Freelance & Technical Writing: Words for Sale

Do you want to be a writer?

Always Forever Reading’s Rating = 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

While perusing the shelves at my school library, I saw the book title, Freelance & Technical Writing by Camden Flath, which is part of the series, New Career for the 21st Century: Finding Your Role in the Global Renewal. Since I was curious about this book, I checked it out. Consisting of only four chapters and 64 pages, this is a quick read for students. After reading this book, students will have a clear understanding about pursuing a career as a freelancer or a technical writer.

I like how this book allows readers to analyze their personalities to help them make a wise choice concerning their future career path. For example, on page 24, Flath identifies and explains five different personalities to help readers to decide the best career option for them. Therefore, it is important for them to have a career that they love and not a job that they will loathe. There is nothing worse than a person having a job that he or she absolutely despises.

Flath also defines words that students need to know so that when they see and/or hear them, they will know their definitions. He also includes quotes at the beginning of each chapter. Then, he explains what the quote means, as it relates to the target audience. Furthermore, I like the breakdown of working for an employer vs. being self-employed. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of both is crucial because benefits and knowing how to file taxes is highly important.

Lastly, if students would like to know more about becoming a freelance and/or a technical writer, Flath includes the following sections: “Further Reading Section”, “Find Out More on the Internet”, and the “Bibliography”.

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Wangari’s Trees of Peace

Always Forever Reading’s Rating = 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Are brave enough to stand by yourself?

Born and raised in Kenya, Africa, Wangari Maathai saw a problem and took a stand despite the opposition that she faced.

Seeing the need to restore trees in her homeland, she takes it upon herself to right a wrong, restoring a barren land. Next, she shares her vision with other ladies. Their mission produces positive results!

Her message is powerful for young and older readers. Even when life does not go as planned, persevere and know that the desired results will happen. Stand up for what is right even if it means that you stand by yourself. You will find out that you are not alone; there will be other people who are fighting for the same cause as you and therefore will stand with you.

I love the illustrations in this book because young readers can know what Kenya looks like. In fact, through these pages, they can travel to Kenya to learn about the culture in a clear, colorful, and simplistic manner.

As I read this book, I was reminded of what is happening in many cities across the United States. As I drive down the street, I see more and more trees being torn down to make room for apartments, houses, businesses etc. Although this “may be” a necessity, it irritates me because I think about where the animals will live. I used to see rabbits behind my house all the time. Sadly, I do not see them hopping around and having fun due the coyotes who have decided to become my neighbors.

What about when it rains? Without trees, flooding becomes a major issue. I wish the city officials and developers would think about these concerns before destroying the land. It seems like all they care about is money. Therefore, do not be surprised when and if you see a bear walking down the street. Do not be stunned if you look out your window and see a coyote staring back at you. Do not be offended if the snake is in your home. I say this because someone once told me that a snake was in her home. My response, “You were in the snake’s home.”

Please, please, please, leave the land alone. The land needs to be respected because when a natural disaster occurs, human error can only intensify the damage. Who will help the people who have been affected? Do not say, “We are in this together” if you are not really trying to help them. Do not help some people and neglect others. Hence, we need to follow Wangari Maathai’s footsteps to take a stand and respect the land and try to restore its natural order.

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Never Caught: The Story of Ona Judge

Always Forever Reading’s Rating = 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Courageous. Fearless. Daring. Meet Ona Judge, George Washington’s slave who wanted freedom. She desired freedom so much that one day, she simply departed President Washington’s Philadelphia home, never to return. Although she escaped, this does not mean that her journey was easy. Read about Ona’s long and dangerous road to gaining freedom and remaining free. Overall message: Anything worth having is worth working for.

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We’re Moving Where?! Glen Blackwell

As a member of Goodreads, I am afforded the opportunity to meet individuals who, like me, love reading books. This is how I met Glen Blackwell. He sent me a message to ask me if I would review his preview copy of We’re Moving Where?! Because the synopsis sounded interesting, I agreed to read and review it.

Harry and his parents, Mark and Jess Jones, reside in England. Harry is living the fun life of a ten-year-old, watching cartoons, playing with his toys, and spending time with his friends. However, unbeknownst to Harry, his life is going to change in a major way. 

This change focuses on Harry’s dad. When his father receives an offer for a new job, one that he should not turn down, Harry will have to relocate with his family. This new job is in Canada, and Mark and Jess are concerned with how Harry will react toward this news. At first, like most children, Harry does not want to leave his friends. But once he learns that they will be living adventurously in the woods and that he will be able to keep in touch with his friends, Harry warms up to the idea. Hence, moving to and living somewhere in the middle of the woods in Canada gives this novel its title, We’re Moving Where?!

While reading this novel, I also noticed the British spelling of certain words, such as mum, whilst, coloured, pyjamas, and favourite. I do not know if this strategy was intentional, but I liked it. It teaches children that the same words used in different countries have different spellings. This is a great way to allow students to learn about different countries. At the end of the novel, I did not want to stop reading, so I hope that Blackwell writes another book to give this story some closure.

I enjoyed reading this novel, as it was full of positivity. Page after page, I kept waiting for something terrible to happen. But with each page, I did not find anything negative. Moreover, this novel is full of adventure, and the events make this novel fun for students to read.

I was curious about the readability level of this novel, that is the appropriate grade level of it. To determine the grade level, I used two popular readability formulas to see if the grade levels of this novel were consistent. The first formula that I used was the Fry Graph Readability Formula. I randomly selected three 100-word passages. Then, I counted the number of sentences and syllables in the these passages. Next, I calculated the average sentence length and syllables; after calculating the average sentence length and syllables, the determined readability level of this novel is for students in the 7th grade. 

The SMOG Readability Formula is the second method that I used to determine this novel’s readability level. With this formula, I randomly selected three passages consisting of ten sentences. Next, I found all the polysyllabic words, words with three or more syllables, in each passage. Then, I totaled the number of polysyllabic words in each set of three passages and found the closest perfect square of the sum. For the next step, I found the square root of the number closest to the perfect square. After finding the square root, I added three to the calculated square root; this will be the readability level. According to the SMOG Readability Formula, this novel is for students in the eighth grade. Therefore, I recommend that this novel, We’re Moving Where?!, is for for middle school students. It is a clean, appropriate novel that is full of much imagery, which will allow readers to use their imagination as they read.

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Protostar Love Sheopatra Smith

Do you have a love of your life? A soulmate? A ride or die boyfriend or girlfriend? Nia Nayeli Badi and Boyden “Bizzy Boy” Miller have this kind of relationship, one that is undeniably  strong. Nia will not allow anyone to disrespect Boyden, and it is the same for Boyden. When it comes to one another, they are loyal to the soil. 

Everything is going great until one particular day. Nia’s decision to become a single woman does not sit well with Boyden. In fact, Nia does not even like her decision, but she has made a choice, and she is going to see it to the end. However, Boyden is not going to allow the end of “Noyden” (Nia and Boyden) to be a reality. 

One thing that Smith does well is bring her characters to life. While reading this novel, you will feel like you know these characters. In fact, you might find yourself thinking, for example, Nia  reminds me of _____; Boyden reminds me of _____; Halima reminds me of _____.  While reading Protostar Love, I felt like I personally knew the characters, and I was able to experience their every thought and emotion.

In Protostar Love, Smith examines the dynamics of relationships. She focuses on the good and the bad of them. When reading this novel, you may be reminded of or you may be familiar with some of the aspects of these relationships. Hence, this is what makes Smith’s book extremely real.

Although I did notice a few spelling errors, they did not distort the meaning of the sentences; I was still able to follow the storyline. Overall, this is a great novel to read, so I recommend reading Protostar Love.

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New Book Review

Through Goodreads, I am a member of the Black Coffee community. In January 2021, our group read Deesha Philyaw’s novel, The Secrets Lives of Church Ladies. I was really excited to read this collection of short stories. Although there were a few short stories that I enjoyed reading, I am not able to say that I loved the book. Therefore, I encourage you to read the book to determine your feelings about it.

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Slavery in 1921?

This book focuses on a piece of history that Freeman’s friend found and shared with him. “A friend had been looking through some historical material on his family in the area of middle Georgia where these events took place, and he found a brief account of the killings in a local history book” (Freeman 92). Deeply affected by this story, it was one Morgan knew he had to tell. Read this story to learn about the concealed system of slavery. 

The year is 1921, and the places are Jasper and Newton Counties in central Georgia. These two counties become widely known due to the horrific murders of eleven plantation slaves. The accused, John S. Williams and Clyde Manning, are on trial for these horrendous murders. This loss of human life occurred as the result of peonage.

In 1865, the institution of slavery officially ended in the United States, but unofficially, it did not.  This unofficial form of slavery was known as peonage. Peonage was a system in which “blacks were fined for vagrancy or other supposed crimes and then forced to work off the debt on local farms for what often became a lifetime of brutal conditions” (Freeman 60). This was the situation for Clyde Manning and other African-Americans on the Williams’ plantation. For whatever “crime” they committed, these individuals wound up on the plantation and never left. 

Freeman allows his readers to clearly understand the racial dynamics between whites and blacks during the time in which these murders occurred. Also, the way Freeman describes these murders are quite vivid but not in a good way. The details are horrific, and heartbreaking. As a reader, this is what made this novel extremely difficult for me to read. In fact, I almost stopped reading this novel, but I was determined to finish reading it because I wanted to know the fate of these two men after the jury rendered its verdict. If you want to learn about a hidden piece of history, then this novel is for you.

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The Scars We Choose

Have you ever had a childhood sweetheart? The love of your life? In The Scars We Choose, the main character, Scarlett Elizabeth Nell Waverly, known as Lizzie Nell, has a love of her life. He is Julian Rose, who resides on the Florida Gulf Coast. When her family buys a beach house on this coast, she meets her prince, Julian “Hemingway” Rose. Although she is nine, and he is eleven, their puppy love begins. Lizzie Nell has vitiligo, and Julian has scars on his face. Lizzie Nell is white, and Julian is biracial. Sadly, while her parents prefer that she is only friends with peers of her race, this does not stop Lizzie Nell and Julian from becoming fast friends. 

Scarlett, as Lizzie Nell prefers to be called, is now living in Grand Isle, Louisiana, and it is the summer of 2013. Scarlett is telling her friends, Ms. Pinkie Perideaux and Genevieve, Ms. Pinkie’s adoptive daughter, about how she met Julian. But she does not just tell them about him, she also tells them about everything, meaning her life. 

As Scarlett divulges the details to Ms. Pinkie and Genevieve, she goes back and forth between her childhood and her present life. This style of writing will not allow Lee’s audience to lose interest in the story. In fact, it will keep them turning the pages. The more I read, the more I wanted to read, so I ignored my bedtime. I just could not and would not put down my iPad.

Also, I love Lee’s ability to allow her readers to broaden their vocabulary through Scarlett. Scarlett receives her first dictionary from her grandmother, Gramma Nell. Gramma Nell encourages Scarlett to learn a new word each day. Scarlett shares the new words that she learns, and explains their definitions in a clear manner. 

This novel deals with the themes of friendship, acceptance, love, race, and loyalty. The way Lee addresses these themes will make you think about the dynamics of life. In fact, it may make you think about your own life. If you want to read a great novel that you will not be able to put down, then read The Scars We Choose because you will not be disappointed. Let me warn you about the exciting cliffhanger at the end. It will make you want to read the sequel, which is currently in the works!

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Nat Turner: Mentioned but Not Widely Discussed

Always Forever Reading’s Rating = 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

“Nat Turner led a slave rebellion in 1831, and that it was a significant event…Who is this man who is so important enough to be mentioned in all the history books, yet is never spoken at length?” (Baker 6) This statement made me reflect on my school days. In school, I do not remember learning much about Nat Turner or, for that matter, any other black Americans until I had Mr. Andre Holmes’ 7th grade Social Studies class. He is the reason that my classmates and I learned about black history. We loved going to class his class every day. He made us want to know more about ourselves as young African Americans. His class had such a profound affect on me that I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, I was going to attend an historically Black College and University (HBCU).

This graphic novel tells the story of Nat Turner in a compelling way. The most unique feature is the lack of dialogue. In reading this story, I had to look carefully at the illustrations to comprehend the story. It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and Barker’s art work is a thousand words multiplied by infinity. These illustrations allow readers to understand the evils of slavery. He depicts this inhumane institution so well that readers can feel the intensity. If you want to learn about a part of history that is rarely discussed, then this graphic novel is for you.

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