Our blog is “Muse & Amuse”. The goal is three-fold: 1] We ponder the world around us. In 2017, we focused on modern poetry through song and eternal poetry by the old masters. 2] We offer grammar blogs and upcoming lesson plans specifically designed for Home School Helps. 3] We promote books by Writers Ink authors.
Live / Laugh / Love invites you to be more than you were before. Live your life, don’t just coast. Devotional planners, self-help motivators, and ways to improve your life are available here.
Home School Helps (and for any other teachers who find this site) offers free lesson plans and English course content for high school students. Some lessons can be adapted for middle grades. As part of Writers Ink Books, HSH will highlight books and manuals designed for teaching students. The writer of HSH–M.A. Lee–is a thirty-year veteran of the high school English classroom, having taught all high school grades and all diploma endorsements (Honors English, Advanced Placement Literature, dual enrollment college composition courses, college preparatory (CP), technical-preparatory (TP or general), and reading skills courses. You can see peruse her writing here.
Pro Writer Helps offers guidance for writers wanting to move from hobbyist to professional. The Writers Ink Services division of W.Ink will, for a fee, proof and edit your manuscript and develop a video trailer as part of your marketing. For free, we offer free information about formatting a manuscript. Information about writers’ guidebooks, such as Think like a Pro and the Think / Pro planner as well as Old Geeky Greeks: Ancient Techniques for Modern Writers are here.
Wander around our site for a while. Remember, “not all those that wander are lost” (JRR Tolkien).
Backseat Drivers are Powerless. Words have power. We need to ensure they have power. Basic sentence structure places the subject first, in the driver’s seat. As with every rule in English, exceptions exist where the subject leaves the driver’s seat. FOUR exceptions immediately come to mind: Modifiers Questions Expletives there and here Passive voice MODIFIERS …
They’re, Their, There, my Dear Very few computer software programs can tell us the difference among there, their, and they’re. When such simple errors occur, many judge the writer as uneducated or careless. We would rather not communicate either of those judgments. Know what each means and what each is intended to replace, and then each is easier …
Grammar Monster! You have to be smarter than your computer. The grammar checker, that is. You have to be smarter than word processing software. Read any text of any length, and you will find an error. No one is Diva of the Universe (although some days I think I can come close). Errors happen. As writers, …
the first blog about 7 Questions to Start the Ordinary World, the first stage in the Archetypal Story Pattern, based on Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and Christopher Vogler’s subsequent work called The Writer’s Journey. 7 Questions to start
A little more about the Raison d’Etre of the book and the planner. 7 lessons (maintaining deadlines, keeping bum in chair, developing plot AND characters, overcoming writer’s block, sparking creativity, and being professional) give answers that newbies always ask.
To keep you on track with your writing, W.Ink Books has a Think/Pro companion planner: undated, project-focused, two-page weekly layout with daily word counts and progress meters. Monthly and seasonal reviews and previews along with additional trackers to help you maintain your writing goals. And the planners match the books!
WIS offers a tailored marketing service of corporate clips for businesses and video trailers for books. For information, start here with this blog then continue with this one ~ Trailers and Clips .
Want to be published? The Think / Pro planner can help. [also in two cover choices, to match the manual 😉 ]
Do you start stories but never complete them? Do you wait on your muse while she hides behind trees and in caves?
Do you know how to write, but the mountainous novel seems insurmountable, with too many words and too few days?
Do you keep telling yourself “Carpe Diem”, but days speed by before you grab several hours to write?
Time to change “Seize the Day” into “Seize the Dream.” For success, you need to Think/Pro. This planner can help.
The Weekly Spread
A two-page week keeps you focused on three tasks, with room to record your day-by-day focus as well as a word count tracker for daily and accumulating totals. The Progress Meter, divided into writing stages and blocks for each ten percent of that stage, is a visual representation of your growing achievement in reaching your writing goal.
While daily word counts are important, I now advise writers to take one day off each week. Reserve that day for planning as well as completing a creativity exercise. On a back page is a list of 13 exercises to choose from. Reminders of the four basic Healthy Habits (walking, water intake, sunshine, and diet) offer daily fill-ins for those who like habit trackers.
Each week also showcases an inspirational quotation from a famous writer.
Analyze your Progress with Reviews and Previews
In addition to the weekly spread are Monthly Reviews & Previews and Seasonal & Yearly Planning pages. The planner begins with a brief look at your yearly goals, on the following page.
The Monthly Review has a Productivity Tracker and a Progress Meter as well as places to jot down Business Contacts and Expenses. Once tax time arrives, you will have compiled the necessary information in one location. And a Tax Tips for Writers lists on a back page the expenses you can record.
In planning, we sometimes neglect to consider obligations beyond our goals and objectives. On the Previews is a reminder of those commitments that keep us sane.
Seasonal Previews ask you to polish the nuts and bolts of your projected words per week and sharpen up the time remaining before your deadline. All the Reviews ask you to record your victories and consider your challenges.
The purpose of any planner is to keep us on track as well as to give us a look ahead. In this fast-paced world, it helps to have a physical reminder, one that is not dependent on the five and more tap-clicks that it takes to access the electronic calendar on a smartphone.
Grab a pen and this planner, and quickly jot down reminders and notes. As the Think/Pro planner is undated, you can start at any time of the year.
Another Writers’ Guidebook: Old Geeky Greeks, available now.
Home School Helps
Home School Helps
Home School Helps provides insight and instruction for high school level courses in the Language Arts. On this page are several pillars, in which you can find specific information in the form of blogs.
Literature: Poetry (Eternal and Modern) which will contain Figurative Language (inc. Symbols and Archetypes) [alphabetized]
Grammar/Usage/Mechanics, including the Grammar Monster blogs
Composition: writing composed essays and essays of various types
Using Technology to Assist Instruction
No literature study is complete without canonical literature. The literary canon is filled with works that have enduring themes, protagonists we all still related to, and well-crafted writing.
POETRY/ eTERNAL AND mODERN
In my three decades of teaching high school Engiish, I discovered that my students were extremely resistant to poetry–unless I first engaged them with modern songs, the poems that they heard and sang without realizing they were poetry. Intermingling canonical poems with modern songs can be challenging, so I offer this yearlong blog series.
Listed below, in alphabetical order of the literary term which focuses the explication in the blog.
Introduce easy metaphors and more with Rufus Wainwright’s “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother”, which also gives us a glimpse of the 4 Types of Love: eros, storge, agape, and philia.
Allegories: The classical “Carmina Burana” by composer Carl Orff seems an odd beginning for the Eagles’ “Hotel California“, but once we see below the surface, the connections are powerful.
Allegories with riddling meanings is the focus of the famous “Tapestry” by Carole King (for a long time, one of M.A. Lee’s favorite songs)
While filled with allusions, T.S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi” is merely presented in this blog about New Year’s Resolutions. Anyone who knows Christ’s story, especially of the birth and crucifixion, will see the allusions.
An excellent example of the power of free verse to display visually the interconnections of ideas is e.e. cummings’ “i carry your heart with me”. This poem is an excellent contract to Sonnet 18, by William Shakespeare (see in this list at “sonnet”). Both are highly structured but in completely different ways with completely different rules to the structure. And both are very famous love poems.
Inference: the power of suggesting meaning: Cold Play’s “Clocks”
Metaphors fill excellent writing, and Sting is a master of the unusual extended metaphor, often known as a metaphysical conceit. His “Fortress around your Heart” is the perfect conceit, in that it transforms the required object with an usual comparison and also develops the writer’s vanity (this time, in capturing the poem’s persona’s arrogance in this relationship).
Another metaphor and one of my favorite poems: Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “First Fig”
Paradox with dream and reality: One Republic’s “Counting Stars” . I despise the video that accompanies this song: some Hollywood director’s attempt to be edgy and cool by disrespecting religion–while the song has nothing to do with religion.
Sonnet 18, “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?”, by William Shakespeare is considered one of the greatest love poems in the world. In the highly structured sonnet, Shakespeare not only compliments his love with her undying rarity but also proves his devotion by flattering her intellect.
Symbols are a kind of shorthand for authors, just as allusions are a shorthand, a quick way to provide a lot of information very quickly. Especially occurring in writing before the 1950s, canonical writers often play with symbols.
Color symbols are used most often, and knowledge of the symbolic meanings of colors can be revelatory: color symbols
Numbers can also be symbolic. Once readers have a quick understanding of the basic meanings of number symbols, those meanings seem to expand an author’s information exponentially.
Symbolic numbers also structure Lynne Alvarez’s “She loved him all her life”, a perfect little free verse that will break your heart once you realize what happened.
Aristotle first expressed that literature should have three Unities: time, place, and action. The ancient philosopher was discussing necessities for dramas, but two famous modern poets played with the challenge of the 3 Unities: Robert Frost’s “Once by the Pacific” and Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Time Does Not Bring Relief”
Verse Types: All poems are written one of three ways. Most of us think that all poems have rhyme. Two of the major forms of poetry–blank and free–have no rhyme at all. In the following paired blogs [blank then free then pure], I first explain the basic elements of the verse type while in the second blog I present the MMO of Old Masters & New Masters in working within that verse type.
Blank Verse has 10 syllables in a metered line but no rhyme (the rhyme is “blank” or absent). Robert Frost, Terrence Williams, and Seamus Heaney give us three examples.
Blank Verse: Means/Method/Opportunity ~ Macbeth’s famous speech, a selection from William Cowper’s “Winter Morning Walk”, another selection from Robert Frost’s “Birches”, and Wallace Steven’s “Plain Sense of Things” (a poem I did not know before I researched for this blog. I now think highly of this poem.)
Free Verse has neither rhyme nor rhythm. George Herbert’s “Easter Wings” is one of the first examples of what we call shaped verse. Walt Whitman is credited with developing the catalog, and his “Song of Myself 26” is a great example. The simple free verse form that most of us are familiar with is best shown with two examples: Gwendolyn Brooks “We Real Cool” and Arcelis Girmay’s “Elegy” .
Free Verse: Means/Method/Opportunity ~ Shaped Verse = Roger McGough’s “40 Love” and Carolyn Forche’s “Ancapagari, Catalog = Walt Whitman “I Hear America Singing” and Maya Angelou’s “Women Work” and Billy Collins’ “Introduction to Poetry”, Simple Form = Carl Sandburg’s “Bones” and Charles Simic’s “Stone”
Pure Verse has both rhyme and rhythm. This explanation touches on Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Edna St. Vincent Millay, with a closer look at Sara Teasdale’s “Christmas Carol”
Pure Verse: Means/Method/Opportunity ~ Wilfred Wilson Gibson’s “The Stone”, Vachel Lindsay’s “This Section is a Christmas Tree”, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”, Eugene Field’s “Jest `fore Christmas” and C.C. Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas”.
4 Requirements of Song
Dolly Parton’s “Wildflower” begins our look at these 4 Requirements of any poetry
“Paper Cup” by Jimmy Webb (of the Fifth Dimension) continues to build on our understanding of the 4 Requirements
Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” adds final touches to the 4 Requirements for poetry
Occasional Poetry: Lessons for Writers as well as Readers
Mother’s Day > Li-Young Lee’s “I Ask my Mother to Sing”, George Barker’s “Sonnet to my Mother”, and Judith Viorst’s “Some Advice from a Mother to her Married Son”
Father’s Day > Robert Hayden’s “Those Winter Sundays”, Jan Beatty’s “My Father Teaches Me to Dream”, Cecil Day Lewis’ “Walking Away”, and Li-Young Lee’s “The Gift”
Patriotism(Memorial Day, Flag Day, Veteran’s Day) > Rupert Brooke’s “The Soldier”, Gwendolyn Brook’s “the sonnet-ballad”, and Carl Sandburg’s “Grass”
Independence Day > Walt Whitman’s “I Hear America Singing”, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Concord Hymn”, Wilfred Owen’s “From my Diary: July 1914”, and Abraham Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address”
Grammar, Usage, Mechanics
Grammar Phobia vs. Grammar Snobbery: The only reason for grammar is Clear Communication. An editor at The Guardian newspaper in Great Britain shares her tirade about people with grammar snobbery creating people who have grammar phobia. M.A. Lee shares her own 13 reasons that good grammar is essential for good communication.
Grammar Starters, handouts that serve as 5-to-15 minutes beginnings for instruction.
Inversions: Yoda Charm? Not quite. Switching words around in a sentence is a Star Wars gimmick, but writers have used inversions for centuries. The official terms are anastrophe and chiasmus (one of my favorites.)
Creating Emphasis through Repetition: simple repetition, incremental repetition, auxesis (climatic ordering with sets of three), polysyndeton/asyndeton, and anaphora/epistrophe