Wednesday, 27 March 2013


What is a List?

In grammar, a list occurs whenever you have a group of similar items together.

List items can be either simple (a list of single words, usually nouns or adjectives), or complex (a list of clauses).

The Rule

The rule for punctuating a list is that you place a comma after every item except for the last two; between the last two you use the word “and”.

How to apply the rule
Let’s look at some examples. We’ll start with the most simple kind of list, a list of nouns.

(1) simple lists of things
cats dogs horses

Here there are three items in the list. We place a comma after every item except the last two. As there are only three items altogether, this means just one comma, after “cats”. Then, we place “and” between the last two items.

Cats, dogs and horses.

(2) slightly more complex lists
The list can become more complex when some of the nouns have adjectives attached. However, the principle is the same. Here is a list of items, two of which are nouns with some other words attached (“nominal clauses”) and one is just a simple noun. Because they are all nominal items (each item is either a noun or a nominal clause), it is the nouns that identify the items.

blue jeans a black turtleneck sweater and sneakers

the three items are the jeans, the sweater and the sneakers. We already have an “and” correctly placed between the sweater and the sneakers. As there are three items in the list, we know that we need to place one comma. This will go after the jeans, as this is the first item in the list.

blue jeans, a black turtleneck sweater and sneakers

Here’s another example:

a flowered robe ear muffs pink rubber boots

Remember that you place “and” between the last two items and commas after every item except the last two. So we get:

a flowered robe, ear muffs and pink rubber boots

Try it yourself on this list:

barking dogs screaming kids and overflying aircraft

(3) – Lists of adjectives.

A list can also be a list of adjectives, either alone or attached to a noun. Consider this example:

long black curly hair

Now, because we have a list of adjectives attached to a noun, the rule is slightly different; we don’t use “and” where the list terminates with a noun. We just place commas, but in this case we place them after every item except the last.

Long, black, curly hair

If instead of using the noun at the end, the sentence went like this: “her hair was…..” then the regular rule would apply, because the list is standing by itself. So once again, it is “and” between the last two items and commas after every item except the last two:

Her hair was long, black and curly.

Try these ones for practice:

a foul-mouthed ugly moron
this whole high-ridged ponderous pleasantly-turning world

(4) Lists of complex items.

Complex lists are lists where each item is a clause rather than a single thing. For example:

Fiona discovered her husband was unfaithful decided to murder him and bought a chip fryer

When you look at this sentence, you will notice that Fiona did three things.
1. she discovered her husband was unfaithful
2. she decided to murder him
3. she bought a chip fryer.

These are your list items. Now, we already have “and” correctly placed between the last two items. A comma has to go after every item except the last two. So, as there are three items, this means just one comma, placed after the first item:

Fiona discovered her husband was unfaithful, decided to murder him and bought a chip fryer.

Try this one yourself for practice:

He walked over to the mailbox sniffed it lifted his leg.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Review - The Foul Mouth and the Fanged Lady, by Richard Raley

From the moment I started reading this book I had that special feeling. That little shiver down the spine as one's fur stands up just a little bit, realising that one is onto something completely new. It's fresh, it's original and it's well written.

The action moves right along and I could hardly put this book down. In addition. Mr Raley has done a wonderful job of capturing the inchoate anger of the slum-dwelling bogan, while refraining from stereotyping. All in all a thoroughly good read and I will certainly be looking for further books from this very talented author.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Coming soon to an e-reader near you!

Announcing my new book, Dance of Chaos. The prequel to Gift of Continence, this book shows Fiona MacDougall both at work and at home, and making a right balls-up of everything just as we might expect. Coming soon!

A brief excerpt:

I pondered the situation for several minutes. I had read somewhere that when you're really stuck, you should reflect quietly without pressing for a solution. Whoever wrote that had obviously never tried to get a cat out of a tree. After several minutes of quiet reflection, I was standing awkwardly on a very thin branch near the top of a pine tree, with a cat sneering at me from several feet away, a grazed knee, ruined stockings, half the seams on my clothes ripped open, three broken fingernails and God knew what in my hair. I decided it was better to press for a solution.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Special Offer! Buy Four Paws and get Perspectives on a Dragon free!

Once again I urge people to support the Quillective Project's initiative. Four Paws, an anthology of poetry by four very talented authors, is now on sale at Amazon here: Buy it at Amazon:

This great little book speaks for itself, and is well worth purchasing for gifts, or just to enjoy the poems. But there's more - 100% of the proceeds of sale of Four Paws goes to support the Dallas Humane Society's no-kill shelter, Dog and Kitty City. So there you go - great poetry AND a warm fuzzy feeling.

Just in case you need a further incentive to buy this wonderful book, for the entire month of March, I will give a copy of Perspectives on a Dragon, absolutely free, to anyone who purchases Four Paws, either as an e-book or as a paperback. Just email me at, with a copy of your proof of purchase of Four Paws.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Shame Files - 00001

Some years ago, when I was working at Bendigo Bank, a fellow staff member contacted me to ask for help in rehoming a dog. The description went something like this: Border Collie 6 years old, has been the constant companion of a 7 year old boy.

On enquiry I discovered that nothing had happened to the child, he was perfectly ok, and the reason the family was dumping their dog was that they were moving interstate. It was just not convenient to bother making arrangements to move the dog, so he became surplus to requirements.

I often used to wonder about that little boy. I wonder if he became terrified every time his parents were moving after that, wondering if he would be the next one to get dumped. Or if he became corrupted into the notion that you just get rid of anyone who is inconvenient. Either way the kid was going to be damaged goods. He'd be grown up now. I wouldn't mind betting he is either a commitment-phobe or already on his third marriage.

There's a cold place in hell for people like this.

Friday, 1 March 2013


I am happy to announce that Perspectives on a Dragon has gone live at Smashwords and is now available in every e-format imaginable.

In order to celebrate this blessed event, I will give away a free e-copy of Gift of Continence to everyone who purchases Perspectives on a Dragon, until 3 March.

To receive your free book, just email with a copy of your receipt.