Thursday, November 3, 2011

Our Final Blog (for this Semester)

Wow, I can't believe this will be our last blog for the Fall term! I'm going to miss telling you about myself and my family and reading what you have to say about yourself and yours. I really get so attached to my students, and this group is no exception. Thanks for sharing yourselves through your writing; it makes my "job" so much more meaningful. So, here we are down to the last assignment, and this one is especially personal. Find your instructions below.

Blog Assignment: Please respond to Writing Assignment #1 on page 587 of the textbook.  Here's where you get to let the activist within come to the surface. Don't forget to give me a clear topic sentence.

My Response:  When I read the news and listen to radio broadcasts, I surmise that sometime soon it is highly probable that the government -- local, national or both -- will pass legislation designed to silence Christians. Should this come to pass, I would fight, to the death if necessary, my right to be vocal about the God I serve. This country was settled by people who fled Europe and the United Kingdom because those governments infringed upon their citizens' rights to worship as they saw fit. The same thing is happening here in the United States. Instead of allowing religious freedom to all, the popular culture and the government seek to silence and humiliate Christians at every turn. Just because I do not believe what you believe, doesn't mean you have the right to demean me. It doesn't mean you have the right to expose my religious beliefs in order to discredit my educational or scientific theories. If a Christian responded in that manner towards a non-Christian, the Christian would be publicly disparaged; however, that same response does not hold true when a non-Christian vilifies a Christian. This is so shamefully in contrast with the tenets upon which this country was founded that I would fight, to the death if necessary, to ensure my right to believe as I decide and verbally express my belief without hatred or malice toward any other person or organization.

Your Turn: Sign in and post your assignment in the Comment box. Preview your response so you can see what you need to correct. Make your corrections and click the Post Comment button. Please be sure to post your response no later than midnight of November 10. Remember your Engrade option is still available should you need it; look for Blog #10.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Life's Expectancy

What our families, especially our mothers and fathesr, believe about us can have dire consequences for our lives. The Bible is true when it says that "The tongue has the power of life and death" (Proverbs 18:21). I am reminded of my first husband, whose father often told him he'd never amount to anything and that he had a remarkable power to screw up all he touched. Sadly, it turned out to be true. Today he is addicted to both drugs and alcohol. He has ruined two marriages and severely disappointed three children. Anything we hear repeatedly becomes part of us. It is the way brainwashing works. That's why it is so important to only speak words of life over our children and over other people.

Blog Assignment: All of us will be responding to the same prompt this week. It is #3 on page 568.  If you are so motivated, you might read the essay that preceeds it entitled, "Only Daughter" by Sandra Cisneros. It will help direct your focus.

My Response:  After my father passed away, my mother gave me a letter he sent me when I was just an infant and he was a traveling salesman. I like to take out that letter every now and then. In fact, I keep it in a cabinet where I am unlikely to misplace it. It's that special. In it, he relates how thrilled he is to have me as part of the family, how he feels blessed by God through my existence. He relates how much he is saddened by having to be on the road, and he reveals the dreams he has for my life -- dreams of success and happiness. Now, I never knew this letter existed (though maybe he read it to me when I was very young), but I always knew that there was a strong bond between us that was different than the bond between my father and my older stepsister and the one between Daddy and my younger sister. It wasn't stronger, it was just different. I know I disappointed him many times, like when I decided to become an English major instead of a business major in college. In all fairness, I did take one accounting class -- a night class in an underground building lit solely by flourescent lights. Definitely NOT for me. Give me books, give me writing, give me literary food for speculation about life and the unknown. Other times, I pleased him by my choices, like when I decided I was going to take the test to become a general contractor. I passed it the first time around, something grown men who had been in the industry all their lives were unable to do. He was as proud as a rooster in the henyard. You might see a huge dichotomy between the two; however, the consummate act of creativity lies within both fields.  And that is what I am all about. I am a creator (not surprising, considering I am made in the very image of the Creator). And maybe those words, words spoken over me in the night as I slept, filled me with the life he so desperately wanted for me -- a life of happiness, a life of creation.

Your Turn: Sign in and post your assignment in the Comment box. Preview your response so you can see what you need to correct. Make your corrections and click the Post Comment button. Please be sure to post your response no later than midnight of November 2. Remember your Engrade option is still available should you need it; look for Blog #9.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Where Do You Stand?

It is true that everyone has an opinion, but not all opinions are based on sound reasoning. Sometimes our opinions find their justification in the strategically biased ramblings of people who have no idea what the true facts really are. And sometimes, which is an even worse scenario, the vocal party knows the truth but espouses the lie for his or her own gain. It's a shame, really. The only way a person can deliver him or herself from such villiany is to understand the tactics of persuasion.

I liken persuasion to going to war. A country just doesn't jump into war without having very carefully considered the enemy. The agressive country knows all about their enemy -- where their borders are, what kinds of weapons they are able to deploy, the number of able-bodied men and women who could be engaged in the fight, etc. To approach the idea of war from any other position would be suicide.

Well, frankly, the same is true of persuasive writing. Not only do you have to know which techniques would be effective against your opponent (the enemy), but you also have to know what arguments they will bring up to counter yours and strategically plan to oppose those claims with weapons of your own. You have heard that the pen is mightier than the sword, right? Duel on, my little writers.

Blog Assignment:  On page 169 in the textbook, select either #1, #4, or #10 and write a persuasive paragraph stating your position and at least 3 reasons to substantiate your opinion. Be sure to provide a clear topic sentence that presents your viewpoint.
My Response: It's a nightmare scene out of a movie: you are driving home late at night; it's been raining. In the distance you see headlights. As your car and the oncoming one approach, the driver in the other lane begins to weave and aims straight for your car. There is no place for you to go to escape the awful impact you know is coming. Your life flashes before you, and you think of the spouse and children you will leave behind as the sound of screaming metal collides with your vehicle. I definitely believe that drunk drivers who cause accidents with fatalities should be charged with murder. According to, "There were 16,885 alcohol-related fatalities in 2005." This number is 39 percent of all traffic fatalities for that year. Frankly, that's a lot of people who died because someone decided to get behind the wheel and drive after he or she had been drinking. The United States has campaigned quite heavily over many years to alert drivers to the dangers of drinking and driving. Many bars will call a cab so that patrons who have been imbibing can arrive home safely. There is usually someone at a party who is the "designated driver" for the evening so that those who are polluted don't have to get behind the wheel and endanger themselves and others on the road. Real friends don't let their friends drive drunk. A person who has been drinking knows there are many alternatives to getting behind the wheel, so when they choose to drive and, God forbid, get into an accident that takes a life, then they need to be fully responsible for that life. I firmly believe that with all the stopgap measures in place for someone who has been drinking, the culprit should be charged with murder if a traffic fatality ensues.
Your Turn: Sign in and post your assignment in the Comment box. Preview your response so you can see what you need to correct. Make your corrections and click the Post Comment button. Please be sure to post your response no later than midnight of November1. Remember your Engrade option is still available should you need it; look for Blog #8.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Law of Karma

The law of Karma is the law of cause and effect. It is everywhere around us, and there is no escape. It is evident even in writing. Now, an effective writer knows that a person cannot just connect any two things and determine those things have a cause and effect relationship. That relationship must be clearly stated. That's where efficacious transitional words and phrases help out; they show which actions are related to effects. That's not always so easily discerned, either. Many effects are the result of a series of causes, and, conversely, one cause may have many effects. It often takes some serious thinking to get to the heart of a problem. The more clearly you can define the relationship, the easier job a reader will have understanding your point(s).

Blog Assignment:  On page 154 in the textbook, select either #3, #8, or #14 and write a cause and effect paragraph. Be sure to provide a topic sentence that clearly states your point.

My Response: To tell the truth, I love technology. Many of my peers are not so enamoured of it and are actually afraid to venture out into the realms beyond their cell phone and email, but I love to explore the web's online software that make artistic creation so much fun. Even though I am a tech junkie, I do realize that the computer can have negative effects on  relationships. I have to use the computer for work and I am constantly searching the Internet for the latest educational research and aids to make my classroom teaching more vibrant. However, I know that finding just the right thing can sometimes take forever. As a result, the time I have to spend online robs my marriage of face-to-face time with my husband. And he can be even worse than I. He designs websites, so he spends an inordinate amount of time on the computer. Usually, the only time we spend together is dinner. The rest of our evening is spent with each of us separately on our own computers working. As if searching for information were not enough of a problem, there is the whole email annoyance. I hate wading through the spam I get from other district employees trying to find the information I need to get through my teaching day. In fact, I am usually several days behind reading email, so I have to check that in my off time as well. I really hate that keeping up with work's newsflashes steals time from my family. It takes forever just to get rid of the junk I don't even need to read! I have even given up my Facebook posts because I just don't want to rob my husband, daughter, and pets of the little time I have left. The Lord knows there is a lot of mindless drivel to snorkel through just to get to something really interesting on Facebook anymore. So, even though I see the value and love all the neat, creative things I can do online, I prefer to relinquish the negative effects of time theft by limiting my interactions online.

Your Turn: Sign in and post your assignment in the Comment box. Preview your response so you can see what you need to correct. Make your corrections and click the Post Comment button. Please be sure to post your response no later than midnight of October 19. Remember your Engrade option is still available should you need it; look for Blog #7.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Everybody's Got A Story

It's true - everybody does have a story. Some stories are sad, while others are uplifting; some stories make us laugh, and yet others make us pause and think. What's your story? Relax. Have something cool to drink, and tell me all about it.

Narrative writing is simply telling a story. Now, there are at least two ways to  do that, right? You can tell only the important points - the bare outline - or you can embellish it with details. Which one would you rather hear? Narrative writing isn't like writing a report or an outline; narrative writing depends on those lovely details that enliven the facts and make us lean in closer so we don't miss a word. Of course, there has to be a point. And that point should be made clear to the reader. Some writers make that point early on, while others save it until the very last so it can make a definite impact. Bear in mind, though, that without making the point clear to the writer, why bother to tell your story at all? It's like the bad joke teller who forgets the punchline. All that effort was pointless , reminding me of Oblio in the Pointless Forest. Oh, you don't know the story? Click here and enjoy a little nostalgia about making a point. 

Blog Assignment:  On page 88 in the textbook, select either #2, #10, or #13 and write a narrative paragraph. Be sure to provide a topic sentence that clearly states your point.

My Response:  To look at me, most people would never guess that I have Latino blood. Taking only my last name into consideration, people think I am just a white girl of Irish descent, but McDonald is my married name. Few people know that my family name of birth is Diaz, and because of this lack of knowledge, and the incorrect assumption that I am just a "white girl," they feel free to spout their prejudices in front of me. They really are surprised, however, when my true identity is revealed. Let me confess a rather unusual incident. I was shopping one Saturday with my mother in  Miami's "Garment District" when I was in my twenties. We were in a certain manufacturer's shop looking at dresses and we had made several trips back and forth between the racks and the fitting rooms. By the time we were ready to check out, we both had three or four items apiece that we were planning to buy. We weren't the only ones in line, but we were clearly the second and third customers at the checkout. We were also the only ones not chattering away in Spanish. The sales ladies at the registers were plainly ignoring us, calling out in Spanish to the obviously Latin women in line around  us and beckoning them to bump us and come up to the register. My mother, who was in every sense of the word a lady, patiently stood her place in line, but when the women at the register began laughing at us and calling us ignorant "gringas," my regal mother replied back in perfect Spanish that they were the ignorant ones for assuming we did not understand their rude comments just because we didn't look like the other Latin women in the store. She directed me - in Spanish - to drop the designer clothes that we were planning to buy on the floor (easily worth several hundred dollars) and leave before paying customers could be insulted any further. You should have been there to see the horrified looks on their faces as we promptly left the store. Prejudice, in whatever form it comes, is a monstrous creature that should be slain with a silver bullet before humans get hurt. 

Your Turn:
Sign in and post your assignment in the Comment box. Preview your response so you can see what you need to correct. Make your corrections and click the Post Comment button. Please be sure to post your response no later than midnight of October 12. Remember your Engrade option is still available should you need it; look for Blog #6.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's All About the Right Step at the Right Time

Do you watch "Dancing with the Stars"? It's one of my favorite TV reality shows. I admire the contestants; they have to learn two new dances each week and perform them with expertise. Imagine how successful the contestants would be if their partners, who are renowned dancers, didn't present the steps in order. While one moves this way, the other would move in a different direction with his or her feet doing something completely different. The outcome would be embarrassing. Process writing is exactly the same -- it's all about presenting the right step at the right time.

Successful process writing involves knowing your subject matter intimately. You are telling another person what to do, in exactly the correct order, using the exact materials needed in order to achieve a desired outcome. You can see how planning, as well as transition words and phrases, become extremely important to competent process writing.

Blog Assignment:  On page 107 in the textbook, select either #2, #8, or #10 and write a process paragraph. Be sure to provide a topic sentence. 

My Response:   Last week I made one of the best meals ever - in spite of burning the sauce! I had been thinking about the combination of ingredients all day and I knew exactly what I was going to do to prepare this dish. When I got home from work, I laid out all the ingredients and began to cook. I forgot to turn the heat down to a simmer when I covered the saute pan, but I won't ever forget that again. Even my husband, who never eats olives, consumed every bit of his portion and asked for more. What more could a cook want?  So, paying careful attention to all the details, I am sharing the steps to creating my healthy, low fat "Mediterranean Chicken Thighs."

6 skinless, chicken thighs, all visible fat removed
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
4 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
4 canned artichoke hearts, quartered lengthwise
12 pitted Greek salad olives, sliced
1/2 cup chopped eggplant flesh
1/2 cup low fat, low sodium chicken broth
2 Tablespoons Greek seasoning
spray oil

Spray a large saute pan with the cooking oil. Saute the onions for three minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the sliced garlic and continue to cook for 1 more minute. Move the cooked vegetables to the side of the pan. Place the chicken thighs in the center of the saute pan and season the accessible side with 1 Tablespoon of the Greek seasoning. Cook for 2 minutes. Flip the chicken thighs and season the browned side with the rest of the Greek seasoning. Move the cooked onion and garlic onto the top of the seasoned chicken thighs. Add the chopped olives, artichoke hearts, and eggplant flesh to the top of the chicken. Add the chicken broth to the pan. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over a bed of couscous (or your favorite side dish), spooning the sauce over everything. Enjoy!

Your Turn:
Sign in and post your assignment in the Comment box. Preview your response so you can see what you need to correct. Make your corrections and click the Post Comment button. Please be sure to post your response no later than midnight of October 5. Remember your Engrade option is still available should you need it; look for Blog #5.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Two Sides (at least) to Everything

It's true; there are at least two sides to every story, every issue, and just about everything. And that's where comparison and contrast come into the picture.  We have to be able to look at the details and see where they are the same and where they differ if we are going to have any valid opinion of our own. So, how  do you accomplish this in a piece of writing.  Well, there are two ways to approach a comparison/contrast piece: (1) you can tell all about Thing A, and then you can tell about Thing B, being sure to line the details up in the same order, or (2) you can approach the topic one point at a time (usually with each point in a separate paragraph when you are writing an essay) discussing that point in relationship to Thing A and also to Thing B. Those transition words and phrases will keep the reader on track, so be sure to use them carefully.

Keep reading for more clarification.

Blog Assignment:  On page 135 in the textbook, select either #3, #7, or 9 and write a comparison and contrast paragraph. Be sure to provide a topic sentence.

My Response:  When I have the chance, I prefer to do my grocery shopping at Sam's Club rather than at Publix. Both Publix and Sam's Club are kept spotless, so either one of these two stores rank high on my list of favorite places to shop for everyday needs. However, while Publix seems to have a greater variety of products, all the products at Sam's (including the Member's Mark brand) are high quality products.  So, instead of having to wade through 60 different flavors or varieties of coffee at Publix, I can compare eight products before I make my decision, which saves me a lot of time. Another reason I prefer to shop at Sam's Club is that I get more product for my dollar, and this is usually true even when an item is "buy one, get one free" at Publix. For example, let's say I have chosen to buy some soup. At Publix I will pay $2.15 for a can of Healthy Select, times 6 cans, and my price is over $12.00!  On the other hand, I can buy a case of six cans for $7.99 at Sam's. And that's only one item. While I may not have the extensive variety of fresh fruit and vegetables that are available at Publix, when I purchase fruit and vegetables from Sam's I get much more for a smaller cost. I can get a pound of blackberries for $3.95 at Sam's instead of paying $4.95 for 10 ounces. It's a no-brainer for me -- when I have the chance, I shop at Sam's Club.

Your Turn:
Sign in and post your assignment in the Comment box. Preview your response so you can see what you need to correct. Make your corrections and click the Post Comment button. Please be sure to post your response no later than midnight of September 28. Remember your Engrade option is still available should you need it; look for Blog #4.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Illustration -- Give Me an Example and I'll Catch On

People often try to impress us with their fancy words and unintelligible concepts; however, I am one of those people who, when given a choice, prefers to encounter an example in order to really get at the idea someone is trying to present.  The example can take many different forms. The point is that the concrete illuminates the abstract. So, let's see what that looks like when applied to a paragraph.

Blog Assignment:  On page 80 in the textbook, select either #2, #5, or #12 and write an illustration paragraph. The topic sentence has been given to you. Now all you have to do is construct a paragraph that gives at least one example.

My Response:
Eating disorders harm people in many ways. Often, those negative consequences don't show up for a long time, but when they do, they can last for a lifetime. Take, for example, my sister. At the age of fourteen she was involved in her first "romantic" relationship. The break up with her boyfriend occurred around the same time that our father decided he was leaving our mother. My sister felt as though she was subject to the whims of other people in her life, so she looked to the one area in which she absolutely could exert control: what she put into her mouth. Subconsciously decided, my sister became anorexic. For well over a year she consumed only black coffee and jello. She lost a huge amount of weight (she weighed 54 pounds) that she kept off for several years. I remember being with her in the dressing room of a department store. She wore only her undergarments and she held onto her thighs as she looked into the full length mirror. Her words were, "I can't believe I am so fat." The reflection I saw through my tears was the image of a Holocaust survivor. After several years in therapy, my sister finally regained  normal control over her eating, but even though she began to gain weight, she lost all her hair. Not only did she lose the hair on her head, but she lost it from inside her nose, lost her eyebrows, eyelashes, and even the hair on her arms and legs. The rare condition, which is a direct result of having starved her body for so many years, is called alopecia areata. Today she weeps about the unintended negative consequences -- her hairlessness being only one -- that her eating disorder has caused.

Your Turn:
Sign in and post your assignment in the Comment box. Preview your response so you can see what you need to correct. Make your corrections and click the Post Comment button. Please be sure to post your response no later than midnight of September 21.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Descriptions and Introductions

As odd as it may seem, these two ideas really do go together. When we are introduced to someone for the first time, we tend to focus on features that will help us remember his or her name. See the connection?

Description is an amazing tool in the writer's "bag of tricks;" it is one thing, if done right, that can keep the reader focused on the writing. I find that the books I love best are penned by authors who are superskilled in description. Sure, I like action and even some semi-steamy scenes, but a good description helps the movie in my mind become so much better than what I can see on the big screen.  Don't forget that a good introduction grabs the reader's attention in some way, going from the general to the specific, and ends with a strong, 3-part thesis statement. So, having said all that, let's get started.

Blog Assignment: There are two!  (1) p. 51, Writing Assignment 2, Paragraph 2; and (2) p. 205, Writing Assignment 1, write an introductory paragraph for any two statements listed.

My Response:
Description:  My sister's face is indelibly etched in my memory. Maybe that's because we are seven years apart and had more of a mother-daughter relationship than a sister to sister one. Because of a uniquely rare autoimmune disease, she is bald. She once had amazingly thick mahogany colored hair that she labored over for hours on end as a teenager. Now she wishes for a bad hair day! Since this disease has removed ALL hair from her body, she doesn't have any eyebrows. Needing to bolster her self-esteem, she had her eyebrows  tattooed, and the casual observer would never know. Those lovely eyebrows frame one of her best features -- large, intelligent, doe-like brown eyes that watch every move you make. Her nose has a slight crook in it from the many times she has broken it, but it is one of those features that make you smile because of its slight imperfection. You would definitely notice her full, movie star pouty lips. They frame large, white teeth that are always showing because she is almost always smiling (she's definitely always talking so you'd see them either way). All in all, my sister is a Latin beauty whose imperfections only point to how beautiful she is -- inside and out.

Introductions: (Remember, you MUST do two, even though I am doing only one.)  Oh, that summer sun is smiling down from a cloudless blue sky. I have two weeks off and I know I need to take a vacation.  It's been about ten years since I have had the opportunity to plan a vacation, but this year I'm going to do it. I've been to the Caribbean islands, Mexico, and Costa Rica. If I had to pick one to revisit, I'd return to Costa Rica. Costa Rica is a wonderful vacation destination because you can experience a tropical cloud forest, you can enjoy its immaculate black sand beaches, and you can visit the once active volcano Irazu.

Your Turn:
Sign in and post your assignment in the Comment box. Preview your response so you can see what you need to correct. Make your corrections and click the Post Comment button. Remember you have two different activities to complete for this posting. Please be sure to post your response no later than midnight of September 14. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fall Semester -- Blog 1

Welcome to our class blog. For many of you, this will be the first time you have participated in a blog (an online journal). Since this is an academic blog, I will expect to see -- over time -- improvement in your writing. When you post, pay special attention to spelling, whether or not your message is clear, and the use of punctation. Each time you have to post, you should see my example. Ready? Here goes!

Blog Assignment: Select either #2, #7, or #12 from page 16 of your textbook and post your response.

My Response:
The quotations listed below are among my favorites. They come from the "Quotation Bank" at the end of the textbook.
  1. "He who does not hope to win has already lost." Jose Joaquin de Olmedo
  2. "The first duty of love is to listen." Paul Tillich
  3. "Your children need your presence more than your presents." Jesse Jackson
  4. "A smile is the shortest distance between two people." Victor Borge
  5. "If you can't change your fate, change your attitude." Amy Tan
Your Turn:
Sign in and post your assignment in the Comment box. Preview your response so you can see what you need to correct. Make your corrections and click the Post Comment button. Remember you can select any one of the three options. Please be sure to post your response no later than midnight of September 7.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Favorite Things

How often do we think about the things that we love? Those things should be showing up repeatedly in our pieces of writing, so some exploration of what those things are is essential to writing more specifically. Take a few moments and create your own list. Add to it as time goes by. Post it someplace visible in the area in which you prefer to write. We'll be coming back to this list and using some things in later prompts.

Prompt: "...Write a list of a few of your favorite things. If possible, don't stop at a few. Write a list of a lot of your favorite things -- foods, activities, possessions, seasons, settings, whatever comes to mind...Pick an item from your list and explore it, giving your reasons for liking the item or developing a history, perhaps, of how long you've liked it, what associations it hold for you, particular memories of enjoying the item" (The Writer's Idea Book, p. 53).

My response:  Gardenias, cats, Puerto Rican pasteles, the color purple, Preston & Child novels, exploring the internet, singing, hot showers, lying in the sun, books by Sarah Dessen, coloring, throwing dinner parties, bed sheets with patterns in vivid colors, air conditioning, the sound of the waves crashing onto the beach, the sound of the wind clacking the palm fronds, a baby's attempts at speaking, libraries, bookstores, second-hand stores, Gran-Becky's diamond wedding ring, stucco houses -- inside and out, tropical gardens, taking photographs, winter in Florida, snow skiing, museums, the tangy salt smell of the ocean, smiling, giving and getting hugs, kissing, jazz, vegetable biryani, mangoes, my grown-up daughter, Chaleur d'animale perfume, massages, scrabble, steampunk novels, Apple computers, seeing God all around me, ice cold stone crab claws with mustard sauce, purple sunsets, Midnight Oil coffee, pirates, history, Native American Indian culture.

Salt water runs through my veins. I'm not sure when or how my fascination with the ocean began. Perhaps it exists because I am a water sign -- Cancer, the crab. Maybe its roots go even deeper. I have been told I am related to the pirate Jean Lafitte, but even if I am not, all things seaworthy hold a fascination for me. Some of my fondest memories are anchored in the salt, like being awoken at 3 a.m. to be stowed like cargo in the backseat while my dad steered the family to Key Largo, where he would submit our 19-footer to the temporarily placid Atlantic. I can clearly recall the sound of the car's tires racing over the road and the rhythmic, hypnotizing thump-thump as we passed over the highway's expansion joints. Once the boat was launched, my place was perched on the prow, legs crossed Indian-style, clutching the anchor's rope. My spirit was free as we soared over the water, spray and wind bathing me in a salty perfume. I didn't care whether or not I caught any fish, though I was a  decent fisherwoman and usually hooked my share of the day's haul. For me, the snare was my developing love with the sea.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Looking at Self

Today's writing prompt is a bit introspective. After all, many authors have given beginning writers the advice to write about what you know best -- and what (or who) do I know better than myself? So, here goes!

Prompt: Mona Simpson begins her story "Lawns" with the sentence "I steal." Begin a story or poem or essay or journal entry with the line "I _______."  Push forward from there. If you can think of one action that speaks to who you are, what would it be? Write at least a few paragraphs. Try this experiment a few times, using different actions (The Writer's Idea Book, p. 48).

My response:

#1.  I cook. The flamboyant artist in me is released when I decide to throw a dinner party for family or friends. Usually I spend anywhere from a few days to a week poring over cookbooks and cooking websites working hard to put together just the right combination of dishes to impress (myself first, and then) my guests. You see, I rarely make the same main dish twice. Don't get me wrong, I like the food I cook, but I enjoy the challenge of new dishes from different cuisines, often mixing and intermingling flavors and styles in a sort of multicultural celebration. I have had some guests reel in horror at the thought that I hadn't previously cooked the dish I was serving. "How do you know it will turn out right," they exclaim. "I just know," I tell them. After years of cooking, I have developed an affinity for understanding how spices and herbs tease hidden secrets out of foods. If my nose tells me a combination just isn't right, then I abandon it, using what "feels right" instead. I have yet to fail at putting good food on the table for a party.  

I do repeat successful appetizers, however; certain family members would be extremely disappointed if I didn't make my Beef and Olive Empanadas or my Stuffed Grape Leaves every now and then.  And I plan to repeat a really great desert I made this past Easter: Lime Panna Cotta with Raspberry Sauce. The dish about which I am most proud is the Shrimp Biryani I served last Christmas. This was a fairly intricate Indian specialty that was is close to heaven as I have ever gotten via my culinary skills. I plan on making this one again, for sure -- maybe this summer before my daughter leaves for Germany. 

#2.  I create; I am an artist. This is an intriguing statement, since I never really considered myself an artist before writing this sentence; however, as you will see, this is a true assessment of my nature. Ever since I can remember, I have been creating things. When I was young, playing with my Barbies, I would scour the house looking for unusual objects. I would gather discarded cigar tubes, plastic tops from spray deodorant cans, paper towel tubes, and other industrial miscellanea and transform those things into furniture and other needed objects for my fantasy play. I also created storybooks. I would cut visually pleasing and unusual pictures out of magazines and store them. Over time, I had so many pictures that I had to categorize them (faces, landscapes, animals, children, etc.) and place them in file folders. When I was captivated by a story idea, if it was someone's birthday, or if I was just plain bored, I would get out the pictures, my construction paper, glue, and markers, and go to work. Before the afternoon was up, I had constructed a properly bound storybook. I wish I still had one or two of those around to see if their creativity is as good as I remember.

As I got older, I moved into other realms. I learned to play the clarinet in elementary school, and taught myself how to play the guitar. I would come home from school and play my guitar for hours --  4 or 5 each night. At one point, I was fairly good; I was able to finger pick "Malaguena" a la Roy Clark. My father even took my younger sister and me to perform for a recording agent. We both sang while I played "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." The agent was all too willing to take my dad's money and create a demo, but somehow we managed to talk him out of this expensive endeavor. I don't play my guitar hardly ever anymore, having moved on to other things. 

Throughout school, I dabbled in the theatrical arts as well. During my summers, my older half-sister would adapt stories out of a giant Disney storybook and collect all the neighborhood children (Do you remember this, Kiki?) We'd practice for a week or more and then charge our parents money to come and see us perform. What a hoot. My acting career continued throughout high school. Now I am a teacher, so you can see that the theatre just continues to be a part of my everyday life.

I could go on for a long time relating my adventures in cooking, decorating, photography, pottery, podcast creation, my two blogs, leading Church worship, and I'm sure a bunch of other things that don't come to mind so readily. I am a published (albeit self-published) poet -- my printed books were Christmas gifts when I was 16. I once referred to myself as Lovely Laura, the Literary Lady of the Alluvial Hills and Valleys. Wow. I am the Portrait of an Artist: a woman's work in progress.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

On A Personal Note

Tonight is the last night of summer writing class and I am already feeling the loss of my blogging partners. So, I have decided that I will continue to post. I feel the need to develop my technique and skills in order to attain my goal of writing young adult literature, so hang around. Feel free to blog back your own responses and gentle criticism. 

A few months ago I came across this amazingly interesting book on writing at the public library called The Writer's Idea Book by Jack Heffron. I liked this book so much that I ordered my own copy from Amazon. I will be using the prompts (there are more than 400 from which to choose!) from that book as inspiration for my writing posts. I hope to selectively work my way through the four parts of this book. (I am definitely an ambitious, type-A personality.)

Today I have elected to choose the following prompt:

"Celebrate your creative self, the writer inside you. Write about how writing is an important part of your life. Write about the pleasure it brings. Write about your gratitude in possessing such a gift" (p. 10).

My response:

Speaking has always gotten me into trouble. In my early childhood years I often got into trouble for talking too loudly. I remember one time the school bus driver made me get off the bus because I was screaming (so SHE said). I thought I was just whispering. Later in life, I got into trouble because of the way I said things. I was often accused of being sassy and sarcastic, two traits I have perfected quite well, actually. I am still getting in trouble when I open my mouth. Thoughts fly out faster than I am able to stop them, and sometimes the thoughts are not all that affirming. So I can totally understand why I prefer writing. With pen and paper (or keyboard and fingers), I am able to edit my thoughts and  feelings. My passion can be constrained so that I offend as few as possible socially. 

Wait, how messed up is that? While it's good to be able to edit out some of the things that piss people off (and there is a place for that kind of writing), that's not really what makes me happy about writing. What gives me joy is being able to express exactly how I feel, without regard to someone else's feelings. Poetry has been the venue I typically choose to reveal my soul. There I can make unusual connections, give life to a memory, expose my fears and dreams. There I am really free --  to be thankful, to laugh.  The collaborative "Kitchen Poem" my daughter and I created over a series of weeks is a lighthearted example:

          'Tis not for lack of lamb chop love
          I forsook the savory morsels
          but fed, instead, on soup and bread
          and other succulent courses.  
          We wined and dined and languored long
          feasting on our friendship
          'till came the dawn and we were gone;
          fellowship's tryst had ended.
                              Copyright 2006

There are, moreover, few things as affirming as crafting a sentence so startling that it takes away a person's breath. I am an avid reader and delight in finding such sentences nestled between inked paragraphs. The thought of creating such tantalizing sentences myself makes my soul sing (pretty good alliteration/consonance, no?). I am in love with words. They don't frighten me in the least. They are to the mind what chocolate is to the taste buds. I am grateful that I am  able to and that I desire to create lush impressions of beauty in the midst of inanimate letters.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Picking a Side

Writing persuasively should come easily to most of us. After all, we learn to convince our parents to buy us a certain toy or take us to a specific activity at a young age. We use the "science" of argument virtually all of our lives. When we write persuasively, however, we must employ more sophisticated techniques. I like to think about persuasive writing as if it were a form of warfare. First, you need to arm yourself with knowledge, not only about the reasons why your point of view is the correct point of view, but also with the knowledge of what your opponent (think enemy here) believes and why. To win someone over to your side, you have to effectively refute their arguments. If you don't have a clue what the other side believes, how can you do that? This technique is called answering the opposition. Other valid methods include referring to an authority, predicting the consequences, and of course using facts and examples.

Your writing assignment: Select either #2, #3, or #7 from page 169 as your topic sentence for a persuasive paragraph. 

My response:
Expensive weddings are an obscene waste of money. reports the cost of the average wedding in 2010 was slightly over $24,000.00. That's a lot of money in any economy. Isn't  the object of a wedding ceremony to create a lasting memory in the presence of family and friends? Does the ceremony have to be so lavish that the couple creates a huge debt for themselves or their parents? A couple can create a memorable exchange of vows in any number of ways. A less formal ceremony on the beach or in a botanical garden can provide a romantic setting that will be remembered for years. Rather than paying extreme costs for a reception dinner at a posh hotel, the couple could opt for a more reasonably catered dinner at a less expensive location.  So, what could the couple do with the savings? How about applying it as a downpayment on a home? Even the purchase of a life insurance policy that could be used as a nest egg is a better investment. I strongly urge engaged couples everywhere to reconsider spending a small fortune on their wedding ceremony. Memories last a lifetime -- don't let debt cast a pall over that amazing memory.

Your turn: be sure to post your persuasive paragraph no later than Tuesday, June  7th, at 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

For Every Action...

You've heard the saying, "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction," right? That's the premise of cause and effect. Every action sparks a reaction; every decision has its consequences. The trick to showing that clearly in your writing is to use transitions that point to either a cause or an effect.

Your writing assignment: Select either #3, #6, or #9 from page 154 as your topic for a cause and effect paragraph.

My response:

Losing a job has devastating effects on a family. The fear of being unable to make the necessary rent or mortgage payment while struggling to put food on the table can provoke many sleepless nights. As as result of the decrease in income, families have to revise their budgets, cutting out superfluous items. Some families might opt to keep only basic cable instead of the premium movie channels, while others might relinquish cable TV altogether. Another consequence of income loss would be the delay of major expenditures, regardless of whether or not those expenses are necessary. The replacement of that air conditioning compressor may just have to wait so that daily bills can be paid. Often an unintended result is that families dig a deep well of debt using credit cards to buy food and fuel, having exhausted what meager savings they may have accumulated in this unforgiving economy. And as money gets tighter, arguments burst into flame. Only conscious, supportive declarations of optimistic faith can successfully douse the fear income loss causes.

Your turn: be sure to post your cause and effect paragraph no later than Thursday, June  2nd, at 5:00 p.m.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Our Stories

Everyone has a story to tell. Our stories fill the world with knowledge and can change the course of a life. What's your story? Tell it with vivid verbs and colorful adjectives. Draw your reader with compelling figurative language and make your point. Your story is important, too.

Your writing assignment: Select either #3, #9, or #13 from page 88 for the topic of your narrative paragraph.

My response

I have been a Christian for 23 years. I attended the same Pentecostal church for 18 of those years serving in many different capacities. I have read the Bible through several times, and tried to align my life with my beliefs. Perhaps the most difficult thing I have ever done is to open my home to people outside my small family. I laugh now when I think about my first husband bringing home drunks and drug addicts and wanting them to stay the night; I thought his intention was to expose me and our young daughter to the "seedy" side of life. I resisted with all my strength then. I interpreted those actions as a way to turn our home into a drug hangout where our meager personal possessions, along with our self-respect, would disappear with the wayward. Now that I am older and my daughter no longer lives at home, however, and now that I am married to a man who, like I, believes that our faith must be more than a mental construct, I find that I am doing just that. We have, over the past four years, opened our home to three different homeless people. Not at the same time, mind you. And not to just anyone off the street, either. We were in relationship with these individuals prior to allowing them access to our home. Most importantly, we both agreed that God had asked us to become their surrogate family and to mentor them during the time they spent with us. RB lived with us for one year and probably had the greatest impact on our lives. She was the first person to whom we opened our home. She taught us much about living like real Christians -- she became our sister in every sense of the word. We often jumped in the car and delivered dinner to her at her night job, giggling ahead of time about the surprise we knew would overtake her. We prayed together, worshiped together, and shared birthdays and holidays, even taking her to the homes of other relatives for family celebrations as well. Yes, our blood family often looked askance at us, wondering if we had finally lost our minds. The joy of obeying the Lord, and knowing that whatever we have done for our earthly brothers and sisters God sees as our having done for him has been such a blessing. We have a concrete understanding of what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Your turn: Be sure to post your narrative paragraph no later than Tuesday, the 31st, at 5:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Giving Instructions

If you're like me, you like to tell people what you expect to be done and have it turn out just the way you imagined it in your mind. How often does that happen, right? Well, sometimes it's what we communicate (or fail to communicate) that hinders our success. We need to be precise and to give the steps in the correct order or else the resulting product won't meet our expectations. And that's process writing -- plainly stated. 

Your writing assignment: Select either #2, #9, or #10 from page 107 as your topic for a process paragraph.  If you choose #2, you can number the steps if that helps. Since I have a cooking blog (, guess which one I'm going to choose!

My response:


1 lb. lean ground beef
2 large red onions, coarsely chopped
1 large red pepper, coarsely choped
4 bay leaves
2 1/2 tablespoons beef base
1/2 cup chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 package discos de empanadas, thawed
vegetable oil

For filling:  cook beef, onions, bell peppers, and bay leaves in saucepan over medium heat until beef is no longer pink and the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add beef base, olives, and cumin. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Drain completely in a colander. Let cool.

To make the empanadas: fill each pastry with a heaping tablespoonful of the beef mixture. Wet the bottom half of the empanada disk with a little water and fold the top half over to meet the bottom. Using a fork, crimp the edges to seal completely. Prick the top with the tines of a fork to allow steam to escape when cooking. Fill all ten discs.

Pour oil into a large saute pan to a depth of 2 inches. Be sure the oil is hot before adding the filled empanadas. Cook several at a time being careful not to crowd the pan as the empanadas will puff up as they cook. Fry until golden brown on each side, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve as soon as possible. Don't let anyone sample as you are cooking or you won't have any left to serve!
Your turn:  Post by the 24th at 5:00 p.m.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

We Live to Compare

Comparing and contrasting is something we do every single day. We compare prices on luxury items we want to buy, ingredients in food products, and movies in which our favorite actor or actress stars.  We can't escape this form of analysis. 

Learning how to write about the things we are comparing or contrasting can be a bit tricky however.  There are some definite rules. We can make our comparisons (and our contrasts) in one of two ways: point by point (color of A & B, the cloth used for A & for B, and the cost of A compared to B) or we can fully discuss item A and then fully discuss item B. Remember that comparing means showing how two or more things are the same, while contrasting means showing how those same things are different.

Your writing assignment: Select your topic from #1, #5, or #6 on page 135. Then write a compare and contrast paragraph based on the selected topic.

My response:

     While I am still a mom and a teacher, my life today and my life five years ago are substantially different.  Five years ago my daughter was living at home and attending high school. I was working at a middle school about seven miles away. I drove her to school in the morning and then proceeded on to my school. When my teaching day was over, I picked my daughter up and we drove home together. That afternoon drive was the highlight of our day; it was the time to share everything about our day as we made our way home. Working at the middle school was the only teaching assignment I had so I was free to spend time in pursuits that pleased the entire family. Now, however, things are quite a bit different. My daughter is living in her own apartment in Gainesville, where she has successfully completed four years of college, graduating magna cum laude with a Bachelor's degree in English, and a minor in the German language and a minor in zoology. We don't commute together anymore, and therefore our level of communication has slipped some, which makes us both very sad. In addition, I am no longer teaching middle school; I have finally graduated to high school. I am also teaching at the Palm Beach Gardens campus of our local college, so all my free time is spent grading papers and revising my lessons for interest. Time for myself? Not anymore!

Your turn: Post by the 19th at 5:00 p.m.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Driving Home Your Point

Illustration. That's an interesting word. For  me, the word immediately conjures an image of pictures in a child's storybook. Those pictures help the young reader understand what the words mean. Basically, that's what the writing style of illustration does -- it uses an experience, a story, and specific details to enhance the reader's understanding of a point the writer is trying to make. 

Your writing assignment: Select either #5, #7, or #13 to use as the topic sentence of an illustration paragraph (p. 80). Be sure to use appropriate transition words or phrases.

My response:

     A sense of humor can make difficult times easier to bear. Take this academic year, for example. I was hired to teach at a high school just one week before school began. That meant packing up my classroom at the middle school where I had been teaching for the past ten years, making numerous trips from Lantana to Loxahatchee with my SUV stacked and packed. My goal was to set up my new classroom (and my 1200 book library) before students arrived while simultaneously simultaneously attending pre-school meetings and coming up with lesson plans for the week. I was barely up and running on the first day of school, and I have felt like I was behind schedule all year. The stress of being at a new school with new rules  and trying to adapt to a completely new grade level built up so greatly that I forgot to have fun. The self-imposed pressure to live up to my previous successful performance levels with my students only added more stress. On top of that, I, unbelievably, expected my high school students to be better behaved than my middle school students had. Ha! I finally lost it in February. The event caused me to take a hard look at myself, and when I did so I realized I had abandoned my sense of humor.  Those same issues still impinge on my daily duties as a teacher; however, now I find something to laugh about in each class and at lunch, thereby relieving a boatload of stress upon the waves of laughter.

Your turn: Post by the 17th at 5:00 p.m., please.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Welcome Summer A Students

Well, the pistol has been fired and we are off and running! I hope you will come to enjoy these blog postings as much as my other students have. I think the part that really fascinates everyone is being able to read other students' postings. That having been said, let's get started.

Your writing assignments: This week we will be mainly looking at coherent paragraphs and introductions to essays. Coherence involves logical order as well as making sure to repeat key words so you and the reader stay focused on the topic.  The use of transitional words and phrases are important to coherence as well.  Introductions, on the other hand, are the glam and glitter that entice the reader and gets him or her to keep reading. Without a doubt, the most important ingredient in an introduction is the thesis statement, which should be the last sentence of your introduction. We'll be discussing the thesis statement more fully next class. Meanwhile, be sure to refer to your textbook chapter on introductions and conclusions for helpful hints on how to complete the blog assignment. 

My response:  

p. 61, Writing Assignment 5, Paragraph 1: 

My favorite form of relaxation is reading a good book. What constitutes a good book? Well, it is one that has an exciting and unusual plot line and which also contains enough beautifully constructed images and sentences to captivate the artist in me. The thing that makes a good book relaxing is its ability to transport me to a universe different from my daily experience, thereby freeing me -- albeit only temporarily -- from worries, demands, and responsibilities. Now, what page was I on?

p. 205, Writing Assignment 1:

     My mother-in-law has been hospitalized at least twice a year each year over the past five years. It's not always the same condition that sends her there; sometimes a troublesome medical problem will send her to the Emergency Room, while other stays have been scheduled operations. Either way, these frequent hospital stays have often become a discouragement. These illnesses, however, usually transform themselves into surprising blessings, such as new friendships and the opportunity to minister to others in the hospital, patients and staff alike.

     The economy certainly has had a negative impact on life in the United States. The nation's continued involvement in "The War on Terror" has cost untold billions. And, while recent reports show small by steady quarterly increases in the number of new jobs, there are still far too many unemployed Americans. Foreclosures still continue to be a significant problem in many states. While space exploration is generally seen as a positive venture, the nation's financial woes do not warrant continued expenses in this area.

Your turn: Please post your writing assignments as soon as possible. We can fudge the deadline a little as we are all trying to adapt to these requirements.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Give it Up!

Sometimes life requires us to make a sacrifice. We have to give up something in order to get some other thing we really want (or think we want). The costs can be large.  

Here's your topic for this week: Write about something important that you gave up and explain why you did so. 

My response: There was a time when my daughter was a young teenager that I sacrificed her trust in exchange for our safety. She was away visiting my sister when my husband received a phone call from someone who mistook him for my ex-husband. My hubby went along with the mistake and learned that my ex had met the caller in jail and had convinced him it would be easy to burgle our home. They continued talking and agreed to talk again to disclose the address. When we tried to get assistance from the police department, we were told we were on our own because a crime hadn't been committed. Needless to say, we were extremely uncomfortable for our safety and the safety of our daughter. Since the caller didn't have our address, we decided to change the phone number to hopefully prevent any other action. When my daughter found out we had changed our home number without consulting her, there was no excuse we could give that would assuage her anger. It wasn't until many years later -- and many conversations about this issue -- that her feelings of having been ignored were healed and our trust was restored.

Your turn: Remember to post before midnight on Tuesday the 12th.

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Everybody lies -- or do they? Do you lie? Is there a difference between a "white lie" and a more harmful lie? Are there circumstances when it is acceptable to lie? How do you feel when someone lies to you and you discover it?

Your task: Write a paragraph (7-10 sentences) in which you discuss some aspect of lying. Your paragraph could be a personal experience with lying. Perhaps you would like to explore how our culture may (or may not) encourage lying. Your stance on the topic is up to you. Be sure to use correct capitalization and punctuation.  Respond by midnight Tuesday, April 5, 1011.

My response: I have never been a good liar. When I was young, I would try to cover up my misdeeds by telling a lie, but it was easy to see right through me. I can clearly remember one incident in which I was confronted by my mother in the bathroom. My mother was standing in front of the toilet, the brightness of the sink's strip light shining  on her as if she were purposely spotlighted to enhance her authority. I stood in semi-darkness as she accused me of lying to her. As I proceeded to tell that untruth, the palms of my hands began to sweat profusely. Wiping my hands on my pants, I knew I was stumbling and stammering over my explanation.  All the while, I repeatedly wiped my sweaty hands on my pants. The incident about which I was lying has long since fled my memory; its importance was overshadowed by my realization that I was a bad liar. I am grateful for that realization and its resultant humiliation --  it has made me scrupulously honest, even when it is personally embarrassing. In my mind it is better to tell the truth than to be caught in a lie.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Narrative Writing: The Power of Memories prominently displays this telling quote about memories:

     "Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose"  (from the television show The Wonder Years).

Memories are powerful. Certain foods and certain scents trigger delightful memories for me. Other memories are painful and I want to bury them.  Whenever I hear the Beatles' tune Hey Jude, I can't help but be transported back to a time I would much rather forget. Whether my memories are positive or negative, they are, as the above quote says, "ways of holding on." 

Your task: Tell the story behind one of your memories. You decide if you want to relate a positive or a negative memory. Remember that details count. Your  work should show that you have a firm grasp of grammar mechanics in your response. Preview your response and make the necessary changes before you hit the "publish" button.

My response: The smell of gardenias reminds me of my paternal grandmother. Her name was Josefina. Abuela took care of me and my sister when we were young girls. She lived with my Titi Marta and her two sons, but she ruled that house as if it were her own. Her bedroom was at the end of the hall, opposite the Master Bedroom. Outside of her bedroom window was a gardenia bush. The heady fragrance of those flowers would penetrate the closed jalousie windows nearly all year. I can remember lying on her bed in the middle of the day, secretly reading her crime magazines, the smell of those gardenias intermingling with mouthwatering smells wafting down the hallway. To this day, the best food I remember ever eating was made by Abuela. In fact, I have spent my life trying to approximate her undisclosed recipe for pasteles. Whenever I spent the night, I had to sleep with Abuela. I always did my best to fall asleep before she did, otherwise her rumbling, thunderous snores would keep me up all night. Today, I have a gardenia bush outside my front door and I work hard to emulate her piquant cooking. Maybe one day my grandchildren will hold on to fond memories of me as well.

Post your response no later than midnight, March 22.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Description: The Art of Showing

Everyone has heard that showing is better than telling. Haven't we been told repeatedly that "a picture is worth a thousand words"? I think the allure about showing as a writing technique is that the reader gets to put the pieces together and draw their own conclusions about the information given. It's a puzzle to be solved and though we may get stumped, we really enjoy the challenge of figuring things out. Hopefully, this perspective will give some depth to your attitude about description.

Your task: Describe someone’s hands so we know what he or she does for a living (without you telling us).

My response: Her hands were broad and sturdy. Her squat fingers were gently bent like young saplings that had seen too much of an eastern wind. They were rough and calloused, the nails cropped short for her everyday work. Those dull and unadorned nails, naked to the elements, hid hints of cinnabar and turquoise in the cuticles and surrounding ridges of her knuckles. She looked at them in despair, knowing that no one-time application of Shea butter would make those worn hands presentable for the night's exhibition.

I know this is a late blog posting. Please forgive me as I was consumed with activities from my daytime job. So, because it is late, you have until 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 17, to post your response. Have fun with this assignment!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Creative Spark

Children love to explore. They are unhampered by thoughts of messing up or failing to do something just right. Coloring outside the lines looks just as good as coloring inside the lines to a child. Pablo Picasso said that "every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” What is YOUR art, and what are some of the challenges you face that prevent you from allowing your childhood artist to emerge?

Remember you should post no later than midnight on 3-15-11.

Here's my response: My art is writing. When I was a child, I would cut pictures out of magazines and paste them on pieces of construction paper. Underneath the pictures, I would write a story that tied all the pictures together. I would bind the pages together, create a title page, and present these books to loved ones. It is my desire to become a published writer, but one of the things that holds me back is a lack of time. There are so many other things I let impinge on my time that I don't feel I have adequate time to write. However, if I just sat down at a certain time every day and wrote for even half an hour, I would get closer to letting that child artist within come peeking out.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Are you fearful or anxious in certain situations?  I know plenty of people who avoid elevators, though they don't both me at all. Others I know refuse to travel on an airplane, or drive on I-95.  Every person, if he or she is honest, experiences anxiety about something.  In your assignment this week, you will tell about ONE thing that causes you to be fearful or nervous. If you have been lucky enough to overcome that thing, explain how you did so. If, on the other hand, you have to use coping mechanisms, then you should explain what those devices might be.

Here's my example:  I have always been afraid of cockroaches. Just the name of this creature sends shivers down my spine. I blame my irrational fear on my dad who, knowing about my fear, tried to "cure" it (ha, ha, ha) by chasing me around the house with a dead roach on the end of a flyswatter. I knew the dreaded insect was dead; however, that did nothing to stop my incessant screaming nor did it cure me of my fear. It was only when I became an adult and had to deal with cockroaches on my own that I learned to cope with this dysfunctional anxiety. Now, that is not to say that I am not initially paralyzed by my first encounter with one when I turn on a light and see those twitching antennae.  I have learned, though, to face my fear by running out of the room and grabbing a can of Raid, running back into the room, and spraying it with what amounts to a lake of chemicals. Thank God for insecticide! And thank God that I know how to keep a clean home so that I don't have to encounter this vile creature very often.

Okay. Now it is your turn.  remember to use vivid and descriptive language, correcting grammar errors (to the best of your ability) before you publish. You have until midnight on March 1st to post your response.

Prof. McD

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lifelong Learning

School is not the only place where learning occurs. We should be learning something every day we are alive. What have you learned this week? (Nothing academic please!)  Remember to use the R.A.G.E. writing strategy, to  properly punctuate your response, and to apply the appropriate grammar points we have learned in class so far.  Please respond by midnight on Tuesday, 2/22/11.

My response: I have learned that the older I get, the harder it is for me to operate on a shortage of sleep. When I consistently get too little sleep, I am easily distracted and much more serious than I need to be. To keep my joy and sense of humor, I need at least 7 hours of sleep.  Good night!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

100% You!

Each one of us associates with specific groups of people in our world. Often we don't reflect upon those groups, but I am going to ask you to do just that because, even though the groups may change over time, our connection with them helps define who we are.

Here's your assignment: Carefully consider the groups with which you can identify and claim kinship. List the groups and assign a percentage to each one until you reach 100%. You must have at least five (5) groups listed.

Here's my response: I am 30% Christian (I'd like to say 100%, but based upon the restrictions of this assignment I cannot go higher without disregarding the instructions); 20% wife and mother; 15% reader and learner; 10% teacher; 10% creative blogger & photographer; 7% singer; 5% Cuban-American; and 3% Italian-American. That's 100% me!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Colorful Writing

Using original similes and other figurative language is one way to take your writing to the next level. For me, encountering a well-constructed sentence is like being kissed by a young Sean Connery. It is a totally breathless, heart-pounding experience. I am amazed at the level of purposeful creativity that has birthed such an incredible image. 

The only way to become a more colorful writer, of course, is by practicing. So, this week's  assignment will require you to think -- and write -- outside the box. Oops! That's way too cliche. Uh, let me rephrase that. This assignment will catapult you into thinking beyond and writing above your standard phrasing or comparisons. 

Here's your task: What is the color of hunger? Why is that true?

Here's my example: The color of hunger is unpolished copper.  It is a cloudy shine that demands your attention while trying not to dazzle you. To do so might blind you to its importance.

Be sure to post no later than midnight on February 8, 2011.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Description: The Art of Engaging the Reader

There's a huge difference between the following two sentences:
  • I have a big dog.
  • My dog, Bear, is a hairy brown beast weighing over 100 pounds, whose right ear rarely stands at attention.
The first sentence just leaves too much to the reader's imagination, while the second sentence provides a better picture. That's the essence of descriptive writing: using enough detail to help the reader form a picture inside his or her mind.

Here's your task: Describe what you ate for dinner tonight (remember to give sufficient details to help the reader visualize clearly).

Here's my example: Tonight my husband and I ate a simple dinner of meat and potatoes. The meat simmered for eight hours in a mouthwatering mixture of beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, and a special blend of herbs and spices. The meat had cooked so slowly in the crock pot and was so tender that it fell apart as I attempted to place portions on our plates. I also served baked potatoes, split and steaming hot. I doused the potatoes with low fat margarine, a dash of salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of shredded cheddar cheese. This simple fare was satisfying indeed.

Your turn! You have until Tuesday 2/1, midnight to post your description.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Now that you're warmed up...

As I am sure I mentioned sometime in class, perfecting your writing is a thinking activity as much as it is practicing the mechanical skills you are learning. Page 417 from Grassroots with Readings lists the following as a writing assignment:

       "Which of your possessions are crucial to your happiness? What things do you own now that you could live without?  What possessions do you lack that you believe will make you happier?"

Answer all 3 questions in complete sentences. Check back to see my answer; I need to do some thinking myself. I don't want to jot down just anything.  Remember to use first name and last initial or first initial and last name. No full names, please -- and no aliases. Posting must be done by midnight of January 25th.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Welcome to our writing blog. Here's your first assignment: Be on the look out for a sentence that really grabs your attention. Quote the sentence and cite the source. Write one sentence that clearly explains the power of the sentence you have quoted.  

Here's an example:  "A good writer tells the truth by telling lies" (The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy, p. 161)I love this sentence because that is the aim of all writing -- to tell the truth, even if that truth is good for only me.

Now it's your turn!  Select "Post a Comment" and add your assignment. Use the "Preview" button to make sure your assignment is complete before you select "Post Comment". Be sure to complete your assignment by 12 midnight on January 18, 2011.