Monthly Archives: January 2008

Providence and the writing game

Jen’s The Writing Game has it’s own home now. The latest round of stories were posted today. I want to call attention to one, because based on the screen name, you might not know who wrote it.

Head on over and read Providence by Darcy. Incredible, incredible. You won’t regret it.


Filed under Friends, Writing

So, maybe …

Your Score: Modern, Cool Nerd
82 % Nerd, 52% Geek, 17% Dork

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning you the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.

Nerds didn’t use to be cool, but in the 90’s that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn’t quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and “geek is chic.” The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis (needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!



Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test
View My Profile(donathos)


So, I’m wondering. Instead of The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading, we should’ve called it: The Modern Cool Nerd’s Guide to Cheerleading?

Doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?


Filed under Quizzes

Of birthdays

 So, both Anno and Jen were curious about what a golden birthday is. I’m not sure where I picked up the term (probably way back in the day at elementary school), but it’s when your age matches your birth date. For instance, my golden birthday was my eleventh.

Kyra has revised her plan to get her piers eared. She’s looking at the ripe old age of seven for that, since I’ve explained the “pierced” part of pierced ears.

Yesterday, we attended a birthday party for a boy in her class. It was held at a tapas bar and restaurant in Uptown, the funky/trendy part of Minneapolis. This seemed a little odd for a six-year-old’s party. But then, so does scheduling five hours at Chuck E. Cheese, so I was like–whatever.

Before we left yesterday, Kyra filled in the missing link. The party was being held there because the family owns the restaurant.

Oh. All becomes clear.

And it was funky and fun. They closed off the bar area for the party, had lots of games and music. Hot dogs for the kids. For the adults, green apples and Spanish cheese drizzled with honey served with prosciutto and crusty bread. Later, they brought out paella. (You foodies, you would’ve gone nuts, I’m telling you.)

It was all very eclectic and funky and fun. Kyra won a round of hot potato and got to chose a prize (above and beyond the goodie bag the kids take home). Andrew ate four hot dogs and was still hungry.

Good time = had by all.

In two weeks, Kyra attends a princess birthday party where one is requested to wear one’s princess dress. The excitement is already mounting. I’m telling you, I may not have a social life, but my kids certainly do.


Filed under Kids

In which I cook Jen’s Chicken Rose

So, I tried Jen’s Chicken Rose yesterday. It looked so simple, plus had the added bonus of mix it all together and stick it in the oven preparation. That’s my kind of cooking. My first clue all would not be as simple as all that was a distinct lack of artichoke hearts at the grocery store.

Oh, sure there were some artichokes in the produce section. But no frozen artichoke hearts. I zipped all over the store–it’s the sort of place where you can find esoteric organic stuff, so I figured somewhere there’d be artichoke hearts. Instead, I found Brussels sprouts.

No kidding. I probably missed the whole memo on the Brussels sprout, but from what I saw yesterday, they are the cool vegetable of 2008. Multiple frozen varieties (with butter sauce, without, baby Brussels sprouts, and so on). A whole bunch in the produce section, including organic, individually-wrapped packets of six Brussels sprouts, for when you’re feeling pretentious.

So I went with the canned artichoke hearts (insert collective foodie gasp here).

I subsequently cut my thumb on the can’s edge (insert collective foodie schadenfreude here).

I was reaching for the soy sauce when I realized: we had none. Yeah, and I was just at the store, and I should’ve checked. Thing is, Andrew loves soy sauce, so we almost always have a spare bottle. Today? Not so much. What did I do?

I found a handful of Chinese takeout soy sauce packets and used those. Back in the day, we’d call that “field expedient.” (Insert second collective foodie gasp here.)

The rest of the meal prep was fairly uneventful. I couldn’t find our rice cooker. I suspect it ran off with the loaf pan I couldn’t find a few weeks ago. As long as they’re happy. I’ve told the wok to relay the message that we’ll welcome them back into the fold like the prodigal cookware they are. (For the record, I simply made rice in a pot. It worked.)

The dinner was pretty good. I thought the sauce was tasty, even with the field expedient soy sauce. My cut thumb is nearly healed. This morning we had frozen chocolate chip waffles for breakfast. 

So, yeah. Things are back to normal.


Filed under Cooking (disasters)

piers eared

So, the Marvelous Miss B, for her sixth birthday, which happens to be her “golden” birthday (a fact she’s well aware of) would like something special. She would like her piers eared.

Or, as it’s more commonly known, pierced ears.

I told her it hurts, like getting a shot, and that made her pause. Right now, I’m not sure if we sat her in the chair and she got a gander at the ear piercing gun, if she’d want to go through with getting piers eared. It’s kind of scary.

In other news: it’s really cold here. It’s so cold, we’ve had a serious run on the hot beverages at work. I went to make a cup of tea the other day and found maybe three flavors (out of the twenty or so you can find either on the little rack or by rifling through the cabinet, not that I’d ever do that).

I’m pleased to report that we’ve been restocked. Last year, when Andrew came to bring-your-child-to-work day, he was seriously impressed by the free hot beverage concept. More accurately, he was impressed by the free hot chocolate. I think he drank at least five cups. After he was hopped up on sugar and caffeine, I dropped him off at the activities for kids in the second floor conference room and felt no remorse.

In fact, the last time we visited the Children’s Museum, he wanted to stop in at my work and get a cup of free hot chocolate.

So, clearly, he was impressed with free hot chocolate. My actual job? Eh. Not so much. And that was after I showed him the awesome XML editor we write in.

Go figure.


Filed under Kids, Misc

The third draft stares back

If you stare into the Abyss long enough the Abyss stares back at you. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Replace Abyss with Third Draft and you pretty much have my current state of mind.

While I was reading through the manuscript, I had the incredible brainstorm to use index cards to make notes on changes that went beyond editing on the page. During the process, I thought, hey, this is great. I’m getting some fantastic stuff here.

After? Well, maybe you should be the judge. Can you make heads or tails out of:

  • Chapter end — ?
  • Page 100, meeting Mr. Scott re-look and edit
  • Page 122 psychology of place in the locker room
  • Page 145, rethink bowling as church
  • Page 152, after at the swimming practice, re-look
  • Page 184, need MacKenna’s essay – here or somewhere

Oh, yeah. That was a helpful exercise. You know you’re in trouble when you’re advising yourself to re-look and edit (no duh, I could say that about every scene) and adding detail “here or somewhere.”

Clearly, I have my work cut out for me.


Filed under Writing

I can has conzert tix?

So, I mentioned a long while back that I was going to try to get concert tickets to Hannah Montana. Now, even though I am completely aware of the pop cultural phenomenon that is Hannah Montana, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to get tickets.

Or, as it turned out, impossible, since they were all sold out before they went on sale.

Or pretty much. Between the early fan club sale and the ticket brokers, there wasn’t a Hannah Montana ticket for love or money. Or rather, there was for money–lots of money, as in hundreds and even thousands of dollars per ticket.

So. We didn’t go to the concert. I explained the situation to the kids, who were less upset than morally outraged.

But that’s not today. No, it’s not Hannah Montana, but her opening act, The Jonas Brothers who are now headlining their own tour.

So, there I was, logged into Ticketmaster, clicking refresh like crazy until noon rolled around. Dude, I scored some seriously sweet seats. In about a month, Andrew, Kyra, and I will head to downtown Minneapolis and the Target Center to see The Jonas Brothers. On a school night, which I’m sure I’ll live to regret, but whatever.

My inner thirteen-year-old would like to announce the news in this manner:

ZOMG!!!111 The JOnas Brothers!!!!!11111


Yeah, we know we’re not really Green Day, but gawd, we’d love to be.

What the heck, I want to announce the news in that manner:

ZOMG!!!111 The JOnas Brothers!!!!!11111


Filed under Kids, Misc

Booking Through Thursday

 Booking Through Thursday:

This week’s question is suggested by Puss Reboots:

How much do reviews (good and bad) affect your choice of reading? If you see a bad review of a book you wanted to read, do you still read it? If you see a good review of a book you’re sure you won’t like, do you change your mind and give the book a try?

The only advice, indeed, that one person can give another about reading is to take no advice, to follow your own instincts, to use your own reason, to come to your own conclusions. ~ Virginia Woolf

I do read reviews, book blogs (like Book-a-Rama), and librarian blogs all in search of new books to read. I don’t put a lot of store in Amazon reviews, although I might look cross-eyed at a book that doesn’t have a lower star rating. A book with a really strong voice is bound to piss someone off–and sure, that someone could be me. More often than not, the review reveals more about the reviewer than the book.

And I admit that sometimes reviews might keep me away from reading the third/fourth in a series I was feeling meh about anyway (*cough*Stephenie Meyer*cough*).

But with so many books and not enough time (even if all I did was read, there still wouldn’t be enough time), I need some way to sort through all the possibilities out there. Reviews are a starting point, but certainly not the end point.


Filed under Books, Memes

Listen to the truth they tell you*

I’m putting these two links at the top of this post. The rest, if you care to wade in, is my blathering on the Cassie Edwards plagiarism issue.

Read this beautiful and eloquent tribute The Many Faces of Plagiarism by Jane of Dear Author.  

Nora Roberts (AKA the queen of awesomeness) will match donations to Defenders of Wildlife fund up to $5,000 via the SBTB site. Donate early. Donate often.

Now the rest. You may stop reading here.

So, I asked Andrew last night what would happen if, while writing a report on turtles, he found and really great article about them and copied a couple paragraphs into his report. His response:

“No! You can’t do that. That’s plagiarism.”

Can I get a hoo-ah for our school district?

Then I told him the background, minus all the drama, about the current plagiarism scandal. His initial response mirrored mine:

“Maybe she was tired and didn’t know what to write about anymore.”

Initially, I thought a variation on this theme could be the case. Contract pressures, writer burnout after 100 books and twenty five years. I wouldn’t condone the behavior, but at least I could, in theory, understand it.

I told him that didn’t seem to be the case, that the author appears to have copied a multitude of sources during her twenty-five year career. His second response:

“Did she (the woman who discovered the plagiarism) get a reward?”

Not exactly.

We ended the conversation there (although Andrew wants to read the news articles about it) because, he was getting ready to go to Boy Scouts, which, if you don’t already know, Dr. Charles Eastman helped established.

Dr. Charles Eastman is also on the list of authors that Cassie Edwards has apparently plagiarized.

Nice to see the universe still has a sense of irony.

The reason I’ve stayed relatively quiet on this issue is I simply can’t wrap my brain around it. I don’t understand how someone could do this–not morally, not ethically, but physically. Pulling in such disparate (if highly regarded) sources and cobbling together book after book into something passable (remember, Cassie Edwards has published 100 books) sounds like more work to me than actually doing the writing.

I feel like I’ve stepped into an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Cassie Edwards was 46 years old when she started her career as a published author, just a scant few years older than I am now. Over the course of twenty five years, she has published 100 books, in multiple formats (hardcover, mass market paperback, large-print editions). I have no idea about foreign rights sales, but I imagine there have been some. Ditto for re-releases of her backlist. She has a substantial and loyal fan base. She is, by all surface accounts, a professional author.

So why, when she’s called on the carpet about this, people equate it to picking on a frail, white-haired little old lady? This isn’t a line lifted here, paragraph there in only her later books, or for that matter, in only her earlier works. This isn’t a little old lady who finally published her one an only tome and didn’t paraphrase correctly.  

What if two guys had a review site, and they called it Intellectual Snobs Who Dig Horror. (Oh, that is horrible.) Let’s say they didn’t care for Stephen King, gave a few of his books bad, even scathing, reviews, then discovered that Mr. King had plagiarized on the scale of Cassie Edwards.

True, Stephen King is a decade younger than Cassie Edwards. He also began his career a decade earlier and has fifty or so novels to his credit.

Would the tenor of the online discussion (and in some cases, I use the term discussion loosely) be the same?

(For the record, I haven’t read a lot of Stephen King because he writes horror and dude, that’s scary. I did enjoy The Stand, Misery, and his writing craft book On Writing.)

Oh, I imagine there might be some calls to leave him alone, but as many? I can’t imagine it. First, Mr. King is a man who has wrestled with many issues during his career and has owned up to them.

Second, and I hate to say it, but I suspect a great many people would expect him to–again, here I go, forgive the phrasing–act like a man.

Let me “de-genderize” that. People would expect him to act like a professional author.

Why don’t people expect this of Cassie Edwards? Is this a gender issue? A genre issue? I’m not asking these questions to be snarky, but to truly find some answers, because the whole tenor of the discussion bothers me.

The us vs. them bothers me. I’ve seen cries that this is a witch hunt, that Candy and Sarah went out of their way to bring Cassie Edwards down. I’ve seen other posts that equate this to everything from mean-girl antics to McCarthyism. (I haven’t found the Nazi reference yet, but I’m sure it must exist.)

And yes, there are the wingnuts on both sides stirring the pot. Sadly, the wingnuts, like the poor, will always be with us. The answer to wingnuts is not silence, it’s not to cower in fear of them, but to work to bring forth more honest and reasoned discussion. And not just about this issue, but who we are as a genre.

Because I think we’ve failed as a genre. When you fail, you pick yourself back up, assess the damage, then figure out what to do next and, if necessary, how to make reparation.

I believe we should examine this, focusing on reasoned discussion and education. The calls to pass this along to the “proper authorities” and go back to business as usual bother me. Yes, the publishers need to do their due diligence. But I believe the reason they will perform their due diligence is the breadth and depth of the plagiarism that’s been uncovered in the first place.

I realize this feels like a black eye or a sucker punch to the genre as a whole. I also think it’s an opportunity for growth as well. We can ignore the situation and hope it goes away, or we can do something about it. The two links above are a fantastic start.

For my part:

  • I don’t want to be a writer who looks the other way.
  • I don’t want to be a writer who’s scared to voice her opinions on important issues.
  • I don’t want to be a writer held hostage by the threat of one-star reviews on Amazon.

Fear is the great silencer.

*hat tip to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for the title to this entry


Filed under Reading & Writing

In which I bake banana bread

That’s right. I baked last night. From scratch. That shadow you see crossing your front door? One of the horsemen of the apocalypse. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Not only did I bake, but I did so after completing four hours of line edits with Darcy on Geek Girl’s Guide. I. Am. A. Machine. Blame my new exercise routine, which, incidentally, bores the dog, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.

I’d promised Kyra some girl time, so the boys left for the hockey game and we went to the grocery store. Actually, I should back up and state I meant to bake the bread on Saturday, but found I was missing a crucial ingredient. And, no, not the bananas, oddly enough.

A loaf pan.

I know we own one. Somewhere. So, I was all set, nearly started, but luckily searched the entire, freaking kitchen checked beforehand.

So, grocery store for loaf pan, other essentials, and Chinese takeout = mission complete. (What, I was baking, you thought I was actually going to cook dinner, too?)

The marvelous Miss B is an expert banana masher. I started her in on that while I added the other ingredients and hit stumbling block number two. I didn’t have buttermilk. But then, who does? I mean, other than all you foodie types out there. So I substituted plain yogurt. (Like the offhand way I toss that off, like I was so not Googling “substitute for buttermilk” in a complete panic for about five minutes there.)

I think it turned out okay, even though I discovered–twenty minutes into the baking–that I’d set the oven to the wrong temperature. (You know, I really should start a new blog: Disasters in Cooking.)  

Just wait until I tackle something really tough. You know, like a salad. (Involves knives. Nuff said.)


Filed under Cooking (disasters), Misc