Grammar Lesson #1: It’s vs. Its

Okay, so I’m rereading Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss (description on the Bookshelf), a book about punctuation. You’d think the book would be a little dry, right? Well, you’re wrong.

Truss’s prose overflows with British wit and sarcasm, and I just reached a passage that actually made me laugh out loud. I decided I should share it with you, so I’m including the excerpt below. All you need to know is that the target audience for this book comprises mostly grammar sticklers, such as Truss…

“To those who care about punctuation, a sentence such as ‘Thank God its Friday’ (without the apostrophe) rouses feelings not only of despair but of violence. The confusion of the possessive ‘its’ (no apostrophe) with the contractive ‘it’s’ (with apostrophe) is an unequivocal signal of illiteracy and sets off a simple Pavlovian ‘kill’ response in the average stickler. The rule is: the word ‘it’s’ (with apostrophe) stands for ‘it is’ or ‘it has.’ If the word does not stand for ‘it is’ or ‘it has’ then what you require is ‘its.’ This is extremely easy to grasp. Getting your itses mixed up is the greatest solecism in the world of punctuation. No matter that you have a PhD and have read all of Henry James twice. If you still persist in writing, ‘Good food at it’s best,’ you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot, and buried in an unmarked grave.” (44)

On that resounding note, make sure you proofread carefully–especially if a grammar stickler will be reading your work!

Works cited:

Truss, Lynne. Eats, Shoots & Leaves. New York: Gotham Books, 2003. Print.

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Becoming Wizards and Vampires

Click the link below to read a summary of a psych study that investigated our fundamental “need to belong” by measuring the degree to which undergraduates identified with wizards and vampires after reading an excerpt from either Twilight or Harry Potter:

http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/becoming-a-vampire-without-being-bitten-a-new-study-shows-that-reading-expands-our-self-concepts.html

What do you think of the findings? Do you agree with the C.S. Lewis quote–‘We read to know we are not alone?’

Personally, I’d much rather be a witch/wizard than a vampire… 🙂

Situations Matter

Heads up, psychology fans: award-winning professor of social psychology at Tufts University, Sam Sommers, has written a book that is available for pre-order now at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1594488185/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_alp_IlMNnb0C4315B! It’s called Situations Matter: Understanding How Context Transforms Your World. Here’s a synopsis:

“The world around you is pulling your strings, shaping your innermost instincts and your most private thoughts. And you don’t even realize it.

Every day and in all walks of life, we overlook the enormous power of situations, of context in our lives. That’s a mistake, says Sam Sommers in his provocative new book, SITUATIONS MATTER (Riverhead Books, 12/29/11). Just as a viewer overlooks the frames around paintings, so do people overlook the influence of ordinary situations on the way they think and act. But frames – situations – do matter. Your experience viewing the painting wouldn’t be the same without them. The same is true for human nature.

In SITUATIONS MATTER, Sommers argues that understanding the powerful influence that context has in our lives and using these insights to rethink how we see the world makes us more effective at work, at home, and with others. He describes the pitfalls to avoid and offers insights into making better decisions and smarter observations about the world around us.”

 

Not only does the book sound cool, but the author is a great guy. Dr. Sommers is intelligent, witty, and great at softball (let’s hope the psychology department can beat the chemistry department again this year!). He’s also tech-savvy, so you can “LIKE” his author page on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/?q=#/sam.sommers.author?ref=ts or follow him on Twitter (@SamSommers). Did you know he also writes a popular blog for Psychology Today called “Science of Small Talk”? It’s true! Get a preview of his writing skillz here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/science-small-talk (his blog posts are always entertaining as well as interesting and informative, so, after a little perusing, you’ll definitely want to pre-order Situations Matter).

As soon as I get my copy, I’ll add a review to the Bookshelf. But don’t wait on me…pre-order today!

Six-Word Memoirs at SMITH Magazine Online

If you think writing a full-length memoir is difficult, try writing one in only six words!

Six-word memoirs have become somewhat of a craze recently–their surging popularity undoubtedly linked to how much fun they are to try to write. At SMITH magazine online, you can create your own user account for free and add your memoirs to the thousands submitted by other writers/readers. Categories for memoirs include Life, Love, Moms, Teens, Food, America, the Green Life, and there is a special tab for memoirs on Pain and Hope, devoted to the non-profit movement, To Write Love on Her Arms. Every week, SMITH compiles a list of their favorite user-submitted memoirs, so if you write something really clever/powerful/poignant, they might take notice!

If you get hooked by these succinct gems (as I have), you can also buy compendiums in print–and yes, your submissions to SMITH have a chance at being selected for a future book!  

An aside for fiction writers: six-word stories  are a worthy challenge, as well. Write for the pure satisfaction of condensing a beginning, middle, and ending into only six words, or submit your best to Narrative Magazine for a shot at getting your words published. (There’s a small fee to enter, but also monetary compensation if they like what they see!)

So what are you waiting for? Start experimenting today!

Make the Most of Your Memory: 10 Tips for Writing About Your Life

A special thanks to Jane Friedman for inviting me to guest post on her Writer’s Digest blog There Are No Rules. 😀

You can view my post here: http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/2010/08/30/MakeTheMostOfYourMemory10TipsForWritingAboutYourLife.aspx

Climb Up to the Treehouse: New Book Jacket Summary Added

To read about my creative works-in-progress, or for a list of cool (and kid-friendly) links to author/book series website, visit the Treehouse!

“The Writer Who Couldn’t Read”

This NPR feature is a must-see for anyone interested in the brain and its role in our creative endeavors. It tells the story of a Canadian author who woke up one day, after unknowingly having suffered a stroke in the night, and discovered that he could no longer read. Naturally, he thought his writing career was over.

It wasn’t. 

Watch the video and read about his amazing story here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127745750

My Blog is Carbon Neutral!

Via another blogger, I just discovered a website (http://www.kaufda.de/umwelt/carbon-neutral/how-you-can-join/) that is running a very cool program through the end of the summer. If you give them a shoutout in your blog, they, together with the Arbor Day Foundation, will plant a tree in the Plumas National Forest to offset the carbon emissions of your website. What a greenius idea! 😛

I’ll be adding their badge to my sidebar and encourage all bloggers to do the same. Follow the link to their website to learn more!

We Give Books: Help Children In Need for FREE

We Give Books is a great organization that donates books to children in need, all over the world. It’s easy for YOU to make an impact: simply go to the website (www.wegivebooks.org, or click on the image below to open a new window), select a campaign that you’d like to support, and then read a children’s book online for FREE. For every book you read online, one book will be donated to the campaign of your choice. It’s that simple!

So what are you waiting for? Everyone loves children’s books. The selection of books on this website will continue to grow, so check back often–preferably in the company of the little ones in your life! Show them how they can have fun reading AND making a difference in the lives of other children, all with a few clicks of a mouse.

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