One Writer’s Journey

December 13, 2017

MOOC: An Opportunity to Learn and Generate Story Ideas

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 4:50 am
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For those of you who aren’t familiar with the phrase, an MOOC is a massive open online course.  These are online classes often with video-taped lectures, readings and quizes, papers or projects.  These courses are a great opportunity to learn something new.  And with that knowledge, I often gain a handful of stories ideas per course.

The majority of courses I’ve taken have been through Coursera. Top institutions around the world offer courses through Coursera.  I’ve had classes through the Smithsonian, University of Virginia, Duke and Northwestern.  Although you can pay for credit, I’ve always taken the free version.

My husband and I also took a class on comic book history through edX.  edX was founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012.  The class was through the Smithsonian and featured guest lectures by Stan Lee.

Two other sites that offer MOOC are:

The Khan Academy which partner with institutions like NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, and MIT.

United Nations Institute for Training and Research which is a training arm of the United Nations. UNITAR courses that are open to the public include courses on Environmentalism and Climate Change.  I’m considering several of these but most likely won’t be signing up until after Christmas.

What interests you? I’ve taken a wide variety of classes including:

History classes like “Luther and the West,” “Introduction to Ancient Egypt and Its Civilization,” “The Kennedy Half Century,” and “Age of Jefferson.”

Anthropology classes including “Osteoarchaeology: The Truth in Our Bones” and “Human Evolution: Past and Future.”
Science classes such as “Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life” and “Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology.”
As well as “Copyright for Educators & Librarians” and “Art & Inquiry: Museum Teaching Strategies For Your Classroom.”


Some classes I’ve enjoyed more than others.  The Astrobiology class just about lost me.  It was more chemistry than “oh look a planet” but I learned a lot and came out of it with some ideas.

I’m a firm believer in life-long learning.  Besides don’t you want to know the latest and greatest info on various topics so that you can stay in step with your readers?



August 31, 2017

Education: What Should a Writer Study?

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:44 am
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I’ve always felt like the odd duck in the children’s writing community.  It seems like 90% of the writers, both published and up-and-coming, that I meet have backgrounds in education, literature or library sciences.

Me?  In addition to Freshman English and Junior English (both required), I took maybe two lit classes.  After all, I needed humanities credits. I’ve had two education classes.  My favorite was on teaching evolutionary theory.  The other was museum teaching strategies for classroom study through MOMA.  The closest thing to library sciences that I’ve taken was a course on copyright joint taught by Duke, Emory and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

My actual formal education started with a BA in anthropology.  I actually worked in archaeological graphics, creating maps and charts and drawing artifacts.  I’ve actually worked with funerary medallions from a cholera cemetery.  I then completed an MA in history, focusing on Asia, Latin America and the Modern US.  I chose these specialties so that I could construct my own specialty on immigration.

Why not literature or english?  I actually chose my MA program after I started writing.  I wanted to learn to do the primary research needed to correct mistaken ideas and attitudes about history.

But I’m also a life long learner, as they say. I take a couple of MOOC a year.  I just finished one on ancient Egypt that was painfully boring.  Yep.  Let me tell you.  It takes some serious effort to make Egyptian antiquities dull but this guy pulled it off.  I managed to learn a few things in spite of him but it was not enjoyable.

So what to pick next?  I narrowed it down to a course on historic fiction, one on interpreting illuminated manuscripts and another on osteo anthropology (what we can learn from skeletal remains).  I’d like to take all three eventually but decided to start with the osteo anthropology.  I’m working on a two book contract and didn’t want to have to read I-had-no-clue-how-much for the lit class.  I had a human origins lab that simply fascinated me.  So anthropology was an easy choice.  Anthropology and history have served me well thus far.

Now if’ you’ll excuse me, I need to watch a video lecture on the pubic symphysis and adult age estimates.



February 2, 2016

Graphic Novels and Comic Books

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:14 am
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If you are interested in this literary form, California College of Arts instructor Matt Silady is offering a course, “Comics: Art in Relationship” through Kadenze.  The course starts on February 17, 2016 and features 5 sessions.  The description is sketchy enough that although I assume that means 5 weeks, it is an assumption.

Here is what will be covered in the 5 sessions:

  • Session 1: Defining Comics
    Identify key relationships in sample texts & demonstrate the use various camera angles on a comics page
  • Session 2: Comics Relationships
    Create Text-Image and Image-Image Panels
  • Session 3: Time And Space
    One Second, One Hour, One Day Comics Challenge
  • Session 4: Layout And Grid Design
    Apply multiple panel grids to provided script
  • Session 5: Thumbnails
    Create thumbnail sketches of a multipage scene

The time required to do the coursework each week is estimated at 10 hours/week.  This is a bit more of a time commitment than I can make right now, but it looks really interesting (see video below).  Hopefully some of you will be able to take advantage of this opportunity. Me?  I’m still waffling.  I don’t  have time but … I’m not an illustrator but …





June 17, 2010

A course on writing the graphic novel

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 3:13 am
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Last week, I blogged about a course being taught by writing buddy Anya Achtenberg.  This week I found another great class, this one brought to my attention by Julie Douglas of the Missouri Humanities Council.

The Graphic Novel, An Introduction looks like a great opportunity if you live near Springfield, Missouri.  The course  has both credit and noncredit options and it taught by Jen Murvin Edwards, a faculty member in the English Department at Missouri State University.  She writes fiction and children’s comic books, including work for the First American educational series Chickasaw Adventures and Catholic educational series Stories of the Saints.  She has also written for the World History Ink comic book series published by McGraw-Hill. Ms. Edwards’ short fiction has appeared in the MacGuffin Literary Journal.

The course also includes a presentation by Matt Kindt, an award-winning independent comic book artist and graphic designer from St. Louis, Missouri. Check out the site to find out more about his work.

If only I lived closer to Springfield!


February 20, 2009

Taking Classes

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:16 am
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deskThe other day I got a catalog in the mail — The Great Courses by the Teaching Company. I drooled over the listings in music and history.  Then I found the course Science and Religion. It might help with my WIP and it is on sale.  Think of the money I could save, assuming, of course, I had the money to spend. 

What if I could it get even cheaper?

I went on the site for the St. Louis Country Public library.  A quick search with “Teaching Company” as the author turned up no less than 142 hits.  Here are just a few of the titles I found:

Science and Religion
The Theory of Evolution a history of controversy
A series on Great World Religions
History of the English Language and more.

I’m waiting for Science and Religion to come in and have plans to request several other titles. 

Why not check out your own library?  You may be surprised at some of the learning opportunities you can find for free.


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