JaniceHeck

Finding hope in a chaotic world…

Archive for the category “Writing”

A Quest of Another Kind

Weekly Photo Challenge: Quest

tot-manuscripts

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

http://www.janiceheckwrites.com

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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…

 

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

deer1

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):

backup
backyard
bygones
cannot
clubhouse
crabmeat
homeland
homeowner
household
lawsuit
meatballs
newcomers
newsletter
paperwork
password
playground
sidewalk
landscaper

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.  =<^!^>=

#AtoZ: Bonus Wrap-up: Writers I Met on The #AtoZ Highway

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

AttoZ survivor, 2014

One of the great benefits of participating in the #AtoZ Blog Challenge, besides getting this survivor’s badge, is meeting new (to me) writers. I will mention a few of these writers each week in occasional “Wednesday Writers” posts. Since I am now in the habit of daily regular posting, this first release on Wednesday Writers will be today, Thursday. (Just pretend that I posted it before midnight last night. Okay?)

Go visit these writers and tell ’em that Jan sent you. Maybe they’ll give you some tea and crumpets.

1. Amos Carpenter. From writing software and websites to just writing

Amos is a new blogger (his Y post was #50), and he has a natural writing style with a bit of humor tossed in to keep you smiling. He comments on good reads to put on your TBR list. Remember to stretch your genre reading. Amos has great suggestions for you.

2. Miss Alister, The Essence of a Thing: Another construction site pumping out noise and dust

Miss Alister writes 26 Magic Days of A to Z in 200 words (+/-) about a randomly chosen word for the letter of the day: the Inanity of E, the Audacity of C, the Difficulty of S, just to mention a few.  These posts are all “witty bits about crazy people” as one other follower commented. Miss Alister says it’s all because she likes to explore the correlation between madness and genius. Miss Alister just has a way with words!

3. Tom Benson – Creative A ‘watering hole’ for readers and fellow writers

Tom’s watering hole is filled with tips and commentary for writers. From capital letters to book jacket design to killing your darlings to publishing e-books, he has some great ideas for you. Stop by and say HI.

4. Julie Jordan Scott, Julie Unplugged: Giving You Permission to Be Purely You: Unerased, Raw, Absolutely Right…

Julie’s #Ato Z runs the gamut from Audacious and Begin to Xes, Yearning, and Zealous. Each word comes with a picture, a definition, a quote, questions, lists, and writing prompts, a year’s worth of writing inspiration in each post, all designed to encourage you to immerse yourself in writing.

5. Jennifer Marshburn, Writings On Writing

From Autobiograph vs. Memoir to Zzzzz….Sleep and Writing, Jennifer shares her wise, practical, and encouraging comments on both writing genre and the writing process. She also suggests a website that I found interesting: Meetup.com where like-minded individuals gather for a wide variety of activities. I’m thinking about joining the Standup Paddleboarding or the Pug Playtime in South Jersey group. After all, these groups are close by. Well, the paddleboarding may be a bit out of my comfort level, but the pugs sound cute.

Look for another edition of Wednesday Writers on, ta dah, Wednesday, May 7.

***
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.  =<^!^>=

#AtoZ, 2014: U is for Unfinished, Underdeveloped, Unprintable Posts

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

When I started my blog in January of 2012, I worried that I would not have enough ideas to keep a blog going. Turns out, I have too many ideas. As ideas pop in my head at random moments, I try to make note of them by starting a new post with a half-baked title and a few notes tossed in the body of the post. Sometimes I go back and work on a particular post, but sometimes it stays in that skeleton form for a while.

I started yesterday’s post about Twitter Followers quite a few months ago, but the #AtoZ Challenge prompted me to finish it for “T” day.

WordPress says that I have published 321 posts, but I have another 313 drafts percolating in the queue.

Now come the hard days in the #AtoZ Challenge: V, W, X, Y, and Z.

What writing quirks will I come up for those letters? Hmmm. Maybe I will have to scout my Garners’ Modern American Usage. I should be able to find some juicy tidbits there.

But first, I’ll scroll through those 313 unfinished, underdeveloped, and unprintable posts that I haven’t looked at in a while. Maybe I’ll find some other treasures there.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Wish me luck.

Your Turn: How many unfinished blog posts do you have waiting in the queue?

***
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

tWITTER CATMeow for now.  =<^ !^>=

 

#AtoZ, 2014: Totally Twitter: Follow, Autofollow, or Not

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910 Who’s on your list of Twitter Followers? Look carefully and you might find a few surprises (shocks?):

Twitter Fight

Twitter Fight

a porno queen or two
a foul-mouthed jock
a beggar (asking you to follow, pleeeeease)
a person boasting about how many followers they can get for you
people with very strange names
a person who may be calling you or your mother names in another language
other surprises.

I like Twitter, but the speed of its message flow disrupts idea continuity. Still I check Twitter fairly regularly, and I always find something interesting or funny. Kristen Lamb is one of my favorites. She gives lots of advice on writing, blogging, and jumping into the social network. She always has something amusing to say.

Lamb_2011_1__biggerKristen Lamb@KristenLambTX Apr 14
Been working since 7 this morning. Can I have back all those naps I didn’t want when I was a kid?       Best-Selling Author. Social Media Jedi. Newest best-selling book, Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World.

But given the fun, Twitter does have it annoyances: love-hate relationships with followers, for one. I have found it necessary to develop my own guidelines for accepting followers. (Yes, that sounds snobbish. Others may have their own personal guidelines.)

Here are a few guidelines I use for managing my own wannabe followers:

1.  I do not use an autofollow program.

Early on in my Twitter lifetime, I tried out an autofollow program, that is, until I realized there are some Twits that I absolutely do not want in my followers list. Since that time, I look at each new follower to see if I want to follow them back or not. This takes only a few minutes every few days. I like to know who follows me, not how high my follower number gets.

2. I choose those I want to have as followers.

I follow those people who have somewhat related interests: reading, writing, blogging, publishing, education, travel, religion, child safety and welfare, food, technology, and perhaps some organizations and businesses related to these topics. Of course, I follow family and friends. You find out some interesting things that way! Most often, but not always, those with the similar interests follow back.

I like inspiring quotes, so I follow Denny Coates along with 24.7K followers. Alas, he doesn’t follow me back. Oh well.

coatesDenny Coates@DennyCoates 5m
 “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius

3.  Every few days, I check my list of followers to see who they are.

I do this by looking at the following three words on my Twitter homepage:

Tweets                Following                  Followers

Followers: Click on Followers and a list of your followers and wannabe followers comes up.

Wannabe followers (waiting to be approved) have a white box.
Click on the new followers’ names and see if they are fairly active tweeters. A very low number of tweets may mean this is a new Tweeter. If this person has similar interests, I usually follow back. People who use faceless avatars and have only a few tweets may be nameless persona who fish for people using automatic follow-back programs. These clickers really are only after numbers, not friends. I automatically skip over this second group of tweeters.

Click on the white box so the wanabees of your choice can forever be your devoted followers (BFF).
Or leave the white boxes alone if you don’t want to follow back.

I do not follow:

1. Empty heads (avatars). I do click on these to see if more information is available about them, but generally I do not follow, andimagesTWC4023L avatar after a few days or weeks, I find they disappear from my follower list. (Qwitter tells me when I lose followers, but I don’t worry about that because these qwitters are probably the empty-headed avatars.)

2. People who do not have bios. I like to read the brief bios that Tweeters put out, and I generally follow anyone who has put a little thought into their teaser. Ten words or so is not much, but you can say a lot about yourself in those limited characters.

3. Beggars. “Follow me, and I will follow you back. Pleeeeeese.”  Sorry.

4. Language abusers and foul language. Using the word that got Paula Deen in trouble (and other words of the same ilk) is also a no-no for me. It’s disrespectful. Really, we have all heard all these words before. They do not impress. Give it a rest.

5. Erotic language, suggestive language, or bare-chested (male or female) poses. Not necessary.

6. Tweeters with unusual names who offer followers: Astuty Astika? Menda Wahyungtas?  Dinda?  Wai Routt? Anggun? Solikha?  Really? These names sound phony to me. (Honest, I did not make these examples up.) Click on their names, and you will usually see only a few tweets. Of course, they do have followers: those people who use autofollow to build up their numbers. These Twits love to count their “Gotchas.” A few of them do have lots of followers, but do you really want to have an infusion of people who have no common interests?

Of course, some of those with phony-sounding names may have something going for them. Some can have hilarious, off-the-cuff commentary.

Barracks O’Bama     ‏@P0TUS19h       BREAKING SCANDAL–Fox News: Photos prove that President Obama and Hillary Clinton were masticating together.

Alas, on my latest check, Barracks O’Bama seems to have gotten lost in the dust of all those others with spelling variations of Barack Obama. (By the way, can you spell our President’s name?)

7. Tweeters who promise thousands of followers for $. Nope. Watch and you will see that these follower promises crop up in batches. Five or six unusual names, no bios, no picture.  Click on their names, and you see that they have only a few followers themselves and have only put out a few tweets. If they can promise you followers, why don’t they have all that many followers themselves? Don’t click on the URL they give out.

8. Tweeters who tweet in another language. Sorry, If I can’t interpret what you say, I don’t follow. And you probably can’t read what I say either. I do follow a few French or Spanish Tweeters. It gives me practice in reading those languages that I studied many years a little while ago in high school. Most of those who tweet in another language are probably pretty nice people, but how can I tell if I can’t read what they write? Better to just leave these alone.

9. Tweeters who go by one name. Really, if you are Hillary (followers: 1.99m, following: 9, Tweets: 94) or a Monica copycat (followers: 952, following: 171, Tweets: 419K) you can get away with that. Even Justin Bieber uses both names. Of course, made-up names are okay. Just use the same cautions when following. I like the comments by

10. Tweeters (and Facebookers, for that matter) who ONLY tweet their new book repeatedly. That alone will keep the Tweeter off my follower list AND my BUY list. I admit that I do tweet about my WordPress posts, but I usually do that only a time or two for each post.

Even with fairly careful adherence to these personal follow guidelines, I get surprises in my follower list. No problem. I can remove them.

Twitter Limits

Now how about when you add people to follow, and Twitter interrupts and announces that you have reached your limit? What is that secret limit? How can you follow more people when you get to this stopping point.

After the first thousand or so followers, Twitter allows you to follow about 10% more people than follow you. So what do you do? Some people will never follow you. They just won’t. Take Dennis Coates, mentioned above. He has a following of 24.K Tweeters,  yet he follows only 8,841 people. He will likely not follow you or me. Still, I like his positive attitude and his quotes, so I will continue to follow him until he discovers what he is missing by not following me back.

At this point, in order to add followers, you must first delete people on your follow list who do not follow you back. (You will find some big-timers who do manage to get around that Twitter count practice.)

ManageFlitter will give you a list of your non-followers in the order from when you joined Twitter, and with a few clicks, you can delete those non-followers either en masse or one by one. Generally, when you invite someone to follow you, they follow you in a relatively short time or not at all.

Of course, I follow some people who will never follow me, because I want to hear what they have to say.

Here’s what a few other bloggers have to say about Twitter:

Cynthia Hartwig, “How Susan Orlean Built a Posse of 260,000+ Twitter Followers,” August 21, 2013.
Terry Whalin   “How to Improve Your Twitter Followers,” June 28, 2013.
Bridget Whelan, “8 Reasons Why a Writer Should Join Twitter on the Shortest Day of the Year”
Janice Heck, “They Laughed When I Sat Down to Twitter
Janice Heck, “Twitter Bio in Ten Words”
Two Writing Teachers, “Connecting with Other Writers,” 4/12/2014
Anita Ferreri, Sharing TCRWP: Getting Started With Twitter, 4/12/2012
TCRWP: Getting Started with Twitter

Here’s one more…about unfollowing a blog…

Don Charisma, “Please unfollow my blog”

A note from Twitter: https://support.twitter.com/articles/66885-i-can-t-follow-people-follow-limits#

The Last Meow
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

tWITTER CATMeow for now.  =<^ !^>=

 

#AtoZ: Q is for Quirky Index and a Q Post Round-Up

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Quirky Index to the #AtoZ, 2014:  Twenty-Six Writing Quirks written specifically for the 2014 AtoZ Challenge

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Week 1 (April 1-5)

#AtoZ, 2014: A is for Ampersands. Right or Wrong.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
#AtoZ, 2014: B is for BBQ and Buffalo Chips
#AtoZ, 2014: C is for Calendar Quirks
#AtoZ, 2014: D is for Deep-Fried Hyphens
#AtoZ, 2014: E is for Exclamations from High School

 

Week 2 (April 7-12)

#AtoZ, 2014: F is for Freshly Squeezed Adverbspub izzes..2
#AtoZ, 2014: G is for Gobs of Hyphens Used Correctly
#AtoZ, 2014: Hyperventilating on Hyphens
#AtoZ, 2014: I iz for Iz-zies, Ar-zies, Waz-zies, & Wer-zies
#AtoZ, 2014: J is for Jarfuls of Jam: Another Quirk?
#AtoZ, 2014: K is for Knights-Errant, Kit and Caboodle, and Kitty-cornered

photo credit: writerscafe.org

photo credit: writerscafe.org

 Week 3 (April 14-19)

Granddaughter Madelynn is equally loose-limbed, loose-jointed, and talented. Amazing granddaughters!

Granddaughter Madelynn

#AtoZ, 2014: L is for Lose and Loose, Loosey-goosey, and LOL
#AtoZ, 2014: M is for Mahjong, Majiang, Mah-jongg, Mahjongg, or Mah jongg
#AtoZ, 2014: N is for Neither–Nor, but not Humpty Dumpty
#AtoZ, 2014: Oh, On Top (Weekly Photo Challenge) and O Writing Posts
#AtoZ, 2014: P is for Photo Blog and On Top Again
#AtoZ, 2014: Q is for Quirk Index and Q Round-Up

Week 4 What’s next? (April 21-26)

#AtoZ, 2014: R is for Resent or Re-sent? Hyphen Hysterics
#AtoZ, 2014, S is for #Cee’s Photo: S is for Shadows… and Shakespeare Sayings
#AtoZ, 2014: S is for From Cee’s to Shiny Cee’s
#AtoZ, 2014: T is for Totally Twitter: Follow, Autofollow, or Not
#AtoZ, 2014: U is for Unfinished, Underdeveloped, Unprintable Posts
#AtoZ, 2014: V is for Verb-less Sentences
#AtoZ, 2014: W is for Weekly Photo Challenge: Letters

Week 5  (April 28-30)

#AtoZ, 2014: X is for X. Is It Better to Be Safe Or Sorry
#AtoZ, 2014: Y is for Yadda, Yadda, Yadda and Yakety-yak
#AtoZ, 2014: Z is for Zero the Hero in a Repeat Performance

May A to Z Wrap-up Posts

1. #AtoZ, 2014: Bonus Wrap-up: Writers I Met on the AtoZ Highway
2.
#AtoZ Wrap-Up Post 2: A to Z Reflections and Five More Writers
Q Posts from other bloggers:

Eclectic Odds n Sods: Quirky A-Z: Vintage & Emotions
Hanna Plummer, Q is for Quote
Terribly Write: Guess what’s not a question
Basil Rene, Life as an Anomaly: Quietly Question Everything
MJ Wright: Writing only looks easy. But it can be learned.

***

Your turn: What writing quirks or interesting words do you find in writing?

***
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.

=<^;^>=

#AtoZ: N is for Neither–Nor, but not Humpty Dumpty

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

What do the following people and one organization have in common? logo 2.2

Humpty Dumpty
Shakespeare
the biblical writer Paul
Benjamin Franklin
Jack London
United States Postal Service

Give up? They all have a fondness for using the neither–nor construction in their writing.

The neither–nor construction looks like this:

Neither Humpty Dumpty nor Jack London live in Florida.

Neither–nor can be an effective construction in writing, but watch out for a few writing quirks that go with it. I’ll point these near the end of the post. But first, let’s check in with Humpty Dumpty and see what he has to say.

Humpty Dumpty

Illustration by John Tenniel from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Illustration by John Tenniel from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

In Through the Looking-Glass (Lewis Carroll, 1871), Humpty Dumpty and Alice have a “nice knock-down argument” about “unbirthdays” and about what the word “glory”  means. When Alice challenges Humpty on his definition of glory, Humpty says this:

When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.”

Humpty does seem rather brash and dogmatic, but I kinda like his idea of unbirthdays. More unbirthdays, more presents!

Shakespeare

Shakespeare uses several neither–nor constructions in his works. In Hamlet, He says this:

Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend…”

I originally thought this was a biblical injunction and was surprised to see that the quote actually came from Shakespeare.

 Benjamin Franklin

The old man with a key on a kite in the middle of a thunder and lightning storm had a lot to say about life. You can find many of his witticisms and proverbs in his annual Almanacs. Here’s a sample:

Be neither silly, nor cunning, but wise. Poor Richard’s Almanac, 1734.

Jack London, The Call of the Wild

When I was a teacher, I loved reading the Call of the Wild with my students. London’s flow of language is superb; you can find good classic sentences throughout his writing.  In 1897, thieves steal Buck, a spoiled and sheltered family dog, half St. Bernard and half Scotch shepherd, from his homestead in California and ship him, drugged into a stupor, to Seattle. There a “man in a red sweater” unmercilessly beats Buck into submission in preparation for being trained as a sled dog for mushers seeking their fortune in the seductive Yukon gold. These few sentences describe a bit of the incredibly harsh life Buck has the misfortune to fall into.

Here was neither peace, nor rest, nor a moment’s safety. All was confusion and action, and every moment life and limb were in peril. There was imperative need to be constantly alert, for these dogs and men were not town dogs and men. They were savages, all of them, who knew no law but the law of club and fang.” Chapter 2, The Call of the Wild

London used the construction, neither–nor–nor. Bryan Garner in Garner’s Modern American Usage (2009), calls the use of multiple nors in sentences “unfastidious constructions.” He suggests that it is incorrect to use neither–nor with only two elements. With three elements, the sentence should read like this: “They considered neither x, y, nor z.” But we do see examples with multiple nors used nicely by various writers. Good writers know when to break the rules.

United States Post Office, Neither–nor–nor–nor

You have probably heard this quote a number of times. It is from an inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City .

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Paul, the Biblical Writer

Paul uses neither and multiple nors in his belief statement:

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39, King James Version

This is a powerful statement of the depth of his beliefs. The multiple nors make this an emphatic statement.

Quirks with neither–nor. Watch out!

1.  Verb Agreement: the second item determines the verb structure.

Use a singular verb when the items in the list are singular, and also when the first item is plural but the second item is singular.

Neither the cat nor the dog sleeps on my bed.
Neither the cats nor the dog sleeps on my bed.

Use a plural verb when both items are plural, and when the first item is singular but the second item is plural.

Neither the cats nor the dogs sleep on my bed.
Neither the cat nor the dogs sleep on my bed.

Occasionally, a sentence construction may sound awkward using these rules. If so, try reversing the order of the items.

2. Parallel Structure

Parallel structure means keeping both items named in the neither-nor construction from the same part of speech. This can get quirky in longer sentences.

nouns:  Neither the cat nor the dog sleeps on my bed.
pronouns: Neither You nor I can complain.
adjectives:  Be neither silly nor cunning.
verbs: I will neither call you nor speak to you anymore.
adverbs: …neither more nor less
gerunds: Neither crying nor pouting will get you more birthday presents.

This applies to phrases as well.

Neither calling me names nor yelling at me will make me change my mind.

3. Sentence beginning. You may use neither as the first word in a sentence.

Neither the cat nor the dog sleeps on my bed.

4. Use the correct subject pronoun with neither-nor. Subject pronouns are I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they.

Neither he nor I was willing to take the risk of getting caught by the police.
Neither she nor I have good singing voices.
Neither she nor he wants to eat lunch now.
Neither we nor they are going to the party.
Neither you nor they have enough money for pizza.

5. Neither-or (no n) is an incorrect construction. Do not use it. Look for the either–or construction in a future post.

***

Now here’s a clever example from my husband.

Neither the Dallas Cowboys nor the Cleveland Indians will win the coveted Stanley Cup; however, the Philadelphia Flyers have a good chance of winning it.

Any sports fan will know the absurdity of this comparison. The Dallas Cowboys play football, the Cleveland Indians play baseball, and the Philadelphia Flyers play hockey. Only the Flyers, a hockey team, have the potential to win the Stanley Cup, the ultimate prize in hockey.

Still, I appreciate his helpful suggestions.

***

Your turn: What writing quirks or interesting words do you find in writing?

***
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.

=<^;^>=

 

#AtoZ: M is for Mahjong, Majiang, Mah-jongg, Mahjongg, or Mah jongg

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910

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What the heck is making all that noise?

The men at the Horizons at Woods Landing, my 55+ community, have the nerve to complain about all the noise we ladies make when we play mahjong! But, of course, they are just jealous of the fun we have as we clack and clink away with our tiles.

And soon enough, they beg and plead to learn how to play mahjong, too. Poor things. They’re feeling just a little left out.

Okay, fair is fair.  We let them play with us, and slowly, slowly, slowly, they learn how to make noise play this game of skill, strategy, and luck with us.

***

One member of our group wrote an article for our community newsletter, On the Horizon, and as editor, I checked on the various spellings of mahjong: mahjong, mahjongg, mah-jongg, mah jongg, ma jiang, and others.

We decided to use one common spelling, mahjong, in our newsletter. Really, it doesn’t matter if you choose another spelling variation, just follow one primary rule: be consistent with whichever variation you use through out your article or publication.

Just as there are several spellings for mahjong, there are several versions to play. At the HWL clubhouse, we play two different versions: the Filipino version and the American version.

What? You thought mahjong was a Chinese game?

Well, it is. Or was. Now you can play mahjong in just about any country and in any style: American mahjong, Asia-Pacific mahjong, Hong Kong mahjong, Japanese mahjong, Filipino mahjong, and others.

Supposedly, Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher, developed mahjong around 500 B.C., and everyone, emperors to peasants, played the game over the centuries. But in 1949, the  ruling powers of the People’s Republic of China banned the game because it corrupted Chinese morals with gambling. After the end of the Cultural Revolution and the deaths of several major political leaders of the time, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, Chinese citizens were again free to play mahjong (1980 or so), but without gambling.

Mahjong is quite popular in my Woods Landing community where we hear the clacking and shuffling of tiles for several hours, five or six times a week. Several groups play the Filipino version, and several groups play the American version. Personally, I think the American version is more difficult than the Filipino version.

Suzanne, Linda, Cathy, and I stir up the tiles to begin our game of mahjong.

Suzanne, Linda, Cathy, and I stir up the tiles to begin our game of Filipino mahjong.

After we build four walls of tiles, we begin to disperse tiles in two groups of eight to each person. Here's my beginning hand.

After we build four walls of tiles, we disperse tiles in two groups of eight to each person. Here’s my beginning hand. Next, we take turns and draw one tile from the wall in the middle and discard one tile. Our goal is to build five sets of three tiles (a run of three numbers or three matching tiles) and one pair of matching tiles.

This is as far as I got in building sets before Cathy called "mahjong." My luck was not so good today.

This is as far as I got in building my sets before Cathy called “mahjong.” My luck was not so good today. I needed one more set of three and one pair.

When I hear those tiles clacking as they get shuffled around the table, I remember my time in Hong Kong (1993-2000). We often walked in Stanley or Kowloon and would hear the clacking of tiles as men and women played out in the alleys on hot summer days and nights. It was a good, comforting sound.

And that reminds me of the glorious food smells coming from the little restaurants in Stanley and Kowloon.  Um-yum.

I miss Hong Kong, but I guess I have to settle for mahjong at the clubhouse and Chinese food from the ubiquitous Best Food in Town. Oh, well.

Here’s a video about the food in Hong Kong.

***

Your turn: What quirky errors or interesting words do you find in writing?

***
Janice Hall Heck, retired educator and now 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 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.

=<^;^>=

 

 

 

 

 

 

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