Published Works–Short Story and Poetry

My short story “Grandpa’s Courtship” is available at Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal.  Read it here.

My poem “Revolt in the Cherokee Nation” is available at the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.  Read it here.

My poem “The Toll of His War” is available at Pens on Fire.  Read it here.

Writing a Basic Essay

Writing a Basic Essay

I teach English at a community college, and one of the biggest issues students face when it comes to writing a basic essay is how to put their ideas down on paper.  Or rather typing them in a word processor, which is my preferred way of receiving a paper.  I tell my students that the way to write a basic essay is to understand the basic parts that make up an essay.  These may vary from instructor to instructor.  Below is my list of items I require in each essay submitted in my class. 

Basic Essay Format

Introductory Paragraph –Introduce the topic of your essay.  Give some background information on why it is a timely topic or why it is pertinent to be addressed.  What is happening in the world that makes this topic something that needs to be address?   The last sentence should state what you will prove about the topic.  (The thesis statement is last sentence in introduction).

Body Paragraph 1 (First Major Topic)—Begin with a topic sentence, which addresses what the entire paragraph will be discussing.  Add supporting details.  Add a closing statement that transitions to a new point that will be addressed in next paragraph.

Body Paragraph 2 (Second Major Topic)—Begin with a topic sentence, which addresses what the entire paragraph will be discussing.  Add supporting details.  Add a closing statement that transitions to a new point that will be addressed in next paragraph.

Body Paragraph 3 (Third Major Topic)—Begin with a topic sentence, which addresses what the entire paragraph will be discussing.  Add supporting details.  Add a closing statement that transitions to a new point that will be addressed in next paragraph.

Conclusion Paragraph—Several methods are good to use here—give a restatement of thesis worded slightly differently from introductory paragraph.  Use a call to action for the reader to do something or stop doing something.  Sum up major points brought out in body of essay and close with an overall message to the reader.

In addition to these required items, students are to include their name, course, date, and assignment title in the upper left hand corner of the paper.  They are to include a title (centered) that represents the content of the essay.  They also should double space their essay and indent all paragraphs.  Following these steps can help students get off to a good start when writing a basic essay.

Forthcoming Publications

Red Frozen Daiquiri

Let's Celebrate!!!

LET’S CELEBRATE!!!

Working on another series of short stories and poems to be submitted to literary magazines.  If only I could knock them out as fast as the ideas pop into my head!  I will dedicate an afternoon soon to submit to literary magazines.  Right now, I am excited to receive the following notifications of publication.

I have sent off my Author Publication Agreement and the Author Order Form to have my short story “Remembering His Voice” published in the Patchwork Path Books Treasure Box anthology due out in November 2010.

I also have received notification that my poem “The Toll of His War” will be published in the July 2010 quarterly journal Pens on Fire.

My short story “Grandpa’s Courtship” is forthcoming in the July-September 2010 edition of Muscadine Lines: A Southern Journal.

My poem “Revolt in the Cherokee Nation” is forthcoming in the July 2010 edition of the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

The Nicest Rejection Letter–Have You Received One?

I received the nicest rejection letter from the editor of a literary magazine, Umbrella Factory Magazine, informing me that my fiction piece would not be accepted for publication.  I must say receiving this kind of rejection letter was a welcomed treat because the editor commented on how well he liked the piece and offered suggestions for other literary magazines he thought I should submit the piece to.  Now, how many editors would do that?  I didn’t feel the sting of rejection from this letter because the editor did not indicate the piece was not good; he noted only that it would not find a home at his magazine. 

Hello Katrina,

Thank you for the submission.  Unfortunately, “The House Down the Dirt Lane” will not find a home with Umbrella Factory Magazine.  Your piece was a treat to read.   You clearly have a handle on the Southern dialect, and the dialogue is masterfully written.  I would think in the climate of our country today, a short piece about a shell-shocked vet will resonate with many readers.  Have you seen Clapboard House?  It’s been a few years since I’ve seen it, but it was one of my favorite magazines.   They focus on Southern literature.  Also, I use www.newpages.com as a resource; perhaps that will be a useful tool for you. 

Thank you.

[A nice person at Umbrella Factory]

Many writers who submit to literary magazines may not receive a rejection letter, or if they do, it may not state why the work was rejected, leaving the writer to wonder what was wrong with the piece.  In a case like that, my suggestion to writers would be to send the piece out again to another magazine.   What may not appeal to one editor may tickle another editor’s fancy.   

“Keep writing and publishing your work!”  That is the message I got from this nice rejection letter.  I know editors are very busy, but this type of rejection email, a nice one, will go a long way to encouraging writers to resubmit their works for publication after receiving a negative rejection letter.

If you have been fortunate to receive a nice rejection letter after submitting your work for publication, share your letter or experience with us.

How to Cite Direct Quotes in MLA Format

Direct Quotes

A safe way to avoid plagiarism in essays, especially for anyone not familiar with MLA (Modern Language Association) format, is to cite material from outside sources in the form of direct quotes.  The information below will aid you in setting up your direct quotes properly in MLA format. 

Parts of a Direct Quote

The Source—this could be an article from a magazine, newspaper, journal, a book, etc.   Place quotation marks around article titles within magazines, newspapers, journals, etc.   Italicize the names of books, magazines, newspapers, journals, etc.

  • Example (article)—In the article “Living Green is Easy,”
  • Example (book)—In the book Living Green is Easy,

The Author, if there is one—Most sources have an author listed, but some do not.  Use the author’s full name if there is one.  If not, omit the author’s name and use the title of article or book.  For four or more authors, use the first author listed followed by et al.—this is French for  ”and others,”  others who helped to write the article or book.

  • Example (one author)—John Smith acknowledges,
  • Example (no author)—The article “Living Green is Easy” acknowledges,
  • Example (two authors)—John Smith and Mary Jackson acknowledge,
  • Example (four or more authors)—John Smith et al. acknowledge, 

Tag Words—Verbs used to introduce a direct quote.  The verbs used should be in present tense and use subject-verb agreement based on the number of authors. 

  • Examples of tag words:  acknowledges, adds, asserts, believes, confirms, disagrees, discusses, emphasizes, mentions, notes, points outs, refutes, says, states, suggests, thinks, wonders, etc.  
  • Example (the bold word is a tag word):  John Smith in the article “Living Green is Easy” emphasizes, “Adults, and even children, can make a difference by participating in the recycling efforts in their own community.  It just takes one step.  Get started” (Smith 14).  

The Directly Quoted Passage—This is the passage that you, the student, take from the source and add to your essay.  The passage MUST BE EXACTLY WORD-FOR-WORD AS IT IS WRITTEN IN THE SOURCE.  Add quotation marks before and after the directly quoted passage.

  • Example—“It doesn’t take a lot for people to begin living green; they can start by doing simple recycling such as recycling all paper products”

The Parenthetical Citation—This is required within the essay as a code for the reader to check the works cited page for the full bibliographic information on this source.  This is added in case someone, namely your teacher, wants to check your sources to ensure you cited the passages properly and did not plagiarize. 

  • For printed sources, the author’s last name and a page number are included within parenthesis after the direct quote.  Example:  (Smith 14)
  •  For online sources, on the author’s last name is listed without the page number.  Example:  (Smith) 
  • For printed sources with no author, use the first MAJOR keyword from the article title enclosed in quotations marks to indicate an article title has been cited and add a page number.   Example:  (“Living” 14) 
  • For online sources with no author, use the first MAJOR keyword from the article title enclosed in quotations marks to indicate an article title has been cited and no page number added.   Example:  (“Living”) 
  • For a book with no author, italicize the first MAJOR keyword(s) from the book title and add a page number.   Example:  (Living 14)