Archive of ‘Ultimate Blog Challenge’ category

This Mom Has the Write Stuff

“Yes, I am silently correcting your grammar” – as seen on every editor’s t-shirt, coffee mug, and screen saver

In our house, we have always had an equal distribution of skill sets regarding homework.

Got an insane statistics problem to solve? Dad is your guy. You say your science fair exhibit isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do. Talk to Dad. But when it comes to writing book reports, term papers, and college essays, I’m your girl.

I have over 30 years of editing experience behind me. I’ve been a freelance writer, an editor, a social media content creator, and a communications professional. But my family did not always welcome my stellar spelling skills, grammar expertise, and high-level critiques regarding theme, content, and overall cohesiveness. It’s a well-known fact that if you want me to read your paper, you should be prepared to rewrite it.

Sorry, not sorry.

As you can imagine, this often caused a lot of fighting and frustration around the kitchen table. Eventually, I restrained myself, limited my red pen markings to typos and punctuation errors, and left the prose to them. Occasionally, I’d let one or two editorial comments slip in by suggesting a better hook or a way to rewrite the ending. Sometimes my feedback was accepted, but back then, the more eye-rolling I received, the less I wanted to push the issue.

Now that the kids are older, they recognize what I have to offer them. (FINALLY!) So last night, when Jenna asked me to read her personal statement for an application, I was happy to oblige. I took a first pass at it and provided what I like to call “suggested edits,”—meaning she didn’t have to use them. They were merely suggestions. I sent her paper back to her and braced myself for her reaction.

“Mom, you tore up my paper!” – she exclaimed.

And then, she said what I’ve always wanted to hear – THANK YOU!

This was the beginning of a long night of her writing and my editing. She is an excellent writer, a chip off the old block, I’d say. But putting together a personal statement is no easy task. Not only does it need to be well-written, but also compelling. It has to say, “I’M PERFECT FOR THIS POSITION. PLEASE HIRE ME!” without being too obvious.

After she accepted my suggested edits, the real work began. We had an in-depth discussion about what she wanted to convey and how the stories she told tied into her career goals and enhanced her statement. At 10 pm, everything was in good shape, except neither of us liked the beginning or the end. At this point, we were on a roll, and after yet another discussion and rewrite, we were both happy with the end result.

When we were done, I shared with her what a joy it was to help her and how I struggled with how much I should weigh in on her work. But she stopped me right there and admitted that in high school, she didn’t always appreciate me as a writer and an editor. I was just her mom. And now, she wants me to edit away and share my perspective because she understands she will have a much better result.

Moms and Grammar nerds for the win!

P.S. The above story is meant to explain why I didn’t write a blog post last night. She used up all of my writing mojo for the evening! 🙂

Rules for Reading

“So many books, so little time.” – Frank Zappa

Six days into 2023, and my reading year isn’t off to the best start. I was hoping to finish a 2022 bestseller on New Year’s Eve, but it isn’t holding my attention. I haven’t DNF’d* it, but I also haven’t picked up anything new. I’m already breaking one of my rules which is to stop reading a book if I don’t like it. However, I’m already halfway through the book, so I will see it through. Most of the time, I decide to DNF after the first 50-75 pages, so there must be something about this novel that I like.

Anyway, this got me thinking about other rules I have when it comes to reading. Here are a few of them.

  1. Book Covers – I never buy a physical copy of a book if the cover promotes the movie version. I prefer to lift up the author and the original cover design instead. We all know the book is usually better than the movie anyway, so why would I want to be a walking advertisement?
  2. Don’t leave home without a book. – Whenever I go out, I always bring something to read. it could be the New York Times on my phone or a novel I downloaded on Audible. I’ve also been known to travel with a pile of magazines I haven’t read yet or my fully-charged Kindle. Nothing bothers me more than waiting somewhere and having nothing with me to read.
  3. Support independent bookstores. – Whenever possible, I purchase books from an indie bookstore. There are several in my area that I love to explore. If I’m looking for a recommendation, there is always someone there I can talk to who will happily oblige. Spending an afternoon and my money in an indie bookstore is never a waste of an afternoon. I always discover something new or come away with a fun bookish accessory – like a cute bookmark or a reading log. The last time I visited my favorite bookstore, I received a free ARC (advanced readers copy) of a new book and a $10 coupon off my next purchase. Even Costco’s paperback section can’t offer me that kind of deal.
  4. Use the library often. – We have a beautiful brand-new library in my hometown, and I don’t use it as often as I should. And they have all the books I could ever want, or they know where to get them. Sometimes I don’t have the patience to wait when more than 50 faceless people are in the digital queue waiting to read the book I want next. However, I’m so happy when I know about a book early enough and can be the first or second in line. And, if I don’t like the book, I return it knowing I didn’t spend my hard-earned money to buy it.
  5. Shop my bookshelves. – This is a new rule for me this year. I have a bad habit of buying the shiny new title that everyone is talking about instead of shopping my bookshelves. Every book I own is one that I REALLY wanted at some point but never read. It’s time to rediscover those gems and remember why I bought them in the first place. One of my favorite books is one that sat on my shelf for over a year. It’s called “Beneath a Marble Sky” by John Shors. It’s a historical fiction story about the building of the Taj Mahal. Why I left it on my shelf unattended for so long is beyond me. And I know there are many more books like that in my possession. I can’t wait to dive into my past purchases to find my next great read.

How about you? Do you have any rules that you read by? I mean, live by… 🙂

The COVID-19 Post

“Wear a mask.” – Dr. Anthony Fauci

Sadly, I have been sidelined by COVID-19. Three out of four of my family members have tested positive. The fourth one is chasing me around the house with a can of Lysol.

Thankfully, I’m fully vaccinated and boosted. This is my 3rd time around, and it is not nearly as bad as before. Thank you, Dr. Fauci!

But I’m going to get some much-needed rest tonight, so I’ll be brief.

Tonight’s post is brought to you by:

  • COVID at-home test kits
  • N95 facemasks and the Be Kind mask I’m wearing in this photo
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Kleenex tissues
  • Whole Foods chicken and rice soup (yum!)
  • Throat Coat tea with honey
  • Gatorade
  • Clorox wipes
  • Lysol spray
  • Tylenol
  • and Vaccines!

Stay healthy, everybody!



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