LOL, My BFF Monday, Nov 11 2013 

Texting is not a verbal language. My son-in-law Steve says this to the young people whom he works with. But it probably won’t be long before some of it actually is.

Language is never stagnant. If you read a 20 year-old book, you will notice that some of the wording is dated. Words are incorporated into our language from other languages, cultures, and trends. The more we use new words, alter their meaning, or discontinue their use, the more likely they will become a part of our everyday language in their new form. There is a whole area that deals with this. Etymology is the study of the history of words – their origins and how they evolved.

Many of our newer words, or ways in which we use them, are associated with technology. My grandparents would have no idea what email or Internet means, and they used the words domain and reboot quite differently than we do today.

Texting also has created many words and prompted a shorthand young people know very well. As if written in code, those unfamiliar with texting have little to no clue as to the letters’ and symbols’ meanings. The danger is when we no longer know how to spell-out what they represent, such as R (are) and luv (love).

And yes, we will pick up many of these text words in our daily spoken and written language. B4 u know it the general public may simply say LOL (Lots of Laughs or Laughing out Loud) and BFF (Best Friends Forever). 🙂

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

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Write On Wednesday, Aug 14 2013 

Water Lillies

The last decade, and especially the last five or six years, have been a struggle for most of us trying to earn a living. As soon as we seem to figure out how to do it, things change. The continuous mix of new technology, the current economy, trends, and worldwide needs and concerns keep every industry in flux. The arts are no different.

It’s no surprise to anyone that the publishing industry is not what it used to be. Hardcopy magazines, newspapers, and books are dwindling as online and e-content rises. It’s becoming more and more difficult to make a lucrative career in writing, although in every industry there are people who are incredibly successful.

I’ve been writing professionally since 1972. I’ve worked in radio, cable television, newspapers, advertising, and the book industry. The last fifteen years I’ve been able to write on topics that appeal to me the most but now am finding getting published to be more challenging.

The first question every publisher must ask before publishing is how large of an audience the work would draw and how many copies can be sold. Writing books for a minute audience, such as Catholic children, is limited in its ability to generate enough revenue to support the production expense. Unfortunately, very important works such as these are going to the wayside. It’s becoming more difficult for publishers to take on these types of projects even when they see their need.

The one advantage creative people have is their creativity. We can think “outside the box” and therefore should be able to develop new ways to use our talent and get these works out to our audience. We just have to be open to new ideas and methods of doing things and then patiently wait and watch for our audience’s response.

Writing is solitary business. We research alone and write alone. Sure, there are times our research brings us to events and people. There are interviews and curators to speak with. But mostly, we are at our computer, plugging along, sorting through information and thoughts by ourselves.

The little books I write take years to compile. After a market analysis, I diligently research, write, and rewrite countless times so that what remains is clear and to the point, uncluttered, and easy to read. But after all of that, I really don’t have any idea as to how a book will be received. Even after publication, it takes months before reviews, responses, and sales indicate its success or not.

Articles and these little posts are similar but on a much smaller scale. Feature articles can take weeks to write. Most of these blog posts are researched and written within a couple of hours at most. I appreciate all of you who comment, like, and sign up to follow. Without that, I have no idea if anyone is out there – if anyone cares to read the posts, if what I write is at all helpful.

Crazy to non-writers, I enjoy all the time I put into my writings. It’s my passion and vocation. I love gathering my thoughts and ideas and putting them into beautiful words. It is my pleasure to offer my readers a bit of information, something to think about, a moment of fun, hope, or inspiration in the package of a book, article, blog post, or personal note.

I encourage all you writers out there to keep plugging along. Give birth to that writing inside of you. And I ask all the readers out there to respond. Let us know how you feel about our writing, especially if we hit the mark with you.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Breaking the Myth Monday, May 6 2013 

In a time when our writing is becoming less proper by the moment, we still are hanging on to the old myth that a sentence should never end in a preposition. I know I avoided it for most of my writing career, but I assure you, it is perfectly acceptable to do so.

Prepositions are words used before nouns and pronouns to form phrases that modify verbs, nouns, or adjectives. They deal with time and space. Examples of prepositions include: above, about, around, before, beneath, beyond, near, of, on, outside, under, upon, to, toward, and with.

If you want to sound more sophisticated, go ahead and say, “To whom shall I send this?” But writing or saying, “Who should I send this to?” really is just fine.

After I write something, I read it aloud. I can usually hear if the sentence is awkward even if I don’t see it on the computer.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Writing Clinic: All Together/Altogether, All Ready/Already, All Right/Alright Thursday, Mar 21 2013 

In the English language, we love to combine our words but then become confused as to how to use them, especially if the meaning changes slightly. We often find this with words that involve all, such as all together and altogether; all ready and already; and all right and alright.

Here are a few tips to help keep them straight:

A good way to remember when to use all together or altogether is that all together is used when the items that are grouped remain separate whereas altogether indicates the blending of the items, such as seen in the words themselves.

All together means “in unison,” “gathered in one place.” Use this pair of words when several things or people are brought into close proximity.

Examples:

  • The workers met all together in the cafeteria.
  • The choir sang all together.

Altogether means “entirely,” “completely.” If you can substitute either of these words, use altogether.

Examples:

  • Mix the ingredients altogether. (Mix the ingredients completely.)
  • This book is altogether different from the first one in the series. (This book is entirely different from the first one in the series.)

* * *

All ready means something is “completely prepared.” If you can use only the word “ready,” then “all ready” is correct.

Examples:

  • Dinner is all ready. (Dinner is completely prepared. Dinner is ready.)
  • My speech is all ready for the convention. (My speech is ready.)

Already has to do with time. This word means “by now,” “before now,” or “prior to a specified time.”

Examples:

  • I arrived at the theater by eight but the play already started.
  • She wanted another cookie but already brushed her teeth.

You can see the difference when used in the same sentence: Jack was all ready for work but his train already came.

***

All right and alright are interchangeable with some restrictions. Alright is generally accepted, but some sources continue to state that the word is a misspelling of all right. You may want to use the full form in academic or more conservative writings.

©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

Midwest Mary’s First 100 Posts Monday, Feb 11 2013 

The 100th day of school is a milestone celebrated in primary grades. Children bring 100 small items such as paper clips, bows, small candies, pennies, marbles, or stickers to visualize the amount of time they have been in school.

This is my 100th post of Midwest Mary. I’ve covered a wide range of topics including personal perspectives, how-to/DIY, recipes, writing tips, events, and product reviews. According to Word Press’ statistics the most popular posts vary greatly in topic, so it looks like you are up for most anything. Your comments and likes are my guide in determining future posts. Please speak up if you have a preference or dislike for particular posts.

To illustrate what Midwest Mary’s first 100 posts amount to, I’ve listed the titles below in chronological order. Click on a few you may have missed or want to reread. You also can search by category on the left side of this blog.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Summer in the Spring, https://midwestmary.com/2012/03/17/summer-in-the-spring/

What’s Your Vote, https://midwestmary.com/2012/03/19/whats-your-vote/

Writing Clinic: Complaint Letter, https://midwestmary.com/2012/03/21/writing-clinic-complaint-letters/

Zip It, https://midwestmary.com/2012/03/23/zip-it/

Help Wanted, https://midwestmary.com/2012/03/26/help-wanted/

Sharks or Dolphins, https://midwestmary.com/2012/03/28/sharks-or-dolphins/

Hard Boiled, https://midwestmary.com/2012/03/30/hard-boiled/

Writing Clinic: Thank You Notes, https://midwestmary.com/2012/04/01/writing-clinic-thank-you-notes/

Homemade Italian Bread with Herbs, https://midwestmary.com/2012/04/04/homemade-italian-bread-with-herbs/

Happy, Hopeful Easter, https://midwestmary.com/2012/04/06/happy-hopeful-easter/

What a Pain, https://midwestmary.com/2012/04/09/what-a-pain/

Separately Together, https://midwestmary.com/2012/04/11/separately-together/

Wind in Your Sails, https://midwestmary.com/2012/04/13/wind-in-your-sails/

Free Box, https://midwestmary.com/2012/04/16/free-box/

Writing Clinic: Me and I, https://midwestmary.com/2012/04/18/writing-clinic-me-and-i-2/

Elephant Ears and Other Foods with Crazy Names, https://midwestmary.com/2012/04/20/elephant-ears-and-other-foods-with-crazy-names/

Sausage and Potato One Pot Dinner, https://midwestmary.com/2012/04/23/sausage-and-potato-one-pot-dinner/

How’s the Weather, https://midwestmary.com/2012/04/25/hows-the-weather/

Do-Dee-Do-Dee-Do, https://midwestmary.com/2012/04/27/do-dee-do-dee-do/

Pin Your Interests on Pinterest, https://midwestmary.com/2012/04/30/pin-your-interests-on-pinterest/

Great Buy in South Elgin, https://midwestmary.com/2012/05/02/430/

Mexican Oregano, https://midwestmary.com/2012/05/04/mexican-oregano/

What I Meant to Say Was . . ., https://midwestmary.com/2012/05/07/what-i-meant-to-say-was/

Garlic Twist, https://midwestmary.com/2012/05/09/garlic-twist/

Bless All Mothers, https://midwestmary.com/2012/05/11/bless-all-mothers/

Speak Up for Justice, https://midwestmary.com/2012/05/12/speak-up-for-justice/

Writing Clinic: There, Their, They’re, https://midwestmary.com/2012/05/16/writing-clinic-there-their-theyre/

Up in the UP, https://midwestmary.com/2012/05/18/up-in-the-up/

Recipe Art, https://midwestmary.com/2012/05/20/recipe-art/

One with the Board, https://midwestmary.com/2012/05/23/one-with-the-board/

Adorable Alpacas, https://midwestmary.com/2012/05/25/adorable-alpacas/

Birthday Wisdom, https://midwestmary.com/2012/05/30/birthday-wisdom/

Women’s Colleges, https://midwestmary.com/2012/06/04/womens-colleges/

Where is Everyone?, https://midwestmary.com/2012/06/08/where-is-everyone/

The Graceful Fox, https://midwestmary.com/2012/06/11/the-graceful-fox/

What’s Do-Dee-Do-Dee-Doing at Chicago Museums, https://midwestmary.com/2012/06/14/whats-do-dee-do-dee-doing-at-chicago-museums/

Tech Support on Speed Dial, https://midwestmary.com/2012/06/19/tech-support-on-speed-dial/

Leadership Potential, https://midwestmary.com/2012/06/25/leadership-potential/

Our Favorite House Guest, https://midwestmary.com/2012/06/28/our-favorite-house-guest/

Crazy for Coconut, https://midwestmary.com/2012/07/02/crazy-for-coconut/

Self-Talk and Evaluation, https://midwestmary.com/2012/07/05/self-talk-and-evaluation/

Japanese Gardens, https://midwestmary.com/2012/07/09/847/

Kitchen Rain, https://midwestmary.com/2012/07/12/kitchen-rain/

Hot Topics, https://midwestmary.com/2012/07/16/hot-topics/

A Still, Quiet Moment, https://midwestmary.com/2012/07/23/a-still-quiet-moment/

Best Fudge Sauce, https://midwestmary.com/2012/07/26/best-fudge-sauce/

Right to Copyright, https://midwestmary.com/2012/07/30/right-to-copyright/

An Eye for Art, https://midwestmary.com/2012/08/02/an-eye-for-art/

Spicy Pest Control, https://midwestmary.com/2012/08/06/spicy-pest-control/

Self-Proclaimed Gold Medal Toilet Bowl Cleaner, https://midwestmary.com/2012/08/10/self-proclaimed-gold-medal-toilet-bowl-cleaner/

Now You See it. Now You Don’t, https://midwestmary.com/2012/08/14/now-you-see-it-now-you-dont/

Quick Fix, https://midwestmary.com/2012/08/16/quick-fix/

Powwow, https://midwestmary.com/2012/08/20/powwow/

Baby Names, https://midwestmary.com/2012/08/23/baby-names/

Produce at Its Peak, https://midwestmary.com/2012/08/30/produce-at-its-peak/

Folk Music and Storytelling Festival, https://midwestmary.com/2012/09/03/folk-music-and-storytelling-festival/

Business-Customers=0 Business, https://midwestmary.com/2012/09/06/business-customers-0-business/

Smoked Paprika, https://midwestmary.com/2012/09/10/smoked-paprika/

New Look for Midwest Mary, https://midwestmary.com/2012/09/13/new-look-for-midwest-mary/

Freedom at a Price, https://midwestmary.com/2012/09/17/freedom-at-a-price/

Totally Awesome Grout Cleaner, https://midwestmary.com/2012/09/20/totally-awesome-grout-cleaner/

Our Parent’s Children, https://midwestmary.com/2012/09/24/our-parents-children/

You’re Your Own Person, https://midwestmary.com/2012/09/27/youre-your-own-person/

Midwest Music, https://midwestmary.com/2012/10/01/midwest-music/

Family Recipes, https://midwestmary.com/2012/10/04/family-recipes/

Raising Our Own Bar, https://midwestmary.com/2012/10/08/raising-our-own-bar/

It’s Only a Number, https://midwestmary.com/2012/10/11/its-only-a-number/

United We Stand, https://midwestmary.com/2012/10/15/united-we-stand/

Magnetic Therapy, https://midwestmary.com/2012/10/18/magnetic-therapy/

Going Digital, https://midwestmary.com/2012/10/22/going-digital/

What Say Ye?, https://midwestmary.com/2012/10/25/what-say-ye/

Passionately Creative, https://midwestmary.com/2012/10/29/passionately-creative/

After Sandy, https://midwestmary.com/2012/11/01/after-sandy/

Fig Balsamic, https://midwestmary.com/2012/11/05/1210/

It’s a Stretch, https://midwestmary.com/2012/11/08/its-a-stretch/

Thank You for Serving, https://midwestmary.com/2012/11/12/thank-you-for-serving/

Looking Good, https://midwestmary.com/2012/11/15/looking-good/

Happy Thanksgiving, https://midwestmary.com/2012/11/19/happy-thanksgiving/

Deck the Halls, https://midwestmary.com/2012/11/26/deck-the-halls/

Candle Safety, https://midwestmary.com/2012/11/29/candle-safety/

Don’t Worry. Be Happy, https://midwestmary.com/2012/12/03/dont-worry-be-happy/

No Time Like the Present, https://midwestmary.com/2012/12/06/no-time-like-the-present/

The Christmas Letter, https://midwestmary.com/2012/12/10/the-christmas-letter/

Pat Doyle’s Pizzelles, https://midwestmary.com/2012/12/13/pat-doyles-pizzelles/

Kindness Needed, https://midwestmary.com/2012/12/17/kindness-needed/

One Lovely Blog, https://midwestmary.com/2012/12/20/one-lovely-blog-award/

Peace On Earth Goodwill Toward All, https://midwestmary.com/2012/12/23/peace-on-earth-goodwill-toward-all/

The Three Rs, https://midwestmary.com/2012/12/27/the-three-rs/

Comfortable in the Background, https://midwestmary.com/2013/01/03/comfortable-in-the-background/

Leftover to Luscious, https://midwestmary.com/2013/01/07/leftover-to-luscious/

Blog of the Year 2012 Award, https://midwestmary.com/2013/01/10/blog-of-the-year-2012-award/

One Extra Step, https://midwestmary.com/2013/01/14/one-extra-step/

Stop and Think, https://midwestmary.com/2013/01/17/stop-and-think/

Inauguration and Presidential Trivia, https://midwestmary.com/2013/01/21/inauguration-and-presidential-trivia/

Medicine Cabinet, https://midwestmary.com/2013/01/24/medicine-cabinet/

Making a Roux, https://midwestmary.com/2013/01/28/making-a-roux/

Writing Clinic: Everyday and Every Day, https://midwestmary.com/2013/01/31/writing-clinic-everyday-and-every-day/

What Color is Your Snow?, https://midwestmary.com/2013/02/04/what-color-is-your-snow/

Get Some Sleep, https://midwestmary.com/2013/02/07/get-some-sleep/

Midwest Mary’s First 100 Posts

©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 

DSCN0051

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

Going Digital Monday, Oct 22 2012 

Newsweek is going fully digital. After 79 years in print, the magazine soon will only be available online. They are one more publisher crying “uncle” and giving up on the financial struggle to publish in print.

As a writer and very small publisher, I understand. I have two unpublished manuscripts at this time that are valuable in content but appeal to a small niche market. Producing such books in hardcopy is often unlikely to recoup the expenses much less make a profit.

Readers sit on both sides of the how-to-read-a-book fence. Some swear by the Ereaders while others only want a paper book they can hold in their hands. And then there are the rest of us who see the value in both.

I admit that reading on my Kindle is easy on the eyes and easy to hold. I enjoy it for the most part, especially for one-time reads, and the embedded links to related websites is a fun bonus. My luggage is considerably lighter than the days of carrying an armful of books and my book shelves are less cluttered. Ebooks and magazines are greener, less wasteful. I especially like the benefit of reading what I want without comments from surrounding people who can see the title.

However, there are hardcopy books and magazines I continue to purchase. I prefer to have a traditional book or magazine if it has a lot of color photos or graphics or ones I use for reference. I like to underline and write in the margins and it’s much easier to find these notations in a regular book.

I also enjoy physical bookstores and libraries over the online ones. It’s heaven for me to stroll through the aisles and be in the midst of all the books, to smell them, and feel their weight in my hands.

As a writer, my greatest concern is the ethereal aspect of digital. We have papyrus from the Egyptians, antique books in museums, and can buy ones over a hundred years in specialized book stores, on ebay, and Amazon Marketplace. This type of longevity can’t happen with digital publications. As the formats change, many will be left in the wind. There will be no retrieval for them.

I work many years gathering and sorting through research, writing and rewriting. I hope my books, especially future ones that may only be available electronically, aren’t among the casualties.

©2012, Mary K. Doyle

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