JaniceHeck

My Time to Write, but The Cats have The Last Meow!

Archive for the tag “#wana112”

Dear Readers: On Flying Deeper into the Blogosphere

Dear Readers,

From time to time, I sit back and evaluate my purpose and progress in maintaining a blog.

Three years ago, on a lark after I retired from the world of education, I started my first blog, Janice Heck: My Time to Write. I tiptoed into the blogosphere, filled with beginner’s anxiety, to test the atmosphere. I joined Kristin Lamb’s little army of baby bloggers in WANA112 (We Are Not Alone) and launched out into unknown territory.

Feeding My Blog

At first I wondered how I could maintain a blog because these word-swallowing vacuums have voracious appetites and must be fed constantly. I thought I would rapidly run out of ideas. I also wondered if I had the sustaining power to keep a blog going. After all, I have been known to start projects, and then let them drop when other interests crashed the party. (Moi? Yes, moi.)

But look! Now, almost three years later, my blog is still alive, still begging for fodder, still holding my attention, still getting regular visitors.

I call myself an “eclectic blogger.” That is, I write articles or post photographs about whatever strikes my fancy: cats, family, travel, book reviews, current events, food, recipes, senior health issues, eldercare, grammar, writing tips, writing quirks, and writing “fix-its.”

I love blog challenges and have entered a number of writing and photography challenges.

My first A to Z Challenge (to publish a post six days a week in the month of April) in 2012 helped me prove to myself that I really could blog every day. I began to see myself in a new light: as a writer and a blogger. Since then, I have joined the A to Z every year and met that same goal. In the process, I have met many amazing bloggers and photographers.  Here are my three survivor badges from those challenges.

I joined other challenges well and enjoyed posting on them: Cee’s Photo Challenges, WordPress Weekly Photo Challenges, Post-A-Day Photo Challenges, and others.

Feeding my blog has been easier than I thought possible.

Stats Report

My stats look pretty good with 52,593 visits (as of 8-31-14) and almost 500 regular followers. I’m not a Jeff Bullas, a Kristin Lamb, a Bradley Will, or Matt Wolfe, but I have had fair success (i.e. regular readers) for a novice. My Time to Write has had visitors from 176 countries. Alas, Greenland is still white on this map. (Hint, hint, Greenland bloggers. I know you are there.)

Blog Viewers by Country-Janice Heck, My Time to Write

Blog Viewers by Country-Janice Heck, My Time to Write

Of course, no visitors from Iran have dropped by. No surprise there. But look at Africa. Each time I check this map, more readers from Africa have visited my blog. Amazing. English as second language (ESL, ESOL) readers pop up everywhere. I have had visitors from countries that I have never heard of until I started blogging. (Brunei Darussalam? Djibouti? Vanuatu?) Yes, Mr. Disney, “It’s a small world after all.”

Funny thing, though, the posts that I thought would be the least interesting have turned out to be the ones that people search for: grammar posts, “writing quirks,” and other topics related to writing. With the exception of one oddball post, Two Oceans Meet in Gulf of Alaska. Not., which has now had 15,279 hits, the English writing and grammar posts get the most daily visits. (For a sampling of these posts, check the end of this post.) Other posts have shorter term interest.

Decision Point

The stats on my blog dashboard indicate that my free WordPress blog is currently at 87% capacity (2667.67 MB). In other words, a decision point. Should I shell out some bucks and buy more space? Or should I morph into a dotcom? WordPress encourages me almost daily to do either of these things. Should I? Shouldn’t I?

Focus, Focus, Focus

Years ago, I went to a writer’s conference and met with an editor who gave me this advice: “You are a good writer… BUT… [always the but ! ] you need to FOCUS.”

He called me on my eclectic writing behavior, my tendency for random thinking, my propensity for great ideas, and, well, my many unfinished writing projects. How did he know?

At any rate, I see now, that he was right. And that is the issue on my current blog. It is eclectic. On the one hand, that is good because it has wider audience appeal; on the other hand, people who visit my blog looking for help with writing have to surf through all sorts of material not immediately relevant to writing.

Final Decision: New Focus, New Dotcom Blog

With T. S. Eliot’s line from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” firmly in mind, “decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse…,” I started playing with a blog (Janice Heck Writes) that has been sitting dormant on my WordPress shelf since I initiated my first blog.

Now with my first blog pool almost filled to capacity, I have decided to officially launch Janice Heck Writes as a dotcom. focusing completely on the writing process and writing craft. My goal is to help writers move to the next level in their writing abilities, whether they be wannabe writers or published writers.

As I attend writing conferences and meet and read the writing attempts of many wannabe writers, I encourage them to keep writing and writing and writing. Then when I notice the randomness of their writing, I tell them to focus. There it is. That advice given to me more than ten years ago has come spouting out of my own mouth! We become like our own editors!

Posts on my new blog will focus on helping writers develop their writing craft using this formula:

Writing graphic by Janice Heck

While natural talent and a wide background in reading help create a good writer, a strong grasp of writing craft (grammar, usage, punctuation) helps build a writer’s power. Effective writing strategies can be learned.

So this new blog Janice Heck Writes: Power-up Your Writing! Build Your Writing Craft will focus on the specific writing techniques to enhance your writing as well as quick fixes for the most common errors in writing. I will also include book reviews and writer interviews that focus on building effectiveness as a writer.

Of course, I will keep my darling kitties (a regular feature on my first blog) in my posts as often as possible because their witty remarks often bring chuckles to readers… and extra comments to my blog. But don’t worry, my dear eclectic readers, I promise to post on this ole blog as well. Since I love the writing and photography challenges and the relative freedom of topics of my first blog, I will continue to post there. Gradually, I will pull my grammar, usage, punctuation, and writing tips posts over to the new blog.

Come on over and check out my new blog: Janice Heck Writes: Power-up Your Writing! Build Your Craft.  I’d love to see you there. Leave a comment if you have time. (Launch date: September 1, 2014)

Read the first post here: What? Another Blog on Writing?   URL address: http://janiceheckwrites.com/

Your Turn

So, what do you think? Am I making the right decision? Do I have any other options?

Popular posts of the past in order of highest frequency of hits. (Alphabetical posts come from the A to Z Challenges.)

Q is for Quirky Dreams, Susie Q., and Prepositional Phrases
R is for Reflexive Pronouns Cause a Ruckus
K is for Kernel Sentences: Nouns and Verbs Control the World
D is for Direct Object or Happy Birthday
A is for Adjectives, Anteaters, Armadillos, and Aardvarks
Hyper-hyphenated Words Make Surprising Adjectives
I is for Invented Spelling of Kids and Cats
“Don’t Use Adverbs.” Book Reviewers Use Them!
Common Errors or Effective Writing?
G is for Great Gobs of Gramma’s Grammar Goodies and Goofs
And more…

 

A Little Catertainment (and Pink Panther) for #WANAfriday

Today is WANAfriday, featuring humorous, ridiculous, or scandalous views of life in general, or in this case, cats in particular.

Everybody loves cats on Internet, and there is a plethora of videos to make anyone and everyone smile. (Admit it, even Grumpy Cat makes you smile!)

Here’s one from Life With Cats, entitled “Rescued and Lovin’ It.”

This video, submitted to PurinaFriskies for a contest, features Savannah, White-E, Lillie, Freeway, Jo-Jo, Bart, Ozzy, T.S., Bushy, and Be-Be, in a designer cat park, complete with tree houses, swinging cat ramps, hammocks, spiral staircase, trees, and lots of grass. What an exciting playground for these formerly homeless kitties

The video is one of many submissions to the PurinaFriskies open call for videos from the public for its “Friskies” awards contest. Voting begins August 6.

Music, “Pink Panther,” arrangement by Charlie Tokarz.

After you leave a comment here, check out some of the other #WANAFriday posts…
Rabia Gale – Friday Funnies
Ellen Gregory – Hungry Cat
Liv Rancourt – WANAfriday Fun (including a creepy, devil-may-care video).
Kim Griffin: Much Like My Husband
Patricia Caviglia: WANAFriday: Friday Funnies

cats FridayThe Last Meow

Yes, it’s Friday, and things do seem to get a little weird around here on Friday. Maybe it is because of anticipation for Caterday.

Meow for now. =<^0^>=

WANAFriday: Red is for . . . The Red Kimono

Each Friday, the WANA112 group posts a prompt for members to consider. This week’s prompt is a color: Red.

On my desk sits a book, The Red Kimono, by Jan Morrill, featuring an exquisite red kimono on its cover.001 (23)

Jan Morrill posted Vlogs (video blogs) of short excerpts from The Red Kimono during a 30-day vlogging challenge in April, and I happened to stumble onto one of them. Her short readings intrigued me, so I bought the book on Amazon.

* * *

On December 7th, 1941,  the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor.

Japanese Americans, both naturalized and American-born, who have lived in the United States for years, now face intense social and political scrutiny based on the shape of their faces, the slant of their eyes, the language they speak in the privacy of their own homes, and the cultural differences they display. . .  all because of the aggressive actions of a country they’d left years ago.

A Japanese American family living in San Francisco (naturalized parents, American-born children) hear the sobering news report on the radio about the devastation at Pearl Harbor. Papa and Mama instinctively know their lives will change. Nobu (17) and Sachiko (9) gain that same understanding later that day. Harassment and bullying are fast teachers.

An African American family, originally from the deep South, receives news that John Terrence Harris has been killed during the Pearl Harbor attack, leaving 17-year-old Terrence and little sisters, Missy and Patty, fatherless.

Terrence, tormented by grief, vows revenge, gathers two friends to stalk a Japanese man, any Japanese man, and harass him. They find Papa in the park with Sachiko and attack, kicking and punching, leaving him so brutalized that he is hospitalized in a coma.

Two families: entangled in grief, sorrow, anger, hatred, disbelief, racism; yet there is hope, always hope.

The story unfolds for Nobu, Sachiko, Mama, and Terrence through alternating chapters. Each person carries burdensome memories, sorrows, emotions, and secrets too painful to voice. Nobu, Sachiko, and Mama struggle to understand their new lives without their beloved Papa in this strange Arkansas internment camp. Terrence struggles with black-white prejudice in jail. The outcomes for each of these casualties far from Pearl Harbor differ, and that is the story.

I enjoyed this book, though its themes are both humbling and haunting: man’s inhumanity to man brings sorrow and disrupted lives. Tragic circumstances combine to create a compelling story, and Morrill weaves it all together in her highly successful first novel.

You can find Jan Morrill on her website and her blog, Jan Morrill Writes.

* * *

Here’s how my WANA112 friends have interpreted this prompt:

Ellen Gregory: Five favourite things RED
Kim Griffin: Red, Red, They Call Me Red
Liv Rancourt: Why Red? Why Remodel? Why Make Resolutions?
Tami Clayton: The Color Red, Powerful, Luscious, and Tasty
Kim Griffin: Red, Red, They Call Me Red

Seven Great Internet Kitties and My New BFF Snaggletooth

It’s WANA Friday, and we have a new WANA prompt:   Since cats run the Internet, let’s do a post featuring our favorite pets, real or imaginary. Post photos, anecdotes, or anything you like.

These are my favorite Internet kitties. Each one has a special talent…

Nora plays the piano...

Maru loves boxes…

Maru

Maru

Henri, the French existentialist cat, philosophizes…

Elsie the Library Cat prowls the library with a video cam…

Simon the Cat  gives advice on his favorite healthy garden plants…

Grumpy Cat Well, Grumpy Cat is Grumpy Cat.

Catzilla takes over the Big City… Don’t miss this one! This cat likes to control things.

Check out these WANAFriday posts by WANA211 friends. (More to come…)

Ellen V. Gregory and Diary of a Devilcat: Beware My Evil Eye
Liv Rancourt The Annual Pruning: Burnsie gets a haircut!
Cora Ramos The Sniff Sense: What I Learned from My Dogs about Writers and Writing  

The Last Meow: Snaggletooth…

Finally, I want to introduce you all to Snaggletooth. Snaggletooth has a much nicer name, but let’s just say that I can’t remember what it is. Here she is, a totally friendly cat who likes to chase paper balls and nap, of course, when her owner Judy works away on her computer. Sweet-looking cat, don’t you think?Gordon College 5-16-2013 038

But wait. Look what happens when the clock strikes midnight. The fangs come out. The eyes turn to fire. Watch out. Snaggletooth is coming. Be prepared for doom.

Gordon College 5-16-2013 040

Meow for now! =<^:^>=

Tuscany in Mind – Second Time Around

wana logo

Every Friday, one member of WANA112 posts a prompt for other WANAs to consider. Here’s today’s prompt:

Second Time Around -

Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?

Tuscany in Mind: An Anthology edited by Alice Leccese Powers. Vintage Books (Random House), New York, 2005.

I don’t remember how this book came to be in my possession, but it has traveled to Italy and back with me. It is a collection of excerpts from thirty-eight well-known authors  (e.g., James Boswell, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Charles Dickens, Henry James) and lesser-known (to me) authors (e.g., Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kinta Beevor, Penelope Fitzgerald, and Bruce Chatwin).001 (14)

Why would this motley crew of writers write about Tuscany? Because they all lived there or vacationed there at one point in their lives and felt compelled to write about their experiences.

As I arrived in each town in Tuscany, I pulled out Tuscany In Mind and read who-said-what about the local area: Florence, Siena, Pisa, Volterra, Lucca, San Gimignano, Maremma, and other hill towns.

My favorite excerpt in the book, Any Four Women could Rob the Bank of Italy, by Ann Cornelisen, is set in San Felice Val Gufo (not far from Siena).

There, locked away from time, the San Felicians live in a closed society of intermarriage and inoccupation, insulated from life beyond the hills that surround them.

San Felicia is a town where the water tastes “froggy” by the end of the summer, where movies in the creaky old opera house tend to be ignored, and where neighbors watch neighbors through slatted window shutters to gather bits of local news. And don’t you dare get sick in San Felice; go to Siena. That is much wiser!

One day, Caroline, a well-bred Englishwoman, arrives in town. The men ogle. The women shun. The long-established order of things, suddenly fragile, begins to . . . . Well, you can imagine. When Caroline and her friends decide to rob the Bank of Italy in the cause of feminine rights, things get downright interesting.

The excerpt hooked me. I had to know what happened. When I returned home from Italy, I found the well-worn and yellowed book in the cellar of my local library, read it, laughing the whole way through, and then wrote and posted: Italy Reading: Any Four Women Could Rob the Bank of Italy.

Every time I pick up Tuscany in Mind: An Anthology, vivid memories of my own trip through Tuscany flood my mind. My trip was beyond compare, and this book contributed immeasurably to my enjoyment.  The writing in this book is exquisite, even poetic. The rustic Italian vocabulary slips into perfectly formed sentences that flow with energy and flavor. You can see Tuscany; you can hear it, touch it, feel it, and taste it. Read any of these excerpts, and you will start planning your next trip.

Other excerpts in the Tuscany in Mind include stories of romance, food, wine, complex relationships, history, art, architecture, gardens, and so much more. It’s hard to put Tuscany into words, but these writers have done it well and tease you into seeking out and reading their full works. Alice Leccese Powers has done an incredible job selecting and excerpting the best of the best.

Be sure to check these WANA bloggers and their second time around book choices:

Ellen Gregory: The Lions of Al-Rassan
Margaret Miller: On the Beach
Rabia Gale: Howl’s Moving Castle
Linda Adams:  The Beauty of Omniscient Viewpoint
Cora Ramos: Mistress on Synchronicity
Kim Griffin: The Hunger Games
Tami Clayton: Charlotte’s Web, Harry Potter Bks, Time Traveler’s Wife, Cabin Pressure
Seth Swanson, Jedi, Elantris, Monster Hunt Intl

The Last Meow

Italians say “Ciao” for “good-bye.” Ciao sounds like chow. Is it time to eat yet?

kitten-eating

Meow for now. Ciao!  =<^;^>=

Five Great Writing Blogs

BlogEverday[1]Blog Every Day in May Prompt: Five of Your Favorite Blogs

Five Favorite Blogs?
Impossible. I have five favorite blogs in each of many categories: writing, blogging, photography, travel, hiking, cooking, YA, children’s literature, nonfiction writing, and more. I collect blog links in my WordPress Reader and try to read through them as often as I can, sometimes daily.
Yes, I know, it is a form of procrastination, but it is also supportive to my writer friends. How’s that for justification?
So I’ll do several posts over a period of time (undesignated) in which I name my favorite bloggers in these other categories as well.
I’ll start with my five favorite writing blogs:
1. Victoria Grefer at Creative Writing with the Crimson League and at VictoriaGrefer.   thecrimsonleague
A New Orleans girl, Victoria has written five novels including the Herezoth Trilogy: The Crimson League (Book 1), The Magic Council (Book 2), and The King’s Son (Book 3).
While I don’t consider myself a fan of fantasy writing, I do enjoy the writing tips that Victoria posts on this creative writing blog. She writes about character development, dialogue, and plot, a well as outlines, first drafts, marketing, and so much more. Her tips help you look more critically at your own writing and can be applied to both fiction and nonfiction. Besides, Victoria loves cats, and that gives her bonus points in my book.

Here’s one of Victoria’s posts: Bloggers-Authors: The Benefits of Simple Style and Structure in Your Writing.

2. Ellen Gregory: to beyond and backEllen Gregory
Ellen, an Aussie from Melbourne, works in communications, specializing in science, technology, engineering, and specialist industry sectors. If that isn’t enough, she writes fantasy fiction. Her blog posts covers three themes: A to Z Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons Chronicles, and Feeding the Muse (everyday inspiration). Yes, of course, Ellen has a cat.

Here’s a link to a Dungeons and Dragons post and another on Building Fantastical Worlds. These will make you want to read more of Ellen’s posts.

3. Tami Clayton, Taking Tea in the Kasbah
Tami is a YA and Middle Grades writer who loves to travel. I met her in Kristin Lamb’s WANA Group (We Are Not Alone) over a year ago. Here’s my favorite post on Tami’s blog: If You Give A Writer a TAmi ClaytonBrownie. And here’s another: Six Secrets Parents of Special Needs Children Have But Don’t Tell You.

Oh, did I mention that Tami loves cats? She builds their self-esteem by telling them frequently, “good job being a cat.” I can see that her cats rule the roost!

4.  Linda Adams: Soldier, Storyteller
I met Linda in the A to Z Challenge where she wrote a writing rule for each letter of the alphabet. Here are a couple of them: Rule D: Discipline Yourself to Write, and L: Never Stop Learning about Writing.Linda Adams

Linda served our country in the army for twelve years and was deployed in the first Persian Gulf War. Now she writes action-adventure-fantasy thrillers for our midnight reading habits. Her short story, “Six Bullets” can be found in the anthology, A Princess, A Boatman, and a Lizard: Forward Motion Anthology, 2012.

I don’t know if Linda has a cat of her own, but she posts a ton of pictures of cuddly felines on Facebook. These give me many smiles. Thanks, Linda.

5. Lillian C: Hopes and Dreams: My Writing and My Sons
I met Lillian early on in the Blog Every Day In May Challenge and have enjoyed her writing. I especially liked this post about her lillian c 2sons: Controlled Chaos. Her writing touched my heart with its vulnerability, sincerity, and honesty. She is a professional writer who lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons, and she writes fantasy. Her story, “On the Wings of the Wind” appears in this anthology, 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories.

The Last Meow

Phew. I am really tired. I need a nap. (Thinks, Linda, for sharing this picture.)  Meow for now.  =<^;^>=

cat sleeping

S is for Stats and Milestones–10,000 Views Milestone! WooHoo

a-to-z-letters-201310,000 views of my blog? Really? How did that happen?

I hadn’t really paid much attention to the stats that WordPress keeps for each blog, not realizing how broad the reach of a blog can be. So in early April, when out of curiosity I clicked on my blog stats, I was surprised shocked to see that my blog had well over 9000 views.

Getting StartedThey laughed

I laughed when several years ago my daughter said, “You ought to start a blog.”

Why on earth would I do that? I laughed.

But once the seed fell out onto the ground, it began to take root and grow, not right away, but over time.

One of my first blog posts was, “They Laughed When I Sat Down at The Piano.” You know, sort of like, “They laughed when I sat down to blog.”

wana imageWANA: We Are Not Alone

I have been blogging for a while now. I muddled around started with a BlogSpot.com blog,  titled GED Writer, in September of 2010, writing about the GED (high school equivalency testing for dropouts) and adult education topics. I realized this was not a hot topic for a blog and decided to think the matter over a bit more.

I tried again with WordPress in December of 2011, finally getting a blog going in January of 2012. I met Kristen Lamb online and began to follow her posts at Writing Warriors. I read her book, We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, and I joined her WANA112 group: 100 writers who wanted to get better at blogging.  Kristen advised us to use our own names as our blog titles because we needed to build name recognition as serious bloggers. She also advised us to branch out and write about multiple interests rather than just write about our primary, more narrow, writing interests.  All of this was great and encouraging advice.

In the process of building my blog, I made lots of new writer friends. Of those 100 original writers in WANA112, 88 of us still keep in touch on Facebook on our closed group page.

And more amazing than that was that I gathered followers, kind readers who left encouraging notes.  I learned a lot from reading their posts, too. Such clever people, I thought. I will always appreciate these early followers. These are the best friends I have never met:

Tami Clayton, Taking Tea in the Kasbah
Elaine Smothers, Wonder in the Wild
emaginette, Shout With Emaginette
Glenda Mills, Meet Me On The Mountain
Barbara Forte Abate, Scribbling Outside The Lines
Judythe Morgan, Voice and Views from The Front Porch
Mike Schulenberg, Realms of Perilous Wonder
Sheila Pierson, Wonderstruck
Ellen V. Gregory, to beyond and back
Jodi Lea Stewart   Walking on Sunshine
Liv Rancourt, Laughter, life and romance under partly sunny skies
Elizabeth Fais, Where the awesome begins
Sara Walpert Foster, Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition
Siri Paulson, everyday enchantments
Linda Adams, Soldier, Storyteller
Sherry Isaac, Psychological Sizzle
Sherri Martin-Hutchins, live wonderstruck
And none of us could get anywhere without advice from Laird Sapir, of Shabby Chic Sarcasm

A to Z Badge 2012 (1)A to Z Challenge, 2012

But I didn’t really get into more serious blogging until the April 2012 A to Z Challenge (to write 26 posts in the month of April). I took the challenge seriously. I decided that if I could do 26 posts in that short a time, I could probably do more. The A to Z format certainly made it easier to come up with ideas.

I finished the 2012 A to Z with a hey,-I-can-do-this-blogging-thing attitude, further reinforcing Kristen Lamb’s yes-you-can-do-it encouragement.

Of course, blogging daily is tricky to do what with all the other commitments in life, so I settled into a doable pattern of two to three blog posts a week and continued through November of 2012 before taking a break because of family health issues. When that 2013 A to Z Challenge flashed around the Internet, I was hooked again!

Topics

In May of 2012, I traveled to Tuscany and Rome in Italy for two weeks with my sister-in-law and two other friends and found many topics to writevilla-Il Cortile del Borgo about there. We rented a villa named Il Borghetto near San Gimignano and wrote about that. We visited other intriguing Italian cities, and I wrote about them: Florence, Lucca, Sienna, Pisa, aother charming towns. We traveled to Rome, and I wrote about our adventures there, staying in an old family-run hotel near Piazza Navona.

After Italy, I returned to Southern New Jersey and wrote about surprising things there: blueberry festivals, derecho (severe wind storm), veggie farms, Relay for Life, Ocean City, and a few other events of interest in my home state. And I added recipes for my favorite foods using “Jersey Fresh” vegetables and fruits.

For the 2013 A to Z Challenge, I have focused more on Writing PLUS Grammar-You-Can-See. Let’s just wait-and-see what comes along next!

Thanks, again, to all my faithful friends and followers. You truly are the best. My blogging adventure has been fun, though I must admit it has had its hours and hours moments of frustration. The learning curve is steep, but it does level off get less steep as you move along. Just keep writing!

***

Here’s a post from Ellen Gregory, a WANA112 friend, on her recent accomplishment of writing 200 posts. It’s so nice to see my blogger friends hit their own milestones. Congratulations, Ellen.

The Last Meow

Of course, kitties have been a big part of my blog. They always have something smart to say. They really don’t care for myTerribly Cute pic...cat attitude grammar posts, but they seem to like the rest of my blog topics. They celebrate with me on our 10,000 views. After all, that means they get 10,000 views, too. No grumpy cats here!

Meow for now.   ={^;^}=

R is for. . . Reflexive Pronouns Cause A Ruckus

a-to-z-letters-2013A to Z 2013R-Day in the A to Z Challenge. The month is winding down, and the remaining letters are thinning out. Let’s see. Eight more letters after this, but who’s counting?

Reflexive Pronouns Cause A Ruckus

Grammar Girl, a popular grammar and writing blog found on the Internet, says that she receives a lot of questions related to proper and improper use of reflexive pronouns.

People seem to have strong opinions on this topic. One group sees or hears mistakes in using reflexive pronouns, and they get bent out of shape. Another group doesn’t even notice the mistakes. And some think the improperly used reflexive pronouns are used correctly and look down on those who don’t use them the same way. What’s the truth? Who is right?

One theory is that people get confused on when to use I or me in sentences, so they use the reflexive pronoun myself instead.  Another theory is that using a reflexive pronoun like myself sounds smarter, so people use it more frequently. And some people think the right reflexive pronoun is wrong, so they change it to the wrong one. They hypercorrect.

Form of Reflexive Pronouns:
Add    ––self to singular pronouns:    myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself
Add    —-selves to plural personal pronoun:    ourselves, yourselves, themselves

Do not add  —self to his or our    hisself       ourself
Do not add  —selves to their         theirselves

Function of Reflexive Pronouns
Reflexive pronouns refer back to the subject of the sentence.
Note: Subject and object are the same person or persons.        Subject  =  Object
The reflexive pronoun comes after a verb or preposition and completes the meaning of a sentence.
Drop the reflexive pronoun, and the sentence is incomplete in meaning.

Here’s how reflexive pronouns look in short, Subject-Verb-Object (S-V-O) sentences.
Read sentences across chart. Notice how the reflexive pronoun refers back to the subject pronoun.

001 (4)

Look at the reflexive pronouns in the well-known fairy tale, Cinderella and The Handsome Prince Reflexive Pronoun.

001 (5)

Errors on Compound Subjects
Now that you see the correct way to use reflexive pronouns, we’ll look at some improper reflexive pronoun use. Many common reflexive pronoun errors occur with compound subjects.

Note: Never use a reflexive pronouns as a subject or part of a compound subject.
Note: Name yourself last in compound subjects and objects. That’s good manners.

001 (6)

To check on accuracy of compound subjects, read the subject as a single subject first.

Myself went out for dinner.
I went out for dinner.

Can you see how this helps you pick out the right pronoun to use?

Wrong:

Myself      went out for dinner.
Ourselves   went out for ice cream.
Himself    will announce the prize winners.

Errors on Compound Objects

Use the same strategy to check on compound objects. Read the two objects one at a time as a single object. Your ear will tell which one is correct.

001 (7)

Don’t be afraid to use I and me in sentences. Just use I as the subject pronoun, and me as the object pronoun.

Your Turn:
Can you find the reflexive pronouns in these sentences?

1. The winning athlete patted himself on the back.
2. I taught myself to play mah-jongg.
3. Our visitors kept to themselves during the party.
4. The Boy Scouts congratulated themselves on their championship award.
5. The Boy Scout Troop congratulated itself on its victory.
6. Jeremy reminded himself to do his homework before watching TV.
7. I promised myself that one day I would go on a Caribbean cruise.

So what. Who cares?
Incorrect use of reflexive pronouns seems to irritate those people who know how to use them correctly. Why not join those who know the difference.

Just one other thing. Grammar and usage change over time, so we need to check back on this particular issue in a few years.  Who knows, it may become more acceptable to use myself in subject and object positions in a sentence since so many people do use it that way now. I hope not, but that’s how our language changes.

The Last Meow

princess catHey, I’m already asleep.Grumpy cat says no

I’m dreaming about Cinderella at the ball.

Maybe a handsome prince will come and carry me off.

What did Grumpy Cat say?

Aww, c’mon, Grumpy Cat, give a sweet princess a break.

Meow for now.  ={^.^}=

K is for Kernel Sentences: Nouns and Verbs Control the World

a-to-z-letters-2013Today is K-Day in the A to Z Challenge. It is also Friday. Yippee! My kitty friends are happy about that.

Today we will focus on some easy grammar:

kernel sentences.

A kernel sentence is one type of base sentence structure on which longer sentences can be built. It has a pattern that looks like this:

__________________    __________________
Subject                                               Verb

For now, fill in the slots with one noun and one verb and you will have a kernel sentence. These two words can easily be expanded into longer sentences at another time.

One way to do have fun doing this is to write S-V list poems.

Begin with a title, then add specific, present-tense, active verbs to expand the topic. Repeat the title at the end, perhaps adding a twist.

basketballBasketball
Mario dribbles.
Maria screams.
Manuel shoots
Jose dashes.
Jorge pants.
Cole sweats
Larry scores.
Sasha cheers.
Latitia swoons.
Basketball Romance!

paradeParade
Hands clap.
Feet stomp.
Men march.
Sirens wail.
Balloons float.
Flags wave.
Drummers bang.
Buglers blow.
Ladies dance.
Children cheer.
Popsicles melt.
Lines overflow.
Bodies jive.
Parade

Be creative and have fun with this. Brainstorm topics with students, then let them have a go at it. You will be surprised at the results.

So what. Who cares?

When students get a very firm handle on nouns and verbs, grammatical problems eventually disappear.

Teachers can teach the following concepts in very simple form using kernel sentences. It is much easier to see the patterns in two-word sentences. When students master the concept in the simplest form, they can then move on to expanding sentences.

  • subject-verb agreement
  • verb tense consistency
  • active verbs
  • parallel structure
  • vocabulary nuances

A firm handle on nouns and verbs will later help students reduce long sentences down to kernel sentences. If students can do this, they will be able to straighten out some of the most common errors.

  • sentence fragments
  • fused sentences (comma splice)
  • run-on sentences
  • lack of agreement between subject and verb
  • verb tense shifts in sentences
  • faulty parallel structure
  • punctuation errors

Of course, any programs designed to improve students’ speaking and writing must have lots of opportunity for conversation and creative and academic writing.  Writing subject/verb poems is only one aspect of a much larger focus on language, but it can help those students who are unsure of basic sentence structure concepts.  Spend a few minutes each class on grammatical structures and your students will learn patterns that will help them improve in both speaking (ESOL) and writing.

The Last Meow

I have only one word for you all:

cats FridayMeow for now.    =<^o^>=

J is for Jabberwocky and Invented Words

a-to-z-letters-2013J-Day in the A to Z Challenge. That means it Thursday! That’s cool.already Thursday cat

Yesterday I wrote about invented spelling of kids and cats; today I’m writing about invented words by poets. How are these similar?

Kids use their developing knowledge of phonetics to sound out words as they write. Before they become proficient in formal spelling, they write strings of letters to represent individual whole words. Of course, they can “read” their own stories back to listening adults who can’t quite comprehend this early genius.

Invented words, on the other hand, combine familiar sounds with familiar word parts and word meanings to form new words.  Invented words also follow grammatical rules. Nonsense nouns, for example, can have an article, be a plural and/or a possessive, or have a noun ending. Nonsense verbs show past, present, or future tense. Adjectives fall into their place just before a noun.jabberwocky_340x400

One fairly well-known nonsense poem, “Jabberwocky,” is a poem written by Lewis Carroll (Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, 1832-1898) in Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1872).

Alice is none other than the major character in Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, the little girl who fell asleep on a riverbank and journeyed to another world, a strange one at that. (And Alice, it turns out, was a real person, the daughter of Dean Liddell, dean of Oxford University, and friend of Carroll.)

Things seem to be backwards in this strange world, so when Alice finds a strangely written book, she holds it in front of a mirror, and lo and behold, a story appears. Or is it a story?

            Jabberwocky

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mom raths outgrabe.
***
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
. . .

What? Even Alice, wise little one that she was, could not understand the poem. Alice meets up with Humpty Dumpty who explains the meaning of the poem.borogoves

brillig (noun)….four o’clock in the afternoon (tea-time?)
(the time to begin broiling something for dinner)
slithy (adj)…..lithe and slimy
toves (noun)…badger/lizard creatures with corkscrew tails and noses that can dig holes
gyre (verb)…..  go round and round
gimble (verb)… make holes
wabe (noun)…   in the grass

mimsy (adj)…flimsy and miserable
borogoves (noun)…shabby looking birds with mop-like feathers
raths  (noun)……sort of a green pig
mom (adj)…..lost, away from from home
outgrabe (verb)….. bellow and whistle, shriek and squeak

Does it make better sense now?

Around dinner time, all kinds of crazy things started happening! Weird-looking animals (toves, borogoves, and raths)  began doing strange things like digging holes and making a lot of noise. Maybe they sensed the frightful Jabberwocky lurking nearby!

So what. Who cares?

Nonsense poems have a long history. Some say they have been around since Aesop’s fables and early folk tales.  The writers play with words and present humorous scenes to stimulate the imaginations of readers. Sometimes hidden meanings lurk behind the words, as when jesters make fun of the ruling powers that be, when double meanings hide the true intent of the words. But as often as not, the words just tell a silly story. The words flow in a rhythmical and pleasing way and provide entertainment for listeners.

The Last Meow

Jabberwocky. Smabberwocky. Enough of that nonsense. How about getting me a snack? All this educational stuff tires my brain.

Meow for now.   =<^-^>=weekend cat

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