Native American Languages

If you are working on something that requires knowledge of one or more native american languages, than the site you need to check out is Native Languages of the Americas.

The site features a variety of information including lists of languages, information on family groupings, geographical indexes and maps.  Don’t make just a super quick pass through this site or you’re sure to miss something amazing.  It isn’t the most attractive site on the web but it is chock full of information.

Take the time to look around and you just might find something that makes both your day and your story just a bit more satisfying.

This isn’t a new site but I just found it through Research Buzz.


Sample various children’s books

Last week I found out about a blog called First Page Panda.  The site posts the first page of various middle grade and young adult novels as well as the summary and a bit about the author.  Last week they featured Kris Nitz’s Suspect.

The blog is maintained by Alisa Libby, author of The Blood Confession and The King’s Rose and Anna Staniszewski, author of the upcoming novel  My Un-Fairy Tale Life.

Stop on by and sample new and upcoming novels and maybe you’ll discover a new favorite author.  You can never have too many!




Kindle download for free

Are you a registered Amazon customer?  If so, you can download  “Kindle for PC” for FREE.   I decided to go for it just so that I could see what the Kindle hoo-ha is all about.  I didn’t want to have to buy any e-books for this little test flight but fortunately Kindle Classics are free.  These are various classic volumes, no doubt copyright free, that Amazon has made available in this format.

Uber geek that I am, I more or less quickly downloaded:

  • Aquinas’ On Prayer and the Contemplative Life
  • Machiavelli’s The Prince
  • The Journals of Lewis and Clark
  • The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci (vol 1 and vol 2)
  • English Fairy Tales
  • Japanese Fairy Tales
  • Edgar Allan Poe’s Complete Poetical Works
  • Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know by Hamilton Wright Mabie
  • Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species
  • The Sayings of Confucius

I would have kept going but I noticed that there are 16,486 volumes available and 12 seemed like a very good number to start with.

I’ve read bits and pieces of a few things so far and I have to say that I find it much harder to navigate a Kindle book than a book in print.  Not that I’m going to trash it, this will be especially handy for research and keeping little bits and pieces in one place.  But replacing print books?  Give me a break.  Call them what you will, but dead tree books rock.


Goals: October is coming to a close

Hurray for me!   Last week I pulled down 7985 words towards a 6000 word goal.  Go, Sue!  And I managed to cross about half the items off my ridiculous list of goals.

I rewrote 13 tutorials, wrote a query (which my critique group ok’ed), rewrote an article per my editor’s request, and wrote something like 9 blogs posts.

This week will bring:

  • more blog posts,
  • getting caught up on critiques (Sorry, Cindy!),
  • doing the last of the graphics/layout work on a job,
  • and more rewrites.

I’m also hoping to get a rejected article back out and get that query sent out.  If things go really, really well, I’m going to start brainstorming picture book ideas again.  I know the picture book market isn’t the best, but in brainstorming I always manage to come up with magazine, chapter book and novel ideas as well.  So, here’s to getting some writing done.

I hope everyone else is meeting their own goals!


Open Folklore

Those of you who are folklore junkies need to check out Open Folklore.  Created by The American Folklore Society and Indiana University Bloomington Libraries, this portal provides access to both published (no longer in copyright or freely available) and unpublished (abstracts and syllabus).

I did a search on “tricksters” and received links to an article, a presentation, 3 book reviews, and several pieces published by Trickster Press.

Campbell, as in Joseph Campbell, only yielded one result.  I’m telling myself that they are still getting things up to speed.

The Journals page has links to free content journals including Asian Ethnology, Cultural Analysis, Indian Folklife, Play and Folklore, and  more. If only I didn’t have a deadline to meet!

This is some place that I’ll be visiting again.  Special thanks to Research Buzz for bringing this new resource to  my attention.


Geology Online

I’ve been catching up on my blog reading (as if) and found this treasure at ResearchBuzz.  Quarternary Science Journal has places their backissues (1950-2010) into a free online archive.

When I popped by the site I was surprised by the German language content and wondered if how much of the journal itself would be only in German.  Not to worry!   I did find a few articles that were German only but many more were in English.

You can browse by issue, paging through a virtual copy of the journal itself (something I love to do!) and you can also do a search.  My search on “cave” returned 4 pages of results including articles on Middle Pleistoncene bats in Turkey (how cool is that!), micromorphology, and more.  The listing includes information on language (Deutsche vs Englisch), date published and key words.

With the virtual magazine formatting, you get maps, charts and other graphics in tact. This is definitely a site I’ll be visiting again.


Writing Funny


I dare you to write funny!


I love humorous fiction.  Love.  Seriously.  Whenever I’m reading something I think is funny, my poor husband has to put up with me reading aloud.  “You’ve just got to hear this part!”

But writing funny?  Ugh.  I’ve tried but it just doesn’t work.  When I try, things often feel too over the top.  According to Matt Willard, this is probably because it is over the top for the character in question.

Check out Willard’s “Make Your Writing Funny” for some fabulous tips on how to work humor into your fiction.  To an extent, you could apply his advice to picture book writing but this is a must read if you write children’s novels.

Willard firmly believes that your first draft doesn’t have to be funny.  Get to know your characters.  Get the situation down.  Then look for ways to make it funny.

Willard is prepared for your resistance too.  At the end of the article he challenges readers to take the unfunny thing they’ve already written and give is a funny tweak.  Why not give it a try?


National Book Award Finalists. Who would get your vote

Last week, the finalists for the National Book Award were announced.  The finalists in “Young People’s Literature” are:

Paolo Bacigalupi, Ship Breaker (Little, Brown & Co.)

Kathryn  Erskine, Mockingbird (Philomel Books)

Laura McNeal, Dark Water (Alfred A. Knopf)

Walter Dean Myers, Lockdown (Amistad)

Rita Williams-Garcia, One Crazy Summer (Amistad)

I thought it was interesting that two nominees are from the same publisher, Amistad.  Ship Breaker and Mockingbird are both post-apocalyptic, and, as always, they all touch on some topic found in today’s headline news.  So, which one would get your vote?



Goals with the Month Half Over

I’m really not happy with what I accomplished this past week, although looking at the numbers it will be hard to tell why.  Last week, I wrote 10,050 words.  That’s nearly double my weekly goal of 6000 words.  But so much remains on my checklist at the end of the week.


Fingers crossed that I can manage to check a bit more off this week.

I have critique group Saturday and I’d love to have something new to share.  But I also have a group of 11 pieces to finish and about 10 pieces to rewrite including one that is rather long.

And I need to start my next Children’s Writer article which is due in just over three weeks.

Fortunately, posting goals on the wall does seem to help so let’s see what I manage to do.


White Space


Tree #5 by Myoung Ho Lee


Confession time — part of most work days is spent looking at photos.  Sometimes I go to photography web site.  Sometimes I check out what a gallery has posted.  Other times I visit the blog 500 Photographers which is where I saw the work of  Myoung Ho Lee.  The focus of this South Korean photographer is trees and to show them to their best advantage, he raises a backdrop of white canvas behind his subject.

The canvas marks the tree off from its environment.  It makes it more clearly visible.  It emphasizes it.

We also use white space when we write.  How we break up paragraphs can make it easier for our readers to spot the central idea.  To follow from one point to the next.  To emphasize a point, whether it is a sentence or a phrase, we can isolate it by using returns to place it

on a line by itself.

If you write prose, you may not spend much time thinking about this.  You may even think this is the sort of thing that only poets consider.  But pay attention to your white space and you may learn something about how you set up your work.