About Taylor Houston

Taylor Houston is a genuine Word Nerd. She holds a degree in Creative Writing/English and Spanish from Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. In the English graduate program at Penn State, she taught college composition courses and helped many students navigate sentence structure and effective rhetoric.

Having just recently moved to lovely Portland, Oregon from Seattle, Taylor Houston is looking for more opportunities to teach and write.  While in Seattle, Taylor taught middle school Language Arts. She has also led several writing groups in New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Seattle, and in Portland (hopefully!)

Taylor loves Spanish words, too. She double majored in Spanish and has taught middle school, high school, and college level Spanish classes. In her free time, she reads everything in sight, nags her husband about capitalization, and debates the finer points of comma usage with anyone who will listen.


7 responses to “About Taylor Houston

  • Mary Jo Rakowski

    Love to see that you are following your passion! LOL

  • Aliza

    Your site helps me to improve my proficiency. Thanks a lot.

  • John A.

    Hi, Taylor! This is John from the former Writer’s Cramp Seattle. Just thought I’d check in and see how you are doing in Portland. Somehow, I forgot about your blog, and somehow, I remembered it. I haven’t written in months, not since our group here disbanded, but I have been thinking about it a lot, recently. Anyhow, I hope to check your blog more often and maybe try to find another writing group in Seattle; I’m not very good at being a self-starter/self-disciplinarian.


    • Taylor

      Hi!! Glad to hear from you. I have been busy in Portland with Wordstock and now I’m writing for Litreactor.com. I miss Writer’s Cramp though! I hope you keep writing, though. I know it’s hard to stay motivated. Check out litreactor.com it’s all about writing. You might enjoy it! My best to you!

  • Beth

    Hi Taylor! I found your blog by looking up Tina Hall’s book…don’t know if you remember me, but we were in a few (or maybe just the one?) creative writing classes together. Anyway, it was so fun and random to stumble across your page and I wanted to say hi! Hope you are doing well. 🙂

  • Rob Miller

    Taylor: I did a Google search – “do I capitalize an adjective before a noun” – and the third or fourth result was your LitReactor article – “Put a Cap on it … ” Great article but I didn’t see an example of my specific problem. Would you capitalize “northwest” in this sentence?

    Working as a consultant, she travels across the northwest United States.

    I would not put a cap “N” on northwestern but I am seeing this capitalization in several news releases posted by the company where I work. What do you think is right? And, do you have a source like the Chicago Manual of Style that gives an answer?

    • Taylor

      HI Rob!

      Thanks for asking. In the sentence you provided, “northwestern” should not be capitalized because it is a description. On the other hand, you would capitalize it if you said:

      “Working as a consultant, she travels to the Northwest.”

      In this example, it’s a specific place, thereby making it a proper noun–which needs to be capitalized.

      Below I have pasted two rules from the CMOS:

      From Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition:

      Points of the compass
      Compass points and terms derived from them are lowercased if they simply indicate direction or location. But see 8.46.

      pointing toward the north; a north wind; a northern climate
      to fly east; an eastward move; in the southwest of France; southwesterly

      Regions of the world and national regions
      Terms that denote regions of the world or of a particular country are often capitalized, as are a few of the adjectives and nouns derived from such terms. The following examples illustrate not only the principles sketched in 8.1 but also variations based on context and usage. For terms not included here or for which no suitable analogy can be made, consult Webster’s or an encyclopedia: if an otherwise generic term is not listed there (either capitalized or, for dictionary entries, with the indication capitalized next to the applicable subentry), opt for lowercase. Note that exceptions based on specific regional, political, or historical contexts are inevitable and that an author’s strong preference should usually be respected. See also 8.45.

      the Swiss Alps; the Australian Alps; the Alps; an Alpine village (if in the European or Australian Alps); Alpine skiing; but alpine pastures in the Rockies (see also 8.52)
      Antarctica; the Antarctic Circle; the Antarctic Continent
      the Arctic; the Arctic Circle; Arctic waters; a mass of Arctic air (but lowercased when used metaphorically, as in “an arctic stare”; see 8.60)
      Central America, Central American countries; central Asia; central Illinois; central France; central Europe (but Central Europe when referring to the political division of World War I)
      the continental United States; the continent of Europe; but on the Continent (used to denote mainland Europe); Continental cuisine; but continental breakfast
      the East, eastern, an easterner (referring to the eastern part of the United States or other country); the Eastern Seaboard (or Atlantic Seaboard), East Coast (referring to the eastern United States); the East, the Far East, Eastern (referring to the Orient and Asian culture); the Middle East (or, formerly more common, the Near East), Middle Eastern (referring to Iran, Iraq, etc.); the Eastern Hemisphere; eastern Europe (but Eastern Europe when referring to the post–World War II division of Europe); east, eastern, eastward, to the east (directions)
      the equator; equatorial climate; the Equatorial Current; Equatorial Guinea (formerly Spanish Guinea)
      the Great Plains; the northern plains; the plains (but Plains Indians)
      the Midwest, midwestern, a midwesterner (as of the United States)
      the North, northern, a northerner (of a country); the North, Northern, Northerner (in American Civil War contexts); Northern California; North Africa, North African countries, in northern Africa; North America, North American, the North American continent; the North Atlantic, a northern Atlantic route; the Northern Hemisphere; the Far North; north, northern, northward, to the north (directions)
      the Northeast, the Northwest, northwestern, northeastern, a northwesterner, a northeasterner (as of the United States); the Pacific Northwest; the Northwest Passage
      the poles; the North Pole; the North Polar ice cap; the South Pole; polar regions (see also Antarctica; the Arctic)
      the South, southern, a southerner (of a country); the South, Southern, a Southerner (in American Civil War contexts); the Deep South; Southern California; the South of France (region); Southeast Asia; South Africa, South African (referring to the Republic of South Africa); southern Africa (referring to the southern part of the continent); south, southern, southward, to the south (directions)
      the Southeast, the Southwest, southeastern, southwestern, a southeasterner, a southwesterner (as of the United States)
      the tropics, tropical; the Tropic of Cancer; the Neotropics, Neotropical (of the New World biogeographical region); the subtropics, subtropical
      the Upper Peninsula (of Michigan); the upper reaches of the Thames
      the West, western, a westerner (of a country); the West Coast; the West, Western (referring to the culture of the Occident, or Europe and the Western Hemisphere); west, western, westward, to the west (directions)

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