Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Women of Wednesday: Fear Factor

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do."

            Eleanor Roosevelt, stateswoman

"And the trouble is, if you don't risk anything, you risk even more."

           Erica Jong, American writer

"Look twice before you leap."

  Charlotte Bronte, British writer

"Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.  The fearful are caught as often as the bold."

           Helen Keller, American Writer

Monday, February 22, 2010

Mentor Monday: What's Up, Google Docs?

Last week Sister A wrote about her love for the wiki.  Like Andy, I once used a wiki to keep track of my research . . . until I found Google Documents, aka Docs.

You can find Docs under the "MORE' drop down menu on the upper left side of your google home page.  When you click on Docs it takes you to your doc home page.  Here you have easy access to the documents you've been working on -- and categorizes them into when you last worked on them -- today, yesterday, last week, earlier this year..

Your folders appear on the left -- all available for easy access.  You can create documents, files, spreadsheets, and presentations.

You can hide the things you're not working on so as not to get too distracted.  You can click and drag items into folders.

My favorite feature is the ability to save the web searches as links within the document itself.  On the toolbar at the top of the document, there's a button for a link.  Copy and paste the link from your research web page into your document first.  Highlight the link and click the "link" button.  The menu offers up options to link to a URL, a document, a bookmark, or an email address.  After clicking insert, you can now access the link just by clicking it in the text.  Simple!

Another great feature is the ability to upload items on your hard drive into your Docs.  There's a button on the upper left that says "UPLOAD".  Click on it, browse your files, select.  Voila -- your doc is now on your Docs page.  A nice way to back up your files.  There is lots of storage space here.  A feature also allows you to convert the uploaded document to a Google Docs format.  I've yet to fully explore that feature.

Like a wiki, you can choose to share your document with other.  Docs also lets you explore different templates for resumes, scrapbooks, trip checklists.  I haven't used this feature yet, but it looks promising.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Poetry Friday: It's About Time

It seems like just yesterday I was posting a Mea Culpa for Poetry Friday, and here I am again, dashing up to the cyberpodium just in the nick of time. I thought life in the year 2010 would be easy, what with the robots doing everything for us. As it turns out, there are no robots, just me. So much to do, so little . . .


By Percy Bysshe Shelley

Unfathomable Sea! whose waves are years,
Ocean of Time, whose waters of deep woe
Are brackish with the salt of human tears!
Thou shoreless flood, which in thy ebb and flow
Claspest the limits of mortality,
And sick of prey, yet howling on for more,
Vomitest thy wrecks on its inhospitable shore;
Treacherous in calm, and terrible in storm,
Who shall put forth on thee,
Unfathomable Sea?

Irene Latham is hosting Poetry Friday this week. Thank you, and goodnight, Irene.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mentor Monday: Wiki Good Stuff

I'm wacky about wikis. If you've ever browsed through Wikipedia, you know what a wiki is. Basically, it's a web page (or group of pages) that anybody can edit from any computer anywhere on the planet. (Which is why you have to be careful about doing serious research on Wikipedia.) But did you know that you can harness the power of wikis to develop your own personal projects? Whether you want to plan the family Thanksgiving dinner menu with your sister, or organize your writing research, a wiki might work for you.

Wikis work equally well for group projects, or for solo endeavors. Many wiki sites offer free wikis for a certain number of users, usually between 3 and 5. If you have a large number of people you need to collaborate with, you'll probably have to pay a monthly fee. Check out the article entitled Four Free Wikis Worth Trying by C. G. Lynch to get an idea of what's out there. 

I have a bunch of wikis through PB Works (formerly PB Wikis), including one that I use to organize my on-line writing research. Whether I'm working on my laptop or my PC, I instantly have access to all of my research notes, including direct links out to my original sources. Since I set my wikis up as private wikis, nobody has access to them but me. If I want to invite somebody in to collaborate, I can choose what level of access I want that person to have. I can give them read only access, or I can give them full editor access. The power is intoxicating!

There's a very small learning curve involved in setting up and using a wiki, but it's worth the minimal investment in time you'll make up front. Google "wiki videos" for videos extolling the joy of wikis. Here's one to get you started.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love is a Mystery. In more ways than one...

Roy Croft seems to be an enigma. No one knows who he is (or was). Yet his poem, Love, shared with you today in honor of Valentine's Day, has been used in innumerable wedding and commitment ceremonies. Maybe if we continue to share the poem, someone will be able to solve the mystery.

When asked about it, researcher Ted Nesbitt wrote in one website that he found a collection of Croft's poems published by Blue Mountain Press in the late 1970s. Some of you may recall Blue Mountain for it's pretty - but schmaltzy -cards and chap books. It started as a vanity press which meant Croft might have paid to have his booklet published. I found his poem, however, in a collection I own that is copyrighted 1936: The Best Loved Poems of the American People selected by Hazel Felleman.

Felleman acknowledges permissions from various poets and publishing houses for the verses she selected but not, (guess who?) Roy Croft, mystery poet. So, was Croft's poem written long before that? Was it already in the public domain as of 1936? I hope someone knows the answer. While we wait, here's the poem:


I love you,
Note only for what you are,
But for what I am
When I am with you.

I love you ,
Not only for what
You have made of yourself,
But for what
You are making of me.

I love you
For the part of me
That you bring out;
I love you
For putting your hand
Into my heaped-up heart
And passing over
All the foolish, weak thngs
That you can't help
Dimly seeing there,
And for drawing out
Into the light
All the beautiful belongings
That no one else had looked
Quite far enough to find.

I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple;
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.

I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good,
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.

You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Withoug a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.
Perhaps that is what
Being a friend means,
After all.

Roy Croft

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I wish you all that kind of love.


This week, Poetry Friday is hosted by: I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mentor Monday: Write EVERY Day?

“To be a successful writer, write every single day whether you feel like it or not.” Alex Haley

Saturday—The writer reads a quote that gives her an idea for a blog column. She types it into a new document in Word, planning to decide how she will approach that bit of advice. She likes the quote. Maybe she will really, truly try to take it to heart this week.

Sunday—The quote gnaws at the writer as she eats breakfast, does the dishes, tends to the dogs, runs errands, takes a walk. Later, she adds a bit of commentary to her blog entry. It’s not much, but it’s writing, isn’t it?

Monday—Out of milk. And bread. And coffee creamer. And…shoot, may as well make a grocery list. Where are those coupons that need clipping? And the laundry is piling up.
Mother calls. Sister calls. Daughter calls.
Now the calendar needs updating.
Have to get to the grocery store.

Tuesday—The writer remembers that she was going to try to write every day. Does a grocery list count? Does adding events to a calendar count? Does thinking about writing count?

Wednesday—Snowing. Good day to stay indoors and write. There’s a deadline looming after all. The writer spends 3 hours at the keyboard in the morning and a couple more in the afternoon. Even the dogs have cooperated by napping most of the day.

Thursday—Hair cut. A half hour into the city. An hour at the salon. A half hour back. No, wait! While she’s out, the writer decides she may as well pick up some office supplies. Dogs need walking. What to make for dinner?
Mother calls. Friend calls. Other daughter calls. Where did the day go?

Friday—Looks over Wednesday’s work. Tweaks. Tweaks some more. Adds to the manuscript. Takes the additions out. Does this exercise count as writing if you are back where you started?

“To be a successful writer, write every single day whether you feel like it or not.” Alex Haley

Saturday—The author reads the quote again. She still likes it. She types it up and tapes it to the top of her monitor where she can read it every day. Even before she starts playing a game of Spider Solitaire.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Poetry Friday--Museum Poems

Mrs. Brown on Exhibit and Other Museum Poems by Susan Katz with pictures by R.W. Alley (Simon & Schuster, 2002) would be a good book to read with a child, or a class, before a trip to ANY museum.

The poems cover dinosaurs, mummies, fine art, interactive displays, trains, clocks, skulls, etc. Boy, is Mrs. Brown's class lucky to visit so many different museums! Here's a poem about a statue:

NGA Sculpture Galleries
Little Dancer, by Degas

The statue's tutu, made of cloth,
puffs out around her metal leotard.
Her long hair is pulled back and tied
with a real silk ribbon.
Lightly she points her bronze toes.
She closes her eyes. Her smile knows--
small, mysterious--it knows
she could leap to the sky, catch rainbows.

The poems in Mrs. Brown on Exhibit will inspire a child or class to write poems to document their visit to a museum. Another activity would be to browse through a full-color art book and write a poem describing one of the works of art.

This week's Poetry Friday Round-Up is taking place at Great Kid Books.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Something to Think About

This past weekend I was with a group of children's writers and illustrators who discussed the lack of contemporary kids, who also happened to be "of color," found in children's books. The lack was particularly noticeable on the covers of books, especially those for young adults. Our discussion included mention of the marketing decision by Bloomsbury to have a "white" girl on the cover of the book Liar by Justine Larbalestier. Liar's main character is a black girl! You can read more about the Liar cover controversy on Larblestier's website.

It seems that Bloomsbury has done it again with another book, Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore. A young blogger has taken Bloomsbury to task with an "open letter" that is worth reading. The writer said, "I'm considering becoming a CEO of a publishing house and being committed to having books about people of color as well as letting my authors help pick their covers." More power to her--I hope she succeeds!

Television has gotten a little better over the years by including/featuring characters who aren't WASPs. So, why has it taken children's publishing so long to get with the program? Kids are kids. We want to see them in all colors, shapes, genders, and religions. They want to see themselves, too.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Mentor Monday--Used Books

Writers don't get royalties from books that are resold. It's a fact of life, so, if at all possible, please purchase new books. And, preferably from a local independent bookstore.

However, sometimes when a writer is doing research, source material can't be bought new, or, at an affordable price. Then, one goes either goes to the public library and asks for items to be obtained on interlibrary loan, or, one goes to a used book dealer. I'm a librarian, so I'm going to stress that you visit your local library--afterall, you're paying taxes, so you may as well get your money's worth!

Sometimes, though, local libraries may not provide ILL service without charging for materials borrowed from out of state. If this is the case, it is just as easy, and may even be cheaper, for you to try an online used book vendor.

I'm going to give you a few of the places I visit and have ordered from. Their site states, "Search thousands of booksellers selling 110 million books." I've long had success here.

A word of advice--always check the book's description. Many used books are ex-library copies. If so, they have wear, will have the library's name in many places, and will probably have "discard" stamped in conspicuous spots. If you're buying the book just for its contents, this may not be a problem for you. (As a librarian, I've purchased replacement copies of books for the library through Abe. Hardcovers go out of print too quickly nowadays, and paperbacks don't hold up to library use, so I'd rather buy a used hardcover.)

BetterWorldBooks They have free shipping in the U.S. and they claim to be socially conscious by providing funds for literacy programs, and keeping books our of landfills.

eBay This is a little more hit-and-miss, but you can sometimes find what you want. I've also found valuable illustration materials for projects, for example, vintage postcards and other paper ephemera.

Use the comments section below to add your favorites.