Just ♥ Words—semicolons (part 1)

Tuesday, 12 March 2013 10:06

semiramis6People, what is wrong with you? Never have so many understood so little about a mere squiggle on a page.

Meet Semiramis, warrior princess of Assyria, ruler of the semicolon. She is here to help you...and you will not refuse her.

Have faith. With a little guidance, you too can master the semicolon—which means that you can don the costume and bear the title "Semiramis of the Semicolon." (Spear not included.)



     —Semicolons—

Why use a semicolon?
A semicolon connects two sentences.
semicolon-aThink of it as a combination of a period and a comma. Notice the mark has one of each—top & bottom.  semicolon-arrowb

Why not use a comma?
The comma is a 90-pound weakling.  It's far too weak semicol-comma4 it can't hold two sentences together. semi-colon-no-no5 semicolon-nono-arrow
If you use one, you've got yourself a nasty little comma splice.

Why not use a period?
You can. Use a period to end the first sentence. Then start the second sentence.

The comma is too weak It can't hold two sentences together.

When do you use a semicolon?
Sometimes you want to link ideas—two sentences that are related to one another. In that case you can use a semicolon.

The comma is too weak ; it can't hold two sentences together.
A semicolon is strong ; it can hold two sentences together.

What is a sentence?
A sentence is a complete thought. A period signals the end of that thought. A semicolon can extend the thought—by linking it to another complete but related thought.

semicolon-sv7
Remember
You must have two complete sentences in order to use the semicolon —  S + V on the left  ;   S + V on the right.


Example—you have two (related) ideas...
Use 2 sentences —> with a period:
    • It was too cold to enjoy the game . She decided not to go.

Use 1 sentence —> with a semicolon:
    • It was too cold to enjoy the game ; she decided not to go.
                                             ________________

Example—you have two (related) ideas...
Use 2 sentences —> with a period:
    • It was too cold to enjoy the game . However, she decided to go anyway.

Use 1 sentence —> with a semicolon:
    • It was too cold to enjoy the game ; however, she decided to go anyway.


You don't
have to use a semicolon to combine two sentences. You can also use a basic conjunction — and, but, so, for, or, not, yet — always (always, always) with a comma.
    • It was too cold to enjoy the game , so she decided not to go.
    • It was too cold to enjoy the game , but she decided to go anyway.
    • It was too cold to enjoy the game , and she didn't want to go anyway.

 

Movie Time—Cool book trailers

Monday, 25 February 2013 11:28

film-strip1Book marketers have given in...or smartened up. Either way, they've taken a page from the movie folks and now create film trailers to promote new books. Some of the trailers are pretty ho-hum. But we've found a couple that are ho-ho-hilarious. Really funny.

The first is Teddy Wayne's The Love Song of Jonny Valentine. Wayne is a wonderful comic writer, a terrific satirist, who in this book sets his sights on the commercialization of an 11-year-old rock star sensation, a la Justin Bieber. A child prodigy, Jonny is there for the taking: his life is commodified by just about everyone, including his own mother.

Here's the Video Trailer.
Here's our Reading Guide.

jonny-valentine1


Second up,
is John Kenney's novel Truth in Advertising. Again, like Teddy Wayne's, this is a comic novel: a sardonic take on the advertising world of New York. Finbar Dolan, the book's hero (not a River Elf), carries around a lot of angst—about the job, his family, and his love life. He sweats the big stuff.

Here's the Video Trailer.
Here's our Reading Guide.

truth-in-advert
Have fun with these. The more you watch them, the funnier they are. If your book's trailer is any good, play it at the book club meeting—it's a great way to break off socializing and signal the beginning of the discussion.

 

Just ♥ Words—heteronyms

Tuesday, 19 February 2013 10:57

deer-2It's no secret English is tough to learn. Some of it has to do with homophones and heterophones We've had fun before with words that sound alike but have different spellings and meaningshomophones, like bare and bear.

This time we've got heterophones*—words that look alike but have diffferent pronounciations and meanings.



Don't You Just ♥ Words?
     —Heterophones—

  1. Clara wound a bandage around his wound.

  2. Every number makes my mind grow number.

  3. The dump is full. Sorry, we must refuse your refuse.

  4. Don't desert me in the desert.

  5. Startled, the dove dove into the bushes.

  6. It's ugly, but I don't object to the object.

  7. No time like the present to present a good idea.

  8. The oarsmen had a row about how to row.

  9. She was too close to close the door.

  10. A handsome buck does like his does.
There are lots of double words with different meanings. Some are spelled alike but sound differently (desert/desert) ... others sound alike but are spelled differently (ore/oar/or). Try a few on your own. It's a fun game for book clubs...or any wordsmiths.

*Heterophones can also be called heteronyms.

 

Whither Go Libraries in the Digital Age?—Part 3

Tuesday, 22 January 2013 15:28

librarianI've written twice* before about what's to become of libraries in the digital age. A widely emailed New York Times article should give heart to all of us who have worried about their fate. Here's the gist...

A Pew Survey found recently that the percentage of those who believe book borrowing is a "very important" library service (80%) is about the same as those who believe computer access is a "very important" library service (77%). As it happens, libraries have been meeting the challenge of the digital age all along:
In the past generation, public libraries have reinvented themselves to become technology hubs in order to help their communities access information in all its new form.
                               —Kathryn Zickuhr, Pew Research Center
It's possible to have too much information. Back in the dark ages, when the web was in its infancy, a friend of mine quipped that it needed a good librarian to get the stuff organized. This was a few years before Google. Today, the web clocks in at nearly 15 billion web pages, and it's still growing at a mind-boggling rate. Google or no Google, we have digital overload.

All of which makes an "information manager" more important than ever—specialists who know how to search, locate, categorize, and vet information. And guess who does that really, really well? Librarians.

What's more, librarians share their skills. Every major library now offers its patrons—not just access to digital equipment—but courses in how to use it...and how to maneuver the vast information galaxy.

So 100 years from now, even if we find their shelves bereft of the printed book, libraries and librarians will be more important than ever—as communal centers of knowledge. We'll still need them—so we better damn well make sure they're around! A warning to us all: we need to keep a close watch on our municipal budgets.

* See Whither Go Libraries in the Digital Age—Part 1 and Part 2.


 

Book Club Blues—spicing up a tired club

Thursday, 10 January 2013 11:19

bcblues boring-club-1Dullsville. Has your club run out of gas? Stuck in a rut—doing the same-old, same-old? Take a look at a letter from our mailbag.


I have been a member of a book club for 12 years. Several of us have been talking and feel the group has become "stale." We've been doing the same thing year after year—and no one has any new ideas. Any suggestions on how we could shake things up?


Shaking things up often means forgetting about the book and stepping out of the pages. Or it might mean talking about books in a different way. Here are several ideas which any club could try, tired or not.
  1. Come as You Are
    Like a come-as-you-are party, each member talks (briefly) about the book s/he's reading at the moment. (Don't assign a book for that month.) Or identify a unifying theme—families, coming of age, mystery, historical, etc.—and have members find their own books based on the theme to share with the group (for ideas see our LitPicks monthly book reviews: click on Browse by Theme).

  2. Film Nightmovie-camera
    Devote a meeting to movies & popcorn. Have members bring their favorite film-adaptations and play a clip. If everyone shows up with The Help ... have each member pick out a favorite scene. Or watch a single movie in its entirety...and compare it with the book.

  3. Read To the Elderly
    Make arrangements with a local nursing home to read to patients. Go as a group and fan out, each reading to someone different. Find light-hearted books like Irma Bombeck with short, humorous chapters. Even for stroke patients with little comprehension, the stimulation of hearing someone's voice can be helpful.

  4. Auteur! Auteur!
    Write a book together. One of our Featured LitClubs started a "chain book"—each member built on a chapter from the previous writer. Be as silly or as irreverent as you want. Come up with a romance...a mystery...sci-fi...or combine a number of genres and see what comes out!

  5. rice-bowlInternational Night
    Dispense with reading for a month and host a dinner to which members bring dishes from the different countries (or regions) represented in the books you've read over the years. Members might bring artifacts...music...photos...or some representation of the culture.

  6. Costumes
    Have one meeting in which everyone comes dressed as a favorite character from any of the books you've read—or perhaps carrying some representative object. Members try to guess the identities of each other's characters...or not.

  7. A Night On the Town
    See a film or stage play together. Visit a bookstore or spend an evening at a library prowling the stacks together. Attend a lecture if there's a locally sponsored author series. Just break the routine...and GET OUT of the house!

  8. Arts & Crafts
    Perhaps there's a book which has some tie-in with an A&C project you could do together—origami cranes, for instance, for The Echo Maker. Or work together on a club scrapbook, each taking a page for one of the books you've read...or a specific year...or club event. There's nothing more fun than sitting around a table working together as a group.

  9. Games & Icebreakers
    Do check out our literary games page...and check out some of our featured book clubs to see what they've done. Lots of good ideas.

 For any group that's gone a little flat, my advice is to take a break from reading every now and then. Do something completely different.

 

The Help—the real deal

Tuesday, 18 December 2012 08:42

maid-narratives-bookArt imitating life ... imitating art. A new nonfiction book by three academics gives credence to The Help, Kathryn Stockett's novel of black domestics in white families during the South's Jim Crow era.

The real maids interviewed for The Maid Narratives encountered much the same treatment we all read about in the fictional version—separate entrances, toilet facilities, and dining areas.

Yet co-author Katherine van Wormer found much that surprised her: stories that were more positive than expected, a sense of forgiveness, and lack of bitterness.

A few deep bonds were forged between black maids and their white employers. "Love can cross over color-lines," says co-author Charletta Sudduth, whose own mother was a domestic and interviewed for the book:

I think that a lot of women—black and white women—shared a relationship that was genuine and true. They found ways to help each other, found ways to cry with each other, found ways to laugh.
Nonetheless, it was still a one-way racial street. As co-author van Wormer points out:
The whites thought of the maids as members of the family. The blacks didn’t see it that way. They had their own families, and the white people didn’t pay any attention to that.
The Maid Narratives was in research stage when The Help came out. Rather than feeling dismay at having been beaten to the punch, the book's authors saw only benefits. The huge publicity surrounding Stockett's best seller convinced many former maids to come forward and tell their own stories.

"For many of the women," says third co-author David Jackson, "this was the first time they could talk about it and begin to heal. It was therapeutic."

 

 

Classy Literacy Project

Friday, 16 November 2012 12:18

classic-coup-logo6Take a look at these cool t-shirts by Classic Coup, a literacy project started by devoted teacher and avid reader, Cindy McCain in Nashville. For Each T-shirt sold, money is donated to schools and orphanages in Ecuador, where Cindy taught this past summer (2012).

Lots more where these come from. So head over to her Classic Coup Blog and her Classic Coup Store...and buy t-shirts for all your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews. Spend some time learning more about what she and her students are doing to make the world a better place for those who need it most.

t-shirts2t-shirts3

 

Book Clubs — Pinterest, the new best thing

Sunday, 21 October 2012 10:49

pinterest-logo-4One more addiction—this one's not on a plate or in a bottle but online. Pinterest: more fun than any one person should be allowed to have, but it's a great tool for book clubs. Move over, Facebook.

Pinterest
is a social media site—it's an online "bulletin board" where you "pin" your favorite images from anywhere on the web, especially from other Pinterest users. Or you can pin images and photos you've already downloaded onto your computer. Pinterest does all the formatting for you. It's simple easy and devilishly clever.

Below is what a "bulletin board" looks like—a snapshot of LitLovers' board on Pinterest. Be sure to visit our real page—"Everthing Books" — to see the complete board. The Pinterest button on LitLovers home page (left-hand colum) will also take you there.


pinterest-main
Why would book clubs use Pinterest? Because it's a great way to keep everyone up-to-date and to maintain a visual record of club activities. Your club can have its own page—and you can have as many "bulletin boards" on your club page as you want. You can add everything related to your book club...
  • Add a "bulletin board" for the books you're reading—there's a space for captions (say, for titles or meeting date and locale).
  • Add comments about each book. Any member can comment; it's just like Facebook.
  • Add as many boards as you want—on the same page. Add a 2nd board for potential book ideas, a 3rd for club photos, and 4th for book-related recipes. Anything.
  • Add boards for every member—on the same Pinterest page as your book club. Members can use their individual boards to "pin" everything...from the books they're reading on their own, to book-related gifts or personal photos.

Take a look at a snapshot of a standard Pinterest page. You click on the empty gray boxes to add a new "bulletin board" and a title for your board. Then pin away.

pinterest-wide

It looks more complicated than it is. Believe me... if I can do it, you can do it. Head to the Pinterest Help page to get started. You'll find it under "About" in the upper-right corner. Follow the directions as best you can*...and "pin" to your heart's content.

Be warned, however. Once you get on Pinterest, you'll complsively click all over the place. You may not be able to get off.

* Call on a young person if you get stuck. They know everything.



 

Book Club Blues—leaving the club

Wednesday, 10 October 2012 11:19

bcblues leavingYou're unhappy with your book club...and another one beckons. What do you do?

I'm not enjoying my book club anymore. Let's just say we have different styles. I like the women; in fact, some have become friends. But there's another group that's asked me to join them, and I think I would be a lot happier in that group. How do I get out of the first club—without hurting feelings?
Wanting out of a book club isn't uncommon—there are plenty of legitimate reasons. But leaving one club for another...? It's like a divorce.

Unlike marriage, though, you didn't take a lifelong vow. So if your expectations aren't being met, and another group might be a better fit, then make move. It won't be easy, but there are ways to limit the fallout—not eliminate it, just minimize it.

Tell a white lie. Maybe the meetings no longer fit your schedule: work, child care, travel. Or perhaps you're finding it increasingly hard to do the reading—though that excuse falls apart if and when your current club learns you've joined another one.

Honesty is best, of course. Seek out the members you consider friends—they've probably got an inkling, right? But whatever you say, even to them, do NOT denigrate the group. Even good friends are not always discreet. And, besides, it's still their club—they're not leaving.

The safest track is to say you haven't found the books personally appealing. Maybe they're too long or too difficult. Or maybe just the opposite: you like books that delve into controversial or philosophical ideas. The reasons are up to you. Just don't talk about wanting "better written" books or resenting the "poorly written" ones the group has selected. That's a no-no.

If it's not the books but certain individuals, or the discussions themselves, you're in more dangerous territory. The best explanation is that you don't feel the group is a "good fit" for you—and try to leave it at that. Do not, under any circumstance, single out specific members.

How to say good-bye? On that your friends can advise you. Most certainly you need to inform the club—not simply drop off the map without a word. Perhaps a hand written letter to the club president, or at the very least, a phone call. Or send an email to all the members. You could even attend the last meeting and say your good-bye at the very end, thanking everyone for the good times and friendships.

Should you mention joining another club? I think so—most likely they'll find out. So be honest. However members feel about your leaving, they'll respect your integrity.

Whichever path you take...and however you explain your reason...it will be tough. Feelings are bound to be hurt. But the manner in which you say your good-byes can make all the difference.


 

Whither Go Libraries in the Digital Age?—Part 2

Monday, 24 September 2012 09:14

libraries in the digital ageToday's open letter from the American Library Association could have been a warning shot across the bow of U.S. publishers. But that's presuming the ALA could actually make good on its warning...which it can't. Libraries don't even have slingshots to use against publishing Goliaths.

Still, it's a smart move—using an open letter to turn the spotlight on three of the country's (world's) largest publishers, who refuse to sell ebooks to libraries. The ALA's letter puts it this way...

Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin have been denying access to their ebooks for our nation’s 112,000 libraries and roughly 169 million public library users.... The Glass Castle [ebook is] not available in libraries because libraries cannot purchase [it] at any price. Today’s teens also will not find the digital copy of Judy Blume’s seminal Forever, nor today’s blockbuster Hunger Games series —September 24, 2012

Not all publishers refuse to sell to libraries, as the ALA points out. However, without those three major players, ...
If our libraries’ digital bookshelves mirrored the New York Times fiction bestseller list, we would be missing half of our collection any given week due to these publishers’ policies. [ALA's emphasis.]
This week, however, publishers and the ALA are meeting to try to iron out their differences—a hopeful sign, given that talks back in January of this year (2012) reached a stalemate...or worse. Penguin pulled out of library ebook sales altogether.

Random House, on the other hand, stuck around...but nearly tripled its prices to libraries, and Hachette's will more than double. HarperCollins limits libraries to lending its e-books only 26 times. This is according to Publishers Weekly.

But it's not like publishers are the bad guys. They are businesses...and must make money to survive. So stay tuned for another exciting installment in our suspense series—Libraries in the Digital Age.

See both Whither Go Libraries in the Digital Age articles—Part 1 and Part 3
 

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