Saturday, January 31, 2009

An 8th grade education

This is an email from a friend on mine. How many of us would pass the 8th grade? And what has happened to the education system?

What it took to get an 8th grade education in 1895...

Remember when grandparents and great-grandparents stated that they only had an 8th grade education? Well, check this out. Could any of us have passed the 8th grade in 1895?

This is the eighth-grade final exam from 1895 in Salina , Kansas , USA . It was taken from the original document on file at the Smokey Valley Genealogical Society and Library in Salina , and reprinted by the Salina Journal.

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina , KS - 1895

Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of 'lie,''play,' and 'run.'
5. Define case; illustrate each case.
6 What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation.
7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time,1 hou r 15 minutes)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. Deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. Wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3,942 lbs., what is it worth at 50cts/bushel, deducting 1,050 lbs. For tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find the cost of 6,720 lbs. Coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft.. Long at $20 per metre?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton , Bell , Lincoln , Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, 1865.

Orthography (Time, one hour)
[Do we even know what this is??]
1. What is meant by the following: alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals& nbsp;
4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u.' (HUH?)
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e.' Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: bi, dis-mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, sup.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: cite, site, sight, fane, f ain, feign, vane , vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)
1 What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas ?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of North America
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia , Odessa , Denver , Manitoba , Hecla , Yukon , St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.

10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give the inclination of the earth.

Notice that the exam took FIVE HOURS to complete.

Gives the saying 'he only had an 8th grade education' a whole new meaning, doesn't it?! NO, I don't have the answers!

Saturday, January 24, 2009


I love the blog The Alchemy of Writing and read it often.
Today the post was: Confidence: A Scam?

I wanted to share just a small part of what Ink said.

"Studies have shown that people suffering mild depression actually see themselves more accurately than those who aren't (though they also rate others higher than they should). It's interesting, and not a little disturbing: most of us are deluding ourselves, at least a little. But to me it's also confirming. Human endeavor is about moving forward, about what might be rather than simply what is. Human advancement is often based on a sort of blind faith, even if only in ourselves, in what we migth do or become. It's a matter of self-belief."

I couldn't agree more. This is the comment I left:

Beautifully written.

I have to say, that when I started writing, I loved my story. I thought it was good. A friend read it and cut out chapter upon chapter of throat-clearing drivel. Instead of taking offense, I listened to what she had to say. I learned from the knowledge she had gained from others.

In writing, as with life, if you can't learn and grow watching others, taking advice, you are destined to the mistakes others have faced.

I love to learn. That is a part of writing. It is also a part of where my confidence comes in. Am I any better than the other writers of Nathan's blog, who knows? Did I say that I thought I was? Yep. :)

And I believe for the same reasons you expressed so eloquently here. Because of faith and belief.
My husband often tells me that I don't live in reality. That my head is stuck in the clouds. I understand that bad things happen. I just chose to not focus on them. At least not for long. If belief in myself means living in the clouds, then I don't mind.

Come join me, the air is clean on fluffy Cloud 9.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Here's hoping some dreams don't come true...

Excerpt from my novel LEGEND OF THE PROTECTORS.

My lungs tightened as I wheezed. Snarls echoed all around me. I pushed myself to keep running. The growls were closing in and my legs protested against moving any more. Still, I ran.
Out of nowhere, something swooped over my head, bee-lining to the animals behind me. As fast as possible, I scaled a tree. Didn’t even care if I ever got down again. Once settled, I notice wolves had chased me. Lots of them. At least twenty. What the hell? Wolves? In Oklahoma?
On another pass, I realized the swooshing creature that had saved my butt was a bald eagle. And a massive one at that. I’d never seen anything so majestic. So beautiful. It landed on the branch next to me. And when it turned into Officer Andrew, I fell off the branch backward.

And yeah, it's a dream. And no, not opening the book. :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Literal or Figurative

In writing, if you find phrases like, my eyes were glued to the boy, do you take them literal or figurative? We know the author didn't mean that the girl took her eyes out and glued them to the boy. We all understand that she's simply staring. But does that make the writing poor?

Tell me what you think.

And go here for the full discussion. :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Another just for fun

This wouldn't fit on the first one, so....


Observant, authoritative, indulgent, moral and witty.

Colors: male: green, female: turquoise
Compatible Signs:
Bastet, Geb
July 29 - Aug 11, Oct 30 - Nov 7

Role: Goddess of war and vengeance
Lion-headed woman with the sun over her head
Sacred Animal: lion

What is Your Egyptian Zodiac Sign?
Designed by CyberWarlock of Warlock's Quizzles and Quandaries

Just for Fun

Found this on Ceylan the writer's Blog. Take the test for yourself. It was fun.

You are The High Priestess

Science, Wisdom, Knowledge, Education.

The High Priestess is the card of knowledge, instinctual, supernatural, secret knowledge. She holds scrolls of arcane information that she might, or might not reveal to you. The moon crown on her head as well as the crescent by her foot indicates her willingness to illuminate what you otherwise might not see, reveal the secrets you need to know. The High Priestess is also associated with the moon however and can also indicate change or fluxuation, particularily when it comes to your moods.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

And this one too. I feel a story in it.

Mysterious and a scholar, you are a member of the Tremere clan. You are pretty loyal to your clan, well, you sort of have to...especially since you are blood-bonded to most of them. You are the intelligentsia of the Camarilla and are fascinated with the occult. Possessing the ability to use blood for magic, many clans don't like to approach you. However, that is fine with you. You tend not to trust the other clans anyway.

What Vampire Clan Do You Belong To?

Just for entertainment. But it was fun.

Monday, January 12, 2009


There's a great post on revising your work that I wanted to share. To read it in full, go here.
A few key points are:

The right side of our brain, the creative side, is hard to control and therefore our work needs revising. Often many times.

Does the piece have energy or bore you?
Does it feel true?
Is there logic in the story?
How much info are you giving?
How many sentences and words don't need to be there?
Slow opening? False ending?
Are you head hopping and how's the dialogue?
Showing or Telling?
Are the pictures in your mind as vivid on the paper?
Put some time in between edits or read overs.

Okay, this is a very loose translation. I'd really encourage you to read the post.

And happy editing. We're all on the journey to become better writers, right?

Jus' plain ol' common sense

Lessons from Will Rogers.
Enjoy the following:

1. Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco.

2. Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.

3. There are 2 theories to arguing with a woman...neither works.

4. Never miss a good chance to shut up.

5. Always drink upstream from the herd.

6. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

7. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back in your pocket.

8. There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.

9. Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.

10. If you're riding' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.

11. Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier'n puttin' it back.

12. After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral:
When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut.

And there ya go!
:) Sarah

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Writing Your Novel

My dear new friend Damyanti posted this on her blog, and I feel it's relevant enough to share again.
It's from The Fiction Desk. Saturday, 19th July 2008, by Rob. He says:

I thought it might be useful to list some of the more common mistakes I’ve seen writers make. So here’s your very own copy-and-paste critique. For free.
    Too much backstory
    Your novel should start when your story starts. If you find yourself using lots of space to tell us what’s happened before, you’re in trouble. Try cutting out all the backstory, and just let the background information be implied by the situation, the events, and the interaction between characters. If that doesn’t get across the information you want to share, consider that you may actually be telling the wrong story.
    No actual story
    While your characters may be interesting, and the setting original, something still needs to happen. Remember that a novel needs a story. (Or, as E. M. Forster put it in his book, Aspects of the Novel, “Yes, oh dear yes, the novel tells a story.”) I promise that it’s not unsophisticated to have something happen in your book. It’s essential: the story is the driving force of a novel. (And there’s no such thing as a character-driven novel, at least not directly. All good novels are story-driven, and all good stories are character-driven, but you do need that central part—the story—to turn a character into a novel.)
    Show, don’t tell
    This is partially related to the comment about backstory: If the right information isn’t coming across through the way your characters relate to each other, and the events that unfold, maybe it isn’t relevant to the book at all. This doesn’t mean you have to show absolutely every detail instead of telling it, but you do have to strike the right balance. If the things you tell aren’t essential to what’s happening right now, don’t tell them at all. If they are, how can you show them through the way the story unfolds?
    Don’t repeat yourself
    Either on a structural level, by giving the same information twice, or on a sentence level. And never write “I’m sorry,” he apologised.
    Stilted dialogue
    Do your characters all talk as though they’re attending a stiff, formal function? Do people keep reminding each other of their backstories and telling each other things that they already know? Do their speeches tend to start on one page, and finish on another? Then you have stilted dialogue. Consult a professional at once, or just cut it down and make it sound more realistic.
    Your characters all speak with the same voice
    Take some lines of dialogue from your story, cut the surrounding text, and show them to a friend. Ask the friend what kind of person is speaking. If he thinks your eight-year-old boy is a grandfather, your hairy tramp is a youthful banker, or your exhausted mother is a toddler, you need to address the way your characters speak.
    Problems with word usage
    If you’re not 100% sure that you use every word in the right way, you need to get a good dictionary. I generally recommend that Brits get the Oxford Dictionary of English, which is bigger than the Concise dictionary and, importantly, contains plenty of examples of word usage within the definitions. There’s also an American equivalent, the New Oxford American Dictionary.
    If you are 100% sure that you hit every nail on the head, you’re wrong, so see the advice above. And if you’re 110% sure that your word usage is always perfect, get a dictionary and look up “percentage”.
    This isn’t a novel
    If you want to write your autobiography, write your autobiography. If you want to write a novel, do that. Of course you can base a novel on your life experiences, but remember that a novel is a work of fiction, and everything contained within it must be in the service of the story. That means you have to be comfortable making any changes necessary to make the story work as a story. If the story would be better if you killed off Uncle Ed, but you can’t do that because your Uncle Ted is still alive, you’re not writing a novel.
    This isn’t a book
    If your novel opens by panning across the scenery, then moves on to a series of fight scenes described blow-by-blow, and if things happen mostly for the way they would look rather than for the ideas behind them, then you’re probably writing a screenplay in prose. Write the screenplay instead, and you’ll be a lot happier.

    So I will go over my MS again. Making sure I do these things. And thanks Rob for sharing!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Outlining Your Novel

My friend Pierre wrote on his blog about outlining. He so kindly mentioned me, because I don't outline often. If I have a story in my head, and I can't start it yet, then I write down all the thoughts I have about those characters, the plot, and anything of importance. Okay, many things that bear no resemblance of importance as well make it on the page. I keep a notebook with different thoughts, book ideas, changes for WIPs, and dreams. I actually dream often about characters. They talk the loudest sometimes while I sleep. So my notebook sits on my nightstand and I jot down the thoughts before they disappear.
For the most part, I am a free spirit in writing. I write what I feel. I often have three or four novels going at once, because characters speak to me at different times. When they talk, I write. Or at the very least, jot down what they tell me. And yes, for all the non-writers out there, this sounds crazy. But most writers will understand.
I think it's important to find what works for you and do it. Don't worry about what the next guy does. Different things work for different people. If you haven't found your niche yet, keep looking. You'll figure it out.
Good luck fellow writers!


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Updated Legend of the Protectors

Okay, I'm a dorkfish when it comes to computers. I can't figure out how to edit my Legend post, even though I did it not too long ago. But if you'd like to read the updated chapter one, you can here. Because, I can't do it on this blog. Sorry to all y'all that can do this sort of thing. Bear with me. :)

John Mayer's holiday spirit

If you haven't seen his blog, musician/song writer John Mayer has the holiday spirit. He hosted a cake baking contest. It's like cake wrecks at its best. So check it out. It will bring a smile to your face.
I'm used to John's music making me smile, but when I found his blog today, I discovered that he makes me smile because he's truly a great guy.
So check out his blog and smile.

Friday, January 2, 2009


My goal is to learn as much as I can about writing. This year, I will take on-line classes from Gothem Writer's Workshop, purchase Ray Rhamey's book Jump-start Your Novel with Kitty-cat's in Action, and read blogs and sites aimed at helping writers. I subscribe to Writer's Digest, and put what I learn to use by editing as I gain more knowledge.

I am thankful to those who help us succeed. Authoress at Miss Snark's First Victim, Nathan Bransford, Janet Reid, Ray Rhamey, Patrick McDonald, Preditors & Editors, and Writer's Digest. And to the many other's who dedicate their time.

Thank You!