Friday, August 28, 2009


This is a copy of a product review that I have posted at my Leaders in Learning Blog. I thought that some of you other writers who are technologically challenged like me might appreciate this review also.


I’ve found a web design program that is technically not challenging at all.

As a writer and blogger, I’ve always wanted to learn html. So I purchased a book at a local discount store and even borrowed a few from the library but became disappointed when I felt like I was reading French in a mirror backwards. (The only French I know is my middle name and a Sunday School song.)

So, you can imagine how excited I was to receive a copy of a web design program for kids! I have two kids living at home and was a curious grow-up, so I figured it had to work for me but I was also a nervous, semi-literate html writer. In fact, I knew just enough about html to get myself in trouble.

After I began to watch this DVD, I felt a little better. It is very basic and non-threatening, guiding you step by step, through the stages of designing a web page. The only tools you need to have are the NOTEPAD program, Internet Explorer, your television and a DVD player. Well, maybe there is one more thing you need. You will want your remote control so you can pause the video and practice the lessons. (Alternatively, you can play it on the computer but you’ll have to be a pro at toggling screens).

You will want to keep your eyes on the TV screen or computer monitor as scenes transition between Brian Richardson’s mellow teaching and the computer screens of his equally mild-mannered teenaged students. I enjoyed watching and noting the manners and attitudes of respect shown by the teens as well. We did keep the remote handy so we could freeze the frames and copy the text.

The whole video is low-key and pretty easy to follow. My boys enjoyed watching their works in progress turn up as real webpages featuring their names and everything. The video showed how to create a Word Pad Document and then convert it into a web page. It also taught the kids how to create folders, save to various drives, how to find hidden code on popular web pages and more. Most of the clips were instruction on building the webpages. Both of my boys tried it. One of them was a little frustrated because his computer program was slightly different and we had to fiddle around to figure out how to convert the page to html and back to a WordPad document. Once we figured out how to do it, he jumped right back into designing. I sat with my laptop nearby and played around with the fonts and colors right along with my boys. Sometimes, we got so interested in making the letters scroll, changing the backgrounds and making up our own funny sayings, that we had to stop the movie to get back on track but each clip had enough review on it, that we were able to catch up quickly.

We learned about sandwiches--no, not those kind-my two boys became hungry at the thought of sandwiches, too--stop signs, the use of <> signs as well as how to make text scroll across the page in various directions. (See the title at the top? It's scrolling, aren't you proud of me? )Somehow the code made sense to us when it hadn’t before. I guess it was encouraging to see younger people, with less education than I, able to create and decorate a webpage. It gave me the courage to try it myself and not be intimidated by the computer words and code.

I didn’t get to watch all of the video while my laptop was available(multi-tasking took me away at times), but my boys watched the whole thing with interest.

I hope to spend more time working with the video. I have a lot more to learn from it.

What a great investment! It has a money back guarantee and for the special price of $19.99 (normally $40), a reticent or challenged learner can benefit from a low cost way to try out a potential career/hobby. It’s not for a programming savvy individual but it worked well for my kids and little old me. And who knows? It might be future job training for one of my boys. I can picture him now, making his business cards and brochures and selling people on hiring him to build their web pages.

As far as the quality of the video and acting, well, it was not super-engaging. The few jokes were somewhat flat but as a beginner instructional video, it was not bad. And the author/producer has a good motivation for selling his product. Not only does he want to help you learn to be more technologically skilled BUT also he donates a portion of the price toward charity. You might like to check out what he does and leave a comment. You can read up about that here.

Oh and for the other curious grown-ups: I looked up what HTML stands for—it’s an acronym for: Hyper Text Markup Language. With a name like that, no wonder everyone is shaking in their rhetorical boots. Folks who resemble that remark need to watch this video.

Do I recommend it? You bet. I did learn a lot and my kids enjoyed it as well. It was so easy compared to most other HTML programs and in the end, left me feeling like I actually might be able to play around more with designing web pages. I guess you could say, it takes the “timid” out of “intimidated”.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Technical Difficulties

Rather Be Writing will return after technical difficulties are remedied. Thank you for your patience.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dr. Wordwielder is Weary

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Dr. Wordwielder here with your weekly word examination. I shan't be long. I'm a mite bit weary this evening as I've made several trips out in the rain and doing so depletes this old chap of any gumption he might have thought in his possession.

First, I purposed to go to the local library for their annual used book sale in a quest for a few, desired, old faithful books, some of which have been on my wish list for quite some time now, perhaps ten years. I've handled the modern copies but they do not compare to the quality striven for by every business worth it's salt in yesteryear. It was imperative that I not be late for this very important date with alibris, so I skipped breakfast and gobbled down a light nosh of pickled eggs followed by a slice of brown bread. I advanced to my car in hopes that the motorway would not be too cramped. Of course, you know that the weather in Florida is about as fickle as a mood ring and one must prepare for the best and worst to come. I tossed a brolly in the boot even though it was bright and warm from the golden sun. Walking away, I glanced in the rear view as I approached the driver's side. I noted a few bread crumbs in my mustache so I reached up to brush them away, only to accidentally nudge my bi-focals. They fell off my face but I quickly scooped the cap off my woolen head and caught them. To my great surprise, the neighborhood children who were waiting on the arrival of the school bus, must have believed that I was a magician performing a trick, as they giggled and clapped (after a gasp or two). I have to admit, it was a pretty brilliant chance for me to cover up what might have been a fateful accident. I turned and gave a slight bow and then climbed into the vehicle.

As I motored toward the library sale, little droplets of water began to drip onto my windscreen and form into little pools. I turned on my wipers and gave way to the yellow cab that seemed to be out of place in this area and didn't he know it? Perhaps he was from New York or something. He almost ran me off the road, but I was able to right myself and keep on track until I reached the slip road to the adorable village that's name includes the title for Mountain but is really a hill with a few slight curves. At any rate, the precipitation had weakened and I was not too disappointed as I had no way of reaching my protection that was lying by itself in the rear of the car.

The library was as I had hoped it would be, quiet as a museum at night (although I heard someone wrote a movie about strange happenings in one museum). The early bird catches the worm, you know. I stood at the door, awaiting the librarian who came a moment later with the keys. I had not arrived a minute too soon. As we entered the building, cars were motoring up into the lot like ants on honey at a picnic. I mustn't blame them. There were a grand amount of books available. I gazed on a copy of "The Royal Path of Life" by Thomas Haines and company. It was a giant volume containing pages of velum, black and white drawings and advice written in a grandfatherly tone, yielding wisdom as well as debating the issues of contemporary society. I longed to purchase it but pondered the thought of carrying the monstrosity along with me as I browsed the other tables.

The aroma of musty paper wafted o'er the room and to me it was the scent of heaven unleashed. I picked up a copy of John Greenleaf Whittier's poetry, a fine book with an embossed red rose on the front. It contained an autograph on the title page and was addressed to a colleague of his. I ran my fingers across the edges and marveled at how the grainy cover could suddenly feel so smooth over the center of it, as if ribbon with a rose underneath, had been woven in like fabric across the cover. I placed the anthology back down on the table and picked up a plain book that looked like it had been wrapped in a brown paper bag, only it felt more like burlap. It was a copy of Riverside Literature Series Numbers 13 and 14, the Song of Hiawatha, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Delighted, I opened the book and saw that it was a true find for only $10.00. I snatched it up quickly and proceeded to the cashier, checked out and left. It had always fascinated me to read stories of the Natives in early America and Longfellow was no slouch in the telling of it.

Since the hour is late and since Ms. BeckyJoie has requested that I weigh in on the matter of good literature, I shall forgo the lengthy examination and post but one or two questions. Prior to that, I shall share with you a portion of the book I was able to acquire. I do hope that you will grant a weary old man some forgiveness for an atypical post this eve. This is only an excerpt of the poem titled, "Hiawatha's Friends" in "The Song of Hiawatha". I am posting it in response to Ms. JoJo Tabares weblog article about friendship and what constitutes such. Don't you think that Longfellow does an excellent job of describing Hiawatha's feelings toward friends?

Two good friends had Hiawatha,
Singled out from all the others,
Bound to him in closest union,
And to whom he gave the right hand
Of his heart, in joy and sorrow;
Chibiabos, the musician,
And the very strong man, Kwasind.
Straight between them ran the pathway,
Never grew the grass upon it;
Singing birds, that utter falsehoods,
Story-tellers, mischief-makers,
Found no eager ear to listen,
Could not breed ill-will between them,
For they kept each other's counsel,
Spake with naked hearts together,
Pondering much and much contriving
How the tribes of men might prosper.
Most beloved by Hiawatha
Was the gentle Chibiabos,
He the best of all musicians,
He the sweetest of all singers.
Beautiful and childlike was he,
Brave as man is, soft as woman,
Pliant as a wand of willow,
Stately as a deer with antlers.
When he sang, the village listened;
All the warriors gathered round him,
All the women came to hear him;
Now he stirred their souls to passion,
Now he melted them to pity.
From the hollow reeds he fashioned
Flutes so musical and mellow,
That the brook, the Sebowisha,
Ceased to murmur in the woodland,
That the wood-birds ceased from singing,
And the squirrel, Adjidaumo,
Ceased his chatter in the oak-tree,
And the rabbit, the Wabasso,
Sat upright to look and listen.
Yes, the brook, the Sebowisha,
Pausing, said, "O Chibiabos,
Teach my waves to flow in music,
Softly as your words in singing!"
Yes, the bluebird, the Owaissa,
Envious, said, "O Chibiabos,
Teach me tones as wild and wayward,
Teach me songs as full of frenzy!"
Yes, the robin, the Opechee,
Joyous, said, "O Chibiabos,
Teach me tones as sweet and tender,
Teach me songs as full of gladness!"
And the whippoorwill, Wawonaissa,
Sobbing, said, "O Chibiabos,
Teach me tones as melancholy,
Teach me songs as full of sadness!"
All the many sounds of nature
Borrowed sweetness from his singing;
All the hearts of men were softened
By the pathos of his music;
For he sang of peace and freedom,
Sang of beauty, love, and longing;
Sang of death, and life undying
In the Islands of the Blessed,
In the kingdom of Ponemah,
In the land of the Hereafter.

The vivid language and grammar of this piece is inspiring in a literary and philosophical sense. I simply adore Longfellow's use of poetic devices. For example,
his use of similes and metaphors such as "pliant as a wand of willows", "stately as a deer with antlers" and "spoke with naked hearts together" show his astute knowledge of how to appeal to the interest and intellect of his readers. What eloquent words he uses that we might understand and feel what Hiawatha, the main character feels toward his friends. What magnificent usage of the colour and imagery that evoke in us a sense of our presence in the story. I noticed also that the gentleman used a subtle amount of alliteration. For instance, "teach me tones wild and wayward", "eager ear" and the like. He does employ a set rhythm which engraves the words and details upon the mind of the reader. Not many folks are skilled at the art of using multiple, hyphenated words so close together but Longfellow used them like they were pieces of a song-of course they are-the Song of Hiawatha. "Singing birds, that utter falsehoods, Story-tellers,mischief-makers, Found no eager ear to listen, Could not breed ill-will between them."

Although I am merely skimming the surface, the literary content of Longfellow's poetry is an example from which a good poet and writer can learn much about entertaining the reader and using quality grammatical tools. But I shall have to lecture more at another hour.

The hour is late and I'm rambling as I suppose stodgy old people do. I shan't have another cup of coffee as I need to arise early tomorrow for another round of lectures at the university. So I shall leave you with an abbreviated version of my weekly examination.

Don't forget to post your responses and return again in a day or so for the answers.

Two Questions this week.

1. Hectic or Helpful Homonyms. Which homonym is correct? Two weeks prior to today, I, Dr. William Wordwielder did visit the local book (sellers or cellars).

2. Ideal or Idiotic Idioms. If you make companionship with a fool, you might also be taken for one because as everybody knows, (a. You must never count your chickens before they hatch OR b. Birds of a feather flock together.)

By the way, I neglected to inform you about the results of my audition last Wednesday evening for the church worship ensemble. It appears that my style of vocal expression is not compatible with the music selections used by the choral director for the ensemble but the director was pleased with my audition so that he added an extra chair in the choir itself and placed me in the back to assist the bass and baritone sections as I possess a three octave range and there was no need for another tenor. Thank you all for your interest in my endeavor. I recently heard about another option where I might be able to sing with a collage of singers. For now, I shall retire and wish you all a good night's rest, though as I said it is late and you shall probably read my ramblings on the morrow. Good night. Don't forget to comment. Parting is such sweet, nay, bittersweet sorrow.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What Makes Quality Writing?

Many of you are aware that I write curriculum and product reviews as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Homeschool Review Crew. Well, a product came across my desk last week that I was very excited to receive for review. It is a writing program for children based on quality literature. In a few weeks, I will review it on my Leaders In Learning blog. Click here to favorite that blog:
I've been scouring the pages of this course and finding many things I like about it. One thing it does is to define good quality writing by a list of standards. I agreed with their choices but also thought it could be a bit subjective to make a list like that as various people might think certain qualities are more important in writing and literature.
This thought process led me to post a question on here for my fellow writers. I know you are all fellow readers of good books and magazines. So....
Which characteristics do you feel are important to quality writing? Which are less important? Do they need to be well written or is it acceptable to be a little loose on the grammar as long as the story is interesting? What type of literature is high quality and what is average?
Wondering minds want to know so please leave your answers on in the box AND if you know of someone else who would be interested in voicing their opinion on the matter, please send them here. I would love to know what you all think. I love to learn. Thank you.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Auditions Post/ Answers to Dr. Wordwielder's Quiz

Dr. Wordwielder here. I do declare that modern technology is oft times a curse. On occasion, I try my hand at typing on these newfangled machines with the Internet attached and discover myself entangled in it's web of treachery. This week I did this to your poor hostess' computer. Ms. BeckyJoie had mentioned to me how she often listens to classical music while penning her thoughts and I heard about a website that would play the music whilst I typed. But to my misfortune, it appeared to inject some sort of "virus" as I'm told into Ms. BeckyJoie's computer causing the letters in the words to reverse such as if it were written by a person diagnosed with dyslexia. It took her a few days to realize what I had done and she was very gracious about the whole ordeal. I do declare that her husband must have been scratching his head a bit over the matter. Our host and hostess sure were baffled. They hustled over to the local office supply establishment and purchased a can of air???? Then they proceeded to spray it all over the keyboard as if trying to blow away the virus. At least, that is how it appeared to me. But alas, the solution was yet to be found. Mr. Oakes ran a deep scan and found the culprit. Now, I shall finally be able to answer the exam questions for you. Here they are:

1. Hectic or Helpful Homonyms. THE CORRECT ANSWER WAS THE LETTER B. AND IT HAS NOTHING IN COMMON WITH INFESTATIONS THAT HOUSEHOLD PETS ACQUIRE, UNLESS YOU CONSIDER THAT THE MATERIALS BROUGHT TO SUCH A MARKET SEEM TO MULTIPLY LIKE FLEAS SCATTERED ACROSS THE GROUNDS. The magnificent model of feminine pulchritude made her way across the green to browse the tables at the ( a. flee, or b. flea) market.

2. Ideal or Idiotic Idioms. THE CORRECT ANSWER IS B. AGAIN. TO OVER-EGG THE PUDDING IS TO SPOIL SOMETHING BY USING TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING WHEREAS TO OVERPLAY ONE'S HAND DENOTES OVERESTIMATION OF ONE'S POSITION OR STRENGTH. When writing descriptive lines in poetry or prose, one must not ( a. overplay one's hand or b. over-egg the pudding). YES, IT WAS RATHER TRICKY, MY FRIENDS.

3. Wise or Wacky Words. THIS TIME THE ANSWER WAS THE LETTER A. The word is affable. Does it mean: a. easy to speak to and gracious OR b. the after effects of laughing.

4. Cute or Comical Coinage. Kiss gate. This term is used quite frequently in England where I lived as a young fellow in my preparatory school days. The Kiss Gate was designed to prevent animals from escaping or entering a location and it consisted of a half door that only one person at a time could pass through, usually, the gentleman would enter first and offer to help the ladies afterward. Often my chums would make their boast about preventing the young ladies from moseying through unless they had first offered a kiss. Of course, I never attempted this with the ladies as I ne'er wished to receive the brunt of their brolly upon my head but some chaps may have succeeded. IT COULD HAVE BEEN EITHER CUTE OR COMICAL. NOW IT IS YOUR TURN TO COIN A PHRASE. LEAVE A COMMENT OR POST A COINED WORD ON YOUR OWN WEBLOG. IF YOU DON'T KNOW HOW TO COIN A WORD OR PHRASE, FEEL FREE TO SHARE THOSE YOU HAVE LEARNED FROM OTHERS.

5. Spelling Slips. Which spelling is correct for the following word: a. nucular OR b. nuclear ? THE ANSWER IS THE LETTER B.

6. Pun Fun. I had found my true soulmate. She and I were both wearing British shoes. WHAT PUNS HAVE YOU BECOME FOND OF HEARING? HAVE YOU USED ANY YOURSELF?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Dr. Wordwielder Auditions

Good evening, fine ladies and gentlemen. It is my extreme pleasure to greet you with a story of a fine audition of which I was a participant. Having taken leading Shakespearean roles on stage on occasion as well as having been on tour in a speaking circuit, I only felt it fitting that I once again take to the platform when I heard the musical director of a local church calling for potential participants for the church worship team. I've never done such a thing before but being a proper gentleman desirous of aiding my fellow man, the idea had begun to take root in my heart.

Why, a distinguished professor such as myself, must surely lend assistance to a young chap in his attempts to lead a fledgling flock into green pastures of refined music. At the very least, I wished to influence the clarity of annunciation as I have been noticing the lack thereof in music of a popular persuasion on the Christian radio networks and churches across the country (this chap's choir being much improved over the general public, but one can always improve one's craft, mind you.) It has been my opinion that the quality of music and the quantity of musical training has been gradually degrading itself here over the years since I first arrived here from England. Musicians and vocalists in this day and age do not proceed through the necessary educational rigors that musicians once endured for the quality of their craft. At times, it seems that any old chump might produce a recording and succeed at entering a competition such as the scandalous show on American Televisions which might make an idol out of an ignoramus. But alas, I am over-ruled by the general populace who passes over a musical genius to award recording contracts to a novice. But then again, what do I know? I'm merely a purveyor of prose with an acute aspiration for excellence in all functions of speech, whether they be spoken, musical or written.

A friend of Ms. BeckyJoie's is airing a chat show tomorrow upon the exact topic and desires that you join her and her debonair listeners to discuss the importance of communicating through the language of music. I do believe that our hostess has placed an advert on the side of her blog page so that we might click on it to arrive at the chat show destiny.

But first, I must say that I hope the readers will keep an astute mind about such a matter since so much sensitivity surely surrounds this volatile subject. For example, my very presence at the afore-mentioned audition was greeted with a cold shoulder and a bit of bossiness by the younger set this evening. I suppose that the pronunciation of vowels and consonants in that particular genre of music is quite uncommon these days. But it was my desire to set a sterling standard for symbolic citation by the supervisor of the ensemble for coming contestants over the course of time.

The choral director smiled like a Cheshire cat after I obliged him with a masterful performance of a melismatic segment of Handel's Messiah that I used to deliver to the masses in my voice studies in college. He seemed pleased to make my acquaintance and I have to admit that I've not met a young chap of his caliber in at least a decade or two. I suppose that I shall be called upon to aid him in polishing up the vocals in his Sunday ensemble, but if not, I had a dashing time of it, being back on stage.

I did have one minor problem, though, as my old bones climbed up the stairs to the platform. My trousers were a bit too stiff from all the starch that I had by error, dropped into my laundry last week, when my bifocals had become fogged up by the steam of the rising water in the washing machine. I had a mite of difficulty bending at the knee and began to loose my balance somewhat. Fortunately, I reached for a nearby microphone stand and righted myself pretty quickly, though it did coincide with some squeals and squeaks coming from one of the speakers. The modern conveniences have their advantages but oft can be a smidgen cantankerous from time to time. I do believe, though, that we ironed out the matter significantly by the time I recovered the microphone to sound my resonant tones. When the audition ended, I discovered that I had, in my haste to arrive at the house of worship, forgotten to imbibe a spot of iced tea and to ingest the cold cucumber sandwich that I had prepared to eat along the way. So, I strolled out on the grounds to find a shady limb under which to place myself. After devouring the delightful dinner, I rested for a while, and then climbed into my Mini Cooper and proceeded here for our weekly lesson. Along the drive, I admired the brilliant finish of the paint job I recently had re-touched, reflecting specks of the British racing green across the cabriolet and glistening like sparks of glitter in the setting sun rays. I arrived here safely and tucked my automobile under cover for the remainder of the night as the Oakes have generously offered the use of their guest room this week because of my previous mishaps late at night in the Florida rain storms.

I am grateful once again for your faithfulness to attend my online classes and for Ms. BeckyJoie who so graciously offers her blog every week. I could not imagine trying to circumnavigate the world wide web in order to create a blog for myself. I once attempted the evil feat and became maddeningly overwhelmed. Thus, I shall leave the technological triumphs to another more adept while I shall continue to bring the excellence in accelerated English eloquence.

Speaking of the art of eloquence, I have been unable to shake the impression of the English Rose whose voice attracted my attention last week. I was transported, whether in reality or my thoughts, from my presence at the Barnes and Noble Book Sellers Establishment to the celestial realms where she seemed to naturally find her place in a blanket of brilliant light. The sound of her voice echoed through it like an opera singer at Carnegie Hall. Though I never had the pleasure of viewing her angelic countenance, I am quite certain that her radiance must be of no equal comparison. Might I have known her from another realm or from my place of origin? Only time will tell but I have not been able to erase her memory from my mind. But I shall try, for it is only once in a lifetime that one meets a lady with such enchanting elocution and it is unlikely that I shall be able to be graced by her presence again, save some miraculous intervention. So, I shan't indulge in the monotony of the retelling of the saga but thus, proceed to this week's agenda at Rather Be Writing.

For today's lesson, we shall answer the following questions. Feel free to leave your own comments and suggestions in the box below marked "comments".

1. Hectic or Helpful Homonyms. The magnificent model of feminine pulchritude made her way across the green to browse the tables at the ( a. flee, or b. flea) market. Choose one.

2. Ideal or Idiotic Idioms. When writing descriptive lines in poetry or prose, one must not ( a. overplay one's hand or b. over-egg the pudding). Choose one.

3. Wise or Wacky Words. The word is affable. Does it mean: a. easy to speak to and gracious OR b. the after effects of laughing.

4. Cute or Comical Coinage. Kiss gate. This term is used quite frequently in England where I lived as a young fellow in my preparatory school days. The Kiss Gate was designed to prevent animals from escaping or entering a location and it consisted of a half door that only one person at a time could pass through, usually, the gentleman would enter first and offer to help the ladies afterward. Often my chums would make their boast about preventing the young ladies from moseying through unless they had first offered a kiss. Of course, I never attempted this with the ladies as I ne'er wished to receive the brunt of their brolly upon my head but some chaps may have succeeded.

NOTE: I shall add two more categories for this week alone and they may appear again at random. This shall serve to keep the readers alert and searching for new words to leave in the comment box.

5. Spelling Slips. Which spelling is correct for the following word: a. nucular OR b. nuclear ?

6. Pun Fun. I had found my true soulmate. She and I were both wearing British shoes.
Now, my friends it is your turn. Try your hand at the examination. It is an open book test, so retrieve your dictionary and thesaurus and search away. Don't forget to leave your answers for the rest of us to view in the comments department. Also, leave us a link to follow you back to your weblog or post. In that way, we can find you more easily. I shall post the answer in the next couple of days.
Cherio, my chums!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Clean Your Plate, Mate!

Did your Grandmother or mother ever say this to you? "Clean your plate. There are many children over in Africa and other lands that would love to eat that food." I used to think to myself, Well, then give it to them!

Funny, though it is now upon looking back, there was a point to be made. Let nothing go to waste.

The truth is that in the American diet, much food goes to waste, one way or another. It either is wasted or goes to one's waist! Americans have an abundance of food. Just compare the serving sizes in local restaurants with the "daily recommended" portions and you will see a huge gap already, let alone seeing what people in other countries have to eat. And the leftover-food bins at fast food restaurants here are full of fare that could be better used (even just as compost) and not thrown away. Of course, in the southern states this might promote bug infestation issues BUT...I'm sure there is some way to use that leftover food and not waste it. Some college cafeterias used to give away the extra scrapings to local farmers for their pigs.

"Waste not" has been applied to food but what about words? Are there any old manuscripts just sitting around in a notebook wasting away because you either gave up on them or never submitted them in the first place? I know I have some. Those words took great amounts of time to accumulate and they aren't going anywhere on their own. Some of them, perhaps might not find any suitable place but the circular file (IE. rubbish can). Yet, other manuscripts could perhaps be re-written and sent to another publishing venue. But why let them all go to waste?

Christian writers, did you know that the Bible tells us that we shall give an account for every idle word? (Matthew 12:36). Wow, I have too many to account for. The word idle comes from the Greek word, ARGOS which means "not busy, idle, inactive, doing nothing, and sterile." OUCH!

The word account is derived from the Greek word, APODIOMI which means to "give an answer."

This is an intriguing revelation of the power of words. Other passages say that death and life are in the power of the tongue--meaning that our words are not just words. They need to serve a purpose and accomplish something. So, does this mean that it is a sin for someone to use humor in speech and writing? Some people might try to say that about comedy because "it serves no good purpose" and is full of silly words. Are these people right? Does comedy serve a purpose?

Proverbs 17:2 tells us, "A merry heart does good like a medicine but a broken spirit dries the bones." In other words, words of humor can bring healing to a person whether it be to a soul or the person's health. I am living proof. When deep in the throws of Systemic Lupus several years ago, I immersed myself in the Bible, praise music, healthy life choices and HUMOR! The last item was a HUGE part of my healing, I believe. I rented videos from the library (sending someone to get them for me) or watched them on Dish Network or the Internet. Here's a glimpse of the comedy I watched every day: I Love Lucy, Mark Lowry, Ken Davis, Chonda Pierce, Bananas Comedy, Dennis Swanburg, Bob Smiley and many other TV Comedy Classics. Humor uplifted me and brought me out of the "doldrums" as my dad used to call it.

So, if idle words are not referring to humor, then to what could they refer? I believe it refers, in part to words which are either said without thought and/or words that are not given the right venue to be heard and are thus wasted words. You may feel free to do your own research on what this means but for me, I take it as a warning to make use of the words that God allows me as a writer to use. I plan to think more before speaking and writing as well as to dig out my old manuscripts and see if I can salvage anything to be used for a good purpose.

As a person gifted with gab, I need to take more time to think before acting and to use the gift to the best of my ability so as not to have any idle words. In other words, I don't want to waste time talking about things that are not profitable to anyone but to write quality work with an intended purpose. Even if I have to ramble to find those words, the words I publish or speak aloud will be used to the fullest extent possible, with God's help. This is my prayer.

Well, perhaps it is reflective of the hour in which I wrote this (IE. late at night) or it may just be that the Lord is speaking to me louder through His Words so I will finally "get it". I know I will mess up here and there. That is inevitable. I just pray that I will make more of my words count than ever before, even the words that could sit in the "waste" basket. One man's junk is another man's treasure. So pull out that manuscript you have up trying to publish and find something salvageable in it. I aim to do the same. Let's come back in a few weeks and compare notes, okay?
P.S. There is another application. Good cooks prepare food with the highest number of nutritional calories without any unessentials because they want their food to be utilized by the body and not turned into fat or waste. Writer's strive also to write their message in the least amount of words possible while using the strongest verbs and fewer adjectives and adverbs. They don't want to waste words and make readers miss the message while choking on the extraneous words. Just a thought and a challenge to us all. Please leave your comments on this. What do you do with your leftover words or manuscripts that did not pass the critique or editor test? Do you waste them? Or find some words to remake into another story? I'm curious to know if you are like me or not. Do I have any others on the same wavelength here?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Song Writing

My intention lately for weekend posts have been to bring info that is particularly helpful to Christian writers since this is a unique market that other writers are not drawn towards and there is not as much information about it available. This also is applicable because "Christian" runs through me like a deeply woven thread and I can't help myself sometimes. I try not to be too pushy because I don't desire that my blog become offensive, but my nature is my nature and I am a proclaimer of truth and faith. I also like to hear preaching so if I offend you, I'm sorry.

Last week, I posted the Greatest Interview for a Christian Writer (based on Peter's Interview with Jesus), not having seen the following video. How ironic that I should find a clip from one of my favorite worship songwriters this evening while looking for videos about writing for God.

It kind of packs a double whammy for me as one who grew up in the faith in a family that travelled performing on public stages with music, drama and puppetry. My brother is a singer/songwriter and seeing him take a journey of his own to Nashville recently, has stirred up long, lost desires to do something similar. This may not be the case for most writers, but for me, the musician and writer are somewhat interwoven. I've written and recorded two of my own songs while on a curriculum writing project for children. I've also sung on recordings with several groups in the past, either a solo or part of a group. I took classical voice but also sing a variety of musical styles. Deep in my heart, I've always loved worship music and have attempted to write some myself. So this next clip is a great find for me. I hope it is for you. Here is Phil Wickham on the topic of how he wrote the song, "Grace" taking inspiration from the Bible.

I know this affects me as a Christian writer in a way that means I will never be the same again.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dr. Wordwielder's Mysterious Encounter

A Word from Dr. Wordwielder:

Greetings, my friends!
Please accept my deepest regrets for my lack of punctuality in arriving at Rather Be Writing. For some unknown reason, I've developed a bit of brain fog over the last ten hours.

You see, I had completed my lessons and extra-curricular reading activities at the university library over an hour earlier than usual and so I had purposed in my heart to make an excursion to my local Barnes and Noble Booksellers establishment. The motivation for doing so was to acquire for myself a copy of the magazine, Etymology Today, where I had published an article called, “Colloquialism, The Root of Linguistic Morphology.”

Prior to leaving the university, I had received a telephone call from Ms. BeckyJoie to inform me that she was having a bit of schedule overload; what, between her new work with the non-profit organization, her review-writing job and some family distress, she requested that I postpone my visit until this evening. I was happy to oblige as it had been nearly a month since my last visit to the shelves of the celestial book hall and bistro. So I retired forthwith to Barnes and Noble.

When I arrived at my destination, I was delighted to hear that the public address system was alternating between selections of my most favored musicians, the classical composer, Mozart and the Big Band legend, Glen Miller. I felt at home, once again, with the enticing scent of fresh ink and new paper, which had comforted me from my early childhood visits to the library and bookstores. I began skimming the assortment of reading fare that lined up on the shelves as I passed through to the news department. I noted the 2010 volumes of the Writer's Market Guide and Poet's Market were freshly set in rows and still wrapped in plastic. I latched on to a copy of each and tucked them into my satchel, continuing toward the magazine rack.

There it was-of crisp copy of Etymology Today. I surveyed the pages until I found my article, wanting to make sure that the editor left my precious manuscript intact. I noted that there were no errors. The information in the document is vital to the maintenance of the English language. I oft chance to hear the deterioration of our distinguished lingua mater when a youngster verbalizes that he likes to stand around and be cold with his friends. He ought at least to put the 'g' in "chilling". And once, in the hallways of the university, a group of young men were running through like herds of cattle when one of them barged into me.

“My bad,” he said.

I was waiting for him to finish the sentence. “My bad...mistake.” “My bad... aim” or something like that but he stopped--short--at the word “bad”.

Why! Just yesterday, I was meandering through the parking lot and a sports vehicle scurried in right behind me. A gaggle of girls came running to the driver's side door yelling, “Oh! Sweet!”

I looked to see if there was a box of chocolates in the hands of the fellow but for the life of me, I could only see a bag of books. Young people these days!

So I was pleased when the magazine editor accepted my query about writing an article on the dangers of using colloquialism in communication. I sent him a piece the next week after he replied to my letter. That reminds me, I need to address him with a note of extreme appreciation for his ability to publish my article. For it was no sooner said than done. (But I need to return to my explanation of last evening.)

The intense summer temperatures spawned my salivary glands to seek out satisfaction in the form of a refreshing libation. I promptly obeyed my inner urgings and approached the bistro where I took nary a minute to convey my directive to the clerk behind the counter. “Yes, Miss, I'm mighty fine, thank you. And I would like to order a triple iced caramel latte with a dash of fresh cream and hazelnut and a stick of cinnamon. Thank you. And how much will that be?”

The young woman announced the amount and while I awaited the delivery of my chilled potable, I paid the bill for it, for my books and the magazine. Then seated myself in a corner booth to attain some solitude . The drink was surely refreshing. The whipped cream was thicker than I had remembered it and I must have looked a fright while wiping it out of my mustache and off of my nose for a youngster passing by with his mother stopped to stare at me a moment. I didn't appreciate it much as I felt that children ought to be taught not to stare at their elders but I couldn't blame him for the way I must have appeared so I looked away and began to rummage through my satchel for a pen and my reading glasses.

I had been sitting there for somewhere about the period of ten minutes when I heard a voice that pierced through me as if it were a long, lost familiar connection from my birthplace in England. I could not quite place it but I listened, hoping to recall the exact tone of voice in order that I might make the acquaintance more sure in my mind.

As I couldn't recollect the sound, I raised my head to peer around behind me to where a group of ladies sat around a table, apparently discussing a book. One by one, I heard them critique a line or two and tell why the book meant so much to them. I thought to myself that this was quite the unusual gathering for women of this caliber as I had not seen a book club or a writer's association in this town in quite some time, unless of course, you would count the students in my after school study hall.

Then I heard the voice again. It was as lovely as a nightingale, sweet and sing-songy like that of none I had ever heard before. I startled slightly but then shook off the shivers that had risen up new goose bumps on my arms. Why was I feeling so out of the ordinary? Perhaps I had caught this chillin' bug with which the young men were so fond of claiming association. Whatever it was, I had to see who the voice emanated from like the music of a violin echoing through Carnegie Hall. I stole a furtive glance in the general direction of the table, but all I could see, sticking up above her book, was the brim of a purple velvet hat and a large, plum, silk ribbon which adorned it. I sighed and attempted to return my attention to my new market guides and for a few moments, I perused the pages when all of a sudden, I heard the voice again.

“Dahling, the coffee was simply a delectable treat and the ambrosial cheesecake was simply enchanting. Above all, I adored keeping company with you, Madeline. Charming, for certain, my dear.”

I turned and she was passing by my table. I tried to catch a glimpse but just as I gazed in her direction, her pocket book slipped from her shoulder and she scooted down in the opposite direction to retrieve it.
When she stood again, the other ladies had gathered around and they began to exit the store.

I didn't know what to do. I didn't want to alarm anyone, but I could have sworn by George that I had heard that voice once before. I didn't dare to follow her to the parking lot. I did not think it a wise nor ethical thing for a gentlemen of my stature to do, but I thought perhaps I could stand in the window and pretend to be looking at the Florida skies for signs of weather. Was she an angel from heaven or a long lost friend from my former country. I did not know and never could tell as she chatted from the midst of the women's circle all the way to her vehicle, which looked to be a rental but one could not tell. It was apparent that I would not be able to ascertain her identity but her voice has haunted me ever since. I think I heard them calling her something like Ms. Smith but I couldn't be quite certain. Anyway, I returned to my table and gathered up my belongings. I had to make sure that my lesson for Rather Be Writing was in order and ready to bring to you this evening.

Now, that I have gotten that off my chest, I shall turn my attention to the purpose for which I have arrived at Rather Be Writing. Here is this week's lesson:

1. Hectic or Helpful Homonyms. The breadbaker beat the (doe or dough) before inserting it into the pan and then the oven.

2.Ideal or Idiotic Idioms. The young lady who won the cherry pie eating contest was wearing (A. a Freudian slip or B. a cheshire cat grin).

3. Wise or Wacky Words. Magnanimus. Does it mean? A. a large magnetic object OR B. generous and noble.
4. Comical or Cute Coinages. Brain dead. Although this word is a medical term which means to be have no life signs in one's brain while on the brink of death, it is now commonly used also to describe a person who is not using their brain to think and reason. What coined phrases can you create or do you often hear used? Kindly send your answers to this weblog.
Thank you Ms. Oakes, for allowing me to come once again to your blog and post. I shall look forward to reading everyone's answers as they post them to their own weblogs and link back here with a comment letting us know where you have posted your guesses and a coined word. I shall deliver the correct answers to you a few days hence.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Ultimate Interview for the Christian Writer

  • Scenario--Jesus and The Writer exchange some heavy dialogue.
  • Time- Between Midnight and 5 am Saturday morning.
  • Place- At the Laptop, after prayer and Bible Study.

    Jesus: Writer/Enterpreneur, do you care about Me more than these words?
    Writer: Ya, I like you. You know that.
    Jesus: Well, then, give my sheep some food.

    (Writer opens the online thesaurus and selects a few words. Nothing seems to fit the sentence in the manuscript. Writer tries again and a word pops out like an epiphany. It's so much fun to write. Writer never felt more fulfilled. Silence.)

    Jesus: Christian Author, do you care about me?
    Writer: (Deep breath). Of course, you already know that I care about you.

(Writer glances at the New Testament that was part of morning devotions and then back to the computer screen. Silence again.)

Jesus: So you love me, huh? Then, tend and look after my sheep.
Writer: Sigh.

(Another Twenty minutes have passed. The paper is filled with notes. The Word document has ten paragraphs written. Writer is excited about the ideas but puzzled at Jesus' words. A still, small voice intrudes on Writer's thoughts.)

Jesus: Word-whittler, do you love me?

Writer: Yes, Jesus. Can't you tell that I'm fond of you? Don't you know by now?

Jesus: If you love me, then take my sheep to graze on the food I want them to have.

(Writer bites the end of the pencil then drops it with a thud onto the desk. What does this all mean?)

Jesus: Disciple, follow me.