Writing Historical Fiction: Authenticity is Key!


Ruth Goodman gives us a good idea of a day in the life of a Victorian.

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Elizabeth Crook explains the importance of getting the details right when writing Historical Fiction:

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Read the whole article here: http://www.elizabethcrookbooks.com/articles/historical_fiction.htm

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Consider the amazing details included in Downton Abbey.


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Today’s Assignment:

Write a short story in the Historical Fiction genre.

Research first.

Poetry Friday: The First Day of Spring and a Contest

* What is the difference between Daffodils and Narcissus?  The answer:

Screen Shot 2015-03-20 at 8.37.01 AMhttp://www.theflowerexpert.com/content/mostpopularflowers/morepopularflowers/daffodil


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So who was Narcissus in Greek mythology??

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name. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/403458/Narcissus


That’s why daffodils (narcissus) are found growing in damp areas.


Now for the Poetry competition:

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Read more here: http://www.poetrylondon.co.uk/competition#

The deadline is 1 May 2015.


Today’s Assignment:

Write a poem about spring.

Active vs. Passive: Is Active Always Better?

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 8.35.55 AM(yourdictionary.com)

Full poster here: http://www.yourdictionary.com/index.php/pdf/articles/43.activevspassivevoice.pdf

* Your Dictionary dot Com explains:

Active voice describes a sentence where the subject performs the action stated by the verb.

In Passive voice sentences, the subject is acted upon by the verb.


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Use of the passive voice is not a grammatical error. It’s a stylistic issue that . . . can prevent a reader from understanding what you mean.


While the passive voice can weaken the clarity of your writing, there are times when the passive voice is okay and even preferable.


Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 8.59.50 AM(englishpractice.com)

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Today’s Assignment:

1. Watch this dance video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frvSP2caCeo

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2. Write at least one descriptive sentence using the passive voice.

3. Write at least one descriptive sentence using the active voice.

Blue Man Group Contest Promotes Creativity

The Blue Man Group has a contest!

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See more about the contest here:


See them perform here:


If you want a milder version of the water and light show for your toddlers, consider this bathtime fun with light sticks:

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(photo credit: Emily Weaver Brown)

Today’s assignment:

1. Create a non-traditional percussion instrument.

2. Perform!

3. Document your findings in writing.

Winter has passed. It is now in the past.

Passed and past are often confused.

Common Errors in English has an excellent entry regarding this:

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You can see more at: http://commonerrorscalendar.blogspot.com/

Today’s Assignment: Include Art AND Creative Writing in your project today.

How about including something like this?

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More great ideas at Dot and Bo:


Classroom idea:

1. Make a tepee. (Could be diorama-sized.)

2. Write a play. (This can be co-curricular: History and Composition).

3. Organize a performance of the play for an audience.

3.14 Means It’s Pi Day: Celebrate Teen Scientists and Creative Non-Fiction

* This Pi definition is from Math is Fun https://www.mathsisfun.com/definitions/pi.html

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Try it with a grapefruit:

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See more Pi Day Activities at PBS: http://www.pbs.org/parents/adventures-in-learning/2015/03/happy-pi-day/?elqTrackId=8dee128a6dce4d169f92d773069d6b6f&elqaid=1473&elqat=1

Today is also Albert Einstein’s birthday:Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 8.02.23 AMnbcnews

Let’s celebrate teen scientists!

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Assignment: It’s a good day for writing creative non-fiction.

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Read more about Creative Nonfiction from Lee Gutkind:

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Poetry Friday: Limericks

*See photos from the British Library of Edward Lear’s original book of Limericks here:


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Poets.org explains:

A popular form in children’s verse, the limerick is often comical, nonsensical, and sometimes even lewd. The form is well known to generations of English-speaking readers, by way of Mother Goose nursery rhymes, first published in 1791. Composed of five lines, the limerick adheres to a strict rhyme scheme and bouncy rhythm, making it easy to memorize.

Typically, the first two lines rhyme with each other, the third and fourth rhyme together, and the fifth line either repeats the first line or rhymes with it. The limerick’s anapestic rhythm is created by an accentual pattern that contains many sets of double weakly-stressed syllables. The pattern can be illustrated with dashes denoting weak syllables, and back-slashes for stresses:

1) – / – – / – – /
2) – / – – / – – /
3) – / – – /
4) – / – – /
5) – / – – / – – /

Though the origin of the limerick is not entirely known, it has an active, if not long, history. Limericks published in eighteenth-century Mother Goose’s Melodies are thought to be among the oldest. Poets quickly adopted the form and published limericks widely. Among them, Edward Lear’s self-illustrated Book of Nonsense, from 1846, remains a benchmark. He preferred the term “nonsense” to “limerick,” and wrote many funny examples, including the following:

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, “It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!”

Other limericks can be found in the work of Lord Alfred Tennyson, Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson, and W.S. Gilbert. A good collection of limericks can be found in the Penguin Book of Limericks edited by E. O. Parrott.

Today’s Assignment:

Write a limerick. Use the 5 line format above. Make it humorous!

Also, check out this neat magnetic poetry:

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Make Deadlines Work for You

In Ty Kiisel’s article “Are Deadlines Important?” he reminds us to keep our goals and deadlines SMART:

“SMART” Goals and objectives:







If a deadline is too vague, many writers will simply procrastinate and push off the deadline.

That’s not helpful.

The presentation of a reward after a deadline has successfully been met is always a good idea. The reward doesn’t have to be huge. It could be a walk, a movie, a snack, an outing, a trip to the bookstore . . . whatever motivates the writer!

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This counter is helpful in determining how much time remains until a particular deadline:

For example, this is how long ’til St. Patrick’s Day:

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Link to the nifty counter here:


(You can also use it to find out exactly how old you are!)

Read Ty Kiisel’s whole article here:


Today’s Assignment:

1. Set a firm writing deadline today. It can be for a certain number of words or pages . . . whatever works. Write your deadline down. Post it in a prominent spot.

2. Determine your reward for reaching that deadline. Write down your reward, also. Post it next to your deadline.

3. Now, go write.

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