Monday, February 22, 2010

Have you heard of ChatRoulette?

I hadn't heard about it until today when I read an article on Apophenia. I love this website for it's non judgmental take on all things web 2.0. I have learned a lot from Zephoria and today I learned about this game designed by a 17 year old who learned to write code when he was 11! Basically you log in and are anonomously connected via your web cam to another person, you hit next and there is someone else staring back at you. Most people who use it are young. Sarita Yardi described ChatRoulette as "an online Lord of the Flies." Read more about it here. Super interesting article sharing varied predictions and issues.

As Always (FYI because I didn't know),

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


The library wants both The Graveyard Book and Charles and Emma back and I didn't finish them. I thought those books would take over my world until I could not put them down. I'm sorry to report they did not. It may be my fault. Some switch in my brain turned off and now my brain has gone to work on something backstage. I can't wait until it reveals itself.

Literally I. can't. wait.

As Always (and I sort of wanted to do the period after each word thing),

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lazy Post

Jonathon has me thinking of this video. I became enamored with it and posted it a long while ago. But here I am reposting, but with purpose. Jonathon asked for us all to yell at him when he gets off track and it made me think of the angry gorilla. This, folks, is my sense of humor. Love it or leave it. I giggle every time I watch this. Especially when I think that I will always have an angry gorilla to be angry with me.

As Always (too much to do, too little time),

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Notes to Myself

Here are some bullet points roughly paraphrased from Jesse Lee Kercheval’s book: Building Fiction.
1. Readers like to learn when they are reading!
2. Place can be used effectively as a character and readers like that, say if you were writing about Paris or this lovely end of Minneapolis: see what my family made in the front yard last night! [Photo missing.] See the way they up-ended icicles pilfered from all over the neighborhood? They did this last night after dark and this morning we found the snow burgeoning with ice plants.
3. Readers like familiar things sharply observed, think of doing this with either sharp satirical wit or by making the ordinary extraordinary.
4. Use one detail or event that is memorable and unusual.

This list of course needs to be applied to my WIP, but I could also do well using it for my blog.
As Always (self-help for writers),

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Finished The Unfinished Angel or tribute to Sharon Creech

Sharon Creech does low density extremely well. If you have read her verse novels Love That Dog and Hate That Cat (poetry-hating boy MC) you know that she can tell a story with a minimum of words make you laugh and cry and love the people involved. She also has a lesser known novel in verse called Heartbeat(I loved it even more that Love That Dog. I think it is more appropriate for older audiences). Another excellent example of her pulling together all the plot points and having them line up so pleasingly in a minuscule amount of words. Sharon Creech won the Newberry in the early 90’s(?) for her book Walk Two Moons(I loved it then but couldn’t tell you much about it now) and has been faithfully writing and producing work ever since (and probably even before). She is perhaps the perfect example of a successful career in writing, relatively unknown and yet has been able to keep writing for the past 20 years or so. That is what I want.

The Unfinished Angel is not written in verse, but it is short, divided into small chapters and told from the point of view of an angel main character who doesn’t know the right words. As this angel tells us, angels are supposed to have all the words from all the languages and perhaps he has missed out on some training because there is a lot he doesn’t know. We never learn if he is really “unfinished” but it doesn’t matter because by the end everyone is more finished. The first person narration misspells and misspeaks and asks lots of questions. And the little Swiss Italian-speaking village he describes is perfectly ready for Creech’s confluence of events, resulting in a story which will make you cry and laugh and totally change opinions of all involved. You can finish the book in an hour. Or give this book to your tenacious yet slow-reading children because the book is artful and emotional and not dumbed down just because letters get jumbled up in their beautiful heads.

I love Sharon Creech. Thank god that she writes for me and my son.

What did I learn? It’s nice example of a narrator who doesn’t know much, limited first person? And, it doesn’t matter anyway, because I just want to internalize the short form someday. I will keep reading until I do.

As Always (Where did spell check go? Or am I the only one missing it?),

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Finished The Giver

I was born a little early for this book. It was published in 1993. I had graduated High School by then and should have graduated college. But since then, the book has become a part of the cannon. My son’s teacher read it to the class last year and this year's teacher is reading it to him again. But I missed out on those opportunities, and I just got to it now.

I didn’t decide to read this book until last year during the Battle of the Books. It wasn’t that I wasn’t compelled by the acres of praise the thing got, or the marvelous cover (how can a picture of a bearded old man be so compelling? Beards are magic, you say!) but there are just so many things to read. Instead I was compelled by Ms. Lois Lowry’s brilliant self in action. Just read as she weighs in on the battle between MT Anderson’s Octavian Nothing and Suzanne Collin’s The Hunger Games in last year’s School Library Journal’s Battle of the Kid’s Books. This is the Big Kahuna Round where Ms. Lowry decided the winner in an essay entitled "Cop-Out." Make sure you read through the comments as well. MT himself chimes in, then Suzanne Collins, Jane Yolen and John Green all speak up. As one commenter declared, the point of the battle was not so much to choose a winner as to listen to these champs weigh in on the best books and the silliness was a blast. 

Here paste this into your reader:, then you will be ready when the 2010 battle commences.

The Giver WAS was amazing, Lowry's world building so careful and precise. Not dumbed down for kids and yet clearly appropriate. No fluff. Not that it would fit in before Jonas gets his assignment. And after, well she fits in just enough. So I have been wondering what did I learn from Ms. Lois Lowry?
She did a perfect job, lining up the rules and the rituals in the community, keeping them completely in the camp of what Jonas understands, and what Jonas must learn.

POV. Lowry did it so well I barely noticed it. I must go back to and find the seam, Jonas perspective and the thing that made her book such a commentary on sameness. Sometimes brilliant books are much harder to learn from.

I admire the book very much.

In a totally separate note, have you heard tell of people taking February off from blogging. I just read it somewhere, way too late for it to have an effect on me and my plans, but I wondered if any of you out there had heard of it. What do you think?

As Always (time for the kiddos to come home),

Monday, February 1, 2010

Official Post for Post a Photo of Your Work Area Day

As per Anita.

Work space #1
[photo missing]
I make a lot of lunches. This was this morning.

My son took a photo originally of me chopping onions which would have been equally as appropriate, and a little prettier as it was in the evening and I was ready for dinner club to come over. But the photos disappeared from the camera. My husband later copped to the ditching of photos. He apparently doesn't like photos of onions.

Work space #2
[photo missing]
Here it is in all it's glory. In the corner of my living room. On the other side of the railing is the entryway. I sit on that blue ball.  Everybody else uses this computer too. I close it up when I want to keep it a secret. The ball bounces around the house. I have to search high and low to find it when I need to sit. I'm sitting there as I type these words. Weird.

As Always (didn't get much reading done this weekend),