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Viewing Blog: Moira Rose Donohue's Amazon Blog, Most Recent at Top
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Albert Whitman & Co took the plunge and published the quirky ALFIE in 2006. They are doing it again next spring with PENNY AND THE PUNCTUATION BEE  gotta love them! I've also published two children's plays, THE THREE BEARS VERSUS GOLDI LOCKS, available from Contemporary Drama Service, and AN ALPHABET STORY in Plays Magazine (November, 2002); several articles and stories; and a children's poem.
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1. National Punctuation Day

I hope you all enjoyed the day. Here's a story from one class of 2nd graders:

Let's just say that THANKS to Moira Rose Donohue, Queen of Punctuation, our day was a HUGE success! In my daughter's 2nd grade class we started the time with listening to her Skype video. Then I read PENNY AND THE PUNCTUATION BEE and had them totally engaged. We finished off our time with purple punctuation mark cookies. However, in order to eat one you had to give a sentence using that purple punctuation mark!!!!! Only wish we had had more time. I could see it being an entire week of celebrations. :-)

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2. Podcast

If you want the stories behind the stories, listen to my Albert Whitman podcast about how I came to write ALFIE and PENNY: http://albertwhitman.wordpress.com/2010/09/22/awc-podcast-series-alfie-the-apostrophe-and-penny-and-the-punctuation-bee/.

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3. National Punctuation Day Skype

In celebration of National Punctuation Day on Friday, September 24, Grow Up With Books did a Skype visit with the Queen of Punctuation (me!). Check out the sounds of punctuation, as read by the Queen at: http://growupwithbooksblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/national-punctuation-day.html.

And be watching (or should I say listening) tomorrow at 1 pm EST for a Podcast interview with me and the folks at Albert Whitman & Co., who were willing to take a chance on publishing two quirky books that reveal the secret talents and personalities of punctuation marks.

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4. National Punctuation Day Give-away

It's only two weeks until National Punctuation Day! I hope you will do something to celebrate - a parade? a bee? a visit from me? To celebrate, I am giving away a free, signed copy of PENNY AND THE PUNCTUATION BEE. Go to Goodreads.com and sign up to win!!!!

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5. The 4:00 Book Hook

Back to school, back to punctuation. Please check out my article about punctuation books and playful ways to teach punctuation in the September issue of The 4:00 Book Hook.

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I am collecting grammar questions for a writers' program I have agreed to do called "Brush Up Your Grammar." What grammar and/or punctuation issue gives you the most trouble? Is it that pesky semi-colon? The use of gerunds? Subject-verb agreement? I'd love to hear from you!

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I apologize to my readers for the spam comments that continue to get posted here. Does anyone know how to stop it?

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8. Reflections on Harrisonburg

Yesterday I visited two elementary schools in Harrisonburg, VA: Stone Spring and Spotswood. WOW, what a treat! I met some awesome teachers and some truly amazing kids. After listening to the young authors at Spotswood, I am SURE I'll be seeing some of their books (The War Between the Hamburgers and the Tater Tots!) on the shelves in the future.

Thanks so much to the educators who invited me and who gave me a chance to try out my new and improved Alphabet Story presentation with the younger students - what fun we had when the alphabet got mixed up all by itself!

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9. ALA 2010 is in DC!

OK punctuation lovers: the Queen of Punctuation (ME!) will be signing books at ALA on Saturday, June 26, at 1 p.m. at Albert Whitman's booth and on Sunday, June 27, at 2 p.m. at Follett Library Resources. Come by with your grammar/punctuation questions and get a copy of PENNY or ALFIE. Or come by and try to stump the queen. Or please, please please just come by to say. "HELLO!"

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10. And the winner is...

Names on little slips of paper swirled around in a bowl, and the one that I pulled out was...(note the ellipsis):

Jo Brielyn

Thanks to everyone for taking part and congratulations to Jo. I will let Alison know and she will be in touch to find out how to get the book to you!

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11. Speaking of Punctuation...

Below is another guest blog about punctuation and writing, this one from author Alison Hart. And Alison is offering a give-away of her latest book, EMMA'S RIVER. To enter, leave a comment with your email address. On March 31, 2010, I will put names in my Punctuation's Magic hat and pick one. Then I'll contact the winner for snail mail information so Alison can mail a book! And in the meantime, have fun spotting all the the errors in the first example!!!

“I love writing dialogue.” I said. “It helps set the scene, create suspense, move the plot forward and make your characters come alive.”
Moira said. “Except too many writers punctuate dialogue incorrectly".
“I know how to use correct punctuation”! I declared.
“And too many writers overuse adverbs,” Moira told me blithely.
“I never do that,” I said harshly and crossly. “And I make sure not to use distracting tag line.,” She interjected.
Moira tossed her Marilyn Monroe-esque hair over her shoulder. “What really gets me is when writers add distracting actions.”
My lips drooped in a pout. “I hate that, too.”
“And don’t you hate it when the dialogue goes on and on without any point?”
“So frustrating!”
“But what really gets me is when there is endless dialogue and no description to let us know who the characters are and what they are doing.”
“I agree!”

Okay. You get the point. The first two lines are true: dialogue is incredibly effective in a story or novel for young readers. The rest of the vignette illustrates (and exaggerates) how dialogue can detract from a story. Errors often signal "beginning writer" to an editor. Tag lines and punctuation must be spot on, and the scenes using dialogue must have a purpose.
In Emma’s River, Emma, her mother and Doctor Burton are taking a journey up the Missouri River. In this brief scene, they see the steamboat Sally May for the first time:

Holding her hat, Emma tipped back her head. “Now I know why Captain Digby calls his steamboat a giant wedding cake.”
“And did he also call it a floating coffin?” Doctor Burton asked. “Why just last month, the Caddo sank. Five dead. And the May Queen burst into flames—“
“Oh!” Mama slumped against the doctor.
“Mama!” Emma wrapped her arm around her mother’s bustle.
“I am so sorry, Missus Wright,” Doctor Burton said. Holding her up with one hand, he fanned her with the other. “I should not have spoken of such horrors in front of a lady in your condition.”
Emma had no idea what Mama’s condition was. But she had noticed it required smelling salts and billowy dresses.

The best way to learn how to write great dialogue is to study novels you admire. For example, analyzing how the dialogue is used in the above scene to create foreshadowing and shape the characters and looking carefully at tag lines and punctuation will help you write scenes that will catch an editor’s interest and keep her reading.

Alison Hart, a Virginia author of over twenty mysteries and historical fiction novels for children and teens, loves “writing books that keep young readers glued to the pages.” At the age of seven she wrote, illustrated and self-published The Wild Dog, a book which she shows to readers to make the point that it is never too early to be an author.
12. Guest Blog from Author Beckie Weinheimer

I've spent several hours this morning adding commas and semi-colons to my manuscript. A tidy little hand has written them in for me, where they belong. Whose tidy hand? My trusted writing friend--Moira Rose Donohue! She loves me and believes in my writing, even though I'm grammar/spelling/punctuation challenged.

I always have been. For years, I didn't think I could ever be a writer because not only do I not know where to put a comma, but I spell "their" for "there" and "too" for "two" and so forth. I use run-on sentences like they are adverbs. By the way, just what are adverbs? And semi-colons, colons, single quotations, italics, hyphenated words? I might as well write my novel in French, which I do not speak, as try to put the punctuation and grammar in place correctly.

But I am a published author. I am writing a guest post. And I'm sure before any of you read this, my friend, my trusted critic, Moira Rose Donohue will make this post readable. She's a genius at grammar. And since reading her books ALFIE and PENNY, I actually have learned a bit more about punctuation. Even for me, her simple lessons stick. I never get tired of watching Alfie make "do not" into "don't." It's fun. Moira makes learning about punctuation a game. If Alfie and Penny had been around when I was in first and second grade, maybe I wouldn't need Moira to help me today. But since they weren't, I'm so glad she is around.

Thank you Moira, for being the queen of grammar; for making my bad sentences sparkle with your grammar magic; and for helping children who, like me, just do not get where to stop a sentence!

Beckie Weinheimer is the author of the young adult novel CONVERTING KATE.

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13. Why We Need Punctuation!

OK, you must check this out: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lets-eat-Grandma-or-Lets-eat-Grandma-Punctuation-saves-lives/276265851258?ref=cm_dly_lnk&v=wall.

While I am not a grammar or punctuation stickler, I truly believe we need punctuation of some sort. After all, there's a world of difference between "Let's eat, Grandma," and "Let's eat Grandma!"

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14. Check this out!

You have to read this article about using the apostrophe (and how to teach it!). It's especially handy with regard to the possessive plural nouns!!!

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15. Young Writers at ISA

I had a great visit with the 2nd through 6th grade boys at ISA this morning - what an appreciative and well-mannered audience. They had some great questions and a few told me that they like to write stories. Are there some future authors among them? I'm willing to bet on it!

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16. THE Punctuation Mark of 2009

The results are in. And the winner is...


Thanks to everyone who voted and who made such ardent arguments in favor of his or her choice.

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17. Punctuation Mark of the Year

I read in the news today about how linguists and lexicographers met to determine the word of the year (tweet) and the word of the decade (Google). That made me think: what I would nominate as the punctuation mark of the year? Vote here and tune in tomorrow for the results!

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18. Punctuation Rocked at Browne Academy

Wow, I had a wonderful day at Browne Academy in Alexandria! With grades K-2, we read ALFIE THE APOSTROPHE and did some awesome magic tricks. Grades 3-4 had a fabulous punctuation bee - congratulations to Sarah who was the winner!

I had a great time talking to 6 phenomenal eighth graders, who asked fantastic, probing questions. I think a few may become writers themselves someday. And signing books at the bookfair, which was beautifully run by Bookworm Central, was the perfect ending to the day. Thanks to everyone who made it happen and to everyone who bought books!

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19. Young Writers Bloom!

I participated in Swanson Middle School's annual Career Day this morning, and although I was somewhat upstaged by a German shepherd puppy (last time I did a career day, it was a bomb-sniffing dog), I had a great time! I met some very enthusiastic young writers and we talked about what it means to be a writer (including "butt-in-chair" per Jane Yolen); how to become a writer; and even a little bit about punctuation! I was truly amazed at what eager readers they were and how much they write on their own. I'm so glad they invited me.

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20. The Punctuation Bee

For my book PENNY AND THE PUNCTUATION BEE, I invented the term and the event. But I was inspired by the idea of the spelling bee, which is how I came up with the name. Ever wonder where the term "spelling bee" came from? Well, here's a link to an article about its origin:


And if you feel inclined to hold a punctuation bee, please see my side bar for instructions.

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21. Punctuation on Parade!

Wow, a third grade class in Georgia is having a parade with characters from ALFIE THE APOSTROPHE.
What a brilliant idea to have a parade of book characters and what a fun way to make punctuation marks come alive!!!

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22. A Pet Grammar Peeve

OK, now that National Punctuation Day is behind us, I would like to address a grammar issue of concern to me. Now I admit that I am a feminist, always mighty proud to say it. Having lived through the rise of women in the workplace, I appreciate efforts to raise the male consciousness. However, the drive to say "his or hers" or "he or she" has created a grammatical conundrum (don't you just love that word?). Most people find using the dual pronoun cumbersome, so they shorten it to "theirs" or "them." But this results in a monstrous grammatical error.

Let me explain. "Does everyone have his or her lunch?" is correct. But "Does everyone have THEIR lunch?" is WRONG. "Everyone" is a singular pronoun that takes a singular verb and a singular possessive pronoun. So the correct form, if you want to avoid "his or her," is "its."

If "its" sounds too weird, then I suggest that we simply revert to "his" and assume that females are included (especially considering, and forgive this sexist statement, the girls will all have their lunches anyway and it's really the boys we need to remind). After all, I think our collective sensitivities can handle using one pronoun to include both genders if it means that we can at least preserve English grammar. Right?

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It's here! So let your inner asterisk shine; be possessive and use an apostrophe; and remember: PUNCTUATION'S MAGIC!!!

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24. Three Days until National Punctuation Day!

Honor the period, the question mark and the exclamation point - after all, final marks count!!!

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25. Four days until National Punctuation Day!

Countdown to National Punctuation Day - do something to honor a punctuation mark! Today, I am raising the comma to new heights and honoring...the APOSTROPHE!

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