Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Summer Reprise Series #9: Not Quite Random Thoughts on Revising What You’ve Written

Summer Reprise Series #9: Not Quite Random Thoughts on Revising What You’ve Written
First published August 25, 2015

I have been writing a long time, certainly since 1st-grade in 1956. I consider myself to be a good writer. Three publishers agree with that assessment enough to publish books I authored or co-authored. Two of those asked if my manuscripts had been professionally edited before I submitted them.

I was in a quandary. What answer were they looking for?
I answered truthfully, “no.”
They seemed to be impressed.
I took their response to mean I’d done all the editing I need to do.


I recently pulled two of my CreateSpace books down while I re-edited. I found HUNDREDS of typos, etc… in each. I was embarrassed. And, I vowed it will not happen again.

Since that humbling experience, I have been much more conscientious with what I think is finally edited. Recently, I have included one of my good friends who enjoys “finding glitches” when she reads in my acknowledgements. She now reads all my manuscripts before I do my final edit.

Just last week, Laura Vavz, an outstanding blogger who did a review for The Observers, posted a blog: 5-Writing Apps I can’t live without. I read the article. I downloaded one of the Apps she recommended: Hemingway.

I tried it immediately. I will use it on all my manuscripts before considering them finally edited.

This software does NOT edit for you. It does provide color-coded segments of your text with issues: passive voice, adverbs, difficult reading, very hard to read. It also provides a Grade Level approximation for your text.

The spelling checker works better in "Write" mode than in "Edit" mode. When you edit in the APP, then copy/paste back to your manuscript, you have to reformat the text because it’s HTML. While each of those characteristics are a bit of a bummer, the benefits far outweigh the negatives in this APP.

The screen shot here is of the first half of a novella I'm working on. The file uploaded for this screen shot is 10,000 words long.

I also use the free version of Grammarly with regularity. It works from your browser. It also has a download version. It catches things I often miss. Here's a screenshot of my grammarly use. 

Each icon is a specific piece of text that was run through Grammarly. Red numbers indicate the number of issues I've chosen to ignore..

What using these two programs has done for me is to SLOW ME DOWN. I have evidence of manuscript issues that are clearly marked. Not changing them—or at least considering changing them—is very bad authorship on my part.

I have learned since the first posting of this blog that I can’t blindly make all the changes marked by Hemmingway. I want some of those “issues” because they are in dialog, or I just prefer what I’ve written to their option.

I am a finisher. While that trait has served me well in life, it’s not the best trait for an author. Editor is the trait I’m now striving for. Followed of course, by finisher.

The last Summer Reprise is next week. It, too, focuses on editing.

Next blog: Story Telling VS. Writing A Story

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My website is: www.crdowning.com

Monday, August 29, 2016

A Science Guy’s Almanac: Four Priuses (Preii?)

Four Priuses (Preii?)

Some of you were expecting the 2nd half of my Coaching Freshmen Football series. Think of what's happening as the Super Bowl half-time show--longer than normal.

Next week--Labor Day--I'm doing a special tribute blog post about my long-time friend and colleague, Owen Miller. It's a salute to all teachers.

Coaching Freshmen Football - The 2nd Half will be posted on September 12. I promise.

This is a tale of two tragedies that ended much less tragically than they might have. It might also include other musings, but I’m not sure about that part. You see, I haven’t written this post yet.

I first saw a Prius at a Science Teachers Convention. It was on display on a rotating stand. There was a Toyota rep walking along just fast enough to maintain her spot in relation with the audience. A video screen highlighted the hybrid technology.

I bought my first Prius in 2001. It was blue.

We ordered it and had to wait. We also paid a premium over the sticker price. I thought it was wonderful. About the size of an Echo, this car was “cute,” as my wife said. Try as I might, AND I TRIED HARD, I never managed 50 mpg for a tank of gas.

I saw the first revision of the Prius in a medical clinic parking lot. Whoa! That was cool looking. I sold my blue Prius to my son. It had around 90K miles on it. He drove it until the hybrid battery died.

My second Prius was a Salsa Red 2004 model. It was much bigger than the first Prius. The a/c ran off electricity, so the gas engine didn’t have to kick in at a stop sign to keep the car cool. I drove that car 600 miles/week for 38 weeks of the years 2005-2012. I finally traded it in when the cost of the catalytic converter replacement was more than the BlueBook.

When I traded in the car, it had the original brakes and hybrid battery. It also had 270,000 miles on the odometer.

Prius number 3 was a Red 2007 Touring model. It had GPS, bigger tires, a smoother ride, and an upgraded JBL sound system. I enjoyed driving it for about a year and a half. The last day I drove that car wasn’t enjoyable at all.

After 15 months of ownership and about 15,000 miles, I was driving home from my son’s house. It was HOT inland that day in San Diego. As I neared the off ramp to my house near Mission Beach and Sea World, traffic was backed up . . . to a standstill.

I braked and stopped before hitting the sedan in front of me. The car behind me was not as successful. It stopped only after crunching into my Prius and shoving my front bumper up over the back bumper of the car in front of me.

No one was hurt. The driver of the car in front of me was 15 days from clearing her last accident of her insurance, so she wanted nothing to do with reporting the accident. I did get her license and phone numbers. The car behind me had a smooshed-in front end. I doubt if she ever got the hood open without taking the car to a body shop—but it was driveable.

Because we all drove off the freeway, I figured my car just looked bad. I was wrong.

When I tried to drive away, a scraping sound and the smell of burning rubber was my clue that things were bad. The entire right rear wheel well was rubbing my right rear tire.

I called AAA. After I gave my version of the accident and provided the driver information for the chocolate Oreo cookie drivers that sandwiched my creamy white filling Prius, she said to wait for a call from an adjuster: Fred Rogers.

My immediate thought was, “Great. I get to report my accident to Mr. Rogers. I hope it’s been a wonderful day in his neighborhood.”

When he called, I repeated my story. He said he needed to ask me some questions the answers to which would determine if they were totaling my car. My car was declared totaled without an insurance eyeball gazing upon it. How cool is that?

Ultimately, we got a very fair settlement from AAA. Plus we had gap coverage through our credit union, and Carmax refunded all but 15 months payments of our extended warranty cost.

I’m now driving a Brilliant Blue 2016 Prius and looks way cooler than my other Priuses/Preii. It’s one model up from the base model.

This car is much different than any other Prius I’ve owned. The ride is smooth. Acceleration is quiet. It gets REALLY GREAT mileage. I’ve got 1100 miles on the car and I’m averaging 57.9 mpg. Check the photo below.

I hear that the future of the Prius is shaky due to "low" gas prices and cars that get 40 MPG on the highway. If the Prius line is on its way out, I'm glad I got one of the last ones.

That’s it. I hope you enjoyed the ride.

Next Almanac: In Memory of Owen Miller - A tribute to teachers

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My website is: www.crdowning.com

Friday, August 26, 2016

Expressions of Faith: Do Right

Do Right
For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
(1 Peter 3:5-6 NIV)

This is right after verses about women and what they wear, hairstyle, etc.

What’s interesting to me is that he uses the example of Sarah for doing right and submitting to her husband.

Submit here means to line up beneath.

Twice Abraham passes his wife off as his sister because of her physical beauty, but she still did “what is right and [did] not give way to fear.”

Submission is not a male or female issue. It is a discipleship issue.

Next Friday's Expression of Faith Series: Be Considerate

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My website is: www.crdowning.com

I'd love to read & respond to your comments.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Timeless Truths: Husbands, Who Needs Directions?

Timeless Truths: Husbands, Who Needs Directions?

This is the third in the series of blogs titled: Built 2 Last

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”
Jesus speaking in Matthew 7:24 [NIV]

Men are reluctant to share their deepest needs because it makes them feel vulnerable.
The best way to improve relationships is by giving to each other.

Let’s start with three relationship-building verses. Practicing these disciplines in a relationship is vital for health and impact.
John 3:16
For God so loved the world He gave . . .
Mark 11:23
…the Son of Man came to serve.
Philippians 2:5
…have the same attitude as Christ…

Wives, do you know?
1. He’s looking for intimacy . . . to be loved.
The Lord God said, “It is not good form the man to be alone. I will make a helper1 suitable2 for him. [Genesis 2:18].
  1. This is the same word used for equal or superior in status.
  2. A support position of authority.

The Needed Response: Patience and partnership.
Jesus came to restore intimacy between God and humans.
Man and wife are equal partners.

Bonus nuggets
  • Men respond more to what they see than to what they hear.
  • Love practiced gets a lot more accomplished than love preached.

Wives, do you know?
2. He’s looking for respect . . . to be valued and appreciated.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up [1 Thessalonians 5:11].

The Needed Response: Encouragement.
The worst mistake between husband and wife is criticism.

Wives, do you know?
3. He’s looking to lead . . . especially in the home.
This refers to responsibility not bossing.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. [Ephesians 5:21-22].
Husbands are responsible for two kinds of leadership: moral and spiritual
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives [1 Peter 3:1].

The Needed Response: Grace (to live with the decisions made) and gratitude (for what he’s trying to do).
Find multiple ways to sow the fruit of the Spirit in the life of your wife.

Bonus nuggets
  • Submission is not a male or female issue. It is a discipleship issue.
  • Submit here means to line up beneath.

Wives, do you know?
4. He’s looking to succeed . . . finding and fulfilling God’s plan
A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in the bones. [Proverbs 12:4]
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. [Proverbs 5:31:10].

The Needed Response: Celebration!
Celebrate more than accomplishments.
Celebrate the fact of relationship.

Remember husbands and wives:
  • You can do what I cannot.
  • I can do what you cannot.
  • Together we can do something beautiful for God.

Thanks to Dr. Keith Newman for essential teachings in this post.

Next Thursday's Timeless Truths Series: Kids, Whose Idea Was This?

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My website is: www.crdowning.com

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