Sunday, August 25, 2019

My 2019-2020 Essay Grading Service

The following is a repost from my website

Susanne Barrett: 
E-Mail Essay Grading Service 2019-2020 School Year

So this is how my grading system works: Just send me the essay as a Word attachment, and please include the assignment directions either in the text of the e-mail or also as an attachment. Also, please let me know if you would like comments only or comments with a letter grade. Please alert me also to anything else I may need to know (such as learning challenges, reluctant writing, etc.) so that I can respond to the essay in the most helpful way possible.

I will respond via e-mail within 24 hours to let you know that I received the essay and on which day you can expect to have it returned to you, usually within 3-5 school days. If you need an essay graded sooner, let me know, and I'll see if I can slip it into my schedule.

Also, with each assignment, please include the writer’s age, grade level, and whether you want a letter grade since I grade for many families and may not recall your family’s preferences. 

I then download the essay, mark corrections, make comments, and offer suggestions in the right margin. At the end of the essay, I write an overall summary of what was done well in the essay and what needs further attention. My over-arching goal is to encourage growth in the art and craft of writing, including format/structure, organization, fluency, vocabulary, and mechanics.   

Then when I return the graded essay, which I send in Word and also as a PDF (because some Apple computers/tablets don’t show the review comments in the right margin of Word documents), I will let you know the fee which is the number of words in the essay (excluding any notes for me) times $.03 (3 cents per word) with a $10 minimum fee per essay. If you wish to have your writer revise the essay and submit it to be re-graded, I charge half as much (1½ cents per word with a $5 minimum) for grading revised essays.

Then I ask you to remit via PayPal at PayPal.Me/SusanneBarrett when I return the essay. I will grade the essay first and then receive payment after returning the essay to you. Please remit payment within 24 hours of my returning the graded essay to you.

Regarding research essays, I am well-versed in the latest Modern Language Association (MLA) format style according to the MLA Handbook, 8th Edition (2016) which is the format most commonly used for research in the humanities. Because I am not at all familiar with other research formats such as APA, CMS/Turabian, etc., I only grade research essays formatted according to the MLA style, 8th edition.

Please let me know if you have any questions; I’m always happy to explain and/or discuss my essay grading services.

So send me an essay whenever you're ready, and we'll go from there! I look forward to working with you and your young writer(s)! 

Writing with you,

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Spring and Summer Reading....

Our county library branch just completed the annual Summer Reading program. Readers from ages kindergarten through the adults track the number of hours we read all summer, and for every ten hours we read, we receive a raffle ticket. When we reach the week before school begins, the Pine Valley Library holds three drawings: the adults, the kids, and the teens, with some fairly impressive prizes donated by businesses or purchased with Friends of the Library funds.

Last Tuesday night, I joined about forty adults crammed into the small community room of the Pine Valley Library. After passing around ice cream (I do love caramel-filled Drumsticks!), we settled in for the drawing. I had twelve tickets in the jar while my friend Cameron topped me with eighteen tickets. She is also a book editor, so a lot of what she read was work-related. (Please ignore any hint of envy in that last statement.😜)

Cameron was also choosing prizes for her husband while I also chose for Elizabeth. Last summer, Elizabeth hadn't won anything, so as I had won the first draw and chose the Kindle Fire 8, I gave to her (since I have a Kindle Fire 10). This year, I managed to get a $25 Target gift card which I also gave to Elizabeth, and with her name drawn late in the raffle with only a handful of prizes left, I chose a USB fan which I have been wanting for quite a while--a necessity when teaching summer school online! A very good ending to a fun and productive Summer Reading Program.

So here are some of the books I have read this spring and summer:

Return to Tradd Street Return to Tradd Street by Karen White
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the 4th of the Tradd Street mysteries, and I enjoyed it perhaps more than the others. The paranormal aspects kept me guessing. The historical research in this series is also fascinating even though the South is not my favorite topic.

The dynamic between Jack and Melanie is stronger here, and the entire plot, spread over four novels, seems to have come to a satisfying conclusion. Melanie, a definite OCD planner, has learned how to let go of control a bit, a control she has definitely needed to assert after her traumatic childhood in which her mother deserted her when Melanie was only six-seven, and her dad become a raging alcoholic after his wife left, leaving Melanie to be the parent when she was still a child. Being in control of her life, her heart, her career, made her feel safe. And ignoring her ability to see dead people was also part of her reign of control. At the end of the four novels, Melanie has softened, learned to go with the flow, and, most of all, learned to forgive her parents and Jack. Her hatred for old houses, despite the old houses of Charleston being at the heart of her career as a realtor, has also waned although she still believes that they are money pits waiting to drain one's bank account. ;) She has learned to love.

A terrific and compelling series; I checked them out via the library e-loan system so that I could start the next as soon as one was finished. There is a Christmas book being released this fall, so I'm happy to know that the series has not ended. I'm excited to see what kind of paranormal mystery Melanie will find herself embroiled in this time!

Written on the Wind Written on the Wind by Cate Dean
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this second book in the Maggie Mulgrew series. It's utterly lovely to read a series that is set in an English country village with all of its quirky characters and unique shops. Maggie, an American transplant who inherited her great-aunt's house and business in Holmestead (which makes the best it can among the tourist trade as a village with "Holmes" in its name).

In the first book, Maggie comes to like an archeology professor, Pembroke Martin, who was accused of murder but was found to be innocent and he, Spencer (Maggie's best friend and employee in her antique shop, the Ash Leaf), and Maggie uncover the culprit. Now Martin (he hates his first name) is ensconced in Maggie's flat above the shop and, as her "gentleman-caller," assists her and Spencer in the latest intrigue.

I'm growing to enjoy the villagers more and more, and I just wish that the mysteries were longer; they seem to end so quickly! They are only $3 on Kindle, but I'd hate to buy more...yet they're not available through my library system (I checked it state-wide). So I'll see if I continue reading this series when I have so many other series begging for my attention. 😏

Inspiration: A Pride and Prejudice variation Inspiration: A Pride and Prejudice Variation by Maria Grace
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is another sweet novella by author Maria Grace. I had the pleasure of reading nearly half of it online at Austen Variations, and then I helped to proofread the whole shebang. I love the premise of Fitzwilliam Darcy (and Bingley, too) as gentlemen artists. Darcy is undergoing quite the dry spell since his and Georgiana's run-in with Wickham at Ramsgate. He just has no inspiration. And then he accepts Bingley's invitation to come to Netherfield in Hertfordshire where he meets the Bennet family. While Bingley falls for the lovely Jane, it's Elizabeth who becomes Darcy's muse.

Darcy's preoccupation with Elizabeth as his muse is intense. She truly becomes his inspiration, and he cannot paint without her. So Darcy has indeed managed to paint himself into a corner...

The Subsequent Proposal: A Tale of Pride, Prejudice & Persuasion The Subsequent Proposal: A Tale of Pride, Prejudice & Persuasion by Joana Starnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was quite the intriguing and original Austen variation in which Mr. Darcy is engaged to Anne Elliot while Elizabeth Bennet is being pursued by Captain Wentworth. The two men obviously do not mesh well, given that each one is committed (or soon will be) to the other's true love.

The most satisfying part of this novel happens fairly early on when news of Lydia's planned "elopement" (in letter form to Kitty) with Wickham is revealed, and both Mr. Darcy and Captain Wentworth travel separately to Brighton where they catch Wickham the night before they leave. Wentworth, for Elizabeth's honor (which Darcy can't claim as he is engaged to Anne), challenges Wickham to a duel, and the events that occur there are both very surprising and quite satisfying!!

The untangling of these "romances" so that each couple is set correctly again is both intriguing and quite compelling. It's a novel full of angst, mostly written from Darcy's POV, but of course, we end up with the usual HEA common to Austen variations and continuations. Very well-written and quite believable.

A Most Affectionate Mother: A Pride and Prejudice sequel A Most Affectionate Mother: A Pride and Prejudice sequel by Maria Grace
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweet novella by Maria Grace which focuses on the "plain" Bennet sister after the marriages of Lydia, Jane, and Elizabeth. Now at Longbourn with only Kitty and her mother for entertainment, Mary escapes as often as possible to Meryton's lending library.

While checking out a book in order to assist Charlotte Lucas with a project at Rosings, Mary is confronted by a very rude young man who demands the book Mary has just borrowed, insisting that he needs it himself. In high dudgeon, Mary leaves the young man in the dust.

But this young man is persistent and ends up at Longbourn...where Mrs. Bennet will not allow Mary to ignore him despite the fact that she is annoyed beyond words at the young man's effrontery in pursuing this book. In fact, Mary is forced to share her book with him so that Mr. Johnstone can complete a similar project for his own parish. Mrs. Bennet, with three daughters married, is most eager to plan yet another wedding and relentlessly pushes Mary at the poor gentleman. What is Mary to do?

I enjoyed this book, mostly because I always enjoy Maria Grace's interpretations of Mary as a much stronger and more intriguing and nuanced character than portrayed in Austen's original book. This Mary has quite a temper, stands up to her mother as well as she can (how can one outmaneuver a steamroller?), and takes on an incredible project at the behest of Mr. Johnstone's mother.

While both mothers attempt to make this match, will Mary and Mr. Johnstone agree?

This is another of Maria Grace's books that I had the privilege of reading half online at Austen Variations (or was it Maria's website, Random Bits of Fascination?) before proofreading the whole. It was difficult to slow down my reading in order to proofread; I kept wanting to push ahead and find out what happened!

After the Letter: A Persuasion Continuation After the Letter: A Persuasion Continuation by Meg Osborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An intriguing continuation of Persuasion, picking up right where Austen's novel ends. Despite Anne's happiness, Lady Russell and her father remain somewhat opposed to the match, but Sir Walter accepts the settlement with alacrity, given his financial situation. But Lady Russell continues to actively work against Wentworth, still believing that despite Frederick's wealth and increased stature, he is nothing but an itinerant sailor who will ruin Anne's life.

Will Anne have the strength to stand up against her family and Lady Russell? Or will the couple part once again, this time forever?

I always enjoy Meg Osborne's variations and continuations of Austen's works, and this one is no exception. We feel the pull of being in the middle with Anne, her love for him pitted against Lady Russell's connection to Anne's beloved mother. Frederick isn't often happy in this novella; he is frustrated by the delays suggested by Sir Walter, and it doesn't help that Mr. Elliott remains in town (he didn't elope with Mrs. Clay as in Austen's original) and continues to hang around Anne, to her extreme discomfort.

Definitely an intriguing and compelling novella; I basically read it in one sitting. 😍

Murder on Trinity Place Murder on Trinity Place by Victoria Thompson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have been a fan of this series for well over a decade! I was so excited to read the 22nd book in this series, and I definitely enjoyed it. However, I realized as I read it that I had somehow missed reading two of the more recent books in the series, so I am re-reading the book before the two I missed, and then I'll jump into the two books in the series that I haven't read yet.

This book starts at New Year's Eve as the year 1900 begins. There have been many changes in Sarah's household since the early mysteries she came across as a midwife. I won't chronicle the changes here because I don't want to spoil the series for anyone. But I do miss the rawness of the early books and the near-constant danger Sarah faced as a widowed midwife in 1890s New York City. Plus, trying to discover her husband's murderer placed Sarah in even more danger, to the annoyance of Detective Frank Malloy of the New York Police Department. Frank was a hardboiled Irish copper, not deigning to investigate a murder unless the family paid him to do so. He found Sarah to be an annoying "do-gooder" who was always underfoot at crime scenes, and Sarah found his requirement of being paid by the families of murder victims to be reprehensible. That's how the series began, and the situation of the characters has changed quite markedly 22 books later.

This series is a delight for readers who enjoy historical mysteries that focus on character development and a surprising "whodunnit?" ending. The writing is deep and thoughtful, brimming with excitement at times. The characters are memorable and become almost like dear friends, their foibles and flaws noted and accepted while their hearts desire to do the right thing to help the poor of NYC.

And this 22nd book is no exception. I feel that either I have adjusted so well to the author's style that they seem to read more easily, or she has made the series more easily accessible over the years; I'm not sure which. But I still found this book utterly delightful (despite the murders, of course!). The character development is always intriguing as is the mystery itself, one that can indeed be solved by readers who pay very close attention.

Triple Jeopardy Triple Jeopardy by Anne Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A clever second book, set in 1910, in Anne Perry's new Daniel Pitt mystery series. While I have read (and often re-read) the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series (focused on mysteries solved by Daniel's parents), the Daniel Pitt series differs in that Daniel is a fledgling trial lawyer in a well-known London firm, fforde Croft and Gibson, who takes on very intriguing cases that need a bit of sleuthing to be solved.

In both mysteries thus far, Daniel relies on his parents (and this time his older sister Jemima married to an American police officer; they now reside in Washington, DC, but arrive in London for a visit and because of a case), a senior attorney named Kitteridge, Marcus fforde Croft (partner in the firm), and his daughter, Miriam fforde Croft, a pathologist.

Once again, the mystery concludes in the courtroom, with Daniel taking great chances to unmask the murderer as he questions witnesses in the stand. He's young--only 25 or so--but Daniel Pitt is making quite a name for himself in solving and winning extremely challenging cases, much as his father has done (and still does) as head of Special Branch.

I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy courtroom dramas, but I grew up watching the old black-and-white Perry Mason TV show during lunch. Raymond Burr was amazing at getting the culprit to confess, either on the stand or in the audience. And while we get to learn only what Daniel himself unearths (with the help of others), it ends up being quite a fascinating and compelling read.

I can't wait for Anne Perry to continue this series. The last Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mystery I read (#31) fell rather flat to me simply because Charlotte cannot take part in Thomas' efforts for Special Branch, and the fun dynamic between the two of them, plus their maid, Gracie, was what made the series work for so many books (32 of them!). I am quite enjoying seeing Charlotte and Thomas' children grown and solving mysteries on their own (at least in this second volume with Jemima, her Irish-American husband, and their young family visiting London).

A fascinating book, even if I guessed the murderer (but not the accomplice!) about halfway through. I wasn't sure; it was a gut-guess, I guess. 😊

* * * * *

So there we are, a handful of the books I have read and reviewed on Goodreads this spring and summer. I have lots more books that I have yet to review, and I'm currently three books ahead of "schedule" in my goal of reading 80 books in 2019. Considering that I don't watch TV anymore (just a D&D livestream that my kids got me hooked on; three of our four kids are devoted fans and we plan to start our own D&D home game this fall. More on that to come....


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