Genderella, a musical play about one person’s gender journey

Genderella, a play about one person’s gender journey

I just found out that my old mentor and NLU Graduate Writing Program Director, Dr. Joanne Koch, has her latest plays featured at the Chicago Writer’s Bloc Festival of Plays in Evanston on the evening of April 29 (7:30pm).

Genderella, a play about one person’s gender journey, is coauthored by Dr. Koch and Honey West.

The Fest, at the Next Theatre Company, 927 Noyes St., begins with a gala benefit performance of this original musical that launches the Festival at 7 p.m. with free food and drinks, a silent auction, and a raffle. Tickets for the gala are $20. All other shows are $10 and begin at 8 p.m. A Festival Pass good for all performances, many featuring Equity actors, is available for $25. Tickets may be purchased from Brown Paper Tickets, at 800-838-3006, online at, or by paying at the door.

The festival if a great way to meet artists of the written word, playwrights, and actors–as well as all-around fascinating Chicago people.

Be there or be square!


Building a Solid Foundation

Writers and editors instinctively know what’s wrong with a sentence as soon as they see the error, sticking out like a sore thumb from an otherwise calm sea of words. We move with lighting-speed toward it–red cape flapping behind is optional–with pencil in hand, ready to repair the damage…but, let’s stop for a minute. Try to name the particular part of the sentence, or name the rule that applies in this instance. Not so easy, is it?

I feel like editing and writing are visceral experiences, which come from the depths inside. In reality, editing and writing are practical sciences that have rules, terminology, and guidelines that must be followed. These three elements help people communicate consistently. Imagine if we all used different rules to structure sentences…just how long would it take to decipher what we’re trying to say to each other?

As a writer, a reader, and an editor at a professional association, I enjoy working on a variety of written materials. One day I’ll work on cleaning up a short article, the next I’ll dive into a longer, academic-written publication that will end up being published in soft cover for a practitioner audience. These projects vary in size, complexity, audience, tone, and content. This type of diverse work is a blessing, sometimes in disguise, because it keeps me (and my skills) on my toes, fluent and adaptable.

More complex pieces stretch my imagination–and skill set. How to help the author communicate a convoluted model to the laymen in the audience? If a sentence causes me to tune out or become bored as I’m reading it, I know I need to revise it so it’s more appealing and communicative to the audience.

I can recall doing well in grammar classes in school, but then had a tendency to forget the “fancy” terminology and rules as soon as I stepped away at the end of the semester. While reading, I can immediately spot what’s wrong with a sentence or paragraph, but I’ll be darned if I can remember what the difference is between a compound predicate and a compound sentence.*

I’m always eager to shore up my skills and knowledge. Lately, a self-perceived lack of precision when calling out errors and not being able to immediately prove my point have become hot buttons. I’ve looked for some resources to help me take care of this little issue.

I’ve discovered a new favorite website called (completely trust-worthy name, don’t you think?). It has helped me refresh my memory about each part of a sentence, terminology, grammar rules, and definitions by reading about them and seeing easily understandable examples. The quizzes follow-up on what I read and test my retention of the information later. This is a great little resource. It’s helping me shore up what I’ve felt is a personal/professional weak point.

So this discovery and internal dialogue got me to thinking. I wonder out loud: how does a writer stay updated without losing sight of what s/he’s learned thus far? It’s not as if we had to explain predicates, prepositions, and conjunctions to other people on a daily basis–that which we don’t practice tends to be forgotten.

We’re meant to intrinsically know how to fix grammar and typos, or write our work perfectly each and every time, right? Well, not really. The ability to correctly use nomenclature and refer to exact grammar rules is incredibly valuable for writers and editors. It adds credibility and justification to our work.

Although we may cringe initially, as nomenclature and rules have been infamous tools of harassment in the arsenal of grammar snobs and guideline nazis for years, they’re invaluable to equip the run-of-the-mill writer and editor.

It’s like a little internal vision test, so we don’t lose our sight when it comes to grammar nomenclature and its rules. After all, everyone knows it’s important to learn how to walk before we can run or fly. There’s few sights as beautiful as a writer taking flight on the page.

*A compound predicate makes two or more statements about the subject of a sentence.  A compound sentence is formed by two independent clauses joined together by a conjunction and a comma.


Grammar Gets Love

Grammar Gets Love

I couldn’t pass up sharing this little gem. I pinned it on Pinterest and wrote under it: “Get the love of your life today, hire a copywriter/editor to make you look as good as you think you are :D”

Words that Come Back to Bite

From a post (Barnes & Noble, the Last Big Bookseller Standing: But for How Long?) I was reading from the Knowledge @ Wharton blog:

“Barnes & Noble is the last bookseller standing, but it’s still unclear whether there’s a future for its box-store business model. Niche, independent bookstores might be better placed to compete against cheap online retailers…”

Who knew that small indie bookstores would come out on top in the end, eh?

Discovering: Printers Row Journal

In early 2012 the Chicago Tribune launched a literary membership program that includes a new periodical titled Printers Row JournalI am kicking myself for not having located this wonderful resource sooner!

I recently became acquainted with this effort by reading a series of articles online on the publishing industry based in Chicago, during a personal research project.

A TribNation article (New ways to get Printers Row Journal, the Chicago Tribune’s literary membership program) describes the membership program as follows:

“Printers Row Journal features 24 pages of essays, photos, reviews and criticism, news and commentary from the Chicago Tribune’s best writers and thinkers, as well as impressive guest contributors. Our members have responded enthusiastically to it, and we hope today’s special sample hints at why. ”

Registration and a yearly membership fee of $99 gets you a copy of the journal and tickets to Printers Row Live events. If you are only interested in accessing the digital journal, the subscription fee is a mere $29. Honestly, if you love publishing, books, and reading you should really shell the money out right away and sign up.

There is a demo copy of Printers Row Journal available to give you a taste of the great content published in this channel. One of the participants is journalist Julia Keller, whom I had the pleasure of seeing speak at National-Louis University’s Writers Week one summer day a couple of years ago.

Interested writers can submit their stories online via an easy form.

Literary-Themed Cooking Posts from TheKitchn

What a great, amusing collection of literary-themed cooking posts! TheKitchn’s Best of 2012 lists now includes a great post (From Writer’s Favorite Snacks to Cookie Monster’s Cookie Recipe: 10 Literary-Themed Posts You Loved This Year) to help you find out what famous authors drank, ate, and cooked.

Not only are/were these folks (Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Fleming, Whitman, Byron, Pollan) fascinating on the page, but their food selections and preferences can provide an added dimension to our understanding of their personalities.

Ok, writers. The pressure is on to acquire a great and quirky drinking and eating habit for posterity! ;o)

Advert Typo at The New York Times

Lord & Taylor should have their advertisement purchasing department look more closely at their online advertising proofs. So should The New York Times’ editors and graphic designers.