In Honor of Someone Who Taught Me to Swim*

On the first day of ninth grade, my English teacher took away the verb “to be.” She stood before the class and told us that any appearance of the offending verb – “is, am, were, are or otherwise” – would cost us one-third of a letter grade on the essay in question.  Worse, she decreed it a “stacking debuff” – meaning that multiple occurrences would result in multiple penalties.  In a speech I later titled “Is That an A- I See Before Me,” she explained that too many writers lean heavily on this particular verb, that smart writers find better

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Wednesday Writing Challenge: Observation

Today’s challenge is actually a preliminary to next week’s challenge, so don’t forget what you learn. There’s no actual writing involved in this one.  Instead, your mission (and you should choose to accept it) is to find an object you take for granted and spend at least three minutes observing it.  This could be something as simple as a fork, a coffee cup, or a flower, or as complicated as the keyboard on your computer.  The only requirement is that it’s something you otherwise wouldn’t have spent time considering. (Note: Your own navel is disqualified, as most writers spend far

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The Voice We Must Not Listen To

I have many voices in my head.  (Most writers do.) Most of them I created, in one form or another, and for the most part I consider them friends.  They populate my manuscripts, existing and prospective.  Their voices are known and welcome. But there is another voice in my head, and yours, and the head of every person I’ve ever known or spoken to.  Some of us hear it more loudly than others, but if you stop and think, you’ll recognize it’s there. I call it the voice I do not listen to, but that’s really a misnomer because sometimes

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October 11, 1942 … and other facts of interest.

…the United States defeats the Japanese in the Battle of Cape Esperance.  (You thought that was a typo in the title, didn’t you?). The battle was important because it involved the defeat of a fleet heading to reinforce the Japanese at Guadalcanal. Following the loss of its reinforcements, the Japanese position was weakened, and the U.S. took control of Guadalcanal by the end of the year. In other October 11 historical “news”: 2008: Belgian Luc Costermans sets a new land speed record – for blind drivers.  He reached 192mph in a borrowed Lamborghini.  (I’m guessing the car’s owner also set

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Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon Liveblog, October 2010

Edit: I’m going to be adjusting the time stamp on this post throughout the day and leapfrogging it over meme and challenge posts made in between as I update the read-a-thon progress. 5:00am PST: It’s 5am on October 9, 2010, and the Read-a-thon is commencing.  As promised, I’m leading off with In the President’s Secret Service, and Tesla (my variation on The Mad Scientist) is going with Grimm’s Fairy Tales (the original). If you’re reading too, tell us what in the comments! 6:01am PST: One hour down.  Also one pot of coffee down.  (hey, there are two of us drinking

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Read-a-Thon Challenge: Banning the Brothers Grimm

Midnight Book Girl is offering up the hour 17 Read-a-Thon challenge: “Ban This Book!”  The challenge is to point out how easily any book can fall under the ban (you see what I did there…) by making your best ridiculous arguments to ban something you’re reading at present.  Tesla and I offer the following: After reading Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales, I believe it completely unsuitable for consumption by the general public.  Not only is it filled with violence and brutality of all sorts, including wife-beating, the violent murder of innocent creatures* and even cannibalism, the book also seeks to impose

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Read-a-Thon Mid-Event Meme & Survey

We made it halfway!  As the clock ticks past 4 we’re into the twelfth hour, and both Tesla and I are still going strong.  The 3:00 sleepies passed on, and it’s time for the Read-a-Thon midway meme: 1. What are you reading right now?  Robin Hood, the English Outlaw Unmasked, by David Baldwin (nonfiction, 2010). 2. How many books have you read so far? This is #3; I’m halfway through it. 3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?  The last one!  Or, more seriously, all of them.  It’s been a long

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Hour 10 Read-a-Thon Challenge: Dale’s Dog

The Hour 10 challenge is hosted by Lynne’s Book Reviews.  Lynne’s challenge involves (a) posting a photo of a favorite pet and (b) writing a sentence about a favorite animal book using only words which begin with the same letter as the main character’s name. I have no pet photos to post at present, though we do have three cats who answer to a variety of names, some more polite than others.  For now, let’s go with “Lily,” “Oobie,” and “Tribble” (aka “Boo”). I like animal books of all kinds, but I’ll offer a challenge entry based on “A Friend

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10am Readathon Update: One Book Complete!

It’s 10 am – do you know where your read-a-thon partners are?  I’m heading out for a brief “blog tour” to support some of the other readers. Big thanks to all the awesome commenters who’ve been stopping by to encourage Tesla and me in our read-a-thon efforts.  We appreciate your good wishes! As of 10:05am PST, I have completed In the President’s Secret Service.  Great book – it will be getting a “recommended” review here next Friday, for sure.  I’m now heading into Sean Ferrell’s Numb, which I have in Kindle format.  Hopefully the changed format will help shake things

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Read-a-Thon Challenge: Six Word Celebration!

In honor of the fact that 15 year-old “Tesla” and I are doing this together, here’s my six-word celebration for the challenge at Estella’s Revenge: Family Reading: Let’s Share a Book! Here’s your hourly update:  I’m still working on In the President’s Secret Service and Tesla’s in Grimm’s.  Breakfast is over – hand-held breakfast sandwiches and coffee for the win!

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