But the comma is the more common.

“You’re a loser.” She said.

“You’re a loser,” she said.   /   She said, “You’re a loser.”

“That’s not the murder weapon.” Detective Leo said with a shake of his pumpkin-sized head.

“That’s not the murder weapon,” Detective Leo said with a shake of his pumpkin-sized head.

If we use an exclamation point or question mark for this example, we might want to change the verb “said” to reflect the punctuation.

“That’s not the murder weapon!” Detective Leo exclaimed with a fervent shake of his pumpkin-sized head.

“That’s not the murder weapon?” Detective Leo asked, confused, shaking his pumpkin-sized head.

The example for this one has no punctuation.  Given it’s a question, the ol’ question mark would be perfect.

“Why would I do that” he simpered.

“Why would I do that?” he simpered.

When dialogue is interrupted by an action or a thought, use em dashes to set off that interruption (don’t use commas).

“I’m not the killer!” And she pointed. “Marcus De Teuer is!”

“I’m not the killer”—she pointed—“Marcus De Teuer is!” 

Maybe we could add this:

“I’m not the killer”—she pointed an accusing finger dramatically—“Marcus De Teuer is!” 

Use a comma or rearrange this one.

“Mrs. Ladrona wasn’t in town that night” He pointed out.

“Mrs. Ladrona wasn’t in town that night,” he pointed out.   /   He pointed out that Mrs. Ladrona wasn’t in town that night.   /   He pointed out, “Mrs. Ladrona wasn’t in town that night.”

Never use ellipses for interruptions.  They’re used, as noted earlier, for pauses, trailing thoughts, a character not certain what to say next.  Use em dashes.

“It’s not like he …”

“Don’t be silly,” Jenkins interrupted the officer.

“It’s not like he—”

“Don’t be silly,” Jenkins interrupted the officer.

A bit awkward.  Who’s speaking?

“It’s Welland,” which was the intern’s real name.

Make sure information/facts are logically arranged (and not haphazardly tacked onto dialogue).

“It’s Welland,” the intern stated. “That’s my real name.”   /   The intern’s real name was Welland.   /   “It’s Welland,” the doctor told the detective.  “That’s the intern’s real name.”

The comma is fine here.  The verb, not so much.  Is it a question?  Did Pat query something?  No, Pat made a comment, stated a fact.

“We normally check for fingerprints,” Pat queried.

“We normally check for fingerprints,” Pat informed them.

If a character is wondering something, like good ol’ Ronald here, then he is asking himself a question or has a desire to know something.  It’s a silent action.  You talk to someone, suggest an idea, put forth a theory; you don’t wonder at someone.

“Frank, it could be that the knife sticking from the bartender’s temple is the murder weapon,” Ronald wondered.

If a character is wondering about something, you might approach it this way:

Ronald wondered if the knife sticking from the bartender’s temple was the murder weapon.  Should he share this idea with Frank?

The ellipsis tells the reader the character has paused or trailed off.  No need to state the obvious.

“Hmm, it’s possible …” Jenny trailed off.

But feel free to add something else of note.

“Hmm, it’s possible …” Curious, Jenny picked up the crumpled letter.

There are other components (rules) related to dialogue and dialogue tags, but these cover the more common issues to be found.

The best way to get a handle on writing dialogue is not just to read books, but to review them.  Highlight dialogue; notice the punctuation, the structure.  Apply it to your own work.  And, if you’re not sure, the internet is a wonderful source of information.  If you don’t know how to use an em dash, for example, type: when to use an em dash in dialogue.  Voila!  Bob’s your uncle.

As I said last week, if I can help even one person with my editing tips, then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.  Educate.  😉  Maybe I’ll do some more educating next week.  It’s rather fun.

“Have an awesome week, my friends,” she said with an encouraging smile.

The First Post of 2023

Ahhhh, the multitude of conceivable/achievable topics.  What to write about?  My word.  Literally.

The Triple Threat Investigation Agency?  JJ, Rey, and/or Linda?  The TTIA book-in-the-works [for too long]?  Editing tips?  A review, perhaps?  Fellow writers and bloggers?  The options are truly endless.

What about focusing on keeping resolutions, like this new-year commitment to posting regularly [in this case, once a week now, instead of twice]?

The best course of action when there’s a profusion of possibilities—at least for this struggling-to-pick-a-subject blogger—is to place a pile of topics in a little chapeau, and pick one every week.  Sounds like a . . . sound plan.  😊

Given the pretty private eyes are on a bit of a hiatus as Disco’s Dead and so is Mo-Mo draws to an eventual conclusion (they’re as confused as to who the killer is as the author, LOL), perhaps a revisit to the world of writing might be a worthy venture to start 2023. 

Maybe new and young[er] writers don’t much care about grammar and punctuation, never mind how dialogue and dialogue tags work, but this ol’ editor does.  And if she can convince even one other person that they do count for something—such as pride and excellence, maybe? 😉—then her “homage” to writing/language rules will not be for naught. 

Judy Hogan Writes

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