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Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Muse Meant ... Some Shameless Plugging

Some people number their chapters. I'm among the camp that names mine. And so I thought on the day I was able to HOLD my novel -- A Muse Meant -- in my hot little hands, that I would share these chapter names with you. And unashamedly, I hope that I pique your interest so you just HAVE to go buy my book on Amazon.

The Lame Field Trip
Future-Shroom and Fear
For Your Muse, Meant
Lies and Omissions
Penalty Sick
The Vacant Lot
Returning a Goon
Safe Place
The Dead Man in the Yearbook
Poor Mrs. Darling
The Big Game
A Most Unusual Diner
PDA in the Library
Reverse Psychology
Critical Urgency
Not Amused
Mrs. Darling Returns
A Goon Named Greg
Defeating Paradox
No Ordinary Animals
Goon Trap
Big Goon Battle
Pink Elephants
No Holding Back

I hope your interest is piqued! My book is available on Amazon. Get it! If you want your copy signed, be sure to let me know! And if you know someone who would be interested in my publishing workshop, let me know or tell them to contact me. I am working to have a place to hold classes, but also teach via Skype and Google Hangouts!! 

Phyl Campbell is Author, Mother, Dreamer. Right now, she's in over her head with
 book projects whose (author-self-imposed) deadlines passed by. She waved, and only cried a little. But sometimes the Mother and Dreamer get in the way of the Author, and the Author has to catch up. Check out her author page on Amazon. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Happy Birthday to my latest book!!! A Muse Meant is Here!!

Happy Birthday (or happy publishing day) to my latest book. After three and a half years, I am finally ready and happy to introduce A Muse Meant to the world.

Please check it out on Amazon, and share the link with your friends.

A Muse Meant is about Samm and her friend Alex, two middle school young people trying to negotiate the terrifying world that will be their teenage years. Samm, the girl, just made the championship team in soccer for the girl's division. Alex, the boy, didn't. And that's just the start.

When Alex plays hooky from school, Samm is forced to go on what they both believe will be a boring field trip by herself. But for Samm, it isn't boring. It's an absolute magic house leading from one adventure to another. She can't wait to share it with her best friend.

But how can she explain it to him? And when she takes him to the place, it's just an abandoned lot. She starts to doubt herself. Luckily, Alex knows his best friend is sensitive and smart -- not crazy or lying to call attention to herself.

So they finally find A Muse Meant, and accidentally release the trapped monsters there -- called Goons. The Goon caretaker, Mr. Rios, says they must return the Goons or they won't be allowed to leave. With so many things working against them, can the friends work together to escape A Muse Meant? Can Alex help Samm get past her own self-doubt?

Phyl Campbell is Author, Mother, Dreamer. Right now, she's in over her head with
 book projects whose (author-self-imposed) deadlines passed by. She waved, and only cried a little. But sometimes the Mother and Dreamer get in the way of the Author, and the Author has to catch up. Check out her author page on Amazon. 

Other articles of interest:
Finding Pink Elephants
A Muse Meant
Quick and Dirty Publishing Guide

Monday, May 16, 2016

Even Nigerian Princes Need Grammar...

Help Wanted!
... and I am just the grammarian to help out.

I'm sending out applications to online education services --- trying to become an editor or at least get a few editing gigs under my belt to help me fill out weak areas in my resume. And it wouldn't hurt to make money, either. I have edited friend's papers -- and you know I'm secretly correcting the grammar on all Facebook memes, posts, and comments -- but I don't get paid enough* to declare myself a company and I didn't do the work for a specific company. I need to change one of those.

So here is the cover letter I sent to XXXXXXXX with my resume. I hope you find the humor in it.

Phyl Campbell


Dear Beloved Friend,

I know this message will come to you as a surprise, but permit me to tell you of my desire to enter into a business relationship with you.

I am Mrs. Phyl Campbell, a daughter of a very poor but hardworking farmer and nurse. Unlike the parents of Nigerian princes, my parents have not been murdered, but in fact are very much alive and have no money with which to entice you into a poor business agreement. However, if I met a Nigerian prince, I would help him with his grammar. The emails I receive from these princes are quite painful to read.

I am here seeking an avenue to transfer my knowledge of grammar and editing into the accounts of your program. I wish to know that you are a reliable and trustworthy person with whom to entrust the richness of my knowledge.
Please, I will offer you one hundred percent of my diligence and commitment to grammar. I wish to urgently transfer my skills without delay and also wish to not relocate, but to work remotely as life in my city is peaceful and I know you have these opportunities available.

Working for XXXXXXXX would allow me to continue my education in the giant lesson of life. Your immediate canned response of application receipt would be appreciated, followed by contact in a week or two because I really want us to have a business relationship, working together toward XXXXXXXX’s commitment to benign world domination.

Cordially yours,

Phyl Campbell

What's the oddest cover letter you've ever sent?

I'm also looking to teach more publishing classes in town and online. If you want to join in, be sure to connect with me!

* I have been paid in tamales once, and food often. Though I am the LAST person to make critique about food, others in my house drooled over my payment plan. Mmm! Tamales!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Abbreviations are not Contractions, and Plurals don't need Apostrophes

I finally figured it out!!  Sort of.

When people sell CD's -- they put an apostrophe because the abbreviation for compact disc is CD.

But -- repeat after me -- an abbreviation is NOT a contraction!

Other plurals with apostrophes are just silly. When I see a street vendor's sign announcing that fruit's, vegetable's, and CD's are being sold, I cringe.
(the vendor owns the sign, but the fruits, vegetables, and CDs are plural, not possessive)

CD's is wrong, but at least there is some logic behind the mistake.

And perhaps when people realize where that mistaken logic comes from -- when they realize they are mistaking abbreviations for contractions -- perhaps they can start to change.

I used to think that we used an apostrophe in it's when we meant "it owns something." Perhaps at one time we did (we used to put two spaces after a period in sentences, after all). Perhaps it was an 80s trend. It feels like an 80s trend. Maybe it was something we (I would say I am alone in my mistake, but have you read Facebook posts lately? I have learned, adapted if need be, and now I'm waiting on others to catch up.) mis-learned in second grade when we saw all those other contractions with apostrophes -- he's, she'd, you'll, they've. But those work because contractions include a noun and a verb. It's (meaning IT IS) is still written that way.

Click picture to purchase -- it is not owned by me and I don't get paid for you to click it, just FYI.
When we write ITS like in the example of the dog losing its collar , we forget that it's (it is -- see what I did there?) the same kind of word as his and her -- which also don't have apostrophes -- not he is, and definitely not HER IS. (I shivered a little writing that, not going to lie.)

Still, ambiguity exists.
Mothers Day or Mother's Day or Mothers' Day
all the holidays can be punctuated or not and it's acceptable.

Shortened expressions like
thank yous or thank you's
either are accepted based on meaning, and often both are accepted forms.

Names written on family signs, like The Campbell's instead of The Campbells
are also ambiguous without the context of the rest of the sentence.

Writing letters as letters, like minding your Ps and Qs or dotting your i's versus crossing your t's, can be written both these ways so long as the writer sticks with one through the entire document.

So shortened expressions SHOULD follow the same rule we now accept for CDs. We should remind our children to say their thank yous as we leave their grandparents' house.
However, because thank yous often refers to written thank you notes, thank you's with the apostrophe seems to replace the missing word notes, and most of us are overall fine with that.

Names can indicate possession when the family collectively owns something.
The Campbell's house is brown.
The Campbell's dog is non-existent.
The Campbell's house or mailbox

But the name does not show ownership in the following examples:
The Campbells (more than one of them) are coming.
We are having the Campbells over for dinner.
The blue house on the corner belongs to the Campbells.

The overall take-away from this lesson is -- if in doubt, leave it out!  That is especially true for apostrophes.

On that note:

Happy Mothers Day to all the mothers and all who mother!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Observations and Junk Mail

Some people are not very observant. It probably means they carry less stress than I do. I remember being a freshman in college and talking to an advisor (a non-academic advisor, as it happened) about how to find out what was going on around campus by reading the sidewalks and bulletin boards. I confessed that I probably read 70 billboard flyers a day. I’m sure she was skeptical. Later in the week, she saw me reading flyers in the union. “Ohmigod,” she said. “You really do. You really do read all those.”

And the weird thing is, I could read all those flyers and sidewalk chalk signs and still miss important events that I would have wanted to attend on campus. It seemed I always saw flyers for great shows the week AFTER they were actually playing. Great speakers, same thing. I did a lot. Saw a lot. Participated in a lot. Still, I feel like I missed out on a lot MORE. Things I promised myself I would do during freshman orientation I never did in my four and a half years on campus. I never saw a movie in the Union Theater. I never cross-dressed and attended the showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show in the Greek Theatre on Halloween night. I didn’t attend a single football game – which is probably not that much of a loss. I lose interest in sports when they aren’t being played by clumsy six year olds.

Fast forward nearly two decades, three states, and too many cities to count, and I find myself needing to be observant again. I did some (precious little) research on my new town while still in my old one. And then after I’d arranged what belongings I wasn’t keeping stored in boxes, I set out to find more friends and do more things. After finding a few groups via Facebook, I went to another old haunt,, and found a few more groups to join. Two have proven very valuable. And when I tell others about them, I realize that there are people who don’t know about sites like Meetup. And then I realized that a site like Meetup could be a way for my single friends to get out and meet people without the stress of online dating.  But then I realized I couldn’t say that tactfully. I can think it, but it’s impolite to say unless the conversation works around that way naturally. Which of course now it won’t.

So I’m two months in a new place --- starting the third. And really I think I’m doing rather well. But then it hits me that some of the things I researched early on I still haven’t checked out yet. So that’s on next week’s agenda, having decided to leave this week open because of the school event that’s happening Friday.

Still haven’t decided what of that is trying to pace myself and what is fear of rejection and all that creeps in when I’m trying to busy myself with other things. And I wonder to what extent other people deal with the feeling that they’re missing out on something wonderful. Sometimes I get glimpses from others on Facebook. Sometimes I just have to guess.

And then my junk mail puts things into a weird kind of perspective for me. Three years ago, when my husband and I put our home on the market, this one realtor started to send us info cards and calendars and things in order to get our business – either to allow him to sell our house or to use him in picking out our new house. We didn’t ever use him. We sold our house and rented and now we have moved out of state and are renting again. We got a postcard from that realtor with the change of address sticker. I thought that would be the end of it.

Nope. In the mail today was another postcard – this time with our correct out of state address. And I wonder if I should email or call him to get taken off his mailing list. I actually waste time worrying about what this piece of my junk mail is costing HIM. Who does that? That question is rhetorical, of course. Though if someone wants to throw me a bone and tell me they worry about other people to this mind-numbing extent… Or tell me that it would literally cost this guy more to take my name off his mailing list than to keep sending me junk mail. I should toss it in the recycle bin without a second thought. But it will sit on my table for a week, and I will stress about it. 

A photo posted by Phyl Campbell (@phylc_author) on

And then along came a spider...

And as I wrote that last bit, I had to stop and swipe off a spider that was crawling up my arm. Now I don’t see it anywhere. I usually don’t kill spiders because they eat gnats and things. But I killed a brown recluse in my bathroom over the weekend because they are poisonous and I killed a wolf spider yesterday because it was moving too fast for me to see what it was, then was hiding on top of the light on my ceiling fan. I should have realized it wasn’t a recluse because recluses don’t spin webs.

And then I saw it. And of course my phone is dead because I was playing Candy Crush Jelly Saga while trying to get stations on my TV – I REALLY wanted to watch Lucifer – then remembered it’s done for the season. The point is, my pictures of the spider on my wall and ceiling aren’t very good. Is it a recluse or not? I simply can’t tell. 

It has a few less than eight legs – that’s probably my fault for swiping too hard instead of flicking or blowing it off like I know I’m supposed to. And it very patiently moved around a bit – even waited for me to get a stepladder and put the portable charger on my phone to try to get a better image of it. Of course it did. 
This is a brown recluse. Bigger butt than a wolf spider. Image courtesy of Terra.

It’s a wolf spider, but the cat eye is very difficult to see on this one, and it’s colored more recluse-like than wolf-spider-like. And with less than eight legs, it’s walking much more slowly – like a recluse.

If it will get off my ceiling and walk across the panels, I will knock it off to a box lid and release it outside. If it gets any closer to my bed, it’s going to be a goner – it’s already been on my arm and we both know how I reacted to that. Come down, stupid spider. I don’t want to kill you. It hardly seems fair to throw you out into the rain, but you could be very comfy on or under my porch.

Excuse me.

[muffled shuffling, a brief struggle, a door slam]

There. Much better. Spider and a plastic tub lib are outside on the porch. Yes, the spider could crawl right back in any number of cracks – especially the large one under the door. But perhaps it will think of the legs its already lost and value its life enough to stay outside.

And I won’t tell you how many times I got sidetracked in the course of writing this post. (If you believe that, you obviously don’t know me.) Let’s see – the fight with the TV that got 33 channels yesterday and 0 today, no matter what I do/did with the antenna. I was hungry, so I got a snack. I had a bill in the afternoon mail, so I made sure it was paid. It was. I checked my email – dealt with a notice from the PTA and a request to go over a cover letter for a relative of a former student. I got further distracted by a couple of articles about the Target boycott – which I do not support, BTW. A text conversation with my sister and a PM conversation with another writer. I forgot I was working on this post until the fellow writer said something to make me remember it. Then the spider on my arm. Skulking on my arm. Walking like a recluse would – slow and deliberate. And I could take and process all of that in the time it took me to realize it wasn’t my hair and raise my arm to knock the spider off. Then try to find it. Turn on all the lights. Don’t see it. Go back to writing and all of the above. Then see it on the wall, heading toward the ceiling.

Is it observant to notice the spider? Weird to let it live? Without some of its legs, should I have put it out of its misery? What is misery to a spider? Am I observant to have seen it again? What if it was a different spider? What if, in some weird kind of universe with spider solidarity, it was attacking me for killing the other spiders? What if ALL the household spiders decide to make me a target? More importantly -- why haven’t I internalized yet that I am thousands of times bigger than spiders are? It’s ridiculous to be bothered by the things – I don’t freak out in the same way when a fly lands on me. But logic fails me when it comes to spiders, especially close to bedtime.

One more thing to worry about. Despite the absolute lack of good worrying does, I do quite a bit of it.

One more pointless observation.