Welcome to my site. The blog is all about travel and writing, particularly the writing of our books.

Who, What, When…

The easiest way to do this is to talk about me as a writer. Many authors began their storytelling at a young age. I cannot say the same, but I always had a great love for reading. It was easy to get lost in a book and I didn’t waste time getting to the end of one. An essay in seventh grade changed things. It was the first time I wrote and thought about the reader, how the words would sound in my teacher’s head.

Later, in high school, I wrote the longest essay of my academic career and used a phrase picked up from Reed Richards of Fantastic Four fame. Instead of using “except” in a sentence, I chose the word “save.” The term learned from a comic book years before earned me an accusation of plagiarism.

That probably seems like a negative, but it hasn’t been at all. It added something to my writing and made me careful on the research side. I made certain no teacher would ever doubt the voice in my writing. It also made me realize that good writing is about much more than using fancy words. Even when the audience is a lone teacher in a required assignment, strive to make the best connection possible.

Family adventure in the Gamboa Forest, Panama

There is nothing I enjoy more than discovery. The Suitcase and Mystery books share this in common: the only things that are fictional are our characters. The locations, food, language, history and culture are real. There are wonderful things to explore throughout the world, and wonderful people who share.

That is why I write: I love to share where my curiosity takes me. What’s even more important is that they’re brought to you in a fun and exciting way. That is our mission.

Five Six Rules for Writing

  1. Exclamation points exclaim your limited vocabulary.
    • Use a varied vocabulary for emphasis, excitement.
  2. Big words are better left in the dictionary.
    • Fancy words tend to produce confusion in both the author and reader.
  3. Prepositional phrases insult your reader’s intelligence.
    • Clarify through descriptive sentences, not as an afterthought.
  4. Don’t use one sentence when two will do.
    • Ideas and events deserve their own sentences.
  5. Never use “very,” “really,” or “quite” as adverbs.
    • Use your vocabulary. A building is not “very tall.” That doesn’t tell the reader much. The building “rises to a dizzying height,” or something better.
  6. Limit or eliminate any personal reference.
    • No personal narratives in formal writing.
    • “I think,” “I believe,” or “in my opinion” diminish your points. I think the governess was insane (Turn of the Screw reference). Be assertive.
    • College essay writers, you will have to use “I,” but limit its use. After you write your essay, go back and circle all the I’s and remove as many as possible.

The first five rules were posted in my classroom. I taught English for four years in an international school. Most of my students were Americans, though I had the opportunity to teach Korean, Chinese, Ghanian, French, and Spanish students. The rules are from a number of influences: Mark Twain, George Orwell, and my Grandmother (an elementary and volunteer ESL teacher).

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