Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May Goals Revisited

I'm back. Did you miss me?

Well, between auditioning for shows, catching up on all of the television season finales, and stressing out about $4.00/gallon gas prices, I haven't really been great about keeping on top of my May goals. Since the end of the month is a mere three days away, I'm just going to cut my losses and turn over a brand-new leaf for June.

Here's the recap of what I got accomplished (or not) in May (and here's the original post, for anyone who missed it):
  • Apply for at least FIVE new freelance jobs per week. I've applied for, uh, two assigments. All month. Eeeesh. (On the other hand, I've applied for two assignments this month! That's two more than I applied for at this time last year! *cheers weakly*)
  • Blog at least THREE times a week. On both blogs. I started the month strong in this category, but finished pretty weakly. This is my seventh blog post here at Grammar Scribe. I did slightly better over at Beginner Fitness Junkie, blogging a total of nine times over the course of the month.
  • Start researching computers. Still in the process of doing this. I can in no way afford a new laptop right now (any extra money I do get is going toward a bike so that I can leave my car parked at home all the time), but I'm still checking around to see what's out there.
  • Continue to be an awesome copy editor at my regular job and an awesome freelancer for my existing clients. Check! I got some new freelance assignments this month, and things are still going pretty well at work.

Not great, not terrible. I'm feeling pretty down on myself, though, since a) I didn't get into the show I auditioned for last week; and b) I came up so short on my writing goals. I'm going to spend the next couple of days compiling a list of goals for June---hopefully that'll help perk me up a bit and help me get focused.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Favorite Childhood Books

It's inevitable. Every year around this time, I get seriously nostalgic for the books I read when I was younger. I think it's the fact that whenever I go to Borders in the late spring and summer, I'm surrounded by "summer-reading list" books.

Books you read in your childhood and teenage years affect you like no other book you read in your lifetime. I still steadfastly maintain that Frances Hogsden Burnett's A Little Princess is my favorite book of all time, even though I first read it almost 20 years ago.

Also, I was a huge dork in high school---and proud of it, by the way. I was one of the only people who actually enjoyed reading the monthly assignments for my English classes, and hitting up the library with my summer-reading list was always a really exciting adventure.

As an adult, I don't have as much time to read as I did back then. Too many other things end up taking priority of my time---work, commuting, performing in community theatre, spending time with the hubby, and watching TV. (Hey, don't judge---I need to watch TV to be able to keep up at work.) It's one of the reasons I'm looking forward to my new train commute that's starting in June---I'll have lots of time to read on the way to and from work.

So I'm planning to hit up the local library over the long weekend to stock up on reading material, and I'm thinking about re-reading some of my favorite books from when I was younger (middle school and high school). My wish list includes:
  • Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery (currently reading)
  • A Little Princess, Frances Hogsden Burnett
  • The Secret Garden, Frances Hogsden Burnett
  • The Giver, Lois Lowry
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  • The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier
  • Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
  • Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
  • Animal Farm, George Orwell
  • Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger
  • Lord of the Flies, William Golding

What were some of your favorite books that you read when you were younger?

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Woohoo---I scored 100% on today's quiz over at Triangle Grammar Guide. That was a fun diversion from writing the two articles I have due tomorrow.

If you want to take it, the quiz is here: Who/Whom. Have fun!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Starting June 2, I'm going to be taking SEPTA (the Philadelphia-area regional rail) to work. It'll extend my commute by quite a bit since I have to take two trains, but I'll get a ton of benefits in return:
  • I can stop filling up my gas tank twice a week. I have a small car with good gas mileage, but I'm still really feeling the pinch. I don't know how other people do it.
  • No traffic! I hate traffic. My normal drive in and out of work wouldn't be nearly so bad if traffic wasn't constantly slowing things up and making me crazy.
  • I'll be doing my part to help the environment and reduce my carbon footprint. GO GREEN!
  • I get a tax break on the money I spend on train passes.
  • Best of all, I'll have an extra three hours a day to read. And if I get a laptop computer soon, I can use the extra time to type up blog posts and query letters. (SEPTA doesn't offer wifi on their trains or in their stations, but I can still use Microsoft Word, dammit.)

Anyway, I'm currently looking into finding books that I haven't read yet (or old favorites that I want to re-read) to keep me occupied during my new train commute. I recently discovered, which is an absolutely fabulous site for bookworms. You can create reading lists (books you've read, books you're currently reading, books you want to read), review books, and read other people's reviews. And best of all, you can add friends and get book recommendations through them.

I just signed up the other day, and I already love it. Anyone else use Goodreads? If you find your way there, feel free to add me as a friend.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Grammar Lesson of the Day: Commas

I could probably write an entire book on the proper use of commas—where they're needed, where they're not needed, and how people tend to abuse them. Today, though, I'm just going to talk about one specific instance: commas used with and and but.

I've been seeing this sentence construction quite a bit lately:

"John wanted to start a rock band, but lacked the proper materials."

Uh-uh. As Bill Walsh of the Washington Post says in his book Lapsing Into a Comma (which I highly recommend, by the way), this is a run-on sentence with two subjects: John and but.

In a compound sentence like this, you either need to reintroduce the subject, introduce an entirely new subject, or omit the comma altogether.

Correct: "John wanted to start a rock band, but he lacked the proper materials." (We've restated the subject, so the sentence is now grammatically correct with the comma.)
Correct: "John wanted to start a rock band but lacked the proper materials." (By omitting the comma, John becomes the subject for the entire sentence.)
Correct: "John wanted to start a rock band, but Suzie hid his guitar." (Here, we've introduced an entirely new subject, which means the comma stays put.)

Like everything else in the English language, there are exceptions, but you should generally keep your subjects in mind when working with conjunctions.

Have you seen any common grammatical errors lately that drive you crazy?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Very Rare Political Post

The Grammarphile over at Red Pen, Inc., pointed out today that---according to an article she found---Hillary Clinton doesn't believe in subject-verb agreement:

Kidding, people.

I don't usually post about politics. I have my political beliefs and they're strong, but generally I try not to get into it because Internet political discussions have a tendency to disintegrate into flame wars. Do not want. Especially not on a writing-related blog.

But. I will say this:

If you're registered to vote in today's Democratic primaries in Indiana and North Carolina, GET OUT AND VOTE. It doesn't matter whom you vote for, as long as you get out there. Our ancestors fought hard to give us the right to vote, so don't squander it. Make your voice heard.

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Grammar Lesson for You and Me I Me

I don't know about you, but when I was a kid, the following conversation took place almost every day at home and at school:

Kid: "Mom, can Jerry and me go to the park?"
Mom: "Jerry and I, darling."

Kid: "Me and Susan want to sit together."
Teacher: "Susan and I, and no, you'll just chat the whole time and not get any work done."

Er, maybe that last part was just directed at me. Nothing to see here, folks. *ahem*

Basically, this auto-correction from our elders beat into our collective heads that "person X and me" should always be replaced with "person X and I." But for some reason, they always neglected to tell us why it had to be that way---which is unfortunate because it's led to a lot of misunderstandings.

I find that I have greater success as a copy editor if I know why a certain rule is enforced. It's easier to remember the difference between "convince" and "persuade," for example, if I know that action is only associated with "persuade." (You persuade someone to take action, but you convince someone of a certain belief. I'm getting off topic, though...more on that in a later blog post.)

Unfortunately, with the "I" vs. "me" debacle, a lot of people don't understand the reasoning behind it, so they take the constant correcting to heart and just sub out "I" for "me" whenever they're talking about things done with another person.

Which is why you'll occasionally see an otherwise extremely intelligent person use incorrect sentence construction:

"He brought the ham for Mark and I."


In this case, "Mark and me" is grammatically correct, and "Mark and I" is very wrong. If you're the object of the sentence---the person affected by the action in the verb---then you would say "me."

"Will you come to the fair with me and Josh?" Yep, that's correct, too.

"Kerry really likes you and me." Also correct. (Of course, you could nix the awkward construction there by simply changing it to "Kerry really likes us.")

Isn't it funny how sometimes we try to be overly correct and end up misusing words anyway? Between you and me, sometimes the easiest phrase is the right one.