When to Capitalize Mom & Dad

When are Mom and Dad capitalized?

If you can replace Mom or Dad with her/his given name, then the title would be capitalized.

For example:I went to the store with Irene.” = “I went to the store with Mom.”

However: “I went to the store with my mom.” would not make sense written as I went to the store with my Irene.” Making the second sentence incorrect.

Naturally, Mom and Dad would both be capitalized if they started a sentence, such as Dad went to the store with me.” Alternately,My dad went to the store with me.” would not have a capitalized ‘dad’.

Source: www.reference.com

Vast Grammar, Imaginative Punctuation searches reliable sources to answer questions.

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(¸.•´ (¸.•* Suzanne Costigan writes middle grade and YA novels. She lives in Winnipeg, Canada with James, her children, three dogs and four cats.

Suzanne’s first novel, Empty Cup, is an edgy contemporary young adult story about a seventeen year old girl who lives through life’s ultimate betrayal. Suzanne lives in Winnipeg, MB.

Literally Lost

coin op horseWhen I was a kid I enjoyed giving my mother heart palpitations. I liked to run off in stores and malls. I’d get bored of looking at clothes, wait until mom wasn’t looking, and take off down the mall toward the herd of coin operated horses at the other end. After trotting down the wide tiled corridors, I’d climb onto the back of my favourite steed—one with a flowing mane, real leather reins and a real saddle. That’s when reality would set in—I had no quarters.

I’d smile at passersby and hope they’d be lured by my cuteness to drop a coin in the slot. No one ever did. I’d pretend to be a cowgirl for awhile, then climb off my horse, and head back to my mother. I’d walk a few store fronts one way. And then, I’d try the other direction—nothing would look familiar. That’s when panic would set in. Panic and Tears. Lots and lots of tears. KeepersCallingCover.indd

Inevitably a stranger would ask, “Are you lost?” I’d nod, they’d extend their hand to me, and I’d follow them.

Fast forward thirty-some years. I took up writing because I’d had a story in my head since high school and I decided to try to write it down. It didn’t take long until the writing bug thoroughly infected me. That first year I wrote three books. I loved it. But, what now? After a few edits I tried querying the first book. I failed—nothing but form rejection letters. None of those strangers liked what they saw enough to throw a coin in the slot and get my ride going. I tried to figure out what to do next. Maybe I should take a class. But, what class? Which way do I go? Who do I trust? I was lost again. Panic and tears set in. Lots and lots of tears.

That’s when a stranger extended her hand to me and helped me find my way.

KeeperssagaMy mother met Kelly Nelson at Costco in Hillsboro, Oregon. Kelly was signing her book, The Keeper’s Calling, a YA adventure fantasy about a boy who discovers a device resembling a pocket watch that allows him to travel through time. My mother told Kelly my writing woes and she offered to help—handed my mom her email address and said I was welcome to contact her.

I couldn’t believe that a complete stranger would want to help me. I was nervous about contacting her and felt guilty  taking up her time, but I sent her an email anyway. She asked me to send her my query letter and first chapter. I did and that was the first time I’d received any critique on my work. She encouraged me to take a class—and referred me to one that she had taken. She wrote about the process she went through. She was encouraging, but at the same time honest. I don’t know what I would have done without someone to point me in the right direction. So I want to say, thank you to Kelly and I hope that someday I can pay it forward and help another struggling writer to find her way.

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Melinda Friesen writes novels for young adults and middle grades, as well as short stories. She is a full-time mother of four and part-time student at the University of Winnipeg.

Melinda Friesen authored Enslavement, a young adult dystopian novel, released by Rebelight Publishing. When she’s not writing, Melinda works as marketing director and acquisitions editor at Rebelight Publishing Inc.

Language That Skibbles & Sklathes

Reading to my children is now a bygone as they grow, and grow…and grow. But I remember 2 lines from Sue Ann Alderson’s children’s book. I quote you one:

Bonnie McSmithers you’re driving me dithers, and blithery blathery out of my

I think I was more amused than my kids, though they loved it too. What language! What great image inducing words. I can almost see Bonnie’s mother slathering and frothing at the mouth, spit flying, arms flailing.

This is great kids literature. Young children love words, they make up enough of their own.

Think of Winnie-the-Pooh with his fear of heffalumps and how he tries to catch woozles.

Think of Sesame Street’s Snuffalupagus. What a loveable mammothy thing-a-ma-jig with his long eyelashes.

Dr. Seuss‘s books are full of creatures and plants of obscure and marvellous names like the “Zizzer Zazzer Zuzz.”

Think of all the best of children’s books. They may not have made-up words in them, but they have magic in their words all the same. Words that rhyme, or alliterate. Words that sing, that flow, that bow down and jump up. Pick any of your favourite children’s books and think about the great language. The authors are true manipulative shrews, only instead of playing people they play the words and create music that rings in the air a long time.

One of my favourites is Eloise by Kay Thomson, wonderfully rendered by illustrator Hillary Knight.

Eloise skibbles and she sklathes. She has drinkles and skinkles of fun, she gets all fluzzery and goes zippity zap clink clank because ordinary words are not enough for an extraordinary heroine.

And because of the context we actually understand what these amazing writers and their characters mean, without further explanation, for the most part…

Lewis Caroll challenges older kids and adults with his “Jabberwocky,”

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

I recall my grade 12 English teacher taking this up in class with us and he was tingling and goose-pimply with the thrill of the words.

So far I’ve mentioned older literature classics. Can we still coin words now?

Would publishers and editors allow us?

Well there’s Andrew Clements’Frindle” for Middle grade readers. His character coins a word and by the end has everyone there calling pens “frindles.”

And Robert Munsch may not coin words, but he makes them ring, rhyme and radiate. He is a master of making stories and words stick in your head long after you’ve read to the kids and put them to bed.

Coining words is not everyone’s thing. It’s got to be well done, spontaneous, not forced. It’s all got to do with the tongue. On paper any string of letters might work, but how is it when you say it aloud? That’s the test. It’s got to roll slickly, or tangle with odd consonants in rollicking rhythm.

New words or arrangements of old all need to be tied together with the magic that is language, each writer finding his own style, his voice. Tricky, yes.

Above all it has to tickle the funny bone, or at least the fun bone. It has to be rememberable and memorable (No those two do not mean the same thing. Think about it.)

It’s got to blithery blathery blow you away. It has to skibble and sklathe and zippity zap clink clank so that the slithy toves in the borogoves pick up your book and READ!!!

Christina’s motto is:
Some people see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?” (George Bernard Shaw)

Time – Written or Numbers?

When do I use 2:00 vs two o’clock?

If the time is the whole, half or quarter hour it should be spelled out in text. If the time is exact or requires emphasis, then written as numbers is acceptable. The use of a.m. (ante meridiem) or p.m. (post meridiem) should appear in lower case, however with or without periods are both acceptable.  As always, be consistent.


Jane was to meet Dan at two o’clock, however, she didn’t arrive until 2:46 pm. 

Example for emphasis:

“I told you to be home at half past two.” 

“I told you to be home at 2:30 sharp.”

Source: Chicago Manual of Style Online

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*¨)
(¸.•´ (¸.•* Suzanne Costigan writes middle grade and YA novels. She lives in Winnipeg, Canada with James, her children, three dogs and four cats.

Suzanne’s first novel, Empty Cup, is an edgy contemporary young adult story about a seventeen year old girl who lives through life’s ultimate betrayal. Suzanne lives in Winnipeg, MB.

Learning About Six Year Olds

You need to know your age group!  I’ve been reading blogs and books about writing for children. One piece of advice I’ve run across frequently is the importance of getting to know your target audience age group. I have a couple of ideas for stories that I thought might be appropriate for six year olds so I decided to go online and do a little six-year-old research. Here’s what I learned!


The most popular baby names in 2007, the year today’s six-year olds were born were…….

Girls- Sophie, Isabella, Emma, Madison, Ava, Addison, Haley, Emily, Katlyn and Olivia

Boys- Aiden, Ethan, Jacob, Jayden, Caden, Noah, Jackson, Jack, Logan and Matthew

Things six-year olds are scared of  include clowns, tornadoes, unexplained noises, the dark, getting needles, spiders,  heights, germs and water.

Six year olds are in grade one. They can count forwards and backwards, are decoding words and learning to read,  are learning to tell time, understand the concepts of even and odd, are rapidly acquiring new vocabulary words, many can add to ten in their heads and they are beginning to write stories and share them with others. 

A guinea pig is considered the pet best suited for a six-year-old. 

Six year olds are losing teeth, are a wide range of heights and while they are beginning to be independent they still appreciate the security of home and need a relationship with a secure adult. 

The line between make-believe and reality is still fuzzy for six-year olds. They like to use props, costumes, movement and sound in dramatic play. They are beginning to notice the emotions of others and although they enjoy sharing there are still conflicts.  They have a developing sense of right and wrong. 

Top selling toys for six-year olds include Spooner Boards, design your own umbrella and design your own soccer ball kits, a talking microscope, the Morphian Gator– an all terrain toy vehicle that looks like an alligator, building toys like Lego, Marble Run and big blow up balls you can hop on. 

Six year olds can be taught the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods. They can help choose the family menu, set the table and clear up the dishes. Television programs that are popular with six-year olds are Between The Lions, Caillou, Curious George and Berenstain Bears. diary of a wormBooks that rate highly with six-year olds are Diary of a Worm, Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad series, the Junie B. Jones series, the If You Give series of picture books, Magic Tree House Series and Amelia Bedelia series.  I was surprised how many of these are classics that my own children and school children enjoyed more than twenty-five years ago. 

It was fun doing research on six-year olds, checking out dozens of websites and synthesizing the information they provided about this fascinating age group. I have jotted down ten story ideas that emerged from my research and when I ‘m finished writing those I’ll have to decide what age group to research next!

If you enjoyed this post you might also like……..

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MaryLou Driedger is just beginning to write fiction and non-fiction for children after working as a teacher, newspaper columnist and free-lance journalist for thirty years. She also blogs at What Next?

MaryLou Driedger is a free lance writer with a long career as a newspaper columnist, curriculum writer and contributor to lifestyle, education and religious publications.
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