Why Don’t Schools Teach the Basics?

I’ve discovered that the system used in our local public school to teach our children basic grammar and spelling has failed my child. Word Study is officially my enemy.

Word Study is not actually a study of words. It is recognizing patterns in words. You don’t actually spell them. Oh, and you don’t define them, either. You have a chart on a piece of paper and cut out the word and sort them in different ways. Yeah. That’s all. Just the sorting.

Apparently, someone decided that actually writing the words a few times and using them in sentences was unnecessary. That only taught them to spell and comprehend and use words. This Word Study teaches them to compare and contrast words as well as identifying patterns in words. You don’t actually have to spell them or use them. Just sort them.

So, now that I have found that my child cannot actually spell or use an apostrophe appropriately or even capitalize proper nouns, I have to find a tutor. A tutor who will teach him the basic principles of grammar and how to spell things like “cereal”. Did I mention he’s in tenth grade?

He has depended on spellcheck, providing good ideas, and content to make up for his deficiencies. I have been asking the school for help with this for 4 years. I’m taking matters into my own hands. As he is my child, he is stubborn and occasionally ornery and won’t listen to me. Thus, the tutor will take over.

Beware, parents. Word Study is out there. It is teaching your children to sort. If you want them to actually spell anything, you may have to stage an intervention.


Freelancers Alert! Your Must-Have Resources

There are many writers who believe that everything they need is free online. They believe that there is no need for any kind of resource beyond Google. I hate to tell you this, but there are a few resources that will make you a better, more effective writer.

What I consider to be the most crucial resource is The Chicago Manual of Style. Any question about grammar, citations, editorial styles and more, this is the go-to resource for writers. I own a hardcopy, but you may subscribe to the website to access content. Go to the site  and give the free trial a try.

I also keep Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips handy. This is a good reference for those moments when you just need to find a general rule or to figure out whether to use “between” or “among”, the book and website (and app) can all be very handy.

If you have any question, use a reference. Don’t guess. If you’re wrong and use the wrong “your”, you may lose a client and damage your reputation.

Keep on writing… and writing well.


A Gift for My Freelance Friends and Followers

Feel free to use/edit/protect yourself with this basic contract. Cut and paste or contact me to sent the original file. More to follow….



This Independent Contractor Agreement (the “Agreement”) is made and entered between [NAME OF INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR], an independent contractor hereafter referred to as “Contractor”, and [NAME OF CLIENT], hereafter referred to as “Client”.

In consideration of the covenants and conditions hereinafter set forth, Contractor and Client agree as follows:

1.         SERVICES

Contractor shall perform the following services for the Client (the “Work”).




2.         REPORTING

Contractor shall report to [Name]. Contractor shall provide a weekly written report to the Client on his progress on assignments.

3.         TERM

This Agreement shall commence on [DATE] and shall expire on [DATE]. Contractor agrees to perform services for the Work to Client on or before the expiration of the term set forth above. The Client may terminate the use of Contractor’s services at any time without cause and without further obligation to Contractor except for payment due for services prior to date of such termination. Termination of this Agreement or termination of services shall not affect the provisions under Sections 5-11, hereof, which shall survive any termination.

4.         PAYMENT

Contractor will be paid for Work performed under this Agreement as follows:




Contractor will submit an invoice for the Work on [DATE]. Invoices shall be paid by the Client within 15 business days of receipt.


(a)               Contractor recognizes and acknowledges that the Client possesses certain confidential information that constitutes a valuable, special, and unique asset. As used herein, the term “confidential information” includes all information and materials belonging to, used by, or in the possession of the Client relating to its products, processes, services, technology, inventions, patents, ideas, contracts, financial information, developments, business strategies, pricing, current and prospective customers, marketing plans, and trade secrets of every kind and character, but shall not include (a) information that was already within the public domain at the time the information is acquired by Contractor, or (b) information that subsequently becomes public through no act or omission of the Contractor. Contractor agrees that all of the confidential information is and shall continue to be the exclusive property of the Client, whether or not prepared in whole or in part by Contractor and whether or not disclosed to or entrusted to Contractor’s custody. Contractor agrees that Contractor shall not, at any time following the execution of this Agreement, use or disclose in any manner any confidential information of the Client.

(b)               To the extent any inventions, technologies, reports, memoranda, studies, writings, articles, plans, designs, specifications, exhibits, software code, or other materials prepared by Contractor in the performance of services under this Agreement include material subject to copyright protection, such materials have been specially commissioned by the Client and they shall be deemed “work for hire” as such term is defined under U.S. copyright law. To the extent any such materials do not qualify as “work for hire” under applicable law, and to the extent they include material subject to copyright, patent, trade secret, or other proprietary rights protection, Contractor hereby irrevocably and exclusively assigns to the Client, its successors, and assigns, all right, title, and interest in and to all such materials. To the extent any of Contractor rights in the same, including without limitation any moral rights, are not subject to assignment hereunder, Contractor hereby irrevocably and unconditionally waives all enforcement of such rights. Contractor shall execute and deliver such instruments and take such other actions as may be required to carry out and confirm the assignments contemplated by this paragraph and the remainder of this Agreement. All documents, magnetically or optically encoded media, and other tangible materials created by Contractor as part of its services under this Agreement shall be owned by the Client.


Contractor agrees that upon termination of this Agreement, Contractor will return to the Client all drawings, blueprints, notes, memoranda, specifications, designs, writings, software, devices, documents and any other material containing or disclosing any confidential or proprietary information of the Client. Contractor will not retain any such materials.


7.         WARRANTIES

Contractor warrants that:

(a)               Contractor’s agreement to perform the Work pursuant to this Agreement does not violate any agreement or obligation between Contractor and a third party; and

(b)               The Work as delivered to the Client will not infringe any copyright, patent, trade secret, or other proprietary right held by any third party; and

(c)                The services provided by Contractor shall be performed in a professional manner, and shall be of a high grade, nature, and quality. The services shall be performed in a timely manner and shall meet deadlines agreed between Contractor and the Client.

8.         INDEMNITY

Contractor agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold the Client and its successors, officers, directors, agents and employees harmless from any and all actions, causes of action, claims, demands, cost, liabilities, expenses and damages (including attorneys’ fees) arising out of, or in connection with any breach of this Agreement by Contractor.



Contractor is an independent contractor of the Client. Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed as creating an employer-employee relationship, as a guarantee of future employment or engagement, or as a limitation upon the Client’ sole discretion to terminate this Agreement at any time without cause. Contractor further agrees to be responsible for all of Contractor’s federal and state taxes, withholding, social security, insurance, and other benefits. Contractor shall provide the Client with satisfactory proof of independent contractor status.



Contractor is free to engage in other independent contracting activities, provided that Contractor does not engage in any such activities which are inconsistent with or in conflict with any provisions hereof, or that so occupy Contractor’s attention as to interfere with the proper and efficient performance of Contractor’s services thereunder. Contractor agrees not to induce or attempt to influence, directly or indirectly, any employee at the Client to terminate his/her employment and work for Contractor or any other person.



(a)               Attorneys’ Fees. Should either party hereto, or any heir, personal representative, successor or assign of either party hereto, resort to legal proceedings in connection with this Agreement or Contractor’s relationship with the Client, the party or parties prevailing in such legal proceedings shall be entitled, in addition to such other relief as may be granted, to recover its or their reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs in such legal proceedings from the non-prevailing party or parties.

(b)               Governing Law. This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of [NAME OF STATE] without regard to conflict of law principles.

(c)                Entire Agreement. This Agreement, contains the entire agreement and understanding between the parties hereto and supersedes any prior or contemporaneous written or oral agreements, representations and warranties between them respecting the subject matter hereof.

(d)               Amendment. This Agreement may be amended only by a writing signed by Contractor and by a duly authorized representative of the Client.

(e)               Severability. If any term, provision, covenant or condition of this Agreement, or the application thereof to any person, place or circumstance, shall be held to be invalid, unenforceable or void, the remainder of this Agreement and such term, provision, covenant or condition as applied to other persons, places and circumstances shall remain in full force and effect.

(f)                 Construction. The headings and captions of this Agreement are provided for convenience only and are intended to have no effect in construing or interpreting this Agreement. The language in all parts of this Agreement shall be in all cases construed according to its fair meaning and not strictly for or against either party.

(g)               Rights Cumulative. The rights and remedies provided by this Agreement are cumulative, and the exercise of any right or remedy by either party hereto (or by its successor), whether pursuant to this Agreement, to any other agreement, or to law, shall not preclude or waive its right to exercise any or all other rights and remedies.

(h)               Nonwaiver. No failure or neglect of either party hereto in any instance to exercise any right, power or privilege hereunder or under law shall constitute a waiver of any other right, power or privilege or of the same right, power or privilege in any other instance. All waivers by either party hereto must be contained in a written instrument signed by the party to be charged and, in the case of the Client, by an officer of the Client or other person duly authorized by the Client.

(i)                 Remedy for Breach. The parties hereto agree that, in the event of breach or threatened breach of any covenants of Contractor, the damage or imminent damage to the value and the goodwill of the Client’s business shall be inestimable, and that therefore any remedy at law or in damages shall be inadequate. Accordingly, the parties hereto agree that the Client shall be entitled to injunctive relief against Contractor in the event of any breach or threatened breach of any of such provisions by Contractor, in addition to any other relief (including damages) available to the Client under this Agreement or under law.

(j)                 Notices. Any notice, request, consent or approval required or permitted to be given under this Agreement or pursuant to law shall be sufficient if in writing, and if and when sent by certified or registered mail, with postage prepaid, to Contractor’s residence (as noted below), or to the Client’s principal office, as the case may be.

(k)                Assistance. Contractor shall, during and after termination of services rendered, upon reasonable notice, furnish such information and proper assistance to the Client as may reasonably be required by the Client in connection with work performed by Contractor; provided, however, that such assistance following termination shall be furnished at the same level of compensation as provided in Section 2.

(l)                 Disputes. Any controversy, claim or dispute arising out of or relating to this Agreement or the relationship, either during the existence of the relationship or afterwards, between the parties hereto, their assignees, their affiliates, their attorneys, or agents, shall be litigated solely in state or federal court in [NAME OF CITY AND STATE]. Each party (1) submits to the jurisdiction of such court, (2) waives the defense of an inconvenient forum, (3) agrees that valid consent to service may be made by mailing or delivery of such service to the [N] Secretary of State (the “Agent”) or to the party at the party’s last known address, if personal service delivery can not be easily effected, and (4) authorizes and directs the Agent to accept such service in the event that personal service delivery can not easily be effected. EACH PARTY, TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW, HEREBY IRREVOCABLY WAIVES ALL RIGHT TO TRIAL BY JURY AS TO ANY ISSUE RELATING HERETO IN ANY ACTION, PROCEEDING, OR COUNTERCLAIM ARISING OUT OF OR RELATING TO THIS AGREEMENT OR ANY OTHER MATTER INVOLVING THE PARTIES HERETO.





Date: [DATE]









Common Terms that Can Cause Problems

When a freelancer takes on a new job with a new client, they usually discuss the work that needs to be done and reach an agreement on what the job entails and the cost to the client. This process usually works quite well. On occasion, a client does not communicate exactly what they want, or use terms that are ambiguous or simply incorrect. If the client does not directly address this with the freelancer, misunderstandings continue, and possibly even anger and frustration can occur.

To avoid this, let’s review a couple of common terms:

Collaboration: The action of working with another or others on a joint project. This means a back-and-forth between the freelancer and the client as they work together on the content of the writing project.

Edit: To collect, prepare, and arrange materials for publication or to revise or correct, as a manuscript.

As you can see, an agreement to collaborate on a project is much more extensive than simple editing. It is a work on which both parties work on the material presented for the most thorough result. This works well for clients who would like more direction and assistance in presenting their information. Editing is technical and is often a simple grammar and spelling check, depending on what the client wants.

Sometimes, a misunderstanding between terms such as these can cause a breakdown of the relationship between the client and freelancer. It is unfortunate, but it does happen. If the client does not communicate dissatisfaction, the freelancer may not know until it is too late and the client is angry, thinking that they are not getting what they asked for.

So, what does a freelancer do? There are two things that can help a freelancer to avoid this kind of situation. First, thoroughly discuss the scope and expectations with the client, including setting milestones and making availability clear. A freelancer likely has other clients and knows what time they have, so ensuring that the client and the provider both know whether the schedule will fit for both is essential. The second thing is a contract that lays out the terms of the agreement, including payment. I will upload an example next week for other freelancers. If you freelance, you are welcome to take it, revise it to your needs, and use it.

In freelancing, you learn something new every day. Sometimes it is something wonderful. Sometimes it’s free. Sometimes it costs. But I AM What You See Is What You Get. I am a professional and dedicated to providing 100% satisfaction to my clients, as you can see by my recommendations. I will continue to grow daily as a freelancer… and if you keep reading, you can come along for the ride.


Daily Distractions

I admit it. I can’t wait for school to start. I have 3 sons. Two will be off to college in a few weeks and the other will be back to high school shortly thereafter. I love my kids. I really do. They are generally well behaved and very sweet. But….

They are detrimental to my work schedule. I close my office door, put signs threatening to “do not disturb unless you are on fire” on the door, ask nicely for quiet, and remind them that I am “at work”.

Right now, outside my window, six teenagers are in the swimming pool. They are apparently hard of hearing because they have to yell even though they are right next to each other. Last time I looked out, one boy was peeing in my landscaping.

Tomorrow is my middle son’s graduation party, so I have all of the work and stress associated with that running through my mind/body. Did I order enough food? What have I forgotten? Do we have a final count?

In other words, how am I supposed to actually work? I could deal with just one or the other, but this particular combination of distractions is making me mildly crazy. Maybe I’ll go outside and start yelling arbitrary words and noises. Most of them don’t know me well enough to know whether I am truly insane or not…. This could be my best plan yet. Either that or I give up and go read a book.