My New Blogging Home

I have switched from WordPress to Blogger, so please go to in order to read up on my Online Grading, Tutoring, and Editing business as well as links to my Meditative Meanderings blog and other blogs.

You may also e-mail me at


Susanne ūüôā

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Spring Schedule at Brave Writer


The spring schedule is now up at Brave Writer, and I’m going to be a very busy woman. This winter I’ve taught two family workshops, The Groovy Grammar Workshop and the ongoing Playing with Poetry Workshop which is at the end of Week Three of the four-week workshop.

This spring I’ll be teaching a Literary Analysis Class on Little Women¬†starting March 12; we’ll be focusing on Louisa May Alcott’s classic which is quite autobiographical. I’ve read extensively on the Alcott family, studying Alcott’s journals and letters plus several biographies of the family as a whole. After reading through the novel together using the discussion questions (the “Think Piece” Questions) from The Boomerang, then writing an exploratory essay on one of several given topics.

Starting on April 16, I’ll be teaching a Literary Analysis Class on The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. We’ll be reading the play together, act by act and scene by scene using a set of discussion questions, then we’ll write an exploratory essay on one of several topics.

Then starting on May 14, I’ll be facilitating a Shakespeare Family Workshop. We’ll explore Shakespeare’s life and times, the theatre scene of his day, his sonnets and poetry, then his Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.

My classes will end on June 15, and after that, I’ll be teaching a new class at Brave Writer over the summer that will be a surprise.¬†ūüôā

I also plan to move this site back to Blogger during Easter break as I’m very disappointed with the lack of functionality of WordPress vs. Blogger.

So, I hope to see you on Brave Writer soon…or if you’d like help with grading your students’ essays, e-mail me at

Writing bravely with you,


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Fall 2011 Classes at Brave Writer

I’m teaching two classes this fall at Brave Writer: The MLA Research Essay and Literary Analysis: Anne of Green Gables.

The MLA Research Essay class starts on Monday, August 29 and runs for six weeks through October 7. Students in grades 10-12 learn how to choose a topic for a persuasive research paper, develop a hypothesis, narrow their research possibilities, take notes, organize their materials, create an outline, write a rough draft, polish their essay into final draft form, and create a Works Cited, all according to the latest format required for colleges. I’ve taught the MLA Research Essay at the university level since 1992, and it’s one of my very favorite writing projects. We work hard together, but we also have fun along the way. The topic of the essay is left almost solely to the student as long as they can provide an argumentative edge–that is, persuade their audience regarding a topic that possesses at least two distinct opinions. I want students to choose topics near and dear to their hearts so that they¬†invest their time in a topic about which they care deeply or about which they are¬†extremely interested in further learning. ¬†

The Literary Analysis: Anne of Green Gables ¬†course starts on October 31 and finishes on December 9, with a week off for Thanksgiving. We’ll be exploring this very popular young adult novel starring the accident-prone yet endearing Anne Shirley, discussing setting, American/Canadian society in the early 1900’s, characters and their motivations, themes, and L.M. Montgomery’s gorgeous writing style. I personally think that her prose is among the most beautiful in the entire English language. I practically have this book memorized, so I’m very much looking forward to facilitating the discussion of the book and guiding the students through a final writing project. But the main focus of this class is literary analysis via discussion, and with students around the globe participating in Brave Writer classes, the discussions are intriguing and thought-provoking–never a dull moment!

Brave Writer has many other excellent language arts choices for students from Kindergarten through high school, so take a look at the website: Brave Writer.

For a look at the classes I’m teaching throughout the 2011-2012 school year at Brave Writer, see the page listings under the header: Brave Writer Classes 2011-2012.

I hope to see some of you and/or your students in my Brave Writer classes this fall!

 Writing with you,

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Summer Vacation!

Yes, it’s summer…at long last.

The temperatures approach 100 degrees, but the cool nights in the mid-fifties balance the heat of the day, keeping the house refreshingly cool. All essays are graded and returned to students. All Brave Writer classes are completed and feedback from parents taken thoughtfully into account. My last task is to send in our three boys’ final grades to our PSP, Heritage Christian School, by June 29.

Most books are purchased for next year; I only need to order a few ABeka workbooks, quiz books, and test books, but we have everything else we need for next fall, thanks to our PSP’s used curriculum sales at the end of Class Days.

So while I plan to rest this summer, rejuvenating myself for our¬†mid-August start of school, I hope to finish writing a book for sale on Brave Writer: a guide for writing the MLA Research Essay, written directly to high school students. Based on my MLA Research Essay course at Brave Writer and on teaching the MLA essay for the past 19 years at Point Loma Nazarene University and Heritage Christian School‘s various writing courses, I hope to have a rough draft completed by mid-July and perhaps a final draft by September 1. We shall see.

So what does next year hold? Our boys will be in grades 6, 9, and 11. It also looks like I’ll be tutoring 2-3 students in my home on a weekly basis (not counting my own students). I’ll be teaching only one course at Class Day: the college prep Intermediate Writing class which requires much grading, thus the¬†permission to teach only one class rather than the required two classes.

At Brave Writer, I’ll be again teaching the MLA Research Essay,¬†the Groovy Grammar and Playing with Poetry family workshops, plus the Shakespeare Family Workshop. In addition, I’ll be teaching a high school course¬†in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.¬†This year I’ll also be adding two¬†Literary Analysis classes: one this fall on Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery and one in the spring on Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women; both novels¬†rank in my Top Five Favorite¬†Novels, and I know them well. Teaching them should be fun!¬†¬†

I also hope to be adding more families to my online grading service. I return all essays within a three-day window with copious comments for a mere $5/page. It’s really a bargain for those homeschooling parents who aren’t sure how to grade their students’ formal essays, especially for those students in high school. I’ve been grading papers since 7th grade and formal essays for over 20 years; I¬†furnish much encouragement in addition to corrections so that students know what to continue to do as well as what to improve in their writing. ¬†

So these are my plans for summer and the coming school year. I hope that I can help many of you with grading your students’ work or teaching courses through Heritage Christian School‘s East County II’s Class Days or Brave Writer‘s language arts courses.

So, helloooooo summer!!! We welcome the rest you bring as we also plan for fall.

All the best of summer to you,

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Book of Common Prayer 2011

At last!!!

The Book of Common Prayer 2011 is now available! You may read more about this new edition (and place orders for copies) at Book of Common Prayer 2011.

This new edition uses the English Standard Version Scriptures and hearkens back to the original Cranmer prayer book of the late 1540s, but is presented in modern, accessible language. Retaining historical and doctrinal accuracy, our prayer for this edition of the Book of Common Prayer is that it will introduce many people to the Biblical Anglican Church, allowing them to experience the prayer book for the first time.

The title page reads:

“This Book is for trial use by the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America for liturgical review. This Trial version has not been authorized, at present, for general use except as permitted by the ordinary of each diocese.”

So it is our wish and our prayer that this new trial edition of the Book of Common Prayer will be a valuable tool for understanding the Anglican mode of praying the Scriptures for those outside of the Church of England tradition and that it may be a viable alternative for those using the 1979 edition for readability yet not appreciating some of the compromises made in that Book.

I am so blessed to be part of this project. Father Keith Acker of Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity in eastern San Diego County, who revised this Book of Common Prayer under the direction of Bishop Richard Boyce, asked me to help him edit this project. What seemed to be some quick proofreading soon evolved into intense editorial sessions lasting over nine months. As I am not a member of the Anglican Church, much of the theology and content was new to me, and my ignorance and many questions became quite helpful in fleshing out explanations of aspects of the Anglican tradition and practice. I have been attending weekday prayer and Communion services with Fr. Acker since 2004, but my church membership resides within the Evangelical Free Church.

I started praying with the Book of Common Prayer over ten years ago, using a 1662 edition illustrated with illuminated manuscripts. Then when I discovered a nearby Anglican Church, I was introduced to the 1979 book, and then to the 1928 BCP which I have used for the last six years exclusively until this new 2011 edition. As a scholar of medieval literature, I adore the beauty of language in the 1928 BCP, but its main obstacle was its inaccessibility to a modern audience that was not made up of medievalists.

We pray that the Book of Common Prayer 2011 will be a blessing to many, both within and outside of the Church of England, who desire to pray the Scriptures and the historic prayers of the Anglican tradition.


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Spring Classes at Brave Writer

This spring I am teaching two online classes at Brave Writer, both related to the study of Shakespeare and his works.

The first one, which started April 11 and finishes May 6, is a high school analysis course of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In this class, students will study Shakespeare and his life and works, the Elizabethan Theatre scene of his time, and Shakespeare’s language before delving into the background sources for Macbeth. Then we’ll read and discuss the play act by act as I provide a summary of each act and discussion questions that will allow the students and I to interact freely as we analyze aspects of the characters, plot, language, and themes. We’ll finish the class by watching a film version of Macbeth and writing an expository analysis of Macbeth; the students will have several essay topics to choose from. I will offer constructive criticism while the students will also interact with one another’s posted essays. And all of this online interaction occurs in the safe and brand new Brave Writer Classroom.

The second¬†online course is a Family Shakespeare Workshop. Designed for moms to then teach their kids of differing ages, this class will involve a study of Shakespeare’s life and times,¬†offer a hands-on exploration of the Elizabethan Theatre (specifically the Old Globe), recognize the differences between Shakespeare’s language and our own, and then will cover Shakespeare’s sonnets and some famous scenes and soliloquies from several plays with accompanying discussion and family activities. This class starts on May 9 and ends June 3 and also takes place in the new and private Brave Writer Classroom.

So check into one or both of these fun and instructive online courses! It’s spring, and Shakespeare is a-blooming all over!!

Will-ingly yours,  

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Whew! Back again!

The last couple of months have passed me in a blur of motion and thought. I have taught two Brave Writer family workshops in¬†grammar and poetry,¬† and I have continued to plod through the expository writing process with my college prep and honors-level writing courses that I teach at Heritage Christian School‘s East County II Class Day co-op.

We are anticipating the delivery of the 2011 Book of Common Prayer in mid-April. They were printed in China, then held up in Chinese customs for a couple of weeks. After much prayer, they were finally released and are now on a ship, gliding their way across the Pacific to Los Angeles (due April 10), then will be shipped down to San Diego. I have so many requests for copies from friends and prayer book fans that it’s rather overwhelming.

And I continue homeschooling our three boys while remaining in constant text-communication with our daughter at college during the week; she’s often home on weekends.

Now I am preparing for my two spring classes at Brave Writer; I’ll write a separate post about them in the next week. I’m starting a high school analysis course on Macbeth on April 11, and following will be a family Shakespeare workshop. Fortunately, these classes occur at a slow point in my co-op courses–when they’re working on their MLA research essays that are due in late May/early June.

I’ve also been researching for a possible fan fiction course for this summer at Brave Writer, both reading and writing different fanfictions in the Twilight genre. Fan fiction is a wonderful way of getting teens to write, the girls tending toward Twilight and Harry Potter and the boys toward Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Star Trek. It’s a¬†very interesting writing genre that may appeal to many reluctant writers.

So that’s where I’ve been for the past two months. I’ll be updating here more in the future.

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It’s been a true labor of love.

And it’s finished.

Last spring Father Keith Acker of Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity, a small fellowship of the Reformed Episcopal Church in the hamlet of Alpine, thirty miles east of San Diego, asked if I could help edit a project.

I had no idea of the journey ahead of me.

You see, conservative Anglicans are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the Book of Common Prayer, the basis of Anglican liturgy and worship. If one wants to remain true to Anglican and biblical doctrine, then one must use the antiquated 1928 Book of Common Prayer. A beautiful book, the 1928 BCP uses the Great Bible of 1540 as its Scriptural basis. The Great Bible is beautiful, but it predates the King James by seventy years and¬†thus is not extremely accessible to today’s modern Christian (unless they’re a medieval fan like myself). But the 1979, although accessible, contains significant changes in doctrine; basically, it’s far too watered down for most conservative Anglicans.

So there lies the dilemma. Does one side with doctrine over accessibility? Or vice-versa?

This new 2011 BCP solves this conundrum. Using the English Standard Version Bible published in 2001 as its Scriptural core and retaining the historical, traditional, and biblical basis of the Anglican and catholic (universal)¬†Church, it’s both doctrinally sound and linguistically accessible.


And Father Acker sent it to the printer on Thursday.

Basically, as the title page reads:

This Book is for trial use by the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church in North America for liturgical review.

So here we are. Father Acker will be setting up a website with an electronic version, and we’ll be selling copies of the BCP merely to recoup printing costs. We’ll also be sending copies to bishops in the REC and ACNA to see how interested they are.

Our prayer is that the REC and ACNA will adopt this BCP for use in their churches in the US and Canada.

Father Acker has done an incredible job of pulling together the best of all the prayer books, including prayers from the Early Church, then revising them into modern American English usage while retaining the power and the poetry of the original. He also translated hymns and prayers from Latin, picking up a beautiful rhyme and meter; they read beautifully. I just came along as an editor, pointing out awkward phrasings and unifying punctuation.

Father Acker, his lovely wife Alice, and I have spent many a Wednesday afternoon at our homeschooling table, reading the¬†BCP aloud to catch anything amiss, discussing what was unclear, rewording sentences, and clarifying¬†the grammar. There were some days¬†in which he had to patiently explain the theology and/or doctrine behind a certain prayer or sentence, and we moved very slowly through the Collects (prayers for each week of the year, prayed “collectively” by God’s people). On other days, we breezed through fifty-some pages in one sitting. Then during the week, he e-mailed me changes, and I¬†e-mailed him my suggestions for improvement. Sometimes we went back and forth several times, getting each prayer down, just so.

I feel so blessed to have been part of this project. It’s been hard work–sometimes frustrating work–but I’ve learned so much about¬†Anglican doctrine and worship, tradition and history. It’s been rather like an extended Confirmation Class…with the student giving the priest grammar lessons. ¬†ūüôā

And it’s DONE! I’ll post the website here when the electronic version is up.

To close, here is the Third Collect from Morning Prayer: A Prayer for God’s Help This Day:

Heavenly Father, Almighty and eternal God; We thank you for bringing us safely to the beginning of this new day; defend us, your servants, with your mighty power; So that during this day we may not fall into sin, nor be caught up in any kind of danger; And so direct and guide us, so that we may do those things that are right in your eyes; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And thus I wish you all a wonderful day! I’ll be posting here much more often now that this project is finished, although I am sure that I’ll be helping out with editing parts of the website. ūüôā

Wishing you the best, always,

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On Writing….

Yesterday I responded to a mom in the Groovy Grammar Workshop at Brave Writer about how we break out of “controlled prose.” She asked for a definition of the term, so I wrote a little about encouraging our kids to write UNcontrolled prose…at first. I thought this reply might benefit other writers/teachers of writing, so here is my little spiel.

(Warning: I’m dragging out my soapbox….)

What is meant by “controlled prose” is writing that is so controlled that all light and life is drained from it. It’s just words that fulfill a function rather than words that sing, words that play, words that exclaim and reveal the heart. Controlled prose is grammatically correct but lacks drive and vision and heart–all the good things we LOVE about writing.

We do want to write correctly so that others understand what we mean, but we need to write freely and exuberantly first, then mop up the grammar once the focus, ideas, and heart are firmly in place. Grammar correction is always the last step, never the first step, in the writing process. Writing is messy business, but we tidy things up right at the end of the process, not at the beginning or middle of the process.

If our kids are¬†uptight about writing correctly, they often never write at all, or if they do write, it’s stilted and proper rather than “real”; it’s what other people expect of them rather than¬†an expression straight from their hearts. So at Brave Writer, we move the grammatical correctness to the very last step of the writing process, ignoring the misspellings and punctuation errors¬†and poor grammar until the very end–then it’s a simple process of “mopping”¬†up their writing instead of expecting them to write both creatively AND correctly from the get-go.

(Putting away my soapbox…for now)

So as our kids’ writing coaches, we need to allow the writing process to be just that: a process. It’s gonna be a messy, gobby, free-for-all–kinda like spring cleaning. It’ll get much messier before order starts emerging from all the chaos. But then we unearth a gem or two in our kids’ messy, misspelled run-on sentences, and we point it out and help them to polish it to a shine.

And then we have something beautiful, sparkling, and fresh. And our kids are happy, and we are pleased, and life is good.

But we have to let it all get messy first. That’s how truly good writing happens.

On this messy and wonderful writing journey with you,

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Groovy Grammar at Brave Writer Starts January 4!

On January 4 I will begin teaching The Groovy Grammar Workshop on Brave Writer. Designed for families who are stymied by or just plain “hate” grammar, but also loads of fun for grammar-lovers, Groovy Grammar relies on word games to show the underlying philosophy behind grammar usage, allowing families to discover how the English language works through writing their own “grammar rules,” creating a “fictionary,” and then composing their own nonsense poems based on Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky.”

Join me for four weeks of word-playing fun for the whole family! We’ve even had Dads join in the fun of Groovy Grammar in past years–truly this class will make your family see grammar in a whole new light! Plus you’ll have this grammar-lover’s expertise at your very fingertips throughout the class, ready to answer any niggly grammar issue that has plagued you in the wee small hours of wakeful nights…. ūüôā

The Groovy Grammar Workshop at Brave Writer: January 4-28, 2011 in our beautiful new Brave Writer Classroom!

Writing bravely,

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