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Archive for the category “Teaching English”

A Quest of Another Kind

Weekly Photo Challenge: Quest


Simple Definition of quest…Merriam Webster online dictionary

  • : a journey made in search of something

  • : a long and difficult effort to find or do something

My friend, Bob Ossler, and I set out on a quest more than sixteen months ago: to write his memories of his work as a volunteer chaplain at Ground Zero in New York City after 9/11.

Bob is a talker and a storyteller. He is not a writer. But he joined a writers’ critique group that my friend, Kathryn Ross, and I organized at Cumberland County Community Church, in Millville, NJ.

Bob started telling his Ground Zero stories and stopped us cold. We listened to story after story, spellbound and teary-eyed.

When Bob stopped talking, silence overwhelmed the conference room. Then, almost in unison, the writers in the group said, “Bob, you must write these stories so readers can see a new picture of what happened at Ground Zero. Your stories tell about people with fractured and broken hearts and spirits. They don’t just tell about buildings that crashed to the ground.”

“I can’t write,” he insisted. “I’ve tried and tried. But each time I end up in an emotional mess. I just can’t do it.”

“Can you email?” I asked.

“Yes,” he answered.

“Then write me emails, and let’s see what happens.”

And that’s just what he did. Bob wrote me hundreds of emails of his memories about Ground Zero. We met weekly for three hours, and I plagued him for more details. We wrote and rewrote. Then we found a publisher, Scoti Springfield Domeij of Blackside Publishing, who caught our vision and encouraged us to keep writing.

Fifteen months and ten reams of paper later, our quest ended in a published book. Writing this book was a journey, a long and difficult journey, but we did it. And here is our final product. It was a quest well worth doing, but we are both glad that it is finished.  What will our next quest be? Stay turned. We are already working on another brainchild.

FINAL Front COVER Triumph Over Terror FOREWORD WHITE (2)

Triumph Over Terror is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

For more on this project see our website and blog at www.triumphoverterror.com



Another Writing Quirk: Front Yard and Backyard

logo 2.2This is quirky. Front yard is two words, and backyard is one word.


In our recent On the Horizon, the newsletter for our 55+ community, I asked for pictures of animals that wander through our woodsy backyards. Here are a few of our visitors…

deer 4.

deer 8

deer 5..

 deer 3


5-2014 possum

Our backyard woodsy critters: deer, turkey, opossum, and more.


Backyard. Front yard. Compound words can be tricky, so if in doubt, look the word up in your dictionary. Here are a few compound words that popped up in the current issue of our newsletter:

Sometimes compound words can be written as two words (open compounds):

front yard
pool room
egg rolls
solar panel

Sometimes compound words cam be hyphenated (hyphenated compounds: two-word adjectives)

on-duty police officers
town-wide activities
half-way point
smoke-only detectors
battery-powered smoke detectors
extra-virgin olive oil
soft-shelled crab
man-made canal

Sometimes they can be written as one word (closed compounds):


Don’t be surprised if you see a few words that can be written two ways or that two dictionaries do not agree on the spelling, hyphenation, or spacing. That’s just how these quirky compound words go.

database or data base
hard-wired or hardwired
line up or line-up

The current trend, according to the Chicago Manual of Style, is toward closed compounds. Compound words that start off as two words move to two words with a hyphen, then to one combined word (on line, on-line, online; e-mail, email).

Regardless of the current trend, check your dictionary if you are not sure of the spelling, hyphenation, or spacing of compound words.

Related Articles:

D is for Deep-Fried Hyphens
F is for Freshly Squeezed Adverbs
G is for Gobs of Hyphens Used Correctly

Janice Hall Heck, retired educator, blogger, wannabe photographer, and nitpicky editor of On the Horizon, a bi-monthly community newsletter for Horizons at Woods Landing, Mays Landing, NJ, is quite possibly a grammar geek.

logo 2.2Oh Heck! Another Writing Quirk:  blog posts that suggest ways to improve our writing by avoiding and/or eliminating troublesome bug-a-boos that cramp our writing style.



#AtoZ Reflections and Five More Writers


A-to-Z Reflection [2014]

This is my third year of posting a duly earned A to Z Survivor’s Badge on my blog.

AttoZ survivor, 2014

As I writer, I am now faster at completing posts and more focused on my writing theme. I enjoy reading other blogs and seeing the variety of writing styles other writers use. I “liked” a lot of posts and commented on a number of them as well, although I find it hard to comment as much as I would like to. Finally, I have seen my own growth as a writer because of the enforced march to post completion. The team pressure to complete the challenge and win that little green badge is strong! And that’s good.

This is my second post on reflections on the A to Z. My first, A to Z Bonus Wrap-Up: Writers I Met on the A to Z Highway, focused on a major benefit of this challenge for me: meeting new (to me) writer/bloggers. Here are my first five:

1. Amos Carpenter. From writing software and websites to just writing
2. Miss Alister, The Essence of a Thing: Another construction site pumping out noise and dust
3. Tom Benson – Creative A ‘watering hole’ for readers and fellow writers
4. Julie Jordan Scott, Julie Unplugged: Giving You Permission to Be Purely You: Unerased, Raw, Absolutely Right…
5. Jennifer Marshburn, Writings On Writing

I promised to add five more to my original five in my post for this Wednesday. Here they are:

6. Linda May Adams: Soldier, Storyteller

Linda gives us the lowdown on the military adventures (and misadventures) of women soldiers. Linda’s humor had me chuckling on a number of occasions. The military meals she describes seem, well, indigestible. Read about her resourceful alternatives, and be thankful for your home-cooked meals.

7. John Mark Miller, The Artistic Christian: Discussing Modern Art and Culture from a Christian Perspective.

John Mark Miller’s log line says it all. I enjoyed his writing style and his commentary. Here is my favorite post: Vision: The Foundation for Artistic Voice. And here are his Reflections on the A to Z Challenge.

8. Chris White Writes: Just another author writing short stories instead of his novel…

Chris White, to his wife’s dismay, decided to join the A to Z as they were heading out on vacation. 26 posts in April? No problem, especially when you have monsters on your mind. If you need a monster or two for your novel (for the AtoZ, Chris featured 26 under-represented world monsters) hop on over to Chris’ place and snag a couple. Today’s monster, Kakotomirai (May 6), was an easy take-down. But wait, here comes Kakotomirai’s mom! Revenge! You’ll enjoy this blog.

9. Damyanti, Daily (w)rite: A Daily Ritual of Writing

Self-described “compulsive lurker” (always reading blog posts but never commenting), Damyanti changed her ways and discovered the community of bloggers when she started commenting on posts. She is a free-lance writer and an encourager of writers. See her A to Z Reflections post and you will see what I mean. I especially enjoyed her How Do You Make Blogging Friends post from February.

10. Chuck Douros, runwritedig: Run Hard. Dig Deep. Tell the World.

This blog combines three worlds: runners, writers, and gardeners. For the A to Z, Chuck focused on garden pests, common problems, and ridiculous garden myths. For a rusty green thumb-er like me, Chuck’s advice is both usable and valuable. Here’s his post on yellow jackets. It might be helpful for your family this summer.

Click here to see reflections of other A to Zers who have survived the drill of writing 26 posts in 30 days. It is an accomplishment to be noted!

Thanks to all the A to Z organizers for this exceptional annual challenge.  See you in 2015.

A to Z Team [2014]

Arlee Bird: Tossing it Out
Alex J. Cavanaugh: Alex J. Cavanaugh
Stephen Tremp: Author Stephen Tremp
Tina Downey:Life is Good
Damyanti Biswas: Amlokiblogs
Jeremy Hawkins: [Being Retro]
Nicole Ayers: The Madlab Post
M. J. Joachim: M. J. Joachim’s Writing Tips
Heather M. Gardner: The Waiting is the Hardest Part
AJ Lauer: Naturally Sweet
Pam Margolis: An Unconventional Librarian

Janice Hall Heck, retired educator, blogger, and nitpicky editor of On the Horizon, a bi-monthly community newsletter for Horizons at Woods Landing, Mays Landing, NJ, is quite possibly a grammar geek.

logo 2.2Oh Heck! Another Writing Quirk,  theme for the amazing 2014 A to Z Challenge, suggests ways to improve our writing by avoiding and/or eliminating troublesome bug-a-boos that cramp our writing style.

Look for a list of posts for the #AtoZ, 2014 Challenge (Writing Quirks) here:  #AtoZ: Q is for Quirky Index and a Q Post Round-Up

Meow for now.  =<^!^>=

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