The World’s Earliest Computer Rebuilt with Legos


Say it and most people immediately picture something with a screen and at least one switch and a variety of flashing, blinking lights.  World’s oldest computer?  Add a mental image of real-to-real tapes and even more lights.  And it is BIG.

Think again.

Apparently the world’s oldest computer was built by the Greeks 100 years before the birth of Christ.  Huh?  Yep.  100 years before the birth of Christ.

The Antikythera mechanism that accurately predicted solar eclipses was discovered on a shipwreck in 1901.  In 2010, Apple engineer Andrew Carol rebuilt the mechanism out of Legos.

Check out this video.

Cool, cool, cool.  And also why subscriptions to online feeds like the Technology Review pay off.   Think about signing up.



On December 21st, agent Nathan Bransford blogged about an interesting online gizmo called the ngram.  This Google tool can help you see how popular a person, book or slang term has been over a period of years.

This particular search tool will take your search terms and look through millions of books published in the last 200 years and then graph how often these terms have been used and when.  You can check which of two or three things is most popular, when in time a certain name peaked and more.

I’m not 100% certain how I’ll use this, but I’ve been having fun checking my first name vs my middle name, favorite characters, favorite authors and more.

Special thanks to agent Nathan Bransford for bringing this nifty tool to my attention.


Goals as 2010 Draws to a Close

I didn’t do too bad last week given that I only had half a work week and my car died.  I managed to pull down 6721 words writing various blog posts, working on my outline and writing five scripts.

This week I’m going to try for 6000 words but that may be too hopeful since everyone is home and I really do need/deserve some time off.  Still, there are things I need to do.

  • Write  five  posts for One Writer’s Journey.  This isn’t so tough since I keep a running topics list as ideas make their way into my brain.  (Done!)
  • Write my Prayables post. (Done!)
  • Write my Prayables post for next week to meet new production schedule. (Done!)
  • Write four pieces for a new Prayables feature. (Done!)
  • Rewrite scripts as feedback comes in.  (4 Done.)

In addition to the four things that I need to do, I’d like to:

  • Finish outlining my chapter book.
  • Work on chapter 2.

Posting my goals for a year, I’ve learned a few things.  Posting goals on-line only helps so much because I still tend to use my goals list as a wish list, listing more than I can possibly accomplish.

Yearly goals are far too easy to post-pone and never address.  After all, I’ve got a full year.

Weekly word counts are the goals I am most likely to meet and really should help me meet those annual goals if I would set aside part of my weekly word count to address my annual goals.

So my plans for 2011 include:

  • Come up with a list of goals for the year.
  • Post weekly goals (which I will mark/check off as completed much as I did last week).
  • Make sure that my weekly goals, as often as is possible, include something on my annual goals list.

Hope everyone is enjoying some quiet time this week!


Merry Christmas to All!

Thank you too all of you for being with me this past year.  I’m taking a few days off for Christmas but want to leave you all with a few Christmas gifts.

First of all, an amazing You Tube video of a Flash Mob performance of the Hallelujah Chorus.

And an awesome book Christmas tree — from the woman who normally dislikes things built from books, but I don’t think this damaged the books which is what usually offends me.

Merry Christmas All!


New Market: Literature for Kids

Check out this new paying market, Literature for Kids . Set to debut on January 1, 2011, this e-zine will offer poems and stories for children, as well as articles for parents and children’s writers.  The editor is Linda Jo Martin, former editor of Happy Camp News.  If you have something done that is applicable, this could be a great opportunity to break into a new market.
Special thanks to Jan Fields of Children’s Writer eNews for bringing this market to my attention.

Mystery Workshop Transcript

Interested in learning to write mysteries for children and/or teens?  Or do you simply want to learn to string clues throughout your novel?  Then check out the transcript for this ICL mystery writing workshop with my writing buddy Kristin Wolden Nitz.

In addition to being a friend, Kristin is the author of my favorite YA mystery Suspect.   Normally, I spend most of my mystery reading time figuring out who done it.  Suspect was so engrossing that I only realized that I hadn’t done this at the very end.

Give yourself a lovely Christmas present.  Check out the link above to see what advice Kristin had to share.


Missouri SCBWI Retreat

Looking for a writing event to get you going in 2011?  Consider the Missouri SCBWI Retreat for Pals Members.

When: March 25 to 27, 2011 at Trout Lodge in Potosi, Missouri.

Speakers: Jennifer Mattson (Andrea Brown Literary Agent) and Lynn Rubright (Creative Writer and Storyteller).

From the brochure:

Authors love to write. We all adore the excitement of a new idea and the thrill of exploring a new character. It’s the agony of editing that we hate.

With the help of agent, Jennifer Mattson and writer, Lynn Rubright you will learn how to face that monster called revision and dig deeper into your creative self.

You will spend a full weekend analyzing and revising your toughest project. At the beginning of the retreat, Jennifer Mattson will meet one-on-one with you to suggest revisions that will make your manuscript stronger. You will be given time to work on those changes and will meet again in a private session with Jennifer to review your work.

In addition to one-on-one sessions with Jennifer, you will be involved in workshop sessions designed to hone your writing craft and refresh your creative spirit. Lynn will lead creative sessions that will get ideas flowing and help you help you re-vision yourself as a writer. Jennifer will provide instruction on developing story arc and how to select a point of view for your manuscript.

You will also have the opportunity to work on additional projects in a peer critique groups and have time to network with fellow writers.

The retreat will be held at the lovely Trout Lodge YMCA in Potosi, Missouri.  This peaceful setting, beside a lake with tree-covered hills, is a wonderful inspiration for writing. All rooms have two double beds and their own bathroom. All meals and lodging are included in the cost of the retreat. Private rooms are not available for this retreat.

This retreat is limited to members of SCBWI who are on the PAL (published and listed) list.  To keep the retreat intimate, there will be only 16 participants. Please register early to reserve your spot. Registrations will be accepted on a first-come first-serve basis.

Staff Bios

Jennifer Mattson: Jennifer comes to Andrea Brown Literary Agency after nearly five years of reviewing children’s literature as part of the Books for Youth staff of Booklist magazine. That adds up to close readings of around 1,000 books, lending Jennifer a wide-angle view of the tastes of individual houses.

Prior to Booklist, Jennifer was an Associate Editor at Dutton Children’s Books, where she acquired and edited titles that included CHICO, by retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; and The Heroic Adventures of Hercules Amsterdam, by Melissa Glenn Haber. (She also enjoyed an amusing turn on the other side of the desk as a coauthor of The Official Easy-Bake Cookbook).

In the picture-book arena, Jennifer is interested in authors and author-illustrators who bring a distinctive, well-developed point of view to their work. For the older set, she is drawn to richly imagined fantasies that depart from old-hat heroic quests (alternate realities, magical realism, and steam-punk are all styles/premises to have recently caught her notice). She has a special interest in dystopian fiction for middle graders.

Lynn Rubright: Lynn is an internationally acclaimed storytelling artist, author and master educator. She is Professor Emeritus at Webster University where her graduate course, Story Telling Across the Curriculum has met with overwhelming response for over 30 years.

She is the recipient of the National Storytelling Network’s 2007 Oracle Award for Lifetime Achievement and a Regional Emmy for her work as producer on the documentary, Oh Freedom, After While. She is also the author of two award winning books; Beyond the Beanstalk, and Mama’s Window.

Registration: As a part of this retreat you will be asked to submit the first 15 pages of your novel or a full picture book manuscript. Information about submissions will be given to you with the e-mail confirmation of your registration.

Registration Form:

_______ Yes! I am a PAL* member of SCBWI (and yes, we do check!)

Name: __________________________________________________________

Address: __________________________________________________________

E-mail: _____________________________

Phone: ________________________________

________ enclosed is my check for $335.00 Cost of the retreat is $335.00.
This includes all sessions, overnight accommodations, and all meals.

Check payable to:
Missouri SCBWI

Mail check and form to:
Stephanie Bearce, 18 Quiet Brook Ct. St. Charles, MO 63303

You will receive e-mail confirmation of your registration and instructions for submitting your manuscript.

*PAL membership of the SCBWI means published and listed. To register yourself on PAL simply login to SCBWI and update your profile information. Only people on the PAL list will be accepted for participation in this retreat.

Questions? Contact

Tentative Schedule:


3:00 – Check In

4:00 – 4:30 Welcome, introductions etc. Ice Breaker Activities
4:30 – 5:30 Begin first round Critiques with Jennifer Mattson
4:30 – 5:30 Writing Get Acquainted Activity – Stephanie Bearce

6:00 – 7:00 Supper

7:15 – 9:00 Finish first Round Critiques with Jennifer
7:15 – 9:00 Mining You Memories Workshop – Lynn Rubright

9:00 – 10:30 Social Time


8:00- 9:00 Breakfast

9:00 – 10:30 Workshop – Jennifer Matteson
10:30-10:45 Break
10:45 – 12:00 Enhanced Creativity Workshop – Lynn Rubright

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch

1:00 – 4:00 Writing and Revision Time

4:00 – 5:30 Workshop – Jennifer Mattson

6:00 – 7:00 Supper

7:30 – 9:00 Meet with Peer Critique Groups
7:30 – 9:00 Second round revision critiques with Jennifer Mattson

9:00 – 10:30 Social Time


8:00- 9:00 Breakfast

9:00 – 10:45 Workshop Session – Stephanie Bearce

9:00 – 10:45 Second round revision critiques with Jennifer Mattson

10:45 – 11:00 Break

11:00 – 12:00 Burning Questions and Closing – Jennifer and Lynn

12:00 Lunch – Dismiss Retreat

Goals — Coming Up on Christmas

So, how did I do last week?  Not too bad.  6752 words.  That total included my Prayables blog, five posts here on One Writer’s Journey, a book review on my other Bookshelf: What We’re Reading (my other blog), a picture book rewrite and chapter 1 for my chapter book.

Fingers crossed that I can pull down 6000 words this week but it won’t be easy.  School is already out for Christmas.  But there are things I need to get done:

  • 5 posts for One Writer’s Journey (Done!)
  • 1 or 2 book reviews for Bookshelf (Done!)
  • My blog post (Done!)
  • 2 or more pieces for a new feature (1 roughed)
  • 5 new scripts (Done!)

Then there are the things that I want to get done but there is no deadline:

  • Another chapter book chapter but I may have to do an outline first (worked on outline)
  • Maybe some work on the second picture book although it is fighting me; I think I may need to read some nonfiction picture books first. Fortunately, we are going to the library tomorrow.

Sounds like quite enough for an already busy week!

Good luck meeting your own goals this week.