Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Afterwords Acquisitions

Much like I never tire of hearing how people meet one another, I could sit for hours and listen to how one comes across a good book to read.  A Brownie and Book Club Babe mom, Miss Toni, and I were discussing books via email.  She mentioned The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  I purchased this book last summer at Afterwords Bookstore for my teen neighbor with the understanding I could borrow said book, but as to date, I am still waiting.  So, I felt a visit to the local bookstore, Afterwords Bookstore, needed to be added to my to-do list (any excuse works for me).

Post-Its in Place after a Late Night of Reading


English 111 Student with the Highest Average Wins a Copy in My Class

Although I had a purchase in mind as well as a book to pick up, Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street (which I inquired about through e-mail and received a response the same day from LuAnn, the owner- customer service at its finest), I like to walk on the wooden floors and roam between the rooms of books.  


Some of my discoveries . . .

My Youngest Daughter's Namesake 

Included Are Beautiful Illustrations and a Brief Background of the Reading        
Ideal Reference Book for the Emergent Reader
Shop local.  Visit Afterwords Books at 232 S. Buchanan St. in Edwardsville, IL.  You will be glad you did.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Club Babes: Let's Talk Books

Personally, I love to discuss books, analyze books, and write about books.  For many years, I was a book hoarder refusing to share my love of reading by passing a book along for fear of never seeing said book again.  This unreturned phenomena happened many times to me, by the way, before I decided to put an end to the lending process.  Instead, I chose to alphabetize my books, color-code my books, and stack them in piles by my bed instead of deal with the frustration.

Then, one day I decided not to lend the books, but give them away by stuffing them into friends' mailboxes or hanging them on their doors, and this felt good. . . right.  I was sharing my love of reading and decluttering my house at the same time.  The likelihood of my rereading a book is slim to none due to the vast assortment of reading materials out there, and I want to read them all.  In truth, I reread books now simply because I have forgotten I have read them at all (until about halfway in) or if a character named Ranger or Morelli is involved. 

So, this morning, my eldest daughter talked books with me, and I was like a kiddo in the candy store.  Scout's honor, I did not prompt the discussion.  Instead, she admitted to starting Nick and Tesla's High-Voltage Danger Lab (our third book club selection courtesy of Book Club Babe Colleen) last night after we told her for the third time to return to bed.  Sneaky!  She told me her book club buddy, Ava, had been reading it, so my squirt guesstimated Ava was nearly finished with the book (as she is a voracious reader).  

I asked my daughter, "When did you discuss Nick and Tesla with Ava?"  

She responded, "When I was at her house for the slumber party . . .."  

I took a brief intermission, ran to my room, popped another Benicar due to my excitement, and then returned to our literacy . . . yes, literacy discussion.  

She continued with, "It's weird how their names are Nick and Tesla, but are referred to as 'boy' and 'girl' in the book."  

She then loaded Nick and Tesla into her backpack with "I'm going to take this to school," and off she went.

When this same reader returned from school, she took off her backpack and told me she found "older" was mispelled in Nick and Tesla.  

I asked how it was spelled, and she said, "E-l-d-e-r"  (13).

Aha!  I explained the meaning of "elder," but then asked where she found the word in the book.  She went right to the page as she had asked her teacher for a post-it note (what I use to mark passages in my book).  Happy Mother's Day to me.  We reread the passage together, and I explained how "elder" was, in fact, the correct spelling in this particular sentence.  Learning vocabulary through context . . . an English teacher's dream.



Furthermore, she said, "There was a funny line in the book, 'IF YOU'RE SELLING GIRL SCOUT COOKIES, I'M NOT HOME'" (14).  We giggled together as we are both registered Girl Scouts (adult and child) and have sold and eaten our fair share of cookies.

She then continued the conversation by telling me how another book club buddy, Emma ". . . talks about book club all the time."  

I asked, "When?"  

She said, "When we're at recess, and she uses Bink and Gollie to answer questions."  

I asked, "How does she use Bink and Gollie to answer questions?"  

My squirt thought about it for a minute before responding, "Like she'll say, 'I read this book Bink and Gollie, and one girl wanted a pancake, and the other wanted her to take her sock off, so the one girl shared the pancake, and the other girl took her sock off.'"

"Cool!" I said trying to mask my near hyperventilation.

The conversation ended with, "Emma said she started Ivy and Bean and is reading Chewy and Chica."  

Feigning an eye itch, I wiped a tear from the corner of my eye.

Love Words


My first love blossomed in the form of words hurriedly written on a torn-out piece of notepaper with shaggy edges. This paper was then folded multiple times into a paper football and launched with a skilled flick of my finger from my seventh grade side of the parochial classroom to the eighth grade side near the desk of Bryan, a blond boy with a middle part, glasses, and a faint mustache. Written on this paper were such romantic greetings and closings as, “Hi. How are you?” and “TTYL.” I think our love lasted the entire last month of school with promises of frequent pen pal exchanges since I was staying with my dad for the summer. However, Bryan as muse quickly fizzled due to my booked schedule of swimming, softball playing, and slumber parties.

The depth of my writing advanced a smidgen in my teen years to include nearly developed paragraphs describing my boredom in dissecting a splayed frog or conjugating French verbs and then concluding with a subject-less phrase such as “Miss you,” which seemed to accurately encompass the angst of teenage love in regards to physical separation. These notes were passed from my hand to his during anticipated rendevous in the hallways.

For what my immature early twenties' mind thought was “the one,” I wrote a letter of introduction on an extra long yellow legal pad after a chance meeting with a friend's boyfriend's friend. To my surprise, he replied to said letter with three-quarters of a page of minuscule young adult male writing on notebook paper, narrow ruled at that. These long-distance words were the gateway to seven tumultuous years of written words due to his affiliation with the navy. When, at last, we were able to coexist without the written word, the spoken words failed us. Thus, our mutual agreement to toss without regret, or any emotion for that matter, the scads of correspondence expressing our forever love should have been a sure sign of the words written on the wall, doomed relationship.

With the advent of the computer, inevitably came meetings via instant, or rather dial-up, communication. A two-week trial stint on a dating site in my thirties proved a lesson in what I truly longed for in a man, beautiful grammar. Instead, what I found were numerous misspellings or wrong word choices, red flags for an English teacher seeking love. The brief introductions of name and occupation written in fragments were overlooked, but when the written conversation continued with all lower-case letters and absence of any form of ending punctuation, I considered singles groups at churches.

As my probationary period online was coming to a close, an e-mail appeared in my inbox with an actual subject in the heading. After opening this message, I think I whimpered at the presence of a salutation with my name spelled correctly. Furthermore, commas appeared after introductory phrases of more than three words. This author at the other end of this cyber connection seemed to be too good to be true, so I immediately replied. The next two days were spent constantly monitoring my e-mail, not an easy task considering my modem speed. To my delight, second-order writing ensued on my screen, and on the third day, a date was solidified. Six months later this sexy scribe handed me a card on our wedding eve with the message, “Love is a verb.” Twelve years, two children, and a double mastectomy later, he remains my muse, and we have yet to have a shortage of love words for each other.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Learn More about Author Seth Keomanivane

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .  
The Last Samurai
 
Describe your first kiss.
I was in the 6th grade and I had this girlfriend similar to my height with long brunette hair. The both of us are sitting next to another couple and that couple told us to kiss so we ventured towards each other and it was just a little peck on the lips.
 
Your favorite children's book, and why . . .
Captain Underpants because it was comical that this hero had underwear above things that underwear should not be.
 
A cause that's closest to your heart, and why . . .
Helping others when they feel that nobody can. Especially my family.
 
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?
I would choose to be Seth Keomanivane in my own novel because I feel as if I'm trying to be someone else. I have not really shown you who I truly was.
 
Explain the worst job that you've held. 
There has not been one job I had not liked. Just for the fact that I was making money to support myself. Thus any job I had actually made me happy rather than complaining about a job I had no interest in.
 
A quote that motivates you . . .  
"Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one" - Bruce Lee.

He is an inspirational speaker and full of wisdom.

 
Three Wishes . . .
Wish for a map that could find anything ever lost.

Wish for the power to touch any comic book magazine and get that superhero's power.

Wish for a phone that could talk to people from the past, present, and the future.

I have had plenty of time to figure these things out!
 
The title of that one song you would take with you on that deserted island. . .
Who Let the Dogs Out
 
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
Bike Soccer
 
 
What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
To see my creativity and the ideas I have as a person. I want them to relate to the picture I'm trying to portray into their minds.

Awaited Return of the First Morning

It is January 13th, 2014, and it is Seth Keomanivane’s first day back at McKendree. He will be returning to serve his first second term ever at McKendree University. In his return to McKendree, the weather had changed the tone of this eventful day with its gloomy demeanor and its drizzle of tears that poured down on him as he made his way to classes. Not only did this rain provide a barrier to his being, but on his way to his first class, he remembered he had forgotten to eat a replenishing breakfast. Therefore, with such a start to his day, Seth was able to overcome the depressing climate and the lack of nourishment.
    
       Awaiting for this day to arrive, Seth was joyous because he wanted to see his friends and discuss how his winter break went. But this exciting and joyful part of him was not present the day of January 13th. The life was drained right out of Seth, and his happiness slowly dissipated. The cause of this was the depressing weather. The ground lay cold, hard and wet, and even the grey-white sky induced a sort of separation from the rest of the world. Seth, taking in all these emotions and distractions slowly foot by foot, splash after splash, made it past the Aims Cafeteria.
            Following along this journey to overcome the atrocities were his sense of smell. In each step past Aims in his dampened shoes, he could smell the aroma of food. For Seth’s first sensory senses were the smells of a sautéed sausage in grease, combined with an over-easy egg with the yolk pouring thick. Enough flowing for a rush of his taste buds within his mouth, he could not stop for he knew that being punctual on the first day of school was appropriate . But the taunts would never stop there for he could see within the clear cut glassed windows the long buffet line of breakfast goods. Yellow eggs, brown sausages, triangular breakfast pizza and, yes, hash browns down to the crisps.
            Coming up past Aims Cafeteria was a long winding sidewalk that headed right to a massive two- story brick building called Clark and adjacent to the right was 1828, another cafeteria. Making his way to the stairs, Seth tripped on a crack rising up from the sidewalk just adding to his frustrations of the morning. Now making his way to the door, Seth opened it with no struggle. Venturing his way upstairs, he looked to his right to an empty classroom with the lights off. While to his left were a medium-sized class of students just staring at him as if he felt they were judging him. Already affected by the bad climates, Seth felt a sense of discouragement. However, in front of his face was room 203, and after a glance at the schedule for reassurance, he knew had the correct room. In room 203 there was a long table extending from one wall to the other. Similar to a conference room for prestigious businesses. Sitting around the table were his new classmates, but it was as silent as space itself. The one female in the classroom sat with her head in her phone and her legs cramped together from feeling uncomfortably close to all the other students in the room. Angered by this, Seth was now in a mood not acceptable for a first day at school. The class dragged on about the syllabus which made for a long and boring hour for Seth.
            In short, everyone will have a day such as this. There will be times one may forget a meal or items such as waterproof shoes. For Seth, this was a learning curve and a lesson that life will knock one down, but it is the mentality one uses to cope. His day was intended for excitement to see friends and in detail, describe his crazy stories of break. Instead, Seth believed plans never go as expected, and he wanted to make that clear to his peers. However according to Seth, “Tomorrow's another day, and there will be more first days to come."

By Seth Keomanivane
I am an understanding and outgoing individual who enjoys leaving an impression with everyone I meet. 




Sunday, April 20, 2014

M.J. Rose's Seduction Book Club

Wondering if those eerie feelings of deja vu could possibly mean anything?  Then, M.J. Rose's Seduction is the novel for you.  With portions based on the biography of one of the famous literary figures in France, Victor Hugo, one may never look at a Ouija Board the same way again after navigating through this complex storyline of connected characters spanning various timeframes.  Thus, a reader of this fiction may find a quiet escape, by the sea no less, the perfect setting in which to read.

Interestingly enough this piece of fiction was written entirely in chirography which did not hamper her manipulation of words for the purpose of vivid descriptions one scintilla:

I'd only seen you two or three times but had been acutely aware of your sadness.  You wore it like a frock.  It clouded your eyes, turning the blue sky to gray.  Even the scent that lingered in a room after you'd left it reminded me of grief.  It was the fragrance of flowers past bloom in their death throes (52) . . .

These giant hulking rocks have stood here for all time, seen all things, watched silently as men used them for shelter, religious rituals, burials, for crimes, trysts, for hiding places.  (218)

Simile and personification at its finest . . .

For the purposes of book club, Rose offers recipes as well as suggested background music here.  Furthermore, your club may even wish to invite Rose to your discussion virtually via Skype, a reader's dream come true.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Learn More about Author Taraya Turner

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .  
My Sister's Keeper
 
Describe your first kiss.
My first kiss was with my cousin's friend. I was eating cheeto puffs when I was 7 years old and his friend's name was Tony. Tony flipped me on the couch and gave me a peck on the lips.
 
Your favorite children's book, and why . . .
My favorite childhood book was Green Eggs and Ham because I used to love to read it out loud. I read it with such enthusiasm that everyone wanted me to read it to them. It was like I was putting on a show.
 
A cause that's closest to your heart, and why . . .
Cancer is the saddest disease in the world to me. It takes innocent lives every day which is sad. My grandmother is a breast cancer surviver.
 
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?
I would be Ginny Weasley from Harry Potter. I say Ginny because she's a excellent wizard and she lives in this fantasy world. Ginny is surrounded by her wizard family which would be cool.
 
Explain the worst job that you've held. 
I worked at a packaging company for one day. It was terrible we only had three breaks, two of those are five minutes for the bathroom and thirty minutes for lunch. Also I was in the assembly line there standing for nine hours.
 
A quote that motivates you . . .  
"No Regrets, Just Lessons Learned" that is the saying I live by. I make plenty of mistakes but I cannot take them back. I just live with it and learn from it.
 
Three Wishes . . .
I wish I were rich, married to Leonardo Dicaprio, and lived in Japan.
 
The title of that one song you would take with you on that deserted island. . .
Radioactive
 
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
Hide and seek in the dark
 
 
What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
Take that I am a different individual with an amazing personality. My writing reflects the person I am, and all I can be is me.

When I Thought It Was Love


Sometimes I wish I could take back experiences I had in the past. For example, my first shot at love. My first love (or so I thought) was an affair I wish I had never engaged. I may not remember the fights, but I still remember the bruises. I cannot think of the arguments, but I still have the scars. What he left me with I remembered the most is a valuable lesson, not to trust a man simply because of a  reunion with an ex boyfriend.
It is finally happening, my first love is coming back to me, or so I thought. I would have never dreamed I could have had the chance to see him again. Of course I have always wanted to; I mean he was my first after all. He seems so different yet still the same boy from three years ago. My ex was short, dark skinned, with an overly large nose. His lips at the top had the perfect crease in the middle. That smile of his used to always make me forget any of my worries, and it was now approaching me. I am sure I could never forget that walk; he strutted with such cockiness it won me over. Now looking back I realized he was never my type, yet as I stand waiting for him my smile does not fade.
My ex-lover walks up and hugs me as if I just arose from the dead. I have planned out this date perfectly as I always do. Our date was an outing to the theater; we watched a movie about a man on a building of some sort. As I was sitting next to him, I could smell the scent of that expensive cologne I used to love so much. Throughout the show I had many flashbacks of times like this. Did I honestly miss being around him? At the beginning I do believe I missed his company. That was before I learned what he actually was.
Now it has been four months since my reuniting with my ex. At first all was going well until he found out about “The Instance.” This particular instance was just three months before we made up our relationship. “The Instance,” is what I call the short period of time me and the close friend of my ex were on a romantic level with each other. I often regret this because it was at first only out of spite. My ex and his friend Dee were extremely close once upon a time. That was until Dee finally found his way to me. I admit that I was tempted when I saw that he cut his locks off. One part of a male I adore is a low fade haircut. It did not take long for me and Dee to have relations. Looking back the instance was the biggest regret of my life. I regret the instance that turned a boy I thought I loved into someone I never knew.
My innocent mind thought the worst was over, but there would be more to come. After my ex learned about me and Dee, our relationship decreased dramatically. He told me he would never trust me again. Every other day we were arguing about what I did. I knew it was wrong, but I did not know it would drive him insane. If I had known, I would have ended it sooner. Still till this day I cannot believe I did not see the signs.
For a long time, I could not admit to anyone I was in an abusive relationship. The first time I experienced his abusive side was on the Fourth of July. We were at a barbeque together, and as usual we were arguing about "The Instance." Note that I was always crying throughout our relationship due to our arguments. This time I just wanted to ignore him and have a good holiday. He made sure for the rest of our time being together that I would not have joy if he did not authorize it. My natural reflex was just to walk away from the argument, that was until he pushed me. After he laid hands on me, he proceeded to threaten me. Take to heart I was not a weak individual, but I did once love him. That is the only reason I did not involve anyone else in my predicament. My family would have raised hell on him if they ever found out about his abuse. By raise hell I mean he would not be in the living world, he would be dead. I never told them; I just waited for my chance to escape the madness.
The fighting between us went on about four whole months without anyone having a clue of what was happening. Now I saw what it was like to be hurt by someone who claimed to love me. Then I came to the conclusion that this was not love at all. People who claim to love each other would never put their loved one in a position like this. Since my ex was such a danger to me, himself, and my family, I just waited for the day to be out of this position. Soon enough the day came where we had an argument about a case of him cheating. I personally was happy he cheated because that led him to believe I was hurt and needed time to myself. Honestly I was not hurt at all. My ex and I broke up, and this might have been the happiest day of my life. This was the day that he finally left my bed, my home, and most of all my life. My dark cloud had finally moved past me.
After we broke up, my life was going well. My job was going well so I bought all the necessities for college. On one particular day, my ex called trying to make his way back into my life. I was not willing to hear him out at that moment; I had a flashback. This flashback showcased like it was yesterday. There I am sitting on the couch while he comes to join me. I tell him “No I will not give you any more money.” That is when he hits me so hard on the side of my face that my ear started to ring. In a flash I am back to reality. What I had to endure over the past five months was not love, and I learned the hard way. I told him to never call me again, then I hung up the phone.
An important lesson was learned from reuniting with my ex was that people change. Once upon a time I had this guy whom I thought was sweet, who turned out to be anything but sweet. Where did that guy go, the one who I was just so happy to see a couple of months ago? He was gone with the wind, never to be seen again. Now I cannot bring myself to trust a man. Since I cannot trust a man I do not feel the need to look for one. There is no point in finding a spouse anymore, or merely having a new relationship. The fact is I used to think I knew what love felt like. Now it has been a year and a half since the last time I saw my ex’s face. I am currently still not ready to commit to anyone. This is fine with me because at least now I know what love does not feel like which was this.
By Taraya Turner
An Individualist . . . The Weird Girl on Campus

Monday, April 14, 2014

Learn More about Author Giampaolo de Silva

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .
Marley & Me

Describe your first kiss.
summer night,14 years old, party on the beach.She was my same age.I felt exciting and agitated but it was not bad at all
 
Your favorite children's book, and why . . .
An Italian book,Black Jesus by Federico Buffa.Because tells anecdotes about basketball playground.
 
A cause that's closest to your heart, and why . . .
the abandonment of dogs,because for me it is a despicable person who does that
 
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?
Achilles of Iliad for his incredible courage and determination
 
Explain the worst job that you've held. 
distribution of pamphlets because of low compensation
 
A quote that motivates you . . .  
"Limits like fears, is often just an illusion" by Michael Jeffrey Jordan
 
Three Wishes . . .
graduate,rosy future and happiness
 
The title of that one song you would take with you on that deserted island. . .
Uomini persi by Claudio Baglioni (Italian singer)
 
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
soccer
 
What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
misspellings

With a Luggage Full of Hopes


After months of waiting, the big day has arrived. Monday 13/01/2014 was my first day of college ever. I am from Italy, so the emotion, but also the concern was high. I was enthusiastic, but at the same time nervous because I did not know what to expect from a new method of teaching, if it would fit for me, and if I would be able to understand the professors. So the night before, I did not sleep a lot. As usual, in this situation, I fall asleep just a few hours before I have to wake. The same happened that night. 
Alarm clock, punctual rang at 7:55 A.M. Like a cat I jumped out of bed and I went to the bathroom. After 20 minutes I was ready to face the day. Walking on the campus for the first time was amazing. After 2 minutes I was in the dining hall to have my first breakfast as a college student. I took some cereals with milk because in addition to being a student, I will be a member of the university soccer team. So I have to keep the form. Anyway, after I finished breakfast, I kept on walking on the campus to reach my first class. In the meantime I was more entranced and less worried. 
I did not take a lot of time to find the class and 5-10 minutes before the class started, I was inside. At 9:00 o’clock the professor arrived. During her first lesson, she began to know us, and for the rest of the hour she explained to us what we would do during the semester with her. I can say I had a good impression of her. Moreover, at the end of the class, knowing that I am Italian, she stopped to talk with me 5 minutes, asking me how it is going so far, and if I had had troubles during her speeches, I could have stopped her during lessons. Really friendly and gentle. I said good bye to the teacher; I set out for the next class quickly trying to understand where to go. Finally, I arrived to the place where I had to stay. 
This was my second and last class of the day. The professor of this second class seemed to me respectable person and well prepared to explain his subject. As the first professor, he introduced himself to us and talked about the main purpose of the class. I have to say that both classes I have attended include great guys and great professors. So I was and I am much satisfied about that. 
After my classes concluded, I went to eat at the cafeteria with some friends of mine. At the end of it, I updated my parents about my first day calling them by Skype and then I called my Italian friends. It is always stunning to talk with them for the help and the encouragement that they give to me. At 16:30 P.M. I had a medical exam to play soccer with many documents to fill in and sign. The exam was positive for me and in fact I was happy to have the possibility to practice with the team. Later I decided to spend some time in the game room playing pool, tennis table and watching some NCAA basketball games. Then I visited the soccer field and I was really impressed by that. An incredible stadium, I cannot wait to play official games there. At 6:30 P.M. I had lunch and at 7:00 finally I was ready to have my deserved relaxation. In that spare time, I surfed the net reading some sport news and watching soccer games. 
At the end of day, exhausted, I went to sleep. In conclusion I can say that it was a strange day for me, plenty of different emotions and in general, I know, it will not be easy here due to the different culture and the different language between my country and this country, but I guess it will be a fantastic experience studying in the States because this one, in addition to giving me the opportunity to earn a degree, will give me a bigger opportunity to grow as a man. 
By Giampaolo de Silva 
I'm from Naples, Italy, and I study and play soccer at McKendree University. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Cym Lowell's Jaspar's War Book Club

If women dressed as nuns disrobing and then running through the streets in order to detract attention from the bad guys whets your appetite, then Cym Lowell's Jaspar's War is the novel for you.  This manly man's thriller topped with some testosterone and a side of C 19 H 28 O 2 has male written all over it with characters such as Henre Tremont, "world-famous grand prix driver . . . who moved like a leopard, the result, perhaps, of Olympic quality gymnastics routines" (40-41), Nulandi, whose "life as a commando started at about age 12"  (37), and Jason Brontus, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and "active Tae-Kwon-Do black-belt"  (19).  Hey, no complaints here.  Even Lowell's visual imagery in the form of simile definitely connotes a male perspective, "In the silence the burp of a mouse would have sounded like a lion's roar in the jungle"  (223).  Kudos for originality  . ..

The problems for me lie in the feminine presence in this read;  Jaspar, an upper class housewife and mother in a short amount of time is transformed into a physically agile killer with an insatiable sexual appetite for the purposes of the mission despite the misfortunes surrounding her husband and children.  I have difficulty believing this scenario despite my hub's objections.  Furthermore, I feel she was too slow in her connecting the pieces of the metaphorical puzzle.  

In regards to grammatical errors, a comma splice on page 40, a split infinitive on page 136 missing the "to," and awkward wording, "though with a new a cold set" (161) makes my toes curl and not in a good way.  

For the purposes of book club, a visit to Chief Bearstrike through gustatory perception with roasted trout filets, baked cornbread, "sliced vegetables, hummus, and pita"  (194) are sure to be a crowd pleaser.

Book Giveaway:  Interested in a FREE copy of Cym Lowell's Jaspar's War?  Describe your ideal macho man in the comments section below.  The hunkiest description wins.  Post by April 13, 2014. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The FIVE Minute Writing Lesson: Bad Words

As a teacher of Composition 101, I have attempted to take the lean approach to teaching writing.  What this means to me is that in my early years of teaching Composition 101, I made the mistake of reviewing the various parts of speech, drilling the various comma rules, and testing on active versus passive voices in writing.  Yes, as you are yawning right now, you can only imagine what my students were doing . . .  anything but improving their writing.  So, without a doubt, age and practice comes wisdom.  Thus, on the first day of class of the semester after skimming over the syllabus, the signing of a contract (to assure understanding of the syllabus), and the fondling of required texts, I ask students to retrieve a piece of "scratch" paper.  As if a grade school spelling exam, I have the students write the following words which I recite:

get
thing 
very
really
fun
big
good
kid
old
a contraction of his/her choosing

Then, I direct students to crumble up their papers and throw them in the trash can on their way out of class in the hopes they will eliminate these vocabulary choices from their formal writing with the exception of using kid to refer to a "baby goat" and old to refer to "dilapidated" or "geriatric," but not "former."

Thus, in my imagined utopia of specific, descriptive writing, a student would use . . .

I handed her the utensil.  
VERUS
I got her the utensil.

He is striking when he wears his black jacket.
VERUS
He is very striking when he wears his black jacket.

I need to call Erma, gather my research articles, and pick up Sam before tonight.
VERSUS
There are many things I need to do before tonight.

We enjoy swimming laps together.
VERSUS
We enjoy having fun together.

I ran into my former roommate at the mall.
VERSUS
I ran into my old roommate at the mall.

My friend's younger sister is competing this weekend.
VERSUS
My friend's kid sister is competing this weekend.

We read a suspenseful short story from an eco-horror anthology.
VERSUS
We read a good story.

I cannot make it to the meeting on time.
VERSUS
I can't make it to the meeting on time.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Learn More about Author Josh Thum

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .
Dear John
 
Describe your first kiss.
I had my first kiss when I was in the seventh grade. There was a girl that I had a crush on and it was the day of my school picnic. I asked her if she wanted to get on the Ferris wheel with me, and as soon as we got to the stop I leaned over and kissed her on the lips. 
 
Your favorite children's book, and why . . .
My favorite book as a child was Five Little Monkeys. That was my favorite book because I used to always jump on the bed. My mom would come in and always yell at me that I am going to hurt myself. 
 
A cause that's closest to your heart, and why . . .
The cause that is closest to my heart would be the passing of a family friend. She has a littler girl who is my sister's age and a boy that is in eighth grade. The reason why this affects me the most is because her son looks up to me as a role model. He is going to the same high-school I went to and I give him all my old clothes that do not fit anymore.
 
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?
Bugs Bunny because he seems to always be in control no matter what comes his way. The bunny could figure his way out of anything, and outsmart any foe be it a two gun slinging Yosemite Sam, or a hot breathed tree chomping Tasmanian Devil.
 
Explain the worst job that you've held. 
One of my worst jobs was working a concession stand at a golf course. While preparing food was not the most exciting thing in the world to me, and I barely lasted a summer doing it.
 
A quote that motivates you . . .  
If you want to be the best,
Work harder than the rest.
If you don't want to be the best,
Just work like the rest.

 
Three Wishes . . .
I'd wish for wealth
I'd wish for happiness
I'd wish for a cure for cancer
 
 
The title of that one song you would take with you on that deserted island. . .
Love Sosa
 
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
Uno
 
What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
I would like for readers to take away the main points that I try to talk about.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Eye Opener


Looking through the long list of places I have done community services at, the food pantry, the community that was hit by a tornado and the cemetery were the ones that had caught my attention. I knew that all those places were going to be a great choice but I did not think it could make such an impact in my life. Service has always been a large portion of my life, mainly because I went to a Catholic grade school and high school. Every Thanksgiving I went to a local food pantry. When I arrived at the food pantry, I started packing food and prepped them for delivery. When the Thanksgiving trays were ready, I would drive to houses to deliver them to families who could not afford a Thanksgiving meal.
I did a lot of service in order for me to graduate high school. For one of my service projects, the volleyball team and I went to the Kirkwood area to clean up houses after a tornado came sweeping through the town. Showing up to the tornado site was devastating to see. There were families that were crying and saying that they had nothing left of their houses except for the foundation of the house. My team and I spent about eight hours there throwing bricks, pieces of wood, and parts of the walls and roofs of the houses into giant dumpsters. One moment that impacted me was when an older man drove by and told me one of his houses was struck by the tornado. He said to me “Thanks for everything you guys are doing; it means a lot to me and also the rest of the community.
           Another service I did was my class went to this cemetery that was in horrible condition. There were gravestones knocked over, grass up to my hips, and trees that had fallen onto graves. We spent all day cutting the grass and carrying tree limbs to be tossed through a shredder. Fox 2 news showed up to interview the owners of the cemetery and also some of the students who were helping to rehabilitate this cemetery. After we finished for the day, the school received a call from the owners of the cemetery. They wanted to tell our school how much it meant to them, how they received calls from the public saying “how much better it looks, ” and that they wanted us to come back next year.
           When I first heard that we had to do community service for McKendree, I was kind of hesitant. I did not want to wake up at 6:45 in the morning to do work. But when I woke up, I realized that this was for a good cause. The service I had to do was for an elementary school. We had to paint curbs that were damaged from rain and tear. Doing this service I did not receive as much of a personal experience, but it was an experience in a wider range. Not only did it affect me, but it also affected the community. I liked painting the curbs because I knew it was an object I can see with a physical change. I would rather do this type of service because I do landscape, and cutting grass is not as meaningful to me since I do it all the time. I am glad I had an opportunity to do this type of service. I really enjoyed it and it also made me closer to my classmates. Community service became not only a chore but was it was rewarding. It helped me understand that I do not have to do service just to receive feedback. 
By Josh Thum
I am volleyball player at McKendree University.  I enjoy playing golf in my free time.