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Is your grammar rusty?

Grammar Monster

A writers new best friend

by M. J. Natali

I’ve attended college and yes, English was part of my curriculum. Over the years though,  I’ve developed rusty grammar. Oops!

Continuing education is essential for writers. The problem is, how do I fit grammar lessons in my tight schedule? I work full time, write on my off hours, plus maintain a household.

I searched the internet and found these possible solutions

1: I can sign up for free classes such as Arizona State University

2: I can take some Udemy Courses

3: I can purchase a grammar book

4: Find a website which allows me to learn and test myself free, whether it’s five minutes or more.

Once I’ve researched the above possibilities, my choice is to go with option four, as it’s the best choice.

There is a website called Grammar Monster which does just that. The best news? It’s accessible on your cellular phones too!  Here are my thoughts on this website.

What I like. Grammar Monster covers all aspects of grammar, and it surprises me how easy and fun it is.

Here you will find everything from easily confused words to complex sentences. Each lesson is  broken down by subject matter, allowing you to find what you need fast. The lessons are rather short, but streamlined, plus they offer examples within each. This allows a person to learn a subject quickly.

Here is an example of what you’ll find:

What Is an Independent Clause? (with Examples)

An independent clause is a clause that can stand alone as a sentence (i.e., it expresses a complete thought).

An independent clause, like all clauses, has a subject and verb.

When there are no dependent clauses in the same sentence as an independent clause, the independent clause is a simple sentence. For example:

  • I like coconut macaroons. (This is an independent clause and simple sentence.)
  • I like coconut macaroons even though I dislike coconut.(This is an independent clause and a dependent clause. This is a complex sentence

Did I mention they offer free tests?

What could use improvement.  Although the site is great, some lessons are found in the footer. You may need to search for the lesson, which isn’t too hard, but for a more user friendly experience, it would be nicer to have all lessons listed in the home page or menu options.

Why is it important for a writer to brush up on rusty grammar? Ask any author and they will tell you there is no such thing as a one draft novel. Nope. If there is, it’s rare and I applaud those who can achieve it. For the rest of us, it takes more than one draft to finish the project. Improving your grammar will cut down on some of the work involved in the working drafts to final product.

Do you have a favorite website to brush up on your grammar? Share in the comments section below.

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Writing Status for Wendael Series Book Three

by M. J. Natali

What’s my writing status for the Wendael Series?

I’m struggling. Struggling through this book has been a challenge, but when the software program I use, decided to stop offering it for sale which means no upkeep. I’ve been spending my free time searching for a new one. Ugh…..I loved this software, and although it’s still usable, I refuse to work on something which may become obsolete with the fast growing changes in today’s technological advances. 

So my writing status for Wendael Series is on hold. Maybe this is a blessing? I’m halfway through draft one and I am not liking the current direction. I feel the story doesn’t have enough pop, or zing.

The former two books were action packed, this one is a drama piece. Also, I am considering changing the point of view from first to third.

This is my first time writing a series, and I’ll admit the mistakes I’ve made as a novice writer. I am learning, which brings me to the second point to consider. I have no current intentions of writing more books with the characters in this series, so to tie up loose ends, while leaving a few back doors open for other characters is quite the challenge.

This third challenge means writing in easter eggs. I’ve included these in my first two novels of this series, and this third one has past and future eggs, as well as small tidbits of back story.

What I’ve changed so far to overcome these three challenges is search for a new writing program, halt my writing until I can alter the second half of my outline, and during my first rewrite, I’ll change the point of view of the story. I’ve already started doing this and I am happier with the change.

My quest for new software brought me to three programs.

The first is Scrivener, which I am taking advantage of their 30 day trial. You can do so as well by heading over to  Literature and Latte’s website here.

The second one is a simple spreadsheet to outline your story. If you’re looking for something simple, author Cindy Grigg created a spreadsheet for free. You can head over to her website and download here. Cindy’s spreadsheet is great as it offers you a way to outline your story arc for one story or multiple. If only I found this before the start of my series. Oh well, live and learn.

The third software is something I’ve purchased and using for my next novel: Jules Walker. It’s called Novel Writer RT,  and offered through the Windows store for $23.99. You can check it out here.  It has a unique step by step methodology which helps you define your subject, organize your story outline and its various elements while at the same time letting your imagination roam freely. I’ve started using this for Jules Walker as a test run and its shown me so far how to write and organize a novel differently.

 

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How to Start a Fire Using Friction

How to Start a Fire without matches by Friction

by Raina Reardon

Hello everyone! I’m Raina Reardon, and I hail from the village of Brunswillow in the realm of Wendael. For those of you who are unfamiliar with me or my realm, you can read of me and my adventures in The Wendael Series. I’m currently visiting our scribe, M.J. Natali in her world and she asked me to post a guest blog. There are so many wondrous things in your world not found in mine.

I’d like to share one of the life skills each person in my realm learns how to do at a young age: starting a fire. No matter where you live, a fire is essential to survival. You may find yourself in a situation where you need a fire and do not have your world’s traditional method of matches or a lighter.

If you learn this method, you will gain an important life skill which you can share with others. You never know when this will help save a life.

To start a fire, you need heat and friction. This is where Tinder comes into play. Tinder is used to easily convert the friction’s heat into a spark which ignites the kindling and then the firewood.

As Ravens, each of us carries twine in our gear. I suggest starting a list of essential items to store in a pouch for survival. I feel it’s important to have an essential supply kit similar to us Ravens. Tailor this list to where you live and what you might need for essential items and put twine and a knife on it.

Finding the tools you need

Instead of writing out a very boring detailed list for what you need to gather, here’s a video for what you need, and more importantly, what to look for.

Here’s how you do it

Now that you’ve removed the twine and knife from your pouch and searched your immediate surroundings for the items you need, let’s start that fire!

I can’t tell you how many times a camp fire helped me on missions. Since we’re out in the elements, a campfire not only provides a way to warm our chilled bodies, it cooks our food and lights our surroundings in the forest.

Safety Tips

Always make sure you clear the earthen floor of debris which may cause the fire to spread. Choose an open, level location away from heavy fuels such as logs, brush or decaying leaves.

 

Someday I’ll share a story of how Lanai and I started a small forest fire because we failed to take this into consideration. Thank the Goddess Marcus was nearby to put it out.

Take wind, and its direction, into account when choosing the site. Choose a spot that’s protected from gusts.

Prepare a pit. We dig a pit about a foot deep and surround it by rocks.

Once you’re done with the fire, it’s time to extinguish it. Pour lots of water on the fire. Drown ALL embers, not just the red ones. Pour until hissing sound stops. If you do not have water, stir dirt or sand into the embers with a shovel to bury the fire. We use Marcus when he’s with us. That Elemental Gift of his sure comes in handy!

Shaping your Campfire

Best for cooking

  • Teepee: Lay the kindling over the tinder like you’re building a tent.
  • Lean-to: Drive a long piece of kindling into the ground at an angle over the tinder. Lean smaller pieces of kindling against the longer piece.

Best for long-lasting campfires

  • Cross: Crisscross the kindling over the tinder.
  • Log Cabin: Surround your pile of tinder with kindling, stacking pieces at right angles. Top the “cabin” with the smallest kindling.

 

There you have it!  The next time I visit your realm, I’ll share another method we use in our Realm. What’s your method of starting a fire without matches or a lighter? I’d love to learn how the people in your world do it.

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Natural Recipes from the Realm of Wendael

Natural Recipes from the Realm of Wendael as made by Raina Reardon and the Eiflin Princess: Willow.

If you’ve been reading the books from my Wendael Series, you know that Raina and Willow stir up concoctions for natural remedies. Today I am sharing a few of them for you.

 

A mortar and pistil can be purchased at virtually any store near you and is  a great investment.


Moisturizing Oil

8-12 month shelf life
  • 2 oz Dark glass dropper bottle
  • 2 Base oils
  • 1 Nourishing oil
  • Essential oils
  1. The two base oils will be 1 ounce each and fill 2/3 of the bottle. Choose oils which are suitable for your skin.

2) The nourishing oil is the final 1 ounce and fills the final 1/3 of the bottle. Choose an oil with skin loving goodies

3) Use five drops total of essential oils.

4) Mix well by shaking once the top is screwed on. Use 1-3 drops per application.

Base Oils

Argan- dry, aging, oily, normal, acne prone skin

Jojoba – dry, aging, oily, normal, acne prone skin

Apricot Kernal- Any skin type

Sweet Almond- all around good oil

Grapeseed- normal, oily, acne prone

Avocado- dry, aging

Hemp Seed- any skin type

Nourishing Oils:

Tamanu-acne oily, scars

Evening Primrose- acne, aging, normal

Neem- anti microbial, acne, oily

Rosehip- firming, anti-aging

Carrot Seed- dry (use a few drops)

Watermelon Seed- dry, oily, acne

Avocado- dry, dehydrated, mature

Coconut- dry, sensitive

Essential Oils (consult health warnings before use)

Lemongrass- acne, brightening, toning

Rosemary- acne

Tea Tree- antiseptic, acne

Lavender- antiseptic, acne, dry, oily

Bergamot- antiseptic, acne

Frankinscense- blemishes, dry, aging, scars

Geranium- acne, mature, congested

Sandlewood- acne, dry, aging, normal

Patchouli- acne, dry

Rose- sensitive, aging, dry

Mandarin- acne, congested, oily

Palmarosa- acne, sebum regulate, aging, dry

Tamanu- healing, antimicrobial, antiboitic, antioxidant


Foaming Facial Cleanser

  • Foamer bottle
  • Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  •  2 Teaspoon almond or jojoba oil
  • 2 Teaspoon aloe vera gel
  • 2 Teaspoon glycerin
  • 8-12 drops essential oil
  1. Blend all ingredients, except soap in blender
  2. Smell it to see if scent is good. Add more essential oils if necessary
  3. Add soap and blend on low to mix everything
  4. Add to foamer bottle

Poultice with Herbs

From  The Herbal Academy. Visit their website for more recipes like below, supplies, and classes!

Sometimes an even easier type of poultice will do the trick: one simple leaf and an adhesive bandage! This type of poultice is great for little cuts or scrapes, splinters, or after care for an insect bite or sting.

  • Select a leaf from the plant you wish to use. Plantain, mullein, bee balm, or lemon balm are good candidates.
  • Roll and knead the plant between your fingers so that it is crushed and begins to feel damp.
  • Smooth the crushed leaf over the affected area and secure it in place with a bandage.
  • Change for a new leaf in a few hours if desired, or remove with the bandage when it is time to let the area breathe for a bit.

Poultices are a basic part of the herbal tool chest, because they are quick and easy to prepare. Whether they are made using fresh or dried herbs, or even just a simple leaf and a bandage, they are versatile and well worth learning to make. They even make a great stand in for other topicals in a pinch – the next time you run out of your favorite herbal salve, remember poultices!

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The Path of Your Life

This path is your life.

Where will you end up?

Will you be walking 🚶 alone or with a higher power?

Will your journey have stops along the way to help and show love and kindness to others?

Will your journey take longer because you stopped to smell the flowers 🌺 and take in the world 🌎 around you?

What stories and tales will you have to share when reach your destination?

When you look back on your journey, will you be ashamed of your actions or happy?

You live this life once, so make it count.

Remember, all the little things add up to one big thing.

What will your big thing be?