Janice Heck Writes

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Archive for the month “September, 2014”

Introducing Kathryn Ross, Performance Storyteller, and her New YouTube Video

KathrynI count among my friends Kathryn Ross of The Writer’s Reverie.

Kathryn, a Performance Storyteller, is passionate about literature, history, and biblical truths, giving performances to both home and public schooled children in the Southern New Jersey area.

Dressed in the clothing style of her time frame, she dramatizes her stories and brings them to life, much to the delight and wonder of her audiences.

Kathryn’s words describe her work:

I’m Kathryn Ross, an Enrichment Artist with a passion to bless and inspire others to a life more abundant and purposeful in all good things and beauty.

I share such treasures through the power of dramatized storytelling, blogging at The Writer’s Reverie, publishing my works through Pageant Wagon Publishing, hosting teatime hospitality retreats, and exploring handcrafted creative arts through Cameo Impressions at Etsy.

My love of God and Biblical values also permeates the original literature and history programming I write and perform for varied audiences as Pageant Wagon Productions LLC. Blogging has been a way for me to explore my craft and connect with kindred spirits where a constant stream of inspiration enriches me – so I can be an enrichment in the lives of others.

Here is a video that Kathryn has just released describing her picture books that explore biblical principles.

I had the pleasure of editing one of Kathryn’s posts: Blogging: The Proof is in the Prep. Read this for seven tips for writing better blog posts.

Kathryn and I met each other fourteen years ago at a meeting of the Cumberland County Chapter of the New Jersey Society of njscw-shield-transp-300x182Christian Writers, organized by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. We were members of the group for several years, but then I moved to another state. We recently reconnected at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference at Cairn University in Langhorne, PA, organized by Marlene Bagnull.

In September, Kathryn and I will take the leadership role for the Cumberland County Chapter of the New Jersey Society of Christian Writers. So we have come full circle as friends, and our writing efforts have grown stronger through the years. Now we want to share what we have learned with other developing writers.

If you live in our area and want to learn more about the writing process and writing craft, join us at 7 pm at Calvary Chapel, 4630 Mays Landing Rd, Vineland, NJ (between Millville and Mays Landing). We look forward to seeing you. Maybe Kathryn will give you a preview of her coming book: Mother Chicken’s Eggs!


Serial Commas, Parallel Structure, and Zombies for Hire

In Serial Commas and Compulsive Behavior, serial comma (aka Harvard Comma and Oxford Comma) combatants duked it out over correct usage.

On my scoreboard, the serial comma won, hands down. But journalists, Brits, and Aussies don’t all agree with me.

A Bigger Problem: Parallel Structure

But a major underlying issue compounds the serial comma problem: parallel structure.

To be grammatically correct, both serial commas and parallel structure must be right in your writing.

Constance Hale, author of Sin and Syntax: How to Craft wickedly Effective Prose (1999), reminds us of the danger of not books on writing - Hale 001understanding parallel structure and appropriate punctuation:

Some of the most hilarious errors in English result from phrases that aren’t properly tracked. If you don’t know what you’re doing, phrases will deliver you straight to The Danger Zone.

Want to avoid errors with serial commas and parallel structure and keep June Casagrande’s nasty old grammar snobs from picking on your writing (Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies, 2006)?   Read on.

Look for the Lists

My husband (My Heck of a Guy, affectionately known as MyHog for short) is set in his ways about just how to loads the eating utensils in the dishwasher.

Grammar graphic by Janice Heck

(Just don’t nest the utensils. They will get cleaner if they go every-which-way.)

Whatever. Makes no difference to me; he loads the dishwasher, so he can do it any way he wants.

I must admit (but don’t tell him I said this) his method of loading the dishwasher makes it easier to empty the dishwasher. Grab a handful of knives and plop them into their home base in the utensil drawer. Repeat. In six basic swoops, the utensils are happily nested in the silverware drawer.

Serial Lists: Like Parts of Speech Go Together

Serial lists are like loading silverware in the dishwasher: like parts of speech go together.

Grammar Graphic "Parallel Lists" by Janice Heck

These patterns, known as parallel structure, keep your writing organized and bring poetic flow to your sentences. If you mix grammatical words, phrases, or clauses in lists (non-parallel structure), you not only lose the flow of your sentence, but you become snickering fodder for the grammar snobs who lie in wait ready to pounce on any and all unsuspecting and naïve writers.

Writing lists in non-parallel structure to good writers is like throwing a teaspoon down the garbage disposal while it is running: it makes a terrible clunking noise, and you just want to make it stop.

Serial Lists in Zombie TerritoryDeath Warmed Over

Zombies? I follow my own advice and read widely in all genres. So when a zombie book came my way, I read it…and laughed the entire way through.

New York Times bestselling author, Kevin J. Anderson, is a master at using serial lists in his book, Death Warmed Over (2012). (All quotes in this post are from this book unless otherwise noted.)

Zombie private investigator Dan Shamble, pronounced Chambeaux, despite being dead himself, hires out to other baffled “unnaturals” (zombies, vampires, ghouls, and other utterly dead or dying creatures), each with his or her own devastating problem, all the while keeping an eye out for his own double-dealing killer.

Statistics, according to P. I. Shamble, show that these unnaturals are a serious problem:

According to the latest statistics by the DUS, the Department of Unnatural Services, about one out of every seventy-five corpses wakes up as a zombie…

With so many zombies and unnaturals around, sooner or later they will surely invade our sentences. Here’s how to root them out and get them the commas they deserve.

Lists of Words inside Sentences.

Key to success: Keep the parts of speech under control.

Private Investigator Shamble keeps these parts of speech under control with ease. Have a look:

1.  List of 3 or more single nouns.  Pattern:  …noun, noun, and noun…

The world’s a crazy place since the Big Uneasy, the event that changed all the rules and allowed a flood of baffled unnaturals to return—zombies, vampires, werewolves, ghouls, succubi, and the usual associated creatures.

I reworded Anderson’s  sentence to show that the list of nouns can be in the front of your sentence (the subject) or it can be in the back of your sentence (the predicate–as  above).

Zombies, vampires, werewolves, ghouls, succubi, other baffled unnaturals, and other associated creatures have flooded the world since the Big Uneasy, making the world a crazy place.

2. List of 3 or more single adjectives. Pattern: …adjective, adjective, and adjective…

 [The werewolf hit man] was a smelly, hairy, muscular guy, half-wolf and half-human.

Lists of adjectives can go in the predicate as above or in the subject as in the reworded sentence below:

That smelly, hairy, muscular guy, half-wolf and half-human, is the werewolf hit man.

3. List of 3 or more single verbs. Pattern: …verb, verb, and verb…

The worst characters [the unnaturals] were arrested, tried, and sentenced…

Keep in mind that verb tense in series must be kept parallel too!

Lists of Phrases inside Sentences:

1. List of noun phrases: (noun plus descriptive details written here in list form so you can see the parallel structure easier)

A dead detective,
a wimpy vampire, and
other interesting characters from the supernatural side of the street
make Death Warmed Over an unpredictable walk on the weird side.
Charlaine Harris, Book Reviewer, Death Warmed Over

 Just before noon, the artist’s ghost manifested himself in our second-floor offices, wearing his preferred form:
 long ponytail,
 tie-dyed shirt, and
 paint-stained jeans.

The main door burst open, and a terrified-looking man [a vampire] ran in. He wore
a dark overcoat,
a black floppy-brimmed hat, and
oversized wraparound sunglasses like the ones old ladies wear after cataract surgery.

Robin spread out the legal forms on the signing table. “I have
the property deed to the real estate in Greenlawn Cemetery,
the plat marking the location of the crypt, and
the ownership transfer documents for Mr. Ricketts to sign.” 

**Effective Writing Style Tip:  for added interest, vary the length of each item in the series. Most often, put your longest item last, but you can vary this arrangement to make it more interesting. Try different arrangements to see how they work.

**Bonus: Here’s a double series of adjective/noun phrases.

Many haunters, underground dwellers, sewer jockeys, and walking dead
don’t mind
ramshackle appearances, piled garbage, or thick shadows . . .

2. List of verb phrases. Pattern: …verb phrase, verb phrase, and verb phrase…

After returning to life, I had
shambled back into the office,
picked up my caseload, and
got to work again.


In law school, she [Robin, Shamble’s secretary, and a ghost, of course] had been able to
pull all-nighters;
write a term paper,
go to class in the morning,
take an exam,
hang out with friends in the afternoon, and
party at night.


Days of investigation had led me to the graveyard. I
dug through the files,
interviewed witnesses and suspects,
met with the ghost artist Alvin Ricketts and separately with his indignant still-living family.

3. List of adverb phrases. Pattern: …adverb phrase, adverb phrase, and adverb phrase…

Popular writer of his own zombie novels, Jonathan Maberry, reviewed Anderson’s Death Warmed Over using a series of adverb phrases. (Note his choice of omitting the serial comma!)

Master storyteller Kevin J. Anderson’s Death Warmed Over is
wickedly funny,
deviously twisted and
enormously satisfying.
Two decaying thumbs up!
Jonathan Maberry, Review of Death Warmed Over

While the rest of us have been warned not to overuse adverbs in our writing, book reviewers seem to get thrills and energizing chills from using them willy-nilly! Oh well, when you are famous, you follow a different set of rules. (Read: Don’t Use Adverbs? Book Reviewers Use Them!)

Finally, Remember Four Key Principles when Using Parallel Structure

  1. Look for series/lists in sentences. Good writers use them.
  2. Keep like parts of speech together in series/lists (parallel structure).
  3. Keep verb tense the same in a series of verb phrases.
  4. Use the serial comma (the comma before the conjunction).

Follow these simple guidelines, and you will keep the grammar meanies away forever!

Of course, there are more ways to use parallel structure, and future posts will give examples of these: Parallel structure with clauses coming soon.

**Effective Writing Style tip: Good writers use parallel structure to bring rhythm and flow to their writing.

And now, if you want to read more about the zombie invasion, here is another Kevin Anderson book., Hair Raising.book for blog - Anderson, Hair Raising 001

Your Turn:

What’s your favorite quote using parallel structure?

Can you use one of Anderson’s sentence patterns in your writing using your own topic-related words?


Reading Brings Life to Words on a Page

Summerville, South Carolina


Photo by Janice Heck

Words on this page…


Dedication Plaque for this sculpture in Azalea Park, Summerville, SC:

SSS Sculpture in the South

Winds and the Waves
by Robert Allison

Presented by family and friends of

Jack Wilbanks
Town Administrator 1979-2001

A man of integrity and conviction, full of laughter and fun,
whose love of reading exemplifies his life.


Apostrophe Atrocity: On The Marquee at the Shore

Heavens forfend! An error on the marquee down at the shore.

Contractions photo - Janice Heck

The contraction stands for two words: Let us. Using the contraction form, it should read “Let’s…”

Oh well, the heat must have gone to someone’s head!



Friday Favorites. Lines from Poetry: I Grow Old

Friday Favorites will feature lines from a poem, article, or book that I have read and enjoyed. This is the first installment.

When I was in college, I was fortunate to hear a recitation of poems by T. S. Eliot in Boston, Massachusetts. Seeing him in person and reading many of his poems was thrilling. He became a personal favorite.

Today I took a picture of something that brought back memories of reading “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot in my college class.

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Photo by Janice Heck. Lines by T. S. Eliot


I grow old… I grow old…The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot

This poem has delicious lines and is well worth reading. Written in a stream of consciousness style, it reflects the thoughts of a man looking at his life, recognizing the unfulfilled expectations, and realizing what his life has come to in the end. A poem that hints of mystery, misery, and sadness but with many beautiful, quotable lines.

On a more humorous note, T. S. Eliot wrote another of my favorite books: Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (1939). Many of you have seen the play CATS.Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot Here is the book the play is based on. If you love cats you will enjoy reading it.

When I began my first blog, I included this favorite poet in my post:

The Naming of Blogs is a Difficult Matter, a take-off on T. S. Eliot’s poem “The Naming of Cats.”  The borrowed line:

The naming of cats is a difficult matter.

Note on the picture:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES summer 2014 iphone 290My brother Adam, 81, blind, physically immobile and confined to wheelchair or bed, lives in the “medically needy” unit at Wesley Manor, in Ocean City, NJ. Despite his circumstances, he makes the best of his situation by teasing his tablemate at meals and the attendants who assist him during the day and evening. His all-around good attitude makes him a bit of a favorite with the staff.

And indeed, some days his biggest decision is whether to roll his trousers or not. Though he does have moments of sadness, and though he sometimes lives in his memories, he smiles as he faces each new day. He is a brave man, and I am proud of him.

I have written about my brother in other posts:

B: Big Brother’s Bits about Being Blind
VIP: Visually Impaired Person in the News Again
Elderly, Blind, and Living in a Big Black Box
Tips for Caregivers of Visually Impaired Persons in Care Settings
Chewy, A Therapy Dog for Elderly and Handicapped

Your Turn:

What is your favorite line from something you have read this week. Or what favorite line from a poem, article, or book has stuck in your memory?


Serial Commas and Compulsive Behavior

Academics and journalists duke it out when it comes to using serial commas in sentences.

Serial commas (aka the Oxford comma and the Harvard Comma)

…come before conjunctions (most often before and, or)

…when used in a series (or list) of three or more words, phrases, or clauses in sentences.

Commas in series, graphic

What are the colors in the American flag? The academics write it this way:

The American flag is red, white, and blue.       (with serial comma)

American flag

The journalists (along with the Brits and Aussies) favor this writing:

The British flag is red, white and blue.       (without serial comma)

British flag

The Battleground

Turns out there is a long history of wordy disputes between these two deeply-rooted warring camps.  Lynn Truss, a Brit and author of TrussEats, Shoots & Leaves, traces the conflict back hundreds of years and advises,

Never make the mistake of getting between these two groups, especially when the beer is flowing.

Trouble raises its ugly head when an editor from each group reads the same manuscript. The comma advocate will tsk-tsk through the writer’s masterpiece compulsively jabbing commas before the conjunction where they see a series of words, phrases, or clauses in sentences. The opposing editor, equally vociferous in his tsk-tsking, goes through the manuscript slashing out the serial commas that the comma advocate so rambunctiously inserted into the manuscript.

What’s a writer to do? Which warring faction should you join? Where will you throw your lance?

The AcademicsChicago Manual of Style

The academics have some pretty hefty backers sitting in their bleachers:  The Chicago Manual of Style (2010), the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2009), Fowler’s Modern English Usage (2004), Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style (2000), and Garner’s Modern American Usage (2009) all favor the serial comma

Garner puts it this way:

…virtually all writing authorities outside that field [journalism] recommend keeping it [the serial comma].

Though widely criticized for their simplistic approach to writing style and usage, Strunk and White post this as their number 2 ruleStrunk and White in The Elements of Style, 4th edition (2000).

In a series of three or more terms with a single conjunction, use a comma after each term except the last. Thus write:  red, white, and blue…

Others join the fray: Roy Peter Clark in his The Glamour of Grammar (2010) says this:Clark, Glamour of Grammar

…when it comes to the serial commas, sometimes called the Oxford comma, the literary folks have it right, and the journalists have it wrong. The reader needs that final comma before and in a series. I need it.

casagrande4, sentencesTo seal the deal, June Casagrande, author of It was the best of sentences, it was the worst of sentences, (2010) says:

fight to the death (or at least to the pain) for the serial comma.

The Journalists, Brits, and Aussies

Two American heavies weigh in on this serial comma issue on the side of the journalists: The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage (2002) and The Associated Press Stylebook (2010).

The Associated Press Stylebook is the authority on this subject for journalists. Here’s what it has to say:

Use commas to separate elements in a series, but do not put a comma before the conjunction in a simple series.

The flag is red, white and blue.

Newspapers fight to keep that extra comma out of their text lines because they, well, take up space. They do allow for adding the comma when their might be some ambiguity. Ambiguous advice, don’t you think?

Comma Middle Ground

Lynn Truss heads for the quieter and saner middle ground in this fierce rivalry:

One shouldn’t be too rigid about the Oxford comma. Sometimes the sentence is improved by including it; sometimes it isn’t.

Truss does admit that the

comma-shaped shark fin ominously slicing through the waves…is a lot more dangerous than its exclusive, ivory-tower moniker might suggest.

June Casagrande says in Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies (2006),Casagrande, Grammar Snobs

Most people don’t know [how to use commas], so they wing it.

In fact, most people dutifully (and ignorantly) follow the old misguided adage,

Put a comma in wherever you pause to take a breath.

Pity those poor non-fluent, word-by-word, mouth-breathing readers who pause after each word as they read!

So there you have it: two opposing camps (some dodging the arrows in the comma middle ground) with strong arguments (they think) for their own staunch positions.

What’s a writer to do?

Of course, you will find all three approaches to using the serial comma as you read books, newspaper articles, and blog posts. But what should a writer do?

Simple: If you write to earn money, follow the style sheet put out by the organization that you write for.

But truth be told, I hang out with the comma advocates. I love the serial comma, and I add them physically or mentally to everything I read. I advise you to do the same. That will save me a lot of tsk-tsking when I edit your manuscript.

Finally, just remember this: If you write to your mother, just wing it. She won’t care if you have that comma in her letter or not, just write the letter. But please, please stop that mouth-breathing. It’s annoying.


Coming Soon…

Serial Commas, Parallel Structure, and Zombies for Hire

Seial Commas and the Ghostly And


One Tired, Tarnished Writing Tip…with Six Twists


That’s It. That’s the tired tip.


Probably the most common piece of advice given to wannabe and novice writers. The advice is generic…read, read, read.

Yes, and then . . .?

What does reading do for our writing?

Pat Conroy, author of My Reading Life (2010), suggests this:Conroy My Reading Life

Now when I pick up a book, the prayer that rises out of me is that it changes me utterly and that I am not the man who first selected that book from a well-stocked shelf.

The unstated purposes of “read, read, read” for writers are

  •  to explore all genres of writing,
  •  to identify qualities in writing that appeal to us as readers,
  •  to emulate those fine qualities in our own writing, and
  •  ultimately, as Conroy suggests, to internalize our reading so we change and become better persons ourselves.

How can you read more, high quality writers without spending a fortune at Books-a-Million, Amazon.com, Ex Libris, or other on-line purveyors? Try these six twists based on that one tired tip.

1. Scour the new book shelves at your local library.

I walk through the swinging doors of my library in Mays Landing, NJ, a small town at the headwaters of the Egg Harbor River, and immediately face the new book shelves, right next to the BiblioCafé with its selection of teas, coffees, and snacks. Four twelve-foot long shelves showcase the newest book acquisitions—both fiction and nonfiction. A veritable storehouse of treasure.

2. Let the titles grab you.Craig Childs, Finders Keepers

Here’s one title that grabbed my attention a while ago: Finders Keepers: A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession (2010) by Craig Childs. (Okay, I admit it. I gravitate to non-fiction books.) These strong words in the title grab my attention: finder-keepers (flashback to childhood arguments with my siblings); tale (here comes a good story); plunder (who’s going to make off with the money, the jewels, the damsel in distress?); obsession (in the desert? What?) What drama. What tension. Don’t you want to know more about this?

This book is cram-packed with Childs’ exquisite writing. Look carefully.  Study his voice. Analyze his craft.

3. Read first pages.

Pick up random new books with titles that catch your eye and interest and read the first few pages while standing at the shelves. Which snippets beg you to read more? What questions pop in your mind? Don’t you want to know the answers? Would you like to write like this?

Pat Conroy in My Reading Life says,

I consider myself a small-time aficionado of first and last pages.

Noah Lukeman, author of The First Five Pages: A Writer’s Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile, suggests that the first five Noah Lukeman, First Five Pagespages, first five sentences even, of a manuscript can tell an editor whether he or she should pursue reading the whole book. Look at these new books and ask yourself, “What is in these first five pages that made the editor choose this book for publication.” Look for the author’s voice, ideas, art and poetic flair, of course, but also look for writing craft.

4. Follow the Trail. Request books.

The Mays Landing, NJ, our big small-town library, casts a wide net when it comes to borrowing books. I wanted to read more of Chris Child’s writing, so Librarian Sue checked and found Childs’ The Secret Knowledge of Water (2000) in a college library some miles away. Through inter-library Loan, I got the book the next day. Dried out water holes in a dessert? What could be more boring? But listen to the language.

An early memory of the low Sonoran Desert where I was born is of my mother walking me out on a trail. I remember Craig Childs, Secret Knowledge of Waterthree things, each a snapshot without motion or sound. The first is lush, green cottonwood trees billowing like clouds against the stark backdrop of bluffs and boulders. The second is a tadpole worrying the mud in a water hole just about dry. Each tadpole, like the eye of a raven, waited black and moist against the sun. The third is water streaming over carved rock into a pool clear as window glass. These three images are what defined the desert for me. At an early age it was obvious to me that water was the element of consequence, the root of everything out here.

Childs’ first person point of view makes this narrative personal. You can almost touch the early morning scene he describes: mom and child walking hand-in-hand to hunt for treasures obscured by years of desert dust. I not only like the description, I like the orderliness and tightness of the writing. And I like the profound concluding statement that portends surprising things to come. I want to read more.

5. Savor exquisite writing.

As you read, look for exquisite language: precise choice of words and phrases, well put-together sentences, original similes and metaphors, and surprising elements. Copy these selections into your writer’s quote notebook and decide why you like them. (You do have a personal quote book, don’t you?)

6. Mimic good writers.

When you read an exquisite selection, mimic it. You will grow as a writer. Can you write a similar scene using your own words and experiences?

William Caine, in Write Like the Masters, Emulating the Best of Hemingway, Faulkner, Salinger, and Others, says this:William CAine, Write Like the Masters

You cannot become a terrific writer just—poof!—out of thin air. It takes something pre-existing, some structural savvy, some foundational in technique, some underlying sense of the possibilities of language before you can strip off your topcoat and tap dance across the pages like Fred Astaire.

So, yes, wannabe writers, read, read, read. Make friends with your local library and librarians. They will quickly learn your interests and suggest other good reading possibilities. Then collect words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs and mimic them. Make that tired tip—read—help you become a better writer!

Something Else To Read:

Two Writing Teachers: Beginning of the Year Read Alouds This blog’s tagline: “A Meeting Place for a World of Reflective Writers.” That sounds good to me. I am not teaching now, but these ideas are still good for mature developing writers.

Don’t forget to look at children’s books. Some of them have exquisite vocabulary and sentence structure use. The TWT blog suggests read alouds to use in the classroom, but you can review these same books to see why TWT recommendsthem.

Two Writing Teachers: Setting Up the Reading Journal for a Year of Writing About Reading

TWT gives excellent suggestions for helping students keep reading logs. You have a reading log, don’t you? Reading logs are the perfect place to jot down your reflections on what you read and to copy words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs that appeal to you.

 Something Else to View: How [Reading] Fiction Makes Our Brains Better

Your Turn:

What’s your favorite quote from a book you have read recently?


What? Another Blog on Writing?

Three years ago, on a lark, I started my first blog: Janice Heck: My Time to Write. After writing 370 posts and getting over 52,000 hits, I decided it was time to reevaluate that blog and plan my next steps. You can read that post here: Dear Readers: On Flying Deeper into the Blogosphere.

One conclusion of that post: I want/need to focus more on writing process and writing craft to help developing writers become more effective writers.

My first blog is an eclectic blog, on which I write about such topics as CATS, travel, photography, current events, food, recipes, book reviews, family, senior health issues, and eldercare. And then I write about writing topics: grammar, usage, punctuation, writing quirks, common writing errors, “fix-its” for common errors, and effective writing tips.

Quite a mix, isn’t it?

Here is my new, more focused blog for developing writers:

Janice Heck Writes: Power-up Your Writing! Build Your Writing craft.

The goal of this blog is to help writers “Power-up” their writing by learning more about writing following this model:

Graphic by Janice Heck

Writers often hear such terms as passive voice, parallel structure, serial commas, dependent clauses, cumulative sentences, periodic sentences, and many more. But just as often, these terms seem a bit fuzzy, especially to newish writers.

The focus on this new blog will be to un-fuzzy these terms by using…

  • Grammar-You-Can-See
  • Usage-You-Can-See
  • Punctuation-You-Can-See
  • Writing Quirks and Fix-its

Wordy Grammar Books

Pick a grammar book at random and what do you see?  Pages and pages of words telling about grammar, showing an example or two, then giving incorrect sentences to edit. Sometimes the grammatical term receives little more than an honorable mention: “Don’t use passive voice.”

In this new blog, I take a writing tip and show you, with graphics, how the grammar (or usage or punctuation) works so you can translate it into your own writing.

Other posts will focus on qualities that enhance your writing as well as common writing problems that interfere with effective writing.

Writing Strategies

To give you an idea of what the posts on Power-up Your Writing! Build Your Writing Craft will look like, take a peek at a few posts from my first eclectic blog: (Posts written for the annual A to Z Challenge held every April):

Coming soon: Look for my first official post on this blog here: One Tired, Tarnished Writing Tip…and Six Twists.

So come along for the ride. Ask questions and leave comments. I would love to hear from you.


Janice HeckJanice Heck, retired educator/administrator, hosts two blogs:

Janice Heck: My Time to Write, an eclectic topic blog.

Janice Heck Writes: Power-up Your Writing! Build Your Writing Craft.

She is co-leader of the Cumberland County chapter of the New Jersey Society of Christian Writers along with Kathryn Ross of The Writer’s Reverie.

Over the years, Jan has given workshops on writing for schools, local and national special education and general conferences, and has published Evaluating and Improving Written Expression: A Practical Guide for Teachers (Janice K. Hall, Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1981; Pro-Ed,  1988, 1999). That book is now an OOP (out-of-print).

Jan’s favorite retirement activities are traveling, blogging, singing in the church choir, eating out, and collecting old grammar books.

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