Do You Know Your Sentence Structures?

There’s more to a sentence than a string of words.

Do you think about sentence structure when constructing that email to your boss? How about spelling? If not, don’t worry! This article is all about you.

Sentence Structure

Most people know there are different types of sentences. However, most also have no idea what the names of those structures are or what it actually takes to form them. There are, in reality, FOUR different kinds of sentence structures:

1) Simple

2) Compound

3) Complex

4) Compound-Complex


Simple Sentences

Simple sentences only contain one independent clause. This means it holds one subject and one verb. Either subject or verb can be compound (meaning two or more), but the key is there always remains only ONE independent clause.

Example one: Blue is Angela’s favorite color.

Example two: Blue and red are Trevor’s favorite colors.

Example three: Samantha loves and hates pink.

The examples above are all simple sentences, though some contain compound elements. Example one has a simple subject (Blue) and a simple verb (is). Example two has a compound subject (Blue and red) and a simple verb (are). Example three has a simple subject (Samantha) and a compound verb (loves and hates). However, they are all still considered simple sentences because there is no secondary clause that can stand alone.


Compound Sentences

Compound sentences can have two or more independent clauses. These are often separated either by a comma and coordinating conjunction or a semi-colon.

Example one: Sarah enjoys reading; John prefers sports.

Example two: Brittany and Joyce arrived at the party early, but Shane got there late.

Example three: Cheryll is a doctor, and Ian is a professor.

The first example shows how a semi-colon can act as the divider punctuation between two separate, independent clauses (meaning two different sentences that can stand on their own). The two other examples show two independent clauses separated by a comma and conjunction.

*Here is a list of coordinating conjunctions for future compound sentences you will write: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. An easy way to remember these is the acronym FANBOYS.

*Many writers leave out the comma when writing SHORT compound sentences. This is purely subjective. Grammar rules state you should technically accompany a coordinating conjunction with a comma to illustrate where the division between the two clauses occurs.


Complex Sentences

Complex sentences are easier than they sound. It’s simply joining together one independent clause with one or more subordinate clauses. A subordinate clause contains a subject and verb separate from the independent clause, but it cannot stand alone. Subordinate clauses usually describe or explain what happened in the independent clause.

Example one: Tom didn’t get the job because he showed up late to the interview.

Example two: She almost fell over when the cat darted between her feet.

Example three: I’ll do the dishes if you cook supper.

Complex sentences can often be confused with compound sentences. There are MANY subordinating conjunctions, so the easy way to differentiate a complex sentence from a compound one is to memorize the coordinating conjunctions given above. If the conjunction is one represented in that list, it is NOT a complex sentence.


Compound-Complex Sentence

Ok, looking back at all we’ve gone over so far, can you guess what builds this type of sentence? Compound-complex sentences have two or more independent clauses and at least one dependent clause. This is tricky, because the dependent clause can move around anywhere in the sentence.

Example one: When you forget to water plants, they wither and shrivel, but a good gardener has a set schedule for each flower and shrub.

Example two: I bought a new dress for the party, and everyone thought it was lovely until someone spilled red wine down the front.

Both of these are considered compound-complex sentences. In Ex. 1, the dependent clause comes at the beginning of the sentence, attributing to the first independent clause “they wither and shrivel”. In Ex. 2, the dependent clause is at the end, attributing to the second independent clause.


Test Yourself!

Can you tell the difference now? Test yourself on the following examples. Feel free to leave a comment telling me how you did or asking for clarification on any other sentence stumper!

1) If the sun is shining, Sonya’s toddlers like to go to the pool, and her teens enjoy heading to the skatepark.

2) Dogs and cats have a notorious history of rivalry.

3) The Pied Piper played his pipe, and all the rats followed him out of the town.

4) The rats followed the Piper because his pipe was magical.

5) It is rumored a rainbow leads to a pot of gold, but science begs to differ.

6) Don’t poke a sleeping bear when you run into one in the woods.

7) The bear won’t appreciate you interrupting its nap.


*edited version of pre-existing article

#AskEditor #P2P16 Schedule

Entering Pitch To Publication but still have some questions for the editors? Here’s your chance!

Each editor is taking two sessions (30 min. each) Oct. 17-21 to answer your questions! This is the moment to clarify what genres they accept, find out what tropes they love and hate, and also learn who these awesome people are! Below is a schedule showing which slot each editor is scheduled in. Make sure to use hashtags #AskEditor as well as the #p2p16 to participate.

Monday, Oct. 17

11am – Amber Jones Barry

12pm – Meg LaTorre-Snyder

1pm – Ellen Brock

2pm – Kyra M Nelson

6pm – Alana Saltz

7pm – Cassandra Brown

8pm – Nicole Frail-Magda

9pm – Lindsay Schlegel

10pm – Christopher Nugent


Tuesday, Oct. 18

11am – Kimberly Smith Ashley

12pm – Victoria Griffin

1pm – Carly Bornstein

7pm – Kaitlyn Johnson

8pm – Kisa Whipkey

9pm – Stephanie Eding

10pm – Sione Aeschliman


Wednesday, Oct. 19

11am – Elizabeth Buege

12pm – Kyra M Nelson

1pm – Ellen Brock

7pm – Carly Bornstein

8pm – Kaitlyn Johnson

9pm – Cassandra Brown


Thursday, Oct. 20

11am – Victoria Griffin

12pm – Kimberly Smith Ashley

1pm – Stephanie Eding

2pm – Elizabeth Buege

7pm – Sione Aeschliman

8pm – Lindsay Schlegel

9pm – Alana Saltz


Friday, Oct. 21

11am – Kisa Whipkey

12pm – Meg LaTorre-Snyder

1pm – Amber Jones Barry

8pm – Christopher Nugent

9pm – Nicole Frail-Magda


To see any and all information concerning this #p2p16, check out Samantha Fountain’s website and follow along with all announcements on her Twitter!

Think You Know Punctuation?


Having a handle on proper grammar may seem unnecessary, but it is a pivotal accessory in whatever professional sphere you might advance to.

There are some schools where English class is a rigorous cornucopia of learning. Students learn subjects, verbs, participles, tenses, even sentence diagramming! I was lucky enough to have this experience. But, throughout college and now as I join the working force, I’m noticing more and more how often this class is downgrading to simple sentence formation and reading Shakespeare. It’s sad but, with budget cuts and overfilled classrooms, sometimes there’s no other option.

Having a handle on proper grammar may seem unnecessary (what with spell check and Google right at your fingertips), but it is a pivotal accessory in whatever professional sphere you might advance to.

So here I am, armed with my grammar police badge and handy-dandy pencil, to give a crash course to sharpen those cover letters or office memos. I’ll be posting one article a week, detailing need-to-know grammar skills. Today, I’ve chosen some punctuation normally used incorrectly; specifically, we’ll focus on the comma, semi-colon, em dash, and en dash.



Everyone knows the comma; more precisely, everyone knows how to overuse or underuse the comma. I envision the comma as the same as taking a breath. When you read a sentence out loud, see where you naturally pause. This can be for effect or for division of sentence. Obviously, this rule isn’t foolproof, but it’s a good starting point for anyone questioning whether or not they really need the comma.

Ex. 1: Thomas went to the movies, and he bought a large popcorn.

  • Thomas is the subject of the first half of the sentence; he is the subject of the last half. Commas are used when dividing two independent clauses (sections of sentences that can stand on their own. Thomas went to the movies. He bought a large popcorn.) The comma must be accompanied by a conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, yet) to accurately form the compound sentence (more than one subject/verb).

Ex. 2: Thomas went to the movies, knowing he would buy a large popcorn.

  • Here, it is natural to take a breath after the main chunk of the sentence. The latter sentence section cannot stand on its own, but is separated for stylistic choice. Reading aloud or going over the sentence in your head are helpful ways to determine where commas benefit your sentence.

Commas also separate groups of words, things, ideas, or objects. (See what I did there?) Use of the Oxford comma is widely in debate amongst writers, but I’ll leave that for another article.

Semi-Colon (also spelled semicolon)


This is one of the most incorrectly used punctuation marks I see. A semi-colon is actually very similar to the comma, except it is only used to separate independent clauses, leaving out the conjunction.

Ex. 1: RIGHT – Thomas went to the movies; he bought a large popcorn.

WRONG – Thomas went to the movies; Shirley’s favorite color is pink.

  • Semi-colons shouldn’t be used to just join sentences willy-nilly. Both independent clauses should be related somehow, perhaps by the content or meaning of the sentences. Above, in the WRONG example, the two clauses have nothing to do with one another, and should remain separate sentences.

Ex. 2: Thomas went to the movies; knows he’ll buy a large popcorn.

  • This is also the incorrect usage of a semi-colon, one I see often. The second half is a dependent clause, meaning it can’t stand on it’s own as a complete sentence. Therefore, it should not be separated from the dominant section of the sentence.

Em Dash

My personal favorite, the em-dash is becoming more and more popular in today’s writing world. This is one of the most versatile elements in punctuation and usually depends on the writer’s style. However, most people don’t realize there are two types of em-dashes: the 2-em dash and the 3-em dash. The 3-em dash is primarily for bibliographies, so we’ll focus on the 2-em dash, which is most likely the one you will be using most often.

The 2-em dash can be used to signify a missing word or sudden stop in speech as well as a way to section off certain material from the dominant part of the sentence.

Ex. 1: “What the f—” Thomas started to yell before the moviegoer next to him placed a finger to his lips.

Ex. 2: “Don’t go in—” Thomas started to yell.

“Will you shut?” snapped the moviegoer next to him.

  • Both of these examples show how missing words or cut-off speech can be illustrated. This is often confused with the ellipsis (…) which should be used with speech that trails off rather than stops abruptly.

Ex. 3: Thomas went to the movies—the old, cheap theatre on the corner of Walker and Trent—to see the new Suicide Squad.

  • Here, an author can choose whether to use commas, parentheses, or the 3-em dash to add sections of information. This is often used in creative or magazine writing.

En Dash

Finally, we come to the en dash. This punctuation connects numbers and, much less often, words. Should a grouping of numbers be continuing (dates, times, page numbers), you can think of the en dash meaning up to and including (or through).

Ex. 1: The years 1920–1929 are referred to as the “Roaring Twenties.”

Ex. 2: Chapters 1–5 describe how the “Roaring Twenties” saw some of the fastest economic growth in this nation’s history.

Ex. 3: The “Roaring Twenties” are covered from Chapter 1 to 5.

Ex. 4: The years between 1920 and 1929 are referred to as the “Roaring Twenties.”

• As shown above, the en dash should never be used if the set of numbers is preceded by “from”; instead, use the word “to”.

Similarly, use the word “and” if the set of numbers is preceded by “between”.


Now you can polish up those essays, work emails, or pleasure writing and know you haven’t committed any egregious grammar mistakes! Till next time, happy writing!

#P2P16 Writer’s Contest

I’m so excited to announce that I will be participating as an editor in this round of the Pitch to Publication writer’s contest!

What is Pitch to Publication 2016 (#p2p16)?

A contest for completed manuscripts by authors ready for feedback from a group of established freelance editors. Authors submit their query and first five pages to three editors of their choice. Editors then select one or two (depending on how in love they are!) manuscripts for five weeks of intensive editing and feedback. Then, in the December Agent Round, top literary agents will request manuscripts they want to see more of!


October 22nd: Writers will have a 24-hour window to submit their entries, starting at noon EST.

October 31st: Author-Editor pairs announced, Author-Editor teams begin editing process.

December 2nd: Editing round ENDS, and authors submit revised queries & excerpts for the agent round.

December 5th: Agent round begins. Requests for fulls will be announced on Twitter on Friday, December 9th.

For more contest details, see Samantha Fountain’s website at or see the latest updates on her Twitter, @FountainWriter.

A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed



See that magazine cover? See the artful style, the eye-catching pizzaz? Behind it lies beautiful words, sad words, funny words, confusing words. That is National Flash Fiction Day’s newest anthology: A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed. And your’s truly has finally achieved her first professional publication! Yes, my flash fiction “Sushi and Kitty Cats” has been accepted into their annual anthology.

I’m putting the link here. You can buy it; you can ignore it. Up to you. I just have to thank this magazine for helping me on my way. I’m literally smiling so wide, my face might split open like an unraveling sweater seam.

But if you would like to support this group, or maybe just check them out and see what other contests/submissions they host, be sure to check out the links below!


AMAZON – A Box of Stars Beneath the Bed


Muse and the Marketplace: A Conference Behind the Scenes



A Conference Behind The Scenes

Ever heard of Boston’s Muse and the Marketplace Conference? It’s why I’ve been MIA for a bit, and also the reason I had one of the best internships and (more recently) birthdays of my existence. Here’s some backstory before I get into the Conference Behind the Scenes:

Muse and the Marketplace “gives aspiring writers a better understanding of the craft of fiction and non-fiction, prepares them for the changing world of publishing and promotion, and creates opportunities for meaningful networking. Established and emerging authors lead 100+ interactive sessions on the craft of writing – the “muse” side of things – while editors, literary agents and other industry professionals tackle the business side – the “marketplace.” Though 800+ presenters and participants will attend, GrubStreet creates a wonderfully intimate atmosphere designed to give everyone access to the wealth of talent on both sides of the classroom.” – Muse and the Marketplace

I was lucky enough to be chosen as the Muse Intern from January until the conference’s completion on May 1, and my experience has taught me more about writers and agents and basically life than any other position. The Muse offers additional events inside the conference itself (see Manuscript Mart and Shop Talk Happy Hour).

As someone who not only saw the pre-launch organization of these events, but also the end products, I’ve realized how much teamwork and effort goes into the makings of a conference. It’s also allowed me to see just what can make a conference feel like it’s tipping off the tracks. So, here are a few tidbits to help you be the best conference-goer you can be!


Do Your Homework
Let’s start with the easiest first, shall we? Go to the conference website, read what classes are offered, see what speakers are highlighted, understand what dates you’ll be considering taking off from work. A well-informed attendee is always one favored by the staff. If you know what’s going on, we can do that much more to enhance your conference experience.
Check Out That Refund Policy
This conference was easily $500 or above (if you attended all 3 days – single day tickets are cheaper, but not by much – so let’s assume away). You pay the money, enjoy the months passing, and then realize last minute that something’s come up and you have to cancel. If you haven’t checked out the repercussions of this, CHAOS WILL OCCUR! The Muse and the Marketplace refund policy was strict: no refunds at all, but credits toward classes with the organization or to next year’s Muse were possible, minus the $75 processing fee. But, if you didn’t notify us before April 25, no chance at getting
anything in return for the cancellation.

Obviously, specials cases happen. Deaths in the family, medical emergency, it’s all taken into account. But for those people who fell under the “something just came up” excuse, the situation was not satisfying for either party.
Buy Early
If you don’t have the money, ok, I get it. Sometimes life takes precedence. But if you’re forced to wait until later to not only sign up, but also select the sessions you’d like to attend (or even the add-on events where you can personally meet agents/editors), do not then email in complaining how the slots have filled! Conferences are first come, first serve opportunities. That’s a key word – opportunity. No writer is owed a conference experience, so please don’t expect someone organizing one to act like you’re the most important one going.
Pay Attention to Deadlines
I’d never have believed it, but this was one of the MOST thrown away sentiments for attendees. Deadlines are given for a reason. Reminders are sent out for a reason. If you don’t bother to read the instruction email we already sent out, why should we expect you to read the next one?

Be kind to the people enforcing those deadlines. My coworkers had to deal with some nasty emails, from people who frankly didn’t care about deadlines. Remember: extensions can be made, but not if you’re an ass.
Ask Questions
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Most of the time, questions are annoying. But honestly, I’d rather answer a hundred questions—provided they’re not obvious ones plastered over the website’s homepage—rather than find someone in a panic on Day One because they think they paid for extra events/scheduled meetings with specific agents/editors when they didn’t.


Double Check Your Schedule
This goes along with the Pre-Conference note of Asking Questions. Some staff send out schedules to remind attendees what they’ve signed up for; others trust you to print your own. Either way, always double check! I’ve been the one walking into a class and realizing halfway through that it’s for a completely different genre than I write. It is NOT fun.
Don’t Be That Attendee
This should be a given, but so freaking many people proved me wrong only a week ago. If staff tells you a place is off-limits, THAT PLACE IS OFF-LIMITS. We are responsible for everyone’s safety, that means you AND the presenters! Which brings me to my next, very important point.
Agents and Editors Are Not Celebrities!

Sure, they’re glamorous. They’re either what we dream to be or dream to work with. But, above all, they’re also just people. The conference is for them to meet writers and network and simply have a good time. It is not for you to shove a manuscript in their face, or pitch your story as you corner them in the bathroom.

Again, there are always exceptions. Some will ask to hear from you, other offer special events for you to pitch or submit your work for feedback; at this point, I think you know it’s completely fine to promote yourself. However, if you see an agent/editor at the bar, enjoying their cocktail, try getting to know them as a human before a business opportunity.
Have Fun
This is my last point, and I’ll stop preaching. You’re going to this conference to learn, meet new people, and grow no matter what level of a writer you are. But in the middle of all of that, make sure you have fun! We, as writers, are quirky individuals. We have a lot going for us, whether we know it or not. So don’t stress. Don’t worry. No matter what happens, you’re getting something you can’t find anywhere else in regular life. Breathe and explore.

#FicFest Agent List!


The agent list for #FicFest is now up at! Here are the categories each is searching for. To check out exactly what genres/interests they have, check out the link above!

  1. Laura Zats – Red Sofa Literary: MG, YA, & A
  2. Stacey Graham – Red Sofa Literary: MG
  3. Dawn Dowdle – Blue Ridge Literary Agency: Adult
  4. Nicole Tourelot – DeFiore & Company: YA
  5. Rachel Marks – Rebecca Friedman Literary Agency: MG & YA
  6. Lana Popovic – Chalberg & Sussman: MG, YA, & A
  7. Annie Bomke – Annie Bomke Literary Agency: YA, NA, & A
  8. Mark Gottlieb – Trident Media Group: PB, MG, YA, NA, & A
  9. Jennifer March Soloway – Andrea Brown Literary Agency: PG, MG, YA, & A
  10. Susan Hawk – The Bent Agency: PG, MG, YA
  11. Jennifer Azantian – Jennifer Azantian Literary Agency: MG, YA, NA, & A
  12. Mike Hoogland – Dystel & Goderich Literary Management: MG, YA, & A
  13. Penny Moore – FinePrint Literary Management: MG & YA
  14. Lisa Abellera – Kimberley Cameron & Associates: MG, YA, & A
  15. John Rudolph – Dystel & Goderich Literary Mangement: PB, MG, & YA
  16. Julia Alexandra Weber – J.A. Weber Literary Agency: MG, YA, NA, & A
  17. Jennifer Johnson-Blalock – Liz Dawson Associates: MG, YA, & A
  18. Mallory Brown – TriadaUS Literary Agency: YA, NA, & A
  19. Jennie Goloboy – Red Sofa Literary Agency: Adult
  20. Stacey Donaghy – Donaghy Literary Group: YA, NA, & A
  21. Alex Barba – Inklings Literary Agency: YA
  22. Whitley Abell – Inklings Literary Agency: MG, YA, & A
  23. Sue Miller – Donaghy Literary Group: YA, NA, & A
  24. Rachel Brooks – L Perkins Literary Agency: YA & A
  25. Vicki Selvaggio – The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency: PB, MG, YA, NA, & A
  26. Ninja Agent – secret identity unless they request: MG & YA