Amazon’s new venture aims to have products in customers’ hands in thirty minutes or less by using unmanned air crafts. Here’s some footage from one of their test flights:
The company says it needs a few years to improve the technology and to work out FAA regulations before one of these drones will land on your doorstep. This morning, a friend from the UK Tweeted a suggested missed delivery slip.
“Administration (FAA) is expected to open up US airspace to unmanned aerial vehicles in 2015. But after that date, Amazon’s blender-delivering drones will still face big obstacles, such as the states and cities that are hostile towards drone-use; potential accidents with passenger planes; GPS and privacy concerns; and roving bands of laser-wielding package bandits.”
How do you feel about drones landing at your house? Any additional check boxes that should be added to the delivery slip?
In the romantic comedy Serendipity, Kate Beckinsale’s character writes her phone number in a used book and tells John Cusack’s character that if faith wants them to meet again, the novel will find its way back to him. The movie isn’t very interesting after that, but that scene outside the bookstore made me think about the treasures I’ve found in used books.
In a copy of Drowning Ruth, by Christina Schwarz, a picture of two young women had been used as a bookmark by a previous owner. I bought the book because it was an Oprah’s Book Club pick, but never finished it. Maybe because the unknown people in the picture were more intriguing than the plot. They’re wearing summer dresses, smiling, and posing in front of a pine tree. I like to think they’re at a gathering of good friends in a back yard somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. After the picture was taken, they lit the outdoor fire pit we can’t see, and sat down to drink wine and make s’mores.
A friend of mine lent me her copy of The Magic Circle by Katherine Neville. My memory of the plot is hazy, I confuse it with The Eight by the same author, but I do remember how much I enjoyed the process of reading the book. My friend comments and underlines while she reads. I’d find “Who’s this guy again?” or “How much more must she endure?” in the margins. Plot twists were underlined and “Whaaaat?!” written above. Reading her book was like having our own private book discussion, or maybe more like a private peep-hole into my friend’s mind. Read more »
Very early in my writing life, I shared a story with some local writers during an event at the library where I lived in California. My prose told of an adventure involving pirates, pick-pocketing urchins, and buxom wenches. The writers read my tale and after a long moment of silence, one of them politely stated that she had problems distinguishing between my characters.
I had worked hard to create a unique quirk for each of them. My hero often cursed and my heroine had a certain way of flipping her hair. When I asked for clarification, the writer said, in a crisp English accent, “They all have a bit of a potty mouth, you see, at times a little too much.” She pointed to a page where she’d circled each swear word. Two males and one female were speaking. None of them uttered a sentence that didn’t contain the word “fuck.” If I hadn’t included a dialogue tag here and there, it would have read as one long manic rant. It still kind of did.
I revised and proudly showed up for a second evening of sharing at the library. Now, only the hero’s sidekick dropped the f-bomb. The hero instead used “shit,” while the heroine preferred milder profanities such as “crap.” The writer’s facial twitches made me snatch the pages out of her hand. Before leaving, I checked out a few books on the craft of writing.
As writers, we know that it’s not only what our characters say that is important, but also how they say it. The challenge is to make sure that each character has a unique way of speaking, moving, and thinking—and then stay consistent through the story
I new favorite author I recently started reading is Sophie Littlefield. I love her books because she is a master of close third person point of view. My favorite books of hers are a series of crime novels rich with humor and quirky characters. Told entirely from the main character’s POV, her sarcastic witty voice colors the story in ways that make it impossible not to laugh out loud. Read more »
If you’ve been fortunate enough to take a class from Sam, you know what I mean when I say I often hear his writing insights inside my mind. There are so many great quotes by Sam in my head, many of them involving curse words, all of them spoken with that intensity and passion that is uniquely Ligon.
For those of you who have not encountered Ligon Wisdom in person, here’s a taste of what you’ve been missing: Sam was interviewed by Katrina Hays in the latest issue of Rainier Writing Workshop’s Soundings.
My favorite quote:
That’s why we’re afraid of novels. We get into this thing and we might not know if it works for five years. Or ten. It’s risky. But the thing is—those five years are going to pass anyway. Whether or not you’re in there with a novel, those five years are going to pass. And then you’re gonna die. At some point you’re gonna die. So, you can not write your novel and die, or you can write your novel and die. You might as well write.
The volunteer editors of Wikipedia decided that the American Novelist category was becoming too long and decided to move the female authors to a new page named American Women Novelists.
This little change may not have been discussed or even noticed, if it wasn’t for Amanda Filipacchi who discovered the change and wondered how come there weren’t two pages created, one for American Male Novelists and one for American Women Novelists. She wrote an Op-Ed about it for the New York Times and shortly after, that’s exactly what happened.
So you would think then that this was just an honest mistake. The editors of Wikipedia just weren’t sensitive to how wrong it is to qualify books by the gender of the author. But it doesn’t end here.
As Filipacchi describes in a NYT follow-up article, her Wikipedia page was altered. In twenty-four hours, there were 22 changes. Links to outside sources like interviews and reviews were removed. The link to the Op-Ed disappeared. Before this, her page had been changed 22 times over a period of four years. Much wiki-cyber bullying later and Filipacchi’s back on the list of American Novelists, but says, “Taking women’s names off the list of American novelists makes it harder and slower for women to gain equality in the literary world.”
To me, the Wikipedia incident is just another example that shows we still have work to do before women gain full equality, not just in the literary world, but everywhere.
My office at work is in a cluster of six with a student study area in the middle. The day after I’d heard about Filipacchi’s articles, I passed by the whiteboard in the study part and saw an old joke I first encountered years ago while I was a physics undergraduate student. Here’s the joke: Read more »
Reminiscing about going to AWP in Denver and my time in the MFA program in general lead me to this short video. Hope everyone’s school and post MFA experience is nothing like the Simpsons’ take on graduate school.
There are so many reasons why Drop Dead Diva should be a show I would not be caught…well…dead, watching. First, did I mention it’s airing on Lifetime? Second, it’s a soap opera with classic plot elements like secret babies, catty women fighting over the same man, amnesia, and the big one: returning from the dead.
Here’s the premise:
Aspiring model Deborah “Deb” Dobkins dies on the way to an audition for The Price Is Right and a mix-up at the gates of Heaven sends size-one Deb into size-sixteen lawyer Jane Bingum’s body. New Jane has Deb’s personality and memories, including the caloric count of every food and the current couture of every designer, combined with Old Jane’s intelligence and legal expertise. Only two people know who Jane really is: Fred, her guardian angel–literally–and Stacy, New Jane’s roommate and Deb’s best friend, who is also an aspiring model, and just as ditsy as Deb. These two are New Jane’s confidantes while she learns valuable lessons about personal acceptance and inner beauty. All while solving legal conundrums at Jane’s old firm, which just hired Grayson, Deb’s boyfriend and the love of her life.
I know, major gag reflex. And yet, I can’t stop watching.
My fascination focuses on the dichotomy of confident Deb’s personality sashaying Jane’s ample curves across the set, using moves plus-sized girls learn, at an early age, are not socially acceptable if your butt and boobs are too big for Victoria Secrets’ largest lingerie.
November is my least favorite month. Cold and grey with shorter and shorter days, it seems to hang on forever before we get to Thanksgiving. But here in Spokane, there is one more good thing about this month. The weekend before turkey day, The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour comes to town. We’re extra lucky, because the festival screens for three days and so we usually get a chance to see all of the movies that made it on to the tour.
Yesterday, I went to the Bing Crosby Theater for opening night. It was my third time at the festival and every year there are more people than last year. This year is the first where all three nights were sold out.
Most of the movies have some sort of outdoor theme, but the focus of each film are vastly different and as diverse as the filmmakers who come from all over the world to participate and compete in the festival. Last night, I watched a kayaker almost getting killed in New Zealand, a 92 or maybe 96-year-old (he can’t remember) talk about his life as an outdoor guide in southern Colorado, wildlife biologists discussing the impact of wildlife highway over and under passes around Banff, the most famous ultimate marathoner finishing five races on five continents, a small town in New Zealand lamenting the impact of global warming on outdoor curling, two young English blokes climbing Century Crack—the hardest off width in the world—and thereby pissing off a bunch of American climbers, and several more great films.
This weekend, I was at the fabulous Emerald City Writers Conference in Seattle. Saturday night, there is always a huge mulit-author signing that is open to the public. This year I participated for the first time in the book fair. As one of the contributing authors, I signed copies of the Three River Press anthology FEMALE NOMAD AND FRIENDS.
Top 5 Things I learned from this weekend’s book signing:
1) If you give out glow sticks as favors for signing up on your mailing list, you end up with a lot of followers under the age of 13.
2) When signing nonfiction at a predominately fiction signing, don’t use the term “creative nonfiction” to describe the book. It leads to awkward conversations and questions like “Who wants to read/write that?”
3) Walk around to the other author tables. They have better candy and swag than you.
4) When you’re sitting next to someone whose publisher is giving away free e-books, you may as well grab a stack of the download code and put them on your table. The people you think are standing around to learn about your book are really just waiting for a chance to get within grabbing distance of your neighbor’s table.
5) When you invite romance writers to your room for some wine and nibbles to celebrate the book fair, enunciate clearly or you may have people showing up for “wine and nipples.”