i knead A editer!


Reading is my passion.  Being transported inside a character’s head or to an unknown locale  makes me speechless when an author writes well.  In fact, on more than one occasion, I have been  known to grieve when the conclusion of a novel arrives.  Usually, a replacement novel is one of the only means of rescuing me from the depths of reading despair until the replacement novel’s conclusion.  Thus, a cyclical cycle of addiction and sorrow emerges, worth every savored word on the page.

So, it comes as no surprise I enjoy reviewing books, sharing books, gifting books, discussing books, decorating with books, etc.  Saturday I received a novel in the mail for the purposes of review for a blogging book tour.  Snuggled in bed I picked up this new read and ogled the front and back covers as I always do prior to reading page one.  Disappointed to find a spelling error on the back cover,  I did not abandon all hope and proceeded to open the book and commence my read.

On page four I found two additional spelling errors and another on page five which was when I made the decision to read no more.  This particular author, according to the brief biography, worked as a journalist.  So, I think this person in particular should know better.  However, I believe anyone who is pursuing a career as an author should definitely revise and edit for the cleanest draft possible for his/her readers.  To me, this is  an essential part of the author job description.

My English 111 students are on draft three of a Memoir Essay assigned on day one of class;  we are now two-thirds of the way through the semester.  Revisions will continue until each student is able to walk away with a clean copy in hand.  While enrolled in this class, these students are authors and should respect the craft of writing.

In the same manner, when I purchase a cupcake from the store, I expect it to taste sweet.  If the baker misplaces salt for sugar in the recipe, I would not expect him/her to reason, “It’s close enough.”   While undergoing surgery to eradicate the cancer found in my breast, my surgeon performed three procedures for a successful clear margins outcome.  I am grateful she did not determine “close enough” was good enough.

With this being said, authors please revise and utilize an editor (friend, peer, family, Writing Center, writing group) always.  Keep hope and grammatically correct writing alive for your readers.

Joy Santee

Why do you write? Right now, I'm mostly writing for work, which means I'm writing to demonstrate that I know stuff and am actively participating in my scholarly discipline (rhetoric and composition). I'm interested in what I write, but not many others will be. I feel like I'll be ready to write more enjoyable things down the road--more about my travels and such--but all those ideas are still just rolling around in my head at the moment.

Describe where you write. I have a home office and use my desk almost exclusively for writing. I just hung up a new map of the US between the IKEA lamps on either corner of the desk, but I don't think that will help me with my wanderlust problem...I do keep the desk clean when I'm being a productive writer so I have one less excuse to sit down and get to work. I do my more creative writing on the couch.

Who or what is your muse? Hmm. I'm tempted to say myself, but that's probably not the right answer. Maps are probably my best muse since they can show so many partial perspectives of a single place. Look at them a little differently and they'll show you something new!

Three wishes . . . If I tell you, they might not come true!

Favorite childhood book, and why? Voyage of the Dawn Treader--I didn't know travel writing was a genre then, but this was as close as I got!

Explain when is your ideal time to write. My best time to do academic writing is first thing in the morning so I'm sitting at my desk before I'm fully awake. It's less painful that way.

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why. I re-read a lot of books, particularly the easy reads that let me just relax. My most recent re-read was the Alanna series by Tamora Pierce.  I read the first book during elementary school and finally picked up ebook versions so I could read them all again.

E-book or print? Why? Depends on the book. Fluff reading = ebook (read on my phone). More serious books = print so I can take some notes and fold over some corners.

Favorite magazine, and why? I don't subscribe to any, but I'll sometimes pick up a design or woodworking magazine. Dwell was my most recent purchase, I think.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing? Academic writing: Maps are cool, complex documents that can change how we see and act in the world. Travel writing: Go outside and play!


Friendly Round Robin Peer Editing

Over the years I have tried and adjusted the way I facilitate peer editing in my English classroom.  I have attempted having students work in pairs or groups of four and simply exchange papers, but what I have found is that students are reluctant to be honest in their commentary when it is known he/she made the comment.  Instead, I see a lot of, “This is good!” comments at the top of pages.  I also have noticed they rush through the peer editing process simply to finish and not to learn from one another.

roundrobinpeereditingSo, one method I have implemented is the Friendly Round Robin Peer Editing.  Students sit in a circle with one copy of his/her rough draft in hand.  I pass out the Friendly Round Robin Editing worksheet (see below).  Initially, students pass their papers once or twice to the right and then complete number one on the worksheet.  After a period of time, I ask students to pass again to the right once, etc. until we have completed the entire worksheet.  Not only are students practicing various approaches to peer editing anonymously, but they also are given the opportunity to read several other papers in the classroom in order to experience various styles of writing.  For, as writers we learn to hone our craft by reading every day.

Read everything–trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out.
(William Faulkner, interviewed by Lavon Rascoe for The Western Review, Summer 1951)

  1. Is the paper at least 2 typed pages (or as required) in length? If not, comment.

  2. Proper heading? Page numbers with last name? If not, correct.

  3. Read through the entire essay. Does the essay answer the writing prompt? If no, comment. If yes, tell why you think the essay answers the prompt fully.

  4. Read through the entire essay. Now, do you feel the title is creative? Did you want to read the essay after reading the title? Does the title fit the essay? If not, offer suggestions. If yes, tell why you liked it.

  5. Proper capitalization of the title? If not, correct.

  6. Does the introductory paragraph “hook” you? If not, add suggestions. If yes, tell why.

  7. Read through the essay. Circle the thesis statement. If you cannot find one, make a note of this. If you feel the statement needs elevation, make a note of this.

  8. Circle or highlight “very,” any form of “get,” any form of “thing,” and “fun.” Offer elevated word choices to use instead.

  9. Circle or highlight any misspelled words, awkward word choices, and simple word choices. Offer the correct spelling, a word to use instead, and/or an elevated word choice.

  10. Circle or highlight any contraction you find in this essay.

  11. Read through the entire essay. Does the author use smooth transitions? Is there flow between paragraphs and sentences, or is the essay choppy? Comment.

  12. Read the essay aloud. Comment on any portion which was difficult to read and/or understand.

  13. Read the essay backwards beginning with the last word. Comment on any misspelled words, cross out “very,” “get,” any form of “thing,” and “fun,” and praise elevated word choices.

  14. Read through the essay. Does the conclusion signal the end, restate without repetition, and leave the reader with the author’s final thoughts in a memorable manner? Comment.

  15. Read through the entire essay. Does the author exemplify, elaborate, and explain? Comment.

Sunday (again, a little late) Thanks


In reviewing this past week, I am thankful for . . .

an amazing Book Club Babes discussion combined with a FREE exploration of the St. Louis Art Museum.

donations from woman blessing Tonya to benefit the Fall Festival at my youngest squirt’s school.

songs sung by the choir at Troy UMC which caused many a goosebump on my skin.

a good talk with woman blessing Pat.

my oldest daughter’s love of playing the cello.

woman blessing Christin thinking of me.

a long nap in the afternoon.

For what are you thankful?  Share in the comments section or add a link to your blog.

Listening to Tim Price’s sermon at my church a few months back, he encouraged us all to pray without asking for anything, but instead pray a prayer of complete thanksgiving leaving your wants and needs for another time.

This gave me pause to think how I should devote this day of rest and all days to thanking our Creator. So, every Sunday consider participation with me in Sunday Thanks.

Please reflect on today, the past week, or one incident in particular. Share what you are thankful for in the comments section or link your post of Sunday Thanks using the blue button below.

Perhaps, your sharing will encourage someone else to realize just how much he/she has in which to be thankful.

DO add a link to your blog.
DO comment on the link before yours and after yours. Make some connections.
DO visit every Sunday.

Thank you . . .

What a S*%t World!?!?

Hormones.  I was up until nearly two in the morning because I was hot and crampy.  So, I spent this time reading about current events, the life of James Foley*, and his inspiring body of work as a journalist.  A handsome, intelligent, forty-years young man loved dearly by his family, friends, and coworkers. . .

His death is an abomination; senseless; unconscionable.  Really, there are no words to properly describe this.  I have to think the man responsible for Foley’s exit from this earth, on some level, is ashamed of his actions, or else why would he be hiding behind clothing if he truly thought his actions were just?  If one were truly proud of his actions, would he disguise himself?  I kept thinking to myself as I was reading, “Who are the parents of a man who thinks taking another life is justifiable?”  At one point in life, as we all are, this veiled man was a child, a gift from God, full of potential.  As an adult, this man is responsible for his own actions, but who molded this man into what he is today?

The slaughter of Foley along with the events in Ferguson, MO, along with the suicide of Robin Williams along with . . . is a lot to comprehend and sort out when there seems no rational way to do so.  These happenings in our world cause me to question the safety of my own children.  Will they be able to follow their own dreams someday without the threat of others or the overwhelming heartbreak of this existence?  How can people make a change in the here and now for the better?

Walking at Watershed Nature Center this morning, I was thinking of all of the above while encountering the beauty of nature.  Sweating profusely in the heat minus a bra (perk of breast cancer) and adjusting my fitness belt which is meant to make my life easier when hauling keys and a phone for musical purposes, I spotted a field of beautiful white flowers.  I believe these are a type of hibiscus, but a horticulturist I am not.  Fiddling with my phone, I accidentally caught a bee taking nectar from a flower.  Truly amazing . . .  I thought to myself, “Such beauty in our surroundings if we take the time to look . . ..”  Then, I rounded the corner.


What I saw in front me on the ground was graffiti on the walking trail of this nature preserve, letters which probably have meaning and a symmetrical skull.  What a perfect juxtaposition of the perfection of nature intermingled with the intrusion of man (or woman).  Walking further on, I found more graffiti which at first reminded me of my honeymoon in Hawaii because, at first glance, I thought it was a recreation of a pineapple.  Of course, on closer inspection, I saw it was marijuana.  Hey, I’m forty-three.


Again, I thought to myself, “Where are the parents of the person who is defacing a nature preserve?”  I am not saying the crime was committed by a teen.  For all I know, it was a forty-three-year-old woman unleashing on the sidewalk. I just wonder why a person would think this is okay to do.  Did he/she not learn from his/her caregivers to respect other people’s property?

At my age I do not graffiti, nor have I ever, but I did try and think back to what I have done to other people’s property.  I tee-peed a friend’s house and a teacher’s house while in high school.  I, along with other female eighth-grade friends used to wet paper towels in the girls’ bathroom, wad them into balls, and then throw them up at the ceiling so that they would stick.  I have no idea why, but this still brings a smile to my face.  I stood watch while a loved one had diarrhea behind a dumpster at Little Caesar’s and again, on another occasion, had diarrhea over a vent opening of a house which was in the process of being built.  This was in no way malicious, though.  She truly had some bad reactions to some less than desirable food choices.

Returning to my car a sweaty hot mess and feeling icky about the world in general, I thought there must be a way to be an agent of change at even this miniscule level, but how?  On a global scale, how can anyone change the thought processes of angry irrational human beings?  I don’t know, but I wish I did.  I felt like what I am, a tiny tadpole in a 6XL pond.

Sorting through the mail when I returned home, I opened a letter with a personal note of “Thank you” written on the back of the envelope.  Intrigued, I tore through the envelope.  Inside was a handwritten note saying woman blessing Christin had nominated me for a Pay It Forward contest, and I won a one-hour massage.

Tears flowed down my face.  I had no idea I had affected anyone in a positive manner.  As a teacher, I hear a lot of groaning about the amount of work instead of what I long to hear, gratitude at the amount of learning.  As a volunteer, people often complain rather than realize, “I am utilizing my own time and resources in an attempt to improve the world by helping guide your child.”

Anywho, I have never had a professional massage in my lifetime, and I am more than overjoyed to knock this off of my bucket list.  In the meantime, I am going to e-mail and see what I can do to aid in the removal of the graffiti.  More than anything, I wish I knew who was responsible so that I could ask him/her to lead our Girl Scouts in a positive way through an art lesson after he/she assists in the clean-up of the trails.

*For the family of James Foley, I am praying for your healing, and I am honored to have read through his writings.



Why I Ditched Facebook and “Like” It

So, I took the plunge this summer and finally deleted my Facebook account after a few years of reluctant use.  Originally becoming a member because my BFF refused to e-mail me pictures any longer, I succumbed to the peer pressure.  When Instagram became available as a photo sharing site with brief accompanying descriptions (and after my fourteen-year-old neighbor set up my account for me), I now had my opportunity to exit.   Yes!  I held on as a Facebooker for a while longer because I administered a page for a women’s blog at church.  When this blog went belly up, my obligations ceased, and I severed my association with Facebook.

facebookdon'tlikeFor me personally, this was the right decision.  My e-mail is no longer congested with invites to play such-and-such game or with Facebook reminders telling me I am “missing out on so-and-so’s latest post.”  I enjoy my lean e-mail inbox now which frees me up for more quality time with my family and friends.

In addition, I no longer have to deal with angry people who do not seem to have a sense of control over what they write to other people behind the security of their keyboard.  Has everyone forgotten the saying . . .

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all!

On Facebook, I have witnessed people typing some of the most vile words to one another.  When did this become okay in our society or rather the norm?  To me it seemed as if there are a lot of people out there who are ticking time bombs just looking for any reason to engage in an argument with another person.

wordsforgivenCase in point . . .  on a religious site no less (am I the only person who expects religious people to be kind?), a person posted a story about a pastor disguising himself as a homeless person before attending church.  He then wrote of how the majority of the congregation lacked empathy for him, but rather turned their backs on him.  When I then replied to said post with something to the effect of, “The Methodist church in San Francisco feeds X  number of homeless people.”  The person who shared the original post replied, “Let’s not make this a theological debate.”  Okay . . .  I posted this information about said church not because I was trying to engage in a debate, but because my family and I had just returned from San Francisco.

Case in point . . . a breast cancer survivor, I dealt with the entire ordeal with lots and lots of humor.  This is how I roll.  It was either this or tears, and there was not much opportunity for the latter with a three and five-year-old in the house.  I needed to reassure them Momma was going to be okay despite the fact she spent a good chunk of 2011 and 2012 in the hospital.  Thus, those who know me know I embrace the light-hearted approach to breast cancer.  So, when a friend posted a Mammo-Graham snack recipe (an ideal means of explaining prevention to little kiddos) to my wall, I shared it with one of my survival groups.  In addition to several “Likes,” one person wrote an essay explaining how insensitive I was and how breast cancer was not a joke.  Of course, this wounded me to the core because as a breast cancer survivor, I KNOW it is no laughing matter, but I do think laughter is conducive to healing, at least for me personally.  In fact, the hub and I took “the girls” (my ta tas) on a final vacation to Chicago immediately prior to my double mastectomy.  We documented their final hurrah by taking their pictures at every location we visited.

The “girls” taking in their final cup of hot tea.

More importantly, what I find disturbing is how much Facebook seems to prevent quality, focused time.

Case in point . . .  I teach writing to college freshmen.  When a bright student turned in a handwritten rough draft, I asked why he did not utilize the computer as a revision tool which heavily expedites the writing process (believe me, I went to school using an electric typewriter for papers, and I had to write a lot of them).  He told me if he used the computer he was constantly distracted by Facebook.  I still did not understand being that I had to intentionally log in to Facebook if I ever made use of it.  He said his Facebook automatically popped up on his screen.  I then replied, “Log out of it while you compose your papers.”  His response was something to the effect of how trying to remember that many passwords would be too difficult.

Case in point . . . with two young children, we visit a lot of child-friendly locales where I witness a plethora of parents looking down at their cellphones instead of savoring these moments with their children.  My girls have recently undergone a growth spurt which has had a bittersweet effect on me.  Sweet in that they are healthy, happy young girls, but bittersweet in that I have come to understand especially in this past year how quickly this time with our children passes, and I don’t want to miss a minute of it.

Early this past summer, I was in the McDonald’s restroom waiting for my girls when a middle-aged woman came in to mop the floors at the same time a young mother studying her cellphone exited while her young children were trying to gain her attention.  The employee and I exchanged pleasantries and then she commented, “I don’t know how to use a cellphone, but it doesn’t matter because I can’t afford one.  I see people on them all the time in the play area when their kids are trying to get their attention.”


To me, this was a profound statement on so many levels which instigated my deletion of Facebook.  I was never one to scroll through posts while with others, but I was usually the one tinkering with my phone trying to figure out how to post and tag a picture until I eventually would give up out of frustration or due to a locked-up phone.

Not only when considering quality time with children, I have observed how it interferes with physical face time with other adults.  A friend told me the only time she hears from another person is through a mass invite via Facebook.  Another friend said an RSVP was never answered to her child’s birthday party, but the person in question found the time to constantly post pictures of herself on her Facebook wall.  I have been with friends on planned get-togethers, and they will be engrossed in their phones rather than involved in the here and now which makes me wonder, “What is so important that it can’t wait until you are home?” or “Am I really that boring?”  I then break into an inner monologue much like John Candy’s in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, “I like me.  My hub likes me.  My squirts like me.”

Perhaps it’s a generational issue . . .  I feel as if I’m an old soul at heart and now chronologically.  I like the written word, and ooh and aah over cards found in my mailbox.  Several of my friends are not on Facebook and have never even expressed an interest, “I don’t do that sh%t!” as my author friend once eloquently told me.

Whatever the case may be, I think I hear my kiddos stirring, so I am off for now in order to spend some quality time with my girls.

Top Secret [to Me] Twenty-One

I know it’s hard to believe, but I missed the release of Janet Evanovich’s Top Secret Twenty-One.  My fellow And Then There Were Two book club member, Sarah, usually keeps me up to date about the Evanovich series.  One Christmas vacation (we’re both teachers), we stayed up until all hours of the night passing books 1-8 back and forth sending our hubs out in the cold to make a drop or a pick-up.  When I sent her a picture of this novel via text, she replied, “Had no idea!  Buy it for us,”  so I did, and, hey, it was 30% off.


A solid story involving Stephanie and Lula apprehending criminals who have skipped bail which then leads to a murder mystery carries this novel throughout, but AGAIN, where are Ranger and Morelli, and why are they afterthoughts?  Or, to rephrase, where are the juicy parts already?



PLENTY of Morelli ↓

PLENTY of Ranger ⇓

So, with this being written, if you are in the habit of having food with your book club, look no further than page 83 for assistance, “. . . half a cow . . . a mound of mashed potatoes and four green beans . . . [with] gravy poured over everything.”  For dessert, definitely a chocolate cake even Briggs could not refuse.

Of course, I will anxiously await number twenty-two in the Stephanie Plum series with the hope of it being saturated with the two alpha males in Plum’s life.

Writing Workshop Wednesdays (3)

Okay, lately I have become absolutely addicted to Craigslist Free Stuff.  Not because I need a dirty mop (yes, I have seen this posted) or am looking for any item in particular (but if I did need a piano or bulky television, I would know where to look), but because some of the items and explanations which go along with them fascinate me.  It makes me wonder what the backstory is behind the item put up for grabs or the sometimes elaborate explanation which accompanies it.

So, for this week’s Writing Workshop Wednesdays, I am posting a picture of an actual FREE item from Craigslist.


PROMPT:  Explain this couch’s backstory.  Who bought this couch, and why?  What memories involve this couch?  A first kiss?  Deep discussions?  What can you infer from the fabric, style, and wear?  Why is the couch being abandoned now?


Rebecca Stevenson

Why do you write? I’ve always had stories coursing through my veins, so one day I just decided to start writing them down, and I found pleasure in doing that. Then when people started reading and enjoying them, I found out what real happiness is.

Describe where you write. When I’m at home, I write in a chair in the corner of my bedroom. Many times I can’t concentrate (read: get in my writing zone) at home so I go to a bookstore coffee shop or library. I like to be surrounded by books.

Who or what is your muse? I guess I’d call my potential readers my muse.

Three wishes . . . 1. I wish I had more time to write 2. I wish more people knew about my debut novel 3. I wish people were kinder and happier.

Favorite childhood book, and why? Black Beauty…because I loved horses…and although there was sadness in it, it had a happy ending.

Explain when is your ideal time to write. Early afternoon and late at night

Name a book you would reread again and again, and why. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger…because of the beauty of the prose. I love the way he uses language to paint pictures…the way he makes verbs out of words that aren’t usually verbs.

E-book or print? Why? Print…I just haven’t converted…yet. I like the feel of pages turning. I like using bookmarks. I like bookstores.

Favorite magazine, and why? Victoria…because the writing is as beautiful as the photographs
What would you like readers to take away from your writing? Pure enjoyment. I want them to get caught up in another world. To get to know the characters. To care about the characters.

What would you like readers to take away from your writing? Pure enjoyment. I want them to get caught up in another world. To get to know the characters. To care about the characters.




Welcome to My New Pad



Howdy!  Welcome to my new pad.  I have relocated from AuthorGroupie.blogspot.com.

Join me as we discuss books, writing, teaching, and life in general.  Do not miss Writing Workshop Wednesdays where we will gather for a weekly prompt and Link Partay                or  Sunday Thanks where our focus will be on what we are thankful for in the past week.

Know of someone in need of ANONYMOUS encouragement, praise, prayers, congratulations, make a Card Shower Request.

If you are a published author or aspiring author, take some time for my online interview at Ten Questions.

I am looking forward to meeting you and reading your writing.

Happy Reading and Writing,

Author Groupie