The iPad Is Coming

I think I’m in love! Well, yes, I have been all along with my hubby, but we’re talking about electronic toys now, and they do more than help with the dishes and clean the garage! While its name has been controversial, the Apple iPad’s introduction last Wednesday substantiated the claims of those who said it would be out of the ordinary.

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The new iPad is described as a cross between the iPhone and a MacBook laptop. It weighs just 1.5 lbs. and is a half-inch thick. Navigation is done with the flick of a finger on a 9.7” (measured diagonally) multi-touch LED-backlit screen that rotates between landscape and portrait positions. Thanks to IPS technology it has a wide 178-degree viewing angle.

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It does just about everything, functioning with a powerful but efficient A4 chip custom-designed for Apple. It apparently has up to ten hours of battery life. With a starting price of $499 for the basic 16GB of storage it will be more affordable than many expected.

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That’s still $499 more than I have to splurge on another toy, of course, so, love it or not, when it appears in March I’ll just be ogling it from a distance. But it sure is cool!

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UPDATE:

Prior to writing the above I’d been out of touch for a few days. I’ve subsequently discovered lots of conversations about the iPad and its e-book/iBookstore implications. Two excellent articles can be found on recent blogs of Rachelle Gardner and Kristen Nelson.

The Prolific Blogger Award: Acknowledging Our Community

Last fall Hazra, an engineering student studying in India who reviews and writes on the Advance Booking blog, created the Prolific Blogger Award as a belated celebration of having made his 100th blog entry.

Hazra said, “This award is to all those prolific bloggers, who read voraciously, blog tirelessly and have made the blogging community such a vibrant place. This award is in recognition of their achievements and their enthusiasm. They are the people who keep [us] going!

When I look around my online writing community I realize there are more worthy blogging recipients than I could ever begin to mention. From each of the places I visit I gain so much – smiles, information, inspiration, encouragement, stimulation and challenges. While I hope I provide some of the same to those who visit this blog, my motivation for blogging is purely selfish and that makes me feel guilty about the kindness of Joylene Butler, Katherine Neff Perry and Dave Ebright who all bestowed the Prolific Blogger Award on me.

The admonition accompanying the Award is “to spread some love” around, and there are rules attached to it. As a recipient I will post the rules here but with apologies I’m going to satisfy the segment of the population who advocate rules are meant to be broken; I am breaking the very first one. I appreciate the Award but I can’t begin to single out seven individual bloggers and I’m not even going to try. I’ll simply say a sincere thank you for the honour of receiving the Award and another thank you to all those whose blogs continue to provide excellent reading material for me. You’re all truly awesome!

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Prolific Blogger Award Rules:

1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award is expected to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers

2. Each Prolific Blogger is asked to link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.

3. Every Prolific Blogger is asked to link back to this post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.

4. Every Prolific Blogger is asked to visit the above post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners.

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Just Do It!

As I read various blogs I come across so many comments from people wondering how to do it all – make time in days and nights filled with so much living in order to eek out precious hours for their writing. There are dreams unfulfilled because stories have never made it past the idea stage, or have been started but not finished, or finished but not marketed.

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In last Friday’s interview on the NovelJourney blog, author Kristin Bair O’Keeffe was asked what advice she would give aspiring writers.

Her answer:

“The way I look at it, there are two parts to being a writer:

1) the mystery of discovering and writing stories

2) the business of finding homes for and marketing those stories

Keep the two parts separate. Trust the mystery of your story as you’re writing it. Listen to it. Breathe it in. Breathe it out. See it in your dreams. Carry it on your daily walk to the river. Once you’ve finished a story, believe in it. Then do everything you can to find a home for it.”

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I like how succinct Kristin’s response is. “Keep the two parts separate.” It doesn’t address the challenges we may face, the doubts or lack of time. It assumes serious writers will overcome these and move on to achieve. It has the ring of Nike’s motto, “Just do it”.  It reminds us that excuses don’t produce books, action does, and the choice to write or not write is ours to make.

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No, of course Kristen didn’t actually say any of these things, but that’s what I discovered between the lines. I sensed a no nonsense “just do it” attitude.

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Do you think maybe this is the attitude that separates dreamers from achievers?

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Buried Alive

Amid the chaos and devastation in Haiti there are little miracles and moments of celebration. Six days after the earthquake a baby girl is pulled from the rubble. The seventh day two women are rescued.  Then, even after the Haitian government declares the search and rescue operations are over, yesterday, on the eleventh day, two young men are found alive. The brother of one said he “is disappointed at the government’s decision to disband rescue operations, as more people are likely to be trapped alive.”

I cannot grasp that horror.

May God’s merciful presence bring comfort to those who remain trapped under the debris and will die while waiting in vain for rescue.

Carpe Diem for Writers

On her blog today Carol Benedict includes a music video of “Seize the Day” sung by Carolyn Arends.  Only one of the verses makes reference to writing a novel but the theme is one that reminds me of how important carpe diem is if I’m serious about my goals.

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“Life slips away like hourglass sand,” begins each chorus, and life really does. This moment, this day, will never be ours to do over again. Each one wasted puts our goals one step farther into the distance until with enough procrastination they can end up beyond reach. Does this mean every moment of every day must be spent productively — writing, revising, marketing? Would doing something other than such things always be a waste of our time?

If I could sit on two different sides of the table I could argue about this with myself. But I don’t think I will. I’ll ask your opinion.

What constitutes productivity for you? How do you achieve it?

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Owling and Howling Voices


Twilight is encroaching on the afternoon and I can hear an owl in the trees. He can’t be seen as he perches among the cedar branches but from his hooty “Who cooks for you?” call I know he’s a Barred Owl. His voice is distinctive.

Some moonlit nights I hear coyotes on the hill beyond our marsh. I don’t need to see their long legs, prominent ears and bushy tails to identify them. Their yip-yip-yapping leaves no doubt they are coyotes and not dogs.

This has me thinking. What gives our voices distinction as writers? Do our written voices resonate with our familiar everyday speech patterns or is there a different inflection and tone? When someone reads a passage aloud do the words reflect and identify the author?

Don’t look at me for answers. I’m just asking. :)

BAD LATITUDE by author Dave Ebright – a Review

I came into possession of another Young Adult novel recently. I don’t read a lot of YA and write even less, but I’m recognizing that a fair amount of it is written for girls and not much for boys, at least not much that has good values and wholesome attitudes combined with the kind of action that appeals to today’s mid-grade readers. BAD LATITUDE: A Jack Rackham Adventure has it all.

Pirates, ghosts, buried treasure and rattlesnakes create a summer adventure for teenager Jack Rackham and his friend Kai in the haunted town of St. Augustrine, Florida. Nobody could write the story any better than St. Augustine resident Dave Ebright, seasoned storyteller and self-proclaimed lover of beaches, boating, and the old seaside town’s history.

Inspired by stories told to his grandchildren, Dave began writing his books for boys. BAD LATITUDE: A Jack Rackham Adventure is his debut novel. It blends fact and fiction seamlessly into fast moving entertainment with a cast of realistic characters including a few that sound suspiciously like the author and his own family.

BAD LATITUDE is available online as an ebook or in paperback from BookLocker. It can also be ordered in paperback from Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Barnes and Noble. A second book, RECKLESS ENDEAVOR, will follow early in 2010.

Visit Dave Ebright’s blog, JaxPop: Haunted City Writer. Just tell him Carol sent you. He’ll probably have words with me later.

Disparity

A head of golden silk rests against a soft blanket, one thumb tucked contentedly into the rosebud mouth as the eyes flicker closed. Tiptoeing into the darkened room, a mother gently adjusts the fleecy Winnie-the-Pooh print blanket around her sleeping babe.

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Another mother brushes flies from the open sores on her little one’s tear-stained cheeks. Round brown eyes stare from a halo of curls once wiry black, now dusted white by a cloud of concrete.  She shifts her aching body in the dirt of the street to provide her babe with shade from the noonday glare.

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Separated by 3,500 miles, they are both children of God. How His heart must ache at the disparity.

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Anguish in Haiti

The devastation in Haiti is incomprehensible. The earthquake that hit on January 12th measured 7.0 on the Richter scale — a force equaling thirty-five atomic bombs. It shook buildings into rubble, leaving three million refugees and at least 50,000 dead. [Update: four days after the 'quake the estimate has risen to 200,000 dead -- the worst natural disaster in history.] “Under the crumbled buildings lie the dying, calling out to be saved.” It’s beyond imagination. It screams in the stunned silence of my mind, starts tears coursing whenever I see the images on television.

Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, a musician in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has composed a hymn that helps to express our pain and our faith.

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In Haiti, There is Anguish

(Sung to the tune “Beneath the Cross of Jesus” – St. Christopher)

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In Haiti, there is anguish that seems too much to bear;

A land so used to sorrow now knows even more despair.

From city streets, the cries of grief rise up to hills above;

In all the sorrow, pain and death, where are you, God of love?

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A woman sifts through rubble, a man has lost his home,

A hungry, orphaned toddler sobs, for she is now alone.

Where are you, Lord, when thousands die—the rich, the poorest poor?

Were you the very first to cry for all that is no more?

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O God, you love your children; you hear each lifted prayer!

May all who suffer in that land know you are present there.

In moments of compassion shown, in simple acts of grace,

May those in pain find healing balm, and know your love’s embrace.

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Where are you in the anguish?   Lord, may we hear anew

That anywhere your world cries out, you’re there– and suffering, too.

And may we see, in others’ pain, the cross we’re called to bear;

Send out your church in Jesus’ name to pray, to serve, to share.

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Tune:  Frederick Charles Maker, 1881

Text: Copyright © 2010 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.  All rights reserved.  Permission is given for use by those who support Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.

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An Agent Retires

From today’s Publishers Lunch:

BookEnds Literary Agency co-founder Jacky Sach will retire from publishing after 10 years as an agent for “new opportunities.” Sach began her publishing career in 1985 at Berkley. BookEnds will continue operating under the ownership of Jessica Faust.”

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Back in December I copied out the Cranberry Daiquiri recipe from the BookEnds’ pre-Christmas blog entry, went about my holiday pursuits and then somehow managed to miss the initial announcement of this on the January 4 blog. Fortunately the Publishers Lunch article caught my attention.

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I met Jacky at the first writers’ conference (SiWC) I ever attended and she was the first agent to invite a submission of my first novel. Hers was also the first rejection letter I ever received. When I look back at that novel now I am overwhelmed at my audacity in thinking it was ready for an agent to see, but because of the gentle and personal nature of Jacky’s response I was encouraged to continue writing. Not all novice writers have such a good first submission experience. I hoped some day to have something else to send her way, but her retirement now precludes that.

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Whatever her “new opportunities” are, I wish Jacky continued success.