Wordsmiths – Quality grammar, vocabulary, and writing materials in the field of English
Welcome to the home of Jensen’s Grammar, Journey Through Grammar Land, Jensen’s Format Writing, and other fine language books.
Our mission is to provide teachers and students with quality grammar, vocabulary, and writing materials in the field of English. Home schools, Christian schools, and private schools currently use and recommend our materials.
This site is designed to help you find out about and evaluate our materials. Some of our philosophy should come through as well. Your questions and comments are welcome.
Cathy Duffy has picked Jensen’s Format Writing as one of her 100 TOP PICKS for Homeschool Curriculum. It’s an honor we are proud of.
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Notes from the Smithy… #95
Greetings from Southern Oregon. Spring has sprung in my neck of the woods. We have sun and rain; God’s renewing hand is evident. The school year is nearing its end. Press on!
NEWS what’s happening
JUST FOR FUN Reaganisms
OPPORTUNITY publish a book
GOOD DEALS the sale continues
ARRANGEMENT rhetoric canon
RECENT READS a few from me
MISCELLANY as it says
ONLY FROM ME: 1) I have the major tests for the vocabulary books. There are six of these tests, one for each nine weeks of work. 2) I have finished the final test for Jensen’s Grammar. It is 100 questions and quite comprehensive. Both of these are available for FREE, but you have to email me at email@example.com to get them. I am the only source for these tests. You will have to print them off. Each set includes the test and the answers.
My sale continues on Jensen’s Grammar and Jensen’s Format writing. The Grammar Land series is no longer on sale. As previously mentioned, the grammar books are new but have a name written on the inside cover. The writing books are also new but either have a bent corner or some discoloration on the covers. The number of grammar books is getting low, less than 20.
Personally, I had an operation on my right hand to repair an inherited condition, Dupuytren’s contracture. Recovery is still in process, but I can do most anything at this point although writing was impossible for a week. It seems the operation was successful, but recurrence is possible. God has granted me relatively quick healing with little pain. Praise Him! My left hand has it as well, so that must be resolved one of these days.
JUST FOR FUN
Ronald Reagan was president when I was in my early 40’s. He had many quips that were clever and on point. I am sharing these few below.
Socialism only works in two places: Heaven where they don’t need it and hell where they already have it.
Here’s my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose.
The most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”
I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress.
The taxpayer: That’s someone who works for the federal government but doesn’t have to take the civil service examination.
The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program.
Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is as formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.
Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed, there are many rewards; if you disgrace yourself, you can always write a book.
If we ever forget that we’re one nation under GOD, then we will be a nation gone under.
How would you like to have a small side business that would generate a modest income with a modest amount of work and minimal risk? If that interests you, keep reading.
As stated in my previous newsletter, I sold most of my business, but some of the books and rights are still mine. The Grammar Land series will be taken over by my fellow author, Vernie Jones, when he returns from his teaching contract overseas. That will happen in early 2017.
The booklet, From Heart to Page, was written by Michelle Van Loon. I sold about four thousand copies for her. There is a small but steady market for this booklet. It runs 40 pages plus a soft cover and is staple bound. The size is 8.5 inches by 5.5 inches untrimmed. It can be printed locally or via the printers on the web in short runs, and it takes little space to store.
Michelle and I would like to see the booklet stay in print, so we are looking for someone to take it over. I have the digital forms and will pass them on. I believe some changes could easily be made. It is a nice project that would involve some basic business skills like keeping records and shipping and invoicing and so forth.
Think about this. It’s a nice little niche business that even a responsible older child could run. If you are interested, contact me. It costs nothing to inquire.
Jensen’s Grammar: I have fewer than 20 left.
I am going to sell them at a steep discount to whoever wants them. The cost will be $17 per book plus whatever shipping applies. Single copies will have the standard $4 fee. Multiple copies will likely be the cost of UPS or maybe USPS, whatever applies.
Of course the tests and answers will come with the grammar book and are included in the above price. I do have a surplus of the T&A’s, so I will continue to help out those who lose theirs or buy used copies and don’t get the T&A. That price will stay the same, $1 for the T&A plus shipping and handling. The post office makes more than I do on that deal; it is just a service to those who need one.
Jensen’s Format Writing: I have about 100 of these.
They continue on sale for $13 each plus appropriate shipping costs, again $4 for single copies and whatever charges accrue from UPS or USPS for multiple copy shipments. Note that I do not have any DVD’s for either of these books. You will have to get the DVD’s through New Leaf if you want them.
Both of these so-called damaged copies can be ordered off the jsgrammar.com web site. Both of these books are being discounted by 48%. You won’t find a better deal anywhere else. Remember these are new books but have some minor cover issues or have a name inside, but the books are new.
The Grammar Land series is no longer on sale. However, if you buy the set, #’s 1-5, you do received a 10% discount.
One of the five canons of rhetoric is arrangement. In Jensen’s Format Writing, I discuss and teach it as organization or order in writing. Given a set of information, there is usually some form of order or pattern that can be discerned. Practice in the seven formats helps the student to then recognize these patterns when putting information into an essay or longer paper.
Today many folks see formats or patterns of logic as old-fashioned, out of date, and restrictive in the writing process. They complain about formula writing and that the creative juices of the students are not allowed to flow freely. I disagree. From my experience, students are happy to have some guidelines as to form when they are given an assignment. It makes things easier for them, and the results are better. The essays and papers they produce may not be great literature, but they read well and make their point. After all, I have not assigned them to write the great American novel. Creative story telling is a different, albeit related, situation.
The objective of writing non-fiction is to make a point, to present an argument of some sort. Having a good format, or good form, helps the reader follow and understand what is being presented. Clarity is important, and it is helped immensely by having a logical thought pattern.
Organization can be taught and learned. In fact, it is pretty easy to explain that there needs to be a beginning and an end; in between those two is the body. The body can be organized is a variety of fashions. Jensen’s Format Writing covers the seven basic methods of organizing information for expository purposes. It begins with paragraphs and moves on to five paragraph essays and then to lengthier papers. The structure of opening and closing paragraphs is also taught.
As I mentioned to many of my students, this is not rocket science or brain surgery. This is basic material but not necessarily something they would figure out on their own. Once learned, however, it has application throughout the rest of their lives when they write.
Recently I had occasion to speak with an older fellow who was writing a letter to an editor and preparing a forthcoming ten minute speech. He said he was in the process of getting his thoughts in order. Aha, arrangement! His opinion was that anyone who could write well could get and hold most jobs. I concur.
Writing is a skill. It can be taught and learned. Once learned, it can be readily applied to most writing, be it letters, memos, reports, proposals, whatever. Being able to organize your thoughts and put them on paper is a valuable skill. Learn it once and use it forever.
This past quarter I was rather slack in getting much reading done. I only finished seven books. You will find my reviews below.
For light reading at times, I pick one of Louis L’Amour’s books off my shelf. This time it was The Iron Marshall. It was light, fast moving, had some humor and detective work. Tom is a rough and tumble sort of guy but a decent fellow considering his circumstances. A triple-cross is what he is up against. Things get messy, but he manages to get through it all. He doesn’t get the girl at the end, but it is likely he will at some later stage. Of course, there are some unlikely & providential happenings, but it is fiction after all. LL does a good job of getting things off to a fast start and never really slowing down. I had read this some years back, but I will admit to remembering none of it. The good guys win; the bad guys get their comeuppance, and the world moves on. Good stuff and typical of L’ Amour’s work.
Edgar Rice Burroughs is well represented on my shelves also. The Rider was fun to read. ERB contrives a great tale with some mistaken identities and switcheroos, but the coincidences strain the imagination. The story moves along rapidly and has a variety of twists and turns to keep the reader’s attention. There is little philosophizing and commentary on life. It is just a made up story to entertain. Perhaps the only social comment is that Americans are viewed as a bit too democratic in the eyes of European landed gentry. The story was, however, written in 1915, so that may have been a prevailing attitude then. No matter, it was a chuckle to read and certainly put forth the ideals of valorous conduct in the face of desperation. Boys should like this book. I checked, and it is available used. My copy is old with a Frank Frazzeta cover. Nice!
Douglas Bond has written many books, and I have read most of them. This story started slowly, probably because Bond was developing the characters and giving some historical background to the setting. The pace picked up after the third chapter. It is a mix of history, adventure, and theology. Since there are some preachers in the book, you will find excerpts of Huguenot preaching. It fits in naturally and allows Mr. Bond to bring in Huguenot beliefs. The wars of religion in France were pretty nasty. Catherine de Medici, La Serpente, comes off as duplicitous and ruthless as do a few other Roman Catholics. However, it is documented history, and at times the truth is hard to swallow for some folks, especially if it unfavorably displays their traditions.
Mr. Bond writes a good story. This book was not as engaging as some others of his, but it was a good story, and I recommend it for young folks, boys particularly.
Rick Riordan is a modern popular author. Wandering through Costco, I found The Sword of Summer, (Magnus Chase ad the Gods of Asgard, #1). I bought it and read it and passed it on to my grandson for his birthday.
Certain words come to mind having read this book: humorous, fast-paced, irreverent, hip and quite clever, in short, a real hoot to read. The author handles the language well and mixes the contemporary with the Norse legends in a hilarious way. The gods and demi-gods and others are portrayed as quirky; that seems to be the best word to me. Sam, Blitz, Hearth, and Magnus make an odd team, but it works. They each have secrets and strengths and pasts that make them misfits, but together they do some heroic things.
I think this book is for younger folk, but at 74 with a Scandinavian background, I enjoyed it. It is definitely not serious literature, but for something fun to read it makes the grade.
The next book was written by Caleb Kaltenbach, a pastor. It is entitled Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction.
Chapter 10 on the messy church was the best chapter; it made the book in my estimation. The author’s life experience colors his views, but that is only natural. His experience of growing up in the LGBT community and becoming a Christian pastor is probably unique, but it does give some insight into the tensions between the two groups since he has seen and experienced it from both sides. His idea of holding to both truth and grace at the same time is good; would that we could all balance that in our lives on a regular basis.
I liked the book, but it needs to be read with other books on the subject of how Christians and the LGBT folks can meet and dialogue instead of just hate or fear one another. I think his view of the LGBT community is a bit skewed in that his two lesbian parents had a long term relationship, which is normal for some but certainly not all in the group.
Some of the questions at the ends of the chapters were very thought provoking and should be considered by churches and individuals. I think the book is worth the read, but I do have some differences with it as well.
An Untamed Land is the first book in a series, The Red River of the North, by Lauraine Snelling. I read the Kindle version. Uff da! Ja, it vas gut! Of course, it was an image of my mor and grandparents settling in the Dakotas in the 1880’s. I heard the stories just like in the book, but from the lips of my mother. Sure, the rope, or wire in my mor’s case, that stretched from the house to the barn so that one would not lose their way to and fro in a snow storm, the soddy, the heartbreak of losing two young ones when disease came through, the Christmas goose, the lefse, and so forth. I could identify. Some traditions die hard; I still cook a goose at Christmas and have for many years.
The writing is good; the struggles and victories are accurate, and the characters were real enough to be believable. They were like some of my hard-headed Norwegian relatives–good people yet sinners with faults of their own, but God is present. There is mix of humor and drama and love interest. Metis is the only fabrication, or I should say, the only unrealistic character in my mind. The Sioux where my forebears settled were different.
So, if you like a good book, have some Scandinavian or upper midwest background, or just appreciate history and reading about life at the end of the 19th century, then read this book. I am looking forward to picking up the others in the series and following Ingeborg into the next generation. Mange takk, Ms. Snelling, for a fine read.
Finally, I read one of my favorite contemporary authors, L.E. Modesitt, Jr. Madness in Solidar is the ninth book in the Imager Portfolio series and is just as good as the others. Although almost 600 pages, the story moved along nicely. It is a mixture of action, romance, intrigue, and philosophy. A major issue is seemingly resolved about 400 pages into the book, but the plot continues to twist, and other issues arise that flow out of the previous conflict. Hidden relationships are slowly revealed, and at the end they are helpful in explaining the reasons for the overall conflict. It was an enjoyable read, but I like Mr. Modesitt’s style when he does fantasy, so my prejudice shows.
- This newsletter is posted quarterly on the website, and it is emailed free to those who wish to subscribe. You will note my website and this newsletter are pretty free of commercials, and that is the way I intend to keep it.
- Remember, if you have questions, I am only an email away, firstname.lastname@example.org. I am your support, so use me when the need arises. I try to email a response within a day or two. The more specific the question, the better my answer will be. The folks at New Leaf will also be answering questions as time goes by.
- To those of you who purchase, use, and recommend my books, please accept my thanks. It is gratifying to know that so many have been helped over the years.
- The next issue of Smithy Notes will likely appear sometime this summer. The future is unknown, but for now I plan to do another issue or two. These days I am taking it one issue at a time and writing as the impulse moves me.