Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Writer's Knowledge Base

When it comes to search engines, Google is pretty much the king for most people. They are, after all, the 800 pound gorilla of online searching.

But for specialized search results, say for writers, Google does not always provide useful, relevant or meaningful results. That's where the Writer's Knowledge Base steps in.

The Writer's Knowledge Base is the brainchild of mystery writer Elizabeth Spann Craig and software engineer Mike Fleming. Elizabeth had begun collecting a massive amount of writing tips, writing articles, writing blogs and anything else she could locate on the Internet that addressed subjects that were pertinent to writers. She would share these links in her own blog and in her Tweets, but she worried that the information was not readily available unless a reader, like her, amassed a huge amount of bookmarks for later perusal.

Elizabeth wondered aloud on her blog if there wasn't some better way to make this writer specific information available and that's where Mike Fleming entered the picture. Mike created a searchable collection of Elizabeth's ever-growing writing links and thus The Writer's Knowledge Base was born. WKB, as Mike states on his own blog, is especially helpful in being writer-centric because...

"The search is done instantly over thousands of writing-related articles ranging from character development to author promotion on social media. Unlike Google, all of the results are relevant to you as a writer. They may not all interest you, of course, but at least searching for "plot" will bring back articles on how to plot your story and not news articles on terrorist plots."

I did a few cursory searches for myself and found the links and information to be extremely relevant, informative and helpful. I'm excited that Elizabeth and Mike have put this resource out there for writers to make use of in our daily writing work and I've placed a box link to WKB on my sidebar to make it easier for visitors here to access.

Give it a look and see what you think.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Memories of the Space Shuttle Challenger Explosion

There are certain dates in our history and in our lives that we never forget. Like most people in my age range, I remember where I was when I heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated, what I was doing when I saw the second plane crash into the Twin Towers on 9/11 and where I was and what I was doing 25 years ago today when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, in front of my own eyes in the sky above me.

I was working as the head of an advertising agency whose office was on Lee Road in Orlando, which is about 45-50 miles west of the Kennedy Space Center. It had become habit for many in Central Florida to stop what they were doing (even motorists driving on roads and expressways would pull over, stop their cars and exit their vehicles to stand and gaze skyward), step outside and watch the launches that produced bright, white trails of exhaust as the mighty rockets propelled NASA's various space shuttles into the air and into orbit around Earth.

That January morning was cold and the air was dry. I sat listening in my office to the radio on my desk as I worked, with the volume turned down low, to coverage of launch preparation and the countdown to liftoff. At approximately 11:38am, after a two hour delay from the originally schedule launch time, Challenger roared skyward from the launch pad and I left my office to walk outside to the parking lot so I could watch the ascent of the shuttle with my own eyes.

Standing in the parking lot I looked eastward and up. There were some trees that blocked the view of the lower portion of the sky, but within a few seconds the white and light gray rocket exhaust trail appeared, cutting a swath across the clear blue sky of that crisp, cold morning and I silently cheered as the shuttle lifted higher. From the distance I was viewing, the shuttle itself could not be seen and only the trail of exhaust that it's booster rockets left behind it gave evidence of its existence.

Suddenly, there was a larger puff and a smaller exhaust trail that appeared, shooting out almost perpendicular to the larger plume, and for a second I thought to myself, "I've never seen that happen before." That thought was barely finished when the gently arcing exhaust trail grew larger at it's source, as if someone had put their finger on the plume's end and smudged it across the azure sky. The exhaust trail immediately stopped its normally easy rising curve and began to uncontrollably wriggle, presenting a view that was not unlike a child scribbling white against a blue piece of paper.

My mind was screaming the obvious in my head, "Something's wrong! That's not right!" and I raced back into my office to the radio and turned it up to hear some word of what had happened and if the astronauts were safe.

Today, we know that they were not. At 73 seconds and 48,000 feet into the liftoff, just as mission control gave Challenger the "throttle up" command that would push the shuttle out of earth's gravitational pull and Commander Scobee responded with, "Roger, go with throttle up", "O rings" that sealed the fuel tanks failed  and the huge tanks exploded, sending 7 brave astronauts to their deaths. It would later be determined that, due to the cold temperatures before liftoff, the "O rings" had failed to perform.

This morning, at 11:39, I'll spend a few moments in silence, honoring Commander, Francis R. "Dick" Scobee, its pilot, Michael J. Smith, and its crew, Christa McAuliffe (the first 'Teacher in Space'), Mission Specialists Ellison S. Onizuka, Judith A. Resnick and Ronald E. McNair, along with Payload Specialist Gregory B. Jarvis. And I'll never forget where I was and what I was doing when they made the ultimate sacrifice in our quest to explore the unknown.

Rest In Peace...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Portland, OR Bookstore Will Take Your Kindle as Trade

The Microcosm zine and book store in Portland Oregon is offering to take unwanted Kindles in exchange for books.

Their offer is simple; if you received or bought a Kindle and have a real preference for books over the eReader, bring it in and they will trade you the value of the Kindle for like value in paper books and magazines. Consider bringing a friend to help haul your exchanges out because, as they state, "...most of the store's books are priced in the $2-$6 range so with a $139-$189 trade-in (note: going retail for the Kindle at Amazon's site) you might be carrying your books out in a fleet of wheelbarrows!"

As I explained to two of my friends on Facebook the other day, I read both "real" books, newspapers and magazines as well as eReader versions. I don't believe anyone could accuse me of not loving "real" books. If you come to my cabin you will find that my library overflows out of my office and onto bookshelves throughout the home. Hallways, stair landings, and bedrooms show ample evidence of my love for books made of paper.

On the other hand, the convenience of an eReader is hard to beat in a couple of categories. I can take multiple books with me when I travel, which works out well for someone who is typically reading at least 2 books (sometimes 3 or 4) and various magazines and newspapers at the same time. If there is a book I want to read and I am not near a bookstore, I can download an eBook version immediately and start reading; instant gratification (or information availability).

Last night I wanted to read the next book in a series I have been enjoying, but the paper version was not available. I found a .pdf version, converted it to my eReader format and now am enjoying the continuation of the series without interruption. I might have waited months for a paper version but can now enjoy the rest of the author's storyline immediately.

But if you, for whatever reasons, don't want your Kindle, then Microcosm zine and book store is waiting to give you a real deal and get you back into "real" books.

Friday, January 21, 2011

2011 Writer's Market Deluxe Edition

Whooo Hoooo! The mailman delivered my copy of the 2011 Writer's Market Deluxe Edition today!!

This is the version that includes access to an online database of more than 7,000 listings that is updated daily. And, in addition to the market listings of more than 3,000 book, newspaper and magazine publishers, literary agents, greeting card companies and production companies found within the pages of this edition, there are also interviews and articles by successful writers, such as Charlaine Harris, as well as a completely updated "How Much Should I Charge?" rate chart for freelancers. But that's not all! There are also new articles on topics such as how to use social media and online freelance writing.

But, for most freelancer writers, the reason to own this book is the market listings and I'm looking forward to seeing just how much use I can get out of it during the next few months.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Only 12 1/2 Writing Rules You'll Ever Need

Poster available at

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I recently posted all of my contact information (email, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr), a short bio and where my writing appears, on About.Me, a personal profile page that points users to my content around the web.

I'd be grateful if you would take a look at it and let me know your thoughts. If you think this might be useful for your personal or professional web presence and decide to create your own About.Me page, please let me know so I can take a look at yours.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New York Times Best Sellers the Week You Were Born

Here's a fun little site that will show you the Fiction and Non-Fiction books on the New York Times Best Sellers list for the week of the year you were born or, if you were born before 1950, it will show the best sellers for that year.

Here's the list for the week I was born. Of these I have only read "A Man Called Peter" (number 3 on the non-fiction list) and as I recall it's because my mom had the book and it was lying around the house when I was 9 or 10.

NYT Best Sellers for Week Ending 03/07/1955

Category    Rank    Title    Author

Fiction 1 SOMETHING OF VALUE Robert Ruark  
Fiction 2 BONJOUR TRISTESSE Francoise Sagan  
Fiction 3 NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS Mac Hyman  
Fiction 4 SINCERELY WILLIS WAYDE, John Phillips Marquand  
Fiction 5 AUNTIE MAME Patrick Dennis  
Fiction 6 THE GOOD SHEPHERD C.S. Forester  
Fiction 7 THE DINNER PARTY Gretchen Finletter  
Fiction 8 RUN SILENT RUN DEEP, Edward L. Beach  
Fiction 9 THE BREAKING WAVE Nevil Shute  
Fiction 10 THE SCOTSWOMAN Inglis Clark Fletcher  
Fiction 11 THE VIEW FROM POMPEY'S HEAD Hamilton Basso  
Fiction 12 THE WINE OF YOUTH Robert Wilder  
Fiction 13 DUTCH Theodore Bonnet  
Fiction 14 NOT AS A STRANGER Morton Thompson  
Fiction 15 THE VIRGINIA EXILES Elizabeth Gray Vining  
Fiction 16 ADVENTURES IN THE SKIN TRADE Dylan Thomas  
Non-Fiction 1 GIFT FROM THE SEA Anne Morrow Lindbergh  
Non-Fiction 2 THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING Norman Vincent Peale  
Non-Fiction 3 A MAN CALLED PETER Catherine Marshall  
Non-Fiction 4 HOW TO LIVE 365 DAYS A YEAR John A. Schindler  
Non-Fiction 5 WHY JOHNNY CAN'T READ Rudolf Franz Flesch  
Non-Fiction 6 ONIONS IN THE STEW Betty MacDonald  
Non-Fiction 7 GERTRUDE LAWRENCE AS MRS. A. Richard Stoddard Aldrich  
Non-Fiction 8 BOSWELL ON THE GRAND TOUR Frank Brady and Frederick A. Pottle  
Non-Fiction 9 THE FAMILY OF MAN Edward Steichen  
Non-Fiction 10 MEMORIES Ethel Barrymore  
Non-Fiction 11 ESSAYS IN THE PUBLIC PHILOSOPHY Walter Lippmann  
Non-Fiction 12 FROM MY EXPERIENCE Louis Bromfield  
Non-Fiction 13 MY PHILADELPHIA FATHER Cordelia Drexel Biddle and Kyle Crichton  
Non-Fiction 14 TIGER OF THE SNOWS Tenzing of Everest and James Ramsey Ullman  
Non-Fiction 15 LAURETTE Marguerite Courtney  
Non-Fiction 16 BOTTOMS UP! Cornelia Otis Skinner  

I'd be interested in learning what the best sellers were the week (or year) you were born and whether or not you have read any of them in the comments below.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...