Sunday, December 10, 2017

One Word Substitution

Test your range of English vocabulary with this exercise. Answers 1. A speaker who does not use more words than necessary – Laconic 2. A… Continue reading
from English Grammar

Saturday, December 9, 2017

English Vocabulary Exercise

This exercise tests your range of English vocabulary. Answers 1. Meera was extremely angry but I assuaged her by promising to leave her house and… Continue reading
from English Grammar

Friday, December 8, 2017

One of Us Is Lying: Karen M. McManus on Her Gripping Bestseller

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by J.D. Myall

Karen McManus has taken the YA fiction world by storm with One of Us Is Lying. The novel, inspired by The Breakfast Club, is No. 4 on the New York Times Best Sellers List. It opens with a similar scene to its inspirational source: five teenagers indetention. But in this novel, only four come out alive. One of Us Is Lying is told from the perspectives of four teenagers who become suspects, with motives and secrets. In this riveting debut, McManus expertly twists a story about kids in detention into a must-read mystery.

J.D. Myall spoke with McManus to discuss writing, publishing, and the extraordinary success of One of Us Is Lying.

What was your life like, pre-book?

I was a parent and a marketer. I still do those things. The piece that wasn’t there before is supporting the book—touring, giving interviews, writing pieces related to the book—all of which I really enjoy doing, but that fills hours that previously were spent writing.

[Meet Nic Stone, Debut Author of Bestselling Novel ‘Dear Martin’]

What is something that people would be surprised to find out about you?

I am a solo parent. My husband passed away when my son was a toddler. So I am raising him on my own, working full time and writing my book. That is a lot, so people are often surprised that there is no supportive partner in the back making it all work.

Was there a book that inspired you to write novels?

The book that inspired me to write young adult fiction was The Hunger Games. I hadn’t written in a very long time. I tried it when I was younger in high school and college. I found it really hard to finish a book. So I set writing aside. I read The Hunger Games a few years back, and I was so inspired by the world and the voice. I couldn’t stop thinking about the book. That made me want to create my own world. I did write a really terrible dystopian knock-off as my first book ever. It got me into writing again. I loved it. I had a lot to learn, and I needed to grow. That book set me on that path.

How many books did you write before your professional debut?

I wrote two. The first bad book, then I wrote a couple of sequels. I thought it would be a trilogy. Why not? No one wanted the first book, so why not write three? I don’t know many authors who even find an agent with their first book. They certainly don’t usually get that first book published. If One of Us Is Lying had been my first book idea, I wouldn’t have been able to execute it correctly. My craft wasn’t there yet.

J.D. Myall is a self-proclaimed literary lunatic, crazy about reading and writing is like breathing to her. Myall earned her BS in criminal justice from West Chester University, and has worked as a counselor for crime victims, addicts and the mentally ill. She is currently co-writing Crimson Reign, an exploration of race and class tucked neatly inside a feminist fairy-tale for the modern age. For more info go to

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Commonly Confused Prepositions

Fill in the blanks with an appropriate preposition. Answers 1. There were under ten students in the class. 2. Parts of the country are below… Continue reading
from English Grammar

Tail vs. Tale

The words tail and tale are part of a group of words called homophones, which have similar sounds but have different meanings, uses, or spellings.… Continue reading
from English Grammar

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

How to Identify Fake News: Crossing the Credibility Chasm with PEN America

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Thanks to the way we consume news today—largely through social media—weeding out what info is real and what’s fake is more difficult than ever. While social media has created a place for the public to share and for news organizations to reach in a positive way, the overflow of information is not always good information, says Xavier University Professor Tyrone Williams. That’s where PEN America decided to step in: They’re currently touring the country hosting local panels to encourage journalists and the public alike to be aware of the inaccurate stories floating around on crowded Twitter and FB feeds—and to help people identify fake news when they see it.

It’s Easy to Create Fake News

Panelist Jay Stowe, former editor at Esquire and Cincinnati Magazine, mentioned that it used to be difficult and expensive to create a newspaper, let alone create a newspaper for “fun” or put out inaccurate news. Now, it’s nearly free to develop a social media account or website to project your own opinions, agendas, or “news.” Thus, making it increasingly difficult to weed out the fact from the fiction.

Why Do We Believe It?:

“We wanna hear what we wanna hear,” says panelist Sridhar Pappu author of The Year of the Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Denny McLain and the End of Baseball’s Golden Age and current columnist for The New York Times. If someone is reporting something we want to believe, we are more likely to hang our hat on it and accept it to be true. Another common reason: lack of education. As a whole, panelists said, critical thinking and civics are no longer taught in schools. The ability to look at a news story and decipher whether or not it’s plausible or probable is simply not a skill many have. The solution? “Libraries,” says author Jenn Bishop (14 Hollow Road and The Distance to Home). It’s as simple as having children learn the fact-checking process and learning to seek out sources that are to be trusted.

Facebook and Comment Sections

Because Facebook, Twitter and news websites are private entities (not funded by the government), they have the power to remove comments and posts that either boost inaccurate reports or what they consider hate speech. In the same way, private universities may choose to turn away speakers (like the notorious white supremacist Richard Spencer) while public universities usually cannot.

[13 Copywriting Tips to Help You Write a Better Novel]

Panelist and editor Mike Canan says one of the reasons they removed the comments section from their website (and many others have, too) is due to the manpower it takes to monitor. Bishop points out that there are employees at Facebook that have the sole role of removing hate speech posts. While this is great, she says, there is still a ways to go: Sometimes the incorrect person’s post is removed, and there’s still obvious room for error.

How to Identify Fake News

This is the hard part. Many consumers grab their phones to see the latest news. According to Pew Research Center, 38% of Americans get their news online (28% from an app or website, 18% from social media), and in adults 18­-49 years old, it’s even more prevalent—50% say they consume news online. Online is where “fake news” is most often published, so being able to pick out the bad apples can be a real struggle. Here are some tips from panelists to help you pick out truthful information.

1. Check the source.

This may seem obvious, but it’s actually more difficult than it sounds. For starters, big corporations now control so much of the media we consume. Remember, Sridhar Pappu says, “who they’re owned by and what their agenda is.” Conglomerates own various news stations across many markets and states. Recently, the billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch inched closer to a deal to own Time Inc. (which includes Sports Illustrated, TIME, Southern Living and other large magazines). Stowe says simply, “Use your brain and try to verify.”

2. Consume All News

And digest it. No matter your personal or political views, Williams encourages looking at a variety of news outlets so it’s easier to pick out an inaccurate source—or question its credibility.

3. Be Objective

Approach stories with objective fairness, Pappu says. This will give you room to figure out your stance and determine if a story is conceivable.

For members of the media, it’s becoming harder and harder to tell your readers a story is authentic. Stowe explains a credibility gap has developed because of the information overload living in Facebook feeds. In the past, news sources were simply believed. No one ever questioned the authority of the news. “[I] never thought Tom Brokaw would ever lie to me,” Stowe explains. News figures were simply believable. With such a gap in credibility, websites, magazines and newspapers must include information about who they are, what they do and how they check their news. Reinventing and sharing up front what your stance assures the public what you’re all about.

The PEN’s tour in Cincinnati has a star-studded cast, including Sridhar Pappu (The Year of the Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, and the End of Baseball’s Golden Age), Jenn Bishop (14 Hollow Road), Tyrone Williams (a professor of literature and theory at Xavier University), Jay Stowe (former editor at Esquire, Outside and Cincinnati Magazine), and Mike Canan (editor of

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Adjective Or Participle

Participles can also act as adjectives. In this case, they modify nouns. Sometimes participles are  used as adjectives after be or other copular verbs. In… Continue reading
from English Grammar