A few years ago, U.S. Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin spoke at the Maui Writers’ Conference. Before reading from some of his work, he expressed an opinion of poetry (and by extension, written works generally) that resonated with me – and I think with many others in the room. “Don’t read bad poetry,” he told us, “and by bad poetry, I mean poetry you don’t like. Don’t read poetry because someone told you it was good, find some that you like and read that. If you like it, it’s good.” Books work the same way. It’s easy to get caught upRead more
Month: August 2010
Read the instructions, Captain Awesome.
My fourth-grade teacher gave us a special activity on the afternoon before Parents’ Night. She handed out a piece of paper with 36 numbered lines of instructions and asked us to complete it in pen. Line 1: Read all instructions before proceeding. Line 2: Place your name in the upper-right hand corner of the page. Line 3: Underline the words “Line 3” twice. And so on, to the bottom of the page and onto the back side. Each line gave instructions for a special mark or edit we needed to perform. Line 36, on the back side of the page,Read more
The Radio. Brought to You by Quaker Oats.
Seriously. Watching TV with The Son tonight (really have to find him a blog nickname) – and we landed on a Discovery Channel show about the history of cereal. His choice (the rolled oat doesn’t fall far from the tree). One interesting fact I picked up: the first mass-produced, widely available radio sets in the United States were distributed courtesy of … Quaker Oats. The original Quaker Oats crystal radio was distributed in the 1920s as part of an advertising campaign. The do-it-yourself radio components were mailed to consumers, who constructed radio receivers using … you guessed it … emptyRead more
Then Again, Maybe I Should Have
Yesterday was National Waffle Day. I spent all day trying to decide whether or not to post about it. I thought I would, but then, in the end, I didn’t. I just couldn’t stop waffling.Read more
Look! The cat swims!
This year’s homeschool curriculum includes first-year Russian – The Son’s language of choice for the rest of his high school years. I was psyched when he chose it, because I actually want to learn it myself. I went to Moscow back in ’86 when the Iron Curtain was still alive and well, and my father feared I’d never come back because he once served in the FBI. (Note: they let me go anyway, which probably means something I’m choosing to ignore.) I learned Cyrillic then, along with a few useful phrases which I’ve subsequently forgotten. Enter The Son and hisRead more
Something Wicked (Cool) This Way Comes
While researching siege ladders for the current manuscript in progress (you get no more of a hint than that) I discovered this awesome website: The Smith College Museum of Ancient Inventions. Which, of course, set me off on the usual tangent. Not a new one, but a good one all the same. It’s the one I call “Reasons the Internet Rocks.” Those of you who remember the days before Google (or before the ‘web’ was anything but a collection of college geeks sitting around in their basements inventing Al Gore…) probably understand what I’m talking about. Not only can youRead more
The Label is Wrong – on So Many Levels
Last night, checking the spam folder for an email confirmation that went astray, I noticed an email with the subject line “UPS Label Error.” Gmail shows the first few words of a communication even if you don’t open it, so I also saw that the email began “We could not send USPS shipment you processed last week because…” Couple of problems here: 1. I did not process any shipments last week. (Or the week before. Or the week before that.) 2. Although I readily admit that sending a USPS shipment with a UPS mailing label would result in an error,Read more
Waiting for the Thunder
Whenever I reach the point in a manuscript where I’m just about ready to send it to the peer editor for evisceration review, I start “listening” for the topic of the next one. Historical fiction takes quite a bit of research, and I generally like to start that process while I’m finalizing the edits (synopsis, final read, etc) on the previous manuscript. But to do that, one needs a topic, and I haven’t got one yet. It’s not that I don’t have ideas. (I have those in spades, most of them ill-advised.) It’s more that none of them has chosenRead more
The First Day of School: Reality 101
This might be a good place to mention that we homeschool. My son (who desperately needs a blog name since I’d rather not use his real one) is a fifteen year-old nominal tenth-grader, but we discovered during the sixth grade that his learning speed wasn’t an ideal match for the public school system. (Translation: he wanted to learn real facts, quickly, without busy work, and the school had other ideas.) We’d tried private schools, but for reasons I won’t go into here that didn’t work for us either. After evaluating all the options, my husband and I decided that IRead more
Last night, after finishing a three-hour editing session that left me more than ready for some sleep, I shut down the computer, closed up the office for the night – and remembered the Perseid meteor shower. I’d reminded myself three times not to forget (and promptly forgotten within 15 minutes) but now it was late and all I really wanted was a few hours’ sleep. Which is why I went into the living room and told my son about the meteor shower. Knowing he’d want to go out and watch it. Even though I wanted to go to bed. ToRead more