Why the Nuns Should Oversee the Internet Monday, Mar 11 2013 

We were warned. Bad behavior would become part of our PERMANENT RECORD. Our shenanigans would be evident to the world and follow us forever.

When I was a kid, the Sisters, more commonly referred to as “The Nuns,” used the ominous threat of our actions being etched in stone to control the large classrooms of more than 50 students. I don’t know if that made any difference to the bad kids, but the Miss Goody Two Shoes, which includes you-know-who, took this message very seriously. I didn’t want anything to get into the way of maintaining an unblemished PERMANENT RECORD.

We laugh at that disciplinary threat today but we also have to admit, the nuns were right. Many of our actions follow us to the grave. Nowhere is that more certain than on the Internet, which is why I think the nuns should oversee it.

We’ve been told a hundred times that nothing is forgotten or forgiven online. Social media owns our rants, ridicules, and inappropriate postings and photos in perpetuity – forever.

If the nuns were running the show, we’d be stopped in our tracks before posting. We quickly would be reminded and reprimanded saving us from another regrettable entry on our PERMANENT RECORD.

Here are a few other ways the nuns would improve our online experience:

  • Respect. The number one rule would be to respect one another and ourselves. Every post, email, or website would respect the rights of every viewer.
  • Posture. The nuns required us to stand tall, so too, online, we would present ourselves strong and true.
  • Homework. No shooting from the hip or blabbing on about topics that we know nothing about. Postings would be researched and substantiated with credible resources.
  • Quiet Time. If we don’t have something of substance to say, no entry would be allowed. This is when we’d be watching, listening, reading, and learning.
  • Service. Much of our online presence would make a difference, it would be an avenue to improve the lives of those less fortunate.
  • Better Dating Services. No touching, no foul or inappropriate language, and no revealing photos allowed. The nuns know who belongs with whom. Everyone would end up partnered, married, and live happily ever after.
  • Editing. At the very least, our spelling and grammar would be impeccable.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Writing Clinic: Adjective Challenge Thursday, Feb 14 2013 

I challenge you to a duel – duel word elimination.

I challenge you to see how many days you can go without saying or writing the two “A” words. You know what they are. If you don’t overuse them, you are in the minority.

Everything is amazing. Everyone is awesome. You’d think our lives were pretty perfect by the amount of times we say these words.

We do have other adjectives in the English language. So why is it that as an entire society we choose these two as our adjectives of choice? How did we get stuck in this amazingly, awesome cycle?

If you decide to take the challenge, I offer a few alternative adjectives for your repertoire. Let me know how you do.

Adjectives for amazing and awesome:

  • astonishing, astounding, beautiful, breathtaking, fascinating, impressive, incredible, magnificent, majestic, marvelous, outstanding, phenomenal, remarkable, sensational, spectacular, stupendous, stunning, surprising, unbelievable, wonderful.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Writing Clinic: Everyday and Every Day Thursday, Jan 31 2013 

One of the complicated aspects of the English language is the proper usage of words such as everyday and every day. These words are pronounced the same but are grammatically and significantly different. Verbally, this is not an issue, but it is in writing.

Here are some points to remember when writing these words:

  •  Everyday means common, ordinary, or normal.
  • Everyday is an adjective. Adjectives are used with a noun.

Examples:

  • Everyday life is the theme of this blog.
  • You wear your everyday coat during the week but your dress coat to special events.

Notice that everyday is accompanied with the nouns life and coat. If you can ask, “what,” such as everyday what, use everyday.

  • Every day is a combination of two words meaning each day.
  • Every day consists of an adjective (every) and a noun (day).

Examples:

  • I walk three miles every day.
  • I drink coffee every day.

Notice there are no more nouns after the word day. If you can replace every with each, use every day.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

The Christmas Letter Monday, Dec 10 2012 

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When their children were young, my friends, Mary Ellen and Mike, sent the most entertaining Christmas letters. They offered a not-so-flattering but realistic and humorous glimpse of their large family in action. Their card and letter was the one I eagerly waited for each season and laughed over well into the new year.

Opening a Christmas card and finding a letter tucked inside is like receiving a little gift.  It’s an opportunity to catch up with loved ones, and it is so much more pleasing than merely a signed card. That is, unless the note is long, boring, or depressing.

So how do you write a dynamic Christmas letter? Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind. Recipients want to celebrate your accomplishments but don’t want a brag-fest. They also want to hear about your trials and how you are getting through them. But they don’t want to know the detailed surgical procedure you endured. Nor do they need your day-to-day journal from the past year.

As with all writing, less is best. In a few paragraphs, tell about the highlights of the past year. What made you happiest and what raises your concerns? Inform readers of your work or other areas and how they may support you if their interests align with yours. And don’t forget to solicit prayers when needed.

Write simply and clearly. Reread and edit. Check grammar and spelling. If recipients can’t read your letter, or it is lengthy, your time is wasted as it all goes unread. Also, even when delivering bad news, try to stay positive.

A good Christmas letter links family and friends far and wide. Make yours an interesting one that is enjoyed and passed around the holiday dinner table.

©Mary K. Doyle

Passionately Creative Monday, Oct 29 2012 

Back when we wrote on typewriters there was a saying that typists type and writers look out windows. For content and idea driven writing, a writer must take note of what’s going on around them.

I make no excuses for play dates because in many ways, I’m always working. Whatever I do, I’m gathering ideas and information for future articles, posts, and books. Life is around me. When my eyes and heart are open, story ideas pour in.

I’m rarely stuck for topics to write about but when I am, I do something else that’s creative. An unrelated activity gives my mind a break and sparks new ways of thinking. I sew, garden, read, bake/cook, see a movie, check out Pinterest, or stroll through an art museum or park. After doing so, the writing flows freely.

One thing I do know for sure though is that I have to write. It’s my passion and makes me happy. I believe it is my God-given gift and must be fed. If I don’t spend some time each week at my desk, I feel smothered and sad.

I write to sort through my thoughts, learn something new, and express myself. Above all, my intention is to promote a sense of unity with readers, raise awareness on a certain topic, and/or offer some information in small digestible portions. In the end I hope to make the world gentler, kinder, and more loving.

My “free time” is limited these days. Writing this blog allows me to take a manageable amount of time every day or so to research a topic and play with words.

So what’s your passion and how do you fulfill it? I’d love to hear about it.

©2012, Mary K. Doyle

You’re Your Own Person Thursday, Sep 27 2012 

Texting is resulting in a society that no longer can write appropriately. Because of the constant flow of quick messaging, we’re often hurried and sloppy in our spelling and grammar usage. The misuse of contractions is particularly common.

Contractions are the shortened versions of words or groups of two or more words. Unlike compound words that use the words in their complete form, as illustrated in the word “bookkeeper,“ contractions replace a letter or two with an apostrophe. For example, “they” and “are” becomes “they’re;” “do” and “not” becomes “don’t;” and “I” and “am” becomes “I’m.”

When unsure of using words with the same sounds such as “your” and “you’re,” ask yourself if the word can be replaced with the full form such as “you are.” If so, use the contraction (or the full form).  It’s very simple and only takes just one more moment. The more often you spell the words correctly the easier it becomes.

©2012, Mary K. Doyle

Right to Copyright Monday, Jul 30 2012 

Copyrighting certainly is more important to consider today than ever as years of research and creation can quickly be stolen from right under our noses. And violation of the law can cost thousands in legal fees and penalties. But the laws as to what is copyrightable confuses many.

I recently attended a cooking class with my sisters and asked the school if I may publish one of their recipes on this blog. The call was simply a courtesy since recipes are not copyrightable. However, the cooking school owner denied my request, and I respectfully did not post the recipe.

Copyright law does not protect recipes or other listings of ingredients. It may protect the literary expression that surrounds it such as the write-up on the recipe or a collection of recipes as in a cookbook.

In addition to lists and recipes, works not protected are those not in a fixed and tangible form, titles, names, short phrases, slogans, familiar symbols, lettering, coloring, ideas, procedures, methods, systems, concepts, common information and principles, and standards such as height and weight charts.

Items that are protected include works that are literary, musical, dramatic, pantomime, choreographed, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, motion pictures, sound recordings, and architectural in nature.

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to authors of original works. Copyright gives the owner of the work the exclusive right to produce and distribute or perform the work. It is illegal for anyone to violate any of these rights.

Copyright protection exists from creation in a fixed form. This is regardless if it includes the copyright symbol (©) or is formally registered.

When a work is “made for hire,” or commonly called a “work for hire,” which is when the work is done on behalf of another party and the creator is paid by that person or company to create the work, the work belongs to the employer. The creator of the work is not considered the author. The employer is in this case.

Copyright applies automatically upon creation of a work in a fixed form. The use of a copyright notice  is not required but is beneficial. It informs the public that the work is protected by copyright and identifies the owners. The date of first publication also may appear.

Works created on or after January 1, 1978 are protected from the moment of creation in a fixed form, throughout the author’s life, and continues until 70 years after the author’s death. When a work is a product of joint authors, the copyright extends until the death of the longest living survivor plus 70 years.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as international copyright. The laws vary depending on the country.

For more information or to copyright your work, go to www.copyright.gov or contact the Library of Congress, U.S. Copyright Office, 101 Independence Avenue Se, Washington, DC 20559.

©2012, Mary K. Doyle

Writing Clinic: There, Their, They’re Wednesday, May 16 2012 

 

They’re looking for their shoes over there.

They’re, there, and their. These three words are misused daily, and I must admit that although I know the right usage, occasionally I also have keyed in the wrong one. So here’s a quick review on how to use them correctly.

They’re, there, and their sound the same but have different meanings. Knowing when to use which one is simple if you take a few seconds to think about what you want to say before writing.

  • They’re is a contraction, a combination of the two words they and are. If you can substitute They are in the sentence you also can use they’re.
  • There is a place. If the word answers the question, “Where is it?” use the word there. (Notice the word “here” within the word. If it’s not here it’s there.)
  • Their shows ownership. It is the possessive form of they. Whose book is this? It is their book.

Do you have a grammar or writing question? Tell me and I’ll cover it in a future post.

©Mary K. Doyle

What I Meant to Say Was . . . Monday, May 7 2012 

Some people can say exactly what is on their mind. They have the ability to speak and think quickly.

I am not one of those people.

Few thoughts come out of my mouth exactly as I want them expressed. After I say something, especially in a difficult conversation, I think about what I did say and how I wished I would have said it. I revisit the scene in my head with the corrected script and imagine a better outcome.

The ability to say what I want better through editing is what I love about writing. I get a second, third, and fourth chance to say it better when I write.

Typically, I write, walk away, come back and rewrite at least once or twice before sending anything. The message is there from the beginning but I can say it so much better after another look. I check spelling and grammar several times and read the piece aloud at least once because I often hear errors I can’t see on the computer.

We have the opportunity to write whatever is on our mind in so many ways on the internet. This is a blessing and a curse because the written word has a long life. Once published, you can’t completely correct it. If you write something you later regret or posted with glaring errors, you very well may be reminded of it the rest of your life.

The more you write, the more likely your work won’t be perfect. There will be errors. But the goal is to present your message as correctly and clearly as possible as often as possible.That can’t happen if you don’t proofread and edit. Taking the extra time to do so can make a lasting difference.

©Mary K. Doyle

Writing Clinic: Me and I Wednesday, Apr 18 2012 

When is it correct to use “I” and when should you use “me?” The two words are often used incorrectly. But it isn’t that difficult to know which is correct.

“I” is the subject of a verb – the one who does the action. “Me” is the object of the verb – the one the subject does the action to. Example: I want this for me.

When “I” and “me” are used with another noun, you often can hear which word should be used if you remove the other noun. Look at the following sentence:

Patti and (me or I) ate the whole loaf of bread.
Patti ate the whole loaf of bread. I ate the whole loaf of bread.
Patti and I ate the whole loaf of bread.
“I” am the subject of the verb. I ate the bread.

And here is an example for “me:”
The doctor gave both my husband and (me or I) prescriptions.
The doctor gave my husband a prescription. The doctor gave me a prescription.
The doctor gave my husband and me prescriptions.
“Me” is the object of the verb. I didn’t do anything. It was done to me.

Now you try it. If you stop and think a moment before speaking or writing, you soon will hear the correct pronoun to use. Just remember, “I am not the king. I am the subject.”

©Mary K. Doyle

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