5 Benefits of Grammarly

InspirationI hate editing my copy. It’s the trickiest part of writing. There are so many ways to go wrong when you are producing words by the hundreds. For all the value word processing programs have brought to writers, their biggest flaw is literal non-contextual interpretation of words.

She went their to see her mother. Their is spelled correctly, but it’s wrong in this context.

The bear truth, is misleading unless you are talking about a big brown animal you came across in the woods.

Grammarly.com, an online instant grammar checker and more,  is a wake-up call: Commas, periods, exclamation points, oh my! Spelling, context, confused words, oh my! Voice, mixed metaphors, unclear comparisons, oh my! Grammarly points to the word or phrase and suggests an alternative, or that you rethink what you’ve written, oh my (head in my hands here), and sigh. I am not a horrible writer, but I am too often a lazy one. Grammarly is worth every cent of the $139 I paid for it.

Grammarly forces me to think: Yikes, what a thought. Think more about what I write. Perish the thought. However… (Picture me thinking here: Hmmm, Grammarly might not be happy about that ellipse. Does it have a purpose? It does come in handy now and again, because as I write I may want to slow my readers down. Still, is the ellipse necessary, or am I slowing down the reader too much?) I hope you get the idea. As a writer you do want to think about every aspect of what you’re writing – spelling, grammar, voice, tone, and readability, and yes the occasional ellipse.

Grammarly hates, hates, hates, passive voice: If you use this product be ready for a rude awakening. You think you’re writing in electrifying ways, until you see how many times you slip into passive voice. Why do you slip into passive voice? Because passive voice is easy, and it’s sloppy, that’s why. Things happen, and you tell about what happened, yadda, yadda, yadda. Have you put the reader to sleep in the process? I look over some of the things I’ve written, and I cringe. Instead of engaging the reader, I see where I dumped information in globs. Bad form; sloppy writing.

Grammarly gives you options: You can use the basic mode and Grammarly checks for contextual spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and style. Or you can select plagiarism to learn whether you have inadvertently “borrowed” someone’s words and made them yours. There is a vocabulary enhancement function, which points out vague words that can be changed to another word or phrase to make the sentence stronger or clearer.

Grammarly will send you to a professional proofreader: I believe there is a charge for this service, but if you want another pair of eyes to look at your work, the option is there.

A caution here. Grammarly doesn’t do your work for you. You still must read your copy. The suggestions in Grammarly are just that, suggestions. As the writer, it’s up to you to accept or reject the program’s recommendations.

In summary this is a good product for writers whether you are writing a business letter, an op-ed piece for the local paper, a school paper, an essay or a book. Punctuation and grammar are the building blocks of written communication.

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Note: I am in no way affiliated with Grammarly.com. These are my thoughts based on my experience. There are other similar programs in the marketplace. I have not tried them.

SEASON OF CHANGE

Butterfly

Is it good, this thing called change?
Yesterday I was free,
today caught in some
dark void
neither one thing
or another.
Waiting.

Change comes.
Light.
Air.
Stretching.
Unfolding.
Free,
flying into the day
wing color like
jewels in the sun.

Yes,
this thing called change
is good.

Photo: clipart.com

Lean not on your understanding

Grace beyond words

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

Son LightAmong the chosen. How awesome is that? God in his glory, fully realized in every sense of the word, powerful beyond imagining, greater than anything human minds can conceive, creator and author of all of life, in all of the cosmos, God has chosen to love me. I am struck speechless at the idea of it, knowing full well I haven’t deserved this love and have at times forgotten that it is there, holding me up, protecting me in the storms of life, taking it as my due. God’s love for me is singular. It is based on his infinite love for his creation: me. The thing is that although it is singular to me, it is also singular to every person who calls upon his name. His choice. His love revealed in the form of a wee babe who grew to be a teacher, friend and redeemer. Amazing grace beyond words.

Guest Post: Kayt C. Peck

Sheltered Women:  A Fruitful Journey

Sheltered Women Cast
During a lighter moment after a show, the cast of “Sheltered Women” (L to R): Lisa Cisneros, Justina Rivas, Joan Krohn, Sandra Nepstad and (front) Victor Ramirez.

There was joy among “Sheltered Women” cast members, director, other supporters and, yes, me, the playwright, when Gene Irby, co-chairman of the 2015 New Mexico AACTFest, announced that our play would be one of two to represent the state at Region VI competitions.  It was a fruitful end to a long journey.  Added celebration came with announcement that we were honored also for Best Costumes and three of our players – Lisa Cisneros, Justina Rivas, and Sandra Nepstad – were named to the all-star cast.

When I first wrote the play in 2011, it was an act of love, trying to keep alive the stories of Iraqi women suffering under the heavy hand of radical Islamic rule.  In the end it will always be their story and those of us involved in the play are simply the tools for telling that story.

As one adjudicator said when giving us our comments, when she read the script she thought, this could be either really good or really bad.  It will take some incredible actresses to pull this off.

“You did it,” she said, and she was right.

The cast, crew, and director of “Sheltered Women” became a family during the process of bringing an important story to life.  It is a family I will always value.

By Kayt C. Peck, Playwright and actor

More than NM True: The Real Las Vegas, 5 Cool Things

I love New Mexico, from its mountains in the north to its deserts in the south. I love the mix of cultures and variety of recreational and cultural activities. My favorite place is Las Vegas, in the rural county of San Miguel. Things are happening here. Walk down Bridge Street, and you feel the vibrancy and energy. Take a peek inside the Plaza Hotel, a graceful reminder of days gone by yet full of modern amenities.

Check out Charlie’s Bakery and Cafe on Douglas Avenue and see just about everyone you know. Take a trip down 7th going toward Storrie Lake, and you will see new construction popping up. Don’t forget to give the Railroad district a once over. You will be back. The railroad era Castenada hotel and Fred Harvey dining room is under restoration. You might even get a glimpse of a Harvey Girl giving tours or making a stop at events around town, or around the state. Here are just five of many reasons to love this Northern New Mexico town.

Las Vegas City Museum and Rough Rider Memorial
Room in the city museum

The City of Las Vegas Museum and Rough Rider Memorial Collection opened in 1961 as a unit of the City of Las Vegas. The Museum is housed in the historic Municipal Building, a 1940 Works Progress Administration project. The museum collection includes more than 7,000 items relating to the heritage of the Las Vegas area. Many items may be viewed through an on-line collection catalog. The Museum offers educational opportunities through classroom visits and activities. Entertaining and informative programs for all ages are offered throughout the year. (From Museum website.)

Citizens’ Committee for Historic Preservation: “The Citizens Committee for Historic Preservation was formed in 1977 to encourage the preservation and appreciation of Las Vegas and San Miguel County historic resources. Established by land grant in 1835, Las Vegas was originally called Nuestra Senora de Los Delores de Las Vegas Grandes (Our Lady of the Sorrows of the Great Meadows). The history of Las Vegas is influenced not only by many different cultures, but also by two major forms of transportation. As a major trading point on the Santa Fe Trail, Las Vegas became a prosperous Spanish town with a wide variety of adobe structures. As trade on the trail increased, so did the variety of settlers and architecture in the town. The arrival of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad saw a further increase of new residents many of whom built Victorian houses reminiscent of their homes in the East. While the Victorian residents are quite a surprise to visitors, used to the Pueblo revival of Santa Fe, it is the combination of the indigenous adobe architecture and the variety of Victorian architecture that makes Las Vegas unique.” (From the CCHP website)

fiesta dancers
Fiesta Dancers in Las Vegas, NM

Annually in August CCHP puts on a Places With a Past tour that features six to ten properties more than 100 years old, many of which have been restored and are currently occupied. A favorite on the tour is the Montezuma Castle, now part of the United World College. CCHP also conducts other historic events throughout the year. For details contact CCHP at 505 425-8803. Also see the site’s photo tours to get an idea of what PWAP tours might consist of.

Fiestas is a 4th of July celebration combined with Hispanic cultural events. This year it kicks off on Friday, July 3. The parade on Saturday highlights a day filled with music and dancing at the Plaza. Food vendors, presentations and down home fun for the entire family. Events and music continue throughout the day on the 5th. There are 5 and 10 K races and events for children. It’s not too early to think about summer fun.

Nuestra Senora de los Dolores
Nuestra Senora de los Dolores by Margarito Mondragon

Artists and their work. I am amazed at the degree of talent we have in Northern New Mexico. Is it because the clear skies and beautiful landscapes are irresistible magnets for creative spirits? Is it because we have so many galleries? Does Highlands’s art department contribute by providing exhibit space at the Ray Drew Gallery, in Burris Hall and at other sites around campus? Perhaps it is the town and it’s eclectic character. Whatever it is, Las Vegas and San Miguel County rival any other “arts” community in the state with the number of outstanding artists and craftspeople working in a variety of media. Public art is popping up, folk art and sculptures and murals, all depicting some aspect of life in all its complexity.

And then there are the wonderful, kind and hospitable folks who live here. Jim Terr, a creative fireball, recorded this at Charlie’s Bakery and Cafe on Douglas Avenue. Goodness Knows, Goodness Shows.These are only five wonderful reasons I love my town. There are many more. Add yours to the comments section. And if you agree with me, share this post.

Goodness Knows, Goodness Shows

 

 

 

I never knew you

GRANDFATHER PERALTA

I never knew you, Grandpa.
Your life ended long before
my mother met my father,
yet because of Mom’s
memories of life with you,
you are as real as anyone
I have ever known.
I see you herding sheep
in the high Arizona mountains,
bringing them into the fold.
I see you laughing with your children.
I see you running for sheriff
and serving faithfully after
you were elected.
I see you worn out,
not with age, but with work,
struggling to feed your family
of fourteen children from two dead wives
killed by time and childbirth,
cancer
and hard labor.
Your legacy is alive though Mom is gone
and so is the man she married,
he who was like you,
hard working,
hard living,
hard loving,
and now
gone.

 

____________________________

Comments welcomed. Poetry submission welcome. Send submissions to sharon@fsvandermeer.com

Look to the Light

Light of the World

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)

In “The Screwtape Letters,” C.S. Lewis writes, “It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

Mother Theresa wrote, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

The message from both these inspirational writers is about faith. Remaining faithful; being courageous in faith; willing to step outside your comfort zone in faith; faithfully resisting that which takes you away from the Light; and standing on faith when the world is falling apart around you.

Lewis returned to his Christian imperative in his thirties. With his new-found faith he wrote compelling narratives calling attention to how the world can shape who we are when we lose faith, not necessarily all at once, but rather by dribs and drabs, an undone thing here, an unkind or thoughtless word there.

Mother Theresa dedicated her entire life to serving the helpless and the hopeless, stepping out in faith, not that all would be well, but that she had a job to do and that job was right in front of her to be done now. Not later, not tomorrow, not when she had time, but now, in this moment. Today.